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Instant reaction: Seahawks’ luck runs out, they drop to 5-2

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

For the second time this season the Seahawks were hammered at home.

In week three New Orleans were more physical, dictated the play to Seattle and forced errors. Baltimore did exactly the same today.

The only difference is this week the Seahawks didn’t have time to score garbage time points to polish the scoreboard.

Nothing will ever top the 2017 beat down by the Rams. Yet these two games — against the Saints and now the Ravens — are extremely concerning. It pulls the curtain back on the reality with this team.

You can get after them, even at Century Link Field.

We can sit here and reflect two ways. They’re 5-2. That’s a good record. They’re young and learning. They’re still in a modest rebuilt. They’ve also been battered by two good teams at home, were a goalpost away from losing a third home game to the Rams and nearly lost their other home game to the winless Bengals.

They’re 12-8 at home since the start of 2017. Can we talk about that by the way? The Seahawks are only 12-8 at Century Link Field since the start of the 2017 season. This is supposed to be a fearsome home field advantage. Are they a better team on the road these days?

They want to be the bully. They’re not the bully. They want to run the ball and have explosive plays in the passing game. They want to defend the run and force turnovers. They want to impose their will.

They’re just not doing it with any consistency — and other teams are parking up and doing it to them in their own backyard. The Ravens, like the Saints, were faster and stronger.

And sure — Baltimore had a bit of luck along the way. Yet one thing really stands out.

Today the Ravens loaded the box and said to the Seahawks, ‘you’re not running the ball on us’. Seattle responded by throwing it 41 times. When the game was close, they’d thrown 27 times vs 16 runs. That highlights how much they forced Seattle off script. The Ravens dictated to the Seahawks what they were going to do on offense.

They were the physical tone setters.

It’s supposed to be the other way round, especially at home.

It wasn’t all on the offense though. The defense initially restricted Lamar Jackson but by the second half they had no answer. They had no contain or discipline against his scrambling. The pressure was minimal. The D-line has regressed from last year and the linebackers — so much a focus this year — are not impacting games. This in turn leaves the secondary exposed. It’s a trickle effect through each unit.

Baltimore on the other hand harassed Wilson, took away the run, had two turnovers leading to touchdowns and nullified every threat.

Other teams will feel like they can get after Seattle — just like the Saints and Ravens.

And yes — you could argue the Wilson pick-six was a momentum shift. At that point Seattle was in control and it provided a swing. Yet Wilson led a field-goal drive before half time and Seattle started the second half with the ball and a 13-13 scoreline. The second half beating wasn’t due to the pick-six.

It seems they’re solely dependant on their offense. If they can’t run they need Wilson. Sometimes they need both. When teams win the LOS battle they struggle. The defense simply isn’t good enough to compensate on those occasions. Not enough pressure, not enough discipline, not enough big plays. Not good enough to contend seriously.

They’re not alone. There are plenty of other flawed teams, including the Ravens (who recently were themselves hammered by Cleveland). Yet the NFC is competitive at the top and the Seahawks are losing their margin for error.

So the season will continue in this way. Wilson will provide magical moments and win them games. There will be times when they can run and will be more physical too. Yet there will also, likely, be more games like this. And unfortunately, it could be in the games that matter.

Considering their utter dependance on the offense — do they need to add if they want to improve this year? Whether it’s a tight end addition as suggested earlier today by Ian Rapoport or another receiver?

It’s too late now to suddenly turn this team into the bully. They are what they are. Wilson’s lost Will Dissly. Don’t you need to say to your quarterback in a situation like this — we need you this year, so we’re going to support you?

You could say they have bigger needs on defense. I agree. What are you going to do though? Name the one defensive player that is available that transforms this unit?

They’re relying on their offense this year. So it’s either stand-pat and accept this is possible any week or try to do something in the next eight days to give Wilson an even greater opportunity to produce magic — because that’s what you’re relying on.

They’re now 1.5 games behind the 49ers and the Rams got back on track this week with a blowout win in Atlanta and the Jalen Ramsey trade. This was not a good weekend.

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CFB week 8: Oregon, Herbert outgun Washington

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Justin Herbert led Oregon to a big win in Seattle

At times the Washington vs Oregon game felt like a Big-12 contest. Neither defense put up much resistance. The game turned into a bit of a shoot-out and a perfect opportunity for Jacob Eason and Justin Herbert to showcase their talents to the NFL.

In the end both had similar performances. There were times when they were red hot, times when they suffered through conservative play-calling and times where you were left wanting a bit more.

Statistically they looked great. Herbert finished with 24/38 for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Eason completed 23/30 for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

At one point the Huskies threatened to break free and win comfortably. Eason was commanding the offense well and having a good day and the running game started to emerge after half time. And yet everything seemed to stall when they were trying to protect a lead. Suddenly everything got a little tight, a little safe. They struggled to move the ball. They started trying things like the wildcat on third down.

If Eason is a NFL talent, it felt like they needed to let him win the game and stay on track. In particular he was connecting with Hunter Bryant superbly. Instead they surrendered the initiative to Herbert and Oregon. They played it too safe. Instead of Eason driving them home, Herbert was given the opportunity to steal it for the Ducks. To his credit, he pulled it off.

That has been one of the big question marks with Herbert. Can he deliver in key games? This will be the tape that people turn to. It wasn’t a flawless performance — but it was a game-winning performance. He avoided mistakes, kept plays alive. He had some misses and as per usual was held down by the never-ending screens and short passing game. When he was asked to improvise and extend he looked good (aside from a couple of short-armed throws).

For me that’s the big difference between the two players. Eason is the more physically talented with an arm to die for. Yet he’ll often make one read then look for the check down. He hasn’t got that ability to create when the play breaks down. He doesn’t really do off-script — and so much of the NFL these days is off-script. One play stood out where he was glued to his first read and stuck with it far too long — only to check-down to a short option that was covered. He made the throw any way and took a loss. It was all so robotic — when really you want to see him improvise in situations like that not just eat a bad play because that’s what the call dictated.

He also struggles under pressure — as seen on the big sack at the end in Washington’s final drive. He couldn’t escape, the eyes come down and he ended up taking a much greater loss of yards as he tried to get free. Again, the modern NFL is dominating by athletic freaks playing on the D-line. So much is off-script now — extending plays, improvisation.

That’s not to say Eason doesn’t have positives. He does. His play-action touchdown throw to Jordan Chin for 48 yards flashed his arm talent. He had a tremendous back-shoulder throw to Bryant right before half-time to set-up a late touchdown. He’s incredibly talented as a pocket-passer with a great arm. At the next level, however, he’s going to need to be able to progress through reads and improvise more.

Herbert doesn’t have the amazing arm (he does have a decent arm) but he’s more mobile, shifty and capable of creating at the breakdown. He’s restricted sometimes by the offense and the play-calling and he’s prone to hot and cold streaks. In this game he started well and faded — just like the Auburn game. Yet today he came roaring back to win. Oregon should make the PAC-12 Championship game now and that’ll provide Herbert the perfect platform to make an impression on NFL teams.

Hunter Bryant again showed his big-play potential and this is why I have him in my top-50. He had an explosive play on a tight end screen off play action. Center Nick Harris had a sensational second level block in space after originally blocking at the LOS. Bryant exploited the opening and has great speed and mobility.

Bryant also had a terrific back-shoulder catch on Eason’s perfect throw before half-time. He showed incredible body contortion to twist and make the grab. He finished with three catches for 65 yards and is clearly the most explosive playmaker at the position in college football and one to watch for the Seahawks moving forward. He and Jake Ferguson at Wisconsin are the two players currently in my top-50. The only question is — why weren’t they featuring him at the end to finish the game?

Harris the Washington center also played well and is gathering momentum. He’s undersized but tough, physical and athletic. Before the game Jim Nagy compared him to Garrett Bradbury, the #18 overall pick to Minnesota this year. That showed up today. Aside from one lousy snap that led to a big loss, he was spot on and could compete with Tyler Biadasz to be the top center. On today’s evidence I’d put him above Biadasz.

