Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

Seahawks 53 man roster projection & notes

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Will safety Steven Terrell make the final cut?

Quarterbacks
1. Russell Wilson
2. Trevone Boykin

This position is set in stone.

Running backs
3. Thomas Rawls
4. Christine Michael
5. C.J. Prosise
6. Alex Collins
7. Will Tukuafu

Troymaine Pope played well in the first two pre-season games but let’s consider the whole summer. When the likes of Rawls, Michael and Prosise were missing time during camp — Collins was taking a lot of the workload and a ton of snaps. He gained rave reviews during the mock game they played. The Seahawks have cut productive pre-season RB’s in the past and Pope might be the latest casualty. Either way, it’s the #4 running back spot. They’ll hope this player rarely sees the field in 2016.

Tight ends
8. Jimmy Graham
9. Luke Willson
10. Nick Vannett
11. Brandon Williams

Graham appears healthy enough to avoid starting the year on PUP. Vannett’s injury at least sounds minor enough to avoid that status too. Brandon Williams was recently described by Pete Carroll as a core special teamer and appears destined to make the roster.

Wide receivers
12. Doug Baldwin
13. Jermaine Kearse
14. Tyler Lockett
15. Paul Richardson
16. Tanner McEvoy
17. Kevin Smith, Kasen Williams or Kenny Lawler

The first four names are a shoe-in. There are two big questions remaining. Who wins the #5 WR spot and will they look to keep a #6 too? Tanner McEvoy has been a playmaker averaging 25.6 YPC (per Field Gulls) in pre-season. He also drew the big P.I. call against Minnesota which technically was another explosive play.

McEvoy is incredibly raw and would present three gambles:

a.) Can he make plays when it matters during the regular season?
b.) Can he contribute to special teams?
c.) Do you want to risk losing one of your other, more polished receivers?

Carroll suggested he will miss the Oakland game with a groin injury and expressed some sadness about that. That hinted at a costly missed opportunity for the player and the team — especially if others stand out against the Raiders with extended playing time.

The idea of keeping a sixth receiver would allow them to carry McEvoy and avoid losing another. This could be especially important at the start of the season due to the injury issues at TE (McEvoy, if healthy, could be used as a bigger target). It’s also worth noting that the likes of Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith were all cut in the past and weren’t lost forever. They did, however, lose fourth round pick Chris Harper when he was cut in 2013.

Offensive Line
18. Bradley Sowell
19. Mark Glowinski
20. Justin Britt
21. Germain Ifedi
22. Garry Gilliam
23. J’Marcus Webb
24. Rees Odhiambo
25. Joey Hunt
26. Jahri Evans

The Seahawks carried nine O-liners last year. The first seven names listed are virtual locks at this stage. Joey Hunt took the second team reps vs Dallas ahead of Patrick Lewis. The Seahawks can save around $1.2m by keeping Hunt as the backup center over Lewis. They might prefer to keep a veteran presence at guard because this is a young, inexperienced group. Terry Poole is making a strong case but there’s a greater need for depth at guard with Sowell, Ifedi, Webb, Odhiambo and Gilliam all capable of playing tackle. Will George Fant make the practise squad? He’s played well enough to be considered for a red shirt spot.

Defensive line
27. Michael Bennett
28. Cliff Avril
29. Frank Clark
30. Cassius Marsh
31. Ahtyba Rubin
32. Tony McDaniel
33. Jarran Reed
34. Jordan Hill
35. Quinton Jefferson

Despite a lot of talk about Jordan Hill’s place on the roster, there’s very little reason to cut him and lose some valuable depth on the D-line. Hill underperformed last season but he had a 5.5 sack campaign in 2014. This looks like a really solid group but they’ll need Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh to produce when they’re on the field. They’re maybe one edge rusher short.

Linebackers
36. K.J. Wright
37. Bobby Wagner
38. Mike Morgan
39. Brock Coyle
40. Kevin Pierre-Louis

The Seahawks kept seven linebackers last season and six in 2014. I’ve listed only five here — but Cassius Marsh and/or Frank Clark are also expected to be used in several different positions. Eric Pinkins hasn’t really done enough to warrant a place and there isn’t a great deal of depth here. Steve Longa appears to be in with a shout.

Defensive backs
41. Richard Sherman
42. Earl Thomas
43. Kam Chancellor
44. DeShawn Shead
45. Jeremy Lane
46. Kelcie McCray
47. Tharold Simon
48. Marcus Burley
49. Steven Terrell
50. Tye Smith

The last three names are the ones to focus on. Burley is good at what he does and warrants keeping for some extra flexibility in the slot. He also had some nice special teams plays in pre-season. Tye Smith was stashed on the 2015 roster and they might want to keep him around again this year. Steven Terrell isn’t flashy but generally does what they want him to. He understands his role, the defense and the way they play on special teams. Tyvis Powell is probably a more popular pick but he hasn’t looked great when tried at corner and he hasn’t backed up a strong performance at Kansas City. They might stash him instead of Tye Smith, choose to flat out cut Terrell or carry one less receiver. Powell might be one of the difficult cuts they’re forced to make.

Brandon Browner hasn’t flashed at all in pre-season. Has the switch to safety underwhelmed or are the Seahawks keeping their powder dry? Many wanted to see the original LOB reunited and he’d be a popular keep — but this is an extremely competitive position group and Browner might be too much of a luxury.

