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The Seahawks are the Steelers, not the Patriots

Monday, November 16th, 2015

After winning 36 regular season games in three years, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the Seahawks were the next great dynasty. Similar to New England with Belichick and Brady.

After all, they went to back-to-back Super Bowls. The last team to do that was the Belichick and Brady-led Patriots.

The Seahawks aren’t the Pats though. Nobody is. Instead they’re more closely aligned to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And that’s why a relative down year — if that is what 2015 is going to be — shouldn’t invoke any sort of crisis.

1. As good as the New England Patriots are, they’ve enjoyed playing in the annually wretched AFC East for a long time. They’ve won the division every year bar one dating back to 2003. They’ve had double digit wins every single season in that period. The teams in the NFC West can only dream of facing the Bills, Dolphins and Jets twice every year. The opportunity to win 10-16 games consistently every year just doesn’t exist like it has done for the Pats.

2. The NFC West has developed into one of the toughest divisions in football — and that remains the case with Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco currently all under .500. The Rams save their best football for the division, the 49ers were a legitimate and ferocious contender until this season and the Cardinals are blossoming into a genuine force under Bruce Arians. It’s become very similar to the AFC North — immensely competitive and somewhat unpredictable. It’s hard to imagine any team ever dominating in the division. Even the Seahawks at their 2013 best lost games to San Fran and Arizona — and they should’ve lost on the road to St. Louis that season. Three different teams have won the AFC North in the last three years. The NFC West could also keep changing hands over the next few seasons.

3. The Steelers started their current run with a young rookie quarterback, a physical running game and a tough defense. They won a Super Bowl in Ben Roethlisberger’s second season. They had a dominating defense led by an all-pro safety. The Seahawks are built in a very similar fashion and have enjoyed similar results. Russell Wilson won a title in his second season, they have the physical run game and the defense is schematically very different but similarly capable of brilliance and includes an all-pro safety. At their worst each team has shared some frustrating aspects too. Agonising close defeats, a defense not performing or a stuttering offense.

Let’s look at how the Steelers have faired since winning that initial Super Bowl with Roethlisberger at the end of the 2005 season:

2006 — 8-8 (missed playoffs)
2007 — 10-6 (lost wildcard vs Jacksonville)
2008 — 12-4 (won Super Bowl)
2009 — 9-7 (missed playoffs)
2010 — 12-4 (lost Super Bowl vs Green Bay)
2011 — 12-4 (lost wildcard vs Denver)
2012 — 8-8 (missed playoffs)
2013 — 8-8 (missed playoffs)
2014 — 11-5 (lost wildcard to Ravens)

As you can see, they’ve had great success to appear in two more Super Bowls (winning one) but they’ve also missed the playoffs four times and had frustrating and crushing defeats in the post season (at home to the bitter rival Ravens last year, vs Tim Tebow in 2011).

Just because the Seahawks are similar to the Steelers doesn’t mean they’re going to mimic this run — but it’s also an indicator that the occasional 8-8 or 9-7 season and missing the playoffs doesn’t mean the end of a Championship window. Pittsburgh are proof you can fight back from a season like the one Seattle is currently experiencing and get back into the 11-12 win range.

There’s nothing really stopping the Seahawks achieving this in the future. They have a loaded core. They have legit star talent. Things maybe just need a refresh as they did in Pittsburgh from time to time. Nothing drastic.

What about Roethlisberger? What does his career progression tell us?

In the 10-6 2007 season, he had 32 touchdowns and 11 picks. In 2008 when they improved to 12-4, those numbers went down to 17 touchdowns and 15 picks. In the 8-8 season after the Super Bowl win he had a ratio of 18:23. Roethlisberger has established himself as a production machine aged 33 — but his early career was statistically erratic. Again, this doesn’t mean anything in terms of Russell Wilson. But maybe, like Roethlisberger, he’s going to have a year like this every now and again?

The dynamic between the two teams and the AFC North/NFC West is very similar. The Pats enjoy a perfect storm — they are uniquely excellent while playing in a weak AFC East division. The Seahawks and Steelers just don’t have that luxury.

Ever since Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle it felt like he was building something similar to the Steelers. If Pittsburgh can endure the odd lost season or two over the years — there’s no reason to panic if that ends up being the case with the Seahawks.

