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Guest post: Curtis Allen on Jamal Adams’ contract

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

The circumstances under which a Jamal Adams extension can work
This is a guest post written by Curtis Allen

With the initial rush of free agency passing and the Seahawks making a commendable effort to fill some needs while still maintaining some salary cap sanity — and a brief pause while the Seahawks consider their options with Russell Wilson — some focus has shifted to the other big off-season question.

Whether to extend Jamal Adams.

The value of Adams’ role on the Seahawks’ defense and a possible extension has been discussed extensively and in great detail this offseason on the blog:

Why the Seahawks should trade Jamal Adams

Why the Seahawks should STILL trade Jamal Adams

Curtis Allen’s off-season positional reviews: DB

Rob has also been invited onto the local airwaves to articulate the talking points of the discussion – one that many are brushing aside far too easily:

The Seahawks themselves have not yet signalled much in the way of their intentions towards Adams this off-season.

There has been no trade talk surfacing, nor has there been any reports that the team has explored the framework of a potential extension with Adams’ agent.

Still, it does feel like there is an air of inevitability to an extension. Adams is a very talented player and the Seahawks made an extraordinary investment in trade capital to acquire him.

Those points, along with a lack of impact defensive talent on the roster combined with Pete Carroll’s season-long praise for Adams (and for John Schneider for acquiring him) present a persuasive argument that he will be a long-term fixture in Seattle for the next few seasons.

With that in mind, I thought I would try a different tack. Rather than discussing why the Seahawks should trade Adams, let’s take a brief walk through how the team could make a potential extension work out beneficially.

Keep in mind this is not an endorsement of an extension. But rather an exploration of a future where Adams is on the roster and taking that route has proven successful.

Several things need to happen in order for those two things to become a reality:

1. Health must no longer be a factor in Adams’ play.

That may seem harsh.

Frankly, there is simply no way to ‘guarantee’ that a player will be healthy.

Overall health is only one piece of the puzzle though, and that is not the area that needs dramatic improvement.

Adams admirably fought through groin, shoulder and finger injuries in 2020. There is no doubting they were painful, but injuries had a noticeable effect on his play last year. Too big an effect if we are really being honest.

Goal line tackles that should have been made on critical touchdown runs in both the Week 10 loss and the playoff loss against the Rams.

Easy interceptions that were dropped.

It could be argued that the Seahawks would have been better off with Adams on the bench and healthier players on the field.

Put in the most simplistic terms, a strong safety’s job is to make tackles and defend passes. If Adams could not handle those basic responsibilities when nursing an injury with even a reasonable degree of effectiveness – let alone with star level play – he should not be on the field.

The pressure to play him when injured will only grow under the weight of a big extension. He must be able to demonstrate that he can play well when not 100%. That is the price of a huge contract.

Every player is going to be banged up from time to time. What makes a player a true warrior is not simply telling the press ‘there is no way I am missing this game’, lobbying his coach to play him, and then taking the field.

It is not allowing injuries to overly affect his play.

A vast improvement in this area is needed in order to justify the Seahawks making a second large investment in him.

Without improvement, the Seahawks put themselves in a difficult spot with Adams. They cannot bench him every single time he gets banged up. Nor can they afford to play him and watch him miss key opportunities to affect the outcome of the game because he is not completely functional.

2. Adams must raise the level of his overall game.

He proved that he has speed and quickness around the edges. Adams made decent use of the blitz packages the Seahawks set for him with 9.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

But there is so much more that needs improvement in order to provide a value to the team that would match a pricey commitment.

There were far too many fundamental areas Adams did not excel in during the 2020 season:

-His coverage ability (he had a 105 passer rating allowed)

-Creating turnovers (he had one turnover created)

-Being a sure tackler (he had 9 missed tackles – almost 10% of his tackle opportunities)

The poor raw counting numbers he logged in 2020 cannot be merely shrugged off with proclamations that Adams ‘brings energy to the defense’ or is ‘the ultimate competitor.’

It is not asking too much for these areas to dramatically improve. Immediately.

They may not have to improve to superstar levels in order to justify a large contract, but there is no excuse for them to be league average.

Particularly in coverage.

George Kittle and Tyler Higbee are not going anywhere. Neither are Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel. Kyler Murray had over 400 yards of offense when Adams was hurt in Week 7.

The Seahawks desperately need an answer to keep these players from wrecking games.

Kittle in particular was name-checked by Carroll when talking to the press after acquiring Adams. He must be better in this area. Improvement is not optional.

A marked improvement in the non-blitzing parts of Adams’ game will relieve much of the pressure to perform as a defense and make the times he is screaming off the edge all that more effective.

Even his tackles for loss, QB hits and pressure stats could stand to improve given how much the Seahawks packaged blitzes for him.

A clear possibility exists that with the strange offseason and the disaster of an early regular season on defense, when combined with his injuries, demonstrate that the Seahawks did not have a proper opportunity to really integrate all of Adams’ skills and abilities into their offense in 2020.

A second year in the system and familiarity with his teammates will likely provide an improvement in his overall impact.

A healthy increase in pay must be accompanied by a healthy improvement on the field.

Related to his overall play, we come to our next point…

3. Ken Norton and Pete Carroll must employ more creativity in his use.

Frequently the use of Adams devolved into a simple, predictable use: Adams on the edge pre snap, with a linebacker also blitzing to draw coverage. That worked in some fashion in 2020 but teams now have a whole season of tape to prepare and counteract that setup.

More varied looks to keep the offense guessing in 2021 is vital.

The Seahawks have made commendable progress in bolstering the defensive line. But they still have needs there. More of an interior pass rush presence is on the wish list with Jarran Reed departing.

If they can consistently rush with four down linemen, this opens up all kinds of possibilities for the Seahawks to use Adams all over the box. His blitzing will not be the sole way the defense gets pressure on the quarterback. It would instead become the final straw that pushes the opposing offense into bad decisions and could really elevate the unit to complement an explosive offense and dynamite special teams.

Creativity has never been Ken Norton’s strong suit. But imagine the possibilities of a return to getting rush with the standard package.

The linebackers are freed up to roam the field and seek out tackles cleanly. Adams can be used to rush from one side and direct runners right into the lanes where Wagner and Brooks are just waiting to take them down.

How about a return to the standard defensive strategy? Use Adams and the linebackers as heat-seeking missile tacklers on first and second down. Keep things in front of you and force the team into third and longs.

Then deploy Adams as a blitzer from all kinds of different areas.

How about taking advantage of Ugo Amadi’s blitzing potential? He has shown some flashes in the past. Line up Adams opposite Amadi at the nickel and keep the quarterback guessing which side the blitz is coming from.

If you refuse to be pigeonholed into a position and insist on being called a “weapon” as your preferred position term, you need to be used more creatively than what we have seen from him.

In truth, there are all kinds of ways to use Adams effectively. The only thing limiting the Seahawks is imagination.

4. The contract must be reasonable and not cripple the Seahawks’ salary cap.

This one seems obvious and doesn’t need too much explanation.

However, there are some wrinkles where the Seahawks could make a Jamal Adams extension far less painful than it would appear at the initial reporting.

Guaranteed money will be a key factor.

A couple of recent contract extensions for defensive backs are an interesting guide for comparison.

-Budda Baker got $33million guaranteed
-Jalen Ramsey got $43million guaranteed

The way they are structured is very intriguing.

Both got a nice signing bonus, but they only have two seasons of guaranteed salary. The salary changes to non-guaranteed right about the time their cap hits start to get really serious.

So both can be cut, traded or have their contract renegotiated after two years to get cap relief with only the prorated bonus portion as dead cap money. Or if they have maintained their top-level play and the market and cap have outgrown their deals, the teams have a not-unreasonable contract on their hands.

Furthermore, both will still be fairly young when those options materialize, which means they will likely still have decent trade value.

If the Seahawks do not overspend on an Adams extension and it has similar terms to these two deals, it will not hinder the team to such an extent as to render them unable to operate effectively.

Be careful not to overreact if you hear the Seahawks have signed Adams to a 5-year $100million contract. Wait until you hear the structure of the deal to really see how this contract works out. At the end of the deal, it could actually be a 3-year, $40 million deal which is much more palatable.

The Seahawks could even tack a void year or two onto the deal and lessen the 2021-2023 cap hits enough to make further moves.

5. There must be internal roster improvement.

A strong argument for trading Adams is the desperate need to recoup draft picks and infuse the roster with cheap effective talent. This cannot be argued – the Seahawks need more in order to take the next step.

Between trading a lot of capital for Adams and tying a healthy portion of their salary cap to him with a possible extension, the Seahawks will be actively deciding that they need to find value and production in other places.

One such place is right in front of them.

Making more hay with what the team already has on the roster could blunt some of that need.

Marquise Blair needs to make an impact, whether at nickel, free safety or taking an occasional series for Adams.

Jordyn Brooks needs to convert first round talent and a reasonable rookie year into solid second year production.

The corners have to be far better in single coverage than they were in 2020. Another corner added to the roster could go a long way.

Kicking the can down the road on the offensive tackle situation cannot backfire. Duane Brown and Brandon Shell need to be on the team beyond 2021.


All five of these things must experience at least a solid degree of success if a Jamal Adams extension is to have a puncher’s chance at being a sound investment.

The possibilities are there, but both parties must understand a contract extension is just the beginning of a journey together. It will require a strong commitment from both sides to improve if it is to be successful.

If you missed Rob’s three round mock draft video yesterday, check it out here:

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LIVE mock draft — 3:30pm PST

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Today I will be hosting a live mock draft stream at 3:30pm PST. This will include trades, thoughts on each pick/player and I’ll talk through scenarios. Send in your questions and reaction as we go along and use the Super Chat feature to support the blog/channel.

Parsing Adam Schefter’s Russell Wilson reporting

Monday, April 5th, 2021

For the last couple of weeks, Adam Schefter has regularly appeared on ESPN’s ‘Get up’ show and insisted it’s still plausible that Russell Wilson could be traded.

Today, he reiterated that thought (the piece starts at the one minute mark below)…

I think it’s time to try and work out what’s going on here.

While many will immediately dismiss or reject this, that would be unwise.

What has the NFL’s leading insider got to gain by constantly pushing this as a possibility, if in fact there’s no chance of it happening?

Schefter is as connected as anyone in the league. He is peerless as a news breaker. When it comes to contacts, reputation and track record — he is top of the class.

Today he broke the news that Sam Darnold was being traded to the Panthers.

He isn’t saying this stuff unless he believes it. He is a journalist — he doesn’t host a show twice a day like Mike Florio, or every day like Colin Cowherd, where he needs to generate talking points.

If Schefter doesn’t have any news, he doesn’t say anything. He never chucks out random rumours and speculation.

Case in point — all of the many, many weeks in his career when he hasn’t been talking about the future of a franchise quarterback.