Special teams
51. Steven Hauschka
52. Jon Ryan
53. Nolan Frese or Clint Gresham

I think a lot of people expected a change at long snapper after the Dallas game. We’ll see what happens.

The two things I’m least confident about:

a.) What they do at receiver (whether they keep five or six and who makes it)
b.) Which defensive backs they keep

Seahawks interior OL most explosive in the NFL?

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Mark Glowinski could be the most explosive starting guard in the league

The weighted TEF formula we studied during the 2016 draft paints a very positive picture for Seattle’s new interior O-line. It also partly explains why they’ve been so productive during pre-season.

Weighted TEF combines size and explosive physical qualities to determine an overall individual grade. For a more detailed explanation, click here.

From the 2016 draft class, WTEF ranked Germain Ifedi the third most explosive lineman available (behind Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern). His score (96.1) was significantly higher than other notable prospects:

Ryan Kelly 87.0
Jack Conklin 85.0
Le’Raven Clark 84.1
Taylor Decker 77.3

Here’s how his score compared to several of the top D-line prospects:

Joey Bosa 88.6
Sheldon Rankins 103.3
Vernon Butler 101.1
Jonathan Bullard 89.0

And for arguments sake, Aaron Donald scored a 101.7 and J.J. Watt a 110.9 (!!!).

Ifedi’s combination of size, length and explosion is impressive — but it’s even more impressive when combined with the scores of the two guys next to him.

Mark Glowsinski was one of the most explosive players in the 2015 draft and WTEF graded him at 101.1. Justin Britt tested better than a lot of people realise before the 2014 draft and scored a 97.5.

I haven’t tallied the scores for all starting NFL interior linemen — but this trio could, possibly, be the most explosive guard/center combo in the league. It’ll take something special to beat it.

Thoughts on the 27-17 win vs Dallas

Friday, August 26th, 2016

— I think Tanner McEvoy will make the final roster if his groin injury isn’t too bad. He’s a bigger receiver and offers a different skill set to the others. He’s made some big plays in pre-season and they need to fill the Ricardo Lockette role. He’s not polished but he’s learning a new position. What he’s shown so far is impressive given the limited time he’s spent at WR. If McEvoy makes it, it’ll leave one more space for a wide out next to Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett and Richardson. It’s a tough call.

— The pass rush in the first half was a bit hit and miss again. Michael Bennett had a few pressures and Frank Clark had a really good inside move. Cliff Avril had the hit that ended Tony Romo’s night. Dak Prescott was pretty comfortable. It’s perhaps not surprising given Dallas’ quality O-line. Also impacting the pass rush was the productive running of Ezekiel Elliott keeping the defense honest. Elliott looks special — especially behind that line.

— Re-signing Tony McDaniel was a fantastic move. Quinton Jefferson is also flashing when he gets the opportunity. The depth on the D-line might not quite have the rush impact of 2013 — but at least they can use a decent rotation this year.

— The first team O-line had a good outing again. On first viewing there weren’t any noticeable mistakes. Dallas don’t have a top pass rusher on their roster so we have to take that into account. Yet as the game developed the running game opened up and Wilson was mostly well protected. When he was pressured he was typically able to extend the play (especially on the tremendous second TD).

— It’ll be interesting to watch the game again and focus on Sowell vs Webb at left tackle. I didn’t notice any whiffs. The interior O-line continues to look like a major strength on the offense, which has to be a relief after the way they started last year.

— Yes he’s playing behind a great O-line but the poise from Dak Prescott is admirable for a rookie. He just looks like he belongs in the league and Dallas, finally, can feel very good about the future after Romo. Prescott had a very accomplished college career and it’s a real challenge to work out why he’s a fourth rounder (with his physical skill set and upside) and why Jared Goff and Carson Wentz warranted multiple high picks. The Cowboys in fairness have drafted very well over the last few years with a couple of exceptions. In Elliott and Prescott — they could end up with the future of their franchise from one draft class. Having said that, how did K.J. Wright not at least break-up that initial touchdown?

— Troymaine Pope has played well and hopefully sticks around on the practise squad. I think Rawls, Michael, Prosise and Collins have the four spots taken. Collins showed enough burst in this game and some of that Arkansas power to warrant sticking as the #4. Has he been hurt the last two weeks? Has that slowed him? Maybe. It’s too soon to give up on him, even if Pope flashed in weeks one and two. The final game against the Raiders could be key here especially if Collins, Pope and Zac Brooks get the bulk of the carries.

Quick thoughts on the loss to Minnesota

Friday, August 19th, 2016

This was a sloppy performance with a few positives. The first half was particularly disappointing. The passing game had no rhythm and the defense failed to generate much of a pass rush.

There’s no reason to overreact. The Seahawks have occasionally floundered in the first half at home only to smother an opponent in the second half (see: San Francisco 2014). We’ll never know what the starting offense could’ve done after some needed half-time adjustments.

Even so it was hard to watch the sacks. On one, there was a clear overload blitz on one side with linebacker Anthony Barr. Garry Gilliam was left covering two rushers and it was an easy sack. Russell Wilson is at the stage of his career where, even in pre-season, he needs to notice that and shift protection or make a quick throw.

