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Senior Bowl day three practise notes

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

— I’ve only been able to watch the practise sessions on the NFL Network and due to the weather, didn’t see any of Wednesday’s practise. Based on what I have been able to watch, the three best players in Mobile were — Andre Dillard, Terry McLaurin and Deebo Samuel.

— Terry McLaurin tied Texas cornerback Kris Boyd in knots on one rep — flashing a superb inside/out move before catching a fade over his shoulder in the redzone. On his third rep in the WR vs DB drill he ran a delightful slant and exploded off his break to create about five yards of separation. McLaurin is so sudden and explosive, consistently gets open with a mix of athleticism and savvy, he’s a consistent catcher and he doesn’t have any wasted movement. Jon Gruden was chatting to McLaurin near the end of the session and was looking at him like a proud father. He’ll run in the 4.3’s at the combine, jump a 40-inch vertical and finally he’ll get the grade he deserves. McLaurin looks like a second round pick at worst and could easily be Seattle’s first pick in the draft. He blocks, he has special teams value, he’s a difference-making athlete, he’s sudden, he competes for the ball. He’s exactly the type of player they love.

— Deebo Samuel is right alongside McLaurin with the way he has performed in Mobile. The South team started their session with some red zone drills. All of the receivers ran pretty basic in-cuts, slants or fades. Samuel saw it as an opportunity to show off a bit. He destroyed the DB’s on both of his reps with moves reminiscent of Doug Baldwin vs the Rams in 2016. After each rep he was barking ‘I win’. Samuel, like McLaurin, has just been on a different level to the defensive backs in Mobile. What a fantastic week for the pair — two of the absolute biggest winners at the Senior Bowl.

— Washington State’s Andre Dillard was getting first round buzz before Mobile but that was practically confirmed here. After a terrific performance on Tuesday and (reportedly) an even better display on Wednesday — Dillard capped things off with a dominating rep against Jaylon Ferguson today. It was men against boys stuff. Dillard controlled the block, Ferguson desperately tried to disengage but couldn’t. He was attempting a counter, he was trying to shake Dillard off. No dice. It was an outstanding display of finishing a block. It really feels like it’s no longer a question of whether Dillard goes in round one — it’s a case of how early could he go with teams always desperate for good pass-protecting left tackles.

— There’s been talk of Montez Sweat as a top-10 pick this week but we really didn’t see any evidence of that today. Sweat took his 1v1 reps against Elon’s Oli Udoh. It was a massacre. Udoh easily handled Sweat’s attempt at a bull rush then followed up by driving him into the turf on a speed rush. The two reps had the O-liners hooting and hollering. “Oh yeah baby” was yelled. Sweat clearly has appealing length and quickness. However, this was a big reminder that he still has a lot to work on and has to prove that he can be an every down EDGE at the next level and won’t be bullied by pro-linemen.

— George State’s Penny Hart had some eye-catching reps at receiver. He has absolutely zero wasted movement. He eats up a cushion with blistering speed and then just explodes away from defensive backs to create separation. There are some concerns about how he catches the ball and whether he’s a better athlete than receiver but this was an impressive showing from Hart today. Like McLaurin and Samuel, he’s incredibly ‘sudden’.

— Washington tight end Drew Sample had a good first day and again looked really good today. He handled himself in the blocking drills. The Raiders had the running backs and tight ends blocking on an island. That’s a difficult challenge for a tight end — often they’re playing inside out and have support from a tackle. Sample’s footwork, ability to plant and stick and his hand-placement was all on point. In the catching drills he consistently found ways to get open. He easily beat Nasir Adderley in one rep with a fluid route. Sample can be a factor at the next level as an all-round, classic tight end. He helped himself based on the two workouts made available for broadcast.

— Another Husky who’s really helped himself this week is Kaleb McGary. Without doubt, in my opinion, he’s been the top offensive line performer in Mobile after Andre Dillard. His first rep today came against John Cominsky of Charleston. McGary absorbed contact, got his hands into Cominsky’s frame and just dumped him into the turf. It was a dominant rep that had the coaches howling. On his second rep he walled off a speed rush from Charles Omenihu. The Raiders gave him three successive reps to test him out. The final attempt was a little ragged — he seemed to catch his feet a little and give up a pressure to Ben Banogu. Later in the session the Oakland coaches introduced a drill involving stunting defenders. Many of the prospects struggled with this except McGary. He passed his guy off inside and easily handled the player stunting outside. The coaches decided to move him to left tackle to see if he could thrive there and he gave up a pressure to Omenihu and didn’t look comfortable. Even so — he leaves Mobile as a big winner and any team wanting a starting right tackle is possibly thinking he’s a viable target in round two.

— Khalen Saunders looked highly athletic on Tuesday if a little raw. Today he looked like an absolute beast. In his first rep he stunned Chris Lindstrom with an amazing jolt to the chest, driving Lindstrom off balance. The Boston College guard recovered well and prevented a total disaster but it still goes down as a win for Saunders. Later on the pair had another battle and Saunders walked him into the backfield. He has exceptional size and quickness, tremendous strength. It won’t be a surprise if he’s worked himself into a third round grade by the end of the week.

— Oklahoma duo Ben Powers and Dru Samia both had really good weeks. They’re tough, physical and have exactly the type of attitude you want from your interior linemen. Powers is 6-4, 310lbs and has 34 1/8 inch arms. He barely put a foot wrong in any of his 1v1 reps. He had a superb rep against Kinglsey Keke today showing off balance, hand-placement and power. He plants the anchor very well. Samia wants to fight and scrap with everyone.

— Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins came into the week seen as the top player at his position in the class. There’s no doubt now (unless you like Jonah Williams and think he projects to center — it’s amazing how he still gets marked in the top-10 as a tackle). Jenkins had two great reps against Dontavius Russell today.

— Jonathan Ledbetter struggled a bit in his two reps against Dennis Daley. Earlier in the week he refused to be blocked but in this instance Daley controlled him.

— Greg Gaines does a nice job driving into interior linemen and pushing them into the backfield. Unfortunately his lack of arm length and hand use is a problem. When he wins with leverage and gets the initial push, in every rep he stays blocked and can’t disengage. When he doesn’t get that initial victory, too often he can be handled by longer offensive linemen. Nobody can question his effort and he had some wins again today. His stock will be severely limited though as long as he’s unable to use his hands to swim/rip and create a clean route to the backfield or find a way to disengage and not just run into linemen. Gaines had one particularly ugly snap against Garrett Bradbury.

— Michael Deiter had a better day today in the 1v1’s but he, Dalton Risner, Max Scharping and Chris Lindstrom all looked a little lost on the stunt-drill. Lindstrom and Deiter didn’t do anything outstanding today but they looked particularly solid.

— Zach Allen again looked pretty average — failing to flash any speed or quickness off the edge. He has good size and length. His 2018 season was extremely good. You’re left wondering about his upside though and whether he’ll be able to create pressure at the next level.

— Renell Wren played with a lot more control in his reps but didn’t really flash on day three. That might be the way forward for him to be a more rounded player but it did eliminate some of the ‘wow’ factor today.

— Trace McSorley had a rough outing among the quarterbacks with several wayward passes. It’s been difficult to get a read on the QB’s this week. Based on the TV broadcasts it’s been tough to get a feel for any hierarchy among this group. It might’ve been a lot clearer to those watching in Mobile.

— There’s been very little evidence of Nasir Adderley being an early pick this week. He toiled in coverage against even the TE’s. Drew Sample easily beat him in one instance. ‘Draft twitter’ seemingly got a little carried away with Adderley. He isn’t a bad player by any stretch but talk of round one and running a 4.4 forty seems way off based on his Senior Bowl display.

— USC tackle Chuma Edoga has some talent and looked like a natural fit at left tackle.

— Travis Fulgham flashed with some nice red-zone routes, showing off some quickness and snap for his size. Fulgham will be one to watch if he gets a combine invite based on the athleticism he showed here. With nearly 35-inch arms and a 6-2, 210lbs frame — he looked good in Mobile.

If you missed it earlier, don’t forge to check out the Seahawkers Podcast. We talk in depth about the Senior Bowl and Seattle’s off-season in general.

Check it out below:

New podcast: Senior Bowl & the Seahawks off-season

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

This week I was invited to be on the Seahawkers podcast. We get into a number of topics including the Senior Bowl and the Seahawks off-season in general.

Check it out…

Senior Bowl day two: Possible Seahawks targets

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Unfortunately due to bad weather in Mobile, the Senior Bowl practise on day two has been moved indoors. This means no live NFL Network coverage and no media presence. We’ll see if they show the 1v1’s and other highlights later.

In light of being unable to post practise notes, here’s a list of prospects I think might intrigue the Seahawks with their first pick. I’ve also been invited on the Seahawkers Podcast today so keep an eye out for that too.

Senior Bowl day one notes & measurements

Possible targets for Seattle

The Seahawks love traits. Just look at the players they’ve taken with their first draft pick in the past. In reverse order — Rashaad Penny, Malik McDowell, Germain Ifedi, Frank Clark, Paul Richardson, Christine Michael, Bruce Irvin, James Carpenter, Russell Okung. The list includes some of the all-time top combine performers, players with unique size and/or length and dynamic playmakers with X-factor athleticism.

They also spent first round picks on Earl Thomas, Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham.

With that in mind, I wanted to run through some possible candidates to be their first pick in 2019 — based on upside and traits.

Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
Sweat combines unique length (35.5 inch arms, 84.5 inch wingspan) with great quickness and athleticism as a pass rusher. He’s 6-6 and 252lbs so a good size. There just aren’t many human’s with Sweat’s physical profile. By the end of the Senior Bowl he could be a top-20 lock based on what we’ve seen so far. If not (and there are some questions to be answered about his departure from Michigan State) he could/should be on Seattle’s radar.

Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
We’ve been discussing McLaurin on the blog for a while but get ready — because he’ll leave Mobile as one of the big winners this week. He dominated the 1v1 drills on day one. McLaurin is a sudden, exceptional athlete who easily creates separation at every level and is still capable of winning contested catches. He has special teams value and he’s willing to do this as a blocker. He’s a ‘Seahawks type’ receiver. He also has superb character, he interviews extremely well and he recorded an elite 141.96 SPARQ score in High School — running a 4.41 and achieving a 42-inch vertical. He could be Seattle’s first pick after they inevitably trade down.

Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
I think he’s the most talented player in the draft. And like Baker Mayfield, I suspect he could defy media predictions and be the #1 overall pick. Murray is a sensational downfield passer with great accuracy and arm strength. He’s adept at extending plays, making explosive throws and he’s the ultimate weapon when he breaks contain as a runner. The Seahawks are facing a showdown with Mark Rodgers, Russell Wilson’s agent. There’s no doubt the Seahawks will want to extend Wilson’s contract. It’ll be a tough negotiation though. Wilson’s best bargaining chip is a lack of an alternative. ‘If you’re not paying me $35-40m a year, what are you going to do?’. Seattle’s best bargaining chip will be acquiring a talented quarterback so they can ask, ‘how badly do you want to stay here, because we have this guy now’. If Murray lasts into range, I’m not sure John Schneider will be able to resist such a talent.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
Hockenson’s stock is rising to the point he could end up being a top-15 lock by April. He’s an exceptional blocking tight end with an exquisite attitude and approach to his duties as an in-line TE. Hockenson is also a terrific athlete, capable of creating separation as a mismatch at the second level and also running downfield for deep shots. He high-points the ball, has great catching technique and has hardly any flaws. He’s the best tight end prospect to come into the league in a long time.

Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State)
Another Ohio State target but this time a converted running back. Campbell is a Percy Harvin-type without any of the character concerns. He’s 6-1 and 208lbs and had a similar SPARQ workout to Terry McLaurin — running a 4.41 and jumping a 40 inch vertical. Campbell can take screens to the house, make chunk plays downfield and be a factor on sweeps and misdirection. He’s a modern-day weapon.

Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
He’s not the biggest linebacker at a listed 5-11 and 233lbs but he’s the best bet to find a Mychal Kendricks type in this draft. A reminder — Kendricks was 5-11 and 239lbs at his combine in 2012. He ran a 4.47 forty, jumped a 37.5 inch vert and a 10-7 broad. He ran a 4.19 short shuttle and a 1.53 10-yard split. These are special numbers for the position. Bush has the quickness, explosive athleticism and physicality to think he could have a similar combine performance. If he does, he has to be on the radar.

Cody Ford (T, Oklahoma)
Ford is absolutely massive with a 6-4 and 338lbs frame. What makes him unique is despite this hulking size, his footwork is sensational. His ability to drop quickly and set with balance is rare for a man with his size. He might not have the length to be a full-on left tackle prospect at the next level but he could be a top-level guard. It won’t be a surprise if he nails the short shuttle and the mirror drill at the combine. Seattle likes size on the O-line. If Ford lasts into range, it won’t be a surprise if they like him.

Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
The cousin of Antonio Brown, Marquise just made play after play for Oklahoma in 2018 and was the perfect compliment to Kyler Murray. He has the speed to create separation downfield but also the quickness and savvy to settle into zones and provide an easy target. He’s a big play waiting to happen and has YAC potential too. It won’t be a surprise if a team like Buffalo tries to pair him with Josh Allen’s arm strength. The Browns could try and reunite Brown with Baker Mayfield. If he lasts into Seattle’s range, he’s the type of dynamic target they really like.

Rodney Anderson (RB, Oklahoma)
I don’t think there’s any chance the Seahawks take another running back early. However, I wanted to include Anderson here because he’s the forgotten man of this draft class. A knee injury ended his 2019 season early. Without it, there’s every chance he could’ve been a top-20 pick. He’s 6-1 and 220lbs and plays with fantastic explosion, power and speed. He’s a complete stud. At SPARQ he ran a 3.97 short shuttle — that’s insane agility at his size. He also jumped a 37-inch vertical. If the Seahawks weren’t stacked at running back, they’d surely be taking a long look at Anderson.

D.K. Metcalf (WR, Ole Miss)
It feels like Pete Carroll has been searching for a dynamic big receiver forever. The point is, they’re not just looking for a guy with size. They want the athleticism and length to go with it. Metcalf is 6-3 and 225lbs with long arms. He’s reportedly been timed in the 4.4’s and is capable of a 37.5 inch vertical and an 11-1 broad jump. Plus he can bench 330lbs and power clean 350lbs. Metcalf might last because of a serious neck injury that placed his career in doubt during the 2018 season. We’ll see how early teams are willing to roll the dice. The Seahawks might be willing to take a gamble if he’s available after they trade down.

Renell Wren (DT, Arizona State)
Wren is an absolute beast some of the time and occasionally an out-of-control liability. Tony Pauline believes he could land in round two so I’m going to include him on this list. Wren is built like a tank at 6-4, 315lbs. He has an 81-inch wingspan. Apparently he’s capable of a 4.85 forty, a 34.5 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad. He can also bench-press 430lbs and squat 600lbs. That’s a profile you can work with. Wren has some outstanding plays — shooting gaps, demolishing center’s. He also has plays where he’s too reckless, loses balance and is too-easily handled. You can teach technique and control. You can’t teach natural power and a 4.85 forty at 315lbs.

Kaleb McGary (T, Washington)
McGary measured at a massive 6-7 and 321lbs and was unquestionably one of the top performers on day one at the Senior Bowl. He was on a different level to the other offensive linemen. He won all his reps, appeared in complete control and his technique was generally on-point. The Seahawks like size up front. McGary also has a gritty backstory, the kind that often appeals to Seattle. Along with Greg Gaines and Terry McLaurin, McGary was a day-one star in Mobile.

Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)
As with T.J. Hockenson, Dillard’s stock is trending a certain way (into the top-20). His agility and ability to set is impressive. Whether it’s inside at guard or as a possible long-term fixture at tackle, Dillard could be an option if he lasts. He has 34-inch arms and an 80 1/8 inch wingspan. The Seahawks drafted the best run blocking tackle in 2011 (James Carpenter). Dillard would be the best pass protecting tackle in 2019. The way he tests at the combine will shed more light on his potential fit in Seattle.

There are others you could include and the combine will shed more light on potential targets. There’s no point listing players like Rashan Gary, Christian Wilkins and Jachai Polite because there’s barely any chance of them lasting to #21 — let alone lasting after a trade down. You could argue that’s the same for players like Kyler Murray, Marquise Brown and T.J. Hockenson. I think there’s less of a consensus belief that they’ll go early — even though I suspect all three will be gone in the top-20.

Jeffery Simmons is good enough to go in the top-10. He has Ndamukong Suh potential. If he doesn’t go in the top-10, it’ll be because of the High School incident. He seems like a reformed character but teams will still grill him about it at the combine. I no longer think he’ll last into Seattle’s range.

It won’t have gone unnoticed that there aren’t many defensive linemen or defensive backs listed above. The D-liners will go early and often and Seattle might be forced to wait on that area. Thankfully the depth is there. If players like Greg Gaines, L.J. Collier and Charles Omenihu continue to perform as they did on day one — it won’t be an issue. It’s a shame players like Gerald Willis III, D’Andre Walker and Christian Miller are unable to compete in Mobile.

Free agency will present some opportunities too. If Anthony Barr reaches the market, he’s the type of player (age, athletic profile, scheme) they could target. Others, like Darius Philon, could help the run defense. Hopefully they’ll save some money for an accomplished veteran kicker. I’ll be doing a piece on free agency next week.

The D-line dilemma will be a talking point going forward. With around 10 expected to go in round one and with Seattle destined to trade down (they won’t be picking only four times) they might miss the better options. It’d be frustrating given it’s arguably their biggest need. However, Pete Carroll was adamant at the end of the season they didn’t have any glaring voids. So they may feel they can address this issue one way or another and not feel handcuffed with their first pick.

As for the defensive backs — it’s not a good class at cornerback or safety. Waiting on both positions feels inevitable. Again, that’ll be fine with players like Jamal Peters and Marquise Blair potentially on the radar.

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Senior Bowl 2019 day one — notes & measurements

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

If you missed yesterday’s Senior Bowl preview and thoughts on Parris Campbell, check it out here.

Day one notes

My main focus is the D-line vs O-line 1v1’s — the best bit of the Senior Bowl practise week. We get a couple of days of great 1v1’s here. So here are my notes…

Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins won two battles against Dontavious Russell. Jenkins looks the part — good size and length. His hands are a little wide at times and he needs to lock inside and finish but he handled Russell fairly easily.

Kingsley Keke looked really good on two reps against the tough, physical Dru Samia. I’ve not watched much of Keke but this had me wanting to see more. Good quickness for his size, nice hand use to work free.

Jonathan Leadbetter isn’t the quickest but he looks great with ideal size and his hand use was good here too. He refused to be blocked on back-to-back reps against Dennis Daley. Leadbetter is talented. Can he run a decent 10-yard split? He has a pro-future.

Oklahoma guard Ben Powers handled Demarcus Christmas on back-to-back reps.

Oshane Ximines and Oli Udoh split two reps with both getting a win. Ximines’ first rep was laboured and Udoh handled him easily. Ximines did a lot better on the second go-around.

They paired Andre Dillard and Montez Sweat. Nice call, Niners coaches. Dillard over-set on the first step and gave up an inside pressure. Sweat tried the same move on the next rep which was a bit disappointing and Dillard read it and re-set better.

Daylon Mack, a late call up, had a couple of good reps.

Jaylon Ferguson looks really raw. He just ran straight into two reps with no real plan. The second time the tackle used his aggressive sprint against him and let him over pursue and land on the turf. It wasn’t a good look and highlighted how much technique work he needs.

The South session ended with Tytus Howard taking on Montez Sweat. Howard handled the speed rush initially but on the second rep ended up on his backside. His footwork and hand-use was appalling. It looked like he was dancing to Justin Timberlake, not attempting a block. Sweat jabbed him violently in the chest and sent him to the turf. It was a great rep for Sweat showing off his length and some power. It was an awful rep for Howard.

Watching the North receivers vs DB’s — Terry McLaurin was unstoppable and showed off the +140 SPARQ athleticism he has. He’s one of the most underrated players in this draft. Excellent quickness, playmaking, good technique. The star of the day for me.

Marquise Blair looks like a very smooth athlete at safety. Keep an eye on him. Drew Sample, the Washington tight end, also looks useful. He had a really good rep vs Darnell Savage. Blair and Sample lined up against each other. Blair won — but they’re a couple of players to keep on your radar.

Andy Isabella has too many wasted steps in his routes. On one rep Darnell Savage wiped him out as a consequence. He wastes his track speed by trying to do too much to get open. Trust your speed. It wasn’t a good first showing for Isabella who also had some drops.

The North DL vs OL drills were interesting with some surprises. Washington’s Greg Gaines had a terrific session, dominating most of his snaps and working to create pressure. He easily beat Garrett Bradbury on one rep, then beat Chris Lindstrom. It was a great performance from Gaines.

