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Monday draft notes: Speed for the Seahawks?

Monday, November 19th, 2018

A possible target for the Seahawks this off-season

The chances are they’ll do what is expected and draft a defensive linemen. Most teams picking in round one will. It’s going to be the clear strength of the first frame. There’s also a dearth of alternatives at positions like quarterback, receiver, offensive tackle and defensive back. Fighting the board, especially if the D-line is a need, would be an odd decision and go against Seattle’s approach in previous drafts.

That said, there is another position they could realistically consider early. They could use some speed on defense. That could come in the form of a top EDGE or even an interior rusher. Speed at linebacker could also be a priority.

We’ll need to see what happens with K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. If one or both are re-signed, it’s less likely to be an option. With Bobby Wagner and Barkevious Mingo also under contract, it wouldn’t make much sense to draft depth at linebacker in round one or two (if they trade down). It might be something they look at later on.

With the Rams’ creative and fast-paced offense a big problem for the rest of the NFC West, finding a really fast and productive WILL to pair with Wagner could be a target. Someone capable of competing against an offense that has Todd Gurley but also contains a variety of sweeps, motions and attempts to create space for the ball carrier.

That’s not to discount Shaquem Griffin who they clearly like. His best role might simply be as a key special teamer and occasional nickel linebacker.

When the combine comes around it’ll be interesting to see who performs well in the forty and the short shuttle. Wagner reportedly ran a 4.46 forty and a 4.28 shuttle. He was also highly explosive with a 39.5 inch vertical and a 11-0 broad jump. They might not find someone with that sensational profile — but can they find a linebacker with the physicality to match-up against the run and have the speed to be a counter against a team like the Rams?

And make no mistake — the Seahawks need to find ways to combat LA’s offense. Turning those two losses into wins has to be a priority in 2019. They can’t afford to give up 36 and 33 points when they face the Rams.

We’ll likely need the combine to discover what options are out there. I’ve started watching Michigan’s Devin Bush. So far this season he has five sacks, 9.5 TFL’s and five pass break-ups. I’ve only watched two of his games and need to see more. There are things I like, some things I don’t. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve done a bit more work. However, it’s worth noting that Jim Harbaugh described him as, “one of the fastest linebackers I’ve ever been around or seen.” That’s something to consider.

I suspect speed in the front seven, just as it was in 2012, will be a big focus this off-season.

Thoughts on Miami’s Gerald Willis

Willis is an interesting player. He was dismissed by the Florida Gators in 2015 for what reports called a ‘string of on and off-field incidents’. He’s now with Miami and there’s a bit of buzz about his stock.

Willis has 17 TFL’s this season. To put that into perspective, Kentucky’s ultra-productive Josh Allen has 17.5. Quinnen Williams has 15 and Zach Allen 14.5.

Willis certainly impacts games. Of the three I watched last week, you could make a really decent highlight video. The overall tape, however, hints at some limitations too.

He’s capable of working down the line, hand-fighting to disengage and making plays in the backfield. When he shakes off a block or has a route to the QB you really see his speed. Willis covers ground quickly to create pressure and you’ll always want someone blocking his path to the QB. He absolutely hammered one of the LSU running backs for a big TFL when unblocked. He clearly has fantastic agility and it won’t be a surprise if he posts a good 10-yard split at the combine.

He had a sack vs LSU swimming away from the guard and exploding into the backfield. The swim seems to be his go-to move. He used it on a second TFL vs the run against LSU and also to get free and pressure the LSU QB in his own end zone (he was also blatantly held as he broke free and it should’ve been a safety).

On the other hand, he was mostly handled by Boston College. His TFL in that game came on a 1st and 20 run with the Eagles leading 27-14 and trying to run out the clock. They practically sent an email to Miami pre-snap telling them it was a run. Sometimes he goes to the swim too often. Blockers adjust and anticipate it. You’d like to see him mix things up and show a better repertoire. There’s no real evidence of a bull rush. He’s a quicker rusher rather than a guy who bullies linemen at the LOS.

And that’s OK. The league needs quick interior rushers. He’s listed at 6-4 and 285lbs so you wouldn’t expect him to be Quinnen Williams or Dexter Lawrence. He’s probably always going to be the type of player you bring onto the field in certain scenarios as part of a rotation. That might limit his stock. If he’s viewed as a role player and if he’s not overly convincing when discussing the end of his time at Florida, he might last into the middle rounds.

One thing could change that. An outstanding workout.

It’s possible.

Willis was a four-star recruit. At the SPARQ combine, he had the following performance at 6-3 and 275lbs:

Forty — 5.16
Short shuttle — 4.32
Vertical — 31 inches

The fastest short shuttle by a defensive lineman at the 2018 combine was a 4.32 run by Sam Hubbard.

Here are the top-five short shuttle times:

Sam Hubbard — 4.32
James Looney — 4.37
Rasheem Green — 4.39
Bradley Chubb — 4.41
Marcus Davenport — 4.41

So despite being a 275lbs high school defensive tackle, Willis still achieved a similar short shuttle time to the best EDGE rushers in the 2018 draft.

Willis is now listed at 285lbs so he might not run quite as fast with an extra 10lbs added. Even so, he has a shot to match or beat the top times from the defensive tackles in the last draft:

Taven Bryan — 4.48
Harrison Phillips — 4.50
Foley Fatukasi — 4.53
B.J. Hill — 4.53
Nathan Shepherd 4.53

His vertical jump of 31 inches is also similar to Da’Shawn Hand’s (31.5), Harrison Phillips’ (32), Breeland Speaks (32.5), Rasheem Green’s (32.5) and Marcus Davenport’s (33.5).

I think if you take Willis in round one hoping he will play most of your snaps at defensive tackle, you might end up disappointed. If you can get him a little bit later as a specialist interior rusher, you could be onto a winner.

Updated draft order

With Oakland defeating Arizona yesterday, the San Francisco 49ers are now at #1 overall. With both the Niners and Cardinals struggling, there’s an increasing chance Nick Bosa finds a home in the NFC West. With Arizona in the #2 spot — we could also see one of Quinnen Williams or Clelin Ferrell in the division.

The Seahawks are at #19 after beating Green Bay.

Top-20 (courtesy of Tankathon)

#1 San Francisco
#2 Arizona
#3 Oakland
#4 New York Jets
#5 New York Giants
#6 Buffalo
#7 Tampa Bay
#8 Jacksonville
#9 Cleveland
#10 Detroit
#11 Atlanta
#12 Philadelphia
#13 Denver
#14 Green Bay
#15 Indianapolis
#16 Miami
#17 Oakland (via Dallas)
#18 Tennessee
#19 Seattle
#20 Cincinnati

I’ll be doing an updated mock draft this week. I’ve also been invited on the Tasteful Profanity podcast tonight so stay tuned for that.

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CFB week 12: Ohio State/Maryland game a highlight

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

This was a fun game offset by a difficult viewing experience. A lot has happened at Ohio State this season. I’m not going to go into it here. It seems it’s taking its toll on Urban Meyer.

Throughout the game he looked visibly unwell — massaging his temples, squinting his eyes and generally looking ill. Meyer has a history of health issues and it was uncomfortable to witness every time the camera panned to the sideline.

On the field, it was compulsive viewing. Maryland’s redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland was outstanding. He was explosive, quick to shift through the gears, tough to bring down and looked terrific. He finished with 298 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He’s one to monitor over the next few years.

