Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

No, the Seahawks won’t draft a corner at #18

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

We know the Seahawks have a very strict policy on cornerback arm length. They’ve never drafted a corner with sub-32 inch arms. It’s a golden rule, alongside height.

Seattle’s defensive scheme allows them to utilise a certain profile at corner. Michael Lombardi spelled it out a year ago during the 2017 Richard Sherman saga:

“…they put all that money in the corner position in a defense where, we feel you can draft players that fit that scheme.

…the scheme in Seattle allows you to find corners especially size/speed corners of which there’s a bundle of them in this draft that can play deep third of the defense, they’ll tackle and they can play within the scheme.”

Walter Thurmond, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead, Shaquill Griffin.

All players drafted in the mid/late rounds or signed as cheap free agents. The Pete Carroll era has virtually been defined by excellent secondary play and yet they’ve only spent one high pick on the unit (Earl Thomas, 2010).

Fit the body type into your scheme and coach them up. They haven’t drafted a corner before the third round for a reason. It’s just not necessary within this scheme.

The Seahawks constantly get mocked with Iowa’s Josh Jackson at #18. He has 31 1/8 inch arms. Well below the 32 inch threshold.

Are they really going to buck a consistent trend in terms of draft policy and physical requirements to grab Jackson?

With so many areas of the team suddenly needing to be addressed, are they now going to spend a first round pick on the one position they’ve been able to identify day three talent?

The answer is almost certainly ‘no’.

The Seahawks will identify the cornerbacks that fit their profile and they’ll draft, develop and plug in. As per usual.

And let’s be clear — arm length does matter. 100% of multiple first team All-Pro cornerbacks drafted since 1998 have had +32 inch arms.

Here’s the arm length and wingspan data for some of Seattle’s draftees, acquisitions and starters since 2010:

Richard Sherman — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Brandon Browner — 33 (arms) 80 (wingspan)
Byron Maxwell — 33.5 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Jeremy Lane — 32.5 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Tye Smith — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
DeAndre Elliott — 32 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Neiko Thorpe — 31 3/4 (arms) 78 1/2 (wingspan)
Stanley Jean-Baptiste — 32 3/8 (arms) 78 3/8 (wingspan)
Pierre Desir — 33 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Shaquill Griffin — 32.5 (arms) 74 3/4 (wingspan)

The average NFL cornerback has a wingspan of 75.5 inches (31.5 inch arm length). As you can see above, the Seahawks have sought players with above average length with the only exception being Shaquill Griffin.

So what about the 2018 draft class?

The following players have an above average wingspan:

Isaiah Oliver: 33 1/2 arms — 80 5/8 wingspan
Carlton Davis: 32 3/4 arms — 79 3/8 wingspan
Isaac Yiadom: 32 1/4 arms — 75 3/4 wingspan
Holton Hill: 32 arms — 77 1/4 wingspan
Quenton Meeks: 31 3/4 arms — 76 1/4 wingspan
Tarvarus McFadden: 32 1/2 arms — 78 wingspan
Levi Wallace: 32 3/4 arms — 77 3/8 wingspan
Christian Campbell: 33 1/2 arms — 79 wingspan
Davontae Harris: 31 1/8 arms — 75 3/4 wingspan
Arrion Springs: 31 3/4 arms — 75 7/8 wingspan
D’Montre Wade: 32 3/8 arms — 76 7/8 wingspan
Andre Chachere: 31 3/8 arms — 75 3/4 wingspan
Brandon Facyson: 32 5/8 arms — 78 1/2 wingspan
Kamrin Moore: 31 3/8 arms — 75 7/8 wingspan
Chandon Sullivan: 32 3/8 arms — 76 3/4 wingspan
Jordan Thomas: 32 arms — 77 3/4 wingspan
Tremon Smith: 31 3/8 arms — 76 1/8 wingspan
Charvarius Ward: 32 1/4 arms — 77 1/4 wingspan
Keion Crossen: 30 1/8 arms — 75 7/8 wingspan
JaMarcus King: 32 7/8 arms — 78 3/8 wingspan
Aaron Davis: 30 3/4 arms — 76 1/8 wingspan
Donovan Olumba: 32 7/8 arms — 77 7/8 wingspan
Malik Reaves: 32 1/2 arms — 76 7/8 wingspan
Chris Jones: 32 3/4 arms — 78 1/4 wingspan
Jaylen Dunlap: 31 1/2 arms — 76 3/8 wingspan

We can rule out a few names here. The Seahawks might be willing to overlook a player with 31 3/4 inch arms, especially if they have an above average wingspan. They’re unlikely to take someone with 30-31 inch arms, however. So that leaves us with this revised list:

Isaiah Oliver: 33 1/2 arms — 80 5/8 wingspan
Carlton Davis: 32 3/4 arms — 79 3/8 wingspan
Isaac Yiadom: 32 1/4 arms — 75 3/4 wingspan
Holton Hill: 32 arms — 77 1/4 wingspan
Quenton Meeks: 31 3/4 arms — 76 1/4 wingspan
Tarvarus McFadden: 32 1/2 arms — 78 wingspan
Levi Wallace: 32 3/4 arms — 77 3/8 wingspan
Christian Campbell: 33 1/2 arms — 79 wingspan
Arrion Springs: 31 3/4 arms — 75 7/8 wingspan
D’Montre Wade: 32 3/8 arms — 76 7/8 wingspan
Brandon Facyson: 32 5/8 arms — 78 1/2 wingspan
Chandon Sullivan: 32 3/8 arms — 76 3/4 wingspan
Jordan Thomas: 32 arms — 77 3/4 wingspan
Charvarius Ward: 32 1/4 arms — 77 1/4 wingspan
JaMarcus King: 32 7/8 arms — 78 3/8 wingspan
Donovan Olumba: 32 7/8 arms — 77 7/8 wingspan
Malik Reaves: 32 1/2 arms — 76 7/8 wingspan
Chris Jones: 32 3/4 arms — 78 1/4 wingspan

We also know from their willingness to draft Shaquill Griffin, that they’ll draft a cornerback with a below average wingspan if they still have 32 inch arms.

That brings a player like San Diego State’s Kameron Kelly into play (32 inch arms — 74 5/8 wingspan).

Seattle will likely draft a cornerback at some point, even if they eventually re-sign Byron Maxwell. There’s a pretty good chance the player(s) will be on the list above (including Kameron Kelly).

Most of the listed cornerbacks will likely be available in round four or later. The only exceptions are Isaiah Oliver and Carlton Davis. They’re both talented prospects with plenty of upside. Are they significantly better than Isaac Yiadom, Kameron Kelly or Quenton Meeks? Arguably not.

There’s not a convincing argument to suggest the Seahawks will go corner early.

You can’t be too critical of national mock drafts. They see Sherman depart, Maxwell remain unsigned and cornerback is a need. Followers of the Seahawks know, however, that they have a way of addressing this position. And it doesn’t include a top-20 pick with short arms.

They’ll likely do what they always do. Draft their ‘type’ of corner and fit them into the scheme.

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What’s going on with Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson?

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Updates on the Earl Thomas situation are few and far between but Jason La Canfora is still suggesting a trade is on the cards:

The Giants are not inclined to pay Beckham what the market will yield him elsewhere, and, likewise, Thomas is not in line to get another payday from Seattle at this point. Both teams are transitioning – if not rebuilding – and holding on to these star players won’t make much sense. Beckham’s holdout would be a mess for the Giants, and while Thomas won’t fetch the first-and-third the Seahawks hoped for, he’ll land multiple other picks.

La Canfora predicts Thomas will be dealt before the start of the draft — in three weeks time.

This still feels like a stalemate. The Seahawks are clearly open to offers but don’t want to lose a future Hall-of-Famer on the cheap. Interested parties know the Seahawks are re-tooling and need picks. The longer they wait, the more likely it is the price comes down.

