Archive for March, 2012

Thoughts on the STL-WASH trade

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Robert Griffin III - future Redskins quarterback

The Washington Redskins have won the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes, striking a deal with St. Louis for the #2 overall pick. The trade can’t be ratified until the new league year starts next Tuesday, but it appears RGIII will be playing in the NFC East. The price? Potentially as much as three first round picks, including Washington’s #6 overall pick this year. A heavy price, and people now see why Seattle never had any realistic chance of moving up for the Baylor quarterback.

Cleveland essentially rejected the chance to draft Robert Griffin III, because they always had the upper hand in trade talks. Not only do they pick before Washington this year, but their bounty of two first rounders in this year’s draft was always the joker in the pack. Time will tell if that was a wise move or not, but the thought of turning to Matt Flynn instead of RGIII is cringe-worthy for the fans in Cleveland. That’s a franchise that has needed a superstar for a long time now. While Griffin III was no guarantee, he would’ve provided a spark for a city still reeling from Lebron James’ departure.

So what direction do the Browns go in the draft? There are three obvious candidates at #4 now – Justin Blackmon, Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson. It’s worth noting that Pat Shurmur was at the Oklahoma State pro-day yesterday. Could Cleveland target both Blackmon and Brandon Weeden? It’s a possibility, although it’s unclear what round the Browns would target Weeden. Richardson is good enough to go #4 overall but his off-season has been stalled after minor knee surgery and let’s not forget – even Adrian Peterson didn’t go that early.

St. Louis will now pick 6th overall. They could find themselves in a situation where Blackmon is taken 4th overall and Claiborne 5th overall by Tampa Bay. What then? Do they take Trent Richardson? Do they draft a defensive tackle such as Dontari Poe or Michael Brockers? Could they realistically move down the board again, accumulating further picks? Although the Rams came away with a treasure chest in this trade with Washington, you have to believe they would’ve preferred the #4 pick in a big way.

And what about Ryan Tannehill? In recent weeks he’s become the popular choice to go #6 overall to Washington. Personally, I wouldn’t draft him in round one. The idea of having him go so early was purely down to Mike Shanahan and the way he grades quarterbacks. Now what? He’s unlikely to be drafted by Cleveland at #4, but could he reunite with Mike Sherman in Miami should the Dolphins miss out on Peyton Manning? And if Miami doesn’t draft Tannehill, what then?

Does this trade impact the Seahawks? A lot of people will start to project the Texas A&M quarterback to Seattle – a scenario that would be stunning in my eyes. The Seahawks focus remains pass rush and that will likely remain that case right up until April 26th. Manning’s eventual destination will impact a lot, because if he joins Miami or Kansas City – they’d be more likely to go offensive line with their first pick to protect that investment. If Manning moves to Denver, then the Dolphins could go Tannehill. Either way – it’s another team out of the running for Upshaw, Coples or Ingram. It could also increase the chances of Trent Richardson being a nice wild-card option for Seattle.

Possible top-12 picks post trade

#1 IND – Andrew Luck
#2 WAS – Robert Griffin III
#3 MIN - Matt Kalil
#4 CLE – Justin Blackmon
#5 TB – Morris Claiborne
#6 STL – Dontari Poe
#7 JAC – Melvin Ingram
#8 MIA – Ryan Tannehill
#9 CAR - Michael Brockers
#10 BUF – Quinton Coples
#11 KC – Trent Richardson
#12 SEA – Courtney Upshaw

Late round Quarterbacks of interest, Part V

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Jacory Harris

Written by Kip Earlywine

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

This will be the finale of the this little quarterback miniseries.  Before I get to the final three quarterbacks I’d like to spotlight, let me first cover some quarterback options I suspect will not be drafted by Seattle:

Brock Osweiler / Ryan Tannehill: GM John Schneider had plenty of nice things to say about this pair of quarterbacks at the combine, which probably means he won’t draft them.  Who the heck talks up players they want to draft, anyway?  Its not that I think Schneider was being disingenuous.  Its just that I think that by the time Seattle plans on selecting a quarterback, both of these players will be long gone, and Schneider knows it.  If anything, perhaps its possible that he’s talking these guys up to help them get drafted before Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson.

Nick Foles: Foles is pretty much the antithesis of a point guard quarterback.  He has poor mobility, stares down receivers and generally plays in a pure one read spread offense.  Foles was statistically strong in his senior season, but it was purely because of the mindlessly simple offense he played in.  The Wildcats lost eight out of nine games at one point this last season, which helped get the head coach fired and probably strips Foles of any “winner” label.  Foles is as unlikely a Seahawk quarterback as can be found in this draft, and he will probably be drafted before Seattle takes a quarterback anyway.

BJ Coleman: In the comments section found here, I go into detail about why I don’t rate Coleman very highly.  Here’s the abridged version: he lacks charisma/leadership, lacks accuracy, lacks pocket presence, lacks zip, locks onto receivers, was beat out by instant NFL washout Jonathan Crompton when at Tennessee, and he failed to “wow” everyone despite playing small school competition whereas other small school guys like Chandler Harnish put up much more impressive performances.  He’s got size and some mobility, but holy cow, what a project.  The only way I could see Seattle drafting him is if they rule out all quarterbacks under 6’2″.

Ryan Lindley: It wouldn’t shock me if Seattle drafted Lindley.  He’s got good size, a strong arm, under-rated athleticism, solid footwork and impressive mechanics.  There are two major flaws in Lindley’s game that make him a tough sell as a game manager or point guard type though.  The first is his poor accuracy.  The second is the fact that he basically never checks a 2nd read.  In a lot of ways, he’s similar to Washington’s Jake Locker last year, with a lot less talent.  The Seahawks had Locker rated very low on their board last year.  Its not that I don’t think the Seahawks would pass on Lindley in the 7th round, but I think Lindley will probably come off the board in rounds 3-5, and I’m not convinced the Seahawks would rate him high enough to draft him before anyone else does.

Aaron Corp: Other than being a  former USC player recruited by Carroll himself, I don’t see a lot of reasons why Seattle would be interested in Corp.  He’s suffered a ton of lower body injuries which has turned him into a statue in the pocket.  Seattle took Mallett completely off their board because of mobility issues and I don’t see why a guy with a fraction of Mallett’s talent would be any different.  A healthy Corp ran a surprisingly good 4.72, so its not that Corp is innately non-athletic.  Can he stay healthy though?  Richmond was 3-8 with Corp as starter last season.

Chester Stewart / Stephen Garcia / Patrick Witt / Dan Persa: I can see reasons why these guys could interest Seattle, but its very likely they will go undrafted and if Seattle targets them, I don’t think it will be until undrafted free agency.

Okay, with that out of the way, I’ll cover the final three notable quarterbacks that might interest Seattle at some point in the draft (excluding division II or otherwise obscure options).

~

Jacory Harris. Size:  6’4″, 195.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  21

Outside of Luck and Griffin, there are only a three natural point guard quarterback prospects who stand roughly 6’3″ or above:  Ryan Tannehill, Darron Thomas, and Jacory Harris.  The shortest quarterback acquired by this front office to date was JP Losman who stands 6’2″, so it is legitimate to wonder how much height will impact Seattle’s choices in this draft.  If height is indeed a sticking point, Harris could be a late round option.  I suspect height won’t be an issue, but I guess we’ll see.

Harris is without a doubt the skinniest quarterback in this draft class, weighing in slightly below the shrimpy Kellen Moore despite standing five inches taller.  He’s no stranger to injury in college, though his toughness should be commended.  Despite being described as “rail thin” by media outlets and taking some brutal hits as a result of his feather like stature, Harris displayed impressive toughness, missing only 4 starts out of 51 games during his 4 year starting career.  There is of course massive potential for weight gain with Harris, he could probably gain twenty or even thirty pounds of good weight, and he would probably need to at the next level.

Statistically, Harris looked the part last season:  high completion rate, high yards per attempt, and a solid TD/INT ratio.  There was a time two years ago when some draft pundits such as Mel Kiper pontificated that Harris could be a future 2nd round pick.  Then Harris suffered through a disastrous 2010 season in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns.  Even after a nice bounce back year in 2011, conventional wisdom is that Harris will not be drafted.  But in terms of raw talent and potential, he’s a lot better than most quarterbacks that fall out of the draft, which means he could be a 7th round consideration for the Seahawks.

Harris has above average mobility and despite his skinny stature he has a heck of an arm.  Harris is also pretty smart about taking some heat off of the fastball when a pass needs to arrive with touch.  I haven’t seen a ton of his play, but when I have, I’ve been impressed by his accuracy and the ease at which his receivers bring the ball in.  Harris is tough, confident, and is no stranger to making plays.  His mechanics are surprisingly solid, as is his footwork.  Harris’ young age coupled with 47 career starts is also impressive.

However, there is one major concern with Harris (beyond his weight).  He’s not a very fast decision maker and he tends to be a 1 read quarterback.  In fact, I’m very tempted to compare him to Tarvaris Jackson minus thirty pounds.  Its not very often that you see a mentally slow 4 year college starter become a quick minded pro.  That probably limits Harris’ upside to that of a quality backup.

I was tempted to include Harris in the list of unlikely draftables above, but I decided to include him as a realistic option in the event that Seattle excludes short quarterbacks and is looking to add another quarterback in the point guard mold.

Expected draft trajectory:  Very late rounds, likely UDFA.

