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D-line and linebacker measurements notes

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Today at the combine

Three news stories to start the day. Firstly, players will be weighed a second time before workouts this year. It’s to ensure players test at their actual listed weight.

Also, this was interesting from Tony Pauline:

The Falcons have told people at the Combine that tight end, along with strong-side linebacker and center, are their priority positions come draft day unless something changes.

It’s interesting that center is listed here. Cutting Alex Mack saves $8m. The Falcons need to create room and don’t have many other ways to do it. If the Seahawks end up in the market at the position, Mack could be a veteran option.

Meanwhile another center — Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz — has become the latest player to pull out of combine drills. He’s apparently recovering from a shoulder injury. A whole host of big names are not working out this year.

Measurements

I’ve posted the highlights below. Check out Charles Robinson’s timeline on Twitter for the full list.

With the defensive line group, pay close attention to the arm length. The Seahawks are strict on a +33 inch arm threshold.

It’s good news for most of the big name edge rushers. Many of them have exceptional length (+34 inch arms). In particular, Julian Okwara stands out with his frame. It’s a shame he’s unable to workout due to injury — but his combination of speed, size and length will presumably be very attractive to the Seahawks.

His pressure percentage in 2018 and 2019 was a strong 18.4%. Before he got injured he had the third best pass rush win percentage (23%) in 2019.

These are all things to tick off. Considering players like Charles Harris went #22 overall in 2017, nobody should be surprised if Okwara goes in a similar range. Pass rushers, offensive linemen and cornerbacks generally go early.

Okwara’s tape is mixed. He dominated Virginia’s raw offensive line but failed to impress against Georgia’s two first round offensive tackles. Even so — his physical profile, speed and overall production is strong enough to go in round one.

On the contrary, K’Lavon Chaisson (who gets a lot more hype) is less impressive. He lacks length (32 2/8 inch arms) and his college production was poor and relied a lot on stunts. His 2019 13.1% pass rush win percentage was the lowest among edge rushers eligible for this draft.

He’s also decided against testing at the combine — so he can’t make up for it with a great workout. He only ran a 4.69 at SPARQ. A lot of people assume he’s a freak athlete who will go in the top-15. Okwara has a superior profile.

LSU’s Rashard Lawrence played the 2019 season as if his life depended on it. His +34 inch arms on a 6-2, 308lbs frame is outstanding. He also has enormous 11 inch hands. Don’t be surprised if he goes earlier than people are currently suggesting.

Defensive linemen

Ross Blacklock
Height: 6-3 1/8
Weight: 290
Hand: 9 6/8
Arm: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 78 6/8

Derrick Brown
Height: 6-4 5/8
Weight: 326
Hand: 9
Arm: 34 2/8
Wingspan: 80 7/8

Marlon Davidson
Height: 6-3 3/8
Weight: 303
Hand: 10
Arm: 33
Wingspan: 80 4/8

Jordan Elliott
Height: 6-3 7/8
Weight: 302
Hand: 10 2/8
Arm: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 79

Leki Fotu
Height: 6-5 3/8
Weight: 330
Hand: 10 5/8
Arm: 34 2/8
Wingspan: 78 7/8

Neville Gallimore
Height: 6-2
Weight: 304
Hand: 9 5/8
Arm: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 77 2/8

Davon Hamilton
Height: 6-3 3/8
Weight: 320
Hand: 9 6/8
Arm: 33
Wingspan: 79 2/8

Javon Kinlaw
Height: 6-5 1/8
Weight: 324
Hand: 10 4/8
Arm: 34 7/8
Wingspan: 83 6/8

Rashard Lawrence
Height: 6-2
Weight: 308
Hand: 11
Arm: 34 1/8
Wingspan: 80 3/8

Justin Madubuike
Height: 6-2 5/8
Weight: 293
Hand: 9
Arm: 33 4/8
Wingspan: 80 4/8

Chase Young
Height: 6-4 7/8
Weight: 264
Hand: 10
Arm: 33 6/8
Wingspan: 80 5/8

Bradlee Anae
Height: 6-3 3/8
Weight: 257
Hand: 10 1/8
Arm: 32 1/8
Wingspan: 78 1/8

Raekwon Davis
Height: 6-6
Weight: 311
Hand: 11
Arm: 33 7/8
Wingspan: 85 2/8

AJ Epenesa
Height: 6-5 1/8
Weight: 275
Hand: 10 1/8
Arm: 34 4/8
Wingspan: 81 2/8

Jonathan Greenard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 263
Hand: 9 2/8
Arm: 34 7/8
Wingspan: 81 2/8

Yetur Gross-Matos
Height: 6-5
Weight: 266
Hand: 9 6/8
Arm: 34 7/8
Wingspan: 82 2/8

Trevis Gipson
Height: 6-3 3/8
Weight: 261
Hand: 9 5/8
Arm: 33 7/8
Wingspan: 81 2/8

Jonathan Garvin
Height: 6-4 1/8
Weight: 263
Hand: 9 5/8
Arm: 34
Wingspan: 80 2/8

Alex Highsmith
Height: 6-3 1/8
Weight: 248
Hand: 9 1/8
Arm: 33 1/8
Wingspan: 76 7/8

Khalid Kareem
Height: 6-3 6/8
Weight: 268
Hand: 10 7/8
Arm: 34 3/8
Wingspan: 84

James Lynch
Height: 6-3 5/8
Weight: 289
Hand: 9 7/8
Arm: 31 7/8
Wingspan: 76 7/8

Julian Okwara
Height: 6-4 2/8
Weight: 252
Hand: 10 2/8
Arm: 34 3/8
Wingspan: 81 6/8

Jason Strowbridge
Height: 6-4 2/8
Weight: 275
Hand: 10 1/8
Arm: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 80 3/8

Jabari Zuniga
Height: 6-3 3/8
Weight: 264
Hand: 10 3/8
Arm: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 79

Linebackers

Zack Baun
Height: 6-2 3/8
Weight: 238
Hand: 9 5/8
Arm: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 78 2/8

Jordan Brooks
Height: 6-0
Weight: 240
Hand: 9 1/8
Arm: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 79 3/8

K’Lavon Chaisson
Height: 6-3
Weight: 254
Hand: 9 7/8
Arm: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 79 2/8

Troy Dye
Height: 6-3 2/8
Weight: 231
Hand: 9 3/8
Arm: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 78

Willie Gay Jr
Height: 6-1 1/8
Weight: 243
Hand: 10 4/8
Arm: 32 5/8
Wingspan: 77 78

Malik Harrison
Height: 6-2 5/8
Weight: 247
Hand: 10 2/8
Arm: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 79 3/8

Anfernee Jennings
Height: 6-2 1/8
Weight: 256
Hand: 9 1/8
Arm: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 79 4/8

Terrell Lewis
Height: 6-5 2/8
Weight: 262
Hand: 9 7/8
Arm: 33 7/8
Wingspan: 83 3/8

Kenneth Murray
Height: 6-2 4/8
Weight: 241
Hand: 9 4/8
Arm: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 80

Patrick Queen
Height: 6-0 2/8
Weight: 229
Hand: 10
Arm: 31 5/8
Wingspan: 76 7/8

Isaiah Simmons
Height: 6-3 5/8
Weight: 238
Hand: 9 5/8
Arm: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 81 7/8

Darrell Taylor
Height: 6-3 5/8
Weight: 267
Hand: 9 6/8
Arm: 33
Wingspan: 80

Josh Uche
Height: 6-1 2/8
Weight: 245
Hand: 9 4/8
Arm: 33 5/8
Wingspan: 80

Curtis Weaver
Height: 6-2 3/8
Weight: 265
Hand: 10
Arm: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 78 1/8

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Pre-combine mock draft plus OL & RB measurements

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Latest from the combine

It seems like LSU are having a week off. Grant Delpit, as he recovers from an ankle injury, won’t do drills. Thaddeus Moss isn’t going to test. There’s talk K’Lavon Chaisson won’t work out and Joe Burrow says he won’t do anything.

How disappointing.

As you’ll see in the measurements below, there are some enormous, talented offensive tackles in this class. It makes life a lot easier for the Seahawks. They can fix the D-line in free agency. Then, if needed, they can replace Germain Ifedi (assuming he departs) with their first pick in the draft.

Mock draft

I’ve not done one of these in weeks. So I thought I’d do a ‘before and after’ mock draft. Let’s see how things change after the combine. I’ve included a few trades as you’ll see (one involves the Seahawks).

Underneath the mock I will post all of today’s offensive line and running back measurements.

Don’t forget to check out our big combine preview by clicking here. It has all the information you need on what to look for at the combine from a Seahawks perpsective.

Mock draft

First round

#1 Cincinnati — Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
#2 Washington — Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
#3 LA Chargers (v/DET) — Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
#4 New York Giants — Isaiah Simmons (LB, Clemson)
#5 Miami — Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
#6 Detroit (v/LAC) — Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
#7 Carolina — Derrick Brown (DT, Alabama)
#8 Dallas (v/ARI) — Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
#9 Jacksonville — Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
#10 Cleveland — Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
#11 New York Jets — Mekhi Becton (T, Louisville)
#12 Las Vegas — Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
#13 Indianapolis — Tristan Wirfs (T, Iowa)
#14 Tampa Bay — Jedrick Wills (T, Alabama)
#15 Denver — Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
#16 Philadelphia (v/ATL) — CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
#17 Arizona (v/DAL) — Austin Jackson (T, USC)
#18 Miami (v/PIT) — Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
#19 Las Vegas (v/CHI) — CJ Henderson (CB, Florida)
#20 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
#21 Atlanta (v/PHI) — Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)
#22 Buffalo — Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, LSU)
#23 New England — Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona State)
#24 New Orleans — K.J. Hamler (WR, Penn State)
#25 Minnesota — Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
#26 Miami (v/HOU) — Josh Jones (T, Houston)
#27 Carolina (v/SEA) — Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
#28 Baltimore — A.J. Epenesa (DE, Iowa)
#29 Tennessee — Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
#30 Green Bay — Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
#31 San Francisco — Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado)
#32 Kansas City — D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)

Second round

#33 Cincinnati — Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
#34 Indianapolis (v/WAS) — Kyle Dugger (S, Lenoir-Rhyne)
#35 Detroit — Julian Okwara (DE, Notre Dame)
#36 New York Giants — Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
#37 Detroit (v/LAC) — Zack Baun (LB, Wisconsin)
#38 Seattle (v/CAR) — Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
#39 Miami — Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
#40 Arizona — Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah)
#41 Cleveland — Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
#42 Jacksonville — Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU)
#43 Chicago — Damien Lewis (G, LSU)
#44 Indianapolis — Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)
#45 Tampa Bay — Ross Blacklock (DT, TCU)
#46 Denver — Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State)
#47 Atlanta — K’Lavon Chaisson (LB, LSU)
#48 New York Jets — Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)
#49 Pittsburgh — J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
#50 Seattle (v/CHI) — Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
#51 Arizona (v/DAL) — Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor)
#52 LA Rams — Ezra Cleveland (T, Boise State)
#53 Philadelphia — Cam Dantzler (CB, Miss State)
#54 Buffalo — Van Jefferson (WR, Florida)
#55 Atlanta (v/NE) — Matt Hennessy (C, Temple)
#56 Miami — Lloyd Cushenberry (C, LSU)
#57 Houston — Cole Kmet (TE, Notre Dame)
#58 Minnesota — Curtis Weaver (DE, Boise State)
#59 Chicago (v/SEA) — Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
#60 Baltimore — Michael Pittman Jr (WR, USC)
#61 Tennessee — Joshua Uche (LB, Michigan)
#62 Green Bay — Jacob Eason (QB, Washington)
#63 Kansas City (v/SF) — Quintez Cephus (WR, Kansas City)
#64 Seattle — Bryan Edwards (WR, South Carolina)

The trades explained

The LA Chargers (#6) trade with Detroit (#3)
As they prepare to move into a new stadium, the Chargers make a splash and jump up to #3 to get a quarterback (Justin Herbert). They trade two second round picks — one this year and one in 2021 — to make the move.

Dallas (#17) trades with Arizona (#8)
There’s been the odd whisper about Dallas preparing to be bold in this draft. Let’s assume they get everything done in free agency and keep Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Robert Quinn. In this scenario they jump up nine spots, surrendering their second round pick, to get Henry Ruggs after he runs a 4.2 at the combine to try and increase their offensive potency.

Philadelphia (#21) trades with Atlanta (#16)
The Eagles see the run on receivers and don’t hang about. Ceedee Lamb doesn’t run as well as some of the others at the combine and lasts a bit longer than many are projecting. They move up by giving Atlanta their third round pick.

Carolina (#38) trades with Seattle (#27)
Some teams are going to look at Jordan Love and believe he can be their future. The teams who believe that might need to get ahead of Green Bay at #30 (who appear ready to start planning ahead). The Panthers, under new leadership, give Seattle a third round pick (#69) and some 2021 compensation to move up to #27.

The Seahawks picks explained

Seattle sees a run on receivers and offensive linemen and gratefully takes the opportunity to trade down (again) while adding an extra early third round pick.

In this scenario they’ve invested heavily in the pass rush during free agency — retaining Jadeveon Clowney, signing Everson Griffen and then bringing in one other (either via trade or signing). Germain Ifedi has signed elsewhere. I don’t think it matters whether they re-sign George Fant or not for this. He’d be a hedge and/or competition.

Prince Tega Wanogho is highly athletic and was expected to run a time in the 4.95 range and jump a 32 inch vertical before he had to withdraw from combine testing. He has experience at right and left tackle, he’s very good on the move and he’s extremely physical.

He could compete to start at right tackle and could even be an eventual heir-apparent to Duane Brown on the left. He has a good backstory and stayed at Auburn a year ago to finish a second degree. His dream is to return to Nigeria as a coach and help others live out their NFL dream.

An alternative option could be Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland.

Despite bolstering their pass rush via the open market, the Seahawks return to the D-line with their second pick. For the last five years they’ve spent one of their top-two picks on a defensive lineman. That trend will likely continue this year.