Plus, he has no real reason to keep discussing this at a time when Deshaun Watson is making news, the 49ers just traded up to #3 in the draft and Aaron Rodgers is being mischievous about his future in Green Bay ahead of a stint hosting Jeopardy.

I’m afraid you have to be slightly ignorant and/or naive to say — ‘I am not buying this, I am paying it no attention and I do not accept this information.’

So why is Schefter reporting this?

The easy answer is that even if it’s unlikely — it’s still possible. That’s it. Optimistic Seahawks fans think a few Wilson tweets, a Tyler Lockett extension and a Gabe Jackson trade have cured all ills.

The reality is neither party has said anything about Wilson’s future since Schefter reported, on the record, the list of teams he’d be willing to be dealt too.

This story could’ve been nipped in the bud ages ago.

Admittedly Schefter always hedges his bets. He’s not saying, ‘Wilson will be traded’. Neither is he saying it’s likely. If it doesn’t happen, technically he hasn’t made any error in his reporting.

Yet he’s emphatically establishing himself as the individual keeping this story alive.

That at least warrants a discussion as to why.

If you’re willing to connect the dots, a pattern emerges:

1. The Seahawks haven’t, unlike the Packers and Texans, insisted Wilson isn’t going anywhere — ending the story immediately

2. They haven’t restructured his contract, despite not requiring his permission to do so at a time when they needed the money

3. Tony Pauline recently reported, “What I was told by someone close to the situation is that the Seahawks want to trade Russell Wilson as much as Wilson wants out of Seattle”

4. The Seahawks, according to Schefter, are willing to move on if they’re presented with a viable quarterback solution as an alternative

To me it’s obvious if you’re willing to embrace the information presented above.

The Seahawks are ready to move on.

They don’t want to screw themselves by shifting a franchise quarterback and then picking through the scraps of what’s available currently.

That’s hardly a surprise.

If that means going through another year where everyone tries to get along, so be it.

But the signs point towards a team that is very prepared to trade Wilson. It’s just a matter of timing and contingency.

Look at what Schefter’s saying in the video:

“I continue to maintain, that if the Seahawks came up with a solution in which they were ensured of getting a quarterback they believed in, I think they would be open and interested in moving on from Russell Wilson”

Jeff Simmons made a good point when he took part in one of our recent live streams. When Schefter speaks, you have to try and work out who’s speaking to him.

Who wants this information out there?

Who does it benefit?

This is what Schefter does for a living. He speaks to people. He has their ear. He collects information and he distributes information.

There can only be two plausible explanations for a video like the one above.

Perhaps Mark Rodgers simply wants to keep this in the news agenda and therefore is telling Schefter a trade is still possible?

I’m not buying this. Why would Schefter then explain that Wilson’s four listed teams have ‘moved on’ and then offer that the Bears are pretty much out of it because what they offered before wasn’t enough?

It’d be a bit of a weird plant for Rodgers to suggest — talk about the trade but then rule out the teams we gave you as our list of suitors.

The other option is this is information from the Seahawks. They’re letting the world know — our door is still open. Our phone is fully charged.

This actually makes sense. Because Schefter’s right — Chicago’s offer couldn’t get it done. They pick 20th overall and they have no quarterback solution.

That whole segment felt like a ‘give us a call’ plea to other teams. It was perhaps also a message to the Wilson camp about the need to expand their list to make this happen.

This doesn’t have to be a definitive statement on Seattle’s position. They would be well within their rights to say to Wilson — it’s simply not plausible to trade you to the teams you listed, for a multitude of reasons. So if you want out — let’s do this properly. If not, then what are we messing around for? Let’s get on with the job and not have this conversation next year too.

After years of flirting with a baseball career, leaks to Rodgers’ friends in the media and most recently the passive aggressive trade request — it’s also possible the Seahawks have simply had enough.

My own personal, unsourced opinion is that might be where John Schneider’s at.

When it was reported that the Seahawks had rejected Chicago’s offer for Wilson, it was suggested that Schneider had talked and met with Ryan Pace and that during a visit to North Dakota State’s pro-day, they hashed out a deal that was presented to Pete Carroll.

After thinking it over, Carroll rejected the offer.

I don’t think Schneider would present an offer he didn’t believe in. I think he is probably fed up with Mark Rodgers. I think he’s pig-sick of all this drama.

I think he looks at a draft with three picks and no first rounder next year and thinks he can do a lot with a new haul and masses of extra cap room.

Alternatively I think Carroll believes he can manage any scenario — including an awkward relationship with the quarterback for another year.

So I think he’s less inclined to take whatever offer drops on the table and is more inclined to hold out for an offer he loves.

Ultimately he’s a 70-year-old coach. A five-year rebuild isn’t going to cut it. I don’t think Carroll will believe he needs Wilson to compete — but I do think he’s realistic enough to know replacing him with Alex Smith would be a recipe for mediocrity.

The end result is the position somewhat hinted at by Schefter. A team open for business but needing a great result to make everything happen.

That likely means more suitors being welcomed to the bidding table. It likely means either a quarterback to start in place of Wilson, or a draft pick in the top-10 where they can select a replacement.

I think the message from Schefter is one from the Seahawks. Chicago couldn’t get this done. The other three teams have moved on. So let’s get Miami, Denver and Philadelphia involved otherwise what are we doing here?

That is how I would parse Adam Schefter’s reporting.

I think his reporting is very much from the Seahawks side of this debate currently.

If I had to put money on what will happen, it’d be this:

— Wilson refuses to add teams to his list

— The Seahawks don’t receive a good enough offer from Chicago

— Both parties just carry on awkwardly and we won’t be able to avoid this topic for 12 whole months

That’s why, to me, it’s time for both parties to be really brutally honest with each other in the next two weeks. Serious talks are required.

Either make this trade happen now and move on. Otherwise, you need to renew your vows in the form of a new contract that ends this talk once and for all.

The alternative — a year of media shenanigans, constant questioning over Wilson’s future and the dysfunction that’ll come with it — would be a potential disaster for this franchise.

By the draft the Seahawks and Russell Wilson either have to make this right or they need to go their separate ways.

I’m afraid the more realistic scenario will be they just progress onwards for another year, pretend the last six weeks didn’t happen and we’ll be having these same conversations throughout the regular season and beyond.

The Darnold trade removes another possible option for the Seahawks as a contingency plan. Unless of course the Panthers plan to make a run at Wilson and now have the quarterback replacement to offer Seattle to make it work.

The Seahawks were heavily linked to Darnold at the time Chicago were said to be in the hunt for Wilson. Now — that option has seemingly gone and it’s Scott Fitterer, formerly of Seattle, making the move for the Jets quarterback.

But an unsuitable divorce shouldn’t be an excuse for prolonging the marriage. If they’re going to try and make this work — there needs to be a new commitment.

If you missed my updated horizontal board and draft notes, check it out here.

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Updated horizontal board: 4th April

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

A few weeks ago I posted a horizontal board, breaking down where I personally think players deserve to be graded.

Today I’m posting an update. I’m not sure this will change between now and the end of the month. I’ve studied all of the players and watched more games than in any previous draft class in order to compile this. I’ve also poured over pro-day results and in some cases interviewed players to best assess how this should be structured.

The board is below, followed by some thoughts on the process and notes on individual players. Click the image to enlarge:

Differentiating between grades

I’ve given out 15 first round grades. Quite simply, this is the group of players that in any given year I would feel comfortable projecting in round one. They are not flawless players — far from it. But they have the best chance, in my opinion of succeeding. They have the top traits, the higher ceiling. Some will have legit star potential (Trevor Lawrence, Ja’Marr Chase), others can be projected to be good starters.

The second round grades are given to players who have high upside traits but perhaps lack some of the certainty of the top group. These are players who have displayed physical talent that warrants an early selection. However, they also have either technical flaws or inconsistencies within their game preventing them earning a place in the top group. They may lack experience or play a position of lesser value.

It’s important to note that I would be comfortable drafting players graded in round two within the first frame. This is the dilemma teams face every year. You never get 32 first round graded players. When the top names leave the board, you’re always having to compromise. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable drafting a player with a second round grade in the first. That’s just the process, every year.

The following players are at the top of my round two section (in no particular order): Quinn Meinerz, Jayson Oweh, Teven Jenkins, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Rashawn Slater, the top three running backs, all of the quarterbacks and Dyami Brown.

I have 57 players graded in the first two rounds. Not all of these players will actually be selected in rounds 1-2.

The round three grades are a real mix. It’s a combination of a few things. Extreme physical talent that requires a position change (from tackle to guard or center for example). Players with enticing physical traits but greater question marks in terms of performance, fit or consistency. Players who are ‘solid’ but you question whether they are ‘special’. Good performers in college with physical limitations. Players who slightly underperformed at pro-day. This is also a range where players who were once expected to be first or second round picks have settled into — either due to injury or because they haven’t played or tested.

Round four is also an eclectic mix. In some cases it’s players who underperformed at pro-day and therefore have been dropped a round or two. There are raw players with exciting physical traits who may need a longer time to develop. There are productive, established names within college football who arguably have a lower ceiling. There are role players.

This is admittedly quite a vulgar attempt to record something that is marginally similar to how it’s done in the pro’s — albeit without most of the fine detail, complexity and expertise.

This is how I view the class. If nothing else, it helps us shape opinion as to where players might go, who could deliver value and who might be available to the Seahawks.

Player notes

Dyami Brown (WR, North Carolina)
I have Brown ranked as the fifth best receiver in the draft. He’s incredibly sudden and adept at creating downfield separation to deliver explosive plays. Like most of the top receivers in his size range, Brown knows how to create subtle separation and his acceleration is attractive. He’s not the most reliable catcher but for me he warrants a placing in the early second round. His game is geared towards two things — vertical passing and shorter-range separation to move the chains. Those two things happen to be the most important aspects for his position.

Buddy Johnson (LB, Texas A&M)
This was one big pleasant surprise. Johnson is intense, athletic and built like a machine. He’s the modern day NFL linebacker and while he lacks elite size (6-0, 229lbs) he makes up for it with explosive traits, agility and power. He’s very capable of dropping in space, shifting through the gears to read/react and he can get involved at the line when needed. Watching highlights of his pro-day, he was roared on by his team mates and clearly is very popular. He ran an incredible 4.03 short shuttle which teams will pay attention to. That’s a key test for linebackers. He added a 38.5 inch vertical, a 10-8 broad and a 4.57 forty. He also has 10-inch hands. He is one to watch for sure and could be a steal for someone.

Bobby Brown (DT, Texas A&M)
His tape was by no means consistent but there were enough ‘wow’ moments to put him in round two. His combination of sheer power, agility and length leapt off the screen with flashes of genuine brilliance on tape. He can do everything — control and stack versus the run, swim into the backfield, pursue in space, bull-rush into the backfield. His profile is stunning — 6-4, 321lbs, 35 inch arms, 85.5 inch wingspan, 10.5 inch hands, 4.98 forty, 33 inch vertical, 9-5 broad jump, 4.63 short shuttle. Get him in the building because he has major potential.

Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
I have no issue placing Mond as the #3 quarterback in this class. There are two areas he needs to work on. His footwork on the drop isn’t ideal — he heel-clicks, he takes weird steps and it can and will impact his accuracy. He’s also too robotic for someone so athletic. If he frees himself up he could be a magician. Even so — his whipped release is top notch. He has that ‘flick of the wrist’ velocity which is so attractive. His ability to throw in the pocket with pressure in his face is top level. He greatly improved his consistency and elevated his game during a four-year SEC career. His Senior Bowl week was electric. Some of the throws he delivered in the last two years of his Texas A&M career were ‘wow’ moments. I think he has special qualities and it’s unclear why he’s so underrated by the media.

Kendrick Green (G/C, Illinois)
His lack of great length can cause an issue, with defenders able to evade him and keep their frame clean. However, he’s a truly explosive blocker with superb testing numbers and a physical profile comparable to Quinn Meinerz. As a run blocker he’s impressive and if he shifts inside to center, the lack of length will be less of an issue. He’s a big-time finisher who often finds someone to hammer right before the whistle. You’ll often see him get into a bit of ‘afters’ and he plays with an edge. For any team coveting Quinn Meinerz and missing out, Green could be the consolation prize.

Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
I’m not sure what to make of Bateman. I thought he really excelled in 2019 and there were games where throwing his way meant an automatic conversion. Yet in 2020, you’re just left wondering if he’s ‘special’. You want to see a bit more. I will say this though — teams like the Seahawks, who struggled badly on third downs in 2020, might see some appeal. He is a chain-mover from the slot and he has enough to play outside. Although he’s 25lbs lighter than David Moore, they had almost identical testing numbers:

David Moore
6-0, 215lbs
4.43 40
36.5 inch vertical
10-4 broad
4.38 ss
6.98 3c

Rashod Bateman
6-0, 190lbs
4.43 40
36 inch vertical
10-3 broad
4.35 ss
6.95 3c

Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
I’ve long thought Barmore was overrated by the media. He’s simply been too inconsistent and the way he won at Alabama is not entirely translatable. Physically he is nothing special — running a sluggish 7.81 three cone and a 4.75 short shuttle at 310lbs. He didn’t do any explosive testing and his frame is a little top heavy — so it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be able to anchor. I wouldn’t take him until round three and I think he’ll last longer than many are projecting.

Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
I’ll look beyond his tardiness in missing our interview (despite him actively arranging a specific time/day), requesting to re-arrange then going cold. The fact is running a 4.49 short shuttle at 296lbs is not to be ignored. That’s a fantastic time at a vital position for interior defensive linemen. On top of that, he put up 40 reps on the bench, ran a 4.97 and jumped a 32 inch vertical. Having 32 inch arms likely takes him out of contention for Seattle but he has an outstanding physical profile otherwise.

Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
This was one of the big disappointments of the off-season. At SPARQ, weighing 250lbs, he ran a 4.21 short shuttle. At pro-day, weighing 247lbs, he ran a 4.62. He has sub-33 inch arms, a sub-80 inch wingspan, he only jumped a 30-inch vertical. This is not the profile a top-level NFL tight end. I’m being generous putting him in round four. It’s no wonder the Seahawks were active in signing Gerald Everett. There are hardly any options in this draft.

Robert Rochell (CB, Central Arkansas)
I studied his Senior Bowl reps and let’s be clear — there is a lot of work to be done. He was tentative, unsure of himself and almost looked a little intimidated going up against Kadarius Toney. He needs major technical work. Yet on tape there were few concerns — he looked explosive, long and very capable. His physical profile is outstanding — a 4.38 forty, a 3.98 short shuttle, +32 inch arms, a 41 inch vertical, an 11-8 broad. Teams will fancy their chances of turning him into something.

Anthony Schwartz (WR, Auburn)
I don’t know how the Seahawks intend to play offense this year. They’ve brought in Shane Waldron from the Sean McVay coaching tree. They’ve retained Mike Solari, whose blocking scheme is very different to McVay’s (and they added a Solari guard in Gabe Jackson). We also have Pete Carroll undoubtedly offering his input. If they want to run a lot of misdirection ala McVay with receivers in motion, running across the formation and generally seeking mismatch opportunities — that is how Schwartz was used at Auburn. He also ran a 4.26 forty. Unlike Rondale Moore, who also operated quite a lot in and around the LOS, Schwartz is more adept as a field stretching force (although he lacks Moore’s explosive power and change-of-direction). He could tick a couple of boxes — a downfield threat for Carroll and a motion-man for Waldron. Schwartz definitely suffered with poor quarterback play at Auburn. In the right offense, there’s something to work with.

Thoughts regarding the Seahawks

Although I don’t rate Ethan Pocic, I think it was the right thing to bring him back as a cheap draft hedge. It’s clear the center options in this class are both incredibly enticing yet limited.

I suspect the ideal scenario is someone like Quinn Meinerz, who ticks every box for the Seahawks, will last to #56. However — I think the entire NFL has been caught up in Meinerz-mania and there’s simply no justifiable reason for him to last into the late second round.

I fear that’ll also be the case for Creed Humphrey, another explosive athlete. Josh Myers and Landon Dickerson didn’t test due to injury.

If the centers are gone there could be potential ‘tackle of the future’ candidates — or at least guard/tackle converts. D’Ante Smith has the length they want at tackle, as has Alex Leatherwood and Spencer Brown. The likes of Dillon Radunz, Liam Eichenburg and Sam Cosmi lack outstanding length but all were explosive testers.

Kendrick Green and Brady Christensen could be candidates to convert to center.

Let’s also not completely rule out Damien Lewis moving to centre, affording the Seahawks to draft a guard. That could bring Ben Cleveland and Trey Smith into play. Personally, I love the thought of Cleveland still being an option. The Seahawks don’t have enough size, attitude and raw physicality in the trenches. He would deliver that — even if I’m not a fan of bumping Lewis inside unnecessarily.

If they move off the offensive line there are several receivers who ran in the 4.4’s (Seattle’s threshold at the position). Some players such as Nico Collins simply don’t have the initial burst and suddenness the Seahawks require. Increasingly I wonder if they would consider Tylan Wallace. He lacks some of the shiftiness and raw speed they love but he did run in the 4.4’s and he’s a contested catch specialist — with the most (43) in the FBS over the last three years.

Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Dee Eskridge, Cade Johnson, Shi Smith and Anthony Schwartz all have the testing speed. Johnson did a particularly good job getting open at the Senior Bowl and shares some of Tyler Lockett’s traits. Schwartz is a track-star while Moore is one of the best overall athletes in the draft. Eskridge has raw playmaking quality and Shi Smith brings attitude and consistency.

I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to add to the D-line given the numerous moves they’ve made already. Neither would I expect them to draft yet another linebacker. However, they have shown a sweet tooth for any linebacker running an amazing short shuttle. Buddy Johnson’s 4.03 is right in the ‘irresistible’ bracket in terms of the Seahawks specifically. If they hadn’t taken Jordyn Brooks a year ago we would be talking about him a lot more today.

There are plenty of long, athletic cornerbacks in this draft. The two to keep an eye on might be Benjamin St. Juste and Israel Mukuamu if either is available on day three.

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Introducing the most explosive O-line class in years

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

BYU’s Brady Christensen is the most explosive O-liner we’ve ever tested

Since 2016 I’ve been using something called the ‘Trench Explosion Formula’ to measure explosive traits among offensive linemen.

The formula originated from a town-hall meeting involving Tom Cable. He revealed what is considered to be an ideal physical profile for an offensive lineman.

It included:

— 31-inch vertical jump
— 9-foot broad jump
— 27 reps in the bench press

Using this information we can calculate an explosive physical profile:

1. Vertical ÷ 31
2. Broad ÷ 9, then cube the result
3. Bench ÷ 27
4. Results added together = TEF

Here’s what the ideal (31 — 9 — 27) would look like using this formula:

1. Vertical: 31 ÷ 31 = 1
2. Broad: 9 ÷ 9 = 1, cubed = 1
3. Bench: 27 ÷ 27 = 1
4. Overall score = 3.00

So a prospect achieving the ideal (31 — 9 — 27) will score a 3.00 in TEF.

You may ask why it’s a worthwhile exercise — especially since Cable no longer works for the Seahawks.

There are two distinct trends identified since we started using the formula:

1. League wide, teams will draft explosive offensive linemen earlier

Three years ago, only seven offensive linemen scored an optimal 3.00 or higher in TEF. Of the seven, Quenton Nelson and Kolton Miller were both high first round picks. Braden Smith, Connor Williams and Will Hernandez were second round picks.

In 2019, only eight players scored an optimal 3.00 or higher. This included Chris Lindstrom, Garrett Bradbury, Andre Dillard and Kaleb McGary (all drafted in round one). Erik McCoy and Elgton Jenkins were also top-50 picks.

Last year, again eight players scored a 3.00 or higher. This included first round picks Tristan Wirfs, Austin Jackson and Cesar Ruiz. Ezra Cleveland was a second round pick and Matt Peart was taken in the third.

It’s not a coincidence that the most explosive offensive linemen are being drafted early.

2. The Seahawks in particular, even since Cable’s departure, have targeted explosive offensive linemen in the draft

In the last two years they have selected Damien Lewis (2.97) and Phil Haynes (3.22). Prior to that, they selected a large number of explosive testers including Mark Glowinski (3.34), Justin Britt (3.00) and J.R. Sweezy (3.13).

In fact the evidence showed the Seahawks were specifically targeting the most explosive O-liners every year. When they made the Britt pick in round two for example, most people didn’t understand why. He was a relative unknown. It turns out when they were on the clock, he was the last explosive offensive tackle remaining on the board.

This isn’t to argue that every explosive offensive lineman will be a high pick or that this in any way projects ‘quality of play’. It doesn’t.

The formula is simply designed to assess explosive athleticism, help us compare players and identify possible Seahawks targets.

We also run something called ‘Weighted TEF’ (or w/TEF).

This accounts for bigger players (325lbs or higher for example) having an incredible vertical and broad jump performance despite weighing 20-25lbs more than other O-line prospects.

Weight x TEF x 0.1

2021 is the year of the offensive lineman…

Over the last few years the league has had a major issue finding quality offensive linemen in the draft. It’s something John Schneider has talked about often.

In part this is due to recruiting pressure. The top athletes at High School want to play defensive line. That’s where the stats, the glory and the money comes from.

The top college teams, in an attempt to recruit the best talent, are granting their wishes.

On top of this, the development of the spread offense and non-compliant pro-technique has created a dearth of NFL-ready players and athletes.

