Archive for October, 2012

Matt Elam (S, Florida) vs Tennessee

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Week six open thread

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

If you’re watching a game today let us know about it.

Thoughts on USC vs Utah: Barkley makes a statement

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Matt Barkley had a productive night for the Trojans

Matt Barkley needed a rebound display. No problem.

USC put themselves in a big hole early in the game, trailing 14-0 after almost identical issues snapping the ball. Khaled Holmes played despite lingering injury issues and that – along with Star Lotulelei’s presence – led to two botched snaps on the opening two possessions. How did Barkley react? He laughed it off, cracking jokes on the sideline and visibly raising the spirits of his team mates. He knew exactly what to do to get a response, to make sure the 14-0 deficit didn’t suffocate the team. USC quickly established a long touchdown drive on their next possession and were back in the game.

People can talk about physical qualities and intelligence but sometimes the role of the quarterback is simply to lead. Barkley knows his team – and this is his team for the remainder of the season. He knew how to get things rolling again. I guarantee every team watching the Utah game will have noticed his reaction to falling behind quickly and the way he led from the front and got things rolling. Even when Utah pulled into a 21-10 lead there was no panic. Barkley was in complete control, it’s almost like he planned it this way.

He ended with 303 passing yards, 23/30 completions and three touchdowns – all the while showing the kind of end of season form that would’ve made him a high pick in this years draft. His three scores were all well executed – characteristically accurate to Randall Telfer and Robert Woods from short rangebefore delivering on a downfield bomb to Marqise Lee. Nobody will ever argue Barkley has an elite arm, but it doesn’t prevent him from making big plays down the field. He found enough juice to pick out Lee in behind two defensive backs and he let his receiver do the rest on an 83 yard catch and run. Anyone doubting Barkley’s credentials as a high pick should watch this performance. His next game is at Century Link against Washington. I wonder if it’ll be a preview of future displays in the city of Seattle?

Geno Smith is the media’s favourite right now, but Barkley remains the best 2013 quarterback in my view. He’ll not suit every system, he’s not going to be a great elusive quarterback running tons of bootlegs. He’ll not make the miracle plays we’re seeing from guys like Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton. Yet in an offense that values ball control, making the right decisions, multiple quick reads and delivering an accurate ball – he’s an ideal fit. His lack of physical skills will concern some enough to suffer a possible fall but it only takes one interested party to make him the top pick. I can’t think of a better fit for Barkley than the NFC West – whether it’s Arizona, San Francisco or Seattle.

What about Lotulelei? Well he put in the same performance we always see – both dominating and ineffective. He started the game on fire, destroying the interior line and making several plays in the backfield. He got into Khaled Holmes’ head and looked like he was set for a true breakout performance in the national spotlight. Then… zero tackles in the second quarter and little impact in the second half. Welcome to the world of Star Lotulelei.

Without doubt he has elite physical potential and unmatched upside. If you could channel Lotulelei at his best he’d go to the NFL as one of the best prospects to enter the league in the last ten years. But here’s the issue – he is NOT consistent. We’ve talked about this often on Seahawks Draft Blog, but the guy blows hot and cold. Is it a motor issue? It is stamina? Is it just a lack of desire on his behalf to impact every single play? Don’t get me wrong, he’s not awful when he’s not having the big impact. USC did a good job running away from him to the edge and used some smart blocking to protect Barkley after the early meltdown. But Lotulelei threatened to be the big story tonight – and it ended up being about Matt Barkley. He’ll still be a high pick next April but he remains more of an upside prospect than a finished article. In my view, Sylvester Williams is a more rounded and consistent performer at defensive tackle but his age as a former JUCO transfer warrants a lack of hype.

Robert Woods ended the day with six catches for 69 yards including a touchdown. At one point he took a big hit to the head blocking on a return and collapsed in midfield. Initially it looked like he’d be unable to return with obvious concussion-like symptoms, but Woods did return and made some key plays in the game. His best act was a 41 yard catch and run in the first half to set up a scoring drive. There’s something about Woods you just can’t ignore – he’s not the biggest or the fastest. He still finds ways to make plays though, he’s a spark. I expect that will continue into his pro-career.

Also on the schedule this week: Oklahoma at Texas Tech, Georgia at South Carolina, LSU at Florida and Washington at Oregon. Due to TV scheduling (thanks, MLB playoffs) I’m unable to watch these games over the weekend as they’re being replayed later in the week. I’ll have a few thoughts on the blog after they’re broadcast over here.

