Archive for April, 2013

Friday thoughts & small school sleeper to monitor?

Friday, April 19th, 2013

I still have a hunch about this guy...

I might do this a couple of times before next week, but I just woke up today and wanted to change my mock. So I did. And here it is minus the graphics:

#1 Kansas City – Luke Joeckel
#2 Jacksonville – Dion Jordan
#3 Oakland – Sharrif Floyd
#4 Philadelphia – Eric Fisher
#5 Detroit – Lane Johnson
#6 Cleveland – Dee Milliner
#7 Arizona – D.J. Fluker
#8 Buffalo – Matt Barkley
#9 New York Jets – Tavon Austin
#10 Tennessee – Jonathan Cooper
#11 San Diego – Star Lotulelei
#12 Miami – Ziggy Ansah
#13 New York Jets – Geno Smith
#14 Carolina – Sheldon Richardson
#15 New Orleans – Barkevious Mingo
#16 St. Louis – Kenny Vaccaro
#17 Pittsburgh – Jarvis Jones
#18 Dallas – Chance Warmack
#19 New York Giants – Datone Jones
#20 Chicago – Tyler Eifert
#21 Cincinnati – Alec Ogletree
#22 St. Louis Justin Pugh
#23 Minnesota – Bjoern Werner
#24 Indianapolis – Desmond Trufant
#25 Minnesota – Manti Te’o
#26 Green Bay – Jesse Williams
#27 Houston – Robert Woods
#28 Denver – Sly Williams
#29 New England – Arthur Brown
#30 Atlanta – D.J. Hayden
#31 San Francisco – Matt Elam
#32 Baltimore – Margus Hunt

So yeah, that’s a offensive lineman going early. Part of this thought is based on what Tony Pauline reported last night. Part of it is me wondering why Miami are suddenly being aggressive in pursuit of Brandon Albert. One logical reason is if they don’t even think they can secure D.J. Fluker (the fourth best tackle apparently) without moving up, why not spend one of those two second round picks on Albert? That makes sense. Trading up likely costs them one of those picks anyway if they want to get into the top 5-6. It could be the reason they’re looking into that deal with a little more aggression all of a sudden.

Here’s a version containing a handful of trades (traded picks are in bold):

#1 Kansas City – Luke Joeckel
#2 Jacksonville – Dion Jordan
#3 Oakland – Sharrif Floyd
#4 Philadelphia – Eric Fisher
#5 Detroit – Lane Johnson
#6 Atlanta (from Cleveland) – Dee Milliner
#7 Arizona – D.J. Fluker
#8 Buffalo – Matt Barkley
#9 New York Jets – Tavon Austin
#10 Tennessee – Jonathan Cooper
#11 San Diego – Star Lotulelei
#12 Dallas (from Miami) – Sheldon Richardson
#13 New York Jets – Geno Smith
#14 Carolina – D.J. Hayden
#15 New Orleans – Ziggy Ansah
#16 St. Louis – Kenny Vaccaro
#17 Pittsburgh – Jarvis Jones
#18 Miami – Tyler Eifert
#19 New York Giants – Datone Jones
#20 Chicago – Chance Warmack
#21 Indianapolis (from Cincinnati) – Desmond Trufant
#22 St. Louis Justin Pugh
#23 Minnesota – Bjoern Werner
#24 Cincinnati – Alec Ogletree
#25 Minnesota – Manti Te’o
#26 Green Bay – Jesse Williams
#27 Houston – Robert Woods
#28 Denver – Sly Williams
#29 New England – Arthur Brown
#30 Cleveland – Blidi Wreh-Wilson
#31 San Francisco – Matt Elam
#32 Philadelphia (from Baltimore) – E.J. Manuel

In terms of Seattle, I’m still struggling to identify the defensive tackle who would interest them at #56. I really can’t find that guy. I’m not sold they’ll take Kawann Short if he’s there. They want length, size, run stopping abilities. Who is that? I think it’s going to be a struggle to see them target this particular need in round two. Short, Brandon Williams, John Jenkins — I’m not sure any of that trio will fit the bill in terms of what they’re looking for.

The two players I keep coming back to — for now — are Quinton Patton and Khaseem Greene. I think personality wise they fit like a glove. They’re both ultra competitive types who will light up a meeting room. Greene takes the field immediately and would quickly establish himself as a leader on the defense. Patton would be forward planning, albeit not an immediate need. Neither is a brilliant, dynamic athlete. However, we can get caught up a little bit too much with that sometimes. First and foremost I sense the Seahawks want competitive players who will ’tilt the field’. And it’s not like these two are lethargic sloth’s who sail around the field at a snails pace. Patton has certainly grown on me the more tape I’ve watched. He’s not an incredibly consistent production machine, but he’s got a spark to his game. A playmaking spark.

