Archive for May, 2012

Tyler Bray (QB, Tennessee) vs Georgia

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Bray was listed at #31 on our 2013 watch-list. For all 2013 prospect videos, click here or select the ‘Game tape’ tab on the menu bar. Bray is an outside bet to declare for next years draft after missing considerable time in his first two seasons as a starter. However, a good 2012 could push him to turn pro. This isn’t his best game from 2011 but he does need time on the field to improve.

Russell Wilson under the microscope: Pocket accuracy

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

I scouted Russell Wilson before I included him in my “Quarterbacks of interest” series in late 2011.  Typically when I scout a player I cover the basics (arm strength, mobility, style of offense, intangibles, etc)  without delving ultra deep.  I came away from my initial scouting experience of Wilson with a remarkably positive impression.  I thought Wilson had the best tape of any quarterback in this draft.  That said- if the players with the best tape always made for the best professional athletes, then teams would never draft busts nor spend millions on their scouting departments.  That’s why it’s critical to determine whether a player’s skills will project to the next level or not.  After breaking down Wilson twice, I am completely convinced that height will not effect him almost at all in the NFL.

However, there have been a handful of other concerns for Wilson, which I think are fair game.  Today, I’m going to break down the common assertion that Wilson’s accuracy “dips” when taking throws in the pocket.  For this exercise, I used the three compilations available on Youtube:  Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan State again in the Big 10 championship game.

@ Michigan State

One of the things that jumped out at me while charting all three of these games was how many of Wilson’s passes were attempted from the pocket.  Granted, the definition is a bit nebulous as Wilson moves around so much.  I generally considered the play to be a pocket pass if it was designed as such and thrown in an area that was intentional grounding eligible.  I excluded bootlegs or scrambles that took Wilson clearly outside the tackles.  For a guy that is so athletic and so short, I was surprised to see that Wisconsin didn’t move him outside the pocket more often.

Wilson threw 21 passes in this game.  16 of them were thrown from the pocket.  Wilson went 10/16 in the pocket and 4/5 outside the pocket.

Of those six pocket incompletions, two were intercepted.  The first interception was actually receiver Nick Toon’s fault for failing to look for the ball and adjust his route accordingly.  The second interception was a desperation deep throw across Wilson’s body that was slightly overthrown.  Had he been throwing to Sidney Rice, it probably would have been caught for a huge gain, but unfortunately for Wilson, his target didn’t quite have enough juice in the tank to reach it, and a converging defensive back swooped in for a sideline pick.  This was still arguably a poor decision for Wilson, and it was also an over-thrown ball.  Had it been throw a tiny bit less, he would have had a huge completion instead of a pick.  These would be the only two interceptions Wilson would throw in any of the three games.

Of the four remaining incompletions, one was a perfect deep ball that his receiver dropped.  Another was a hot read that led his target too much.  It wasn’t a great pass, but it’s the kind that should have been caught just the same.  Wilson’s two remaining incompletions were over-throws, including one that blew a sure touchdown.

Wilson also had an incompletion that didn’t count because it was ruled intentional grounding for a safety.

Wilson finished 10/16 in the pocket, good for a 62.5% completion rate.  He was 4/5 outside the pocket, good for 80%.  If you give Wilson credit for the two balls his receivers dropped, his pocket number increases to 75%.

Misc notes:

Wilson did not have a single throwaway in this game.  He hates to give up on plays and will almost always make something happen.

Wilson’s high completion numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he throws deep very often.  Wilson made plenty of mistakes in this game, and faced a very tough defense that barely gave him time to throw, and yet he still finished with over 10 yards per attempt.

Wilson’s big hands help him out a lot.  Wilson has a terrific pump fake because he can grip the ball so well.  He also has a nifty quick shovel pass and therefore effective fake shovel pass move.

Wilson isn’t as great a rusher as his combine speed would make you think, but he can buy time in the pocket like few quarterbacks can, while keeping his eyes (deep) downfield at all times.

Play action and bootlegs work well for Wilson’s skill set.  Bootlegs have an obvious benefit: they get him outside the pocket and they take advantage of his speed to buy time.  The play action also benefits Wilson because the act of turning around and running to the fake handoff has the added effect of dropping Wilson deeper into the pocket in less time than a normal dropback would.

Wilson had an awesome run for a TD in this game that was sprung by a perfect pump fake on the run to freeze an enclosing defender.  Wilson’s hard sell on his pump fake is one of his biggest weapons.