For years they’ve been looking for their answer to Calais Campbell. Alabama’s Raekwon Davis fits the bill. He’s 6-7, 315lbs and a ‘first off the bus’ physical specimen. His run defense is superb, he anchored Alabama’s line and he has the unique ability to gain leverage despite his height.

He should be a first round pick but he falls due to the fact he only managed two sacks in his final two years at Alabama. Jarran Reed fell to pick #49 in 2016 because teams didn’t trust his ability to be more than a good run defender. Seattle traded up to get him. In this projection I have them repeating the act — trading a fourth round pick to Chicago (who, funnily enough, were the team the Seahawks traded with to get Reed).

Having addressed both lines, Seattle’s next priority with their other second round pick is to tap into the receiver class. With a major run on the position in rounds one and two, they don’t risk waiting until the third frame. Bryan Edwards isn’t working out at the combine due to a broken foot but he’s an electric receiver with better speed than people realise. He’s mature, seems to be pissed off for greatness and broke receiving records at South Carolina. He’d be a nice compliment for Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.

With the pick acquired from Carolina at #69, the Seahawks replace C.J. Prosise with Cam Akers. He has the size, explosive testing, pass-blocking and receiving skills to replace Prosise and he has the potential to earn a much greater role within the offense.

They will gain a third round comp pick due to Earl Thomas signing a big contract in Baltimore. They could easily return to the defense here, having already spent three picks on the offense. However — the strength of this class in the first three rounds is receiver and O-line. If they cut Justin Britt to save money they might need to find a replacement.

Nick Harris struggled in 1v1’s at the Senior Bowl but he performed much better in scrimmages. The Seahawks have drafted and started a smaller center in Joey Hunt. Harris plays with intensity and is a real fighter. He has underrated mobility when he pulls or progresses to the second level. He’s loaded with grit and leadership. People will be scared off by the size — not unfairly — but I still think Harris can make it in the NFL and might surprise a few people. Perhaps with his size they wouldn’t take him in the middle rounds but look how enamoured they’ve been with Hunt. I also think this could be an area they address in free agency if Britt moves on (Graham Glasgow? Alex Mack if cut?).

Measurements

I’m going to pick out the relevant names here (there are many) but for all the details from today’s weigh-ins check out Charles Robinson’s Twitter timeline.

Offensive line measurements

Trey Adams
Height: 6-8
Weight: 318
Hands: 9 7/8
Arm length: 34 3/8
Wingspan: 81 4/8

Hakeem Adeniji
Height: 6-4 3/8
Weight: 302
Hands: 10
Arm length: 33 6/8
Wingspan: 82 3/8

Ben Bartch
Height: 6-5 6/8
Weight: 309
Hands: 9
Arm length: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 80 4/8

Mekhi Becton
Height: 6-7 3/8
Weight: 364
Hands: 10 6/8
Arm length: 35 5/8
Wingspan: 83 2/8

Tyler Biadasz
Height: 6-3 5/8
Weight: 314
Hands: 10
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 79 7/8

Ben Bredeson
Height: 6-4 5/8
Weight: 315
Hands: 10 1/8
Arm length: 31 1/8
Wingspan: 76 6/8

Saahdiq Charles
Height: 6-4 1/8
Weight: 321
Hands: 10
Arm length: 33
Wingspan: 80 3/8

Ezra Cleveland
Height: 6-6
Weight: 311
Hands: 9
Arm length: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 80 3/8

Lloyd Cushenberry
Height: 6-3 1/8
Weight: 312
Hands: 10 3/8
Arm length: 34 1/8
Wingspan: 84 2/8

Nick Harris
Height: 6-0 7/8
Weight: 302
Hands: 9 6/8
Arm length: 32 1/8
Wingspan: 77 4/8

Matt Hennessy
Height: 6-3 7/8
Weight: 307
Hands: 10
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 79 6/8

Austin Jackson
Height: 6-4 7/8
Weight: 322
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 34 1/8
Wingspan: 82

Jonah Jackson
Height: 6-3 4/8
Weight: 306
Hands: 10 4/8
Arm length: 33 4/8
Wingspan: 77 7/8

Joshua Jones
Height: 6-5
Weight: 319
Hands: 10 1/8
Arm length: 33 7/8
Wingspan: 79 7/8

Solomon Kindley
Height: 6-3 2/8
Weight: 337
Hands: 10
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 77 6/8

Shane Lemieux
Height: 6-3 7/8
Weight: 310
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 77

Damien Lewis
Height: 6-2
Weight: 327
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 33
Wingspan: 79 4/8

Colt McKivitz
Height: 6-6 1/8
Weight: 306
Hands: 10
Arm length: 33 6/8
Wingspan: 81 5/8

Netane Muti
Height: 6-2 7/8
Weight: 315
Hands: 10 5/8
Arm length: 31 6/8
Wingspan: 76 4/8

Lucas Niang
Height: 6-6
Weight: 315
Hands: 10 4/8
Arm length: 34 2/8
Wingspan: 83 1/8

Matt Peart
Height: 6-6 5/8
Weight: 318
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 36 5/8
Wingspan: 86 4/8

Tyre Phillips
Height: 6-5
Weight: 331
Hands: 10 3/8
Arm length: 35 1/8
Wingspan: 84 5/8

Cesar Ruiz
Height: 6-2 6/8
Weight: 307
Hands: 11
Arm length: 33 1/8
Wingspan: 79 5/8

John Simpson
Height: 6-4 1/8
Weight: 321
Hands: 11 2/8
Arm length: 34 1/8
Wingspan: 82 3/8

Logan Stenberg
Height: 6-6
Weight: 317
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 32 4/8
Wingspan: 80

Alex Taylor
Height: 6-8 3/8
Weight: 308
Hands: 11 2/8
Arm length: 36 1/8
Wingspan: 88

Andrew Thomas
Height: 6-5 1/8
Weight: 315
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 36 1/8
Wingspan: 83 4/8

Prince Tega Wanogho
Height: 6-5
Weight: 308
Hands: 10 3/8
Arm length: 33 4/8
Wingspan: 80 6/8

Jedrick Wills
Height: 6-4 2/8
Weight: 312
Hands: 10
Arm length: 34 2/8
Wingspan: 83 4/8

Isaiah Wilson
Height: 6-6 4/8
Weight: 350
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 35 4/8
Wingspan: 84 3/8

Tristan Wirfs
Height: 6-4 7/8
Weight: 320
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 34
Wingspan: 80 2/8

Running back measurements

Saivon Ahmed
Height: 5-10
Weight: 197
Hands: 8 6/8
Arm length: 29 2/8
Wingspan: 71 5/8

Cam Akers
Height: 5-10 3/8
Weight: 217
Hands: 9
Arm length: 30 5/8
Wingspan: 74 5/8

Eno Benjamin
Height: 5-8
Weight: 207
Hands: 8 5/8
Arm length: 31 2/8
Wingspan: 76

A.J. Dillon
Height: 6-0 3/8
Weight: 247
Hands: 9 5/8
Arm length: 31 5/8
Wingspan: 77 5/8

J.K. Dobbins
Height: 5-9 4/8
Weight: 209
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 29 6/8
Wingspan: 73 4/8

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Height: 5-7 2/8
Weight: 207
Hands: 9 5/8
Arm length: 29
Wingspan: 70 5/8

Joshua Kelley
Height: 5-10 5/8
Weight: 212
Hands: 9 5/8
Arm length: 31 5/8
Wingspan: 76 2/8

Anthony McFarland
Height: 5-8 1/8
Weight: 208
Hands: 8 7/8
Arm length: 30 3/8
Wingspan: 73 7/8

Zack Moss
Height: 5-9 3/8
Weight: 223
Hands: 9 2/8
Arm length: 31 2/8
Wingspan: 75 4/8

Javon Leake
Height: 6-0
Weight: 215
Hands: 9 5/8
Arm length: 31 4/8
Wingspan: 75 6/8

D’Andre Swift
Height: 5-8 2/8
Weight: 212
Hands: 9
Arm length: 29 7/8
Wingspan: 72

Jonathan Taylor
Height: 5-10 2/8
Weight: 226
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 31 1/8
Wingspan: 75 3/8

If you missed yesterday’s combine preview podcast you can listen to it below:

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Pre-combine podcast plus WR, QB & TE measurements

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Brandan and I recorded a new podcast ahead of the combine. Check it out below…

The headline news today (aside from Joe Burrow only having nine-inch hands) is Chase Young won’t be working out at the combine. A reminder — he ran a 4.94 at SPARQ and only managed a 30 inch vertical. There’s no injury, this is simply his choice. I’ve been saying for a while he might not test as well as people are predicting. This, to me, seems to suggest that was probably true.

The measurements also took place today for the quarterback, receiver and tight end groups. For a full breakdown check out this link to Charles Robinson’s list. Here are some of the highlights:

Tight ends

Jacob Breeland
Height: 6-4 7/8
Weight: 252
Hands: 9 7/8
Arm length: 32 5/8
Wingspan: 78 1/8

Harrison Bryant
Height: 6-4 6/8
Weight: 243
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 30 5/8
Wingspan: 74

Hunter Bryant
Height: 6-2 2/8
Weight: 248
Hands: 10 3/8
Arm length: 32
Wingspan: 76 4/8

Brycen Hopkins
Height: 6-3 7/8
Weight: 245
Hands: 10 1/8
Arm length: 32 1/8
Wingspan: 76

Cole Kmet
Height: 6-5 6/8
Weight: 262
Hands: 10 4/8
Arm length: 33
Wingspan: 79

Sean McKeon
Height: 6-5
Weight: 242
Hands: 9 1/8
Arm length: 33 4/8
Wingspan: 78 6/8

Thaddeus Moss
Height: 6-1 7/8
Weight: 250
Hands: 9 7/8
Arm length: 31 7/8
Wingspan: 78 2/8

Albert Okwuegbunam
Height: 6-5 4/8
Weight: 258
Hands: 10 2/8
Arm length: 34 1/8
Wingspan: 79 3/8

Colby Parkinson
Height: 6-7 2/8
Weight: 252
Hands: 9 5/8
Arm length: 33 2/8
Wingspan: 78 5/8

Jared Pinkney
Height: 6-4
Weight: 257
Hands: 10 4/8
Arm length: 78 5/8
Wingspan: 78 5/8

Stephen Sullivan
Height: 6-4 7/8
Weight: 248
Hands: 10 1/8
Arm length: 35 3/8
Wingspan: 85

Adam Trautman
Height: 6-5
Weight: 255
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 32 5/8
Wingspan: 78

Devin Asiasi
Height: 6-3
Weight: 257
Hands: 9 6/8
Arm length: 33 2/8
Wingspan: 80 1/8

Quarterbacks

Kelly Bryant
Height: 6-3 1/8
Weight: 229
Hands: 9/48
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 78

Joe Burrow
Height: 6-3 4/8
Weight: 221
Hands: 9
Arm length: 30 7/8
Wingspan: 74

Jacob Eason
Height: 6-5 7/8
Weight: 231
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 79

Jake Fromm
Height: 6-1 7/8
Weight: 219
Hands: 8 7/8
Arm length: 31 1/8
Wingspan: 75

Justin Herbert
Height: 6-6 2/8
Weight: 236
Hands: 10
Arm length: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 78 7/8

Anthony Gordon
Height: 6-2 3/8
Weight: 205
Hands: 9 6/8
Arm length: 31
Wingspan: 73

Jalen Hurts
Height: 6-1
Weight: 222
Hands: 9 6/8
Arm length: 31 6/8
Wingspan: 77 5/8

Steven Montez
Height: 6-4
Weight: 231
Hands: 9 3/8
Arm length: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 76 7/8

Tua Tagovailoa
Height: 6-0
Weight: 217
Hands: 10
Arm length: 30 4/8
Wingspan: 75 2/8

Jordan Love
Height: 6-3 6/8
Weight: 224
Hands: 10 4/8
Arm length: 32 5/8
Wingspan: 80

Wide receivers

Brandon Aiyuk
Height: 5-11 5/8
Weight: 205
Hands: 9 6/8
Arm length: 33 4/8
Wingspan: 80

Lawrence Cager
Height: 6-4 6/8
Weight: 220
Hands: 8 7/8
Arm length: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 79 3/8

Quintez Cephus
Height: 6-0 7/8
Weight: 202
Hands: 8 6/8
Arm length: 32 1/8
Wingspan: 77

Chase Claypool
Height: 6-4 2/8
Weight: 238
Hands: 9 7/8
Arm length: 32 4/8
Wingspan: 80

Gabe Davis
Height: 6-2
Weight: 216
Hands: 9 2/8
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 77 4/8

Bryan Edwards
Height: 6-2 6/8
Weight: 212
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 78 5/8

Antonio Gandy-Golden
Height: 6-4
Weight: 223
Hands: 9 5/8
Arm length: 31 6/8
Wingspan: 77

Antonio Gibson
Height: 6-0 3/8
Weight: 228
Hands: 8 5/8
Arm length: 31 1/8
Wingspan: 75 4/8

K.J. Hamler
Height: 58 5/8
Weight: 178
Hands: 9 3/8
Arm length: 30 6/8
Wingspan: 72 4/8

Tee Higgins
Height: 6-3 5/8
Weight: 216
Hands: 9 2/8
Arm length: 34 1/8
Wingspan: 81

K.J. Hill
Height: 5-11 7/8
Weight: 196
Hands: 9 2/8
Arm length: 29 1/8
Wingspan: 72 4/8

Justin Jefferson
Height: 6-1 2/8
Weight: 202
Hands: 9 1/8
Arm length: 33
Wingspan: 78

Van Jefferson
Height: 6-1 4/8
Weight: 200
Hands: 9 1/8
Arm length: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 77 1/8

Jerry Jeudy
Height: 6-1
Weight: 193
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 32 1/8
Wingspan: 76

Ceedee Lamb
Height: 6-1 5/8
Weight: 198
Hands: 9 2/8
Arm length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 76 5/8

Henry Ruggs
Height: 5-11
Weight: 188
Hands: 10 1/8
Arm length: 30 4/8
Wingspan: 74 4/8

Laviska Shenault Jr
Height: 6-0 5/8
Weight: 227
Hands: 9
Arm leng31 7/8th:
Wingspan: 76 2/8

Denzel Mims
Height: 6-2 7/8
Weight: 207
Hands: 9 3/8
Arm length: 33 7/8
Wingspan: 78 4/8

Michael Pittman
Height: 6-4
Weight: 223
Hands: 9 2/8
Arm length: 32 4/8
Wingspan: 79 2/8

Jalen Reagor
Height: 5-10 5/8
Weight: 206
Hands: 9 4/8
Arm length: 31 3/8
Wingspan: 74 3/8

It’s also been announced today that the Seahawks are making two new additions to their scouting department for the 2020 draft:

And if you missed our extensive combine preview, check it out here.

