When push comes to shove, you just can’t beat an impact player.
It seems that’s what the Seahawks are hoping to get from their first two picks in the 2013 Draft — running back Christine Michael (Texas A&M) and Jordan Hill (DT, Penn State).
Although the selection of a running back that early will be a surprise to many, Michael completely fits the criteria for a Seahawks pick.
1. They want to emphasise the run as the main identity of the offense.
2. Ever since Marshawn Lynch signed his contract extension, I’m led to believe there’s been a feeling within the team that they need to find ways to extend his productivity. Lynch is such an important focal point with his punishing running style. The key here is to find someone who can spell Lynch (who does get banged up from time to time as you’d expect) without taking away any of the intensity he brings to the offense.
3. Pete Carroll regularly stock-piled 5-star running backs at USC. It’s no surprise they’ve started looking to add to their stable of backs. I don’t think the idea was ever been to just have one bell-cow and that’s it. Maybe other priorities took precedent the last two years, but they’re now in a position to start accumulating talent at the position.
4. Michael fits the team’s scheme and ideology perfectly. He’s a one-cut runner with superb balance. He gets up to top speed quickly, rarely goes down under first contact and has the potential to make big plays.
5. His best football is ahead of him. The Seahawks are not scared of a project. They aren’t afraid to take a player who’s suffered two serious injuries, fell out with his college coach and overslept at the combine, missing two team interviews. They’re constantly looking for what a player can become with the right guidance rather than what he isn’t. Michael could — could — be a star.
On Thursday I ranked Christine Michael as the 17th best player in the entire draft and the #1 running back. I appreciate my rankings are no more important than anyone else’s. However, we did spend a fair amount of time discussing the possibility he could come into play for this team in round two. And while there were needs elsewhere, this does make a lot of sense.
They didn’t just draft a #3 running back today. They drafted a guy who will ensure the team has a prolific runner on the field at all times. With the greatest respect to Robert Turbin, he doesn’t have the same level of upside or intensity as a runner. The big biceps look intimidating, but it’s power in the legs, vision and the ability to make a great cut that will lead you to success in this offense. Michael ticks all the boxes. Turbin still has a role, but he’s more likely to adopt the #3 position now. It’ll be a fun competition between the two this off-season.
Seattle was going to find it difficult to make a tangible improvement to the team without a round one pick this year. By taking Michael, they managed it anyway. There was a lot of talent at other positions on the board, however. It’ll be interesting to watch Arthur Brown’s career in Baltimore, given the Ravens traded with Seattle to get the Kansas State linebacker. They also passed on Travis Kelce, Larry Warford and Keenan Allen.
Jordan Hill is another player we focused on at various times this off-season. I actually went away from him when I saw reported interest in multiple big free agent defensive tackles. They were looking at 6-5+ guys who were all well over 300lbs. They eventually signed Tony McDaniel and I wondered if they’d look for even more size in the draft. The intrigue with Hill never disappeared, however. And I’m glad he’s a Seahawk.
You’re talking about a guy who played at around 290lbs last year at 6-1 and yet completely held his own against much bigger lineman. He’s a tough guy, a fighter. But don’t start thinking he’s purely physical. He has some moves. He has burst. And he can get into the backfield.
The best example of this was his performance against Wisconsin. He dominated, quite frankly, against the hulking group of 6-6 monsters the Badgers consistently field in the trenches. That’s when you start to believe that he can do this in the NFL.
He could be over-matched and we’ll only find out when he gets started in the pro’s. Again, he’s not a big guy. Yet he’s beaten the odds so far to become a major factor for Penn State and the way he led that defense in the face of adversity last year was admirable. You’ll want to root for him. And he’s the nearest thing Seattle has to a three-technique, even if he spent a lot of time at the one in college.
The Seahawks have ten picks tomorrow including one in round four and three in round five. Considering the talent still available and the success they’ve had in the later rounds so far, that’s an enticing prospect.
49ers hit a home run
They were always likely to have one of the best drafts due to the sheer number of picks they own, but credit to the Niners for their work so far. Eric Reid, Tank Carradine, Vance McDonald and Corey Lemonier is a formidable looking quartet. I think the Jets have had the best draft so far, followed by Baltimore. San Francisco is a close third. On McDonald — it makes you wonder if that would’ve been Seattle’s pick at #56. The Niners traded above the Seahawks, after all. I guess we’ll never know.
What’s going on with Barkley and Nassib?
I’m a big fan of Matt Barkley. Others like Ryan Nassib. I don’t think many expected they’d both last until round four. Need isn’t exactly strong at the position this year (a rarity) but it’s still surprising to see both players hang around this far. Neither should last long tomorrow. A fourth round salary is fantastic for a good backup and both players will have trade value in the future if they succeed in spot duty. Tyler Wilson is also yet to be drafted.
Other big names remain available
Here’s a collection of names who remain available: Quinton Patton, Jonathan Franklin, Khaseem Greene, John Simon, Sanders Commings, Ryan Swope, Marcus Lattimore, Jesse Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Baccari Rambo, Denard Robinson, Jordan Mills, Alex Okafor. When you get to this stage, you start to question why some of the big names are still on the board. Are there injury or character concerns for example? Did the media misjudge these players? Did we? It wouldn’t surprise me if we start to see smaller school prospects and a few obscure names leave the board before some of these players. Yet it’s a good example of the value that remains available going into day three.
Bills rolling the dice
No team is taking more chances it seems than Buffalo. They draft a quarterback with all the physical tools you’d ever want, but in college it seemed like he needed to know where he was going with the ball pre-snap and he never really improvised. They draft Kiko Alonso, a guy chosen to be an aggressive athlete on defense but who comes with his own question marks. They go for pure speed with Marquise Goodwin, but he didn’t look like a natural receiver on tape. You’ve got to love the Robert Woods pick, but overall they’ve gone for difference-making athleticism. If it works, it’ll be an exciting offense to watch. But there’s quite a lot of boom or bust here.
Ravens always get it done
The Matt Elam pick at the end of round one last night was terrific value. To get Arthur Brown today is incredible. They consistently make great picks within that organisation. It’s incredible, inspirational. The year that they finally move on from Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, they maybe just drafted their replacements for the next decade. Ozzie Newsome is a genius and that’s why they’re the Super Bowl Champions.
Seattle’s remaining picks:
Round four – #26
Round five – #5, #25, #32
Round six – #26, #31
Round seven – #14, #25, #35, #36
Best eight players on the board?
#1 Matt Barkley QB
#2 Khaseem Greene LB
#3 Quinton Patton WR
#4 John Simon DE
#5 Sanders Commings CB
#6 Ryan Swope WR
#7 Jesse Williams DT
#8 Baccari Rambo S
Some other names to keep an eye on: Nick Kasa (TE), Denard Robinson (RB), Luke Marquardt (T), Duke Williams (S), Stefan Charles (DT), Michael Williams (TE), Russell Shepard (WR/CB), B.J. Daniels (QB), Kyle Juszczyk (FB), David Quessenberry (T), Reid Fragel (T), David Bakhtiari (T), Jordan Mills (T), Xavier Nixon (T), Philip Thomas (S), Ryan Otten (TE),