@ Ohio State

Another tough defense on the road.  Wilson took a fair number of sacks in this game as Ohio State has a very athletic defensive line.

Wilson threw 32 passes in this game, and only 4 of them were attempted outside the pocket despite all the pressure Ohio State brought all game long.

Wilson went 17/28 (61%) in the pocket and 3/4 (75%) outside of it.

Four of Wilson’s eleven pocket incompletions were throwaways forced by pressure or coverage.  Another was a drop where the receiver took a hit and couldn’t hold on.  Wilson also had an incompletion where he was hit as he threw.  More than half of Wilson’s pocket incompletons in this game had zero to do with his accuracy.  Most of Wilson’s remaining incompletions were over-throws on mid-to-deep pass attempts.  Take those six “excusable” incompletions out of the data set, and Wilson would have finished 17/22 in the pocket, a rate of 77%.

Michigan State (Big 10 championship game)

Wilson went 16/22 (73%) from inside the pocket and 1/2 (50%) outside the pocket in this game.

Wilson’s receivers really came through for him in this game, making several tough catches including a crucial catch on 4th and 6 late in the game.  They didn’t drop a single pass either.

Wilson also erased one of his potential incompletions when he caught his own pass after it was batted back to him.  Wilson is one of the few quarterbacks who is electric enough as a runner to actually make it worth catching his own pass, although sadly he lost two yards on the play.

Misc notes:

Wilson has a snappy fast shovel pass.  At one point early in the game a pass rusher came off the edge unblocked and Wilson froze the guy with a fake shovel pass then ran around him.  It was awesome.  Later Wilson scored with an actual shovel pass near the goal line after sucking in the defense by showing intent to run the ball outside.

Wilson caught a pass from his running back for a big gain.  NFL defenses will have to account for Wilson even when the ball isn’t in his hands.

Conclusion:

Wilson doesn’t really have a pocket accuracy problem.  He does have a bit of a deep ball over-throw issue, and Wilson throws a lot of deep passes.  Because Wilson typically throws deep from within the pocket, his overall accuracy completion numbers dip as a result.  As for the reason why Wilson is good for a handful of overthrows a game, I’m not exactly sure of the reason, but I suspect it’s because he doesn’t step into his deep throws when making them from the pocket very often, instead relying on pure arm strength and overcompensating as a result.

What is Seattle’s greatest remaining need?

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

They could be father and son...

The Seahawks are running out of needs to address. They have a left tackle. They have an offensive MVP with star quality. They have a defense that now includes pass rush + linebackers + secondary. Only one big question mark remains, and it’s a biggie.

Quarterback… How I’ve missed talking about quarterbacks over the last four months since it became obvious Seattle was drafting a pass rusher in round one.

The subject has kind of been pushed to one side, and not just because it was never a realistic option for the Seahawks at #12. Matt Flynn was evidently enough of a ‘name’ to satisfy those craving some kind of hope for the future. It probably helped that like a previous Seahawks starter, Flynn was a late round pick from the Green Bay Packers who spent time backing up a brilliant veteran. Not that this will have any bearing or relevance on whether Flynn will be a success like Matt Hasselbeck. This is a very different situation and environment.

The Seahawks also added a third round pick into the mix with Russell Wilson. And since they drafted Wilson, there’s been widespread grinning among the teams front office. Fans are hoping this is the guy if Flynn doesn’t cement the job, if not in 2012 than certainly beyond that.

Pete Carroll is again talking about competition and he’s comfortable with that. He’s thriving on that. Who wins the job? Who knows? Is Russell Wilson actually competing to start, or competing to be the #2? Again, who knows? Most people expect Matt Flynn to get his shot in 2012, which isn’t unreasonable given the investment made during free agency. If nothing else it’s a healthier competition this year than in 2011 when Tarvaris Jackson was handed the job as soon as he walked into the building.

However, this continuous competition is part of the problem. Unless Jackson retains his position at the starter, it’ll be three different starting quarterbacks in three years under Carroll, plus a failed project in Charlie Whitehurst. I’m not sure Seattle can just keep rolling through guys every year until one sticks. It kind of sounds like a good idea, but eventually you need some consistency back there. Eventually, you need to make a long term commitment and say, “this is our guy and we’re going to build around him.” Sometimes a quarterback needs more than one season to prove himself. The low cost level of Seattle’s additions so far has made each quarterback disposable and therefore easy to remove as a starter.