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The ultimate Seahawks combine preview 2020

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Introduction

The 2020 NFL draft appears to be particularly strong in two areas. This is an excellent wide receiver class, with multiple prospective first round picks. Expect to see a number of receivers run electric forty times and make major headlines on day one — especially Henry Ruggs.

It’s also a stronger offensive line class than we’ve seen in recent years. The league-wide desperation for good linemen will push several into the top-20. There’s good enough depth though, particularly at guard and center, for teams to find potential starters even in the middle rounds.

The running back class is underrated. Expect a number of runners to have astonishing workouts on Friday — especially J.K. Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It also appears to be a good cornerback draft. Unfortunately, there’s not as much D-line depth this year and it’s a thin group at tight end.

Changes to the combine

A lot of things are going to be different this year. I’ve posted the workout schedule below. It’s now a Thursday-to-Sunday event rather than Friday-to-Monday. The workouts also take place later in the day to cater for a primetime audience.

There are also significant differences to the drills — again to try and draw in viewing figures. The gauntlet catching drill and ‘W’ drill for defensive backs will now be timed so fans can compare how the players perform.

There’s now a ‘smoke route’ for quarterbacks and receivers involving a one-step hitch which has become popular in RPO’s. This will also be timed. There’s a ‘screen pass’ drill for offensive linemen to see how quickly and comfortably they can reach the second level. The mirror drill will be different. There’s no longer a ‘rabbit’ running in front of the participating offensive lineman.

For defensive linemen there will be a ‘figure eight’ pass rush that are often part of a players pro-day. This will be timed. Sleds will also be used rather than coaches holding a bag for certain drills.

For a full breakdown of all the new drills click here.

One thing to remember

The short shuttle is important at every position. A lot of the focus is placed on forty times, explosive testing, drill performance — and rightly so. Yet the ability to change direction quickly with agility is vital across the board. You’ll notice how often it’s discussed in this review and how much value the Seahawks seem to place in it. If there’s one less-talked-about test to monitor, it’s very much the short shuttle.

Workout schedule

» Thursday February 27th (4-11pm ET): tight ends, quarterbacks, wide receivers
» Friday February 28th (4-11pm ET): special teams, offensive linemen, running backs
» Saturday February 29th (4-11pm ET): defensive linemen and linebackers
» Sunday March 1st (2-7pm ET): defensive backs

Groups 1-3 (TE, QB, WR)

Arrival: Sunday 23rd February
Measurements: Monday 24th February
Bench press: Wednesday 26th February
On-field drills: Thursday 27th February

Expect Hunter Bryant to test well in the all-important short shuttle

Tight ends
Seattle has drafted four tight ends under Pete Carroll — Nick Vannett, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy and Will Dissly. They also traded for Jimmy Graham and signed Zach Miller to a big contract in 2011. They recently signed Greg Olsen to a one-year contract. All seven players have distinct differences yet one test links them all.

It appears the Seahawks view the short shuttle as an important drill:

Luke Willson — 4.29 at pro-day
Will Dissly — 4.40 (8th best in 2018)
Nick Vannett — 4.20 (2nd best in 2016)
Anthony McCoy — 4.57
Zach Miller — 4.42
Jimmy Graham — 4.45
Greg Olsen — 4.48

Tony Pauline also linked the Seahawks with interest in Atlanta’s free agent Austin Hooper, who ran a 4.32. It was also speculated that they really liked O.J. Howard in the 2017 draft. He had the top short shuttle in his class (4.16).

Short-area quickness and agility appears to be important for any prospective Seattle tight end so pay close attention to the short shuttle and the three cone.

Key tests
Short shuttle, three cone, forty

Ideal size
6-5, 250-265lbs, +34-inch arms, +10-inch hands

Interesting note
In 2017 the Seahawks passed on the position despite the strong looking class. They drafted seven players before George Kittle was selected in round five by the 49ers — despite his good combine and dynamism as a blocker. They even spent five picks in rounds 3-4 without taking Kittle. Perhaps, although hopefully not, it was because he only ran a 4.55 short shuttle? They also passed on the position a year ago despite strong testing by Drew Sample, Foster Moreau, Kahale Warring, Dawson Knox, Jace Sternberger, Irv Smith, Trevon Wesco, Dax Raymond, Caleb Wilson, Isaac Nauta, Kaden Smith, Josh Oliver and others.

Best drill to watch
Catching technique is always important. Is a player cupping his hands and showing to the football, or is he fighting the ball? How will timing the gauntlet drill impact players as they now try to focus on speed as well as concentration?

Five names to watch
Hunter Bryant (Washington), Devin Asiasi (UCLA), Cole Kmet (Notre Dame), Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri), Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic)

Positional assessment
It’s not a strong class at the tight end position. We might not see a player drafted in the top-50. Unlike last year, there aren’t a collection of raw physical talents either. Even so, expect Hunter Bryant to deliver a strong short shuttle and it’ll be interesting to see Devin Asiasi’s performance.

Importance to the Seahawks?
With Will Dissly recovering from his second serious injury in consecutive seasons, Ed Dickson set to be cut, Nick Vannett traded and a decision to be made on Jacob Hollister’s RFA tender — this was a vital position of need for the Seahawks. Perhaps due to the thin draft class at the position, Seattle addressed this issue with the Greg Olsen signing.

Anthony Gordon will look to build on a good Senior Bowl showing

Quarterbacks
With Russell Wilson’s 2019 contract extension securing his future in Seattle for the next few years, Seahawks fans won’t be paying too much attention to this group. It’ll be interesting to see which players throw and Tua Tagovailoa’s hip injury will create plenty of talking points on TV. Ultimately though, this doesn’t get any more interesting than wondering whether a future cheap backup will be drafted in the later rounds.

Key tests
Deep throws

Ideal size
+6-1, 220lbs, +9.5 inch hands

Interesting note
The Seahawks have only drafted two quarterbacks in the Pete Carroll era — Russell Wilson (third round, 2012) and Alex McGough (seventh round, 2018).

The best drill to watch
Everyone wants to see the top QB’s throw the deep ball. That’s basically why they’re there apart from the medicals and interviews. They’re not facing a defense. They’re just standing in shorts and throwing the football. The only real reason to watch the drills is to see which players stand out throwing downfield with power and precision with reasonable mechanics.

Five names to watch
Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jacob Eason (Washington), Jordan Love (Utah State), Anthony Gordon (Washington State), Steven Montez (Colorado)

Positional notes
It’s an intriguing class at the position, headlined by the future #1 pick Joe Burrow. He was historically good at LSU in 2019 and showed off poise, accuracy, the ability to improvise and extend plays, a winner’s mentality and he delivered an unexpected National Championship to LSU. Tua Tagovailoa will be discussed a lot in Indianapolis with everyone desperate to know the latest on his hip injury. Justin Herbert will have an opportunity to further boost his stock with a good throwing performance combined with strong interviews. There’s some depth to the class too and it’ll be interesting to see whether Jordan Love, Jacob Eason, Jalen Hurts and Jake Fromm can improve their standing.

Importance to the Seahawks
Not very. It’s possible they spend a last day pick on a QB to develop as a backup. It is peculiar that they’ve only drafted two quarterbacks since 2010. Yet with needs at various positions this off-season, they simply might prefer to retain Geno Smith and press on.

Brandon Aiyuk is an exceptional talent in a loaded WR class

Wide receivers
Pete Carroll has only drafted three receivers who haven’t run a 4.4 forty or faster (Kenny Lawler 4.64, Chris Harper 4.50, John Ursua 4.56). Paul Richardson (4.40), Golden Tate (4.42), Tyler Lockett (4.40), Kris Durham (4.46), Kevin Norwood (4.48), Amara Darboh (4.45), David Moore (4.42) and D.K. Metcalf (4.33) all cracked the 4.4’s. Durham (216lbs), Harper (229lbs), Lawler (203lbs), Darboh (214lbs), Moore (219lbs) and Metcalf (228lbs) were all +200lbs. Richardson, Tate and Lockett —- three productive players —- plus Ursua were smaller.

We have enough data now to say this quite definitively — unless a player runs a 4.4 or faster, the Seahawks are unlikely to consider them until the later rounds. Clearly they value speed and suddenness at the position even if you’re a ‘bigger’ receiver.

The entire NFL is seeing a shift towards speed. The days of the classic ‘possession’ receiver are over. Teams are utilising tight ends in a variety of creative ways to get a sizeable mismatch target on the field. For receivers playing outside or in the slot, quickness is the desired trait.

The good news is, this is a frighteningly quick draft class at the position. It’s loaded with talented receivers capable of running in the 4.2’s, 4.3’s and 4.4’s. Without any doubt, wide out is the strongest positional group in the 2020 draft.

The ability to separate is vital whatever your size. Watch the forty, the 10-yard split, the three-cone and short shuttle. It’ll provide a clear indication on which players have the quickness and agility to create openings.

Interesting note
Carroll’s Seahawks don’t really have a ‘range’ where they take receivers. They’ve drafted three players in round two (Tate, Richardson, Metcalf), two in round three (Darboh, Lockett), three in round four (Norwood, Harper, Durham) and three in round seven (Moore, Lawler, Ursua). They traded a first round pick for Percy Harvin. They’ve also had a degree of success with UDFA’s. The best non-FA athlete Seattle has acquired in the Carroll era was an UDFA — Ricardo Lockette. He ran a 4.41, had a 39-inch vertical and a 6.76 three-cone. He was also well-sized at 211lbs with 33.5-inch arms. The Seahawks have been comfortable bringing in high-ceiling UDFA receivers, finding success with Lockette, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

Key tests
Forty, vertical, catching drills (proper technique)

Ideal size
Just run a 4.4 forty or faster

The best drill to watch
Any drill that clearly shows catching technique. It’s extremely important. You want to see a wide out cupping his hands while presenting them to the ball. No alligator arms, no fighting the ball or snatching at it. Watch the downfield throws too and see who is good at high pointing the football, showing body control and tracking over the shoulder. Who is a natural hands catcher?

Five names to watch
Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State), Jalen Reagor (TCU), Henry Ruggs (Alabama), K.J. Hamler (Penn State), Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

Positional assessment
It’s a loaded class. We should see multiple first round picks with the depth lasting into day three. Expect Henry Ruggs to run a blazing forty but several others will join him. Keep an eye on Aiyuk, Reagor, Hamler and Edwards as possible early round options for the Seahawks. Jerry Jeudy’s work out will likely determine how high he goes. There are question marks over the speed of Ceedee Lamb and Tee Higgins, so how fast they run will be crucial to their stock. Bigger receivers like Chase Claypool, Michael Pittman and Denzel Mims will hope to run well and significantly boost their stock. There are so many names to mention and you’ll be able to get a potential impact receiver in the first three rounds.

Importance to the Seahawks
Let’s compare the Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes inherited Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs then went out and signed Sammy Watkins for big money and spent a second round pick on Mecole Hardman. Russell Wilson currently has Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf plus a lot of question marks. He deserves more and the Seahawks need to tap into this class. They will do too — they’ve consistently identified and exploited the strongest position in a draft class and they’ve invested major stock at the receiver position over the years. There are so many sudden and speedy wide outs who can separate and get downfield to make explosive plays in this draft. They have to take one.

Groups 4-6 (ST, OL, RB)

Arrival: Monday 24th February
Measurements: Tuesday 25th February
Bench press: Thursday 27th February
On-field drills: Friday 28th February

Cesar Ruiz is one of the top players in the draft

Offensive linemen
For the last few years we’ve used a formula called TEF to measure explosive physical traits. It proved to be an accurate way of predicting which offensive linemen the Seahawks might be targeting. When Tom Cable departed after the 2017 we wondered if TEF would be as useful moving forward (due to his influence on the system). Yet the Seahawks drafted Phil Haynes last year — the second best TEF scorer in the 2019 draft.

Why are explosive traits important? Pat Kirwan — a confidant of Pete Carroll — tells us why in this piece:

Every time a ball is snapped to start a play there is a critical element of explosiveness that takes place. When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation. It could be a blocker vs. a tackler, a tackler vs. a ball carrier, or many other examples of winning at the point of contact.

Explosiveness is defined in the dictionary as a violent release of energy, a sudden outburst. Football is a series of explosions. How do you measure it in athletes trying to play NFL football?

Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness.

Kirwan’s formula is flawed because it diminishes the impact of the broad jump. A superb 9-7 only achieves a 1.2 point advantage over a below par 8-5. That’s why TEF was created — to do what Kirwan intended and measure explosive traits equally and emphasise their combined importance.

Of course, jumping a vertical at 320lbs is considerably more challenging than jumping a vertical at 275lbs. We created a second formula (weighted TEF or wTEF) to account for weight:

Weight x TEF x 0.1

We can give each player a score that sufficiently emphasises their unique size. For example:

Germain Ifedi — 324 x 2.97 x 0.1 = 96.1

Phil Haynes a year ago scored 103.7. For more information on weighted TEF, click here.

TEF is not an attempt to determine who is a good or bad offensive linemen. It’s merely a calculation to judge explosive traits. And while that’s only one part of any evaluation — it’s still vital. Two years ago, only seven offensive linemen scored an optimal 3.00 or higher in TEF. Of the seven, Quenton Nelson and Kolton Miller were both high first round picks. Braden Smith, Connor Williams and Will Hernandez were second round picks. In 2019, only eight players scored an optimal 3.00 or higher. This included Chris Lindstrom, Garrett Bradbury, Andre Dillard and Kaleb McGary (all drafted in round one). Erik McCoy and Elgton Jenkins were also top-50 picks. It’s not a coincidence that the most explosive offensive linemen are being drafted early.

