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Jerry Jones’ Seahawks regret & other notes

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett debate in Dallas’ war room during the 2016 draft

Jerry Jones wishes he’d given the Seahawks an early third rounder.

In a fantastic piece by Peter King today, Dallas’ desperation to draft Paxton Lynch is revealed for the first time. They viewed him as the twelfth best player in the draft and were determined to make him Tony Romo’s heir.

The Seahawks traded the #26 pick to Denver in return for the #31 and #94 picks. Dallas were offering their second round selection (#34) and a fourth rounder (#101).

That wasn’t going to work.

In order to get Lynch they needed to deal their third rounder (#67). They chose not to.

“If I had to do it all over again? I’d give the three.”
— Jerry Jones

That’s how close the Seahawks were to securing an early third rounder. There’s every chance they would’ve been able to still select Germain Ifedi at #34.

We’ll never know who they would’ve taken at #67 but the following players were still available:

— Jonathan Bullard
— Bronson Kaufusi
— Kenyan Drake
— Shon Coleman
— Le’Raven Clark
— Braxton Miller
— Kyler Fackrell

King details the negotiations between Seattle and Dallas:

Between 9:25 and 9:45, Stephen Jones had three conversations with Seattle. Jones started with a simple swap offer: Seattle would send the 26th pick to Dallas, with Dallas returning a two and four. Next call: Stephen Jones, apparently sensing interest, tried to move it along, offering to add Dallas’ sixth-round pick if Seattle would give back its lower of two seventh-round picks.

Now 9:54. Schneider back on the phone. The call was quick. Stephen Jones got off the phone, turned to Jerry Jones at the board, and as one eyewitness recalled son said to father: “No way with Seattle. Too much. They want our two and three.”

Quiet in the room. “Thoughts?” Stephen Jones said to his father. “Any thoughts?”

They had a minute, maybe, to up the offer to Seattle, which was the only fish on the line. But no new offer was forthcoming. It was a minute later, maybe two, that Denver consummated the deal with Seattle for the ability to pick Lynch. The Denver deal was clearly better. Dallas was offering picks 34 and 101 for the 26th overall pick. Denver was offering picks 31 and 94—and by staying in the first round with its pick, Seattle got to control the player it picked for a fifth year, as opposed to four-year control for a second-round pick. Denver’s offer was superior. Dallas could have trumped Denver only one way—by offering its third, the 67th overall choice.

That was it. If Lynch turned into a star instead of wearing one, it would bug Jones for years to come.

According to King, Jones slept for just three hours on Thursday night and was wide awake by 6am. Seemingly, he was filled with regret:

“When I got up this morning,” Jones said Friday afternoon, “I second-guessed the hell out of myself for not giving the three. I have always paid a premium for a premium. So many times my bargains have let me down.”

It’d be fascinating to know what the Seahawks would’ve done had they acquired the #67 pick. It’s possible, of course, they would’ve drafted the same three players in round three anyway (Prosise, Vennett, Odhiambo). They noted at the end of day three, for example, that they didn’t expect Vennett to last as long as he did.

It also could’ve provided a scenario nobody could’ve even dreamed about before the draft began. Securing Germain Ifedi, Jarran Reed and potentially one of Jonathan Bullard, Bronson Kaufusi or Shon Coleman? That would’ve been really something.

Thoughts on Nick Vannett

I didn’t spend much time at all looking at Vannett pre-draft because I wrongly predicted the Seahawks wouldn’t select a tight end early. That was a major mistake on my behalf.

We often talk about how the Seahawks look for unique or rare traits. Funnily enough that’s kind of what Vannett provides. There are barely any blocking tight ends in college football. He is a rare gem, a collectors item. Someone who was asked to be, in the purest sense, a blocking TE.

I watched three games yesterday including Vannett vs Notre Dame where he really stood out. He blocks well on the move and squared up. He pulls inside and can deliver the key block to spring an inside run. On one snap against Notre Dame he drove Sheldon Day six yards off the LOS. He cut blocks well. I don’t recall a single poorly executed block.

This play in particular stood out. Look how he moves inside, locates and executes the key block that opens the hole for a big touchdown:

This isn’t an easy play for Vannett. He’s pulling to the right, hitting the hole and has to key in on the linebacker who is off-center. Make no mistake — he made this play happen. Ezekiel Elliott finishes — but it’s created by Vannett.

With Thomas Rawls’ burst and ability to break off big chunk gains, Vannett could provide tremendous value here.

Across the three games he proved to be an extremely willing and effective blocker. I think desire is a big thing here. At a time when the whole NFL is looking for the next Gronk or Jimmy Graham, Vannett’s college role could’ve seriously impacted his pro-prospects. In many ways it did — he lasted until the late third and never had a chance to show what he can do as a receiver. Yet he’s out there, doing the job asked of him. He earned this shot.

