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Updated two-round mock draft: Eagles move up to #2

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

The Cleveland Browns — a franchise in dire need of an answer at quarterback — clearly don’t think much of the guy the Rams aren’t drafting.

Today they traded with the Eagles, dropping down to #8 and sacrificing the chance to get one of the perceived top two quarterbacks.

So what do we learn from this deal?

— All the talk was that Cleveland wanted Jared Goff. This latest trade suggests the Rams will be taking him at #1 and the Browns weren’t in love with Carson Wentz.

— The Eagles are making a big splash despite already re-signing Sam Bradford and adding Chase Daniel. If there’s one position worth overloading — this is it. Unlike the Rams, Philadelphia can afford to sit their rookie for at least a year or two.

— The Browns might still take a quarterback at #8. Paxton Lynch is the forgotten man of this QB class but arguably has greater upside than both Goff and Wentz. He also has the kind of signature win (vs Ole Miss) that Goff lacked at Cal.

— Cleveland might trade down again. Anyone who wants Lynch (Jets? Bills?) might be forced to negotiate with the Browns (providing San Francisco doesn’t take him). Could they drop as far as #20 while accumulating extra stock in the middle rounds and 2017?

— Another option is Cleveland trades Joe Thomas and takes a left tackle at #8. Tony Pauline earlier today described Thomas as a “locker room lawyer”. The Seahawks appear set with Garry Gilliam as their left tackle so no, I wouldn’t expect Seattle to be interested. They don’t have the cap room either.

— We’ve mentioned a few times the likelihood of three quarterbacks going in the top ten and consistently mocked that scenario. What about the rest of round one? Jon Gruden predicted as many as five or six quarterback would go in round one recently. Christian Hackenburg, Connor Cook and Cardale Jones might find themselves thrust into the first frame.

Here’s an updated two-round mock draft with trades (explanations below)…

Los Angeles (#15) >>> Tennessee (#1)
This deal has already been concluded for a king’s ransom. The Rams moved up to secure their quarterback — presumably Jared Goff.

Philadelphia (#8) >>> Cleveland (#2)
The Eagles move up to #2 where they’re expected to draft Carson Wentz as their quarterback of the future.

Tampa Bay (#9) >>> Jacksonville (#5)
The Buccs offer up their second round pick to grab an impact defensive lineman. It’s their biggest need — and with this move they can put Joey Bosa on the same line as Gerald McCoy. The Jags move down knowing they will get either Myles Jack or Sheldon Rankins.

New York Jets (#20) >>> Cleveland (#8)
In this scenario the Browns make it clear they will draft Paxton Lynch if no deal is forthcoming — and the Jets take the bait. The Browns collect another second round pick this year and the Jets’ #1 pick in 2017.

Tennessee (#33) >>> Cincinnati (#24)
The Bengals are said to be looking for a receiver and can drop down into the early second round and get a good one if it plays out like this. The Titans jump back into the first round to get a left tackle (Jason Spriggs).

Baltimore (#36) >>> Seattle (#26)
The Ravens move up to secure a replacement for Kelechi Osemele (Germain Ifedi) and the Seahawks move down ten spots. The two teams swap third round picks. The Seahawks get #70, the Ravens #90. The trade chart says Baltimore wins the deal by 60 points but Seattle might take the hit for the early third rounder.

New York Giants (#40) >>> Denver (#31)
The Broncos once traded out of the late first round with Tampa Bay and the Buccs drafted Doug Martin. The two teams simply swapped fifth round picks. History could repeat — with the Giants getting a bargain deal to select Derrick Henry.

Round one

Trading teams are highlighted in capitals

#1 LOS ANGELES — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#2 PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#3 San Diego — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#4 Dallas — Jalen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#5 TAMPA BAY — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#8 NEW YORK JETS — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#10 New York Giants — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#11 Chicago — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#15 Tennessee — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#18 Indianapolis — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#19 Buffalo — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#20 CLEVELAND — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#21 Washington — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#22 Houston — Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas)
#23 Minnesota — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#24 TENNESSEE — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#25 Pittsburgh — Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
#26 BALTIMORE — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#28 Kansas City — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#29 Arizona — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#30 Carolina — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#31 NEW YORK GIANTS — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

Round two

#32 Cleveland — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#33 CINCINNATI — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#34 Dallas — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#35 San Diego — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#36 SEATTLE — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#37 San Francisco — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#38 Jacksonville — Artie Burns (CB, Miami)
#39 JACKSONVILLE — Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
#40 DENVER — Connor Cook (QB, Michigan State)
#41 Chicago — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#42 Miami — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#43 TENNESSEE — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#44 Oakland — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#45 TENNESSEE — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#46 Detroit — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#47 New Orleans — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#48 Indianapolis — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucky)
#49 Buffalo — Christian Hackenburg (QB, Penn State)
#50 Atlanta — Hassan Ridgeway (DT, Texas)
#51 CLEVELAND — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
#52 Houston — Cody Whitehair (T, Kansas State)
#53 Washington — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#54 Minnesota — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#55 Cincinnati — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#56 Seattle — Connor McGovern (T, Missouri)
#57 Green Bay — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#58 Pittsburgh — Su’a Cravens (S, USC)
#59 Kansas City — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Sean Davis (CB, Maryland)
#62 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)
#63 Denver — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)

Seahawks picks — rounds 3-7

#70 Joe Dahl (T, Washington State) or Joe Haeg (T, North Dakota State)
#97 Tyler Ervin (RB, San Jose State)
#124 Devon Cajuste (WR, Stanford)
#171 Justin Simmons (S, Boston College)
#215 Joel Heath (DT, Michigan State)
#225 DeAndre Elliott (CB, Colorado State)
#247 Alex Balducci (DT, Oregon)

In this mock the Seahawks address key needs at DT-DE (Jonathan Bullard) and the O-line (Connor Mcgovern and one of Joe Dahl or Joe Haeg). McGovern and Dahl could go into camp competing at guard and center, while Haeg has a classic guard frame but could be a swing tackle.

Tyler Ervin adds another X-factor to the offense while Devon Cajuste fills the Ricardo Lockette/Chris Matthews role. Justin Simmons would provide raw athleticism at safety and he could be trained to be a hybrid deathbacker.

Joel Heath is a possible D-line to O-line convert in the sixth round range, DeAndre Elliott fits their physical profile at cornerback and Alex Balducci would provide some depth to the D-line. There’s a cluster of very interesting possible priority UDFA’s.

Tomorrow I’ll be publishing a 100-prospect watch-list for the Seahawks with players listed round-by-round (includes UDFA’s).

Podcast and some personal views on the draft

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

With less than 10 days to go, in this edition of the podcast we run through some of the big talking points and yesterday’s ‘mock draft with trades’. Check it out:

I noticed a few interesting comments in response to yesterday’s mock draft. The general gist was that Germain Ifedi had become ‘our guy’ and that we were ‘overrating’ his talent.

I want to take a moment today to clarify a few things.

This blog is very active during the college football season and not just in the January-April ‘draft months’. We spend a lot of time reviewing different prospects, discussing options and debating team needs.