For a full breakdown of the TEF calculation, click here.

Key tests
Vertical, Broad, Bench

Ideal size
6-3/6-5, 305-320lbs, +33 inch arms, +31 inch vertical, +9’ broad, +30 bench reps

Interesting note
For a long time we’ve been discussing the league-wide problem of the athletic discrepancy between college O-lines and D-lines. At the last four combines there were a total of 102 ‘explosive’ defensive linemen (explosive = a TEF score of 3.00 or higher). In comparison, there were only 24 explosive offensive linemen. This is a big problem for the NFL. However, this is a weaker looking D-line class and a much strong O-line class. Perhaps, for once, we’ll see a more equal split?

The best drill to watch
The mirror drill, even though it’s changing. Two linemen used to stand opposite each other, with one acting as ‘the rabbit’. He’ll move around and change direction and it’s up to the participant to stick. They’re still going to do the drill this year, just without the ‘rabbit’. It’s an important test of footwork, agility, mobility, balance, control and stamina. It’s also a good gauge of pass protection skills.

Five names to watch
Guard — Logan Stenberg (Kentucky), Damien Lewis (LSU), Tyre Phillips (Mississippi State), John Simpson (Clemson), Shane Lemieux (Oregon)

Center — Cesar Ruiz (Michigan), Matt Hennessy (Temple), Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU), Nick Harris (Washington), Tyler Biadasz (Wisconsin)

Tackle — Isaiah Wilson (Georgia), Austin Jackson (USC), Lucas Niang (TCU), Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Josh Jones (Houston)

Positional notes
This is a much thicker looking O-line class than we’ve seen in recent years. There are players who will be drafted in the top-15 and the depth will last into the middle rounds. I could reel off the names of a good 10-15 interior offensive linemen who are intriguing for the Seahawks. If they go into the draft with a hole at right tackle, there will also be options to fill that need. If receiver is the top position in the 2020 draft in terms of quality and depth, O-line is #2.

Importance to the Seahawks
It remains to be seen. Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Mike Iupati and Joey Hunt are all free agents while Justin Britt could be a cap casualty. Pete Carroll has stated his preference for continuity but they also wanted to keep J.R. Sweezy a year ago and he bolted for Arizona. There are enough good offensive linemen in this draft to feel like they can fill some holes — whether that’s in the early or middle rounds. Cesar Ruiz, Isaiah Wilson, Austin Jackson and Josh Jones to name just four appear to have the traits they covet in the early rounds. Matt Hennessy and Logan Stenberg are fine second round or third round options, as is Lucas Niang depending on his health. Plus the mid-round guard prospects are terrific.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a future star

Running backs
The Seahawks have a type at running back. They’ve consistently drafted players with a similar physical profile. It’s made it fairly straight forward to figure out who they might like. Here are the players we identified from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 combines as probable targets:

2016:

C.J. Prosise — 6-0, 220lbs, 35.5 inch vert, 10-1 broad
Kenneth Dixon — 5-10, 215lbs, 37.5 inch vert, 10-8 broad

2017:

Christopher Carson — 6-0, 218lbs, 37 inch vert, 10-10 broad
Brian Hill — 6-0, 219lbs, 34 inch vert, 10-5 broad
Alvin Kamara — 5-10, 214lbs, 39.5 inch vert, 10-11 broad
Joe Williams — 5-11, 210lbs, 35 inch vert, 10-5 broad

2018:

Saquon Barkley — 6-0, 233lbs, 41 inch vert DNP broad
Kerryon Johnson — 511, 213lbs 40 inch vert, 10-6 broad
Bo Scarborough — 6-0, 228lbs, 40 inch vert, 10-9 broad
Nick Chubb — 5-11, 227lbs, 38.5 inch vert, 10-8 broad
John Kelly — 5-10, 216lbs, 35 inch vert, 10-0 broad
Lavon Coleman — 5-10, 223lbs, 33 inch vert, 10-0 broad
Rashaad Penny — 5-11, 220lbs, 32.5 inch vert, 10-0 broad
Royce Freeman — 5-11, 229lbs, 34 inch vert, 9-10 broad

They drafted a player from each of the groups — Prosise, Carson and Penny. They eventually added Bo Scarborough during the 2018 season too.

A year ago we identified six players — Alex Barnes, Damien Harris, Alexander Mattison, LJ Scott, Miles Sanders, Dexter Williams and Tony Pollard. Running back was an unlikely target though with the depth they had at the position. With a strong emphasis on special teams improvement a year ago, they selected Travis Homer in round six mainly because he was considered to be one of the top special teamer’s in the draft.

The selection of Homer shouldn’t influence how we assess their preference at the position. Quite aside from him mainly being selected to play special teams — they’ve also been willing to take non-ideal physical profiles in the later rounds (this is the range where they’ve also selected receivers who don’t run a 4.4 or faster). Even so, there are some really dynamic runners in this draft who might not fit Seattle’s physical ideals (Anthony McFarland, Clyde Edwards-Helaire) but they are just so incredibly talented — they might be willing to make an exception.

Key tests
Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
5-11, 220lbs, +35 inch vertical, +10 broad

Interesting note
The Seahawks prefer explosive traits over straight line speed. Christine Michael (4.54), C.J. Prosise (4.48), Robert Turbin (4.50) and Chris Carson (4.58) were explosive rather than fast. Rashaad Penny wasn’t quite as explosive but ran a 4.46. It’s probably not a major shift in terms of the type of player they like — rather it was an attempt to find a fast, versatile runner with size who can provide a similar option to the Seahawks that LA was getting with Todd Gurley.

The best drill to watch
The footage will be limited but absolutely it’s the coverage of the vertical and broad jump. Explosive traits are key. It’s nice to see the running backs cutting against pads while showing body control and quickness in the open field. Explosive power and the ability to run through contact is vital at the next level, however.

Five names to watch
J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), Anthony McFarland (RB, Maryland), Cam Akers (RB, Florida State)

Positional notes
This is a running back class with major talent at the front end and some depth. J.K. Dobbins will tear up the combine with his workout. At SPARQ he jumped a 43 inch vertical, ran a 4.09 short shuttle and finished with an elite score of 146.76. Jonathan Taylor ran a 4.42 forty at SPARQ and he could easily get into the 4.3’s in Indianapolis. Combine that with a 4.30 short shuttle and a 35 inch vertical and it’s a NFL phyical profile with ideal size (5-11, 220lbs). D’Andre Swift (5-9, 215lbs) ran a 4.15 short shuttle at SPARQ and he jumped a 33 inch vertical. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran a 4.04 short shuttle, a 4.47 forty and he jumped a 40 inch vertical at 201lbs on a 5-8 body. Anthony McFarland ran a 4.04 short shuttle. Expect a strong performance from Boston College’s A.J. Dillon and Florida State’s Cam Akers too and it’ll be interesting to see how Zack Moss and Joshua Kelley test. There will be headline makers in round one. I’ll be paying particular attention to Dobbins, Edwards-Helaire and McFarland.

Importance to the Seahawks
The injury situations for Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny make this a greater consideration than it otherwise would be. C.J. Prosise will move on as a free agent so the likelihood is they will draft a running back at some stage — it’s just a question of when. I wouldn’t expect it to be a high pick, especially given how much they love Carson. Yet their desire to run with physicality means they need a stable of backs and there’s plenty of talent to be had within this group.

Groups 7-8 (DL, LB)

Arrival: Tuesday 25th February
Measurements: Wednesday 26th February
Bench press: Friday 28th February
On-field drills: Saturday 29th February

Raekwon Davis has top-level traits and a Calais Campbell frame

Defensive line
The Seahawks went against their established preferences when they selected L.J. Collier in the first round last year. For defensive ends or LEO’s they’ve sought twitchy athletes with great burst. Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril ran 1.55 and 1.50 10-yard splits respectively. Anything in the 1.5’s is considered ‘elite’. In terms of defensive tackles or inside/out rushers, Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson, Jordan Hill, Jaye Howard and Malik McDowell all tested superbly in the short shuttle (4.39, 4.37, 4.51, 4.47 and 4.53 respectively).

Collier ran a 4.91 forty with a 1.75 10-yard split. He followed it up with a 4.78 short shuttle. His selection was a major outlier and his lack of success as a rookie possibly means they’ll stick to their ideals with even more vinegar this year.

Let’s call it the reverse Malik McDowell. He was 295lbs with great height (6-6) and length (35 inch arms) and ran a 4.85 with a 1.69 split. His three cone (4.53) was the same as Dalvin Cook’s. If they were swayed by the incredible traits on display with McDowell in 2017 — they might’ve adjusted their approach to account for character and grit a little too much. Collier’s struggles might see a return to coveting outstanding upside and traits — particularly given the success of D.K. Metcalf in 2019.

So what should we look for? If we’re talking about a possible LEO then you need to be keeping an eye out for the 1.50-1.59 10-yard splits. The splits are also important for inside/out rushers or interior pass rushers. Malik McDowell ran a 1.69 split at 295lbs. Rasheem Green ran a 1.65 at 275lbs.

Bruce Irvin (4.03) and Frank Clark (4.05) both ran incredible short shuttles. Cassius Marsh’s 4.25 and Obum Gwacham’s 4.28 were also really good. As noted earlier, many of their defensive tackle or inside/out rusher picks have also excelled in the short shuttle. Arm length is also important and they’ve consistently sought defensive linemen with +33 inch arms.

Every year the D-liners generally test well. It’s indicative of the way college football has gone. The top High School players want to play defense because that’s where the money is in the NFL and the stats/kudos/respect. It often means some exceptional combine performers last deep into the draft. We spent a lot of time in 2011 talking about Justin Houston as a possible first round LEO target. He lasted into round three. Two years ago Kansas State’s Jordan Willis had a fantastic workout and also lasted into round three. His 1.54 10-yard split was the best for a +250lbs player since Cliff Avril’s 1.50 (Avril was also a third round pick). A great combine for a pass rusher will not automatically mean they shoot into the early rounds.

Key tests
Vertical, Broad, Bench, Short Shuttle, Three-cone, 10-yard split (forty)

Ideal size
DL — +6-2, 300-310lbs, +33 inch arms, +31 inch vertical, +9’ broad, 4.50 ss
LEO — 6-4, 250lbs, +33 inch arms, 1.50-1.59 10-yard split

Interesting note
The Seahawks have selected a defensive lineman with one of their first two picks in each of the last five drafts (L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Malik McDowell, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark). With a strong D-line need this year, the chances are they’ll make it six in a row even if the options are more limited in this draft.

Best drill to watch
Just absorb everything. The D-line drills are the most entertaining, most fan-friendly of all the combine events. The bag drills, the swim/rip drills, the club, the working in space. It’s a real show of the most explosive athletes in college football competing in one venue. It’ll be interesting to see the timed ‘figure of eight’ drills for the first time.

Five names to watch
DT — Raekwon Davis (Alabama), Ross Blacklock (TCU), Rashard Lawrence (LSU), Derrick Brown (Auburn), Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)

DE/EDGE — Julian Okwara (Notre Dame), Jabari Zuniga (Florida), K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU), Terrell Lewis (Alabama), Chase Young (Ohio State)

Positional assessment
If last years draft was defined by the D-line class, this year it’s the opposite. Overall it’s a weaker looking D-line class than usual. There will be fewer first round picks and the depth isn’t there either. I’m not even sure if Chase Young will test as well as everyone expects. On the positive side, this creates a window of opportunity for anyone who tests well to rise up the boards. There are players to monitor for the Seahawks. If we’re talking about traits — nobody fits the bill better than Raekwon Davis with his Calais Campbell frame. Julian Okwara is lightning fast and let’s see if K’Lavon Chaisson — who might work out with the linebackers — can justify his hype.

Importance to the Seahawks?
Massively so. It’s their biggest off-season need. Yet a thin D-line draft class will likely push them towards free agency or the trade market for an immediate solution. Whatever happens this off-season, they cannot go into 2020 without a much improved pass rush.

Willie Gay Jr is a playmaker in coverage and at the LOS

Linebackers
The Seahawks have tended to look for two types of player at linebacker — freakish athletes and players with great short-area quickness and agility.

Kevin Pierre-Louis, Korey Toomer, Malcolm Smith and Eric Pinkins all ran between a 4.44 and a 4.51 in the forty. Shaquem Griffin topped the lot with a 4.38. Pierre-Louis, Smith and Pinkins all jumped +39 inches in the vertical. Bobby Wagner was a 4.4 runner at his pro-day with a 39.5-inch vertical. Of the five players they’ve drafted with a +140 SPARQ score, Wagner, Pierre-Louis and Bruce Irvin are included.

They’ve also targeted players who performed especially strongly in the short shuttle. Here are the top-15 short shuttle times run by a linebacker since 2010:

Jordan Tripp — 3.96
Nick Bellore — 4.00

Ben Heeney — 4.00
Mike Mohamed — 4.00
Nick Vigil — 4.00
Kevin Pierre-Louis — 4.02
Stephone Anthony — 4.03
Cody Barton — 4.03
Dakota Allen — 4.03
Von Miller — 4.06
Josh Hull — 4.07
Dorian O’Daniel — 4.07
Avery Williamson — 4.07
Shaq Thompson — 4.08
Ben Burr-Kirven — 4.09

The players in bold have been either drafted or signed by the Seahawks during the Pete Carroll era. A third of the players.

Admittedly, Nick Bellore has been signed as a full back. Even so, this isn’t a coincidence. It’s something I wrote about originally three years ago.

If there’s a linebacker who runs a great short shuttle, there’s a decent chance he will be on Seattle’s radar. Just in case you were wondering, Bobby Wagner ran a 4.28, Mychal Kendricks a 4.19 and K.J. Wright a 4.46 — all good times for their size.