So the wait goes on. And it could go on beyond the draft. ‘No deal’ is a possibility. It has to be. You can’t just give Thomas away. Then the Seahawks run the risk of losing Thomas in free agency for no more than a comp pick in 2019. Franchising him is an option — but this is a team seemingly unwilling to hand out big contracts at the moment.

You might say, why don’t they just keep him? And they might. But I think we can say with some certainty now — they won’t be giving him a third contract. So one way or another a parting of ways is on the cards. Whether that’s in the next three weeks, a year or two years.

Why would they even entertain moving him? It’s not an easy question to answer on the outside looking in. But it looks like it comes down to two things:

1. A desire to avoid long, expensive contracts for ageing players

2. A need to replenish the lost draft stock

What about Russell Wilson?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about his future. First Jason La Canfora suggested both parties might be considering their options over the next 12 months:

Will the Seahawks be talking about a five-year deal worth $30M a year for Wilson come this time a year from now? If not, will there be trade rumblings? (Given the supply/demand problems in the quarterback market, a hypothetical Wilson trade would have to be the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, right?) Is Carroll, the oldest coach in the NFC, inching closer to retirement by then if this team is outside the playoffs again?

Personally, I have a hard time seeing a generational talent at quarterback like this leaving the team that originally drafted him in his prime, and Schneider has displayed the ability in the past to kickstart a rebuild with a single draft. I wouldn’t bet on him being down for long, but with the draft just over a month away and spring finally upon us, the Seahawks can’t be considered among the handful of Lombardi favorites for the first time in a long time, and much work remains to be done to return to the lofty perch their fans have come to expect during the Carroll/Schneider era.

After this report, John Schneider was seen actively attending the USC and Wyoming pro-days to watch, among others, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen.

Now Jim Trotter is discussing a possible parting of ways next year:

Trotter repeated this during three separate NFL Network hits in the same day.

Trotter clearly has connections within the Seahawks organisation. Here he is discussing Wilson’s last contract situation, along with the future of Bobby Wagner:

So what do we make to all this?

I think you can file it in the ‘no smoke without fire’ category. Clearly the ideal scenario is Wilson has a fantastic season, the Seahawks make the playoffs and the quarterback signs a big extension. Knowing how difficult the negotiations were last time, however, plus the transitioning of the roster, this might be unlikely.

Furthermore, Wilson has seen Kirk Cousins gambling on himself and making a lot more money as a consequence. The franchise tag, for quarterbacks, no longer looks such a daunting prospect. And with unproven players like Jimmy Garoppolo also earning close to $30m a year — future negotiations are going to be tricky for a number of teams. The Seahawks (Wilson), Falcons (Matt Ryan) and Packers (Aaron Rodgers) must all be a little bit anxious about what happens next.

The chances are all three will find a way to make it work. You don’t let franchise quarterbacks walk out the building. Look how much it cost the Jets just to have an opportunity to find out whether Josh Allen, Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield is actually any good.

However, preparing for all eventualities is important. That’s why I mocked the Seahawks drafting a quarterback in round three this week. It wasn’t an attempt to fill a hole at backup QB. It was an attempt to create some insurance.

Take a quarterback this year. Spend a year with them. See what they’re capable of and how the players act around them. Find out if they have starter potential.

If all you get out of it is a backup quarterback — well at least you’ve solved that issue for a few years on the cheap. Down the line you might get a trade offer or a comp pick anyway.

At least you’re prepared for a scenario where things get difficult with Wilson. If moving on somehow becomes a realistic proposition, you might have a solution. Or at least you tried to find one.

So if that’s Luke Falk, Kyle Lauletta or another. See what they’ve got. Cover those bases.

The last time Seattle took a quarterback in round three it worked out pretty well. Now might be the time to see if lightning can strike twice.

A quick final note for today. Here’s the latest example of moderate weirdness regarding Derrius Guice.

If this didn’t actually happen, then what’s going on?

It follows this report from Tony Pauline detailing character concerns with Guice:

I’m told Guice did nothing to move the needle in his favor today and documented off-field issues are weighing heavily on his draft grade. Several teams do not hold a positive view of Guice and some have characterized the talented ball carrier as a “loose cannon.”

Will his on-field talent be enough to offset character concerns?

Dan Hatman tweeted similar concerns while Bob McGinn’s sources also provided this note:

“He’s got a lot of off-field stuff you’ve got to worry about.”

For a team seemingly trying to do things differently this year after the Malik McDowell mess — Guice increasingly feels like an unlikely pick for the Seahawks.

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Ronald Jones II workout details

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Ronald Jones II was limited at the combine after hurting his hamstring running the forty yard dash. He did jump a 36.5 inch vertical but didn’t do any of the running back drills or agility tests.

Today he ran a new forty, managing a 4.48.

I contacted USC to check on his weight and he’s up to 208lbs:

He’s now only five pounds lighter than Kerryon Johnson but ran a slightly faster time (4.48 vs 4.54). Both players are highly explosive and aggressive in their running style.

The only question mark for the Seahawks is size. They’ve had a ‘type’ for a long time — approximately 5-11, 220lbs. They’ve shown interest in Ito Smith and Chase Edmonds this off-season so it’s possible they’re now looking for a different type of back. They seem to at least be considering adding a smaller, dynamic runner.

As we’ve often discussed, Jones II is a fantastic talent. It’d be remiss of them to count him out for size. And as we’ve seen with Russell Wilson, they’re willing to make an exception for the right player.

Even so, the size factor exists. He isn’t 215-220lbs. And it’s part of the evaluation they and other teams have to consider.

One thing to remember though. Alvin Kamara is only six pounds heavier than Ronald Jones II and he ran a 4.56. Kamara is highly explosive. He managed a 39.5 inch vertical and his game is based around suddenness and explosive traits, not straight line speed. Jones II is quicker and a little less explosive — but he’s tougher to bring down.

Re-creating New Orleans’ two-headed monster with Mark Ingram and Kamara wouldn’t be a bad idea for a team looking to fix its running game. One of Chris Carson or Mike Davis could act as Ingram, with Jones II as Kamara.

That would make sense for the Seahawks. Of course, it’s also possible another team takes Jones II off the board before Seattle’s first pick (assuming they trade down).

Here’s a tweet from his agent…

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VMAC visits so far, meetings & Ronald Jones II update

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

While teams are starting to conduct their final draft meetings and put together their boards, we’re also seeing players making top-30 visits. Each team is allowed 30 official visits in the pre-draft period.

So what exactly happens on a visit?

They’re also able to have unlimited meetings with local prospects. For example, the Los Angeles Chargers are visiting with Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen and neither is counting against their top-30 quota. Seattle can have any of the Washington/Washington State players come to the VMAC.

So far we’ve come to learn ten of Seattle’s top-30 visits:

Justin Reid (S, Stanford)
Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
Foyesade Oluokun (LB/S, Yale)
Ito Smith (RB, Southern Miss)
Keith Kirkwood (WR, Temple)
Khalid Hill (FB, Michigan)
Devron Davis (CB, UTSA)
Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)

Teams are also allowed to conduct off-site workouts. Three of these have been reported or confirmed:

Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
Dallas Goedert (TE, South Dakota State)
Demone Harris (DE, Buffalo)
Zaire Franklin (LB, Syracuse)
Abdullah Anderson (DT, Bucknell)
Manase Hungalu (LB, Oregon State)

The Seahawks reportedly met with the following players:

Nick Nelson (CB, Wisconsin) (after pro-day)
Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin) (after pro-day)
Shaquem Griffin (LB, USF) (at the combine)
Tony Brown (CB, Alabama) (pro-day)
Chris Seisay (CB, Portland State) (pro-day)
Ronald Jones (RB, USC)

And they’ve reportedly shown interest in:

Austin Corbett (T, Nevada)
Jessie Bates III (S, Wake Forest)
J.T. Gray (S, Mississippi State)
Tee Sims (DE, Appalachian State)

I wanted to post this list as a point of reference. New names have been added pretty much every day and that will continue.