(Update) I’ve just watched the Utah State vs Louisiana Tech game from last year to watch Patton again. Will Davis the corner at Utah State did as good a job covering him as anyone I’ve seen so far. I’ve not watched any of his game’s specifically. That’s a guy I need to look at before next week. He’s from Spokane, too.

I can see a situation where a lot of other guys leave the board and Christine Michael becomes a greater option. I suspect they’d like to stock pile running backs. The offense will continue to feature the run prominently. At USC Pete Carroll found a way to do that by bringing in 5-star recruits and letting them share snaps. I could be wrong, but that might be an idea they return to in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch is an elite runner, but he won’t last very long under his current heavy workload. If the right player was available, I think they’d take him and feel pretty happy about it.

I also think they’ll look at the offensive line and it really depends who’s there. We might see a bit of a run on the group in the early second round. Kyle Long, Terron Armstead, Menelik Watson. If they go early, it maybe limits the options that fall to #56. They might feel like they can get some tackle depth later on with players like Luke Marquardt, Brennan Williams or Jordan Mills. Or who knows, maybe another defensive tackle from NC State they can convert to the offense?

I agree with those suggesting there’s likely to be a quick run on cornerbacks and running backs in round two. It seems like almost a formality based on the needs of teams picking in the first quarter of day two.

The Seahawks re-signed Steven Hauschka today. That perhaps makes it less likely they add a kicker in the draft.

And what about later on for Seattle? Jayson Dimanche is an intriguing prospect based on the video below. Remember – this is a highlight session and not tape. It’s also against a certain level of competition. But he gives off a ‘Seahawks’ vibe. One to monitor, perhaps…

John Schneider speaks with a week to go

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Charles Brown was on Seattle's radar in 2010

This time next week = draft day. Yay for that.

John Schneider held a press conference yesterday to discuss the Antoine Winfield signing and look ahead to next week. Understandably he gave little away regarding this years draft. He did say it was unlikely the team would trade back into the first round and he didn’t give off a vibe that suggested he’d move up at all. He also played down talk of the team having fewer needs this year and how that would impact the way the team is approaching the draft.

The most interesting nugget of information was the talk of 2010. Schneider admitted they went into that first draft in Seattle with a little anxiety. They needed to get a left tackle, but were unsure who they would land. He name-checked Trent Williams, Russell Okung and Charles Brown.

I found the Brown mention interesting and re-assuring. A former USC tackle, he looked like an ideal fit for the Alex Gibbs zone blocking scheme. Tall, athletic, strong in pass protection and keen to get to the second level. I watched many USC games trying to get an angle on the guy and gave him a top-15 grade in the end. There weren’t many players I enjoyed watching more than Charles Brown in 2010.

Both myself and Kip had been given the nod by a little birdie that the team wanted to come out of the 2010 draft with a starting safety and a left tackle. I’m led to believe that at one point there was a feeling Trent Williams could be available at #14 — possibly allowing the team to target Eric Berry at #6. Williams wasn’t considered a top-five lock until the combine. He significantly boosted his stock in Indianapolis and never really looked back. That kind of ended any chance he would come to Seattle and he was subsequently drafted fourth overall by Washington.

In my final 2010 mock draft, I decided to give the Seahawks Berry at #6 and Charles Brown at #14. I’d not heard anything linking Brown to Seattle, but felt based on scheme it would be a smart fit. Especially if they wanted to get the safety first.

When Brown dropped deep into the second round (#64 overall to New Orleans) I was a little surprised, but more cursing my own apparent poor judgement that he could be a first round alternative in Seattle. Then it was revealed he’d got some lingering injury concerns that provoked the fall. So at least there was that.

Hearing yesterday that he was on the teams radar was reassuring (and yes, I appreciate how self-indulgent this article is to this point).

He might not have necessarily been an option at #14, but then Schneider has touched on the chance they had to move down in round one. Things worked out perfectly for Seattle in that they got their tackle (Okung) and safety (Earl Thomas) and both players have since featured at the Pro-Bowl. It’s fun to consider the alternative scenario though. Had Kansas City passed on Eric Berry, he could easily have been the pick at #6. His talent factor would’ve probably won-out over going tackle at that spot. And that could’ve put Brown on the map, even if his NFL career so far has been pretty stop-start.

Schneider has been pretty forthcoming in discussing previous drafts recently. It wasn’t that long ago he name-checked Jabaal Sheard and Andy Dalton as alternative options with the #25 pick in 2011.

Looking back now, could you imagine a Seahawks roster with Dalton under center, Charles Brown at left tackle, Berry and not Thomas in the secondary and a couple of other tweaks here and there. It’s far from a ridiculous scenario.

Some other headlines from the press conference:

– No real news on Chris Clemons yet. Schneider described him as a fast healer, but says the PUP list is still an option.