Among the players we focused on and considered were: Shon Coleman, Will Fuller, Keanu Neal, Derrick Henry and Nick Martin. That’s just a small sample.

When we get this close to the draft — we have a lot more information to hand. We have combine and pro-day numbers to review, we know what the team did in free agency and we know the holes they need to fill.

The reason we’ve projected Ifedi to the Seahawks frequently isn’t necessarily based on a personal assertion that he’s going to be the next Walter Jones. While you may not like the pick or have a certain opinion on Ifedi — it doesn’t mean the Seahawks will agree with you.

Simply selecting the most popular player for the Seahawks and creating a mini campaign for that prospect isn’t something I want to get into. I see on social media almost a cult-like status developing for Ryan Kelly. And yet when we look at Seattle’s draft history under Carroll and Schneider (no pure center’s drafted, focus on explosion) Kelly would be something of an outlier.

The intention is not to create a fervour for one guy and then react to the inevitable disappointment when the Seahawks do something else. The aim of the blog is to review what is most likely — focus on a collection of players without picking favourites and try to understand why they might be drafted by Seattle.

If they go in a different direction — that’s good because we can look at the reasons why.

Yet the selection of Ifedi in this instance is not just a personal fantasy lived out in print form. It’s a pick made because whether you like it or not — it makes sense.

For example:

— Our TEF study revealed and helped us to understand Seattle’s focus on explosive athletes on the offensive line. Ifedi ranked #3 only to Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern in weighted TEF.

— Respected Draft Insider Tony Pauline has twice reported interest from the Seahawks in Ifedi, noting recently: “Most people I speak with feel Ifedi is a great fit for the team at the end of round one. The recurring comment is ‘Ifedi is a Seattle Seahawks type of lineman’.”

— The Seahawks have looked for size (320lbs) at right tackle and left guard. Look at J’Marcus Webb, Justin Britt, James Carpenter and Robert Gallery. Ifedi’s physical profile is a perfect match.

— The Seahawks have consistently looked to draft unique traits and athletic upside early. Ifedi has 36 inch arms and jumped 32.5 inches in the vertical and 9-1 in the broad. That’s freaky at 6-6 and 324lbs.

None of this means the Seahawks will definitely draft Ifedi — but I’m sure you can accept why the projection is being made.

From a personal point of view I’d like nothing more than for the Seahawks to draft Shon Coleman. Regulars during the 2015 college will know how highly we rated him, including this piece from mid-October titled:

‘Is Shon Coleman the best tackle in college?’

You hear a lot about Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker, Jack Conklin and a few others.

Not enough people are talking about Auburn offensive tackle Shon Coleman.

He has everything you want in a NFL starting OT. He’s too powerful for college defensive linemen — when he locks on it’s over. He doesn’t get beat with the bull rush. He drives people off the ball in short yardage situations. He has that nasty element to his game you want to see — and he LOVES to get to the second level. He can kick-slide with fluidity, takes good angles and he isn’t troubled by speed off the edge. He has a very natural shuffle and mirror and he maintains balance at all times.

I’ve watched several Auburn games this season and I’m struggling to find many flaws.

He’s a monster.

Not only is Coleman an inspirational human being — his attitude in beating cancer is positively fantastic. Watch this video below:

This quote stands out every time I hear it:

When I found out it (cancer) was in remission I knew it was time to get back to business.”

The words are said with a confident nod and a steely look in his eye. No thoughts other than ‘get me my pads’.

His tape, in my view, is fantastic. Punishing, physical. He frequently speaks about his passion for run blocking. No offensive lineman in this draft plays with his edge. He’ll dump you on your ass before leaning over to tell you it’ll happen again on the next play. In pass protection he handled Texas A&M’s sensational edge rusher Myles Garrett just as well as Laremy Tunsil did.

Here’s Coleman blocking possible top-15 pick Leonard Floyd into the parking lot despite playing with a torn MCL:

In so many ways he is an ideal Seahawk. Grit, passion for the game, overcoming extreme adversity, physicality, attitude, run blocking.

If the Seahawks draft Coleman I’ll make my wife give me a high-five.

The problem, however, is that Coleman is recovering from a torn and repaired MCL. The Seahawks just let an often-injured Russell Okung depart for Denver. Are they going to take a chance on a player that has endured the most terrifying health problems already in his career and now has a knee injury?

Especially when there are alternatives that are younger, with as much upside and are currently healthy?

These are the things I have to consider when putting together a mock draft. It doesn’t mean I don’t want them to draft Coleman or that I prefer him over Ifedi.

My best case scenario is probably similar to a lot of people’s. In fact even those who want to go in a different direction will probably approve of my ideal draft:

— Add explosive, physical, tough, punishing linemen on both sides of the ball in rounds one and two

— Find a way to add one of Vernon Butler, Sheldon Rankins or Jonathan Bullard

— Hopefully they’re satisfied with Shon Coleman’s health and draft him too

— Find a running back who can compete for snaps immediately with Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael

— Increase the competition and quality of the O-line with at least one, maybe two extra additions in the middle/later rounds

— Add a big, athletic, physical receiver in rounds 4-5 to compliment the quicker options they already have

— Draft a hybrid secondary prospect (or two) on day three with major athletic upside and see if they can play safety/linebacker/deathbacker

In this scenario you’re getting an amped up, explosive defensive lineman who can play DE and DT. Players gravitate to Butler and he was the heart and soul of the Louisiana Tech defense. Bullard likewise has amazing character and plays with a major chip on his shoulder.

Rankins is the most explosive defensive lineman in the draft based on our research.

Coleman loves to hit people in the mouth and bully linebackers at the second level. He’s a terrific run blocker with a desire to play in a scheme like Seattle’s. He can also slot in at left guard or right tackle.

The rest is straight forward — help at RB, WR, DB/LB and more competition on the O-line.

However — I make this projection without any knowledge on Coleman’s knee injury or what his physical profile is (he hasn’t worked out). I don’t know whether Butler lasts until #26 — Rankins almost certainly won’t.

So we work from the information we do have — and what might be likely or possible.

If it was down to me the Seahawks wouldn’t have traded for Percy Harvin in 2013 and would’ve taken DeAndre Hopkins — in this piece I talked about how he was a legit top-20 talent:

Time to start a new bandwagon. A DeAndre Hopkins shaped bandwagon.

Without any doubt at all, he’s a stud. Any doubts about this guy need to be firmly removed following an incredible solo-performance against mighty LSU yesterday. He’s a top-20 talent who may go later… and a smart team will be ready to capitalise.

Or they might’ve gone for Kawann Short with their pick at #25 — who we declared should’ve been on their radar in round one:

Nobody should panic if Kawann Short is the best defensive tackle available when the Seahawks are on the clock. He’d be a fine choice with the #25 pick.

Ultimately the Seahawks drafted neither and went for the upside and fireworks of Harvin. Yet if you disagree with that move and other subsequent moves — you take away one of the main reasons this team has succeeded with personnel. Their desire to find special talent they can develop is what brought Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and others to this roster.