The TEF results highlight the issue…

Offensive linemen scoring a 3.00 or more:

2016 — 6
2017 — 3
2018 — 7
2019 — 8
2020 — 8

Defensive linemen scoring a 3.00 or more:

2016 — 26
2017 — 30
2018 — 22
2019 — 24
2020 — 14

However, the 2021 offensive line class is bucking the trend.

2021 TEF results

Standard TEF

Players scoring a 3.00 or higher are in bold…

Brady Christensen — 3.72
Sam Cosmi — 3.57
Kendrick Green — 3.42
Rashawn Slater — 3.37
Spencer Brown — 3.36
Quinn Meinerz — 3.34
Teven Jenkins — 3.33
Alijah Vera-Tucker — 3.31
Drew Dalman — 3.31
Trey Smith — 3.30
Sadarius Hutcherson — 3.29
Creed Humphrey — 3.25
Landon Young — 3.24
Alex Leatherwood — 3.16
Dan Moore — 3.08
Penei Sewell — 3.04
Dillon Radunz — 3.04
Brendan Jaimes — 3.03
Liam Eichenburg — 3.00

D’Ante Smith — 2.97
Robert Hainsey — 2.97
David Moore — 2.95
Walker Little — 2.93
Jaylon Moore — 2.91
Josh Ball — 2.89
Jimmy Morrisey — 2.88
Tristan Hoge — 2.83
Carson Green — 2.80
Kayode Awosika — 2.78
Cole Van Lanen — 2.70
William Sherman — 2.69
Aaron Banks — 2.68
Stone Forsythe — 2.68
Larry Borom — 2.62
James Hudson — 2.48
Alaric Jackson — 2.39
Adrian Ealy — 2.35

Weighted TEF:

Brady Christensen — 112.3
Sam Cosmi — 112.0
Kendrick Green — 107.7
Quinn Meinerz — 106.9
Trey Smith — 105.9
Teven Jenkins — 105.6
Sadarius Hutcherson — 105.6
Spencer Brown — 104.1
Rashawn Slater — 102.4
Alijah Vera-Tucker — 101.9
Creed Humphrey — 101.4
Penei Sewell — 100.6
Landon Young — 100.4
Drew Dalman — 99.0
Alex Leatherwood — 98.6
David Moore — 97.4
Dan Moore — 95.8
Liam Eichenburg — 91.8
Walker Little — 91.7
Dillon Radunz — 91.5
Robert Hainsey — 90.9
D’Ante Smith — 90.5
Jaylon Moore — 90.5
Brendan Jaimes — 90.2
Carson Green — 89.6
Josh Ball — 89.0
Tristan Hoge — 87.8
Jimmy Morrisey — 87.3
Aaron Banks — 87.1
Kayode Awosika — 85.3
Larry Borom — 84.3
Cole Van Lanen — 84.2
Stone Forsythe — 82.3
William Sherman — 81.8
James Hudson — 77.6
Alaric Jackson — 76.7
Adrian Ealy — 76.6

The following players did not participate in full testing and therefore cannot be given a score:

Landon Dickerson
Christian Darrisaw
Josh Myers
Wyatt Davis
Ben Cleveland
Jackson Carmen
Jaylen Mayfield
Deonte Brown
Michal Menet
Drake Jackson
Trey Hill

What the results tell us

— There are 19 players with an ideal, explosive physical profile or higher this year. That’s by far the most since we started using TEF:

2016 — 6
2017 — 3
2018 — 7
2019 — 8
2020 — 8
2021 — 19

— Brady Christensen is the most explosive offensive lineman we’ve ever tested in the formula. Furthermore, 10 members of the 2021 draft class are among the 15 best testers since 2016:

Brady Christensen — 3.72
Iosua Opeta — 3.62
Sam Cosmi — 3.57
Jason Spriggs — 3.54
Braden Smith — 3.52
Tristan Wirfs — 3.47
Kendrick Green — 3.42
Rashawn Slater — 3.37
Spencer Brown — 3.36
Quinn Meinerz — 3.34
Teven Jenkins — 3.33
Alijah Vera-Tucker — 3.31
Drew Dalman — 3.31
Kolton Miller — 3.31
Trey Smith — 3.30

— To put Christensen’s performance into perspective, his 3.72 score is the same as top-10 pick D-liner Ed Oliver’s. Among defensive linemen, only Myles Garrett (4.21), Ben Banogu (4.05), Solomon Thomas (3.83) and Jabari Zuniga (3.76) are more explosive athletes currently playing in the NFL.

— Twelve members of the 2021 draft class are in the top-20 for w/TEF since 2016:

Brady Christensen — 112.3
Sam Cosmi — 112.0
Tristan Wirfs — 111.0
Braden Smith — 110.9
Iousa Opeta — 109.0
Kendrick Green — 107.7
Quinn Meinerz — 106.9
Trey Smith — 105.9
Teven Jenkins — 105.6
Sadarius Hutcherson — 105.6
Spriggs, Jason —- 104.9
Spencer Brown — 104.1
Phil Haynes — 103.7
Isaiah Wilson — 103.6
Austin Jackson — 103.4
Rashawn Slater — 102.4
Alijah Vera-Tucker — 101.9
Creed Humphrey — 101.4
Landon Young — 100.4
John Simpson — 102.7

— Simply put, this is a truly special class of offensive linemen.

Predictions and judgements based on the data

— Rashawn Slater and Alijah Vera-Tucker will be very early picks

— Teven Jenkins could easily go in the top-20

— It’s very possible Quinn Meinerz and Creed Humphrey will go in the top-40

— I think it’s highly unlikely that Sam Cosmi will get out of the top-60

— Brady Christensen and Kendrick Green should experience a sizeable jump in stock

— The medical checks for Trey Smith will be among the most important of any player in Indianapolis because he has a legitimate top-40 physical profile

— Walker Little, Liam Eichenburg and Dillon Radunz are very similar athletically and could all go in a similar range, or at least carry similar grades

— If you want to know why teams like the Raiders were willing to move off ageing, expensive veterans — this draft class is probably why. Expect them to select a couple of O-liners, including with their first pick

What it means for the Seahawks

They have selected a number of the top testers over the years but scoring a 3.00 is not a cut off point.

Players scoring just below the 3.00 threshold have been considered in the past, especially those who then perform well in weighted TEF. This includes Damien Lewis (2.97 & 97.1) and Germain Ifedi (2.97 & 96.1).

The Seahawks seemingly place a lot of value in arm length. It appears that the only offensive lineman they’ve drafted in the Carroll/Schneider era with sub-33 inch arms is Joey Hunt — taken in the sixth round in 2016.

Former Seahawks scout Jim Nagy recently suggested on Twitter that hand-size is more important than arm length at center.

Hunt had 30 inch arms but 10 inch hands.

Therefore, they might be willing to draft a shorter-armed center with big hands. That’s no guarantee though, especially earlier in the draft where they appear more focused on ideals.

At tackle, length seems to be a big factor. Russell Okung and Germain Ifedi both had 36 inch arms. Brandon Shell has 35 inch arms. George Fant has 36 5/8 inch arms.

Duane Brown has 33 1/4 inch arms — so it’s certainly possible it’s not always a big deal. Yet Brown was a proven, established player in the league when they acquired him. In terms of drafting, they’ve never taken an unproven player with that kind of profile to play left tackle.

Rees Odhiambo had 33 1/4 arms too but was drafted to play guard and only really played tackle in an emergency (and he wasn’t successful).

Here are all the players who registered a 2.97 or higher, with their listed arm length and hand size measurements:

Brady Christensen (G/C) — 32 1/4, 10 1/4
Sam Cosmi (T/G) — 33, hand size not known
Kendrick Green (G/C) — 32, 10
Quinn Meinerz (G/C) — 33 3/8, 10 1/8
Rashawn Slater (G) — 33, 10 1/2
Spencer Brown (T) — 34, 10 3/8
Teven Jenkins (T/G) — 33 1/2, 9 1/2
Alijah Vera-Tucker (G) — 32 1/8, 9 1/2
Drew Dalman (C) — 31 1/2, 10 1/2
Trey Smith (G) — 33 5/8, 9 3/4
Sadarius Hutcherson (G) — 32 3/8, 9
Creed Humphrey (C) — 31 3/4, 9 5/8
Landon Young (T/G) — 33 3/4, 10 1/8
Alex Leatherwood (T/G) — 34 1/2, 9 1/2
Dan Moore (G) — 34 1/2, 10 1/8
Dillon Radunz (T/G) — 33 1/4, 9 1/8
Brendan Jaimes (G/C) — 32 3/4, 10
Liam Eichenburg (G) — 32 3/8, 9 5/8
D’Ante Smith (T/G) — 35, 9 7/8
Robert Hainsey (G/C) — 32 1/8, 9 7/8

My takeaway from this is that the Seahawks are probably going to have a major crush on Quinn Meinerz. He has the length they love, he is one of the most explosive offensive linemen to enter the draft in years and he carries those traits with great size.

Unfortunately the rest of the league will be paying attention to this too.

Meinerz’s rise has been compared to that of Ali Marpet in 2015. He was drafted 61st overall after creating buzz at the Senior Bowl as a little-known prospect from Hobart.

He also had length (33 3/8 inch arms) and explosive traits (3.08 TEF, 94.6 w/TEF). However, his profile is nowhere near as good as Meinerz’s (3.41 TEF, 109.1 w/TEF).

Unfortunately, I see virtually no chance Meinerz lasts until the 56th pick. It’s simply not plausible for a player with his profile to last that long. He is a top-50 player in any class and could easily sneak into the top-35.

If they plan to draft a tackle for the future, keep an eye on D’Ante Smith. He has the arm length (35 inches) and the explosive testing (2.97 TEF, 90.5 w/TEF) they look for. He also performed very well at the Senior Bowl.

A lot of the other tackle prospects don’t have the length they seek. Alex Leatherwood and Walker Little could be candidates but based on trends — the other players would be a departure from their previous actions.

At center, if the ‘hand size over arm length’ theory correlates with the Seahawks thinking, the following players could be considered:

Brady Christensen
Kendrick Green
Drew Dalman
Brendan Jaimes
Robert Hainsey

It’s also worth remembering that the likes of Landon Dickerson, Josh Myers and Michal Menet haven’t tested. Myers only has 32 inch arms but 10 3/8 inch hands, while Dickerson has 32 1/2 inch arms and 10 3/8 inch hands.

Menet wasn’t measured.

My feeling on the Seahawks, four weeks out, is as follows:

I think they re-signed Ethan Pocic knowing full well there was a chance the top centers wouldn’t be available. With the way Meinerz and Humphrey tested, plus the general reputation and quality of Dickerson and Myers, it may not be possible to draft a center at #56.

It’s not impossible but perhaps it is increasingly unlikely.

Retaining Pocic gives them a necessary hedge. Now, they can potentially wait until round four — or trade down from #56 — before taking a player such as Brady Christensen or Kendrick Green (who has experience at center).

