Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

Live Blog: NFL Draft Rounds 4-7

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Use this as an open thread. Reaction to come below, plus a podcast later. I’ll also be posting a Seahawks draft review after the seventh round.

Round 2 | No. 35 overall — Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
Round 2 | No. 58 overall — Ethan Pocic (OL, LSU)
Round 3 | No. 90 overall — Shaq Griffin (CB, UCF)
Round 3 | No. 95 overall — Delano Hill (S, Michigan)
Round 3 | No. 102 overall — Nazair Jones (DT, North Carolina)
Round 3 | No. 106 overall — Amara Darboh (WR, Michigan)
Round 4 | No. 111 overall — Tedric Thompson (S, Colorado)
Round 6 | No. 187 overall — Michael Tyson (S, Cincinnati)
Round 6 | No. 210 overall — Justin Senior (T, Mississippi State)
Round 7 | No. 226 overall — David Moore (WR, East Central)
Round 7 | No. 249 overall — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

Round four — #111 — Tedric Thompson (S, Colorado)
This is a really good pick. Thompson led the country in defended passes in 2016 (23 PD’s). That’s 1.64 passes defended a game. He also had seven interceptions. I wrote about him February. He jumped off the screen whenever you watched Colorado. He’s a true centre-fielder who covers ground quickly and makes plays. He’s a nice insurance for Earl Thomas if he misses any more time in the future. Good character too. Great value here. Thompson was named PFF’s best coverage defender in 2016.

Round six — #187 — Michael Tyson (S, Cincinnati)
So far the Seahawks have drafted three safety’s. He tied for second in the AAC with five interceptions in 2016 and managed 4.5 TFL’s. He ran a 4.56 at the combine and he’s 6-1, 204lbs. Tony Pauline says this about Tyson: “Tyson was a playmaker as well as an opportunistic defensive back who helped put his team in position to win games. He has limitations, but Tyson could surprise at the next level as a traditional strong safety or in a zone system.” The Seahawks might be taking PFA’s at this stage. It would’ve been challenging to convince another safety to sign as an UDFA after drafting Hill and Thompson. It’ll be easier to convince O-liner’s to sign considering they’ve previously given guys opportunities to start (George Fant, Garry Gilliam).

Round six — #210 — Justin Senior (T, Mississippi State)
The Senior Bowl wasn’t an exhibition of O-line play this year. Justin Senior was a good example of that. In the pass rush drills to start the week, it was difficult to watch Senior. Day one was not his friend and he struggled badly. However, he grew into the week and showed some improvement. That’s somewhat encouraging and it shows he can take coaching. He’s not a great athlete (8-2 broad, 5.55 forty) and might end up being some camp competition only. He has the size they’ve tried at tackle in the past.

Round seven — #226 — David Moore (WR, East Central)
Moore is 6-1 and 219lbs (big body) and ran a good looking 4.43. He managed a 36.5 inch vertical and a 10-4 broad. He doesn’t have a bio on NFL.com so I can’t offer much info. He caught 57 passes for 878 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Moore says the Seahawks showed a lot of interest in him. Seattle, more so than other teams, appear to really trust their regional scouts to find guys off the general radar. His physical profile is very similar to third round pick Amara Darboh.

Round seven — #249 — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)
I really like this pick to finish. The coaches at Oklahoma State called him out for being soft as a runner. He took it to heart and showed major improvement in his final year in college. It’s well established by now that Seattle has a ‘type’ at running back. Size matters — between 5-10 and 6-0 in height, around 220lbs is the key. They’re not overly concerned with speed but they love explosive traits. Carson had a 37 inch vertical and a 10-10 broad. He’ll add another body to the competition and he has a shot to stick on the roster.

Live Blog: NFL Draft Rounds 2/3

Friday, April 28th, 2017

I’ll be posting live analysis on Seattle’s picks. At some point Kenny and I will be doing a reaction podcast so stay tuned. Feel free to use this as an open thread too. I’ve been asked by several members to request you don’t tip picks.

Seattle’s remaining picks

Round 2 | No. 34 overall
Round 2 | No. 58 overall
Round 3 | No. 90 overall
Round 3 | No. 95 overall
Round 3 | No. 102 overall
Round 3 | No. 106 overall
Round 4 | No. 111 overall
Round 6 | No. 187 overall
Round 6 | No. 210 overall
Round 7 | No. 226 overall
Round 7 | No. 249 overall

For a full draft tracker, click here.

Round two

#34 TRADE with the Jacksonville Jaguars
The Seahawks moved down one spot to #35, acquiring a sixth round pick (#187). It’s unclear why Jacksonville felt obliged to make this move. They ended up selecting Cam Robinson (T, Alabama).

