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Live Blog: NFL Draft Round 1

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I’ll post pick-by-pick analysis below. Feel free to use this as an open thread.

As soon as the Seahawks make their pick (or trade out of round one) we’ll broadcast a live podcast. I’ll replace the NFL Draft logo above with the audio embed.

I’ve been asked to request people do not tip picks in the comments section.

Here’s our round one big board:

#1 Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
The right pick. If it doesn’t work for Garrett it won’t be due to a lack of talent. The key is for Greg Williams to make him great. And in fairness, he’s had success with D-liners in the past. How explosive is Garrett? His TEF score is 4.21. That’s vastly superior to J.J. Watt (3.82), Aaron Donald (3.53), Mario Williams (3.97), Jadeveon Clowney (3.50) and Khalil Mack (3.81).

#2 TRADE Chicago Bears (via SF) — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
The Bears gave up their third rounder, fourth rounder and a 2018 third rounder to swap picks with the Niners. Clearly, someone else was moving to #2 to get Trubisky and the Bears stepped up to the plate. They signed Mike Glennon in free agency. It’s a stunner. Trubisky showed a lot of potential at North Carolina. I’d argue he’s better than Goff a year ago.

#3 San Francisco 49ers — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
Myles Garrett is really explosive. Solomon Thomas is only a notch behind. His TEF score is 3.83 — almost identical to J.J. Watt. He often gets compared to Aaron Donald but he’s more of an inside/out player. His bowl game performance against North Carolina is one of the best individual performances you’ll ever see. He’s a beast — and he’ll be facing the Seahawks twice a year.

#4 Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
He’s an absolute beast. The Seahawks showed how valuable a running back can be with Marshawn Lynch. A great back can define an organisation. Fournette runs through people and sets the tone. As soon as he stepped on the field at LSU he looked like he was destined to go in the top-five. Let’s see if Jacksonville trades back into round one later for a quarterback.

#5 Tennessee Titans — Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
This is the pick the Rams traded to select Jared Goff a year ago. If you watch Davis’ highlight reel it’s impressive. The issues I had — and the reasons I had him going a lot later — were occasional concentration drops and no workout numbers. He has great character, he’s a proficient route-runner. Some people love him. I prefer O.J. Howard. They probably wanted to move down and take Davis — but the offer wasn’t there with Trubisky off the board.

#6 New York Jets — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
He’s considered a great leader. The Jets need some character in their locker room. This is a roster almost building from scratch so adding a strong defensive voice makes sense. That said, you don’t see too many plays on tape. He isn’t a ferocious tackler and he’s not as rangy as Malik Hooker. He’s more solid than spectacular. They drafted him for attitude. New York’s biggest need was probably in the locker room anyway.

#7 Los Angeles Chargers — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
I seriously underestimated the stock of Davis and Williams. Big mistake. Ian Rapoport tipped the pick on the NFL Network. I thought they weren’t doing that any more? If they want to win with Philip Rivers, they needed to get him more help. Williams isn’t a separation guy but he high points the ball and competes.

#8 Carolina Panthers — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
The Panthers play almost exclusively in the shotgun. McCaffrey can line up next to Cam Newton and be a major X-factor. He can split out wide, move to the slot, run up the middle, win with suddenness and strength. He’ll have an impact on special teams. His character is flawless. He’s a modern day playmaker.

#9 Cincinnati Bengals — John Ross (WR, Washington)
A few weeks ago I had Ross in the top-10 (to Carolina). Note to self — don’t get swayed by media hype over injuries. He is exceptional. Forget the 4.22 speed and watch him get open quickly in his routes. That’s where he wins. Separation is the key for any receiver and Ross is elite in that regard. He gets comped to DeSean Jackson. He gets open like Antonio Brown.

#10 TRADE KC Chiefs (via BUF) — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
The Chiefs traded their 2018 first round pick and their third rounder (#91) to move into the top-10. For all the negativity about this quarterback class, we’re going to see two teams trade up to select two of them. Mahomes is a playmaker. Great arm, very creative. Improvises well (an underrated asset). He needs time to learn an offense — he’ll get that in Kansas City.

#11 New Orleans Saints — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
The interesting thing at this stage is — Jonathan Allen is still out there. Keep an eye on that. Marshon Lattimore is incredibly athletic. According to reports there are concerns about hamstring injuries. This likely spells the end of their interest in Malcolm Butler. Lots of good defensive players are still on the board after, stunningly, two quarterbacks and three receivers were taken in the top-10.

#12 TRADE Houston Texans (via CLE) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
The Texans traded their 2018 first rounder to move from #25 to #12, mimicking the Chiefs’ move. For the second year in a row, teams are spending future picks to get at the QB class. Remember, Houston already gave Cleveland their 2018 second rounder to move Brock Osweiler on. So Deshaun Watson cost them two first rounders and a second rounder, essentially. He’s a playmaker and can help this team in a big way very quickly. It’s a good job considering the price tag.

#13 Arizona Cardinals — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
Right at the end of 2016, I had Reddick going to the Seahawks in the late first round. Before that, we talked about him as a possible second round option for Seattle. That shows how far his stock shifted after the Senior Bowl and combine. Reddick is a complete stud and this is a fantastic pick for the Cardinals. He can play inside, rush the EDGE. For a blitz-happy defense he’s ideal. He’s tough.

#14 Philadelphia Eagles — Derek Barnett (EDGE, Tennessee)
Tony Pauline told us there would be a rush on EDGE rushers in the teens. This could be the start. Barnett has short arms and he didn’t test particularly well at the combine. He was, however, incredibly productive at Tennessee. He plays with intensity and took over games against Georgia and Florida in 2016. They cut Connor Barwin and needed an EDGE. They clearly believe in the depth at corner later on.

#15 Indianapolis Colts — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
This is great value. Nobody has come closer to looking like Earl Thomas since 2010. He goes in a similar range to Thomas too. His closing speed and knack for playmaking is exceptional. He had numerous interceptions in his final year in college, just like Earl. Getting Hooker in the mid-first is great value.

#16 Baltimore Ravens — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
Will this lead to a rush on cornerbacks now? Humphrey is really good. You always hear about the thing he doesn’t do well (ball tracking). You don’t hear enough about his athleticism, physicality and coverage skills. This is a good value pick. Jonathan Allen continues to fall, so does O.J. Howard (somewhat surprisingly).

#17 Washington — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Allen comes off the board. He’s not a twitchy athlete. He’s strong and savvy. He knows how to shake off a block and make plays. He’ll have to deal without Tim Williams by his side at the next level and a heavy rotation of 5-star D-liners. He has a great attitude and will provide leadership. The shoulder arthritis was clearly a concern for some teams.

#18 Tennessee — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
He’s a top-20 pick in any class for me. A special kick returner. He could be the best in the league right away. Terrific character and a team captain at USC. He had five picks in 2016 and defended 16 passes — tied for 11th in the country with Tre’Davious White. He’s a threat to score any time he’s around the ball. He’s the first player off the board from my list of seven names for the Seahawks.

#19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
It’s incredible really that Howard lasted this long. He’s a terrific blocker, was seriously under-utilised by Lane Kiffin and had a sensational combine. He has the opportunity to be Greg Olsen-good as a floor. There are no character issues or known injury qualms. Is it a positional thing? The Buccs’ offense continues to get better and better.

#20 Denver Broncos — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
There goes Bolles. He didn’t last to the Seahawks — and Seattle didn’t move up to leapfrog the Broncos as some reports had speculated they might. It’s a terrific pick. He’s intense and athletic. He’ll be tremendous in the run game and he has the potential to be an excellent pass blocker too. This is great value for Denver. Two down from the list of prospective Seahawks. Bolles was the first O-liner taken. Another lesson today — when a clued-in beat-reporter like Mike Klis tweets about a player weeks before the draft, take note.

#21 Detroit Lions — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
Jarrad Davis is a beast. His closing speed is incredible. He’s all-football, all-day. He’s plenty athletic. He’ll play through the pain. He’ll lead your defense. He can be a Patrick Willis type of player for Detroit. He was highly underrated by the media in the lead up to the draft. He could end up being one of the best players in this class.

#22 Miami Dolphins — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
If you’re hoping for Forrest Lamp in Seattle, this might be the spot he needed to get by to last until #26. The Dolphins spent a lot of time focusing on defensive talent in the build-up to the draft. Harris looked terrific during drills at the combine and had a good pro-day. He has a lot of potential but might not reach his peak for a year or two.

#23 New York Giants — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
In my penultimate mock draft, I put Engram here. In my final mock draft, I talked myself out of it. Engram was the first player we talked about extensively back in September. He’s a modern day weapon. He runs a 4.42 at about 235lbs. He’s a dynamic mismatch weapon who can line up anywhere. His speed likely put him ahead of Njoku. He’s more of a finished product.

#24 Oakland Raiders — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Conley does go in the first round after all. The NFL Network says he took a polygraph test to try and prove his innocence before the draft. It’s a difficult situation to get into so I’m going to avoid it. Here’s a link for some details on the situation. Conley is highly athletic and has great instinct and feel for the position. He needs to work on his hand-use though. He offered too many free-releases at Ohio State and needs to jam and disrupt routes.

#25 Cleveland Browns — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
The Browns traded down from pick #12 to select here and they get a stud. This is more like it for the Browns. Get two impact defenders. Build up that unit. Peppers will add character and personality to this team. They needed a strong safety. Nobody will be mocking Cleveland after this first day of the draft. The Seahawks are on the clock.

#26 TRADE Atlanta Falcons (via SEA)– Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
The Seahawks traded from #26 to #31 with the Falcons, just as Tony Pauline reported on Tuesday. That’s why Tony is the #1 draft insider. The Falcons wanted a pass rusher and move up for McKinley. His motor and intensity is superb, he ran a 1.60 10-yard split. In a year or two he could be Demarcus Ware. That’s his ceiling. He’s a great story, the definition of grit. McKinley entered the stage with a large picture of his late Grandmother. It was a great moment. He was pumped on the stage. What emotion! How can you not root for this man? Love it. He dropped a F-bomb it was so intense. He was shouting ‘get to the quarterback’ on the stage.

The deal gets the Seahawks a third and a seventh rounder. They now own four third round picks. Plenty of ammunition to move up from #58 tomorrow as we’ve discussed.

#27 Buffalo Bills — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
You don’t wear the #18 jersey at LSU for two straight years unless you command the respect of everyone on that team. He’s not the biggest or the quickest cornerback but he tied Adoree’ Jackson for passes defended (16) in 2016. That was the 11th most in the country. Buffalo needed to replace Stephon Gilmore. White has some special teams value too.

#28 Dallas Cowboys — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
When he was used as a pure EDGE in 2016 he really shone. He looked really good against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He has the length and size you like and he’s explosive enough. He’s not the twitchiest or the quickest but he’s big enough to set an edge and let you utilise a four-man rush.

#29 TRADE Cleveland Browns (via GB) — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
The Browns gave up a fourth rounder to move from #33 to #29. It makes Seattle’s deal with Atlanta look even sweeter considering the meagre return Green Bay received here. The Browns continue to have a smart draft. Njoku has a lot of potential. They’re building for down the road. This is a class that can set them up for a while. Garrett, Peppers and Njoku is a haul.

#30 Pittsburgh Steelers — T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
The NFL made a dogs dinner of the late first round this year. Too many adverts created a backlog of picks, leading to inevitable leaks and a stodgy end to a really entertaining first round. Another name from the watch-list departs. T.J. Watt goes to the Steelers. Watt in Pittsburgh is a great fit. His personality is perfect for them. It’s a great pick in terms of scheme fit. He has special short-area quickness and a Khalil Mack-esque physical profile.

#31 TRADE San Francisco 49ers (via SEA) — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
The Seahawks will not pick tonight. They have traded the #31 pick to the Niners for a fourth rounder (#111). Seattle picks five times now between #90-111. Either they love that range in this class or we’ll see a lot of moving around tomorrow. The Niners select Reuben Foster to go with Solomon Thomas. It’s worth a shot here for San Francisco. Solomon Thomas & Reuben Foster is a nice way for this team to start a rebuild. There are plenty of options remaining for Seattle at #34.

#32 New Orleans Saints — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
The O-liners lasted longer than expected today. Free agency should’ve been a big hint about how this was going to go down. Ramcyzk is hurt so his drop is understandable. The big question is now — why did Lamp and Robinson fall? Is it just length with Lamp? There was talk for a long time about Robinson falling. Still, they’re both there and that was relatively unexpected. There’s some nice defensive talent left on the board too.

Draft day notes: Big board & possible targets

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

The picture above is my top-35 board for the first round. Click on the image to make it bigger. Thanks to Sea Mode for creating the graphic.

Here are some quick thoughts before the first round begins…

There’s a bit of talk about the Seahawks trading up. The speculation seems to be based around Seattle and Denver potentially competing for offensive linemen. It’s possible for sure. Don’t be surprised, however, if they move up for someone like Jonathan Allen as we discussed a few days ago. Jason La Canfora has him dropping to #17 in his mock today. That’s the kind of range where they might be able to move up and get him for a fair price.

— It was interesting that Mel Kiper suddenly moved Demarcus Walker up to #31 on his final big board. Mike Mayock moved him from ‘not ranked’ to the #2 interior pass rusher in his final rankings list. He’s the forgotten man of the draft after a fantastic 2016 season. He’s someone to keep an eye on today or tomorrow.

— My opinion hasn’t really changed on who I think are the most likely targets for Seattle. Adoree’ Jackson, T.J. Watt, Chidobe Awuzie, Obi Melifonwu, Takk McKinley, Garett Bolles and Kevin King are the names I listed. The other three big-name O-liners, Quincy Wilson and Tyus Bowser could also be options.

— A year ago the Seahawks drafted two of the toughest players in the draft in Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed. Both players played with an edge. John Schneider made reference to ‘being the bully’ again, something Seattle never really achieved in 2016. This might influence what they do in the first few rounds. Tough, athletic, physical tone-setters with gritty personalities could be the key.

I wanted to list some names to watch at each likely target position over the first three rounds. This is based on draft trends and possible fit. I haven’t included unrealistic targets:

Outside cornerback — Kevin King (Washington), Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado), Quincy Wilson (Florida), Michael Davis (BYU), Brian Allen (Utah)

Slot/big nickel — Jourdan Lewis (Michigan), Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado), Adoree’ Jackson (USC), Brandon Wilson (Houston), Fabian Moreau (UCLA), Budda Baker (Washington)

Safety — Rayshawn Jenkins (Miami), Shalom Luani (Washington State), Obi Melifonwu (Connecticut), Marcus Maye (Florida), Monte Nicholson (Michigan State)

EDGE — Takk McKinley (UCLA), Tim Williams (Alabama), Taco Charlton (Michigan), T.J. Watt (Wisconsin), Tyus Bowser (Houston), Carroll Phillips (Illinois), Jordan Willis (Kansas State), Daeshon Hall (Texas A&M), Derek Rivers (Youngstown State)

Interior D-line or Inside/Out rusher — Jonathan Allen (Alabama), Malik McDowell (Michigan State), Carlos Watkins (Clemson), Chris Wormley (Michigan), Larry Ogunjobi (North Carolina Charlotte), Demarcus Walker (Florida State), Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama), Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA), Noble Nwachukwu (West Virginia), Jeremiah Ledbetter (Arkansas)

Linebacker — Ben Gedeon (Michigan), Vince Biegel (Wisconsin), Duke Riley (LSU), Alex Anzalone (Florida), Anthony Walker Jr. (Northwestern), Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt), Elijah Lee (Kansas State), Jordan Evans (Oklahoma), Dylan Cole (Missouri State)

O-line — Garett Bolles (Utah), Forrest Lamp (Western Michigan), Ryan Ramcyzk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama), Nico Siragusa (San Diego State), Taylor Moton (Western Michigan), Isaac Asiata (Utah)

Receiver — JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC), Curtis Samuel (Ohio State), Zay Jones (East Carolina), Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky), Chris Godwin (Penn State), Amara Darboh (Michigan), Jehu Chesson (Michigan), Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), Malachi Dupre (LSU)

Tight end — Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech), George Kittle (Iowa), Jake Butt (Michigan), Adam Shaheen (Ashland)

Tonight I’ll be live blogging the first round with an accompanying open thread. As soon as Seattle makes their pick (or trades out of round one) Kenny and I will be doing a live instant reaction podcast.

Final 2017 NFL mock draft

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

This is the mock draft I’ll be sending to the Huddle Report for scoring:

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Chicago — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#5 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#6 New York Jets — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#7 LA Chargers — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#8 Carolina — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
#9 Cincinnati — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#10 Buffalo — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#11 New Orleans — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#12 Cleveland — Mitchell Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#13 Arizona — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#15 Indianapolis — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#16 Baltimore — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
#17 Washington — Derek Barnett (EDGE, Tennessee)
#18 Tennessee — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#20 Denver — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#21 Detroit — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#22 Miami — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#23 New York Giants — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#24 Oakland — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#25 Houston — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
#26 Seattle — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#27 Kansas City — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#28 Dallas — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#29 Green Bay — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
#30 Pittsburgh — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
#31 Atlanta — Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
#32 New Orleans — T.J. Watt (EDGE, Wisconsin)

Why no Gareon Conley?

The recent reports about Conley are troubling and there’s no obvious way of clarifying the situation before Thursday. Conley has now opted not to attend the draft.

Thoughts on the Seahawks

Yesterday I listed the following players as possible targets (in no particular order):

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
T.J. Watt (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin)
Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

In the mock above, only Watt, Awuzie, McKinley and Bolles were available at #26.

Jackson is one of the most underrated players in the class, King will likely get a boost if Conley falls (the same could happen to Awuzie) and Melifonwu could surprise a few people due to his unique physical skill set and versatility.

I went with Bolles for a few reasons. One was Tony Pauline’s report yesterday. Another was Bolles’ incredible backstory and the ‘Seahawky’ nature of his character. It’s unusual to be able to land an offensive lineman as athletic and talented as Bolles in the late first round so this could be a unique opportunity. He scored a 3.00 in TEF. The Seahawks have also consistently shown a willingness to spend first round picks on the O-line.

The big reason I made the choice, however, is down to the fact it suddenly seems possible. We spent many weeks during the college season talking about Bolles. He was one of the first prospects we touted as a possible Seahawk. I remember killing time before Monday Night Football against Buffalo writing this piece about why he’s such a terrific prospect.

On November 4th in one of my early mock drafts I had him going to Seattle in round one.

And throughout all of this, there was always that feeling he wouldn’t be available. That he’d rise into top-20 contention and be out of reach. For a long time that seemed to be what was going to happen.

Tony Pauline’s report and his comments during our recent interview suddenly brought Bolles into range again. And while it’s very tempting to concoct a situation that has Seattle drafting Kevin King, Adoree’ Jackson or Obi Melifonwu in round one — and that could be what happens in the end — I feel compelled to stick with the name that had us all talking in the early stages of this process.

Garett Bolles is the player I’m pairing with the Seahawks in round one.

Why not a pass rusher or cornerback?

A lot of the better options are off the board. Tony told us on Monday he’s hearing there’ll be a run on EDGE rushers in the late teens. Takk McKinley is a legitimate option but he might have to start the season on the PUP list.

At cornerback, unless you’re willing to be the team to roll the dice on Conley’s situation or take someone like Quincy Wilson — a lot of the really attractive options were off the board.

Furthermore, there is some relative depth at EDGE and cornerback. They should be able to fill those needs with the four picks they have on day two. Once the top offensive tackles are off the board — that’s your lot.

What would it mean for rounds 2-3?

If they trade down from #26 and acquire another pick, such as a fourth rounder, they could repeat what they did last year and trade up in round two.

If Quincy Wilson lingers into the 40’s — keep an eye on him. His short area quickness, safety size at cornerback and confident personality could be a good fit in Seattle. We also know they met with Tim Williams and Malik McDowell, so pass rush could be an option here too.

If they stay at #58 is Jourdan Lewis an option? Or Fabian Moreau?

Zay Jones has been touted as a target so it’s possible they’d also consider someone like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Chris Godwin. If they go O-line with their first pick though, the odds would be stacked against back-to-back offensive picks.

There could be some wildcards too such as Marcus Maye or Justin Evans.

As for the third round, this might be an opportunity to bring in some safety depth (is it too early for Shalom Luani?). Vince Biegel ran a quick enough short shuttle at his pro-day to be intriguing. Would they bring in the other big-name Utah O-liner Isaac Asiata? Maybe.

Mike Mayock ranked Teez Tabor and Ahkello Witherspoon at #83 and #84 respectively in his top-100 rankings. Would the Seahawks go up and get one of them?

The forgotten man of the draft class, Demarcus Walker, could also be someone they look at. Defensive tackles like Carlos Watkins and Larry Ogunjobi could also be targeted.


There are two podcasts to check out today. I joined the Seahawkers Podcast for a pre-draft hit. The piece begins at 19:35. Click here to listen.

Kenny and I also recorded our final 3000 NFL Mock Draft podcast before the draft last night. You can listen along here:

So what about tomorrow? I’ll be publishing a new first round ‘big board’ and a seven-round Seahawks mock. I’ll be doing live pick-by-pick analysis on the blog and we’ll have an open thread. As soon as the Seahawks make their pick (or don’t if they trade down) Kenny and I will be doing an instant reaction podcast. If you have any other requests, let me know.

I’d also like to thank the community for another great draft season. I’m constantly amazed by the civility in the comments section. It’s so unlike the internet for a bunch of people to get along, disagree from time to time but not go over the top. I’ve been doing this blog since 2008 and it’s become a big part of my life. And while I’m looking forward to re-introducing myself to my wife, three-year-old son and three-month-old daughter in the coming weeks — rest assured I’m already looking forward to doing it all again from August. That’s all because of the great community here.

Thank you for everything.

Seahawks draft primer — looking ahead to Thursday

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

John Schneider is preparing for his eighth draft as Seahawks GM

How difficult is it to project this draft class?

It’s harder than last year. In 2016 the Seahawks set themselves up to go offensive line with their first pick. It was a good O-line class. There was a player in Germain Ifedi who was big, athletic and explosive. He had an edge to his play. It made a lot of sense for Seattle.

This year there are more options and scenarios.

What do we know?