~

John Brantley. Size:  6’3″, 219.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  23

Brantley is another fringe option, but I decided to include him since I feel he is a bit like a superior version of BJ Coleman. Like Coleman, Brantley has NFL size coupled with solid athleticism and a strong arm.

Brantley caught the attention of scouts when he posted terrific numbers in relief of Tim Tebow during the 2009 season (75% completion rate, 8.54 yards per attempt, 7 TD, 0 INT).  Like Harris, Brantley had a miserable 2010 season and bounced back a bit in 2011.

Brantley physically looks the part of an NFL quarterback and is surprisingly polished in many ways.  His delivery is inconsistent- occasionally its a bit elongated- but the ball gets out quickly and he’s got a strong, accurate arm.  His footwork and pocket presence are above average.  If you are looking to roll the dice on a quarterback who could be the next Matt Hasselbeck or Tony Romo, Brantley at least gives you a shot because he has the tools and the look of an NFL quarterback.  On the downside, Brantley can sometimes lock onto receivers and he can get flustered easily.  He might need to go to an offense that uses him in a game manager role and doesn’t ask too much of him.

One obstacle that could keep Seattle from drafting Brantley are his small hands.  His hands measured 8 3/4″, the smallest hands of any quarterback measured at the scouting combine.  Its believed that John Schneider values hand size as it impacts a quarterback’s grip on the ball in poor weather situations.  It’s worth noting that Ryan Tannehill (9″) and Chandler Harnish (9 1/4″) also have small hand sizes.

Brantley’s tenure at Florida was pretty forgettable overall, and if a team drafts him, it will likely be because of his tools and not for his accomplishments.  Still, Brantley could make some sense as a potential long term backup option with starter upside.

Expected draft trajectory:  Very late rounds, possible UDFA.

~

Kirk Cousins. Size:  6’3″, 214.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  23

A few months ago, Cousins would have been a solid bet to reach the mid rounds.  His profile- a moderately talented pro-style game manager with a big personality- is a bit like Ricky Stanzi, himself  a 5th round pick last year.  However, it feels unlikely that Cousins will remain on the board as long as Stanzi did.  After a good Senior Bowl showing, an impressive combine and no doubt countless impressive interviews, Cousins has vaulted his stock into likely day two contention.

Cousins is close to prototypical NFL size and is well regarded for his leadership, intelligence, accuracy and consistency.  Athletically, Cousins has looked stiff and slow in some games while in others he was surprisingly fast on tuck and runs.  Cousins is respected if not revered by everyone involved at Michigan State and despite humble beginnings at the program, he helped vault the Spartans into a perennial top 25 program.  Cousins, a senior quarterback, was a full time three year starter in a pro-style system who posted very consistent statistics season to season.  While Cousins is not an elite talent, his NFL readiness scores very highly, which will certainly interest the Seahawks as they are looking to create competition for Tarvaris Jackson.

A closer look at Cousins reveals some cracks in his armor, though.  Cousins completion rate is inflated by an offense that throws a very high percentage of passes under 10 yards.  Cousins has a decent arm, but I’ve noticed that he tends to look at his receivers instead of the defense, resulting in a lot of blind throws, interceptions and near interceptions.  For his career, Cousins has nearly as many interceptions per attempt as Tarvaris Jackson had per attempt during the Seahawks 2011 season.  That’s worrisome, particularly since Cousins is playing a much easier level of competition and throws short much more often than Jackson did.  Cousins is an intelligent guy and seems to be a quick learner, but unless Seattle could coach him into reading defenses more, I think his upside in the NFL is probably limited to that of a Trent Edwards type player.  Then again, Pete Carroll inquired into Trent Edwards not long after he came here, so maybe Cousin’s low upside isn’t much of a deterrent.

On the positive side, there is no denying that Cousins is a quarterback who tilts the field his way and gets his teammates to buy in.  Cousins is no stranger to leading heroic 4th quarter drives.  Even in the bowl game against Georgia, a game that was one of his worst last season, he completed a nearly 90 yard touchdown drive in two minutes without any timeouts to force overtime.  There is nothing mechanically wrong with Cousins and his footwork shouldn’t be an issue.  He’s essentially an average athlete, but he looks comfortable throwing on the move.  Michigan State used plenty of play action and bootleg plays.

Overall, my stance towards Cousins is lukewarm.  He’s likely to be just a backup at the next level, and as a starter I’m not convinced he’d be a better quarterback in our offense than Tarvaris Jackson.  Seattle can do a lot better than Kirk Cousins, but if all Seattle wants is an NFL ready backup, I expect Cousins will rate very highly.

Expected draft trajectory:  Rounds 2-4.

The ‘not so fast’ group…

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

A wide range of names are paired with Seattle in the various mock drafts doing the rounds, with some suggestions more realistic than others. Today I wanted to look at a handful of players that are often projected to the Seahawks that I think are unlikely to be on the team’s radar on April 26th.

Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)

Solid and dependable, Kuechly will offer a team leadership and no-nonsense tackling ability at the second level. The Seahawks face a possible crisis at linebacker if David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill both depart, leaving two positions that will need to be addressed during free agency or the draft. Kuechly’s performance at the combine answered questions about his athleticism and size, with many now suggesting he could be a top-15 pick.

So why not Seattle?

Kuechly isn’t a pass rusher and although he’s totalled incredible tackle numbers at Boston College, he doesn’t make enough plays in the backfield to warrant such a high pick. Seattle’s biggest issue on defense is a total reliance on Chris Clemons for pressure and they must find more pass rushers. Whether it’s another player who can rush the edge or an outside linebacker who can cause some problems, the Seahawks need to spend the #12 pick on a prospect that will help create more pressure. This front office has found production in former UDFA David Hawthorne, 4th round pick KJ Wright and 7th round pick Malcolm Smith. Simply put, middle linebacker’s aren’t worth the #12 pick unless they’re called Ray Lewis. Kuechly will be a fine, unspectacular pro at the next level and whoever drafts him probably won’t regret it. However, the Seahawks are unlikely to draft a defensive player who won’t tangibly improve the team’s pass rush in 2012.

Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)

Considered by many to be the third best quarterback in this draft class (an opinion I disagree with) Tannehill has been touted as a possible top-10 pick. Although there’s room for serious improvement on his 2011 performance for Texas A&M, some teams love his upside and he compares favorably to Jake Locker - drafted 8th overall by Tennessee last year. Depending on how the Robert Griffin III & Peyton Manning sweepstakes play out, Tannehill could be available at #12.

So why not Seattle?

The Seahawks didn’t rate Locker that highly last year and probably would’ve passed on him even if he was available with the #25 overall pick. Although Tannehill has certain ‘point guard’ tendencies, he’s also proven to be quite erratic and his composure in the pocket leaves a lot to be desired. Despite utilising naked bootlegs and a lot of play action, the Seahawks want someone comfortable in the pocket and not a player like Locker/Tannehill who will always prefer throwing on the move. Tannehill is a bit of a boom-or-bust type on the field and will appeal more to the Mike Shanahan’s of this world than the Pete Carroll’s, even though both offenses share similarities. That in turn is another reason this probably won’t happen – does Tannehill get past the Redskins at #6? Cleveland hold the better hand in trade negotiations for Robert Griffin III with their two first round picks and will be able to out-bid Washington at any point. Peyton Manning won’t compete in his brother’s division, so what does Washington do if they don’t make a deal with St. Louis? It seems likely they’d take Tannehill at #6, removing him from contention at #12 altogether.

Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)

Floyd did his best to spoil a blossoming career with a series of off-field incidents at Notre Dame and a major act of indecision over whether to declare or not for the 2012 draft. Despite beginning the year with a suspension, he actually enjoyed a productive 2011 season and got people talking about his football skills again. While a lot of receivers have struggled at the Senior Bowl or combine, Floyd has excelled including a good display in Indianapolis. He could be the second receiver drafted after Justin Blackmon.

So why not Seattle?

Pete Carroll chased two big name receivers in Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson, before finally signing Sidney Rice to a big contract prior to the 2011 season. The Seahawks also offered extensions to Mike Williams and Ben Obomonau, drafted Golden Tate and found a diamond in the rough with Doug Baldwin. Tight end Zach Miller was also signed to a big contract, while Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah have also flashed at times. You can never have too many good receivers (ask Green Bay) but the Seahawks have other priorities. Receivers generally take time to adjust to the pro-game and with an inconsistent quarterback situation, Seattle might not feel the benefit of such a high pick. Floyd would be a luxury at #12 and they just aren’t likely to go receiver in round one this year.

David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)

Consistently regarded as the top interior lineman available and rated as one of the best in recent years, David DeCastro will be a guaranteed top-25 pick next month. Andrew Luck deserves a lot of the hype he’s received in the last two years, but he’s also benefited from a superb offensive line including both DeCastro and Jonathan Martin. Possibly the best pulling-guard you’ll see on tape, DeCastro is a pure technician who excelled at right guard for the Cardinal.

So why not Seattle?

Having spent first round picks on offensive lineman in back-to-back years, the Seahawks will surely look elsewhere in 2012. The team remains high on Robert Gallery – a Tom Cable favorite – and the rest of the line is young and developing with quality depth. For years Seahawks fans clamoured for a good offensive line and know that they have one, it’s time to concentrate on other matters. Replacing Gallery is not a priority and having played right guard for much of his college career, DeCastro may be best suited to the same role in the NFL. We’re only 12 months removed from Seattle drafting John Moffitt and even if DeCastro is as good as advertised, it seems like a major stretch to think the Seahawks will draft yet another offensive lineman with their first pick next month. It’s time to address other areas of the team.

Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)

An incredible athlete with superb speed and mobility for a 298lbs lineman. Cox has done more than most prospects to boost his stock this off-season by interviewing better than expected and exploding at the combine. Although his college production and tape isn’t quite as spectacular, the combination of size and speed will interest teams looking for an interior defensive lineman or a five-technique pass rusher.

So why not Seattle?

I’m not convinced the Seahawks will draft an interior defensive lineman this year and believe they will go all-out to re-sign Red Bryant. Although Alan Branch offered very little pass rushing ability alongside Brandon Mebane in 2011, I think the team liked the impact their ‘big three’ had against the run and will look to add another edge threat to compliment Chris Clemons. Although I suspect the Seahawks would really benefit from a talented three-technique, I’m not convinced that’ll be Cox’s best position at the next level. He always seems more comfortable working the edge and has a ‘runaway train’ style to his pass rush – he’s often off balance with his head down charging at the quarterback. He doesn’t have a lot of lower body power and the Seahawks could lose a lot of their run-stopping quality by swapping Branch for Cox. On tape, there’s not a lot of evidence of him collapsing the pocket from the interior and he looked more comfortable playing end at Mississippi State. Although the size/speed combination offers some upside, technically he’s still incredibly raw.

Updated mock draft: 7th March

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

We’re 50 days away from the 2012 NFL draft and just over a week away from the start of free agency. The complexion of the draft could shift dramatically when the market opens, with teams adjusting priorities and making deals. Where will Peyton Manning land? What about Mario Williams? We could be looking at a very different first round projection by April.

There are a few minor tweaks to this weeks mock, but no substantial changes. I’ll continue to project Cleveland trading up for Robert Griffin III rather than Washington. Although many people make the Redskins favorites at this stage, the Browns will have to physically reject the chance to draft Griffin III not to make this happen. Whatever Washington is willing to pay, Cleveland can better it with their two first round picks this year.

Some reports have suggested the Browns aren’t willing to part with the #22 overall pick. We’re in a period now where teams are jostling for leverage in negotiations, things will eventually pick up after the posturing is complete and a deal will be made. Cleveland appointed Brad Childress – a coordinator from the Andy Reid coaching tree – for a reason. The Redskins would have to be creative to beat the Browns to RGIII and I suspect they’ll be less inclined to do so knowing they can still draft Ryan Tannehill at #6 without giving up as much as three first round picks. Given time I expect Cleveland will do what it takes to get the deal done and it’s very much in their hands.

The prospect I’m most intrigued with at the moment is Alabama’s Trent Richardson. He won’t participate in Alabama’s pro-day after minor knee surgery, having already missed the combine. A player with such undoubted quality doesn’t need work-outs to prove anything, but teams will want to see him healthy and running prior to the draft. Richardson is good enough to be a top-five pick and could be drafted as a luxury by teams with a star running back already in the stable. For example, there’s nothing to stop Tampa Bay, Jacksonville or Miami deciding the guy is just too good to pass. If he’s an option for the Seahawks having just re-signed Marshawn Lynch to a four-year extension, he’s an option to partner Maurice Jones-Drew or Reggie Bush.

At the moment I have Richardson going to Kansas City, a team who could build their offense around a double-headed monster alongside Jamaal Charles. But if he did make it to #12, the Seahawks would have a choice to make. The concept of a Lynch-Richardson partnership is beyond exciting, yet Seattle really wants to improve their pass rush first and foremost. With a lot of the second tier defensive ends promoting their stock into round one, the Seahawks would be taking a big risk by not adding to their front seven in round one. At the same time, the depth at running back in rounds 2-3 is very good with the likes of Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, David Wilson and Chris Polk likely to be available.

Passing on a player like Richardson would be tough to handle, even though Seattle has one of the more productive running backs in the NFL. But if other teams picking in the top-ten are willing to look elsewhere, so could the Seahawks.

I can already hear the groans from some as Courtney Upshaw is once again placed with the Seahawks in this mock. I have to stick to my guns with this and call the board as I see it. There’s still a chance Upshaw could go higher than a lot of people expect, even in the top ten. A prospect like Melvin Ingram has momentum on his side after an impressive display at the combine, but over the next few weeks teams will go back to the tape. Below I’ve included two games from each prospect – Ingram against two tough opponents from 2011 in Nebraska and Clemson, Upshaw against Cam Newton and Auburn (National Champions) from 2010 and also this year’s BCS Championship game against LSU. Ingram takes the athletic edge, but on tape I firmly believe Upshaw wins out. Judge for yourself:

Melvin Ingram vs Nebraska & Clemson

Courtney Upshaw vs Auburn & LSU

Either way, it seems likely both players – and Quinton Coples - will be off the board when Jacksonville, Miami, Buffalo and Seattle have made their picks.

Updated first round mock draft

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Indianapolis confirmed the inevitable this week. Peyton Manning will be cut, Andrew Luck will be the team’s new quarterback.
TRADE #2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
The Browns have the ammunition to make this happen. Eventually, they’ll come to a deal with St. Louis.
#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Minnesota won’t waste any time calling Kalil’s name. He has elite potential.
TRADE #4 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
I wouldn’t take Blackmon this early, but the Rams need a playmaker more than anything else.
#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
Linebacker and cornerback are the two biggest needs on this team, but they must be tempted by Trent Richardson too.
#6 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
If the Redskins don’t trade up, it’s hard to see them drifting into another year without some long term thinking at quarterback.
#7 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
The Jaguars need to improve their pass rush and will have the pick of Ingram, Upshaw and Coples.
#8 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
If the Dolphins sign Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne, their priority would have to be protecting that investment.
#9 Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis)
Players who weigh 345lbs and move as well as Poe don’t last long on draft day. Carolina will transition to more 3-4 looks.
#10 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Moving to a 4-3 defense makes Coples a solid fit here. The Bills desperately need to improve their pass rush.
#11 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
Richardson is too talented to keep falling and if he drops out of the top ten, he probably won’t get past Kansas City and Seattle.
#12 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
The Seahawks’ draft priority is to improve their pass rush. Upshaw will have a big impact on Seattle’s defense.
#13 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Whoever is playing quarterback for Arizona next year, the Cardinals simply must draft an offensive tackle.
#14 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)
Dallas could attack the corner market in free agency, allowing them to target Glenn or David DeCastro at this spot.
#15 Flecther Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
Andy Reid hasn’t drafted linebackers early in the past and he might find it difficult to pass on a physical freak like Cox.
#16 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
New York needs to improve it’s pass rush. Branch has a ton of potential and can transition to the 3-4.
#17 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Cincinnati will want to make sure one of their first round picks is a corner, but DeCastro is hard to pass here.
#18 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
With the top offensive lineman leaving the board before the #18 pick, San Diego may fill another big need here.
#19 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Floyd’s combine performance was good enough to confirm his likely position within the first round.
#20 Nick Perry (DE, USC)
Tennessee are another team that has to look at the edge rushers. The tape doesn’t always match Perry’s excellent combine performance.
#21 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Tall, physical cornerback who specialises in run support but his coverage skills need work.
TRADE #22 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
St. Louis has some edge rush talent but they don’t have a space clogger in the middle. Brockers could be BPA at this stage.
#23 Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
A smart performance at the combine will promote Gilmore’s stock into the bottom half of round one.
#24 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
There are some legitimate concerns about Adams’ play, but Pittsburgh may take a chance.
#25 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
Yes he performed well at the combine – but he’s still a middle linebacker, a position with a restricted value.
#26 Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)
He’s a tremendous athlete who makes spectacular plays. It’s more than combine hype that puts Hill in round one contention.
#27 Peter Konz (C, Wisconsin)
Nick Mangold, Alex Mack and Peter Konz. That’s how good Konz is leaving college.
#28 Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
The Packers are running out of options to improve their pass rush and could consider Curry in this situation.
#29 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Wright could drop a bit after running slow times. San Francisco won’t care – they’ll find ways to max-out his talent in different ways.
#30 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
The very definition of a defensive prospect who fits in Baltimore. A tough football player, simple as that.
#31 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
The injury isn’t helping matters and although he has legitimate top-20 potential, he may fall a bit.
#32 Josh Robinson (CB, UCF)
A late riser after a great combine. New York are in a position to look for value.

The case for why Peyton Manning won’t be a Seahawk

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

This man will not be Seattle's next quarterback

It was finally confirmed today that Peyton Manning will leave Indianapolis and become a free agent. What a shocker, nobody saw that coming. You can almost hear the collective gasp of anticipation among Seahawks fans as they hope against hope that their team will be the ones to win the Manning sweepstakes. This is a great solution, right? Get a future Hall of Fame quarterback, let him go to work and lead a blossoming young team to the promise land? A quick fix to make the Seahawks a competitor? The answer to the team’s prayers?   

Not exactly.   

Any team would love to build around the younger model of Peyton Manning – he’s the very definition of a franchise quarterback. However, there’s no way of knowing that this version of Manning is anything remotely like the one that churned out AFC South division titles like they were going out of fashion. He’s old, he’s been injured and there’s no way of knowing how long he’ll hold up. Could he break down in training camp? Will it be week three of the season? Will it be at the end of year one? With respect, all of those options are just as likely – if not more likely – than Manning rolling back the years to regain his former peak.   