#35 Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
The Seahawks have been looking for an inside/out rusher for a long time. They decided to take the chance on McDowell. If he delivers on his potential he can be a monster, combining with Frank Clark to solidify the core of the D-line for the long term. Furthermore, there’s much more depth at cornerback than on the D-line. McDowell is an exciting talent but his personality and character question marks led to this fall in the first place. Seattle’s challenge is to get the best out of him consistently for 16 games. They did meet with him — so they clearly feel comfortable with his character and personality. The upside potential is huge.

There are things to work on. His pass rush repertoire is limited and he tends to play out of control at times. His gap discipline isn’t great and while he often breaks into the backfield, he struggled to register splash plays in certain games. His effort at the end of 2016 is well debated. The fact is — Pete Carroll backs his staff to get the best out of players. And McDowell has the kind of talent they love to get their hands on.

Jason La Canfora says the Seahawks would’ve taken McDowell in round one and had he not been available, they would’ve targeted Kevin King (taken by Green Bay at #33).

I didn’t think the Seahawks would take him because his personality, gap discipline and effort didn’t scream ‘Seattle’. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the pick now it’s happened. This team can coach. They’re taking a shot at greatness with this guy.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of his tape by Brett Kollmann:

#58 Ethan Pocic (OL, LSU)
The Seahawks don’t move up — and this one is a little bit surprising (to anyone who’s followed the blog anyway). Pocic wasn’t on our radar so we slipped up there. I’m not sure he was on anyone’s radar for Seattle in round two. With a number of big name players still on the board, this is an intriguing one. It’ll be good to get into some of his games over the next couple of days.

Firstly, it’ll be interesting to see where they decide to use Pocic. He played center to finish his career at LSU but he’s 6-6 and 310lbs. He’s not the longest O-liner (33 inch arms) or particularly explosive (2.81 TEF). Is he a hedge against Justin Britt being out of contract? Will he play guard or get a shot at tackle? He was reportedly well respected at LSU and praised for his leadership. This is one we missed on big time. It’ll be fun to get into his tape.

For the second year in a row Seattle goes OL-DL with their first two picks. And it’s another high pick on the O-line. Jason La Canfora says the Seahawks believe he can play all along the line including tackle.

#90 Shaq Griffin (CB, UCF)
The Seahawks met with him at the VMAC. He gave up some plays at UCF, there’s no getting away from that. However, he’s tough and physical. The Seahawks will like his attitude and he’s a better athlete than shows up on tape — running a fantastic 4.38 at the combine and a smooth 4.14 short shuttle. He could compete in the slot and at outside cornerback. One thing we learnt from this draft? The Seahawks truly are committed to the 32-inch arm benchmark.

#95 Delano Hill (S, Michigan)
Of all the Michigan players draft so far, Hill stood out on tape the least. He’s a good athlete and he has reasonable size. He also has the 32-inch arms and his wingspan is +77.5 inches too. He ran a 4.47 and had a nice 4.27 short shuttle. Hill could compete at the big nickel, special teams and safety. They needed some depth here.

#102 Nazair Jones (DT, North Carolina)
His 24.5 inch vertical was a little off-putting but he ran a 4.63 short shuttle at 6-5 and 305lbs which is pretty much in Seattle’s previous range. Jones has 35 inch arms and he’s tough. He’s not going to be much of a pass rusher but this is looking like a meat and potatoes type of draft class for Seattle. They likely see him as a younger, cheaper version of Tony McDaniel.

#106 Amara Darboh (WR, Michigan)
The two Michigan receivers were very similar in terms of value. Jehu Chesson was the big name a year ago but he didn’t have the breakout year everyone expected. Darboh instead wrestled away a lot of his targets and had a more consistent and productive season. He’ll likely push Jermaine Kearse and compete on special teams initially.

Overall thoughts on day two

This isn’t a sexy draft class filled with big names (or amazing athletes for that matter). This seems to be about toughness, attitude and physicality. Instead of reloading the LOB the Seahawks are seemingly trying to get bigger and more physical in certain areas, while creating cost-savings down the line. If Jones replaces McDaniel this year, Darboh could make Kearse expendable in a year and Pocic could even push Justin Britt into free agency if he asks for too much money.

This is a group that might not form a new core down the line but they’ll compete and contribute. In McDowell they have a potential star if he develops as intended. The rest of the class appears to be about solidity.

They’ll pick five more times tomorrow with picks in round four (x1), six (x2) and seven (x2). There are lots of big names still available including Dorian Johnson, Isaac Asiata, Samaje Perine, Chad Hansen, Bucky Hodges, Jake Butt, George Kittle, Carlos Watkins, Vince Biegel, Carl Lawson, Anthony Walker Jr and Desmond King.

Day two of the draft primer — Seattle set to pick at #34

Friday, April 28th, 2017

This could be pretty straight forward.