As Pete Carroll testified after the game, a lot of the issues were down to the quarterback and not the O-line. It’s not like pass-rushers were abusing linemen like we saw against Denver in pre-season last year. This was a well coached and talented front seven out-scheming the quarterback and offense. In fairness to the O-line, they did an excellent job in run blocking.

Seattle’s defense rested several key players but it’s pretty clear the they rely on Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to create pressure. That’s not such a bad thing — not many teams have a starting duo as good as this. But while comparisons have been made to the 2013 roster this off-season — one of the big differences is the quality depth on the D-line. Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh still flashed a little — as they did last week.

Here are some other quick thoughts:

— Christine Michael’s cut-back running was again superb. He again showed great explosion and looked a threat every time he touched the ball. He also made a difficult grab in the passing game. This could be his time.

— Troymaine Pope was superb, albeit against second stringers. He showed the kind of burst we saw with Thomas Rawls a year ago. He fits this offense. Alex Collins, for all of his qualities, just doesn’t have that same burst. Is Pope pushing to snatch a roster spot away from Collins (or Zach Brooks) over the next couple of weeks?

— Kenny Lawler had a really nice game, getting open and converting some first downs. He appears to be winning a roster spot especially with Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith sidelined.

— Special teams coverage was interesting to watch. Marcus Burley had a couple of nice plays including a punch-out fumble that was overturned on review. Special teams value could win a guy like Burley a spot on the roster.

Some thoughts on Seattle’s offensive tackle situation

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Bradley Sowell could be Seattle’s starting left tackle in 2016

Bradley who?

It’s a fair question. A franchise that enjoyed twelve years of Walter Jones and replaced him with a #6 pick in Russell Okung could be starting an undrafted 27-year-old with 12 career starts in four years. All of his starts came in 2013 for the Cardinals, where he gained the following review:

“Levi Brown and Bradley Sowell combined to hold down left tackle for the Cardinals in 2013, but they acted as more of a turnstile than anything else.”

The alternative is Garry Gilliam manning the blindside (he received mixed reviews during training camp) and J’Marcus Webb starting at right tackle.

It’s hardly a glamorous proposition either.

That said, the Seahawks aren’t alone here. The entire NFL has an offensive tackle problem.

In the NFL Network’s top-100 players for 2016, only four tackles were listed:

#23 Joe Thomas (Cleveland)
#42 Tyron Smith (Dallas)
#45 Trent Williams (Washington)
#67 Andrew Whitworth (Cincinnati)

15 edge rushers were listed in comparison. This truly is the age of elite, athletic pass rushers vs overmatched offensive linemen.

Eric Fisher was drafted first overall in 2013 because of his fantastic athletic profile. Despite a bang average career to date, Kansas City recently gave him a four-year contract extension with $40m in guarantees.

Why?

Because guys like Fisher are like gold dust and worth persevering with.

Brock Huard recently offered some thoughts on ESPN 710 detailing Seattle’s desire to just get big bodies at tackle. If they can’t line up with a Tyron Smith style athlete, at least obstruct the path to the QB. Russell Wilson did a much improved job getting the ball out in the second half of the 2015 season so this is a combination that could work at least for one year.

Damage limitation. Most of the league is taking this approach. You have to work around the problem. Edge rushers in this era are much quicker, faster and more athletic than the edge blockers. The best athletes in High School are choosing to play defense and colleges are accommodating their wishes to land the top recruits.

Who can blame these young kids when they see how much Olivier Vernon is getting on the open market?

It’s still a manageable situation.

According to Football Outsiders, these were the top ten teams for pass protection in 2015:

1 St Louis/Los Angeles
2 Baltimore
3 New York Jets
4 Oakland
5 Arizona
6 New York Giants
7 New Orleans
8 Pittsburgh
9 Atlanta
10 Washington

Of that group, one team benched their left tackle during the season (Baltimore), the Giants started a rookie, Pittsburgh started Alejandro Villanueva and the Jets had a player (D’Brickashaw Ferguson) who was touted as a cap casualty before he retired.

Only Washington fielded an elite tackle in Trent Williams.

The four offensive tackles starting in Super Bowl 50 were Michael Oher, Mike Remmers, Ryan Harris and Michael Schofield.

They’re all kind of like Bradley Sowell.

Indeed the Panthers had a mean, productive, nasty O-line last year built through the interior. While there are question marks about Seattle’s tackle situation — the trio of Glowinski, Britt and Ifedi are drawing rave reviews at guard and center.

This is crucial for Seattle’s run-game (the heart and soul) but also vital for Russell Wilson. Teams want to contain Russell Wilson by having their edge rushers sit. If the pocket collapses, Wilson will try to scramble and it’s an easy sack for the DE just anticipating the move. If they can protect inside to force teams to attack the edge — it not only keeps the pocket clean but it gives Wilson a better chance to improvise because the edge rushers are committed.

If they can stop the pocket collapsing inside and give Russell Wilson enough time to make a good, quick decision — this line can succeed in pass protection. Even without elite tackles.

Instant reaction: Late drama helps Seahawks beat Chiefs

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

This was most Seahawky pre-season game you’re ever going to see.

A slow start, falling behind, dead and buried. Then winners, 17-16.

Trevone Boykin’s Hail Mary connection to Tanner McEvoy provided an unlikely victory. The celebrations told you everything you need to know about this team.

Earl Thomas lived every tackle during the fourth quarter of what looked to be a 16-6 pre-season game. Pete Carroll celebrated a late third down stop by Steve Longa like this was the 2014 NFC Championship game all over again.