Key tests
Forty yard dash, short shuttle, vertical, broad, three cone

Ideal size
+6-0, 230-240lbs, 4.4-4.5 forty, 6.70 three-cone, +10’ broad, 4.00-4.35 short shuttle

Interesting note
Bobby Wagner played 99.35% of the defensive snaps in 2016 and K.J. Wright played 97.41%. That led to Pete Carroll’s comment about needing youth at the position to take some of the strain. Since then, Wagner tallied 93.08% of the snaps in 2017, 93.34% in 2018 and 98.32% in 2019. Wright had 87.07% in 2017 before missing most of 2018 through injury. Last year he played 93% of the defensive snaps. Despite Carroll’s words after the 2016 season, they’ve continued to rely on Wagner and Wright.

Best drill to watch
Due to the importance of the short shuttle — look how the players work in space, backpedal and read/react. Quickness and change of direction is vital at linebacker.

Five names to watch
Willie Gay Jr (Mississippi State), Patrick Queen (LSU), Jordan Brooks (Texas Tech), Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma), Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)

Positional assessment
It’s not the strongest class of linebackers but there is still some talent and the potential for hidden gems. Willie Gay Jr is a fantastic playmaker who impacts games in coverage and at the LOS. He was a terrific tester at SPARQ and could be a big winner at this years combine. Patrick Queen had an excellent end to the 2019 season with LSU and will be hoping to run well. At the top of the class — Isaiah Simmons will be one of the biggest names and best testers at any position.

Importance to the Seahawks?
It’s hard to say. K.J. Wright has a $10m cap hit so that’s worth monitoring. The Seahawks drafted BBK mainly for his special teams value. Shaquem Griffin has resorted to being more of a situational pass rusher and Cody Barton didn’t play particularly well as a rookie. Pete Carroll has expressed a desire to bring back Mychal Kendricks but he’s recovering from an ACL injury. They have numbers but do they have quality? Whether they take a linebacker or not will probably depend on how the 2020 class tests.

Groups 9-10 (DB)

Arrival: Wednesday 26th February
Measurements: Thursday 27th February
Bench press: Saturday 29th February
On-field drills: Sunday 1st March

C.J. Henderson will run a sub-4.00 short shuttle

Cornerback
By now everyone knows what the Seahawks like in a corner. Every CB drafted in the Pete Carroll era has had 32 inch arms. Those players are generally physical and tall and take pride in defending the run.

Two years ago we highlighted Tre Flowers as a possible target and mocked him to Seattle in many of our seven-round projections simply because he looked like a prototype Seahawks corner at the combine. It was clear and obvious purely down to his physical appearance.

We’ve previously discussed the importance of wingspan too. Wingspan is defined as the length between the tip of your middle finger on one outstretched arm to the other. The average NFL cornerback has a wingspan of 75.5 inches (31.5 inch arm length). Here’s the arm length and wingspan data for some of Seattle’s draftees, acquisitions and starters since 2010:

Richard Sherman — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Brandon Browner — 33 (arms) 80 (wingspan)
Byron Maxwell — 33.5 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Jeremy Lane — 32.5 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Tye Smith — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
DeAndre Elliott — 32 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Neiko Thorpe — 31 3/4 (arms) 78 1/2 (wingspan)
Stanley Jean-Baptiste — 32 3/8 (arms) 78 3/8 (wingspan)
Pierre Desir — 33 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Tre Flowers — 34 (arms) 79.5 (wingspan)

In 2017 they drafted Shaquill Griffin in round three. He has 32 3/8 inch arms but only a 74 3/4 inch wingspan so this was quite a difference compared to some of the other corners. Griffin lacks the kind of length they usually go for at the position. Clearly they were willing to look beyond that due to his excellent speed, natural athleticism and brilliant character.

Why is length so important? 100% of multiple first team All-Pro cornerbacks drafted since 1998 have +32 inch arms.

You might’ve noticed we’ve talked a lot about the importance of the short shuttle in this preview. I’m going to bring it up again here. In a now deleted visual demonstration of the drill, Mike Mayock explains why it’s so vital:

“It’s important for literally every position. Why? For the little guys it’s obvious. Quickness, acceleration, change of direction. How about the big guys? Can they bend? Are you a natural bender or are you a heavy-legged waist bender? A great time for a defensive back is a 4.2.”

If a great time for a cornerback is a 4.2, it’s fair to assume anything quicker than a 4.00 is exceptional.

Since 2010, only five CB’s have run a sub-4.00 short shuttle and measured with 32 inch arms:

2019 – No qualifiers
2018 — Jordan Thomas (3.94)
2017 — Kevin King (3.89)
2016 — DeAndre Elliott (3.94)
2015 — Byron Jones (3.94), Tye Smith (3.96)
2010-2014 — No qualifiers

The Seahawks drafted Smith and signed Elliott. Short-area quickness and great length is a rare combination so any possible day three prospects with these physical traits will likely be on the radar.

Two potential first round picks could be added to the list this year. Jeff Okudah ran a 4.03 short shuttle at SPARQ in High School. C.J. Henderson ran a 3.92.

Here are the known short shuttle times for drafted/UDFA cornerbacks in Seattle:

DeAndre Elliott — 3.94
Tye Smith — 3.96
Jeremy Lane — 4.14
Shaquill Griffin — 4.14
Deshawn Shead — 4.23
Brandon Browner — 4.24
Richard Sherman — 4.29
Tharold Simon — 4.31
Byron Maxwell — 4.49
Tre Flowers — 4.34

What about the nickel corner position? They struggled to replace Justin Coleman in 2019. Coleman was only 5-11 and 185lbs at his combine with 31 1/4 inch arms. He did, however, run a blistering short shuttle (3.98) and jumped a 37.5 inch vertical. It’s worth considering highly athletic nickel corner candidates.

Key tests
Short shuttle, vertical, measurements (arm length),

Ideal size
+6-1, 195lbs, +32-inch arms, 4.50 forty, +35-inch vertical

Interesting note
Despite being lauded for their ability to draft and develop cornerbacks in the early Carroll era — the Seahawks have surprisingly only drafted three in the last five drafts (Tre Flowers, Shaquil Griffin, Tye Smith). It’s perhaps indicative of other teams copying the Seahawks in looking for long, athletic corners earlier in the draft. These days the options are perhaps far more limited.

Best drill to watch
The backpedal drill. Watch to see how the cornerback transitions and whether it’s effortless. Do they have loose hips and do they explode out of their break? Is their footwork smooth or clunky? Are they laboured in any way or does it just look natural?

Five names to watch
Trevon Diggs (Alabama), C.J. Henderson (Florida), Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), Jeff Okudah (Ohio State), Damon Arnette (Ohio State)

Positional assessment
It’s not a bad class at cornerback. Jeff Okudah is the best combination of talent and athleticism since Patrick Peterson. There are other players who could also land in the first round and the depth could stretch into the middle rounds this year. I generally don’t study the later round options until I’ve seen measurements and workouts at the combine. After all, the Seahawks have such a defined ‘type’. We might as well focus our attention on the players they might actually draft.

Importance to the Seahawks?
They could do with adding some competition for Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers. The depth at the position is pretty suspect and needs replenishing. Furthermore, Griffin is set to be a free agent next year. It’ll also be interesting to see if they target a nickel cornerback. We know by now that corner is unlikely to be addressed early in the draft but the depth at the position should mean they identify some day three options.

Kyle Dugger is expected to have a fantastic combine

Safety
After hitting on Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010, Seattle hasn’t had much success drafting for the safety position. Ryan Murphy, Winston Guy and Mark LeGree have come and gone. Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill have struggled. Marquise Blair had a limited role as a rookie despite being taken in the second round.

There’s a real mix of physical profiles in the players they’ve taken, making it a difficult position to project. Thomas (31 1/4), Legree (30 1/4) and Blair (30 3/4) have short arms so the 32-inch test isn’t necessary here but Guy had great arm length (33). Murphy ran a 4.48 at his pro-day with an impressive 39-inch vertical and Blair ran a 4.48 with a 35-inch vertical but Legree (4.59) and Guy (4.70) didn’t run fast times (Legree only had a 31-inch vertical too). Hill ran a 4.47 but Thompson managed only a 4.60.

Quandre Diggs, who they acquired via trade, has 29 5/8 inch arms and ran a 4.56.

Overall it’s hard to determine a Seahawks physical ‘type’. The only safety they’ve drafted in the first round (Earl Thomas) was a tremendous athlete. He ran a 4.37 at his pro-day after pulling a hamstring running the forty at the combine (while still managing an official 4.49). Blair, their next highest pick at the position, was decently athletic and hit like a sledgehammer.

Of all the positions, this might be the one without a clear established physical ideal. It could be the position where scouting matters the most — or at least establishing what type of safety you are drafting.

There aren’t many safety’s entering the NFL with elite level speed. Since 2010, only six (Zedrick Woods, Darnell Savage, Darius West, Troy Akpe, T.J. Green and Justin Cox) ran in the 4.3’s or faster at the combine. Budda Baker’s 4.45 at only 195lbs is the 15th best time by a safety in the last nine years. The fastest players haven’t always been the best either. Here are the top-15 runners at the position since 2010:

Zedrick Woods – 4.29
Troy Akpe — 4.34
T.J. Green — 4.34
Justin Cox — 4.36
Darnell Savage – 4.36
Darius West – 4.39
Natrell Jamerson — 4.40
Obi Melifownu — 4.40
Justin Reid — 4.40
Dane Cruikshank — 4.41
Josh Jones — 4.41
Terrence Brooks — 4.42
Montae Nicholson — 4.42
Shamarko Thomas — 4.42
Taylor Mays — 4.43
Godwin Igwebuike — 4.44
Earl Wolff — 4.44
Budda Baker — 4.45

We talk a lot about speed at safety because of Earl Thomas but the results here tend to suggest a couple of possibilities. Either speed isn’t as important as some people think to be a great safety or it’s indicative of a lack of quality safety’s currently in the NFL. Both might be true.

Key drills
Forty yard dash, Three-cone, Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
+6-0, 200-220lbs, 4.4 forty, +39-inch vertical, +10-5 broad jump

Interesting note
A few months ago, Grant Delpit was considered one of the ten or so best players in the draft. Suddenly, despite possessing most of the qualities of a top-level safety, he’s now being mocked in the media in the late first round (or lower). The main reason given is poor tackling form. Have any of these people watched Earl Thomas try and tackle?

Best drill to watch
Any of the drills requiring the safety’s to close in space and show off their open-field quickness and range.

Five names to watch
Grant Delpit (LSU), Kyle Dugger (Lenoir-Rhyne), Antoine Winfield Jr (Minnesota), Terrell Burgess (Utah), Xavier McKinney (Alabama)

Positional assessment
Delpit should be a high pick but we’ll see if he drops like the media projections are saying. A lot of the national mocks have Xavier McKinney in round one. There’s not a ton of depth at the position this year although Kyle Dugger is really building momentum and will be one of the big stories if he has a great workout. He’s also an alpha with a dog mentality and major special teams value so he could easily be high on Seattle’s board.

Importance to the Seahawks?
The trade for Quandre Diggs, the selection of Marquise Blair in round two and the fondness they have for Bradley McDougald probably pushes this need near the back of the line. They also drafted Ugo Amadi last year and still have Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson on the roster, although possibly not for much longer.

Assessing last years ‘names to watch’

The following players were listed among our ‘five names to watch’ at each position and were eventually drafted by the Seahawks:

L.J. Collier
Marquise Blair
D.K. Metcalf
Gary Jennings

Further reading

One sentence scouting reports for 105 prospects

2020 draft prospects tier list

Why the Seahawks will be aggressive this off-season

The Seahawks might have to be ruthless to create more cap space

Previewing the options in free agency for Seattle

Why the Seahawks aren’t as focused on SPARQ as you might think

The top performers in each drill position-by-position since 2006

What is TEF?

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Everson Griffen is now a free agent (and future Seahawk?)

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Things seem to be falling into place quickly for the Seahawks.

With the combine on the horizon and Greg Olsen already filling one vital off-season need, now it’s emerged that Everson Griffen has voided his contract and will be a free agent.

It was always inevitable that Griffen would depart Minnesota one way or another. It was just a question of how it happened. Would they cut him? Would he void his contract? Would he be traded? None of this was a review of Griffen’s value or performance. The Vikings’ cap situation is simply a mess.

Today’s move just about puts them in the black for 2020. Yet they’ll still need to raise major funds if they want to retain star safety Anthony Harris (and presumably that is a priority). They’re also set to lose two cornerbacks in free agency, making it a much tougher call to cut or trade Xavier Rhodes when it would otherwise seem obvious.

In 2019 Griffen had eight sacks — a fair amount as a compliment to Danielle Hunter. Yet he also had 13 QB knockdowns (one more than Nick Bosa), 35 pressures (the same amount as Robert Quinn and Dante Fowler) and 13 hurries (as many as Za’Darius Smith and DaMarcus Lawrence).

The Seahawks don’t just need someone who can provide sacks — they lacked any kind of consistent pressure last season. That’s what Griffen provides. He will test opponents, draw attention and impact games. He’s not Von Miller or a Bosa brother — particularly now he’s 32. He certainly can be Chris Clemons for this Seahawks team though — a productive veteran who consistently delivers.

Seattle’s top priority this off-season will be to make sure the defense is significantly better in 2020. That unit held the team back. Here’s a reminder of the raw stats:

The Seahawks finished the 2019 season with 28 sacks, second fewest in the league behind only Miami (23). Their sack percentage was 4.5% — third worst overall.

They had only 126 pressures, sixth fewest in the league behind Detroit (125), Oakland (117), Houston (117), Atlanta (115) and Miami (96). Seattle’s pressure percentage was the fourth worst in the league (19.3%) behind Detroit (18.9%), Houston (18.1%) and Miami (16.7%).

Seattle hit the quarterback 68 times — fourth fewest. They had 52 TFL’s — again, fourth fewest.

They gave up 55 explosive running plays on defense, seventh most in the NFL. Yet their explosive run play percentage (14%) was the third worst overall behind only Carolina (16%) and Cleveland (15%).

In the passing game they conceded 54 explosive plays — the 14th most.

They also gave up 4.9 YPC — fourth most overall.

The other startling statistic is the sheer number of missed tackles. They had 131 during the regular season — the fourth most.

You can’t win a Championship with a defense ranking in the bottom five in so many categories like this. Bad tackling, no pass rush, poor run defense. You can keep adding and adding to the offense. You can’t roll out one of the NFL’s worst defenses as a compliment and expect to win a Super Bowl.

For that reason, they’re going to need to add multiple pieces as we’ve discussed so often already. It starts with attempting to retain Jadeveon Clowney as the priority. It also includes adding pieces around him.

Griffen would be an ideal compliment. It would provide the makings of a defense capable of rushing with four. They would still need to add some complimentary speed to the pass rush and a defensive tackle (especially if Jarran Reed departs). The draft could provide solutions there — either in the form of someone like Raekwon Davis or Julian Okwara or one of the SAM types who are part of this class.

There could also be opportunities in the trade market or second wave of free agency. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. After all, who expected the Seahawks to be able to acquire Jadeveon Clowney and Quandre Diggs for such a paltry return or sign Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in 2013, weeks after trading for (and paying) Percy Harvin? The Seahawks have a way of making things happen.

Griffen ticks a lot of boxes. His recent production, his experience, his physical profile (he ran a 4.36 short shuttle at his combine).

So how likely is it that he’ll land in Seattle?

Ben Goessling immediately made the connection to Seattle as soon as the news broke. This tweet is interesting because it suggests more than a mere ‘he’d be a good fit there’. He says there’s interest, either from the player or Pete Carroll, in reuniting former USC pass rusher with former USC coach.

During the 2019 season John Clayton said on multiple occasions on the radio that the Seahawks had tried to trade for Griffen. Presumably this happened after Frank Clark was dealt to the Chiefs. The Vikings weren’t interested in a trade at the time. Now with Griffen a free agent, the Seahawks have no hurdles to clear.

Already it feels like this is trending a certain way.

Nothing’s ever certain because who knows what other teams will be offering? Yet the Carroll connection feels important. Given Griffen’s recent mental health issues, picking the right environment could be his biggest factor. That would seemingly make Seattle and a return to Minnesota the most likely scenarios. The difference is — Seattle has cap space, Minnesota doesn’t.

A short-term deal could also significantly benefit the Seahawks if they want to make other moves in free agency. We’ve noted a lot recently that just because you sign a player to a significant long term contract — teams often structure the deals to limit the first-year cap hit. Frank Clark’s cap hit in 2019 was just $6.5m despite signing a deal in Kansas City to become the third highest paid EDGE in the NFL. Khalil Mack’s Chicago cap hit in 2018 was $13.8M and last season it was just $11.9M.

Players like Griffen and Greg Olsen might take up a chunk of the remaining 2020 cap but they’ll be off the books by 2021 or, if Griffen signs for multiple years, 2022. This enables the Seahawks to fit bigger contracts in with larger cap hits down the line, as they try to max out the opportunity to contend in 2020. You don’t want to do this with too many players but it’s just part and parcel of the NFL. The Chiefs are already doing it before they even pay Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones.

If the Seahawks kick off free agency by retaining Clowney and adding Griffen, having already signed Olsen, they will be well placed to have the kind of off-season needed to contend next season.

If you missed yesterday’s 2020 draft tier list, check it out here.

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2020 NFL draft tier list

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Georgia lineman Isaiah Wilson should be considered one of the top prospects in the draft

I’m publishing a tier list now mainly for reference. It’ll provide an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the combine.

There’s still so much to be determined and for that reason, I’ve created a tier of players I’m ‘undecided’ on. This is a group that by the end of the combine, we’ll have much more clarity on their standing within this class.

Tier one (the elite eight)

These are the players, in order, that I believe are the very best in this class.

Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
Chase Young (DE, Ohio State)
Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
Isaiah Simmons (LB, Clemson)
Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)

Joe Burrow won’t do anything at the combine or his pro-day to negatively impact his stock. He had a college football season for the ages in 2019 and fully deserves to be the #1 pick. He’s supremely accurate and poised but also has the ability to improvise and throw on the run.

Jeff Okudah is the best combination of talent and athleticism at cornerback since Patrick Peterson. He has ideal size, length and height and he’s a 142.56 SPARQ athlete, capable of running a 4.4, a 4.03 short shuttle and jumping a 42 inch vertical. A lot of people refer to Chase Young as the first or second best player in the draft. I think it’s Okudah. He has everything.

Derrick Brown is a top-10 pick any year as a highly athletic, disruptive and disciplined defensive tackle with great size. In the last week I’ve watched players competing against Auburn and it’s incredible how impactful Brown is. He’s so quick and aggressive and always has to be accounted for.

Chase Young has been superb for two years at Ohio State but he’ll need to test well to warrant the hype. He was a terror as an edge rusher, showed an ability to take over games and rightly he’s considered a top-five pick. That said, he was quiet at the end of the season particularly against Clemson in the playoffs. At SPARQ he ran a 4.94 forty and a 4.46 short shuttle. He needs to do a lot better than that in Indianapolis.

Javon Kinlaw could be a Fletcher Cox-type talent in the NFL. Isaiah Simmons reportedly is going to push Okudah to be the star tester at the combine and he has great leadership skills.

I’m not buying the recent negativity about Andrew Thomas and Grant Delpit. Thomas is athletic, well sized, balanced and had a terrific career at Georgia. Delpit does everything well but his tackling is loose. So what? Earl Thomas couldn’t tackle either. His range, read-and-react, ability to come up to the line and play the run and instinct in coverage is excellent. He also has the size, length and athleticism to play corner.

Tier two (first round talents)

This is a group of players who I believe are first round talents. It doesn’t mean they’ll all necessarily go in round one. I believe they have the traits, ability and upside to warrant high grades.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, LSU)
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona State)
Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
Tristan Wirfs (T, Iowa)
Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
K.J. Hamler (WR, Penn State)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a special talent. He’s a highly explosive, sudden running back with great toughness and physicality. He is a warrior. The only reason I can think people aren’t talking about him as a top-level prospect is the fact he’s only 5-8. Yet he’s capable of a 40 inch vertical, a 4.4 forty and a 4.04 short shuttle. He’s a brilliant receiver and an excellent kick-returner. He is one of the best players in the 2020 draft.

Jerry Jeudy is a terrific route runner. Teams like the Giants, Jets, Redskins and Broncos could do with having a player with his level of polish and consistency. He’ll be a young QB’s dream — someone they can rely on to be in the right place at the right time. If he has a terrific combine, he could be a top-10 pick.

Brandon Aiyuk is the real deal. He has excellent size and turbo speed acceleration. His catching technique, control, ball-tracking, positioning, ability to create easy separation and special teams dynamism makes him a clear first round talent. He makes things happen and has the frame to be a highly dynamic playmaker. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was a top-tier NFL pass-catcher within three years.

In a receiver class full of lightning-quick players, Henry Ruggs is expected to be the fastest runner. It shows on tape too. He has exceptional acceleration but also builds speed and separates with ease on go-routes. Teams will have to account for him on every snap and that dictates coverage. You want players who force an opponent to game-plan. He’s expected to run a 4.2 and that kind of performance secured a top-10 placing for John Ross in 2017.

Isaiah Wilson is a hulking giant of a man. He dominates in the running game and I think people have forgotten how well Wilson and Andrew Thomas pass-protected for Jake Fromm in 2019. He was a former #2 overall national recruit. There are technical flaws to work on but that’s the case for all offensive linemen coming into the NFL. I suspect NFL teams will love what they see with Wilson and believe his upside to be enormous.

Cesar Ruiz has the full package at center even at such a young age. He anchored Michigan’s line and played as big a part as anyone in helping the Wolverines recover from a slow start in 2019. In pass protection he’s assured and in the running game he’s tough, physical and very willing to progress up to the second level and finish. His backstory is full of grit and determination and he has ideal size.

Tristan Wirfs could easily go in the top-10. The NFL needs offensive linemen, across the board. This class has a decent number of excellent, well-sized athletes. That’s what they want — upside, size and ability. Wirfs is 6-5, 320lbs, comes from Iowa where they coach up offensive linemen as well as anyone and he’s capable of a highly explosive 35 inch vertical and 9-5 broad jump. Coaches will love to get hold of him.

Traits matter. Teams know you need at least a collection of players in your core who look the part. Very few look more destined for the NFL than Raekwon Davis. Yes, his pass-rush production in 2018 and 2019 was a big disappointment. Here’s the thing though. He’s 6-7 and 310lbs. He’s built like Calais Campbell. He plays with terrific leverage, absorbs blocks and defends the run superbly. He can play DE or DT and he has attitude, toughness and he’s difficult to move. Teams will look at his frame, upside, power and athleticism and back themselves to get more pass-rush from him.

Jalen Reagor might not run a 4.2 like Henry Ruggs but he could easily crack the 4.3’s. He can burn off defenders on go-routes but he also catches the ball brilliantly away from his body. He has explosive lower body power which enables him to out-jump cornerbacks and high-point better than anyone else in this class. He jumped a 38 inch vertical at SPARQ.

J.K. Dobbins has everything physically you want in a runner. He’s perfectly sized at 5-10 and 220lbs. He jumped a 43 inch vertical at SPARQ, ran a 4.44 and a 4.09 short shuttle. He’s explosive, has the burst to exploit lanes and a deadly jump-cut to avoid tacklers and break off big gains. His pass-protection is better than most and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

K.J. Hamler is a diminutive yet rare talent. He has electricity in the open-field and can avoid tackles and make magic happen. He appears to have disproportionately long arms and he’s a threat to score as a returner. He’s such a dynamic receiver.

Tier three (R1-2 picks)

These players warrant grades in the first or second round. Some will clearly go in round one but I feel there are enough question marks to drop them into tier three.

Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
C.J. Henderson (CB, Florida)
Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)
Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
Anthony McFarland (RB, Maryland)
D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State)
Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)

I put the two quarterbacks in this tier. Justin Herbert is big with a good arm and he can create, improvise and deliver exceptional plays. He’s too erratic though and I think he’ll need a strong supporting cast and a quality offensive mind as a coach to get the best of him. Tua Tagovailoa would be higher but it’s as simple as this — nobody is going to know the full medical picture by the draft and I can’t rank him higher than this with major question marks about his future and his ability to play at the same level we saw pre-hip injury.

Jonathan Taylor fumbles too much but is otherwise a terrific runner with a great second gear and excellent cut-back ability. He has ideal size and ran a 4.42 at SPARQ. He could easily run a 4.3 at the combine and that will make some headlines on day one. He has to fix the ball-security issues though.

C.J. Henderson didn’t have the turnovers at Florida and that will raise question marks on his ability to find and track the football. Yet his coverage ability is second to none and when he runs a sub-4.00 short shuttle at the combine, teams will fall in love with his potential.

Trevon Diggs is an excellent athlete and does a great job tracking the ball in the air. You can work on flaws but generally you can either track the ball or you can’t and Diggs is ready to play. We know he’s a great athlete — just look at his brother.

Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray both fly around the field with speed and quickness. They’re modern day linebackers. If they run well, as expected, teams will covet them. Murray in particular provides an element of aggressive tone-setting to the field too.

I think Anthony McFarland is one of the most underrated players in the draft. He’s so quick, so electric. He destroyed Ohio State in 2018. He won’t fit every scheme but if he lands in the right place — watch out. D’Andre Swift is regularly listed as the top runner in the class. He’s good — and there’s enough on tape to justify a reasonably good grade. There just aren’t many ‘wow’ moments though and the running backs listed ahead of him all deliver those ‘wow’ moments.

I like everything about Damon Arnette’s game. He’s excellent in coverage. He has the size. He plays the ball in the air. And he’s very willing to deliver a jarring hit or tackle in the running game. Kristian Fulton similarly is a physical corner who loves to get after it. He can line up outside or at nickel.

The ‘to be determined’ tier

This group has the potential to jump into any of the tiers above. I/we just don’t have enough information yet. They’ve all produced in college but there are question marks such as speed, measurables and agility. The combine will provide answers.

Jedrick Wills (T, Alabama)
Mekhi Becton (T, Louisville)
Austin Jackson (T, USC)
Ceedee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
Laviska Shenault Jr (WR, Colorado)
K’Lavon Chaisson (LB, LSU)
A.J. Epenesa (DE, Iowa)
Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)
Zack Baun (LB, Wisconsin)
Joshua Uche (LB, Wisconsin)
Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
Josh Jones (T, Houston)
Willie Gay Jr (LB, Mississippi State)
Bryan Edwards (WR, South Carolina)
Julian Okwara (DE, Notre Dame)
Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor)
Ross Blacklock (DT, TCU)

Jedrick Wills is said to be looking great during combine prep and there are flashes of real athleticism on tape. Even so, he doesn’t have an orthodox long tackle frame and we need to see how he tests. Does he have the traits? Yes he’s talent but let’s see his workout to judge just how good he can be. A great combine could secure a very early round one grade. A modest workout will leave some question marks about his ability to be more than a right tackle or guard.

Mekhi Becton is expected to weigh about 360lbs. In 2018, many were touting Orlando Brown to be a solid first round pick. He had similar size and ran a 5.85 forty then jumped a 19.5 inch vertical. His stock plummeted and he ended up being a late third round pick. It’s very difficult to test well at 360lbs. If Becton pulls it off, he’ll earn those high grades. If he struggles, we’ve seen what can happen.

Austin Jackson looks the part of a NFL left tackle. His movement, size and length and general athleticism are tailor made for the pro’s. Like most college linemen though he’s raw and needs refinement. He had off moments, such as a rough day against Iowa in USC’s bowl game. There might be some growing pains early in his career but teams will live with it if he has the upside.

Ceedee Lamb is very exciting and creative with the ball in his hands. Every WR screen turns into a kick return. He can make magic happen. There are some legitimate concerns though about his speed. He ran a 4.60 at SPARQ. You need to be quick and sudden at the next level especially when some of those crazy YAC plays are taken away by bigger, faster defenders at the next level. If he runs a 4.4 he will rightly be ranked among the top wide outs but we have to wait and see.

Tee Higgins is in the same boat. Technically he’s very good. His body control, contested-catch win rate and smooth route-running are all pluses. Unlike a lot of receivers in this draft though, he doesn’t create much easy separation. So he needs to run in the 4.4’s to allay some fears.

Laviska Shenault Jr is caught between a running back and receiver. Teams are going to have to have a plan for him. It’ll be easy for someone to justify that if he has a sensational combine. At SPARQ he only ran a 4.59 and a 4.50 short shuttle. He has to do better than that in Indianapolis.

For all the love K’Lavon Chaisson gets in the media, his pass-rush production was limited at LSU and a lot of the pressures he did have came on stunts. He looks incredible in terms of his frame and there’s quickness on tape. But you’re drafting him based purely on upside and what he could turn into, not what he’s shown at LSU. He only ran a 4.69 at SPARQ and had a 34 inch vertical. We’ll need to see a better performance at the combine including a great 10-yard split.

A.J. Epenesa finished 2019 strongly but he’s big and sometimes looked a bit sluggish. He’s not a speed rusher but has he got sneaky agility and can he combine explosive power with a great short shuttle? If he can, he’ll really promote his stock into round one. If he doesn’t, teams might wonder about his fit and upside.

Yetur Gross-Matos looks the part. He’s long, lean and pretty much what you want a dynamic 4-3 pass rusher to look like. He doesn’t look particularly twitchy though and that’ll matter for his stock. A great combine could get him into round one. Check for the 10-yard split and his agility testing.

Zack Baun and Joshua Uche are very similar. Both played a SAM linebacker type role on paper but at Wisconsin and Michigan respectively they were really aggressive and attacked as pass rushers. Neither is big enough to be a long term EDGE so it’s vital they test well to have teams believing in their ability to play linebacker on early downs and then more into situational pass-rushing roles.

Xavier McKinney was used as a blitzing safety at Alabama so often and he won’t be able to do that as much at the next level unless he’s playing for Todd Bowles. He has to prove he has speed and range. At SPARQ he only ran a 4.59.

Josh Jones had good and bad moments at the Senior Bowl. Like the other offensive tackles here, the way he tests is so important. If he has upside, teams will take a chance on ironing out the kinks.

Willie Gay Jr jumped a 40 inch vertical at SPARQ, pushed his forty towards the 4.4’s and ran a 4.26 short shuttle. He’s such a playmaker and a good combine will get people talking about him.

Bryan Edwards should be talked about more. He’s excellent and a big part of this ace receiver class. He recently tweeted about people thinking he’s slow. He isn’t and he’s very capable of running a 4.4. If he does it, he will shoot up boards.

Julian Okwara looks so quick on tape. With this draft severely lacking in speed rushers, he can jump into a round one grade with a great workout.

Hunter Bryant ran a 4.35 short shuttle at SPARQ and he looks incredible in pre-combine testing. With this being a weak draft for TE’s, he could lock himself into the top-50 with a great combine.

Denzel Mims is a contested catch dynamo with a pissed off for greatness attitude. The question is — can he run at this size? He needs to run a 4.4 to max out his stock.

Ross Blacklock is almost too busy at times at the LOS looking for entry points into the backfield but his quick feet and athleticism are on show. Can he convince teams of his upside with a good forty and short shuttle?

Value players in rounds 2-4

This is a group who could provide some value between rounds two and four.

Kyle Dugger (S, Lenoir-Rhyne)
Rashard Lawrence (DT, LSU)
Damien Lewis (G, LSU)
Logan Stenberg (G, Kentucky)
Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
Lloyd Cushenberry (C, LSU)
Matt Hennessy (C, Temple)
Shane Lemiuex (G, Oregon)
Tyre Phillips (G, Mississippi State)
Hakeem Adeniji (G, Kansas)
John Simpson (G, Clemson)
Solomon Kindley (G, Georgia)
Lucas Niang (T, TCU)
Alex Taylor (T, South Carolina)
Zack Moss (RB, Utah)
Devin Asiasi (TE, UCLA)
Jabari Zuniga (DE, Florida)

Kyler Dugger has the size, he’s expected to test well at the combine, he’s a star special teamer and most importantly — he’s a true alpha. The Seahawks need some dogs and Dugger fits the bill. Expect a top combine performance.

Rashard Lawrence equally just plays with a fire and intensity that you need in the trenches. As a former #12 overall recruit, he has a chance to test well.

The more I’ve watched of Damien Lewis the more I’ve liked. He’s a terror blocking in the run game, he recovers well and is very difficult to beat. He looked very polished and accomplished at the Senior Bowl. I’m also a huge Logan Stenberg fan for the simple reason that he absolutely batters opponents and is a true finisher. He reminds me of Alex Boone.

Prince Tega Wanogho has ended up becoming one of the most underrated players in the draft. With great size he was tipped to a run a 4.95 but it’s since been revealed he won’t workout at the combine. If he falls, he’ll provide value.

Lloyd Cushenberry did a good job at the Senior Bowl and along with Matt Hennessy, warrants some consideration as a possible center option for the Seahawks if they cut Justin Britt. The more I watched of Hennessy at the Senior Bowl the more impressive he looked. Thank you Jim Nagy for posting the full practise videos. Hennessy was one of the top performers in Mobile having been able to make a full assessment. He could easily go in round two. Shane Lemieux is aggressive yet controlled and was mightily impressive on tape.

Tyre Phillips is massive. He has the kind of size, length and attitude the Seahawks like. Every time I watched Hakeem Adeniji I thought he was impressive in Mobile. John Simpson has some iffy moments with his footwork but his size, tenacity and aggressive blocking style has some appeal. Solomon Kindley’s frame is a bit sloppy and he’s on the deck too often but he’s a menace in the running game and is light on his feet despite his size.

Lucas Niang is a forgotten man of the class due to injury but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he entered the league and quickly became a starting right tackle or guard. Alex Taylor is long and thin but I think there’s potential to work with.

I need to see how Zack Moss tests but on tape he’s happiest ploughing into a defender to gain yards after contact and we know the Seahawks love physicality in the running game.

Devin Asiasi is a very clean catcher of a football and while he appears heavy there’s no doubting his quickness and athletic elegance at tight end. I have a feeling Jabari Zuniga will test well at the combine and could be someone who, a few years down the line, ends up being a mid-round steal.

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Greg Olsen is signing with the Seahawks

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

An off-season is like a puzzle. You need to piece everything together — it’s just a case of working out how you’re going to do it.

Every team has needs. They also have a set amount of cap space, some draft picks and an existing roster. The teams who succeed generally identify the best ways to find impact and fill as many holes as possible using all the resources at their disposal.

The Seahawks have a lot to do this off-season. Gratefully they also have the means to get a lot done. There’s $50m in cap space (and realistic ways to create more). They have three picks in the first two rounds of the draft and plenty more to follow.

Signing Greg Olsen is the first move of a vital few weeks ahead. There’s equally a lot of logic to the signing and one significant question mark.

Why the move makes sense

The 2020 draft is not a good class for tight ends. It’s possible we won’t see any taken in the top-50. There are some intriguing players, such as Hunter Bryant and Cole Kmet. This isn’t like last year though where the depth is quite thick throughout and you can find highly athletic TE’s on each of the three days.

For that reason, the Seahawks — who needed to add a tight end — were almost always going to turn to the veteran market. Reportedly they looked at potential trades before the 2019 deadline once Will Dissly had been lost for the season. Nothing materialised. The Bengals seemingly weren’t even willing to deal often-injured pending free agent Tyler Eifert during a lost season.

Has anything changed? Presumably they’ve asked. Teams are already talking, as we learnt from yesterday’s report regarding Darius Slay and possible trade activity. We’ll have to wait and see what happens but it’s possible the likes of O.J. Howard and David Njoku simply aren’t available — at least for a realistic price.

Free agency was going to provide some options. Hunter Henry has suffered injuries but is talented. Austin Hooper is set to leave the Falcons due to their tight cap situation. Eric Ebron is also reaching the market as is Eifert.

You’d think the Chargers would use the franchise or transition tag on Henry but we’ll see. Ebron, aside from one good season with Andrew Luck, has had a disappointing career. Eifert just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Hooper seemed like the best option because of his consistency, blocking, short shuttle (valued by Seattle), availability and age (26).

The problem is he was going to be expensive. He could end up being the highest paid tight end in the league next month, with a salary topping $10m a year. If George Kittle signs an extension before free agency, the price could sky-rocket. It would also be a long term commitment, stretching four or five years.

The Seahawks need a tight end but it’s not their greatest issue. That rests with the defensive line. Any potential saving is encouraging, especially if you can find a short term solution.

For example, let’s say they agree a new deal with Jadeveon Clowney worth anywhere between $20-24m a year. In order to get as much done as possible in 2020, they’ll probably look to limit his year-one cap hit. Kansas City did the same with Frank Clark. His cap hit in 2019 was $6.5m. Khalil Mack in Chicago had a cap hit of $13.8M and $11.9M in his first two years with the Bears.

This becomes more of a problem if you’re structuring deals like this with multiple players. Signing Clowney and Hooper to long term big contracts would potentially put them in cap trouble 2-3 years down the line — as we’re seeing with Minnesota, Atlanta and Chicago currently.

A one-year deal for a veteran is ideal. There’s no commitment beyond 2020.

Greg Olsen fits perfectly for this off-season scenario.

Now they can sign Clowney and structure his deal however they want. They can be creative with other additions. Yes — a $7m salary isn’t cheap for a 34-year-old with a recent history of injuries. But it provides them with a proven target this year and allows them to let Dissly recover and then prove he is the future for Seattle at tight end. Signing Austin Hooper would make him the future and leave Dissly on the periphery.

Olsen had 597 yards in 14 games in 2019. It’s unrealistic to expect fantastic, mega production from him at this stage in his career. All they’ve done, really, is upgrade Olsen for Ed Dickson at a cost of about $4m (they’ll save $3m when they cut Dickson). When you put it like that — and with the opportunity it provides Dissly to stake a claim in 2020 — there’s real logic behind this addition.

Why the move carries a question mark

Injuries. Olsen has missed 18 games in the last three seasons. Dissly, sadly, is in a position now where he has to prove he can stay healthy. Now they’ve acquired a player, at some cost, who also has a recent history of missing games.

A number of teams need tight end help and they’re all staring at a thin draft class at the position. Yet only three teams officially visited with Olsen. The Redskins — coached by Ron Rivera who is tight with Olsen through Carolina. The Bills — coached by Sean McDermott who is tight with Olsen through Carolina. And the Seahawks.

Seattle was the only team with no previous connection to Olsen to show interest. The Patriots? Nowhere to be found. Ditto several others who really needed a TE.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t hold talks or even receive offers. The small market (and one defined by previous relationships) isn’t encouraging though to any outside observer.

The success or failure of this addition however will purely be down to availability. If he stays healthy, he will contribute. He’s a quality player. If he misses serious game time — the Seahawks will be open to criticism.

Ultimately though, as noted above, they had to make a call. It’s encouraging that they actually fought off competition from Rivera in particular — who Olsen has tremendous respect for. That shows he wants to contend and that the Seahawks were appealing (which isn’t a surprise given the teams’ unique culture and the quarterback throwing the football). That’s a good sign heading into a month where they’re going to need to convince several other players to join the movement.

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Anthony McFarland are excellent

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is special

The Seahawks have a type at running back. Aside from a preferred physical style, size matters. They’ve consistently drafted running backs with a similar profile:

Robert Turbin — 5-10, 222lbs, 36 inch vert, 10-2 broad
Christine Michael — 5-10, 220lbs, 43 inch vert, 10-5 broad
C.J. Prosise — 6-0, 220lbs, 35.5 inch vert, 10-1 broad
Chris Carson — 6-0, 218lbs, 37 inch vert, 10-10 broad
Rashaad Penny — 5-11, 220lbs, 32.5 inch vert, 10-0 broad

They like 5-10/6-0 in height, around 220lbs in weight with explosive traits.

For that reason, they might not be interested in the two players I’m going to write about today.

Nevertheless, I’m writing about them anyway. Because they’re really good.

I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire might be the best running back in the class. I believe he and Anthony McFarland are among the top-50 players in terms of pure talent.

I doubt they’ll both go in that range, although it might be possible for Edwards-Helaire. With D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins expected to go early, there might not be room for a fourth running back to go in the first 50 picks. Edwards-Helaire should be considered in that range. Whoever lands either player is unlikely to be disappointed.

Neither fits the Seahawks size profile. McFarland is listed at about 5-9 and 200lbs with Edwards-Helaire at 5-8 and 208lbs. There’s always room for a outlier (see: 5-10 franchise quarterback taken in round three) but for the most part the Seahawks stick to what they know and like.

Ohio State’s Dobbins, for example, is 5-10 and 220lbs and he could be the most explosive player who tests at the combine this year. At SPARQ he jumped a 43 inch vertical, ran a 4.09 short shuttle and finished with an elite score of 146.76. That’s generally the type of player the Seahawks go for at the position.

Jonathan Taylor had fumbling issues at Wisconsin but at SPARQ he ran a 4.42 forty and he could easily get into the 4.3’s in Indianapolis. Combine that with a 4.30 short shuttle and a 35 inch vertical and it’s a NFL phyical profile with ideal size (5-11, 220lbs).

D’Andre Swift (5-9, 215lbs) ran a 4.15 short shuttle at SPARQ and he jumped a 33 inch vertical. Essentially, there’s a lot of very athletic and very talented runners at the top of this draft and overall it’s a class that deserves more attention.

With other needs it’s perhaps unlikely the Seahawks would consider taking any of the names mentioned in this piece so far. While they need to add a runner, they also see Chris Carson as the future of the position and they’re not going to give up on Rashaad Penny due to one injury. They’ll probably look for a C.J. Prosise replacement with a track record of availability and ball security.