Even if Seattle’s offense will be based around the run, recent history suggests the Seahawks will need a quarterback of a certain quality to become consistent challengers. We can have a debate about a lasting need at receiver or on the offensive line, but Seattle’s #1 priority in the aftermath of the 2012 draft is still finding a long term option at quarterback.

That’s not to say I criticise what the team has done so far. In three drafts, they’ve simply not had the chance to draft ‘the one’. Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy were not the answer in 2010. The 2011 group of quarterbacks didn’t offer much hope and I still think the team was correct not to spend the #25 pick on Andy Dalton. In 2012, three quarterbacks left the board before the #8 pick. You can’t magic a quarterback out of the sky. However, they have to be prepared. One day they will get a chance and they need to be ready to take it, even if the prize comes with a certain price.

Wilson could be the guy. But here’s the problem and the point I was trying to make when suggesting he should be considered as a starter in 2012. If the Seahawks start Flynn and he turns out to be another Whitehurst or Jackson, I’m not convinced they can avoid going big on a quarterback unless it’s completely impossible. All it took for Dallas to move from #14 in the draft to #5 was a second round pick. Unless there’s a top-heavy situation at quarterback this year like we saw with Andrew Luck and Griffin III, the Seahawks would have to consider making a similar move if a player like Matt Barkley is available in that 3-10 range.

In doing that, you’ll never know how good Wilson could be. Maybe they’re comfortable with that situation? Maybe Wilson’s grade made him too good to pass and insurance in case the Seahawks can’t go big in 2013? Yet given that both Carroll and Schneider have gushed about the guy’s potential, I would’ve thought they’d seriously believe he has a chance to start in the league. And in that case, wouldn’t they want to know what he can do before they spend picks on a Barkley or Logan Thomas?

The idea of trying Flynn in 2012 and then maybe Wilson in 2013 – without drafting a quarterback who is instantly recognised as ‘the guy’ would be difficult to stomach if a pro-active move was conceivable.. I appreciate the philosophy of this franchise, the competition mantra, the background of John Schneider and Pete Carroll and the way they’ve dealt with quarterbacks in the past with a lot of success. But I also appreciate that this is a quarterback driven league, even if you do want to dominate with the run.

Maybe Flynn does a great job? Maybe Wilson wins the gig and makes geniuses of Seattle’s front office? Or maybe the Seahawks go into next years draft in the same position they’ve entered the last three drafts – with an unclear situation at QB. If that’s the case, there’s going to be a lot of pressure to find a solution. It will be, after all, the 20th anniversary of the teams last first round investment in a quarterback next year. And that is why it’s still the teams greatest need. No position requires long term thinking quite like the role of a quarterback. Until the Seahawks start going into an off-season programme with an unquestioned starter at the position, it will go on remaining the biggest need… and it aint close.

John Simon (DE, Ohio State) vs Illinois

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Nobody else is talking about this guy and I’m shocked. Stunned. I ranked Simon at #14 on my 2013 watch-list. For all 2013 prospect videos, click here or select the ‘Game tape’ tab on the menu bar.

Friday draft thoughts

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Outspoken? Or just misunderstood?

Bruce Irvin on the 3-3-5

Over the last few days we’ve looked at two Bruce Irvin games (more on the way) and critiqued how badly he fit West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme. It was interesting to hear Irvin talk about his frustration in the system, when speaking to KJR after the draft. Thanks to Danny Kelly at SB Nation/Field Gulls for breaking down a few quotes:

“No disrespect to my coaches [at West Virginia]. They emphasize on stopping the run, and they were good at it. They developed me more as a player in my final year, but as a far as pass rushing – that wasn’t their thing. And I’m not the only player who would say that. It’s no disrespect to them but my coach wasn’t a pass-rushing coach . . . And like I said, just imagine if I get a coach who actually teaches me moves and teaches me counter moves and how to set up people. Man, I could be a double-digit sack guy in this league for a long time.

“It ain’t that I can’t play the run, it’s how they wanted me to play the run. We ran a 3-3-5 stack defense, I was 235 pounds and you got me in a three technique? I can’t help you. You got me going against two 300-pounders and I’m only 235? I don’t know anybody who could play the run against two 300-pound guys at 235 pounds. But you put me in a five technique and you ask me to hold center edge and don’t let anything get outside of me, I can do that. I think people just kinda misunderstood and didn’t really know the basis of our defense. We were the only team that ran a 3-3-5 stack in the country. I was a different type of player and that’s not a typical defense for me, but I feel like I was still pretty productive – 23 sacks in two years, so you know, I made the best out of the situation.”