When Troymaine Pope converted the two-point conversion after McEvoy’s dramatic TD, the entire roster rushed the field.

It’d be foolish to say none of this actually matters. It does. It reinforces one of Carroll’s more famous mantra’s.

‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’

The Seahawks were able to turn a tepid, lifeless pre-season game into an exciting thriller. And while this victory won’t count directly towards any possible Super Bowl run — Carroll will use this to further emphasise his memorable saying.

This is who they are. This is their identity. They finish.

And after all the drama of last summer with holdouts, finger pointing and Super Bowl hangovers — this group were a picture of togetherness when they collectively stormed the field to celebrate this win.

So who impressed?

Arguably the star turn came from Cassius Marsh. He shone playing as an edge rusher on a day when Seattle’s pressure was middling overall. He had a nice rush in the second quarter to impact the quarterback for a splash play. In the second half he showed well on a RB pursuit from the backside.

Marsh smashed Kevin Hogan after disengaging from a blocking TE with 10:03 left in the game. On the very next play, Hogan forced a pass that was picked off. Even on that play Marsh was in the QB’s line of vision rushing the interior.

Late in the third quarter he worked a nice move across from Frank Clark (both pressured the QB). Marsh is quietly a brilliant, twitchy athlete. His short shuttle (4.25) and three cone (7.08) were superb for his size at the 2014 combine and he ran a nice split. He’s always had the athletic quality to be an impact player in the NFL.

Tyvis Powell will get a lot of attention after a solid special teams display and the pick in the second half. It was a major shock that he went undrafted. His ability to contribute on special teams is the key but he was used all over the field too — lining up at corner at one point. He has a good chance to make the final roster.

Another rookie DB — DeAndre Elliott — had a sound tackling performance and is worth persevering with (probably on the practise squad this year).

Boykin looked really sharp playing with a quicker tempo at the end of each half. That’s what he’s used to at TCU. That said, he looks like a natural thrower and made some nice catchable passes downfield. He needs to avoid throwing off the back foot when pressed. As a developmental backup QB — Boykin has a lot of potential.

McEvoy might struggle to make the final roster — but the two big catches he made on the key final drive were impressive. Especially considering he’s learning yet another new role.

The starting offensive line was impressive — and the second group faired pretty well too. Justin Britt looks really comfortable at center which is great news. On one standout play he pulled from center and levelled a rusher from the left side. Bradley Sowell and Garry Gilliam played well at tackle against a good group of DE’s/OLB’s. This was refreshing to see and that line-up arguably warrants another viewing next week whether J’Marcus Webb is healthy or not.

Christine Michael has played well in pre-season before and not taken steps forward when it matters — but he looked superb here. He’s such a sudden, explosive running back. His vision will probably never get to a level where he can deliver on his massive potential — but on this evidence he needs to be getting some touches as the #2.

On the negative side — the starting defense struggled to make an impact in two series. That’s not a major concern in week one of the pre-season against an opponent that has troubled Seattle in the past.

Eric Pinkins had a big opportunity to impress at linebacker but sadly looked like a DB playing out of position — and not in a Deone Bucannon kind of way. On one good example he was a bit aggressive setting the edge and lost contain, meaning the gap discipline on the right side was totally out of whack and led to a big run. With Marsh playing predominantly the edge, this looks like Mike Morgan’s job to lose.

Jahri Evans will need time to get into shape but he didn’t look anywhere near his best today. With Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi looking so comfortable — he’s basically competing to be a competent backup.

Training camp thoughts: Ifedi, Browner, offense

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Germain Ifedi (#76) is set to begin his pro-career at right guard

Ifedi’s fast start no shock

One of the highlights of camp so far was a reported battle between Germain Ifedi and Michael Bennett on Monday.

According to Sheil Kapadia:

During one-on-one pass-blocking drills, rookie guard Germain Ifedi and defensive end Michael Bennett — both Texas A&M alums — got into what defensive end Cliff Avril deemed a “little scuffle” after Ifedi, the team’s first-round pick, stood up the 2016 Pro Bowler and both players declined to disengage on the whistle. Ifedi eventually steered Bennett into a group of offensive linemen watching the drill, which prompted Bennett’s defensive line teammates to come to his defense.

After things calmed down, the pair matched up again, which led to more jawing, primarily from Bennett.

It’s encouraging to hear the rookie performing well against Seattle’s best defensive lineman — but not altogether surprising.

There aren’t many human beings like Ifedi on the planet. As we discussed during the draft season — he has a unique blend of incredible athleticism, mountainous size and supreme length.

He was the third most explosive lineman available in the draft according to our TEF formula but was unmatched in terms of explosion + size + length.

Players like this are rare.

He also played consistently with an edge. Check out the last play in this video vs Alabama and look how he finishes:

The technical issues Ifedi’s critics loved to highlight were focused around playing tackle in space. He’s since moved inside to right guard where some of those weaknesses are diluted. The Seahawks now have a massive, hulking interior lineman with an ideal physical profile to handle top interior rushers.

Kelechi Osemele excelled at guard for Baltimore and Ifedi compares favourably to the nouveau riche Oakland Raider. That’s not to say Ifedi is positively destined for the same level of success — but if you run through every guard in the NFL you’ll struggle to find many that look like Ifedi and Osemele.

