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Schneider extension & possible draft targets for the Seahawks

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

The Seahawks needed to be pro-active here — and they have been.

On Sunday I wrote the following:

If the Seahawks want Schneider to stay, why haven’t they committed to him in the form of a big new contract?

Have they tried to?

Is it about money? Is it about control?

Does Schneider genuinely crave the kind of overall power that he would get somewhere else?

The Seahawks can nip this in the bud pretty quickly. They can make him an offer he can’t refuse, just as they seemingly did with Carroll.

Eliminating this as a talking point was vitally important. We couldn’t have weeks of wondering what the future holds.

This is decisive action.

On that note, let’s look at some of the players Schneider might target in the draft.

We now know the Seahawks’ first pick in the 2021 draft will be #56 overall.

Pete Carroll says the priority is to improve the running game. He specifically called for improvement at left guard. Therefore, I’m going to start my list of possible targets with a running back and two offensive linemen.

Players who might be available

Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)

He fits Seattle’s size preference (5-10, 220lbs) and more importantly, he completely fits their ‘type’ of runner.

Williams is a yards-after-contact machine — breaking tackles, extending runs and finishing. PFF gave him a 95.9 rushing grade — the highest of the 2020 season and the best they’ve ever recorded at the running back position.

He ranked #1 in the NCAA for broken tackle rate (46.5%).

Every now and again you watch a player and you can just tell straight away — that’s a Seahawk. Williams fits that bill.

With Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde both out of contract, running back could easily be a target position in the draft. Williams stands out head-and-shoulders above all eligible runners in terms of Seahawks fit. He’s currently being projected anywhere between rounds 2-4. If he’s there at #56, he could be the pick.

See for yourself…

Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)

Carroll said they need to improve at left guard. Aaron Banks would be a fantastic choice to deliver that improvement.

He’s a monster of a blocker — listed at 6-5 and 330lbs. That’s the kind of size Seattle has coveted on the left side since Mike Solari’s arrival.

For the last two seasons Banks has been playing at a pro-level, dominating up front with a combination of brute force and surprising athleticism. He even filled in at left tackle against Florida State when Liam Eichenberg picked up an injury. The FSU game was a major highlight — on two occasions he slammed defenders to the ground. He constantly plays with that edge.

I’ve been projecting him as a top-50 pick but I felt the same way about Damien Lewis and he lasted into round three. If the Seahawks were to secure Banks, they’d have two stud guards locked up for the next several years.

Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)

It’ll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do with Ethan Pocic. His PFF grade for the season was actually quite poor — a 59.8 overall with a 57.8 pass blocking grade and a 59.4 run blocking grade.

Seattle’s other four starting offensive linemen all faired much better and received high grades.

Pocic only turns 26 in August so has time on his side. He could be retained, presumably, without breaking the bank. The Seahawks might also seek to add some young competition to the position. Or they could just go out and sign a veteran such as Alex Mack.

Landon Dickerson enjoyed a fantastic 2020 season. He didn’t give up a single sack and he only conceded one quarterback pressure. According to PFF, he was the most valuable O-liner in college football per ‘wins above average’.

He’s also very athletic — scoring a 100.05 at SPARQ. He was the #64 overall High School recruit in 2016 per ESPN.

If he was fully healthy he likely would be pushing to go in the top-40. However, injuries are an issue.

He recently suffered a knee injury in the SEC Championship game. In 2016 he tore his ACL. In 2017 he had surgery on his right ankle. In 2018 he missed the whole season due to complications over a high ankle sprain. He then transferred from Florida State to Alabama and suffered this knee injury at the end of the year.

Given Seattle’s history with injuries recently — especially with Darrell Taylor — Seahawks fans might be wary of making an investment here.

That said — if they do the medical checks (thoroughly, this time) and the injuries are deemed to be more unfortunate than anything else, he warrants some consideration. He’s a heart-and-soul blocker who helps set a tone up front. Dickerson has the potential be a 10-year starter if he can stay healthy.

Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)

One other area Carroll talked about improving was third downs. It was a major issue at times this season. Adding a dynamic slot receiver would help here.

I’ve only recently studied Moore. Lane Kiffin thinks he’s destined for round one. That’s certainly possible if he runs well. This is a loaded receiver class though and there’s a chance one or two players could last deep into the second frame.

He’s only listed at 5-9 and 185lbs but unlike Tutu Atwell (see below) his frame looks fairly solid and durable. As you’d expect he’s extremely dynamic working his routes, getting downfield and he dominated several games in 2020.

Even Alabama couldn’t get a handle on him — Moore recorded 11 catches for 143 yards. He reached +200 yards on three occasions — against Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. He finished the season with 86 catches for 1193 yards and eight touchdowns at a pace of 149.1 YPG.

He plays with a degree of toughness for his size and he’s clever with his routes, knowing how to sell plays to get open. He’s direct and shifty with superb change of direction skills. He can high-point, win contested grabs and just about do anything.

He’s going to need to learn to handle press at the next level but ultimately he’s a player you want operating in the slot where he can attack seems, find mismatches and run across formations.

The Seahawks badly need a third receiver who really challenges opponents.

Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)

Like Moore, he’s smaller at 5-9 and 190lbs. Louisville has been creative with Atwell — using him on sweeps, as a deep threat and a mismatch weapon.

Reportedly he can run a 4.26 forty and a 3.9 short shuttle. That’s the kind of speed necessary in the modern NFL. You need a receiver who can sprint like this — and the Seahawks could surely use someone with this kind of raw speed to complement D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

He’s also tough and explosive — capable of benching twice his body weight (which is insane) and squatting triple his body weight.

It used to be said that receivers need time to adjust and adapt to the NFL. This is clearly not the case any more. Teams are drafting impact receivers early every year.

The most dynamic offensive schemes in the league utilise multiple weapons. The Seahawks need more and Atwell could provide it.

Kellen Mond (QB, Mississippi State)

This is a mischievous suggestion but hear me out.

A year ago two teams — Green Bay and Philadelphia — spent high picks on quarterbacks, despite retaining existing (and highly paid) starters.

The Packers selected Jordan Love in round one and the Eagles took Jalen Hurts in round two.

The Love pick motivated Aaron Rodgers to a MVP season. The Packers could easily return to the Super Bowl this year. If he needed a rocket, he got one. And he has delivered.

The Eagles shocked the NFL by drafting Jalen Hurts with the #53 pick. Nobody really knew what to make of it, given the franchise was tied to Carson Wentz and his big contract.

If it was used to test Wentz and see if he could respond, it didn’t work. Reports have suggested he feels he lost confidence after the pick. His form collapsed and eventually he was benched. Prior to Doug Pederson’s departure it felt inevitable he would be traded.

I’m not sure the Seahawks want to start getting involved in any game-playing like this. However, Russell Wilson has just endured the worst stretch of his career. If that continues in 2021, we might be having a much greater conversation about his future.

Drafting a young backup with cheap club control might light a similar rocket under Wilson. I think that’s more likely than a Wentz-esque crisis of confidence. It might also piss Wilson off though — setting the table for a divorce.

It could also provide the Seahawks with something they don’t currently have. For starters — any kind of alternative for the long term. Secondly — a cheap, club-controlled backup who might actually be capable of filling in and winning you a game.

You only make this kind of move if you really believe in the player who is available.

I think Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond has something about him. He has a tremendous arm. He’s been a lot more consistent this season. You see evidence of occasional hesitation, an extra unnecessary hitch or a bit of indecision. I think you can live with that when you also see him arrow accurate passes into tight windows, deliver on-target throws under pressure and launch the ball downfield like he does, right into the hands of a receiver.

I’ve just got a feeling that there might be a bit of Dak Prescott about him. A rough diamond in college football who is somewhat overlooked in the draft and plays well beyond his draft placing. Regardless of any motivational reasons relating to Wilson — he’s the kind of player I think is well worth investing in as a backup and possible trade-chip down the line, if not a future starter.

He will be attending the Senior Bowl.

I think we’re at a stage now where looking at players like this isn’t a waste of time any more. Seattle’s total lack of draft resource might make this unlikely in 2021 — but it depends what else they’re able to get done pre-draft.

Mond isn’t the only quarterback option either. Stanford’s Davis Mills, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones have all shown potential beyond the ‘big three’ at the position. Mills in particular has the recruiting pedigree and talent to be very interesting. Jones was highly impressive in yesterday’s National Championship game.

Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan)

The Seahawks have avoided drafting cornerbacks early and I don’t think that will change this year. I suspect we’ll see one of two things happen — either Shaquill Griffin will be re-signed or Richard Sherman will return. Or both, depending on cost.

That said, if there’s one cornerback that I think has a chance to really shine at the next level from this class without necessarily being a top-20 pick it’s Ambry Thomas.

He’s adept at press coverage and despite not having massive size (6-0, 182lbs) he’s certainly capable of playing a really competitive brand of football, mixing it up with receivers to reroute and challenge at the snap.

The Seahawks have always liked corners who can tackle and he does that very well. He gets involved and isn’t afraid to get stuck in. He produced three interceptions in 13 games in 2019 and has special teams value as a returner — scoring a 99-yard touchdown against Notre Dame in 2018.

Athletically he has major upside. At SPARQ he ran a 4.43 and a sensational 3.90 three cone. His vertical jump of 36 inches is also impressive.

I’m not sure what his arm length will be and we know the Seahawks have really focused on that (although maybe D.J. Reed has led to a change of heart).

Thomas has the competitive nature, the talent and the athleticism to be really good at the next level. He’s attending the Senior Bowl and that will be a great opportunity to impress.

A whole collection of defensive tackles

At the end of December I wrote a piece discussing several potential defensive tackle options for round two. It’s a good looking class in terms of the range Seattle is drafting in and this could be a group they tap into.

To read the piece click here.

It’s worth noting that, surprisingly, Georgia’s monstrous nose tackle Jordan Davis has opted not to declare.