— Pete Carroll started the off-season listing cornerback, linebacker and O-line as ‘priority needs’

— The Seahawks signed a cluster of linebackers in free agency and added two veteran offensive linemen

— They also brought in a new running back (Eddie Lacy) and a safety (Bradley McDougald) before taking on cheap reclamation project Dion Jordan

— At the owners meeting, Carroll suggested cornerback and pass rush remained needs — but also reiterated a desire to add youth to the linebacker spot

— They’ve visited with a number of defensive backs and pass rushers pre-draft including Obi Melifonwu, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tim Williams, Malik McDowell and Jourdan Lewis

So what positions will they focus on?

The safe money is on pass rush and depth at cornerback early in the draft. That doesn’t necessarily mean with the first two picks but it’s certainly possible. Tony Pauline’s report on interest in Zay Jones suggests they would be willing to consider a receiver too — but this would likely just push the DB/DL need into round three.

Why is the D-line such a prominent need?

It’s the one area they didn’t really address in free agency. They lost Damontre Moore and John Jenkins while Tony McDaniel remains a free agent. There’s not much depth at defensive tackle.

This suggests it’ll be a big target in the draft, possibly with an inside/out type rusher. The only problem is there aren’t many of those available. They’re much more likely to find an attractive EDGE option at #26.

The Seahawks spent a large amount of time working out athletic nose tackles slated to be day three picks or UDFA’s. It could be their intention to load up on cheap D-liners, creating a heavy competition in camp. They might have a great desire to add a dynamic inside/out style rusher but if that player isn’t available, what are you going to do?

They could still consider a prospect like Carlos Watkins, Demarcus Walker or Larry Ogunjobi in round three (if available). That would allow them to add an interior rusher and focus on cornerback and EDGE (or an offensive position) in the first two rounds.

Could they go O-line in round one?

It depends on the options available and whether any of the ‘big four’ fall into range. There’s a growing expectation that Cam Robinson will be taken in the top-20 with Forret Lamp a frequently predicted target for Miami. Ryan Ramcyzk could go at #20 to Denver or #25 to Houston.

So what about Garett Bolles?

He’s been a blog favourite for a long time, dating back to this piece at the start of November. As time went on it seemed increasingly likely he would go in the top-20.

However, Tony Pauline told us yesterday (you’ll find the audio of the interview at the bottom of this article) Bolles could fall partly due to concerns about his ability to pick up complex blocking schemes.

Today, Tony reports the Seahawks and Falcons are discussing a trade that would see the teams swap first round picks in exchange for a fourth rounder. Atlanta is targeting a pass rusher (reportedly Charles Harris) and the player for Seattle? Bolles:

Once they move back, the Seahawks will then target an offensive lineman. The name given to me is tackle Garett Bolles of Utah. Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable was on the Utes campus this past Sunday meeting with the team’s top offensive line prospects.

Bolles would be a fine choice for the Seahawks, adding athleticism and physicality at left or right tackle. By acquiring a fourth round pick the Seahawks would also have options if they want to move up from #58 for a cornerback or defensive lineman.

Will they trade up in round one for the first time?

Possibly, if the right situation presents itself. It might be more likely than in previous years. Daniel Jeremiah’s final 2017 mock draft highlights the kind of scenario where it could happen. He has Jonathan Allen sliding to #17. We discussed a trade-up scenario involving Allen two days ago. According to this modernised draft trade chart, the Seahawks could move into the mid-teens using two of their third round picks.

It’s a highly speculative situation because so much would need to happen — but if you’re looking for a ‘surprise’ move on Thursday, this could be it.

Either way, they’ll take a pass rusher early right?

The only addition they’ve made to the D-line so far is Dion Jordan — a player who might not even last through camp. And as we highlighted after the combine — this is quietly a highly explosive class of defensive linemen.

Whether it’s an early-round EDGE, moving up for an interior rusher or waiting until rounds 2-3 — it’s highly likely the Seahawks will address this situation.

What type of player could they be looking for?

As we noted recently, it’s a bit of a red herring that the Seahawks focus predominantly on SPARQ. Generally this has been more of a day three or UDFA thing, drafting players with a high ceiling that could provide some late round value if you coach them up.

Their early picks have often been trait-specific:

— On the O-line there’s a strong focus on explosive performers (vertical, broad, bench press) rather than overall athleticism (as emphasised by our TEF study)

— At linebacker there appears to be a focus on short area quickness (short shuttle), general speed and explosive physicality (highlighted here)

— At cornerback we know they like length on the outside as they’ve consistently drafted players with 32 inch arms and a 77.5 inch wingspan (highlighted here)

— At running back they’ve consistently prioritised explosive traits ahead of speed, while drafting for a certain body type (approximately 5-11, 225lbs)

Players with unique qualities and ‘grit’ have often be the target rather than those with an overall athletic profile.

So who might they target if they stay at #26?

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
T.J. Watt (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin)
Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

What makes this group ‘special’ or ‘unique’?

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
An Olympic-standard athlete, Jackson has natural athleticism and suddenness. He could be the best kick returner in the league as a rookie. Despite his lack of size, he defended 16 passes in 2016 (tied with Tre’Davious White) and had five interceptions. He is the ultimate playmaker and a threat to score any time he has the ball. He’s Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
People don’t realise how special T.J. Watt could be. The short shuttle drill is vital for linebackers. Watt’s 4.13 is identical to Jamal Adams’ and Ahkello Witherspoon’s and it’s faster than Gareon Conley’s 4.18. Watt is 252lbs not a 200lbs cornerback. He also ran an elite 1.59 10-yard split. Physically he’s nearly identical to Khalil Mack. It doesn’t mean he’ll be as good as Mack but they share similar traits.

Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
McKinley’s backstory is the definition of grit. He’s never met his father and his mother walked out when he was a child. He lived with his grandmother who made a living collecting cans and bottles. McKinley slept on the floor of a house filled with kids. When he started at UCLA he was so unfamiliar with the bed in his dorm, he continued to sleep on the floor. He ran a superb 1.60 10-yard split and his potential is off the charts. He’s been compared to DeMarcus Ware.

Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
The Seahawks might not focus completely on SPARQ but it doesn’t mean they don’t recognise a rare freak of nature when they see one. Has there ever been a player quite like Melifonwu entering the league? The only player who comes close is Byron Jones. Melifonwu is 25lbs heavier and he’s 3-4 inches taller than Jones. He could set a new standard at the ‘big nickel’ position, you could try him at cornerback or strong safety. You won’t find a more unique prospect.

Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
We know length is important for the Seahawks at outside cornerback. We’ll likely find out in this draft how important it is at the nickel. Awuzie has 30.5 inch arms and a meagre 74 1/8 inch wingspan. So why is he unique? He attacks the LOS beautifully, he’s highly competitive and explosive in coverage and the way he talks about scheming is exceptional for a rookie. Awuzie has enormous potential as nickel defender, capable of manning the slot or dropping into a cover-two at free safety.

Kevin King (CB, Washington)
A truly rare defensive back. King has obscene athleticism for his height and length. He tests as well as any cornerback in recent memory regardless of size. His 4.43 forty, 1.51 10-yard split, 39.5 inch vertical, 3.89 short shuttle and 6.56 three-cone are all off the charts. He’s a film rat too. Coaches are going to love his upside.

Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
He got into trouble as a teenager, he was kicked out by his dad. Bolles had a difficult start in life. He’s since completely turned his life around. On the field he plays with a Kyle Long-style intensity, blocking well beyond the whistle. He’s also highly athletic with the potential to be a great left tackle. Tony Pauline did raise some league-wide concerns, however, about his ability to pick up a complex blocking scheme.

How many of these players are likely to be available?

Many of the national mocks have them falling into range. However, several could be off the board by #26. Adoree’ Jackson is a first round pick in any draft and a genuine X-factor. He could go in the top-20. Garett Bolles could easily go in the top-25. Kevin King has the potential to be a very high pick — especially if Gareon Conley’s stock plummets. Melifonwu and Awuzie could also go a lot earlier than people expect.

McKinley, however, is recovering from shoulder surgery and this could mean he lasts well into range. T.J. Watt, despite his talent, hasn’t been consistently projected any higher than the Packers at #29.

Any other names of note?

Ryan Ramcyzk isn’t spectacular but he’s a solid tackle who could fill a need. Quincy Wilson plays tough and ran a superb short shuttle (suggesting he can play nickel or outside corner). Tyus Bowser has a similar athletic profile to T.J. Watt and we know they met with players like Tim Williams.

Who will likely be off the board that we’ve talked about?

Forrest Lamp, Cam Robinson, Jarrad Davis, Taco Charlton.

Is a trade down inevitable?

There’s a good chance Seattle will seek to trade down from #26 and then potentially move up from #58 to pick twice in the top-50. That’s the tactic they used a year ago.

The scenario reported by Tony Pauline above makes a lot of sense.

There’s a lot of good depth in the #30-50 range and then a drop-off in the late second round. Some of the players mentioned above (Watt, McKinley, Bolles) could be available at the start of the second frame.

Tomorrow I will post a final 2017 mock draft for the Huddle Report.

If you missed yesterday’s interview with Tony Pauline from Draft Analyst, you can listen here:

Considering a trade-up scenario for the Seahawks

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

When John Schneider spoke about the 2017 draft two and a half weeks ago…

“I don’t like it quite as much as I liked it last year. I think there’s different parts of it that I do like and that we want to pick in that range. We have, what? Two weeks left… so we have some time to kind of get back with everybody but just sitting there by myself staring at it at night… I’m not there yet. Last year I just felt like it was kind of thick all the way through and we were willing to pick players all the way through. This year it seems that there’s some gaps in there that you may be able to… which for us not having a fourth and a fifth this year may work out in our favour.”

… it suggested he might be unhappy with their current draft position, or that they’re comfortable not picking in certain areas.

It’s perfectly plausible that the Seahawks see a sweet spot between picks 30-45. Picking twice in that range, by trading down in round one and up in round two, makes a degree of sense. It mimics the plan they had a year ago when they selected Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed.

This kind of scenario seems quite likely. The value at #26 isn’t that much better than at #35. If at least a couple of the top quarterbacks remain on the board, Seattle could end up with a favourable trade offer considering they pick just before the Kansas City Chiefs (reportedly in the QB market).

Furthermore, a lot of the players they’ve visited with recently (Jourdan Lewis, Malik McDowell, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tim Williams etc) are slated to go in the #30-50 range.

That said, today I want to talk about a different scenario.

One that involves trading up.

What if Schneider and the Seahawks want to be further up the board in round one?

What if they’re deliberating over whether to be aggressive? To select in the top-15 for the first time in five years?

Here’s two reasons why they might feel that way:

1. Their willingness to at least consider trade offers for Richard Sherman. It’s entirely possible they were just playing the game with Sherman, accommodating his reported desire to seek a move. What if they were also wondering whether they could get a high first round pick because there’s a player they really want to add? Someone, perhaps, who is well out of range at #26 but if they were able to deal Sherman for a pick in the top-20, they might’ve been able to land?

2. The recent meeting with Malik McDowell was interesting. For all intents and purposes, McDowell is not remotely ‘Seahawky’. Are they leaving no stone unturned as they seek to add a dynamic inside/out rusher? It could’ve been a run-of-the-mill meeting with a complex prospect. It also could’ve been a case of ‘let’s see what the alternatives are if we don’t want to make an aggressive move to get up the board’. If you want a really good inside/out rusher in this draft, you need to be picking early or you’re going to have to roll the dice on someone like McDowell.

The Seahawks have been aggressive in the past, just not in round one. A year ago they didn’t just trade up for Jarran Reed, they also made a trade to acquire Quinton Jefferson. In 2015 they gave up three extra picks to get Tyler Lockett and in 2013 they traded up to secure both Tharold Simon and Jesse Williams in round five.

Is it possible they think this team really needs a genuine stud to come in and give it a lift? More so, perhaps, than spending five picks in rounds 1-3 in a range the GM appears unsatisfied with?

Let’s look at the two situations side-by-side:

1. Pick five times between rounds 1-3
2. Pick three times, with one of those picks potentially being in the top-15

Let’s use Jonathan Allen as an example. Davis Hsu recently linked his name to the Seahawks as someone they might covet.

There was talk after the combine Allen could drop due to medical concerns:

Some of that concern appears to have been abated and Allen is now regularly projected in the top-10 once again. However, Matt Miller recently put him in the mid-teens (placing him with Indianapolis at #15 on April 7th).

He’s an alpha male with the kind of character that really fits this defense. What’s more, he’s an inside-out type rusher with major production (22.5 sacks, 30.5 TFL’s in the last two seasons). Imagine lining him up next to Michael Bennett, with Cliff Avril and Frank Clark in a NASCAR package.

If you were comfortable with the medical checks, would you consider it?

We know Pete Carroll’s a fan…

And while we’re posting videos, we’ll take any opportunity to show this again:

A few things need to happen for this admittedly improbable scenario to come to fruition:

— Jonathan Allen would need to be available in the #10-12 range at least, if not later.

— A team would need to be absolutely focused on acquiring as many picks as possible rather than picking early.

— The teams in the top half of round one would need to accept the trade market isn’t great this year, with a number of teams reportedly seeking to move down.

There is some precedent for this.

In 2009 the Cleveland Browns, picking at #5, traded down to #17 with the New York Jets so they could select Mark Sanchez. The move only cost the Jets their second round pick (#52).

That year the Browns traded down three times, eventually selecting Alex Mack at #21. They were a rebuilding team (when aren’t they?) and they were looking to accumulate as much stock as possible (and as a consequence didn’t get great value in any of their trades).

In this years draft, there are approximately 4-5 legitimate top-10 picks. I would argue Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Leonard Fournette and O.J. Howard are worthy of the grade. Some teams might make a case for one of the two top safety’s or a quarterback (given the importance of the position). For me the list stays at four.

If you’re a team like the Jets that has stripped bare its roster and is looking to get younger, would you consider dropping down the board multiple times to acquire stock?

It’s not unknown for a team to accept they’re in a rebuild year and try to pick as many times as possible in a perceived ‘deep-ish’ class.

Let’s say they swapped picks with Cleveland so the Browns can come up to take Mitch Trubisky at #6. If Jonathan Allen was still on the board at #12, would they consider a deal that included Seattle’s #26 and #58 picks? You could possibly include one of your three third round picks too.

It’d be a substantial drop of 14 spots — but it’s not dissimilar to Cleveland’s 12-place drop in 2009.

Alternatively, if Allen dropped into the mid-teens as proposed by Matt Miller’s April 7th mock draft, you might be able to get into the mid-teens using your second round pick.

According to the draft trade chart, Seattle’s #26 pick is worth 700 points and #58 is worth 320. Both picks can get you into the #15-16 type range alone. To get up to #10-12 you’d need to include #90 (140 points).

Admittedly it’d be a costly move. However, as expensive as it is, the Seahawks would still pick three or four times in the first three rounds due to their compensatory picks.

Yes — this scenario is highly unlikely. I’m not here to argue that this could or should happen. There’s four days to go and trading up is a talking point we haven’t really discussed. We’re spitballing here.

I think it’s much more likely they will trade down from #26, then up from #58 and pick two players in the top 45 or 50. They could use depth and competition at various spots and having five picks in the first two days is in itself very useful.

Yet a case can also be made for the Seahawks acquiring a possible stud to reinvigorate this defense. If there’s one way to help a secondary it’s keep adding to the pass rush. And if you want a good pass rusher in this draft, you might need to be aggressive.

Whatever happens, Pete Carroll stated at the start of the off-season the priorities were cornerback, linebacker and O-line. By the end of free agency, he again stated cornerback but mentioned pass rusher. We’ve debated a number of different positions recently but it still seems somewhat likely these two areas will be targeted with their first two picks (if they keep them). And that chimes with the players they visited with last week.

Seahawks interested in Zay Jones?

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

On Monday I’m going to be interviewing Tony Pauline. One of the things we’ll talk about is Tony’s latest ‘Draft Buzz’ instalment that includes the following report:

In our most recent mock draft, I have the Seattle Seahawks selecting receiver Taywan Taylor in the third round. I’m told that if Zay Jones happens to fall into their laps a round earlier in the second they would quickly scoop him up, omitting the need for Taylor in the third.

Tony, the #1 draft insider, has been extremely reliable in the past for Seahawks info so this is noteworthy.

Seattle showed tentative interest in Kamar Aiken in free agency, suggesting they were open to adding another receiver. With Paul Richardson approaching a contract year, Jermaine Kearse a possible cap casualty next year and Tyler Lockett recovering from a broken leg, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility they’ll select a receiver early in the draft.

And Jones is one of those players that just screams Seahawks.

At the end of March we touched on Jones (and WR in general) as a possible target at #58. He had a fantastic Senior Bowl. Just read through the Senior Bowl live blog and see how many times his name appears.

Jones lives for the game. He’s from a football family and the NFL is in his bloodstream. His father won a Super Bowl with the Cowboys. He is basically at Russell Wilson-level football character. A worker dedicated to his craft.

You see that on the field too. He’s a hands-catcher and a reliable one at that. He high points the football, he’s incredibly consistent. His production was off the charts as he set NCAA records for most receptions in a career (399) and in a single-season (158 catches in 2016).

As an added bonus, he has some experience returning kicks. This is important if Lockett is unable to resume that duty at least early in the season.

At the combine Jones ran a 4.45 at 6-2 and 201lbs. He jumped an 11-1 in the broad and a 36.5 inch vertical. His short shuttle (4.01) was really good too.

When we talk about the possibility of the big name receivers (Davis, Ross, Williams) dropping a bit — it’s because of players like Zay Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chris Godwin. The difference between the first and second tier appears to be much smaller than at other positions (D-line, EDGE, O-line)

With the Seahawks reportedly very interested in Jones at #58, this suggests they’re not necessarily expecting him to be there. There’s a chance, of course, but if the bigger names do go in the first round it’s hard to imagine him getting beyond teams like San Francisco, Chicago, the Rams, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland (where they love stats).

If Seattle trades up from #58, he could be a target. They traded up for Lockett in 2015 after all.

The interest does suggest that they might be willing to let this draft class ‘come to them’. We know their bigger needs are depth in the secondary, pass rush and O-line but there’s enough depth at corner and safety to wait until round three if they need too. Simply adding really good, impact players that can develop into a future core has to be a consideration too.

If they can’t get to Jones in round two, the third round and beyond should provide some nice alternatives. We’ve talked about Jehu Chesson as an option for a long time. There are others too. There are a few gems to be uncovered in this class at receiver. It wouldn’t be a total shock if the Seahawks also found Smith-Schuster’s personality, grit and character appealing as a possible round two target.

It seems quite likely the Seahawks will add a defensive player with their first pick unless they trade down. That pick at #58 could go in a number of different directions.

Seahawks focus: Notes on Peppers, Wilson, Charlton & Evans

Friday, April 21st, 2017

If you missed the podcast this week, check it out here.

Here are four players widely mocked to be available in the 20’s who we’ve not covered extensively outside of the podcasts or the comments section.

Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
The narrative on his lack of production is hugely misplaced. He was challenged at Michigan to exclusively set an edge vs the run and provide speed at outside linebacker to force runners back inside. That’s it. Watch the games.

Peppers is incredible gritty. He’s battled adversity and tragedy to have a football career (as explained in this video). His personality is engaging and lights up a room without being overbearing. He’ll become a leader very quickly as a pro.

He accepts and talks openly about not being the biggest or the most athletic player. He’s a shade under 5-11 and 213lbs. He has short arms (30 3/4 inches) and a short wingspan (only 74 inches). His physical profile is good but not great — he’s a 4.46 runner, jumping 36.5 inches in the vertical and a 10-8 in the broad jump. His short shuttle is pretty good (4.11).

Is he a fit in Seattle? In terms of his ability to be a special teams factor, yes. He could provide a kick return benefit immediately. His character is also ‘Seahawky’ and his personality fits this defense.

I have some reservations about his fit schematically, though.

Peppers is probably going to be at his best as an attack dog at strong safety. Let him read/react, play up at the LOS and use his physicality. If you put him at nickel as a ‘Buffalo’ he’s going to have to cover crossing routes, handle quick breaks and excel in mismatch situations. I’m not sure he’s suited to that role. He’s highly athletic, fast and elusive with the ball in hand and he’s competitive. Yet he does have a tendency to be a little tight when he drops.

With Obi Melifonwu, Justin Evans, Budda Baker and others — you see them covering across the middle and running freely.

You wouldn’t write Peppers off for that type of role. Some teams might wish to try him as a big nickel. Yet his best fit, arguably, will be as an attacking strong safety. If your the Seahawks, how do you get him on the field while ever you have Kam Chancellor?

Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
My view on Wilson is the opposite to the national draft media. A few months ago he was regarded by many as the #1 corner in the draft and a probable top-20 pick. Now you’ll find people projecting he’ll go in the late second or even third round.

I wasn’t a big fan of Wilson initially but he grew on me the more I watched. Now I think he genuinely warrants round one consideration.

This isn’t a class with a lot of ‘dogs’ in it. There are some — particularly at the safety position (including mid/late round prospects like Shalom Luani and Rayshawn Jenkins). By that I mean an aggressive playing style. A swagger combined with a physical attitude. That Bruce Irvin, Kam Chancellor type of character.

Wilson seems like he might be of that mindset.

His physical profile is a mixture of pro’s and con’s. He has good size (6-1, 211lbs), he has 32 1/4 inch arms and he ran a superb 4.02 short shuttle. It’s that short area quickness, combined with his size, that really strikes you on tape.

On the other hand he jumped a disappointing vertical (32 inches) and broad jump (9-10), his wingspan (75 5/8) is distinctly average and his forty (4.54) is only OK. It’s quite weird that he’s a combination of exceptional (short shuttle) and mediocre (broad/vertical).

Even so, on the field he’s all attitude and confidence and quality coverage. You’ll see him gain position and force the receiver to the sideline, narrowing the strike zone. You’ll see him box out to make a play. He has the size to be good in run support and he talks like he belongs.

He’s another player you can imagine fitting into Seattle’s locker room. You can also imagine him playing outside corner in this defense. Yet there are some other things to consider:

— Seattle hasn’t drafted an outside cornerback with a sub-77.5 inch wingspan
— Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback with such a mediocre broad jump
— Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback period before round four

There’s a chance they might like and admire Wilson and possibly even grade him quite highly. It doesn’t mean they’ll draft him with their first pick though.

Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan)
As an EDGE rusher it really was a good year for Charlton. His pièce de résistance was a superb performance against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He was the standout player for Michigan on the night and looked like a first rounder.

His size, length and ability to get into the backfield was reminiscent of an Aldon Smith, Carlos Dunlap or Chandler Jones type. They’re not the most athletic players but they’re quick, explosive and long. That impacts games at the next level.

It’s likely Charlton will go in the top-20. Teams want pass rushers and Charlton is a good one. Yes he only ran a 4.92 forty but he tested well in other drills like the vertical and broad jump. His TEF score is 3.23 which is good for his size.

He’s really quick with good change of direction skills. His 4.39 short shuttle is really good at 277lbs. Haason Reddick ran a 4.37 at 237lbs. It’s not Frank Clark’s unreal 4.05 but Frank’s a freak of nature. Charlton’s combination of explosive power and short-area quickness is first-round worthy. Without doubt.

He could be a classic example of a ‘media faller’. A player who a few weeks ago was expected to go at #9 to Cincinnati or #11 to New Orleans, dropping for no apparent reason (decent short shuttle times don’t create headlines). There’s every chance he will still go at #9 or #11. With only a handful of good EDGE rushers available, they’re unlikely to stay on the board for long.

What about his potential fit in Seattle?

He was at his best at Michigan as a pure EDGE. And while he has the length and size to kick inside, it’s not as simple as having the frame to do it. Charlton plays like a base DE or OLB. In all of the Michigan games I watched from 2016, I never got a sense that this was a guy who would particularly excel working inside trying to push guards into the backfield.

That doesn’t mean they won’t take him to try and mould him into this type of role (or draft him just to play the EDGE) but there are serious questions about his ability to play inside/out and it kind of feels like that’s what the Seahawks are looking for.

Nevertheless, he’s good with a lot of potential.

Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
Here’s another ‘forgotten man’ of this draft class. In October, Evans was being tipped as a top-20 pick by anonymous executives. Now he frequently gets talked about as a second or third rounder.

There aren’t many more explosive players in this draft. Evans’ 41.5 inch vertical really shows in the games. He is a punishing hitter, delivering some of the more devastating hits you’ll see. He’s also mastered the art of hitting hard in the right spot of the body to avoid flags. He’s not as careless as a Calvin Pryor (for example).

He seems to get dinged for missed tackles and whiffs, which is fair to an extent. You know who else misses tackles fairly frequently? Earl Thomas. Evans doesn’t have Thomas’ range and suddenness but they have similar intensity and physicality. You can live with the occasional missed tackle if it’s offset by a series of tone-setting hits.

Here’s what you get with Evans aside from the hits — the short area quickness of a dynamic slot receiver, the athleticism and leaping ability to play the ball and make interceptions that are improbable, and the length and physicality to match-up against bigger targets. He’s a shade under 6-0 and 200lbs with 32 inch arms and a 76.5 inch wingspan.

He was impacted by a quad injury at his pro-day so didn’t do a lot of the workouts. This is possibly one of the reasons he only ran a 4.57 forty despite looking faster on tape. He has a skill set and mentality that lends itself to working as a big nickel, free safety or strong safety.

Evans plays the game with attitude and he helps establish a tone. If the Seahawks wanted to add another safety and a possible ‘big nickel’ with plus coverage skills he could be a target. He’d certainly add a fear factor this defense has occasionally lacked recently on crossing routes (especially when Kam Chancellor has been hurt).

I want to finish with a quick call to the community. I’m looking for a graphics expert to help me put together an aesthetically pleasing ‘big board’ graphic to post on Twitter before the draft. I want to publish it as a visual aid for fans watching the draft.

I’d like to list forty players in five tiers. It needs to be done in Seahawks colours.

If there are any graphic designers willing to put something like this together for me, send me an email to I’d also like to consider doing one for rounds 2-3.

Why isn’t Evan Engram getting more credit?

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

We’re recording the latest podcast today so stay tuned. In the meantime, I wanted to put a few thoughts out about one of the more underrated players in the draft.

The first player we really focused on this year (back in early October) was Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram:

Engram is a little bit like Jordan Reed albeit 10lbs lighter. He can line up anywhere — inline TE, detached, slot, H-back. He’s a mismatch. At a listed 6-3 and 227lbs you could just use him as an out-and-out bigger receiver if you wanted. He has the agility, fluidity and athleticism to make it work.

We talk a lot about mismatches these days. Engram is a perfect example. Yet he doesn’t get that much hype.

That probably needs to change.

Yesterday I paired him with the Giants at #23. New York needs a tight end and with O.J. Howard and David Njoku likely gone, Engram could be an ideal fit.

It shouldn’t be considered a reach either.

One of the more dynamic receivers in the NFL currently is Mike Evans. Let’s compare his physical profile to Engram’s:

Mike Evans
Height: 6-5
Weight: 231
Arms: 35 1/8
Hands: 9 5/8
Forty: 4.53
Vertical: 37
Broad: DNP
Short shuttle: 4.26
Three-cone: 7.08

Evan Engram
Height: 6-3
Weight: 234
Arms: 33 1/2
Hands: 10
Forty: 4.42
Vertical: 36
Broad: 10-5
Short shuttle: 4.23
Three-cone: 6.92

Engram is shorter and isn’t quite as long — but he’s quicker, has superior long speed and he’s equally explosive.

Evans was the #7 overall pick in 2014 but it’s worth noting not everyone projected him to go that early. This profile by Nolan Narwocki listed him as a borderline first round pick (the same as Engram):

A prep hoopster with shooting-guard size, Evans combined with Johnny Manziel to form one of the most dominant quarterback-receiver connections in the nation the last two seasons. He’s a big, physical, strong-handed, West Coast possession receiver with playmaking ability who projects as a No. 2 in the pros where he will make his money as a chain mover and red-zone target.

It doesn’t mean Engram’s going to go in the top-10. The comparison feels somewhat legit though — and a smart team might get a similar player at a cheaper price.

Evans spends a lot of his time in the slot acting as a mismatch. This is how you’d likely use Engram. He’s not so much a tight end as a dynamic big target. Put him up against a safety or linebacker and he’ll have success.

The 2017 draft is going to be unpredictable. More so than in previous years. There are a bunch of players with similar grades. It wouldn’t be a huge shock if Engram went a lot earlier than most are currently projecting — especially if Howard and Njoku are both gone in the top-15.

The talent at tight end could also work against the receiver class. Howard, Njoku and Engram are explosive, highly athletic playmakers. And they’re healthy. Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross don’t have that.

Would the Seahawks take Engram at #26? As good as he is, they’re already struggling to utilise the tight ends they’ve got. Even if you view him as a mismatch receiver — Seattle’s problem isn’t a lack of targets on offense.

Even if they were planning ahead with Graham and Willson out of contract in 2018, wouldn’t they just be better off franchising Graham? It’s not like there’d be any less pressure to feed Engram the ball as a first round pick.

For it to happen they’d have to be pretty down on the defensive talent available.

He’s very good though — and if they were going BPA he wouldn’t be a bad choice. It’s likely lesser players will be off the board before Engram. I’m going to revise my tiered rankings before next week and Engram will be in the third tier as one of the best twenty or so players in the class.

Seahawks trade down scenario (and a first round projection)

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

John Schneider’s review of the 2017 draft two weeks ago suggested the Seahawks were preparing to be active one way or another:

“I don’t like it quite as much as I liked it last year. I think there’s different parts of it that I do like and that we want to pick in that range. We have, what? Two weeks left… so we have some time to kind of get back with everybody but just sitting there by myself staring at it at night… I’m not there yet. Last year I just felt like it was kind of thick all the way through and we were willing to pick players all the way through. This year it seems that there’s some gaps in there that you may be able to… which for us not having a fourth and a fifth this year may work out in our favour.”

Schneider’s colourful admission that he sits staring at the draft board at night is quite the review of how he views this class. He possibly knows he’ll need to be aggressive one way or another to get into the parts of the draft where they want to pick.

With just over a week to go I wanted to look at a scenario that would possibly lead to the Seahawks moving down.

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Chicago — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#5 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#6 New York Jets — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#7 LA Chargers — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#8 Carolina — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#9 Cincinnati — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#10 Buffalo — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#11 New Orleans — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#12 Cleveland — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#13 Arizona — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
#15 Indianapolis — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#16 Baltimore — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#17 Washington — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#18 Tennessee — Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
#19 Tampa Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#20 Denver — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#23 New York Giants — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
#24 Oakland — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#25 Houston — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
#26 Jacksonville (TRADE) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#27 Kansas City — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
#28 Dallas — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#29 Green Bay — Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
#30 Pittsburgh — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#31 Atlanta — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
#32 New Orleans — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)

Notes on the trade

— There’s so little buzz about the quarterbacks, it feels possible they’ll last deep into round one. In this scenario one of the teams picking in the 30’s (Jacksonville) makes a move. I think it’s unlikely Tom Coughlin will see Blake Bortles’ character and lifestyle as the right fit for his version of the Jaguars.

— The Seahawks at #26 are well placed if they do want to move down. They sit right in front of Kansas City (a possible destination for quarterbacks). A deal with Jacksonville could net a high fourth round pick.

— The options at #26 in this scenario aren’t terrible. There are still some intriguing possibilities. However, a similar plan to last year could be on the cards. Seattle moved from #26 to #31 to get Germain Ifedi, then moved from #56 to #49 to get Jarran Reed. Considering the players they met with recently (Malik McDowell, Jourdan Lewis, Tim Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon) it feels like they’re looking at players that might be available in the #30-50 range. They might prefer to pick there twice instead of at #26 and #58.

— Who would they consider? It certainly feels like there’s a lot of momentum for a defensive back and a pass rusher with the first two picks (in no particular order).

— Ultimately their picks will come down to a handful of factors — need, grit, traits. We highlighted last week why SPARQ isn’t the be-all and end-all and they could end up taking a less athletic albeit highly gritty player.

Notes on some of the other picks

— Reuben Foster could fall. He also could easily go in the top-10 which was the initial projection at the start of the process. Mike Maccagnan has consistently gone pure BPA with his picks. Foster could be BPA at #6. It’s a weird pick to own this year in terms of value and the Jets could be a strong candidate to take a cheap deal to move down if teams want Malik Hooker or Jonathan Allen.

We mocked David Njoku to Seattle back in January and while we’ve since moved on to other positions, he’s still a fascinating player. He could go in the top-12.

— Obi Melifonwu could easily last into range for the Seahawks. He could easily be their first round pick. Yet his rare combination of size, explosive athleticism, sure-tackling and versatility could also tempt a handful of teams to take him earlier than the 26th pick. Don’t be shocked if he goes earlier than expected.

— There’s often a big name that falls. There’s talk about teams souring on Marshon Lattimore due to hamstring issues. He might be one who drops a bit.

— Evan Engram runs a 4.42 at 234lbs. He deserves to go in round one. The Giants need a tight end and Engram could be their guy if Njoku’s off the board.

— There are question marks about the top three receivers (injury, speed, inability to workout during the off-season). Could John Ross, Mike Williams and Corey Davis fall quite far? Possibly. Especially when there are healthier, highly athletic and productive alternatives in rounds 2-3 (Zay Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Curtis Samuel, Chris Godwin). The tight ends being so dynamic (Howard, Njoku, Engram) could also work against the big name wide outs.

Quick notes: Takk McKinley & Malik McDowell

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Just a couple of quick notes today on a couple of defensive linemen…

Takk McKinley notes

Lance Zierlein has the Seahawks taking McKinley at #26 in his latest mock today. There’s a growing sentiment Seattle might go D-line with their first pick. It’s certainly true there’s a huge drop off in D-line talent after the top prospects leave the board. It’s a really deep corner and safety class.

If the Seahawks were after an EDGE, McKinley would be a terrific shout. His backstory and character are off the charts. Watch this video and tell me you won’t root for this guy whatever team he lands with. Yesterday we talked about Malik McDowell not fitting the ‘Seahawky’ profile. McKinley is the complete opposite. He’s grit personified.

He’s a 1.60 runner over 10-yards, his motor is relentless and never stops. He wins with a fantastic get-off but also has the power and thick base to bull-rush and overwhelm weaker tackles. He’s highly explosive, scoring a 3.39 in TEF. He has some technical flaws (needs to learn how to use his hands) and that could set him back early in his career. The upside 2-3 years down the line is very positive.

Here’s the thing though — I’m not convinced the Seahawks are after an EDGE. It seems for a while now they’ve been after another inside/out rusher. They’ve never really had that prolific interior rusher. The meeting with McDowell is indicative of their desire to find that type of player.

The problem is, that type of player is so rare.

McKinley was 250lbs at the combine and looked maxed out. He’s a thick, stout 250lbs. It’s difficult to imagine how he’s going to get another 15lbs onto his frame, let alone another 25-30. He’s an EDGE. And finding a fourth EDGE rusher isn’t anywhere near as much of a priority as finding an interior presence or some depth in the secondary.

Still, he’s very Seahawky in terms of character and motor.

Malik McDowell notes

I went back today and watched three perceived ‘positive’ games for McDowell (Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Indiana) following his visit to Seattle.

Certainly you see flashes of real talent. A one-armed bull rush to collapse the pocket, supreme agility to work the EDGE at 295lbs, the quickness and power combining to disrupt the interior (just what Seattle needs really).

The thing is, he doesn’t seem to make many plays (and the stat line backs that up — 1.5 sacks, seven TFL’s in 2016).

He’s reckless. He’s too manic, too out of control. His gap discipline as a consequence is all over the place and too often he’ll put his head down and rush and have zero impact.

A good example came against Wisconsin. He attacked the edge at 100mph and Ryan Ramcyzk just nudged him to the floor, using his own momentum against him. The Wisconsin running back rolled him on to his belly and it was over. Ugly and slightly embarrassing.

There are plenty of occasions where he goes for the club/swim working inside and attacks the wrong gap, leaving a nice running lane on the opposite side. His EDGE rush is quite predictable (club/swipe every time) and easy to adjust to.

And then you see the flashes. He’ll break into the backfield and look like DeForest Buckner at his best. He’ll rush the edge and chase down the QB for a sack. He’ll absorb blocks to allow a blitzing linebacker to get home.

There’s potential here for sure. Yet his off-putting character, slouchy mentality to the end of the season and reckless play show he’s a big project with major boom or bust potential.

If the Seahawks are seriously considering him it’s surely either after trading down from #26 or if they choose to try and move up from #58. It’s much easier to imagine Seattle taking a chance on him in round two where the stakes aren’t as high.

The team to get ahead of in round two could be Minnesota at #48. He’s a Mike Zimmer type of D-liner. And that might be his best fit in all honesty. Zimmer coaches hard and he’s used to dealing with this type of character.

Even so, it wouldn’t be the most shocking scenario if Seattle drafted both players they met with yesterday (Obi Melifonwu, Malik McDowell) with their first two picks.