Elsewhere…

— Joe Burrow had another outstanding game for LSU. After a bit of a slow start he ended up completing 25/32 passing for 327 yards and four touchdowns in a big 36-13 win at Mississippi State. He’s just so accurate. His game has gone to the next level but he’s an absolute surgeon in the pocket this year — showing fantastic poise, patience and he’s fitting passes into windows with highly impressive accuracy. On one of his touchdowns he did a remarkable job moving about in the pocket to avoid pressure, kept his eyes downfield and then from a difficult angle, launched the ball for a near 40 yard score. It was a Heisman-type play from a fantastic talent. There isn’t a player in college football that has improved quite like Burrow and he’s turned LSU into a major contender this year as a consequence. He doesn’t have eye-catching physical traits but he looks like a pro, he’s not making mistakes, he’s winning big games and it won’t be a surprise at all if he makes his way into round one. Talented LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, another player with first-round potential, had an interception in the game (his first of the season). He baited the quarterback into a bad decision and undercut the route. Fulton is physical, fast and has ball skills.

— Isaiah Simmons had a big game as Clemson hammered Louisville 45-10. He recorded two sacks, two TFL’s and led the team with eight carries. On one snap he did a super job in coverage 40 yards downfield. He’s a unique prospect who’s equally adept in coverage or working at the LOS and he’s a big-time leader. He will be a top-20 pick, if not top-12. Travis Etienne ran for 192 yards on 14 carries, adding 35 yards as a receiver. He scored a 49 yard touchdown by accelerating through a well-blocked whole and then broke two tackles to finish. He showed a great combination of balance, explosive physical traits and speed. Tee Higgins was held to one catch for three yards. Higgins had one outstanding grab that should’ve been called a touchdown. He managed to maintain control as he dove for the football, somehow pointing a toe into the turf. The refs called him out of bounds but it was a clear TD.

— I put Minnesota receiver Tyler Johnson in my top-50 and he had another great performance today with six catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in a 42-7 win at Rutgers. Minnesota are unbeaten at 7-0 and Johnson is a big reason why. It’ll be very interesting to see how he tests at the combine. He’s a Senior too so hopefully we’ll see him in Mobile.

— CeeDee Lamb had three catches for 71 yards against West Virginia in a 52-14 win for Oklahoma. Lamb also had one rush for nine yards. Jalen Hurts continued to boost his stock and chances in the Heisman race. He completed 16/17 passing for 316 yards and three scores. He added 75 yards on 10 carries as a runner, scoring two more touchdowns.

— Jalen Reagor had eight catches for 85 yards as TCU were beaten 24-17 by Kansas State. He also had a run for five yards. Reagor has massive potential with great speed and high-pointing ability. Unfortunately he’s a little bit wasted in a stalling TCU team.

— Wisconsin were upset 24-23 by Illinois but Jonathan Taylor still had a big day with 132 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Jake Ferguson is a tight end we’ve discussed fairly often and I had him in my top-50 recently. After a slow start to the season as a receiver he’s led the team in yardage in the last two games. Today he had 77 yards and a touchdown. His score was a nice route up the seam. He can block, catch and he’s highly athletic. He’s one to watch.

— Last night we saw another big day for J.K. Dobbins. Ohio State beat Northwestern 52-3 with Dobbins running for 121 yards on 18 carries. He also had 30 receiving yards and two total touchdowns. He doesn’t get much draft hype but he looks like a first rounder to me. Chase Young had another sack and another TFL. He’s up to 9.5 sacks for the season already.

— Jonathan Taylor could be RB1. Dobbins would be competing with D’Andre Swift for RB2. Swift and the Georgia offensive line dominated Kentucky in a 21-0 victory in heavy rain. The conditions made for a difficult contest with both teams combining for 52 (!!!) total passing yards vs 395 rushing yards. Georgia’s O-line were again fantastic, led by likely top-ten pick Andrew Thomas, likely first round pick Isaiah Wilson and promising guard Solomon Kindley. Swift is also physical and athletic and ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

— Eno Benjamin is likely to be drafted on day two. He continued his strong 2019 albeit in a losing effort for Arizona State at Utah (21-3). Benjamin had 104 yards on just 15 carries. Receiver Brandon Aiyuk — so good last week — was held to one catch for seven yards.

— Steven Montez’s season is collapsing at Colorado and it’s a real shame. He has talent but for the second year in a row it’s unravelling. In a 41-10 defeat to Washington State, Montez threw two picks and was 16/30 for 129 yards. There are strong reports that Laviska Shenault Jr. will turn pro at the end of the season but he’s also not having a season to remember. In this game he had three rushes for 16 yards and a touchdown plus four catches for 46 yards. We’ve not seen the best of Shenault Jr. this year.

— Tua Tagovailoa is a good prospect. However, I’m still not sure why he’s been vaulted to the status of sure-fire #1 overall pick and franchise saviour. Against Tennessee he completed 11/12 for 155 yards and no touchdowns plus one interception before leaving the game. He injured an ankle and there are concerns he could miss significant time. He’s had some injury issues in college. The pick, meanwhile, was horrible. He was pressured, he retreated and rather than eat the play, he threw an ugly interception into coverage. There are definitely things to like about Tua but for a left handed thrower lacking great size, he can be a little robotic sometimes. In Miami he’s not going to be playing for a powerhouse with talent everywhere. Henry Ruggs had a nice game flashing his quickness and fluidity to gain 72 yards on four carries. Jerry Jeudy took a big hit to the head and ended with four catches for 48 yards. DeVonta Smith was suspended for the first half after being involved in a fight at the end of Alabama’s last game. He only had one catch for 18 yards as a consequence. Najee Harris ran for 105 yards on 21 carries (scoring two touchdowns). Defensively, the superb Trevon Diggs recovered a fumble to score a touchdown, Terrell Lewis had two sacks and three TFL’s and Raekwon Davis shared a TFL.

— Penn State’s K.J. Hamler lacks size but he has electric speed and playmaking qualities. In a 28-21 win against Michigan he scored a 53 yard touchdown on a blown coverage and finished with six catches for 108 yards and two scores. He also ran twice for six yards. He’s a player who will be in my next top-50. Yetur Gross-Matos didn’t have any big sacks but he had a tremendous TFL vs the run showing great quickness and hand-use to work into the backfield. He has talent you just want to see more impact and consistency.

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Wednesday notes: Ramsey trade, Earl’s return & more

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Jalen Ramsey has been traded to the LA Rams

Thoughts on the Jalen Ramsey trade

It’s an interesting deal. For starters, it’s very unlikely the Rams were going to acquire a player of Ramsey’s quality with their first round picks in 2020 or 2021. He’s a true elite talent — both in terms of athleticism and proven production/ability.

However, the Rams don’t have a lot of cap space in 2020 (approximately $22m) and they have a lot of holes. Their offensive line isn’t performing well and Andrew Whitworth is 38 in December. Irrespective of whether they pay Ramsey or not, they don’t have much room to make any moves in free agency in the off-season. They have minimal stock to make trades. They’re going to need to find answers to big problems in the middle and late rounds of the draft.

A lot has been made of the amount of money tied into a small number of star players. However, on reflection, I think this is overstated. The problem isn’t the money they’re spending on Jared Goff, Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and eventually Jalen Ramsey. It’s the fact they spent so much draft stock to acquire Goff, Cooks, Ramsey, Marcus Peters and Sammy Watkins and it’s left them unable to plug holes with cheap, club controlled talent. They can make the cap work. Any team can. Their ability to fill out their roster is compromised, however.

Gurley’s career unfortunately appears to be heading south quickly due to injuries. If the Rams part with him after the 2020 season, they’ll save $5m in cap space. They could manipulate a Ramsey extension (after his fifth year option) to coincide with that. Essentially they’d be moving Gurley’s salary to Ramsey. So it’s manageable.

Whether they can address the issues on the O-line and offense in general remains to be seen.

The Rams are now relying on two genuine superstars on defense and an offense managed by a talented Head Coach and a quarterback who has proven he can lead the team to a Super Bowl. The impact of not having Gurley in the backfield is being felt though. For all the handwringing about the running back position on the internet, LA’s offense simply isn’t the same since Gurley’s regression.

Booing Earl Thomas

There’s a lot of fuss on Twitter this week about whether people are right or wrong to ‘boo’ Earl Thomas. It’s typical twitter white noise. If anyone is going to boo Earl, it’ll be a minority. And if someone did want to boo him, so what? Who cares?

Cheer him, boo him, applaud him, ignore him. Who really cares? Do what you want.

Some will want to celebrate his career in Seattle which was superb. The odd one or two will want to give a little bit back after a ‘come get me’ plea to the Cowboys, a holdout and a single digit salute at Pete Carroll.

Neither position is wrong. You don’t have to kiss Earl’s feet because he was a brilliant player. He plays for the Ravens now and there were a few moments at the end of his Seahawks career that won’t sit well with some people.

Personally, none of that stuff bothers me that much. I can appreciate why others feel differently.

Earl Thomas had a wonderful Seahawks career. Everyone, including Earl, benefitted from that. The Seahawks were well within their rights to move on. They needed cap room to pay Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. Thomas is earning nearly $14m a year in Baltimore with $32m in guarantees. He’s had injuries and recently admitted he didn’t chase down Nick Chubb through fear of pulling (or tearing) a hamstring. Even if you disagreed with the decision, the logic made sense.

So now he returns to Seattle. We can remember the good old days and wish Earl well for the future. It doesn’t mean we need to roll out the red carpet.

What the Seahawks are lacking in their pass rush

Seattle has a collection of defensive tackles but only Jarran Reed has shown he can rush from the interior. They have a bunch of five-technique or inside/out types (Jefferson, Green, Collier, Jackson). Their main two pass rushers are both bigger players (Clowney, Ansah).

Everyone’s big. That’s fine to an extent. Seattle had to repair the run defense this season. That was a stated priority, an obvious priority. It’s possible they’re overcompensating a bit in 2019. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they planned to go big up front, believing they could still rely on Clowney and Ansah to create pressure. As it happens, Clowney and Ansah haven’t — whether that’s because they’ve had to settle into a new scheme, they’re being trained to defend the run first and foremost or they’ve underperformed (or maybe a collection of all three).

To me one thing is missing — speed. They haven’t got that blast of speed to change things up. Frank Clark provided that in an orthodox DE frame. In the past they had Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril. Chris Clemons was quick too.

They seem to be missing that dynamic EDGE who might be a liability against the run but could be trotted out on key passing downs with the mission of getting to the QB.

Unfortunately the 2020 draft class so far isn’t providing many options. At the moment it’s hard to identify the speed rushers. Chase Young possibly won’t go as high as everyone in the media is currently projecting but he’s not lasting anywhere near Seattle’s pick.

Either before the trade deadline or in the off-season, they could do with adding more speed off the edge.

Some thoughts on a couple of quarterbacks

Yesterday I spent some time watching Jacob Eason and Joe Burrow.

Firstly on Burrow — what a major step forward he’s taken this year. LSU look like a contender because for the first time in years they have a competent quarterback. He’s highly accurate, has tremendous poise. He seems in complete command of the offense and his pocket presence stands out. Without Burrow I’m not sure LSU beats Texas or Florida.

What he does lack is outstanding physical tools. He has a good arm but it’s not a ‘wow’ arm. He’s mobile but he’s not Carson Wentz-like. He doesn’t make the improbable happen and he’s not a big improviser — even if he’s capable when he leaves the pocket. He might be a low ceiling, high floor type. Is he able to elevate a team in the NFL or is he the kind of player who is a nice compliment to a strong supporting cast?

It’ll be interesting to see how far he can take LSU this year.

Eason is the polar opposite. His arm talent is fantastic. Physically he looks like a top-10 pick. He has the size, physicality, arm. If you were going to design a pro-QB they’d probably look like Eason.

He has made some spectacular ‘wow’ throws this year. He can launch the ball downfield with accuracy with very little footwork adjustment. If he’s pressured he can throw from angles and still get the trajectory to fire deep.

There also a lot of inconsistent moments. His decision making at times is questionable and he hasn’t elevated Washington so far with his talent. That could simply be down to a lack of experience. He’s basically played a handful of college games. He got hurt at Georgia and Jake Fromm stole the starting job. He’s had to wait it out and transfer to Washington.

The best thing for his career is probably to return to college football in 2020 and just keep getting snaps. In reality though, his physical talent is so high it might be too tempting to head for the NFL. If that’s his choice it’ll be interesting to see how teams view Eason. It only takes one team to make him a high first round pick. Equally, we’ve seen talented, physical players last into day two or three. Eason’s play so far warrants a similar fate. So it’s incredibly difficult to say where he would land if he does declare for the draft.

The Seahawks and the trade deadline

It’s a little late in the week now for a deal before the Ravens game. I still think if they’re going to do anything — it’ll be for a player like O.J. Howard.

We talked in some detail this week about the pro’s and con’s of a deal. Seattle is going to have to spend a draft pick or some free agent money on the tight end position. It’s inevitable. Will Dissly’s injury history means, unfortunately, you can’t count on him in 2020. Luke Willson and Ed Dickson are both free agents.

That doesn’t mean they necessarily need to make a big splash but they have in the past. Zach Miller was signed at great expense in 2011 and four years later they made the Jimmy Graham trade.

Howard is a good age, has massive potential to be a complete tight end, has some club control for the next two seasons and is the former five-star recruit Pete Carroll loves to target.

He also has the kind of outstanding athleticism to provide an extra weapon for Russell Wilson in light of Dissly’s injury. That’s important because it’s extremely clear that the Seahawks will only go as far as Wilson can take them this season.

Who knows whether the Buccs are willing to do a deal? Especially with Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. There’s no love lost there. They might not want to give up on the #19 pick just yet, even if his role in the offense makes him expendable. Or they might want a first round pick in return which is unrealistic.

If a deal is possible, it makes a lot of sense. Pete Carroll admitted today that they were ‘working on some stuff’ at the position. It would help the Seahawks in 2019 and Howard would be nice insurance for 2020 for Dissly and a nice partner in crime.

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Could the Seahawks trade for O.J. Howard?

Monday, October 14th, 2019

O.J. Howard is a non-factor in Tampa Bay’s offense

After five games, you could’ve made a case for Will Dissly being the best tight end in the NFL. He was outperforming everyone statistically. He was producing regular touchdowns and big plays. His blocking was vital and on-point.

His season-ending achilles injury is a crushing blow for player and team. He’ll no doubt be back. Even after two devastating injuries, ‘Uncle Will’ just seems like the type who won’t accept bad luck. You wouldn’t bet against him returning next year and having a long and successful career in Seattle.

In the short term the Seahawks need a 2019 solution. On 710 ESPN today, Pete Carroll spoke positively about Ed Dickson returning in a couple of weeks. Previously he hadn’t spoken optimistically about his health. Ideally he returns after week eight and the Seahawks can finish the season with Dickson, Luke Willson and Jacob Hollister.

They also need to see what else is out there for a few reasons.

Firstly, there’s at least some risk pinning all your hopes on Dickson. His injury was serious enough to start the year on injured reserve. He has an injury history. After the trade deadline closes — you’re stuck with what’s available on the street. Unless they’re absolutely convinced Dickson will be ready to contribute — they have to see what else is out there.

Secondly, Dissly was more than just a replaceable tight end. He was delivering consistent production. Someone needed to step up after Doug Baldwin’s retirement. Dissly was that man. The Seahawks just lost one of the most important players on their offense. Russell Wilson just lost arguably his second most vital target after Tyler Lockett. Seattle will only go as far as Wilson can take them this season. Making sure he has the necessary supporting cast is vital.