Players I am higher on but are being projected in-range by others

I’ve been projecting Dayo Odeyingo (DE, Vanderbilt) in the top-15 throughout the college football season. For me he’s an absolute terror off the edge and has the size (6-6, 270lbs) to work inside and create pressure. I haven’t seen anyone rating him as highly as I have and if he lasts into round two, he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Walker Little (T, Stanford) missed most of the 2019 season through injury and then opted not to play in 2020. However, you only have to watch his Rivals recruiting tape to see he’s a natural left tackle with great size, length and agility. There just aren’t many 6-7, 309lbs left tackles who run 4.40 short shuttles — therefore I think he’ll eventually find a home in round one. If he falls (out of sight out of mind) then it would be an absolute gift.

The same goes for Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama). His stock is all over the place. Some think he’s a top-20 talent. Others, like Todd McShay, have him in round three. He does have some athletic limitations but let’s be right — he’s just a total BAMF. He’s not going to be peak Tyron Smith but he might be the closest thing to Duane Brown to enter the league in a long time. If he’s there in round two, go get him.

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We need to talk about Pete Carroll

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Pete Carroll’s final press conference was a challenging listen.

A large bulk of it was Carroll explaining the issues they’d faced in the second half of the season on offense, then failing to answer several questions asking why they hadn’t done anything about it.

In one breath he’d correctly identify their issues dealing with two-deep safety looks.

Then he’d explain that they tried to take shots against the Rams because they wanted to try and throw downfield against a coverage deliberately set up to take it away.

He’d talk about the need to adjust better and faster in-games. He rightly highlighted Seattle’s biggest issue as their terrible record on third downs.

But then he wouldn’t offer any explanation as to why these issues were so evident and clear for weeks during the regular season and were often brushed off.

The issues and problems Carroll discussed today shouldn’t be an off-season priority. They should’ve been a priority weeks ago.

It was quite difficult, actually, to listen to all of the obvious flaws we’ve discussed for weeks be laid out by the Head Coach — only to remember that as recent as the Washington game, Carroll dismissed fair questions about the offense with a pointed “I ain’t concerned at all” and an agitated message to the media that he didn’t really know why he was being asked about this all the time.

As far as I can tell, the Minnesota Vikings were the first team to stymy the Seahawks passing game with a two-deep look. Other teams followed the blueprint.

If they’re now going to spend the coming weeks and months trying to find a solution, why on earth couldn’t they find one earlier?

This comes back to one of the things I was talking about in yesterday’s piece.

The Seahawks seem to be far too entrenched in what ‘they are’ and what they ‘want to be’ rather than week-to-week planning and adjustment.

It doesn’t seem to matter if an opponent has an answer for the explosive pass play — they’re going to try and do it anyway.

As far as Carroll was concerned they were playing winning football. It didn’t matter that the wins came against the New York Jets, the Washington Football Team with a reserve quarterback or the San Francisco 49ers’ backups.

Therefore no need to adjust. No need to change the formula.

The Seahawks only had two wins all season against playoff opponents. They beat a Dwayne Haskins-led 7-9 Washington team and the Rams in week 16. They were then absolutely hammered by LA in a rematch a fortnight later.

It feels like the Seahawks were complacent. Clearly they could see the issues just as much as we could. They were all listed by Carroll today. They didn’t act on them though, seemingly because they were lulled into a false sense of security thanks to a cupcake schedule that was a gift from the football gods.

It also speaks to Carroll’s apparent stubbornness to stick to his guns rather than treat each individual opponent like a new challenge. If you know a team is going utilise a two-deep safety look, or if they start to show that early in the game, why not have a specific plan to counter that?

We all knew Aaron Donald having a great game was LA’s best chance to win on Saturday. Aiming to take shots, as Carroll suggested today, while facing two-deep safety looks might as well have come with a bouquet of flowers and a card saying:

‘Dear Aaron, hope you had a great Christmas, here’s a late present courtesy of the Seahawks. Have a safe trip to Lambeau.’

Why wasn’t the game plan tailored to try and lessen the damage? You might argue it’s impossible to limit Donald. But it isn’t. The Niners’ backups did it twice. They handled the Rams twice. They beat them twice.

Donald had one sack in his two games against San Francisco.

Kyle Shanahan came up with a plan that gave them the best chance to avoid allowing Donald to dominate.

Seattle, instead, walked into a buzzsaw.

And the worst thing is they’ve been playing Donald twice a year since 2014. They should know by now how to avoid getting so badly burned. Yet time and time again they are here — trying to be what they want to be, rather than doing what they need to do.

You’ve got to anticipate and adjust in the NFL. It sounds like Carroll is intent on his team trying to impose themselves on every opponent while establishing who they want to be — rather than cooking up a plan that might catch an opponent off guard.

After all — how difficult is it for another team to plan for the Seahawks if they know what they’re going to try and do every week?

Where is this plan getting them? One playoff win in four seasons? Not even remotely close to a NFC Championship in years?

And what happens next year when they’ve worked out a plan to conquer two-deep safety looks and another opponent simply counters that? Are they just going to plough on again and wait until the off-season to address that fresh issue?

It gets worse though. Carroll revealed he overruled Brian Schottenheimer on the 4th and 1 call that led to an expiring play-clock, a false start and then a punt.

Again, Carroll dismissed questions about it from the media like they were making a mountain out of a molehill.

Does he not see the problem though? How often are the Seahawks in these situations with an expiring play-clock?

I know he’s the Head Coach and the buck stops with him. But he needs to make a decisive call on whether they’re going for it or not and then get out of the way.

For all the people who want to criticise Schottenheimer, how often is Carroll getting involved in these situations? And for all the complaints about Schotty this week — what if the Head Coach is insisting on how they play their opponents?

It doesn’t exactly take a giant leap to imagine the same coach who meddles on a fourth down call would equally insist on his co-ordinator throwing downfield against two-deep safety looks every week.

No doubt Carroll’s response would be to point to the wins. What good are they if they mask problems that go unaddressed, only to rear up in the first playoff game?

It’s simply not acceptable for the coach to be so dismissive of certain aspects of a struggling offense, then say after the fact that they needed to do more to address all of the obvious issues. That’s what the coaches job is.

One of the best things Nick Saban has done at Alabama is cede some control. He’s employed a list of experienced offensive coordinators to run things. The results have been emphatic — with explosive plays galore, balance, success. Everything Carroll wants in Seattle.

Yet with the Seahawks, Carroll doesn’t cede control. He appoints people who are prepared to do things his way.

It feels like he actually might’ve given up control for a few weeks at the start of the season as Russell Wilson set the MVP pace. Then at the first sign of trouble — rather than learn and adapt to what teams were doing, he circled the wagons and he was calling the shots again.

It shouldn’t be this way any more. How are things ever going to change if they just keep doing the same thing year after year?

Carroll can clearly coach a defense. Focus on that and your culture and your clear motivational skills. Be the leader this team needs — yet like all good leaders, appreciate the art of delegation.

Let someone else complete the circle for you.

And this has nothing to do with his comments about running the ball more. I’m perfectly comfortable with that.

What I don’t understand though is how they’ve gone about installing that preference during this reset.

We all know what Carroll’s ideal offense looks like. It’s a bit like what we see from Cleveland.

Yet instead of drafting the definitive ideal running back for the Seahawks based on style and physical attributes in Nick Chubb — they select Rashaad Penny instead.

I wrote about this in December. The decision to draft Penny instead of Chubb is one of the single most confusing, avoidable mistakes of the Carroll era.

If you typed all of Seattle’s preferences at running back into a machine, a freshly created Nick Chubb would come out of the other end. I’ve broken this down in great detail.

Their dream player was staring them right in the face and they took someone else.

I saw this exchange on twitter last night:

Here’s Lance Zierlein, confirming what we already know. The Seahawks massively regret overthinking this one and they’re left dealing with the consequences now — talking about needing to be better in the running game.

It’s not just a Nick Chubb issue though. Rather than sign the best right tackle in the league (Jack Conklin) for $8m this year and $13m next year — they spend +$10m on Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister and fritter away millions on players like Joey Hunt and Branden Jackson.

Rather than take the opportunity to draft one of the really appealing runners in the last draft (Jonathan Taylor’s looking pretty good these days) they instead decide a WILL linebacker of the future is the order of the day. They could’ve set up their line for years with Cesar Ruiz and Robert Hunt also within touching distance.

Cleveland took Chubb. Cleveland signed Conklin. Cleveland used their top pick on an offensive lineman. Cleveland has invested across the line in players like JC Tretter and Joel Bitonio. They’ve signed Kareem Hunt.

That is a commitment to identity that simply hoping for the best with Ethan Pocic and adding B.J. Finney just can’t compare to. And sure — Brandon Shell had a strong first year. I would argue he hasn’t played as well as Conklin and it speaks to the contradiction here of wanting a certain brand of team and investing so much resource in other areas.

How exactly are they going to run better and more frequently next season when the top two running backs are both free agents and can’t stay healthy? They have at most four draft picks. They have limited resources in terms of cap space.

Presumably it’ll be another visit to the bargain bin and maybe the second rounder will go on a left guard or a running back.

Carroll painted an optimistic vision for the future several times today yet they only have 34 contracted players for 2021. There are 36 players reaching free agency or restricted free agency.

That’s a lot of players to retain or replace. Thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, taking away their main draft stock for the next two years and seemingly set to eat an $18m a year hole in the cap soon, they have very little scope to enforce the change they want to happen.

Same vision. Same approach. Same players. Limited change.

Why is anything going to be any better next year?

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Why the Seahawks face a problematic off-season

Sunday, January 10th, 2021

Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have one playoff win in the last four seasons

As depressing as yesterday’s domination at the hands of the LA Rams was, the truth is the Seahawks are facing an off-season filled with questions.

1. Is Pete Carroll still the right man to lead this team?

Short of a completely unexpected retirement, Carroll won’t be going anywhere. He’s just signed a new long term contract. Yet it’s still a perfectly justified question to ask.

At what point is three playoff victories since 2015 — courtesy of a Blair Walsh missed field goal for the Vikings, a home win against the Lions and a win against the Eagles fielding a 40-year-old backup quarterback — simply not a good enough return?

How many more years need to be squandered without delivering any serious threat in the post-season before questions are asked?

The Seahawks appear to be perennially consumed by identity. They’re constantly either trying to re-establish what they are, get back to what they want to be or we’re debating if they’re treading the right path.

Whether it’s ‘Let Russ Cook’, ‘Pete-ball’, ‘run-first’ — I can’t think of another team that invests so much energy trying to figure their identity out.

A thought dawned on me while watching the Indianapolis Colts defeat to Buffalo. Here were the Colts, with 39-year-old Philip Rivers at quarterback, moving the ball and competing.

They were playing the NFL’s in-form team and they were making a game of it.

I don’t know what Frank Reich’s preferred methodology is. Perhaps if I followed the Colts as closely as I do the Seahawks, he too would have a long list of firm, stubborn ideals.

My impression, however, is that he simply adjusts and plans accordingly based on the players he has.

They put their key players on offense in a position to succeed. They don’t seem to force an identity or structure. It’s a movable feast.

Week-to-week the Colts featured different skill players. Trey Burton, Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Taylor, T.Y. Hilton, Mo-Alie Cox and others.

And sure — the Colts lost to the Bills, didn’t win their division and finished 11-5. But watching them manage and scheme on Saturday — and almost force an upset — triggered a thought relating to the Seahawks.

With Seattle there seems to be much more of a focus on establishing a preferred identity that never really changes, regardless of opponent.

They are what they are and it’ll either work or it won’t.

Are they better off doing what Carroll thinks is best, or are they better off game-planning for the specific players on the roster and weekly opponents?

A lot of people are going to call for Brian Schottenheimer to be fired. Perhaps with some justification too.

But here’s the bigger problem. The Seahawks have a defensive minded Head Coach with complete control over everything. At no point in the last 10 years has he turned over the offense to a hot-shot coordinator and trusted them to scheme and produce an offense.

The one time it seemed they came close to doing that was early in this season — and Carroll wrestled control back immediately at the first sign of trouble.

Most coaches appreciate and accept their weaknesses. Thus, Sean McVay made a concerted effort to appoint a vastly experienced defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips when he started as a Head Coach in LA. Then he pivoted to a different coach in Brandon Staley. He hasn’t appeared to dictate to either.

Aren’t the Seahawks long overdue their Head Coach doing something similar?

Firing Schottenheimer will likely just mean the next version is appointed in his place, facing the same shackles.

The criticism of Carroll needs to go steps further too.

The game planning and adjustments have been poor all season. This latest example is an extreme one but really cuts to the heart of the problem. McVay delivered a plan that needed to overcome having to start then replace his backup quarterback — with a player throwing the ball with pins in his thumb, two weeks removed from surgery.

His team found ways to dominate the line of scrimmage, run the ball effectively and deliver just enough through the air to win a big game.

The Seahawks on the other hand started badly, never established anything that worked, didn’t make any noticeable adjustment (or at least any that succeeded) and couldn’t provide a plan for their quarterback or personnel to succeed.

Everything was a chore.

They don’t seem to have a single play they can turn to when they just need to convert a 3rd and 4 to get an easy first down — even with players like D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and five tight ends on the roster.

It felt like they ran out of plays one quarter into the game.

Too often the Seahawks are found wanting when it comes to preparation and adjustment. The coup de grâce being Carroll’s admission after the Buffalo game that he didn’t expect them to throw on every down — despite Seattle’s (at the time) dreadful passing defense and the passing offense being Buffalo’s main strength.

Worse than this, however, has been the complacency.

Carroll was repeatedly asked about his struggling offense during press conferences, after things started to toil in the second half of the season. He was dismissive of questions, almost seeming irritated by having to address them.

“I ain’t concerned at all” and “you (the media) can talk about this” was his response to failing to score a point in the final 28 minutes against Washington, in a game where they nearly blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead.

He more or less shrugged off how bad they were on third downs in another press conference — an issue that reared its head in fatal fashion against the Rams, as Seattle struggled to 2/13 conversions.

Problems with the team were often addressed with confusion (“I don’t recognise this performance”) or put down to being ‘uncharacteristic’.

It feels like the Seahawks have been sleepwalking towards a loss like this, yet internally the man at the top didn’t notice.

After the game yesterday Carroll confessed he wished they’d adapted better to the way teams had played their offense in the second half of the season.

Haven’t they had weeks to come up with a solution? Isn’t it his job to adapt when they needed to?

In what way is it acceptable for the coach to make that admission once the season has ended in such a predictable manner?

And how on earth did they go into the Rams game with whatever game plan they ended up with?

I can only imagine what other coaches and players thought, watching it unfold.

There’s no denying that Carroll is a hero in Seattle. A man who deserves the greatest level of respect for what he’s achieved. It’d also be remiss to suggest he doesn’t bring anything to the table any more. Clearly he does. I’m certain that other teams remain envious of the culture he cultivates, for instance.

It’s also easy to think, sometimes, the grass is always greener.

It just feels, for the first time, like a legitimate case can be made for a fresh approach.

Is ‘Pete-ball’ going to get the best out of the players you have? Is Carroll truly willing to cede control and give up aspects of his preferred identity, in order to find a consistently functioning system? One that doesn’t just get the best out of your players for a few weeks before imploding — but enables Russell Wilson to play his best football for 16 weeks and further.

Is he willing to bring in coaches from outside of his bubble who can deliver attention to detail and make the necessary in-game adjustments? Is he willing to cede control to allow that to happen?

Is he willing to do what it takes to end this run of every single season ending the same way? Will he act to make 2021 different?

And to lead onto point number two, is Carroll now directly opposed to his quarterback in terms of their respective visions?

2. What now for Russell Wilson?

I recently wrote an article highlighting why these playoffs were so important for the future of the Seahawks.

Wilson reportedly issued an ultimatum to the team prior to the start of the off-season. He wanted to cook. The Seahawks let him cook and it worked for a few weeks. Wilson was the red-hot favourite for the MVP. He threw 28 touchdowns in the first half of the season and was on pace to set passing and scoring records.

Then he started to turn the ball over. You could argue it was because he was under immense pressure to carry a struggling defense that was well on its way to set historic records itself. It’s easy to forget how dependant the Seahawks were on Wilson in the first few weeks of the season.

Whatever the reason (and yes, Wilson deserves blame too), Carroll’s reaction was forceful. Suddenly, the Seahawks were focussed, it seemed, on avoiding turnovers as a priority. The defense had improved therefore closed-circle football was back.

Wilson threw 12 touchdowns in the second half of the season and was throwing about 210 yards per game — a far cry from his early season prolificacy.

Winning is the most important thing. If the Seahawks could win playing this way, nothing else would matter. Wilson isn’t going to complain about style points while lifting a Lombardi Trophy.

Yet the point raised in the previous article was this — what if the Seahawks don’t win? What if they get dumped out of the playoffs playing uninspired offensive football? What if we saw a repeat of every playoff exit since 2015?

What then?

Now we get to properly analyse that question. Because I suspect if Pete Carroll’s aim next year is to carry on with this preferred offensive vision, with his quarterback having stats more akin to Baker Mayfield than Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers, he might well have an issue with that.

Just think about this for a second. How many of the leading quarterbacks in the NFL are having the offensive style dictated to them by a 69-year-old defensive Head Coach? Zero. That’s the answer.

Wilson undoubtedly will cast an envious eye at the production, design, input and style of the schemes in Kansas City, Green Bay, Buffalo, New Orleans and others.

He’ll look at the power Tom Brady has, with the Buccs acting on his advice to get Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown — even when the coach Bruce Arians is on the record saying he wouldn’t touch Brown with a barge pole.

Wilson is very conscious of his legacy. He constantly talks about being remembered as one of the best — if not the best to do it.

I’m pretty sure he’d be willing to acknowledge he hasn’t played well enough since the bye week. Everything I wrote about Carroll above, you could possibly flip and talk about Wilson instead. For the first time since 2012, it doesn’t feel unfair to ask whether he is still good enough to lead this team back to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately the way he played in the second half of the season wasn’t a million miles away from the form Carson Wentz showed in Philadelphia before he was benched.

How did Wilson go from the MVP favourite to the worst stretch of his career over the course of the season? Why did he look so broken by the final game? These are questions that must be addressed.

I also think, if you really got the truth, the thought of playing Pete-ball for the next five years is not appealing. I suspect it’s not going to be how Wilson rekindles his best form.

The trade talk (that people want to dismiss) has been consistent for three years. Read the piece I wrote at the turn of the year for the evidence.

I’m not saying anything is going to happen this year. I also wouldn’t rule anything out either. Not in an off-season where people are talking about the Eagles, Falcons and Texans trading their quarterbacks and absorbing massive dead-cap hits.

Regardless of the timing, I can’t help but feel like you’ve got a Head Coach with a long-term contract and a vision for his team (including the offense) and a legacy-conscious quarterback who turns 33 in November and will be starting to worry about the quickly evaporating ‘peak’ years of his career.

I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that he might think he needs a change of scenery. I also don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility the Seahawks will feel the same way.

When Carroll won his Super Bowl, Wilson was a third round pick on a few hundred thousand dollars a year. He had no expectations on how the offense would play. He simply went out there and did the job asked of him and it was never an issue.

That isn’t the case any more. Now they have a quarterback earning $35m with his own set of expectations and ideas.

If Carroll wants to play this way, perhaps he’s better off with a quarterback with no expectation other than to have an opportunity to start? One capable of doing what the offense needs, keeping it on schedule. Even if that means lesser talent and a smaller reputation (and price).

If that’s not the case and he desperately wants Wilson as his man then he needs to seriously consider doing what we talked about in section one — ceding control, inviting a top coach to run the offense and getting well out of their way.

Otherwise we might be seeing the early stages of an inevitable divorce.