It’s impossible to judge him as a target for the Seahawks — but that’s unlikely to be his role. With Graham returning and Luke Willson a superior athlete — he might not be asked to do much route running at least initially. He will keep a defense honest though and allow them to be more creative with Graham — using him perhaps as more of a mismatch and receiver instead of an in-line blocker.

On the handful of routes he did run in the three games I saw, he lacked snap especially on the shorter stuff to the sideline or inside. On more than one occasion he seemed to be just going through the motions. He doesn’t exactly fire down the seam and create much of a challenge for the linebackers. He might be most useful in the red zone where his size, length and enormous wingspan can be effective.

Per Zach Whitman, Vannett has the third longest wingspan in the last three drafts at tight end.

Zach Miller’s Seahawks career was a bit underwhelming in terms of receptions considering what he achieved in Oakland. Vannett is likely to have a similar role. A key blocker vs the run and pass — the occasional target but much more effective in the red zone.

It’s not a flashy pick — but it’s typical of the way Seattle approached this draft. Tough, physical, re-establishing their identity in the post-Marshawn era. Vannett might not make any headlines as a rookie — but his impact could be vital.

Thoughts on Alex Collins

We spent most of the 2015 college season talking about Alex Collins. On May 6th last year we named him on our early 2016 watch list and on February 16th we mocked him to Seattle in round two. Everything about his running style screamed Seahawks — physical, hits the hole with a nice burst, doesn’t run out of bounds, finishes runs, pushes the pile and doesn’t go down on contact.

This remind you of anyone?

His combine performance, however, was a major turn off. He ran a 4.59 and managed only 28.5 inches in the vertical jump. He just looked sluggish and went from a possible second or third round target to off our radar completely.

It’s nice to see the Seahawks didn’t feel the same way — because Collins has the potential to be a fantastic value pick. There wasn’t a single Arkansas game I watched where he didn’t have an impact. He first stood out against Texas A&M in 2014 and I wish, with hindsight, I hadn’t been so swayed by his combine.

The competition at running back in camp is going to be intense. Don’t be shocked if Alex Collins emerges as the legit #2 option behind Thomas Rawls. Christine Michael is going to have a fight on his hands.

Drafting for the Cleveland Browns

The Browns are going through yet another big rebuild. Another new front office setup, another new Head Coach. Another shot at trying to make the franchise relevant.

The latest plan involved trading down from #2 to #8 and then down to #15. They acquired a cluster of picks in the middle rounds and in 2017. They stuck to an analytical approach that seemed to include drafting anyone who put up big stat numbers (Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib).

Unfortunately they didn’t really come out with anything that looked like a coherent plan. Building a team is surely more than simply acquiring production? What is their identity?

I went through the draft and considered what I think would’ve been a better plan for the Browns.

First and foremost — they’re in the AFC North. They need physicality on defense. That needs to be the identity, secured with a productive running game. I looked at the players available with each of their picks and took an alternative view:

#15 KEANU NEAL
#32 MYLES JACK
#65 JONATHAN BULLARD
#76 SHON COLEMAN
#93 JOSHUA PERRY
#122 WILLIE HENRY
#138 CHRISTIAN WESTERMAN
#154 ALEX COLLINS
#172 KENNY LAWLER
#173 TYVIS POWELL

The only pick that remains the same is Shon Coleman at #76.

Maybe the Browns will be proven right over time? They needed a wide out and Corey Coleman is a playmaker. Hue Jackson is a good enough QB coach to make Cody Kessler an interesting project.

Yet they had a chance to begin building a defense with toughness, athleticism, physicality and grit. Neal at safety, Jack paired with Perry at linebacker with Bullard and Henry anchoring at DE.

Reinforce the O-line with Coleman and Westerman.

This is a rebuild after all — not an attempt to win the Super Bowl in 2016. Put down the foundations for defense and look to next year on offense.

If you missed our review of Joey Hunt (C, TCU) check it out here. Later today Kenny and I will be recording our final podcast of the draft season.

Joey Hunt and the Seahawks’ zone blocking scheme

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

“I don’t know if Pete and I would’ve been able to leave the building if we didn’t come away with Joey.”
John Schneider

“We had to get that done.”
Pete Carroll

Of the ten players drafted by the Seahawks this week, only Joey Hunt was described as a player they simply had to have.

It was the most interesting part of Carroll and Schneider’s day three press conference. It made an undersized sixth round center thoroughly more fascinating than he otherwise would’ve been.

So this felt like the ideal place to start when reviewing Seattle’s draft class.

The Seahawks run a zone blocking scheme and yet the personnel they use is a real mixed bag. Mike Shanahan’s pure use of the scheme focused on agility and often smaller linemen. The Seahawks have started guys like James Carpenter, Justin Britt, Robert Gallery and now Germain Ifedi. All were in the 6-5, 320lbs range more suited to a man blocking scheme.

I haven’t spent any time studying what the Seahawks called in the run game last season and they may already do this — but I wonder with this pick whether they plan to run a ton of outside stretch. It relies on the left tackle and centre working to the second level, while the guards are asked to pin their defenders inside. Both Garry Gilliam and Hunt are athletic enough to do this — and it might be why they’re looking for size at guard and right tackle as a compliment.

This type of running play is also hugely beneficial for a runner like Thomas Rawls. He attacks the LOS so well, reads the hole and explodes. He’s extremely precise and sudden. They might be designing their O-line around Rawls — and possibly C.J. Prosise too (or at least that type of runner/skill set).

The combination of size/agility across the line also possibly counters some of the issues the traditional ZBS has faced against the growing disparity between O-line and D-line in the NFL. You’ve got some bigger maulers in there but still complimented with athleticism/agility at certain positions too. It could also allow the Seahawks to install some man-scheme counters and game plan for specific opponents.

So what about Joey Hunt specifically? I watched two games today (vs Kansas State & Minnesota).

He loves to get to the second level and doesn’t waste any time in doing so. He’s also a master at executing precise double teams — an underrated aspect of the ZBS.

The scheme in its most basic form asks a lineman to determine whether he is covered or uncovered on a given snap. If he’s uncovered, the player is often required to work a double team. Time and time again on tape you see Hunt effectively blocking inside on a double team. It seems like he’s reading the plays correctly, understanding his duty on a snap-by-snap basis and doing what he needs to do. If that’s the case, it arguably makes him relatively prepared to succeed in Seattle’s scheme.

Only this week Pete Carroll mentioned how disappointed he was watching college O-line tape pre-draft. Carroll, Schneider and Tom Cable have talked about how badly prepared offensive linemen are entering the league. If Hunt provides any kind of an edge here in terms of his readiness — that has to be a plus.

On the first snap of the game vs Kansas State Hunt perfectly executes a double team, opening up a huge running lane for a long touchdown. On several occasions in this match-up he opened up running lanes right up the gut.

There are two other big positives on tape. He sets well in protection with an upright posture and he’s very good at the legal cut block (which remains a key feature of the ZBS).

Size could be an issue. There are times when he’s walked back into the pocket. He seems to struggle against long defensive linemen who get into his frame and move him off balance. There were a couple of times where he struggled to plant and hold position and was nearly on the turf. He was handled pretty easily on both occasions and didn’t really have a counter. He’s only 6-2 and 300lbs with 30 1/4 inch arms. He’s pretty adept at squaring up and winning with leverage — but there are times where he’s controlled by bigger, longer and more explosive defensive linemen.

There were times where Hunt showed really good technique with his hands. On a couple of attempted spin moves he just worked the DL and stayed in position. He moves well on his feet and wasn’t beaten once vs Kansas State or Minnesota by a swim/rip.

His main challenger for the job is Patrick Lewis who himself is only 6-1 and 311lbs with 32 1/2 inch arms. It’s kind of peculiar that the Seahawks have looked at so many contrasting body types at centre. Hunt and Lewis are small and lack length and yet Max Unger was around 6-5 and 305lbs. All three lack truly explosive athleticism. Then there’s Kristjan Sokoli — the best athlete to enter the NFL in a generation with size (6-4, 295lbs) and length (34 inch arms).

There isn’t a great deal preventing Hunt from competing early for a starting spot. He’ll battle with Lewis, Sokoli and possibly Will Pericak. That’s a wide open race and let’s not forget — Lewis a year ago didn’t win the job vs Drew Nowak.

It wouldn’t be a total shocker if the Seahawks started a sixth round rookie on their O-line in 2016 — along with possibly two other rookies if Germain Ifedi and Rees Odhiambo hit the ground running.

Instant reaction: Reviewing the 2016 Seahawks draft class

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Size. Toughness. Physicality.

The Seahawks want to be the bully again and this draft made it clear.

This is a team that lost the toughest player to play the game in a generation (Marshawn Lynch). This was Seattle’s answer — their new path.

Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed set the tone early.

Ifedi’s big, athletic, explosive and long — plus he’s much more physical than people realise (he’s at right tackle):

That’s against Alabama, by the way.

If you want to push teams around in the running game — this is the kind of frame you want on your O-line.

I mocked Reed at #16 to Detroit in my first round mock draft. Did anyone expect him to last until #49?

Both Reed and Andrew Billings seemingly fell due to their perceived inability to play three downs. That’s semi-understandable given how little teams play in base these days.

That said — there’s still a ton of value in being able to take away an opponents run game and make them one-dimensional. Especially when you have Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and an opportunistic secondary.

You can’t move Reed off the LOS — even with a double team. He’ll anchor at DE and DT in Seattle. And he’s one of the toughest players in the draft — possibly the toughest. He fits the personality of this defense like a glove. A perfect match.

The Seahawks followed by drafting three running backs (C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins and Zac Brooks), a blocking tight end (Nick Vannett) another big guard (Rees Odhiambo) two other linemen (center Joey Hunt and DT Quinton Jefferson) and a receiver (Kenny Lawler).

Here’s some notes on Seattle’s picks:

Nick Vannett (TE, Ohio State)
Admittedly I didn’t expect the Seahawks to draft a tight end early. They remain upbeat on Jimmy Graham and have had some production from Luke Willson. I’m not sure anyone should expect Vannett to put up major numbers either — he’s in Seattle to play a role and not be a prolific target.

That said — it’s still a fun pick to be enjoyed. John Schneider and Pete Carroll both highlighted Vannett’s blocking potential. Again, it’s about re-setting that ‘hit you in the mouth’ physicality in the post-Marshawn era. Vannett enables them to essentially put another lineman on the field and yet keep a team honest in the passing game. It also puts less pressure on Graham to be a blocker.

What does the class say about TEF?
The formula we used was designed to try and identify who the Seahawks might take on the O-line in this class (not, as some have suggested, to try and identify a good or bad player).

Germain Ifedi reinforced the formula — but Rees Odhiambo was a major outlier based on what they’ve done since 2012. We don’t have the numbers for Joey Hunt (only a bench press of 34).

I think what we learnt from this class is that the Seahawks are not totally 100% focused only on a specific explosive profile. They are, wisely, open to other skill sets even if they’ve almost universally looked for an explosive ideal over the last four years.

Odhiambo has been praised for his toughness, grit and ability to handle adversity. In a draft where the Seahawks wanted to get bigger and tougher — the pick makes a ton of sense. Can he stay healthy? That’s the concern. Yet the success or failure of this class doesn’t rest with Odhiambo.

The Seahawks have been accused by some fans of being too driven towards analytics and athleticism — and yet Odhiambo, Hunt, Collins, Lawler and Reed all fit a different profile. This draft looks like a concerted attempt to get bigger and tougher in certain positions. Job done.

They passed on Connor McGovern, Joe Dahl and Joe Haeg which was a bit surprising. Yet all three fell much lower than we expected. The league appeared to give a collective thumbs down to the trio.

How many running backs?
There are two things to consider here. Firstly, Pete Carroll loves competition especially at running back. He always had multiple 5-star recruits battling for touches at USC.

Secondly, the Seahawks need to plan accordingly for the post-Marshawn era. They have Thomas Rawls — but they can’t just pile Lynch’s workload onto his shoulders. Now they have depth, physicality, a range of skill sets and a chance to survive if Rawls gets injured again some day.

C.J. Prosise has some suddenness to his game but he’s also a solid pass catcher and looks like a third down back who can take on a decent number of snaps.

Alex Collins was one of our favourite players in college football last year — and we only soured on him after a bitterly disappointing combine performance. He plays with genuine physicality, speed and skill. He looked like a really good back on tape.

Zac Brooks didn’t have much of a role at Clemson but the Seahawks clearly liked something about him and had him visit the VMAC. He too can try and win some special teams snaps and a few carries in pre-season.

This will also hopefully push Christine Michael — arguably the most talented of Seattle’s many backs. Will he rise to the challenge?

And the rest?
Kenny Lawler, while not an amazing athlete, is a touchdown machine with big hands. He scored a touchdown every 5.3 receptions in college. He’s a Seahawks type of receiver. High points the ball, makes difficult catches, hangs on. It’ll be fascinating to see if he can have an impact in camp.

I’m unfamiliar with Joey Hunt but look forward to getting into some TCU tape. He certainly has some fans out there:

I also didn’t spend much time watching Quinton Jefferson — so this pair will provide the starting point during the review process over the next few days.

UDFA watch
The Seahawks made an absolute killing on the market at the conclusion of the draft. They also signed a number of players we highlighted in recent weeks:

According to Davis, they gave Trevone Boykin a $15,000 signing bonus which signifies he was a top priority UDFA for Seattle.

Brandin Bryant is an athletic phenomena with unreal tape:

It’s not surprising to see Christian French signed or DeAndre Elliott. Ohio State’s Tyvis Powell is a really interesting pickup — he was expected to be drafted in the middle rounds.

George Fant could be another Garry Gilliam for this team. He ticks all the boxes in terms of athleticism, size, explosion and length. He was a basketball player turned tight end in college. Expect him to be tried at tackle or guard in Seattle.

And several readers contacted me about S/LB hybrid Tanner McEvoy at Wisconsin. The Seahawks grabbed him too.

In a draft rich in LOS talent — the Seahawks were able to match their biggest needs with the strengths of the class. They come out of this draft with impact players, greater talent and competition on the O-line, a new collection of running backs and perhaps a re-established attitude.

There were a few shocks, a few surprises. But overall this should be a class to get Seahawks fans dreaming of September.

Kenny and I will record a review podcast on Monday and on the blog we’ll begin to look at some of the prospects drafted by the Seahawks throughout the week.

Live NFL Draft 2016 — Rounds 4-7 open thread

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

It’s the final day of the draft and here is the final open thread. I will post a reaction piece later today reviewing Seattle’s 2016 draft class. Kenny and I will also be recording a podcast on Monday.

Here are their remaining picks:

R5 (#171)
R6 (#215)
R7 (#225)
R7 (#247)

In the meantime, here are some of the players still on the board that we have discussed in the build up to the draft:

Connor McGovern (OL)
Joe Haeg (OL)
Joe Dahl (OL)
Andrew Billings (DT)
Willie Henry (DT)
Hassan Ridgeway (DT)
Charles Tapper (DE)
Eric Murray (CB)
Joshua Perry (LB)
Jeremy Cash (S)
Miles Killebrew (S)
Ronald Blair III (DT)
Deiondre Hall (CB)
Dak Prescott (QB)
Charone Peake (WR)
Ricardo Louis (WR)
Moritz Boehringer (WR)
Jonathan Williams (RB)
Keith Marshall (RB)
Tyler Ervin (RB)
Kevon Seymour (CB)
Travis Feeney (LB)
B.J. Goodson (LB)
Joel Heath (DT)
Kenny Lawler (WR)
Jordan Payton (WR)
Daniel Braverman (WR)
Devon Cajuste (WR)
Blake Countess (CB)
Hal Vaitai (OL)
Alex Redmond (OL)
Marcus Henry (OL)
Torian White (OL)
Justin Murray (OL)
Lene Maiava (OL)
Evan Boehm (OL)
Liam Nadler (QB)
Keenan Reynolds (QB/RB/WR)
D.J. Foster (RB/WR)
Zac Brooks (RB)
Devon Johnson (RB)
Darius Jackson (RB)
Paul McRoberts (WR)
Marquez North (WR)
Jay Lee (WR)
Jaydon Mickens (WR)
Dez Stewart (WR)
Brandon Swindall (WR)
Davonte Allen (WR)
Hakeem Valles (TE)
Terenn Houk (TE)
George Fant (TE)
Alex Balducci (DT)
D.J. Reader (DT)
Justin Zimmer (DT)
David Onyemata (DT)
Trent Corney (DE)
Alex McCallister (LB)
Christian French (LB)
DeAndre Elliott (CB)
Rashard Robinson (CB)
Brandon Williams (CB)
William Parks (S)
Andrew Adams (S)
Taj Letman (S)
D.J. Hunter (S)

Instant reaction podcast: Rounds 1-3

Friday, April 29th, 2016

R1 — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
R2 — Jarron Reed (DT, Alabama)
R3 — C.J. Prosise (RB, Notre Dame)
R3 — Nick Vennett (TE, Ohio State)
R3 — Rees Odhiambo (G, Boise State)

Live NFL Draft 2016 — Rounds 2-3 open thread

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Kenny and I will do a review at the end of round three. In the meantime, here’s an open thread…

The Seahawks traded up from #56 to #49 (Chicago) to select Jarran Reed. The move cost a fourth round pick (#124).

A lot of D-liners left the board early in round two — yet surprisingly Jarran Reed lasted. We mocked him at #16 to Detroit before the draft and yet the Lions passed on him even in round two.

It’s unclear why he dropped so far — is it because he’s considered a two-down player? He and Andrew Billings (who also fell) were labelled as such. That’s not an issue though. He was immovable at times for Alabama — absorbing double teams and holding position.

His performance in the Senior Bowl game was superb — he was arguably the MVP. Watch the fourth quarter on Youtube and you’ll see why. His motor never stopped.

This is likely a direct replacement for Brandon Mebane but he can also line up at DE too. The Seahawks appear to be focusing on size and intensity.

If you want a reason to like him — check this out (taken long before the draft):

C.J. Prosise (RB, Notre Dame) was the pick at #90. He matches Seattle’s trends on running back athleticism/frame. Tough, agile. Just getting started at RB after a position change. He had a nice 2015 season.

Perhaps more importantly — he’ll be a solid special teamer immediately and a third down option.

Nick Vannett (TE, Ohio State) is 6-6 and 257lbs. Urban Meyer described him as an “efficient route runner” and a “move tight end” on the NFL Network. This is a nice hedge with Jimmy Graham recovering from injury.

Tony Pauline called the Rees Odhiambo (G, Boise State) interest weeks ago. He’s coming off an injury and that arguably impacted his workout numbers. However — Odhiambo is a bit of a surprise this early. He was way off on TEF and McGovern, Dahl and Haeg were all available. Plus he has struggled to stay healthy — he hasn’t played a full season of football.

This is a commitment though to establishing an edge.