Green is a player to keep in mind. He plays with real aggression and purpose. He also has a similar testing profile to Meinerz, just minus the arm length. It’s plausible the Seahawks see him as a cheaper version and someone they might be able to target in rounds three or four, assuming Meinerz is off the board at #56.

If they stay at #56 or trade down a few spots, things might be trending towards selecting a receiver first. They haven’t replaced Phillip Dorsett, David Moore or Josh Gordon with any kind of hedge so far. That could happen in the next four weeks but it’s at least worth noting.

This is such a loaded class at receiver, with multiple options.

An ideal scenario is probably Quinn Meinerz first, then a receiver second. A more realistic scenario is a receiver first, followed by a center project (Kendrick Green) in rounds three or four after some manoeuvring.

When I publish my updated, horizontal board — I will discuss some of the receivers who could be considered.

This is assuming the Seahawks stick to their trends. I would never rule out selecting a 33-inch-armed left tackle of the future, or a non-ideal explosive tester.

However, trends do point us in the right direction more often than not. It’s why we’ve been able to identify so many potential Seahawks players over the years. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Even when there are occasional exceptions.

And if you’re wondering if they still pay attention to this, especially since appointing Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator, it’s worth noting that Gabe Jackson is 335lbs and scored a 3.05 in TEF plus a 102.5 in w/TEF.

If you missed my Talkin’ Seahawks podcast appearance with Joe Fann yesterday, you can check it out here:

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Talkin’ Seahawks with Joe Fann & thoughts on the top-10

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

This week I was invited onto Joe Fann’s ‘Talkin’ Seahawks’ podcast. We had a good conversation about Jamal Adams, the off-season and how I came to follow (and ultimately write about) the team.

Check it out here:

I also wanted to share some thoughts on the top-10 picks.

I think we’re starting to gain some clarity on what’s going to happen at certain spots and how this will ultimately shape the rest of the draft.

#1 Jacksonville Jaguars

This is straight forward. They will select Trevor Lawrence.

#2 New York Jets

Short of any medical issues, they will select Zach Wilson. He had a surgically repaired shoulder and players will soon travel to Indianapolis for medicals. Provided everything checks out, Wilson will be the pick here.

#3 San Francisco 49ers

I think this is nailed on to be Mac Jones. Kyle Shanahan’s offense doesn’t call for off-script improv. Not in the slightest. He wants to call the plays, he wants you to read the defender he isolates and execute. There’s a difference between a bootleg and backyard football. Justin Fields and Trey Lance don’t process anywhere near as well as Jones and they don’t throw with the same anticipation either. Fields in particular is better playing off-script, not within structure. Jones is the ideal fit for what Shanahan wants. Remember — his offense in Atlanta in 2016 was virtually unstoppable with Matt Ryan (the MVP) simply executing. Jones will win the locker room over quickly (just ask DeVonta Smith & Jaylen Waddle for their thoughts on Jones over Tua). They went and got their guy and to be honest, I’d be a lot more fearful of someone who can execute Shanahan’s genius rather than a superior, flashier athlete.

#4 Atlanta Falcons

I think this comes down to two players — Kyle Pitts and Trey Lance. To cut or trade Matt Ryan next year will cost Atlanta $40m. So they are tied to him for at least two more seasons. For me, the best thing to do would be to draft Pitts at #4 and then take Kellen Mond with your second selection. However, if the Falcons see this as a rare opportunity to pick a quarterback in the top-five to set themselves up long term, they could select Lance and sit him until 2023. I think the smart move is clearly Pitts and new GM Terry Fontenot insists they’ll take the best player on the board. Plus I think Lance only warrants a placing similar to Jordan Love a year ago.

#5 Cincinatti Bengals

The Bengals are going to draft Ja’Marr Chase. Book it. It’s as nailed on as the top-three picks.

#6 Miami Dolphins

Reportedly the Dolphins are avoiding players who held out of the 2020 season. That makes Penei Sewell unlikely. If Kyle Pitts is still on the board, he’s a strong option. The two Alabama receivers — DeVonta Smith & Jaylen Waddle — are strong options too. However — I still think Patrick Surtain is also a possibility. This is a deep receiver class and with #18 and two second rounders, the Dolphins can wait if they want to. Xavien Howard’s days are numbered in Miami and Tony Pauline recently indicated the Dolphins are planning to take a corner early. Some people view Surtain as one of the top four or five players in the draft, with a low floor and decent ceiling. So I think this pick comes down to Pitts, Smith, Waddle or Surtain.

#7 Detroit Lions

This seems like another cast-iron lock. The Lions are desperate at receiver and will select one of DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.

#8 Carolina Panthers

All the talk was about a powerplay for Deshaun Watson but that’s not happening now. I wonder if the Panthers will kick the can down the road at quarterback. They could take Justin Fields but I sense Matt Rhule and David Tepper want proven experience. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took Penei Sewell here to play left tackle and revisited the Watson situation down the line. Patrick Surtain could also be a consideration, or Rashawn Slater.

#9 Denver Broncos

They could go quarterback but I’m just not sure it’s what the new GM will want to do. You have to be really convinced if you’re going to attach yourself to a quarterback with your first pick. I think they will trade down and target linebackers in the mid-teens. I think New England will have their eye on Justin Fields as an ideal transition project from Cam Newton. I have them moving up to get him.

#10 Dallas Cowboys

The consensus seems to be cornerback for Dallas — meaning either Patrick Surtain or if he’s off the board, Jaycee Horn. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they looked at Rashawn Slater to play guard or one of the top-two pass rushers (Azeez Olujari, Jaelen Phillips).

Other notes…

— I’m going to be publishing TEF results for the 2021 O-line class in the next couple of days. No spoilers here but I can tell you this is by far the most explosive group of offensive linemen we’ve ever covered.

— I’ve also updated my horizontal board and will be publishing the new version within the next few days.

— Teven Jenkins secured a place in the first round with his pro-day today. He measured with 33.5 inch arms (longer than expected) and jumped a 32.5 inch vertical. He also delivered the quote of the off-season. I would draft him for that answer alone.

— I didn’t expect Chubba Hubbard to weigh in at 210lbs and jump a 36 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad. I still don’t think he’s a Seahawks ‘type’ of running back but this combination of size and explosive testing warrants further study.

I shared more thoughts on the top-10, the Seahawks and a lot more in a live stream Q&A I did yesterday, which also featured Robbie and I discussing the Tyler Lockett news. If you missed it, check it out here:

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Seahawks sign Tyler Lockett to big extension

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

If you missed it earlier, here’s a re-run of the live stream I did with Robbie reacting to the Tyler Lockett news. Plus, I did a 30-minute solo Q&A after…

“Tyler’s been a great Seahawk”

Those were the words of Pete Carroll, when Lockett signed his last extension in 2018.

Several times over the years, Carroll has made reference to his fit within Seattle’s culture.

It shouldn’t be any surprise. All Lockett has done since entering the league in 2015 is produce. He has delivered big numbers, key plays and a level of consistency which remains highly underrated within the wider NFL.

Further to that, you never hear anything negative about him. He never complains. He’s never in the news for the wrong reasons.

Tyler Lockett is the perfect player for a coach.

One of the silliest debates during this off-season was whether the Seahawks would trade Lockett to recoup draft stock. It was never, ever going to happen.

Quite aside from the impact it would have on an already troubled relationship with the franchise quarterback, or the already thin depth at receiver, there was no chance Seattle was going to send Lockett to play somewhere else.

He is too treasured, too reliable, practically too perfect to move.

You might say this is too expensive. However, you need to look at where the receiver market is.

Here are the league leaders in average salary:

DeAndre Hopkins — $27.25m
Julio Jones — $22m
Keenan Allen — $20m
Michael Thomas — $19m
Odell Beckham — $18m
Kenny Golladay — $18m
Tyreek Hill — $18m
Allen Robinson — $16.5m
Mike Evans — $16.5m
Robert Woods — $16.25m
Brandin Cooks — $16m

We don’t know the structure of Lockett’s contract yet but $69m divided by four is $17.25m. It’s hardly unfair to place him, fresh off a new deal, somewhere between Golladay and Brandin Cooks.

The market simply dictates the value and that’s what he is worth.

No doubt this will be structured to save money this year and maybe there will be outs down the line — or the contract will be structured to coincide with an increase in revenue as the NFL economy recovers post-Covid.

But there was never any chance of Lockett leaving Seattle — via trade or free agency next year.

This was inevitable, it is deserved and the key for the Seahawks now is to make sure they take some of the pressure off Lockett and D.K. Metcalf in 2021 by adding a proper third weapon to the arsenal.

Keep an eye out for Joe Fann’s latest podcast dropping tomorrow. I was invited on and had a great chat with Joe about a number of topics.

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The Sam Darnold situation is… maybe worth discussing?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

Sam Darnold has been linked to the Seahawks

At the height of the Russell Wilson-to-Chicago talks, Sam Darnold’s name emerged as a candidate to replace Wilson in Seattle.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quoted a NFL GM linking Darnold to the Seahawks. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News cited a source, claiming Pete Carroll ‘has a high opinion of Darnold’ and that people should ‘keep an eye on Seattle’.

Days earlier, Colin Cowherd also made the connection.

Some have been very dismissive of this talk.

Yet there’s likely a reason Darnold’s name was doing the rounds.

Given the Seahawks were reportedly talking to Chicago about a Wilson trade, only for Carroll to eventually turn down the Bears offer, it’s hardly a stretch that contingency plans were made and that Darnold was considered.

There’s too much smoke here to write it off completely.

And clearly, as has been reported by Adam Schefter and others, any potential Wilson move has to come with the Seahawks gaining a viable replacement.

Chicago’s offer, perhaps, came at the wrong time.

Two weeks ago when all this Wilson trade talk was bubbling, several teams remained prospective suitors for Darnold. Since then, San Francisco has traded up to #3, Washington has signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chicago has added Andy Dalton.

It’s not exactly clear who would take Darnold at this stage, leaving the Jets in a not too favourable position. Especially given the world knows they’re set to take Zach Wilson with the second pick.

Then, this report emerged yesterday:

It shouldn’t be a surprise, really.

Who is trading for Darnold?

He pretty much has no market.

It led to this half damage limitation, half ‘please make us an offer’ response from the Jets, courtesy of ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

So why is this relevant to the Seahawks?

Where as two weeks ago it might’ve meant the Bears giving the Jets a second round pick to include Darnold in a deal — or the Seahawks offering #56 — now it’s possible a third or maybe even a conditional fourth rounder gets this done.

If that’s the case, it makes it much easier to include Darnold in some kind of package. It makes a trade much more likely than it did two weeks ago.

That doesn’t mean anything will happen — or that Darnold was anything more than a possible option which has since been rejected.

It’s just something worth keeping in mind as we count down the days to the draft.