Husky team mate Kaleb McGary equally looked the part on the offensive side of the ball. He dominated Sutton Smith on two overmatched snaps but looked good against the big D-liners too. McGary appeared in complete control and oozed class. The best offensive linemen just execute in these sessions. Good footwork, don’t over-extend. Excellent work from McGary.

Michael Deiter had a poor performance which was disappointing. He was overmatched on one rep and didn’t exert his authority playing inside. He was occasionally struggling to cling on. It wasn’t a good display.

Zach Allen was also a disappointment. He bull-rushed Dalton Risner well on the first rep but after that just looked like an average athlete. No pop, no initial quickness, no counter. He was easily stoned on a couple of reps so they moved him from the left end position to the right. On his next snap he was twisted and sank to the turf. Not a good showing.

Max Scharping had a decent display at left tackle aside from one bad rep against Jalen Jelks. The Oregon pass rusher jolted him to the turf unexpectedly. It was a good rep for Jelks.

TCU’s L.J. Collier looked really twitchy and quick and was one of the big winners in the session.

Renell Wren beat Garrett Bradbury with a power move on his first rep then exploded into the backfield with a knifing rush on his second. Bradbury had his revenge on the third of Wren’s reps. There’s so much to like about Wren but he plays with a degree of recklessness.

For further analysis on the session I’d recommend listening to Tony Pauline’s podcast from Mobile.

Senior Bowl measurements

Quarterback hand size:

Drew Lock — 9
Trace McSorley — 9 1/8
Ryan Finley — 9 3/8
Jarrett Stidham — 9 3/8
Will Grier — 9 1/2
Daniel Jones — 9 3/4”
Tyree Jackson — 10
Gardner Minshew — 10 1/4

DeMarcus Christmas
Height: 6-3
Weight: 302
Arms: 32 1/4
Hands: 8 5/8
Wingspan: 78 1/4

Isaiah Buggs
Height: 6-2
Weight: 295
Arms: 30 7/8
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 75 1/8

BJ Autry
Height: 6-3
Weight: 351
Arms: 35 1/2
Hands: 9 1/2
Wingspan: 83 1/2

Ryquall Armstead
Height: 5-11
Weight: 223
Arms: 30 1/2
Hands: 9 1/2
Wingspan: 72 1/4

Bruce Anderson
Height: 5-11
Weight: 209
Arms: 32 1/8
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 76 3/4

Johnathan Abram
Height: 5-11
Weight: 205
Arms: 31 1/8
Hands: 9 1/2
Wingspan: 74 1/4

Andre Dillard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 310
Arms: 34
Hands: 9 5/8
Wingspan: 80 1/8

Jaylon Ferguson
Height: 6-4
Weight: 256
Arms: 34 1/4
Hands: 8 1/2
Wingspan: 80 3/4

Elgton Jenkins
Height: 6-4
Weight: 314
Arms: 34 1/4
Hands: 10
Wingspan: 82 1/8

Tyree Jackson
Height: 6-7
Weight: 249
Arms: 35
Hands: 10
Wingspan: 82 1/2

Jalen Hurd
Height: 6-4
Weight: 227
Arms: 32 1/4
Hands: 10 1/8
Wingspan: 77 1/4

Will Grier
Height: 6-2
Weight: 218
Arms: 31 1/2
Hands: 9 1/2
Wingspan: 74 5/8

Anthony Johnson
Height: 6-2
Weight: 211
Arms: 31 3/8
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 75 1/4

Isaiah Johnson
Height: 6-2
Weight: 207
Arms: 33 5/8
Hands: 8 1/4
Wingspan: 78 5/8

Jaquan Johnson
Height: 5-10
Weight: 186
Arms: 30 1/4
Hands: 8 3/4
Wingspan: 72 3/4

Jonathan Ledbetter
Height: 6-3
Weight: 271
Arms: 34 1/4
Hands: 9 3/4
Wingspan: 80

Gardner Minshew
Height: 6-1
Weight: 224
Arms: 31 1/4
Hands: 10 1/4
Wingspan: 73 5/8

Daylon Mack
Height: 6-1
Weight: 327
Arms: 32
Hands: 10 1/8
Wingspan: 75 3/4

Hunter Renfrow
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
Arms: 29
Hands: 7 3/4
Wingspan: 70

Dontavious Russell
Height: 6-3
Weight: 319
Arms: 32
Hands: 9 1/8
Wingspan: 77 1/1

Dru Samia
Height: 6-5
Weight: 304
Arms: 33 1/8
Hands: 10
Wingspan: 80

Deebo Samuel
Height: 5-11
Weight: 216
Arms: 32 1/2
Hands: 10 1/8
Wingspan: 74 1/2

David Sills
Height: 6-3
Weight: 210
Arms: 32
Hands: 8 7/8
Wingspan: 75 1/2

Jarrett Stidham
Height: 6-2
Weight: 214
Arms: 32 1/4
Hands: 9 3/8
Wingspan: 76 1/4

Montez Sweat
Height: 6-6
Weight: 252
Arms: 35 5/8
Hands: 9 7/8
Wingspan: 84 1/2

Juan Thornhill
Height: 6-0
Weight: 202
Arms: 31 1/2
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 74 1/2

Oli Udoh
Height: 6-5
Weight: 327
Arms: 36
Hands: 10
Wingspan: 85

Oshane Ximines
Height: 6-3
Weight: 241
Arms: 33 3/8
Hands: 9 3/8
Wingspan: 78 1/8

Rock Ya Sin
Height: 5-11
Weight: 189
Arms: 32 3/8
Hands: 9 3/4
Wingspan: 76 3/4

Nasir Adderley
Height: 5-11
Weight: 195
Arms: 30 3/4
Hands: 8 7/8
Wingspan: 74 1/2

Zach Allen
Height: 6-4
Weight: 280
Arms: 34 1/2
Hands: 10 1/4
Wingspan: 79

Ben Banogu
Height: 6-3
Weight: 247
Arms: 33 3/8
Hands: 8 1/2
Wingspan: 80 1/4

Marquise Blair
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Arms: 31 5/8
Hands: 8
Wingspan: 73 1/4

Kris Boyd
Height: 5-11
Weight: 195
Arms: 30 7/8
Hands: 8 7/8
Wingspan: 73 1/2

Garrett Bradbury
Height: 6-2
Weight: 304
Arms: 32 1/2
Hands: 10 5/8
Wingspan: 76 1/4

Te’Von Coney
Height: 6-0
Weight: 244
Arms: 32 3/4
Hands: 9 1/8
Wingspan: 77 1/4

Michael Deiter
Height: 6-5
Weight: 304
Arms: 32 1/3
Hands: 11 1/8
Wingspan: 78 1/2

Ryan Finley
Height: 6-4
Weight: 208
Arms: 32 3/4
Hands: 9 3/8
Wingspan: 77

Greg Gaines
Height: 6-1
Weight: 307
Arms: 31 1/8
Hands: 9 3/8
Wingspan: 75 5/8

Andy Isabella
Height: 5-8
Weight: 186
Arms: 29 3/4
Hands: 8 1/2
Wingspan: 71

Jalen Jelks
Height: 6-5
Weight: 250
Arms: 33 7/8
Hands: 9 3/4
Wingspan: 82 5/8

Daniel Jones
Height: 6-5
Weight: 220
Arms: 33 1/4
Hands: 9 3/4
Wingspan: 78 1/4

Chris Lindstrom
Height: 6-3
Weight: 303
Arms: 34 1/8
Hands: 9 1/4
Wingspan: 79 3/4

Drew Lock
Height: 6-3
Weight: 223
Arms: 33 1/2
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 77 1/4

Kaleb McGary
Height: 6-6
Weight: 327
Arms: 33 5/8
Hands: 10 1/4
Wingspan: 79

Terry McLaurin
Height: 6-0
Weight: 205
Arms: 32
Hands: 9 1/8
Wingspan: 73 7/8

Trace McSorley
Height: 6-0
Weight: 200
Arms: 31 1/8
Hands: 9 1/8
Wingspan: 71 1/2

Anthony Nelson
Height: 6-6
Weight: 272
Arms: 34 3/4
Hands: 9 5/8
Wingspan: 83 1/4

Charles Omenihu
Height: 6-5
Weight: 274
Arms: 36 1/2
Hands: 9 1/2
Wingspan: 84 3/4

Germaine Pratt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 308
Arms: 34 1/4
Hands: 10 5/8
Wingspan: 74 7/8

Dalton Risner
Height: 6-4
Weight: 308
Arms: 34 1/4
Hands: 10 5/8
Wingspan: 81

Drew Sample
Height: 6-4
Weight: 250
Arms: 33 1/2
Hands: 9 3/4
Wingspan: 79 1/8

Khalen Saunders
Height: 6-0
Weight: 320
Arms: 32 3/8
Hands: 8 7/8
Wingspan: 78 1/2

Darnell Savage
Height: 5-11
Weight: 199
Arms: 30 5/8
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 74 1/4

Max Scharping
Height: 6-5
Weight: 320
Arms: 33 3/4
Hands: 9 3/4
Wingspan: 79

Cameron Smith
Height: 6-2
Weight: 230
Arms: 32 1/8
Hands: 10 1/8
Wingspan: 76 1/2

Jaylen Smith
Height: 6-2
Weight: 221
Arms: 33 5/8
Hands: 8 3/8
Wingspan: 79 1/8

Sutton Smith
Height: 6-0
Weight: 234
Arms: 30 5/8
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 73 1/2

Renell Wren
Height: 6-4
Weight: 315
Arms: 33 3/4
Hands: 9 7/8
Wingspan: 81

L.J. Collier
Height: 6-2
Weight: 280
Arms: 34 6/8
Hands: 9
Wingspan: 81 1/4

Tytus Howard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 322
Arms: 34 3/4
Hands: 10 5/8
Wingspan: 79 3/8

Bobby Okereke
Height: 6-1
Weight: 231
Arms: 34 3/4
Hands: 10 1/8
Wingspan: 82 5/8

Ben Powers
Height: 6-4
Weight: 310
Arms: 34 1/8
Hands: 9 5/8
Wingspan: 81 1/4

It’s very good news for Montez Sweat. He’s 252lbs which is where he needs to be. Not too light, exceptional height and length. He has to be on Seattle’s radar.

Gardner Minshew could be a big riser here if he has a good week. That hand size is pretty significant given he’s not the biggest. He can work his way into the day-two conversation with a big Senior Bowl. He needs to show an ability to drive the ball downfield. Mobile is a king-maker at QB.