How much time did we spend discussing Obi Melifonwu and Kevin King?

Highly athletic players enter the league every year — but hardly any combine size, length, quickness and explosion like Melifonwu and King.

In terms of pure upside and ceiling, both players are off the charts.

Let’s recap why they stand out so much.

Since 2010, only four CB’s have run a sub-4.00 short shuttle and measured with 32 inch arms (Seattle’s apparent cut-off):

2017 — Kevin King (3.89)
2016 — DeAndre Elliott (3.94)
2015 — Byron Jones (3.94), Tye Smith (3.96)
2010-2014 — No qualifiers

The Seahawks drafted Tye Smith and signed DeAndre Elliott as an undrafted free agent. They might’ve taken Byron Jones had they not traded their 2015 first rounder to New Orleans for Jimmy Graham.

Look at how King compares to the rest of the defensive back class in the short shuttle:

Kevin King — 3.89
Quincy Wilson — 4.02
Budda Baker — 4.08
Obi Melifonwu — 4.09
Fabian Moreau — 4.12
Jamal Adams — 4.13
Ahkello Witherspoon — 4.13
Chidobe Awuzie — 4.14
Shaq Griffin — 4.14
Gareon Conley — 4.18
Shalom Luani — 4.21
Rasul Douglas — 4.26
Sidney Jones — 4.28
Cordrea Tankersley — 4.32
Tre’Davious White — 4.32

The fact King is able to express this level of short area quickness at 6-3 and 200lbs is quite unnatural. Then you throw in a 39.5 inch vertical, a special 6.56 three-cone and a 4.43 forty yard dash and he’s pretty much the ideal ball of clay to mould at the cornerback position.

Furthermore, before the draft we highlighted the issue of wingspan within this class. The Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback in the Carroll era with a sub-77.5 inch wingspan. Despite all the hype around this group, only six cornerbacks had the kind of length Seattle has tended to favour:

Kevin King — 32 (arms) 77 7/8 (wingspan)
Ahkello Witherspoon — 33 (arms) 79 3/8 (wingspan)
Marquez White — 32 1/8 (arms) 77 3/8 (wingspan)
Treston Decoud — 33 (arms) 77 1/4 (wingspan)
Brian Allen — 34 (arms) 78.5 (wingspan)
Michael Davis — 32 1/4 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)

The Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round since 2010. If they were ever going to buck this trend, it’d need to be for a very special athletic profile.

That is what King possesses.

Obi Melifonwu could also be considered in the same way. Some teams will think about trying him at cornerback. And if you view him as a corner, his numbers also match-up to Seattle’s apparent desires:

Height: 6-4
Weight: 224
Arms: 32.5
Wingspan: 79 1/4
Forty: 4.40
Vertical: 44
Broad: 11-9
Short shuttle: 4.09
Three-cone: 7.05

He has the arm length and wingspan, the explosive broad jump, the fantastic forty yard dash and the short-area quickness.

And who can forget Carroll and Schneider’s reaction to his forty yard dash at the combine:

They could try him at corner, at big nickel, as a hedge for the future at strong safety.

Is he a fit for the Seahawks’ mentality on defense? According to PFF, he finished 2016 ninth in run-stop percentage and 17th in tackling efficiency among safety’s.

John Schneider said they didn’t lose anyone they wanted moving from #26 to #34.

This all could be very predictable for the Seahawks today.

That said, while there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they will look very closely at King or Melifonwu, there are other names to monitor too.

You’ll notice how high Quincy Wilson is on the list of those short shuttle times above. He doesn’t have the wingspan or the broad jump they’ve typically drafted before — but there’s something about his style of play and attitude that says ‘Seahawks’. He might also be in a better position than King and Melifonwu to have a relatively quick impact in 2016.

It’s very easy to imagine the Seahawks liking Wilson a lot.

Jourdan Lewis isn’t big but his tape is really good and he’s gritty working in the slot. Chidobe Awuzie is still available — a player with tremendous versatility to play the slot and drop back into a cover-2. Budda Baker can act in a similar role.

There are so many good defensive back options available — they might be tempted to move down again.

Two big name offensive linemen in Forrest Lamp and Cam Robinson remain on the board. It’ll be interesting to see where they’re drafted today. Not that long ago Daniel Jeremiah was tipping both to go in the top-20. Are they falling for legit reasons or will the Seahawks see an opportunity to get some value here? For me both players are in the 30-45 range in terms of talent in this class and I highlighted that in my big board. Lamp is the most explosive O-liner in the draft according to TEF.

We’re also at the point now where value comes in to play. Marcus Maye, Zay Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dalvin Cook and others could be attractive.

The D-line also provides plenty of possible options including Malik McDowell, Demarcus Walker, Tyus Bowser, Daeshon Hall, Chris Wormley and Tim Williams.