Brandon Browner’s job to lose

He might be 32 years old and coming off a difficult season in New Orleans — but Brandon Browner might not be facing the tricky camp battle many seem to believe.

Too often in 2015 the Seahawks struggled against tight ends. Browner’s switch to safety might be an attempt to combat that. He has the athleticism to play outside in his career and the size to match-up against bigger receivers. Could he be used as an extra DB? Almost like a deathbacker? Possibly. It could be an important role against an opponent featuring a dynamic TE.

Browner also has special teams value:

He adds to the physicality this team craves — especially in the post-Marshawn Lynch era. The Seahawks had a fearsome defense in 2012 and 2013. Browner helps them get back to that after a bit of a lull in 2015.

He can play corner if needed, he understands the technique Seattle uses and he knows the defense.

It’s possible he won’t take to a new role as a hybrid DB or won’t be effective aged 32. Yet I suspect he has a job to lose rather than needing to win it from somebody else.

The defense might need to help the offense early in the season

Seattle’s toughest challenge might be to find an offensive rhythm early in the year. That’s kind of been the case in each of Russell Wilson’s pro-seasons so far.

Last year it was a real issue with the offensive line struggling. It took half the season to find a level of consistency up front. When that was achieved, Wilson put up career high numbers and set records.

With even more changes to the O-line and the likelihood of at least a couple of first time starters (Ifedi, Mark Glowinski) there could be further growing pains. With the number of TE’s in camp and a lack of full backs, they also might be moving to a slightly modified blocking scheme.

The running game is also a bit of an unknown. Lynch has retired and Thomas Rawls is still recovering from a serious ankle injury. The Seahawks will field an effective running game — but will it take a few weeks to hit top form?

The good news is the consistency at receiver and the deep talent pool at TE. There’s a lot of chemistry between Wilson and his targets and the return of Jimmy Graham will be a benefit despite his somewhat hit-and-miss first season in Seattle.

If the offense needs time to reach its potential it’ll be key for the defense to play at a high level immediately. In 2013 (Super Bowl season) Seattle gave up just seven points at Carolina in week one. San Francisco (during the peak Harbaugh years) scored just three points against the Seahawks in week two.

Considering they get to face Ryan Tannehill and a brand new offensive scheme at home in week one and rookie Jared Goff in week two — there’s every chance the defense can start on the front foot, possibly relieving some of the pressure on an offense that needs some time.

Enjoy every minute of this golden Seahawks era

Monday, July 25th, 2016

John Schneider has signed a contract extension until 2021

News of an extension for John Schneider will be gratefully received by Seahawks fans. A new deal for Pete Carroll feels like a formality too — and all is well with the world.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to follow a slumping, miserable franchise. The Seahawks have been pretty good or excellent for 13 years. They’ve been to three Super Bowls, winning one, and had nine winning seasons in that time frame.

Since 2010, when Carroll and Schneider arrived in Seattle, they’ve had 60 regular season wins. Only perennial winners New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Denver have more. Only Pittsburgh have competed in a division as challenging as the NFC West.

It’s hard to be as good as the Seahawks have been for this period of time. Carroll and Schneider have now produced a genuine golden era of Seahawks football — perhaps the greatest any of us will experience. They’ve accumulated a collection of players that pair extreme talent with character and charisma. They’ve created a team that is fun to watch, that enjoys a brilliant connection with the community and they’re led by a coach who is enthusiasm personified.

It just doesn’t get better than this.

Sure, that Super Bowl XLIX defeat was agony. It’d be nice if they could add more titles and be known as a dynasty.

Whatever happens, this is a period of Seahawks football to be enjoyed and celebrated right now. Not just when it’s over. Not just when we’re all gray, bald and/or fat — boring future generations with stories about Richard Sherman’s effervescence.

‘And then he tips the ball to Malcolm Smith and they win. Yes. We know what happened’

It’d be very easy to miss the moment and not enjoy the now. This team is capable of multiple titles and its place in history. It sometimes feels like there’s a desperation to witness that. For this team to get its due. After all, this isn’t a franchise with the glorious past of a San Francisco, Dallas or Pittsburgh.

Carroll is Seattle’s Bill Walsh. Russell Wilson its Troy Aikman.

If they don’t deliver multiple Championship’s there will be a tinge of disappointment. That shouldn’t ever replace the absolute joy this group has provided.

There are so many NFL fans already looking at the 2017 draft. So many following teams that exist within a world of constant mediocrity.

So many that operate within an eternal discord.

In Seattle fans can dream every year with legitimate hope. They have a shot. A chance at winning it all.

If it doesn’t happen, there’ll be next year. If it never happens again, we’ll always have the image of a grinning Wilson and Carroll hoisting the Lombardi in New York.

One day it’ll all be gone. Richard Sherman will be arguing with Stephen A. Smith in an ESPN studio. Russell Wilson will be campaigning for president. Pete Carroll will become the oldest man to fly to the Moon.

And the next generation might be more 2009 than 2013.

Breathe it in. Live for the now. Enjoy this golden age. It won’t be here forever.

2017 draft top-50 watch list

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

So we’re at the end of another draft season. I want to thank everyone who is part of this increasingly active community for making this such a great blog. It’s incredible that as traffic has grown — the comments section has remained a mature place to discuss football matters (even when disagreements occur).

In case you’re interested, between January and the end of the draft we had 18,076,727 hits. We had 606,134 hits during the first round of the draft alone.

This is usually where I take a break. It’s been virtually an article a day since September and it’s time to focus on the day job and family. We’ll get things going again in the summer and begin to preview the new college and NFL season.

In the meantime here’s a list of 50 names to chew on for 2017.

The top ten

These are the players we can say with some degree of certainty will be generating most of the draft headlines this year.

Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
Just an incredible football player. He could very easily be the #1 overall pick next year. There are no flaws. An absolute beast.

Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
Really dynamic edge rusher with speed, bend and technique. Looks like a sure fire top-five pick.

Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
Some possible character issues that’ll need to be looked into — but there’s no denying his talent. Fast, powerful and dynamic. Only a notch below Fournette.

Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
Modern day linebacker who jumped off the screen while watching Jonathan Bullard and Keanu Neal. A candidate to go very early.

Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
Superior to some of the previous Alabama left tackles to enter the league. Ideal size and has a chance to be the top 2017 tackle.

DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
A genuine playmaker with room to continue improving. Elusive and improvises well. Can he take the next step and secure himself as the top QB prospect?

Tim Williams (DE, Alabama)
He could’ve been a top-20 pick this year. Terrific edge rusher with fantastic athleticism. Major talent.

Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Really productive and physical — has the size to play DE in a 3-4 or 4-3. A nice compliment to Williams for ‘Bama.

Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
Would’ve been an early pick this year but decided to return to LSU. Great character, great athlete, good kick returner. Top-15 potential.

Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
Better than Vernon Hargreaves who went in the top-12. Has the size (6-1, 191lbs) and length teams crave. Could be another top-15 talent.

Five personal favourites

Players who stood out during the 2014 and 2015 season that are eligible for the 2017 draft.

Jehu Chesson (WR, Michigan)
Great size (6-3, 207lbs) with room to add weight. Owned Vernon Hargreaves in the Citrus Bowl. Returned an opening kick off 96-yard for a TD against Northwestern. Underrated.

Harold Brantley (DT, Missouri)
A car crash kept him out for the 2015 season but he’ll be healthy and ready to return this year. Fantastic three-technique interior rusher.

Cam Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
A stud athlete, Sutton glides around the field. He’s a playmaker, a kick returner and he could’ve gone in round one this year. So fluid.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
A modern day weapon. Ten years ago he wouldn’t go early — in 2017? This is the type of player teams are looking for. Shifty rather than fast.

Adam Bisnowaty (T, Pittsburgh)
It was a bit surprising he didn’t declare this year. Will likely move to guard in the NFL but he could be another Evan Mathis.

Looking to take the next step

The following group are fairly established college players who can really help their stock with a good 2016 season.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)
A few recent USC receivers haven’t lived up to expectations in the NFL. JuJu is bigger and more physical. He’s lost his quarterback though (Cody Kessler).

Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
‘Rolls’ Royce isn’t Fournette or Freeman but don’t sleep on his potential. Well sized with good athleticism if not elite speed.

Samaje Perine (RB, Oklahoma)
A different type of back to the ones listed above. Perine is big and physical but has enough speed to make plays.

O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
He exploded in the National Championship game after an underwhelming start to his college career. His size/speed combo could secure a first round grade next year.

Eddie Jackson (S, Alabama)
Very agile safety prospect with some decent size (6-0, 194lbs). Scored two touchdowns in 2015 and had three big interception returns.

Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
Horrible injury ended his 2015 season and it looked as bad as Jaylon Smith’s. If he returns to 100% — he has a chance to go early. Extremely competitive.

Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami)
Considered a possible school saviour when he was drafted, Kaaya hasn’t really matched the hype. 2016 is his chance to boost a weak looking QB class.

Charles Walker (DT, Oklahoma)
Classic three-technique. Sets up his blocks and wins with a great swim move and quickness. Had six sacks last year.

Ethan Pocic (C, LSU)
Received a second round grade from the committee but chose not to declare this year. Absolutely massive (6-7, 309lbs). Very solid.

Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Already has 20 sacks in just two seasons with the Vols. Built like a pro already. Big thick frame — a bit like Shaq Lawson.

Adoree Jackson (CB/WR, USC)
Incredible athlete. Crown him 2017’s top combine performer today. Needs to nail down one specific position. Might be better on offense.

Carl Lawson (DE, Auburn)
Finally healthy. Laremy Tunsil said at the combine Lawson was his toughest college opponent. Tough to block but needs to put together a strong (full) season.

Jabrill Peppers (CB, Michigan)
Former big time recruit. Ideal length and athleticism for the position. A modern day prototype at corner.

Desmond King (CB, Iowa)
Very productive in Iowa’s 2015 run but maybe a little overrated in terms of the pro’s. Is he big enough to go early?

Guys to keep an eye on

This is a list of prospects who are moving into starting roles for the first time or could be ready for a breakout season.

Marcus Maye (S, Florida)
Had a big impact in 2015 forcing five fumbles and collecting two interceptions. He’ll take on an even greater role with Keanu Neal now in the NFL.

Denzil Ware (DE, Kentucky)
Lacks elite size (6-2, 255lbs) but just started to put things together at the back end of last season.

David Sharpe (LT, Florida)
Good size and length for the position. Moving into his third season as a starter. Passes the eye test.