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Senior Bowl 2019 preview & Parris Campbell

Monday, January 21st, 2019

Time for the Senior Bowl week. Below are some of the players I’ll be focusing on during the workouts broadcast on the NFL Network.

I’ve also posted the practise schedule.

Before we get into it though I wanted to quickly share some thoughts on Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Seahawks and the draft this week. After initially thinking this was going to all be about the D-line early, I’ve changed my mind slightly.

Here’s why:

1. We know the Seahawks are going to trade down. It’s inevitable. They won’t be picking only four times in this draft.

2. It’s very possible after trading down they’ll do what most people expect and take a front-seven defender with their first pick. It’s a need and there’s excellent depth on the defensive line and at linebacker.

3. It’s also possible they trade down into a range were the best defensive linemen and linebackers are off the board. After all, if they’re going to acquire extra picks they might need to trade down multiple times. For example, the 2018 draft was strong for running backs. However, after the Seahawks took Rashaad Penny at #27 we saw four others leave the board quickly. If something similar happens with the D-liners and linebackers, they might need to consider other positions.

4. This is why I considered T.J. Hockenson in my last mock draft. Tight end isn’t the greatest need but there might be a scenario where the Seahawks are looking for talent + impact rather than necessarily what we perceive to be the biggest need. That’s the consequence of needing to trade down. And let’s not forget — Pete Carroll recently stated he doesn’t see any glaring voids on the roster.

5. There’s still a lot to be decided. Who can they keep among their free agents? Who can they add? There’s a lot to be determined before the draft. If they re-sign or franchise Frank Clark and are able to add one or two quality veteran defensive linemen in free agency — everything changes.

6. Carroll wants to lead the league in explosive plays. For all the talk about defense and running the ball — Carroll also wants big gains and momentum swings. Carroll also values traits and unique qualities. It’s why they aggressively pursued Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham. It’s why they drafted someone like Christine Michael early. Speed, size, suddenness, X-factor ability. They’ve always sought it.

If I was only allowed to do one more mock draft before April and I had to do it tonight — I’d pair the Seahawks with a defensive linemen. However, I’m going to be more open minded about the possibility of them drafting someone like T.J. Hockenson or Parris Campbell or D.K. Metcalf. Why? Because they have the potential to be difference makers in a way many other players in this class can’t.

Campbell is a converted running back who switched to receiver. In 2018 he made 90 receptions for 1063 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s extremely fast, explosive and dynamic. Dwayne Haskins is being touted as a top-10 pick but a lot of his production came on extended hand-off’s to players like Campbell and the other great weapons on the Buckeye offense (K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin etc).

Throw it out to the flat, throw a receiver screen. Campbell was capable of getting the YAC and making big gains. He also has the speed and quickness to separate downfield and make field-tilting catches.

At the SPARQ combine he ran a 4.41 forty and a 4.16 short shuttle. He jumped a 40-inch vertical and finished with an overall score of 121.8. He did that at 6-0 and 184lbs and he’s now listed at 6-1 and 208lbs. If he repeats this performance at the combine — teams are going to take notice.

Campbell is a very different receiver to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. While he’s still capable of the downfield plays — he’s very useful on screens and could be utilised in some misdirection, sweeps, some quick hitters and even some runs. A quick first-down throw to the flat could break up some of the early 1st down runs and stretch out a defense. It could provide a new angle to the offense.

It’s very possible Campbell rises along with Hockenson and they both end up going earlier than people are currently projecting. Both appear to be high character individuals and speak well during interviews. And while there are legit concerns about D.K. Metcalf’s neck injury and how it could limit his career — presumably Carroll would have some interest in a 6-3, 225lbs receiver who, according to Bruce Feldman, has been timed at 4.46 in the forty, can jump 37.5 inches in the vertical, 11-1 in the broad plus he can bench 330lbs and power clean 350lbs.

It’s something to consider during this long draft process.

Now, onto the Senior Bowl…

Senior Bowl practise schedule

These are all central time (so deduct a couple of hours for PST). The game kicks off on Saturday at 1:30pm CT.

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm (SOUTH)
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (NORTH)

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (NORTH)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (SOUTH)

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (NORTH)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (SOUTH)

Here are some of the players on each roster I’ll be keeping an eye out for…

North team

Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
A quarterback with first round potential who was up-and-down during the 2018 season. Lock has a quirky release but all the physical tools teams look for.

Germaine Pratt (LB, NC State)
Burst onto the scene this year with tone-setting tackles and a quickness to break into the backfield and make plays. Goes into the combine with a day-three-value tag.

Darnell Savage (S, Maryland)
The combine will be Savage’s main event (he tested fairly well in SPARQ) but this is a chance to impress. He’s quick and agile and could be a mid-rounder.

Andy Isabella (WR, UMass)
A celebrated athlete with track speed. Isabella is undersized and needs to show he can compete against the DB’s here.

Marquise Blair (S, Utah)
In the lead up to the game, Senior Bowl Executive Director and former scout in Seattle Jim Nagy referred to Blair (6-2, 195lbs) as a “Seahawks safety”.

Te’Von Coney (LB, Notre Dame)
Consistent and athletic but lacks size. Some believe Coney could even be a first or second round pick.

Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
An extremely dynamic playmaker with sneaky pro-potential. One to definitely keep an eye on here and at the combine. 141.96 elite SPARQ score.

Ryan Finley (QB, NC State)
Touted as a possible first rounder in the off-season, Finley failed to impress in 2018. The Senior Bowl, however, has been a king-maker at the QB position.

Daniel Jones (QB, Duke)
Declared late in the day and seen by many as a possible top-20 pick with a good off-season. Jones is a good athlete. Can he show off arm strength and accuracy here?

Nasir Adderley (S, Delaware)
A bit of a ‘draft geeks’ favourite. Adderley is quick, hits and plays well on special teams. Can he jump up a level and show he’s worthy of a high draft grade?

Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)
Allen was unstoppable at times in 2018 and will be one of the best players in Mobile. It’ll be a treat to watch him in the 1v1 drills. First round talent.

Kaleb McGary (T, Washington)
Some considered McGary to be Washington’s best tackle going into the 2018 season. He’s very tall so can he play with leverage in the 1v1’s?

Michael Deiter (G, Wisconsin)
The best guard in the draft — plays with attitude and control. He’s played every position on the line and likely goes in the top-50.

Max Scharping (T, Northern Illinois)
Some people really like Scharping and feel he has the potential to be one of the better tackles in the class. He needs to show it here to go in the first two rounds.

Drew Sample (TE, Washington)
After the success of Will Dissly — of course I’m going to keep an eye on Washington’s latest TE prospect as a potential day three target.

Renell Wren (DT, Arizona State)
Unbelievable talent yet inconsistent. He could be a big riser in Mobile if his effort is good and he excels in the 1v1’s. Tony Pauline thinks he could go in round two.

Greg Gaines (DT, Washington)
Gaines has been a consistent and tough interior defender for many years. The Senior Bowl is made for linemen to impress.

Khalen Saunders (DT, Western Illinois)
Extremely athletic defensive tackle best known for becoming a viral sensation for doing backflips.

Dalton Risner (T, Kansas State)
Slightly overhyped and probably needs to kick inside to guard. The Senior Bowl is set up for linemen to impress. Comes in as a mid-round type.

Kris Boyd (CB, Texas)
In a weak class for cornerbacks at the top of the draft, Boyd will be competing with DeAndre Baker and Trayvon Mullen to follow Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy.

Anthony Nelson (DE, Iowa)
Great size and length with plenty of production in a tough, physical conference. Nelson, with a good off-season, could be a day-two pick.

South team

Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina)
Stocky and sturdy with surprising agility and a dynamic kick returner. He could be a potential game MVP if he gets enough snaps.

Jaquan Johnson (S, Miami)
Seen as a mature leader for Miami. Johnson is undersized but still packs a punch. Could be a mid-rounder in a suspect safety class.

Bruce Anderson (RB, North Dakota State)
Dynamic runner with the potential to get into the mid-round debate. The Senior Bowl game is kind for running backs.

Oshane Ximines (DE, Old Dominion)
Mel Kiper’s pick for Seattle at #21 in his first mock. The tape is ‘meh’ so let’s see what the fuss is all about in the 1v1’s. Bring it.

Jarrett Stidham (QB, Auburn)
Stidham was supposed to be a first or second rounder but had a bad 2018 season. Can he repair the damage in Mobile?

Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
Sweat is extremely quick, long and has 35.5 inch arms. He should have a great week here. A possible first pick for Seattle?

Jonathan Ledbetter (EDGE, Georgia)
An understated pass rusher who can play every down. Didn’t have the big production at Georgia but could be a third rounder with a good off-season.

Gardner Minshew (QB, Washington State)
This is a big chance for Minshew. Can he impress more than the other QB’s? There’s time for a big rise yet.

Juan Thornhill (S, Virginia)
It’ll be interesting to see how Thornhill tests at the combine. He’s a converted cornerback with great character. He had six interceptions in 2018.

Ryquell Armstead (RB, Temple)
Jumped off the screen when I watched Temple during the season. A compact powerball of a runner who could be a day three or UDFA steal.

Daylon Mack (DT, Texas A&M)
One of the best performers at the Shrine Game gets a chance to impress in Mobile. He’s 320lbs and a force. Can he impress in the 1v1’s?

Jaylon Ferguson (EDGE, Louisiana Tech)
A pass rusher with top-25 potential. Ferguson was very raw in college in terms of technique but his production was first rate. He has the tools.

Isaiah Buggs (DE, Alabama)
Possible mid-round pick who played DE at Alabama but will likely kick inside at the next level. He had a good 2018 season.

Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)
Possible first round pick and a player many consider to be the best pass-blocking offensive tackle in the draft.

Elgton Jenkins (C, Mississippi State)
Struggled against Quinnen Williams but otherwise had a solid year. Could be the first center drafted and a possible day two pick.

Dru Samia (G, Oklahoma)
Tough guy and has a shot to start in the NFL. Watch him this week. See if he gets into a scrap with someone. Fun player.

Anthony Johnson (WR, Buffalo)
A favourite within the draft community. Probably a later pick but has some talent. Can he leave an impression here?

Dontavious Russell (DT, Auburn)
Big 6-3 and 320lbs defensive tackle who could get lost amid an extremely deep D-line class and provide some middle-round value.