We have to project what they might do — not what we hope they do. So if Ifedi is the pick at #26 in our final mock draft (FYI I haven’t decided yet) it won’t necessarily be because we think he’s gods gift to pass protection (although I do think his tape is better than some people are willing to give him credit for).

First round mock draft… with trades

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Will the Buccs trade up for Joey Bosa?

The trades

Los Angeles (#15) >>> Tennessee (#1)
This deal has already been concluded for a king’s ransom. The Rams moved up to secure their quarterback — and it looks increasingly like Jared Goff is their guy.

Tampa Bay (#9) >>> Jacksonville (#5)
The Buccs offer up their second round pick to grab an impact defensive lineman. It’s their biggest need — and with this move they can put Joey Bosa on the same line as Gerald McCoy. The Jags move down and select Sheldon Rankins — who they coached (and loved) at the Senior Bowl.

New York Jets (#20) >>> New York Giants (#10)
The Jets won’t have a deal in place with Ryan Fitzpatrick before the draft, per reports today. They might decide to address this long term need by making an aggressive trade for Paxton Lynch. The Giants can fall back and still grab a big offensive tackle (Taylor Decker).

Indianapolis (#18) >>> Oakland (#14)
The Colts see an opportunity to move ahead of Tennessee and Detroit to land the second best offensive tackle in the draft — Jack Conklin. The Raiders might be targeting William Jackson III and they can probably afford to drop down a few spots and get their guy. This could be a bargain deal for the Colts.

Kansas City (#28) >>> Seattle (#26)
The Chiefs see a rival in Green Bay and make a cheap trade (5th rounder) with the Seahawks to secure Jarran Reed. Let’s say it’s the 5th rounder Seattle previously traded for Kelcie McCray.

Tennessee (#33) >>> Cincinnati (#24)
The Bengals are said to be looking for a receiver and can drop down into the early second round and get a good one in this scenario. The Titans jump back into the first round ahead of Pittsburgh to get a cornerback (Kendall Fuller). He could be highly coveted now that he’s healthy.

Miami (#42) >>> Arizona (#29)
With Keanu Neal off the board the Cardinals decide to trade down. They don’t have a second round pick so collect Miami’s third rounder to drop down 13 spots here. The Dolphins need a running back and see an opportunity to get Derrick Henry. Arizona targets athletic safety’s at #42 (T.J. Green? Karl Joseph?).

Baltimore (#36) >>> Denver (#31)
The Broncos once traded out of the late first round by merely swapping 5th rounders. Here they make a similar token move down the board. The Ravens step up to guarantee a new left tackle for their O-line.

The mock draft

#1 LOS ANGELES — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#2 Cleveland — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#3 San Diego — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#4 Dallas — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#5 TAMPA BAY — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 JACKSONVILLE — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#10 JETS — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#11 Chicago — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#12 New Orleans — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 INDIANAPOLIS — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#15 Tennessee — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#18 OAKLAND — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#19 Buffalo — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#20 GIANTS — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#21 Washington — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#22 Houston — Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas)
#23 Minnesota — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#24 TENNESSEE — Kendall Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 KANSAS CITY — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#27 Green Bay — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#28 SEATTLE — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#29 MIAMI — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
#30 Carolina — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#31 BALTIMORE — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)

Only a small trade for the Seahawks?
With Sheldon Rankins and Vernon Butler off the board, the Seahawks can’t get too cute. They need to address one of their two key needs (OL, DL) with a player they like. Butler would’ve been a nice option — but instead it’s Ifedi over Spriggs here because of his size, upside, length and ability to play left guard or right tackle.

I considered having Seattle move down into round two but didn’t see a team needing to get ahead of Green Bay and Kansas City or a quarterback worthy of such a move.

As discussed yesterday, there’s still a chance they could move down from #56. Such is the depth on the D-line this year.

For example, Gil Brandt’s fairly well informed ‘top-100’ board has Hassan Ridgeway, Willie Henry and Kyler Fackrell lasting into range — plus a cluster of other defensive players they might be interested in if they swap from #56 into the early third round.

They might even consider moving up in round two. Brandt has Jonathan Bullard ranked at #47.

The trade down for Devon Cajuste scenario

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Before we get into today’s piece — the Seahawks are bringing back another familiar face. Brandon Browner joins Chris Clemons in re-signing with the Seahawks.

If you wanted to know how they were going to become the bully again in 2016 — here’s your answer.

Trade down scenario involving Devon Cajuste

The Seahawks will manufacture a way to get the players they want.

Sometimes it’s hard to do. John Schneider admitted a year ago they came out of the draft with all but one of their ‘targets’. It’s a safe assumption that player was Mitch Morse — an explosive center convert who enjoyed a productive rookie season in Kansas City.

They also had to move up aggressively to get Tyler Lockett. They still managed to come away with a nice collection of players that fit their physical and character ideals.

2014 is a good example of things falling nicely for the Seahawks. They were able to trade down from #32 acquiring picks they needed to select certain targets. Despite those moves, they still got two players they really wanted in rounds 1-2 (Paul Richardson, Justin Britt) and the extra picks helped them select the likes of Kevin Pierre-Louis.

You might look back on that class and comment, not unfairly, that Richardson is injury-prone, Britt has performed poorly and KPL hasn’t had an impact. The point in this piece isn’t really to judge the quality of the players chosen — rather the fact Seattle was able to get the prospects that ‘fit’ what they wanted.

For example — Joel Bitonio is a fine offensive lineman that fit what they were looking for. However — if they were targeting Bitonio at #32 they knew they wouldn’t get the players they wanted in the mid-rounds (couldn’t trade down) and they wouldn’t get a receiver like Richardson (who they clearly really liked).

Selecting Bitonio would’ve secured one good player — the Seahawks wanted to secure multiple players they were comfortable with. Thus the trades and the selection of Richardson/Britt.

Our TEF piece on the 2014 draft explains why they wanted to draft Britt in the second round.

This is how the Seahawks generally work. How can they manipulate the board to find value and physical ideals in every round to fill various needs? It isn’t about selecting one player at a certain position and seeing what happens the rest of the way.

It’s more of a calculated, universal approach to all seven rounds. Not a narrow-minded focus on just the earliest pick.

Many consider 2014 a ‘dud’ class — but this approach has also brought about the brilliance of 2010, 2011, 2012 and potentially 2015.

Expect the Seahawks to work out a plan to address both their key needs (OL, DL) sufficiently at #26 and #56 with an eye to potential targets later in the class. If that means going D-line at #26 because they like the O-line options in rounds 2-3 — so be it. If it means going O-line first because they see great depth within this D-line class, that is an option too.