Quin Blanding (S, Virginia)
Former top five star recruit who doesn’t get much attention due to the team he plays for. A new coaching staff at Virginia could help change that.

Da’Shawn Hand (DE, Alabama)
Expect Hand to fill the hole created by ‘Bama’s D-line exodus. He could play a similar role to D.J. Pettway and he’s a far superior athlete.

Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
Not short on confidence but needs to be more productive. Has the talent and size. Disruptive.

Bo Scarbrough (RB, Alabama)
Massive running back. Could replace Derrick Henry. Dubbed the next big thing at Alabama but we’ll see how his role develops this year.

Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
Receives lofty praise but could do with a consistent season where he makes a number of plays and stands out.

Daeshon Hall (DE, Texas A&M)
Exploded to start 2015 with a four-sack game to start the season vs Arizona State. Looked the part there but needs to be an every-week performer. Has length and size.

Devonte Fields (DE, Louisville)
Always seemed to be near the action when watching Sheldon Rankins tape. Long, fluid athlete. Can he perform with Rankins in the NFL?

Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
Took over from Nick Chubb and might end up remaining in the starting role to start 2016. Michel, like Chubb, was a big time recruit.

Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU)
Wiry, thin receiver but capable of big plays. Suffers because of the mess at QB. Can he add some weight?

Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Tabor will get the praise but don’t sleep on Wilson — another talented Florida CB off the production line.

Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
Wasn’t quite as enamoured by McMillan as some others — but he’ll have to be a playmaker for the Buckeye’s this year with all the talent they’ve lost to the NFL.

Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)
Raw as anything you’ll see but recorded major TFL stats in 2015 and could be the next top-tier EDGE from Mizzou.

Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
Had three picks in 2015 and his responsibility will expand this year. Could develop into another Nick Saban early round DB.

Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan)
He posted 6.5 sacks last year and like everyone at Michigan will only continue to improve with Jim Harbaugh.

Skai Moore (LB, South Carolina)
Tackle machine and developed into a playmaker for the Gamecocks. Smaller linebacker in the Darron Lee mould.

Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
Rangy tackler with decent size and length. Former four-star recruit who drew attention from several top schools.

Davon Godchaux (DT, LSU)
Has looked really good at times. Stood out in the win against Auburn last year. Certainly capable of drawing NFL attention.

Roderick Johnson (T, Florida State)
Big, long and well proportioned left tackle prospect. Doesn’t play with his hair on fire though. Too passive.

Thoughts on Jarran Reed & Rees Odhiambo

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
Who really expected Reed to last until pick #49? We had him at #16 in our final mock draft to the Detroit Lions.

The Seahawks love to be unconventional and so it proved again this year. While the rest of the NFL sought three-down prospects who can play in a world dominated by nickel defense and high-octane passing offenses — the Seahawks took a fierce run-defender and a blocking tight end (Nick Vannett) before the end of day two.

Having dragged the entire league into a new modern era — the Seahawks seem to be re-establishing the core foundation of what really made them successful. For all the new-age thinking and the many ways they’ve revolutionised the NFL — the Seahawks’ style of play is classical all the way.

Run the ball. Stop the run. Force turnovers. Protect the ball.

If you like tough football dripping with blood and sweat in the trenches — you’ll love Jarran Reed. I watched four games in the last 24 hours and didn’t see a single play where he lost leverage or was shoved into the backfield.

I’ve watched a lot of defensive linemen since starting the blog in 2008. Only Ndamukong Suh had quite this level of toughness up front.

Now let’s get one thing straight here — Reed is not Suh. For such an immovable object at the LOS he’s not the most effective bull rusher. He does have better athleticism than you’d think — and he played some DE as well as lining up inside. He can get into the backfield and chase down a quarterback.

He just isn’t Suh.

And that doesn’t matter.

In Seattle he’s going to be a run defender. I suspect he’ll continue to play some DE mixed in with most of his snaps at DT. He’s an absolute beast vs the run. He locks out brilliantly, controlling one or sometimes two blockers while somehow managing to locate the ball and make the tackle. He had more tackles than any other Alabama defensive lineman in 2014 and 2015 and it’s easy to see why.

Even as he controls the LOS he disengages like a savvy veteran. It’s a thing of beauty. You hardly ever see him linger on a block for more than a split second. When he needs to get clean and go chase the football — he’ll do it. When he finds the ball carrier he can pursue and finish and he’s a powerful form-tackler.

You never see him knocked off balance or on the turf. When he sets position and plants his legs — you’re not going to move him. He took on several double teams vs LSU and Clemson in particular and just maintained the original LOS. There’s no push. On one snap vs Tennessee he held up two blockers allowing linebacker Reggie Ragland a clean route to hammer the running back for a jarring hit.

Watching him next to A’Shawn Robinson is ideal. Robinson is passive and doesn’t play with the same level of sheer intensity. Reed is the tone-setter, the natural leader. His motor never stopped while Robinson was too often happy to stay blocked.

It helped that Reed was used in a heavy rotation and played about 60-70% of the snaps. The Seahawks would be wise to use him in the same way — and they can afford to with their new-found depth up front.

Watch the video below and fast forward to 2:09:10. This is the fourth quarter of the Senior Bowl — a showpiece finale to the more important week of workouts and drills.