3. Limited resources

Usually when a season finishes like this, the crumb of comfort is the off-season. Free agency, the draft. Ways to cultivate your roster and go-again.

This year I’m afraid it’s going to be very difficult to offer any brightness.

The Seahawks are even more decimated in terms of resources than they were at the start of the reset in 2018. Back then, at least they had a top-20 pick among their four draft selections.

The acceptance of a reset also provided some curiosity as to what shape or form it would take.

Now the Seahawks have used all their resource — so much so that they’ve also tapped into the 2022 credit card too.

They only have 34 contracted players at the moment for 2021.

According to Over The Cap, the Seahawks have just $6.3m in effective space if the salary cap reduces to $176m for the 2021 season.

There has been talk that the cap could be $20m higher than the original $176m estimate. Even so, having $26m available will only scratch the surface of the work that needs to be done.

There are 36 players reaching free agency or restricted free agency. They will all need to be signed or replaced.

Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson and Ethan Pocic are out of contract starters. Presumably they will want to bring back K.J. Wright but who knows if that’s possible? Jacob Hollister, Benson Mayowa, Carlos Hyde and Mike Iupati — among others — are all free agents.

The stark reality is, regardless of your opinion of the names above, they might not have the money to retain most of this group. In fact, they might have to try and dig around to find cheap replacements. That could work in their favour. It could also, quite easily, deliver a weaker team than we saw in 2020.

The other problem is the draft. By investing so much in Jamal Adams (more on him later) they only have three or four draft picks this year.

There’s a lack of clarity over whether they possess a conditional seventh rounder that was originally traded to the Jets for Parry Nickerson. Seattle cut him before the 2019 season started and it’s never been fully cleared up if they got the pick back.

Nevertheless, it’s a seventh rounder. At most they’ll have four picks. They have minimal draft stock to fill holes or trade down for extra stock and add cheap talent.

How do the Seahawks take a step forward in 2021? A lot of their money is going to need to be saved filling depth holes in the roster, rather than delivering impact.

In many ways it feels like they went ‘all-in’ for 2020, only to discover they weren’t close. Like 2018, they’re now left to pick up the pieces of a highly aggressive tilt only to come up emphatically short.

So what are they going to do? Muddle through? Do what they can? Hope a few minor changes produce a different result next season?

Or do they have to be aggressive to create cap room and bring in draft picks?

4. Jamal Adams’ future

Many will disagree but I simply do not think this was a good trade by the Seahawks.

From the get-go I thought it was a deal born out of desperation. Seattle hadn’t made any significant upgrades on defense and they were approaching training camp. Quinton Dunbar’s future was uncertain at the time, meaning the only key changes were adding Bruce Irvin, drafting Jordyn Brooks and swapping Jadeveon Clowney for Benson Mayowa.

Adams was available. He was established. He was considered an elite player.

They made an aggressive move to add him, to provide an injection of quality.

I said at the time, and still believe this, that the timing of the deal and the price-tag were indicative of a desperation move.

If the Seahawks had targeted Adams as an off-season priority, I doubt the Jets would’ve turned down that offer before the draft. The price — two firsts, a third and a veteran starter for Adams and a 2022 fourth rounder — was extreme. It had all the hallmarks of a deal conjured in a sellers market.

I also thought the Seahawks backed themselves into a corner by not having a contract extension ready to go (another sign that this wasn’t entirely a long thought out plan). Yes — they might’ve preferred the flexibility to see the lay of the land in a Covid economy. Yet the reality is, the minute you pay two firsts and more for a player, you are committing to paying them a record salary — regardless of the economic factors. It actually would’ve been cheaper to pay him immediately than to wait this out. Global pandemic or not, the minute you execute that trade you commit to a huge new contract. Waiting only makes the deal more expensive, because other players (such as Budda Baker) can reset the market in the meantime.

Laremy Tunsil and Jalen Ramsey exploited similar situations to reset the market at their positions. So too will Jamal Adams. He will probably ask for $20m a year. The subsequent bargaining will not drop below Baker’s $15m a year as the highest paid safety in the NFL.

This is going to be a big challenge for the Seahawks. Assuming he signs a new deal, you might be paying Adams and Bobby Wagner $36m a year. Combined with Wilson’s $35m a year, that’s three players earning an average per year of $71m, leaving perhaps as little as $100-120m for the entire remaining roster.

Can you justify that?

And if not, what were they expecting when they made the trade?

It also might not be simple getting a deal done unless they write a blank cheque. Adams’ dissatisfaction in New York was largely influenced by the Jets’ unwillingness to get a new deal done a year ago.

Some will try and argue he was unhappy because the Jets were bad. Perhaps so — but I remember watching Adams live at the combine, co-hosting the defensive back workouts a year ago. He spent most of the broadcast waxing lyrical about his desire to stay in New York because he loved it there and they’d made significant noises about a new contract. He said any issues were in the past and they were moving forward together.

What changed? What made things sour? New York refusing to pony up.

For anyone who thinks they can wait this out — do you think Adams will be comfortable with that? And what does it say for the trade if you decide to wait and see for another year before committing?

It seems quite simple to me. Either you’re convinced he’s a major part of your future, you accept the massive cost that you knew was coming when you made the trade and you extend him as soon as possible, or you move him and try to recoup whatever you can.

A lot of people like to point to the fact Seattle basically gave up a deal similar to what it would’ve taken to move into the top-ten. Technically yes, in terms of picks. Yet the future salary is a game-changer.

Be honest — is Adams really worth $18-20m a year? Is any safety worth that?

His PFF grade (64.2) ranked 45th among qualifying safety’s. We’ve all seen he has some limitations in coverage — and his coverage grade was a concerning 53.1.

He was blitzed at a higher rate than any other player in the league to deliver 9.5 sacks. It was a fine return — with the team and player making much of it being a record for a defensive back. Yet when Adams isn’t blitzing, are you really getting $18-20m worth of value?

Maybe the best way to look at it is this. If they’d only spent a day three pick on a rental of Adams, and were unable to franchise him this year (basically the Clowney scenario) — do you think they’d pay him $18-20m a year? Or do you think they’d let him test the market and possibly walk?

Because they can’t make a decision for the next five years simply on the fact they committed so much draft stock to him a few months ago. Either a huge new contract is right for this team or it isn’t.

I’m not for a second saying Adams is a bad player. He’s a very good player. But the financial impact on the horizon, to me, doesn’t necessarily mirror the impact on the field. I’m not sure any safety justifies $20m a year, however much you blitz them.

Hugh Millen, courtesy of 950 KJR, provided some interesting thoughts on Adams last night:

5. What’s going on with John Schneider?

Whether the interest from the Detroit Lions is legit or not, or even if it’s simply not possible this year due to Schneider being under contract, doesn’t this need to be resolved?

If the Seahawks want Schneider to stay, why haven’t they committed to him in the form of a big new contract?

Have they tried to?

Is it about money? Is it about control?

Does Schneider genuinely crave the kind of overall power that he would get somewhere else?

The Seahawks can nip this in the bud pretty quickly. They can make him an offer he can’t refuse, just as they seemingly did with Carroll.

If that doesn’t happen — and assuming Schneider doesn’t depart this off-season due to his contract — it’s just going to create 12 months of speculation, mystery and insecurity.

We’re going to be talking about it all the time. Is this his last year? What happens next?

It’s not good to have those kind of question marks hanging over a franchise.

And what will it say for the state of the Seahawks if Schneider does see his future elsewhere? What does it say for the Carroll project, or the ownership structure?

These are not healthy topics to be discussing. If the intention is for John Schneider to be here for years to come, they need get a new contract done now.

6. How do they galvanise the fans again?

It feels a little bit like we’re watching the end of an era unfold in Seattle. Six years, only three playoff wins, very little progress.

A reset that hasn’t delivered post-season success. Insufficient attention to detail. Some of the worst performances of the Carroll era (Bills, Rams x2, Giants).

The same cast of characters. The same messages. The same results.

To many of us it all seemed so predictable. We talked throughout the off-season about this conclusion being a strong possibility because the work they did in free agency and the draft simply wasn’t good enough. The issues on offense and in particular with third downs were talked about for weeks in the regular season, only for nothing to be done about it.

Fans are often accused of being spoilt for not appreciating the annual 10-12 win season. Yet this team constantly fails in the post-season, when it matters. Nobody is going to turn around in 10 years and bask in the glow of what we’ve just seen in the regular season. This team has earned the right to be judged in the playoffs — and that is the standard they’ve created.

The result is one playoff victory in the last four seasons. Not good enough.

We don’t have to compare this franchise to the Jags or Jets and be grateful. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more. Especially when the playoff exits are so brutal. Carolina, Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay, LA. The one constant is the terrible performance.

Why will anything be different next year?

Perhaps the greatest challenge will to turn that feeling around. I can’t be the only one feeling that way.

The Seahawks have long been a good team. I think, currently, many will struggle to believe in this group being great again.

If you missed our instant reaction podcast from yesterday, check it out here:

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Instant reaction: Embarrassed, beaten & done

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

What a way for a season to finish.

Out-played. Out-coached. Out-executed.

Humiliated.

Winning the NFC West for the first time since 2016 was a nice achievement. So was finishing 12-4.

None of it really matters though. They’ve just been dumped out of the playoffs by a division rival. What value is there in winning the NFC West, only to lose to the Rams in the playoffs?

Not just lose — but lose in this way.

This version of the Seahawks, with an established Head Coach and quarterback, veteran players and an expensive roster, should be judged on their post-season performance.

And this latest defeat was one of the worst.

Let’s also consider the circumstances of this game.

The Rams had to start their backup quarterback. John Wolford, an undrafted free agent who played for the Arizona Hotshots in 2019, was thrust into action before needing to be taken to hospital with a horrible looking injury.

In his place stepped Jared Goff — playing with pins in his thumb, after having surgery just two weeks ago.

Despite facing this immense challenge, Sean McVay came up with a gameplan to manage the situation. Both quarterbacks moved the ball better than Russell Wilson. The running game succeeded.

The Seahawks on the other hand, had no plan for their quarterback. Not one that was clear and obvious anyway — unless the plan was to invite Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd to win the game for LA.

The running game felt like an afterthought to start with. Instead it was replaced by tentative, seemingly short-range passes that neither threatened the Rams defense or moved the chains.

It simply gave Donald and Floyd an opportunity to rub their hands together.

So much for saving Chris Carson for the playoffs. They only used him once they’d bled the passing game dry and 100% confirmed how bad it was.

Wilson looked absolutely shot. Broken.

His #1 receiver is on the sideline throwing his helmet at the bench in frustration. Seattle’s reaction? To telegraph the ball to him on a screen, that was picked off for a touchdown.

For weeks Pete Carroll refused to acknowledge anything was wrong on offense yet the warning signs were clearly there for all to see.

The same old problems on third down. The same jittery quarterback. The same underused Carson.

They did nothing to fix any of this. Complacency. Pure complacency.

Every passing play felt like an enormous struggle. They had nothing to go to. Nothing to get a 3rd and 4 conversion. Nothing to get the quarterback into a rhythm. Nothing easy or simple. No answers.

2/13 on third downs — a problem that has been discussed for weeks but brushed off by Carroll when challenged in a recent press conference.

How could the Rams make life easier for one inexperienced backup and one injured quarterback — and the Seahawks serve up this?

They were pushed around on both lines of scrimmage. Completely beaten up.

The bully? The Rams.

It felt like they ran out of offensive plays practically straight away. Where were the ideas? Where were the adjustments?

And what on earth was going on in the fourth quarter on 4th and 1, where they had an age to get the play in due to Damien Lewis’ injury, only to false start with the clock expiring and then punt.

It was embarrassing. The whole game was a shambles.

The result is a team dumped out in the playoffs as a pretender and a fraud — further away than ever from the Super Bowl.

We’ve just experienced 12 months where the Seahawks have used all of their cap space and spent their next two first round picks, plus their third rounder for this year.

All those resources used to make the wildcard round and surrender like this. A worse exit than a year ago.

Put it on the shelf next to Carolina, Atlanta, Dallas and Green Bay. This one, however, tops the lot. The worst post-season performance of the Carroll era and one of the worst performances period.

So here’s the question that should be asked…

Why is next year going to be any different?

According to Over The Cap, the Seahawks have just $6.3m in effective space if the salary cap reduces to $176m for the 2021 season.

They also only have 34 contracted players.

Admittedly, there has been talk that the cap could be $20m higher than the original $176m estimate. Even so, having $26m in cap space would not be enough to get much done this off-season.

They need to replace or re-sign Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson and Ethan Pocic. K.J. Wright is a free agent. Jacob Hollister, Benson Mayowa, Carlos Hyde and Mike Iupati are all free agents.

There are 36 players reaching free agency or restricted free agency. They will all need to be signed or replaced.

There’s also the issue of Jamal Adams’ contract. Some people think there’s no urgency here because he has one more year left on his contract and then they can use the franchise tag.

These same people clearly forget that Adams’ dispute with the Jets was largely over their refusal to pay him in 2020. He is due a new contract. He will expect talks to begin. If the Seahawks refuse to negotiate, it’s unlikely to be well received.

If they do negotiate a new deal it will cost them a lot of money. We’ve talked many times already about Laremy Tunsil and Jalen Ramsey resetting the market at their positions because teams traded multiple first round picks without an oven-ready contract extension.

Adams could easily ask for $20m a year. The minimum he will receive is $16m to become the highest paid safety in the NFL.

That’s a huge contract extension that will take up future resources and could consume a large section of the off-season.

And is he worth it? Honestly? He was blitzed more than any other player in the league to deliver 9.5 sacks. He packs a punch playing downfield. He’s also been injured numerous times this year and major reservations about his coverage ability are justified. Is this really the thing you want to prioritise now?

The other problem is the Seahawks only have three or four draft picks. There’s a lack of clarity over whether they possess a conditional seventh rounder that was originally traded to the Jets for Parry Nickerson. Seattle cut him before the 2019 season started and it’s never been fully cleared up if they got the pick back.

Nevertheless, it’s a seventh rounder. They have minimal draft stock to fill holes or trade down for extra stock and add cheap talent.

It increasingly looks like they went all-in for 2020. How they take a step forward now with barely any resources is incredibly difficult to work out.

And as we’ve been discussing a lot recently — what now for Russell Wilson? He’s played the worst half-season of his career over the last few weeks.

Publicly he’ll say what you’d expect him to say. Privately, does he own it? Does he blame the team? The coordinator? Do the Seahawks consider it a fault of Wilson or Brian Schottenheimer? How will Carroll feel about it, given he is ultimately the one calling the shots?

I’d recommend reading this article I wrote recently, discussing the possible ramifications of a playoff flop this season.

Can they seriously continue to play this version of what Pete Carroll calls winning football, after this shocker and the last few offensive performances?

There’s a lot to digest and consider here. We started talking about this in the week and frankly, we need to continue to talk about this.

The Seahawks can’t just keep doing the same thing every year. How many more times do you need to see this ending in the playoffs? Especially given the magnitude of this loss?

At what point are we all going to turn around and realise what a great missed opportunity we’ve all witnessed? The best years of a top quarterback squandered, resources blasted to never take a big step forward.

Always on the fringes of serious contention but never actually there.

Here’s a quick reminder. The 49ers and the Rams played in the last two Super Bowls. The Cardinals have been to the NFC Championship since Seattle last made it.

It’s not wrong to expect better from this team. It’s not spoilt, as some would have you believe, to expect more than three disappointing divisional round losses in six years.

At the very least we should expect better than this. A 30-20 shellacking.

The Seahawks need to be honest with themselves. They need to be brutally honest.

Changes are needed to the coaching staff. Pete Carroll should look beyond his inner circle. It’s time for a fresh set of eyes and ideas. People will probably call for Carroll to go. We know it won’t happen — weeks after he signed a long-term contract extension and with ownership still in flux.

Assuming Carroll remains, he needs to act.

Nobody should be off the hook. Both coordinators. Positional coaches. Nobody should be hiding behind 12-4. There are too many instances where Seattle’s staff were out-coached and that has to change.

Let’s take it a step further. Everything should be on the table in terms of personnel change. In my opinion, the Seahawks should listen to any and all offers. Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t getting them anywhere. They have barely any picks and very little cap space. Be open to possibilities.

They need to work out an identity that is consistent and successful. Jumping from awful defense and ‘Let Russ Cook’ to better defense and an offensive implosion — that’s not how it works. They need a plan that is coherent, effective and everyone needs to be on board with it.

We also need to know what is going on with John Schneider’s future. Is he staying? Is he going? To the Lions or anyone else? If you want him to stay, make it happen this week with a new contract. I don’t see why you wouldn’t if you’re serious about retaining him.

That’s my take anyway, speaking immediately after the game.

Do I think they’ll act on this in the way I’ve suggested? No. I suspect they will put a lot of their issues down to Covid. I think they’ll tell themselves they can fix things. They might be so limited in what they can do due to resources, they’ll simply be forced to try and fix things. There might be some coaching changes, we’ll see.

I think Carroll will blame the pick-six and losing the turnover battle. The penalties. Getting in their own way.

I really hope we don’t hear the words ‘uncharacteristic’ or ‘surprised’ in the subsequent press conference.

But the reality is this is serious. Bad enough to warrant a proper post mortem.

I fear that without a more surgical analysis of why they can’t get close to the NFC Championship game (let alone the Super Bowl) — we’ll simply be here again in 12 months.

Having the same conversations.

2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

I’ll go back to what I said earlier. This team should be judged on how it performs in the post-season.

Since 2015, they’ve won three playoff games — a Blair Walsh missed field goal delivered a win against Minnesota, they had a home victory against the Lions and they just about beat the Eagles who lost their quarterback early in the game.

That’s it.

With every year that passes as another wasted opportunity, you can’t help but wonder if the Seahawks — with this regime — will ever reach the top again.

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An interview with LA Tech’s Milton Williams (Seahawks fan)

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Today marks the start of my 2021 draft interview series.

Last year I spoke to a number of players, coaches, former GM’s and media pundits — including Damien Lewis, Scot McCloughan, Michael Lombardi, Jim Nagy, Tony Pauline, Brian Baldinger and many others.

My first interview this year is one of the my favourites so far. LA Tech’s star defensive lineman Milton Williams is explosive, quick and he’s set for a great combine performance.

He’s also, as he revealed during the piece, a Seahawks fan.

Please check out the interview below and if possible, like the video on YouTube to help promote it.

I’ve also got two more interviews lined up with players you’ll be very familiar with if you’ve been following the blog since the summer…

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New two-round mock draft: 7th January

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

I’m going to post this mock in list form, then offer explanations for each pick below.

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
#3 Miami (v/HOU) — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
#4 Atlanta — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
#6 Philadelphia — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#7 Detroit — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
#8 Carolina — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
#9 Denver — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
#10 Dallas — Dayo Odeyingbo (DE, Vanderbilt)
#11 New York Giants — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
#12 San Francisco — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
#13 LA Chargers — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
#14 Minnesota — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
#15 New England — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
#16 Arizona — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
#17 Las Vegas — Patrick Jones (DE, Pittsburgh)
#18 Miami — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
#19 Washington — Rasheed Walker (T, Penn State)
#20 Chicago — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
#21 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
#22 Indianapolis — Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
#23 Cleveland — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
#24 Tennessee — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#25 Tampa Bay — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
#26 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
#27 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
#28 Pittsburgh — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
#29 New Orleans — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
#30 Buffalo — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
#31 Green Bay — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
#32 Kansas City — Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)

Second round

#33 New York Jets — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
#34 Jacksonville — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
#35 Cincinnati — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
#36 Atlanta — Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
#37 Miami (v/HOU) — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
#38 Carolina — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
#39 Philadelphia — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
#40 LA Chargers — Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
#41 New York Giants — Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan)
#42 Detroit — Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC)
#43 San Francisco — Haskell Garrett (DT, Ohio State)
#44 Denver — Talanoa Hufanga (S, USC)
#45 Dallas — Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
#46 New England — Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)
#47 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
#48 Las Vegas — Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
#49 Chicago — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
#50 Baltimore — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
#51 Washington — Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)
#52 Arizona — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
#53 Tampa Bay — Jay Tufele (DT, USC)
#54 Miami — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
#55 Indianapolis — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
#56 Cleveland — Paris Ford (S, Pittsburgh)
#57 LA Rams — Joseph Ossai (LB, Texas)
#58 Tennessee — Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)
#59 Seattle — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
#60 Pittsburgh — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
#61 Buffalo — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
#62 New Orleans — Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
#63 Green Bay — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
#64 Kansas City — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)

Each pick explained

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
They could turn in the card now. It’s a 100% shoe-in that the Jaguars will take Trevor Lawrence. He’ll be the highest rated #1 pick since Andrew Luck.

