Before I start, I wanted to apologise for the hosting issues we’ve had in the last 48 hours. My provider migrated to a new server and there was chaos for a little while. You maybe missed this week’s mock draft or a piece I wrote yesterday on Margus Hunt. Hopefully the problems are now in the past.
Ideal picks for the Seahawks
It’s been a while since we looked at some of the ‘ideal’ options for the Seahawks. The deadline to declare for the 2013 draft is four days away and we still haven’t heard confirmation either way from guys like Brandon Coleman. For now I’m going to concentrate on prospects that are definitely going to be part of this years draft class. I wanted to note a list so that we could come back to this piece and review it in a few weeks to see how things have changed.
Even though it’s only January, I think the Seahawks are going to find it really difficult to address their biggest need in the first round. Sheldon Richardson is the only true three-technique worthy of such grade — and there’s almost no chance he’ll be on the board when the team picks. There’s every chance he could be a top five pick. He plays with an intensity comparable to the classic three techniques, but also moves so well for a guy at 295-300lbs. He’s strong at the point of attack and can provide constant interior pressure. It’ll take a minor miracle for him to fall, or at least some pretty serious character flaws. I’m not sure calling Georgia’s style of play, “old man football” or taking a one-game ban after skipping class is going to be enough.
For me, he’s still the Seahawks #1 ideal draft pick. Richardson’s presence would take an already productive defense to another level. Imagine the coverage skills of Seattle’s secondary, the speed of the linebackers, the size up front to work against the run and a consistent pass rush in base? The word ‘elite’ gets thrown around too often, but with a legitimate three-technique on the roster — the Seahawks would be getting mighty close. We can make an argument for adding a talented receiver, a linebacker or simply the best player available. Richardson would be the perfect storm of need meeting talent. It’s just a shame it’s unlikely to happen.
The only other players I think you could consider for this role are Utah’s Star Lotulelei and North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams. Lotulelei has been very inconsistent but he’s got incredible upside and won’t get out of the top-15. He’s 320lbs which would make him big for a three technique. Williams has a superb swim move, he’s always active and makes plays. His body type looks a little more suited to the one-technique position, but he’s the next best fit after Richardson. I had him at #14 to Carolina in my latest mock.
I said I’d watch LSU’s Bennie Logan this week and I wasn’t all that impressed after watching three games. He gets very little push against the run, he can be driven back and he’s a very limited pass rusher. Johnathan Hankins (who I don’t rate) and Jonathan Jenkins are both bigger tackles ill-suited to the position, while Sharrif Floyd (see tape below) and Jesse Williams might be at their best acting as an orthodox five technique in the 3-4. I still think the Seahawks might have to tap into the free agent market here to solve their biggest need.
Top five ‘ideal picks’ – 11th January
#1 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
#2 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
#3 Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
#4 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
#5 Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
Wild card: Margus Hunt (DE, SMU) – there’s something about a 275lbs pass-rushing discuss thrower from Estonia that screams Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Coaching appointments impacting the draft
Thanks to a conversation with Kip for sparking this part of today’s article…
There’s been a couple of interesting developments in the last 24 hours that could have an impact on the draft. Firstly, the Jacksonville Jaguars appointed David Caldwell to be their new General Manager — and he immediately ruled out any possibility that Tim Tebow would end up with the team. Caldwell couldn’t have been any more forthright about it. Being so ruthless on this matter was quite simply the only thing he could be, removing the question from future press conferences and allowing the Jaguars to move on without the need for a quarterback who will never start in the NFL. I’m not sure Tebow has much of a future in the league.
Of course, the issue now moves on to what the Jaguars will do at the position. Caldwell highlighted Blaine Gabbert’s youth in defense of his inauspicious start in the NFL, but made only a passing reference to Chad Henne. The appointment of a new Head Coach will be a big determining factor here. San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman is the hot tip as a close friend of Caldwell, although you have to wonder if the pair want to work together in any environment where the GM might have to one day fire the Head Coach. If Roman lands in Jacksonville, does it increase the chances of a potential trade for Alex Smith? Is that too obvious to be plausible? Do they consider the draft?
Personally I think Jacksonville needs to concentrate on the pass rush, because it’s the worst in the league. In my updated mock I had them doubling up on defensive ends with Bjoern Werner and Alex Okafor. They could also consider an interior pass rusher with the #2 pick. If Roman does move to the Jaguars (and that would be great news for the other NFC West teams, by the way) you have to wonder if he’d target a big running back to compliment Maurice Jones-Dre. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy has a little Frank Gore to his game and is likely to be a second or third round pick. The 49ers built their recent success on good defense and running the football. A Roman-Caldwell partnership would probably go down this route too with a facilitator at quarterback.