Jarran Reed had just played in the National Championship game a couple of weeks earlier and didn’t even need to show up in Mobile (Ryan Kelly the center chose not to attend and compete). In the game he’d already made a big splash — chasing down Carson Wentz on one eye-catching play in the first quarter. Yet even with the game won and with just over five minutes to play — this is the kind of impact he was having:

Snap 1 — 2nd and 15
Reed disengages, chases down Jeff Driskel and tackles him from behind for a short gain. He dances in celebration.

Snap 2 — 3rd and 12
Short throw to Tyler Ervin. Jarran Reed disengages, retreats and again makes the tackle from behind to prevent the first down.

Snap 3 — 4th an 1
Tyler Ervin runs to try and make the first down. Reed escapes his block and helps stop the RB for a loss. Turnover on downs.

The Seahawks value gap discipline and he’s adept here. He does his job first and foremost and then looks for the ball. He’s not a one-gap penetrator but again — the Seahawks don’t need him to be. They’ll get their pass rush from Bennett, Avril, Clemons, Clark and hopefully Jefferson and Hill.

If he can control the LOS and absorb blocks like he did at the college level (that remains to be seen) it’ll create a lot of 1v1 opportunities for the DE working his side of the field plus Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.

Reed barely has any flaws. He’s just not a prolific pass rusher. The modern NFL has deemed that isn’t valuable enough to go early. The Seahawks saw an opportunity and grabbed it. More power to them.

If they wanted to become the bully again in 2016 — this was the guy to draft. Nobody embodies that identity more than Jarran Reed.

Daniel Jeremiah’s ranking of Reed (#13 overall in the class) was totally justified. The Seahawks stole one here.

Rees Odhiambo (T, Boise State)
I could only find one video for Odhiambo (vs Virginia) so it’s difficult to judge him (the usual minimum is three games). Even so, here’s what I noted…

In terms of agility you can see why the Seahawks’ sport science guys supposedly really value his upside. At 6-4 and 314lbs he moves really well. He has one of the best kick-slides you’ll see in this class and he had no issues at all setting his stance, re-setting, keeping the defender in front and mirroring.

There’s a lot to like about his fit in the ZBS. He’s an athlete for sure.

His upper body power was obvious and looks like another key characteristic the Seahawks valued. He delivered several jolts and he can hand-fight. As a run blocker he stoned a couple of defenders with a really nice piece of hand-use, gaining leverage and finishing.

Combining strength and mobility appears to be a major emphasis at the moment. It’s almost like a return to the ZBS roots albeit with size thrown into the mix (Joey Hunt, a classic ZBS center, is the exception).

On the slightly negative side though there wasn’t a clear edge to Odhimabo’s play and you’d love to see him knocking some helmet’s like we saw from Shon Coleman at Auburn. At tackle he’s a bit of a lunger and he sometimes overextends. Moving him inside will limit some of his weaknesses and bring out his power/agility.

To that extent he’s an exciting project for Tom Cable. He’s big, strong and mobile. Everything you hear about him suggests he’s a quick learner, he’s intelligent and a good worker. There’s no real pressure for him to start immediately (Mark Glowsinki appears to be pencilled in at left guard) and in a years time he could be really pushing to be the long term answer at that position.

Even though he’s better suited inside — like Ifedi he also has some swing-tackle benefits.

The key is health. He’s missed at least four games in each of the last three seasons. Injuries have been an issue for the Seahawks O-line in the past due to the physical nature of the scheme and their running style.

If he can avoid injuries he has a shot. John Schneider suggested this week he could’ve been a top-45 prospect without the health problems. At the very least it’ll be good to see legitimate competition across the O-line this summer — something the Seahawks badly lacked a year ago.

If you missed any of our other reviews so far, here’s the list:

Germain Ifedi
Joey Hunt
Nick Vannett & Alex Collins

At the moment there isn’t any Draft Breakdown tape of Quinton Jefferson and only a highlights video on Youtube. It’s not ideal but it is all-22:

We talked about him briefly in this weeks podcast, plus Kenny Lawler and Zac Brooks.

C.J. Prosise is someone we often discussed during the season and in the early part of the post-season. His role has been pretty much established as the third down back. He has excellent burst to the second level, is capable of taking a run to the house but he also has plenty of experience running routes as a former receiver. Expect him to wind up being the running back in the two minute drill.

We touched on some of the UDFA’s in the podcast but it’s a really good group.

Tyvis Powell has genuine Deone Bucannon potential. Brandin Bryant’s tape is fantastic and matches up with a tremendous pre-draft workout. He might be their most exciting UDFA signing if they can tap into his potential.

Cornerback DeAndre Elliott is someone we identified post-combine as a real candidate for Seattle — he ticks all the boxes in terms of playing style, size, length and range. George Fant could be the next Garry Gilliam while Christian French and Steve Longa will battle with the existing linebackers in one of the more intriguing camp battles.

Tanner McEvoy is 6-5, 231lbs and an amazing athlete. He could be their next Jameson Konz-style project because he doesn’t really have a set position. Montese Overton and David Perkins have a shot to make the team and who would rule out Trevone Boykin landing as a future backup for Russell Wilson?

The sheer depth of numbers and quality from the 2016 draft and UDFA could create a 2013 level of depth for the Seahawks.

I’ll be posting a 2017 top-25 summer watch list tomorrow and then taking a break. If anything happens (a podcast or radio appearance, some breaking news) I’ll make sure it’s posted on the blog.