First of all, I don’t mind that Bruce is being honest about the scheme. He’s not revealing any secrets here, because it’s blatantly obvious the system didn’t match his skill-set. In Seattle, his main responsibility will be rushing the passer. In year one, it may be his only responsibility as he adopts the Raheem Brock role. As time goes on, he’s going to need to avoid being a liability against the run as a full-time LEO, but he’s doesn’t need to be Red Bryant at the same time. He’s shown he’s comfortable in read/react versus the run and he’s harder to move than you’d expect for a guy his size. But it’s still one of the things he’ll need to work on.

I am hoping, however, that Bruce will keep future complaints to himself. People don’t need to hear reasons why the coaches got it wrong. Unless Irvin becomes an immediate all-pro, he’s going to experience growing pains in the NFL like any other rookie. There’s being honest, and there’s also getting on with the job. But then he’s not going to be lining up in a three man front, taking on a guard/tackle combo nearly every play and still being asked to make 20+ sacks for the Seattle Seahawks. So we’ll cut the guy some slack.

Russell Wilson’s story

Browns and Rams still drafting like the Browns and Rams

Sure, this is a Seahawks Draft Blog. But there are two other teams out there that I found pretty interesting this year.

One is division rival St. Louis, undergoing yet another re-start and re-build but benefiting from a bounty of picks courtesy of the Washington Redskins. The other is Cleveland, controlled by Mike Holmgren – a man many Seahawks fans wanted to see return to Seattle as some kind of football czar before the appointment of Pete Carroll.

St. Louis Rams

When the Rams traded with Washington for the rights to Robert Griffin III, they put themselves in position to rebuild a team that’s been associated with rank bad failure for years. I’m sure everyone on the blog wishes the best of luck to Jeff Fisher…

St. Louis have two first round picks in 2013 and 2014 and came into this years draft with the #6 pick and a pair of second rounders. They probably felt pretty good about that position. Then the trades started to happen. First, Cleveland swapped picks with Minnesota to secure Trent Richardson. If you believe the speculation – and I do – Fisher was very fond of Richardson. Never mind, if they want an offensive playmaker at least Justin Blackmon remains on the board.

The Vikings seemingly tried to trade down again from #4 but ended up settling for Matt Kalil – the obvious choice for that franchise. So that leaves Morris Claiborne for Tampa Bay, right? Wrong. They flip picks with Jacksonville, who for the price of just a fourth rounder secured the top-ranked receiver in the draft. Cue Jeff Fisher being caught on camera slamming his glasses onto a table in the Rams war room.

That move clearly caught St. Louis by surprise and they didn’t like it one bit. The reaction was a big trade down the board – eight spots in fact – before they finally drafted Michael Brockers. The move secured another second round pick, but it left the Rams without that big-time receiver for quarterback Sam Bradford.

Here’s what I don’t get about the Rams draft. Cleveland identified Trent Richardson as the guy they wanted and eliminated any doubt by trading up to #3. It cost them a fourth, a fifth and a seventh round pick, but they didn’t risk missing out. For the price of a fourth round pick, St. Louis had the chance to make a similar deal with Tampa Bay to get Blackmon. But they didn’t. They let Jacksonville get their guy.

If they’d stumped up the dough, they would’ve been looking at a two-round collection of: Justin Blackmon, one of Derek Wolfe/Kendall Reyes/Jerel Worthy and Janoris Jenkins. Instead they got Michael Brockers, Brian Quick, Janoris Jenkins and Isaiah Pead. Quick has potential and size, but he’s untested at the highest level of college football. Brockers also has a lot of potential, but is he significantly better than the other defensive tackles available in round two?

Tampa Bay weren’t the only possible trade partner either. Talk to Minnesota. Had they moved down to #6 – and with Blackmon going at #4 – there appears to be little chance Kalil would’ve left the board before the Vikings were back on the clock. And there appeared to be some enthusiasm in Minnesota to move back again.

I kind of feel like the Rams fudged this draft a little bit, despite a great opportunity to get this offense moving in the right direction. There were five top-end offensive players in this draft – Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon. The Rams came away with none of them, despite owning first the #2 pick and then the #6. For the sake of Isaiah Pead and a fourth round pick, I’m not convinced they did the right thing here. In a year when they had three high picks, they needed to come away with more than Brian Quick on offense. Sam Bradford might not enjoy 2012 any more than he did 2011.