And don’t be shocked if they move around to acquire extra picks with another prospect or two in mind…

We’ve discussed possible trade scenarios in each of the first three rounds — but here’s another scenario that might make some sense:

Round 1 — #26
Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)

Round 2 — #56
Trade down from #56 with Miami (#73) for a fourth round pick (#107)

Round 3 — #73
Connor McGovern (T, Missouri)

Round 3 — #90
Joe Dahl (T, Washington State)

Round 3 — #97
Tyler Ervin (RB, San Jose State)

Round 4 — #107 (acquired from Miami)
Devon Cajuste (WR, Stanford)

If the Seahawks decide to go D-line first, they’re likely comfortable waiting until the second and third rounds where Connor McGovern, Joe Dahl and Joe Haeg are expected to come off the board.

Tony Pauline recently reported that Dahl’s stock was rising into day two — while Haeg has also received positive reviews (especially after a very good combine). McGovern’s stock has been a little quieter — but according to TEF he’s the second most explosive lineman in the draft.

In 2011 Seattle moved down from #57 to #75, acquiring an early fourth round pick. On that occasion Detroit wanted to move back into round two to select running back Mikel Leshoure. The Seahawks took John Moffitt in round three.

There might be an opportunity for history to repeat here. Again Seattle might be targeting an offensive lineman that will be available in the early third. The Miami Dolphins might also be thinking of adding a running back — having seen Lamar Miller bolt for Houston and the Broncos retain C.J. Anderson.

If Ezekiel Elliott is off the board by the #13 pick and Derrick Henry is gone by #42 — the Dolphins might get a little anxious to add a runner. The likes of Devontae Booker and Kenneth Dixon are being projected in the late second round.

The overall value of the deal favours the Dolphins — but the Seahawks might be willing to take the hit for the following reasons:

1. The guy they’d take at #56 would be expected to be available at #75 anyway

2. They desperately want an early fourth rounder to select a player they covet

The thinking here is they might have a crush on Devon Cajuste, the receiver at Stanford. The Seahawks don’t really have a big athletic target following Ricardo Lockette’s career-threatening injury and Chris Matthews’ departure.

Cajuste is attractive for many key reasons. Aside from his athletic profile — he’s a terrific run blocker (important in Seattle), he’s used to working in a run-first offense with a scrambling quarterback, he maxed out his limited targets in college, he’s a red zone threat and he’s very close to Doug Baldwin.

“I feel like I represent Doug in a way because he wore ’89’ at Stanford, so the fact that I got to wear that, I had to keep his legacy going.”
— Devon Cajuste

Everything about his character, his athletic profile, his experience — it screams Seahawks. He’s being projected in rounds 4-5 — and there’s no guarantee he lasts until the late fourth.

Getting that early fourth rounder would give them a better shot at Cajuste.

John Schneider has a history of drafting this type of receiver in this range. Kevin Norwood, Chris Harper and Kris Durham were all previous fourth round picks. All were bigger in stature compared to Golden Tate, Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett (drafted in rounds 2-3).

Of course, the Seahawks might still be able to pull off a trade like this even if they go O-line at #26. The sheer depth on the D-line could allow them to move down from #56 and still take a defensive player.

Alternatively they could drop down a few spots in round one with the intention of acquiring a fourth rounder.

In this scenario I had the Seahawks taking Vernon Butler at #26. He has a lot of buzz at the moment and could easily be off the board as early as #19 to Buffalo.

People talk up his potential as a pass rusher but he has a lot of work to do there. That said, he’s amped up on the field and set the tone for the Louisiana Tech defense. Every other player gravitated towards him on the field — that was evident.

Here’s how Scouts Inc describes him:

Plays with a mean streak. Tough dude. Well respected by teammates and he’s also known as the enforcer in their locker room. The only area on tape that gives us concern is his inconsistent fight as a pass rusher, particularly when he doesn’t win with first move.

This just about sums him up perfectly. He’s a fun guy with a serious football side — but he needs to improve his pass rush to max out his potential. This video offers a good insight into his personality:

Scouts Inc go on to add:

Butler is a massive interior defensive lineman with good overall strength, explosive upper-body power, and above average mobility for his size. He’s capable of playing DT, NT and 34DE in the NFL. There are flashes of Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets) in his game, but Butler needs refinement as a pass rusher. He’s a likely top-50 pick overall.

A quick reminder that when we put Butler through weighted TEF — he was the #2 defensive lineman behind Sheldon Rankins.

It’s his versatility, on top of his explosive physical profile that could appeal to the Seahawks. If he can line up at DE and one-technique in base but also act as an interior pass rush option on passing downs — he’d be exactly the type of player they currently lack.

They’ll need to work out whether they can enhance his pass rush before they spend a high pick on him. Plus the need to address the O-line right off the bat might prove too strong — especially with a plethora of D-line options available in this draft class.

Even so — Butler looks like an option. We’ve run through a few scenarios with an O-liner at #26 so it was time for a change. And while they might end up addressing their biggest need with a Germain Ifedi type at #26 — there are options in McGovern, Dahl and Haeg in rounds 2-3 that could also afford them the opportunity to go D-line first.

Guest Post: Bob Kaupang on Kyler Fackrell’s fit in Seattle

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell could be a target for the Seahawks

Written by Bob Kaupang

Each year fans get excited about certain prospects they hope are drafted by their favorite teams. This year Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell is on a short list of players I hope are selected by our Seattle Seahawks. He is big, strong, fast, quick, and impacts the game in a variety of ways.

He simply makes things happen.

Looking at the numbers. The twenty-four year old Fackrell is comparable to Bruce Irvin, who was the same age when the Seahawks made him their first-round draft choice in 2012. Many envision Fackrell as a replacement for the recently departed Irvin — a player who will play strongside linebacker (SAM) on early downs before putting his hand in the dirt to rush the passer on money downs.

With that being said and as Rob Staton pointed out last week, here is a comparison of the two:

Bruce Irvin
Height: 6-3
Weight: 245lbs
Vertical: 33.5 inches
Broad: 10-3
Bench press: 23 reps
10-yard: 1.58

Kyler Fackrell
Height: 6-5
Weight: 245lbs
Vertical: 34.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench press: 15 reps
10-yard: 1.62

While it may be true that Fackrell could take over the role played by Irvin the past three years, Pete Carroll has a track record of moving his playmakers to maximize their talents – chess pieces, if you will.

In fact, Fackrell may be used more like Clay Matthews was by Carroll during his senior year at USC and the way the recently resigned Chris Clemons was used by the Seahawks from 2010-2013. If you compare the combine numbers of Fackrell to both Matthews and Clemons, you will see similarities:

Clay Matthews
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240lbs
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench press: 23 reps
10-yard: 1.61

Chris Clemons
Height: 6-3
Weight: 236lbs
Vertical: 35 inches
Broad: 9-8
Bench press: 18 reps
10-yard: 1.72

While many have focused on Fackrell being a replacement for Irvin, let’s not forget that Irvin was drafted with the intent that he would be the eventual replacement for Clemons at Leo. This obviously didn’t happen.

While Clemons has been resigned, the fact of the matter is he’s 34-years-old. Even though Frank Clark is shedding weight this off-season in what appears to be a move to play an expanded role on the outside, this is a team that preaches competition and has a coach with final say on draft day. Carroll noted they hope to address the pass rush — the exact quote was, “we’ll see what happens in the draft.”

General Manager John Schneider and Carroll have consistently stated through the years that you’re not going to find these pass rushers, at least the ones who are going to contribute right away, unless you take them early in the draft.

Whenever Carroll says they need to do something at the conclusion of any season, they go out and do it. In addition to specifically mentioning the pass rush, he also noted that the offensive line is a priority. They haven’t ‘nailed’ that unit yet. There’s a good chance the Seahawks will go with either a pass rusher or offensive lineman in the first round, followed by the whatever they didn’t get in the second.

Adding Fackrell to the edge with Clark, Clemons, and Cliff Avril would give defensive coordinator Kris Richard a plethora of pass rushers coming off the edge. That depth could help prevent fourth quarter meltdowns such as the many squandered leads last season and Super Bowl XLIV when Avril went out with a concussion. The pass rush became anything but a ‘rush’ as hopes of a repeat vanished with Brady surveying the field with time for picnics with Gisele and naps during the nightmarish fourth quarter in which the Patriots scored two touchdowns.

The Giants have proven twice against Brady that the best formula is adhering to the philosophy of one can never have too many good pass rushers and adding Fackrell would be a big step in the right direction.

Even if the Seahawks don’t land a pass rushing defensive tackle in the draft, the potential move of Clark and addition of Fackrell would allow Michael Bennett to spend all third downs rushing from the interior, which would indeed improve the Seahawks push up the gut more consistently, too.

There are various scouting reports on every player expected to be drafted later this month. Unlike reading a report and forming an opinion, I have always wanted to see the player for themselves to form a final conclusion.

For example, many scouting reports said that Tyler Lockett would have trouble getting deep in the NFL because he got caught from behind too often at Kansas State. However, when you actually watched his offensive snaps for yourself, you could see that it was usually the quarterback under throwing a pass and Lockett having to slow down for it, which led to him getting caught from behind by a toasted cornerback running at full speed.

As I watch the only two games available from Fackrell’s senior season, I see a relentless player who is almost always strong at the point of attack and a difference maker when moving forward. He is extremely athletic and has the height and length that Carroll loves.

As I project Fackrell to the Seahawks, I see a player who would spend more time attacking the line of scrimmage than he did at Utah State so a few of the completions you see him give up aren’t as big of a concern for me as they would be for a team hoping to draft a linebacker who would spend the majority of his time in coverage on passing downs.

I had a chance to ask Fackrell a few questions for this story and when it comes to what he can bring to an NFL team, he stated, “I think that one of my strengths is versatility and being able to use me to rush, drop into zone coverage, and cover man-to-man.”

I asked Fackrell about the game above and here was his reply: “The Colorado State game is probably the most fun I’ve had in a game. Our rush was very strong and being able to put on that kind of pressure was important against them because of the threats they had in the passing game.”

Fackrell quote: “The Boise game was something I’ll never forget. To be able to cause seven turnovers in one half was shocking even to us. They just kept coming and our offense capitalized on nearly all of them and I remember there being just stunned faces on our own sideline at the amount of success we were having against a very good team.”

As I was able to ask Fackrell a few questions, I knew there would be certain responses due to the fact that he could be drafted by any NFL team. However, one area of interest reminded me of having the opportunity to interview my boyhood hero, Kenny Easley, last month. When I asked Easley about his career highlights, he talked about the Dolphins playoff win at the conclusion of the 1983 season and when the Seahawks returned four interceptions for touchdowns in a game versus the Kansas City Chiefs in 1984. Two of his three individual highlights was with the team in mind.

Fackrell went from giving politically correct answers to passionately gushing when he talked about the team success in both of these games. It reminded me of communicating with Easley. Some players talk about winning and team success but I don’t know how genuine it is. With Easley and now Fackrell, I got the sense they care (or cared) about their teammates and having success with them and some of what they chose as “individual” highlights was impressive.

Regardless of how Fackrell would ultimately be used in Seattle, there are other aspects important to Schneider and Carroll such as character, competitiveness and grit. Fackrell has these in spades.

I cannot count the number of times I have read comments from Seahawks fans such as, “I can’t believe we passed on Martavis Bryant. How could we have done that?” The only comments from fans today revolve around thankfulness their team did not select someone who finds themselves out of the league for at least a year.

Randy Gregory is the latest poster boy for being careful with early picks. Gregory was projected by many to be a top ten pick last year but slid to late in the second round. Like Bryant, addiction can be a terrible thing to overcome and adding a player like Fackrell ensures you don’t have to worry about these types of potential headaches as an organisation.

Another strength Fackrell possesses is the ability to play assignment sound football. How many times do we hear Seahawk coaches and defenders talk about doing their jobs and trusting others to do theirs on the field? It seems Fackrell is the type of player who would fit perfectly due to his nature of doing his job and not freelancing to be the star. When you can get a star talent who embraces the team mentality — you have a special type of player.

Thankfully Schneider and Carroll have assembled a roster of players who fit these ideals and when someone doesn’t buy into the program, they are often jettisoned out of town. Fackrell would most definitely be part of the solution, not the problem. That’s the kind of players you want with all of your picks.

I was able to ask Fackrell about the upcoming draft and potential fit with the Seahawks: “There is obviously a good history of USU Aggies going to Seattle and I would count myself lucky to have the opportunity to play for the Seahawks.” The last time the Seahawks drafted a Utah State linebacker they were able to add Bobby Wagner in the second round in 2012.

If Fackrell does become a member of the Seahawks, he’s already said that he’ll answer some additional questions for us, too. Here’s to hoping the Seahawks draft another Utah State linebacker in a few weeks!

Thoughts on the Seahawks draft via podcast & Q&A

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Over the last couple of days I’ve done a couple of things I want to highlight today. Firstly, I took part in a Q&A on the Seahawks draft with Stephen Cohen from the Seattle PI. We go into a lot of detail on the class and the options for the Seahawks.

Check it out.

Secondly, I was invited onto the Seahawkers Podcast to talk about the draft with two weeks to go. You can listen here:

Also I wanted to compare mocks today using Daniel Jeremiah’s latest projection. It’s important to look at other mock drafts and see if there are players we don’t expect to fall who might be available.

Jeremiah had the following players available that we had off the board in our updated mock yesterday:

Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
Keanu Neal (S, Florida)

The following players were available in both mocks:

Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

Dodd, Butler, Bullard and Henry have all visited with the Seahawks per reports. Tom Cable worked out Ifedi at the Texas A&M pro-day.

Based on that information it’d be an intriguing scenario for the Seahawks with at least a couple of legitimate D-line options to go along with Ifedi and Spriggs. Such a proposition might encourage them to move down — even if it was just a few spots.

Jeremiah actually has the Seahawks selecting Mississippi State’s Chris Jones. Is it an option?

Jones tested fairly athletically for his size (6-6, 311lbs) running a 4.62 shuttle and a 7.44 three cone. Those numbers compare favourably to Willie Henry, a player who could go in round two.

A 24.5 inch vertical however is very disappointing and alongside an 8-10 broad jump doesn’t hint at an explosive physical profile.