The following players are no longer competing at the Senior Bowl:

Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State), D’Andre Walker (EDGE, Georgia), Josh Allen (EDGE, Kentucky), Gerald Willis III (DT, Miami), Marvell Tell (S, USC), Chase Winovich (EDGE, Michigan), Christian Miller (EDGE, Alabama), Yodny Cajuste (T, West Virginia), Myles Gaskin (RB, Washington), LJ Scott (RB, Michigan State), Clayton Thorson (QB, Northwestern)

DeAndre Baker, Christian Wilkins, Damien Harris and Parris Campbell rejected their invites.

And here’s a little known fact to finish. Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis III — who had to pull out of the Senior Bowl — is the half brother of New York Giants safety (and pending free agent) Landon Collins.

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The confusing and wonderful 2019 draft

Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Every draft class is unique and has its own positional strengths and weaknesses.

2019 seems more unique than usual. I’m not sure we’ve seen a class like this before.

From the heaving depth of top defensive linemen available to the relative unknown of the quarterbacks — this is a class that keeps people guessing.

And truth be told, I bet the teams are still working out how they feel about a few significant issues.

For example — who’s the best offensive tackle in the draft? It’s a premium position. Tackles always go early. As we saw with Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller last year, the perceived ‘best available’ don’t last very long — even if a prospect has flaws.

Several of the big names this year possibly need to kick inside to guard — Cody Ford, Greg Little, Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams. Some believe Washington State’s Andre Dillard is the best pass-blocking left tackle prospect — a sentiment that is gathering steam in first round mocks. Are you comfortable making him a top-20 pick?

A few months ago people were rushing to extol Alabama safety Deionte Thompson. He was touted as a rangy free safety with speed and playmaking ability. He was mocked as a top-10 talent. Then the reality kicked in. A September flourish turned into an indifferent overall season. It was discovered by some that he ran a 4.71 at SPARQ testing. One scout said the following:

“I’ve watched all the Alabama tapes and I can’t grade him… I don’t see the guy doing things.”

Now you’ll be hard pushed to see him in round one at all in internet mocks. Many jumped the gun.

At one point the receiver class was all the buzz with some suggesting it was a major draft strength. Players like Kelvin Harmon were suggested for the top-10. D.K. Metcalf was a first-round darling — despite the serious and well-publicised concerns about his serious neck injury.

Yet this weekend Tony Pauline reported the following:

“…scouts and general managers are complaining this will be one of the worst draft’s for prospects from the scoring side of the ball in a long time. Right now they project as many as 70 of the top 100 players drafted coming from the defensive side of the ball.”

And then there’s the quarterbacks. Justin Herbert didn’t declare, Jarrett Stidham underwhelmed, Drew Lock was up and down. Nobody knew who to mock early. Was it possible no quarterbacks go in the top-10? Maybe. Yet in the end Dwayne Haskins promoted himself into that range and then a quarterback everyone expected to play Major League Baseball threw his hat into the ring.

If you listen to Adam Schefter, Murray could be a high draft pick. Ian Rapoport was touting rounds 2-3. Some are mocking the late first. I think he’s the most talented prospect in the entire draft.

Does anyone seriously know where he’ll land? Do the teams?

How many expected him to even declare?

We’ve had a season of analysis with no consensus opinion other than it’s a great class for D-liners. We’re still seeing it now. The mocks are all over the place. The only consistent thing seems to be everyone acknowledges Nick Bosa will go in the top-two.

So how should any of us react to this? Mocks are supposed to be just fun conversation starters really. They’re an internet phenomena, by and large. For the talking heads, they’re a lot more serious.

Mike Mayock resisted posting one until the day before previous drafts. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper frequently tut and sigh on their podcast at the idea of putting one together. For those making a career out of projecting the draft — a mock is simply an opportunity to look foolish. You have your judgement questioned. For the rest of us, it’s just an exercise in filling the time between January and April.

Judging a ‘mockers’ credibility almost always usurps the actual analysis of the projection. I bring this up because I’m about to analyse Daniel Jeremiah’s first 2019 mock — one of the most out-there predictions I can ever recall. I’d rather stick to the subject matter if we can — but there are some serious ‘WTF’ reactions to be had:

— Josh Jacobs is projected as a top-five pick. Running backs have gone this early recently — but all were college superstars. Zeke Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Saquon Barkley. Jacobs was a rotational cog in Alabama’s offense and never had more than 640 yards in a single season. It’s unfathomable to think Jacobs would go this early.

— Jeremiah specifically describes Christian Wilkins as a “top 10 talent”. So why does he last to #25? No reason is given. It’s not unusual for a top-10 talent to fall to #11-15 (see: Odell Beckham Jr, Aaron Donald). Dropping to #25 is an incredible fall for a player you’re suggesting is a legit top-10 player — especially considering there are zero character or injury concerns.

— Jeremiah describes Dexter Lawrence as having a similar skill-set and playing style to Ndamukong Suh. If that is true — why does he have Lawrence dropping to #30? Surely any player with a remote likeness to Suh (I personally don’t like the comparison, I think Jeffery Simmons is much closer to Suh in terms of body-type and playing style) is going to go much earlier than #30 overall?

— Jachai Polite is a top-20 talent. Don’t take my word for it — one NFL scout says this: “Polite is really fast and explosive. Excellent off the edge. Top 20.” Jeremiah excludes him from the entire first round.

— T.J. Hockenson is a very talented tight end who will have a good combine and could easily rise quickly up boards. However, is he really going to go in the top-10? Since 2006, only two tight ends have gone in the top-10 — freak of nature Vernon Davis (2006) and Eric Ebron (2014). Even exceptional athletes like O.J. Howard (#19) and Evan Engram (#23) lasted well outside the top-10. Jeremiah has Hockenson going #8 to Detroit.

Adam Schefter recently reported the Miami Dolphins are willing to take a hit in 2019 and target the quarterback class in 2020. They’re focusing on the lines this year and are willing to endure a rebuild season. With that in mind — and considering Schefter is a trusted source — it seems unlikely they’d take a quarterback like Daniel Jones in the top-15. It’s definitely not impossible but seems improbable given the report just six days ago.

When I first read this mock I didn’t know whether to applaud the originality and the fresh talking points or question the thought process. I suppose, really, that’s what you want from a mock draft in January. Jeremiah perhaps does a better job than anyone of encapsulating the massive unknowns from within this class.

It’s also worth highlighting the parts of the mock that make a lot of sense:

— Greedy Williams and Jonah Williams aren’t included in the top-10 — two things you see often in mocks but, at least to me, seem unlikely.

— Deionte Thompson isn’t included in round one.

— Marquise Brown finds a home in the top-20. He’s an electric, dynamic receiver and you can tell he’s Antonio Brown’s cousin. He’s a talent and teams love game-changing potential. John Ross was a top-10 pick and Brown could easily go in the top-20.

— Andre Dillard is starting to get some serious attention as the best pass-blocking tackle and could easily work his way into the first round with a solid combine.

In Jeremiah’s scenario, the Seahawks would be on the board at #21 with Kyler Murray, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Jachai Polite all available. You’re talking about four of the best 10 or 12 players in the entire draft. In this scenario, a 2020 first round pick would be burning a hole in my pocket. Who wants it? Any opportunity to get two of the names above.

Before anyone gets overly excited, I wouldn’t expect any of the four to be available. Just as I wouldn’t expect Josh Jacobs to be a top-five pick.

Again, it highlights how much of a hard time we’re all having trying to work out this class. The order, the direction teams will go. Rather than pin this on the prognosticators and analysts and writers — I think it’s a review of the mystery behind the scenes. Teams, perhaps more than ever, have very different opinions on this class. They might need a Senior Bowl, a combine and some pro-days to get a proper steer.

It’ll make for an intriguing draft process. It’ll also be confusing and frustrating. It’ll get your hopes up and tear them down.

One thing is pretty certain for Seahawks fans though. They aren’t picking only four times in 2019. They will trade down from #21. It’s just a matter of how many times and who’ll be available when they’re finally ready to make a selection.

That’s the one thing we can be sure about.

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Updated mock draft — two rounds

Friday, January 18th, 2019

A few notes before getting into this pre-Senior Bowl mock draft…

1. The Seahawks are likely to draft a defensive player first…

…but it’s not a certainty. In this latest scenario I wanted to go in a different direction. It’s inevitable the Seahawks will trade down. They usually do and this year they only own four picks. So they’ll trade down at least once and get into the 6-8 pick range. It’s possible they’ll move down and out of range for the better defensive linemen. More than ten could go in round one. If that happens, they might see better value at a different position. And while it certainly could be Seattle’s priority to upgrade the defense this year — Pete Carroll also values explosive plays and has consistently sought more weapons for the offense. Golden Tate, Percy Harvin, Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett, Rashaad Penny. There are more examples. Could they take an offensive player with their first pick? Yes. Is a defensive player more likely? Probably. Will free agency have a massive impact? 100%. If they pull off a repeat of the Avril/Bennett heist from 2013, it could shift their focus in the draft. There could be some free agency value too given the strength of this draft class is without question the defensive linemen. One other quick note — if Kyler Murray drops, I think the Seahawks will seriously consider taking him for the reasons listed here.

2. Teams are trading up for quarterbacks

For the last few years we’re seeing teams aggressively pursue the top quarterbacks in a draft class. A year ago the Jets, Bills, Cardinals and Ravens all traded up for a QB. In 2017 the Bears moved up one spot to guarantee Mitch Trubisky while the Chiefs and Texans moved way up to secure Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. In 2016 the Rams and Eagles traded into the top-two spots to get Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. And in 2015 the top-two were the teams most in need of a young quarterback (Tampa Bay took Jameis Winston, Tennessee took Marcus Mariota). Nobody’s really talking about it at the moment but there’s a developing trend. Teams are not waiting for QB’s to fall. They’re being aggressive. And the same could happen in 2019. Arizona and San Francisco would likely be very interested in moving down too.

3. Could the best player fall to #3?

Yes. No doubt at all. Nick Bosa will be top of many boards. His brother Joey was also a consensus #1 prospect throughout his final year at Ohio State. In the end he dropped to #3 because two teams (the Rams and Eagles) traded up to take quarterbacks. Could history repeat? Absolutely. In this instance the Jets would hit the jackpot. Their biggest need is an edge rusher. A year ago Sam Darnold dropped to #3 when many believed he would be the top pick. Nick Bosa could land in New York under similar circumstances.

Here’s the mock. It’s two rounds and includes trades…

First round

#1 The Giants trade with Arizona to select Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
Kyler Murray is the most talented player in the draft and is a worthy #1 overall pick.

#2 The Broncos trade with San Francisco to select Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State)
John Elway admitted recently that Case Keenum is not a long term solution.

#3 New York Jets — Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
Nick, just like brother Joey, falls to a lucky team owning the #3 pick.

#4 Oakland — Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
The Raiders snap up a player who could remind Jon Gruden of Warren Sapp.

#5 Tampa Bay — Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
A former #1 national recruit — teams will love Gary’s upside and he’ll go very early.

#6 Arizona trades down and selects Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
After moving down five spots, the Cardinals still get a top-tier pass rusher.

#7 Jacksonville — Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
The Jags sign a veteran QB (Joe Flacco? Nick Foles?) and then draft a replacement for Marcell Dareus.

#8 Detroit — Jachai Polite (EDGE, Florida)
Polite plays with a relentless effort and regularly battled double teams at Florida.

#9 Buffalo — Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Wilkins will have an outstanding combine, teams will love him and he’ll go early.

#10 The 49ers trade down and select Devin White (LB, LSU)
San Fran swaps #2 for #10 and selects a cornerstone defender for the next decade.

#11 Cincinnati — Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
If there’s one team that won’t have any issue drafting Simmons, it’s the team that selected Joe Mixon.

#12 Green Bay — Josh Allen (LB, Kentucky)
The top-five talk is a bit rich for a player who needs to be stronger. He suits a 3-4.

#13 Miami — Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
Ed Oliver is a wonderful talent. But what’s his fit at the next level?

#14 Atlanta — Cody Ford (T, Oklahoma)
Ford has fantastic feet for his size.

#15 Washington — Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
Alex Smith’s future is uncertain but his contract is locked in. They need a cheap alternative.

#16 Houston trades up with Carolina for Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
The Texans make a big move to solve a huge need.

#17 Cleveland — Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
Of course the Browns will troll the Steelers by drafting Antonio’s cousin.

#18 Minnesota — Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
If he runs well at the combine his stock will take off.

#19 Tennessee — Jaylon Ferguson (EDGE, Louisiana Tech)
Major production, big talent — very raw.

#20 Pittsburgh — Byron Murphy (CB, Washington)
Highly competitive and gritty. Gets after the ball and hits like a hammer.

#21 Green Bay trades with Seattle to select David Edwards (T, Wisconsin)
The Seahawks traded with the Packers a year ago and history repeats here. Green Bay needs some new blood on the O-line.

#22 Baltimore — Mack Wilson (LB, Alabama)
The Ravens love to tap into the Alabama pipeline.

#23 Carolina trades down and selects Taylor Rapp (S, Washington)
The Panthers reportedly want to target the safety position this year.

#24 Pittsburgh trades with Oakland for Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State)
The Raiders make a big splash and trade a first rounder plus for Antonio Brown.

#25 Philadelphia — Greg Little (T, Ole Miss)
The Eagles like to bolster the lines in the draft.

#26 Indianapolis — A.J. Brown (WR, Ole Miss)
Getting their answer to Alshon Jeffery could be a key for Indy.

#27 Oakland — Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)
Excellent player (and Mayock surely can’t resit taking a BC defender?).

#28 Los Angeles Chargers — Jawaan Taylor (T, Florida)
Likely to kick inside to guard.

#29 New England — Daniel Jones (QB, Duke)
The Pats need to come up with some kind of long term QB plan.

#30 Los Angeles Rams — Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State)
They’ll take all the weapons they can get.

#31 The 49ers trade with Kansas City for Jonah Williams (G, Alabama)
He’s overrated but here the 49ers jump ahead of Arizona to land Williams.

#32 Seattle trades down and selects T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
A run will start at the TE position in the late first or early second round.

Second round

#33 Arizona — Max Scharping (T, Northern Illinois)
Some think Scharping is better than Eric Fisher was entering the league.

#34 Indianapolis — D’Andre Walker (DE, Georgia)
Tough and plays the run well for his size.

#35 Oakland — Irv Smith Jr (TE, Alabama)
Another weapon for Oakland, acting essentially as a big slot receiver.

#36 Kansas City trades down and selects Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State)
After moving down five spots they take a tough, hard-nosed safety.

#37 Arizona trades down and selects Michael Deiter (G, Wisconsin)
The Cardinals get this for trading the first pick and continue to rebuild their O-line.

#38 Jacksonville — Noah Fant (TE, Iowa)
He’ll have a great combine but he was outplayed by T.J. Hockenson in 2018.

#39 Tampa Bay — D’Andre Baker (CB, Georgia)
He’s physical but undersized and needs to learn how to track the ball better.

#40 Buffalo — Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)
Some scouts reportedly see Dillard as the best pass-blocker in a weak tackle class.

#41 The 49ers trade down and select Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
This pick is acquired for moving down from #2 to #10.

#42 Cincinnati — Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
Smith will test well and could add to the run on TE’s.

#43 Detroit — Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina)
The replacement for Golden Tate in Detroit.

#44 Green Bay — Deionte Thompson (S, Alabama)
The Packers have a hole at safety.

#45 Atlanta — Brian Burns (EDGE, Florida State)
Burns has talent but how early can he go if he weighs 225lbs?

#46 Washington — Trayvon Mullen (CB, Clemson)
A good performance in the Championship game has his stock trending up.

#47 Carolina — Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)
He’s very athletic but how will teams feel about his Brian Kelly tweets?

#48 Miami — Elgton Jenkins (C, Mississippi State)
Apparently, Miami’s priority is to fix the O-line and D-line this off-season.

#49 Cleveland — Yodney Cajuste (T, West Virginia)
The combine testing will be better than the tape. He’s very explosive.

#50 Minnesota — Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
Can they trust Dalvin Cook?

#51 Tennessee — Jordan Kunaszyk (LB, California)
He’s tough and physical and capable of going earlier.

#52 Pittsburgh — Rodney Anderson (RB, Oklahoma)
He’d be a first round pick if he was healthy.

#53 Philadelphia — Benny Snell Jr (RB, Kentucky)
Tough, productive, fast, versatile.

#54 Carolina trades down and selects Kris Boyd (CB, Texas)
The Panthers acquire this pick for trading down from #16 to #23.

#55 Houston — Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (CB, Florida)
CGJ moved to the slot this year but could revert back to safety.

#56 New England — Te’Von Coney (LB, Notre Dame)
A steady player who can help himself with a good combine.

#57 Philadelphia — N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State)
Talented with YAC ability but he can’t separate.

#58 Dallas — Gerald Willis III (DT, Miami)
Impact rusher who will excel in the short shuttle at the combine.

#59 Indianapolis — Christian Miller (EDGE, Alabama)
Has limitations but he will test very well and he has the right attitude.

#60 Los Angeles Chargers — Nasir Adderley (S, Delaware)
I can’t tell yet if the hype is warranted. Let’s see how fast he is.

#61 New England — Chase Winovich (EDGE, Michigan)
He just seems destined for the Patriots, doesn’t he?

#62 Kansas City — Austin Bryant (EDGE, Clemson)
Bryant could be a replacement for Dee Ford.

#63 Kansas City — Kelvin Harmon (WR, NC State)
Is he special enough to go earlier? I’m not sure.

#64 New Orleans — Alizé Mack (TE, Notre Dame)
The Saints don’t have many holes.

The trades in review

1. New York trading up for Kyler Murray
There’s no doubt in my mind that Murray is the special talent eligible for this draft and a potential superstar. The Giants need some excitement at the QB position and make a bold move involving multiple high picks to grab Murray.

2. Denver trading up for Dwayne Haskins
When the GM infers you’re a short-term solution, you know your days are numbered. Case Keenum wasn’t convincing in 2018 and the Broncos are reportedly seeking a more modern offense moving forward.

3. Houston trading up for Greedy Williams
I think Williams is a bit overrated as a top-10 lock but he is the best corner eligible in this class. The Texans need major help at the position so make a big move up the board when Williams lasts into the teens. The Panthers are willing to strike a deal because they want to move down and get better value at the safety position.

4. Green Bay trading up for David Edwards
The Wisconsin tackle has the kind of attitude you expect from Green Bay’s O-line and could be coveted as a long term replacement for Bryan Bulaga. The two teams made a deal a year ago and the Packers might be aggressive considering they own two first round picks. Here they give Seattle their third round pick and a little more on the side.

5. Oakland trades for Antonio Brown
If it wasn’t obvious by now, the Raiders are all-in on making headlines ahead of the move to Las Vegas. What could be more headline grabbing than a big trade for Antonio Brown? They have the draft stock to make it happen. Here they give up pick #24 plus change.

6. San Francisco trading up for Jonah Williams
Despite the countless mocks projecting Williams in the top-10, he looks like your typical guard-convert taken in the 30’s. Here the 49ers jump ahead of Arizona at #33 to take him. Both teams need to bolster their O-lines.

What it all means for the Seahawks

In this scenario, ten defensive linemen are gone in the top-20. It might sound unrealistic but that’s where this draft class is. Two more go off the board before the end of round one. Twelve D-liners in the first frame is about par for this draft. It’s expected.

With the Seahawks trading down from #21 to #31, in such a situation they might be forced to look at other options.

Montez Sweat is available and I paired him with Seattle last time. There are still legitimate question marks about his character, departure from Michigan State and ability to defend the run and become more than a speed-rush specialist.

None of the safety’s are particular appealing. It’s not a good year at the position. The top-three linebackers are gone.

In this particular mock my two favourite available players were Michael Deiter and T.J. Hockenson.

Deiter is the best guard I’ve seen in this draft. His toughness, experience playing across the line and size make him an appealing fit at left guard. I suspect the Seahawks will re-sign J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker making this pick less likely. Deiter was a consideration though.

I went with Hockenson for a few reasons. The Seahawks love to work the board. Here the top defensive linemen are gone but the run on tight ends is just about to begin. Maybe in this scenario they anticipated that and got a player they really liked? They did it with Rashaad Penny a year ago — and similarly launched a run on running backs.

Ed Dickson missed several games and had hot and cold games in his first season. They can save nearly $3m by cutting him. Nick Vannett is a free agent after 2019. Will Dissly is recovering from a serious knee injury.

Considering they spent most of the year featuring an extra tackle as the tight end, it’s not a ‘massive’ need. They may wish to add a TE, however. And they have invested in the position previously — Zach Miller ($$$), Jimmy Graham (R1 + $$$), Nick Vannett (R3), Will Dissly (R4), Luke Willson (R5).

Hockenson blocks well (sometimes with real aggression), has a very fluid running style with the ability to get deep and he looks like a potential playmaker with the experience operating in a run-centric scheme.

The Seahawks might be very likely to select a defensive player with their first pick but Hockenson is an alternative worth considering.

If they move from #21 to #31 they should be able to acquire an extra third rounder and some day three compensation. This could enable them to pick twice in round three and have the kind of ammunition in rounds 4-7 to fill needs at receiver, defensive line, linebacker and in the secondary.

Hockenson might not last to #32. Or even to #21 for that matter. He’s a very talented player with major upside. Daniel Jeremiah put him in the top-10 of his first mock draft (although it’s quite an unusual mock with Josh Jacobs going in the top-five and Christian Wilkins dropping late into the first round — I don’t think either is likely). I’ll publish a deeper look at Jeremiah’s mock over the weekend.

Hockenson’s star is rising though — teams will covet his skill set.

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Wednesday notes: Seahawks eyeing Khalil Hodge?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Seahawks looking at Buffalo linebacker

Tony Pauline is at the Shrine game practises this week and he’s reporting interest from the Seahawks in Khalil Hodge:

“Hodge is an explosive run defender. A lot of people think the Seattle Seahawks are very high on him.”

I’ve watched some of Buffalo’s games today and there’s a lot to like. Hodge does a relatively good job dropping into coverage with light feet. He’s tough and physical and looks big. He’s not the fastest in terms of straight-line speed (would expect a forty in the 4.6’s or 4.7’s) but he gets around the field well for his size.

He also has a backstory that will appeal to Seattle. He didn’t receive much interest out of High School so rather than join a Division-II program he opted to play a year of JUCO. After one season at San Francisco City he moved to Buffalo where he averaged over 10-tackles a game and had 420 total tackles in three seasons (plus 21 TFL’s and three interceptions).

A captain for the Bulls, Hodge has also had to battle adversity recently. His younger brother was shot dead aged 19 in 2017.

Buffalo published the video below during the pre-season. It’s a good look at Hodge on and off the field. You can see his personality fitting in Seattle. Testing will be vital. The Seahawks focus a lot on athleticism and profile at linebacker in the draft. The short shuttle, forty, explosive testing, measurements. It all matters. It’s also worth noting K.J. Wright ran a 4.75. They valued his length, physicality and character.

Hodge is a name to look out for and could provide the Seahawks with a tough, run-defending option at linebacker in the middle rounds.

A quick reminder — Tony Pauline also reported recently the Seahawks have strong interest in Mississippi State’s massive, physical cornerback Jamal Peters. He certainly looks the part as a Seattle corner with great length and size.

T.J. Hockenson is one to watch

We’re going to see a run on tight ends at some point in this draft. It could happen in a similar way to the running back class of 2018 (not that this TE group is the same level of talent as the 2018 RB’s). It’ll likely happen in the late first or early second round.

A proper order is hard to determine at the moment. The position has changed so much. Some teams like the traditional multi-faceted TE who can block and catch some passes. Others will target what amounts to a ‘big’ slot receiver and a mismatch weapon. Testing results are vital these days unless, like the Seahawks a year ago, you’re looking for a pure blocker at the start of day three.

Noah Fant is expected to have a big combine but had an underwhelming final year at Iowa where he was usurped by T.J. Hockenson (who we’ll come onto in a minute). Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. is a pure ‘big slot’ and his father is a former first round pick at tight end. He isn’t expected to run particularly well at the combine but teams will admire his ability to move the chains.

Stanford’s Kaden Smith should test well. Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney and Notre Dame’s Alize Mack will also be monitored.

Hockenson, for me, is the best of the bunch.

He caught my eye in the Bowl game against a tough Mississippi State defense. He’s effortless in his ability to progress to the second level and get open. On one snap he had Johnathan Abram for dinner — pulling off a neat little break to separate and provide an easy target for the QB. It’s that type of move that gets you out of your seat. This guy can play, he can get open, he can be dynamic.

Hockenson had a big impact in the second half against Mississippi State to secure an solid win for the Hawkeye’s. I wanted to see more so watched the games against Wisconsin and Penn State. There were plenty of examples of his smooth transition to the second level and his ability to find pockets of space to get open or to separate when he’s engaged by a defender. He tracks the ball very well and even has enough speed to take the top off a defense and get downfield.

For a team wanting to take deep shots like the Seahawks, he’d be an excellent weapon. Especially when paired with speed on the outside. If you have your receivers settle in on short-to-intermediate routes, Hockenson can get in behind. If you run some go-routes to open up the middle, Hockenson should be able to find a zone to provide an option.

There’s even evidence of savviness in the scramble drill:

The big question is — can he block? Because the Seahawks want blockers. They spent two years trying to make Jimmy Graham the complete TE, then made him a red zone specialist. They’re not going back to that. It’s why they rolled with a combo of Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett and George Fant in 2018.

They’ll like the offense Hockenson played in because it’s very run-centric and there are some familiar concepts. Hockenson is often lined up like an orthodox TE. He’s frequently asked to stay in and block. There are occasional whiffs where you’d like to see him hold position a little better and stick. There were occasions were defenders slipped him a bit too easily. It’s to be expected though given he’s listed at 6-5 and 250lbs (Dissly was 262lbs at his combine).

On the whole, however, you see a lot of effort. A real willingness to block. And at times, you see incredible violence and a nasty edge.

Look at this thread courtesy of Michael Kist:

You can work with this level of attitude.

I don’t know whether the Seahawks would be in the market for an early pick at tight end. A year ago they traded down from #18 to #27 and took Rashaad Penny — kicking off a run on running backs. Would they make a similar move from #21 and kick off a run on tight ends? Maybe.

It all depends on what happens with the defensive linemen. The expectation is at least 10 D-liners will go in the first frame. Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Jachai Polite and Ed Oliver will almost certainly be off the board by #21. Assuming the Seahawks trade back into the 20’s or 30’s — there’s no question they’ll be all gone. If you include Josh Allen as an EDGE/DL he’ll be gone too.

We’ll have to see what happens with Jeffery Simmons. I’ve started to think one of two things will happen. Either he’ll go in the top-15 because the talent warrants it. Or he’ll fall badly because of the High School incident and in that scenario — the Seahawks will simply be one of the teams to let him fall.

Dre’Mont Jones, Jaylon Ferguson, Jerry Tillery, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, D’Andre Walker and others could also go in the top-40 range. But as the names come off the board, the Seahawks would have to decide how to work the board in their favour. Do they identify a D-liner they really like in the #25-40 range? Very possible. It could also be that they see better value elsewhere.

If that’s the case, someone like T.J. Hockenson could come into view.

Free agency will be interesting. One way or another, they’ll need to sign a hedge for the draft. That’ll be at both defensive tackle and end. They need depth, competition and playmaking quality on defense. If they find great value and can land a couple of prize additions in a repeat of the Bennett/Avril heist of 2013 — it possibly opens things up in the draft. So we’ll see how the situation plays out.

Hockenson’s intriguing though. I’m not convinced the Seahawks would take any of the other TE’s early. He could provide a possible longer-term alternative to Ed Dickson plus some security as Will Dissly recovers from injury and with Nick Vannett a free agent after the 2019 season. It’s something to consider, even if they eventually just draft a defensive lineman with their first pick.

Michael Deiter is really good

It’s looking like a particularly weak offensive tackle class (at least in terms of round one). The guard class will be boosted by tackles kicking inside (Greg Little, Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams). However, my favourite guard so far is Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter.

I put him in the top-40 of my last mock on January 8th. I wanted to repeat what I wrote about him a few days ago:

He’s about 6-5 and 320lbs. He switched from left tackle to guard and he looks at home in the role. He previously had limitations against speed and the top athletes working the edge. Now he excels as a terrific interior mauler. He gets into blocks quickly and is very capable of locking on at the second level. He plays with a nasty edge and will often play to the whistle (and beyond) and bury defenders into the ground. He anchors well and you rarely see him jolted off the LOS allowing penetration into the backfield. There’s evidence of him pulling to the right and sealing blocks in the run game.

I think the Seahawks will re-sign J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker and another early pick on a guard seems unlikely (especially given the growing pains they’ve experienced with younger offensive linemen in recent years). That said, Deiter looks like a solid second round grade to me and a player with the attitude and potential to be a pro for many years.

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An early projection on legit first round grades

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Thirty-two players will be drafted in round one. The number of players receiving ‘legit’ first round grades will be a much smaller number.

Teams don’t grade 32 players in round one, 32 in round two and so on. They might have a very small number of players they’re willing to grade in round one.

On average you might get 12-18 players in the first frame. Last year I thought there might be between 10-15. I thought there might be approximately 14 in 2016.

It’s still too early to say for sure. The Senior Bowl and Combine always impact the list. My projection today would be at least 14-18. It would’ve been higher had Derrick Brown and Raekwon Davis not opted to stay at Auburn and Alabama respectively.

Kyler Murray today declared and as I’ve been saying for a while, I think he’s the most talented player in the draft. I wrote about him being the best draft eligible quarterback, built an argument for the Seahawks drafting him, put him at the top of my tiered rankings with Nick Bosa and argued the Cardinals should think about taking him with the #1 pick.

I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be a first round selection. The question is — how early does he go? Will he be the first pick taken by either the Cardinals or a team trading up? Does he get out of the top-10?

For me, any player who can do this…

…goes very, very early.

John Schneider attended the West Virginia vs Oklahoma game. I’d imagine one of the reasons would’ve been to see Murray in person. Why wouldn’t you? He’s a phenomenal talent.

Here’s what Bob McGinn’s scouting sources had to say about him:

“I don’t know what you do with a guy that’s 5-9 but he is something special… He would be a shorter version of Patrick Mahomes. He can be that special. He’d probably run like a 4.4 something. He’s a better football player than Baker Mayfield because he runs so well.

“He can be going full speed left or right and throw the ball the length of the field. I haven’t really broken him down yet because I figure he’s going to play baseball. But you go ‘wow, wow, wow!’ when you watch him. I wouldn’t want to defend him.

“The amazing thing is his arm strength. He’s accurate, too. He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Mahomes.”

The Mahomes comparison, for me, is profound. They’re cut from the same cloth. Different body types. Not identical playing styles. But they have that same ability to throw with power and accuracy all over the field, make the improbable happen and be a complete playmaker.

I wouldn’t have any issue with the Seahawks drafting Murray as insurance to Russell Wilson. If they can’t extend Wilson and need to franchise him twice (in 2020 and 2021) or even if they extend him for four more years — have the heir apparent ready and waiting. Give yourself a bargaining chip in negotiations with Mark Rodgers. There’s nothing wrong with having a quality backup. You can always trade him (see: Jimmy Garoppolo) and the Packers spent two high picks preparing for life after Brett Favre (Aaron Rodgers, Brian Brohm).