I’ll also be creating an open thread tomorrow so if you’re watching a game or two – get involved.

USC vs Utah tonight

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Star Lotulelei will be hoping for a big day on the national stage

The Trojans needed a break after the California game to regroup. Despite winning quite comfortably 27-9 they still didn’t look like the team many expected coming into the year. Was it a hangover from the previous weeks defeat to Stanford? Or are there bigger issues at play here? Last week’s bye was timely and tonight they’re looking to hit back against Utah.

Matt Barkley has been out of sync so far, averaging 211 passing yards in his last three games. In his final four games last year he was picking up an average of 310 yards per game, throwing 17 touchdowns and just two picks. In his last two games against Stanford and California this year he has four interceptions – just three short of his entire total for 2011.

Some people will overreact to these numbers and others will consider the situation Barkley faces. Tonight he’ll probably be playing without star center Khaled Holmes again – a huge loss considering it’s coupled with the departure of left tackle Matt Kalil to the NFL. Yet this difficult situation provides an opportunity for Barkley. One thing he’s going to have to prove in the upcoming weeks is that he’s able to cope with adversity. Teams picking early in the 2013 draft are likely to have a lot of issues and they’re going to need to know he can work in an imperfect environment. He struggled a bit against Stanford and Cal with poor pass protection so this is another chance to make a statement that he doesn’t require the perfect storm to make plays. How he does it will be interesting to see, considering he’s not an elusive quarterback. He has underrated footwork and feel in the pocket though, and he may need that quality tonight.

One thing Barkley really needs to improve – downfield throwing. According to ESPN Stats, he’s 3/15 on passes thrown 20+ yards downfield this season – missing all eight attempts in the last two games. That’s a concern for a player who has faced criticism in this area many times in his career.

Barkley’s helped by USC’s power on the outside with Marqise Lee a likely top pick in 2014 and Robert Woods among the best 2013 eligible receivers. Woods is also looking for a rebound game after two mediocre displays. He was the key playmaker against Syracuse, recording 10 catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns – adding a further 76 yards on a clever reverse play before juking his way into the red zone. Against Stanford and California he had nine catches for just 68 total yards. He’s always going to suffer through Lee’s presence taking away some of the targets. However, he needs to keep flashing big plays and production to max out his stock given his 6-1 – 190lbs frame is unlikely to generate much excitement among scouts.

For Utah it’s all about staying close and making key plays on defense. Star Lotulelei has all the upside in the world and for sheer physical potential is the best defensive tackle to enter the draft since Ndamukong Suh. However, he lacks the same level of playmaking ability and consistency. Suh was a constant force, impacting virtually every down at Nebraska as a pass rusher and providing solid run support the rest of the time. Lotulelei shows some of the same qualities as a pass rusher but then there are just as many plays where he gets blown up or just lacks the motor to keep going. Coming up against USC’s struggling interior line could be a gift on a national stage like this, but he has to capitalise. Right now whoever drafts Lotulelei will do so based on potential and upside. He could end up being one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL one day – but it’ll take coaching and time to get there.

Chris Steuber is reporting Seattle will have scouts at the game:

I’ll put some thoughts on the blog tomorrow. In the meantime, if you’re watching tonight feel free to give us your take in the comments section.

Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia) vs Tennessee

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Updated 2013 mock draft: 3rd October

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

About a month ago I posted an initial ‘mock draft’ which was really designed to identify prospects we need to keep an eye on for 2013. Of course it’s far too early to try and make a logical projection, but updating the mock today is a chance to see how stock is rising or falling and if any news names have come into focus.

I’ve determined the draft order myself without the use of power rankings or record/strength of schedule. I wanted to put the Seahawks exactly in the middle of the pack to see how things shape out. I also wanted to show a scenario that would see the team selecting a quarterback in round one for the first time in 20 years.

This isn’t a review of Russell Wilson, who is doing just about everything you should expect of him at this stage (see this piece I wrote earlier in the week). If Wilson becomes the issue that holds the team back, then it’s time to look at Matt Flynn. But that isn’t the case right now and he deserves time on the field to try and prove he is a legitimate quarterback of the future.

If he can do that, then what I’ve written below becomes almost redundant. The Seahawks are not going to overload on one position if they believe they have a guy that can get the job done at quarterback. But what if Wilson doesn’t totally convince everyone he’s the answer? In that situation the front office would have to make a judgement call – are other options out there in the draft that will upgrade the position? If they identify a player who can do that, they should take him. Right now the passing game is the weakest unit on the team. They have to make any improvements that are possible, including continuing to look at the quarterback position.