Seattle’s draft so far:

R1 — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
R2 — Jarron Reed (DT, Alabama)
R3 — C.J. Prosise (RB, Notre Dame)
R3 — Nick Vennett (TE, Ohio State)
R3 — Rees Odhiambo (G, Boise State)

Round two

#32 Cleveland — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#33 Tennessee — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#34 Dallas — Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
#35 San Diego — Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas)
#36 Jacksonville — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#37 Kansas City — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
#38 Miami — Xavien Howard (CB, Miami)
#39 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucky)
#40 New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#41 Buffalo — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#42 Baltimore — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#43 Tennessee — Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
#44 Oakland — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#45 Tennessee — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
#46 Detroit — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#47 New Orleans — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#48 Green Bay — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#49 Seattle — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#50 Houston — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#51 New York Jets — Christian Hackenburg (QB, Penn State)
#52 Atlanta — Deion Jones (LB, LSU)
#53 Washington — Su’a Cravens (LB, USC)
#54 Minnesota — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#55 Cincinnati — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#56 Chicago — Cody Whitehair (T, Kansas State)
#57 Indianapolis — T.J. Green (S, Clemson)
#58 Pittsburgh — Sean Davis (S, Maryland)
#59 Tampa Bay — Roberto Aguayo (K, Florida State)
#60 New England — Cyrus Jones (CB, Alabama)
#61 New Orleans — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#62 Carolina — James Bradberry (CB, Samford)
#63 Denver — Adam Gotsis (DT, Georgia Tech)

Round three

#64 Tennessee — Kevin Byard (S, Middle Tennessee)
#65 Cleveland — Carl Nassib (DE, Penn State)
#66 San Diego — Max Tuerk (C, USC)
#67 Dallas — Maliek Collins (DT, Nebraska)
#68 San Francisco — Will Redmond (CB, Mississippi State)
#69 Jacksonville — Yannick Ngakoue (DE, Maryland)
#70 Baltimore — Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
#71 New York Giants — Darian Thompson (S, Boise State)
#72 Chicago — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#73 Miami — Kenyon Drake (RB, Alabama)
#74 Kansas City — KeiVarae Russell (CB, Notre Dame)
#75 Oakland — Shilique Calhoun (DE, Michigan State)
#76 Cleveland — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#77 Carolina — Daryl Worley (CB, West Virginia)
#78 New England — Joe Thuney (G, NC State)
#79 Philadelphia — Isaac Seumalo (C, Oregon State)
#80 Buffalo — Adolphus Washington (DT, Ohio State)
#81 Atlanta — Austin Hooper (TE, Stanford)
#82 Indianapolis — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#83 New York Jets — Jordan Jenkins (LB, Georgia)
#84 Washington — Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
#85 Houston — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#86 Miami — Leonte Carroo (WR, Rutgers)
#87 Cincinnati — Nick Vigil (LB, Utah State)
#88 Green Bay — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#89 Pittsburgh — Javon Hargrave (DT, South Carolina State)
#90 Seattle — C.J. Prosise (RB, Notre Dame)
#91 New England — Jacoby Brissett (QB, NC State)
#92 Arizona — Brandon Williams (CB, Texas A&M)
#93 Cleveland — Cody Kessler (QB, USC)
#94 Seattle — Nick Vannett (TE, Ohio State)
#95 Detroit — Graham Glasgow (C, Michigan)
#96 New England — Vincent Valentine (DT, Nebraska)
#97 Seattle — Rees Odhiambo (T, Boise State)
#98 Denver — Justin Simmons (S, Boston College)

Round two Seahawks predictions

Friday, April 29th, 2016

— The selection of Germain Ifedi might set the tone for this Seahawks draft. Becoming the bully again could mean re-establishing a physical edge. Size, size size.

— If that is the case — here are some names to monitor in round two: Bronson Kaufusi, Jonathan Bullard, Chris Jones, Derrick Henry, Kevin Dodd. The four linemen are big DE-DT types and Henry would offer unique power and athleticism at running back.

— Andrew Billings and Willie Henry are also still available.

— Here are the names to monitor on the O-line: Connor McGovern (C/G), Joe Dahl (T/G/C), Joe Haeg (T/G) and Hal Vaitai (G). They all pass the TEF test, which was further reinforced with the Ifedi pick yesterday.

— Could the Seahawks use one of their three third round picks to move up from #56? In 2014 Philadelphia moved from #54 to #42 for a fourth round pick. That was a bargain for Philly. A similar trade involving one of Seattle’s third rounders could get them into the #42-46 range. That would be ideal for one of the defensive linemen listed above.

— Alternatively could they trade up in round three as they did last year to select Tyler Lockett? They might have to if they want Connor McGovern.

— It just seems likely the Seahawks are going to add a running back in rounds 2-4. If it’s not Henry, keep an eye on Kenneth Dixon (has fumbling issues though) or Kenyon Drake (underrated).

— A wildcard option could be the DB’s. It’s where the best athletes are in this class. How motivated are they to bring in a CB/S hybrid or a LB/S? T.J. Green, Sean Davis, Justin Simmons and Miles Killebrew could be intriguing.

Seahawks take Germain Ifedi in round one

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

The Seahawks want explosive offensive linemen.

According to our weighted TEF formula Germain Ifedi is the third most explosive O-liner in the draft behind Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern. They might take McGovern to play center tomorrow.

The pick fits in with everything they’ve done on the O-line since 2012. It’s not about Tom Cable getting ‘his guys’ per se — it’s looking for explosive O-liners to combat the growing disparity between offense and defense in college and the NFL.

You’re going to hear people make comparisons to James Carpenter. Ifedi is longer, taller, much more athletic and more explosive.

Here’s his mirror drill at the combine vs Laremy Tunsil:

And here’s four back-to-back snaps vs Alabama. Note the way he uses length and a strong base to stone edge rushers. On the third snap he drives the DE into the turf and finishes. On the fourth snap he identifies and reads a stunt and shuts it down.

Carpenter was a powerful run blocker who helped Mark Ingram win a Heisman. The Seahawks needed to establish their own run game in 2011.

Ifedi is an athlete built like the Hulk.

He could play left guard, right tackle or even left tackle for the Seahawks. They might try him at all three.

In October we noted him as a possible top-20 talent (click here). When we looked closely at Ifedi in early December, here are the notes:

He’s an enormous 6-5 and 320lbs yet moves superbly. His footwork is quite brilliant for a man his size — his kick slide is good, he moves freely to the second level. In the two games I watched he didn’t get beat once off the edge by a speed rush.

There’s very little ‘bad weight’ to his frame — he’s an enormous tackle and most of it is muscle. When a D-end tries to hand fight he usually absorbs the defender and it’s over. Technically he had some nice blocks — turning his man to open up a crease and moving people off the LOS to create a running lane. He has the athleticism to adjust on the move and if he ever moved to guard he’d have no trouble pulling or kicking out to the next level.

He kind of looks like a more athletic James Carpenter who’s in better shape. I like his chances of playing tackle in the NFL because of the athletic upside. He moves a lot better than Carpenter (who in fairness was more of a run blocker — and did it very well at Alabama).

I’ve seen quite a few complaints about his power in the run game but these issues didn’t show up in the two contests here. I thought he actually showed good leverage and punch to drive a couple of defenders off the line. Perhaps it’s more of a technique issue? Certainly to look at Ifedi you wouldn’t assume any lack of power.

This piece went into a bit more detail and offers some background on the latest Seahawks addition.

We started mocking him to the Seahawks in March and remained fairly consistent with it until our final projection yesterday.

The best thing for the Seahawks is — they were likely taking Ifedi at #26 anyway. They were able to move down five spots, still get their man and collect an extra third round pick in the process.

They’re set to pick at #56, #90, #94 and #97 on day two.

If they want to they have the ammunition to move up in round two — possibly targeting Jonathan Bullard or Bronson Kaufusi.

They could even stay at #56 and move up in round three — as they did last year to select Tyler Lockett.

Based on yesterday’s final first round mock, the following players remain on the board:

Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
T.J. Green (S, Clemson)
Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucky)
Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)

Also remaining:

Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)

There’s still a ton of depth on the D-line and the Seahawks should be able to address that need in rounds 2-3. Running back, receiver, linebacker and defensive back also provide some nice options.

Live NFL Draft 2016 — Round 1 open thread

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Kenny and I will be doing a live broadcast just before the #26 pick so stay tuned. In the meantime here’s an open thread…

#1 Los Angeles — Jared Goff (QB, California)
He reminds me of Brock Osweiler. Both players in college were capable of sublime accurate throws and maddening multi-interception games.

#2 Philadelphia — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
Wentz was one to watch last summer and while he lacks top-level college experience, he has an intriguing skill set and he won’t be expected to start early.

#3 San Diego — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
He was regarded as the best player in the draft throughout the college season and now he’s the best non-QB to leave the board. Smart move.

#4 Dallas — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
Zeke is pretty much ideal in terms of frame and skill set for a running back. Impact player. What about the defense though?

#5 Jacksonville — Jalen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
Ramsey is incredibly athletic with nice size. Is he a corner or a safety? This is a good scheme for him.

#6 Baltimore — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
Ian Rapoport reported after this pick that someone hacked Tunsil’s Twitter account and posted this video. Why risk your career in this way? Why video this? Why is someone trying to sabotage your career?

#7 San Francisco — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
The 49ers now have Chip Kelly, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner — maybe they’ll bring in the Duck next? (only half joking)

#8 Tennessee — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
The Titans trade from #15 to #8 with Cleveland, dealing a 2016 third rounder and a 2017 second rounder. Tunsil’s slide continues.

#9 Chicago — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
The Bears gave up a fourth round pick to move up two spots, trading with the Buccs. They take Vic Fangio’s latest project.

#10 New York Giants — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
Terrific cornerback prospect. Does not get beat deep. Smart and just gets it. A good athlete too. Three Buckeye’s in the top-10.

#11 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
Smaller corner, very agile but bites on plays and can get baited into mistakes. Can he play outside at his size?

#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DE, Louisville)
The most explosive defensive lineman in the draft. A fantastic pick for the Saints. How did he last this long?

#13 Miami Dolphins — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
The fall ends here. Based on pure talent this is a total steal. Fair play to Prime for asking the questions after the pick.

#14 Oakland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
Earl Thomas #14 overall. Karl Joseph #14 overall. I bet he wears #29. He’s recovering from an ACL. A fun player to watch.

#15 Cleveland — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
Electric receiver, truly dynamic and a touchdown machine. Plays with attitude. He’ll give Cleveland a spark.

#16 Detroit — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
Big tackle — very tall. Another Buckeye in round one. Good character but average combine and lacks explosion.

#17 Atlanta — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
Fantastic player and he deserved to go here. He’s that good. Watch this guy go in the NFL. Great pick.

#18 Indianapolis — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
Athletic and tough but not explosive. A good test case on the importance of stuff like TEF. He’ll be one to track in the NFL.

#19 Buffalo — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
Shaq had a terrific short shuttle test — similar to Joey Bosa. Major production and he plays with an edge.

#20 New York Jets — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
This is a tremendous pick. Ideal scheme fit in that roaming LB role Todd Bowles loves. Playmaker.

#21 Houston — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
The Texans traded up one spot with Washington and gave up a sixth rounder. Fuller’s a big play, downfield receiver with great character.

#22 Washington — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
He’s a prolific catcher and a nice safety net for Kirk Cousins. It’s a bit surprising they went receiver over D-line.

#23 Minnesota — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
The Vikings needed a reliable pass catcher for Teddy Bridgewater and Treadwell is great value here.

#24 Cincinnati — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
The rush on receivers forces Cincy to take yet another first round corner. Every year.

#25 Pittsburgh — Artie Burns (CB, Miami)
The Steelers, running out of options at DB, take the best remaining corner available.

#26 Denver — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
The Seahawks move down to #31, acquiring the #94 pick from Denver (round three). They now have #90, #94 and #97 in round three. Good move for both teams.

#27 Green Bay — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
A player scouts like — but he isn’t a pass rusher. Not convinced he would’ve been an option for Seattle.

#28 San Francisco — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
The Chiefs trade out of round one and the 49ers take a pure guard to try and replace Mike Iupati.

#29 Arizona — Robert Nkemdiche (DE, Ole Miss)
Chandler Jones + Robert Nkemdiche = a risky but possibly scary off-season for Arizona. Two guys with similar character concerns.

#30 Carolina — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
The Panthers love big, athletic D-liners. That’s another big body up front.

#31 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
As expected — and as mocked — the Seahawks take Ifedi. Thoughts to come shortly so stay tuned.

Final thoughts

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

— I think the Seahawks will try to trade down. If they don’t, I suspect the pick will be Germain Ifedi, Jason Spriggs or (whisper it quietly) Le’Raven Clark.

— Baltimore looks like a good trade down option. They have multiple fourth round picks. The Ravens could move up for a safety or Noah Spence.

— If the Seahawks do move down, it perhaps increases the chances they go D-line with their first pick.

— Jonathan Bullard, Vernon Butler and Bronson Kaufusi look like good options.

— Kevin Dodd, Noah Spence, Chris Jones could also be in the running.

— At #56 it looks pretty straight forward — O-line if they take a D-liner first, D-line if they take an O-liner first.

— On the O-line Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg, Joe Dahl and Hal Vaitai fit this team best in rounds 2-3. Maybe Shon Coleman depending on how they view his health.

— If it’s defense, it depends who is still there. Willie Henry? Kyler Fackrell? Will one of Bullard or Kaufusi fall into range?

— Derrick Henry, Kenneth Dixon and Paul Perkins at RB could be wildcards in round two. It’s worth keeping an eye on the receivers too based on possible value.

— In the later rounds, expect raw athleticism they can coach up. Look at the super-athletic DB’s and guys who could play safety or linebacker. Travis Feeney, Miles Killebrew, Sean Davis, Justin Simmons, DeAndre Elliott, James Bradberry, D.J. Hunter, Keivarae Russell seem to fit.

— Joel Heath looks perfect for a D-line to O-line conversion. George Fant could move from TE to OT.

— Focus on Alex Balducci, Rees Odhiambo, Marcus Henry and some of the other names listed here.

— If you missed our final pre-draft podcast, here it is: