Archive for April, 2012

Final thoughts

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Later we’ll be launching a live chat session, half an hour before the draft running through until the end of the first round. It’ll feature on this blog and also on Field Gulls, with analysis from myself, Danny Kelly and hopefully Kip will be there too. You’ll also be able to join in. It was a great success last year and I hope you’ll join us again.

A few final thoughts…

Albert Breer is reporting that the Seahawks are negotiating with Cincinatti and New England about trading down. It’s not surprising news, if true. Seattle could realistically drop to #21 and maybe even to #27 and still draft a pass rusher. A deal which includes a 2013 first rounder to drop to either of those picks would probably appeal. However, wise man says don’t trade with Bill Belichick and the Bengals haven’t traditionally been the kind of team that throws away future picks. I doubt either team would pair their first round picks this year to get up to #12, but they’d have that option. Can you really see New England making that move though? And why #12?

The Seahawks are going to draft a pass rusher if they stay put. Hey, if they move down they’ll probably still draft a pass rusher. I understand that has been the team’s ambition all along. There’s been some classic misdirection over the last few weeks, and it’s got a lot of people talking about guys like Ryan Tannehill. Yet it’s always been about the pass rush. The big question is – who will they take? I’ve never been as confident about that question as I have knowing Seattle will take a pass rusher in round one. I’m sticking to my guns and saying it’ll be one of Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram. I could be wrong. Maybe it’ll be Quinton Coples? Maybe it’ll be Whitney Mercilus? Maybe it’ll be another pass rusher? We’ll found out shortly.

Chandler Jones from Syracuse is the big riser the night before, at least according to the media. I asked Tony Pauline from SI.com and Draft Insider for his thoughts on Jones’ meteoric rise so late in the day:

“Rob – I’m baffled. Jones is a solid prospect yet not the spectacular talent many are making him out to be…. he’s a solid athlete with a lot of natural pass rushing skills, which teams always look for in the draft. That said, I’m a film guy and not a stats guy- but just ten sacks in 32 college games in the Big East, which has had just one offensive lineman drafted in the initial four rounds the past two years? These were not Big Ten or SEC tackles he was playing against. I also have my concerns about Jones playing OLB in a 3-4. Things like this, players making huge rises the weeks before the draft, often take on a life of their own and the perception is greater than the reality.”

It’s food for thought as we get closer to the start of the draft. I tend to agree with Pauline. Jones has some potential, no doubt about it. But to hear Mike Mayock suggest he’ll be the best defensive player from this draft in three years, 24 hours before the event, is staggering. There are some people who don’t work for NFL front offices that know what they’re talking about. Nobody has made that kind of statement about Jones. I wouldn’t want to bank on Mayock’s premonition coming true.

If the Seahawks did end up moving down, I think that would be with a nod to 2013. They’d love to get some extra stock to take into next year’s draft, knowing full well there will be at least two highly rated quarterbacks available. Regulars will know I’m not one who ever buys into the ‘next year’ theory regarding quarterbacks. In fact, I’ve argued against the banality of the annual “next year’s group are better” debates you see before each draft. There won’t be a quarterback with the grade of Andrew Luck. Indeed, this year’s twosome of Luck/Griffin III have much more hype than any of the 2013 class will gain by next year. However – not being rated quite as highly as that pair could make certain quarterbacks more attainable. Matt Barkley and Logan Thomas are the most intriguing college quarterbacks I’ll be watching in 2012. Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson could also work into the equation.

And there’s no getting away from the fact Pete Carroll and Matt Barkley are tight. If the Matt Flynn-project doesn’t work out too well in 2012, it could be the precursor to a big move up for Barkley. So getting stock in the bag for next year while also being able to improve key areas like the pass rush and running back would be seen as a positive.

If Seattle does a deal – unexpectedly I would say – for either Cincy’s two picks or New England’s, then I would imagine they’d address the pass rush and one of the offensive skill positions – depending on value.

Names to keep an eye on: Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, Zach Brown, Quinton Coples, Vinny Curry, Dont’a Hightower.

Draft day podcast

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Today I had the opportunity to speak to NFL journalist Neil Reynolds. If you can see passed two British guys talking about the draft, have a listen.

NFL Draft podcast with @neilreynoldsnfl – PART ONE

NFL Draft podcast with @neilreynoldsnfl – PART TWO

NFL Draft podcast with @neilreynoldsnfl – PART THREE

Guest blogger – Ray Smith’s draft take

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Seahawks 2012 Draft Day Trade. Shades of 2009/2010?

by Ray Smith

I’m already thinking about the 2013 draft, Matt Barkley and what could we possibly do to get there. I’m not forgetting the needs this year though, pass rush, linebacker and running back would be nice. But the draft is unpredictable so all I can do is roll my dice and hope they don’t turn up snake eyes. So here is what I would do, why I think it would work and how I would draft, with plans for this year while looking to the future.

Seattle trades #12 along with our 4th (106) to Miami for their 2nd (42) and 3rd (73) round pick and next years 1st. In the outdated draft trade chart Seattle’s pick would be worth 1282 points and Miami’s combined picks received would be worth 705 plus the value of next years 1st. With a difference of 577 points it would be a break even if Miami’s 2013 1st rounder were at 32 (590). Otherwise, it’s on they plus side for Seattle. Now don’t get me wrong, the difference needs versus draftable players every year makes the point system incomplete. For example, Seattle needs pass rush this year and there is a plethora of pass rushers in the first round this year. But what if they need offense next year and they are few and far between in 2013? (more…)

Kip’s hastily thrown together 11th hour mock

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Before I get to my mock draft, I want to share a few random thoughts about the last few months here at the blog, and also a few special predictions for the weekend’s draft.

#1: Rob and I have spent a lot of time highlighting Courtney Upshaw on this blog.  Rob has consistently held a very high opinion of him and thinks he’s an elite talent.  I know that a lot of readers have accused us of having a man-crush on him.  That might be true for Rob, but I’ve always maintained that I view Upshaw as a solid prospect with the potential to become great.  As I said in my writeup the other day, if coaches can put him in better situations for bull rushing, he could be productive enough to justify the #12 pick.  Otherwise, I think Upshaw is going to be an Adrian Clayborn (20th overall pick) or Robert Ayers (18th overall pick) level contributor, and therefore a small reach at #12.

So to be perfectly clear, I have no issues with taking Upshaw at #12, I’d even find it potentially exciting, but it’s not like he tops my draft board at the 12th pick either.  If the pick was mine to make, I’d probably trade down, or draft one of Coples, Kuechly, DeCastro, Martin, or even Stephon Gilmore, who I’m starting to think could be a smaller Richard Sherman.  There is a lot of parity at the #12 pick, and a lot of good picks that could be made.  Rob may feel a certain way, but I’m definitely not on the “Upshaw or bust” bandwagon.  So please stop saying so.  It’s silly.  We haven’t featured Upshaw as much as we have because we want to promote him, but because we have good reasons to think he’s going to be the pick and we wanted Seahawks fans to be prepared for it.  It’s just that simple.

So why do we think Upshaw is likely?  Because our source that has provided nothing but good and trustworthy information over the last three drafts gave us a list of names to watch for and Upshaw headlined it.  We’ve also heard from one other person close to the situation that Pete really likes Upshaw.  Then there’s that pickup basketball game rumor from a few months ago too.  And while Pete and John have jovially talked about Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, Ryan Tannehill and other top 15 pick options, they’ve been as quiet as the grave concerning Upshaw.  I successfully predicted that Seattle would draft Aaron Curry (to my great displeasure) two days before the 2009 draft when I realized that Curry was the one player Tim Ruskell hadn’t visited or talked about at all.  If a GM is going out of his way to ignore a guy who is an obvious possibility, that’s often a telling sign.

#2: John Schneider is an incredibly open GM with draft information, almost to the point of recklessness, but I think it’s just a bi-product of his successful track record and that he feels he can “win” even when the board doesn’t fall perfectly.  Yesterday, Schneider openly admitted to there being “little cut-offs and ledges” in the draft, and named the 12th or 13th pick as one of those ledges.  He also said that there are two players that stood out as being “very attractive” as options.  Couple this information with the reports that every team between picks 3 and 16 is contacting other teams about moving down, and you have a clear buyer’s market on the trade front.  Long story short, don’t expect Seattle to trade down from the #12 pick unless both those unnamed players are gone.   If they are who we think they are, then at least one of them will likely reach the pick.  So for those of you hoping for a trade down (I’m among you), I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

#3: Pete Carroll released his annual draft hints on twitter.  This year’s theme: clips from comedy films.  Even with the insider information I’ve heard, I honestly have no clue if any of these hints mean a thing.  That said, the first of those clips was a scene from the movie Step Brothers.  As someone else already pointed out, Courtney Upshaw was raised by his Aunt and was, in a sense, a step-brother to the rest of the family.  All of the clips seemed to share the theme of damage, pain, or destruction.  That makes me lean towards Upshaw (and Richardson) even more, as they are the two most violent players in the draft.

#4: Okay, okay, now that I’ve given my reasons why I think Upshaw is very likely to be the pick, I need to be clear that Rob and I have not been explicitly told he’s the guy in absolute terms, and we have to acknowledge the chances that Seattle could go in another direction.  I suspect that Schneider’s aforementioned “very attractive” options are Upshaw and Richardson.   However, we were also told that Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples were in play as well.  We also heard that they really like Zach Brown.  If it’s not one of those five players, it will be the first time our best source has been inaccurate.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a few quick hit predictions for this weekend’s draft:

  1. Seattle probably won’t trade down in the first round (see above).
  2. Seattle might trade up early in round two for Zach Brown, but otherwise I don’t expect the team to trade up for the most part.
  3. This is a deep draft, but the Seahawks only have six picks to work with.  John Schneider is going to covet extra picks even more than usual.  If there isn’t an obvious bargain available in rounds two, three, and four, look for Seattle to move down.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks had multiple trade downs in this draft, as picks in rounds three, four, and five are going to hold a lot of value this year.  Seattle has gotten phenomenal returns from rounds four and five the last two years, but they currently only have one pick in that range this year.
  4. I expect Seattle to draft a pass rusher, a linebacker (or two), and a running back in the first four rounds.
  5. The #43 pick could be a wildcard pick.  I expect Seattle to draft a linebacker or running back there, but if a legit first round talent like Kendall Wright or Coby Fleener is sitting there, it might be enough to push Seattle’s priorities down a round.  Maybe.
  6. Seattle spent a lot its team invites on late round defensive backs, and in the Alabama pickup game rumor Carroll referred to “not drafting a corner that early”, which hints at the team drafting one later on.  Personally, I’m rooting for Ron Brooks.  George Iloka is a baller too.
  7. No inside info on these last few predictions, but I suspect Seattle might add an offensive lineman late and/or possibly a tight end.  Both are small areas of need for Seattle but both are areas in which the team can afford to wait and develop the position with late round picks.
  8. It wouldn’t shock me if Seattle added a second pass rusher after the first.  The middle rounds are relatively strong for pass rushers this year (Massaquoi, Irvin, etc.) and Seattle showed last year that they are willing to double down to address an area of need.
  9. As usual, expect Seattle to draft a lot of player’s we didn’t cover, and a lot of players that almost no one has heard of.  It’s a little deflating whenever picks happen that make you say “who?!”, but that’s just because this front office is much more awesome at digging up talent than we are.  I’ll have to remind myself not to flip out when two thirds of their draft haul will be guys I’ve never heard of.  Pete and John have earned the benefit of the doubt.

With that out of the way, here’s my 2012 Draftsmas morning mock:

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
The best quarterback prospect in some time.
#2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
Griffin is very risky, but his upside is intense.  He’s also fun and easy to root for.
#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)

Kalil is one of the best tackles to come out in a while, and the Vikings have a huge need at that position.

#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
The Browns might consider Blackmon, but Richardson wins hands down in terms of pure talent.
#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)

This pick feels like it’s been a lock forever.

#6 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)

This a dream scenario for the Rams.  It will almost feel like they got those extra two first rounders and the extra high second rounder for free.

#7 Chandler Jones (DE, Syracuse)

Two years ago the Jaguars made a stunning reach for Tyson Alualu in the top 10 picks.  The Jaguars are looking for pass rush help, and could be swayed by another last minute fast riser.

#8 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
The Dolphins must be sick of hearing quarterbacks and coaches telling them “no.”  On the bright side, Ryan Tannehill won’t have a say if Miami drafts him.
#9 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
Cox’s stock is rising fast, and he also fits perfectly with Carolina’s needs on the defensive line.  This is quickly becoming an obvious pick.
#10 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)

Buddy Nix went balls out in free agency for pass rushers because he preferred to address offensive tackle in round one.  He could go with a few options here, but Martin is the best pick for a team that wants to ensure they are drafting a future tackle.

#11 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)

The Chiefs need a run stopper, but with Poe’s stock taking a tumble, I think they’ll address offensive line instead.  Reiff has the flexibility to play guard and tackle, which will have added appeal to the Chiefs.

#12 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)

Unless today is your first trip to this blog, you’re probably already sick of hearing about this guy.  That said, I’d put the odds of him being the pick very high, unless a team leapfrogs the Seahawks for him.

#13 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
Arizona desperately needs offensive line help, but they need a tackle more than a guard, and this is too early to take a guard anyway.  Adams’ stock has taken a hit for off the field reasons, but he’s the best tackle left at this point.
#14 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
Jerry Jones isn’t a subtle man, and he’s shown a lot of interest in Barron.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Jones traded up a few spots just to be sure he gets Barron.
#15 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
DeMeco Ryans probably won’t be enough to keep the Eagles away from Kuechly.
#16 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)

The Jets need a pass rusher and will be thrilled if Ingram lasts this long.

#17 Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)

I suspect the Bengals will spend one of their firsts on a corner.  Gilmore deserves the hype and is the best corner available in my opinion.

#18 Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis)

The Chargers need a nose tackle or a pass rusher.  Poe feels like less of a reach here than Vinny Curry.

#19 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)

The Bears were known to add not one but two big time receivers this offseason.  They got the ball rolling with Brandon Marshall, and here they add Floyd to solidify a potentially scary passing attack in 2012.

#20 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)

Corner is a need for the Titans, and Kirkpatrick will be considered a steal at this point by some.

#21 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)

The Bengals need a guard and won’t think twice if DeCastro falls this far.

#22 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)

The Browns will take a receiver here, the question is who.  There are plenty of options, but Wright gets my vote.

#23 Janoris Jenkins (OT, Stanford)

The Lions need help at corner, and Jenkins is supremely talented.  His off the field concerns will keep him out of round one, but don’t be surprised if the Lions move back to take Jenkins a bit later.

#24 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)

Hightower is the perfect example of a Pittsburgh Steeler type player.  It’s only fitting he would be drafted by them.

#25 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)

Denver might go for a receiver here, but a deep class of receivers and Brockers high value will tilt this pick in his favor.

#26 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)

If Coples doesn’t go top 12, I think he’s in for a bit of a slide.  The Texans are a logical destination, as Coples has upside on par with a certain defensive end the Texans just lost in free agency.

#27 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)

Mercilus could make sense for the Patriots as a situational pass rusher.

#28 Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)

Green Bay runs an offense not unlike Seattle’s, and as great as Rodgers is, their’s is still a relatively run heavy offense, but without a productive back to make things click.  Martin could help take Green Bay’s offense to a new level.

#29 Peter Konz (OG/C, Wisconsin)

Baltimore needs help in the interior of the line, and Konz is a fantastic value this late.

#30 Rueben Randle (WR, LSU)

The 49ers will probably grab a receiver here.  If not Randle, then Stephen Hill.

#31 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)

The Patriots need a pass rushing defensive tackle and Still is the best tackle available at this point.

#32 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)

The Giants are in need of offensive tackle help once again, and Cordy Glenn is probably the best option here.

Round two

#33 St. Louis – Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#34 Indianapolis – Coby Fleener (TE, Stanford)
#35 Minnesota – Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)
#36 Tampa Bay – Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
#37 Cleveland – Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
#38 Jacksonville – Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#39 St. Louis – Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
#40 Carolina – Josh Robinson (CB, UCF)
#41 Buffalo – Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
#42 Miami – Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
#43 Seattle – Lavonte David (LB, Nebraska)
#44 Kansas City – Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State)
#45 Dallas – Nick Perry (DE, USC)
#46 Philadelphia – Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#47 New York Jets – Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame)
#48 New England – Shea McClellin (LB, Boise State)
#49 San Diego – Dwayne Allen (TE, Clemson)
#50 Chicago – Brandon Thompson (DT, Clemson)
#51 Philadelphia – Brandon Taylor (S, LSU)
#52 Tennessee – Kendall Reyes (DT, Connecticut)
#53 Cincinnati – David Wilson (RB, Virginia Tech)
#54 Detroit – Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin)
#55 Atlanta – Orson Charles (TE, Georgia)
#56 Pittsburgh – Kelechi Osemele (OG, Iowa State)
#57 Denver – Robert Turbin (RB, Utah State)
#58 Houston – Marvin Jones (WR, Cal)
#59 New Orleans – VOID
#60 Green Bay – Bruce Irvin, (DE, West Virginia)
#61 Baltimore – Bobby Wagner, (LB, Utah State)

#62 San Francisco – Amini Silatolu (OG, Midwestern State)
#63 New England – Juron Criner (WR, Arizona)
#64 New York Giants– LaMichael James (RB, Oregon)

My guesses for Seattle’s picks in rounds 3-7 (assuming no trades):

#75 Seattle – Chris Polk, (RB, Washington)

#106 Seattle –James Michael-Johnson, (LB, Nevada)

#181 Seattle – Chandler Harnish, (QB, Northern Illinois)

#225 Seattle –Ron Brooks, (CB, LSU)

The final 2012 mock draft

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

First round

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Confirmed.
#2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
Robert Griffin III has probably already started looking for property in the capital.
#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Minnesota want what the Rams got from Washington, and they’re trying, but ultimately they’ll stay here and take Kalil.
#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
The Browns have to find someone to build around. Richardson is a future superstar.
#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
The biggest spenders in free agency, Tampa Bay could still use a stud cornerback.
#6 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
The Rams need to find an X-factor on offense.
#7 Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
Who knows what the Jaguars are going to do? Will Gene Smith or Shahid Khan make the choice?
#8 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
Don’t be surprised after a month of hype if Miami does something else and Tannehill falls a bit.
#9 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
Carolina could go in many different (defensive) directions.
#10 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
The Bills need a left tackle, but can they justify taking one here?
#11 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
Scott Pioli loves guys like this – blue collar, high work ethic. He’ll make him fit into the 3-4.
#12 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
It’s all about the pass rush.
#13 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Arizona needs to make a solid commitment to the offensive line.
#14 Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis)
If Barron falls here he could be the choice. Otherwise, I suspect Brockers or Poe.
#15 Chandler Jones (DE, Syracuse)
The fastest riser going into the draft.
#16 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
New York wants to run the ball and dominate up front.
#17 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Better in run support than coverage, but I suspect Cincy will try and add a corner in round one.
#18 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
If he starts to drop, where does he leave the board? San Diego would have alternatives here.
#19 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
He could fall further if you believe the talk.
#20 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Tough to read this guy’s stock. Tape not as great as the numbers/measurables. Off-field concerns. But talented.
#21 Peter Konz (OG/C, Wisconsin)
Underrated.
#22 Rueben Randle (WR, LSU)
After taking Richardson to star on the ground, they go for Randle.
#23 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Concerns about existing lineman could force Detroit to address the offensive line.
#24 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
This guy was made to play in the AFC North.
#25 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
This is arguably Denver’s biggest need.
#26 Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)
Would they consider Coby Fleener as an alternative?
#27 Shea McClellin (OLB, Boise State)
Mike Vrabel is often the comparison for this guy.
#28 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
Green Bay’s priority has to be finding another pass rusher.
#29 Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin)
There could be a late rush on offensive lineman.
#30 Amini Silatolu (OG, Midwestern State)
The Niners may well take a guard and Silatolu is raw – just like Mike Iupati.
#31 Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)
For whatever reason, I can just picture this guy as a Patriot.
#32 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)
He looks a bit sloppy and his stock is all over the place. Even so, he could go higher.

Round two

#33 St. Louis – Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#34 Indianapolis – Alameda Ta’amu (DT, Washington)
#35 Minnesota – Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#36 Tampa Bay – Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
#37 Cleveland – Coby Fleener (TE, Stanford)
#38 Jacksonville – Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
#39 St. Louis – Bobby Wagner (LB, Utah State)
#40 Carolina – Josh Robinson (CB, UCF)
#41 Buffalo – Mitchell Schwartz (OT, California)
#42 Miami – Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
#43 Seattle – Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
#44 Kansas City – Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State)
#45 Dallas – Jared Crick (DE, Nebraska)
#46 Philadelphia – Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
#47 New York Jets – Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
#48 New England – Casey Heyward (CB, Vanderbilt)
#49 San Diego – Bobby Massie (OT, Ole Miss)
#50 Chicago – Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#51 Philadelphia – Lavonte David (LB, Nebraska)
#52 Tennessee – Kendall Reyes (DT, Connecticut)
#53 Cincinnati – Mychal Kendricks (LB, California)
#54 Detroit – Nick Perry (DE, USC)
#55 Atlanta – Michael Egnew (TE, Missouri)
#56 Pittsburgh – Kelechi Osemele (OG, Iowa State)
#57 Denver – David Wilson (RB, Virginia Tech)
#58 Houston – Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
#59 New Orleans – VOID
#60 Green Bay – Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State)
#61 Baltimore – Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame)
#62 San Francisco – Bruce Irvin, (DE, West Virginia)
#63 New York Giants – Brandon Boykin (CB, Georgia)
#64 New England – Keyshawn Martin (WR, Michigan State)

Seahawks beyond rounds 1-2

If the Seahawks go DE & LB with their first two picks, running back is likely to be high on the agenda in round three. Chris Polk and Robert Turbin could be options given they’re more likely to be able to carry the load if Marshawn Lynch misses time. That is the key here. It may put off the Seahawks looking at an Isaiah Pead or LaMichael James. If the value just isn’t there at running back, there are some nice options at tight end such as Dwayne Allen and Orson Charles. At receiver, Seattle worked out Brian Quick and if you get Dwight Jones at any point in this draft, I think you’re getting a steal.

Expect Seattle to look at the quarterback market in rounds 4-6, although round three is a possibility depending on how things shake out. Brock Osweiler, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson could be on the radar as ‘early’ options, with Chandler Harnish a possible later round choice. Keep an eye on any cornerback over 5-11. There’s solid depth in this class all the way to round four, so Seattle may be able to address several key needs.

Ranking the linebackers

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Written by Kip Earlywine

Here are some factors that led me to this rankings:

#1:  My own rankings are based on the assumption that any of the three linebacker spots can be upgraded, and that KJ Wright has enough flexibility to play middle or even weak side.

#2:  I liked our linebacker group last year, so if Pete Carroll is so determined to overhaul it, it must be because something was clearly lacking, whether it was speed, coverage, or the ability to cover ground in run support.  I kept the team’s “speed” preference in mind when making these personal rankings.

With that in mind…

My top ten 4-3 linebackers in the 2012 draft:

#1:  Luke Kuechly (deserves to be drafted: top 15 pick)

I’ll say with 99% certainty that the Seahawks won’t be drafting Kuelchy at #12, but I honestly wouldn’t mind if they did.  Kuelchy is fast enough to become an above average coverage linebacker, and his instincts tracking the ball in run support are off the charts.

#2:  Dont’a Hightower (deserves to be drafted: round 1)

Hightower isn’t just a very good inside linebacker, he’s also got the size and power to be an excellent SAM, and enough quickness to be a solid WILL.  He can play both inside and outside in a 3-4 too.  He even lined up as a 4-3 defensive end on 3rd downs, and showed a lot of promise as an edge rusher.  Hightower can pretty much do it all, and he does it very well.  Oh, and did I mention he does all this at 265 pounds?  If Hightower lands on a team like Baltimore or Pittsburgh, its not hard for me to envision him as a perennial pro-bowler.

#3:  Lavonte David (deserves to be drafted: late round 1)

Undersized but stellar, David put up the best statistics of any linebacker in this draft class over the last two years.  From a 4-3 perspective, David is probably limited to playing the WILL spot unless he can add a ton of weight, but he has a chance to be perhaps the best WILL linebacker in the NFL on day one.  David is excellent in coverage, instinctive, smart against the run, and deadly as a pass rusher.  If Seattle passed on him at #43, it better be for someone amazing.

#4:  Ronnell Lewis (deserves to be drafted: early round 2)

Lewis was a defensive end in college, but his excellent special teams play, speed, good instincts and hard hitting ability all point to him as a potentially dominant SAM linebacker in a 4-3 (or a passable outside linebacker in a 3-4).  If Lewis is the best player available, he’s worth considering as he’d likely be an upgrade over Wright at SAM.

#5:  Shea McClellin (deserves to be drafted: early round 2)

McClellin is one of the draft’s most diverse players.  A high school linebacker who converted to defensive end, McClellin posted respectable pass rush statistics as a Bronco, but the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine revealed that his true talent may be at linebacker.  Carroll likes players with scheme diversity, and McClellin could play either outside linebacker position, he could play strong side end on pass rush downs and could even be a successor for Clemons at the LEO.  Despite playing defensive end, McClellin’s forty time was among the best for outside linebackers, and its said he looked terrific in coverage drills.  McClellin will also draw strong consideration from teams looking for 3-4 outside linebackers.

#6:  Mychal Kendricks (deserves to be drafted: round 3)

I know that Rob and I have touted Kendricks as a second round option, and we even mocked him to Seattle in the SBN writers mock at #43, but when I put on the games, I see a guy who looks like a 3rd or 4th round pick.  Kendricks’ amazing combine will boost his stock significantly and probably makes him a near lock for round two, but I personally wouldn’t feel great about drafting him until the third.  The Seahawks may feel very differently though as they appear to be placing a very high premium on speed.

#7:  Bobby Wagner (deserves to be drafted: round 3)

Wagner has boring tape and doesn’t make a lot of splash plays from middle linebacker, but he’s one of the best coverage inside linebackers in the draft and he has the speed to cover tight ends and slot receivers with ease.  Wagner is a bit of a jack of all trades linebacker and would be a very solid pick in round three, though like Kendricks, he will probably be selected before then.

#8:  Demario Davis (deserves to be drafted: round 3)

Davis posted a very strong combine and has electrifying tape.  In terms of maximum potential, he would be much higher on this list.  Uncertainty about his coverage ability, small school competition, and tackling issues drop him down this far, but Davis is a monster talent and I’d be stoked if Seattle picked him any time after the second round.

#9:  James Michael-Johnson (deserves to be drafted: round 4)

You would think a guy with the last name “Michael-Johnson” would be ridiculously fast, but James is hardly “the world’s fastest man.”  Michael-Johnson’s field speed is just barely above average, but he compensates for that speed with outstanding coverage instincts and reaction ability.  There isn’t a obvious Derrick Brooks candidate in this draft class, but Michael-Johnson’s ability to work a zone and read a quarterback reminds me of Tampa’s Hall of Fame linebacker.  No other linebacker I scouted this year was used in coverage more than Michael-Johnson was, not even Zach Brown or Lavonte David.  Michael-Johnson isn’t the greatest run stopper, but his closing speed and coverage ability makes him a very attractive option for what Seattle wants to do on defense.

I excluded Michael-Johnson from my draft spotlight series for one simple reason:  I want him to be a Seahawk.  My previews have always been remarkably inaccurate.  Two years ago I covered fifty or sixty players, and only one was drafted by the Seahawks.  One year ago, I covered several options on the offensive line, but James Carpenter and John Moffitt were not among them.  I fully expect to strike out once again in 2012.  So there you have it.  James Michael-Johnson:  destined Seahawks draft pick.  (Oh, and to the draft-gods that might be reading this, I should also point out that I didn’t cover Dont’a Hightower or Luke Kuechly either.  Just throwing that out there…)

#10:  Tank Carder (deserves to be drafted: round 4)

Lots of non-BCS talent at linebacker this year, eh?  Half of this list is made up of linebackers from non-BCS conference schools, which is saying something as I discount success significantly based on level of competition.

Carder is the closest thing in the 2012 draft to a Lofa Tatupu middle linebacker.  Like Tatupu, Carder is hard hitting with a well rounded skill set.  He plays his ass off and shows good potential in zone coverage too.  Like Tatupu, he’s a leader on the field and stood out despite playing on a very good defense.

Just missed:  Sean Spence (4th round), Zach Brown (4th round)

The front office’s top ten 4-3 linebackers (my guesses):

(estimated draft grade in parenthesis)

For the purposes of this ranking, I’m assuming that Seattle is looking for linebackers that can cover first and foremost.  I think when Pete talks about wanting “speed” at linebacker, that’s what he actually means.  I’ve come to this conclusion based on the insider info that the team rates Zach Brown very highly, and if you’ve seen Zach Brown play at all, you know that his coverage ability is the only part of his game that he could brag about.  I also think that while the Seahawks believe in KJ Wright’s versatility at all three linebacker spots, I suspect the team would like to keep Wright at SAM if possible.  That means they would probably prefer options at MIKE and WILL over SAM, although SAM linebackers could still be considered if the value is just too good to pass up.  Finally, I think the front office values versatility, so linebackers that have a chance to play two or three linebacker spots would be more strongly considered.

#1:  Zach Brown (1st round grade):

Zach Brown is not a good football player, but the Seahawks love him and I can think of several sane reasons why they would.  While he isn’t the very fastest linebacker in the draft, he’s close, and not many linebackers can run a 4.50 forty time at 244 pounds.  Purely in terms of size and speed, Brown is capable of playing all three linebacker spots in a 4-3, which holds huge appeal to the Seahawks as they will want to move players around and show as many looks as possible.

In an extreme scenario, and by extreme I mean something approaching Mad Max / Water World territory, Seattle might even consider Brown in the first round.  I don’t think a good enough offer will arise to nudge Seattle out of the 12th pick, but if one does and Seattle moves down in the 1st round, keep an eye on Brown as a possible fallback option.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline, Zach Brown didn’t make the top 33 list of draftable players (taken from a random sampling of NFL draft boards).  It’s sounding more and more that Brown will slide into the second round.  If that happens it should be very interesting to see how John Schneider handles the pressure of having such a highly rated player approach their 2nd round pick.  Will Seattle hold firm and hope Brown makes it?  Or will they cave and spend a valuable pick to move up?

#2:  Lavonte David (2nd round grade):

I wish I knew how Seattle rated David.  I’m assuming they’d like him a lot, as he’s field fast with good coverage skills and brings a lot to the pass rush as well.  On the downside, David isn’t very scheme versatile for a 4-3 and will likely be locked into a WILL linebacker role for Seattle’s defense.  Still, David is pretty much the definition of an “impact” player and could immediately take the Seahawks’ defense to the next level.  Pete Carroll has connections to Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini too (thank you Field Gulls).

#3:  Bobby Wagner (2nd round grade):

Wagner isn’t flashy, but he doesn’t have a lot of glaring flaws and is one of the best coverage linebackers in the draft.  He also ran a 4.46 forty.  I’m lukewarm on him, but his appeal is pretty obvious.

#4:  James Michael-Johnson (2nd round grade):

This might seem very high for Michael-Johnson, but the few times Rob and I have been blessed to see the Seahawks draft boards they always struck us for being unusual and having plenty of surprises in them.  I think Michael-Johnson could be one of those surprises.  Michael-Johnson’s overall profile is similar to Bobby Wagner except that Wagner excels in man coverage whereas Michael-Johnson was more of a zone coverage expert.

#5:  Mychal Kendricks (2nd round grade):

Kendricks is under-sized but a special athlete.  I really like Kendricks’ upside at the WILL because of his speed in coverage and his ability to accelerate when blitzing.  Kendricks can also play MIKE if needed.  Depending on how the draft board falls, Kendricks could be a strong consideration at #43 due to his incredible speed, athleticism, upside, and scheme diversity.  He’s also a Pac-12 player, which could cause Pete Carroll to favor Kendricks even more.

#6:  Demario Davis (2nd round grade):

Davis is a very similar athlete and player to Kendricks.  I like Davis’ tape more, but I have him a little lower on both lists because his performances came against weaker competition.

#7:  Sean Spence (3rd round grade):

Spence is a playmaking linebacker who utilizes great hand usage to help overcome his lack of height and size.  Solid in coverage and adept at making plays behind the line, I only have Spence this low because he possesses only average speed and makes too many mistakes.  Seattle shipped off Aaron Curry in part because he was mistake prone, so that makes me think that Spence’s mistake problems could be a significant turnoff for this front office.  That said, I wouldn’t rule out Spence as an option in rounds two, three, or four.

#8:  Shea McClellin (3rd round grade):

McCellin might rank much higher than this, but I think Seattle would put him this low mainly because his coverage ability is an unproven commodity.  I wouldn’t put it past McClellin to be a 1st round pick either, as many 3-4 teams will be seriously interested in his skill set.

#9:  Korey Toomer (mid-to-late round grade):

For these last two options, I’ll list a couple of long shot options that could make sense in the mid to late rounds, should Seattle opt to add a linebacker in that range.  Keep in mind that there are several small school linebackers with excellent forty times, guys that nobody is taking the time to talk about.  I’m only going to list two, but there are probably a dozen small school linebackers with speed that could be in play.

Korey Toomer’s scouting report reads a lot like Zach Brown’s.  He’s a guy that does a lot of things well and has fluidity on par with defensive backs, but lacks the aggressiveness and timing that separates great linebackers from failed ones.  Toomer is 6’2″, 234 pounds, and ran a blistering 4.48 forty time.  The Seahawks were one of twelve teams to meet with Toomer and were just one of four teams to have him do a private workout.

#10:  Marcus Dowtin (mid-to-late round grade):

Dowtin is another linebacker who resembles a safety with his movement skills.  He’s 6’2″, 231 pounds, and ran a 4.56 forty time.  Like Toomer, Dowtin is a small school player.  John Schneider has not shied away from small school talents thus far.

No Kuelchy, Hightower or Lewis? I have these three off of Seattle’s list despite how highly I think of them as their coverage ability is considered less than a sure thing.  Additionally, Kuelchy and Hightower have no real chance to reach the #43 pick, and I don’t think Seattle would spend big to trade back up into the first round for either one.  Obviously, I would love to be wrong on all three counts, as you can see from where they sit in my own rankings.  I’d be pretty surprised if any of them end up Seahawks though.

SDB Community mock: #12 Seattle

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

We’ve finally arrived at the #12 pick. Kansas City drafted Luke Kuechly, who received 30% of the votes to defeat David DeCastro (24%) and Melvin Ingram (12%). This is how the mock shaped up 1-11.

#1 Andrew Luck – IND
#2 Robert Griffin III – WAS
#3 Matt Kalil – MIN
#4 Trent Richardson – CLE
#5 Morris Claiborne – TB
#6 Justin Blackmon – STL
#7 Michael Floyd – JAC
#8 Ryan Tannehill – MIA
#9 Quinton Coples – CAR
#10 Riley Reiff – BUF
#11 Luke Kuechly – KC

I’ve selected twelve options at #12. We could’ve included more, but I think this is a healthy sample. I’ve tried to include prospects that overall have been considered possible options during the entire process.

You all know what Seattle’s needs are. You know the prospects below. Let’s see how this plays out. Vote away…


(polls)

Tuesday draft links

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Mike Mayock names ranks his top-100 prospects. The biggest headlines? Chandler Jones at #9, Shea McClellin at #14 and Quinton Coples at #21. Mayock previously said he would consider passing on Coples in round two, so #21 appears generous.

Chad Reuter goes for a seven round mock draft. Seattle’s first three picks are: Melvin Ingram, Bobby Wagner and Orson Charles.

Mike Tanier has a positive write-up on Courtney Upshaw, a collectors item at the moment. Tanier: “In most years, Upshaw would be a Top-10 pick. He probably won’t be this year, but only because so many of the teams at the top of the draft board have other, more pressing needs.”

Tony Pauline says Cincinnati will draft Upshaw in round one given the opportunity. “Word we heard last night is Marvin Lewis and the Bengals will use one of their two selections in the initial frame to draft Courtney Upshaw.”

Jason La Canfora believes teams are hot for Fletcher Cox. “Continue to hear Fletcher Cox as going very high in draft. Some teams consider jumping to 5, ahead of STL, for him.”

Brad Gagnon passes on a podcast featuring Nick Saban, where he talks about Alabama’s top draft prospects.

Andrew Brandt talks about his time in Green Bay’s front office and how things worked during the draft. John Schneider gets a mention. Brandt: “The best decision-makers, in my view, “trust the board.” Players have been poked, prodded, analyzed and discussed for seven months. It’s time to let the board do the work. The biggest downfall of decision-makers is becoming impulsive and emotional, straying from the board. Nothing deflates the morale of scouting staffs faster.”

Let’s be nostalgic for a moment. Right before the draft last year we understood the team were ‘leaning’ towards the offensive line if they couldn’t trade the #25 pick. After last years draft we were given some direction on how the team ranked the 2011 group of quarterbacks.  Here’s how the top six were described to us after Seattle spent the #6 pick on Russell Okung in 2010. So here’s a few predictions for this year… Running back could be an early consideration, while quarterback will end up being more of a mid/late focus. Round one should be about pressure, or the lack of it in 2010 & 2011. With a run on pass rushers expected in round one, don’t expect Seattle to hang about.

Brock Osweiler tape vs Arizona:

Schneider eyeing two at #12 & readers mocks

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Interesting comments from John Schneider today, courtesy of an article by Ian Rapoport. Seattle’s GM indicates he and Pete Carroll have settled at two names for the #12 pick and that they’ll be ready if ‘their guy’ leaves the board before the team’s pick. Rapoport:

“We have to be prepared for other people to come to us,” Schneider told NFL.com. “Either we have to be strong and just sit there and take a really cool player or be able to negotiate in a fast manner with a team trying to get up and just decided whether — say they give you two picks — if those two players base would be worth the guy we’d be giving up.”

Schneider said he is set on two players who will be “very attractive” for his team at 12. He feels like he’ll have a chance to draft at least one, though he wouldn’t offer an identity. What he doesn’t know is if a team will leap ahead of him and nab his guy. He’s ready if that happens, though.

This is the most revealing piece of information we’ve seen so far, if accurate. Schneider admitted yesterday that the misinformation between teams started two weeks ago. However, considering there’s no direct names mentioned here, it’s hard to see how this could be constituted as misleading. The Seahawks may well have settled on two guys at #12 and both players could have a pretty good chance of being on the board when the team picks. When you’re picking that early, you don’t necessarily need a list of ten names. Especially if you have a history of thinking outside of he box.

So who are the two?

Many would speculate on the usual suspects you’ll see littered around the national mock drafts. I still firmly believe it could come down to the two names we’ve stuck with all along – Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram. In that order.

Meanwhile… two members of the SDB community emailed me mock drafts recently and I wanted to get them on the blog before Thursday. Thanks to Clayton Russell and Craig Rosenstein for taking the time to put these together. You can see both projections after the fold. (more…)

Ranking the running backs

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Written by Kip Earlywine

This installment will cover the running backs.  Keep in mind that rankings will be much harder this time for a few reasons:

#1:  We haven’t heard any inside info about which running backs the Seahawks like other than Trent Richardson.

#2:  After Richardson, there is a ton of depth and parity in this running back class.

#3:  There isn’t a ton of running back consensus among draft minds.  How you rank them has a lot less to do with how good they are and is more about what type of attributes you favor in a runner.

My top ten running backs in the 2012 draft:

#1:  Trent Richardson (deserves to be drafted:  top 10 overall)

Richardson’s high power, high leg drive, deceptive speed, and gaudy statistics remind me a lot of Corey Dillon many years ago.  Dillon had a fringe hall of fame NFL career, and I think Richardson might end up being even better than Dillon was.  Richardson is widely considered the best running back to come out since Adrian Peterson.

#2:  Lamar Miller (deserves to be drafted: late round 1)

There might not be a running back in the entire draft that makes it look easier than Miller does.  He’s also one of the draft’s fastest and most elusive running backs.  The Clinton Portis comparisons are legit, in my opinion.

#3:  Chris Polk (deserves to be drafted:  late round 1)

Polk has improved each of the last three seasons and nearly set a school record for rushing despite playing behind a weak offensive line.  Polk is an interesting combination of being hard to tackle and also being an excellent receiver.  His speed is under-rated too.  Other than pass blocking, Polk is a classic jack of all trades running back that does everything pretty well.  Polk could potentially slip into the third or fourth round, making him a huge bargain for some lucky team.

#4:  Doug Martin (deserves to be drafted:  late round 1)

Martin has the quickest feet of any running back in the draft.  If you want a back that can break ankles, Martin is your guy.  I have him a tiny bit lower than most people do because of the level of competition he faced while playing for an elite team, and also because his tendency to dance behind the line too much could be a small issue for zone blocking schemes.

#5:  LaMichael James (deserves to be drafted:  round 2)

James may not be very big, but he’s much stronger than his size would lead you to believe.  He’s also a very good inside rusher, a bit like Justin Forsett with wheels.  James averaged over 20 carries a game at Oregon and stayed healthy (an odd elbow injury aside).  He’d make for a good 3rd down back, but I see logical reasons as to why he could expand his role beyond that.  My only problem with James was that almost all of his runs were draw plays.  How would he function in a normal offense?  That uncertainty drops James a bit for me, but otherwise I think he’s a special talent that does a lot of things well and is going to be one of the league’s fastest running backs on day one.

#6:  David Wilson (deserves to be drafted:  round 3)

Wilson is very young, has fast straight line speed, and had terrific production in his first season.  He doesn’t really have much in the way of elusiveness, vision, or instincts though.  He’s got too much length for his own good which makes him a stiff and predictable runner.  He almost seems like a track star who just recently converted to running back.  I wouldn’t put it past Wilson to have a huge NFL career, but I didn’t like what I saw.  I wouldn’t take him until many other options had already left the board.

#7:  Robert Turbin (deserves to be drafted:  round 3)

Robert Turbin is a Marshawn Lynch clone with a shade less athleticism.  Turbin is a strong interior rusher that makes mostly good decisions.  He prides himself on his pass blocking and could easily become a productive three down running back in the NFL.

#8:  Bernard Pierce (deserves to be drafted:  round 4)

A powerful, downhill runner with decent speed, Pierce is a bit like a mix of Knile Davis and David Wilson.  Pierce has Wilson’s long legs, stiff movement, and good north/south speed, while resembling Davis in terms of power and consistency.  Pierce is an excellent mid round option for a team that can’t address running back early.

#9:  Tauren Poole (deserves to be drafted:  round 4)

Poole has many similarities to Chris Polk.  Both are well rounded players with deceptively decent speed who played behind poor offensive lines.  Poole has quick feet and good change of direction skills.  Poole is one of the draft’s most under-rated running backs.  He’d probably be drafted in round two if he didn’t play for such a miserable team.

#10:  Isaiah Pead (deserves to be drafted:  round 5)

As Matt Waldman colorfully illustrated, Pead is a talented back, but “he takes too many trips to the corner store.”  Pead is widely thought to be just a third down back in the NFL.

The front office’s top 10 running backs (my guesses):

(estimated draft grade in parenthesis)

I think Seattle is looking for three things:  they are looking for a change of pace back, they are looking for a guy who can fill in for Lynch if he gets hurt as a three down back, and they are looking for Lynch’s eventual successor in 3-5 years time.  Marshawn Lynch just turned 26 years old two days ago.  He’ll be 29 years old in the final year of his new contract.  I don’t have a crystal ball, but it seems logical to think that Lynch has a very good chance of seeing the end of that contract here in Seattle. That means whoever Seattle drafts this year is going to be very much a long term player, with seasons from 2016 and beyond kept in mind.

Trent Richardson, David Wilson and Lamar Miller are all very young players, while Doug Martin is relatively old.   If Seattle drafted Doug Martin, and Lynch remained on the team through his contract, Martin wouldn’t become the starting back until his age 28 season (2016).  Because of that, I think age is going to be a factor in the front office’s ranking process.

#1:  Trent Richardson (1st round grade)

Richardson isn’t just one of the best running backs to come out in the last decade, but he’s a perfect fit for the Seahawks’ identity. He’s also the youngest running back in the draft.  If Richardson reaches the 12th pick, the Seahawks would strongly consider selecting him.

#2:  Lamar Miller (1st round grade)

Miller is a good fit as a complimentary back to Lynch in the short term, and he’s young which makes him a good option in the long term.  Miller’s only real negative is his inexperience (blocking, etc), and having a few years to be the #2 back while getting coached up could be the perfect situation for him.

#3:  David Wilson (2nd round grade)

There are plenty of times when this front office thinks in ways I don’t understand, and I suspect Wilson will be another of those times.  This front office takes a bit of a “fixer upper” approach to the prospects they target in rounds 2-7.  I don’t think Wilson’s shortcomings are fixable, but they may feel differently.  Wilson is one of the youngest running backs in the draft too, and while I’m not his biggest fan, I think he will do his best in a power zone blocking scheme, which happens to be what the Seahawks run.

#4:  Chris Polk (2nd round grade)

There were many times early last year when Marshawn Lynch looked hopeless that I wondered how different the offense would be if we had Chris Polk in there instead.  Thankfully, things came together and Lynch had a heck of a second half of the season.  Chris Polk may not have a lot of elite attributes, but he’s in his element when playing behind poor blocking.  Some backs can still be effective behind bad lines and some can’t. The future of Seattle’s offensive line is a bit murky, so Polk holds some appeal here in case the run blocking ends up backsliding.

#5:  Doug Martin (2nd round grade)

I have Martin fifth on this list for a few reasons, but that doesn’t mean I think Seattle would be loathe to draft him at #43.  Martin is a good player and I think there is a lot of truth behind the Ray Rice comps.  As I pointed out right after last year’s draft, Seattle is trying to replicate the process that built the Baltimore Ravens.  In that mindset, targeting the next Ray Rice makes a lot of sense.  I just think that Martin will be slightly below some of the other names due to his age, injury concerns, and high number of rushes for loss.  I could definitely be wrong though.  There is very little that separates the members of this years’ 2nd tier.

#6:  Robert Turbin (3rd round grade)

Turbin reminds me so much of Marshawn Lynch.  John Schneider rated Lynch very highly back when he was with Green Bay.  It honestly wouldn’t blow me away if Seattle took Turbin at #43, though I would hope they’d try to get him later than that.

#7:  LaMichael James (3rd round grade)

Pete Carroll has increased familiarity in the Pac-12 and has used it to his advantage on numerous occasions already.  With there being two premiere Pac-12 running backs in this draft, could Carroll lean that way once again?  James is a pretty good fit for Seattle in some ways, particularly in the short term.

#8:  Bernard Pierce (3rd round grade)

Pierce is another young running back that seems to fit a power zone blocking scheme well.  His good measurables will appeal to this front office too.  It wouldn’t shock me if Seattle took Pierce in the 3rd round.

#9:  Tauren Poole (4th round grade)

As a bit of a poor man’s Chris Polk, Poole could have a lot of appeal if for some reason the Seahawks do not select a running back in the first three rounds.

#10:  Terrance Ganaway (5th round grade)

Despite all of his huge runs in the Alamo bowl, Ganaway is not a fast running back.  He’s not very elusive either.  He does have good power and is dependable in short yardage.  His straight ahead power running style could hold some appeal to the Seahawks and their power zone blocking scheme.