It’s highly unlikely Murray lasts into range for the Seahawks but I’d have absolutely no issue with them taking him. Even if Wilson enjoys many more successful years as the starting QB. You just can’t pass on a talent like this.

So what about the rest of the draft and possible ‘legit’ round one prospects?

The top three in the class are probably Murray (QB, Oklahoma), Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State) and Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama). Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson) isn’t too far behind and neither are his Clemson team mates Dexter Lawrence (DT) and Christian Wilkins (DT).

The NFL is dominated by big, athletic pass rushers. Plenty of teams will be prepared to draft Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan) in the top-10 despite a slightly disappointing college career. His upside as a former #1 recruit is unquestionable.

Devin White (LB, LSU) can feel very secure about his place in round one and if Devin Bush (LB, Michigan) has a big performance at the combine, he’ll claim a first round home.

There are fair concerns about Ed Oliver (DT, Houston) and his next-level role. He’s undersized to play defensive tackle but lacks the length or frame to play defensive end. Even so, his athletic profile and talent likely secures a top-15 range.

Jachai Polite (EDGE, Florida) and Josh Allen (LB, Kentucky) will also hear their names called in the top-20.

That’s 12 on my list so far. Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State) undoubtedly deserves to be given a first round grade based on his play and incredible upside. We’ll have to wait and see how teams view his stock following a serious incident in High School that will leave many uncomfortable selecting him early (or at all).

Oklahoma tackle Cody Ford also deserves a mention. He has a massive frame but moves with excellent agility and has a terrific kick-slide. At the very least he could be a fantastic guard at the next level.

I personally wouldn’t include Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State) but many teams will. Quarterback-needy teams could also consider Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) and Drew Lock (QB, Missouri) in round one.

Greedy Williams (CB, LSU) could end up being a consensus first rounder but not for me. I’m equally unconvinced Jonah Williams (T, Alabama) warrants such a grade.

You could certainly make a case for Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma) but he’s probably more of a R2 grade who still goes in the first frame. Byron Murphy (CB, Washington), Zach Allen (DE, Boston College), Jawaan Taylor (T, Florida) and Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State) are in a similar position.

I suspect there’ll be mixed grades on Greg Little (T, Ole Miss) and Jaylon Ferguson (EDGE, Louisiana Tech). This is why the combine is such a vital event — how much athletic potential do these players have? Especially those needing to work on technique.

Mack Wilson (LB, Alabama) has first round potential after opting to turn pro. Alabama often left him as the deepest player on the field on key passing downs. His coverage ability is a big plus and he hits like a hammer.

The combine will be big for the receivers and tight ends. Both positions have depth without an obvious order of talent or a clear prospect who goes early. Win at the combine and we could see some big risers. The worst case scenario is we see a lot of WR’s and TE’s leaving the board in round two.

Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter is a player who intrigues me a lot. He’s about 6-5 and 320lbs. He switched from left tackle to guard and he looks at home in the role. He previously had limitations against speed and the top athletes working the edge. Now he excels as a terrific interior mauler. He gets into blocks quickly and is very capable of locking on at the second level. He plays with a nasty edge and will often play to the whistle (and beyond) and bury defenders into the ground. He anchors well and you rarely see him jolted off the LOS allowing penetration into the backfield. There’s evidence of him pulling to the right and sealing blocks in the run game.

I don’t know how early Deiter will go but he looks like an early starter and a player with the potential to start for a number of years at left guard. Keep an eye on him at the Senior Bowl. I’d give him a second round grade at the moment. He could easily land in the top-45. I had him at #39 in our first two-round mock.

So how does the class look in terms of legit first round grades? Not bad at all with room for more after the Senior Bowl & combine. What makes this draft class so unique is the way it’s weighted to the defensive line. Other traditional ‘cornerstone’ positions like left tackle, cornerback and receiver are weak at the top of round one. Linebacker will also be seen as a first-day strength. But there are just so many talented D-liners. We could see ten (or more) go in the first round.

Don’t forget to check out our other recent articles:

Prediction: A modest off-season and lots of trading down

Roster predictions, Devin Bush & more

Podcast: Dallas aftermath, the 2018 season and looking ahead

The start of the Seahawks off-season article

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Prediction: A modest off-season and lots of trading down

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

I think I made a mistake a week ago.

Pete Carroll held his usual end of season press conference. It’s often quite revealing. Carroll provides a steer for the off-season, even if he’s not giving away any state secrets.

Initially it appeared Carroll was being quite vague when asked about off-season priorities:

“We’re pleased with the progress that we’ve made with the guys we have. We don’t think there are big voids or big holes.”

In an interview with 950 KJR after his press conference, Carroll was asked what the needs on the roster are:

“Across the board we need to develop our competitiveness. We need to get the young guys who missed out on this season… to come forth and challenge the spots and make everybody better.”

He goes on to reference the returning players — Will Dissly and Jamarco Jones — plus other younger guys like Rasheem Green. Carroll also talked up Delano Hill’s emergence.

At first this appeared to be a fantastic way of avoiding answering the question. I think there’s more to it now.

It speaks to Seattle’s need for depth, although Carroll believes he has a developing core. It’s also hard to say what areas they’ll be able to address.

Let’s take every point in turn.

1. It speaks to Seattle’s lack of depth

Between 2011 and 2014, a second-string Seahawks team could’ve won games in the regular season. Opponents were destroyed in pre-season. It was the deepest, most competitive roster in the league.

That wasn’t the case in 2018. They lost all four pre-season games. The depth was exposed a little. That happened in the regular season too.

Part of this will be solved by players gaining experience, playing time and information. Part of this will be new additions. It is a big priority this off-season though. They need to be deeper and more competitive across the board.

2. Carroll believes a core is there

We’ll spend an off-season debating and discussing Seattle’s greatest needs. It’s worth remembering they have the following:

— A franchise QB
— A legit starting LT
— Two really good receivers
— The most productive running game in the NFL
— Two defensive linemen combining for 24.5 sacks in 2018
— The NFL’s best linebacker

That’s a lot of pieces there. Enough to be among the contenders. Improving the depth and experience around this core group will enable the Seahawks to take the next step and compete for the NFC West (and at least one home playoff game).

3. It’s hard to say what areas they’ll be able to address

They have a lot of work to do this off-season. It starts with franchising or re-signing Frank Clark. It develops into a decision on players like J.R. Sweezy, D.J. Fluker, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. You’ve got a whole bunch of RFA’s and ERFA’s. You need to fill out the roster similar to last year with some calculated moves in free agency. You also need to think about the future — with Jarran Reed, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson all out of contract after 2019.

When you think about it like that, it’s a stack of issues to address. Few teams have this much work to do. If your intention is to extend Wilson, Wagner and Reed — you need two out of three extended before the season ends. Otherwise, you’re going to lose one. You only get one franchise tag.

It’s unclear how much cap room they’ll have to spend but the chances are it’ll be severely limited after all the new deals are handed out. It’s very possible they won’t have the flexibility — in terms of cap room or draft picks — to make major additions.

Carroll’s understated words on priorities and needs might actually be quite revealing if you interpret them as I’m considering now. I think he expects quite a modest off-season. One that does focus on re-signing and developing the existing group.

So here are a couple of predictions on reflection…

1. Free agency will be like a year ago

For all the speculation about Ndamukong Suh and other possible additions, the Seahawks stayed well clear of any big moves in free agency. They targeted players like Ed Dickson, Barkevious Mingo, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen and eventually — D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy.

Their biggest priority was re-signing and keeping Bradley McDougald.

There’s always a chance an opportunity arises. If there’s a 2019 version of the Michael Bennett/Cliff Avril deals from six years ago, the Seahawks may well go after it. If that doesn’t happen, selective and cost-effective additions in the second and third wave of free agency seem more likely. They have to prioritise keeping their own (in 2019 and 2020) and will not be left with millions to spend, even if $60-70m in available cap room seems appealing at the moment. It will evaporate quickly.

Again, adding more competition and depth could be the key.

2. The draft will involve a lot of trading back

This would be different if they had all seven draft picks and some comp picks were due. Instead they have just four picks. That’s what happens when you’re caught between an aggressive ‘got for it’ approach one year (2017) and then face an immediate reset operation (2018) and aren’t able to trade away players before they reach free agency (Earl Thomas).

While a lot of fans will spend an off-season pitching ‘just take a blue chip guy’ at #21, the Seahawks have to weigh up the options.

I’m going to publish a post this week discussing how many ‘legit’ first round grades will be offered in this draft class. I think it could be around 14-18. So at #21, the options might be pretty similar to the options at #35 or later.

Even if a player drops unexpectedly, trading down might still be inevitable. I know a lot of people like to reference Derwin James ‘being one pick away’ a year ago. I’m 100% convinced they would’ve traded down had James lasted to #18. They had a first round pick then nothing until round four. They had minimal stock. It wasn’t unfair for them, in any scenario at #18, to try and create more and fix other needs (namely what they judged to be their top need — fixing the run — and getting a pass rusher).

I’d expect something similar this year too. I suspect they’ll want to have 7-8 selections. That could mean trading down from #21 two or three times (as they’ve done in the past).

I think it’s highly possible we’ll see a repeat of a year ago (and some longer Seahawks draft trends) of identifying ‘their guys’ in the range they know they can get them. They knew in round three in 2018 they could get a pass rusher with a terrific short shuttle and low and behold — Rasheem Green and Sam Hubbard were available in their range. They took Will Dissly in a place where they could guarantee getting him. They traded up for Michael Dickson, secured Tre Flowers in their typical range for a cornerback (fifth round).

Assess the board after the Senior Bowl, combine and pro-days. Find the guys who ‘fit’. Manipulate the board to get as many of those guys as possible.

I could be totally wrong here. They might be more aggressive than ever. We’ll see. They’re always looking for an opportunity. On reflection though, I think there’s more to Carroll’s words than I first thought. The last time he spoke in this way — 2014 — they had a very quiet free agency period highlighted only by re-signing Michael Bennett. They then traded down twice from #32 and #40 before taking their guy (Paul Richardson) at pick #45. They passed on several of the ‘bigger names’ by moving down.

The big difference is, of course, the Seahawks were coming off a Super Bowl. But Carroll’s words — “(We) don’t see anything we need to add… We just have to get better” — are almost identical to what he said last week.

This is my off-season prediction for Seattle:

— A fairly modest and quiet free agency period similar to last year with a focus on keeping the core together.

— A draft that involves a lot of trading down and a focus on acquiring positional preferences in terms of physical profile and character to add further competition and depth to a 10-win roster.

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