– Schneider called James Carpenter the “strongest” player on the roster and says confidence is a key factor for the former first round pick as he recovers from another injury setback.

– Brady Quinn is described as a “football junkie”. The Seahawks feel he’ll work well with Russell Wilson.

– Schneider says they don’t go best player available if current projected starters force the board in a different direction. Essentially, it’s a more scientific way of saying that sometimes ‘need’ has an impact on the way things shape out. A lot of teams gives their own players grades and then match it up to the draft board to see where they can make the greatest improvements.

In other news…

It appears Miami are trying to get a trade done with Kansas City for Branden Albert. Once again, the Dolphins front office makes a completely baffling move. They let Jake Long walk because they didn’t want to pay him, and will now have to pay Albert the same (if not more) all while coughing up a second round pick.

There’s a reason why some franchises are perennial struggler’s. Hey, Albert’s not a bad tackle. I just think you’ve got an opportunity to spend three early picks and nail down your left tackle to the long term. Instead, you throw money at a one-dimensional receiver in Mike Wallace and two linebackers. You franchise tag Randy Starks. And you let Long sign in St. Louis. Now you have to scramble around to get Albert with one of those high picks instead of rebuilding the secondary.

There doesn’t appear to be much of a thought process in Miami. Kind of like someone shouts out, “Let’s do this!” and everyone dances a jig. The New England Patriots must sit there every year, look at the rest of their division and let out an enormous belly laugh.

Mike Mayock did a conference call today where he expressed the opinion that Geno Smith would be a poor fit in Buffalo. He was talking strictly about the weather, a view which I’m not a huge fan of. Even after his neck injury, Peyton Manning didn’t appear to suffer any kind of drop off playing in Denver compared to the indoor facilities in Indianapolis. But then I guess he is Peyton Manning.

Even so, it makes you consider the possibility of Smith falling past the #8 pick.

Would the New York Jets double up with the West Virginia quarterback and his former wide-out Tavon Austin? Assuming they complete a trade with Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis. I’d be more tempted to go after Stedman Bailey later on – a player who went to high school with Smith and shared a lot of chemistry at WVU.

If Geno falls beyond the top ten he could sink like a stone. It could help trigger a quarterback rush in the late first and early second. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Seattle, as it increases the chances of other players falling to #56.

A report surfaced recently suggesting a hotel room belonging to two players at the combine had been trashed. Adam Schefter is reporting today that the room belonged to receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Mark Harrison.

The NFL has managed to keep the wonderlic scores under wraps for the most part this off-season. However, that has been one leak today. Tavon Austin apparently scored a 7 on the test.

Mock draft Wednesday’s: 17th April

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Could this man be an option for the Seahawks at #56?

This is my penultimate mock draft. My final projection will be next Wednesday, the night before the first round begins. That is also the projection I’ll be sending to the ‘Huddle Report’ so I can secure 93rd position again this year.

Seattle’s pick at #56 works alongside the seven-round mock I created for the team a few days ago. There are more immediate needs than receiver, but most of the top WILL prospects were off the board and several of the defensive tackles had gone too. It’s worth remembering that Golden Tate is a free agent in 2014 and Sidney Rice’s contract doesn’t shrink in the same way Zach Miller’s does. So while receiver isn’t an immediate need, there could be some forward planning here — particularly if a prospect they really like is available.

I’d also highlight the way Green Bay seem to constantly re-load at receiver, something John Schneider might have latched onto.

The Seahawks need to pick their battle’s. They’re going to need to start paying some members of the existing roster. They’re going to have very little cap room to play with as a consequence. Players like Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson by theory could be easier to sign if they continue their elite-level performance. You pay them as the best players at their respective positions. It’s guys like Golden Tate that become harder to judge.

What is he worth to Seattle? Or the rest of the league? On the one hand he’s become very close to Wilson and had a breakout year in 2012. He made some big plays and helped the Seahawks to some key victories. He’s become a household name because of the whole ‘Fail Mary’ incident. Yet his greatest season of production in the NFL is 688 yards and seven touchdowns.

Another team might be willing to pay him as a ‘name’ player — and we’ve seen a handful of receivers get overpaid in the last two years. It could be very difficult for the Seahawks to justify making a deal unless he has a tremendous 2013.

Rice is due a cap hit of $9.7m this year, a further $9.7m in 2014 and $10.2m in 2015. If he stays healthy and productive, then it’s not such an issue. Yet he’s earning true #1 money and if he does miss further time or surrenders some of his production to Percy Harvin, can you justify such a massive contract? Again, it’s a moot point if he succeeds this year, just like Tate. If he doesn’t, he might be a necessary sacrifice in order to keep others on the roster.

The Seahawks are essentially paying two guys (Harvin and Rice) elite contracts at the position, while also giving their starting tight end (Miller) a hefty sum. I’m not sure going forward they’ll want to be pumping that much money into their receivers. Being smart in the draft is key here, because they also don’t want to stunt Russell Wilson’s growth or diminish the talent level of his targets.

Being able to plan ahead, save money where possible and maintain quality is crucial. There’s no room for sentiment. So while receiver isn’t a great defining need this season, it might be a wise move for the long haul to look at a guy like Quinton Patton in round two.

Shop for official 2013 NFL Draft Caps from New Era at NFLShop.com

First round

#1 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
They’re keeping their cards close to their chest. Some believe it could be Eric Fisher.
#2 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
They need a pass rusher. Pure and simple.
#3 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
This will be a long rebuild.
#4 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
Even if they are getting guys back from injury, Philly’s line hasn’t been good enough for a while.
#5 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
Plenty of options here for Detroit. Ansah, Milliner, Johnson. What about Tavon Austin?
#6 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
If they get Milliner, they can feel pretty good about this off-season.
#7 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
This is far and away the teams biggest need following the Carson Palmer trade.
#8 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
They could move up to make sure they get Smith. They can’t rely on Kevin Kolb.
#9 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
They need a spark on offense.
#10 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Too many people are saying this will be a guard, despite the addition of Andy Levitre.
#11 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
With the top left tackles off the board, they’re forced to look elsewhere.
#12 D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
A lot of men in that Miami front office like road grader-style tackles.
#13 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
It seems certain this pick will be traded by Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis.
#14 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Fantastic value for Carolina if this happens.
#15 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
Local connections plus they need a pass rusher.
#16 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
Safety could be a target area.
#17 Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
He could sink in a bad way, but he is the prototype fit at outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s scheme.
#18 Sly Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Switching to a 4-3 could put a fair amount of emphasis on the DT position.
#19 Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
Terrific little player.
#20 Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
I have a feeling they’ll still be open to drafting a tight end this early.
#21 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Someone will bit. It’s not like Cincy hasn’t made moves like this in the past.
#22 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
They must have a physical runner in this division.
#23 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
Consistent but not an explosive athlete.
#24 Justin Pugh (G, Syracuse)
A huge need for the Colts.
#25 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
They hit on Rudolph and Harrison, so why not go back for the Notre Dame hat-trick?
#26 Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
It’s easy to forget just how much San Francisco abused Green Bay’s defense in the playoffs.
#27 Robert Woods (WR, USC)
Receiver looks like a strong option here.
#28 Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
The Elvis Dumervil saga leaves them needing another pass rusher.
#29 Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State)
Gives off a Bill Belichick-pick vibe.
#30 Datone Jones (DE, UCLA)
They could move up to do this.
#31 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
Hard-hitting safety, would look good in this defense.
#32 Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)
Who knows where this guy will be drafted? This isn’t out of the question.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville – Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
#34 San Francisco – Johnthan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
#35 Philadelphia – E.J. Manuel (QB, Florida State)
#36 Detroit – Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
#37 Cincinnati – Jonathan Franklin (RB, UCLA)
#38 Arizona – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
#39 New York Jets – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
#40 Tennessee – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
#41 Buffalo – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
#42 Miami – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
#43 Tampa Bay – D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston)
#44 Carolina – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State)
#45 San Diego – Terron Armstead (T, Arkansas Pine-Bluff)
#46 St. Louis – Kyle Long (G, Oregon)
#47 Dallas – Travis Frederick (C, Wisconsin)
#48 Pittsburgh – Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
#49 New York Giants – Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)
#50 Chicago – Larry Warford (G, Kentucky)
#51 Washington – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#52 Minnesota – Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
#53 Cincinnati – Eric Reid (S, LSU)
#54 Miami – Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
#55 Green Bay – DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
#56 Seattle – Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)
#57 Houston – John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
#58 Denver – Christine Michael (RB, Texas A&M)
#59 New England – Sio Moore (LB, Connecticut)
#60 Atlanta – Darius Slay (CB, Mississippi State)
#61 San Francisco – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
#62 Baltimore – Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)

Other Seahawks picks: R3 – RB Denard Robinson, R4 – DT Montori Hughes, R5 – T Luke Marquardt, R5 – LB Zaviar Gooden, R6 – DT Stefan Charles, R7 – K Dustin Hopkins, R7 – WR/CB Russell Shepard, R7 – B.J. Daniels, R7 – TE Michael Williams

We need to have a word

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Oh look! Jay Cutler with a moustache

I’ll be honest, I’ve been pretty surprised by some of the comments I’ve read on the blog this week.

I kind of feel like there’s been a re-writing of history. As the Seahawks have succeeded in building a terrific young roster, we’ve also discovered quite a substantial revelation. Some people knew it all along.

No crystal ball. No message imprinted on the morning toast. No signal from the gods. Just pure, footballing brilliance.

I had to delete the following comment — which is a shame, given the author is quite clearly a genius: “I advocated for the Seahawks to draft him and after the draft, I stated *for a fact* that Russell Wilson would be our starting quarterback and would most probably be our starting quarterback for the next ten or fifteen years.”

It’s funny that I didn’t recall that message twelve months ago. A lot of people liked Russell Wilson. Perhaps none more so than our very own Kip Earlywine. In fact if you’re ever thinking of running for president, Russell, you might want to see if Kip will run your campaign. He’d do a good job if last year was anything to go by.

Yet I think it’s fair to say most others shared my slightly different opinion. I saw Wilson’s height as an issue and I couldn’t see beyond that. It was a titanic error on my behalf, yet an understandable one. I was blinkered by conventional wisdom, unwilling to think outside of set guidelines as to what does and doesn’t work in the NFL. I was one of those old farts in the film ‘Moneyball’ telling Brad Pitt how to do his job in the war room.

It’s why I wrote this piece in August, laying out why I’d got it wrong on Wilson. I made the following statement after the Kansas City pre-season game:

“As good as Kip looks because of his sound judgement, I’m not afraid to admit I didn’t do a good enough job looking at Wilson. We published some tape, broke it down and I answered the occasional question, but he clearly warranted more than that. We’ve seen that in pre-season and in two weeks time he could be a starting NFL quarterback. It’s not so much missing on a player because you can’t expect to get them all right, but having dedicated so much time to the quarterback position in general… Wilson deserved more time.”

I think it’d be fair to say a lot of fans probably share that sentiment in hindsight. The height factor was such a turn-off, we all literally turned off.

Thankfully, there are people in our midst to remind us that they knew all along Wilson would be fantastic (see anonymous commenter above). We should celebrate that fact. They are clearly really great individuals when it comes to the old football analysis.

Sarcasm aside, there is a wider point to this piece. I feel like we’ve begun to talk in very ‘matter of fact’ terms. I’ve seen a lot of comments where people have stated a certain player “won’t” be drafted. Funnily enough, the guy who was so bold to tell us he’d always known Wilson would be a roaring success also posted on the same day, “There is no way in God’s green earth that the Seahawks will select Christine Michael – and that’s a fact, whether you like it or not.”

I’ve been very careful this year not to rule anything out, and rule very little in. I’ve written more about what I think the need area’s are and tried to study up on the scheme. Of course, ignoring Wilson wasn’t the only error I made last year. I’d received some information from a trusted and proven source suggesting certain players were popular within the front office. I threw my lot in with one particular player and when he fell to the early second round, my decision was rightly questioned.

Yet when I look back to last year (and 2011 for that matter) I remembered how surprised I was — stunned even — when I heard, “With the 15th pick in the 2012 draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Bruce Irvin.” The same source that had given us the names told us it would be a pass rusher in round one. It was a foregone conclusion. And yet the name still shocked me, even if he was indeed a pass rusher. Irvin very specifically fit Pete Carroll’s off-season desire to improve speed within the front seven. The pick was staring at us right in the face and still drew gasps on the day.

Likewise I was surprised to hear Wilson’s name so early, although with hindsight that could be the greatest draft pick ever made by a front office in Seattle. But to most fans, it was a shock. An intriguing shock.

James Carpenter was also a surprise at the time, even if some of us (hey, I’ve pointed enough things out that I got wrong) had Carpenter posted as a top-25 selection throughout the process.

As Seattle’s picks have become proven commodities, there’s maybe a tendency to look back with hindsight and feel those picks weren’t so shocking after all. Simply because they were justified. I think that’d be inaccurate. A re-writing of history. They were surprising and unpredictable to anyone outside of a NFL front office. They’ve just proven to be less of a gamble than we initially thought.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is, let’s keep an open mind. Anything could happen next week. Regular visitors will know how tedious I find the endless discussions about Tyrann Mathieu. Yet I accept it’s not implausible he’ll go much earlier than I expect, possibly even to Seattle. I think we could see a complete unknown drafted at #56. I think we could see a household name fall to the Seahawks. I think we could see moves up or down the board, or even further trades for veteran players.

Whatever does happen, I expect to be surprised. Again. This will be the fourth draft under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Even though they’ve gone after fairly obvious needs every year, they’ve still managed to do it in their own little way. The only guaranteed thing next week is whatever they do won’t be boring. Or predictable. It’ll just be very Seahawky.

Christine Michael visiting Seattle

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Christine Michael is an interesting case. He could easily be a second round pick based on talent. He’s been talked about as such during the off-season. He turned up at the East/West Shrine game and stuck out like a sore thumb. He dominated, looking like he didn’t belong at the game. Observer’s seemed to be impressed with his combine too, where he ran a 4.54 at 220lbs. He also had the best vertical jump (43 inches) ever recorded by a running back.

Count Mike Mayock as a fan:

“His talent is crazy. … I have trouble seeing him getting out of the second round just because his physical traits are so good.”

Then there are the reasons why he might fall. His season ended early in 2010 due to a broken leg and he picked up an ACL in 2011. When he eventually returned in 2012, he quickly worked his way into Kevin Sumlin’s doghouse. He was suspended for the SMU game for violating team rules and was ejected from another for punching an opponent. It’s safe to say coach and player never saw eye-to-eye.

And if that wasn’t enough, he overslept at the combine and missed two meetings with teams.

Despite all of that, he’s still a 220lbs runner with nice cut back ability, lateral agility, vision and balance. One of my favourite players in the league is Chris Ivory. If I was the St. Louis Rams, I’d be trying to work on a trade to get him out of New Orleans where he’s sorely underused. Michael’s running style reminds me a little of Ivory’s and for that reason, I’m a fan.

The Seahawks might not consider drafting Michael early. He might be considered a value gamble later on. However, he’s someone to keep an eye on next week. It stands to reason that they will add a running back at some point and Carroll regularly stockpiled talent at the position in SoCal. Take a look for yourself (tape below) and let me know what you think.

You can also hear a Sirius interview with John Schneider conducted today by clicking here.

Seahawks mock draft (rounds 2-7)

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

#77 Luke Marquardt - possible Seahawks draft pick?

A lot of people have been using the comments section to post their seven-round Seahawks mock drafts this week. I thought I’d chime in with my own here. I’ve tried to mix in scheme fit, reported interest, official visits and hunches.

Round two – pick #56 – Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)

Reports have suggested the Seahawks have been tracking Patton for some time. He’s a talkative character and even suggested he’d like to be the next Chad Johnson in a recent interview. However, it’s a deceptive comparison. Patton is an articulate, well spoken individual who doesn’t give off a ‘me-first’ vibe. He doesn’t look or sound like a distraction or headache. You can never have enough good wide receivers and Green Bay regularly re-tooled in this kind of range. Golden Tate is a free agent in 2014 while Sidney Rice’s contract will become an issue sooner rather than later.

Round three – pick #87 – Denard Robinson (RB, Michigan)

Robinson played quarterback at Michigan and worked out for teams at receiver, cornerback and kick returner this off-season. However, for me his best position will always be running back. Yes, he will need to get a grip on protections. He’ll need to learn to block if he has any hope of ever being an effective back. But everything else about him screams playmaker at the position. He’s 5-10, 199lbs and runs a 4.43. The Seahawks don’t have a #3 running back at the moment or anyone you’d use in relief for Percy Harvin returning kicks. I like the idea of the Robinson project.

Round four – pick #123 – Montori Hughes (DT, Tennessee-Martin)

There’s a lot of off-field red flags with Hughes and that could force him down the board. He matches the kind of size the Seahawks appear to like at defensive tackle. He’s 6-4 and 329lbs. He’s hard to move even with double team blocks and he has plus mobility for his size. He’s not much of a pass rusher but the Seahawks don’t appear to be to be looking for an orthodox three technique. He would offer further depth to the interior. Needs to improve his hand-use.

Round five – pick #138 – Luke Marquardt (T, Azusa Pacific)

Enormous 6-8 tackle with +34 inch arms. Comes from the same school as Christian Okoye — the only other previous NFL draft pick out of Azusa Pacific. In five years he added 100lbs to switch from basketball to left tackle. He missed the entire 2012 season due to a navicular fracture and he may need a further procedure to fully repair the injury. It’s likely to have an adverse effect on his stock. I’ve seen some people project him in the round 3/4 range, others have him as a round seven-UDFA type. Nevertheless, he has an intriguing skill set and the size Seattle looks for at tackle.

Round five – pick #158 – Zaviar Gooden (LB, Missouri)

I wasn’t blown away watching tape of Gooden. Despite the incredible speed and athleticism he flashed at the combine, I struggled to consider him much more than a later round project. I think it’s going to take a team that truly values speed to take him in this range. That’s where the Seahawks come in. I suspect Pete Carroll feels they can keep adding competition for the WILL rather than necessarily needing to for an early pick at the position. He’s talked about USC’s reputation as ‘linebacker-U’ during his time in SoCal, but he admitted he wanted to be known for the quality of the teams cornerbacks instead. If Khaseem Greene is there in round two, maybe they bite. If not, expect someone like Gooden later on to compete with Malcolm Smith et al.

Round six – pick #194 – Stefan Charles (DT, Regina)

He’s had an official visit with the Seahawks. Canadian prospect who’s been touted as a possible mid-rounder. I’m not totally convinced he’ll go quite that early but then it’s impossible to judge without being there for the work outs and comparing him to what else is available. Akiem Hicks went to the same school and ended up being a third round pick last year. We’ll see if Charles also goes that early.

Round seven – pick #214 – Dustin Hopkins (K, Florida State)

Seattle’s lack of urgency over the position suggests there’s a couple of guys they like in this draft. Perhaps they go even earlier to address this need? Dustin Hopkins is the NCAA FBS all-time kick scorer and had a productive career with the Seminoles. He has a strong enough leg to kick beyond 50-yards. With a couple of rookies coming into the league last year and having success (Blair Walsh, Greg Zuerlein), the Seahawks might be prepared to follow suite.

Round seven – pick #220 – Jeremy Wright (RB, Louisville)

The video above is a Khaseem Greene tape, but Wright is the running back used by Louisville in most of the snaps. The Seahawks have reportedly shown some interest in the player. He was a surprise addition to the draft, having graduated and chosen at the last minute not to enrol for 2013. Nobody knew he intended to turn pro. Seattle is likely to add some competition to the running back position in camp, even if they take a guy like Denard Robinson early.

Round seven – pick #231 – Michael Williams (TE, Alabama)

More of a blocking tight end who had a productive role in Alabama’s dominating ground game. He showed flashes of receiving potential at the Senior Bowl, including a nice touchdown grab from an E.J. Manuel pass. At 6-6 and 269lbs he’s a big guy who could earn some special teams duties. He’s not going to be the next great receiving tight end, but he’d offer something a little bit different to Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah.

Round seven – pick #241 – Russell Shepard (WR, LSU)

The Seahawks love a project (see: J.R. Sweezy). There’s been some talk of Shepard potentially switching to cornerback and he’s taken an official visit with the the team. It’s impossible to say how these things might work out but when you get to this stage in the draft, why not take a chance? This is the first of Seattle’s two compensatory picks.

Round seven – pick #242 – B.J. Daniels (QB, USF)

Daniels had a mixed time in college, but there is something intriguing about him. The Seahawks clearly agree, given he made an official visit a few days ago. Whether or not he gets drafted remains to be seen, but Seattle is likely to bring in at least one more quarterback for training camp.

Thoughts on Antoine Winfield signing with the Seahawks

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Seahawks fans have called for a new slot corner. Seahawks fans have got a new slot corner.

Antoine Winfield has agreed a one-year contract to come to Seattle, ending an eight-year term with the Minnesota Vikings. A former #23 overall pick by Buffalo in 1999, Winfield turns 36 on June 24th.

So when’s the last time a player moved to Seattle to try and get an elusive ring?

The Seahawks already had a fearsome secondary with great depth at corner. Now they have one of the best slot corner’s in the league on a one-year rental. As we’ve discussed on this blog many times, playing in the slot is a thankless task. Very few corner’s succeed. After all, you’re left to cover a selection of elite tight ends and receivers like Wes Welker and Danny Amendola. One of the main reasons Marcus Trufant remained in the slot all year was due to his experience. It’s not an easy role for a rookie or even sophomore corner to walk into.

Winfield had three interceptions in 2012 plus 12 passes defended (a career high). He’ll take over from Trufant (who deserves credit for his career in Seattle).

It answers another question. With the draft less than two weeks away, defensive tackle, linebacker and offensive tackle appear to be the most likely early targets. The Seahawks still need to add more competition to the WILL position. Cheap depth at tackle is expected. They really need another interior defensive lineman.

Overall though my only concern for Seattle remains the pass rush. Not because of the personnel, because the team made some bold moves this off-season. It’s really the scheme. Last year the team was again relying totally on Chris Clemons for pressure in base defense. And despite playing three big guys on early downs, the run defense gradually deteriorated as the year went on.

Jason Jones acted as a specialist three-technique on passing downs, but the addition of that chess piece didn’t get the team off the field much. Neither did the drafting of Bruce Irvin. It seemed to me the scheme was drawn up to limit the run early and then attack. And it didn’t work out like that.

I suspect they will persist with the base scheme and ideology, while hoping Avril takes up the slack left by Clemons. They’ll hope Bennett can be more effective than Jones. They’ll hope Irvin can take another step forward. I think they’ll draft another big tackle to replace Alan Branch, rather than a natural three-technique. Yet whether as a cumulative the scheme will create a beastly pass rush and fierce run defense to go with every other aspect of the roster, I’m still not sure.

BJ Daniels working out for Seattle today

Friday, April 12th, 2013

This won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who read Kip’s piece a month ago.

Meanwhile, USA Today is reporting that Tyrann Mathieu has admitted to an unnamed team he failed more than ten drugs tests at LSU. Or in his words, “I stopped counting at ten.”

Here are the three people we seem to have talked about the most this off-season:

1. Tyrann Mathieu

2. Da’Rick Rogers

3. Matt Flynn

Two overrated players with major character concerns and a backup quarterback. That can’t be right. I’m not sure what it is about guys like Mathieu or Rogers that make them so appealing to fans, but I’ve been prepared for another team to roll that particular dice for a long time.

Yes, credit Mathieu for being open and honest about his problem. But it’s still a very serious issue and it will be a distraction. I’m not sure what will come first in Mathieu’s life over the next couple of years — fighting an addiction to drugs, taking drugs or playing football. If he’s going to become an All-Pro (something I highly doubt based on his on-field ability) then I’m ready to congratulate the other team who gets him there.

It’s the same with Rogers. Here’s a guy who’s courted controversy everywhere he’s gone. During recruitment, during his time with Tennessee. Then we see reports suggesting the coaches at Tennessee Tech weren’t ready to giving him a positive reference. He too has failed drugs tests, but was a royal pain in the backside to his coaches. And before anyone brings up Percy Harvin — note the lack of Harvin being kicked off his team. It’s not like Florida wasn’t prepared to be tough with Janoris Jenkins. Unlike Rogers.

The team has enough playmakers, receivers and corners to not need to go down this line. It’s not about wanting choir boys. It’s about judging every case on its merits. I’ll pass.

In fairness to Jeff Tuel

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Before I get to the “saying nice things” about Jeff Tuel part, I need to explain why I don’t particularly like him as a quarterback.

The first is that he has a career record of 4-22.  Now, I’m not big into terms like “he’s a winner” and I recognize that Washington State was not a good team during his time there.  That said, there is historically a very strong correlation with having a losing college record and not panning out in the NFL.  Even among loser quarterbacks, Tuel fails to distance himself.  I hate to use a rival example, but Jake Locker was not a great quarterback, and lost a lot of games.  Yet he clearly elevated a terrible team in a way that Jeff Tuel did not.

Tuel does not have good college production either.  He had 6.5 yards per attempt in 3 of his 4 seasons, and his senior numbers in a very pass heavy offense were his career worst.  You could argue that he didn’t fit Mike Leach’s style of offense, but even that offense will seem easy compared to learning the ropes in the NFL. Tuel had just 6.3 yards per attempt last season, with a pick for every touchdown pass.  Depressingly, those numbers were only slightly lower than the rest of his career outside of 2010. Tuel did have a nice 2010 season, nice but not amazing.  Keith Price had an amazing 2011 season, which just shows you how long ago 2010 is.

This is a guy that never really struck fear into opposing teams when he faced them.  He never showed any real intangibles, no “it factor.”  Nothing.  Though he bombed horribly in the NFL, Ryan Leaf was a terror during his Pac-10 days.  He scared the heck out of some good Huskies teams before finally kicking their asses in the ’97 Apple Cup.  I remember Drew Bledsoe as an over-rated, but highly competent quarterback, kind of like the Andrew Luck of his day (minus the mobility).  I remember Jason Gesser from the early 2000s.  He was a pesky dude.  His worst season was about as good as Jeff Tuel’s best.  Alex Brink played for some awful WSU teams but put up numbers for his career that equaled or exceed Jeff Tuel’s best season.  Those guys weren’t constantly fighting off backup quarterback scrubs for their starting jobs like Jeff Tuel was, either.  Say, whatever happened to Gesser and Brink in the NFL, anyway?

There are no game compilations online for Jeff Tuel, so I have to go strictly off memory with him.  I watch a lot of Pac-12 football and I’ve always considered WSU to be my second favorite team even though I’m a Husky fan.  My memory isn’t the best, but the Jeff Tuel I remember was a consistently beatable quarterback.  Even his impressive 4th quarter rally in his final game felt less like an achievement and more like the beneficiary of an epic meltdown by a fading Huskies team.

All that said, I’m being unfair to Jeff Tuel, because I actually know him well.  I don’t know anything about guys like Nathan Stanley or Clay Belton, other than that they have impressive physical tools.  Jeff Tuel has some pretty good tools too.  He has solid mobility and excellent pocket escapability.  He has a plus arm.  He has no glaring issues with his mechanics or footwork.  He’s capable of progressing through reads.  And unlike many late round standouts, Jeff Tuel isn’t under 6’2″.  It’s unfair of me to imply hope for prospects like Stanley and Belton when Tuel has the same kind of positives going for him.  Jeff Tuel does indeed have the physical ability to be a point guard at quarterback in Pete Carroll’s offense.

So if you just want a “tools” option late in the draft, I won’t hold it against you if you are rooting for Jeff Tuel.  In all likelihood, he wouldn’t be much different as a prospect than many of the players in the late rounds that I highlighted on Wednesday.  I don’t want to see the Seahawks pick him, but if they did, I’d give Pete the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best.

Russell Wilson over RGIII?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

For some reason, Shaun King has Cleveland passing on the quarterbacks and Trent Richardson… to take Matt Kalil. Despite the fact they have Joe Thomas. Can right tackles throw the ball?