Archive for April, 2019

Identifying possible Seahawks targets in the 2019 draft

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Could a shoulder issue push Rashan Gary into range for the Seahawks?

Seattle’s biggest draft needs?

Defensive line, receiver and defensive back.

Can they find an impact player in each area?

The safe money is on Seattle prioritising the D-line. They’ve lost Shamar Stephen and don’t appear interested in re-signing Dion Jordan. They might trade Frank Clark. This is the ideal draft to reload your defensive line.

They’ve spent a lot of time looking at the defensive backs in this class. For good reason. Juan Thornhill and Darnell Savage were two players who made visits to Seattle. The safety class surpassed expectations at the combine and a lot of teams needed to take a closer look. They also met with rising cornerbacks Justin Layne and Sean Bunting.

Uncertainty over Doug Baldwin’s future has launched receiver into a bigger priority. This isn’t a great wide out class but we could see a rush on the position in the early second round — then a major drop off.

Piecing together ways to add impact players will be a challenge. Can you wait on the D-line given the extreme depth available? Or do you target a top prospect with your first pick and feel comfortable knowing you addressed arguably your biggest need straight away?

The Seahawks to accumulate more picks. Trading down from #21 is inevitable. It’s not a great looking first round but there will be good value in rounds 2-3.

Below you’ll find an extensive look at the players I believe could be on Seattle’s radar.

Let’s start with the D-line class.

It’s worth remembering Pete Carroll’s reference to the importance of pressure percentages. For more on this, click here.

Three players are reportedly falling due to health. Jeffery Simmons has a torn ACL, Montez Sweat a heart condition and Rashan Gary has a shoulder issue.

If they drop into range for the Seahawks (and range means after trading down from #21) — do you consider gambling on health to acquire one of the draft’s top players? That’s the big question I’m considering with a few days to go until the draft.

We’ll look at Simmons, Sweat and Gary in a moment. First two ‘healthier’ alternatives…

Possible early round targets

Brian Burns (EDGE, Florida State)
The big question mark for Burns was size and he allayed some of those fears by gaining approximately 20lbs for the combine and still running a 1.54 10-yard split, a 4.53 forty, jumping a 36.5 inch vertical and achieving a 7.01 three-cone. He looks like an ideal LEO project with 33 7/8 inch arms. He had 66 pressures in 2018 and a high pressure percentage of 19.7%. There will be concerns about his ability to defend the run and keep the size on (he can’t play at 228lbs in the NFL) but he has a lot of what Seattle likes.

Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
He’s not the same kind of athlete as Brian Burns or Montez Sweat but Ferrell is an alpha dog. He was the leader on the great Clemson defense that won the National Championship. He didn’t run a forty pre-draft and his 4.40 short shuttle is more ‘good’ than ‘great’ at 6-4 and 264lbs but he had 56 pressures in 2018 and a pressure percentage of 18.5%. You’re not going to have any concerns about his ability to play three-downs and he’d be a quality book-end for Frank Clark if he falls into range.

Wildcards if they fall due to injury

Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
Sweat had worked himself into the top-10 after competing at the Senior Bowl then putting on a show at the combine. He gained weight to get up to 260lbs and still ran a 4.41 forty, a 1.54 10-yard split, a 4.29 short shuttle and a 7.00 three-cone. These are elite times. He also had 48 pressures in 2018 and a pressure percentage of 20.2%. When you consider he also had a 36-inch vertical and he has 35 3/4 inch arms — Sweat is pretty much the complete physical package. However, there are some concerns about his health after it was discovered at the combine he has an unusual heart condition. We’ll see how it impacts his stock but Sweat has opted not to attend the draft in Nashville despite previously accepting his invitation. The Seahawks will have to make a call on whether it’s right to draft a player who could be putting his life at risk simply playing the game. If he’s on their board and he drops — he’d be the type of athlete they’d love to have.

Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
He was the #1 national recruit coming out of High School and while everyone went nuts for Ed Oliver’s pro-day testing — it’s easy to forget that Gary had similar numbers on a bigger frame. At 6-4 and 277lbs he ran an incredible 4.58 forty. In comparison, Von Miller ran a 4.53 at 250lbs. Gary also ran a 4.29 short shuttle and jumped 38 inches in the vertical (plus a 10-0 broad). He’s the complete physical package at defensive end. Concerns are often raised about his production but he was asked to play a certain role in Michigan’s defense that didn’t produce many opportunities to make plays. His pressure percentage (15.8%) still topped players like Ben Banogu (15.5%), Jerry Tillery (12.2%) and Ed Oliver (9.6%). He played most of 2018 with a shoulder injury and there are reportedly some concerns about his health. He took an official-30 visit to Seattle and would be an ideal book-end — or a potential replacement — for Frank Clark.

Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
If it wasn’t for a torn ACL during combine training, Simmons would be a top-10 pick. It speaks to his talent and the way he’s turned his life around that he’d be rated so highly. NFL teams are seemingly satisfied with Simmons’ attempt to make amends after an ugly video surfaced showing him beating a woman during a family-related dispute. As a player he looks like Ndamukong Suh. He’s 6-4 and 301lbs but carries minimal body fat. He absorbs double teams and he’s a top-level run defender. Against Iowa in the Bowl game he showed off his pass-rush potential. He might not play in 2019 due to the knee injury and that will lead to a fall. Teams will need to weigh up the need for a redshirt rookie season vs landing one of the very best players in the draft. Some believe he’s the top player in the entire class.

Considering it isn’t a great first round this year — being in a position to acquire one of the best prospects is enticing. Yet the Seahawks so far haven’t taken a big injury risk with their first pick in the Carroll era. Their lack of picks also restricts their ability to fill needs immediately if — in the case of Simmons — they’re unable to feature in 2019.

Second tier options

If pressure percentage really is a big deal for the Seahawks, the next three names could be high on their radar…

Jaylen Ferguson (DE, Louisiana Tech)
He had 64 pressures in 2018 and a pressure percentage of 23.4% (fourth best). More than 27% of his career tackles were TFL’s. He led the nation with 17.5 sacks last year. He didn’t test well at his pro-day and he’s had issues with weight gain in the past. However, he’s raw and with the right pro-guidance has a ton of upside. He stood out in games against Texas A&M and Mississippi State and he looks the part at 6-5, 271lbs with 34.5-inch arms.

Oshane Ximines (EDGE, Old Dominion)
High character with a passion for the game. Ximines had 55 pressures in 2018 and the joint second best pressure percentage of 23.5%. He’s 6-3 and 253lbs with 33 inch arms. His testing results were fairly average (4.78 forty, 7.13 three cone, 4.57 short shuttle) but his production is worth considering.

Chase Winovich (EDGE, Michigan)
In terms of engaging personality, Winovich is #1 on the board. He only had five sacks in 2018 but he did amass 17 TFL’s, 53 pressures and his pressure percentage was an impressive 21.7%. He surpassed expectations at the combine by running a 4.59 forty (1.57 10-yard split) at 6-3 and 256lbs (32 3/4 inch arms). He also ran a superb 6.94 three cone and a 4.11 short shuttle. He said he’d rather die than miss Michigan’s Bowl game against Florida.

D’Andre Walker (EDGE, Georgia)
Walker picked up a sports hernia playing his head off against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. He was all over the field and stood-out among a crowd of stars. The injury prevented him from appearing at the Senior Bowl or the combine and he didn’t have a proper testing session at his pro-day. Ideally we’d have more information on his physical profile. However, he’s strong against the run, can rush the passer and he’s 6-2 and 251lbs with 34 3/8 inch arms. He’s a powerful BAMF.

Christian Miller (EDGE, Alabama)
Like Walker, Miller picked up an injury (in the College Football Playoffs vs Oklahoma) and hasn’t been able to do a proper testing session. He didn’t look 100% doing drills at the combine although he did manage a superb 38.5 inch vertical. On tape his ability to bend the arc is incredible and he has the size/length to be an effective LEO or EDGE (6-3, 247lbs, 35 1/8 inch arms). Miller could also be switched to linebacker full time.

Maxx Crosby (EDGE, Eastern Michigan)
An athletic, explosive pass rusher. Crosby ran a 4.66 forty, a 1.60 10-yard split, a 6.89 three cone and a 4.13 short shuttle. Those are all impressive numbers at 6-5 and 255lbs. He has talent but there’s a feeling he’s yet to fully develop physically and could become even stronger and quicker.

Anthony Nelson (DE, Iowa)
He had the joint-second best pressure percentage (23.5%) along with 53 pressures in 2018. Nelson’s tape is a bit underwhelming at times but there’s no doubting his upside. He ran a 4.82 forty, a 1.65 10-yard split, a 6.95 three cone and a 4.23 short shuttle at 6-7 and 271lbs. Those are elite times for a player with his size. He also has 34 7/8 inch arms.

Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)
At times in 2018 Allen was unstoppable. He took over games. It was a bit surprising to see how average he looked at the Senior Bowl. However, he made amends at the combine by running a 4.36 short shuttle at 6-4 and 281lbs plus a 1.65 10-yard split. He has 34 3/4 inch arms and he recorded 59 pressures in 2018 with a pressure percentage of 17.1%.

Charles Omenihu (DE, Texas)
Possesses a terrific combination of size (6-5, 280lbs), length (36 inch arms), agility (4.36 short shuttle) and explosive power (36.5 inch vertical). There are flashes on tape where Omenihu really looks the part. Sadly, he wasn’t consistent enough and never truly realised his potential in college. He recorded only 39 pressures in 2018. Reportedly he divides opinion within the league with some loving him and some not rating him at all.

Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)
Tillery is the complete package as a physical specimen. He’s 6-6 and 295lbs with 34 1/4 inch arms. He ran a 4.93 forty, a 1.71 10-yard split, a 4.33 short shuttle and he managed a 32-inch vertical. He was recruited in High School to be a left tackle and he’s one of the best defensive athletes in the entire draft. However — there are some concerns. He needlessly kicked an injured USC player in the head and in the very same game, also stamped on another player’s ankle. He created a mini-Twitter storm by liking Tweets suggesting Brian Kelly should be replaced by Les Miles. And while he had an impressive 47 pressures in 2018 his pressure percentage was only 12.2%.

L.J. Collier (DE, TCU)
He’s not fast (4.91 forty) and he’s not particularly agile (4.78 short shuttle, 7.71 three cone). However — Collier is adept at rushing the passer. He can work the edge, stunt inside, convert speed-to-power, bull-rush, win with hand-use, disengage. He might be the closest thing to Michael Bennett in this draft. He plays with great aggression, intensity and heavy hands. He had 54 pressures compared to TCU team mate Ben Banogu’s 60 in 2018. However, Collier’s pressure percentage (19.2%) was far better than Banogu’s (15.5%).

Joe Jackson (DE, Miami)
He didn’t work out at the combine and his pro-day testing numbers were not good. However, Jackson is 6-4 and 275lbs with 34 1/8 inch arms. He had 54 pressures in 2018 at 21.7% (level with Chase Winovich for fifth best).

Trysten Hill (DT, UCF)
Of all the players at the combine, Hill might’ve had the most impressive set of drills. He ran a 4.38 short shuttle at 6-3, 308lbs which is superb and added a 35-inch vertical. Those are top-25 type numbers for a defensive lineman. So why will he last? Purely because there are question marks about his 2018 season. He didn’t see eye-to-eye with the new coaches at Central Florida and lost his starting gig. His tape and athletic profile are top-level. Teams will need to make a call on his coachability. The Seahawks have two references who could help in the Griffin twins. Don’t be surprised if Hill goes earlier than expected. He had 26 pressures in 2018 despite not starting — as many as Ed Oliver and Gerald Willis III.

Third tier defensive linemen

Daniel Wise (DT, Kentucky)
A team captain at Kentucky with NFL bloodlines, Wise recorded 16 TFL’s and seven sacks as a junior before adding 12.5 TFL’s and five more sacks in 2018. He recorded 35 pressures in 2018. Only one of Wise’s workout numbers stood out but it’s the most important one — the short shuttle. He ran a 4.37 which is highly impressive at 6-3 and 281lbs. He also has 33-inch arms. He could be a specialist interior rusher at the next level. He should’ve been at the Senior Bowl and he was one of the standouts at the Shrine Game.

Kingsley Keke (DE, Texas Tech)
Keke’s tape is a bit disappointing but he was one of the more impressive performers at the Senior Bowl. He ran a 4.95 forty at 6-3 and 288lbs and added a solid 4.46 short shuttle and a 31.5 inch vertical. He only had 31 pressures in 2018 and that backs up the average tape. However, he did lose 20lbs to switch from tackle to end and with time could develop into an effective inside/out rusher.

John Cominsky (DE, Charleston)
A small-school prospect and former quarterback, Cominsky put on a show at the combine. He ran a 1.62 10-yard split at 6-5 and 286lbs. Considering anything in the 1.5’s is elite for a smaller EDGE or LEO — that’s a fantastic time. He has 33.5 inch arms and also ran a 4.69 forty, a 7.03 three cone and a 4.38 short shuttle. He added explosive power with a 33.5 inch vertical. There’s no tape to get a feel for him but his athletic profile is off the charts.

Ben Banogu (EDGE, TCU)
Banogu can’t rush the passer. He needs to be coached from scratch. His sacks in college were testament to his ability to out-athlete overmatched college tackles and run-and-chase better than most. His absolute best quality is covering ground and reading/reacting to reverses and misdirection. For that reason he could be best suited to switching to linebacker. He’s a great athlete — running a 1.56 10-yard split at 6-3 and 250lbs. He has 33 5/8 inch arms and also ran a 4.62 forty, a 4.27 short shuttle, a 7.02 three cone and he jumped a massive 40 inches in the vertical. He’s a project and at the moment more of an athlete than a pass rusher. His pressure percentage of 15.5% isn’t great.

Justin Hollins (EDGE, Oregon)
Another terrific athlete who leaves you wanting so much more on tape. Hollins only had 41 pressures in 2018 and his pressure percentage is 16.8%. He’s 6-5 and 248lbs with 33 3/8 inch arms. He ran a 4.50 forty but his short shuttle time of 4.40 is only decent for his size. He did manage a 36.5 inch vertical. Seattle coaches were spotted working him out during the pre-draft process. He dips in and out of games too often but there’s potential to be coached up.

Khalen Saunders (DT, Western Illinois)
Seen by some as a possible second round pick, Saunders was the big story of the Senior Bowl. Having remained in Mobile despite the birth of his child, he put on a show — mauling the interior with power and rushing the passer with quickness and speed. He can backflip at 6-0 and 324lbs. He doesn’t have the length Seattle likes (he has 32 1/4 inch arms) but he’s a terrific athlete with a great personality who could become a real force with pro-conditioning.

Later round defensive tackles

Armon Watts (DT, Arkansas)
A strong, physical defensive lineman capable of plugging gaps in the run game but still offering some pass rush ability. He’s 6-5 and 300lbs with 33 3/8 inch arms and could act as a solid anchor next to Jarran Reed.

Greg Gaines (DT, Washington)
Partnered Vita Vea superbly before Vea turned pro and had a knack of making at least a few splash plays every week. Gaines lacks traits but plays with a terrific motor. He needs to do a better job with his hands and too often he tries to barge his way through blockers. A 31-inch vertical hinted at some power and explosion though and at the very least he could develop into a disciplined run defender.

Albert Huggins (DT, Clemson)
Basically the unspectacular anchor of the Clemson D-line. Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell provided the star quality. Huggins quietly was an effective block-absorber. He’s not quick, he’s not athletic and he’s not particularly explosive. However — his upper body is tremendously powerful and he has a good frame at 6-3, 305lbs and 33.5 inch arms. Huggins could be a top run defender.

Wide receivers

The need to prepare for life after Doug Baldwin is vitally important. Baldwin has been a reliable, prolific playmaker for the Seahawks for nearly a decade. We know they like downfield shots and suddenness. We know they value speed. They also have to consider the type of personality they draft at the position. This isn’t a high-volume passing offense. You won’t necessarily get consistent targets. Some receivers can’t cope with that. Drafting players who have the character and maturity to play within this offense is vital.

These are the top three players I believe fit the Seahawks…

Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
It’s not a coincidence that McLaurin and Doug Baldwin share an agent. McLaurin showed at the Senior Bowl he’s adept at getting open (like Baldwin) he’s a team player not obsessed with how many targets he gets (like Baldwin) and he loves to get involved as a blocker and on special teams (just as Baldwin did entering the league). McLaurin is their type of receiver with 4.35 speed, a high catch percentage (71.4%) and one of the best deep catch rates in the class. Whether he ends up in Seattle or not, he’s a Seahawks-type of receiver.

N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State)
Although he ran short of Seattle’s preferred 4.4 or faster, a 4.53 forty at the combine was a better-than-expected time for a receiver listed at 6-2 and 228lbs. Pete Carroll has been looking for a big, athletic target for some time. Like McLaurin, there’s no ego in Harry. But why is he a Seahawks fit? Two big reasons stand out other than his character and size. Firstly — he had a scoring rate of 22% on his deep targets. Secondly, quarterbacks had a 135.4 passer rating when throwing deep passes to Harry at Arizona State. The Seahawks want chunk plays in the passing game and he can provide that.

Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State)
In 2013 the Seahawks traded high picks to acquire Percy Harvin and then paid him a fortune. Campbell isn’t the same personality as Harvin (he has much better character) but he played the same position in Urban Meyer’s offense. Like McLaurin’s he’s a rare athlete. Campbell ran a 4.31 at the combine (1.51 10-yard split) at 6-0 and 205lbs and he excelled in the explosive tests and the short shuttle (4.03). He worked heavily to improve his catching technique this year and he’s a modern day X-factor capable of lining up in multiple positions and commanding attention on every snap.

The other two names worth mentioning are D.K. Metcalf and Marquise Brown. Both potentially could fit the Seahawks. I wanted to separate them from the top three, however.

D.K. Metcalf (WR, Ole Miss)
There are reasons to think Metcalf won’t appeal to the Seahawks. He had too many concentration drops in college, he had a serious neck injury during the 2018 season, his short/intermediate routes are laboured and he’s pretty much a one-trick pony at the moment (he runs a superb go-route at 6-3 and 228lbs). The thing is — the one thing he does very well is pretty rare. He ran a 4.33 at the combine and the fastest 10-yard split of any player at any position (1.48). There aren’t many humans on the planet who can run that fast at his size. For that reason alone — and considering Seattle’s desire to get the ball downfield — Metcalf has to be included here.

Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
He couldn’t work out at the combine or his pro-day due to a foot injury. He’s incredibly small at 5-9 and 166lbs but he was extremely dynamic, consistent and effective for Oklahoma. He’s Antonio Brown’s cousin and they share some of the same tendencies. He has the suddenness to win quickly on slants and quick-hitters but he can also take the top off a defense. He’ll need to be used like DeSean Jackson at his size and we’ll see how he handles the more physical pro-level.

The receiver they might be most prepared to target later on is….

Gary Jennings (WR, West Virginia)
Had a terrific combine, running a 4.42 and jumping a 37-inch vertical. He’s 6-1 and 214lbs. Jennings had a 75% catch rate in 2018 and showed he a very capable deep receiver who can operate in the slot too. He clocked a top speed of 21.03mph at the Senior Bowl.

And if you want a possible UDFA target…

Johnnie Dixon (WR, Ohio State)
Like all the Ohio State receivers, he was lost within the scheme. Dixon ran a 4.41 at 5-10 and 201lbs and managed a 37.5 inch vertical. His eight touchdowns in 2018 averaged 32 YPC. He has the suddenness the Seahawks like and could be brought in for camp as an UDFA.

They could also potentially target players like Emmanuel Hall (WR, Missouri), Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina), Mecole Hardman (WR, Georgia), Hakeem Butler (WR, Iowa State) or Miles Boykin.

Defensive backs

Whether it’s bolstering the depth at outside corner, finding a Justin Coleman replacement or just adding some playmakers — the secondary will likely be a target area in this draft. Here are two most likely early round targets…

Juan Thornhill (Hybrid, Virginia)
The Seahawks don’t draft defensive backs early unless they have special qualities. The only one they’ve taken in the first two rounds under Pete Carroll is Earl Thomas. So they better have elite physical qualities and production. Thornhill recorded six interceptions in 2018 and ran a 4.42 forty at 6-0 and 205lbs. He jumped a 44-inch vertical. According to PFF he was the only safety in the country to finish with +80.0-plus grades in run defense, tackling, pass-rush and coverage while taking at least 15 snaps as a blitzer, at least 200 snaps in run defense and at least 200 snaps in coverage. He had 13 passes defended in 2018. Production + elite athleticism.

Darnell Savage (S, Maryland)
He ran a 4.36 forty at the combine at 5-11 and 198lbs. Savage also jumped a 39.5 inch vertical and ran a 4.14 short shuttle. This level of speed and quickness shows up on tape. Savage isn’t a big physical force but he excels in coverage situations. He’s practically always first to the ball. He had four interceptions in 2018 and forced 5.5 TFL’s. Like Thornhill he combines production with great athleticism.

Cornerback targets who might go too early

Lonnie Johnson (CB, Kentucky)
He has the ideal physical profile for a Seahawks cornerback. He’s 6-2 and 213lbs with 32 5/8 inch arms and a 77.5 inch wingspan. He ran a 4.52 forty, a 4.10 short shuttle and jumped a 38-inch vertical. He was one of the recipients of the now infamous ‘staring contest’ from the Seahawks at the combine. If he was available in the middle rounds he’d be a great option but some teams might see Johnson as the best corner in the class.

Justin Layne (CB, Michigan State)
One of Seattle’s late official-30 visits. He’s 6-2 and 192lbs with 33-inch arms and an 80 1/8 inch wingspan. He ran a 4.50 forty, a 6.90 three cone, a 4.09 short shuttle and jumped a 37.5 inch vertical. He’s a receiver convert like Richard Sherman and he’s adept at tight coverage and has a great feel for identifying routes, mirroring the receiver and making a play on the ball. Like Johnson he’d be an ideal target but he might go in the top-40. Had 16 passes defended and 15 PBU’s in 2018 but only one interception.

Sean Bunting (CB, Central Michigan)
One of the big risers during the off-season, Bunting is 6-0 and 195lbs with 32-inch arms. He ran a 4.42 forty and jumped a 41.5 inch vertical. He also ran the second fastest 10-yard split by anyone at the combine (1.51). He does a great job competing for 50-50 balls and breaking up passes and he allowed only a 39% completion rate in 2018. Unlike some of Seattle’s previous cornerbacks he does a good job avoiding contact with the receiver and plays the ball. He’s also very prepared to make a tackle. He might go in round two.

Isaiah Johnson (CB, Houston)
Johnson is the most likely to last into the middle rounds of the names mentioned here but he’s also been getting his fair share of day-two buzz. He’s 6-2 and 208lbs with 33-inch arms. He has a 79 1/8 inch wingspan. Johnson ran a 4.40 forty, a 6.81 three cone and a 4.06 short shuttle. Those are great times for a corner with his size. He also acted as a serviceable. gunner on special teams.

Defensive back hybrids

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S/Nickel, Florida)
Charismatic and a big talker, Gardner-Johnson switched to nickel corner at Florida in 2018. He’s superb at getting off blocks to make plays in the running game and against misdirection, extended hand-off’s and stretch plays. He forced 9.5 TFL’s last season — as good as some defensive linemen. He also added four interceptions including two vital plays in a MVP performance against Michigan in Florida’s Bowl game. He ran a 4.48 at 5-11 and 210lbs. According to PFF he had an 89.9 coverage grade (ranked ninth in the country). He also limited receivers to 8.4 yards per reception –- ranking 17th among all cornerbacks targeted at least 25 times in 2018. His 45.6 passer rating when targeted from the slot ranked sixth in the country.

Marvell Tell (S/CB, USC)
Could be converted to cornerback given his size (6-2, 198lbs) and arm length (33 1/8 inch arms). Tell made a major impression at the combine with a 42 inch vertical, 11-4 broad jump, a 6.63 three cone and a 4.01 short shuttle.

Marquise Blair (S, Utah)
Hits like a hammer and will strike fear into any receiver running across the middle of the field. Could be a flag-machine if his technique is off. Decent but not great size (6-1, 195lbs). He ran a 4.48 forty which was faster than expected.

Nasir Adderley (S, Delaware)
He was overhyped by the media and that was unfair. If he lands in the middle rounds that’ll be about right. Had four interceptions in 2018 and was a successful kick returner. His highlight reel is on fire but his tape shows inconsistent play. Didn’t do any pre-draft testing.

Amani Hooker (S/Nickel, Iowa)
Well built, stocky nickel or safety listed at 5-11 and 210lbs. He ran a 4.48 forty, jumped a 37-inch vertical and ran well in the three cone (6.81) and short shuttle (4.10). He was named ‘Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year’ after recording 65 tackles, 3.5 TFL’s, four interceptions, seven pass breakups and a safety in 13 starts. Tough, physical and considered the defensive leader by his team mates.

Day three defensive back hybrid’s

Darius West (S, Kentucky)
On a defense loaded with talent, West was considered the established tone-setter and leader. According to Lance Zierlein: “When he speaks, teammates listen.” A true alpha. He has a history of injuries and that could be a problem. If teams clear his medical he’s a 5-11, 208lbs blaster with 4.39 speed.

Will Harris (S, Boston College)
Harris has NFL bloodlines, plays with extreme toughness and physicality and he’s no slouch as an athlete. He ran a 4.41 at 6-1 and 207lbs, adding a 6.91 three cone and a 4.12 short shuttle. He’s been compared to Bradley McDougald. Only had one interception as a senior.

Sheldrick Redwine (S, Miami)
A converted cornerback with the traits to play big nickel. He’s 6-0 and 196lbs and ran a 4.44 forty. He jumped a 39-inch vertical and ran a 4.14 short shuttle. He had 3.5 TFL’s, three sacks and three interceptions as a senior. He’s plays big but he can cover.

Zedrick Woods (S, Ole Miss)
He ran the fastest forty at the combine (4.29). He doesn’t necessarily play to that speed but at least he has it. He’s aggressive and collected two picks and two forced fumbles in 2018. Could start off as a key special teamer.

Possible day three or UDFA outside cornerback targets

Stephen Denmark (CB, Valdosta State)
Incredible physical profile. He’s 6-3 and 220lbs with 33 3/8 inch arms. Denmark ran a 4.46 forty, 1.48 10-yard split, jumped a 43.5 inch vertical and a 10-10 broad. There isn’t another cornerback in this draft with this level of physical upside. He’s also a converted receiver. He’s a major project but keep an eye on him.

Jamal Peters (CB, Mississippi State)
Converted safety who didn’t test well at the combine but has the size and length Seattle likes. Tony Pauline linked Seattle with interest in Peters during the season. He didn’t force many turnovers at Mississippi State but he was tough and physical. He’s 6-2 and 218lbs with 32 3/8 inch arms but he ran a 4.63.

Michael Jackson (CB, Miami)
He ran a solid 4.45 at 6-1 and 210lbs. His 40.5 inch vertical and 4.12 short shuttle were also impressive. He had 3.5 TFL’s, 2.5 sacks and six PBU’s in 2018 but failed to record an interception. He has 32.5 inch arms and looked the part at the combine.

Saivion Smith (CB, Alabama)
Measured bigger than expected (6-1, 199lbs, 33 1/4 inch arms). He didn’t run at the combine and the rest of his testing was average (eg. 4.37 short shuttle). He’s a press-corner who mixes it up and had three picks in 2018.

Derrek Thomas (CB, Baylor)
He looked like a Seahawks corner at the combine. Superb frame — 6-3, 189lbs, 33 3/4 inch arms, 39.5 inch vertical. He’s a project but he took an official-30 visit to Seattle. The type of guy they’ve worked with.

Joejuan Williams (CB, Vanderbilt)
He’s 6-4 and 211lbs and was linked with a possible first round grade before he ran a 4.64. He has 32.5 inch arms. Another Seahawks-style press-corner who competes for the ball and has a physical demeanour. Was among the national leaders in passes defended (17) and had 13 PBU’s plus four interceptions.

Other possible options: Blace Brown, Blessuan Austin, Alijah Holder, Jordan Miller, Ryan Pulley, Ken Webster, Chris Westry.

Tight end

With Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson both free agents in 2020 — and with Will Dissly still recovering from a very serious knee injury — the Seahawks might add another tight end at some point in this draft. They seem to prefer players with length, tenacity as a run blocker and a sub-7.10 three cone.

Dawson Knox (TE, Ole Miss)
Ran between a 6.81-7.04 three cone at his pro-day (there are various reports). He also reportedly ran a 4.28 short shuttle and a forty in the 4.51-4.57 range. Wasn’t highly involved in the passing game at Ole Miss but he’s considered a good blocker with major upside as a receiver.

Jace Sternberger (TE, Texas A&M)
Doesn’t have the testing numbers the Seahawks like but they brought him to Seattle for an official-30 visit. Sternberger does an excellent job contorting his body to make difficult grabs and could be used as a complimentary target to some of Seattle’s Y-tight end group.

Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
Once considered a possible top-40 pick, Smith didn’t run well at the combine (4.92). However, he did manage a 7.08 three cone which might put him on Seattle’s radar. He also managed a 4.47 short shuttle and a 32-inch vertical.

Drew Sample (TE, Washington)
A complete tight end who put on a show at the Senior Bowl. Sample ran a 4.71 at the combine before adding a 33.5 inch vertical, a 7.15 three cone and a 4.31 short shuttle. He’s done more than most to boost his stock this off-season and could go in round three.

Foster Moreau (TE, LSU)
He wore the fabled #18 jersey at LSU — awarded to the player who best exemplifies character and leadership. He’s a terrific run-blocker with untapped potential in the passing game. Moreau ran a 4.66 forty, jumped a 36.5 inch vertical, a 7.16 three cone and a 4.11 short shuttle.

Kahale Warring (TE, San Diego State)
There are some mild concerns about his lack of playing experience and coachability. Yet Warring looks the part and had some big conversions in 2018. He ran a 4.67 forty, jumped a 36.5 inch vertical and ran a 4.25 short shuttle. His 7.21 three cone could be faster.

Josh Oliver (TE, San Jose State)
Oliver is said to love football and some scouts even believe he’s the best tight end in the draft. He was used as a moveable chess-piece in college and didn’t take many snaps as an orthodox tight end. It’s impossible to say how good he is as a blocker. He ran a 4.63 forty, jumped a 34-inch vertical and managed a 4.47 short shuttle.

Trevon Wesco (TE/FB, West Virginia)
Considered the best full back prospect by some, Wesco could be used in a variety of ways. He’ll never be a dynamic pass-catcher but he has 34 3/4 inch arms on a 6-3, 267lbs frame. He can be a full back, a sixth lineman or a blocking tight end. He ran a surprisingly quick 4.38 short shuttle. He’s a terrific blocker and plays with aggression and intensity.

Running backs

The Seahawks are a run-heavy team and they’ve lost Mike Davis. It’s easy to forget how much Seattle needed Davis in 2018. He was a vital player in some games. Chris Carson will never be a 16-game bell-cow and Rashaad Penny got banged up last year. Adding a third wheel to replace Davis shouldn’t be ruled out — albeit only with a later round pick.

Rodney Anderson (RB, Oklahoma)
I think he’s the best running back in the draft. He has everything — size, speed, explosive traits, he finishes runs. He tore Georgia to shreds in the 2017 playoffs. He’d be a top-20 prospect without the injuries. He’s still recovering from an ACL tear. If he’s there on day three he could be a steal.

Ryquell Armstead (RB, Temple)
Toughness personified. He finishes runs and hits you in the face. He ran an impressive 4.45 at 5-11 and 220lbs. He produced 1,098 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018. Armstead also stood out at the Senior Bowl. He has the attitude and running style Seattle likes.

Miles Sanders (RB, Penn State)
Ran a 4.49 at 5-11 and 211lbs. He also jumped a 36-inch vertical and recorded a 6.89 three cone and a 4.19 short shuttle. Sanders is elusive and it’s weird he didn’t get more attention during the season. His tape is fun. He’s talented, fast and explosive.

Alexander Mattison (RB, Boise State)
Lacks great speed (4.67 forty) but makes up for it with size (5-11, 221lbs) and explosive physicality. Mattison jumped a 35-inch vertical. Like Ryquell Armstead he finishes runs and gets the hard yards.

Devine Ozigbo (RB, Nebraska)
Wasn’t invited to the combine surprisingly. Ozigbo reportedly ran a 4.53 at 233lbs at his pro-day while adding a 37-inch vertical and a 10-4 broad jump. He has the explosive power and running style to warrant interest as a later round pick who can last in the league for a few years.

Alex Barnes (RB, Kansas State)
He doesn’t look like an orthodox back at 6-0 and 226lbs but he ran a 4.59 forty, a 6.95 three cone, a 4.10 short shuttle and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical. He could be used as a third-down back with the quickness to make plays as a pass-catcher and runner.

Darwin Thompson (RB, Utah State)
He took an official-30 visit to Seattle. He’s smaller than they usually like at 5-8 and 200lbs but he’s a tough, physical runner and we know the Seahawks like that. He recorded 16 touchdowns on just 176 touches in 2018. Could be an UDFA target.

Alec Ingold (FB, Wisconsin)
He’s a classic full back. Most teams won’t consider him because they don’t use these types of players any more. It’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawks take him. They’ve needed a quality full back for a while. Ingold inspired Jon Gruden to march onto the Senior Bowl field for a high-five after one punishing block.

Offensive linemen

This isn’t an area the Seahawks are expected to target early. However, with Mike Iupati, Germain Ifedi and George Fant all free agents in 2020 they might need to start planning ahead.

The following players will likely go too early for the Seahawks…

Kaleb McGary (T, Washington)
Highly athletic — much more so than expected. Minimal bad weight, built like a terminator. He’s 6-7 and 317lbs and jumped an impressive 33.5 inch vertical. Arm length isn’t ideal (32 7/8 inch arms) and he gives up some pressures. Will be a solid, physical right tackle or guard.

Dru Samia (G, Oklahoma)
An absolute beast of a guard. If you want to see what a guy can do, watch them play Alabama in the trenches. Samia performed very well in that game. He squares everything up which is rare. He wants to fight everyone and he’ll give you everything. He’ll go earlier than some people think. Terrific run blocker.

Jonah Williams (G/C, Alabama)
He’s overrated as a top-10 pick. The league knows he’s overrated. He’ll still go early because his attitude, approach and history at Alabama is attractive. He can play any position on the O-line. Mike Solari used Williams to demonstrate his drills at the combine. Marginal athlete.

Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)
Lined up in a pass-pro stance every snap and will need to learn pro-technique. However, he was superb at the combine in drills and workouts. He ran a 4.96 and a 4.44 short shuttle. He’s 6-5 and 315lbs. He’s the best pass-protector in the draft. Looked good at the Senior Bowl.

Cody Ford (T/G, Oklahoma)
His footwork stands out for a guy at 6-4 and 329lbs. It’s incredible. His ability to drop and set is unmatched in this class. He could be tried at tackle even if his best position is at guard. He’s not a waist-bender and he could be the best offensive lineman in the draft.

Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College)
He has J.R. Sweezy’s physical profile minus the intense physicality and attitude. He’s 6-4 and 308lbs, ran a 4.91 forty and a 4.54 short shuttle. He’s not going to be a dominating lineman but he’s a safe-and-sound pick who can start quickly.

Here are some possible day three O-line targets…

Yodny Cajuste (T, West Virginia)
Was expected to test through the roof at the combine but wasn’t healthy enough to perform. If he drops as a consequence the Seahawks could take him as a hedge for Germain Ifedi and George Fant. He’s 6-5 and 312lbs with 34-inch arms. He has what they look for in a right tackle.

Chuma Edoga (T, USC)
Few players stood out more than Edoga at the Senior Bowl. He was superb and looked like a legit left tackle. He’s 6-3 and 308lbs with 34 3/4 inch arms. There’s so much potential here. However, he had a difficult upbringing and witnessed his father being shot dead. He also had a tendency to pull himself out of games at SoCal.

David Edwards (T, Wisconsin)
Based on 2017 tape, Edwards had a shot to develop into a round one pick. Instead he regressed, got hurt and will now likely last into day three. Still, he’s a thumping right tackle with the attitude and approach teams love.

Michael Deiter (G, Wisconsin)
His tape was good. He blocks with toughness and finishes. Then he turned up at the Senior Bowl and was awful. It was a major surprise. He stood out for the wrong reasons. So you have to decide if he’s able to play with the same success at the next level against superior opponents.

Michael Jordan (G/C, Ohio State)
Huge frame (6-6, 312lbs) and although he played center for the Buckeye’s he might be better suited to guard. He has 34 1/4 inch arms. He looked the part at the combine and he could develop into a really solid starter over time.

Isaiah Prince (T, Ohio State)
If they gave out grades for body-building, Prince would be near the top. He looked in superb shape at the combine. He’s 6-6 and 305lbs with 35.5 inch arms. He has the ideal frame for a NFL left tackle. His kick-slide is good and so is his pass-pro. Prince is worth taking a shot on to develop.

Bobby Evans (T, Oklahoma)
There’s nothing spectacular about Evans — he’s just incredibly solid. He played left tackle at Oklahoma but likely switches to the right side at the next level. He’s 6-4 and 312lbs with 34 3/4 inch arms. He might not be a superstar but he’ll hold down a side for a few years and could be the type of player who ends up getting paid on his second contract.

Oli Udoh (T, Elon)
Absolutely massive right tackle prospect with 6-5, 323lbs size and 35 3/8 inch arms. His frame is already big and intimidating but he could add even more muscle. He ran a 5.05 forty. Udoh looks like a Seahawks right tackle.

Ben Powers (G, Oklahoma)
Powers stood out at the Senior Bowl. He’s 6-4 and 307lbs with 33 3/4 inch arms. According to Lance Zierlein he, “has a self-professed love for “taking a grown man’s dreams and crushing them” on the field.” We saw a bit of that in Mobile. He didn’t test at the combine but he’s worth a shot as a day three guard with starting potential.

Connor McGovern (G, Penn State)
Terrific run blocker with size (6-5, 308lbs) and length (34 1/8 inch arms). He ran a decent 4.57 short shuttle. Power matters at the next level and McGovern has it in abundance. Might go a bit too early for Seattle but he has the attitude they like. Has guard and center experience.

It’s not a good linebacker class and with the Seahawks keeping K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, they’re unlikely to spend one of their few picks on a linebacker this year. Keep an eye on Arkansas’ Dre Greenlaw (best tackle % in the SEC), Idaho’s Kaden Elliss (pass rusher or linebacker) and Buffalo’s Khalil Hodge (good run defender) as possible late round fliers or UDFA’s.

The re-signing of Russell Wilson virtually eliminates the possibility of a quarterback being drafted unless a value situation presents itself. I think they will like Will Grier due to his fantastic production throwing downfield but if he goes in the first two days of the draft he won’t be a Seahawk.

I’ve not included the following players because they’re expected to be long gone before Seattle picks but here’s a sentence on each…

Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
The most talented player in the draft.

Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
Super quick, slippery and dominated during 2018.

Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
The complete defensive end.

Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
Short arms are a concern and some worry about his personality.

Devin White (LB, LSU)
A tone-setter with extreme speed.

Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
Will have a similar grade to White.

Josh Allen (EDGE, Kentucky)
Had the best pressure percentage in college football (29.1%) but can’t keep getting blocked by tight ends.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
The best offensive player in the draft after Kyler Murray.

Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Could still go in the top-10.

Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
Not just a nose tackle and he created more pressures in 2018 (33) than people realise.

I’ve not included the following group as they’re either poor scheme fits or not playing a position of early-round need…

Erik McCoy (C, Texas A&M)
Held his own against Quinnen Williams which speaks volumes.

Garrett Bradbury (C, NC State)
Short arms and small but has great hips, control and mobility.

Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama)
The hype was too much.

Irv Smith Jr (RB, Alabama)
At best could be Delanie Walker.

Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
Could have a better pro-career than people think.

Elgton Jenkins (C, Mississippi State)
Had a good Senior Bowl but looked bad vs Alabama against Quinnen Williams.

Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
A buffet tackler who picks and chooses when to get involved.

A.J. Brown (WR, Ole Miss)
A big slot but won’t fit Seattle’s scheme.

Noah Fant (TE, Iowa)
Very athletic with major upside but is he a mirage?

Any other highly touted QB
Thank goodness for Russell Wilson’s new contract.

If you feel like I’ve missed anyone out let me know.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Seahawks want a first rounder for Frank Clark

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Let’s try and parse the following tweet…

1. The Seahawks are open to trading Frank Clark — as many have reported. Now they’re using the media to try and set a high bar for negotiations.

2. The parameters for a deal are clear so if a new contract was possible, we’d probably be hearing about progress not potential trades. Have they already decided they can’t/won’t meet Clark’s demands?

3. Clearly nobody has made a suitable offer. That’s why they’re making it known, through the best source of NFL breaking news, what their high-point asking price is.

4. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll take a first round pick to get a deal done. They might be prepared to accept a high second rounder. At this stage it seems like they want to shoot for the first rounder and there’s time to adjust their position.

5. We’ve been here before with Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Nobody made a reasonable offer and both players remained in Seattle. I still think this outcome is likely for Clark in 2019 due to the excellent D-line class and the +$65m in guarantees you’d have to give up on top of draft compensation.

6. Even so, it’s pretty clear a trade could happen. There’s no point pretending it’s a non-starter — even if, like me, you think ultimately he’ll play on the franchise tag this season. Too many quality sources are talking about this. Adam Schefter, Mike Garofolo, Michael Lombardi, Tony Pauline, Mike Florio, Ian Rapoport and originally Jay Glazer.

7. Garofolo originally told 710 ESPN it would take a high first rounder to acquire Clark. That seems very unlikely and if that was possible — the Seahawks wouldn’t need Schefter’s tweet to help things along. If the interested parties are Indianapolis and Kansas City as reported — this is probably about trying to coax them to offer #26, #29 or #34 instead of #59, #61 or #63.

8. Adding a high-ish pick for Clark would free up cap space and aid Seattle’s draft board. That’s the positive side of things. The negative is — their pass rush was already fairly milquetoast. When they lost Cliff Avril and traded Michael Bennett, Clark was the up-and-coming younger player ready to take the leading role. They don’t have a Clark to turn to now. Removing him would create a big hole. The fact they’re even considering it shows how much they value this D-line draft class. And for that reason — get ready for a D-line centric draft next week.

For more on the Clark situation, listen to our conversation with Tony Pauline:

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Some thoughts on what the Seahawks might do

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Before we get into today’s piece, here’s a podcast I recorded with Brandan Schulze this week. We run through some of the players who’ve taken official visits with the Seahawks…

Thoughts on what the Seahawks might do

Sometimes the clues are staring you right in the face.

This is a fantastic defensive line class. The Seahawks needed to add to their D-line anyway. They’ve since lost Shamar Stephen and appear uninterested in keeping Dion Jordan. Their only additions so far are Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard.

It’s abundantly clear they’re going to take a defensive tackle and a defensive end in this draft. It’s just a case of when.

That’s stating the obvious I suppose. Yet it’s easy to tie yourself in knots thinking about other positions when the truth is right there.

The Seahawks are meeting with plenty of veteran defensive linemen — from Corey Liuget to Al Woods and Allen Bailey. These are likely hedge moves based on a number of factors (targets not being available, a Frank Clark trade etc).

Anyone wanting to make a ‘safe’ projection for the Seahawks should pair them with a defensive lineman with their first pick.

1. They didn’t address it in free agency

2. It was a need before they lost guys on the D-line

3. It’s the strength of the draft

Of course the strength of the D-line class could allow the Seahawks to consider another need early. For example — the uncertain future of Doug Baldwin has increased the need at receiver. You’ll be able to land a decent wide out between picks #20-50 in this draft. After that the well runs dry. Yet the D-line depth stretches well into day three. In our conversation this week Tony Pauline suggested it could be an historic D-line draft.

Meanwhile one of Bob McGinn’s scouting sources had the following to say about the receiver class:

“This is a (expletive) year for early receivers… It’s just not a good class. I said last year it was a bad receiver draft. This is worse.”

The Seahawks will set out to complete their roster as much as they can with this draft. That means trying to add impact players at multiple positions — not simply addressing their top need first and then hoping for the best later on.

They badly needed a cornerback in 2017 but waited until the late third round to draft Shaquille Griffin. That draft class was considered ‘the year of the corner’. Seattle used that depth to wait on the position — drafting Malik McDowell and Ethan Pocic with their first two picks instead.

It’s possible they use a similar tactic this year (although hopefully with better results). If they can fill out their D-line between rounds 3-7, they might be inclined to look at the receivers and defensive backs with their top selection after trading down from #21 (possibly multiple times).

On the other hand, last years draft was ‘the year of the running back’. Seattle traded down nine spots and then took Rashaad Penny with their top pick. They could’ve waited until later on to grab a running back. However, they saw value in being the ones to launch a run on the position. They got what they believed was the #2 runner in the class after Saquon Barkley. They didn’t wait, despite having other needs (eg pass rusher).

So just as it’s possible they wait on the defensive line — they could also identify the guy they want from this tremendous D-line class and make sure they get them with their first pick.

Whoever they take with their first selection will probably seem obvious afterwards. This is the tenth draft for Carroll and Schneider together. We know what they look for at certain positions by now.

For example — if they take a defensive lineman with their first pick they’ll probably have good length. If it’s an EDGE they’ll be incredibly quick and athletic. If it’s an inside/out rusher or a defensive tackle they’ll likely excel in the short shuttle. We know they pay attention to pressure percentages, as discussed here.

There are so many players who fit the criteria this year it’ll be difficult to pin down ‘the guy’ who they ultimately take. Yet there’ll almost certainly be an ‘ah yes’ moment immediately after the pick.

If they don’t take a D-liner first up there could be a bit more mystery. The safety position has been harder to determine under Carroll and Schneider because they’ve added a wide variety of different profiles over the years. At receiver we know they like 4.4 speed or faster, quickness and the ability to get downfield and make plays. Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell could be possible targets while N’Keal Harry’s 22% scoring rate on deep targets is appealing.

The biggest needs are clear — defensive line (both off the edge and at tackle), receiver and defensive back. The safe money might be on the D-line early but so much will depend on their ability to trade down, the future of Frank Clark and the best way to fill various needs to complete their roster.

Expect the unexpected

I think this will be an unpredictable round one. The top-15 or so players are fairly well established. Yet the next group of 40-50 players are all going to have similar grades. It could mean teams are more focused on need, scheme fit and personal preference than ever before. That could lead to a few shocks and surprises.

For example, there’s been talk recently of Chris Lindstrom being graded by some as a top-20 pick. In most years Lindstrom would be a fairly standard round two offensive lineman with some upside. Yet in this weaker draft in terms of top-level talent, he possibly gets bumped up — partly due to need and partly because he’ll be considered a safer projection than some of the other names being touted for round one.

I think we could see some ‘big’ names dropping into round two and a few shocks in the late first. It could be one of the more intriguing drafts in a long time for surprising round one picks. And as far as the Seahawks go — they’ll likely be very much part of that. They know what they like and they’re not afraid to go for it. Bruce Irvin in 2012, Rashaad Penny in 2018. Unpredictable picks at the time but in hindsight — understandable based on Seattle’s approach.

If there’s a prospect being rated in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s this year — if they fit the Seahawks they could easily go in the 20’s or 30’s (whenever they pick). They draft for their roster, not everyone else’s. They know what they want.

Injuries and health will also play a part this year. As Tony Pauline told us yesterday, Montez Sweat is likely to last longer into round one than expected due to a minor heart condition. Jeffery Simmons would’ve been a top-10 lock but for his ACL injury. How early will he go? Michael Lombardi thinks he’ll be a first round pick — as do many others — but some think he’ll last into round two. There’s also been talk of injury concerns dropping Rashan Gary deeper into round one.

All three players fit the Seahawks. It’ll be interesting to see how willing they are to take a chance on health to potentially land a top player within this great D-line class.

Meanwhile…

Ian Rapoport is the latest reporter to say a Frank Clark trade is possible:

And if you missed it yesterday don’t forget to check out our conversation with Tony Pauline:

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Interview: Tony Pauline talks to Seahawks Draft Blog

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

For the last few years the superb Tony Pauline has joined us to discuss the Seahawks and the draft. Today I spoke with Tony to run through some topics including a potential Frank Clark trade, a possible fall for Montez Sweat and Seattle’s desire to trade down…

New mock draft: 17th April

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

I couldn’t decide whether to include a Frank Clark trade or not in this projection.

Poona Ford, Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson, Branden Jackson, Nazair Jones, Jacob Martin, Jamie Meder, Nate Orchard, Cassius Marsh, Jarran Reed.

That’s Seattle’s D-line without Frank Clark.

There’s a pass rush problem for the Seahawks if they trade Clark. A big problem.

And that’s why I still think that unless they get a fantastic offer he’ll play on the franchise tag (or sign a new contract) in 2019.

Even so — Michael Lombardi is the latest voice this week to say he’s hearing rumblings of a potential trade. We’ve been here before of course — with Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Will things be different this time?

It’s still hard to believe. Only a few weeks ago Pete Carroll was defiantly stating Clark would be a Seahawk. Nothing has really changed since then. The franchise tag was expected, Demarcus Lawrence and Trey Flowers getting paid big money was distinctly possible and the Seahawks would’ve hoped to get a deal done with Russell Wilson.

Even with a great D-line class this year it’s difficult to imagine Seattle’s average pass rush not taking a step backwards minus Clark.

For that reason I think any deal likely has to include second round compensation plus a swap of first round picks. The Seahawks need to be within range of the top pass rushers in this draft to move Clark and they need to be able to pad out their board.

I decided ultimately not to include a Clark trade. Here’s the mock in full with details below:

First round

#1 Arizona — Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
#2 San Francisco — Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#3 Green Bay (via NYJ) — Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
#4 Oakland — Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
#5 Tampa Bay — Devin White (LB, LSU)
#6 New York Giants — Josh Allen (EDGE, Kentucky)
#7 Jacksonville — T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
#8 Detroit — Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
#9 Washington (via BUF) — Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
#10 Denver — Jonah Williams (T, Alabama)
#11 Cincinnati — Daniel Jones (QB, Duke)
#12 New York Jets (via GB) — Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)
#13 Miami — Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
#14 Atlanta — Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
#15 Buffalo (via WAS) — Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
#16 Carolina — Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
#17 New York Giants (via CLE) — Jawaan Taylor (T, Florida)
#18 Minnesota — Cody Ford (T, Oklahoma)
#19 Tennessee — Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
#20 Pittsburgh — Byron Murphy (CB, Washington)
#21 Kansas City (via SEA) — D.K. Metcalf (WR, Ole Miss)
#22 Baltimore — Erik McCoy (C, Texas A&M)
#23 Houston — Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College)
#24 Oakland — Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State)
#25 Philadelphia — Brian Burns (EDGE, Florida State)
#26 Indianapolis — Rock Ya-Sin (CB, Temple)
#27 Oakland (via DAL) — Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
#28 LA Chargers — Noah Fant (TE, Iowa)
#29 Arizona (via SEA) — Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
#30 New York Jets (via GB) — Garrett Bradbury (C, NC State)
#31 LA Rams — Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama)
#32 New England — Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)

Second round

#33 Seattle (via ARI) — Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
#34 Indianapolis (via NYJ) — N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State)
#35 Oakland — Irv Smith Jr (TE, Alabama)
#36 San Francisco — Justin Layne (CB, Michigan State)
#37 New York Giants — Will Grier (QB, West Virginia)
#38 Jacksonville — L.J. Collier (DE, TCU)
#39 Tampa Bay — Lonnie Johnson (CB, Kentucky)
#40 Buffalo — Dawson Knox (TE, Ole Miss)
#41 Denver — Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State)
#42 Cincinnati — Kaleb McGary (T, Washington)
#43 Detroit — Juan Thornhill (S, Virginia)
#44 Green Bay — A.J. Brown (WR, Ole Miss)
#45 Atlanta — Dalton Risner (T, Kansas State)
#46 Buffalo (via WAS) — Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State)
#47 Carolina — Darnell Savage (S, Maryland)
#48 Miami — Dru Samia (G, Oklahoma)
#49 Cleveland — Greg Little (T, Ole Miss)
#50 Minnesota — Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)
#51 Tennessee — Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S, Florida)
#52 Pittsburgh — Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina)
#53 Philadelphia (via BAL) — Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State)
#54 Houston (via SEA) — 
Tytus Howard (T, Alabama State)
#55 Houston — Isaiah Johnson (CB, Houston)
#56 New England (via CHI) — Kahale Warring (TE, San Diego State)
#57 Philadelphia — Marquise Blair (S, Utah)
#58 Dallas — Trysten Hill (DT, UCF)
#59 Indianapolis — Taylor Rapp (S, Washington)
#60 LA Chargers — Bobby Okereke (LB, Stanford)
#61 Kansas City — Joe Jackson (DE, Miami)
#62 New Orleans — Deandre Baker (CB, Georgia)
#63 Kansas City (via LAR) — Elgton Jenkins (C, Mississippi State)
#64 New England — Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)

The trades explained

Green Bay trades #12 & #30 to the Jets for #3
The Packers make a bold move to go up and get an elite talent from this draft (Quinnen Williams) to complete their defense. The Jets are reportedly desperate to move down.

Washington trades #15 & #46 to Buffalo for #9
The Redskins are going to spend the next two years paying a fortune to Alex Smith. They need to add a young quarterback. Rather than trade for Josh Rosen, they move up here to get Drew Lock.

Kansas City trades #29, #93 & #216 to Seattle for #21
The Chiefs have a big call to make on Tyreek Hill and might decide to jump ahead of Baltimore to ensure they get whoever is their preferred receiver in this class. D.K. Metcalf’s downfield speed would be a good fit with Patrick Mahomes.

Arizona trades #33 & #104 to Seattle for #29
The Cardinals trade in front of the Jets (who could be in the market for a weapon for Sam Darnold) to reunite Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown.

Thoughts on the Seahawks

A lot of the top defensive line talent is gone by the time the Seahawks are on the clock. Thus, they have to look at receiver and nickel. This isn’t a big problem considering the depth on the D-line and options available throughout this draft (plus in this projection they keep Frank Clark).

The Seahawks also invited Allen Bailey, Corey Liuget and Al Woods for a visit. They previously met with Nick Perry. This could be a market they tap into after the draft.

They’ve shown interest in N’Keal Harry and his 22% scoring rate on deep targets is an appealing statistic for this offense. However, this time I paired them with Terry McLaurin. He’ll have an immediate impact on special teams, he loves to block, he has a fantastic attitude and he performed exceptionally well at the Senior Bowl and combine. McLaurin has a first-rate personality and could be Doug Baldwin’s heir apparent. They already share an agent.

It’s difficult to judge McLaurin’s range. Many have him graded in the middle rounds. There’s also been talk of him going in round one. It’s pretty likely the Seahawks like McLaurin given his playing style and athletic profile but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll value him this early. That said — the player drafted at #20 will have a similar rating to the player drafted at #50 this year. It’s that type of class. You just have to pick your poison.

Urban Meyer had the following to say about McLaurin’s special teams value:

“Terry might have taken over the title as the best (gunner) I’ve had… It’s with great reverence I say that. You go back all the way to Brad Roby, to Devin Smith, to Denzel Ward, Gareon Conley. Terry is as good as there is.”

And here’s the view of an anonymous personnel man:

“He is like the anti-wide receiver… Zero diva. He understands special teams, and that’s how you get on the field. It’s just his whole mindset. Some guys say that and it’s bull—-. This kid really gets it.

“He’s sharp. He’s at a different level. He’s so far above most college players when it comes to how he presents himself. There’s no way you miss on this guy. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Pro Bowler (at wide receiver) but he’s going to be a really dependable player for a long time. There’s no downside.”

One thing that’s interesting is the sheer number of defensive backs that are visiting the Seahawks. Justin Layne took an official-30 visit today (the final day for visits). Darnell Savage, Juan Thornhill, Corrion Ballard, Derrek Thomas and Sean Bunting also made a trip to Seattle and we know they met with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

The Seahawks don’t take defensive backs early but they do need more depth, competition and quality. It could mean nothing but it’s worth raising.

Seven round Seahawks projection

R2 (#33) — Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
R3 (#85) — Charles Omenihu (DE, Texas)
R3 (#93) — Marvell Tell (S, USC)
R4 (#104) — Armon Watts (DT, Arkansas)
R4 (#125) — Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
R5 (#160) — Greg Gaines (DT, Washington)
R6 (#216) — Derrek Thomas (CB, Baylor)

Notes on each pick

R2 (#33) — Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
Special teams dynamo, willing blocker, fantastic athlete, playmaker.

R3 (#85) — Charles Omenihu (DE, Texas)
He has the size and length to play base-end and his short shuttle (4.36) will appeal.

R3 (#93) — Marvell Tell (S, USC)
Fantastic agility testing and length makes him an appealing hybrid DB.

R4 (#104) — Armon Watts (DT, Arkansas)
Terrific length and power to anchor vs the run with plus pass-rushing upside.

R4 (#125) — Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
One of the few TE’s in this class to run a sub-7.10 three-cone.

R5 (#160) — Greg Gaines (DT, Washington)
The Seahawks are reportedly interested in Gaines.

R6 (#216) — Derrek Thomas (CB, Baylor)
A converted receiver, Thomas looked like a Seahawks corner at the combine.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

What’s next? Frank Clark, the Seahawks & the draft

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Seattle’s next big decision is about Frank Clark

A full stop on the Wilson contract saga

I’d recommend this piece from Michael Silver reviewing the moments that led to Russell Wilson agreeing terms with the Seahawks. It highlights how both sides compromised to get a deal done and how the Seahawks, while clearly committed to keeping their star quarterback, were unwilling to change the face of NFL contracts forever. They stuck to their plan and it worked.

What happens with Frank Clark?

Let’s get one thing straight. If the Seahawks want to pay Frank Clark, they can.

An increasing number of people are trying to convince you that there’s only one way to succeed — their way. That all you have to do is follow their rules. Follow their formula. Their way of playing offense. Their way of team building.

This isn’t the case. Not in football and not in many other sports. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ blueprint. Getting rid of your good players and trying to replace them with cheap, unproven rookies is fraught with just as much danger — probably more in fact — than building around a small core of extremely talented players.

There are consequences. You will have to make savings somewhere. The Seahawks have a Head Coach with a track record of developing defensive backs. They could churn through young talent at corner and safety in order to save money.

You also have to draft well. The Seahawks did a fine job picking the likes of Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett and Jarran Reed. They found a franchise quarterback in round three and previously built a legendary defense on the cheap.

The idea that paying quality players is a death knell for your chances of succeeding is an illusion. And with so many young quarterbacks set to be paid over the next three years, most of the NFL will be facing the same challenge.

It’s possible the Seahawks believe the price is too high for Clark. He’s an excellent young pass rusher with further room to grow. He’s not, however, a game-wrecker like Aaron Donald or Khalil Mack. The next contract he signs will put him in their pay range. Yet weaker players such as Trey Flowers are earning $18m a year. This is the going rate these days.

My prediction is that Clark will play out the 2019 season on the franchise tag and won’t sign a new deal or be traded.

The cost for a defensive end isn’t likely to change too much in the next 12 months. With Wilson signed, it’s possible the Seahawks could franchise tag Clark again in 2020. If he takes another step forward in 2019, you might be more inclined to pay him elite money next year.

Assuming they can get a deal done with Bobby Wagner — and that should be fairly straight forward given his importance to the team — there’s no real reason to rush on anything with Clark. That’s the bonus of knowing the franchise tag is available next year following Wilson’s extension.

Signing him to top-level money seems premature given it still feels like we haven’t seen the absolute best of Clark. There’s more to come. If he proves it in 2019, he’ll fully deserve a big extension.

Despite rumours to the contrary, trading Clark still seems unlikely for two key reasons.

Firstly, this is an outstanding draft class for defensive linemen. Every team in the league is trying to find a financial advantage. Trading a high pick, giving up the chance of owning a cost-effective rookie and claiming the chance to pay Clark +$65m guaranteed isn’t logical unless the Seahawks are willing to give him away like the Chiefs and Dee Ford.

Secondly, Seattle’s pass rush wasn’t that great in 2018 anyway. Trading away their best defensive lineman would create a serious hole.

For all the people saying ‘just trade him’ — you can’t force teams to make a great trade offer. It’s possible the offers aren’t there — plus the desire to pay him a long-term extension isn’t there. If that’s the case, there’s no other option but to play out the 2019 season.

What kind of a trade might work?

Forget about a high first round pick. Forget about conservative GM’s like Chris Ballard in Indianapolis being prepared to give up first round picks.

The kind of scenario that could potentially get this done is the one we proposed in early March.

Essentially it would involve a swap of first rounders.

The Seahawks would need to pick in the top-12 to justify trading Clark. That’s their only chance to replace him with a top-tier pass rusher from this rookie class.

My original proposal involved the Bills and I’ll continue to use them for the purpose of this example. You might prefer an alternative team.

Here’s the idea — the Seahawks get #9 and the Bills get #21. Buffalo then gives the Seahawks their second round pick (#40) and possibly a fourth round pick (they have two this year).

That way the Bills still get a chance to spend a first rounder to build around their young quarterback. They also acquire a quality pass rusher. The Seahawks can try to replace Clark with a top-10 pick and they get the opportunity to fill out their draft board with extra picks in rounds two and four (taking their total to six instead of four).

They could draft someone like Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat (or trade down and look at Clelin Ferrell) while gaining the #40 pick to spend on a receiver or a nickel hybrid.

Of course if they simply keep Clark they can trade down from #21 as many times as they want and collect a receiver, nickel or another pass rusher anyway.

Thoughts on the draft

It’s still difficult to project what might happen considering the Seahawks are destined to trade down from #21 to acquire more picks. They’ll probably trade down more than once too.

The biggest need is arguably adding to the pass rush but the depth of the D-line class offers some possible relief there. If they want to they can wait on that area. It depends who lasts into range. If they trade Frank Clark this becomes a much greater priority.

It’s a top-heavy receiver class. While there’s some relative depth later on, the best players will go early. With Wilson’s contract signed the Seahawks might feel obliged to provide him with another weapon — especially with uncertainty over Doug Baldwin’s future.

The nickel/safety/hybrid position is equally a bit top-heavy. And while many still think the Seahawks are looking at these players to replace Earl Thomas — I maintain they’re looking to replace Justin Coleman. Seattle played a lot more nickel last year and utilised Delano Hill as a big nickel. The safety hybrid’s in this draft are running in the 4.3’s and 4.4’s so can easily handle nickel duties. Plus many of them (Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Juan Thornhill, Darnell Savage, Amani Hooker) lined up at nickel in college.

These are the three areas to focus on with the first pick.

I’ll have a new mock out tomorrow.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Done deal: Russell Wilson agrees new contract

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Deadlines spur action. Crisis — and a longwinded saga — averted.

According to Tom Pelissero the structure hasn’t changed, there’s no percentages tied to the deal.

Both sides had to compromise. The Seahawks had to be willing to make Wilson the highest paid player in the league. Wilson had to be prepared not to change the NFL’s pay structure forever.

In the end common sense prevailed and thankfully, finally, this is resolved.

So what now?

We can move on and end any thought of a quarterback being drafted early. That’s no longer necessary. There’ll be no Wilson-to-the-Giants talk in the media any more.

The Seahawks will have to prove the naysayers wrong that you can’t win a Super Bowl paying top dollar for a quarterback. It’s a lot easier to win with a fantastic quarterback than it is to build a super-team capable of making up for a substandard QB.

Drafting well is the key. The Saints have been highly competitive while paying Drew Brees due to the way they’ve drafted — finding solutions at receiver, running back, left tackle, cornerback and pass rush without needing to tap into the free agent market.

There’s also a bit more pressure on Wilson now. His contract will receive more attention than ever. The Seahawks will also be under further scrutiny to get the best out of their prize asset. If you thought there were too many people criticising Pete Carroll’s (Super Bowl winning) football identity last year — wait and see what’ll happen moving forward.

Every future signing will need to be calculated. They’ve got a big call to make on Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed. Mike Garafolo says Wilson’s deal could lead to a Clark trade (which was on hold during negotiations with the quarterback). Replacing Clark as a pass rusher and one of the young leaders on the team won’t be easy. This is a great D-line class but the Seahawks, currently with only four draft picks, are not in position to target one of the best. And if they acquire a high pick for Clark — you could argue the merits of simply swapping him for a cheap, unproven rookie are questionable.

Still, many people will tell you that you can’t pay everyone. As positive as the Wilson news is — if they lose Frank Clark, a mediocre pass rush unit could be even worse.

The franchise tag will be available to the team in 2020 which is good news. This means they can realistically keep Wagner on the tag if they don’t want to agree terms on an $18m deal that usurps the mega-contract signed by C.J. Mosley. If they don’t trade Clark, back-to-back tags is a possible solution in the same way Dallas co-operated with Demarcus Lawrence.

As for the draft — that first pick is wide open. They will trade down from #21, inevitably. Then they have to weigh up the class. They’d need to replace Clark if he’s dealt and probably replace Dion Jordan and Shamar Stephen too. That wouldn’t be easy — but the D-line class is deep enough to offer some later round relief. With Wilson being paid big money they might feel obliged to further invest in the quarterback with another receiver. The nickel hybrid role also brings some value this year in a range where the Seahawks are likely picking.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Two Reasons Why Russell Wilson isn’t being Shortchanged by Pete Carroll

Monday, April 15th, 2019

I wasn’t following Seahawks Twitter’s recent “most hated Seattleites” bracket all that closely, but if Pete Carroll wasn’t on there, he might be soon.

Seattle’s head coach, architect of two of the franchise’s NFC championships and its lone Lombardi trophy, is now considered by some to be the reason Russell Wilson deserves better than Seattle and is thus unlikely to stay.

The necessary rationalization has already taken place. Folks are already prepared to dismiss Carroll’s success as luck and a one-off, the casualty of an offensive system that is somehow outdated now but not five years ago, and has made Wilson incompatible with Seattle. They are conjecturing like mad telepaths on Wilson’s motives for his hardball approach: that the run-heavy Dallas game was the last straw, that Wilson wants to challenge himself by throwing more, and that he is pricing himself out of Seattle to get such an opportunity.

You’re seeing two versions of this: “Wilson deserves to play for a team that will utilize him”, and “Seattle shouldn’t pay 35 million a year for a QB in a run-first offense.”

Neither of these arguments makes much sense, or ever did.

 

Supposition #1: “Wilson deserves to play for a team that will properly utilize him.”

It’s typically assumed especially amongst sports media, that Wilson will be better utilized if he is asked to throw more.

It’s a superficial take that forgets one glaring aspect of Wilson’s game: his conservatism. Wilson is as conservative a thrower as Pete Carroll is an offensive coach.

How, you ask, might Wilson look in the kind of byzantine, pundit-praised mad-bomber offensive system that Seattle fans so envy? He might look in many ways like he does now. Wilson has always been a cautious, conservative thrower (until the 4th quarter). That’s not something Pete had to beat into his brain during his rookie camp. He came with it. He believes in ball security, and it’s one reason you could argue that he is already as much at home philosophically, in Seattle, as he ever will be.

How are people missing this? Wilson has never been a gunslinger. He doesn’t want to be. You’re talking about a guy who drops back, refuses to throw into coverage, waits for big separation, scrambles while waiting, and generally would rather take a sack than risk a throw where there’s no opening. It’s hard to argue. The resulting lack of turnovers is what’s helped keep Seattle competitive in all but two games in Wilson’s seven-year career.

Are there systems out there that could enable more throws for Wilson? Yeah. But it’s not just about passing more. You’d need a team whose offense is largely devoted to creating separation, and that brings up the specter of a team that’s invested big money in its guards, receivers, and tight ends – and might not have a ton of room for Wilson’s megadeal. It would also be relying on a cheap and green defense. Sounds like the Saints, right? Well, they’ve had a bottom-five defense almost perennially since their Super Bowl win, the only exceptions coming when Seattle was around to escort them out of the playoffs.

I know some are a fan of that approach to the point of blind faith. I am not. Wilson might balk as well.

If Sean Payton got a hold of Wilson, he’d want that ball to be actually leaving Wilson’s hands every once in a while, and Wilson doesn’t like that without a somewhat high degree of certainty. Some coordinators want a straight-up riverboat gambler. That’s one very simple reason his skill set does not automatically translate to just any pass-heavy team. Some fans might think they’re doing Wilson a favor by urging him to another team, but they might not be.

 

Supposition #2: “Seattle shouldn’t pay 35 million a year for a QB in a run-first offense.”

This one is just sort of weird, because it assumes the difficulty of the quarterback’s job is dependent on volume. It isn’t.

It isn’t. It’s hard because championships require a quarterback who can improvise, and those throws don’t get easier just because there are fewer of them.

Every once in a while, no matter how strong the running game and defense, there will be moments where the quarterback has to create on third down. That was true for Wilson’s NFC championship runs, and it’s true for every other run. The question of “who really created our Super Bowl season – Lynch, Wilson, or the defense” is a distraction. You need a complete team. Seattle had one, and it included a franchise QB who produced when the chips were down. Indeed, few QB’s in the league’s history have excelled at this quality, much less entertained fantastically with it, like Russell Wilson. It’s why he’s elite, despite only one Super Bowl ring. (Unless you think Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers’ one ring disqualifies them from elite status, too. And no, you didn’t think that until you read this paragraph.)

Seattle’s offense could feature a 70%-30% run-to-pass ratio and those tough throws would still be absolutely mandatory to a championship season. They don’t get easier because there are fewer of them.

Will a game manager like Tarvaris Jackson, or a rickety veteran like Eli Manning, or a career backup like Paxton Lynch make those clutch throws? I highly doubt it. Maybe one or two, but you’re massively narrowing the margin for error there. Teams win or lose Super Bowls by that margin.

A quarterback coming cheaper doesn’t make him a “better fit for Seattle”. I would say “that logic is absurd”, but it doesn’t deserve to be called logic. It’s really just passive-aggressive frustration with the Dallas game.

So, is Russell Wilson, even in Pete Carroll’s relatively run-heavy offense, worth $35 million a year? You bet he is. Yes, even if he’s not throwing as much. Simply because the sheer skill requirements of the position will never permit a lesser QB to succeed.

If you don’t like this, you’re free to speak to the NFL. They’re the ones who have made the quarterback position (and its natural predator the edge rusher – re: Frank Clark) so earth-haltingly important through the slow shifting of its offensive rules. It’s the way things are now. Just how complete an NFL team can be once Wilson (and Patrick Mahomes after him) blast the market open is a fair question, but make no mistake, Wilson – or a QB of his caliber – will be needed.

Letting passing volume dictate contract size would be failing for cheaper. It’s time to start cutting that out of the discussion.

 

Some thoughts on Russell Wilson’s ‘deadline day’

Monday, April 15th, 2019

1. This has been as ugly as expected

Threats to call off talks indefinitely, threats of breaking off talks altogether, rumours about trades to New York and mystery about Wilson’s desire to stay in Seattle.

This was always going to be a contentious affair. Both parties appear willing to do their bidding through the media and so it has proved.

The big question is — was it all posturing? An attempt to gain whatever leverage was available? Trying to win the PR battle? Or is there a serious disconnect here?

Deadlines often bring results. We’ll see if both parties are willing to compromise. It’s on both parties though. The Seahawks have to be willing to make Wilson the highest paid player in the league. Wilson has to be prepared to not change the face of NFL contracts forever.

2. Will they trade him if they can’t sign a deal today?

It seems virtually impossible. How many potential suitors are there? And how many are willing to pay a kings ransom in trade compensation then offer the kind of deal Wilson is seeking?

The New York Giants have the picks but don’t have a competitive roster. They’re seemingly prepared to roll with Eli Manning for one more season. They need to use #6, #17 and #37 to build their team. Next year, with Manning almost certainly done in New York, it would make sense to consider a big splash at quarterback. Currently that doesn’t seem likely and they may prefer to draft a young, affordable signal caller anyway.

There aren’t any real alternatives. The Raiders reportedly didn’t have the cash to put Khalil Mack’s full guarantees in escrow. Why would things be any different now? The Chargers are more likely to consider a move when Philip Rivers moves on. Twelve teams have drafted young quarterbacks in recent history. Several others have established starters while the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins a year ago and Jacksonville just paid Nick Foles.

Adam Schefter put together a report for ESPN earlier highlighting the issue:

“As for suggestions that the Seahawks could trade Wilson if he does not sign a new deal, there are no obvious teams willing to surrender draft picks or pay Wilson what he is seeking, sources said.”

If Wilson cuts off talks with the Seahawks an eventual trade becomes more likely but not this year.

3. So what would happen?

In all likelihood there’d be a dose of damage limitation from both parties, knowing there’s no alternative but to play out the 2019 season. This would become the status quo until a development emerged (either a serious trade offer or fresh contract talks).

We’ve been saying since the end of the 2018 season — if anyone was going to bet on himself it was Russell Wilson. The aggressive talks and seemingly improbable demands (eg wanting a percentage of the cap) are probably a sign of this. For Wilson it could easily be a case of make me an incredible offer or I’ll do a Kirk Cousins.

The Seahawks and Wilson might both be comfortable with that situation. It’s likely the team would prefer to bide their time rather than commit to a league-changing contract. Wilson would see the tag as a step closer to reaching the open market.

And while fans may say the Seahawks would be better off trading Wilson than rolling through a slow-dance of uncertainty — you can’t force a team to offer three first round picks. Essentially, both parties are stuck with each other for now.

4. What does this mean for the draft?

Maybe nothing. It all comes down to how they view the quarterback class. If they don’t fancy it there’s not much they can do. I’m going to keep mentioning the name Will Grier though. He does what the Seahawks offense needs. He makes downfield throws, manages the offense and he elevated West Virginia.

For more on Grier’s potential fit click here.

Since December I’ve been touting Kyler Murray and Grier as the two players I can imagine John Schneider admiring. It’s no surprise he attended the Oklahoma vs West Virginia game in person. Murray will go #1 overall. It’s unclear where Grier will land. Some think round one, others round three or later.

For the purpose of this piece let’s say he goes in the #25-#45 range. When the Seahawks trade back from #21 — if they like Grier as much as I think they might — they have to consider drafting him.

If Wilson and the Seahawks aren’t going to talk about a long term contract after today — they have no choice. They have to start identifying quarterbacks to draft. Because if Wilson won’t talk contract he’s either going to be traded in the next three years or he’ll eventually hit the open market.

They can’t and won’t sleepwalk into that. And while everyone will wring their hands about the pick, hammer the front office and complain they didn’t draft an ‘impact’ player — it’d actually be a wise investment for the future.

If/when Wilson leaves you don’t want to hand the keys of the franchise to an unprepared novice. ‘Having one in the chamber’ — as Schneider would put it — is important.

So don’t be shocked if the Seahawks draft a quarterback early this year if Wilson and the team don’t agree on an extension today.

5. What’s your prediction?

It’s been consistent from the day after the Dallas game. Wilson doesn’t agree a new deal this year, will back himself to play on the tag and in 2020 the team will have a major call to make about their next move. I think they will strongly consider drafting a quarterback, possibly Grier, as insurance for a potential divorce.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Sunday links — updates on Russell Wilson, Frank Clark

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Frank Clark won’t be leaving Seattle

According to Jay Glazer, trade talks concerning Frank Clark have died down. Glazer originally suggested teams were calling about Clark back in March. He name-checked the Bills as a suitor, before the team denied the link.

Now Glazer says the likelihood is Clark will stay with the Seahawks. This isn’t a surprise. With a fantastic 2019 defensive line class in the draft and the need to pay Clark at least $65m guaranteed after giving up a high pick, a trade became increasingly unlikely. Now the question is can the Seahawks get a long term deal done before July 15th or will he play on the franchise tag and become a free agent in 2020?

Russell Wilson wants out of Seattle?

Another weekend, another load of weird drama in the Russell Wilson contract saga.

Firstly, Jake Heaps tweeted that John Schneider and Mark Rodgers had been spending hours together trying to work out a deal. Many saw this as a breakthrough, although Heaps had only 24 hours earlier suggested there was an alarming lack of traction in talks.

Then Mike Florio wrote an article, seemingly from the Seahawks perspective, that the team isn’t sure Wilson wants to stay in Seattle:

“Per a league source, the Seahawks think that Wilson would like to play elsewhere, even if he hasn’t and wouldn’t ever say it. They also believe that this unspoken dynamic will cause Wilson to drive a harder bargain with them than he would with another team.”

Shortly after, NFL insider and intrepid reporter Tyrann Mathieu tweeted the following:

Then today Florio opined on Wilson again — hinting strongly that he’s looking for a percentage of the cap per year:

“If the Seahawks want to avoid embarking on a year-to-year franchise-tag dance with Wilson, which would culminate in a one-year tender of $52.43 million in 2022, they likely will need to be willing to give Wilson insurance against spikes in the cap and, in turn, growth in the market that could result in players like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, and Baker Mayfield leapfrogging Wilson while he works through the years of his third NFL deal.”

Although not quoting any sources, this reads like a direct response from the Wilson camp to Florio’s earlier report about the Seahawks thinking the player would like to play elsewhere.

Life’s never dull in Seattle. And don’t say we didn’t warn you. This latest saga is already well past the Earl Thomas drama from a year ago.

So what can we make of all this?

It reads like the two parties continuing to play out negotiations through the media — a staple for both since the end of the season. Battling for the upper hand is normal in negotiations of this nature. Public opinion also matters.

Deadlines force action. We’ll see if both sides are willing to compromise in the 11th hour. By Tuesday this could all be a load of hot air from both parties in the middle of a heated negotiation.

That said, it really looks like Wilson is coming at this from two positions:

1. Re-set the quarterback contracts market as a Seahawk

2. If the team won’t do that, play out on the tag and follow a similar path to Kirk Cousins

If that’s the position — it’s no wonder Adam Schefter, Jack del Rio and others are at least touting the possibility of a trade. The Seahawks aren’t going to sleepwalk into a scenario where Wilson walks as a free agent in 2022. If he shuts down negotiations after April 15th — they basically have one more off-season to work this out. Get a deal done or make a trade.

Let’s speculate for a moment and consider the possibility that the Seahawks are willing to make Wilson the highest paid player in the league based on APY. If Wilson’s response is to continue to ask for a league-changing percentage of the cap guaranteed — it’s no wonder they might start to question his desire to remain in Seattle (thus, Florio’s report and all the trade talk).

Compromise from both parties was always going to be necessary. Are both willing to compromise?

We’ll probably find out in the next 24 hours.

My prediction hasn’t changed. I doubt Wilson signs a new contract before April 15th and will play the 2019 season in Seattle. Then in the 2020 off-season he will be tagged and the Seahawks will be left with a big call — either give in to Wilson’s demands or trade him.

And I’ll say it again for the 456th time this off-season. If there’s no deal before the draft and if this is heading to a stand-off in 12 months time — they have to seriously consider spending a high pick on a quarterback.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!