I believe this is one of the main reasons why they’ll stick by Russell Wilson this year. Although they want to win as many games as possible and that remains the priority, they also want to know exactly what he’s capable of. Immediately after the 2012 draft at the start of May I wrote on this blog: “Seattle has to be prepared next year. They need to know if the big move is necessary or if they’ve already found the answer. They’ll only find out by starting Russell Wilson. So why not?” Wilson ultimately won the job and Pete Carroll put himself in a position to find out if he’s good enough to lead this team. But he won’t find that out in 4-5 games, which is why I think he’s going to stick by the third round pick longer than some people anticipate.

And for those people saying, “Any new quarterback is still going to be throwing to the same guys and playing behind the same pass protection” – I hear that argument but what are you going to do? Reach for a lesser talent at receiver? There simply isn’t that top-end wide out in this draft class and nobody is emerging to be that guy. There is a lot of depth though, so there’s every chance of improving the position in rounds two or three. The mock below is why I wrote about the QB debate lingering into the off-season. The fact one of Carroll’s best guys from USC enters the league next April only adds to the potential drama.

#1 Jarvis Jones (DE/LB Georgia)
Extreme athlete and playmaker. Needs to show it in the big, close games if he’s going to go this early.
#2 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
Prolific start to 2012 but will face tougher challenges along the way. Smith must avoid the off-days we saw last year.
#3 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
The complete cornerback prospect. He can cover, he can play run support, he’s a ball hawk and has elite recovery speed.
#4 Jonathan Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
Indy needs a nose tackle for their 3-4 scheme. Jenkins is huge but moves well for his size and can anchor a defense.
#5 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
Lotulelei continues to flash incredible athleticism, but not consistency. Huge upside but needs polish.
#6 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
He lost weight this year to improve his speed rush, but he could get bigger to fit any scheme.
#7 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Richardson’s had a big impact this year and will be a big riser. Pure three-technique and an explosive interior pass rusher.
#8 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
He could go higher than this. Warmack is the best guard to enter the league in a long time. Immediate starter.
#9 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
Te’o is winning teams over with turnovers and intangibles. He’s not the athlete Luke Kuechly is, but he makes more plays.
#10 Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Underrated defensive tackle. He’s a little older as a JUCO transfer but has 4.5 sacks in five games this year.
#11 Brennan Williams (OT, North Carolina)
Williams is the best offensive tackle prospect in a mediocre year for the position. St. Louis will look to sure up their offensive line.
#12 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Off field concerns are legit, but so is the talent. He has the athleticism to play safety and the size to play linebacker.
#13 Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)
Due to his size, Lemonier is likely to project as a 3-4 outside rusher. The Jets will like this guy.
#14 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
Jordan quietly has three sacks this year. His 6-7, 241lbs frame will entice teams and he could be a fast riser.
#15 Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
He can play both schemes but looks best as a one-technique with size and athleticism.
#16 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
There’s only one scenario where the Seahawks don’t consider this, and that’s if Russell Wilson proves he’s the obvious QBOTF for this team.
#17 Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
Another athletic three technique prospect that can rush the passer and fill running lanes.
#18 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
He could go higher than this but two guards going in the top-15 would be unique. Excellent prospect.
#19 Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
He’s rushing the passer extremely well at A&M and making big plays. Moore looked very good against Arkansas.
#20 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Another linebacker off the production line at Alabama. He will start in the league immediately and play at a strong level.
#21 Dallas Thomas (G, Tennessee)
Thomas is playing guard with the Vols this year but has the athleticism to switch back to tackle.
#22 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
He had his first sack of the year against Towson this week. It’s still been an underwhelming start for Mingo in 2012.
#23 Jonathan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
Solid cornerback prospect and the clear #2 to Dee Milliner at the position.
#24 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
He’s showing pure playmaking quality at WVU this year. RGIII had Kendall Wright, Geno Smith has Tavon Austin.
#25 Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
Not the biggest linebacker but he moves sideline-to-sideline to well and will be an immediate starter.
#26 Keenan Allen (WR, California)
Philly will likely search for value and Allen has the physical tools to warrant a first round pick. The combine will define his stock.
#27 Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
He still doesn’t look 100% but time is on his side. If he can prove the knee isn’t an issue then he’s a first rounder.
#28 Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
He’s a better athlete than Matthews but not quite as steady. Arizona needs a guy who can play the blindside.
#29 John Simon (DE, Ohio State)
Great character, high motor and a solid pass rusher. You can picture him in San Francisco’s defense.
#30 Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU)
Baltimore always make good choices and Montgomery would add another piece to their pass rush.
#31 Robert Woods (WR, USC)
He’s made some great plays this year but a lack of size will dictate his stock. He’s a top-15 talent who could fall a little.
#32 Marcus Lattimore (RB, South Carolina)
Patient runner who gets tough yards – but injury history and a lack of straight line speed could make him available here.