Meanwhile there’s good news for Ronald Jones II:

The tweet above is from Jones II’s agent. Tomorrow he’ll finally workout. We’ll see if he runs a forty and does some of the other tests.

It was the LSU pro-day today and Tony Pauline posted this interesting report, including news on the stock of Derrius Guice:

It was a rather uneven day for the Tigers other running back, Derrius Guice.

I’m told Guice did nothing to move the needle in his favor today and documented off the field issues are weighing heavily on his draft grade. Several teams do not hold a positive view of Guice and some have characterized the talented ball carrier as a “loose cannon.”

Will his on the field talent be enough to offset character concerns?

It seems the character issues with Guice are starting to become more of a talking point. Add Pauline’s note here to a recent Tweet by Dan Hatman and Bob McGinn’s scouting sources.

If you missed it yesterday, don’t forget to check out our updated mock draft.

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New two round mock draft: 3rd April

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Time for a new mock draft. This one includes trades (detailed below), a second round projection and a full Seahawks seven-round mock.

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

#1 Cleveland — Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
#2 NY Giants — Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
#3 NY Jets (via Ind) — Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
#4 Cleveland (via Hou) — Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
#5 Buffalo (via Den) — Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
#6 Indianapolis (via NYJ) — Bradley Chubb (EDGE, NC State)
#7 Tampa Bay — Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
#8 Chicago — Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)
#9 San Francisco — Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
#10 Oakland — Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
#11 Miami — Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)
#12 Denver (via Buf, Cin) — Derwin James (S, Florida State)
#13 Washington — Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
#14 Green Bay — Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
#15 Arizona — Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
#16 Baltimore — Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame)
#17 LA Chargers — Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
#18 Cleveland (via Sea) — Kolton Miller (T, UCLA)
#19 Dallas — Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
#20 Detroit — Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
#21 Cincinnati (via Buf) — Justin Reid (S, Stanford)
#22 Denver (via Buf, KC) — Harold Landry (DE, Boston College)
#23 New England (via LA) — Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)
#24 Carolina — Rasheem Green (DE, USC)
#25 Tennessee — Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State)
#26 Atlanta — Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
#27 New Orleans — Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
#28 Pittsburgh — Jessie Bates III (S, Wake Forest)
#29 Jacksonville — Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
#30 Minnesota — Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
#31 New York Giants (via NE) — Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)
#32 Philadelphia — Austin Corbett (G, Nevada)

#33 Seattle (via Cle) — Ronald Jones II (RB, USC)
#34 New England (via NYG) — Mason Rudolph (QB, Oklahoma State)
#35 Cleveland — Carlton Davis (CB, Auburn)
#36 Indianapolis — Kerryon Johnson (RB, Auburn)
#37 Indianapolis — Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa)
#38 Tampa Bay — Derrius Guice (RB, Tampa Bay)
#39 Chicago — Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech)
#40 Denver — Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
#41 Oakland — Hayden Hurst (TE, South Carolina)
#42 Miami — James Daniels (C, Iowa)
#43 New England (via SF) — D.J. Moore (WR, Maryland)
#44 Washington — Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
#45 Green Bay — Isaiah Oliver (CB, Colorado)
#46 Cincinnati — Frank Ragnow (C, Arkansas)
#47 Arizona — Mike Hughes (CB, UCF)
#48 LA Chargers — B.J. Hill (DT, NC State)
#49 Indianapolis — Ronnie Harrison (S, Alabama)
#50 Dallas — Malik Jefferson (LB, Texas)
#51 Detroit — Connor Williams (T, Texas)
#52 Baltimore — Billy Price (C, Ohio State)
#53 Denver (via Buf) — Geron Christian (T, Louisville)
#54 Kansas City — Donte Jackson (CB, LSU)
#55 Carolina — Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
#56 Buffalo (via LAR) — Harrison Phillips (DT, Stanford)
#57 Tennessee — Rashaad Penny (RB, San Diego State)
#58 Atlanta — Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
#59 San Francisco (via NO) — Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
#60 Pittsburgh — Andrew Brown (DT, Virginia)
#61 Jacksonville — Dallas Goedert (TE, South Dakota State)
#62 Minnesota — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
#63 New England — Brian O’Neill (T, Pittsburgh)
#64 Cincinnati (via Sea, Cle, Phi) — Tyrell Crosby (T, Oregon)

Just missed: Braden Smith (G, Auburn), D.J. Chark (WR, LSU), Arden Key (DE, LSU), Orlando Brown (T, Oklahoma), James Washington (WR, Oklahoma State), Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State), Lorenzo Carter (LB, Georgia), Dante Pettis (WR, Washington)

Trades

Buffalo trades #12, #22, #53 & 2019 R2 to Denver for #5
Cleveland trades #33, #64 & #150 to Seattle for #18
New York Giants trade #34 & #108 to New England for #31
Cincinnati trades #77 & #112 to Seattle for #64

Today the Rams traded the #23 pick to New England for Brandin Cooks.

Seven round Seahawks mock

R2 (33) — Ronald Jones II (RB, USC)
R3 (77) — Luke Falk (QB, Washington State)
R4 (112) — Shaquem Griffin (LB, UCF)
R4 (120) — Kameron Kelly (DB, San Diego State)
R5 (141) — Quenton Meeks (CB, Stanford)
R5 (146) — Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)
R5 (150) — Will Dissly (TE, Washington)
R5 (156) — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
R5 (168) — Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)
R7 (226) — Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
R7 (248) — Khalid Hill (FB, Michigan)

So, why a quarterback in round three?

We’re just running through scenarios here. This is one we haven’t talked about.

The Seahawks currently don’t have a backup on the roster. That’ll likely change before training camp. A veteran backup is necessary, even if they draft a rookie QB.

In the next 18 months the Seahawks will likely begin negotiating a new contract with Russell Wilson. Last time it ended up being trickier than expected. Wilson didn’t agree terms until right before training camp. I think they were surprised how long it took, how much Wilson’s agent dug in. All’s well that ends well — but they need to be prepared for round two.

The chances are Wilson will agree an extension and will continue his career in Seattle — possibly until he finishes playing. You don’t take a franchise quarterback for granted. It still makes sense for the Seahawks to cover their bases. Draft a quarterback, have them under contract for four years and buy yourself some security.

Quarterbacks generally don’t lose value. Mike Glennon is a good example. A year ago Chicago paid him a fortune to be a bridge to Mitch Trubisky. So even if your young QB isn’t a valuable trade chip, comp picks are a possibility down the line.

Is it a little rich to spend a third round pick on a quarterback during a transition?

Possibly.

However, consistent winning teams have often planned ahead at quarterback. The New England Patriots drafted Ryan Mallett and Jacoby Brissett in round three and spent a second rounder on Jimmy Garoppolo during the Brady era. Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005 as the presumed heir apparent to Brett Favre. Yet in 2008 they also spent a second round pick on Brian Brohm — the year Rodgers took over from Favre. Again, they were covering their bases.

The Seahawks haven’t drafted a quarterback since taking Wilson in 2012. Now might be the time to start some forward planning.

So why Luke Falk?

The main reason is because he’s the best one available in this mock. The top five go in round one as expected and Mason Rudolph comes off the board in round two. After that there’s not a lot left.

Falk is a very different quarterback to Wilson but so was Charlie Whitehurst, Matt Flynn and Austin Davis. Ideally you’d draft a player with a similar skill set to avoid too much change if Wilson gets hurt. Unless Lamar Jackson suffers a dramatic and unexpected fall that isn’t going to be possible here.

I’ve liked Falk for some time. He’s a gutty quarterback, willing to sit in the pocket and deliver accurate throws in the face of pressure. He’s intelligent, measured and has dealt with a lot in his college career. He did have some ugly games but he also elevated Washington State into contention in the PAC-12 North.