I still think it’s too early to completely write off Gabbert – who has the misfortune of having to deal with a third new offensive scheme in three years. It’s hard to think of a worse situation for a young signal caller entering the league. Whatever happens I still think Gabbert, Henne or an acquired veteran is more likely in year one of this rebuild. Why ruin the career of two young quarterbacks drafted in the top ten? They need to put down some roots. Although you can never truly rule out a new GM and coaching combo simply deciding they want their own man. Interesting times for Jaguars fans.
In Cleveland, lifelong Browns fan and former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has been named as the teams new Head Coach. It seems he is set to appoint Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator. Although this news made for some disappointment among Browns fans, I think it’s an inspired choice. Cleveland tried and failed to deliver a big name like Chip Kelly, but this could end up turning out for the best.
Chudzinski and Turner will run a vertical passing game with a heavy dose of run. That completely suits the roster they’re inheriting. Let’s not forget here, the Browns don’t own a second round pick after taking Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft. They have the #6 pick as their one true shot to add an impact starter. CEO Joe Banner is likely to be the decision maker within the front office and he’s had his feet under the table for some time now. He’ll have watched a lot of college football in 2012 and will already have an idea of the direction he wants to go in re-shaping this team.
There’s every chance he’s decided, after looking at the top prospects available in this years draft, that there isn’t much of a chance to completely rebuild the offense. They have big receivers who can get downfield, a decent offensive line, a potential superstar at running back and a quarterback with some faults – but he’s a much better fit in a vertical passing attack than the west coast offense run by Pat Shurmur. Turner has had success with virtually every offensive coordinators gig he’s ever had. Meanwhile Chudzinski ran the Browns offense during their 10-6 season in 2007. Derek Anderson – with a similar skill set to Brandon Weeden – went to the Pro Bowl that year.
If you can’t totally rebuild an offense, you might as well get the most out of what you’ve got. This appears to be what the Browns are doing. Chudzinski will no doubt head into the market for a tight end (a focal point of his offense in Carolina and Cleveland in 2007-08) but the Browns made a killer appointment here. Cleveland hit a home run.
Assuming they don’t draft a quarterback early – and I don’t think they will following this appointment – they have a number of alternative options. There’s a lot of speculation that they’ll switch to a 3-4 defense, which would open up the possibility of drafting a pass rushing compliment to the talented Jabaal Sheard. They have enough big bodies up front, but they’re light at linebacker for a 3-4 scheme. Fortunately, this is a draft rich in 3-4 outside linebackers. They could also look at a guy like Anthony Spencer in free agency – speculation suggests he could leave Dallas following the (somewhat bizarre) appointment of Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator and the inevitable switch to a 4-3 defense.
While the arrival of Andy Reid in Kansas City increased the chances of a quarterback being drafted first overall, these two appointments suggest the Jaguars and Browns might go in a different direction. Buffalo is a tough one to work out. Doug Marrone knows he has to do something. A lot of people want you to believe he’ll draft his Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib early, but he doesn’t warrant a grade higher than the second or third round. General Manager Buddy Nix has talked about moving on from Ryan Fitzpatrick and bizarrely even mentioned moving up in the draft to get a quarterback. What any of this means I’m not sure. But the Bills remain a candidate to go quarterback early, perhaps even after trading back into the first round.
Arizona also has to be in the market for a quarterback, while the New York Jets seemingly have to do something at the position despite Mark Sanchez’s hefty guaranteed salary. Unfortunately, I still don’t see any of these teams showing any great interest in trading for Matt Flynn. Adam Schefter reported today in his mailbag column for ESPN Insider: “Everyone keeps bringing up Flynn, but what people forget is that last offseason there were only two teams, Seattle and Miami, mildly interested in him. He did not get near the attention many thought he would. And he didn’t play this season. His value isn’t as high as many people think.”
Alabama trio going pro
Dee Milliner (CB), D.J. Fluker (T) and Eddie Lacy (RB) all confirmed today that they are turning pro. Milliner is a complete cornerback prospect and a likely top-15 pick. Fluker improved as the 2012 season progressed and had a tremendous game against Georgia in the SEC Championship. His best position might be guard at the next level, given his massive 335lbs frame is unlikely to fit at tackle in the modern NFL. Lacy is a physical, dominating running back without supreme speed but anyone looking to mimic Seattle and San Francisco and how they run the ball should consider him early on day two.
Sharrif Floyd (DT/DE, Florida) game tape vs Texas A&M