Matt Barkley (QB, USC) status check

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The face of the 2013 draft?

NFL teams know what they want in a quarterback these days. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. The vertical passing game is dominating the league and the best athletes in America are playing defensive end. The feeling is you need someone who can avoid pressure and throw the ball accurately with good velocity.

In the last two drafts, seven quarterbacks have been taken within the top-15 picks. Each player has very similar characteristics – arm strength, mobility, size. If you’re big, strong and athletic – you have a chance to be a top-15 pick in the NFL draft. You don’t even have to be close to the finished article, because upside will make up for anything. This is the NFL in 2012.

Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. They can all move around to avoid pressure. Everyone except Ponder can throw the ball downfield with real velocity. Each player had enough upside to persuade a team they had to take them early. All featured in one way or another as a rookie and in year two, every player is a NFL starter.

These are the kind of quarterbacks every team is looking for these days. As mentioned – the best athletes all play defensive end or rush linebacker. Offensive coaches are really concerned about the growing difference in talent and athleticism between players rushing the passer and trying to defend the quarterback. There just aren’t any offensive tackles out there who can compare to DeMarcus Ware, Jason Pierre-Paul or Clay Matthews as pure athletes. Pass protection is no longer just about one great blind side blocker, greater responsibility also lies with the quarterback. He needs to be evasive, he needs to be able to make plays on the run as he’s being chased by J.J. Watt or Von Miller. The demands on a quarterback are extreme and it’s becoming a position that requires not just a degree of intelligence, but also real athleticism.

So how does Matt Barkley fit into the modern NFL?

Regular visitors last year will know I’m a fan of USC’s quarterback. He’s lost some momentum this year after a disappointing defeat to Stanford and his performances so far in 2012 haven’t matched his brilliant end to last season. He has five interceptions in four games this year, after throwing just seven in an entire season in 2011. If you’re the kind of person looking for an excuse to downgrade a prospect, there’s your foot in the door. Forget that he also he’s been sacked seven times already (he had just eight sacks in 2011) and is working without last year’s left tackle (#4 overall pick Matt Kalil) and his starting center (Khaled Holmes – struggling through injury). People look at the fact he’s lost a game and the numbers aren’t quite what we expected and the bandwagon leaves the city.

There’s still time – and certainly enough big games – for Barkley to get people talking about him again like they were at the end of last year. After all, twelve months ago the national pundits like Todd McShay graded him as a borderline first round pick. Barkley entered the year #1 on McShay’s board for 2013. So things can change dramatically.

Barkley’s mechanics are elite, he has an excellent grasp of making the correct reads at the line and going through progressions. He stands tall in the pocket and basically runs the USC offense on a game day. Lane Kiffin trusts him to get the job done and he’s been rewarded on more than one occasion for that decision. We mentioned intelligence earlier and Barkley has it in spades – he is without doubt one of the best quarterbacks anyone will ever see when it comes to field IQ, decision making and understanding of his role in the USC offense.

I still believe he has a legitimate chance to go first overall next April, but we must also consider that he’s a different player to the seven quarterbacks who have been top-15 picks the last two years. He isn’t big (a shade over 6-2), he isn’t very elusive, he isn’t a great ‘pure’ athlete and he doesn’t have a great arm. The quarterbacks drafted early in the last two years are all very different, but Barkley is on an island in comparison. The big question is – can he compensate for a lack of pure athleticism with the other things he brings to the table such as accuracy and smarts?

It would be a departure from what we’ve seen the last two years if he did go as early as a lot of people expect – myself included. One of the reasons Logan Thomas was pushed so much this off-season is purely down to the fact he fits perfectly into what NFL teams are looking for. Nobody covered the size/speed/arm strength angle better than Thomas. Yet he’s struggled – seemingly after putting so much pressure on himself – and now looks destined to enter the 2014 draft instead. Barkley is left to challenge with the Geno Smith’s of this world (himself not the biggest, strongest or most athletic quarterback – but still ahead of Barkley physically).