Any team that signs Manning will have to make concessions. In Seattle’s case, they’d have to adapt their playbook in quite a big way. You’d have to remove a lot of the naked bootleg’s and developing routes, you might have to temper some of the downfield stuff. Even play action might be less likely with an emphasis on keeping Manning clean and getting the ball out quickly to the receivers. The player himself would also want to add some plays and modify things to fit what he’s been used to. After all, if you’re going to sign Peyton Manning you’re going to want to make life as comfortable for him as possible. You’d also have to change the blocking schemes to max-protect, because one hit could mean curtains. You’re kidding yourself if you believe you can just plug him in and let him run whatever offense you have. Some would argue, ‘why not change?’ for the sake of having Peyton Manning. In reality, there are lots of reasons.   

The Seahawks are building a young, hungry contender. It’s patently obvious that a zone blocking scheme, heavy run game with developing routes, bootlegs and play action is not a Peyton Manning offense. I watched the video below featuring Brian Billick and Charles Davis where the former Ravens coach suggests Seattle has no identity on offense and this is something Manning could provide. In fairness, Billick is completely wrong. The Seahawks have a very defined vision on offense and know exactly what they want to do. Manning doesn’t fit. So do you change everything around, modify the playbook and blocking, sign Reggie Wayne and make this the Peyton Manning show only to discover he can’t take the strain of the NFL anymore? What then? Change back in a rush?   

   

There are other teams out there – some with new coaching staffs – in a better position to take on Project:Manning without needing any major repair work if things go wrong. Arizona for example are in the process of rebuilding their offensive line and can adapt their blocking schemes. Manning and Ken Whisenhunt are close and Peyton would be afforded the opportunity to control most of the offense. There’s room for Reggie Wayne to join Larry Fitzgerald and the dome/warm weather will appeal too. If Manning can’t continue, it wouldn’t be a major re-tool to fit John Skelton back into the starting position. In many ways, Arizona makes a lot of sense. The Cardinals don’t really have a clear identity on offense and the Kevin Kolb trade proved to be a failure. Seattle on the other hand has priotised the run and the passing game to a degree is being used to supplement that. A lot of passing play calls in Seattle are used as an extension to the run, with mobile quarterbacks encouraged to improvise and tuck and run when required. That isn’t Manning – and the Seahawks would have to detach from their blueprint to accommodate Peyton.   

It’s also important to understand the men re-building this Seahawks roster. Can you see Pete Carroll and John Schneider signing Peyton Manning? I think this tweet from Hawk blogger sums it up best: “From ESPN: “GM John Schneider has a track record of finding diamonds in the rough, not entering a bidding war for the Hope Diamond.” Personally, I don’t think Peyton Manning would be that interested in the ‘always compete’, ‘win forever’ mantra. I don’t think Carroll is his kind of coach, or Manning Pete’s kind of quarterback. Manning’s used to doing things his way, but it’ll be Carroll’s way that wins out in Seattle. Simply put, it’s just not a great match.   

Arizona, Kansas City, Oakland, New York, Miami. These are the teams I think will be making the strongest push for Manning. We may have to wait a while to find out what’s going to happen, because nobody is likely to sign the man while his health remains in doubt. Brief footage emerged this week of him throwing a football at Duke University, but teams will need further reassurance before a contract is inked. I expect the Seahawks to sign or trade for a quarterback. That player will compete with Tarvaris Jackson to start in 2012. It may be a bridge-type player and they may draft at least one quarterback in the round 4-6 range next month. It may be that next year is the time to go ‘all-in’ on the quarterback they want. Yet despite all the media talk today, I wouldn’t expect #18 to be appearing regularly in the Pacific North West.   

Other free agency predictions:   

Vincent Jackson (WR) – San Diego, Jacksonville, Washington   

Marcus Colston (WR) – Jacksonville, New Orleans   

Matt Flynn (QB) – Oakland, Miami, Cleveland   

Mario Williams (DE) – Houston, New England   

Red Bryant (DE/DT) – Seattle

Pauline’s post-combine board is good news for Seattle

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Falling out of the first? Zach Brown could provide real value to Seattle

Tony Pauline is well sourced, so when he makes reference to his contacts and writes a piece on Draft Insider.net it’s worth considering. In the last few days he posted a top-33 big board based on information he received during and after the combine. I’d recommend making Tony’s site a regular stop as we build up to the draft and you can see the list by clicking here. For ease of use I’ve also posted it in full below: 

1. Andrew Luck – QB – Stanford
2. Robert Griffin III – QB – Baylor
3. Dontari Poe – NT – Memphis
4. Melvin Ingram – OLB – South Carolina
5. Trent Richardson – RB – Alabama
6. Matt Kalil – OT – USC
7. Justin Blackmon – WR – Oklahoma State
8. Morris Claiborne – CB – LSU
9. Fletcher Cox – DT – Mississippi State
10. Quinton Coples – DE – North Carolina
11. David DeCastro – OG – Stanford
12. Dre’ Kirkpatrick – CB – Alabama
13. Michael Brockers – DT – LSU
14. Jonathan Martin – OT – Stanford
15. Michael Floyd – WR – Notre Dame
16. Cordy Glenn – OL – Georgia
17. Devon Still – DT – Penn State
18. Whitney Mercilus – DE – Illinois
19. Coby Fleener – TE – Stanford
20. Nick Perry – DE – USC
21. Luke Kuechly – LB – Boston College
22. Kevin Zeitler – OG – Wisconsin
23. Ryan Tannehill – QB – Texas A&M
24. Doug Martin – RB – Boise State
25. Jerel Worthy – DT – Michigan State
26. Bobby Wagner – LB – Utah State
27. Stephon Gilmore – CB – South Carolina
28. Kendall Wright – WR – Baylor
29. Dwayne Allen – TE – Clemson
30. Donta Hightower – LB – Alabama
31. Kendall Reyes – DT – UConn
32. Stephen Hill – WR - Georgia Tech
33. Riley Reiff – OG – Iowa 

For starters it’s easy to see the influence of the combine on the board. Dontari Poe had a superb work-out in Indianapolis, running a sub 5.00 despite weighing 345lbs and benching 45 reps – more than anyone else during the week. Players like Poe are rare and it’s no surprise that despite a lack of production at Memphis he appears so high on a board like this after his display last week. Teams hoping to transition to a 3-4 will look for a nose tackle to build around so expect Carolina to have their sights firmly on the big lineman come April 26th. The combination of below average production and different positional priorities will stop him going quite as high as #3, but he should secure a slot in the same region as B.J. Raji in 2009. Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore are two others who helped their stock at the combine and also make the list. 

There are also some noticeable absentees, such as the Alabama pair of Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron and the North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown. It’s no surprise that Upshaw has dipped given his negative publicity since the combine. Russ Lande from the Sporting News described his performance as such, “He struggled during the linebacker drills, where he was required to move his feet and show that he could handle playing off the ball in pass coverage. He was upright and stiff in drops, could not flip his hips to change direction quickly and lacked the explosiveness and burst that NFL teams wanted to see. In our view, his performance clearly showed that he is a power player who lacks the explosiveness and speed to be a threat as an edge pass rusher.”  

The list is distinctly combine-influenced and Upshaw isn’t the only to suffer. Kendall Wright is ranked at #28, Ryan Tannehill (who didn’t perform) is at #23 and Riley Reiff plummets from potential top-10 choice to #33 after he was found to have short arms. These are the lucky few who clung to the top-33, while Upshaw, Barron, Brown and other fell like a stone. This may well represent the consensus feeling at the moment among scouts, but rest assured things can change again by the time April rolls around. 

From what I’ve picked up while writing this blog, the combine largely makes up approximately 10-20% of a final judgement on a prospect. Tape study will always win the day. Rather than let a sloppy performance in Indianapolis leave a permanent scar, teams will return to the video room and revise their impression based on what they learnt at the combine. In some cases the negatives will show up on tape when perhaps they weren’t so noticeable at first. In other cases, watching back tape will reassure scouts and GM’s that their grade’s were satisfactory and need no adjustment. After all, performing in pads and a helmet will always be preferable than shorts and a t-shirt. 

I suspect the Seahawks front office is one that puts a lot of trust in game tape, maybe more than the majority of teams. Having studied a lot of James Carpenter’s tape at Alabama last year – enough to rave about him during the 2011 season- it wasn’t a total shock that someone made him a first round pick. He didn’t have an incredible senior bowl or combine, but the talent flashed up on tape and John Schneider, Pete Carroll and Tom Cable noticed it. In fact, nearly all of Seattle’s draft picks so far have come from a similar ilk. They’ve avoided pure work-out warriors and late risers early in the draft and gone for solid football players who have produced in college and played on successful teams. Later in the draft they’ve taken chances on athletic small-school prospects with raw potential or talented players who have dropped due to injury or off-field concerns. Essentially, the Seahawks are trying to eliminate risk but also take advantage of potential bargains later on. 

I’d be sceptical about Seattle’s draft board changing too much post-combine, which means their board may look quite different to the one above. I imagine they’ll have a pretty focused view of what they want long before the end of February and while the combine will have it’s role, it won’t dictate too much. Upshaw and Brown might have dropped in the media and seemingly also among scouts if Pauline’s report is to be believed, but I doubt they’ll have dropped too far – if at all – on Seattle’s grading scale. I know a lot of people disagree with me on this, but I firmly believe Upshaw is among the best prospects in this draft class. From what I understand, the Seahawks may share that opinion. Brown has raw, untapped potential and would make a logical fit at the WILL and while #12 might be considered a stretch, a high second round pick could present real value and bring the extra speed Seattle craves along the front seven. 