We’ll see whether Seattle’s priority is to go for value, to replenish the Legion of Boom, add to the pass rush or find another O-liner.

And with four picks in round three, plus an early fourth rounder acquired from San Francisco, it seems increasingly likely they will move back into the top-50 to get another one of the names above — making for a high-value, very productive start to the draft for the Seahawks.

Green Bay will impact things at #33. They too are very much in the market for cornerbacks.

It’s been said many times over the last few weeks — the grades at pick #22-30 are going to be very similar to the grades at pick #40. If you want value in this draft, you want to be picking where the Seahawks are today with the ammunition to move up and be aggressive.

This should be a lot of fun.

Seattle’s remaining picks

Round 2 | No. 34 overall
Round 2 | No. 58 overall
Round 3 | No. 90 overall
Round 3 | No. 95 overall
Round 3 | No. 102 overall
Round 3 | No. 106 overall
Round 4 | No. 111 overall
Round 6 | No. 210 overall
Round 7 | No. 226 overall
Round 7 | No. 249 overall

Instant reaction: Seahawks trade out of round one

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

The Seattle Seahawks did what many people expected. They traded down — and eventually out of the first round.

Pete Carroll referred to it as an “exquisite example” of the draft going exactly as they expected.

By moving down from #26 to #34 involving separate trades with the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks acquired three more picks:

Round 3 — #95 — Atlanta
Round 4 — #111 — San Francisco
Round 7 — #249 — Atlanta

It means the Seahawks will now pick five times between #90-111. Either they love that range in this class, or they’re preparing to be aggressive on Friday.

They have the following haul: 2,2,3,3,3,3,4,6,7,7

So who’s left on the board?

These were the seven names highlighted as possible targets before round one:

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)

Three names remain and all could be potential picks at #34. It’s time to top-up the list and add a few more options.

For more on Melifonwu click here

For more on Awuzie click here

For more on King click here

Who is left from the big board?

Aside from the three names above, Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida) is the only third tier player remaining. From tier four — Forrest Lamp, Tyus Bowser and Budda Baker remain.

Theoretically they could all be options too.

Wilson is very intriguing. 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

Forrest Lamp was clearly the most explosive offensive lineman at the combine. He could be used at guard or as a hedge against Justin Britt at center. It’s not that long ago that Lamp was being touted as a top-20 pick. A few days ago he was seen as a likely target for Miami at #22. He remains on the board.

Personally I graded Lamp in tier four for a reason. He doesn’t have the length to play tackle without being an anomaly. The Seahawks might be loathe to draft another early-round guard too. Yet he fits what they’ve looked for in terms of explosive athletes so he has to be on the radar now.

Tyus Bowser has a very similar physical profile to T.J. Watt and both players compare physically to Khalil Mack. Budda Baker is really good but his size somewhat limits his role in the NFL. Is he a free safety only? Can he handle the slot full-time?

We’re also into a region now where the Seahawks can look for value if they wish. If they think they can fill needs at CB, DL, S and OL later — they might be inclined to consider a Zay Jones or JuJu Smith-Schuster here.

They also visited with Tim Williams, Malik McDowell, Daeshon Hall, Jourdan Lewis and Ahkello Witherspoon.

Jordan Willis, Zach Cunningham, Marcus Maye, Demarcus Walker and Chris Wormley also remain on the board.

Cam Robinson remains available too. I purposely didn’t include him in my top-35 big board. For me he’s always been a little overrated. He was not an explosive tester at the combine but he does have ample size and length. It wouldn’t be an improbable pick for Seattle. He could be their guy. Yet there are arguably better players available on the board — and he lasted this long for a reason.

Jourdan Lewis is a very interesting name. Arguably he’s the most competitive slot corner in college football, Lewis is tenacity defined. We discussed him in more detail here.

Whoever the Seahawks were targeting at #26 is still available:

Now it’s just about waiting to see who they pull the trigger on.

Melifonwu, Awuzie and King all seem very realistic fits. Had the Seahawks drafted one of the three at #26, a lot of fans would’ve been happy. If they move down and get extra picks before taking them, those same fans should be ecstatic.

As you can see above, however, there are still plenty of good options remaining. If they want a dynamic defensive lineman, they can do it with Williams, Willis, McDowell, Walker or Wormley. If they want to go DB, there’s Melifonwu, Awuzie, Wilson, Lewis, Baker and others. If they want to go O-line they can take Lamp or Robinson. There are good receivers and running backs on the board.

Plus there’s every chance they’ll trade up from #58 to pick twice in the top-50 — something we talked about and anticipated a lot before round one.

Updated Seahawks watch list:

Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Jourdan Lewis (CB, Michigan)
Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
Zay Jones (WR, East Carolina)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)

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.

Podcasts

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.