Cleveland Browns

I love the move Cleveland made for Trent Richardson. As fans and followers of the draft, sometimes we can over-value picks. I appreciate that the Seahawks front office prides itself on working the magic in the later rounds, but sometimes you’ve got to tighten the belt and just make a move to get a special player. Kudos to Cleveland for being aggressive to ensure they got the third best player in the draft.

At the same time, I think an argument can be made for going in a different direction. Simply because of that #22 pick.

They’ve drafted well in the early rounds under Holmgren and Tom Heckert. The trio of Joe Haden, Phil Taylor and Jabal Sheard were all superb picks for the defense. On offense they have little in terms of playmakers, but they have Trent Richardson. Like I said, love the pick and the decision to move up and get him. But part of me just wonders – if you were always going to take Brandon Weeden at #22, why not also draft Justin Blackmon in round one? You’re betting a lot on a 29-year-old rookie quarterback hitting the ground running, otherwise he’s an automatic bust.

Weeden will be expected to start immediately. He’s going to try and not suck throwing to Greg Little, Mohammed Massaquoi and Ben Watson. Good luck, Brandon.

The two Oklahoma State stand-outs have a connection and an understanding. Weeden-to-Blackmon could’ve worked quicker than most other QB-to-WR combo’s. I personally wouldn’t have drafted Weeden that early, so I would never need to be in a position to fight the Richardson pick. But clearly Cleveland believed in Weeden and for those reasons, I maybe would’ve backed that judgement by hooking up the former team-mates.

The question is can Weeden become even a modest starter with the weapons at his disposal? That’s when the age becomes a factor because younger quarterbacks get some time. Weeden doesn’t have that luxury. There’s not getting away from how important it is for this guy to start fast because of the age factor. The Holmgren/Heckert partnership may not get another chance to draft a quarterback in round one, they have nailed their colors to the mast on this one. So they need to get it right.

There’s also an argument that suggests if Richardson dominates – which is possible – it’ll too make life easier for Weeden. I get that. But it’s maybe asking a lot to expect Richardson to carry the offense on his back to the extent Little/Massaquoi becomes a threat, especially when Cleveland has six games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Again, with a younger quarterback you can maybe afford to be patient to target another receiver in the future. I repeat… Weeden is 29 this fall. He needs to succeed now.

If the Browns really had to add a new running back to the roster, they could’ve realistically dipped back into round one. Denver merely flipped fourth round picks with Tampa Bay to trade out of the first. The Buccaneers took Doug Martin with the #31 pick. Had Cleveland not traded up for Richardson and taken Blackmon at #4, they would’ve had a cluster of picks to make a similar bargain move. Suddenly you’re looking at an offense containing Weeden, Blackmon and Martin. However good Trent Richardson is, that trio would probably make life easier for Weeden. Just my take on it.

Of course it’s very easy to sit here after the event and pick holes in the these two teams. These things never go according to the script. Both the Rams and Browns could prosper and make this write-up a bit of a faux pas on my behalf. But I did find both teams pretty intriguing last week.

Rant over. Back to the Seahawks.

Draft Spotlight: Jaye Howard, DT, Florida

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Dan Quinn built a strong reputation as a defensive line coach, joining the Seahawks in 2009 and helped the line retain respectability in 2009 and 2010 even when there wasn’t a ton of talent there.  He left the Seahawks last year after being offered a promotion to coach as a defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators.  It’s only fitting then that the first gator to be drafted in 2012 was a defensive lineman, going to the Seattle Seahawks no less.

Quinn has a reputation for developing and improving defensive linemen, so Howard’s big step forward in 2011 should hardly be surprising.  Howard is likely going to be a situational contributor at the next level, but the fact that he comes with the Dan Quinn seal of approval is no minor detail.

Howard tallied 5.5 sacks last season and was one tackle for loss short of the team lead.

Productive pass rushing defensive tackles are one of the NFL’s rarest commodities.  There are three qualities that most successful interior pass rushers share:

  1. Stellar snap recognition with a lightning quick first step
  2. Outstanding hand use, upper body strength, and overall technique
  3. The quickness to step around a blocker once they’ve won the hand battle

There are some exceptions, as rarely you will see a defensive tackle so physically dominant that he can win with power alone (guys like Ndamukong Suh and Cortez Kennedy), but for the most part your top NFL pass rushers at tackle will excel in the skillset above.