One thing that works in both players favor might be that they fitin Seattle. Upshaw won’t attract every team given his size and skill set, but the Seahawks have had a lot of success with niche players and I suspect they’ll see more of the same in the Alabama pass rusher. In the draft report being handed to teams prior to the combine, Nick Saban was quoted as saying Upshaw was the meanest player he’s ever coached and someone that, “would never back down in a fight.” That’s the type of player this team wants, to go along with the Red Bryant’s, the Richard Sherman’s, the Kam Chancellor’s and the Earl Thomas’. Brown supposedly isn’t receiving glowing endorsements from his coaches at UNC according to Pauline, but the Seahawks will be acutely aware of the potential value on offer and linebacker will become a vital need if Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne both depart in free agency. 

The fans may react to the idea of Upshaw at #12 followed by a day-two selection of Brown in a negative manner. No quarterback? Not selecting players promoted by the media leading into the draft? It begs the question – haven’t we been here before? In Seattle’s previous two drafts similar questions have been asked, yet subsequently answered  by success. The front office deserves an element of trust given the good work so far, fitting what could’ve otherwise been years of rebuilding into 24 months. And while the likely extension of the quarterback dilemma will cause some consternation, a little patience may be rewarded in the long term. 

A double pick of Upshaw and Brown wouldn’t be everyone’s preference, but it would pay dividends especially if other hot-choices such as Quinton Coples (ranked #10 on Pauline’s board) or Doug Martin (ranked #24) end up out of reach. Upshaw/Brown wouldn’t earn the top grade’s from Mel Kiper, Pete Prisco and whoever else marks a card as the event unfolds. However – this team has been doubted in the past and so far the rebuild has gone better than most expected. It’s only a few weeks ago that both were considered to be likely high picks and some teams will maintain that view. Not being swayed too much by the combine is a nice habit to have and the Seahawks could use it to their advantage in April. 

If Pauline’s board is an accurate assesment of how the league feels about this draft class – it’ll provide the Seahawks a great opportunity to make it three successful drafts out of three for Schneider and Carroll.

Mychal Kendricks (LB, California) game tape

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Mychal Kendricks would bring speed and intensity to Seattle's front seven

Over the next few weeks we’re going to look at some of the linebacker prospects that could be on Seattle’s radar beyond round one. The Seahawks are looking for more speed in the front seven and with David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill both pending free agents, linebacker could become a key need by April. We’ll look at Florida State’s Nigel Bradham, Oklahoma’s Ronnell Lewis, Texas’ Keenan Robinson, Miami’s Sean Spence and a few others who could be potential draft picks after the first round. Today, we’re starting with California’s Mychal Kendricks - one of the combine’s top performers last week.

Game tape vs USC

Game tape vs Stanford

Tape courtesy of JMPasq Aaron Aloysius

Kendricks is a senior prospect who played inside linebacker at California. However, a highly athletic performance at the combine has led to many questioning whether he can transition to any of the linebacker positions, given his straight line speed, mobility in coverage and untapped potential. He ran an official 4.47 in Indianapolis but was timed as fast as 4.41, he had the best vertical jump (39.5 inches), the best broad jump (10ft 7 inches) and the best 20-yard shuttle (4.19 seconds) among linebackers. He had 24-reps on the bench press. You can watch highlights of his forty yard dash by clicking here

Typically players get asked at the combine who they model their game on, and this leads to inevitable comparisons to the NFL’s elite. Kendricks name-check for Patrick Willis isn’t particularly interesting, but the second part of his answer is: “Willis, that’s who I look up to. I feel like I can move the same way. Very fast, very quick, cat-like, that’s my style of play. I look at him and it’d be nice to be fraction of what he is. I’m a hard worker, tough, I want to win. I’m a competitor. I’ve been a competitor and I think my character will show for itself once I get picked up. I’m not going to sit here and harp on my character, but I mean, they can ask around and they can see I’m a good guy. I don’t get in much trouble, keep to myself, and just I just take care of business.”

We all know Pete Carroll loves a competitor and he ticks the boxes in that sense – these aren’t empty words. Lost among a disappointing season for the Golden Bears was the fact Kendricks won PAC-12 defensive player of the year. He was known to be a strong, vocal leader at Cal who often spoke his mind. For those wondering, it’s not evidently clear if he was recruited by Carroll at USC and he only had official visits to Oregon and California. He had offers from Oregon State, Fresno State and San Diego State.

He’s listed at 5-11 and weighs around the 240lbs region. When you watch the tape you instantly recognise his toughness - Kendricks isn’t someone who makes spectacular plays (only three total sacks in 2011 and two interceptions), but he’ll knife through a gap to hit a running back and he’ll chase from sideline-to-sideline to help make a tackle. He had 106 total tackles as a senior – not a total shock given his position – but it paints the picture of a player leading from the front. Kendricks does a good job changing direction and accelerating to react to a play and although he can do a better job sifting through traffic, he’s got the quicks to take advantage of an opportunity when presented.

While he didn’t do a lot of edge rushing at Cal, I think it’s something he can bring to the table particularly if he adapts to OLB or plays certain looks in the role. The key is going to be learning to use leverage at his height and whether he can consistently exploit speed against pro-lineman if he doesn’t have the reach or strength to stay clean. I’d like to see him in a defense like Seattle’s that will eat up space through the middle, look to provide a greater edge rush in 2012 and potentially have more speed at linebacker. Kendricks ability to read/react and then explode would add another dimension in the second level and another pass rushing weapon even if he plays the MIKE.

He’s generally a sure tackler but there are occassions when he gets sloppy and doesn’t wrap up, but part of this is down to the sheer amount of time he spent on the field last year. There are some concerns about asking him to cover a big tight end at the next level because he’ll be over-matched in space, but he’s got the ability to drop and react and he’s fairly fluid in his mobility to offer some value in coverage.

The Seahawks are looking for toughness, speed and intensity – and Kendricks has the full package. If they’re looking for a draft-replacement for David Hawthorne, Kendricks could very easily be the man to fit in there. Given his athleticism and potential to take on greater responsibility rushing the edge, there’s no reason why he couldn’t adapt to the WILL on certain downs. He’s expected to leave the board at some point in round two so if the Seahawks want him, they may have to take him with their second pick.

Why Seattle will continue to build through the draft

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

The Seahawks are looking for more of this in 2012 and beyond

The day will come when the Seahawks can go into a draft intending to take the best player available, regardless of position. That day has not yet arrived. There’s been a lot of discussion over the past week about what the plan may be - would they draft a receiver? Will they select another offensive lineman in round one? Will they take a quarterback? The way I see it, Seattle’s front office aren’t asking those same questions.

From the day this regime took control, it’s obvious they’ve had a clear vision about what they want to get out of a draft – and it’s worked so far. In 2010 they were determined to go left tackle and safety with their two first round picks. Initially, I understand they believed it was possible to draft Eric Berry with the #6 overall pick and Trent Williams at #14. However, as the process developed it became evident that both would be top-five choices. It’s easy to forget in hindsight that for a long time in the build up to the draft, Williams was far from a consensus high pick. His raw athleticism and fit in the ZBS pushed him into Washington’s path at #4, with Berry the next to go at #5 to Kansas City.

As it turns out, the Seahawks were afforded the opportunity to get their left tackle at #6 in Russell Okung and their safety at #14 with Earl Thomas. Schneider has since admitted a trade was in place to move down the board had Philadelphia – who traded into the #13 slot – selected Thomas as many expected. Instead they took Brandon Graham and Seattle got the man and the position they wanted. That’s not to say the Seahawks wouldn’t have had a contingency plan or secondary target (likely a pass rusher) but the clear vision was set out for offensive tackle and safety – and they executed.

Carroll made a point to emphasise the run game following his appointment as coach, yet the Seahawks struggled in that department in 2010. This was to be the heart and soul of the offense, so the fact it was so ineffective in year one moved Carroll to act. In came Tom Cable and the team’s first two picks in the 2011 draft were spent on big offensive lineman. Robert Gallery was later signed in free agency in what became a complete rebuild and re-structure for the run game. It wasn’t a coincidence that Seattle went the way they did in the draft, it was totally calculated. The Seahawks zoned in on improving their offensive line with a view to getting the run game going. It’s not like they didn’t have alternatives – they turned down a lot of talent elsewhere with the two picks that were spent on James Carpenter and John Moffitt.

This year the focus will be on defense and the front seven. Carroll and his staff aren’t satisfied with a one-dimensional pass rush, with all the pressure dependant on Chris Clemons. He was the only player in 2011 to provide consistent production in terms of sacks and he didn’t get much help anywhere else. In the 2012 draft, that will be the next focus area in this big rebuild. We’ve talked about the possible options at #12 overall, but it seems very likely that at least one of Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples will be available. That’s as far as we need to look. There won’t be a wide receiver drafted like Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd, they won’t go after David De Castro or Jonathan Martin. In year one it was tackle and safety, last year it was the offensive line, now it’s the turn of the pass rush.

So far the results within this strategy have been extremely positive. Both Okung and Thomas have been succesful and although Carpenter and Moffitt suffered serious long term injuries in 2011 – the determination to improve the running game and offensive line provoked a much improved ground attack last season. Considering the new regime had to completely rebuild this team from scratch, so far the decision to target specific zones has worked a treat. Improvement within the front seven is the next target by adding another pass rusher and finding improved speed at linebacker. I suspect in twelve months time we’ll be talking about how this team achieved much more pressure on opposition quarterbacks in 2012.

Under Tim Ruskell, the Seahawks tried to address key needs in free agency in order to take a ‘BPA’ approach during the draft based on the strict grading system of the GM. The end result wasn’t good – the Seahawks became an old and expensive bunch without much forward planning. Although Seattle was being aggressive in free agency to fill needs with older players, the draft wasn’t used properly to plan for the long term. Instead, the first round picks were spent on trying to find further impact players who could contribute relatively early. In hindsight it’s fair to say this wasn’t a great strategy – at least for this team – given they went from being a Super Bowl contender to one of the worst teams in the NFL.

The new plan is almost the polar opposite. Sure, Seattle are making calculated moves in free agency. Last year’s additions of Robert Gallery, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller were a throwback to former moves, although it’s fair to say Rice and Miller are a lot younger than the Patrick Kerney’s, Mike Wahle’s, T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s and Julian Peterson’s of the Ruskell era. Yet the moves made after the lockout concluded were supposed to give the team a kick start – a necessary lift to help the rebuild move a little faster. Only Rice was filling a crucial need and one the Seahawks had previously tried to fill by looking into trades for Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson.

The proper team building has been left to the draft – and that will likely become even more of the case over the next few years. The Seahawks will probably make calculated moves that bring value to the team and don’t create big discrepancies between the big earners and the rest of the team. Carroll is building a core of young, hungry players who will compete – not a group of expensive free agents with a diminished motivation due to new-found wealth. While Ruskell would attack an area of the team in free agency, Carroll and Schneider will do the same in the draft. It’s why I don’t think we’ll see this team make Mario Williams the highest paid defensive player in the NFL and why I do think we’ll see a pass rusher drafted with the #12 pick.

And for those questioning the ongoing need at quarterback – I’m sure a time will come when the aggressive team-building approach to the draft turns to the position. In fact, I’d predict that happens in 2013 unless the situation is somehow resolved before then or other more pressing needs emerge. But this year the aim seems extremely clear – and who’d bet against the end-product being a much improved pass rush for the Seahawks in 2012?

Late round Quarterbacks of interest, Part IV

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Zach Collaros

Written by Kip Earlywine

Part I, Part II, Part III

Call it a hunch, but I get the feeling Seattle’s preference in this draft is not to find a franchise QB, or even a diamond in the rough, but rather their own version of Matt Flynn.  A guy who can be a very good backup, good enough to interest other teams when he eventually becomes a free agent.  Or even a guy that could draw enough interest for teams to make a trade- the same way that Matt Schaub, Matt Cassell, and Kevin Kolb have done.

The more I think about it, the more realistic Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson appears.  I think if we are honest about it, Wilson’s only real problem are his perceived durability issues.  You look at the massive line he excelled behind at Wisconsin and wonder where his height issues went.  Truthfully, I don’t think height is a problem for Wilson, but durability is harder to discount.  Wilson weighed in at the combine at 204 pounds, and while that’s not bad for a sub 5’11″ player, how is that body going to hold up when getting smashed by 350 pound lineman?  Wilson seems unlikely to hold up over a 16 game schedule year after year, yet it almost feels like Wilson is destined to be the NFL’s greatest career backup (which is more or less what Doug Flutie was).  If he only plays a few games a season, he’ll probably get by.  Most teams don’t like the idea of drafting a guy late that may not realistically have a chance to be the next Jake Delhomme or Matt Hasselbeck, but Seattle could be one of the few who are okay with such a proposition.

That’s what I think they’d like to do, anyway.  What they do in the draft will be directly impacted by the events of free agency.  What if they pull off a trade for a quarterback who could beat Jackson out as the starter?  What if they sign a free agent who could do the same?  What if nothing comes together and they walk into the 2012 draft with only two quarterbacks?   If Seattle strikes out and walks into the draft with only two signal callers, they might have to choose from a rather select group of quarterbacks who are NFL ready and could at least compete with Jackson to start right away.  If Seattle brings in a low cost veteran to compete with Jackson (Orton, Campbell, etc), that might make them comfortable enough to draft a Matt Flynn type- a savvy quarterback with physical limitations.  If Seattle gets a big name quarterback who can clearly beat out Jackson for the starting job, that frees up Seattle to do whatever they want in the draft, potentially even drafting another Josh Portis type project with some upside who can compete for the final quarterback roster spot.

In this 4th installment, I’m going to look at 3 more quarterbacks, one for each of the scenarios above.

~

Brandon Weeden. Size:  6’4″, 221.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  28

It might seem a little weird putting Weeden in this group, but I look at Weeden’s age and the competition he’ll face from younger quarterbacks like Tannehill and Osweiler, and I find it hard to believe he’s going to go terribly early in the 2012 draft.  Weeden’s situation is unusual, but not unprecedented.  In fact, his story is strikingly similar to that of Chris Weinke 11 years ago.  Like Weeden, Weinke turned down college football to play baseball.  He’d make it all the way to triple-A in the Blue Jays minor league system, but gave it up to return to football.  He committed to Florida State University at the age of 25, and three years later, Weinke became the oldest Heisman trophy winner in history.  He entered the 2001 draft coming off that terrific season and was also 28 years old.

Chris Weinke would be a 4th round pick.

So while its possible that Weeden could go as early as the 2nd round, history suggests that he will be a mid rounder.  Weeden turns 30 in October of next year.  That’s going to impact how GMs value him, as it once did for Chris Weinke.

While Weeden’s age is a major drawback, it could be a drawback that plays to Seattle’s favor.  If Seattle enters next year’s draft with only two quarterbacks, they would likely seek a player with enough experience and maturity to at least make Tarvaris Jackson sweat for his job a little bit.  Its really hard to find a rookie quarterback who can do that right away, especially for a team that would prefer not to spend a high pick doing so.  You would need a very unique situation for such a thing to be possible, and Weeden presents exactly such an opportunity.  Seattle wouldn’t care as much about his age, because the Seahawks are one of a handful of NFL teams actively searching for a bridge quarterback.  Lets not forget either that Seattle was very interested in guard Danny Watkins last year, so the age of a prospect might not be as big an issue for this front office as it would be for many others.

Weeden is a former pitcher, but you wouldn’t know it based on his accuracy.  His accuracy is very inconsistent.  Even in Weeden’s victorious Fiesta Bowl performance, roughly 30% (by my count) of his passes were overthrown, underthrown, or forced his receivers to stretch out for the catch.  I find it almost unfathomable that he completed over 72% of his passes last year.  Nearly every pass Weeden threw was snapped from the shotgun, so under center ability is a question mark.  Weeden often stares down receivers, and he’s prone to make blind spot throws a few times a game where he doesn’t even notice the defender threatening his passing lane.

On a positive note, there are things to like about Weeden beyond his terrific numbers.  He has prototypical size and he just “looks the part” of an NFL quarterback physically.  Weeden’s athleticism and speed is roughly on par with Matt Barkley’s, which is probably enough for him to be adequate in our offense.  I was really impressed by Weeden’s pocket presence too.  He feels pressure so well that he doesn’t need a ton of speed to escape it.  Weeden’s accuracy might be inconsistent, but his velocity is not.  Weeden has one of the better arms in the draft, and one of my favorite things about him is the amount of zip he delivers on his 15-25 yard strikes.  His mechanics aren’t textbook, but I would consider them above average.  His release point is high enough and his windup is a little elongated but still quick.  His footwork is well spaced and fluid.  Its not hard for me to see him quickly adapting to an under center offense.  And while its true that Weeden will lock onto receivers with upsetting frequency, he’ll just as often progress through multiple reads and very quickly diagnose open receivers.  The speed at which he goes through those reads is very impressive.  What I like most of all about Weeden is how he has almost a Peyton Manning ability to get rid of the football quickly.  Its very rare that the football will still be resting in Weeden’s hands four seconds after the snap.  Of course, Weeden is playing in a spread offense, which would partially explain why he can find targets so quickly.

Still, there is a bit of a Tarvaris Jackson vibe I get when watching Weeden.  A lot of his reads feel forced, almost “wooden.”  When a receiver isn’t wide open, he seems to agonize over it.  He also throws very, very few passes away, and that would need to change at the next level.

So is Weeden actually NFL ready?  I think that depends on what you are looking for.  Weeden isn’t a project, he’s just a flawed quarterback with some talent (I feel the same about Darron Thomas).  Similar to Tim Tebow or Jake Locker, I think what you see is what you get.  Both Tim Tebow and Jake Locker had some success last year despite the fact that their college level flaws remained evident.

The biggest problem for Weeden is how he can sometimes be a bit of a robot… although there are stretches were his robot button gets switched and he suddenly looks like the Terminator.  My experience is that quarterbacks with mental limitations usually don’t grow out of them, they either succeed despite them or they don’t.  With the exception of having to learn the playbook and adapt to playing under center, I think Weeden is as NFL ready in 2012 as he’ll be in 2014.  He’s not a guy I expect to grow, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a solid, possibly even good, quarterback at the next level.

Expected draft trajectory:  Rounds 2-4.

~

Kellen Moore. Size:  6’0″ (5116), 197.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  22

Finally, northwest native Kellen Moore gets his turn at the wheel.  I know some of you have been waiting eagerly for this, if only for the entertainment value.  So here we go…

In many ways, Moore is a bizarro Tim Tebow.  Physically they are nothing alike- left handedness aside.  Yet both are quarterbacks with phenomenal college careers that have flaws so severe that it turns their NFL projection into a bit of a punchline.  Josh McDaniels believed so strongly in Tebow’s intangibles that he made the Florida legend a surprise 1st round pick.  Moore won’t be drafted nearly as high, but I think its pretty likely he will be drafted somewhere based on his intangibles alone.  If Moore is a successful NFL quarterback some day, that success will be met with surprise, laughter, amusement, and even excitement, the kind of excitement that comes with a strange and inexplicable sports storyline.  Tebow-mania.  Linsanity.  The value of Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin is not derived from their play.  Its from the narrative their emergence itself provides.  Tim Tebow was never supposed to be an NFL quarterback.  Jeremy Lin should be using his Harvard degree to trade stocks somewhere, not vault the horrid Knicks into playoff contention.  Moore might not be a successful NFL quarterback, but I don’t think he’ll have a boring NFL career.

And while Moore doesn’t come close to fitting the classic description of a point guard quarterback, he might interest Seattle if they are indeed looking for a Matt Flynn type or if they are looking to draft two quarterbacks instead of just one (something Schneider recently hinted at).  Like Matt Flynn, Moore doesn’t have a cannon arm nor does he have even average athleticism.  However, in a recent John Schneider radio appearance (more on that later), he revealed that the top attribute he looks for in a quarterback is leadership, a guy “who tilts the field his way.”  Moore is one of the best quarterbacks in the draft in this department.  He’s a guy who wasn’t supposed to amount to anything yet broke records and went 50-3 as a starter.  As you might have heard, that’s the most wins in college football history.  He also showed up to the combine and worked his ass off, even stepping in for throwing drills when many superior quarterbacks refused to.  Its said that Moore was surprisingly impressive in those drills too.

If nothing else, that left a positive and memorable impression for all the evaluators in attendance.  John Schneider once said that he never forgot watching Charlie Whitehurst throw passes in the wind and rain many years ago.  He still remembered that moment five years later when he traded for the Chargers’ quarterback.  Sometimes little impressions can go a long way in the mind of a general manager.  That could make Moore a surprise candidate for Seattle in the very late rounds if he’s still around, despite his lack of fit for the scheme.  Matt Flynn didn’t exactly fit Green Bay’s physical preferences either, but they saw something in the guy and gave him a chance to compete.

As far as what I think about Moore, I like the guy, but let me get some caveats out of the way.  First, obviously, his size.  He’s just under 6 feet tall and can’t even break 200 pounds.  He has skinny legs and arms- he looks like he’d snap if Ndamukong Suh so much as looked at him.  In terms of stature, he reminds me of Colt McCoy- not a guy you would mistake for a prototypical quarterback at first glance.  I don’t think height will be as big a concern as many think (I’ll cover that in the positives), but whenever a quarterback is that short, there is always a very strong chance he could be the next Max Hall who throws terrible picks in the NFL because he can’t see anything.  Like Weeden, Moore played in a spread offense and when I watched his game footage from Georgia, he took only one snap from under center.  Moore has below average raw athleticism, and his deep throws lack distance and zip.  He has a bit of a clunky delivery (although its fast enough) and his footwork could use some work too.  He makes a lot of ugly/awkward off balance throws (though to his credit, they remain accurate).  Finally, it should be noted that Moore played on a team with national champion level talent in a non-BCS conference.  Boise state has a great coaching staff, a defense that occasionally boasts NFL talent, a great offensive line, some good receivers and one of the nation’s better running backs in Doug Martin.  So like Flynn, Moore benefited tremendously from the environment he played in.

Wow, that was a wall of text wasn’t it?  Kellen Moore’s issues when projecting to the NFL are numerous and significant.  And yet, I think there is a tiny bit of truth to the Tom Brady comps some fans give Moore.  Brady is 6’4″, 225.  Obviously, Moore will never physically be Brady’s equal, but the similarities are there.  First, like Brady coming out of Michigan, Moore has a ton of potential to add weight.  Whereas Russell Wilson looks pretty maxed out at 204 pounds, Moore is an almost embarrassingly skinny looking 197, and its certainly within Moore’s potential to bulk up an extra 10-15 pounds.  If he could reach the 210-215 range, he’d still be a worse than average injury threat, but at least he’d be reasonably close to the 220 pound minimum many teams prefer.  Moore doesn’t run the ball much and is smart about avoiding contact, so 210 pounds might be enough to make him a viable 16 game starter health wise.  I’d say in no uncertain terms that Moore must add weight, and its legitimate to wonder if that could impact his mobility even further.

Earlier I compared Moore to McCoy in terms of physical appearance.  That said, I don’t believe that Moore has a Colt McCoy career in store for him.  Moore is a far superior quarterback- its not even close.  Moore has outstanding decision making and almost never has an off game.  McCoy had good intangibles but was incredibly erratic.  Moore is better across the board in many ways that I will address shortly.  I would only compare the two in terms of physical limitations.

There is a lot to like about Moore.  Moore gets rid of the ball with incredible speed.  In the Georgia game, I don’t know if he held the ball in his hand for 3 seconds even one time.  He doesn’t lock onto receivers and he progresses through reads with a high degree of comfort.  In a few cases he checked his 2nd read and delivered the ball a few tenths of a second later- that’s some astonishingly fast recognition time.  Dare I say elite. While its true that Moore was sacked very little and played behind a great offensive line against inferior competition, I think the true reason for the sack total is Moore’s ability to get rid of the football with such consistent quickness.  Its awfully hard to sack a quarterback when the ball is consistently gone two seconds after the snap.

Moore’s ability to make pre-snap reads and adjust on the fly are both very impressive.  Moore’s intelligence is extremely high.  Watch this video where he breaks down X’s and O’s and try not to be impressed.   He doesn’t sound anything at all like a college quarterback.  Pay close attention to how he talks about defensive positions and how he specifically diagnoses how big a threat each defender is to intercept his pass.  He has a mental system that is designed to very quickly diagnose “yes” or “no” on a read, and if its not there, he moves to the next option very quickly.  This explains a great deal about why Moore’s reads are so fluid and quick.  John Schneider himself recently said that Moore’s intelligence and instincts “are off the charts.”  I would tend to agree.

Moore doesn’t have a ton of athleticism, but he still runs an effective bootleg.  He generally has good pocket presence and is surprisingly agile and elusive.  He’s not going to run the ball, but you don’t have to run the ball as a Quarterback to accomplish what Seattle wants on offense.  Overall his mobility was pretty close to average, which surprised me.

Moore has a “floaty” deep ball and offensive coordinator Brent Pease wisely minimized deep routes in his game plans.  Yet for having such a weak arm, Moore’s short and intermediate passes pack a ton of zip.  Overall, his arm is highly comparable to that of Matt Hasselbeck.  It could be interesting to see how Pete Carroll would scheme Moore into his offense since it strongly emphasizes a vertical passing game.  I think Carroll could make it work, since after all, he turned a noodle armed Hasselbeck into a surprisingly potent deep threat quarterback in 2010 with Jeremy Bates.  While its true that Moore’s deep ball is a strike against him coming here, there is something to be said for just how deadly Moore can be with mid range throws.  Seattle’s offense throws a lot of passes 15-25 yards downfield, and Moore is one of the more deadly mid range quarterbacks in this draft due to the strength of his reads and the zip on his intermediate passes.

As far as Moore’s height, will it really be an issue?  Like Russell Wilson, Moore played behind a pretty big offensive line in college and didn’t suffer from a barrage of tipped passes.  Not once did I see a play where Moore struggled to see his receivers or the defenders covering them.  Moore isn’t going to win gold medals on the track, but he does have some short area quickness which helps him maneuver to find throwing windows very quickly.

Bottom line, does Moore fit the point guard role Seattle is seeking?  Yes, sort of.  He won’t often run beyond the line of scrimmage, but he’s mobile enough to escape pressure and can extend plays.  I think Moore falls into a very similar category as Russell Wilson, a guy with incredibly strong intangibles and the kind of skills Seattle is looking for at quarterback.  Moore will never be a prototypical franchise quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be successful if he goes to the right team- a team that can adjust to suit his strengths and weaknesses.  Overall I came away from my evaluation surprisingly believing of Moore.  His determination is palpable and while his obstacles are perhaps insurmountable, his talent is the real thing.  I’d be pretty excited if Seattle drafted him, if only because he is such a wildcard.

Expected draft trajectory:  Mid to Late round pick.

~

Zach Collaros. Size:  6’1″ , 218.  Class:  Sr.  Age:  23

Zach Collaros represents an example of a quarterback Seattle might target in a best case scenario.  Yesterday Rob provided some new information about the trade Seattle has on the table, which means it is possible that Seattle could acquire a big name quarterback depending on where Peyton Manning signs.  If Seattle trades for an established quarterback like (hypothetically speaking) Tony Romo, that would allow them to draft a Josh Portis-type project with nice upside, should they so desire.

Collaros is worth mentioning because he’s got a decent chance to go undrafted and has many similarities to Chandler Harnish.  Both have similar size and athleticism.  Neither one is a stranger to ripping off 50+ yard touchdown runs at any given moment.  Both are classic point guard quarterback types who flash strong intangibles and the ability to progress through reads and distribute the football.  I think Collaros holds onto his first read a little too long at times, but overall I’ve been impressed with him when I’ve seen him.  He has a Josh Freeman type ability to dodge pass rushers and get off desperate looking last second throws that are often completed for big plays.

Callaros is a gutty player who has the respect of his coaches and teammates.  Cincinatti posted a 10-3 record and won the Big East thanks in large part to Collaros’ leadership and playmaking ability.  Collaros did struggle a bit with interceptions.  After avoiding a pick through his first three games, he went on to toss 10 picks over his last 7 starts.

I think Harnish is the better quarterback, but Collaros could be an appealing option at the end of the draft depending on how the previous rounds go.

Expected draft trajectory:  Late round pick / UDFA.

~

For those who haven’t heard it yet, Seahawks GM John Schneider had a recent radio interview with Brock and Salk (skip to about the 15 minute mark).  Lots of good stuff in there, I’d highly recommend giving it a listen.  Here were a few of my highlights:

#1)  While describing what he looks for in a quarterback, John Schneider threw a couple quarterback names out there- probably just the first two that came to his mind.  Those quarterbacks?  Chandler Harnish and Austin Davis.

#2)  He listed leadership, mobility, elusiveness, and keeping eyes down the field as major attributes he looks for in a quarterback.

#3)  He had a rather cryptic anecdote about Reggie White, saying that “the time was right” to make a major signing like White (the Packers were already contenders with Favre and White put them over the edge). He then had a reverse example talking about a time when they signed a 32 year old defensive end before the team was ready for that kind of move and how it set the team back. Those stories strongly suggest that Seattle is leaning against a major free agent addition this offseason, as the Seahawks are clearly not in their championship window just yet.  His comments could also hint against free agents over the age of 30.  I don’t think John Schneider was being terribly nuanced here, and it makes me pretty skeptical that Mario Williams will be a Seahawk next season.

#4)  Last of all, Schneider suggested the intriguing possibility of drafting two quarterbacks this year… sounded 100% serious too.  This is a deep quarterback class in the mid to late rounds.  Drafting two quarterbacks in a year like this makes an awful lot of sense.

Updated mock draft: 1st March

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The combine is in the books and it’s time to take stock on where we’re at with less than two months to go until the 2012 draft. I want to offer three thoughts today, starting with this week’s projection:

- Many people are tired of seeing Courtney Upshaw mocked to the Seahawks. However, there’s no point deliberately manufacturing situations that have no chance of happening. This team is zoning in on pass rushers and will almost certainly have the opportunity to draft one of the big three – Upshaw, Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples. While speculation is rife about the Seahawks making a splash on Mario Williams, we have to remember that Pete Carroll and John Schneider are on the record for saying they’ll build this team through the draft. That means a pass rusher in round one, with only one obvious wild-card alternative (a certain Alabama running back, who is too good to pass if available at #12). No offensive lineman. No wide receivers. Sadly, no quarterbacks. This will be a situation where a need (pass rush) fits supply (defensive end) and the Seahawks aren’t exactly hiding their intentions.

- The Rams will trade the #2 pick, otherwise known as the rights to Robert Griffin III. Several teams interviewed the Baylor quarterback at the combine, but the Seahawks did not. Many wondered whether this was a sign of secret interest, comparable to Mike Shanahan’s stealth pursuit of Jay Cutler in 2006. That is categorically not the case and Seattle will not be trading with St. Louis. The situation is like poker – the Rams have a great hand and they’re looking to draw others in to increase the pot. The more people at the table, the higher the stakes. The Seahawks have no interest in helping St. Louis drive up the price. Cleveland, Washington and Miami are all reported to have discussed a possible trade and the more teams willing to fight over Griffin’s services, the higher the price becomes. An inter-division trade was never realistic and simply won’t happen, so walking out of the casino is Seattle’s best move. They’ve left the table – not interviewing Griffin III was a statement to the rest of the league. St. Louis are still going to get a great deal, but at least the Seahawks won’t be making it any sweeter.

- Various sources are talking up Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn to Seattle, but I understand interest is minimal and virtually non-existent in both players. For several weeks now we’ve suggested keeping an eye on the trade market for a deal that isn’t abundantly obvious. What we know is Manning’s eventual destination could be the catalyst for a trade which would see another current starting quarterback move to Seattle. Before everyone jumps to conclusions and assumes Mark Sanchez, we also understand the team in question isn’t one which has been heavily touted in the media as a suitor for Manning. The deal is far from probable, rather just possible – and will depend on a.) Manning’s health and b.) where he signs. There’s no guarantee that a deal will get done, indeed it’s been described as more unlikely than likely. However, it’s worth noting that the Seahawks will be trying to upgrade the position this off-season even though they may not draft a quarterback in the first three rounds.

Onto this week’s mock draft. I’ve included a second round in the projection.

Round one

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Indianapolis will need to work out a way to build around Luck, and fast. This is a roster starting from scratch.
TRADE #2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
The Rams are trading this pick, the only question is whether Griffin III will be a Brown or a Redskin.
#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Minnesota won’t waste any time calling Kalil’s name. He has elite potential.
TRADE #4 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
I wouldn’t take Blackmon this early, but the Rams need a playmaker more than anything else.
 
#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
Linebacker and cornerback are the two biggest needs on this team, but they must be tempted by Trent Richardson too.
#6 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
If the Redskins don’t trade up, it’s hard to see them drifting into another year without some long term thinking at quarterback.
#7 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
The Jaguars need to improve their pass rush and will have the pick of Ingram, Upshaw and Coples.
#8 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
The Dolphins will pursue Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn and could look to improve their offensive line to support such a move.
#9 Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis)
Players who weigh 345lbs and move as well as Poe don’t last long on draft day. Carolina will transition to more 3-4 looks.
#10 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Moving to a 4-3 defense makes Coples a solid fit here. The Bills desperately need to improve their pass rush.
#11 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
Richardson is too talented to keep falling and if he drops out of the top ten, he probably won’t get past Kansas City and Seattle.
#12 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
People are sick of seeing this projection, but in this situation it would be a certainty. I’m not going to project scenarios that won’t happen.
#13 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)
Glenn showcased enough athleticism at the combine to suggest he can stay at tackle at the next level. He’s rising in a big way.
#14 David De Castro (OG, Stanford)
Dallas could attack the corner market in free agency, allowing them to target Glenn or De Castro at this spot.
#15 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
Andy Reid has avoided drafting linebackers in the past, but may play it safe here and fill a position of need.
#16 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
New York needs to improve it’s pass rush. Branch has a ton of potential and can transition to the 3-4.
#17 Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
Explosive athlete who will convince a team early in the draft that he’s worth a high pick.
#18 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
The Chargers need to find pass rushers, but they also need to rebuild their offensive line. This would be a good start.
#19 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Floyd’s combine performance was good enough to confirm his likely position within the first round.
#20 Nick Perry (DE, USC)
Tennessee are another team that has to look at the edge rushers. The tape doesn’t always match Perry’s excellent combine performance.
 
#21 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Tall, physical cornerback who specialises in run support but his coverage skills need work.
TRADE #22 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
St. Louis has some edge rush talent but they don’t have a space clogger in the middle. Brockers could be BPA at this stage.
#23 Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
A smart performance at the combine will promote Gilmore’s stock into the bottom half of round one.
#24 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
There are some legitimate concerns about Adams’ play, but Pittsburgh may take a chance.
#25 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
He could go much earlier than this, but positional need could lead to a slight drop. Denver could use a talented young safety.
#26 Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)
He’s a tremendous athlete who makes spectacular plays. It’s more than combine hype that puts Hill in round one contention.
 
#27 Peter Konz (C, Wisconsin)
Nick Mangold, Alex Mack and Peter Konz. That’s how good Konz is leaving college.
#28 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
He proved in Indianapolis that he has the physical attributes to match his mass-production in 2011.
#29 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Wright could drop a bit after running slow times. San Francisco won’t care – they’ll find ways to max-out his talent in different ways.
#30 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
The very definition of a defensive player who fits in Baltimore. A tough football player, simple as that.
#31 Casey Hayward (CB, Vanderbilt)
Bill Belichick likes to draft defensive backs early and he could entertain another cornerback with this pick.
#32 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
A great athlete who might fall due to needs elsewhere. A tough player to project, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went in the top-15.

Round two

#33 St. Louis – Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin)
#34 Indianapolis - Alameda Ta’amu (DT, Washington)
#35 Minnesota - Kelechi Osemele (OG, Iowa State)
#36 Tampa Bay – Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
#37 Cleveland – Rueben Randle (WR, LSU)
#38 Jacksonville – Jayron Hosley (CB, Virgnina Tech)
#39 Washington – Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina)
#40 Carolina – Mychal Kendricks (LB, California)
#41 Buffalo – Ronnell Lewis (LB, Oklahoma)
#42 Miami – Chandler Jones (DE, Syracuse)
#43 Seattle – Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)
#44 Kansas City – Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State)
#45 Dallas – Jared Crick (DE, Wisconsin)
#46 Philadelphia – Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State)
#47 New York Jets – Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#48 New England – Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
#49 San Diego – Shea McClellin (DE, Boise State)
#50 Chicago – Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#51 Philadelphia – Brandon Thompson (DT Clemson)
#52 Tennessee -  Brandon Boykin (CB, Georgia)
#53 Cincinnati – Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
#54 Detroit – Brandon Washington (OG, Miami)
#55 Atlanta – Orson Charles (TE, Georgia)
#56 Pittsburgh – Bobby Wagner (LB, Utah State)
#57 Denver – David Wilson (RB, Virginia Tech)
#58 Houston – Josh Chapman (DT, Alabama)
#59 New Orleans – Sean Spence (LB, Miami)
#60 Green Bay - Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
#61 Baltimore – Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame)
#62 San Francisco - Coby Fleener (TE, Stanford)
#63 New York Giants - Dwayne Allen (TE, Clemson)
#64 New England – Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)