What could help USC’s quarterback is the misfortune of the other potential high draft picks at the position. Smith has been electric so far at West Virginia but faces tougher tests on the horizon and has had off-days in the past that have exposed some weaknesses. Virginia Tech’s Thomas is a near certainty to return for his senior year after a dreadful start to the 2012 season. Tyler Wilson has had an even worse start at Arkansas, with the team descending into farce recently. Aaron Murray has started well at Georgia, but will face question marks about his own height (around 6-0), athleticism and arm strength. Barkley could be the #1 by default and the best quarterback in any given draft class will always have a shot to go very early.

Yet scouts, GM’s, head coaches and fans get very nit-picky when it comes to senior quarterbacks (particularly those in their fourth year of starting). Invariably the negatives are focused on and totted up over such a large sample size, where perhaps people would’ve zoned in more on the Oregon win last year and other such displays had he declared for 2012. And I come back to the fact he isn’t that big, tall, elusive signal caller with the big arm – the kind of quarterback that has been going early the last two years.

We’ve never assumed Barkley would be the #1 pick in 2013 and have touched on possible scenarios where he would drop. There aren’t a ton of teams in the NFL left with a ‘young quarterback vacancy’. Teams like Kansas City, Arizona, Oakland and Buffalo may consider it (Seattle too) – but when seven teams go early on a quarterback in two years, you’ve got to expect a drop off somewhere. That could be 2013, especially given the emerging depth on defense (Jarvis Jones, Dee Milliner and many others). I’m going to update my mock draft tomorrow to show what we could see next April. In the meantime, check out Matt Barkley vs Oregon from 2011 as referred to in this piece. I recommend the throw at the 2:00 mark – nobody threw a better pass last season.

Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah) vs BYU

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Why the Seahawks quarterback saga may rumble on into 2013

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Nobody should give up on Russell Wilson, but we have to look at 2013 quarterbacks.

Honestly, I had absolutely no appetite to spend another year looking at college quarterbacks. Since I started this blog in 2008, it’s been one long slog – trying to identify who might be a guy capable of leading this team into a new era. Preferably, an era of winning football games. Initially it was about finding a successor to Matt Hasselbeck, then it was about finding someone who could be the answer sooner rather than later. When the Seahawks named Russell Wilson as the starter for 2012 I sincerely hoped the long search was over. Had the Seahawks finally found their starting quarterback for the present and future?

Today I’m preparing to go through three USC games, two West Virginia games and an Arkansas game. Why? Quarterbacks. Again.

This isn’t about a lack of faith in Wilson. I actually think he’s done about as well as can be expected in four starts. I don’t blame him for putting up mediocre numbers in this scheme and with this play calling. The teams offensive coordinator said in a press conference recently that he’d run on every play if he could. Hey, most coaches would probably say the same. The only difference is, Darrell Bevell actually meant it. At a time when the virtually the entire NFL is trying to find ways to open up the passing game, at a time when quarterbacks named Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Brees are winning every Super Bowl, the Seahawks are making their passing game a complimentary piece to their offense.

That’s not to say you can’t win playing mainly tough defense and running the football, or that you have to conform to be successful. Even so, I do have issues the offense. Pete Carroll preaches ball security, control and winning the turnover battle. If the Seahawks can get ahead in games – like they did against Dallas – they’ll have a good chance to get wins. When they have to chase things, it’s difficult to suddenly break out a quick strike to change momentum. This was clearly evident against the Rams when the game started to drift away from the Seahawks. Suddenly Carroll is trying an onside kick to regain momentum. When the big-time passing teams get behind they don’t have to adjust too much to launch a comeback. Quick strike, potent offenses will do that for you because they’re capable of scoring cheap and quick points. When the Seahawks get behind, it almost leads to a sea-change in attitude and scheme. They try to do things that aren’t natural to this team.

The fact Seattle has lost so many games trying to drive for victory is evidence of this. How many times have the Seahawks had possession in the fourth quarter, needing a touchdown or field goal to win? And what is the record like in those games since 2010? It’s pretty poor. The problem extends to the red zone offense – the Seahawks can drive with the running game and some play action, but when they get close it’s like suddenly they don’t know what to do. A misdirection or power run play might be called on the half-way line, yet we’re treated to quarterback draws from in close on third and short. I just don’t see an offense that is very flexible or adaptable, instead it appears built to consume time and protect the ball rather than do the purely fundamental thing of scoring points.