So what does Howard do well? (more…)

Bruce Irvin tape review vs Clemson

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Bruce Irvin took 43 snaps against Pittsburgh, a game we reviewed earlier in the week. In the Orange Bowl he didn’t need such a workload as the Mountaineers blew Clemson away in a record breaking 70-33 victory. The nature of the snaps was interesting though.

Against Pittsburgh, 58% of Irvin’s snaps were on first and second down in basic down/distance situations (eg, 1st/2nd down between 0-10 yards). Against Clemson, Irvin didn’t take a first down snap until the second quarter and by half time, he’d only played three first downs. Overall he had 27 snaps, the difference of 16 in part due to the nature of the game (Pittsburgh was a one-point nail-biter). But it’s interesting that this time 81% of his snaps came on second or third down.

First down snaps: 4

Second down snaps: 14

Third down snaps: 8

Fourth down snaps: 1

Irvin had one short-yardage snap on 3rd and 3 in the second quarter, but didn’t take another snap with the distance between 0-5 yards.

0-5 yards: 1

5-10 yards: 20

10-20 yards: 5

20+ yards: 1

It’s no real surprise that he didn’t feature too heavily in a 37-point victory, but the snaps he took do give some insight into how he was used. The Mountaineers were determined to persevere with the 3-3-5, a system which is the very antithesis of a good scheme fit for #11. Maybe it’s not such a surprise they were managing what amounted to a 5-technique who, by his own admission, was playing between 220-230lbs. They made no attempt to max out the most prolific pass rusher on their roster by switching schemes. Thus, we see 27-snap games.

So how much of an impact he have in those 27 snaps? The tape above offers an insight into what Irvin will probably be as a pro. He’ll make two or three big plays in a game, he’ll provide consistent threat with edge speed and a good counter – but he’ll also be blocked out of series too. Irvin may never be an every down work horse, although the LEO by design offers potential to be a starter. Even f he does feature in just 50% of the snaps, he’s good enough to make enough key plays per game to warrant the #15 pick.

Against Clemson he made back-to-back splash plays at the end of the first half and start of the second. Go to 2:03 in the video above and you’ll see Irvin run out of the play originally as Tahj Boyd attempts to scramble up the middle of the field. Irvin loops back around the line of scrimmage and spots the quarterback, before making up 20-yards to strip the ball and force a fumble. It wasn’t just great hustle to rush back and make the play, it was also pretty instinctive to get the turnover. It’s also worth noting he made that effort with a minute to go in the half and with his team leading 42-20. He wasn’t in the locker room. He could’ve been – and who would’ve blamed him – but he wanted more points.

The next big play is a sack, where Irvin leads the tackle to the edge before quickly cutting inside and taking down the quarterback. It’s a move he’s pretty much mastered and he’s very fluid when changing direction during a sprint. A tackle is always going to need to cover the inside counter. Yet by protecting inside, he’ll be susceptible to the speed around the edge. Irvin might not have superb upper body strength (although it’s underrated for his size) but having a counter move like this will cause pro-lineman problems, not just college left tackles.

He likes this move. Check 1:00 where he tries it again and probably should’ve drawn a holding call for the tackle basically grabbing him round the neck to avoid the sack.

There are also examples in the tape where the counter doesn’t work. See 0:13 where Irvin just lacks a little bit of extra juice in the cut and the tackle reads it. I keep reading that when a lineman gets his hands on Irvin it’s over, but I think we see in this play that he can fight, he’ll prod and jab. He almost tips the pass in the end because he has another fight to drive the tackle backwards. Don’t write off this guy’s ability to brawl.

Irvin shows decent instinct at 0:46 to read the play, work through traffic and do enough to put off Boyd and force him to throw the ball away. He’s stoned on four consecutive plays from 1:31-2:01, with the #63 dominating him with a good punch to the body and following through the block. This is really what Seahawks fans should expect at the next level – a lot of key defensive plays, but also a series or two where Irvin is just blocked out pretty comfortably.