Personally, I’m not sure it’s possible to create a deal that suits all parties. Chicago not owning a high pick, plus the need to include a third party, makes it incredibly tricky.

I do think, however, that the lack of a viable proposal is probably the only reason why this hasn’t happened already.

So it comes down to whether a trade can be presented between now and the end of April, that does work. Again, I’m very doubtful. But I’m also not going to completely ignore the NFL’s #1 insider when he says this:

A lot of fans might be wishing into reality that everything is hunky dory now. If it was, the Seahawks would’ve restructured Wilson’s contract — the ultimate sign of a marriage that won’t be broken this year or next.

Or he would’ve signed an extension. Or they would’ve spoken publicly, to nip this in the bud.

Neither party has come out and explicitly stated that this relationship is continuing. It feels like everyone’s keeping their options open.

Filling obvious holes at left guard and at defensive end isn’t a move to appease Wilson as much as it’s a move to build a team. It’s not really indicative of anything. Neither are a few tweets from Wilson celebrating returning team mates. After all, he’s still Seattle’s quarterback. Why not welcome back people he’ll need to work closely with if he does indeed stick around?

After all — I don’t think Wilson pines to leave Seattle. I think he wants to stay but with the team doing things differently. With less control from the Head Coach. You can make a strong argument that he’s right to feel that way. You can also make a strong argument to suggest Carroll won’t consider it — which is why we’ve had to endure the last two months of drama.

There’s no rush for the Seahawks now that the meat of free agency is complete.

They need to work out whether Wilson is willing to extend his list of trade suitors. Recent reports suggest he’s not adding to the initial four. Yet with Deshaun Watson almost certainly un-trade-able for now, you have to wonder if the Dolphins, Panthers and Eagles at least test the water.

Could they sell Wilson on a deal? I think it’s pretty unlikely but you never truly know.

And let’s be right — picking at #6, #8, #12 or #18 instead of #20 is more appealing.

Alternatively, the Seahawks may get another call from the Bears. Can they work Darnold into a package? Can they manufacture a way to move up the board, to offer Seattle a more attractive pick in round one?

Are they willing to wait until the start of the draft to confirm a deal, affording them the opportunity to include 2024 picks (something they’re unable to do currently)?

Or is there a chance, finally, for both Wilson and the Seahawks to come together and put things right and move forward for the long term?

I actually think that is the least likely scenario at the moment. Tony Pauline’s recent report painted a picture of a couple knowing their futures were heading in separate directions. Several people close to Mark Rodgers insist this is Wilson’s last contract in Seattle, meaning it’s best for the Seahawks to max out his value while they can.

Putting two and two together — Carroll was presented with an offer, negotiated by John Schneider and Ryan Pace after talking and then meeting at the North Dakota State pro-day — to trade Wilson. Carroll rejected it.

To me that implies Schneider was at least comfortable with the offer, otherwise he wouldn’t have pitched it to Carroll. I suspect that Schneider has had his fill of Mark Rodgers and feels, maybe, it’s time to move on. Get the picks back he’s missing in the next couple of drafts, add a quarterback and build. That’s what GM’s do.

Alternatively, Carroll (ever the optimist) might be backing himself to make things right. It will be his decision, ultimately, on whether to move on. Remember the comment from Mike Silver that suggested if Paul Allen were still with us, Wilson probably would’ve been traded by now? That to me also lends itself to a situation where the front office and Carroll might have a difference of opinion here.

This could also be why Schefter is warning not to rule anything out just yet. It could come down to whether Carroll is presented with a scenario with which he is comfortable — with Schneider, perhaps, fully prepared to move on.

Whether that’s with picks plus Darnold, or with a quarterback in this draft.

And despite the world telling you that all the quarterbacks will go quickly, or that there’s little chance of Justin Fields or Trey Lance falling — I’d encourage people to investigate, watch tape on the pair, study their footwork, anticipation, and ability to process and make up your own minds.

I don’t think it’s totally out of the question Mac Jones goes at #3 and Fields and Lance last a bit longer than most expect.

Personally, I think Kellen Mond has a lot to offer. He can improvise more with his athletic profile and his footwork on his drop needs work — but aside from that his release, anticipation, accuracy and ability to throw under pressure is of a high level. He also has a lot more starting experience (four years at Texas A&M) and he performed very strongly at the Senior Bowl.

Unlike a lot of people, I’ve also taken the time to study Darnold — watching six games from 2019/20. You can read my thoughts here but again — check him out yourself on GamePass (they have all-22) and make your own call.

Either way — this is a situation with Wilson that warrants monitoring, discussing and not dismissing.

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Seahawks free agency review & assessment

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Kerry Hyder — one of Seattle’s solid free agent additions

With limited resources, a difficult financial climate and multiple key needs — the Seahawks have arguably done as much as they could in free agency.

They avoided another months-long saga regarding the pass rush by re-signing Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, while adding Kerry Hyder.

Losing Jarran Reed, a player who recorded 17 sacks from defensive tackle in 2018 and 2020 combined, might be a bigger issue than people think. Yet ultimately this team needs edge pressure and it looks like they found it.

They’ve upgraded at left guard, which was the position Pete Carroll singled out at the end of last season. They’ve added a tight end who at least has the potential to operate as an effective #3 target for the quarterback.

Those are the key moves. I think the jury’s out on whether Ahkello Witherspoon can be an effective starter. Chris Carson also needs to prove he can lead the rushing attack, after a 2020 season where the Seahawks had to mother him to the playoffs.

Overall when you look at the roster, the Seahawks have likely avoided any regression.

They appear on a trajectory where they will win about 10 games, which has been the norm with Russell Wilson at quarterback (although his future, at least according to Adam Schefter, is not entirely secure). With a bit of luck here and there they can win more than 10 games, as we saw in 2020.

A playoff place is in their sights.

There are two questions still to be answered though.

Are they capable of advancing on the last four years, where they only have one playoff win?

What are the long term prospects for a team that has been very much built for today and not tomorrow?

On the first point, it’s hard to say with any real confidence that the Seahawks have taken a step forward. Much will depend on the ability of the defense to perform adequately as they did in the second half of last season, albeit against some poor opponents.

In conjunction, the hope will be that Shane Waldron can deliver a consistent offense that is better equipped and capable of adapting when necessary.

It has to be hope rather than expectation currently. There’s no reason not to believe it can’t happen but Waldron has never called plays before. It also remains to be seen how his vision for the offense will mesh with Pete Carroll’s and whether the hybrid they’re left with can function on a high level.

We’ll not know the answer until September and beyond.

There are a couple of other question marks offensively.

For the last two years, Seattle’s running back depth has been severely tested. They ended the 2019 season starting Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer. In 2020, they preferred to bring guys in off the couch (Bo Scarborough, Alex Collins) rather than start Deejay Dallas when Carson and Carlos Hyde were hurt.

With Carson so far unable to deliver a full season of consistent power-running and with Rashaad Penny still a mystery, this feels like a glass vase of a positional group. It looks pretty good at the moment but a little nudge and it’s in pieces on the floor.

At receiver, you need multiple options. Not just game-to-game but in case of injuries. Currently the Seahawks rely far too much on D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and the rest of their depth is poor. While Everett could effectively be their #3 — in LA he wasn’t able to take on that role and Seattle under Carroll has struggled to feature the tight end in the passing game.

From last season the Seahawks have lost prospective targets Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon, plus David Moore, Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister. Their only addition so far is Everett.

Ideally the Seahawks would be able to tap into another vibrant receiver draft class to find a dynamic #3. They may do so with pick #56. Yet their limited options make this a difficult prospect, especially with a couple of other areas that also need addressing.

Regarding the future, it’s impossible to be serious about this team and not express some concern.

At the end of the 2021 season, the following players will all be out of contract:

Duane Brown
Brandon Shell
Ethan Pocic
Tyler Lockett
Gerald Everett
Quandre Diggs
Jamal Adams
Ahkello Witherspoon
DJ Reed
Rashaad Penny
Michael Dickson

On top of this, several key backups or depth players are also out of contract.

At the moment, Seattle only has 25 contracted players for 2022. And while it’s true they have an estimated $72.7m to spend at the moment, that will soon evaporate when you start retaining or replacing the names above.

For example, if Jamal Adams signs a big new extension — you might have to wipe off a minimum of $18m immediately. They might structure his contract to avoid such a big hit in 2022 but the point still stands. That commitment alone will set you back to a high extent.

The simple fact is that at every key position apart from quarterback, the Seahawks have a big question mark beyond the 2021 season.

Meanwhile, they don’t have the draft picks this year to start planning ahead. Plus, they currently won’t have a first round pick next year either.

This isn’t just a case of being too aggressive, simply to try and max-out the here and now through the Adams trade.

It’s also a misuse of resources over a period of time.

Seattle hasn’t drafted well in years. You need to use the draft to build a foundation.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, the two most recent Super Bowl winners, are a good example.

They are in equal parts constructed through the draft and free agency.

For every Tom Brady, Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett there’s a Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, both starting linebackers, most of their offensive line, an entire secondary, Vita Vea and Ronald Jones.

In Kansas City, they too had drafted their line and weapons. Obviously they selected the quarterback plus Chris Jones to provide interior pressure. They complemented everything by signing Tyrann Mathieu and trading for Frank Clark.

Seattle’s inability to draft well has prevented their intelligent veteran moves — the Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs trades for example — elevating them to a new level.

The 2017 draft was poor and a missed opportunity but let’s just isolate the last three drafts, right at the start of the reset in 2018.

The Seahawks drafted 28 players between 2018-2020.

How many hits have they had?

D.K. Metcalf for sure. Michael Dickson has been a success.

Ugo Amadi has been a decent role player while injury seems to have robbed Will Dissly of a chance to be a truly effective tight end.

It’s too early to judge the 2020 group fully but Damien Lewis showed a lot of promise as a rookie while Jordyn Brooks and Alton Robinson played in flashes.

That’s it though. That’s your lot from 28 drafted players.

They’ve used first round picks on Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier and Brooks. They spent a second and a third round pick on Darrell Taylor. Marquise Blair was taken at #47 after trading down from the end of the first round.

They also spent day two picks on Rasheem Green and Cody Barton.

This is where the Seahawks needed to create their foundation. When you consider they’ve also already spent their next two first round picks and a third rounder this year on Adams (who is out of contract after this season) — you realise how little bang they’ve got for their buck.

This roster has had, essentially, six first round picks spent on it since the 2018 draft. And they haven’t got one sure-fire long term building block.

The Seahawks have squandered top picks on a backup running back and a backup defensive end. Brooks showed some promise in 2020 but he’s still a first round investment at the WILL linebacker position.

Things like the Taylor trade-up — completely risky with little reasoning other than desperation — are what has put the Seahawks in a situation where they are having to think so short term it’s unreal.

Even just taking the picks spent on Penny, Collier, Blair and Taylor — these are premium resources. You’re talking about essentially three first round picks, a second and a third.

Had the Seahawks done a better job here — some of the long term question marks would’ve been answered.

Nevertheless, the draft is an annual event. There’s always a chance to put things right.

If they had all seven native picks this year, they could realistically draft a left tackle for the future — to replace Brown in 2022 or 2023. They could draft another receiver. They could draft a cornerback.

Yet their inability to do a better job is likely what inspired them to make the Adams trade. They’ve thrown more picks and money at one ‘impact’ player, to make up for the wasted picks of the last few years.

So now they just have #56 and #129 (plus a throwaway seventh rounder).

So the opportunity to put down some roots simply isn’t there.

What happens if Brown retires at the end of the upcoming season? You have no first rounder in 2022. Is it back to the days of Bradley Sowell and Rees Odhiambo?

If you draft a left tackle at #56 this year, are you comfortable starting with Freddie Swain as your third receiver and Ethan Pocic as your starting center?

You’ve got to have some long-term planning in the NFL. There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive and pro-active. Yet getting yourself into a situation where numerous key positions are a mystery beyond this year with limited resource to address those pending needs is a recipe for trouble.

It’ll mean more short-term scotch-taping of a roster when you need to be drafting and harnessing your core, not trying to manufacture it with cheap one and two year deals in free agency and via trade.

The Seahawks found themselves in a similar situation in 2019. They had four draft picks and needed to put down some roots.

They ultimately opted to trade Frank Clark to regain stock and save money. They didn’t make best use of the Clark trade but they acknowledged they had to try and create resource and project ahead.

With that in mind, I still think there’s at least a reasonable possibility something significant will happen before the draft.

Trading Clark wasn’t conducive to immediate success two years ago. They tried to work around his departure by drafting Collier, signing Ziggy Ansah and then trading for Jadeveon Clowney.

There are really only three players you can project as similar candidates for a deal this year.

Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams.

Losing any of the three wouldn’t be ideal. Yet neither was it ideal to lose Clark.

At least, in the case of Wagner and Adams, there are players on the roster who could step in. They spent a first round pick on Jordyn Brooks and a second round pick on Marquise Blair after all.

With renewed stock, they could also look to the draft or the veteran market to add at either position too.

But this is also why a Wilson trade also remains something we should take seriously, rather than writing it off as a total non-starter.

Adam Schefter was again on ESPN following the big 49ers/Dolphins/Eagles trade fest referencing how he wouldn’t rule anything out.

Not to mention, Tony Pauline suggested the Seahawks are ready to move on from Wilson. Which, let’s be fair, wouldn’t be a totally unsurprising stance given the now annual Mark Rodgers-inspired drama.

Do they want to do this again in 12 months? Or right up until whenever the divorce occurs? Probably not.

If the Seahawks can manufacture a way to acquire a quarterback they are comfortable with — Sam Darnold for example — and gain a boat-load of picks for the next three years, they will be much better equipped to tackle the pending unknown that casts a shadow over the roster from 2022 onwards.

I’m not saying for a second this is my preference. Anyone who has read my near 5000-word Seahawks off-season plan knows that I would prefer to build around Wilson, saving money on Wagner and Adams instead and creating draft stock this year and next.

But I also know two other things:

1. Adam Schefter doesn’t report nonsense

2. The Seahawks require a solution to some long-term problems at several key positions

Just as trading Clark replenished stock and enabled Seattle to try and fill some needs, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility they will consider moving Wilson to create $37m in 2022 cap space while adding first round picks this year and next, plus in 2023.

From there, they could potentially trade down and draft for the center and left tackle positions. Or they could look at receiver and cornerback. Or they could add at all four, depending on what they get done and how the board falls.

Suddenly, you’re looking at a future where you have some building blocks in place and you have money/picks to use. Yes — they’d have to do a far better job at using the resources. That’s going to need to be the case anyway whether they have three picks or 10 picks this year.

It would come at the cost of losing a franchise quarterback. Yet here’s something to remember:

— In 2015 the Broncos won Super Bowl with a highly ineffective Peyton Manning at quarterback, spelling with Brock Osweiler

— In 2017 it was Nick Foles vs Case Keenum in the NFC Championship game, before Foles went on to win the Super Bowl while being named MVP

— Also in 2017, Blake Bortles was minutes away from winning the AFC Championship game with the Jaguars

— In 2018 and 2019, Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo were the two quarterbacks representing the NFC in the Super Bowl

— Also in 2019, Ryan Tannehill played in the AFC Championship game

— Go a little further back into history and note that Eli Manning won two Super Bowls and Joe Flacco one other

Indeed when the Seahawks won their Super Bowl, they did so with a third round rookie starting at quarterback — and Wilson, although talented — was not at the time playing at a level of a top-five signal caller.

Meanwhile, leading NFL quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees — consistently in the MVP race — have only won a Super Bowl each.

Can we honestly sit here and say the key to being a legit contender is having a top-five quarterback, earning top-five quarterback money? Because while it’s been enthralling to watch Wilson over the years — this hasn’t translated to playoff success. Not in the slightest.

Part of me wonders if San Francisco’s bold, aggressive trade up to #3 is an acceptance that they’re better off having a cheap quarterback for the next five years who can operate the Kyle Shanahan offense (Mac Jones) to complement a deep overall roster.

Let me be clear again. I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I’m not predicting a Wilson trade will happen. I’m just presenting a scenario and talking through the options. I think we need to have conversations like this.

Building a more rounded team, with a cheaper quarterback with fewer demands, might be appealing to the Seahawks.

And even if it doesn’t happen this year — it could well happen in 2022.

I’m sure the reaction to this will be a mix of people in agreement and others getting very angry — because any challenge to the Seahawks is seen as a personal affront to some. Talking about Wilson’s future is consistently referred to as clickbait hysteria — even on a free blog with no adverts.

To summarise, I think Seattle has done a reasonable job in free agency to address needs and they are unlikely to regress in 2021. I also think there’s little reason to feel like they’ve taken a step forward or are more equipped to avoid another early playoff defeat.

Which I suppose begs the question — how many times do you need to see a movie sequel before you realise a few of the actors are different but it’s the same story?

There are also some serious questions about the roster beyond this season.

And the only obvious way to answer those questions is to do something uncomfortable between now and the end of April.

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New mock draft: 27th March (post 49ers/Miami/Philly trades)

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

Mac Jones’ Hasselbeck-bod could be heading to the NFC West

Following Friday’s day of drama, I thought I’d join the millions of others rushing to put out another mock draft.

To recap — the 49ers traded up from #12 to #3 in order to position themselves to get a quarterback. Miami, having traded down to #12, then struck a deal with the Eagles to move back up to #6.

Here are a few notes before getting into a two-round mock:

— When thinking about what the 49ers might do, consider the following. Kyle Shanahan has predominantly had success with Matt Schaub, Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan. They traded for Jimmy Garoppolo. They passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. The scrambling, creative, improvising quarterbacks have not been Shanahan’s style. The players capable of staying on schedule, playing within structure and distributing the ball quickly and on time are the ones he’s gone with. A lot of people might not want to believe this but when you really think about it, Mac Jones could easily be their guy.

— Why would you trade so much to get up to #3 for Jones? Consider that many people, such as Mike Tannenbaum, have been saying that the feeling is Jones’ floor was #8 and the Panthers. If you truly believe Jones is the guy you can win with — and you know you have to trade into the top-seven — you might as well just go to #3 and make sure you get him. If you believe in a quarterback strongly enough to take them in the top-10, you clearly believe they are franchise-QB material. So while it seems expensive, is it really if you think you’ve found ‘the guy’?

— According to Tony Pauline, the Dolphins are planning to avoid players who held out of the 2020 season. Personally I think they moved back into the top-six because it was representative of where they think the elite talent stretches to in this class. The money is on them taking a receiver or Penei Sewell. I’m not so sure.

— I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Trey Lance and Justin Fields. I’m not saying for a second they are bad players. But I just cannot project them as high as some currently do. Fields has significant technical floors. From the long stride he makes on delivery to his elongated motion. The inability to process and progress through reads at a high level. That’s a problem. With Lance, he has minimal starts and he too carries technical issues which impacts his accuracy. He doesn’t throw with anticipation in the way some of the other QB’s in this class do.

— The Panthers apparently want to hit a home run at quarterback. Here’s the issue though. With the Deshaun Watson situation increasingly making it look like he won’t be dealt pre-draft, Russell Wilson having no interest in the Panthers and the top QB’s expected to go 1-2-3 — Carolina might have to accept their fate and kick the can down the road to next year.

— I’ve included four more trades in this projection. I have the Patriots moving from #15 to #9 in a deal with the Broncos. I have the Jets and Dolphins also trading back into round one. I have the Panthers trading into the back-end of round two with the Packers trading down.

As usual I’ve written out the mock in list form first, with thoughts on each pick to follow…

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
#3 San Francisco (v/MIA, HOU) — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
#4 Atlanta — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
#6 Miami (v/PHI) — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
#7 Detroit — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#8 Carolina — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
#9 New England (v/DEN) — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
#10 Dallas — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
#11 New York Giants — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
#12 Philadelphia (v/SF, MIA) — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
#13 LA Chargers — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
#14 Minnesota — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
#15 Denver (v/NE) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
#16 Arizona — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
#17 Las Vegas — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
#18 Miami — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
#19 Washington — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
#20 Chicago — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
#21 Indianapolis — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Kelvin Joseph (CB, Kentucky)
#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
#26 Cleveland — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
#27 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
#28 New York Jets (v/NO) — Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
#29 Green Bay — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
#30 Buffalo — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
#31 Miami (v/KC) — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
#32 Tampa Bay — Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
#34 New Orleans (v/NYJ) — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
#35 Atlanta — Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
#36 Kansas City (v/MIA, HOU) — Quinn Meinerz (G/C, UWW)
#37 Philadelphia — Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
#38 Cincinnati — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
#39 Carolina — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#40 Denver — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
#41 Detroit — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
#42 New York Giants — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
#43 San Francisco — Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)
#44 Dallas — Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
#46 New England — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
#47 LA Chargers — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
#48 Las Vegas — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
#49 Arizona — Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
#50 Miami — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
#51 Washington — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
#52 Chicago — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
#53 Tennessee — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
#54 Indianapolis — Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
#55 Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins (T, Oklahoma State)
#56 Seattle — Alex Leatherwood (G/T, Alabama)
#57 LA Rams — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
#58 Baltimore — Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
#59 Cleveland — Payton Turner (DE, Houston)
#60 New Orleans — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
#61 Buffalo — Tommy Tremble (TE, Notre Dame)
#62 Carolina (v/GB) — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
#63 Kansas City — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
#64 Tampa Bay — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)

A thought on each pick…

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

Even despite Zach Wilson’s mind-blowing pro-day, the Jaguars are clearly set on Trevor Lawrence being their guy.

#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
He showed he’s a special talent. The problem for the Jets now is getting value for Sam Darnold.

#3 San Francisco (v/MIA, HOU) — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
A lot of people will freak out but the reality is Jones fits the Shanahan offense better than the remaining options here.

#4 Atlanta — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
New GM Terry Fontenot said they would take the best player available here. That’s Pitts.

#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Of course, the offensive line is an issue for the Bengals. But reuniting Joe Burrow with the player he enjoyed so much success with has to be tempting?

#6 Miami (v/PHI) — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
Some teams are going to view Surtain as an elite-level player. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dolphins went in this direction here.

#7 Detroit — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
This could be Jaylen Waddle too. But when you’re desperate for a receiver and the player who dominated college football is available, it’ll be hard to pass.

#8 Carolina — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
If the Panthers have to punt on addressing the QB position pre-draft, this is a nice consolation prize.

#9 New England (v/DEN) Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
Fields shares a lot of similarities to Cam Newton. This would be an ideal transition for the Patriots, who move up to make sure they get their guy.

#10 Dallas — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
He looks like a Greek God of a cornerback. Incredibly put together. Dominated Auburn’s Seth Williams.

#11 New York Giants — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
I’m not as sold on Slater as some others but plenty think he’s a top-10 prospect. I think he’ll make a good guard.

#12 Philadelphia (v/SF, MIA) — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
What do the Eagles love at receiver? Pure speed.

#13 LA Chargers — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
He’s fast and explosive with a dynamic burst to threaten the edge and the balance to straight and attack the quarterback. He has long arms. He could be special.

#14 Minnesota — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
Phillips was once a major recruiting superstar and has natural talent to get after the quarterback. Few players have his upside in this draft.

#15 Denver (v/NE) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
Highly explosive and dynamic — a true first round talent. He can jump a 39-inch vertical and a 10-3 broad jump.

#16 Arizona — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
The profile is there but he reminds me a bit of Eugene Monroe. Can he be arsed to be great?

#17 Las Vegas — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
He’s just a class act. He has short arms so will kick inside but his explosive testing will be right up Tom Cable’s street.

#18 Miami — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
There are some character question marks that could lead to a bit of a fall.

#19 Washington — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
I’ve said for a while that Lance warrants a grade similar to Jordan Love. This is the range I think he should go in.

#20 Chicago — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
Incredible player. Sturdy, explosive and fast. He ran a 4.35 at pro-day.

#21 Indianapolis — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
The Colts love an insane physical profile and while Paye is rough around the edges, he has a high ceiling.

#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
He only ran a 5.03 forty at SPARQ but when you put on the tape he jumps off the screen. He looks like a first rounder.

#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Kelvin Joseph (CB, Kentucky)
They’ve added some pass rushers so they might pivot here to cornerback and O-line.

#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
He had a record 0.48 broken tackles per rush attempt in 2020, registered 7.0 YPC and 4.59 yards-after-contact per carry. He’s exceptional.

#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
There’s been talk that his main passion in life might be a music career.

#26 Cleveland — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
He gets after it up front with effort and speed. He can disrupt. Some will be put off by a lack of length and skinny lower body.

#27 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
Incredibly consistent, tough and very athletic center with a long career ahead of him. He ran a 4.49 short shuttle at 310lbs.

#28 New York Jets (v/NO) — Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
I have the Jets moving up from #34 to get ahead of Green Bay and Kansas City. Injuries or not, teams are going to clamber over each other for a chance to draft Dickerson.

#29 Green Bay — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
He’s a 3.25 TEF tester and teams will covet his mix of explosive physicality, aggressiveness, combo-blocking and agility. Players with his profile go early.

#30 Buffalo — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
In this range they can afford to seek value. Najee Harris is good but Etienne is simply quicker and more explosive.

#31 Miami (v/KC) — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
The Dolphins, having added two defensive studs with their first two picks, move up from #36 to add Harris to their offense.

#32 Tampa Bay — Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
They’ve brought everyone back so can take a few shots in the draft. Oweh’s incredible pro-day performance could secure a place at the end of round one.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
The ‘Baby Gronk’ nickname is warranted. Superb body control and size. They’ve appointed his old coach.

#34 New Orleans (v/NYJ) — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
I think he’s a great talent and he’s worth considering as a quarterback with starter potential.

#35 Atlanta — Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
This has become a big need for the Falcons. Moehrig is steady if somewhat unspectacular.

#36 Kansas City (v/MIA, HOU) — Quinn Meinerz (G/C, UWW)
Meinerz is a 3.41 TEF tester with great length and size. He was also superb at the Senior Bowl. He could go earlier than people think.

#37 Philadelphia — Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
He ran a quicker than expected forty but appeared to tire quickly during his pro-day workout.

#38 Cincinnati — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Turned it on late in the season but had a slow start. No doubt he can flash as a pass rusher in college but can he do it consistently at the next level?

#39 Carolina — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
His injury is a concern. His tackling is another issue.

#40 Denver — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)

A TFL machine in 2020 (13.5). Nixon creates havoc from the interior and is a true playmaking defensive tackle.

#41 Detroit — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
Outstanding player who will only last this long based on his size and straight-line speed. Ran a 3.93 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#42 New York Giants — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
He’s long and lean but a lot of his wins are unusual. He’s not a dynamic speed rusher and he lacks the sand in his pants to control as a five-technique.

#43 San Francisco — Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)
An ascending player with great length, speed, agility and great consistency on tape.

#44 Dallas — Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
What a pro-day! He ran a 4.25 short shuttle at 284lbs and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical. Incredible physical talent who can rush inside/out.

#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
Massive, highly athletic prospect who will shock people when he runs and does the agility testing. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#46 New England — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
The mountain from Game of Thrones.

#47 LA Chargers — 
Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
Tackle or guard prospect with the skills to succeed at either position

#48 Las Vegas — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
Wow-athlete at linebacker with tremendous character and intensity. Ran a 4.18 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#49 Arizona — Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
He ran a sensational 4.21 short shuttle at 250lbs at SPARQ.

#50 Miami — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
The Dolphins wait on the receiver position and are rewarded with a highly competitive, very talented player in Wallace.

#51 Washington — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)

He has great size and agility but his agility and change of direction might be an issue and I just didn’t see him play the ball well enough in college.

#52 Chicago — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
Very solid guard prospect who can start quickly.

#53 Tennessee — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Had a highly consistent 2019 season but followed it up with a weird 2020 — before he wisely took himself out before damaging his stock any further.

#54 Indianapolis — Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
They need a tackle and the Colts consistently take highly explosive athletes for their O-line. Cosmi excelled at his pro-day.

#55 Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins (T, Oklahoma State)
He’s big and physical but do you need to kick him up the arse to max out his potential?

#56 Seattle — Alex Leatherwood (G/T, Alabama)
With the top center’s off the board the Seahawks pivot to a tackle for the future. Leatherwood has decent length and jumped a 34.5 inch vertical plus an incredible 9-10 broad. That’s the kind of profile Seattle likes.

#57 LA Rams — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
He’s a first round athlete — the question is whether he’s more than just a gadget player.

#58 Baltimore — Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
Outstanding athlete who can drop when needed and is a great fit for the Ravens defense.

#59 Cleveland — Payton Turner (DE, Houston)
Massive potential, great personality. A player with a big future.

#60 New Orleans — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
He’s had some concentration drops but he still excelled during a miserable season for LSU.

#61 Buffalo — Tommy Tremble (TE, Notre Dame)
He’s a head-hunter as a blocker. His second name is what players do when they’re near him on a run-block. He destroys defenders.

#62 Carolina (v/GB) — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
The Panthers move up to at least buy a lottery ticket at the QB position this year.

#63 Kansas City — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
He has what you want in a left tackle. He’ll only last because he hasn’t played for two years.

#64 Tampa Bay — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
Big, physical interior defender with a fantastic motor.

Thoughts on the Seahawks

This is why you sign a draft hedge. Ethan Pocic is eminently replaceable. But you’re picking at #56. You’re not sat there at #23, knowing you’ll be able to get one of the top guys (even after potentially trading down).

Explosive offensive linemen go early. Explosive offensive linemen with good college tape and a top Senior Bowl go even earlier.

I wouldn’t bank on Quinn Meinerz or Creed Humphrey being available and there’s just too much buzz around Landon Dickerson (even with his injury issues).

In this scenario the Seahawks have to look elsewhere.

They could focus on the guard position where options remain in a deep class (Aaron Banks, Trey Smith). I’m not a fan of moving Damien Lewis to center and I really hope they don’t decide to do that. However, it’s the kind of thing Seattle is always willing to contemplate it seems.

They could draft a tackle/guard. In this mock I have them taking Alex Leatherwood. I’m not convinced he has the feet and agility to hold down the left tackle position at the next level. Yet he does have decent length (34.5 inch arms) and major explosive traits. That’s generally what Seattle goes for on the O-line.

Dillon Radunz is a similar prospect they could consider here. D’Ante Smith has great length and excelled in Mobile. Brady Christensen had an unbelievable workout at the BYU pro-day but his lack of length (32 inch arms) is an issue in terms of projecting him to the Seahawks.

They could also move off the O-line altogether and look at receiver. Speed is important here — a 4.4 forty or faster is Seattle’s benchmark.

Rondale Moore is so explosive and quick that he could be an option. However — he’s very much an ‘around the LOS’ and YAC type player when the Seahawks want deep threats. They might prefer D’Wayne Eskridge, who was also available.

Another option could be Duke’s Chris Rumph, depending on how he tests. For me he’s a linebacker who can reduce down rather than a full-time EDGE. He could act as a SAM/LEO for the Seahawks but typically they only take exceptional athletes for that role. He would need to perform well at Duke’s pro-day on Monday. If they don’t re-sign K.J. Wright though, he’s an option.

So many people rush to tell you this draft is a write-off or worth punting on purely because there’s no combine, meetings and a few players opted out of the 2020 season. If you actually study this class, there’s a lot of really good players with quality depth at several positions.

The value from the end of the first deep into the second is not to be sniffed at.

I’ll happily hold my hands up if I’m wrong — but I cannot see any way John Schneider goes into this draft with only three picks. I also can’t see him trading out of the top-60 completely for the sake of a couple of late round picks to boost the coffers.

One way or another — I think they’ll make a move to re-gain stock.

We have to be realistic about how they’re going to do that though. A lot of people, in our comments section and on other sites, thought they could get a third or fourth round pick for Jarran Reed. That was never going to happen. In the end they couldn’t even get a swap of picks or a seventh rounder.

Trading Tyler Lockett would decimate your receiving group and create more friction with the quarterback (Freddie Swain and John Ursua as WR2 & WR3? No chance).

There are only three players on the roster who can be realistically moved to re-gain legitimate stock. The draft is a month away. It should be an interesting few weeks.

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