Thirdly, tight end is an important position in Seattle. They paid Zach Miller handsomely in 2011. They made a big trade for Jimmy Graham in 2015. They’ve always, seemingly, placed a high value on the position. That isn’t a surprise. They want to run the ball successfully, they use a lot of play action and their pass-pro needs help with an extra blocker. Dissly was an ideal fit. He’s a complete tight end. He’ll be a huge loss. If it was possible to add someone with plus blocking and receiving skills — it would soften the blow.

The purpose of this article isn’t to suggest they need to repeat the Jimmy Graham trade. It’s simply to highlight options.

In terms of free agents, Dwayne Allen (former Colts, Patriots, Dolphins) is available. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (former Buccs, Jets, Jags) is available. The Patriots just re-signed Ben Watson — potentially anticipating that teams like the Seahawks would be looking for help today.

In terms of trades, there are some options. I wrote last week that A.J. Green could be a possibility. Remember — this isn’t just about replacing Dissly. Russell Wilson just lost one of his best pass-catchers, having seen his best target retire in the off-season. Again, this team will only go as far as the offense and the quarterback can take them this year. Making sure Wilson is as supported as possible is vital.

Green’s not a tight end but he would be a suitable replacement to inject some quality into the offense with Dissly injured. It’s worth noting though that the Bengals insist he won’t be dealt.

Another option who does play tight end is O.J. Howard.

Yesterday, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller suggested the following:

Howard is a non-factor in Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay offense.

Here’s his 2019 stat-line:

vs San Francisco — 4 catches, 5 targets, 32 yards

vs Carolina — 0 catches, 0 targets, 0 yards

vs New York Giants — 3 catches, 4 targets, 66 yards

vs LA Rams — 3 catches, 3 targets, 33 yards

vs New Orleans — 1 catch, 2 targets, 10 yards

vs Carolina — 2 catches, 4 targets, 35 yards

With the Buccs spiralling out of control and enduring a nonsensical travel schedule that the NFL should be embarrassed about, it stands to reason that they’d be willing to see what they can get for Howard.

It isn’t working, he’s an asset they can move as they prepare for an inevitable reset in the off-season (probably with a new quarterback).

Before the 2017 draft, Davis Hsu noted that the Seahawks were high on O.J. Howard. The feeling was they viewed him as one of the very best players in the class. In the days leading up to the draft, he was being touted as a likely top-10 pick — perhaps even a top-five pick. It was a surprise he fell to #19.

Here’s a segment of a USA Today report posted after the pick was made:

General manager Jason Licht and coach Dirk Koetter both expressed surprise that Howard, who helped Alabama win the national championship two years ago, was still available for Tampa Bay at No. 19 overall Thursday night.

While Howard said his agent projected he’d be selected anywhere between sixth and 20th and “that’s exactly what happened,” Licht referred to the prospect of landing the 6-foot-6, 242-pound tight end as a “pipe dream.”

So why did he fall?

Howard was a highly touted recruit. As soon as he arrived in Alabama, he was being talked about. He was the next big thing, destined to play in the NFL before he’d even started his college career.

He never really delivered on the promise. At least not in terms of production. Many pinned the blame on offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for never really working out the best way to use him. Considering he’s had an indifferent spell in Tampa Bay now, people might have a different take. For a player who promised so much — he’s been underwhelming.

In Lance Zierlein’s pre-draft scouting report, he noted all the positives you’d expect:

Exceptionally gifted athlete. Has long arms and massive hands for his position. Tremendous acceleration into his routes. Has tools to torment defenses on second and third level. Play speed resembles a wide receiver’s when the ball is in the air. Linebackers have no shot against him in space. Can turn a short throw into a long gain. Light on his feet and smooth out of his breaks. Easy separator who creates instant throwing windows when he hits the gas. Natural pass catcher who plucks it away from his body. Can adjust to poorly thrown balls and secure contested catches. Shows no lack of toughness over the middle. Can be lined up all over the field.

He also wrote the following in the ‘weaknesses’ section:

Scouts question his competitive nature.

And he finished with this summary:

Howard has struggled to live up to hype that has come with his play-making ability while at Alabama, but some scouts put the blame on the staff and scheme. He has elite athletic traits and raw talent, but must add polish to go along with those attributes. Should become substantially more productive as a pro, but the difference between “potential weapon” and “elite tight end” will likely be tied to his desire and overall football character.

It’s possible that Howard’s potential is more appealing than the reality.

Even so — he’s a player with the tools to be the most complete tight end in the league. His combination of size, length, speed, athleticism, agility and blocking skills could make him a perfect fit for a team that requires a classic tight end who can also act as a playmaker.

The Seahawks love a high-upside project.

Brett Kollmann published this very positive video discussing Howard:

If the Seahawks were extremely high on Howard before the 2017 draft, this might be a good match. His salary next season is only $3,530,107. They would have the opportunity to trigger his fifth year option if they wanted to retain his services in 2021. He only turns 25 in November, so he’s a good age.

One way or another they’re going to have to add a tight end at some point. Ed Dickson and Luke Willson are not long term options. Dissly has suffered two serious injuries in two seasons, so they need some insurance at the position. Howard is cheap enough, young enough and has high enough potential to be a viable option.

Nobody would deny that Seattle’s biggest weaknesses are currently on defense. That’s the area they need the most help. Yet the chances are they’ll be spending a draft pick and/or some cap space on a tight end in the off-season anyway. Trading for Howard would simply accelerate the process.

As with any trade, it comes down to price. What would you be willing to spend? They have two second round picks but is that too high for a player who hasn’t produced at a high level in Tampa Bay? Would the Buccs take a third rounder to move on? Is that a fair price or can they get him for less?

If Miller is right and there’s a lot of buzz about an O.J. Howard trade doing the rounds, it won’t be a surprise if the Seahawks are in the hunt.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Browns, move to 5-1

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Welcome to Seattle’s 2019 season. You better get used to this.

Chaos, brilliance, frustration and elation.

Games that swing and sway.

Ultimately though, they’re 5-1. Somehow, some way.

Their winning margins in the five victories so far are:

Bengals — 1 point
Steelers — 2 points
Cardinals — 17 points
Rams — 1 point
Browns — 4 points

With a daunting schedule ahead, it’s possible their luck will change in the coming weeks. For now — enjoy the fact that they’re off to a start that, at least in terms of wins and losses, matches the 2013 season.

You might shake your fist at the TV and wonder why it can’t be easier than this. I’m here to tell you the Seahawks are not that unique. Look around the league. Very few teams are making life easy.

The Patriots? Sure. Now look at their schedule so far.

The rest? Every other team is facing the same peaks and troughs. The Chiefs losing back-to-back home games is a classic example.

It’s going to be this way for the rest of the year. It’s actually a positive that, so far, the Seahawks have shown they’re good at winning close games.

This was actually quite a sloppy and often ugly game — mixed in with bursts of pure excitement. The refs didn’t help. Jarvis Landry’s ‘illegal block in the back’ on Marquise Blair is one of the worst calls you’ll see this season. The Browns magically regained a called timeout so the refs could explain a ruling to Freddie Kitchens. The Seahawks almost had a good redzone play wiped out on an ‘illegal blocker downfield’ — executed by a player who’d declared as an eligible receiver.

The game stuttered and stalled with little rhythm mainly due to the officials.

The two teams didn’t help matters with a number of careless mistakes.

From the Seahawks — they started by giving up a long kick-return that set the tone for a rough first half. They gave up 302 yards in the opening two quarters and offered no resistance on defense.

The Browns really should’ve gone into the break with a handsome 27-12 lead. They were in the redzone and marching for a score. They also needed to take time off the clock to prevent the Seahawks having an extra possession. With time running, Baker Mayfield snapped the ball with about 20 seconds on the play clock and promptly threw an interception.

It was an avoidable massive momentum shift.

Moments later the Seahawks finished off a quick-fire touchdown drive to make it 20-18. Instead of trailing by three touchdowns, they were within two points and fired up a 19-0 scoring run.

The Browns had a punt blocked. Nick Chubb fumbled. Mayfield threw three total interceptions — one straight to Tre Flowers.

And when Seattle were looking for a knockout punch late in the third, C.J. Prosise fumbled.

Still the mistakes kept coming. Kitchens threw an ill-advised challenge flag just as Chubb was about to run for a touchdown, only to see the subsequent fourth down attempt stuffed. Michael Dickson shanked a punt leading, finally, to a Browns touchdown.

There were two missed extra points.

Am I missing anything? What a mess.

Yet amid all the nonsense was a flash of occasional brilliance.

Russell Wilson was again superb — throwing for 295 yards, rushing for 31 more and scoring three total touchdowns. He now has 17 passing and running scores and zero interceptions. It’s clearly his best ever start to a season and he is the shining light that will give fans hope this can, actually, be a special season.

The running game eventually got going and they ended with 170 yards (124 to Chris Carson). More important than the production — Carson again had a couple of ‘beast mode’ moments to match the ones against LA. He’s finding his best form and that’s underrated news for Seattle.

Despite losing Doug Baldwin to retirement and Will Dissly to injury in this game, Wilson completed passes to eight different targets. The receivers are stepping up to make plays.

The offensive line — missing two starters — gave up three sacks and some other pressures. However, they did enough to enable Wilson and the running game to prosper against a talented defensive front.

The defense — so poor in the first quarter — really stepped up in the second half. They forced four turnovers in the end, had the great goal-line stop and made the plays they had to. The lack of sacks or QB hits is still a worry but as the game developed so did the unit.

You also have to credit the Browns. Nick Chubb put on a classic ‘look what you could’ve won’ showing. Odell Beckham — questioned all week — had a couple of drops but also made some spectacular plays. Mayfield had the three interceptions but also gutted through an injury.

In the end, Seattle found a way to win. Again.

The Seahawks still have plenty to work on if 5-1 is going to turn into a serious contending season in the NFC.

The pass rush needs help. Thankfully, Jarran Reed returns next week. This should benefit Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah. In fairness to both — the game-plan was likely very run-D orientated this week to stop Chubb. Clowney had a couple of nice rushes and Ansah had the forced fumble and recovery.

The secondary had some moments today including Tre Flowers first interception. The three-headed rotation at safety in the first half, however, shows the Seahawks are still working out their best combination there. The poor moments in the first half shouldn’t be totally ignored simply because the Seahawks fought back to win. They will need to add to this unit in the off-season.

They need a solution at tight end going forward. It could be Ed Dickson but Pete Carroll has not talked positively about his health situation. Will Dissly’s achilles injury is heartbreaking. With Nick Vannett now in Pittsburgh, the Seahawks will need to see what’s out there. They could roll with Luke Willson and Jacob Hollister. Is there a deal to be made? Or can they wait for Dickson?

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CFB week 7: Javon Kinlaw makes a big statement

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

South Carolina vs Georgia

Javon Kinlaw had an outstanding game to highlight his top-15 potential as South Carolina stunned Georgia 20-17. He forced a pick-six from Jake Fromm by splitting the guard and right tackle Isaiah Wilson, delivering the pressure that led to Fromm throwing unwisely off his back foot. Kinlaw is well over 300lbs but carries minimal body-fat. He’s a superb athlete who wins consistently with speed or power. On this occasion he won with speed. The right guard was in two minds whether to pass off to the tackle or absorb the block. Kinlaw’s quickness didn’t give him a second to make a call — before either the guard or Wilson realised the danger he was in the backfield.

It was a terrible decision by Fromm to attempt the throw but it’s Kinlaw’s play.

On another down he destroyed the center, blowing him up and driving him deep into the backfield. There are flashes where Kinlaw is just on another level. He also recorded a sack. He looks like a NFL player competing in college. In my top-50 posted this week I had him at #13. It was too low. He needs to be higher.

Aside from the pick-six, Fromm threw two other interceptions on a day that will severely impact his draft stock. One was a wayward pass to the sideline that was off target. The other came on a tipped pass that should’ve been caught.

Fromm’s always looked like a second round type more than a first rounder. This tape will have teams potentially reviewing the tape. What’s his ceiling? Can he make the right decisions on the field to make up for the lack of great physical tools? On the plus side — his touchdown throw was a nice completion late in the game at a critical moment.

D’Andre Swift had 113 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Andrew Thomas again looked like the best left tackle prospect for 2020 with his smooth kick-step and ability to set, engage a defender and finish. Isaiah Wilson also impressed again. He’s a terrific run blocker but is showing more than enough as a pass-protector to warrant first round consideration.

Israel Mukuamu had all three interceptions against Jake Fromm, including the touchdown. He looks like a Seahawks corner — long, lean. As a sophomore he’s one to monitor for the future.

Alabama vs Texas A&M

I had DeVonta Smith at #20 in my top-50. There’s a reason why. Smith is still unstoppable on slants. He creates separation easily with a sudden break. After a record-breaking performance against Ole Miss, today he took a slant 47-yards for a touchdown. He makes it look so easy. Defenders can’t stick with him. He’s so sudden, so quick. For all the positives about Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, Smith is the one who to me looks like the most prepared to compete in the NFL.

You can’t coach natural quickness. You look at all these receivers in college and so many, even the ones who make big plays, just aren’t fast enough for the next level. And that doesn’t mean 40-yard dash times either. It’s about that ability to create quick separation. So many college wide-outs win via jump-balls and ball skills. At the next level that alone won’t cut it. Smith is an absolute natural at getting open and when he creates separation — he’ll turn a simple play into a scoring play. How many receivers turn quick-hitting slants into 40, 50 or 60-yard touchdowns?

He’s not a one-trick pony either. His five touchdowns last week were all different. A post, a red-line win, a grab in traffic. DeVonta Smith looks like an ideal receiver to be a major third-down converter, a big play specialist and a reliable target with plus athleticism. On a throw to the flat in this game he side-stepped a cornerback violently to gain extra yardage.

If that isn’t enough, Smith had an excellent block to spring Jaylen Waddle for a touchdown on a WR screen in the first quarter.

He did have a bad drop early in the game on one of those slants, juggling the football and looping it into the air (luckily there were no defenders around). Smith was also ejected from the game with just over three minutes to go for throwing a punch in a tussle with a defender. Both players appeared to punch but only Smith was flagged. It was a fuss over nothing really. He ended with seven catches for 99 yards and a score as Alabama won 47-28. For the season he’s now at 636 yards and nine touchdowns.

Henry Ruggs had a nice 33-yard touchdown with a slant-and-go. His speed and quickness also makes him incredibly difficult to cover and there are thoughts he could run in the 4.2’s or 4.3’s at the combine. He also had a 40-yard kick return (105 yards on three total returns). I had him one spot higher than DeVonta Smith in my top-50.

Texas A&M scored a touchdown in the first quarter that was called back for a blindside block. Trevon Diggs completely whiffed on the tackle and gave up the play. I’ve been talking up Diggs all season but that wasn’t a good look. He also had a hold that negated a pick-six. He tugged on the jersey to negate the receivers momentum — then undercut the route for the score. Diggs’ best play came late in the fourth quarter as he shadowed a receiver on a deep fade and made a great play on the ball to force a completion. It was a fourth-down pass and led to a turnover on downs. Diggs tracks the ball in the air superbly and he’s a great athlete.

Tua Tagovailoa had some nice moments (especially when extending plays). Yet he had a really basic red-zone interception throwing over the middle and not noticing the true freshman safety lurking in the deep grass. He was baited into making the throw. There were also a couple of disappointing misses (eg throwing behind Jerry Jeudy when he’s open at the intermediate level). Tagovailoa is a good prospect and could easily be the #1 pick. It’s hard to look at him though and see the kind of franchise-changing talent a team like the Dolphins are hoping for.

Terrell Lewis had some good pressures in the game and is starting to look fairly healthy. His ability to stay on the field will be a question for NFL teams. He’s more of a 3-4 OLB type and his measurements plus testing will be important. He had two sacks and two TFL’s today.

Najee Harris had a physical showing, running for 104 yards on 18 carries. He also had three receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown.

Other notes…

— Maryland’s Anthony McFarland only had four carries in a 40-14 hammering by Purdue. He did have a bad drop in the game (he also had two catches for 18 yards). McFarland is very quick, agile and he can be a big-play threat. Maryland are pretty inconsistent and he’s suffering as a consequence. He has the feel of a player who might fly under the radar and be a better pro than college runner.

— Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb is one of the big name receivers filling out the 2020 class. He had a huge day against Texas with 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns. He had a big scoring play on a flea-flicker, gliding away from an awful looking Texas secondary and sprinting to the end zone. He had a beast-mode catch in traffic down the right sideline, before ploughing through two attempted tackles to score. His first touchdown had him running across the line in the red zone on a well-schemed play to get him open. Lamb’s change of direction, footwork, ability to accelerate and competitive edge are impressive and this isn’t the first time where he’s been the MVP for Oklahoma. His stock will rise after this.

— Jalen Hurts had 235 passing yards (16/28) with three touchdowns and one interception. He also added 131 yards from 17 runs with a further score. His pick was ugly though — throwing late across his body in the red zone. He also missed Lamb on what looked like a routine fourth-down conversion to gift Texas a turnover-on-downs. Hurst holds the ball a little loosely on his scrambles too — low and away from his body. Every time he evades pressure you can’t help but feel there’s a chance he’ll fumble. Hurts didn’t do his Heisman hopes any harm with the win and the numbers but the real star for Oklahoma was Lamb (plus a defense that created constant pressure).

— Jonathan Taylor didn’t have a big yardage day (80 yards on 26 carries) but he did score two touchdowns as Wisconsin swept aside Michigan State 38-0. Wisconsin have a lot of qualities but there’s no doubt who their star player is. Taylor is silky smooth in his cuts, he’s patient, has great size, he’s tough to bring down and he can turn on the jets. He did a great job on his first score to stay off the ground and extend the ball to the goal-line. His second touchdown was all about his physicality to finish. He’s a first round pick. I included tight end Jake Ferguson in my top-50 and questioned why he isn’t used more in the passing game. Today he was the top receiver with four catches for 62 yards. He should’ve scored but the turf monster got him at the one-yard line. Ferguson is highly athletic and a good all-round TE.

— Tee Higgins had two catches for 44 yards and Travis Etienne 127 yards on 17 carries as Clemson hammered Florida State 45-14. Etienne also added a touchdown reception on a shovel pass in the red zone. On the first play of the game, Higgins caught a contested deep-shot down the right sideline. Isaiah Simmons led the defense with seven tackles, a sack and two TFL’s. He also forced an interception with a pressure on a well-timed blitz.

— Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin had another good day, rushing for 137 yards on 19 carries. He also scored a touchdown and had six catches for 34 yards. Benjamin is a fun player to watch and really tough to bring down. On the decisive scoring drive at the end he had an excellent catch and run. He’s a tackle-breaker. Receiver Brandon Aiyuk also had a big day with three impressive touchdowns. Arizona State won 38-34 against Washington State.

— LSU quarterback Joe Burrow faced a good test against Florida and performed well in a 42-28 win. His stock continues to grow. He threw three touchdowns and completed 21/24 for 293 yards. He also added 43 rushing yards. Burrow has so far taken a giant leap forward in 2019. The Alabama game could be defining for him and LSU finally has a QB. Kristian Fulton had an interception called back on a questionable roughing the passer flag. Senior receiver Van Jefferson had a good game for Florida with eight catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns. He showed body control to make his catches with no lack of athleticism. He took a major hit to the back on his second score. Clyde Edwards-Helaire did a good Maurice Jones-Drew impression for LSU too. Florida’s pass rush suffered after Jonathan Greenard injured his ankle. Jabari Zuniga is already out with a similar problem.

— Julian Okwara is a bit hit-and-miss for Notre Dame but he had another sack against USC in a narrow 30-27 win. Khalid Kareem is also highly touted by some and he had a sack too.

— Yetur Gross-Matos had a TFL as Penn State defeated Iowa 17-12. It was one of his quieter games. K.J. Hamler had seven catches for 61 yards including a highly athletic touchdown as he leapt for the end zone. Hamler is undersized but incredibly dynamic.

— Minnesota receiver Tyler Johnson was on the top-50 list this week and he had another big game, this time against Nebraska. Johnson had five catches for 109 yards in a 34-7 win. He’s a natural in creating subtle separation.

— Hunter Bryant had another explosive play for Washington as the Huskies beat Arizona 51-27. Bryant ended with three catches for 45 yards including the 22-yard reception.

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If the Seahawks make a trade it could be on offense

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

If you missed the Seahawkers UK podcast this week, check it out…

Jason La Canfora noted on Sunday that the Seahawks were one of the teams ‘laying the groundwork’ for a busy trade deadline.

There’s certainly room for improvement, even after a 4-1 start.

According to DVOA, the Seahawks have the third best offense but only the 22nd best defense.

That feels realistic, too. Russell Wilson has been excellent so far and the running game has started to improve. The defense has struggled to create pressure, make plays and force turnovers. It has felt like a bottom-third unit so far.

On that note, let me argue the case for why a potential trade could come on the offensive side of the ball…

The Seahawks have changed tack

When Wilson signed his first extension in 2015, the Seahawks were still spending 48% of their cap on the defense and only 35% on the offense.

That has flipped in the subsequent four years. They’re now spending 41% of their cap space on offense and 33% on defense.

It isn’t just down to Wilson’s $35m-a-year deal. Duane Brown, Tyler Lockett and Justin Britt are all being paid handsomely. They’ve also added veterans like Mike Iupati, D.J. Fluker and Ed Dickson to act as starters.

On defense they’ve invested heavily in Bobby Wagner but the rest of the starters are on short-term, rookie or prove-it deals:

Jadeveon Clowney — prove-it deal partly paid by Houston

Al Woods — cheap veteran

Poona Ford — UDFA contract

Ziggy Ansah — prove-it deal

Mychal Kendricks — one-year value contract

Bobby Wagner — massive extension

K.J. Wright — fair deal to retain an important pro

Shaquill Griffin — third-round rookie contract

Tre Flowers — fifth-round rookie contract

Bradley McDougald — fair deal to retain an important pro

Tedric Thompson — fourth-round rookie contract

Jarran Reed will start when he returns in week seven but he is yet to be extended and remains on a second-round rookie contract.

We can clearly see a tilt towards experienced veterans on offense and a younger defense.

This isn’t likely to change any time soon. A 2019 first-round pick was used on L.J. Collier. Marquise Blair was their second-rounder. They’re extremely high on Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. All four could eventually replace existing veterans.

There’s a theory some people believe in — experience on offense, youth and speed on defense.

It seems like this could be Seattle’s approach.

The available options

Seattle’s current biggest needs are arguably pass rush and a playmaker in the secondary. The Seahawks have already made their move for pass-rushers and will hope Clowney and Ansah can deliver in the coming weeks. A playmaker in the secondary will be difficult to acquire either due to the price tag being too high (Jalen Ramsey) or the fact that there are so few in the league.

The opportunity to add a player with potential at safety probably passed when the Steelers surprisingly gave up their 2020 first rounder for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

If they want to add another player to the mix this season, the best options might be on offense. One name stands out.

A.J. Green.

He’s currently fighting to return from injury and increasingly over the years he’s been banged up. Yet Green is such a fantastic competitor and he’s highly talented. He can do it all. He’s a complete receiver. Adding Green to replace Jaron Brown would offer Wilson a quartet of Lockett – Green – Metcalf – Dissly.

You might argue — why would they add another veteran? Look at it this way — see Green as a direct replacement for Doug Baldwin. Had Baldwin not retired, it would’ve been a quartet anyway. I doubt they would’ve shied away from drafting Metcalf.

Green is a free agent in the off-season and is highly unlikely to be retained by the Bengals unless they plan to franchise him. Their best bet is to start accumulating picks for an inevitable rebuild. They’re 0-5 and heading for a top-five pick.

Given his age (31) and contract status, it’d be unrealistic for Cincinnati to expect much in return. It makes sense to get what they can and move on. They’re in a similar situation to the Dolphins. The only difference is — the Dolphins are embracing their tank.

A third round pick would seem fair. That’s what the Eagles paid Detroit for Golden Tate a year ago with a similar contract/age situation. The Seahawks could make that deal knowing they’d have the opportunity to retain Green or claim a comp pick in the future.

What a statement it would be too. ‘Go and win the MVP, Russell‘. Adding a talent like that to an already dynamic offense would be some addition.

It doesn’t fix the defense. Yet the Seahawks might not be able to do much more than hope Clowney and Ansah deliver in the future. This feels like a 2019 season where the Seahawks will go as far as their offense will take them. Therefore, why not entertain the prospect of adding A.J. Green?

According to this tweet, the Seahawks have also shown some interest in Stefon Diggs:

You would imagine the price tag would be extremely high though (at least a first round pick, likely more).

Could this desire for experience on offense continue into the off-season?

Absolutely, yes.

Take the O-line for example. After years of needing to save money somewhere (to pay for the defense and Wilson, Baldwin, Beast Mode etc) — the Seahawks have recently opted for a much more experienced offensive line.

When J.R. Sweezy moved on to Arizona this year, they didn’t draft a rookie replacement to start. They added Mike Iupati for $2.75m and drafted Phil Haynes as a development project.

Both George Fant and Germain Ifedi are free agents at the end of the season. It’s possible either (or both) are retained. If they depart — and if Jamarco Jones isn’t seen as a future starter at right tackle — they’ll need a replacement.

In that instance would they look to the draft and hope a rookie could fill a hole? Haven’t they been there before? Do they really want to go through the growing pains of a rookie starter at right tackle again?

They might be more likely to add a veteran — either via free agency or a trade.

The biggest, boldest move they could make would be a Trent Williams trade. He’s dissatisfied in Washington and the Redskins are refusing to trade him until January according to reports.

Williams played right tackle at Oklahoma. The Seahawks have a track record of trading for unhappy offensive linemen. With Williams aged 31, he could also provide some insurance against a Duane Brown injury (he’ll be 35 next season).

It’d likely be a costly deal for a player in the final years of his career. It’s also possible there will be other teams with a desperate need at left tackle willing to offer more. That didn’t happen this year, however.

Like a possible Green deal it would be an acknowledgement that this current team is likely only going to go as far as the offense can take them. They don’t have the stars on defense. Their best bet might be to create an elite offense and an average defense — the opposite of their last Super Bowl run.

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New podcast: On the Rams game, NFL London & Cleveland

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

This week I was invited onto the Seahawkers UK podcast to discuss the Rams game, the NFL in London and we look ahead to the Cleveland game this weekend.

Check it out…

Top-50 2020 draft watch-list

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons will likely be a top-20 pick

My top-50 prospects at the moment… this will change.

#1 Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
Delpit has the range and tenacity to play safety and the ball-skills, recovery speed and athleticism to play corner.

#2 Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
Supremely balanced and consistent — Thomas looks the part of a NFL left tackle. His footwork is superb and he anchors brilliantly.

#3 Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
He will destroy the combine and was a 142.56 athlete at SPARQ. Sticky in coverage but packs a punch as an open-field tackler.

#4 Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
Suffered an ACL injury before the season started but he’s in the Devin White and Roquan Smith mould.

#5 Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Lean and sudden with YAC ability and downfield talent. He jumped a near 38-inch vertical at SPARQ.

#6 Derrick Brown (DT, Alabama)
A physical, tone-setting defensive lineman with the size, stoutness, quickness and ability to penetrate with speed or power.

#7 Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Very consistent and accurate but a little robotic and lacks the size/improvisation of Love and Herbert.

#8 Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
Incredibly competitive cornerback who does an excellent job tracking the ball and breaking up passes. Has an injury history. Stefon Diggs’ brother.

#9 Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
Leads the nation for sacks and while there are concerns about his run defense, he’s a superb pass rusher.

#10 Isaiah Simmons (S, Clemson)
Will be valued for his leadership. Reportedly he can jump a 40-inch vertical, an 11-0 broad and run in the 4.4’s.

#11 Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
Capable of making all sorts of throws on the run and has the arm/mobility that will appeal to teams looking for the next Mahomes or Murray.

#12 Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
Tall, mobile and with a strong arm. Herbert has all the qualities teams look for in a quarterback.

#13 Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
He’s +300lbs but carries minimal body fat. He dominated Alabama’s O-line a few weeks ago.

#14 Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
Very physical and athletic — he’s 6-7 and 305lbs defender and his best football is still to come.

#15 Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
He’s 6-7 and 310lbs but reportedly runs a 4.95 and can jump 32-inches in the vertical. He can squat 560lbs and bench 415lbs.

#16 Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
He’s 6-7 and 340lbs but carries it very well. Great length and power at the point of attack and capable of creating big running lanes.

#17 J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
The 2016 SPARQ king with an overall score of 146.76. Dobbins is lightning fast, highly explosive, tough and productive.

#18 Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
Former 5-star recruit who is excelling in the slot but could easily play outside. Great athlete, excellent cover corner and he hits too.

#19 Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
He’s being tipped to run a 4.2 at the combine. Great catching technique — he extends his arms to catch the football away from his body.

#20 DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
Broke Amari Cooper’s Alabama record for yardage against Ole Miss. Unstoppable on slants, wins at the red line and is incredibly sudden to create easy separation.

#21 Jalen Raegor (WR, TCU)
Raegor ran a 4.41 at SPARQ but reportedly is capable of a 4.29 now. He also jumped a 38.5 inch vertical and can squat 620lbs.

#22 Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
Big, physical cornerback who tracks the ball almost as well as Trevon Diggs. Despite his size Fulton does a job kicking inside to cover the slot.

#23 Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
Some of his cuts have to be seen to be believed. He finds a crease and is capable of going through the gears to turn a big play into a scoring play.

#24 Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
Like all Clemson receivers he’s well coached, understands his routes and he competes every single snap.

#25 C.J. Henderson (CB, Florida)
His tackling is inconsistent but he’s a 4.3 runner in coverage. At SPARQ he ran a sensational 3.92 short shuttle. Could be best used in the slot.

#26 Tristan Wirfs (T, Iowa)
He can lift 450lbs in the hang clean (breaking the Iowa record by Brandon Scherff). He’s also jumped a 35-inch vertical and a 9-5 broad.

#27 Trey Adams (T, Washington)
A prototype left tackle who could go very early if it wasn’t for his injury history. Combine checks will determine his stock.

#28 Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado)
We’ve not seen him anywhere near his best so far but he’s a swiss-army knife who can score points as a runner, receiver or returner.

#29 D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
A big play threat with the power to get the hard yards. He looks like Dalvin Cook but with more explosive power and quicker acceleration.

#30 Tyler Biadasz (C, Wisconsin)
He leans too much and defenders often jump back so he loses balance. When he locks on he can control linemen.

#31 Walker Little (T, Stanford)
Ran a 4.40 short shuttle at SPARQ and scored an overall 107.25 (the top score by an offensive lineman in 2016).

#32 Jake Fromm (QB, Georgia)
He’s very measured without having the fantastic physical skills. Throws with patience and accuracy.

#33 Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
There’s a bit of ‘TBD’ about Burrow because there’s some tough games on the horizon. However, so far he’s been excellent this year.

#34 Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
Was the #3 SPARQ tight end in 2016 after running a 4.35 short shuttle. He’s making as many explosive plays as the top receivers in college football.

#35 Julian Okwara (EDGE, Notre Dame)
He was shut down by Georgia and he’ll need to test well. However, as he showed against Virginia he can impact games as a pass rusher.

#36 Willie Gay (LB, Mississippi State)
What a playmaker. Jumped a 39-inch vertical at SPARQ, ran a 4.26 short shuttle and a 4.53 40-yard dash. Highly underrated.

#37 Jabari Zuniga (DE, Florida)
Got off to a good start this season but left the game against Kentucky with an ankle injury. Can run a 7.03 short shuttle and has 7.5% body fat.

#38 CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
Tall, lean and highly productive. He will need to test well and there is some doubt after a so-so SPARQ performance.

#39 Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State)
Decent size, consistent and he can deliver a jarring hit from time-to-time. Not far behind the two other Ohio State cornerbacks.

#40 Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)
Has too many disappearing acts in games but his hand-usage is very good and he can work to disengage and create pressure.

#41 Lucas Niang (T, TCU)
Too upright and his footwork is poor leading to off-balance sets. However, he flashes athleticism and he recovers well.

#42 Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State)
Ran a 4.56 short shuttle at SPARQ at 6-4 and 332lbs. Combines short-area quickness with extreme power. Excellent one-tech prospect.

#43 Anthony McFarland (RB, Maryland)
Former 4-star recruit who ran a 4.04 short shuttle at SPARQ. Diminutive but has great agility and a decisive runner.

#44 Nate Landman (LB, Colorado)
Plays every game with real intensity. Jumped a 37.5 inch vertical at SPARQ and ran a 4.44 short shuttle.

#45 Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
Highly explosive running back with a similar running style to C.J. Spiller minus the elite track speed. Can be a X-factor.

#46 Terrell Lewis (EDGE, Alabama)
He’d be higher without the injury history but it has taken some toll. He has two sacks this year and four TFL’s.

#47 Tyler Johnson (WR, Minnesota)
He’s a bit of a body catcher at times but you do see high-pointing too and he’s adept at creating subtle separation on routes.

#48 Jalen Hurts (QB, Oklahoma)
Can he rise higher than this? Sure. He’s in the ideal place to make a vault up boards just like the last two Oklahoma quarterbacks.

#49 Eno Benjamin (RB, Arizona State)
Tough, physical runner with some shiftiness, the ability to finish runs and lead a running attack.

#50 Jake Ferguson (TE, Wisconsin)
Isn’t used much in the passing game but Ferguson has ideal size, he can block as you’d expect and he can ran a superb 4.15 short shuttle at SPARQ.

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CFB week 6: Jordan Love has three picks vs LSU

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

On Monday I’m going to publish a top-50 prospects list.

Here’s today’s review, starting with Utah State vs LSU…

Jordan Love could be the #1 pick next year. Many have already assumed Tua Tagovailoa will be the first player taken in 2020. That’s very possible. There’s a lot to like about his game. Yet he’s also a left-handed, slightly robotic passer without ideal size (he’s about 5-11). It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that teams will look at the size, arm strength and mobility of Love and Oregon’s Justin Herbert and see a preferable option.

I’m not saying that will happen. It’s just something to consider.

Love had an opportunity today against LSU to make an impression and he had a tough day. He had some accurate throws but also three interceptions. It shouldn’t damage his stock too much because clearly there’s a major talent discrepancy between LSU and Utah State. Patrick Mahomes had a four-interception game in a big loss to Oklahoma in 2015. It’s important to analyse the player and not the environment. LSU were always going to handle Utah State. Two of the picks were fantastic plays by LSU DB’s. The other was a poor read/decision.

Love is creative and like Mahomes and Kyler Murray can throw passes from awkward angles on the run with accuracy and velocity. Being able to create when a play breaks down is more important than ever given the major difference between D-line and O-line talent in the NFL. There are far fewer static, pocket-passer quarterbacks being drafted highly. Most top prospects have some ability to improvise.

Tagovailoa should be the favourite to go #1. Love and Herbert are in the running though.

LSU won the game 42-6 in the end. Their quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 344 yards and had five touchdowns and a pick. He’s having a strong season and is working himself into the top-50 equation. He’s a lot more mobile than you realise, throws a catchable ball and mixes his velocity. He’s accurate and has the tools. LSU has two terrific defensive back prospects and both continue to excel. Grant Delpit could be a top-five pick at safety and Kristian Fulton looks likely to secure a high grade too. Delpit was up at the line playing the run superbly, his pick was an excellent play on the football. What a talent.

— Jalen Hurts had his first semi-difficult outing today against Kansas. Oklahoma won convincingly but Hurts finished with only 228 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He did add 56 yards and two more scores as a runner. Hurts is bolstering his stock and has a nice test next week against Texas. Receiver CeeDee Lamb had a quiet game with two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. He dodged a defender David Moore-style to get the score. He also had a touchdown on a punt-return called back for a penalty. It was still an impressive run and showed off some special teams value for the next level.

— Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown is such an excellent combination of physical aggression, power and athleticism. He bullies O-lines, can play cross the line, win with initial quickness and today he showed great athleticism picking up and running with the football after gathering a fumble. In the fourth quarter he bull-rushed a lineman right into the QB, forced his own fumble and gathered it before sprinting for 10-yards. Incredible talent. Top-12 pick.

— Jonathan Taylor continues to dominate for Wisconsin. In an easy win over Kent State he ran for 186 yards on 19 carries, scoring four touchdowns. He added 29 yards as a receiver with a further touchdown. He cuts extremely well with quick feet to find a crease and accelerate. Keep an eye on tight end Jake Ferguson too. He’s not being used much in the passing game but he can block and he’s a terrific athlete. He scored a touchdown with his only reception in this game.

— TCU were handily beaten by Iowa State but receiver Jalen Reagor continues to boost his stock. He’s lightning quick and capable of impacting games as a downfield threat and as a receiver. However, today he had two excellent touchdowns high-pointing the football. His first was a redzone grab in tight coverage. He leapt way above the defender with extended hands to catch a fade. His second score was nearly identical — this time a 22-yard throw to the endzone and again he climbed the ladder and high-pointed the football. This is very impressive for a 5-11 receiver who’s already shown he’s plenty fast enough. These two touchdowns will stick in the mind.

— Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos is too inconsistent. He has dominating games and at other times he’s anonymous. Today he had a big game against Purdue with two sacks, two TFL’s and two QB hurries. His hand-technique is excellent and he plays with great effort. You’d like to see more of a speed-rush and greater consistency.

— Maryland’s Anthony McFarland could be a second or third round pick with value. He’s such a playmaker. He had 87 yards on seven carries today thanks to an 80-yard score. He added a second touchdown in an easy win against Rutgers.

— Colorado’s Laviska Shenault is extremely talented. However, he has too many minor injuries and it’s impacting him during a crucial season. He didn’t play today against Arizona due to a core muscle strain — even though he looked fairly nimble in footage of warm-ups. He’s tough to judge right now. His talent is top-15 worthy but there are clearly other things to consider. Are you going to get 16 games from him?

Tony Pauline is reporting today that Georgia right tackle Isaiah Wilson is leaning towards turning pro. This is good news for the Seahawks if Germain Ifedi and/or George Fant move on. Wilson looks like their type of tackle — enormous, long, physical and excels in the running game. I mocked him to Seattle in my first 2020 projection. Georgia beat Tennessee 43-14. D’Andre Swift had 144 total yards and a touchdown. Jake Fromm had another methodical game throwing for 288 yards (24/29) with two touchdowns. Fromm is yet to throw an interception in 2019 (six touchdowns).

— Ohio State are loaded with arguably the #2 roster in college football. The Buckeye’s have an incredible secondary featuring three possible high picks — Jeff Okudah, Shaun Wade (had a sack, TFL and a pass deflection) and Damon Arnette (who began the game against Michigan State with a fantastic forced fumble). J.K. Dobbins has first-round potential at running back and he flashed his acceleration on a 67-yard touchdown. He ended with 172 yards on 24 carries. Binjimen Victor had an ugly drop but also flashed exceptional agility for a taller receiver and scored an excellent 60-yard touchdown working in the open-field. K.J. Hill won’t be a high pick but he makes plays every week. Chase Young recorded half a sack and a TFL. The Buckeye’s won 34-10.

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