It’s not an unfair criticism to suggest he didn’t quite take the next step in 2017, pushing himself firmly into the round two range. Yet he hardly had a bad year either. In the third round you’re not taking much of a gamble. Falk has talent in a league desperate for good quarterback play. If he isn’t starting for the Seahawks in five years, he might be starting for someone else.

Why waste a pick on a QB this early though?

There aren’t many alternatives. Seattle’s lack of picks is a problem and likely a main reason why they’re willing to contemplate trading Earl Thomas for a bounty.

At pick #33 in the mock above a lot of the best pass rushers were gone. So I had them take a running back, addressing their self-confessed biggest need (fixing the run). If I’d had them passing on a runner at #33, they would’ve missed out on the top eight altogether.

Sometimes the board falls this way. Ideally I would’ve had the Seahawks taking a runner and a pass rusher. It didn’t work out. So I had them trading down from #64 and thought it’d be interesting to bring up the possibility of taking a QB.

What happens to the pass rush though?

A few key points here:

— The Seahawks do have Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo and Marcus Smith. Cliff Avril is expected to retire but as of today, remains part of the roster. It hasn’t been completely ruled out that he’ll play again. There’s also at least some possibility Malik McDowell will return this year.

— In 2010-11 the Seahawks relied heavily on Chris Clemons to provide a pass rush, aided by Raheem Brock. In 2012 they added Bruce Irvin. It wasn’t until 2013 that they signed Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. They waited for the right players to become available. They might be willing to roll with Clark, Jordan, Mingo and Smith this year.

— The 2019 draft class looks like it could be a defensive line special. You’ve got the Clemson quartet of Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant. Nick Bosa (Joey’s brother) is eligible to turn pro. Houston’s Ed Oliver has already stated he’ll be declaring for the draft. Michigan’s Rashan Gary is eligible. Teams plan ahead and it won’t be a surprise if the Seahawks are thinking 2019 could be the year to focus on pass rushers.

It’s also possible the draft falls a bit differently in round one and the Seahawks find a way to draft a pass rusher with an early pick. I’m not ruling it out — I’m just looking at a different scenario today.

And for what it’s worth, I do have them adding Shaquem Griffin and Leon Jacobs on day three. Griffin is a nickel linebacker and pass rush specialist. Jacobs is capable of acting as a SAM/LEO and providing some edge pressure.

Why Ronald Jones II?

You can make arguments for and against the pick. On the positive side, Jones II is truly one of the most dynamic players in the draft. A legit top-20 talent. His aggressive running style, vision, incredible suddenness and ability to make a deadly cut and explode to the second level is highly impressive. Simply put, his tape is fantastic. He has genuine star potential and the comparisons to Jamaal Charles, as we’ve said many times before, are warranted.

On the negative side of things, he’s only 205lbs. That’s below Seattle’s apparent prototype for the position. He was highly productive and tough at USC but at the next level he might need to be part of a duo. Which is fine. Think Mark Ingram & Alvin Kamara. Seattle’s version could be Chris Carson & Ronald Jones II.

Even so, if you want a reason to be wary of taking Jones II — that’s it. And the Seahawks might prefer someone who is bigger (such as Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson). Jones II is incredibly talented, explosive and dynamic and the type of athlete they’ve added in the past. But it doesn’t mean he’s a guaranteed fit.

If the Seahawks were wavering on his size, this could also be a factor:

When you aren’t an absolutely perfect fit (and Jones II isn’t because he’s not a sturdy 220lbs) — you don’t want to give a team another reason to pass.

That said, he’s not a bad guy. This isn’t a true character ‘flag’. It’s just a thing that, as Lance notes, caught teams off guard. Because he comes across as a good talker and a personable, determined character.

Jones II is a special player with a ceiling that includes greatness. He has to be a consideration.

Why no offensive linemen?

It’s quite simple. In the last two years the Seahawks have spent a first round pick on Germain Ifedi, a second round pick on Ethan Pocic, a third round pick on Rees Odhiambo, a second and a third round pick on Duane Brown and they extended the contract of 2014 second round pick Justin Britt.

The Seahawks have poured resources into their O-line. And alone it hasn’t been a solution. Pete Carroll and John Schneider drafted these players and it appears they still believe they’re capable of forming a cohesive group.

They’ve changed coaches. They’re tweaking the scheme. They’ve signed D.J. Fluker. They’ll be getting George Fant back. More highly drafted rookies aren’t always the solution. This group needs better guidance to execute and communicate and function. Now it’s up to Mike Solari to deliver.

Final thoughts

Predicting what the Seahawks will do is even harder than usual this year because of their lack of picks. We’re not just projecting possible targets — we’re also trying to guess how they’ll move around the board to fill the gigantic hole between pick #18 and #120.

I do think they will target a running back early. It doesn’t have to be their first pick but it’ll probably be one of their first two. I think they will look to add speed across the board. I think they will also target players with strong special teams value.

That’s what I’ve tried to do with this projection. From Ronald Jones II to Shaquem Griffin to Leon Jacobs to Natrell Jamerson — there’s a lot of speed. The Seahawks would be a faster team on both sides of the ball.

I’ve also tried to identify players with grit, toughness and intelligence.

There are always names you’d like to include too. Isaiah Wynn, Austin Corbett, Christian Kirk, Maurice Hurst, Andrew Brown, Jessie Bates III. All intelligent, tough players with high talent. I’ve grown to appreciate Dallas Goedert more after further study this week. Nick Chubb and Kerryon Johnson are both appealing alternatives at running back and there are players like Nick Nelson that don’t fit Seattle’s prototype but still jump off the screen.

With the draft just over three weeks away we’ll continue to look at different scenarios and possibilities.

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Smart, tough and reliable? One player stands out

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

When John Schneider spoke at the owners meeting he talked about the type of player they set out to acquire this off-season.

Smart, tough, reliable guys that love football

All teams are looking for those characteristics. Sometimes they veer off course trying to fill a need. Or they fall for a particular skill set or profile.

Example: Malik McDowell

The Seahawks wanted an interior pass rusher. They’d been looking for one for a while. Calais Campbell was too expensive in free agency and McDowell had some physical similarities to a young Calais.

It’s easy to see why they took a shot.

The pick ended up being a disaster. McDowell may never play a down of NFL football after suffering an ATV accident before training camp.

‘Smart’ and ‘reliable’? Not in the case of Malik McDowell. Hopefully he’ll have an opportunity to make amends. And yet the warning signs were there. They were just ignored.

On April 17th last year it was revealed he was meeting with the Seahawks. Here’s a piece we wrote on the day. And here’s an extract:

His body language is atrocious. I remember watching this interview during the season and immediately thought ‘this guy doesn’t seem like a Seahawk’.

It seems like it isn’t just a lack of enthusiasm for the media either. Eric Edholm reported the following about how teams viewed McDowell’s interviews at the combine:

“Worst interview we did,” said one team. Added another: “Awful interview. Awful.”

“Does he love football? Is he going to work? I can’t figure out what makes this kid tick. He might be the type who, maybe he falls and it lights a fire under him. I don’t know. But I need that light on more often, and he didn’t like it when we asked him about that. McDowell might never fully show his full skill, but passing on him also means you’re missing out on a potentially rare talent.”

It’s not the first time Seattle has taken a chance on talent. Christine Michael was a similar pick. The Percy Harvin trade was high-risk.

Some of the moves have paid off though. Bruce Irvin was a gamble of sorts. Frank Clark is now the best pass rusher remaining on the roster.

Will they continue to roll the dice? Maybe not this year. It’d be a surprise if they drafted Arden Key, for example. Derrius Guice insists he has no off-field issues but there’s consistent chatter to the contrary. Bob McGinn’s anonymous scouting sources say this about Guice:

“He had a lot of hype coming in. He’s got a lot of off-field stuff you’ve got to worry about.”

His aggressive running style is extremely similar to Thomas Rawls — a player hand-picked by Pete Carroll in 2015. He’s not the explosive running back they’ve often targeted (and he’s not the same explosive tester as Rawls) but in terms of size and style — he’s a match. If the character concerns are legit, however, they might look elsewhere.

It’ll also be interesting to see how they approach underachievers. Bo Scarborough had a very underwhelming college career. He flashed incredible talent in 3-4 games and disappeared for the rest, playing well within himself. Lorenzo Carter is seen as an underachiever and Connor Williams had a disappointing 2017 season leading some to question his toughness (per McGinn’s sources: “He should have gone back. Really a soft guy. Really good athlete with really good feet and movement. But he gets pushed and didn’t look like he was real tough“).

Are the Seahawks all about competitive fire, having a chip on your shoulder and production this year? Or will there come a point where talent outweighs performance?

We’ll find out in a month.

So who are some of the players that fit the ‘smart, tough, reliable’ description?

There are a few that spring to mind but it’s difficult to judge from afar. This is why ‘draft media’ can never truly get a thorough grasp on the draft. There’s so much information we’ll never have access to.

Nick Chubb competed like crazy to return from a career-threatening injury and return to his physical best. He visibly bristles when people underestimate him and has this inner fire and determination. He also runs hard but he’s not alone. Ronald Jones II and Kerryon Johnson don’t necessarily have the back story or adversity but they run with real aggression.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the way defensive backs Kameron Kelly, Quenton Meeks and Isaac Yidaom speak. Mature, focused, determined. Austin Corbett has battled and fought to reach a level where he could easily sneak into the back-end of round one.

Andrew Brown lost his mother at a young age and plays with a relentless fire. He didn’t necessarily live up to the recruiting hype but he gives everything on the field. Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans and Maurice Hurst play the right way.

There are also players that overcame personal tragedy like USF quarterback Quinton Flowers or battled for their opportunity like Devante Kincade.

But really, there’s one name that stands out more than any other when you’re talking about ‘smart, tough and reliable’.

Shaquem Griffin will be one of the grittiest players to ever enter the NFL. That’s not hyperbole. I can honestly say I’ve never watched a player perform with his level of intensity, effort, passion and determination. Every drop of adversity he’s faced in his life is taken onto the field with him and punished.

His Peach Bowl performance against Auburn might be the best effort I’ve ever seen from an individual player in a team sport. The only time I can recall a similar effort is when David Beckham dragged England to the 2002 World Cup with an energy sapping solo performance against Greece at Old Trafford.

Griffin gave absolutely everything against Auburn. He chased every lost cause, recorded 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Look at this effort:

Not only did he impact the initial hand-off with his quickness, he then sprints to the near sideline to deliver one of the best blocks you’ll see on a fumble return.

He’s not just an effort player either. He can disengage:

He can work through traffic into the backfield:

Hand use is vital at the next level but so is quickness, the threat to work the edge and a nice counter:

The 4.38 forty really shows up when he’s running in pursuit:

And I could list loads of videos simply highlighting his effort and relentless attitude:

Griffin isn’t a great story because he only has one hand. He’s a great story because there isn’t a single player in college football that can match him for effort, determination speed and production. His effort is infectious and there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this rubbed off on his team mates. UCF were a bunch of BAMF’s last year. Griffin set the tone.

Unquestionably there are things he needs to work on. His zone coverage can be poor at times and he gives up avoidable receptions due to suspect positioning. He may never be able to set the edge against the run and there are going to be plays where he’s driven off the ball. He’s a 227lbs linebacker playing with one hand. It’s going to be quite a challenge to do anything about that. Thus, he possibly won’t ever be an every-down linebacker.

Even so, Griffin is going to dramatically improve the team he ends up with. Through his effort, attitude and ability. He is a terrific nickel pass rusher. He didn’t fluke 33.5 TFL’s in the last two seasons or 18.5 sacks. Put him on the field on third down and there’s a good chance he’ll make a play. There’s great value in that. Teams will have to account for his speed and pursuit whenever he’s on the field.

In a game against a mobile quarterback he could be a useful spy. On special teams he could be an immediate captain. The energy and spirit he brings to a team will be evident. He’ll be the one leading the huddle one minute and then the guy leading by example on the field the next.

Low percentage of snaps? Possibly. Likeliness of impact? High.

I don’t know how early he’s going to go in the draft. You hear all sorts. It’ll depend on how teams see the value of a core special teamer and nickel linebacker. But there isn’t another player in this draft class that personifies grit, toughness, athleticism, strength and reliability better than Griffin. And there won’t be anyone in the next draft either, or the one after that.

If the Seahawks want to go back to punching above their weight, they could do a lot worse than tap into the UCF mentality from 2017. Griffin would provide another pass-rush option and help improve a stalling special teams unit.

Pete Carroll certainly enjoyed his forty yard dash at the combine:

After the draft we may well look back and consider, with hindsight, how inevitable it was that the two Griffin brothers would be reunited in Seattle.

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New Seahawks seven round mock draft

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Twitter rumours.

Who knows if there’s anything in this but at least it presents a scenario to talk about.

In last weeks mock we had the Patriots trading up to #18 to take a left tackle. The Browns could also be targeting O-line.

There are two tackles expected to go in round one — Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller. When McGlinchey goes off the board (possibly in the top-15) it’ll create some anxiety.

Other teams in the teens might not be inclined to move down into the 30’s. The Seahawks, with no picks in rounds two or three, would presumably be very interested.

Cleveland and New England are also realistic trade partners because they own multiple second round picks. They can afford to be aggressive and still pick in round two.

So let’s say the Browns move up. Here’s a seven round Seahawks mock draft representing this scenario:

#33 — Running back (Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson)
#64 — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
#120 — Kameron Kelly (DB, San Diego State)
#141 — Durham Smythe (TE, Notre Dame)
#146 — Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)
#150 — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
#156 — Dorian O’Daniel (LB, Clemson)
#168 — Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)
#226 — Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
#248 — Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, USF)

#18 (R1) — Trade down with Cleveland
The Seahawks collect #33, #63 and #150. This turns #18 into two second round picks and another fifth rounder. The Browns move up to select Mike McGlinchey or Kolton Miller.

#33 (R2) — Draft a running back
This could be Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson. All three are explosive, physical running backs. Jones II is a Jamaal Charles clone, Chubb fits their physical profile perfectly and Johnson has a very similar running style to Chris Carson. The top running backs in this class will last until about pick #45-50. If you want to take one, you might have to do it here.

#64 (R2) — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
The Seahawks like to draft ‘special’ athletes to rush the edge. Sweat is 6-5, 251lbs and has 34.5 inch arms. He ran an elite 1.55 10-yard split and a 4.53 forty. He also tested superbly in the vertical (39.5 inches) broad (10-4) and short shuttle (4.28). He has a top-10 physical profile and incredible upside ready to be unleashed. The medical checks on his knee will be crucial though. Can he play without a knee brace and improve his get-off?

#120 (R4) — Kameron Kelly (DB, San Diego State)
Kelly is a confident, physical defensive back with size (6-1, 204lbs) and length (32 inch arms). He’s a converted receiver with experience at safety and cornerback. Kelly won’t stand out to many but there’s just something about him that feels ‘Seahawky’. He also has terrific value on special teams. This will be a theme for the rest of the mock draft.

#141 (R5) — Durham Smythe (TE, Notre Dame)
Smythe is a classic Y-tight end who was predominantly asked to block at Notre Dame. He had an excellent Senior Bowl week, during practise and in the game itself. He doesn’t stand out physically and that could keep him on the board into the early fifth round but for the Seahawks he’d be a valued run blocker with some chain-moving ability.

#146 (R5) — Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)
The Seahawks love speed at linebacker and Jacobs has it. His combine performance deserves more attention — especially his 4.48 forty at 6-1 and 248lbs. He has good length (33.5 inch arms) and managed a 1.58 10-yard split (anything in the 1.5’s is money). The Seahawks could train him to play the WILL or MIKE or they could use him as a situational rusher. Jacobs plays with his hair on fire.

#150 (R5) — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
The Wisconsin defense was really good again last year. It would’ve been nice to find a way to get Nick Nelson into the mock too as competition for Justin Coleman. Jamerson is a free safety who ran a 4.40 at the combine. He also flashed as a kick returner and gunner. He could be an instant force on special teams.

#156 (R5) — Dorian O’Daniel (LB, Clemson)
O’Daniel quietly had an impact for Clemson last season and has been touted as a possible linebacker or safety at the next level. His forty time of 4.61 was nothing to write home about but he excelled in the important agility tests — running a blistering 4.07 short shuttle and a 6.64 three-cone. O’Daniel is also a skull-collector on special teams and would be worth the pick purely for that.

#168 (R5) — Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)
The Seahawks could easily draft multiple running backs this year. It’s that kind of class. And they’re paying particular attention to smaller, dynamic and explosive runners like Chase Edmonds and Ito Smith. Edmonds is tenacious and has even been compared to Devonta Freeman by some.

#226 (R7) — Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
I didn’t want to wait this long to draft a defensive tackle and I’ll talk more about that in a moment. Ford is set to visit the VMAC and freely admits his combine-snub has left a chip on his shoulder. He’s only 5-11 but he’s explosive (9-3 broad) and agile (4.47 short shuttle) with long arms (33 inches).

#248 (R7) — Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, USF)
Speed seems to be the order of the day at receiver and MVS ran a superb 4.37 at 6-4 and 206lbs. He also has massive 10-inch hands. He’s a project but the Seahawks have often drafted day three receivers and given them time to develop.

Final thoughts

Since it became public that Maurice Hurst and Christian Kirk are visiting the VMAC, you almost want to find a way to squeeze in extra round two picks to include them in the mock. Both are terrific players but the reality is Seattle will be limited even if they trade down. They’re badly missing those second and third round picks.

The only way to get them back is to trade trade Earl Thomas. Increasingly it looks like Seattle is open for business but nobody is willing to meet the asking price. When #49 comes around (Seattle’s native pick in round two) you’ll be cringing about the names left on the board.

Hurst isn’t the only defensive lineman it would’ve been nice to include. The likes of B.J. Hill, Andrew Brown, Justin Jones, Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan Lewis might provide value in this draft. Kemoko Turay is a talented pass rusher too and could’ve been an alternative to Josh Sweat. If they wanted to wait on an EDGE, Duke Ejiofor is an option.

We talk about this a lot but the value from about 30-50 is going to be fantastic this year. That’s where the likes of Isaiah Wynn, Austin Corbett, as many as six running backs, Christian Kirk and others might land. The Colts, with three picks in that range, have a chance to come away with a great haul.

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Seattle’s VMAC meetings — what can we learn?

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Firstly, if you missed today’s podcast check it out. Keep an ear out for a (slightly heated) discussion on the value of running backs.

Seahawks set up further meetings

Reports have suggested Justin Reid, Keith Kirkwood and Poona Ford will be taking ‘official 30’ visits to the VMAC. We also know Christian Kirk has a workout planned with the Seahawks (another possible VMAC visit).

Now we can add three new names to the list.

Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, Yale LB/DB Foyesade Oluokun and Southern Miss running back Ito Smith are also reportedly set to visit the Seahawks.

On top of this Seattle interviewed Josh Sweat at the Florida State pro-day, had dinner with Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson after the Wisconsin pro-day and according to Tony Pauline they’ve shown interest in Austin Corbett and Jessie Bates III. Pauline also reported the Seahawks had a ‘notable presence’ at the Fordham pro-day to watch running back Chase Edmonds and they met with Shaquem Griffin at the Combine.

I was told about another private meeting with a prospect but I’ll keep that under wraps because it hasn’t been reported anywhere.

So what can we learn from this? Here’s a few quick thoughts:

They seem to be tracking smaller running backs

They checked out Chase Edmonds and will workout Ito Smith, plus reportedly spent some time with Akrum Wadley at the Senior Bowl. It could be due diligence. We know they need to fix the run. Or they could be looking for a specific type of runner.

Both Edmonds and Smith had explosive testing performances. We’ve often highlighted how important this seems to be for the position. Edmonds had a 34 inch vertical and a 10-2 broad jump at the combine. Smith managed a 37.5 inch vertical at his pro-day.

They might be seeking a committee that blends two different running styles — perhaps similar to the ones used in New Orleans and Atlanta.

And as we connect the dots here, it’s also worth suggesting that maybe Edmonds and Smith are alternatives to Ronald Jones II if they don’t draft him early (assuming they’re interested). Jones II was 5-11 and 205lbs at the combine (and jumped a 36.5 inch vertical). Edmonds is 5-9 and 205lbs. Smith wasn’t invited to the combine and is believed to be 5-9 and 195lbs.

If they want a dynamic ‘smaller’ back it’s possible they could be looking at Jones II early and Fordham/Smith as later alternatives. It’s also possible they’ll draft more than one running back.

Seahawks might still be looking for interior defensive linemen

The signings of Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen added depth at defensive tackle and they might be looking for more (Bennie Logan also met with the team). A heavy rotation at defensive tackle seems like the aim this year, with different players taking on specific roles.

Poona Ford is a competitive nose tackle who might fit that ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentality they’re looking for. At 5-11 he’s often been overlooked and wasn’t invited to the combine. He does have 33 inch arms so he has the length and anyone who watched Texas regularly seems to rave about him. He didn’t stand out at the Senior Bowl but managed an impressive 9-3 broad jump and a 4.47 short shuttle at his pro-day.

Maurice Hurst is a pure one-gap pass rusher. He’ll shoot into the backfield with speed and quickness and he was highly disruptive for Michigan. He was one of the players who jumped off the screen last year, collecting 14.5 TFL’s.

He’s one of the better players in the draft. The only problem is — is his role limited? Some teams will be wary of asking him to handle two gaps at his size (6-1, 292lbs) and defend the run on early downs. He lacks length (32 inch arms) and really could be limited to the Clinton McDonald/Jordan Hill role of specialist interior pass rusher.

One thing to remember though — Geno Atkins was only 6-1 and 293lbs at his combine with the same 32 inch arms. Here’s an extract from his NFL.com blurb:

“He’s undersized as a defensive tackle lacking adequate height and bulk. Doesn?t have the power to consistently hold up at the point of attack against the run and is overpowered by bigger blockers. Must become more consistent with his hand use.”

It sounds very similar to the concerns noted about Hurst. Atkins has since gone on to become one of the more prolific interior pass rushers in the NFL. Hurst has that potential too — he is a terrific pass rusher who plays with quickness and explosion.

The visit makes sense because Hurst didn’t test at the combine after being diagnosed with a heart condition. They might want to let their doctors take a look at him and do some of the positional testing at the same time.

Defensive backs getting a look

With Earl Thomas’ future still up in the air they need to cover their bases. Taking a closer look at Justin Reid and showing interest in Jessie Bates III isn’t a surprise. Neither is the meeting with 4.40 runner Natrell Jamerson.

The meeting with Nick Nelson was interesting though. Don’t write it off just because he has short 31 inch arms.

Nelson might be the best cover corner in the draft. He’s a shadow in the secondary, tracking receivers across the field and shutting them down. He dominated his match-up against Maryland’s D.J. Moore and didn’t give up a single reception against a potential top-40 receiver.

With Justin Coleman’s contract expiring in a year and Jeremy Lane now an afterthought, adding some competition at slot corner would make sense. They won’t want Coleman to be comfortable — and they might prefer not to pay big money to keep him (a big new deal didn’t work for Lane after all).

As for Foyesade Oluokun — I can’t tell you much about him other than he’s a tremendous athlete and a ferocious hitter. He’s described as a linebacker/safety prospect and ran a 4.48 forty at 6-1, 230lbs. He also managed a 37 inch vertical, a 10-3 broad and a 4.12 short shuttle. Those are really strong numbers.