#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
The Jets might trade out of this pick and get a haul in return. However, Zach Wilson is special and warrants serious consideration here.

#3 Miami (v/HOU) — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
It will be very tempting to take a receiver here but Penei Sewell is basically this years Chase Young, only on the other side of the line.

#4 Atlanta — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
The Falcons are interviewing a lot of young and creative offensive coordinators, hinting that they’re thinking about a life beyond Matt Ryan. Could Ryan end up in San Francisco?

#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Joe Burrow’s favourite target at LSU. Reuniting the pair in Cincy = immediate chemistry. Ran a 4.09 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 36 inch vertical.

#6 Philadelphia — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
The Eagles need more weapons and Smith was the deserved Heisman winner this year. He is unstoppable on slants, has the speed to get downfield and as a bonus — he loves to block. Ran a 4.13 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#7 Detroit — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
The Lions perhaps have other needs but Parsons is an incredible talent, the type that can define a defense for a decade.

#8 Carolina — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
They might trade up for a quarterback. If not, Pitts showed in 2020 that he’s an incredible mismatch target.

#9 Denver — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
They are another team who could trade up for a QB. Owusu-Koramoah is fast, explosive and a playmaker.

#10 Dallas — Dayo Odeyingbo (DE, Vanderbilt)
He’s 6-6, 276lbs, plays with his hair on fire and terrorises offensive linemen as a superb inside/out rusher.

#11 New York Giants — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
Moore is explosive and fast and you can build a passing game around him. Ran a 4.33 forty, a 4.01 short shuttle and jumped a 43 inch vertical at SPARQ.

#12 San Francisco — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
Highly athletic with great cover skills and agility. As a worst case scenario, he’s an elite slot corner.

#13 LA Chargers — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
Perfectly sized, great agility and a very capable left tackle prospect who will go earlier than people think. Had the best SPARQ score among O-liners in 2017 (107.25).

#14 Minnesota — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
A TFL machine in 2020, Nixon creates havoc from the interior and has the size to play every down and distance.

#15 New England — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
Lance had a terrific 2019 season but only played once in 2020, putting on a middling performance. Someone will take a chance on him though.

#16 Arizona — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
Incredibly gifted interior lineman with a top pedigree. He dominated Clemson alongside Josh Myers.

#17 Las Vegas — Patrick Jones (DE, Pittsburgh)
Dynamic edge rusher with superb quickness and leadership skills. Mayock and Gruden should love him.

#18 Miami — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
Gliding and cultured runner who somehow combines power and finesse. Very talented and productive. Ran a 4.16 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#19 Washington — Rasheed Walker (T, Penn State)
WFT have an elite D-line but now it’s time to start building up their O-line. Walker has shown well for Penn State.

#20 Chicago — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
He’s had a few lapses in 2020 but the talent and size will intrigue many teams. Only ran a 4.57 at SPARQ, though.

#21 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
He’s recovering from an injury but there’s no doubting the speed or the talent.

#22 Indianapolis — Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
BAMF in the Duane Brown mould. Tough, physical and what he lacks in elite athletic traits he makes up for with badassery.

#23 Cleveland — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
Highly athletic pass rusher who if he tests well, could go much earlier than this. Looks quick and explosive on tape.

#24 Tennessee — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
Farley is talented but lacks consistency. He could go early because the league is desperate for cornerbacks.

#25 Tampa Bay — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
Very raw prospect. He has the size and length but he might need time to reach his potential. Not playing in 2020 might not have been the best choice.

#26 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.

#27 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
Finished his college career with a bang against Cincinnati. Needs to be more consistent but he can get after the QB as a pure EDGE. Jumped a 40 inch vertical at SPARQ.

#28 Pittsburgh — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
If you want to monitor a potential big riser at quarterback — remember the name Davis Mills. NFL teams are going to love his skill set.

#29 New Orleans — 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.

#30 Buffalo — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
I think he had a ‘meh’ 2020 season. Testing will be key. Jumped a 37 inch vertical at SPARQ and ran a 4.43.

#31 Green Bay — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
He looks like a Greek God of a cornerback. Incredibly put together. Did very well against Auburn’s Seth Williams.

#32 Kansas City — Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)
Mean, nasty, violent and quick edge rusher who is only scratching the surface of his potential.

#33 New York Jets — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
It’s not overstating to say that at times he looks like Gronk.

#34 Jacksonville — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
Rising offensive tackle prospect. The Jags should make a point of protecting Trevor Lawrence well.

#35 Cincinnati — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
Overrated as a tackle but could easily slip inside and be a terrific player.

#36 Atlanta — Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
Also a little bit overrated based on tape but reportedly is going to be a top performer at the combine.

#37 Miami (v/HOU) — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
I want to put him earlier but it was hard to find a fit. He looks great on tape but his SPARQ testing was poor.

#38 Carolina — 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.

#39 Philadelphia — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
He simply hasn’t stood out as much since the knee injury a year ago.

#40 LA Chargers — Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
An absolute monster at left guard. Big, physical and ploughs people at the LOS.

#41 New York Giants — Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan)
Very competitive corner who loves to mix it and has shown impressive ball skills. Ran a sensational 3.90 short shuttle at SPARQ, adding a 4.43 forty and a 36 inch vertical.

#42 Detroit — Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC)
He has natural skills to get open and can do a bit of everything. His forty time will define how high he goes. Must improve on a 4.67 at SPARQ.

#43 San Francisco — Haskell Garrett (DT, Ohio State)
Outstanding defensive tackle prospect who was shot in the face a few weeks ago but returned to finish the season. Unreal combo of strength & agility. Ran a 4.41 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#44 Denver — Talanoa Hufanga (S, USC)
A hard-hitting, intelligent safety who reads/reacts better than most entering the league. Ran a 4.24 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#45 Dallas — Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
A dynamic athlete and playmaker who has a shot to be really good at the next level. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ, adding a 36 inch vertical.

#46 New England — Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)
Reliable and naturally gifted but might not test well enough to go any earlier than this.

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

#48 Las Vegas — Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
Pass-rushing three-technique who lacks size but knows how to create opportunities from the interior.

#49 Chicago — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
Someone is going to take a chance on him. He benefited a lot playing on a talented Alabama team but he’s also performed well.

#50 Baltimore — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
I’m not sure he’ll run quicker than the 4.5’s but some teams won’t mind and will really like him.

#51 Washington — Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)
Holland could go a lot earlier than this if he tests well at the combine.

#52 Arizona — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
Former golden 5-star recruit who left UCLA after suffering concussions. He flashed in 2020 with the Hurricances.

#53 Tamoa Bay — Jay Tufele (DT, USC)
Big, physical interior presence who shows enough quickness to offer some pass-rushing help. Ran a 5.04 forty at SPARQ.

#54 Miami — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Looked like a star in 2019 but struggled to make an impact in his games this season.

#55 Indianapolis — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
He was a lot more consistent in 2020. He might end up being another Dak Prescott who turns it on at the next level.

#56 Cleveland — Paris Ford (S, Pittsburgh)
Playmaker. Physical. Stands out. Again, testing will determine if he goes earlier.

#57 LA Rams — Joseph Ossai (LB, Texas)
Rushed the edge a lot but might be better suited as a full-time linebacker. Does have some talent to get after the QB, though.

#58 Tennessee — Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)
Smaller receiver with electric skills. Can be used in many different ways. Will need to run well at his size.

#59 Seattle — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
Tough, physical back who creates yards after contact. If he’s explosive at the combine, he’ll be on their radar.

#60 Pittsburgh — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
Tall (6-3) and ran well at SPARQ (4.47) but he gives up too many easy receptions and his short shuttle (4.51) is concerning.

#61 Buffalo — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
I’m not convinced he’ll shine at the combine but if he does — get ready because he’ll see a big jump.

#62 New Orleans — Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
He’s a thumping, talented linebacker. Yet his stock might be limited to this range due to testing. He only ran a 4.80 at SPARQ and jumped a 32 inch vertical.

#63 Green Bay — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
Very dependable and shone in a bad LSU offense this season. Will go much earlier with a good combine but only ran a 4.53 at SPARQ.

#64 Kansas City — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
Extremely competent center with enough talent to go higher than I have him listed.

Other players considered

Obinna Eze (T, Memphis)
Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
Monty Rice (LB, Georgia)
Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
Javian Hawkins (RB, Louisville)
Trey Smith (G, Tennessee)
Kyle Trask (QB, Florida)
Nico Collins (WR, Michigan)
Jackson Carman (T, Clemson)
Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
Seth Williams (WR, Auburn)
Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
Trey Sermon (RB, Ohio State)
Trevon Moerihg (S, TCU)

Further thoughts on the Seahawks pick

There’s a chance Seattle will need to add a running back at some stage this off-season with both Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde out of contract.

Javonte Williams fits their preferred size profile at 5-10 and 220lbs. He’s a tough, physical runner who drives through contact and finishes runs. Pete Carroll loves runners like this and I suspect he will be a big fan of Williams’ tape.

If he tests well in the vertical and broad jumps, rest assured he will be on their radar.

Williams set a school record with 22 total touchdowns this season despite operating in a time-share with Michael Carter. He finished the season with 1140 rushing yards at 7.3 YPC and added 305 receiving yards.

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New podcast: Rams playoff preview, predictions & more

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Adam Nathan joined Robbie and I to look ahead to the Rams playoff game in this special edition of the podcast. Included are our predictions for the the NFC & AFC games plus a conversation on why these playoffs are so critical for the Seahawks and Russell Wilson.

Please like the video on YouTube if you can, I think it helps promote the podcast.

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Guest post: Curtis Allen’s fourth quarter report card

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

This article is a guest post by Curtis Allen — better known as ‘cha’ in the community

Record: 4-0

Thoughts
It’s a fantastic accomplishment to finish the season with four straight wins to stand at 12-4. That really says something about this team, to do it while enduring one of the strangest seasons in NFL history.

That said, we saw some less than stellar play on both sides of the ball in these games.  Inconsistent play at times just did not instil confidence in the fan base or give the team much momentum. As a result, there are a lot of question marks about a 12-4 #3 seed. Which is an unsettling thing to say.

MVP

1. Michael Dickson
He continues to churn out an incredible body of work under pressure. Let us count the ways he excelled this quarter:

– Dickson had six punts of 50 or more yards with either no return or a one yard return.
– More impressive — five of those six punts were in situations where the Seahawks were tied or leading by one score. That is some clutch punting.

Need any more evidence of his awesomeness? In the Rams game, the Seahawks are up 13-6 and the defense has just made a goal line stand and given the ball back to the offense. Yet they can’t give Dickson an inch of breathing room and have to punt. They get flagged for a false start penalty on the first attempt. So let’s back up another baby step.

Dickson has no room. His back foot is a blade of grass from being out of bounds. He has to get the kick out in a hurry and the Seahawks would count it as a win to just get rid of the ball and turn back to the defense to make a stop after a 20 or 30 yard punt.

Nope. Dickson uncorked a 51 yard bomb. He gave the defense enough room work and hold the Rams to a field goal.

Oh, and just for fun he added a couple short punts that pinned the opponent inside their own 20.

His contract is up after 2021. He’s a priority this offseason to extend. Forget scoffing at the Pro Bowl snub. Dickson is the real deal.

2. Russell Wilson
He stabilized himself after a shaky third quarter and there are some things to really like and build on.

– A nice rebound performance against what appears to be a surprisingly competent Jets team.
– He reduced his turnovers, throwing just two interceptions in four games. As well, it could be argued both interceptions were not of the sloppy, risky variety but great plays by the defender.
– He led hugely impactful 70 and 74 yard TD drives against the Rams in the second half of the game. The Rams defense has been incredibly stingy in the second half in 2020.
– He demonstrated a bit more decisiveness, taking the rushing yards that were open to him, including a 38 yard run against Washington and a TD run against the Rams.

Once again he needs to balance aggression and keeping the ball protected. This has been a back and forth swing between Russell and Pete at times in his career. There are going to be times in the playoffs where Russ is going to have to make three or four really good pressure throws if the team is to succeed.

3. DK Metcalf
His offseason checklist will include some concentration work as he’s had some mental lapses. The illegal shift penalty killing a drive vs the Rams and jogging back to the LOS after a play when the clock was running.

He did improve this quarter on drops. He only had one.

His star continues to grow. He may not have had a signature deep catch this quarter but he continued an important trend for a young player — just about every quarter this season Metcalf has shown us something new. This quarter he decided to change it up and show us two new things – both of which further addressed some pre-draft criticism:

He can be a first down machine
13 of his 20 catches this quarter were for first downs. Think about that for a minute. 65% of his catches caused a first down. In the WFT game he caught the ball a couple yards short of the first down marker and turned up field and just bowled over the linebacker for the first down. Why not? He’s bigger than the linebacker. He landed on his head and got right back up.

“But he isn’t a good route runner.  He’s fast but he can only run in one direction.”

He twice displayed fantastic physical durability
Early in the Jets game he limped off the field and into the tent when a defender fell awkwardly on his lower leg. He returned shortly after and continued playing.

In the WFT game he landed awkwardly in the end zone on a catch attempt and the video showed something leaning towards a mild hyperextension. Pete Carroll said he didn’t know how DK avoided injury, other than he’s so flexible and in such great shape it didn’t cause a serious problem.

“But he’s TOO muscular.  All that muscle is going to pull and sprain and cause all kinds of trouble for him.”

Rookie of the Quarter

1. Damien Lewis
Not a shock. He’s been the Rookie of the Quarter every quarter this year. In a year with some encouraging contributions from this rookie class, he still stands out above the rest.  He’s played 90% of the team’s snaps this year and the only ones he missed were due to injury not getting subbed for poor play. Easily their Rookie of the Year.

2. Jordyn Brooks
He’s progressing very nicely. Although drafting a WILL linebacker so high is an expensive proposition, he’s paying dividends. One of the reasons he was brought in was to fight the Rams’ edge speed on the perimeter. Job done. Eight tackles in only 28 snaps in the Rams game is an incredibly proficient performance.

Watch him lay out George Kittle and still make the tackle.

There’s been a lot of talk that the Seahawks can avoid bringing KJ Wright back, or that they can cut Bobby Wagner loose because of Brooks’ stellar play in the last few games. That’s overly optimistic of course but it does show the level of Brooks’ play this quarter. He started this year with Ken Norton saying ‘he’s got a lot to learn’ and ‘he’s got all the skills we like, he just has to get on the field.’ He’s made big strides since that time. He’s ready to be a fixture on the defense in 2021.

But if he really does want to start that conversation about KJ and Bobby, ascending in the playoffs with some notable play could give the talk some legitimacy.

3. Alton Robinson
Two sacks this quarter to raised his season total to four. Some have been comparing him to Frank Clark in his rookie season, when he got 6 sacks in limited reps. Let’s pump the breaks on that and let Alton grow a bit.

What’s impressive though is that the sacks have had a great effect and have been done with a very limited number of reps.

In the WFT game, he had a strip sack of Dwayne Haskins. That was in 24 snaps.

In the Rams game he had a key red zone sack of Jared Goff that killed the drive and forced a field goal attempt. The Seahawks were clinging to a 13-6 lead at the time. He accomplished that with 18 snaps.

It’s understandable that the Seahawks are limiting the snaps of a 5th round rookie, with Mayowa and Dunlap sharing his position and the “rookie wall” being a real concern.  But he has shown a propensity for sacks at important times and come playoff time, that ability needs to be featured, not diminished.

Pleasant Surprises

1. Beating LA
That was a huge victory for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. The division was on the line, they’d come off a game against WFT that was shaky and here come the Rams who have dominated them.

The Seahawks stepped up and provided a big psychological victory. They trudged through the mud in the first half — outplaying the Rams but not outscoring them — and yet they didn’t let the Rams come back in the second half. Russell Wilson leading some great drives later in the game was a real confidence builder after his disaster of a performance in Week 10.  That goal line stand was a thing of beauty and something the defense can use to pump themselves up for the upcoming playoff game.

2. The emergence of DJ Reed
Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity’? Reed proved to be the embodiment of ‘crisitunity’ this quarter.  With Quinton Dunbar out for the season with injury and Tre Flowers out for three of the four games, they had a big, big hole at outside cornerback. Reed filled that excellently when given the opportunity. In fact, he’s thrust himself into the conversation as a starter in the playoffs and the team will definitely be considering him for a big role on the defense in 2021.

Reed has been incredibly durable, only missing a couple snaps this quarter. He has an interception, zero missed tackles, allowed a low completion percentage when targeted and his yards after catch allowed is miniscule. That’s the very definition of sticky coverage.

What’s more – Reed brings an attitude, an edge to this team. He has a chip on his shoulder from being discarded by the Niners that someone like Jamal Adams, fierce as he is, just has never faced professionally. It’s reminiscent of the early PC days, with Seahawks players like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Richard Sherman. Not only can he carve an important spot on this roster with his play, he can relate to and motivate players like Ryan Neal to reach their potential.

3. The OL performance in the WFT game
The Seahawks have struggled with seriously strong defensive lineman groupings in the past. Many were rightly concerned about the offensive line facing the Washington front four in this game. Brandon Shell not being available for this game and Cedric Ogbuehi being slotted at the right tackle spot only deepened those concerns.

This unit handled the defensive line quite well. In 57 offensive snaps, they logged zero sacks allowed and seven pressures on eight blitzes. They also opened hole after hole in the running game. Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and Russell Wilson had great runs and they were able to pace the offense on the strength of this line handling and effectively leaning on the Washington defensive line.

Biggest Disappointment

1. The sputtering offense
This quarter, three of the four games featured some strange game planning, play calling and ineffectiveness of the offense for large chunks of the game.

In the Washington game, they directed many early touches David Moore’s way. They clearly saw something in their game prep that they liked. They manufactured several quick-throw plays behind the LOS for Moore but they had very little effect.

Why David Moore for those? Why not Lockett or Metcalf for those plays? David Moore is not particularly strong at those type of quick pass plays. He’s fantastic at coming down with deep contested passes. That is his strength. Not dipsy-doodling at the line of scrimmage.

It’s also worth noting that in that game Will Dissly got zero targets. Zero.

In the Rams game, they decided to once again in the first half call several long-developing plays. As a result, Russell Wilson was sacked three times and frequently threw the ball away or dumped it off for very little gain. Why? Was the coaching staff overconfident after the OL did so well against Washington’s defensive line the week before?

At any rate the effect was Russell Wilson running for his life and not being able to get in rhythm. It’s no wonder they went into the half 6-6 having outplayed the Rams.

Wilson has had many problems but the offensive play calling has been indifferent to their opponents’ strengths, Russell’s current struggles and their available resources (like the tight ends). They’ve got to adjust better if they want to progress.

2. The near collapse vs Washington
The Seahawks had a 20-3 lead going into the fourth quarter. They nearly blew the lead against a team with a quarterback who was no longer on the roster the following week. Just typing that sentence gave me a bad feeling in my stomach.

Dwayne Haskins had nine passing first downs and three rushing first downs in the second half. That’s unacceptable. Pete Carroll shrugged away that awful performance with ‘we didn’t focus on the blitzing until we realized they were going to be pass heavy. When we did, we stopped them.’

The defense did what they frequently do, come up with a big stop at the end of the game and that is commendable. Yet this raises concerns for when the Seahawks will face better offenses.

3. The Darrell Taylor situation is now officially a debacle
How did we get to this point? Pete Carroll teased the press and the fan base practically all season and then got snide with reporters when pressed on what Taylor’s status is.

Not being able to have a draft pick in during the summer for a full exam due to COVID and starting the season on NFI is one thing. Needing a few weeks of the season to get right is not too far off schedule.

Being told a few weeks in that Taylor is running and looks great is a nice bit of positive news. Then a nugget is shared that he can’t change direction but is quickly dismissed with another positive review of his status. Which only added to the confusion and frustration.

This quarter, the confusion was amped up to all new levels. Taylor is ready. No, he’s going to get a second opinion. No, he didn’t get the opinion this week. I’ll have more for you next week. He got the second opinion and he worked out and was really sore. I’ll have more for you Wednesday. Then nothing.

It’s very possible Taylor may never play for the Seahawks. That needs to be accounted for. Pete simply cannot just shrug this off or get snippy with the press for doing their job.

Playoff Goals

1. Russell Wilson, this is your time
Your year has been exhilarating, confusing and frustrating.

You’ve had fantastic games. You’ve had terrible games. You’ve had games that started out terrible and ended up fantastic.

Your coaching staff has made some very strange play calls this season. There’s no doubt you’ve been hamstrung at times by the coaching staff and there’s been some confusion and frustration evident in your play.

Now is the time to rise above all of it. You can do it. You’ve been to the Super Bowl twice. You’ve faced and overcome impossible odds before. This city and this team have seen you do things no Seattle quarterback in history has done. You can do it again.

You talk about being the best ever. You talk about the MVP. You’ve interviewed Sue Bird and Jerry Rice on your podcast. People who have had hugely successful careers and been able to sustain them.

Now’s the time to flip the script and join them. The defense is rounding into form. The special teams are sparkling. But let’s be honest – this team is going as far as you take them.

Rise up.

2. Use your depth
The Seahawks have carefully built their depth all offseason and protected it by having several players on a pitch count during games. At one point Chris Carson was spotted on the practice field in bubble wrap. It appears a real fear has been instilled into this staff after dragging a beaten and bruised team into the playoffs last year and having to bring Marshawn Lynch out of retirement for a run at a title.

Well, now it’s the playoffs. The gloves are off. This is what you’ve coddled these players for. Chris Carson needs to shift into gear and have about 20-25 hard charging carries and a 3-4 good catches. Pound the Rams into submission and give Russell Wilson some room to breathe and not have to carry this team on every single offensive play.

Will Dissly. Greg Olsen. Jacob Hollister. Use them to build offensive rhythm. Some fans have maintained that the Seahawks are intentionally not giving them throws to sort of ‘keep a trick up their sleeves’ and surprise defenses. Well, now’s the time to unveil the tricks. Give them their shots.

If you do that you’ll perhaps solve goal #3…

3. Get better on third downs. Please.
4/12 vs San Francisco
8/17 vs Los Angeles
5/12 vs Washington

These aren’t confidence-inspiring numbers. Even if you don’t score on every single drive, you need a better 3rd down conversion to win the field position game and keep the defense fresh for the 4th quarter.

Many thanks to Curtis Allen for this guest post

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Monday notes: Wilson’s future, K.J. Wright & Jordyn Brooks

Monday, January 4th, 2021

Thoughts on Russell Wilson’s form

I’m not going to rehash everything I wrote a few days ago about Wilson and the Seahawks but I think that article is worth another viewing prior to the playoffs.

It was put to Pete Carroll after the 49ers game whether he’s asked Wilson and Brian Schottenheimer to take more ‘calculated risks’, since a flurry of turnovers at mid-season:

“I don’t want to comment too much about that at this point because everybody’s going to try and figure out how to beat us”

So basically, yes. And it’s clear. They are taking fewer shots. The deep-ball to D.K. Metcalf has virtually disappeared. Wilson scored 28 passing touchdowns in the first half of the season compared to 12 in the second half.

They are much more conservative. Carroll believes winning the turnover battle is going to be critical to the success of the team. He can point to the stats to back that up. In games with multiple turnovers this season, the Seahawks are 0-4. They’ve won every game they’ve played with one turnover or no turnovers.

The problem is, you can’t be conservative if the other team doesn’t allow it to happen. If you get behind against a high-powered offense, as we saw in Green Bay last season, you have to chase the game.

That’s not an environment conducive with protecting the football.

So while the idea makes sense — the Seahawks are now playing a brand of ball where they need a certain type of game to happen. It might be harder to have that type of game against Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady compared to C.J. Beathard, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, Dwayne Haskins and Colt McCoy.

I stand by what I wrote in the piece last week. I think the way these playoffs play out will very likely have an impact on the relationship between the team and quarterback.

I think Carroll has really reigned in Wilson. He was turning the ball over too much. I suspect Carroll associates that with ‘cooking’ and there won’t be a return to the style of play that saw Wilson put up MVP caliber numbers to start the season.

Pete-ball, it seems, is here to stay.

I think Wilson is rolling with it because he’s a pro and they’re in the playoffs now. They’ve won their last four. If Carroll is right and this brand of football delivers a serious Super Bowl push, he will be validated.

If they lose in the wildcard or divisional around again playing this way and suffer a defeat ala Dallas in 2018, I’m not convinced Wilson will be content. I think that could create an issue. Because while it’s certainly true that Wilson needs to play better — I also think his poor play in recent weeks is indicative of a cautious, perhaps even shackled player who does not look comfortable.

And unless they’re winning titles, I don’t see this brand of football chiming with the brand that is Wilson. Eventually there will come a point where the team and the player view things too differently.

It will pain Wilson to see analysis like this, where he is compared to Baker Mayfield rather than the two names at the top of the list. He wants to be talked about in the same breath as Rodgers, Mahomes and Watson. He wants to be a serious MVP candidate. He wants to play with the freedom those players are offered.

If he’s not getting that — winning is the ultimate and only consolation prize.

So I think the playoffs are big — for Wilson, the Seahawks and their future relationship.

And while I pointed out in my previous piece how a trade in 2021 was most unlikely due to cost — we’re also entering a period in NFL history when who the hell knows what’s going on with the cap? The Saints are a projected $99m over the cap for 2021. The Eagles are $71m over and they’re supposedly going to trade Carson Wentz, taking on a dead cap hit worth tens of millions.

It’s almost as if Covid-19 has broken the salary cap and the league is going to have to come up with solutions to avoid the situation becoming a shambles.

If that shambles remains, however, teams might just do what they want. After all — if the Saints can be $99m over the cap, why can’t every other team? What are the consequences for New Orleans?

It feels like we’re entering an off-season like no other — in more ways than one.

I’m also happy to admit to the speculative nature of both this piece and the previous article. I think the other piece highlights why I think it’s a worthy topic of discussion. I don’t intend to make this a weekly feature of the blog but I do think it’s a conversation point nobody else is really talking about.

Linebackers deserve praise

There are a lot of legendary players from this era of Seahawks football. We’ll all remember Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and others.

As mentioned in the podcast yesterday (see below) — I hope K.J. Wright is as fondly remembered as anyone.

He is football perfection. Physical, tough, assignment sound, he makes plays, he leads, he has tremendous character, he’s humble. As a fan he is everything you want in a player.

I can’t imagine a better representation of an organisation. A superior role model.

K.J. Wright has been a fantastic player, a brilliant success story for the Seahawks and he deserves to be remembered as one of the greats.

They might’ve drafted Jordyn Brooks with the intention of potentially replacing Wright next year, given he’s out of contract. I think he needs to be kept. He’s been too good this season. The switch to SAM has been a revelation. He’s achieved a status where he deserves to play for the Seahawks for as long as he wants.

I really hope there’s a deal to be done there. Wright is the third best performer on the defense according to PFF. He’s playing too well to move on.

Equally I think it’s time to acknowledge the progress Jordyn Brooks is making. The typical rookie errors are lessening and the physicality is blossoming — as we saw with his tremendous hit on George Kittle (who was blocking) before making a tackle on Sunday.

Brooks led the team in tackles against the Niners — that’s the second game in a row. He is showing a lot of potential.

I’m still not 100% sure a first round pick on a linebacker of the future was completely the best use of Seattle’s top resource in 2020 — especially with the holes they’re going to need to fill coming up. That shouldn’t reflect on how he is playing though. He’s showing big steps forward and he looks like a player with a bright future.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks win, face Rams next week

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

With about ten minutes left of game time, I was preparing to write a very different instant reaction.

The Seahawks were absolutely rubbish on offense for three full quarters. They were trailing 16-6 to a 49ers team basically missing a full team of starters.

Then, suddenly and as if from nowhere, the offense caught fire.

Two long drives and a sack/fumble later and the game was won.

I’m tempted to just take the win on face value. It’s always good to beat the Niners, especially when they’re really trying.

The Seahawks finished 12-4 which was beyond my expectations.

It feels like they’re going to have to play a lot better on offense in the post-season though. They won’t be allowed to muddle around for three quarters against the Packers or Saints. Or maybe even the Rams next week. Let’s not forget Seattle’s record against Sean McVay, just because of what happened last week.

Otherwise this season will end the same way the last several have.

The other concern is the injuries. Jamal Adams (who seems to have had a lot of injuries this season) looked dejected after hurting his shoulder. His body language suggested — ‘I’m out for the playoffs’. Jarran Reed also had to leave the game.

This win might’ve come with a cost.

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