Archive for August, 2013

Pre-season 2014 mock draft

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Look for the mouth guard

I did this for two reasons:

1. People like mock drafts

2. We can have a good laugh at it in a few months time

I determined the order by splitting the 32 teams into three groups.

Group 1 – the ‘is it April yet?’ collection
Oakland, Jacksonville, San Diego, New York Jets, Detroit, Arizona, Cleveland, Buffalo, Tennessee, Carolina

Group 2 – The ‘oh dear, you’re really average’ section
Dallas, Miami, Kansas City, Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

Group 3 – The big guns, like Seattle etc
New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle

I put the three groups into a random organiser and the results were fairly acceptable. Oakland were given the #1 pick, which is apt given they’re already planning what to spend it on next April. New England face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl (again). And although the Seahawks only picked at #24, at least there’s the satisfaction of seeing San Francisco at #21 — meaning a first round playoff exit for Jim Harbaugh. Shame.


#1 Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
I see the argument that says quarterback here — and the Raiders desperately need a quarterback. But how do you pass on Clowney? The simple answer is, you can’t.


#2 Arizona Cardinals – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
If the Cardinals are picking this early in 2014, Carson Palmer clearly didn’t work out. Bridgewater is exactly the type of quarterback the league is looking for — capable of running all the new wrinkles such as the read option but also a formidable pocket passer.


#3 San Diego Chargers – Cyrus Kouandijo (T, Alabama)
The Chargers have holes all over the roster but own a competent veteran quarterback. They started to try and rebuild their offensive line last year and that might continue in 2014. Kouandijo would theoretically replace King Dunlap and he looks like a future franchise left tackle.


#4 Cleveland Browns – Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
I’m not a huge Brandon Weeden fan, but Norv Turner’s offense actually really suits him. Is he the future? Maybe not. But he can be a nice transition player for that franchise. He’ll need help at receiver and Marqise Lee is a phenomenal talent.


#5 Carolina Panthers – Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Jordan Gross is flirting with retirement and is a free agent next year after restructuring his deal. It’ll create a big hole when he leaves. Matthews has to show he can transition to the left side but there are things about his game that suggest he could be a better player than Luke Joeckel.


#6 New York Jets – Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
The Jets don’t have an outside rusher who can make plays. Kyle Van Noy is undersized but he makes things happen. If he keeps churning out sacks and performs well at the combine, there’s no reason why he can’t be a high pick.


#7 Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
The Bills are switching to a hybrid defense and will be looking for a flexible pass rusher to help Mario Williams. Barr has the look of a future star and can play at the line or in space.


#8 Tennessee Titans – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Big nose tackle prospect who really turned up in Notre Dame’s Championship run last year. Nix will interest the 3-4 teams too and could be a very early pick.


#9 Detroit Lions – Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
I was a big Dallas Thomas fan in Tennessee and the fact he had to move to guard to accommodate Richardson speaks volumes. I only realised a few weeks ago he was eligible for the 2014 draft. The Lions have Riley Reiff slated to start at left tackle but he could easily move over to the right.


#10 Jacksonville Jaguars – Aaron Lynch (DE, USF)
Lynch is a monster who could go higher than this. The Jaguars are in a talent accumulating transitional stage. If he gets backs up to his Notre Dame weight, Lynch would make a great 5-tech for Gus Bradley’s four man front.


#11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
I think he’ll end up finding a home at right tackle. The Buccs have a decent roster and much will depend on the form of Josh Freeman this year. Assuming he earns a new contract, a player like Lewan could further bolster Tampa Bay’s offensive line.


#12 Kansas City Chiefs – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Andy Reid drafted fast, playmaking receivers in Philadelphia. While he’s already re-signed Dwayne Bowe and now traded for 49ers bust A.J. Jenkins, he might still be looking for a receiver next year. Watkins is electric but needs to show renewed focus.


#13 Chicago Bears – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
A player who just gets better and better at Ohio State. Roby is a fantastic football player and could be a top ten pick. Chicago’s two starting corners are aged 32 and 29.


#14 Pittsburgh Steelers – Loucheiz Purifoy (CB, Florida)
Purifoy isn’t too far behind Bradley Roby and despite a disappointing Sugar Bowl performance last season, SEC teams generally kept away from him in the passing game.


#15 Philadelphia Eagles – Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
Philly’s defense has been terrible in pre-season. While it was tempting to put a quarterback in this slot (Manziel? Mariota?) it’s hard to see anything but an all-out assault on the defense coming up. It’s just not good enough at the moment. Tuitt has great size and flashed as a pass rusher in 2012. He also looked decidedly average in the BCS Championship against Alabama.


#16 Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
It’s still a mystery why the Dolphins threw good money at average free agents, yet allowed Jake Long to join the Rams. Jonathan Martin looked surprisingly poor as a rookie and getting a new left tackle might be priority #1 next year for Miami.


#17 Minnesota Vikings – Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson)
I’m not sure who will be the #2 quarterback to leave the board behind Bridgewater, but I know Minnesota will probably have to consider getting him next year. Christian Ponder’s 90-yard games won’t cut it. Boyd’s display against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was tremendous. He’s lost DeAndre Hopkins but retains Sammy Watkins.


#18 St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Unless Brian Quick really turns it on this year it’s not unrealistic that the Rams go in search of another big receiver. Coleman makes unreal plays for a guy his size and his inconsistencies can be levelled at the fact he plays with one of the most erratic quarterbacks in college football.


#19 Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State)
Prototype three-technique that’d probably interest Monte Kiffin. Jernigan has all the physical potential in the world but needs to put together a more consistent season. That’ll be tough without Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner.


#20 St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton Dix (S, Alabama)
A safety prospect with a ton of potential, he could be the next Nick Saban protege to make it into the first round.


#21 San Francisco 49ers – De’Anthony Thomas (WR, Oregon)
With Tavon Austin going in the top ten this year, could Thomas also secure a high grade? He’d look good in the read option for San Francisco. Plus the NFC West is quickly becoming a copy-cat division. The Rams have Austin, Seattle has Percy Harvin. Will the Niners go for their version?


#22 New Orleans Saints – Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)
The Saints have gone to a 3-4 and might have some teething problems this year. Up front they need a nose tackle, while they lack a top outside rusher at linebacker. Even so, I’m giving them an inside guy in Perryman here purely as a long-term cornerstone and defensive leader. He’s been compared to Ray Lewis by Tony Pauline.


#23 Atlanta Falcons – Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington)
Tony Gonzalez can’t go on forever and already appears semi retired (he’s been allowed time off during camp). Seferian-Jenkins would be a natural successor to Gonzalez. You never want to compare college players to first-ballot Hall of Famers, but ASJ could be special.


#24 Seattle Seahawks – Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon)
Whether he becomes more of a feature for Oregon this year or not, Lyerla is destined to blow up the combine in 2014. You have to believe the Seahawks would enjoy moving Lyerla all over the field to create mismatches. He’s 6-5 and 250lbs, but takes snaps at running back, blocks, lines up as a receiver. He’s a great chess piece for a creative offense.


#25 Baltimore Ravens – Adrian Hubbard (LB, Alabama)
The Ravens always make some kind of intelligent move and this would be another one. Hubbard is more of a pass rusher than C.J. Mosley and would fit nicely into Baltimore’s defense.


#26 Denver Broncos – Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
Needs to bring it this year. There are too many underwhelming players at Texas these days. Jeffcoat has flattered to deceive but a big year in 2013 and he has first round potential. Let’s see it.


#27 Houston Texans – Daniel McCullers (DT, Tennessee)
At the moment McCullers is more about potential than production. However, at 6-8 and around 350lbs, he’ll turn some heads this season. He won’t be helped by a Tennessee team that is transitioning (again) to a new coaching staff. But he could shine in the post season and be a quick riser.


#28 Indianapolis Colts – Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt)
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more consistent, reliable receiver in college football than Matthews. He took major strides in 2012 and  just looks like the kind of guy you can imagine Andrew Luck throwing to.


#29 Green Bay – Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford)
Just a flat out playmaker and interception machine. Might not have the athletic qualities to warrant an earlier pick but has every chance of making it into the first frame.


#30 Cincinnati Bengals – Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State)
I can see the Bengals looking at quarterbacks if Andy Dalton continues to hold back the plethora of weapons Cincy has on offense. Dalton is average. The guys he’s throwing to are world class. The extension for Carlos Dunlap makes keeping Michael Johnson difficult. Although they did draft Margus Hunt.


#31 New York Giants – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon)
There’s every chance New York goes cornerback next year. Ekpre-Olomu has great athletic qualities and would fill a need for the Giants.


#32 New England Patriots – Damian Swann (CB, Georgia)
I spent a lot of time watching the Bulldogs last year and this guy constantly kept jumping out. Georgia’s lost a lot of defensive talent to the NFL so it’ll be interesting to see if Swann continues to shine in 2013.

Notes

– Only two quarterbacks are listed in the first round. I can only give Teddy Bridgewater a sure-fire first round grade going into the new college season.

– Don’t sleep on Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech) making a comeback. He had a lousy 2012 season but has all the physical tools. If he can rebound this year and put together a strong season — he could be back in contention as an early pick. A game against Alabama early in the year is the perfect platform to get back on track.

– I resisted the temptation to flood the mock with read-option quarterbacks. I’m not convinced Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Stephen Morris (Miami) and Brett Hundley (UCLA) will declare. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) just has too much baggage right now to put in round one.

– A.J. McCarron (Alabama) might start in the league for a team that features an orthodox passing game and likes to run the ball. But he isn’t a first round talent. And for me, neither is David Fales (San Diego State).

– The two players I really wanted to include here but couldn’t? Boston College defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey. He’s had too many injury issues but nobody can deny his talent. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley. Terrific player but other talented linebackers have struggled to crack the first round.

– If I had to include a running back in this mock it probably would’ve been Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona) or Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) but I can’t see the first round runner for 2014. It’ll be interesting to see how Michael Dyer gets on in Louisville.

John Moffitt stop spoiling my 2014 mock

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The newest Seahawk. This isn't a great photo for him.

I’ve had a 2014 “way too early” mock sitting there for two days. Just waiting for me to hit the ‘publish’ button.

And for two days straight, John Moffitt has stopped that happening.

After all, we have to discuss the issues of the day…

24 hours after he was dealt to Cleveland, he’s now going to Denver.

Confused?

According to reports, Cleveland voided their trade with Seattle due to concerns over his medical.

The Seahawks didn’t waste any time finding another trade partner, with the Broncos jumping in to make a deal.

What it all means is Brian Sanford, we hardly knew ye. He remains a Brown. Now the Seahawks get Sealver Siliga — an equally obscure, relatively unknown defensive lineman.

Siliga is a tackle formerly of the Niners. He’s 6-2 and 325lbs with one career tackle.

Basically, these two trades were about moving on Moffitt rather than acquiring a player who is expected to come in and be a difference maker.

And had another trade partner not been forthcoming, you can bet they would’ve simply cut him outright.

Seahawks trade John Moffitt

Monday, August 19th, 2013

John Moffitt, we hardly knew ye

The Seahawks and 49ers love to mimic each other. So after watching San Francisco swap receivers with Kansas City earlier, Seattle decided to make a deal too.

John Moffitt, 2011 third round pick, has been dealt to Cleveland for undrafted defensive end Brian Sanford.

The Seahawks have had some big hits in the draft. 2010 landed a number of prominent starters, while the 2012 class provided cornerstone players like Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.

However, the front end of the 2011 class can only be classed as a disappointment so far. James Carpenter has been plagued by injury and inconsistent play. Now Moffitt is moving to the other end of the country.

The pair were signed along with Robert Gallery to bolster the teams struggling running game. Instead the likes of Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini, J.R. Sweezy and Max Unger have been left to lead the revolution.

It’s easy to say after the event, but I always saw Moffitt as just a guy. It’s difficult to judge Wisconsin offensive lineman. They’re similar to Florida State pass rushers. They keep churning them out, they always look good in college and then flop in the NFL.

With the likes of Alvin Bailey almost certain to make the team (and maybe start), Moffitt was in serious danger of being cut. The trade with Cleveland symbolises that. They got what they could before the inevitable occurred.

I don’t know anything about Brian Sanford. He appears an odd fit in Seattle as a 280lbs defensive lineman without any great length (6-2). Is he a specialist three technique? I think they try him in that role, ala Greg Scruggs.

But he’s no lock to make the team, especially with the depth on the defensive line. And that kind of sums it up. The team took the hit on Moffitt and admitted it as an error. Even if Sanford doesn’t make the roster, Moffitt was likely a goner.

Monday thoughts

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Allen Bradford - one of several impressive backups in Seattle

Strength in numbers separates Seahawks from the rest

How many teams would Seattle’s backups defeat?

I had a look and found ten I think they could genuinely compete with. Have a look for yourself.

Of course, the Seahawks (touch wood) will never find out the answer to that question. But even if they lose one or two key players to injury, there should be no panic.

In the past the Seahawks have been a slave to injury. This was mostly evident as the Super Bowl XL team disintegrated with alarming swiftness. Players get old, they begin to pick up injuries. Former GM Tim Ruskell bandaged holes with even more ageing stars and didn’t plan ahead at the key positions.

Guys like Patrick Kerney helped keep the window open a little longer for Seattle, but he soon crumbled. When cornerstones like Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander and Walter Jones began to deteriorate too you could tell the party was coming to an end.

The thin underbelly of the Seahawks roster was expose and the team became a shambles. A 4-5 win mess that needed major repair work.

That’s not to go over the top in criticising the previous regime. When any team loses key players to injury and age, it’s not easy to just reload. It’s difficult to win football games starting backups.

Yet the current roster appears deep enough to keep this team competitive in a way few can maintain. There’s no band-aid mentality, no short term window.

Don’t get me wrong, if Russell Wilson and Russell Okung go down in week one — it’s a blow they might not recover from. But when you compare it to the alternatives facing this team when Jones and Hasselbeck made way, it’s nowhere near as daunting.

Percy Harvin’s possible season ending surgery was a major disappointment to fans, but one they quickly got over upon witnessing the team dismantle two AFC West foes in pre-season. The Seahawks can cope, be it at receiver or most other positions.

Few teams will be left with the kind of headaches facing Seattle come the end of the month. Cutting down to 53 will be excruciating. Other teams will be circling the facility hoping to be the first to claim the unwanted.

It’s no surprise the Seahawks have combined for 71 points against San Diego and Denver. Such blow outs don’t give you any real evidence in terms of how the starters will fare when the proper football begins, but it does highlight depth. And Seattle has it in spades.

That’s not to say a team exclusively filled with backups can win the NFC West. Of course they can’t. But if one, two or even three have to fill in this year — combined with the remaining starters — Seattle shouldn’t miss a beat.

Random NFL thoughts

– The Broncos could lose Von Miller for six games according to ESPN. They also pathetically lost Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore this summer, saw Derek Wolfe pick up a spinal injury on Saturday and Champ Bailey currently has a bad foot sprain. Speaking of depth, this will test Denver’s defense.

– Good for Blaine Gabbert that he’s been named Jacksonville’s starting quarterback. I’m not sure if it’s because his face doesn’t fit within media circles, but he’s been given a terrible ride from the press. A quarterback drafted to lead a hopeless franchise currently on his third Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator in three years. How was he supposed to succeed? I hope he proves the doubters wrong this year.

– The 49ers have traded first round bust A.J. Jenkins to Kansas City for another round one disappointment in Jon Baldwin. Cut your losses and run. It’s the best way. As much as San Francisco got that pick wrong, their 2013 draft looks scary. This team isn’t going anywhere. As for the deal itself, I like it. Baldwin is a good fit for the Niners and a fresh start could do him the world of good.

Pre-season week 2 instant reaction vs Denver

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

The Seahawks didn’t outclass the Broncos, but made a series of big plays to deliver a one-side final score. Here’s some instant reaction…

– Benson Mayowa started with the first team defense tonight. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much of an early impact. As soon as Denver brought out the #2 unit on offense, he sacked Brock Osweiler. It’ll be tough to keep Mayowa with the depth at defensive end. You’d keep him if you could, but there’s going to need to be a sacrifice or two. I think he needs two big performances in the next two pre-season games to make it. But credit him for his efforts so far.

– O’Brien Schofield had a nice game and also saw time early. Like Mayowa he didn’t really have much success until Denver’s #1’s left the field. He had a sack fumble on Osweiler and blew up the right tackle on the following drive. He’ll provide nice depth for this team.

– The pass rush on the whole was frustrating against Peyton Manning. So was third down defense. These are the same trends that have dogged Seattle throughout the Pete Carroll era. Everyone plays a basic defense in pre-season to avoid giving much away and the Seahawks were lacking a lot of starting talent. Yet the familiarity with these issues will cause some concern.

– The background guitar chugging on the Seahawks broadcast is very annoying.

– Seattle’s special teams play is not annoying.

– Is Antoine Winfield in trouble? He has to be. Walter Thurmond looked sharper today and made a nice breakup in the slot on third down. Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will also surely make the team. Unless the Seahawks are going to carry an extra corner, which seems unlikely, I think they might lean towards all the youthful talent they have. Winfield had to stand out in the slot and he couldn’t stop Wes Welker making a routine score in the first half. Not that covering a Manning-to-Welker connection is easy.

– One player who is absolutely safe is Michael Robinson. In fact, I don’t know why it’s even a discussion among some fans that he’s in trouble. There is surely no way they’re cutting an experienced cog like that to trust a rookie like Spencer Ware blocking for Lynch/Wilson. It’s not happening. Forget cap savings, it’s just not that vital that you cut Robinson. For me they’re trying Ware, Derrick Coleman and Phil Bates in multiple roles because they’re fighting for one spot on the roster and it’s about seeing who is the most versatile. Ware wins this battle for me, with Coleman and Bates making the practise squad.

– Coleman had a sloppy game after a good performance last week. He dropped an easy third down completion early in the second half and didn’t get much push as a runner.

– Michael Bennett looked great again. Relentless, intense. He’s going to be an asset.

– Jordan Hill had a really nice game against the run. We already know he can offer a pass rush. For me has a significant edge over the other defensive tackles to start next to Brandon Mebane.

– Heath Farwell, after forcing the fumble that led to Brandon Browner’s 106 yard score, chased down Manning and forced a throw out of bounds on the next defensive snap.

– Russell Wilson over-shot a few passes and didn’t look completely comfortable. The broadcasters mentioned he was trying to fire earlier to the open man. I hope he doesn’t compromise accuracy and try to force things too much as a consequence. Erratic is probably the best description of his display tonight because there was good work too. Wilson is probably working already on improving for next week.

– I want Alan Bradford to make the team because I can’t consider the thought of him playing for a NFC West rival.

– Alvin Bailey played guard. Interesting. Is he a possible starter after taking some educational snaps at left tackle last week? It might be too early.

– I really like Ty Powell’s potential. He had a great sack disengaging twice and keeping his feet moving.

– Michael Brooks had another good game. He’s showing more than Jesse Williams, who hasn’t done anything so far in the two games.

– Stephen Williams and Jermaine Kearse are making this team at receiver.

Not convinced on the NROL (National Read Option League)

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Marcus Mariota will be hoping the NFL continues to evolve

I like Josh Norris’ scouting reports at Rotoworld and enjoyed his early 2014 mock draft published earlier today.

(Well, I didn’t like Seattle passing on Brandon Coleman for a linebacker. Didn’t really get that one. But I digress.)

I think he’s representing an increasing trend among draft pundits to go big on prospective read-option quarterbacks.

Johnny Manziel was the poster boy for this hype previously, although it was semi-justified given his performance last season. I still have big reservations about how he’ll fare in the NFL (ignoring all the off-field stuff) but the negative press has seen him sink like a stone among mock drafters.

Instead he’s been replaced with guys like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Miami’s Stephen Morris — all represented by Norris in the top-15 in his 2014 mock.

I’ve spent a bit of time looking at all three and they’re all fairly different but with an ability to fit into the latest trend of the read option quarterback. All are athletic enough to work it. I’d argue they all lack the kind of polish and pocket presence that traditionally would secure a place at the top of the draft. They have striking positives, but also a lot of negatives. That could be mostly down to a lack of experience for all three.

Perhaps the NFL is changing and these guys get serious early consideration next April? After all, who expected E.J. Manuel to go 15th overall this year? The read option has its place as a wrinkle in most playbooks and it has a greater shelf life than the last fashionable trend (the wildcat).

Chip Kelly’s introduction to the NFL will be interesting. If a fast paced, read option-heavy system can work in Philadelphia alongside continued success for RGIII and Russell Wilson, then who knows what teams will be searching for in a few months time.

I still believe most teams will view the Mariota’s and Hundley’s with some scepticism, especially when players like Teddy Bridgewater are still being churned out by the college ranks. As much as the league is adapting, there’s still a lot of traditional minds in there too.

It’s something I’ll go into more detail in during our coverage this year. Right now I see one sure fire first round QB in Bridgewater. I still believe there’s the possibility of a bounce-back year from Logan Thomas (who people seem to have written off). If Manuel can go top-15, then a rejuvenated Thomas can get his career back on track.

And if the read option becomes such a staple that teams do covet a quarterback that can run it — despite all of his issues — I think Manziel has a better chance of going early than some of the other names suggested.

Even though the Seahawks don’t need a signal caller, this promises to be one of the most talked about topics this year.

Seattle’s Derrick Coleman worth rooting for

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

I like the fact Pete Carroll is bigging up Derrick Coleman. He deserves it.

While the likes of Alvin Bailey and Benson Mayowa have been getting a lot of publicity following the San Diego game, Coleman was no less impressive.

He blocked well, he caught the ball, scored a touchdown and was electric on special teams.

Essentially, he’s Mike Robinson-lite.

It might be a luxury to keep him on the roster under the banner of a backup full back. The special teams aspect is a difference maker, however, as Carroll testified in his press conference today. If it comes down to keeping Coleman or sixth round rookie Spencer Ware, I’d be tempted to lean towards Coleman.

Neither player is going to feature as a running back unless something seriously goes wrong. Taking snaps away from Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael and Robert Turbin is going to be nearly impossible, even if the bell-cow Lynch gets injured.

So then it comes down to special teams, and Coleman has that edge.

Michael Robinson is a crucial player to the Seahawks — he’s experienced, he catches the ball out of the backfield and demands attention on a roll out. At the end of last year we saw how dangerous he can be and when teams covered him (eg Atlanta) it created an easy running lane for Russell Wilson.

He’s also a dynamic special teams player. Over the last few days I’ve pretty much gone over every 2012 game using the condensed facility on NFL Gamepass. Time and time again Robinson popped up to make a special teams tackle.

Coleman has that potential. His special teams value could be vital too. As well as Mayowa has played, for example, the Seahawks are loaded with pass rushers. And he isn’t likely to be involved in special teams.

Again, I’m not sure if his usefulness is sufficient to take up a roster spot. I think there’s room for one of Coleman or Ware on the roster, possibly, and they might feel the potential of the former LSU runner is worth sticking with.

Robinson is a free agent next year and for me, they should do everything to keep him beyond that. But it’d be nice to have Coleman around as insurance. Would he make the practise squad? Possibly. But teams are watching the Seahawks and they know they’re a good place to look when those cuts are made at the end of the month.

Pre-season for the fans is about finding guys to root for. And I’m rooting for Coleman to keep making plays and find his way on to the final roster.

Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon) vs Stanford

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Very intriguing player. Took some snaps at running back in 2012. 6-5 and could add more muscle without losing any of his speed. In the modern NFL you need a tight end that can line up pretty much anywhere. Lyerla might be the only tight end who can sit in the backfield as a blocker, receiver, full back or runner. I’d like to see Oregon feed him the ball more in 2013, but he’s right near the top of the list of players I’m watching this year.

Seahawks approach to O-line a sign of things to come

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Alvin Bailey looks right at home at tackle

The Seahawks didn’t make any big draft splashes on the offensive line this year. They took defensive convert Jared Smith in round seven, along with tackle Michael Bowie. That was it. Then they went to work on the UDFA’s.

Expect that to be the norm in future.

When Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010, they made the running game an absolute priority. It was going to be the teams identity. They knew they needed a feature back, a good offensive line and a highly skilled coach.

Marshawn Lynch filled the first hole. They spent two of their first three round one picks on the offensive line. And they brought in Alex Gibbs followed by Tom Cable.

They couldn’t have been any more aggressive to fix this issue. It was a pro-active assault on a problem area. The reward is a running game that’s among the best in the league plus a well coached and organised offensive line.

It isn’t, however, a line that ranks among the best in the league for pass protection. Not yet anyway.

Never mind.

You see, one of the great things about having a coach like Tom Cable and a running game that relies on the zone blocking scheme is the way you can pretty much plug guys in there and coach them up.

Gibbs once famously remarked that he could coach a garbage man to play guard in his system. I sense Cable shares that attitude. The Seahawks haven’t gone to that extreme (obviously) but they’ve been unorthodox in trying defensive linemen on offense with some success.

They’ve got the two vital positions nailed — left tackle and center. They don’t have an elite starter (yet) but do have good depth at guard, which is more than some teams. And this off-season they appear to have uncovered some depth at tackle.

By being aggressive early — and more importantly, hitting on guys like Okung — they now find themselves in a position of strength.

In Russell Wilson they have an elusive passer. Combine this with even greater familiarity among the starters, further coaching and experience, plus possible upgrades along the way and the pass protection ‘issue’ (if you want to call it an issue) has every chance of being solved.

NFL fans in general obsess about offensive lines — almost as much as they obsess about quarterbacks. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the right tackle position, an area James Carpenter was supposed to fill originally but it’s since been left to Breno Giacomini.

I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go chasing another first round right tackle if Giacomini departs as a free agent next year. I think it’d take a high quality guard to turn their head too — such as a third Pouncey brother.

What I expect we’ll see instead is a continuing search for diamonds in the rough. After all, they’ve shown they can find them.

I’ve watched the San Diego game three times and Alvin Bailey looks like a starting left tackle already. This is despite the glaring fact he’s merely minutes into his career as a tackle. Bowie also showed signs of promise. That’s a cumulative total of one 7th round pick spent on two guys I wouldn’t bet against starting for the Seahawks in the future, be it at guard or tackle (they can play both).

I suspect next year they’ll bring in another raft of raw talented linemen. They’ll let Cable do his work. They’ll seek out even more depth. And if it doesn’t work out, they’ll try even more the following year.

This appears to be the way forward, and a direction they can afford to take with Cable at the helm. Like Gibbs, he’s finding guys who fit the physical requirements for his scheme and coaching them up.

For me, it’s a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ one of his protégé’s makes a Pro-Bowl. And I expect Seattle’s line to look even better in 2013.

And we won’t have to talk about college right tackles. Hopefully.

Observations on the San Diego game

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Just a handful of thoughts after watching the game twice (yes, I lead a very interesting life).

– Michael Bennett had a big day, and I’m surprised nobody is talking about him. He was getting off blocks, impacting plays. Whether he lines up inside or at end, he’s going to upgrade Seattle’s pass rush in a big way. He’ll draw attention if nothing else. It was a great start for Bennett and lets hope it continues.

– Ty Powell was probably the guy I got most excited about in this game. Seattle are using these hybrid linebacker/pass rusher types in pre-season and reverting to even more 3-4 looks. Powell looks like a perfect fit here. He’s mobile enough to drop and was roaming around at the second level. He flashed a few times as a rusher. He looks like a great, versatile athlete. I want to see more in the next 2-3 weeks. Powell has a ton of potential.

– The group of young defensive tackles all kind of blended in to one. Jaye Howard finished the game strongly but against an increasingly weakened San Diego line. Jordan Hill was hit and miss. A couple of times I saw him driven out of the play too easily, but then there were also times when he broke into backfield. Jesse Williams started well enough but tired. He’s one dimensional. But he was one dimensional at Alabama. He’s just a big body. I’m not sure anyone from this group really made a strong case to start next to Brandon Mebane in base.

– Byron Maxwell is wasted in Seattle (joking). He had one pick, almost had another. He looks like he’d probably start in Jacksonville (and a few other places) if he ever made it onto the market. Out of all the corners on the roster, he looks like a potential starter across from Richard Sherman if they don’t re-sign Brandon Browner.

– Pete Carroll talked after the game about his desire for a bigger receiver. It’s the reason we’ll keep a firm eye on Brandon Coleman this year. For the time being, Stephen Williams could fill the role taken by Braylon Edwards last year. He has the height, but also showed good control and an ability to create just enough separation.

– I hope they can find a way to keep Derrick Coleman on the roster. On one play he gunned down in kick-coverage to make a great play. He looked solid at full back and made a couple of plays in the passing game. You don’t often consider future full backs, but he has the range currently occupied by Michael Robinson. The special teams factor is crucial, so is the ability to make plays beyond just lead-blocking. If they can stash him on the practise squad, fair enough. Coleman is worth keeping.

– It’s very difficult to gleam anything out of the stuttering display of the starting units. Too many starters were absent on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks offense will be a different animal with Unger, Lynch, Miller and Rice on the field. The defense will be boosted by the return of Wagner, Avril and possibly even Clemons. So no need to panic.