Here’s a highlights video:

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What the Christian Kirk workout tells us

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Christian Kirk revealed at his pro-day yesterday that he’ll be working out for the Seahawks.

It’s an interesting nugget of info because it puts another prospect on our radar. Kirk, a receiver, isn’t likely to be an early round target at the expense of aiding the running game or adding a pass rusher. There is a scenario, however, where he could become an option.

Unfortunately, it means bringing up the possibility of an Earl Thomas trade again.

The Seahawks are extremely limited with just the #18 pick and then nothing until #120. They’ll almost certainly move down in the first round but what they’ll get in return is debatable. In recent years they’ve been able to collect third and fourth round picks. That kind of a return isn’t going to shift the early round focus from fixing the running game (Pete Carroll yesterday reaffirmed it’s the off-season priority).

If they traded Earl Thomas to gain a pair of second rounders — or an early second and an early third (to potentially move back into round two) — it opens things up.

The second round is where a lot of the value is going to be in this draft class. Picking twice or even three times in that round would be a huge boost for a re-tooling team.

Getting two picks for Thomas and then potentially moving back from #18 could be a plan of sorts. There’s a lot of draft fantasy going on here I know. And we’re no clearer to knowing if a trade for Thomas is a.) likely b.) a good thing or c.) going to get the kind of return to make this possible.

Two or three picks in round two, however, would enable you to address the running back position in the sweet-spot for that group (25-50). You could look at the options on the defensive line and at safety (Jessie Bates III and Justin Reid are considered borderline first or second round picks). And the offensive line would remain a possibility.

Receiver could be an option too.

It’s not a good draft for the position overall. Seattle’s willingness to look at receivers in free agency is testament to that. Reportedly they’re set to meet with Brice Butler next.

So why would Kirk be a fit?

For starters, it comes back to what we were discussing yesterday. Attitude and being all about football.

Here’s a section from Kirk’s NFL.com bio written and sourced by Lance Zierlein:

“Scouts like his mental makeup and desire to compete…”

“Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness.”

So in terms of being a competitor with grit, Kirk ticks that particular box.

It’s very difficult to find a negative review of his game. For example, Bob McGinn’s anonymous sources describe him as a ‘big time player’, adding he’s ‘well-built’ with ‘good hands’ and ‘extends and lays out’.

He’s graded in rounds 2-3 by Zierlein and McGinn’s sources seem to consider Kirk a borderline first or second round pick.

The Seahawks have regularly drafted receivers that run in the 4.4 range. Kirk ran a 4.47 at the combine. They’re not tied to a particular size or frame — drafting a wide variety of body types over the years. You can’t get much different than Kris Durham, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson and Amara Darboh. They all ran the same kind of forty, however.

He’s a deep threat, capable of getting open while also offering some special teams dynamism as a returner. If he’s as competitive as the reports suggest, he might be a willing blocker (important in Seattle) although it’s not something he had to do in college.

One area he also seems to excel is the scramble drill. Quite often he was able to break coverage and become invisible downfield, often presenting a wide open target for a quarterback on the run.

He seems like a very focused individual during interviews.

It’s very easy to see why the Seahawks are showing interest. He’s an X-factor playmaker with good character.

Seattle appears to want some game-breakers at receiver to compliment a running game and make the most of play-action opportunities. Kirk would fit into that category. If they wanted to bring him in, however, they might have to do some further roster re-shaping first to gain further draft stock.

Why are the Seahawks looking at quarterbacks?

Last week John Schneider was stood in the rain watching Sam Darnold’s pro-day. He then took a private jet to Wyoming to go and see Josh Allen.

A year ago Ian Rapoport posted this tweet during the 2017 draft:

And now this tweet from Bucky Brooks via Rob Rang (left in to add some context):

So what’s going on?

Probably nothing all that spectacular really. At least not yet.

The Seahawks have a big negotiation coming up in 12 months. Russell Wilson will be in the last year of his contract. Seattle has turned over a significant chunk of the roster in an attempt to get younger, cheaper and more competitive.

Cap space won’t be a problem. They’re set to have about $100m next season. They’re unlikely to want to go absolutely nuts on a Wilson extension, however.

Jason La Canfora recently wrote an article discussing the situation:

“… from afar this still seems like some sort of feeling-out process is going on, that maybe both parties are still sizing each other up, perhaps, and trying to determine what the future holds.

“In the next year we’ll learn a lot more about the direction of this team, how quickly they can get back on track, how heathy Wilson emerges from the 2018 season, how confident he can be in the group of men entrusted to block for him. Will the Seahawks be talking about a five-year deal worth $30M a year for Wilson come this time a year from now? If not, will there be trade rumblings? (Given the supply/demand problems in the quarterback market, a hypothetical Wilson trade would have to be the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, right?) Is Carroll, the oldest coach in the NFC, inching closer to retirement by then if this team is outside the playoffs again?

“Personally, I have a hard time seeing a generational talent at quarterback like this leaving the team that originally drafted him in his prime, and Schneider has displayed the ability in the past to kickstart a rebuild with a single draft. I wouldn’t bet on him being down for long, but with the draft just over a month away and spring finally upon us, the Seahawks can’t be considered among the handful of Lombardi favorites for the first time in a long time, and much work remains to be done to return to the lofty perch their fans have come to expect during the Carroll/Schneider era.”

So there’s a lot to be decided. And John Schneider is working the pro-day circuit.

A lot of this seems to be the Seahawks covering their bases. They’re not going to draft a quarterback at #18. It’s about being ready for all eventualities. Let’s say Jackson dropped into round two and Seattle, somehow, had multiple picks in that round. Suddenly it might be a more viable pick. And then you create leverage. You have a Plan B. You can make a decision on whether you want to pay Wilson $30m a year or whatever it’ll be by the time talks come around.

Green Bay benefitted from planning ahead with Aaron Rodgers. So did New England with Jimmy Garoppolo.

This is the time you prepare for all eventualities. This is when you do your homework.

Otherwise you just end up being the Panthers in 2010 — taking Jimmy Clausen in round two without even knowing all that much about him.

It doesn’t mean they’re about to trade Russell Wilson. It doesn’t mean they’re set for a divorce in the next year or two. It does mean the Seahawks are leaving no stone unturned. Which is a good thing.

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‘All football’ and fixing the running game

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Unless you weren’t already aware, Seattle sees fixing the running game as a priority.

And it’s no wonder really. The last two years have been a disaster.

Teams treat their running games differently. For some it’s a compliment or even an afterthought. For the Seahawks, it’s crucial. It connects everything together.

Pete Carroll made it abundantly clear again today at the Owners Meeting how vital it is they fix the run:

“Our formula of the running game being an integral part of it is really the focus… We’ve got to get that done. Without that, then we’re still kind of in a mode where we don’t feel as comfortable as we want to be. So it’s hugely important. Somehow we’ve got to keep our running backs healthy. In the last few years it just has not been the factor for us, and it’s been a problem even going back two years when Russell (Wilson) was hurt the whole year. So that needs to emerge as a significant part of our program, and everything else I think will fall into place. We know what the formula is, we know what it takes, we just have to get ourselves back and feel that continuity. So that’ll be a big focus again, and the challenge begins. Here we go.”

The Seahawks are in a transition, a re-tool or whatever other way you want to describe it. They’re not going to be able to fix every need in one off-season.

Does the defensive line need help? Absolutely. Yet with limited draft stock (and a loaded D-line class ready and set for 2019) it might be an area where they go for competition rather than a big splash.

Do they need talent at receiver? Almost certainly yes. Tyler Lockett will be a free agent next year and they’ve already lost Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson. Yet this isn’t a strong class of receivers either. Again, this might be an area where competition wins.

This draft class is tailor made to bolster the running game. It fits perfectly. It’s a beautiful coincidence but maybe the Seahawks deserve a bit of fortune? At the time they most needed some help in improving their run attack, here comes the 2018 draft.

It seems pretty clear. This is the focus for now. And if they can fix the run and find balance on offense — they will be competitive. Russell Wilson and a running game gives you a chance to win. Even as you make changes to the defense.

Carroll also spoke about the existing running backs:

“You can say (Chris Carson is the starter) because of where he was when he got hurt, but Mike Davis did a really nice job for us last year… Mike finished and sustained throughout the season, unlike some guys in the last couple of years, and he showed us consistency and toughness and production. I think Mike really comes back getting the ball first, and the competition is on. That’s the first handoff, then after that it’s dead even.”

And he spoke about the offensive line:

“This is the best we’ve been in some time. A little quietly it’s emerging that it’s a very good group and it’s going to be one that we’re going to look forward to seeing some real progress made… It hasn’t been mentioned that much, but we feel like we have continuity. We haven’t said that in so many years, but we feel like we have some continuity on the offensive line, so we’re looking forward to it.”

It’s difficult to project what the Seahawks are going to do because we don’t know what’s happening with Earl Thomas. That lingering situation will hopefully come to a conclusion, one way or another, very soon. The mystery isn’t really doing anyone any good. If Thomas remains in Seattle, a fairly obvious projection would be:

1. The Seahawks trade down from #18
2. They trade down just far enough to put themselves in position to address the running game

Whether you’re a fan of Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice or another — it feels likely the Seahawks will pick their guy. After that, the other needs are clear — D-line, tight end, cornerback, linebacker, receiver. All likely to be addressed, perhaps too the O-line and special teams.

But it all starts with fixing the run. This is the year to do it and the draft class to do it with. With so few early picks this year, they can’t afford to wait on addressing that vital need.

Bob Condotta also produced a series of quotes from John Schneider. He discusses everything from free agent departures, what happened with Richard Sherman and the possibility of an Earl Thomas trade.

All of those topics will be covered elsewhere. I noticed a theme, however, in Schneider’s answers.

The words “all football” kept coming up.

For example, when discussing the addition of D.J. Fluker:

“He’s all football. When he came out, everyone knew he was an all-football guy. If you look at all the guys we’ve signed and re-signed, we know they all have a chip on their shoulder, they have something to prove, and they’re all football guys, so we’re excited about it. All these guys, every single one of them we signed.”

On if there’s a theme among the collection of players they’ve signed so far:

“Smart, tough reliable guys that love football and have a chip on their shoulder.”

On the Maurice Alexander signing:

“Just a real fast, tough all football guy… We’ve got another fast, tough all football guy.”

On re-signing Mike Davis:

“Again all ball.”

It’s not uncommon for a General Manager to use terms like ‘all football’ or make reference to wanting players committed to the game. It’s a football buzz-word that often gets thrown around to describe virtually any type of player or personality.

It’s also quite common to hear the Seahawks talk in these terms. One of Pete Carroll’s big things is ‘all in’ and buying in. So again, it’s not that surprising to hear Schneider speaking like this.

Yet this is a very different off-season. More than ever these references seem to really mean something. They’ve released outspoken personalities. They’ve dramatically reduced the number of highly paid players on the roster and they’ve balked at paying a high price for anyone in free agency.

Two or three years ago the Seahawks might’ve been ‘all-in’ on a Marcus Peters trade or signing Ndamukong Suh. They would’ve been the ones looking at an $8m salary for Sheldon Richardson as a great opportunity.

Only a year ago they gave Luke Joeckel $7-8m.

This is a different plan now. This is about players with something to prove and a need to earn everything.

It could also be indicative of the Malik McDowell pick a year ago. McDowell might never play a snap of NFL football after hurting himself in an ATV accident during the off-season. There were already concerns about his focus and effort pre-draft. Who can forget John Schneider’s words on the phone when they picked him. “Remember what we talked about?” They knew they were taking a shot.

It’s unlikely they’ll suddenly become risk-averse. But this year, more than ever, they might pick their battles.

The theme of free agency is likely to continue in the draft.

So what will that actually mean?

It could be another indicator they’ll trade down (which already seems pretty certain). There’s an entitlement that comes with being a top-20 pick. So unless you’re getting an absolute must-have prospect (seems unlikely this year at #18) they might prefer to move down and get a player who dropped a bit — or is grateful for the opportunity of going in the 25-45 range.

It’s not cast-iron though. Bruce Irvin certainly appreciated Seattle believing in him as a top-15 pick. Irvin never carried a sense of entitlement and just became one of the guys.

It probably means you can forget about players like Arden Key. The risk is too similar to McDowell.

It doesn’t mean they’ll snub their ideals and physical preferences. Those will likely remain. They’ll just want the players that fit to be gritty, determined and have a point to prove.

It’s hard for us mere observers to properly judge who does and doesn’t have a chip on their shoulder. We can read backstories and watch interviews. It’s not enough really. And that’s the stark reality of any draft coverage. Blogs like this and the media simply have no chance of getting a proper read on these players. We don’t meet with them, we don’t track them from High School to college to the combine.

We can only make assertions and projections.

I think a lot of the top running backs in this class play with the kind of aggression and attitude that suggests they’re ‘all football’. It’s pretty hard not to watch Ronald Jones II and get that impression. Or Kerryon Johnson. Or Nick Chubb. Or Derrius Guice.

They all play hard and tough. It’d be difficult to separate them as a quartet really. However, I think Chubb in particular has the biggest chip on his shoulder.

Case in point. Watch this interview by Terrell Davis (a former Georgia running back). Keep an eye out for Chubb’s change in expression when Davis notes he was ‘surprised’ by his quick feet and the way he answers that question:

‘Guys like you who don’t know’

Ouch.

He also gave Davis a little look at the end of the interview. You can see the fire in his eyes.

A lot of the interior offensive linemen we’ve discussed are also ‘all football’. Isaiah Wynn, Austin Corbett, Billy Price, Will Hernandez, Frank Ragnow. There’s absolutely no question there. And especially not with Quenton Nelson.

Some of the tight ends in the draft also fit in that category. If you’re playing the position in 2017 and are willing to block as your first duty, you’re committed to the game. It’d be difficult to question Dalton Schultz, Durham Smythe and Will Dissly in that regard. Whether they grade well enough for the Seahawks, we’ll see. But they likely need to add another tight end at some point in this draft class.

On the defensive side of the ball it’s a little easier to judge. Pursuit, intensity, motor. These are all easily identifiable. B.J. Hill and Justin Jones for example, with their motors and the way they carry themselves, likely grade well in this area. You’re not likely to question the commitment of any of the Ohio State, NC State and Wisconsin defenders. They all play with attitude.

You see it in Andrew Brown, Josh Sweat, Harrison Phillips, Rashaan Evans, Ronnie Harrison, Maurice Hurst, Leighton Vander Esch, Josey Jewell, Leon Jacobs, Isaac Yiadom, Nick Nelson, Kemoko Turay and others.

This draft class has its faults. Yet for a team like the Seahawks — seeking to fix the run and get young talent on defense — there are options. For a team also seeking guys with good motors and chips on their shoulder, they should also be able to find players that fit.

It’s been tough for Seahawks fans recently. Seeing the Rams add players like Peters and Suh. Watching Richard Sherman move to San Francisco and Michael Bennett to Philadelphia. Earl Thomas could still depart too.

Yet when this draft class is put together and you get to camp — the excitement will be back. This draft is well suited for Seattle’s needs and they’ll have an opportunity to put together a newly competitive environment.

Finally, it seems Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk will workout for the Seahawks:

Kirk is a highly dynamic, X-factor type receiver. It suggests they’re still looking for downfield speed for the offense (a theme with the receivers they’ve added so far). It also suggests they might be trying to acquire multiple second round picks (the range Kirk is expected to go).

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