It’s hard to blame the coaches too much for going in this direction upon arrival in Seattle. Pete Carroll inherited a team with virtually no assets. He had to build from scratch with one of the worst rosters in the NFL. He had to do it without the top 1-5 pick the roster probably warranted for 2-3 years. Not forcing the issue on a bad quarterback and an ill-advised passing game plan was absolutely the right way to go and the Seahawks have put together a very good running game and defense instead. They are a much better team since Carroll took over. Nobody can deny that.

Yet because the team has improved so much, it would be a shame to waste such a good defense on an impotent offense. This team isn’t scoring enough touchdowns. The passing game isn’t pulling its weight. And if this continues, Carroll cannot remain too loyal to a system that hasn’t worked so far.

There’s still time for things to come good, but let’s assume the passing game follows the same path we’ve seen for two and a bit seasons now. In that situation, I think you have to consider a re-think and search for more balance. The Seahawks recreated their defense and running game with great effect, why can’t they do the same with the passing game? If you’re going to start changing things, you better make sure the right people are at the core of the rebuild – coaches and players. It might mean a new offensive coordinator, it might mean new receivers and it might even mean a new quarterback.

Again, this isn’t about giving up on Wilson. As I said, he’s doing pretty much all he can out there in the circumstances. At the same time he is leaving the pocket too early, too often. Perhaps the height thing is an issue after all, if he can’t just sit in the pocket and make reads? It’s difficult to judge without seeing the all-22 tape. If he cannot show progression, the front office might end up second guessing whether they can afford to invest their entire faith in him for the long haul. Especially if a potentially better option emerges.

What if a guy like Matt Barkley is within reach? A player with obvious ties to Pete Carroll and the city of Seattle? I don’t want to make this a Barkley thread – I appreciate opinion is mixed on his pro-potential. But let’s consider the situation where Barkley is sitting right there for the Seahawks next April. Had things started well with the passing game, we could probably write that off and concentrate on other needs. But now? I’m not so sure.

Here’s my wild, uneducated guess on what this team has been planning. I think they liked Wilson a ton and when they were able to draft him, they wanted to give him every chance to win this job (maybe even to the point where he had an edge over Matt Flynn all along). As long as he didn’t implode in pre-season, they could justify giving him the gig over Flynn. That way, they can see what they have in a third round rookie quarterback with a lot of upside but also some legitimate issues (such as height). If it works out, everyone’s a winner. If it doesn’t, well it’s disappointing but who’s really going to hammer the team for trying this out for the sake of a third rounder and spending a lot to learn nothing about Matt Flynn? (Who, by the way, is still Matt Flynn. Let’s never forget that, however much he’s earning.)

If Wilson cannot convince the team he’s starter material, the worst case scenario is they’re left with a competent backup at the cost of a third rounder. They know what they have there, no doubts left on the table. And if necessary, they can relaunch the offense by making the kind of move  they’ve so far resisted – drafting a quarterback in round one. And like I said, one of Carroll’s best guys will be part of the draft. Pete has resisted the temptation to go big on USC prospects in the draft so far, but I wouldn’t expect that would be the case for Matt Barkley.

And for anyone who is complaining about not knowing what the team has with Flynn in this scenario, well really it’s no different than not knowing what you’d have in Wilson if it was the other way round. There’s nothing stopping the Seahawks making a switch down the line. I would argue, however, you’d need to see a full season from either to truly have a good idea as to whether you need to make ‘the splash’. Seattle made it’s bed with Wilson and should stick by him for the time being to give him a chance to improve and earn the kind of trust that eliminates any need to discuss this subject after January.

I appreciate that even if the Seahawks did end up drafting a quarterback in round one next April, he’ll still have the same (or similar) options at receiver. I get that. But I’m struggling to find a receiver worthy of a top-20 grade in next years draft. Are you going to reach on a receiver in round one? Over a quarterback who is higher on your board? Not for me.

Who knows, maybe next off-season was always likely to be the one where they were most likely to ‘go big’ at the quarterback position? Wilson perhaps made them second-guess whether they had the answer already – and he could still prove to be the long term answer. Nobody should be giving up on the guy. Not yet. He’s getting his shot and now it’s up to him to prove he’s as good as many believed going into the year. If he can’t do that, then it’s time to do what this team hasn’t done for 20 years – draft a quarterback in round one. While that remains a possibility, it’s time to keep scouting the position. So here’s three games of Matt Barkley tape courtesy of JMPasq…