Perhaps the greatest evidence that he won’t be a Seahawk, however, is this observation by an unnamed scout:

“He could easily be in the top 50 but he is such a dog,” said another scout. “He’s an underachiever. Very good ability.”

I’m not sure the word “underachiever” screams Seahawks first round pick. Jones admitted he didn’t try hard enough in 2014 and as a former #2 overall recruit — he never truly hit the marks expected of him.

With so many intense, amped up D-liners in this class (Vernon Butler and Jonathan Bullard were both available in Jeremiah’s mock) this seems like an unlikely fit.

There might also be further movement in the top ten according to Jason La Canfora:

La Canfora even suggests the Titans are working hard to move back into the top ten.

It might be difficult for the Browns to get a deal done. The Rams were motivated to get ahead of Cleveland to select their preferred quarterback. Does anyone really expect San Diego, Dallas, Jacksonville or Baltimore to go QB?

Why would you need to move up to #2?

Even though there’s a fairly established top group of around 8-10 prospects — this could be one of the more unpredictable drafts in recent history.

NFL Mock Draft: Post-Rams trade 14th April

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Before we get into the mock draft, here’s a podcast appearance I made today with Kenny and Danny from Field Gulls discussing the Rams/Titans trade. Check it out:

#1 Los Angeles — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#2 Cleveland — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#3 San Diego — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#4 Dallas — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#5 Jacksonville — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#6 Baltimore — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#7 San Fran — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#10 New York Giants — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#11 Chicago — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#15 Tennessee — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#18 Indianapolis — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#19 Buffalo — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#20 New York Jets — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#21 Washington — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#22 Houston — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#23 Minnesota — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#24 Cincinatti — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#29 Arizona — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#30 Carolina — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#31 Denver — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

The early run on defensive linemen (Billings #18, Butler #19, Bullard #21) forces Seattle’s hand. They take an offensive lineman they’re comfortable with. Ifedi can play left guard or right tackle.

I suspect the Seahawks will like Sheldon Rankins, Vernon Butler and Jonathan Bullard at DE/DT. None last until #26 in this projection.

With a deep class of defensive players they should be able to get one they like at #56. It could be a defensive tackle (Willie Henry, Hassan Ridgeway, Kenny Clark) or a SAM/DE (Kyler Fackrell).

It’s still a fair expectation that they’ll take two offensive linemen in the first three rounds. If Connor McGovern or Joe Dahl last — they could be tried at guard or center. Joe Haeg has the makings of a very accomplished guard.

Los Angeles Rams trade up to #1 overall pick

Thursday, April 14th, 2016


For the last few weeks we’ve been projecting a similar move — with the Rams moving into the top-10 for a quarterback.

Now they have the top pick and will likely choose between Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.

It’s an expensive move. The trade includes both of LA’s second round picks, their third round pick plus their 2017 first and third round picks.

So what does this mean?

For starters, the Rams have been undone by poor quarterback play for years — wasting the peak of Robert Quinn and the early years of Aaron Donald in the process. Now they have Todd Gurley and possibly a solution at QB. They’ll be hoping this move pushes them over the top.

It also significantly impacts the draft. Where does Laremy Tunsil go now, the previously presumed #1 pick? Will the Browns still take a QB if ‘their guy’ is taken by the Rams?

Will three quarterbacks go in the top ten as we’ve been projecting — with Los Angeles, Cleveland, San Francisco and Philadelphia all said to be in the market?

Will the Titans select an offensive tackle at #15 (Jack Conklin, Ronnie Stanley)? Will they look to provide Marcus Mariota with a new weapon? Or do they go defense?

Tennessee now owns six of the top 76 picks and has four in the top 45.

We could see Goff/Wentz at #1, Wentz/Goff at #2 and Tunsil at #3. That would be an ideal scenario for the Cowboys who can select from Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack — with the other player likely landing in Jacksonville.

We’ll have a new mock draft on the blog later.

Introducing weighted TEF & what it tells us

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Vernon Butler is the second most explosive D-liner in the draft

One of our community members Cysco (could it be?) came up with a way to enhance TEF and offer a new dimension to the formula.

At the moment it doesn’t account for weight/size. I think that’s fine because it’s a combination of tallied explosive skills and being ‘bigger’ doesn’t necessarily matter. Aaron Donald is only 285lbs but wins with explosion and speed, not size.

Even so, TEF doesn’t really account for the players who are enormous (eg Germain Ifedi) and test well for their size. Cysco’s idea is a bit of an equaliser in that regard.

His suggestion was to multiply a player’s weight with his TEF score — and then multiply the results by 0.1. This creates a score in the 75-110 range. For example:

Germain Ifedi — 324 x 2.97 x 0.1 = 96.1

Ifedi’s TEF score of 2.97 didn’t emphasise how well he’d performed as a 324lbs athlete. A 32.5 inch vertical was the second highest among O-liners, a 9-1 broad jump was excellent and he had 24 reps on the bench press. He didn’t hit the ideal 3.00 purely due to his bench reps. That seemed a little bit harsh given he has 36 inch arms — making the test a lot trickier.

Ifedi’s TEF score put him at #8 in the O-line class. His weighted TEF puts him at #3. That felt like a better representation of what he achieved.

Here’s the full list of O-liners using weighted TEF:

Spriggs, Jason — 104.9
McGovern, Conner — 101.4
Ifedi, Germain — 96.1
Shell, Brandon — 94.4
Vaitai, Halapoulivaati — 93.8
Nembot, Stephane — 93.6
Dahl, Joe — 93.2
Joe Haeg — 93.0
Thuney, Joe — 91.6
Robertson, Dominique — 91.5
Redmond, Alex — 91.1
Lewis, Alex — 89.6
Garnett, Joshua — 87.9
Drango, Spencer — 87.4
Kelly, Ryan — 87.0
Conklin, Jack — 85.0
Clark, Le’Raven — 84.1
Westerman, Christian — 83.8
Johnstone, Tyler — 83.2
Brendel, Jake — 80.9
Skura, Matt — 80.6
Glasgow, Graham — 79.9
Martin, Nick — 79.7
Greene, Darrell — 79.5
Blythe, Austin — 79.5
Beavers, Willie — 78.8
Alexander, Vadal — 77.6
Boehm, Evan — 77.6
Theus, John — 77.4
Decker, Taylor — 77.3
Toner, Cole — 77.1
Turner, Landon — 74.7
Marz, Tyler — 74.6
Seumalo, Isaac — 74.6
Young, Avery — 74.5
Whitehair, Cody — 74.4
Allen, Jack — 74.2
Hawkins, Jerald — 73.3
Kasitati, Nila — 73.0
Jackson, Dominick — 72.1
Cooper, Fahn — 71.3
Slater, Pearce — 70.3
Kirkland, Denver — 70.0
Tretola, Sebastian — 67.6

Average score: 82.1

Here’s how Seattle’s previous O-line picks tested (since 2012):

Poole, Terry — 94.3
Glowinski, Mark — 101.1
Sokoli, Kristjan — 107.6
Britt, Justin — 97.5
Scott, Garrett — 98.7
Gilliam, Garry — 91.1
Seymour, Ryan — 93.1
Smith, Jared — 99.4

Average score: 97.9

I don’t expect the Seahawks to use a system as simple as TEF — but I suspect they’re using something similar albeit more sophisticated. We know what their ideal is per Tom Cable (31 inch vert, 9″ broad, 27 bench reps). They might have a formula that also accounts for size and length.