That said, with their desire to run frequently and with physicality — replenishing the running back stable with proper, quality talent isn’t a terrible idea. Especially with the need to make a call on Carson’s contract over the next 12 months.

We’ve been talking about McFarland for a couple of years on the blog. He might not be the kind of bludgeoning runner Seattle covets but his quickness, turbo acceleration and electrifying ability with the ball in hand could make him a star at the next level.

He destroyed Ohio State in 2018. Give him any kind of crease and he’ll explode through a lane to break off big gains. He’s patient to allow blocks to develop and his cut-back ability is exhilarating. He accelerates quickly and he’s capable of beating anyone in a foot race. He’s a chunk yardage specialist. McFarland won’t get people out of their seats in the way Marshawn Lynch did by running people over — but they’ll be cheering his dynamism as he rolls off another 35-yarder to launch another scoring drive. He has special qualities and extreme talent.

It’s understandable why the Seahawks prefer bigger, more explosive runners. Yet I’ve always wanted to see a proper compliment to the power and that’s what McFarland brings. Pure electricity.

He’s not just a speed or scat back either. He’s very difficult to tackle and bring down. There’s plenty of evidence of him avoiding first contract or darting through an arm tackle to create an explosive play. He ran a 4.04 short shuttle at SPARQ and you see that sudden change of direction, short-area quickness and agility on show as he escapes defenders to find space.

He’s not going to be the type of player you run up the gut 20 times to wear down an opponent. Given his size, there’s every chance he’ll have some negative plays along the way, especially with the quality of defender at the next level and the sheer level of penetration most defense’s create.

Yet we’ve just seen the 49ers reach the Super Bowl featuring a number of different running backs, including 5-10, 205lbs Raheem Mostert. His ability to provide explosive running plays that shift field position, create cheap scoring opportunities and demand attention was a huge reason why the Niners almost won a Championship.

Mostert’s 2019 impact could force teams to take a serious look at McFarland. It won’t be a surprise if he goes in the same range as Alvin Kamara — another player who really had no business lasting until round three.

I suspect whoever drafts him will get a steal. As long as he can stay healthy (he missed games at Maryland) he’s exactly the type of X-factor talent that can be cost-effective and a vital part of a running back rotation.

Edwards-Helaire was a revelation for LSU. As good as Joe Burrow was in 2019 — he was the best player in college football, he fully deserved the Heisman and he’s the right choice for Cincinnati with the #1 pick — it’s easy to forget just how much talent was on that offense.

They had two excellent receivers in Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. The O-line had quality players like the underrated guard Damien Lewis (one of my favourites on the O-line) and center Lloyd Cushenberry. Thaddeus Moss produced results as a blocker and receiver at tight end. Next to Burrow in the backfield was one of the very best players in the country (at any position) at running back.

Edwards-Helaire was just a joy to watch. He ran with intensity, fire, physicality and left everything on the field. He’d gain extra yards on contact, he was slippery enough to dodge tacklers and break off big gains. You could bounce him outside on a stretch or find the perimeter with a sweep but he was equally adept at getting the tough yards up the gut.

As a receiver he was an underrated mismatch at the second level. Edwards-Helaire did a tremendous job ghosting into coverage, settling down and providing an option for Burrow. He has good hands and he’s a natural catcher. LSU converted several key third downs using Edwards-Helaire as a check-down or final read. His diminutive size and quickness are hard to defend. He’s also a really good route runner. I can’t recall a runner with his ability to deliver crisp routes like he does.

Whenever they needed a play, Edwards-Helaire seemed to deliver. Big runs to finish games and wind the clock, important touchdowns, extending drives at a time of need. He could break off major runs as he showed with an 89-yard score against Arkansas. He provided 453 receiving yards to go with his 1,414 as a runner and 17 total touchdowns. 36% of his carries were for first downs or touchdowns in 2019.

He’s the definition of grit and determination and even though he’s undersized — it doesn’t really matter. You can win with him. He’s so explosive, so tough, so athletic. He plays beyond his frame in the same way Maurice Jones-Drew did. The other name that springs to mind watching him — and I’m deadly serious about this — is Barry Sanders. I’m not for a second suggesting he will get anywhere close to Sanders’ NFL career. However, they do share similar qualities, physical profiles (Sanders played at 5-8 and 203lbs and had similar testing numbers) and there are ‘Sanders-esque’ flashes on tape.

He’s aggressive and tough but also silky smooth in the open-field with loose hips and the ability to pivot, change direction and jump-cut. He can equally be a battering ram and a Rolls Royce. I don’t think I’ve seen a runner take it to Alabama like he did in 2019 and he energised the LSU sideline in numerous games with his running style.

Importantly for the Seahawks he shows excellent ball security. He didn’t have a single fumble in his three years in college. He provides special teams value and played as a kick returner throughout his time at LSU.

Edwards-Helaire is also a tremendous athlete. At SPARQ he ran a 4.04 short shuttle. That’s a quality time. Throw in a 40 inch vertical and a 4.47 forty at 201lbs on a 5-8 body. He is the definition of speed, quickness, agility and explosive power. He also has exceptional character and attitude.

Teams should tap into the talent on the LSU Championship roster. They have the character, attitude, winning mentality and most importantly the talent to succeed.

If Edwards-Helaire was the first running back off the board — nobody should question it. For me he’s right up there. For all the attention D’Andre Swift receives — Edwards-Helaire and Dobbins are arguably just as well placed to come into the league and play to a high standard.

I can’t project the Seahawks to draft Edwards-Helaire or McFarland much in the way I can’t project a cornerback in the first two rounds. When you have ten years of history and evidence to refer to and there are clear preferences — you can’t ignore that.

In the case of Edwards-Helaire in particular, I would love to think the Seahawks might see him as an outlier. He’s everything they want in a runner, just in a smaller package. At the very least he could develop into a Darren Sproles type. I think he can be much more. I think he can lead a rushing attack.

With Seattle’s fumbling issues in 2019, he’s a player who doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s tough and physical. He can be a superb and reliable pass-catcher and he can compete to return kicks. That’s a lot of value and a lot of talent to ignore for the sake of a few pounds or inches in height. He’s worth considering for this team.

Free agency will dictate their ability to consider certain positions early in the draft. If they haven’t fixed the D-line fully, if they haven’t added weapons for Russell Wilson and if holes are not filled on the O-line — they can’t look at running backs, even if Carson and Penny are returning from injury.

If they fill their greatest needs in the market — they have three picks in the first two rounds and the flexibility to consider different options.

I know some fans are allergic to any discussion about running backs these days. I suspect if they were given the opportunity to watch either McFarland or Edwards-Helaire in Seattle, they might come to love them. They’re fun, dynamic playmakers. Wherever they end up in the NFL, I’ll be watching.

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How to build a dynamic four-man pass rush

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

This is the big question facing the Seahawks this off-season. It’s not the offensive line. They do need more weapons for Russell Wilson but the #1 priority is to create an actual pass rush and significantly upgrade the defense.

We’ve looked at a number of different scenarios — from free agency to the trade market to the (thin) D-line options in the draft.

The Seahawks were given a blue-print to success by the NFC Champion 49ers. Their dynamic four-man rush was central to their Super Bowl run. Kyle Shanahan is always going to produce a productive offense. What really elevated San Francisco in 2019 — along with Jimmy Garoppolo’s return — was the drafting of Nick Bosa and the creation of the leagues best pass rush.

This isn’t anything new to Seattle. The signing of Ziggy Ansah and trading for Jadeveon Clowney looked like a potent double-threat before the season started. Obviously Ansah flamed out and his NFL career appears over. Jarran Reed’s suspension didn’t help and neither did L.J. Collier’s ineffective rookie season. They probably felt, not unfairly, they’d done enough to create the kind of defensive line needed to be successful.

Now, it’s time for another try.

The Seahawks aren’t going to be able to exactly copy the Niners. They don’t own the #2 pick and they haven’t got a #3 pick (Solomon Thomas), #7 pick (DeForest Buckner) and #17 pick (Arik Armstead) already on the roster.

They can make some moves though to create similar production.

First and foremost they have to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney. He’s a different player to Nick Bosa. He doesn’t have the same quickness and bend off the edge. I don’t think people realise how impressive Bosa’s 4.14 short shuttle was at last years combine despite weighing 266lbs. Clowney, at the exact same weight, ran a 4.43.

Nevertheless, he’s the closest thing they can possess to a game-wrecker. People can question his consistency and yet last season he faced countless double-teams and was basically a one-man show in many games. Support him properly and we’ll see the best of Clowney.

Arik Armstead is a free agent so technically the Seahawks could pursue him and steal one of San Francisco’s linemen. However, after a strong 2019 season, his price could be too rich for the Seahawks — especially if they retain Clowney.

As brilliant as Bosa was for the 49ers, the two hulking interior tackles were equally threatening. They weren’t great against the run but paired with Bosa they were a non-stop force against the pass.

Gaining the interior size, intimidation and production to pair with Clowney could elevate the Seahawks to a new level alone.

Recently I pitched the idea of trading for Calais Campbell. I’m still not convinced the Jaguars will let him go. For the last three years he’s produced at a top-five level at his position. Aside from Aaron Donald and Chris Jones, there’s probably not been a better performing defensive tackle in the league.

Yet strangely there are rumours and suggestions of a parting. Jacksonville does need to create cap space but that’s easily achieved by cutting Marcell Dareus and some other fringe players. Even so, Jags owner Shahid Khan was recently asked about Campbell’s future and he merely said he’s ‘hopeful’ he’d be with the team in 2020.

If there’s any chance to acquire Campbell — either via trade or if he’s cut — it must be taken. He would provide the interior rush Seattle needs. He’d upgrade their run-defense. He’d provide toughness, leadership and respect. He would anchor the line and make life so much easier for Clowney.

If a $15-17m cap hit is too high — extend his contract for an extra season. Supply him with guarantees and incentives to lower his number.

Again — who knows how realistic this is? The Seahawks likely wouldn’t be the only suitor either. Even with Campbell aged 33, I can’t think of a better addition for Seattle’s defense this year.

Why stop there though? The Niners line up two tall, sizeable interior linemen. Why not pair Campbell with an heir apparent via the draft?

Raekwon Davis is 6-7 and about 315lbs. For two years he was considered a likely high first round pick. Yet his pass-rush production has fallen off a cliff and he’s only recorded two full sacks in the last two seasons.

I spent some time re-watching Davis this week and there’s still an awful lot to like, especially for the Seahawks.

For starters, he has special traits. The size, the length, the athleticism. The Seahawks love difference-making traits and upside and he has it. Despite being so tall his leverage is excellent. His gap discipline (important in Seattle’s scheme) is good, he can anchor the line and absorb double-teams in the run game. He doesn’t get pushed around but he can equally move down the line to string out plays. Davis can line up as a big power end or at defensive tackle.

Physically, he’s the nearest thing to Campbell to enter the league since Calais was drafted in 2008.

Even if he never develops his pass-rush potential, there’s a lot to like with Davis. If he drops because of a lack of production he could provide terrific value. Campbell lasted until pick #50. Could the same happen to Davis? Either way, the Seahawks would have options — at #27, after trading down, by making a small trade up in round two (as they did for Jarran Reed) or simply with their two late second round picks.

Pairing Campbell with Davis would create a formidable defensive interior. Along with Clowney, the Seahawks would have the biggest and by far the most physical defensive front in the league. If L.J. Collier and/or Rasheem Green take a step forward in 2020, they’d even have a quality rotation to add even more size and power.

The only thing they’d still be lacking is speed.

One way or another they’ve got to add some quickness to their pass rush. Re-signing Clowney and adding Campbell would absorb a lot of their cap space — but they could structure the deals to lessen the year one cap hit. That could enable them to look at the options available. It’s assumed Dante Fowler, for example, will get a big contract. Yet a year ago he had to settle for a one-year prove-it deal worth $12m with incentives. In 2013, nobody expected Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to receive a cold market. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility he could provide the Seahawks with an ideal, productive, cost-effective solution. Let’s see what offers he gets.

Another option of course is Everson Griffen. If he’s released with Minnesota in cap hell, there could be a reasonable deal to be done there too.

If they need cheaper options they could explore the second wave of free agency and the trade market. If you’re lining up Clowney, Campbell and Davis — it’s more palatable to take on a reclamation project like Vic Beasley (a 4.53 runner with a 1.59 split). Emmanuel Ogbah ran a 4.63 (with a 1.58 split). Kyler Fackrell ran a 1.61 split. And there’s always old friend Bruce Irvin. These are not premier options you can rely on to make a big difference but if you’ve already made significant moves across the line, they are more agreeable.

These additions also open up the possibility to the Seahawks drafting someone who could be more of a situational rusher in order to gain that speed element. You can’t rely on Joshua Uche as a full-time LEO because of his size. K’Lavon Chaisson has a superior build but even he is probably best served sitting out early downs. Julian Okwara is more of a speed EDGE than a SAM/LEO and could be another option.

Compliment such a player with the names listed above and you’re creating a strong looking arsenal. Suddenly, rushing with four and creating regular pressure doesn’t seem so unlikely. Although it’s worth noting that Bruce Irvin’s shift to SAM/LEO was likely in order to get Bruce, Bennett and Avril on the field at the same time. They haven’t really gone back to that type of role since Irvin’s departure.

The scenarios pitched here aren’t the be-all and end-all of course. Pairing Clowney with Everson Griffen would immediately improve the D-line — and retaining Jarran Reed to play next to Poona Ford and potentially Raekwon Davis would still look like an overall upgrade. Dante Fowler and Clowney are at a great age to potentially be Bennett and Avril for the near future. They might be able to find cheap talent to play defensive tackle — re-creating the Tony McDaniel signing from 2014.

Whatever happens though, they have to go into the 2020 season believing they can effectively rush with four.

If you missed Friday’s bonus podcast check it out below…

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Bonus podcast: Q&A on draft prospects

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Brandan and I published a new podcast on Monday but we also did a bonus Q&A running through a variety of different draft prospects. Check it out…

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