It’s also still too early to write off this season. The 49ers are up next.

Instant reaction: Seahawks face 4-5 hole

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

I’ll put some more considered thoughts down in the week. This was a long game and I need some sleep. Obviously the playoffs will be tough now. The Seahawks started poorly and failed to finish, with some typical Seahawks magic sandwiched in the middle.

Give the Cardinals credit for answering in the fourth quarter. Just as the game was drifting away, they straightened their tie and made a big statement. A drive to take the lead. A drive to ice it. Seattle’s defense — so responsible for making it a game — couldn’t find one more big play.

The Seahawks’ start on offense coming out of the bye week was staggering. Just a disjointed, jumbled mess that helped cough up a 19-0 deficit in the first half. The defense is strangely inconsistent. It flits between brilliance and big plays to coughing up long fourth quarter drives. Giving up 39 points in Seattle? Wow.

The Seahawks are a 4-5 team. It’s not a false position. They’re battling for a wild card and it’s a long way off. Right in the middle of their Championship window, they’re staring at a wasted season.

And for those wondering (anyone?) Seattle would have the #19 overall pick if the season ended today.

College Football Saturday: Open thread

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Another week, another tough opponent ticked off for Auburn’s Shon Coleman. Despite appearing to badly injure his knee on the opening drive, he played on and handled Georgia duo Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins.

The video above shows one particular block against Floyd. Coleman just drives him off the screen. He’s dealt with the best the SEC has to offer this season and excelled. What more does he have to do to warrant some deserved attention in the national draft media? Perhaps it’s best for the Seahawks if that doesn’t happen — even if it feels inevitable.

If you missed yesterday’s piece on Pittsburgh’s left tackle Adam Bisnowaty don’t forget to check it out. He needs to be on our radar too.

Indiana’s running back Jordan Howard had a fantastic game against Michigan. He ran for 238 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass. He’s a junior who transferred from UAB when they closed their football program. Big time yards after contact, nice physical running style. One to watch for Seattle.

Here’s one of his scores:

He was also aided by left tackle Jason Spriggs. He’s a little stiff in pass pro but does a good job in the run game with some key blocks. He’s said to be a good athlete with ideal tackle size.

Meanwhile, Alex Collins did this against LSU…

Whatever game or prospect you’re watching today, let us know about it.

Pittsburgh’s Adam Bisnowaty — another O-liner to monitor

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Pittsburgh’s Adam Bisnowaty could be a good option for the Seahawks in 2016

The 2016 draft looks pretty healthy for offensive lineman. That’s good news for the Seahawks.

Not only is the O-line in need of some care and attention, three fifth’s of Sunday’s starting line against Arizona is out of contract in the off-season. Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy are hitting the market. Patrick Lewis is a restricted free agent.

It seems unlikely both Okung and Sweezy will depart. The line has suffered enough thanks to a lack of cohesion and continuity. Three inexperienced new starters in 2016 looked like a recipe for disaster and so it has proved. The Seahawks are just hoping they can hold it together enough to avoid derailing a key season in the middle of the teams Championship window.

Even so, they could be facing at least three more changes in 2016. If Okung moves on, Gilliam could swap to the left tackle position. He’d need time to make that adjustment. That would create a hole at right tackle. It seems likely another face will be starting at center.

Adding more youth and inexperience isn’t an attractive proposition. More than ever young lineman are struggling to adapt to the NFL. Even the players drafted in the top ten are having a hard time making the transition. An apparent sure thing like Jake Matthews has been fairly ordinary. The insane upside of Greg Robinson hasn’t provided St. Louis with a fantastic left tackle yet.

The Seahawks would benefit from some choice veteran additions in free agency. Can they afford Alex Mack if he voids his contract? That would be a start. It’s unlikely to prevent at least one rookie starting next year. They don’t have a bottomless pit of cap space to fill the line with experienced vets.

Their ability to fill a hole in round one will be down to draft position more than anything. The later they pick, the harder it’ll be to get at the best group of tackles which for me includes Shon Coleman, Laremy Tunsil, Taylor Decker and Jack Conklin.