Sadly weighted TEF doesn’t provide a basic ‘ideal’. Original TEF provides that with 3.00. If you perform a 31 — 9 — 27 you score a 1.00 in each test. TEF offers a cumulative score which is helpful and accounts for slightly higher or lower marks in each individual drill.

It’s harder to judge weighted TEF in the same way. What is a benchmark score? 90.0? 100.0? We can’t really answer that unless you want to use Seattle’s 97.9 average. However — it does give a bit of a boost to the bigger guys who complete an explosive test. And for that reason it gives us a nice insight into why they seemingly covet Ifedi considering he’s third only to Spriggs and McGovern — the two athletic freaks in this O-line class.

Players like Ryan Kelly (87.0) and Joshua Garnett (87.9) — both often linked to the Seahawks — don’t test comparatively well compared to Seattle’s previous picks. That doesn’t mean they won’t be drafted early by the team but the evidence suggests they’re less likely to be targeted than perhaps a Connor McGovern (for example).

I know some people dislike that assertion — but that’s just what the formula tells us. This tool is just a way to project what the Seahawks might do in the draft. Again — it’s not projecting who will succeed/fail at the next level and it’s not judging who is a good/bad player.

What about defense?

We can’t use TEF/weighted TEF as a projection tool for defensive linemen because we don’t have the necessary information. We don’t know Seattle’s ideal physical profile. We also don’t have enough draft history (one recent third and one fourth rounder at DT) to pick up on any trends.

We can, however, use it to compare the different prospects. It’s still a formula that ranks the D-liners against each other. It can tell us how much more explosive Sheldon Rankins is versus the rest of the class. So here are the results:

Rankins, Sheldon — 103.3
Butler, Vernon — 101.1
Nkemdiche, Robert — 100.1
Hargrave, Javon — 99.3
Billings, Andrew — 98.9
Lowry, Dean — 98.7
Mayes, Chris — 97.1
Oakman, Shawn — 96.5
Blair, Ronald — 93.7
Henry, Willie — 93.2
Wujciak, Connor — 93.1
Heath, Joel — 93.0
Ridgeway, Hassan — 92.9
Reader, D.J. — 92.6
Ioannidis, Matthew — 92.3
Thomas, Lawrence — 90.5
Collins, Maliek — 90.4
Ogbah, Emmanuel — 89.9
Judon, Matt — 89.9
Tapper, Charles — 89.1
Clark, Kenny — 89.0
Bullard, Jonathan — 89.0
Buckner, DeForest — 88.7
Bosa, Joey — 88.6
Okwara, Romeo — 87.1
Spence, Noah — 86.9
Valentine, Vincent — 86.3
Ngakoue, Yannick — 85.2
Fanaika, Jason — 85.2
Kaufusi, Bronson — 84.9
Zettel, Anthony — 84.5
Jones, Chris — 83.7
Newberry, Giorgio — 82.2
Abdesmad, Mehdi — 81.7
Kamalu, Ufomba — 80.1
Calhoun, Shilique — 80.0
Cowser, James — 80.0
Robinson, A’Shawn — 79.8
Bailey, Sterling — 79.6
Johnson, Austin — 79.6
Nassib, Carl — 79.6
Jackson, Branden — 79.2
Dodd, Kevin — 79.1
Latham, Darius — 78.7
Ward, Jihad — 78.2
Day, Sheldon — 75.8
Washington, Adolphus — 72.8
Nicolas, Dadi — 72.4
Sigler, DeVaunte — 72.4
Correa, Kamalei — 69.1
Pettway, D.J. — 67.1

It’s perhaps no surprise that the Seahawks and the rest of the league are showing interest in Vernon Butler. His combination of size/explosiveness is second only to Sheldon Rankins.

We’ve talked a lot about Rankins arguably being Seattle’s ideal pick. Unfortunately he’ll probably be long gone by #26. According to our formula Butler is the next man up.

Equally interesting is the placement of Jonathan Bullard. Although he ran a superior 10-yard split to a lot of the defensive tackles at the combine — his agility testing and explosion testing is in a similar range to a lot of other players. Here he ranks behind the following defensive linemen:

Rankins, Sheldon — 103.3
Butler, Vernon — 101.1
Nkemdiche, Robert — 100.1
Hargrave, Javon — 99.3
Billings, Andrew — 98.9
Lowry, Dean — 98.7
Mayes, Chris — 97.1
Oakman, Shawn — 96.5
Blair, Ronald — 93.7
Henry, Willie — 93.2
Wujciak, Connor — 93.1
Heath, Joel — 93.0
Ridgeway, Hassan — 92.9
Reader, D.J. — 92.6
Ioannidis, Matthew — 92.3
Thomas, Lawrence — 90.5
Collins, Maliek — 90.4
Ogbah, Emmanuel — 89.9
Judon, Matt — 89.9
Tapper, Charles — 89.1
Clark, Kenny — 89.0
Bullard, Jonathan — 89.0

Bullard is a fun player to watch — he plays with his hair on fire. He doesn’t miss tackles and his gap discipline is solid. Yet as an athletic specimen he is not ‘special’ — and that is consistently something the Seahawks have sought in the early rounds of the draft.

We can project, with this information, that Willie Henry, Ronald Blair III, Hassan Ridgeway and Maliek Collins would provide a similar physical profile — but they might be available in round two. So how do you weigh up the value of Bullard at #26 versus the others at #56?

In terms of grit and personality — Bullard might be a difference maker in that regard. He might be the #1 character prospect in the entire draft. Yet the Seahawks have to decide the value of attitude vs physicality and how it dictates what they do early.

If the Seahawks can’t get at the top explosive linemen (Rankins, Butler, Ifedi, Spriggs) or if they don’t like a particular fit (that might be the case with Spriggs, for example) — that could be the catalyst for a move down the board where they can select from several of the D-liners listed above and O-liners like Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg and Joe Dahl.

La Canfora’s draft notes

When it comes to insider info — Jason La Canfora is a respected voice. Last year he called the Marshawn Lynch contract extension and Seattle’s desire to pick Frank Clark. He had some interesting things to say today on the draft, including:

— Jared Goff is Cleveland’s preferred quarterback at #2

— A’Shawn Robinson is seen as overrated (we’ve known this for a long time)

— Jack Conklin is seen by some as the #2 offensive tackle in the class

— La Canfora expects Josh Doctson to be the first receiver drafted

— Expect the Eagles to draft Ezekiel Elliott

— The Steelers like the cornerback group and Kendall Fuller could go in round one

The thing that caught my eye though was La Canfora’s notes on Vernon Butler:

Teams are very high on Louisiana Tech defensive linemen Vernon Butler, and I expect him to go in the first round and pretty high at that. The Chiefs are among the teams I have heard him linked to. Scouts love his versatility and ability to pair run stuffing ability with some natural pass rushing moves.