Back to this 3-3-5 scheme, because he’s again playing in a three-man front. It’s going to be much harder to block the guy when he’s rushing opposite Chris Clemons with some beef in the middle, or even in an aggressive five-man front. He may be unblockable in those situations. It stands to reason that the Seahawks will utilise Irvin’s foot speed in the same way that San Francisco did last year with their first round pick. The 49ers would regularly send Justin Smith to the edge and have Aldon Smith loop around and attack through the middle, with all the attention going to Justin. The Seahawks will try and get Irvin into positions where he’s not accounted for and if he finds a gap, it’s over. They could even have Clemons and Irvin rush the same side. It’s impossible to see how WVU were getting anything like the best out of him in this 3-3-5 scheme… and he still made 20+ sacks in two years.

I’m still a little annoyed for second guessing myself and not spending the necessary time to understand the role he was being asked to play in West Virginia. The position never suited him and I didn’t pay enough attention to that when watching WVU games last season. Now that I have a reason to sit down and pick through this, I get it. And I also get why the Seahawks spent the #15 pick on Irvin, and why one GM called him the hottest prospect in the draft in the week leading up to April 26th. The raw speed, the surprising upper body strength, the ability to counter. “Bruce Irvin is ready to crash the 2012 NFL DraftI wrote a year ago. Why did I ignore that?

There will be frustrating plays, but there’s also going to be an impact. People will watch this game and second guess themselves just like I did. The guy had a key sack and a forced fumble. He could’ve had another sack but for a blatant hold. If he’s recording that most weeks in Seattle, nobody will be giving the pick a D grade in twelve months time.

Irvin is going to be a headache to scheme against next season, particularly if there’s interior pressure from Mebane/Branch/Jones and continued effectiveness from Chris Clemons. It’s also going to be pretty difficult to send the tight end on a route when Irvin’s in the game and not playing with his hand in the dirt. He’s just not going to be truly effective on every series – but who really is? Rest assured that every offensive coordinator the team faces next year is going to be working overtime to find a way to block this guy. Specialist or not, he’ll have an impact.

Top 40 watch list for 2013

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Matt Barkley is the clear #1 prospect for 2013

Everyone seems to do one of these nowadays, and a lot of them look the same. I’ve tried to be different where possible and bring something new to the table. This isn’t a mock draft, it’s not even a definitive list. It’s merely a collection of guys to keep an eye on in 2013. Some will succeed and progress towards the top of next years draft. Others will fail in that quest.

There’s also the chance for others to develop. Who was talking about Robert Griffin III twelve months ago? What about Cam Newton the year before? Things change during a season. One of the high profile absentees is Landry Jones – a player I firmly believe warrants no more than a mid-round grade. His tape was awful last year, and it’s why he didn’t declare despite being ridiculously placed among many top-10 mocks during the year. That’s not to say Jones can’t promote his stock with a good season, but he has it all to prove.

Keep an eye out because over the next few weeks were going to start publishing game tape of this group. You’ll find all the tape by clicking the new menu bar tap titled, unsurprisingly, ‘GAME TAPE’.

#1 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
Just a fantastic quarterback prospect with elite technical and mental qualities.

#2 Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech)
He could be the #1 pick. Thomas has all the physical tools and looks like Big Ben.

#3 Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
The best pass rusher in college football, he had 13.5 sacks last season.

#4 Robert Woods (WR, USC)
A bit inconsistent and lacks ideal size, but he should put up big numbers again.

#5 Marcus Lattimore (RB, South Carolina)
The big question here is health. Can he bounce back from a bad knee injury?

#6 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
Elite potential but the motor runs a bit hit and miss. One to watch.

#7 Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas)
Slingy release and gets happy feet, but he has all the tools.

#8 Oday Aboushi (OT, Virginia)
He would’ve been a late first or early second round pick this year.

#9 Barrett Jones (OT, Alabama)
Jones can play multiple positions – tackle, guard, center. Teams will want this guy on their team.

#10 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
A player in the JJ Watt mould, he’s perfect for the 3-4.

#11 Knile Davis (RB, Arkansas)
Another running back coming back from injury. It’s easy to forget just how good Davis is.

#12 Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin)
I love Montee Ball. Watch the tape, he makes things happen.

#13 Ricky Wagner (OT, Wisconsin)
Another tackle off the Wisconsin production line. He could develop into a good one.

#14 John Simon (DE, Ohio State)
Relentless and led the Buckeye’s for sacks last year. Underrated.

#15 DJ Fluker (OT, Alabama)
Massive tackle who looks like Andre Smith in person. Could play tackle or guard.

#16 Keenan Allen (WR, California)
He looks the part of a #1 receiver but may be held back featuring in an offense that lacks explosion.

#17 Jonathan Cooper (OG, North Carolina)
Another prospect who could’ve been a first or second round pick this year.

#18 Barkevious Mingo (OLB, LSU)
He can rush the passer, great speed and lean. Not the biggest but gets the job done.

#19 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
Incredible size but still looks athletic and can round the edge.

#20 Sam Montgomery (OLB, LSU)
A bit inconsistent and may be a linebacker rather than a pure pass rusher.

#21 Tyrann Matheiu (S, LSU)
He’s small, but the guy just makes plays. He’s hard to ignore.

#22 Kevin Reddick (OLB, North Carolina)
Reddick stood out more than Quinton Coples and Zach Brown last year.

#23 Manti Te’o (MLB, Notre Dame)
Just a solid linebacker, not explosive but the league will like him.

#24 TJ McDonald (S, USC)
The best safety going into the 2012 season and should be a first or second round pick.

#25 David Amerson (CB, South Carolina)
13 interceptions in 2011 is incredible, but has is he fast enough to go earlier?

#26 Denicos Allen (OLB, Michigan State)
Underrated linebacker who was fun to watch when scouting MSU last year. He had 10 sacks in 2011.

#27 Jonathan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
May have more potential than Amerson as a more natural corner. It’s close.

#28 Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
Athletic tackle who moves well and just needs to ramp it up a notch in 2012.

#29 Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
The player I’m looking forward to watching the most for the Longhorns.

#30 Mike Glennon (QB, NC State)
He was a bit hit and miss last year, but this is the guy who replaced Russell Wilson.

#31 Tyler Bray (QB, Tennessee)
Not sure he’ll declare having missed considerable team his first two years. There’s something there.

#32 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
Another Alabama running back who is ready to dominate.

#33 Shayne Skov (OLB, Stanford)
Injuries stopped him from declaring last year. He still has talent.

#34 Eric Reid (S, LSU)
Huge safety who hits and can run. So what the league is looking for right now.

#35 Marquess Wilson (WR, Washington State)
Wilson should thrive under Mike Leach.

#36 Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
He looked good last year and was productive with eleven sacks.

#37 Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
Could be the big riser at tackle this year. Watch this guy.

#38 Levine Toilolo (TE, Stanford)
Another huge, athletic tight end. He’s 6-8 and can get downfield.

#39 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
Lots of potential here and another year as the starter under Dana Holgorsen should help.

#40 William Gholston (DE, Michigan State)
Big with ideal size, Gholston is ready to have a big year.

Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State) vs Oklahoma

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Later I’ll be publishing a 2013 prospect watch-list. FSU’s Bjoern Werner will be on the board, so check out his tape below (courtesy of Aaron Aloysius). There’s also a new tab on the menu bar titled ‘GAME TAPE’ where you’ll find all the 2013 prospect tape (listed alphabetically) and also all of the 2012 draft class videos.

Grading the 2012 Draft: Rounds 4 and beyond

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

...which is also how they reacted to the Seahawks' draft.

Written by Kip Earlywine

(Grading the draft rounds 1-3)

If grading the draft is stupid, then grading the late rounds is absurdity.  If the first round feels like an auction, then the final rounds feels more like a yard sale.   Hidden amongst a mountain of barely used workout machines, old socks, cheap jewelry, and toys from thirty years ago, you may (on extremely rare occasions) stumble across a signed Mickey Mantle rookie card or a first edition Superman comic book.  It’s possible, but you might have to search through millions of yard sales before you find anything with that kind of hidden value.  If you just visited one yard sale, the odds of finding anything amazing would be essentially zero.  But the more yard sales you search, and the better trained your eye for value is, the more those odds increase.

There is a luck factor to consider, but I don’t think the team’s success with Kam Chancellor, Walter Thurmond, KJ Wright, and Richard Sherman was a result of dumb luck.  They were the result of tirelessly churning through hundreds, maybe even a thousand or so college prospects without discounting anyone.  As Bill Walsh said, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”  Based on how active this front office is in all phases of roster construction, and based on how inclusive their draft selection process has been, it gives the impression of a very hard working front office that never cuts corners to save time or effort.  It also helps that the Seahawks had thirteen picks in rounds 4-7 the previous two years.  Having a high work ethic, having a good synergy with the coaching staff, having a lot of picks, and having skilled talent evaluators in both the coaching staff and scouting department, it’s the perfect storm for mid to late round success.

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