There will be options later on. Jason Spriggs is a largely unspectacular, solid blocker for Indiana with a shot to play right tackle at the next level. Joe Dahl is out with a foot injury for Washington State but has excelled in pass protection when healthy.

Time to throw another name into the mix.

Pittsburgh left tackle Adam Bisnowaty is extremely mobile with excellent, ideal tackle size (6-6, 300lbs). He ticks several boxes for the Seahawks. For starters, he’s a wrestler who was still competing as of 2011 (Tom Cable previously highlighted Justin Britt’s wrestling background). He’s a blue collar type who spent his youth fishing and hunting. He played basketball too — a testament to his athletic potential.

He was a former four-star recruit and one of the more heavily recruited prospects from Pennsylvania in recent memory.

He recently caught my eye watching the Pittsburgh vs North Carolina game. There’s no Bisnowaty tape on Draft Breakdown, but there’s plenty showing off Tyler Boyd. Including the UNC game:

Bisnowaty plays LT and wears #69.

So what stands out? He has a very fluid kick slide. Although he was never really challenged by speed in this game, he showed ample mobility and balance. He delivers a fantastic initial punch and showed off the ability to dominate and finish when squared up 1v1. It’d be very interesting to see how he’d adjust to guard where he can focus on downfield blocking where he should excel. I still think he has the mobility and range to play tackle.

There’s a willingness to get to the second level and he moves well laterally so he can pull and kick across easily enough. He passes off blockers and transitions with ease. There’s an awful lot to like here. Attitude, toughness, strength, size, mobility. A lot more to like than someone like Ronnie Stanley or Jerald Hawkins, that’s for sure. Stanley is a borderline first rounder for me, while LSU’s Hawkins has barely warranted a draftable grade (watch the Alabama game).

If the Seahawks wanted an upside prospect who could potentially man a tackle spot or move inside to guard, Bisnowaty is one to monitor. He’s a redshirt junior so should theoretically declare for the draft. He has a chance to rise. The skill set is there.

Updated first round mock draft — 10th November

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

For more on the Seahawks pick, the mock draft and general NFL/NFL Draft thoughts — check out this weeks podcast…

Picks 1-10

1 Detroit Lions — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
2 Cleveland Browns — Robert Nkemdiche (DE, Ole Miss)
3 Jacksonville Jaguars — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
4 Tennessee Titans — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
5 San Diego Chargers — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
6 Baltimore Ravens — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
7 Dallas Cowboys — Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
8 Chicago Bears — Cameron Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
9 San Francisco 49ers — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)

After watching Shon Coleman shut down Texas A&M’s brilliant Myles Garrett — there’s no reason not to make him the #1 offensive tackle prospect in this class. He’s the perfect compliment of attitude, athleticism and size. He loves to get to the second level and punish linebackers. He can mirror and kick slide well enough to play the blindside. People aren’t talking about him but don’t be surprised if he has a Greg Robinson, Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher, Ereck Flowers style rise.

Corey Coleman should be in the top ten of every mock draft you read. He probably should be leading the Heisman race. Incredible production is only part of the story. He will destroy the combine with eye-catching athleticism. He’ll take the ball away in contested situations, he’ll get downfield. He’s terrific in space. There’s no reason why he won’t be productive early in his pro-career. He could be the best offensive player in the class.

Paxton Lynch could’ve gone to the Browns at #2 but in this projection I have them waiting until the early second round for a quarterback. DeForest Buckner isn’t a fantastic, elite athlete but his play warrants an early first round grade.

Picks 11-20

11 Miami Dolphins — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
12 Houston Texans — Jaylen Ramsey (CB/S, Florida State)
13 Washington — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
14 Kansas City Chiefs — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
15 New Orleans Saints — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
16 Philadelphia Eagles — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
17 Oakland Raiders — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
18 St. Louis Rams — Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
19 Seattle Seahawks — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
20 Buffalo — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)

Why are the Seahawks drafting a linebacker?

In this projection Shon Coleman, Laremy Tunsil, Taylor Decker and Jack Conklin are off the board. This represents the possible dilemma facing the Seahawks if they intend to go offensive line early in this draft. It’s still too early to determine who will or won’t be there if they pick even this late in round one (#19) — but there is such a crisis in the NFL with a dearth of good, young O-liners. The ones that are available will go quickly. The Seahawks, even in a scenario where they don’t make the playoffs, could be met with a situation where they either have to force a pick or look elsewhere.

Taking Ronnie Stanley or Germain Ifedi would be forcing the pick. Stanley’s play is too hit and miss. He looks assured and technically adept against USC and then sluggish and lazy against Temple. Unlike Coleman and Tunsil he doesn’t look to get to the second level. His footwork can be poor. You want to light a fire under him he’s so passive. He will likely go early because of the NFL’s need for linemen — but don’t be shocked if he drops into round two either. Ifedi meanwhile has not looked particularly great at right tackle this season. He has the size to move inside at the next level. That’s fine. But to me he looks like a James Carpenter type.

In the brilliant Real in the Field Gulls podcast last week with Danny O’Neil we heard about the possibility of Garry Gilliam moving to left tackle to replace Russell Okung. If you think about it, Gilliam has the athletic profile to make it work. And unlike some of these first round picks, he’ll have a year starting in the NFL under his belt. If you’re going to have to go through the growing pains with a rookie anyway — you can see the thought process here. Whether you believe Gilliam is good enough to make the transition — that’s a different story.

If Gilliam moves to the left you need a right tackle and possible a center (Justin Britt has actually improved considerably in recent games at left guard). If you’re not paying Okung can you lure Alex Mack to Seattle if he voids his contract? Can you add a veteran right tackle? These are all possibilities that theoretically enable some flexibility in the first round.

I went with Myles Jack because of the athleticism and versatility he’s shown at UCLA, the likelihood of Bruce Irvin departing and the opportunity provided due to Jack’s knee injury. He likely goes a little earlier without the injury. If the Seahawks do miss the playoffs and pick at #19 — they might see it as a bonus opportunity to get a genuine top-20 talent.

And now that I’ve spent the last few para’s trying to convince you they might not go O-line early next year… I still think it’s incredibly likely that’s exactly what they’ll do. But hey — it’s November and a bye week. We need something to discuss.

Picks 21-32

21 Indianapolis Colts — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
22 New York Giants — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
23 Pittsburgh Steelers — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
24 New York Jets — Germain Ifedi (T/G, Texas A&M)
25 Atlanta — Jonathan Bullard (DT/DE, Florida)
26 Green Bay — De’Runnya Wilson (WR, Mississippi State)
27 Arizona — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
28 Minnesota — Adolphus Washington (DT/DE, Ohio State)
29 Denver — Jared Goff (QB, California)
30 Cincinnati — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
31 Carolina — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)

There’s every chance I’ll move Ronnie Stanley out of the first round again. For now he survives, just, due to the demand for OT’s in the NFL. Mackensie Alexander has impressed enough recently to warrant some attention in round one — adding to a talented cornerback class. De’Runnya Wilson is a poor man’s Kelvin Benjamin and could go in a similar range.

College Football Saturday: Open thread

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

Whatever you’re watching today — this is thread to discuss it. The big game tonight sees LSU take on Alabama. Paxton Lynch looks to continue his strong run against Navy. Shon Coleman also gets his biggest test of the season against Texas A&M and Myles Garrett. Remember, Laremy Tunsil did a good job against the Aggies. This will be a nice benchmark game for Coleman.

Friday notes: Garry Gilliam — future left tackle?

Friday, November 6th, 2015

I would urge everyone to listen to this weeks ‘Real in the Field Gulls’ podcast (see above). Danny O’Neil from ESPN 710 is the guest and provides a big dollop of educated Seahawks takes.

At the 24:15 mark Danny is asked about Seattle’s O-line. He suggests Russell Okung will probably leave the Seahawks in the off-season, that J.R. Sweezy could be re-signed and that Garry Gilliam might get a shot to take over at left tackle.

They clearly rate Gilliam and in many ways this first season at right tackle could be an audition. Can he show, over a 16-game campaign, that he’s ready to be a blind-side protector? He has the frame and the mobility. Can he develop into a technically sound blocker? We’ve seen gradual signs of improvement over the course of the season.

If the Seahawks pick late in the first round again in 2016, it’s going to be very difficult to draft a capable left tackle. So many teams are desperate for good O-linemen. They aren’t going to last very long in the first round.

It’s perhaps more likely they’ll get a chance to draft Gilliam’s replacement at right tackle or bring in a tackle-convert to play guard or center. Either way, it’s something to contemplate as we go through this process. It’ll certainly help if Justin Britt continues his much improved form at left guard, meaning they could theoretically focus on center and right tackle (Alex Mack + a draft pick? Maybe).

I’m not quite sure why Baylor’s Corey Coleman isn’t going early in mock drafts. Then again, you could make the same case for Shon Coleman and until recently Paxton Lynch. Nobody seems to be taking them seriously.

They should be.

The play above is a perfect example for why I recently mocked Corey Coleman with the #3 overall pick. We all know he has the fantastic athleticism, deep speed, explosive breaks and good hands. It’s the fact he adds this competitive spirit, grit and willingness to compete for the ball that separates good from great.

He also had an +80-yard score against Kansas State last night in a game-winning performance (11 catches, 216 yards, two TD’s). He has 20 touchdowns in just eight games. Think about that. He also has 1178 yards.

Teams are going to love Coleman. I think he’s a top 5/10 pick. Hopefully he’ll start to get the attention he deserves soon — along with Shon Coleman who is battling with Laremy Tunsil to be the best offensive tackle in college football.

Another receiver to keep an eye on is Mississippi State’s De’Runnya Wilson. He was superb against Missouri last night in horrendous weather conditions — snatching four catches for 102 yards and two scores.

He looks more polished, more consistent and more rounded this year. He’s 6-5 and around 215-220lbs. There’s some Kelvin Benjamin to his style. He’s a prototype big-bodied receiver who could work into the first round equation next year.

Mock draft breakdown (November 4th): Seahawks go O-line

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Taylor Decker could help upgrade Seattle’s O-line. But yeah, it’s November. So who knows?

In the podcast this week we conducted a live 1-31 mock draft (the Pats don’t have a first rounder). I said I’d list it out in full today and you’ll find it below. It’s very much a loose projection, designed mainly to look at the kind of range certain players might be drafted. Do I think the Bears will prioritise replacing prospective free agent Alshon Jeffery over defensive help? Not really. But I wanted to emphasise Laquon Treadwell’s stock as a possible top ten pick.

Picks 1-10

#1 Detroit Lions — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#2 Tennessee Titans — Robert Nkemdiche (DE, Ole Miss)
#3 Baltimore Ravens — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#4 Cleveland Browns — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#5 San Diego Chargers — Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
#6 San Francisco 49ers — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
#7 Jacksonville Jaguars — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#8 Chicago Bears — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#9 Dallas Cowboys — Cameron Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
#10 Houston Texans — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)

The Lions, Titans and Ravens aren’t likely to be in the quarterback market. If the Browns ended up with the first overall pick — or the 49ers — I’d have no issue putting Paxton Lynch right at the top of this class. He could go that early. I’ve said it a few times now — but teams are going to look at this quarterback class and decide Lynch has the bigger upside and the greatest combination of physical tools and accuracy. He’s leading Memphis, almost single-handedly, into the top-15 teams in the nation. Think about that. They beat Ole Miss, who won at Alabama. He doesn’t turn it over. He throws with touch and he’s mobile enough to be a threat as a runner. He won’t be Cam Newton. But he won’t be far off if he lands with the right team.

Corey Coleman is a production machine who competes for the ball and an elite athlete. He will destroy the combine if he declares for the 2016 draft. He has a realistic shot to propel his stock into the upper echelon of prospects — similar to Tavon Austin’s rise in 2013.

Laremy Tunsil could go as early as the #1 overall pick but in this projection I had teams looking at other needs. It’s no slur on Tunsil — and he lands with the Jaguars here because the value is just too good.

Tre’Davious White in my opinion is going to be highly coveted (leadership, coverage skills and an underrated kick returner). Cameron Sutton and Eli Apple aren’t far behind. Shon Coleman might be the most underrated player in college football. Like Corey Coleman, don’t be surprised if he leaps into the top ten in the new year.

Picks 11-20

#11 Kansas City Chiefs — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#12 Miami Dolphins — Jaylon Ramsey (CB/S, Florida State)
#13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#14 Philadelphia Eagles — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#15 Washington — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#16 Buffalo Bills — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 New Orleans Saints — Adolphus Washington (DT/DE, Ohio State)
#18 Seattle Seahawks — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#19 Pittsburgh Steelers — Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
#20 St. Louis Rams — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)

Eli Apple would make a nice partner for Marcus Peters while Jaylon Ramsey fills a big hole for the Dolphins either at corner or free safety. DeForest Buckner is a better football player than Arik Armstead who went in this range to the 49ers a year ago. Jack Conklin might end up at right tackle in the NFL — the Eagles could get creative with Lane Johnson to accommodate him.

Michael Thomas is just a terrific receiver with everything you want in a true #1. Reggie Ragland would be a tone setter and organiser for Rex Ryan’s talented but underachieving defense in Buffalo. Adolphus Washington makes enough splash plays to warrant consideration in round one. Kendall Fuller is a top talent coming off an injury otherwise he’d go earlier. Tyler Boyd is a gritty playmaker and the heart and soul of Pittsburgh’s offense.

What about the Seahawks? Right now it looks like they’ll simply have to take the best offensive lineman available next year — barring some big (unlikely?) moves in free agency. This need will be even more desperate if they lose Russell Okung. Ideally they find a way to keep Okung and then draft a right tackle. Decker’s an underrated athlete and should do better than expected at the combine. He’s technically very sound and has practised against Joey Bosa for a few years. Good personality with a ‘working class’ feel to his game. He should be able to start quickly.

Also playing into the equation is the possibility of Garry Gilliam improving at right tackle or even being given the chance to replace Okung (not out of the question). The Seahawks could look at alternatives later such as Indiana’s Jason Spriggs. They could even target a guard convert here like Germain Ifedi or Joe Dahl.

Ronnie Stanley is also still on the board in this projection and would be a risk/reward option to replace Okung. We’ve seen the best (vs USC) and worst (vs Temple) of Stanley recently. When he squares up to blockers and can hand-fight 1v1 he wins most of his battles. His effort, however, is so inconsistent and he frequently looks lost trying to find someone to block. Coleman, Tunsil, Decker, Conklin — they play with their hair on fire. Coleman and Tunsil in particular seek out the second level and just hammer linebackers. Stanley has this ugly tendency to coast through games playing at half-speed. It’s a real concern and I’d have a hard time personally taking him in round one. Such is the need for quality tackles, however, someone might feel obliged to draft him early and hope for the best.

Picks 21-31

#21 Indianapolis Colts — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#22 New York Giants — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#23 New York Jets — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#24 Oakland Raiders — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#25 Minnesota Vikings — Germain Ifedi (T/G, Texas A&M)
#26 Atlanta Falcons — Joe Dahl (T/G, Washington State)
#27 Arizona Cardinals — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#28 Green Bay Packers — Jonathan Bullard (DT, Florida)
#29 Cincinnati Bengals — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#30 Carolina Panthers — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#31 Denver Broncos — Jared Goff (QB, California)

It’s still too early to even consider how this part of the first round will play out. I like Darron Lee and Myles Jack a lot and they could go earlier than this. Ifedi and Dahl are both likely to move inside. Dahl is performing well in pass protection for the Cougs, while Ifedi is struggling a bit at right tackle for the Aggies. A’Shawn Robinson offers very little in terms of pass rush and that could hamper his stock.

Zekey Elliott could end up going to a good team who can afford to take him in round one. In this instance it’s Arizona. He might need a bit of time to click at the next level — but he’s a well-rounded weapon of a running back. Jonathan Bullard has lived in the backfield all season for Florida and deserves a first round projection here.

Shaq Lawson might be the best pure edge rusher after Joey Bosa but there will be some doubts about yet another undersized Clemson DE. I have no issues putting Braxton Miller in round open. He’s dynamic in space, has shown to be a natural hands-catcher. He’s bright, intelligent and an X-Factor.

Jared Goff completes the round. He had another rough day against USC with one horrendous interception in particular. He’s a very skilled, accurate, surgeon of a passer at times. He’s also erratic and needs to be brought along slowly at the next level. The internet has decided to anoint him as their champion (see: Teddy Bridgewater, 2014). So expect major overreactions when he goes later than ‘Draft Twitter’ projects followed by repeated ‘told you so’s’ when he has a good performance (and stoney silence when, like Bridgewater, he finds it pretty tough).

For further thoughts on each pick, check out the podcast:

Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Cowboys 13-12

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

The Seahawks had to grind their way to 4-4. That’s not such a bad thing.

It doesn’t feel like the most satisfying win. The NFL public cares about style points. Nobody is going to give the Seahawks big licks for this performance. They beat Matt Cassel by a point. That’ll be the perception.

And really, you shouldn’t care one iota.

The Seahawks can take plenty of positives out of this one. The defense did what it had to — limit the damage in the running game and shut down Cassel. Dallas had four field goals for their efforts. That’s it. The Cowboys had 220 total yards in the game. Compare that to the 460 they had against the Giants last week.

Cliff Avril continues to have a brilliant season. It won’t show up in the stat column — but what he did against a very strong Cowboys O-line deserves respect. Michael Bennett came on strong at the end and Jason Witten was a non-factor. Don’t underestimate that by the way. Seattle has struggled against tight ends mightily.

On offense they generally moved the ball. Marshawn Lynch had 71 yards but it felt like more. Jimmy Graham had a nice 75-yard game. Luke Willson was an x-factor with the only touchdown. The Seahawks didn’t give up a single sack despite having to start Alvin Bailey at left tackle.

At times the offense lacked rhythm. Yet when it mattered in the fourth quarter they secured a 17-play drive starting at their own 15 for the game winning score. Given the inability to finish games on offense this year, that drive was a huge plus point.

Overall this was a good, solid road win against a desperate team. The Seahawks are 4-4 with three home games to follow. There was a lot of pressure to win today. A defeat puts you three games behind Arizona in the NFC West and the Wild Card group would be drifting clear. They had to win today. Job done.

There’s one big issue they need to resolve during the bye week.

Third downs.

For too long now, third down conversion has been an issue for the Seahawks. For some reason, despite a lot of time, resource and attention dedicated to addressing the issue, it lingers.

A great example was a third and four in the third quarter. Seattle threw a low percentage fade to Jimmy Graham. The score was 10-9 after a long, time consuming and punishing Cowboys drive. Three-and-out. The Seahawks punted.

The Seahawks have a perfect blend of weapons for third and short. A mobile quarterback. A punishing, brilliant running back. One of the best move-tight ends in the game. Even the pass protection was good today. And yet third and manageable remains a major headache.

Seattle finished the game 4/14 on third downs. If they convert at 50% they pull away in this one. Anything more than that and it’s probably a blow out given the way the defense played.

Teams generally have stock plays on third down. It’s the bread and butter of an offense. ‘This is what we are’. On 3rd and short — you kind of know what a team is going to try and you just have to stop it.

What is the Seahawks’ best play on third and short? We can all make a suggestion, but we don’t know a definitive answer. We should know by now.

The trade deadline is on Tuesday. There’s been some talk of possible moves by the Seahawks. They play Arizona in Seattle two weeks today.

Browns open to trading Joe Thomas & Alex Mack?

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

I’m currently travelling so can’t embed the report, but Ian Rapoport says the Browns have engaged in talks about trading their star left tackle Joe Thomas and excellent center Alex Mack. There’s no suggestion that a deal is close with another team with the trade deadline on Tuesday

The Seahawks haven’t been named as an interested party either, but they’ve been as aggressive as anyone in recent years when it comes to trades. The O-line is the biggest weakness on the team. Jason La Canfora is also reporting Seattle is working hard to trade for a veteran O-liner and is willing to deal receiver Chris Matthews.

The Browns would expect a big return. Thomas is arguably the best tackle in the NFL. Mack is one of the top center’s. Either player would command a princely sum.

The Seahawks could package picks and Russell Okung plus a receiver to possibly interest the Browns. That might get you one of Thomas or Mack. Even then it’s pure rosterbation. Madden 16 would reject the offer it’s that fanciful.

Still, the Seahawks know they’re in a Championship window that won’t last forever. They’re the ultimate win-now roster with maybe 2-3 years at the very top to come. Making a deal and giving up 2016 draft stock isn’t something they’ll be concerned with it helps them win in 2015.