There’s a slight contradiction here because on the one hand Butler is being projected to go “pretty high” in the first round — but the team mentioned (Kansas City) doesn’t pick until #28.

Butler has been an interesting guy to follow during this draft season. At the end of the college season he was getting a lot of buzz from media ‘insiders’ like Daniel Jeremiah. That seemed to dip after an average combine — but an excellent pro-day has put him back on the radar.

Just look at the results above in weighted TEF.

I’m not convinced he’ll be Muhammad Wilkerson as some are projecting he might be. Wilkerson has freaky speed and quickness for 315lbs — his closing speed and finishing ability is unlike anything you’ll ever see from a big man like that. He ran a 4.59 short shuttle and a 7.31 three cone and it shows.

Butler is bigger at 323lbs and lacks that same kind of quickness. He ran a 7.82 three cone and a 4.76 short shuttle. He produced a more explosive vertical and broad jump though and the 10-yard splits are similar (1.77 vs 1.80).

One thing we didn’t talk about yesterday is Butler’s personality. He’s a pretty cool guy. Laid back but in a good way, confident. Well spoken. Teams will like that about him.

He can also play some end in base and move inside. He’s versatile. The big question mark is on the pass rushing side of his game. Will he ever develop into a true disruptor? He doesn’t have to be a 10-12 sack guy like Wilkerson — but can he at least consistently provide 5-7?

The way his stock is going he might not be available at #26. Washington in particular might show some interest at #21. If the Seahawks are limiting themselves to ‘ideally’ explosive offensive linemen as we suspect — they might not like the options at #26 compared to the options in rounds 2-3 (McGovern, Dahl, Haeg). That could increase the chances of Butler being their choice in round one — if he lasts that long.

Podcast, Vernon Butler & the facts on TEF

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

In this weeks podcast Kenny and I get into some serious draft talk with just over two weeks to go. Check it out…

Sometimes these visits are about due diligence, sometimes teams will seek to complete a physical profile, sometimes it’s about seeing how a player handles himself in a facility and sometimes it’s about seeing how they interact with everyone from the cleaning staff to the coaches.

In the case of Vernon Butler, I’m guessing it’s a bit of everything.

He had a rather underwhelming combine where he recorded the following:

40-yd: 5.33
10-yd: 1.82
Vertical: 29.5
Broad: 8-8
Bench: 26

When he performed at his pro-day — there was a big improvement across the board:

40-yd: 5.19
10-yd: 1.77
Vertical: 3.5
Broad: 9-3
Bench: DNP

As a bit of a late bloomer in terms of his college career, it wouldn’t be a shock if they’re spending a bit of extra time working out what he is at the next level.

TEF was created essentially to judge offensive linemen. However, we can at least use it to compare the O-liners and D-liners. Germain Ifedi is 6-6 and 324lbs, while Vernon Butler is 6-3 1/2 and 323lbs. They have similar size and length — yet Ifedi is a 2.95 using TEF and Butler is a 3.13.

That’s not an insignificant difference.

That’s partly the reason why they might be looking very closely at Butler. They’ve consistently taken explosive, difference-making athletes early in the draft. Butler is, according to TEF, quite a bit more explosive than Ifedi. Having to handle his physical profile at nearly 6-4 and 323lbs makes him intriguing.

That said — and this is probably another reason why the Seahawks are meeting with him — he’s going to need to be a pass rusher. He only had three sacks in 2015. Why? He has the physical tools, Louisiana Tech’s schedule was pretty pathetic last year. Why wasn’t he more productive?

That’s a question they’ll no doubt be trying to answer during this visit. As good as Butler’s physical profile might be, it’s unlikely the Seahawks take a big body with minimal pass-rush ability in round one.

Butler could be an option if the likes of Sheldon Rankins and Jonathan Bullard are off the board and they decide to take a defensive player at #26.

The facts on TEF

There appears to be a misunderstanding with TEF (Trench Explosion Formula) and I wanted to take a moment to just clear a few things up.

(The original explanation, which carries more detail, can be found here)

The point of the formula is NOT to determine who will be a great player at the next level or who I think the Seahawks should and shouldn’t draft.

The point was to create a formula that could:

1. Help us understand Seattle’s approach to drafting offensive linemen

2. Help us project who the team might consider in this draft class

I’m seeing a lot of comments saying things like, “I disagree with Rob that they should draft this guy” or “I disagree that a 9″ broad jump matters”. This is not the argument we are making.

TEF is based on Tom Cable’s self-confessed ideal physical profile for an offensive lineman. That includes at least a 31 inch vertical, a 9″ broad jump and 27 reps on the bench press. We created a formula that combines all three tests to provide an overall score.

We then used the formula to see if there were any patterns in Seattle’s previous drafts. What we found was Mark Glowinski, Terry Poole, Kristjan Sokoli, Justin Britt, Garrett Scott, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith, J.R. Sweezy and Gary Gilliam all matched Cable’s physical ideal — with Michael Bowie (a seventh rounder) the only exception.

When we looked specifically at the 2014 and 2015 draft classes, we also saw the Seahawks specifically selected players that fit the ideal and avoided those who didn’t.

For example, there were only five O-liners with a +3.00 TEF score available to the Seahawks last year. They drafted three of them with back-to-back-to-back picks. In 2014 they selected Justin Britt in the late second round and the next player who was ‘TEF enough’ was Garrett Scott — who they also drafted four rounds later.

If you want, you can ignore this evidence and put it down to coincidence. Personally I think that would be a big mistake. There’s significant information here to tell us the Seahawks probably use a more sophisticated albeit similar formula when deciding which offensive linemen to draft. There’s too much consistency in their approach.

When we identified six players who pass the TEF test in this years draft class, we projected they are the ones most likely to be considered by the Seahawks. That is all. It doesn’t mean they’ll be great and other players won’t be. It’s not a performance review. It’s a projection based on what we know about their draft habits since 2012.

If you want to root for another player to be drafted early — feel free. Again, this is not a personal view or opinion — it’s a formula designed to try and help us understand what the Seahawks are doing.

For me only good comes from this. The selection of Justin Britt caused a lot of confusion — TEF has given us a chance to understand it (click here) even if you didn’t agree with the pick. If they take Connor McGovern and Joe Dahl in this class, we can say we saw it coming. And if they break from recent tradition over the last four years, it’ll give us an opportunity to ask questions as to why.

There’s very little reason not to embrace the information here. If it argues against the Seahawks drafting your favourite player — there’s not much I can do about that personally. At least you received the warning so you won’t be too disappointed if, come the end of the month, the Seahawks don’t do what you want them to do.

Finally, we’ve talked about Joel Heath potentially being this years D-line to O-line convert. Sounds like it could be a distinct possibility: