I’ve got a piece coming on a couple of 2014 tight ends, but in the meantime here’s what the Seahawks are getting from their third round pick this year…
Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category
Seattle’s former 1st-round pick Bruce Irvin has suspended without pay for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 17, 2013
Bruce Irvin. Brandon Browner. Winston Guy. John Moffitt. Allen Barbre.
That’s the list of Seahawks players suspended in the last couple of years for taking performance enhancing drugs. Richard Sherman was also charged, but won an appeal against his suspension.
Seattle needs to get a grip on this — and fast.
Everyone needs to take responsibility here. The players need to wise up. Learn what you can and can’t put into your bodies. Engage your brains. The vast majority of NFL players manage to avoid suspension. Why? Because they don’t allow substances like Adderall into their blood stream. It’s not that difficult.
The coaching staff needs to do a better job disciplining the players and making sure they realise the consequences of being suspended. These four-game absences are costly. The Seahawks can’t afford to lose Bruce Irvin with Chris Clemons and Greg Scruggs suffering ACL injuries. Irvin will miss a crucial divisional game against the 49ers. His absence won’t define the contest but you’d rather have him out there on the field instead of sat at home watching on TV. What a waste.
The Seahawks are getting a reputation here that undermines all the positive hype as they grow into a contender in the NFC. The Tweet below is in jest, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll hear more of:
— Os Cruz (@NJBeerNerd) May 17, 2013
Do you want future success to come with a question mark? People talking about asterisks? People wondering if that guy who won that game was cheating? “Oh yeah, the Seahawks won that game… but they’re all on PED’s.”
And yeah, I know that Adderall doesn’t exactly turn you into the Incredible Hulk on the football field. I’m led to believe it helps you concentrate, keeps you alert. Big deal. It’s banned. Therefore you don’t take it. Simple, really.
It’s time to act like professionals. You’re not the only ones getting caught, but is there another team in the league that’s had five players suspended for PED abuse?
It’s all well and good apologising, but it won’t change anything. Irvin posted an apology on his Twitter account. Bruce, seriously, you can’t play the “haters” card today. True, loyal fans aren’t just the blind faith brigade. Sometimes the truth hurts. You made a mistake. Deal with it, move on and please learn from this.
This is a problem. It has to stop NOW. No more suspensions has to be the maximum going forward. Zero. And everyone is responsible for making sure that happens.
I was going to write a post for the Seahawks draft in a similar style to the other NFC West draft writeups, but I didn’t get far in before I started to realize that it read like a re-run. So instead, I’m just going to throw up a few quick additional thoughts that I didn’t express in my immediate post draft reaction.
Spencer Ware is a player I really want to see make it here long term
I don’t know if Spencer Ware is going to make our roster, but I really hope he does. The more I researched him after the draft the more impressed I became. Ware has speed that I’d compare to Justin Forsett, but more than makes up for it with Marshawn Lynch type agility and outstanding resilience/balance on contact. If Seattle has ever drafted someone worthy of a Marshawn Lynch comp, it’s Spencer Ware. For one game at least, Matt Waldman once opined that Spencer Ware was a better back than his then teammate Stevan Ridley. Stevan Ridley, the guy who just rushed for 1200+ yards in New England last year.
Ware probably won’t make the team as a traditional running back, but can you imagine if he became a quality fullback with that kind of versatility as a pass catcher and runner? It’s a lot of fun to think about. Especially in Seattle’s offense where the fullback is a versatile position and is a major part of the offensive game plan, even in the passing game.
I hope Seattle doesn’t rule out Ware as a runner, either. If given a chance to carry the football, I could see him as being a slower yet more elusive version of Chris Ivory.
Seattle didn’t draft a kicker
For the second straight offseason, the Seahawks let Steven Hauschka twist in the wind during free agency before eventually signing him to a cheap one year deal. The Seahawks waited so long that I began to wonder if the draft might have been “plan A” for the kicker position. In a surprise move, Seattle signed Hauschka back just a few days before the draft, then didn’t even bother adding another kicker from the draft process.
Steven Hauschka has done a terrific job with the Seahawks. Under fifty yards he was perfect last season: 23 for 23. From fifty plus he was 1 for 4. The NFL average for fifty plus is around 50%. If Hauschka makes just one more long kick he’s at the NFL average. You don’t have to be a statistician to know that 4 attempts is a small sample size and shouldn’t be taken all that seriously. Tim Tebow completed 75% of his passes last season in just 8 pass attempts. See what I mean?
Josh Brown regularly nailed 50+ yard attempts while struggling for distance on kickoffs. Hauschka has plenty of leg on his kickoffs so I don’t think there are any physical limitations in play. Remember too that Pete Carroll once trusted Hauschka with a 61 yard attempt to decide a game. He failed miserably, but Pete wouldn’t have made that choice if he didn’t at least think Hauschka had a strong leg.
Some have pointed out that Seattle had a very high number of punts inside the opponent’s 40 yard line last season. That and Hauschka’s very low number of 50 yard attempts does seem to hint at a lack of confidence, doesn’t it? Seattle arguably lost a game last season (at Rams) because of the difference in kicker range, and that game would have been the difference between a wildcard and a bye. Amazing how little things add up, isn’t it?
Those concerns are fully valid, though I think it has more to do with Pete Carroll’s new found conservative approach to decision making. “Big Balls Pete” has been burned more than a few times, and every time it happens he becomes more and more hesitant to take chances. Statisticians frequently point out that going for 4th downs is actually a very smart thing, and I can’t imagine that opting for a punt at the 35 yard line is ever optimal as a long term approach.
Pete Carroll’s position is as secure as it gets in the NFL right now- I think it’s time he put his fears behind him and brought “Big Balls Pete” back. Ironically, it’s that overly conservative trait that has helped Hauschka remain in Seattle. Going 23-23 from under fifty goes a long way for a coach that progressively seems to be more and more risk averse.
The Seahawks are a great team with high expectations, and in my opinion Steven Hauschka deserves to be our kicker. Given his phenomenal short range accuracy, distance on kickoffs, and small sample size on long kicks, I see plenty of evidence that suggest he could be a good kicker from longer range in the future, should the team put more trust in him. Seattle needs to punt less from inside the forty, but I think that’s a lot more on Pete’s shoulders than Hauschka’s.
No quarterback was drafted and no quarterback was added from the post-draft process
Nothing shocked me more than hearing John Schneider casually mention during a post-draft press conference that the team had decided to not draft any quarterback this year, and that decision was made before the draft took place. That’s pretty crazy when you consider Seattle’s current backup situation and the kind of value that fell into day three (and undrafted free agency) for the position. Now we know why Seattle kept passing on Matt Scott and others.
For a guy that came from Green Bay, where they preach drafting a quarterback every year, John Schneider has been anything but. Sure, he’s stocked up on quarterbacks, but nearly all of them came from trade or free agency. The only quarterback to actually be drafted during this regime is Russell Wilson.
So I guess the next question is “why?” The most logical answer is that they really like their current group of young veteran backups.
Brady Quinn has been a terrible NFL quarterback, but he’s also a former 1st round pick and isn’t without talent. Seattle briefly brought in former 1st round pick JP Losman in 2010 who was a similar story. They courted former first round pick Matt Leinart and allegedly had discussions behind closed doors regarding former 1st round pick Tim Tebow. They went hard after Chad Henne last year. Henne just missed being a first rounder. So I think in Seattle’s mind, they are always looking for quarterbacks with talent, even if they were miserable washouts elsewhere. I imagine that Blaine Gabbert’s agent will probably get a call from Seattle in the next few years.
While I hate missing out on Matt Scott, I also appreciate that he is a highly injury prone player who played at just 210 pounds. He’d be a big risk for injury every time Seattle ran a read option play. Jerrod Johnson offers a similar package of mobility and arm talent in a body that’s 40 (!) pounds heavier. Johnson had a terrific junior season before crapping the bed in his final year at Texas A&M. And though he only threw 21 passes last preseason, those 21 passes added up for a preseason YPA of 11.2 and a preseason passer rating of 136.2. His lowest passer rating in any of those appearances was 118.8. This was a small sample size compounded by preseason competition, but it’s not nothing.
And he’s only a year older than Josh Portis. Imagine how we’d react if Josh Portis had been that impressive last preseason.
Johnson gives a surprisingly good interview as well. He may not have a ton of future trade potential, but I don’t see why he couldn’t be at least another T-Jack.
That leaves us with Josh Portis, who kind of got railroaded by a quarterback competition last year that left him almost no reps and threw him into a Raiders game with nowhere near adequate preparation. I think the staff took the lesson of last preseason to heart and decided that four preseason quarterbacks is enough. That might have been a factor in the decision to not draft a quarterback as well.
I get that Seattle wants to get Jesse Williams on the field this season, but giving him the Alan Branch role is not going to end well and given Pete’s willingness to adapt I suspect it will only be temporary. Jesse Williams is a fantastic run defender but has short arms and showed essentially zero pass rush ability in college. He’s a pure nose tackle, and should be used as such. That said, he has the tools to replace Red Bryant as the run defense 5-tech specialist, and quite honestly I think that’s the politically incorrect reason that they actually drafted him for. Going out and announcing such right now in the open would be bad for relations with Red Bryant and given his leadership role on the defense it could cause locker room divisions.
So I get it. Williams will “officially” be our 3-tech until some future undetermined time that Seattle opts for a new direction with Red Bryant. Seattle has done a good job keeping these intentions (real or not) away from the noses of the press. Even still, I hope Williams only sees action at the 3-tech when it’s very likely to be a running play by the opponent, because those are the only plays you’ll want to see him out there barring a revelation from Dan Quinn.
Chris Harper is the one pick I just can’t get excited about. In a way, he’s a little like Landry Jones the receiver. Both are guys with the kind of size and physical talent to be high picks, but both have games that are so bad you wouldn’t be blamed for taking them completely off your draft board. Chris Harper’s performance against Baylor was almost unwatchable, and it’s not like his struggles were isolated to just that one game. He gives up on plays, stabs at the ball with poor catching technique, frequently looks clueless when the ball is in the air, fumbles often, and struggles to separate. When I scouted him over three games the negatives overwhelmed the positives.
That said, the Seahawks know perfectly well what Harper’s issues are and they drafted him anyway. When most other front offices do this, I’d unflinchingly call it a mistake, but when Seattle does it they always do so with a specific plan in mind for how they will address that player’s weaknesses and problems while getting the most out of his unique strengths. Maybe their plan fails and Harper ends up a miserable bust, but you can’t say that Seattle made this pick on the seat of their pants or without knowing what they were doing.
Harper is pretty unique. He’ll be one of the NFL’s heaviest receivers on day one, and of that list of heavy receivers, not many stand 6’1″ or less. That bulk will help Harper defeat press attempts better than most, and given the direction the league is going, we’ll probably see a majority of teams running press coverage within a few years. Harper wouldn’t have been my choice, but if you just wanted a guy that can beat press, Harper was the best there was in this draft class.
I really hope Tharold Simon can stay focused and motivated here in Seattle. He wasn’t perfect at LSU by any means, but when he looked good he looked very good, and like Richard Sherman he’s got a bit of a “cocky” streak in his personality that makes him fun to watch. John Schneider clarified that he traded up for Simon, not Williams. Clearly, he was a player they felt they needed to get.
Last thought. After the 2012 draft John Schneider talked about how the two players he felt he had to walk out of there with were Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson. Recently John invoked that anecdote when discussing 5th round tight end Luke Willson, saying that Willson was the one player this year that they felt they needed to leave the draft with. It’s not every day you hear that kind of talk for a guy that was selected 158th overall and was the backup tight end for Rice.
But you don’t find 251 pound tight ends that run a 4.51 forty every day. Those numbers are almost identical to Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham. And when you do find specimens like that, they usually have almost no experience or skated by on athleticism instead of intelligence. Willson was a 3 year player at the position with some production before 2012, and he gives such a professional interview that you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a coach.
Similar to Chris Harper, Luke Willson may not be an all-world player on film, but for just one unique purpose he’s tough to beat. Tight ends that run a 4.51 are really tough to defend and will likely force defenses to run more nickle packages. Expect Willson to lead the team in yards per catch, because when he does get targeted, it will usually be on a deep route while being covered by a linebacker. If Wilson finished with more than 20 catches next year, I’d be surprised. But those catches could easily add up to 300 yards and could force defenses to make adjustments when he’s on the field. Even if he’s not targeted, should his presence force the defense to use a nickle package or take a safety out of the box, that means Willson is adding value to Seattle’s running game.
That ability to stretch a defense matters even more with Percy Harvin on board. Harvin’s bread and butter in the bubble screen. Considering how much of Seattle’s offense is built around short yardage plays, it’s easy to see why such a high premium was placed on a player that can stretch the field from an area that the previous version of the team could not threaten deep from.
Earlier in the week Carroll praised tight end Luke Willson (why the extra ‘L’ Luke… why?) for his display. He’s an intriguing guy. There’s not a great deal of tape out there, but any time the team brings an athletic ‘catcher first’ tight end into camp you can’t help but want to see more. Those types of players are changing the NFL as much as anything. Seattle’s offense has lacked a difference making athlete at the tight end position (that’s no slur on Miller or McCoy, I’m a big fan of both). We’ll see if Will.son can be the next out of nowhere field stretching big man.
Perhaps even more interesting, however, were Carroll’s comments about the defensive tackle position. He talked about not putting players into a discomfort zone (yes, I am making up an opposite to ‘comfort zone’). That meant Jordan Hill mostly featuring at the nose or one technique. Yet Jesse Williams featured at the three in mini camp, a position he isn’t that familiar with. He played the five and then the nose at Alabama. So what gives?
Clearly the Seahawks believe in Williams and his ability to start. The fact they’re already trying to get a good look at him at the three might give him an edge in terms of who eventually wins the starting job to replace Alan Branch (even if there’s still a long way to go). Unlike Hill, they’re trying to mould Williams early. They’ve done this in the past with their rookies (see: Russell Wilson taking ALL the snaps in mini-camp last year). Carroll even stated he feels Williams could start on first and second down. They appear to want size early. They want to play tough against the run. They started with Colin Cole at the three, switched to Branch and Williams could be the next man up.
Of course, he still has to prove capable and stay healthy. He’ll need to impress. But it looks like he has a great shot at winning a starting gig. Yet I can’t help but wonder how they see Hill fitting into the equation. Rotational cog for Mebane? Pass rush specialist? After all, he was the third round pick. Not Williams. I figured they might push Hill into the three early to test him there. It may still happen. But this week they kept him at the one and Carroll didn’t tout any eventual change of position in his interview today.
We’ll see how this process plays out. While this won’t be anything like last years quarterback saga going into camp, the ‘who starts at defensive tackle’ debate will at least keep things interesting. Can Williams win the job at the three? And if so, how does the higher draft pick fit in the rotation?
Seahawks have signed third-rounder Jordan Hill to a $2.76 million deal that includes a $544,140 bonus
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) May 10, 2013
Seahawks signed seventh-round defensive end Ty Powell to $2.209 million deal that includes $49,432 bonus
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) May 10, 2013
Aside from the two noted above, Chris Harper (WR), Jesse Williams (DT), Luke Willson (TE), Ryan Seymour (G) and Jared Smith (G) also agreed terms today. The players who remain unsigned are Christine Michael (RB), Tharold Simon (CB), Spencer Ware (RB) and Michael Bowie (T).
The Seahawks have an accomplished offensive line.
Yes, that is true, despite arguments to the contrary. Only San Francisco and the New York Giants ranked higher in the run game last year according to Football Outsiders. They were ranked #2 in second level blocking, had more success in a ‘power’ formation than any other team barring New Orleans and had the least number of stuffed runs in the NFL.
For a team that wants to run the ball as much as the Seahawks (nobody ran more often in 2012) that’s some impressive work.
Against the pass they were average, giving up 33 sacks (middle of the road). The official ranking according to FO is #20 in the league. I’m not trying to pick and choose my stats here, but considering the Raiders were ranked #4 for pass protection, Detroit 1st and San Francisco 29th (!!!) I’m not too concerned to see Seattle at #20. This is a run first team, just like the 49ers. And they run block as well as any O-line in the league.
I take some comfort seeing the Giants ranked #2 for the run and #3 in pass protection — giving up the least amount of sacks. This isn’t a team that has pushed a ton of stock (money and picks) into their line. They’ve relied on consistency and familiarity. True, they just spent a first round pick on Justin Pugh. A lot of teams ranked him near the top of their boards. If it wasn’t New York, it was probably Chicago. And many feel the time is right for the Giants to recharge their O-line. But the point stands. They built a rapport, and used it as the foundation for two title runs.
And so it will be for the Seahawks.
For the first time since Seattle’s only Super Bowl run, there’s a level of consistency up front. Do not underestimate that. It is, for me, the most important part of any offensive line. You can pump as many high draft picks into a line as you want. Eventually, you have to stick with five guys. And those five have to work as one. Sure, talent matters. Of course it does. But the Seahawks aren’t lacking talent. They have Pro-Bowlers at left tackle and center — the two premium positions. The numbers above prove as a group they’re a productive bunch, especially in the run game. A lot of that is down to familiarity.
“We’re able to just kind of plug in where we left off. Then the newness and the new things we want to add to it, we’ll put some focus to that. But it’s really been pretty good how they’ve competed just to bring it back with them. It’s made it a lot easier for us.”
The quote above is from Tom Cable, speaking to Seahawks.com after the players reported for a recent off-season workout. No learning curve. No time consuming lessons and basics. Just get out there and play. Perfect. Just what you want to see at this time of year.
The starting line during those workouts was Okung-McQuistan-Unger-Sweezy-Giacomini. John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Rishaw Johnson and Mike Person were named as the backups.
We’ve had many debates about the offensive line this off-season. Some wanted to invest even more draft stock into this area of the team. Others had a different take. The simple fact is the Seahawks didn’t spend high on the offensive line in this draft. They drafted three guys in round seven. One of those guys played defensive tackle in college. These were three guys they weren’t sure they could sign in UDFA. Here’s what that tells me:
1 – The Seahawks are content with their starting lineman.
2 – The Seahawks are comfortable with their scouting/coaching and probably don’t feel they need to ‘go big’ on this unit going forward.
3 – The Seahawks are happy to draft players who fit a certain physical criteria, then let Cable get to work.
I’m not trying to argue we won’t see another first or second round pick spent on the offensive line any time soon. Why would you rule anything out? You never know what’ll happen. But if the offensive continues on it’s current trajectory, I think they’ll be more than happy to put their faith in Cable’s vision.
And that’s essentially what we’re seeing here. Players hand picked by Tom Cable. Guys he knows will fit his scheme. Fit his attitude. Fit the identity of this squad. They don’t need high picks. They just need to be Cable’s guys.
That’s why you pay someone like Cable to run your offensive line and running game. You trust him. Other teams don’t have a Cable. Seattle is fortunate in that regard. It’s already paid dividends.
Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith and Michael Bowie are the latest trio to pass the Cable eye test. And they might stick on the team and eventually start like Sweezy. They may provide solid depth. Or maybe they’ll end up on the practise squad or worse. Either way, I suspect that is how this team is going to move forward. Looking for the rough diamond to compliment and compete with a consistent group of starters.
A lot of people have talked about Breno Giacomini being out of contract next year or the possibility of cutting the relatively expensive Paul McQuistan. You could make a saving by replacing both with second or even first round salaries. If those guys are going to be replaced, I’d put money on it not being another high pick unless it’s a guy you just have to get. No, I’d throw my cash behind it being another problem Cable can solve. That seems to be the degree of faith they have in his judgement and coaching. Clearly.
And hey, I wouldn’t rule out Giacomini and McQuistan receiving extensions. Yes, this is about cost effective football. Saving money where you can, playing the rookie market well. But this front office also rewards players who deserve it. They could’ve let Kam Chancellor walk in a year, receive a decent compensatory pick and tried to replace him with another cheap rookie. They didn’t. They paid the man. Same for Chris Clemons, who was rightly rewarded despite the first round pick spent on Bruce Irvin last year. Max Unger, Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane were paid. If Giacomini and McQuistan deliver, they’ll probably stick around. Why not? You find a way to make it work.
Are there improvements to be made? Sure. Russell Wilson will learn to turn a blitz into a major positive instead of a reason to worry. Teams rarely blitz the greats because a guy like Peyton Manning knows how to exploit it. Wilson will get there eventually. So the heart attack protection witnessed against teams like Arizona (week 1), St. Louis (week 17) and Washington (Wild Card) should become a thing of the past. For the most part it’s just little tweaks and further experience. And anyone seriously worried about the pass protection should go back and watch the tape from last year. A who’s-who of elite NFL pass rushers were shut out. Don’t forget that.
An effective offensive line is all about knowing how to act as a cohesive unit. So don’t expect any major changes or high investment over the next few years. That’s already taken place. Alex Gibbs, Cable, Okung, extending Unger, Carpenter. Now they’re putting their trust in Cable to keep this line at the top of the game.
Seahawks cut tight end Darren Fells
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) May 8, 2013