The same can be said for J.K. Dobbins the Ohio State running back. He had 203 rushing yards himself (plus a touchdown). He’s perfectly sized at 5-10 and 214lbs and at the SPARQ combine had an unreal workout including a 4.44 forty, 43 inch vertical, 4.09 short shuttle and an elite overall score of 146.76. He’ll play at the next level (he’s currently a true sophomore).

I spent some time focusing on the Ohio State wide receivers. They’re a bunch of relative unknowns — at least not many people talk about them, which is a surprise considering who they play for. One in particular stood out here.

Terry McLaurin left the game with an undisclosed injury (he’s apparently fine to play next week) but still recorded four catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. I want to watch more of this guy. He scored on a 68-yard catch-and-run. The pass was badly under-thrown by Dwayne Haskins. McLaurin generated so much separation with his break. Haskins made him work for the score but McLaurin still finished.

He just looks quick and explosive with the ability to get open. He has decent size (listed at 6-1 and 205lbs). At the SPARQ combine he ran a 4.41 forty, jumped a 42-inch vertical, had a 4.13 short shuttle and an overall score of 141.96. Anything above 140 is considered elite.

I did a quick scan online to see what I else I could learn about him. These plays stood out…

Look at the way he accelerates after the catch:

He’s a fierce and willing blocker:

McLaurin’s a senior so he will be in the 2019 draft. If he attends the Senior Bowl he could pump his stock up with a good performance. As a value receiver with the potential to develop into a role player, he’s one to keep an eye on.

He’s not the only one though. Parris Campbell had a relatively quiet game but Binjimen Victor made a 38-yard grab and added a redzone score. He showed good body control on his route and high-pointed a back-shoulder throw from Haskins nicely. He too is considered a good athlete and might provide some value later in the draft. Campbell is a senior, Binjimen a junior.

Defensively it was a poor performance by Ohio State. They struggled to contain the edge against the run all day and weren’t particularly disciplined on the inside runs either.

As a pass rush threat they cause problems. Chase Young could be a very high pick in 2020. Dre’Mont Jones, as we’ve discussed so many times this year, has round one athleticism and pass rush skills. So often though he’s a liability against the run. For that reason, I’m sceptical of him as a round one prospect.

We’ve seen so many players like this. Quicker than college offensive linemen and therefore able to show some pass rush and get teams excited. Yet the thought of him coming up against Seattle’s current O-line, for example, is a scary thought.

Jones is too upright in his stance and struggles mightily with leverage. This isn’t a problem as a rusher because his go-to move is a club/swipe — creating separation from his block so he can use his great quickness to explode into the backfield. He also likes to use the spin-move or simply shoot a gap. All of these things play to his skillset and don’t require him to engage/disengage or win with leverage.

At the next level though, he’s going to need to use his hands. He’s going to need to be able to plant the anchor, hold position and read the play. Sometimes he’s just going to have to hold down a gap or two (depending on scheme) and make a stop. There’s virtually no evidence of him doing this. He gets jolted off balance because he’s too high and driven out of his gap. It looked like Maryland were offering him a gap — knowing full well he’d just put his head down and rush and not read the play, allowing a free lane on the other side.

In assessing Jones’ fit at the next level, you have to consider two things. Can he develop into a non-liability vs the run and how quickly will it take? And what range are you willing to take him if he’s merely a specialist interior rusher? Because at the next level, teams will run right at him time and time again with his current technique. That’s a problem.

On the plus side, in this game he had a fantastic inside rush with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter and collected a sack on the final play of regulation, working to bring down the QB who was scrambling to set up a Hail Mary attempt.

Elsewhere…

— Florida’s former safety and now nickel corner Chauncey Gardner-Johnson had a pick six in an easy win against Idaho (it’s cupcake week for a lot of teams). Jachai Polite also had one sack (9.5 for the season) and two TFL’s.

— Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen recorded two more sacks vs Mid Tennessee. He’s now at 13 for the season. Teams will have to decide if he’s more than a pure 3-4 OLB. Can he fit into a 4-3? If he tests well, he has the production to go early. Like Dre’Mont Jones, his run defense could be a concern if he plays up at the line.

— Alabama made hard work of their cupcake game against The Citadel. Quinnen Williams collected another sack. He has six in his last six games now. If he declares, he goes in the top-10.

— Michigan’s Rashan Gary had 1.5 sacks in a win against Indiana. Devin Bush had half a sack and 1.5 TFL’s, with Chase Winovich also collecting a TFL.

— Despite a disappointing loss against struggling Florida State, Boston College’s Zach Allen had a sack, a TFL and a tipped pass to continue his productive season. He now has 6.5 sacks. FSU’s Brian Burns had a sack and two TFL’s, taking his sack tally to 10 for the season.

— Clemson hammered Duke and it was another huge day for the defensive line. Christian Wilkins had a sack and 1.5 TFL’s, Clelin Ferrell had two sacks and 2.5 TFL’s and Dexter Lawrence had two TFL’s. All three are going to be high picks. Ferrell now has 10 sacks for the season.

— LSU linebacker Devin White led the team in tackles against Rice while recording a sack, a TFL, a QB hurry and a pass deflection. White is a stud.

I will update this piece in the morning with some notes on the late games. Also, check out Friday’s piece on the Seahawks philosophy, future and Albert Breer’s big board if you missed it yesterday.

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Friday notes: Seattle’s style, draft talk & more

Friday, November 16th, 2018

If you missed the instant reaction piece, posted minutes after the Green Bay game, check it out here.

Seahawks continue to prove they’re on the right track

“You’re just a man. We’re a team. You’re a single man. We’re never going to let just one man beat us. It’s not about one man. If they’ve got eleven players out there executing their offense then they’re a hell of a team. One man cannot just beat a team.”

These are the words of a pre-heel turn Richard Sherman, shortly after beating Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2012.

That quote has always stuck with me. It perfectly encapsulates Pete Carroll’s setup. This is a team. Everything connects. The running game to the defense, both units to the special teams, the explosive plays on offense and the turnovers on defense.

A complete circle is the aim.

It’s not about putting it all on one guy — a quarterback, for example.

As the Seahawks rose to prominence from 2012, we all celebrated this vision. In the superstar quarterback era, here was something different. A band of brothers. Tough, physical. And not relying on one man to be the be-all and end-all.

For some reason a lot of people have forgotten about that. While the NFL samples and experiments with college spread concepts and is, without doubt, more creative than ever — there are still major similarities between the 2012 and 2018 environments.

The Patriots weren’t trying to ram the ball down your throat in 2012. They weren’t playing especially great defense. Neither were the Packers, the Steelers or the Broncos. They weren’t using completely orthodox offenses, there were some spread concepts (especially in New England and Denver). Brady and Peyton Manning put up huge numbers.

They were winning with their quarterbacks.

The Seahawks did things differently. They built a foundation with everything connected. And they won. They showed, emphatically, there is more than one way to win in this league.

Not much has changed since. There are still prolific passing quarterbacks. The Seahawks are still trying to complete the circle. And when it clicks, as Sherman stated, one man cannot beat a team. That was evidenced yesterday.

It’d be wrong to suggest Green Bay were exclusively Aaron Rodgers vs the world. They weren’t. Kyler Fackrell showed all the promise that had us all excited before the 2016 draft. Davante Adams is a production machine. Yet clearly Rodgers was the key.

The stats bear that out:

Green Bay — passing (332), rushing (48)
Seattle — passing (225), rushing (173)

The Seahawks were far from flawless. Russell Wilson had a strange game — mixing maddening errors with typical flair and quality. The defense was like a hot knife through butter at times — but still, somehow, limited Green Bay to three second half points and collected five sacks. No doubt the off-season plan will be to help the defense reach the next level. Achieve that and Carroll will have a heck of a team.

Watching the game, it’d be easy to pick flaws. People love to find fault these days and miss the positives. Here’s the reality though:

— The Seahawks have by far the most productive and best running game in the league. They are now averaging 154.3 YPG. Second on the list are the Rams with 144.8 YPG. Third are the Niners with 133.6 YPG. The difference between Seattle and even the second and third ranked teams is significant. And this isn’t stat-padding with Wilson scrambles anymore. This is a prolific ground attack featuring a terrific offensive line and talented running backs, making life miserable for opponents.

— Wilson might look uncomfortable, inconsistent and a bit frustrating at times — but look at the numbers. He’s on track for 37 passing touchdowns (would be a career high). He’s on track for a passer rating of 110.2 (would be a career high). If you’d said at the start of the season — the Seahawks would have the BEST running game in the league by far and Russell Wilson would be on for career highs in passer rating and touchdown passes, you’d have been delighted. Yet people still question the philosophy, the scheme, the coordinator and the Head Coach. Madness.

— Frank Clark has 10 sacks. Aaron Donald, who’s played the same number of games, has 12.5 and leads the NFL. The Seahawks have a pass rusher to build around. And with a draft rich in front-seven defenders, they will have a big opportunity to build up their D-line. The franchise tag appears likely for Clark.

— The Seahawks can now legitimately do two things. 1 — ram the ball down your throat for an 8-minute opening drive for a touchdown. 2 — ram the ball down your throat to close out a game with four minutes to go. The Packers defenders looked shattered and submissive at the end. On the final, deciding run — Mike Davis ran right behind D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi and George Fant to the right hand side. What a beautiful sight. The Packers said, ‘no thanks’ and slumped back to the locker room. I’d recommend watching the last four minutes accompanied by this song. Because that’s what happened.

— The reason I watch football is because it’s not like a lot of other sports. It has some brutality. A bunch of grown men hammer each other for a few hours. And while I enjoy explosive passing plays as much as anyone — I think some people forgot how fantastic it is to watch your team kick somebody’s ass. The Seahawks are in a reset year. They don’t win every game. Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating (eg the Chargers game) but that’s par for the course. They’re still a kick ass team. And I like that. If I didn’t and wanted to just obsess about numbers and probability, I’d watch baseball. We wouldn’t sit here living through 3-4 hours of beautiful agony with this team, or spend three months obsessing about which college players they might draft. I want to see the Seahawks win more than anything and don’t really care how they do it. But I do enjoy watching them play this way. How can you not love this?

Thoughts on Albert Breer’s big board

The national media are starting to turn their attentions to the draft, with the college football regular season close to a conclusion. Albert Breer at MMQB.com published a big board this week after consulting with sources — and he confirms a lot of what we’ve been saying on this blog:

If you root for the Jets or the Bucs or the Browns, or another team hovering on the fringes of prime draft position, you may be tempted to root for some post-Thanksgiving losses. In some years, especially those with bumper crops of quarterbacks coming, there’s real validity to the idea. Our advice to those good people: Don’t bother, not this year.

That doesn’t mean that the 2019 draft is bereft of talent. It’s not 2013 or ’15 at the top, and it does have depth that, as scouts see, should last into the fifth round. It’s just that, unless you have the first or second pick, this might not be the best year to be high in the draft order. Evaluators across the league will tell you: When it comes down to it, this is one of those years where there isn’t much separating the fourth pick from the 14th.

We’ve been suggesting this for a few weeks now. It’s not a class where having a top-10 pick is necessarily a coveted thing. The distinct lack of quarterbacks, left tackles and skill players is an issue for bad teams looking to take forward steps. It is, however, a very deep and thick looking D-line class for round one. The thing is, the player you draft in the teens might get a similar grade to the guy taken at #5 overall. So there’s very little benefit to tanking and picking as early as possible (unless you’re hunting for #1 overall to select the brilliant Nick Bosa).

Breer goes on to add:

“The first round is full of land mines,” says one veteran AFC exec.

“This is not a top–10 type of draft,” adds an AFC college scouting director. “To me, there are a lot pass rushers and D-linemen, but I don’t know that there’s anyone that compares to, say, Bradey Chubb, if you take [Nick] Bosa out of it.”

That sets the backdrop for you. This year’s class is light on the skill positions, and heavy on defensive linemen, with a shaky group of quarterbacks mixed in.

None of this is surprising but it validates what we’ve been saying. There is a clear strength in this class (D-line) and clear weaknesses (distinct lack of QB, OL, skill player talent).

So how does Breer stack things up?

Here’s his list:

1. Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
2. Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
3. Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
4. Devin White (LB, LSU)
5. Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
6. Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
7. Josh Allen (LB, Kentucky)
8. Jeffrey Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
9. Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
10. DeAndre Baker (CB, Georgia)
11. Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
12. Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
13. Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
14. Jonah Williams (T, Alabama)
15. Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
16. Montez Sweat (DE, Mississippi State)
17. Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
18. Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State)
19. Deionte Thompson (S, Alabama)
20. Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)

Here’s what I like about the list:

— Completely agree with some of the early listings. In our first mock draft posted last week, a lot of the names at the very top were projected early — Bosa, Williams, Oliver, White, Ferrell.

— It’s good to see Devin White recognised for the clear top-talent he is. For some reason you see a lot of mocks with White lasting into the late teens. It won’t happen. He’s too good, too athletic and too consistent for that.

— A lot of the mock drafts on the internet seem deliberately contrarian. Whether that’s for clicks or just to be different, I don’t know. But you often see Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence knocked for whatever reason and undeserving wide receivers listed in the top 10-15. It’s nice to see Breer via his sources rightly credit both Wilkins and Lawrence for the terrific talents they are. And for those who’ve question how we’re judging this receiver class — Breer doesn’t have any in his top-20.

— This is the range where I see Dre’Mont Jones. He’s a nifty pass rusher and has really upped his production in 2018. However, his run defense is problematic and teams will have to think about how he fits into their defense. Can you trust him not to be a liability vs the run? His gap integrity and POA strength just seems lacking. A lot of these athletic interior defenders enter the league and flame out. He’s a talented player — but there are question marks.

— I was harsh on Rashan Gary in my first mock, listing him at #14. I suspect that won’t happen and he will go in the top-10. Due to the lack of deserving top-10 talents this year, someone will take a punt on his massive upside. He’ll be seen as a safer bet than a Brian Burns (for example). I’ll correct this next time.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the list:

— It baffles me why Jonah Williams gets rated as highly as he does. I wrote about this last weekend. It’s pretty clear he has to kick inside to guard. He lacks the length and frame to play inside-out and he doesn’t have the foot-speed and kick-slide to wall-off against the speed rush. He gets beat with inside counters and really, he looks like a square-up blocker you want taking on interior defenders head-on. We often see Alabama offensive linemen get overrated and I think this will be the case here. For me, he won’t go in round one and if he does — it’ll be in the back third of day one to play as a guard.

— I’m also not sold on Alabama safety Deionte Thompson as a first round pick. He’s tall and lean but not a fantastic athlete. Coming into the year, Tony Pauline noted he had him graded as a fifth round talent. Thompson ran a 4.71 at the SPARQ combine and hasn’t shown to be a twitchy free safety. Too me he might be best suited acting as a strong safety or even big nickel. He’s a decent player but nowhere near the talent of future top-10 pick in 2020 Grant Delpit of LSU.

— I’m not convinced Jeffrey Simmons or Montez Sweat warrant a place in the top-20 ahead of prospects like Jachai Polite (who garners double teams every week and still makes plays), Zach Allen (having a sensational season for Boston College) or Brian Burns (dominating despite playing for a bad Florida State team).

— DeAndre Baker is competitive, can be physical and he had a fantastic end to the 2017 season. Is he a difference maker at corner? Not convinced. Greedy Williams has the size and athleticism to work into a very viable NFL starter. Baker, to me, looks like he could be an average combine tester with below-average length and size. Washington’s Byron Murphy looks like a better option for CB2 in this class.

— I like Josh Allen as a pass rusher. He’s having a tremendous year. I’d be very wary of him in the top-10 though unless he has a surprisingly explosive combine. Georgia ran at his side of the line with great success recently. It makes you wonder whether he’ll ever be an EDGE or LEO and whether he’s strictly suited to featuring as a 3-4 OLB. Georgia’s D’Andre Walker, however, provides pass rush, he can drop to play linebacker and he’s tremendous at setting the edge vs the run despite playing at about 245lbs.

Check out this article about Rashaad Penny

Mike at Tasteful Profanity sent this along to me. Having tired of the arguments against the Penny pick over the last few weeks, I found this to be an entertaining counter.

College games on my schedule this weekend

Arkansas vs Mississippi State
Ohio State vs Maryland
Missouri vs Tennessee or West Virginia vs Oklahoma State

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Instant reaction: Seahawks win close battle with Packers

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

The Seahawks vs the Packers. An underrated rivalry.

Tonight, it provided another chapter.

The game ebbed and flowed throughout. Seattle started poorly, fumbling on the first offensive snap to set the tone for a sloppy opening quarter. Russell Wilson was off, Aaron Rodgers was on. Green Bay raced to a 14-3 lead.

The Seahawks roared back, scoring two touchdowns to take the lead before half time — only for Rodgers to again majestically lead Green Bay to a quick-fire score.

21-17 at half time.

Seattle needed some resistance on defense. They haven’t turned the ball over for three games. They weren’t getting close tonight.

Pressure and stops were needed to compensate. Wilson had to play better.

Both happened.

The Seahawks conceded only three points in the second half. Three — courtesy of a sublime Rodgers downfield bomb to Davante Adams for 57-yards on third down (the longest play Seattle has conceded all season). Green Bay still had to settle for a field goal.

This young defense gives up some plays. Yet despite major turnover in the off-season and the loss of several key players to injury (Earl Thomas, K.J. Wright, Dion Jordan) or suspension (Mychal Kendricks) — they continue to play their hearts out. Just as they did against the Rams and Chargers, they hung on just enough to give the offense a shot.

This time, they took it.

The Seahawks were 1-5 in one-score games going into tonight. Wilson and the offense stalled in the final quarter against Denver, Chicago, the Rams (twice) and the Chargers. Tonight, they had two vital drives to win the game.

Firstly — the long scoring drive ending in an Ed Dickson touchdown. Wilson detected the blitz, called for the snap early and executed. Seattle takes the lead 27-24 with four minutes to go.

Then the defense needed a stop. They forced a three-and-out (with a bit of help from Rodgers who picked a bad time for a sulk — at least that’s what his body language suggested).

Now it was time for the Seahawks to finish. Run to win. They did.

Run, run, run, run, run.

Two first downs, no resistance.

Game over.

The Seahawks ended the game with 225 passing yards and 173 rushing yards. Green Bay had 332 passing yards and 48 rushing.

Seattle won featuring the run against a one-dimensional passing opponent.

Not every team can play this way. The Seahawks can. It’s their style. It suits them.

And it doesn’t half help mask some lingering issues.

Wilson hasn’t looked anywhere close to his best in the last three games. Yet statistically he has sensational numbers. Tonight he finished with a 110.3 passer rating. He scored twice and didn’t turn the ball over.

For me, this is the impact of the run. For the last couple of years Seattle’s offense was Russell Wilson. It was all on him. Now, they can live through some iffy stretches because they can always rely on the run.

The three-pronged attack of Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis is perfectly enjoyable. Who cares about who was picked where? Let’s embrace the success they’re having. Seattle has the best running game in the league. Celebrate it. Enjoy it.

On defense, players continue to emerge and develop even if there are kinks to iron out. Frank Clark now has 10 sacks. Jarran Reed has 5.5. Both are due contract extensions in the off-season (possibly sooner in Clark’s case).

The rookie class continues to contribute — especially Jacob Martin, Rasheem Green and Michael Dickson this evening.

And overall this team is just becoming more enjoyable to watch. There are going to be some frustrating moments like the Chargers loss. It’s a reset year. But this 2018 campaign is a lot more palatable than last years. Or the year before.

They’re not the finished article. They need another off-season to reach an attainable higher level.

Despite all of this — they’re 5-5 and facing a stretch of games they can win.

Next stop, Carolina.

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The Seahawks just need to keep adding defenders

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Upgrading the defense is the priority going forward

The Seahawks have things to work on with the offense. They’re too inconsistent on third down. They’re 1-5 in one-score games despite chances to win all six in the fourth quarter. They’ve had big turnovers at key moments — the pick-sixes against the Bears and Chargers, plus the fumble yesterday against the Rams.

Really though, these all correctable issues. We’ve seen a Russell Wilson-led Seahawks offense avoid key turnovers, he’s won more games in the fourth quarter than every quarterback other than Matt Stafford and he’s been efficient on third downs.

They can improve. Easily.

We often overlook the positives. Here’s three big ones so far…

1. The Seahawks lead the NFL for rushing yards per game (152.2)
This is a major achievement considering where the running game has been for the last couple of years. Their stated priority of fixing the run has been accomplished.

2. Russell Wilson is on course to throw 37 touchdowns and he has a 110.2 passer rating
Both would be career highs. His current 66% completion percentage would be the second best mark in his career — after his tremendous 2015 season.

3. The offensive line is now a team strength after years of toil and struggle
It’s shaping the identity of the team. The attitude of the five guys up front is setting the tone. They’re thriving in this offense, they love running the ball. They’re producing and they’re punishing opponents.

Imagine how you would’ve reacted in the summer if you knew those three things were going to happen?

These are all big steps forward. As we’ve already acknowledged, there are things to work on. But this is an offense heading in the right direction. However much we want to quibble about 2-minute drills, empty sets and avoidable sacks — Seattle’s offense is producing results.

When they last made the Super Bowl in 2014, they were averaging 24.6 points per game on offense. They’re currently at 24.3.

Here’s the big difference between the two years statistically. Seattle’s defense gave up a league leading 15.9 PPG in 2014. This year they’re giving up 21.3.

It’s worth noting the offensive explosion that we’re witnessing in the NFL currently. The Saints, Rams, Chiefs and Steelers all average over 30 points a game. Most defenses are conceding more points.

However, it’s still a not insignificant jump.

Seattle’s defense has played valiantly this season. Let’s not forget, they’ve gone through major changes. There’s no more Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, Sheldon Richardson or Michael Bennett. All five players were on the roster last year but are now long gone. They also lost Earl Thomas to injury and K.J. Wright has been missing most of the season (and clearly still isn’t 100%). Dion Jordan has missed time, Mychal Kendricks has been suspended. Even Bradley McDougald’s hurt.

This is a tsunami of change. Most teams couldn’t handle it.

What Pete Carroll has garnered from his new-look group is highly impressive. They’re not a team of stars any more. Some of the current starters would’ve struggled to make the cut in 2013 and 2014. Players are raising their game, giving absolutely everything. It’s impressive and encouraging.

But they’re still giving up points. They’re still struggling to sustain consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They’re making mistakes in the secondary.

It’s all to be expected.

As frustrating as some of the offensive errors have been recently, the path to a better Seahawks clearly runs through a bolstered defense. They just need more bodies and talent.

They don’t have Bennett, Avril and Frank Clark as a trio any more. Can they find a couple of new guys to compliment Clark, either via the draft or free agency? Can they get some more depth and talent (and competition) for the secondary? Are they going to be able to re-sign Mychael Kendricks, get K.J. Wright back on a team-friendly deal or find a new WILL to provide the kind of speed needed to combat this exciting and prolific Rams offense?

They’ll struggle to match the LOB years and we shouldn’t expect to see a defense consistently leading the league year after year in PPG. However, it’s not unreasonable to think they can match Baltimore’s current rate of 17.8 PPG or Dallas’ 19.0 PPG.

Yes — the offense has had some frustrating moments. Yet imagine this running game, this quarterback and the level of production we’re seeing from the unit partnered with a defense that has a bit more talent and better depth. That would be a formula for a much more competitive 2019 season.

Something to remember about quarterbacks

We often see discussions about the future of Russell Wilson on Seahawks twitter. I tend to think all the flirting John Schneider does with quarterbacks in the draft (plus the leak about interest in Patrick Mahomes) is a combination of two things:

1. The Seahawks doing due diligence and simply liking some players

2. The Seahawks trying to gain leverage when they next talk contract with Wilson

After all, they never had a hope of landing Mahomes. He was the #10 pick in 2017. Seattle picked at #26. Them liking him is actually encouraging because Mahomes is an exceptional talent. There was never any realistic prospect of them actually being able to draft him though. It’s easy to say you might’ve drafted a player… ‘if only he hadn’t gone 16 picks too early’.

So while Seahawks twitter contemplates the possibility of Carroll and Schneider making the unprecedented move of getting rid of a franchise quarterback to save a few bucks, here’s something else to consider:

1. So you want a cheap quarterback? Who exactly?

2019 will be a shocking class for quarterbacks. It’s not a patch on the last 2-3 years. There simply isn’t an attractive early round option. So unless you’re willing to gamble on a mid-round quarterback being more Wilson than Nathan Peterman, what exactly is the plan here? Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence isn’t eligible until 2021. Tua Tagovailoa can’t turn pro until 2020. Both could be the #1 pick and therefore practically unattainable. What exactly is the proposal here?

2. What about a different veteran?

There’s no such thing as a cheap veteran quarterback. If the Seahawks wanted to find a game manager type, how much will it cost? 34-year-old Alex Smith just signed a contract worth $23.5m a year. Sam Bradford signed a two-year deal worth $20m a year. Are you willing to pay that much for a Bradford type just to avoid paying Russell Wilson $30m a year? I like Alex Smith a lot but he’s not on the market anymore. Who else is there? Teddy Bridgewater? Are you willing to give him $20-25m a year?

The Seahawks are always looking for a competitive edge. They wouldn’t be doing that if they weren’t at least contemplating the alternatives at a very expensive position.

But the reality of them actually pulling the trigger, especially in the current environment, appears to be practically zero. A bad quarterback draft, average quarterbacks getting paid millions.

I’m pretty sure they’re not ready for the Mike Glennon era just yet.

Where are the Seahawks currently slated to pick?

According to the brilliantly named ‘Tankathon’ website, they currently own the #14 overall pick. That would be their highest pick since 2012, when they owned the #12 pick after a 7-9 season before trading down to #15 and selecting Bruce Irvin.

There are going to be a lot of quality pass rushers available in the teens in 2019.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks compete but beaten by Rams

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

For the second time this season, the Seahawks and Rams served up a heck of a game. Back and forth, highly competitive.

The Seahawks lost both but at least the memory of 2017’s 42-7 embarrassment is in the rear view mirror.

This was a free hit. Very little was expected of the Seahawks, especially missing several key players. It was a pleasant surprise that it proved to be as competitive as it was.

The Rams are better than Seattle. They’re better than most teams in the league. There’s no easy way to remedy this. Los Angeles are going to have a spell where they’ll be the team to beat in the NFC West.

The Seahawks have got to keep closing the gap, inch by inch.

So what worked today and what didn’t?

Defensively they were valiant. There were times where it was too easy for LA but that was mixed in with some sacks and some solid third down stops. The stop at the end of the game to give the offense one more chance was a big plus.

Dion Jordan and Frank Clark shared a sack. Quinton Jefferson also got a sack on a twist.

It feels like they need to keep adding speed to this group. The Rams are so creative and vary their play calling. You need to cover every blade of grass, be able to shed blocks and react. You also need to take advantage when they have Jared Goff drop back and try to create pressure.

Pass rush and speed still feels like a probable priority in the off-season. Especially if you want to compete with the dynamic offense in LA.

Offensively, there were some positives. They’ve clearly regained their running game and if nothing else that’s going to be a positive going forward. Not just for 2018. It was the off-season priority and they’ve finally achieved it. Even without Chris Carson they were a force today.

For weeks people have been criticising Rashaad Penny — unfairly. Carson and Mike Davis have been superb for this team. Penny was injured in camp. Pair the two things together and it’s no surprise he ended up #3 on the depth chart.

Then take into account Carson’s injury history (college & NFL), the way Seattle has struggled to run the ball and the clear strength of the draft in the #25-45 range being the running back position — the pick did make sense. You might not like it but it was at the very least logical.

Penny’s had to be patient. When he’s had playing time he’s shown flashes of quality. Here he showed why they took him in round one. It’s great for Penny and hopefully the increasingly critical fan base will give him and the Seahawks a break.

The offense started with vigour and scored yet again on their first possession. That had been an issue for far too long. Not any more.

Tyler Lockett looks like a star. He’s become a touchdown machine. The Seahawks get a lot of criticism for their whiffs in free agency and the draft. They don’t get enough praise when they succeed. Signing Lockett to an extension in pre-season was a masterstroke.

There were also some big negatives.

Despite all the success running the ball, the passing game didn’t function for long stretches. Russell Wilson again looked uncomfortable at times and relied on a late charge to get above 100 passing yards.

The biggest issue by far, however, was third down.

There were four poor third down attempts where a combination of bad pass-pro and Wilson holding onto the ball too long led to sacks. In a game where every drive and every point mattered — these were all crucial. Two led to three-and-outs, one prevented the Seahawks from re-taking the lead with 9:52 remaining (settling for a field goal) and the final one was a sack/fumble leading to the only turnover.

The Rams quickly turned it into a touchdown — the winning points.

The Seahawks were 2-9 officially on third down. Even a couple of extra conversions could’ve been the difference. Seattle has veered between exceptional and hopeless on third down this season. Today, they were terrible.

I’m not sure what the solution is. We’ve seen Wilson be efficient and dynamic in this offense. He was practically perfect against the Lions and his touchdown and passer rating numbers are very high this year.

But there are games like this too where he shoulders a fair portion of the blame. The Seahawks had the ball and an opportunity to win against Denver, Chicago, the Rams (twice) and the Chargers. The only win they’ve closed? Arizona.

It’s possible to critique Wilson without a.) discussing whether he should be traded or b.) not signed to a big extension. Simply put, he needs to do better in close games between now and the end of the season.

One turnover to the Rams (the sack/fumble), zero for the Seahawks. LA were 5-10 on third down. The Seahawks were 2-9.

There’s your ball game.

Pete Carroll talks about finishing. The Seahawks are now 1-5 this season in one-score games. The days when they’re off on third downs and lose the turnover battle? That’s your difference.

The margin between a winning record and 4-5 is paper thin. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign for the future or a frustrating thing for the present.

Either way, they need a win on Thursday against the Packers if they’re going to make a late playoff push.

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CFB week 11: Elgton Jenkins struggles vs Williams, Davis

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Alabama dominates sloppy Mississippi State

Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins has been touted as a possible top-50 pick. This is not a tape for the NFL scouts to enjoy. He was nervous and edgy all night, consistently mistiming the snaps and had two ugly reps against Quinnen Williams.

With 2:06 left in the first quarter, Williams swam by Jenkins for a big sack. He made it look easy. Williams used a similar swim move to explode into the backfield for a TFL vs the run later on. Jenkins had no counter, no answer. He was struggling to focus on snapping the ball. Williams was in his head.

He also had a bad rep against Raekwon Davis in the fourth quarter. Davis easily bench-pressed him at the LOS to create separation then sprinted into the backfield to tackle quarterback Nick Fitzgerald for a TFL (the call was a QB run).

It goes without saying these days but Quinnen Williams is destined for the top-10 if he declares. Davis may join him. Jenkins will have to convince teams he won’t be a liability at the next level. It wasn’t a good look against his toughest opponent.

Isaiah Buggs had a big TFL on a shotgun run play on 3rd and 1. Buggs exploded off the snap and hammered the running back in the backfield. He took some snaps inside too — a gift from Nick Saban considering Buggs might have to kick inside at the next level. He also recorded a sack to take his tally to 9.5 for the season.

Mississippi State lacked any kind of composure. They constantly made mistakes and failed to execute. A special teams fumble, two flags taking a pair of touchdowns off the board, a missed field goal, botched fourth down attempts. This had the potential to be an interesting game but it ended up being a saunter for Alabama. They never had to get out of second gear.

Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams consistently appears in the top-10 of mock drafts. I don’t get it. On the final play of the first quarter he was jolted off balance by a one-handed punch to the chest and didn’t have the balance or agility to recover. Chauncey Rivers worked by him and got to the quarterback for a sack. It wasn’t good from Williams. He shouldn’t be jolted off balance like that, allowing a player like Rivers to win inside. I’m concerned by the way he handles the inside counter and he doesn’t seem to have the length to play inside-out. On another play, Montez Sweat just shook Williams off with a straight forward disengage using his superior length to keep him off his frame, separate and then chase down the ball carrier.

Williams has always looked like a guard to me, not a top-10 left tackle. He just doesn’t have the frame, length or the look of a NFL left tackle. I wouldn’t trust any projection that places him in the early first round. The league seems to agree that his best position is guard.

Montez Sweat had an easy route to the QB on a third down play. He just ran by the right tackle in the B-gap. I’ve no idea what the tackle was doing. It was a gift for Sweat, who wasn’t credited with a shared sack but he hit the QB at the same time as his team mate. He at least showed good quickness off the snap. Jeffrey Simmons did a good job working down the line to record a TFL vs the run with four minutes left in the first half. Neither player particularly shone or elevated their stock against a top opponent.

Alabama safety Deionte Thompson is a good player. I suspect he’s getting placed in the first round of a lot of mock drafts due to name recognition and the fact he plays for Alabama. For me he looks like a day two type. He dropped an interception in the end zone just before half time and had a quiet game overall.

Christian Miller shared a sack. He might not be an early pick but as an impact rusher he has some value. He’s a terrific athlete. He should test well. Keep Miller on your radar.

Clemson D-line & Zach Allen impress yet again

One of the consistent positives this season has been the play of Clemson’s brilliant front four and Boston College pass rusher Zach Allen. The two teams met on Saturday and once again, these five put on a show.

Christian Wilkins is going to go very early. His combination of speed and agility plus an ideal frame to play inside will please teams enough. An expected combine freak show and his great personality should secure a high grade. On BC’s first drive he stunted to force a pressure and throw-away. The Eagles quarterback was injured on the play. On the first drive after half time, Wilkins exploded into the backfield and stretched a run to the sideline before making the tackle. It was another example of Wilkins’ incredible mobility.

He ended the night with a solitary TFL but this was another bullying, physical performance from a player who could easily land in the top-10 in 2019.

Zach Allen is equally making a case to go very early. On Clemson’s second drive, Allen had a sack/fumble called back due to an offside flag. Shortly after he was held on third down, preventing an opportunity to make a sack. Trevor Lawrence was flushed from the pocket and ran out of bounds short of a first down. Clemson punted and BC scored on the return. That third down play by Allen was big. One note — the guy chasing down the returner and almost saving the TD? Christian Wilkins. Somehow. What an athlete.

With 14:17 left in the second quarter, Allen used his hands to work off two blocks and work into the backfield. With 2:24 left in the half he beat the Clemson right tackle with a speed rush, keeping his frame clean and winning with leverage to the outside. It forced a wayward downfield throw by Lawrence. He similarly won with great hand technique with 13:10 left in the game to burst into the backfield and beat the right tackle before tipping a Lawrence pass for an incompletion on third down.

With 9:30 left in the third quarter, Allen read the quarterback and leapt into the air to block Lawrence’s pass. He tipped the ball, the QB caught it on the rebound and then Allen threw him to the ground for a big TFL.

Allen has every chance to land in the top-15.

Dexter Lawrence had an incredibly athletic play on 3rd and 1 on BC’s second offensive drive to force a punt. He side-stepped his blocker and launched into the backfield to stop the running back. He also controlled the LOS and helped Clemson take away BC’s running game. He registered a TFL.

Austin Bryant drew a holding penalty on a running down. He did an excellent job setting the edge and stretching the play wide. The right tackle grabbed his jersey leading to the flag. Two plays later, Bryant beat the right tackle with a speed rush to force a pressure and throw away. Bryant is often the forgotten man of this group but he has a shot to go in round one. He lived in the backfield in this game, ending the night with 1.5 sacks and a pair of TFL’s.

Clelin Ferrell had a sack on a move we see Clemson use a lot. They have Dexter Lawrence work to the outside and then stunt Ferrell inside. He was too quick and too powerful and fought to the quarterback to bring him down.

Five studs. Five potential first round picks.

Elsewhere…

— Florida’s pass rush duo Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga both had an impact in a 35-31 win against South Carolina. Polite had half a sack and two TFL’s. Zuniga had a sack and a TFL. Both players are talented with a pro future.

— Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones scored a touchdown on a botched Michigan State jet-sweep. The center snapped the ball as the receiver was running his sweep. It hit him and just rolled into the end zone. Jones reacted quickest to fall on the football. It was a gift but it’s something else for Jones to add to his résumé this season. He didn’t have a sack or a TFL in the game but did record two QB hurries.

— Kentucky were well beaten by Tennessee (24-7) and their season is threatening to fizzle out. Josh Allen, however, continues to make plays. He had another sack to take his total to 11 for the year. There will be concerns about his ability to play the run as a 4-3 EDGE but he has talent as a pass rusher.

— LSU’s Grant Delpit continues to make his case to be a high pick in 2020. Against Arkansas he had a sack and two pass deflections, plus he recovered a fumble. He already has five picks this year. There likely won’t be a high pick at safety in 2019 but Delpit has a chance to go very early in the following draft.

— Houston’s Ed Oliver didn’t play against Temple due to a bruised knee. We’ll see if he returns before the end of the season, having already declared for the 2019 draft.

— In the Auburn vs Georgia game, D’Andre Walker registered a TFL and Derrick Brown shared a TFL. Brown in particular looks like a genuine top-15 pick. His TFL came when he blew up the LOS on a penetrating inside rush vs the run. It was Georgia’s opening drive and a goal-to-go situation. Brown hammered the running back in the backfield, forcing a field goal attempt.

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First 2019 NFL mock draft

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

The purpose of this mock was to highlight a few names, reflect on where I think certain players will land and create a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the draft.

It seems very clear, even at this early stage, that the following is true:

— There is not a clear-cut top-10 quarterback this year and any QB taken in the first frame will likely be a hail mary on physical talent/potential

— There is a distinct lack of first round options at the skill positions and O-line

— There is a lot of depth in the defensive front seven, particularly the defensive line

— You will struggle to find value in the top 10

This isn’t necessarily a good year to pick early. The likes of Nick Bosa warrant a top five pick in any draft. Yet the dearth of talent at certain premium positions (namely QB and OT) will make this an unappealing class for rebuilding (or bad) teams.

I don’t think it looks like a particularly deep draft at the moment. We’re a long way away from the Senior Bowl and combine. Opinions can change after those two events. I’ve said it before — it might not be the worst year for the Seahawks to only own four picks. I suspect they will find a way to acquire more.

I also believe the substantial group of potential first round defensive linemen in 2019 is further evidence of the top High School athletes electing to play defense. It’s hard to identify draftable offensive linemen in college. It’s extremely difficult. And yet look at the cluster of prospective first round defensive linemen. It’s a problem for the league. It has been for a while. And it’s why it’s vital the Seahawks keep their current O-line together.

This is a top-25 mock for now…

#1 New York Giants — Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
For me Bosa’s the clear choice at #1 even with New York’s need for a quarterback. There just isn’t a QB worth taking at #1 — even if the bigger names like Justin Herbert declare. Bosa’s a complete pass rusher and has shown even more potential than his brother.

#2 Oakland Raiders — Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
Exactly what you look for in a 4-3 base end. He has the length, the ideal size and the ability to win with his hands, the bull rush or a speed rush to the outside. Ferrell can kick inside, he can play in space. He already has 12.5 TFL’s and 7.5 sacks this season.

#3 San Francisco 49ers — Devin White (LB, LSU)
This is early for a linebacker but White will start in the NFL for over a decade and instantly become a household name. He’s a tone-setter, he’s extremely quick and consistent. He was recruited as an athlete in High School and scored 122.19 at the SPARQ testing. He’ll blow up the combine.

#4 Buffalo Bills — Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
Williams had a legendary performance against LSU, recording 2.5 sacks and 3.5 TFL’s. He was unblockable and took over the game and was clearly the best player on the field. Every NFL team will salivate over the tape of that game. If he declares, he goes very early.

#5 Arizona Cardinals — Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
Oliver is a fantastic athlete but teams will have to determine where he fits at the next level. He’s not Aaron Donald. He’s a 275lbs defensive tackle with great quickness but can you really trust him to play inside full time? He doesn’t have the frame to play defensive end.

#6 Cleveland Browns — Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Teams are going to love Wilkins. His personality, his production, his frame, his combine testing. To me he ticks every box for a high pick and there aren’t many prototype three-techniques like this. He’s being knocked, unfairly, in the same way Deshaun Watson was knocked. Familiarity breeds contempt.

#7 New York Jets — Brian Burns (EDGE, Florida State)
Burns has played with his hair on fire all season, despite FSU having a miserable year. He’s long and very lean and there might be concerns about his weight. He’ll need to bulk up. Even so, he’s extremely quick and aggressive and has 13.5 TFL’s and nine sacks in 2018.

#8 Denver Broncos — Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
Lock has a rocket arm and was touted as a potential first round pick this year before he opted to stay at Mizzou. Desperate teams searching for a first round QB might decide he’s their best bet. And they’ll use his ‘signature’ win against Florida to reassure themselves.

#9 Indianapolis Colts — Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
He’s not getting the same numbers as Quinnen Williams but there just aren’t many human beings on the planet with his size (6-7, 316lbs) and quickness. He can control the LOS and work against the run but he has the ability to break into the backfield and make plays.

#10 Oakland Raiders (via Dallas) — David Edwards (T, Wisconsin)
Teams are always looking for good offensive tackles. There aren’t going to be many available in 2019. Edwards will end up being considered the best of the bunch. He’s a pure right tackle but he’s aggressive and consistent. Teams will like his attitude.

#11 Detroit Lions — Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
Brown was absolutely outstanding against Texas A&M last weekend. He’s a complete defensive tackle — with the size to hold his own in the running game and a fantastic get-off, swim/rip combo and bull rush to be an effective pass rusher. Underrated.

#12 Jacksonville Jaguars — Jachai Polite (EDGE, Florida)
Polite often gets double-teamed as opponents key in on Florida’s best defensive player. There might be concerns about his size and length but a good combine should allay those fears. He has a ton of potential, should record a fast 10-yard split and plays with ferocious effort.

#13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
Williams isn’t targeted often which is to his credit in college but it also makes it hard to judge his development. Going into the season he looked like a raw player with great potential. Has he taken the next step? It’s hard to say. But he plays a premium position and looks the part.

#14 Green Bay Packers — Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
A big-time recruit back in the day, Gary looks like Jadeveon Clowney in terms of his frame. Unfortunately, he doesn’t play much like Clowney. He’s underwhelmed a bit and has been hurt in recent weeks. Still, he has major upside potential and fits any scheme.

#15 Baltimore Ravens — Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)
Allen has been a revelation this season. He’s big and stout but also has great quickness and the ability to win with his hands, speed or power. He looks like a stud. A good combine will secure a high grade. Watch him against Clemson this weekend.

#16 Tennessee Titans — Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
Big, athletic nose tackle who ran a 5.03 forty at 335lbs in High School. Players with this level of size and athleticism always go early. Like Wilkins, he gets marked down because people are just so familiar with him. Lawrence is a tremendous talent and could go earlier than this.

#17 Seattle Seahawks — D’Andre Walker (DE/LB, Georgia)
Explosive and quick, Walker is highly underrated. He has five sacks this season, plays with great aggression and speed. He’s 6-3 and 245lbs but does an incredible job setting the edge vs the run. He ran a 4.16 short shuttle at SPARQ testing (similar to Leighton Vander Esch).

#18 Philadelphia Eagles — Greg Little (T, Ole Miss)
I think Little’s best position will be guard. That said, someone might be willing to give him a shot at left tackle. It’s the position he plays in college. He was highly recruited in High School. He doesn’t particularly jump off the screen but he’s probably the next best after David Edwards.

#19 Atlanta Falcons — Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State)
Jones has issues defending the run. He might even be a liability there at the next level. Yet as a pass rusher he’s excelled this season. He’s taken a big step forward. This year he has 6.5 sacks. In 2017 he had just one sack. He just looks better.

#20 Miami Dolphins — Steven Montez (QB, Colorado)
Colorado’s season is starting to fall apart but not much blame can be apportioned to Montez. He has great size and mobility, tremendous deep accuracy and if you’re going to take a shot on a quarterback in this kind of range, he’s worth it.

#21 Minnesota Vikings — Byron Murphy (CB, Washington)
Gritty defensive back with great suddenness and an ability to fly to the ball. Could be tried at corner or safety at the next level. A lack of size will put off some teams but he’s a very talented defender with a bright future.

#22 Washington Redskins — Josh Allen (EDGE, Kentucky)
Allen’s having a huge season with 14.5 TFL’s and 10 sacks. He also has five forced fumbles and four pass break-ups. Georgia seemed to target him in the running game though. Can he set the edge in the way D’Andre Walker can? Not sure. He might have to be a pure 3-4 OLB.

#23 Cincinnati Bengals — Jeffrey Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
For a long time I didn’t think Simmons would be drafted early. Google his name and you’ll find out why. Then I remembered the Bengals exist. And if there’s one team that will probably be more than happy to draft Simmons, it’ll be Cincy.

#24 Houston Texans — Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
Smith is the player that has stood out to me when watching Stanford this year. He’s athletic and mobile at the second level and a true mismatch. He’s a solid blocker too. If he tests well at the combine he can secure a high grade.

#25 Oakland Raiders (from Chicago) — Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
In terms of talent, Harris deserves to go earlier than this. He’s a complete running back. Ideal size, explosive traits, shiftiness, breakaway speed, toughness, home-run ability. He’s a total stud and Alabama should use him more.

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It’s time for some perspective

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Yesterday’s loss to the Chargers was deflating. Something was building in Seattle. They looked great in Detroit. They were 4-1 in their last five games.

This game provided a reality check. This is still a reset year.

Judging by some of the reactions, however, you’d think the Seahawks were a prime contender plummeting to 4-4.

You expect an overreaction with Seahawks twitter. It’s not as funny as it thinks it is during the week. But that’s still preferable compared to the miserable form it takes after a loss.

Anti-run. Trade Russell. Pete’s outdated. Why did they draft Penny?

Pick a negative and hammer it home.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with a strong opinion — especially after a disappointing performance. Yet all too frequently these days, the twitterati are quick to indulge in their favourite narrative.

There was a time once when people could just enjoy the ride. Sample the highs and lows of following a football team. Those were great days. Now everyone’s an expert.

It’s spreading too. I’ve seen it in the comments section here. People who should know better because they were alive in 2008 and 2009 — reacting to a loss against one of the NFL’s elite like this isn’t a reset year.

Who among us carried high expectations into this season? If you did, more fool you. The Seahawks bludgeoned their roster. They needed to. Major changes were necessary. It was time for a refresh, time to move on from certain individuals.

We’ve seen the benefit. Remember how you felt in the build up to the Chargers game? This team had you believing again. Yesterday doesn’t change that. It was just a reminder that this is a team in transition. It’s a roster that needs further work — and will receive further work — over the coming months.

Seattle’s biggest need is the pass rush. The draft is loaded with pass rushers. They have cap room to spend. They will have options.

If they finish 8-8 this year, it’ll be par for the course. Anything better will be an achievement. The playoffs are not out of the question. Let’s celebrate that it’s even a possibility.

Can the trade and philosophy talk for now. Let’s remember that Rashaad Penny is eight games into his rookie season and that’s it’s slightly ridiculous to write-off a player this early in his career.

Let’s not over-analyse a run on third and forever or suggest Seattle are one-dimensional. Let’s not hammer Tedric Thompson because he isn’t Earl Thomas or switch opinion on Brian Schottenheimer on a week-to-week basis.

Yesterday was an off-day against a very good Chargers team. Wilson played poorly. The offense struggled after Carson’s injury. They couldn’t find a rhythm or create any explosive plays. The defense couldn’t defend the run and didn’t do enough to pressure Philip Rivers in the first half.

It was a step back.

They also didn’t have any luck, the refs were poor (for both teams) and despite everything — they were two dropped passes at the end from having a two-point conversion attempt for overtime.

There will be more days like this in 2018. It’s going to be that type of season. Some great wins, some tough losses. Get ready for that. Be prepared.

Complaining about a loss is part of sports. But act like we’ve been here before — because we have. In 2011 and 2012 when this team rose into contention. They have an opportunity to do that again in the future. Hopefully it can still happen this year. If not, 2019 should be interesting.

Try to enjoy the ride because one day, Carroll won’t be here. Neither will Wilson. And you’ll look back on these days with great fondness.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks humbled by Chargers

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

This was a reality check.

The excitement of the last few weeks, tempered.

Typically, the Pete Carroll Seahawks gave themselves a chance to tie the game on the very last play. Did you expect anything else? But the reality is the score flattered Seattle.

The Chargers ran the ball better, were more physical and had control. They made the explosive plays. They won the turnover battle.

It was a repeat of last weeks game in Detroit. Only this time, the Seahawks were on the receiving end.

The run defense gave up 160 yards at 7.3 YPC. The pass rush struggled to lay a glove on Philip Rivers in the first half and sacks from Frank Clark and Jarran Reed shouldn’t mask the lack of consistent pressure.

The offense lost all rhythm as soon as Chris Carson left the game and struggled to stay on track. It clearly impacted Russell Wilson who had his worst game since week two.

This was a day to forget and a reminder of where this team is.

Welcome to a reset season.

Next on the schedule: Rams (A), Packers (H), Panthers (A).

What a stretch. Get ready — because this might not be a one-off.

Even with the backdrop of a reset year, this is still a deflating loss. It was starting to feel like something special was building. Could this be 2012 instead of 2011? On this evidence it seems not. The 2011 season had some dynamic wins but also some tough losses against good teams. At 4-4, the likelihood of a run to 7-9 or 8-8 seems more likely than a run to 11-5.

The defense deserves some credit for sticking in. LA’s only second half points were a pick-six from Wilson. They gave Seattle’s offense multiple chances to get on track. It didn’t happen until it was too late.

Chris Carson’s injury seemed to impact everything. This has been Carson’s career to date — college and the NFL. He’s never been a consistent bell-cow and it remains to be seen if he ever will be. He’s such an important player but he’s also going to miss games.

Russell Wilson had to make up the difference with the run stymied. Instead he struggled and his second half performance was particularly bad:

— The needless sacks
— Missing a wide open Jaron Brown
— The pick six

Wilson, as he’s known to do, almost made amends at the end. It wasn’t to be.

The Chargers were setting the tone. They were the alpha’s this week. In Detroit and London, Seattle were the bullies. Here, it was LA. Led by the brilliant Rivers.

The Seahawks were battered, hurt and humbled before a late flourish.

So what can we take away from this game?

Firstly, fingers crossed for good injury news. Carson, Bradley McDougald and D.J. Fluker all left the game. They can ill-afford to lose all three heading to the Rams next week.

Secondly, the Seahawks looked ready to compete. If the last three games were a step forward, this was a big step back. Reality bites sometimes. They will give some teams problems this year. But they’ll also have some losses where they look like this. It was starting to look like they were ready to content. The truth is, there’s still work to do.

Here’s a stat to leave you on — Seattle is 5-7 in their last 12 home games. That’s interesting.

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