Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

Kirwan & Miller present intriguing mock scenario

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller of SiriusXM NFL Radio have put together a two round mock draft that included quite an aggressive approach by the Seahawks:

Here’s a breakdown of Seattle’s moves:

— Traded Richard Sherman and pick #106 to Tennessee for the #18 pick

— Traded pick #26 to the Titans (who’d already moved down from #5 to #11), receiving picks #41, #77 and #106 in exchange

— Traded picks #58 and #77 to the New York Jets for pick #39

So after all that, they moved Richard Sherman and picked three times in the top-40.

It’s all a bit Madden ’17 but it’s still pretty fun and interesting.

Here’s how they used the picks and what they had left:

#18 — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#39 — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#41 — Ahkello Witherspoon (CB, Colorado)
#90 (R3)
#102 (R3 comp)
#106 (R3 comp)
#210 (R6)
#226 (R7)

There are obviously a few things to contend here. For starters, I wouldn’t expect Adoree’ Jackson to last this long. Marlon Humphrey, Kevin King, Chidobe Awuzie and Jarrad Davis also fall into round two. And if the Seahawks were being aggressive in trading up twice, going up to get Humphrey or King would appear to be the stronger play rather than trading up for Ahkello Witherspoon.

The mock overall though highlights a possible talent drop-off in the late second round — and part of John Schneider’s lukewarm review of the draft class might be in part due to this. Are they going to have to be aggressive to try and manipulate extra picks in the top-50 this year, or risk coming away with a class without impact players? Maybe.

That said, this would be quite an interesting way to possibly upgrade the roster despite losing a player of Richard Sherman’s undoubted quality. You get an addition at left or right tackle (Kirwan has Seattle taking Ramcyzk but they could’ve picked Bolles or Lamp too), you get one of the most dynamic impact players in the draft (Jackson) to play the slot and you get a tall athletic outside corner (Witherspoon).

And if you moved into position to get Humphrey or King instead of Witherspoon, even better.

If you get a talented outside corner to replace Sherman, Jackson in the slot and further bolstered your O-line — that’s a semblance of a plan to try and galvanise this team minus Sherman.

Of course it’d be quite unprecedented to see a team make this many trades. It’s something to ponder though, especially if Seattle does end up dealing their #1 cornerback.

Meanwhile, I’d highly recommend reading this piece by Jason La Canfora on the Sherman/Marshawn Lynch situation. La Canfora has a reputation for accurate reporting on the Seahawks and this article contains quotes from John Schneider.

Here’s the most interesting part:

You can only pay three of your four starting defensive backs top-of-the-market money for so long and the Seahawks could use more balance in the cap and cash spending. They still have a big need along the offensive line and redirecting resources there over the next few years to preserve franchise quarterback Russell Wilson is in order. That money has to come from somewhere.

Sherman just turned 29 and is one of the highest-paid corners in the game and that’s a position where Seattle should be best positioned to turn another mid-round pick into a potential impact starter. In the age of Moneyball, that’s an efficiency they should be able to cash-in on. They might not find another Sherman, but, for a tenth of the money, maybe they get something fairly close over the next year or two.

So if this is an educated guess instead of a mere assertion, we might see more money spent on the O-line (or at least further draft stock) and a confidence from within Seattle’s front office to find an adequate replacement for Sherman.

And if nothing else, the article does little to quell the recent talk of a potential trade.

John Schneider prefers the 2016 draft

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

John Schneider spoke on Brock and Salk yesterday and had this to say about the 2017 draft class:

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

So what can we take from this? Here’s my best guess:

— Does the quality of the draft class drop off a cliff before, around or just after Seattle’s three third round picks? The Seahawks own picks #90, #102 and #106.

— Schneider more or less spells this out: “…not having a fourth and a fifth this year may work out in our favour.” However, if he merely didn’t see value in those rounds he probably would’ve been more positive about the situation. After all, they don’t have any picks in rounds four or five. Yet he still offers a lukewarm review of the class. It’s possible he doesn’t expect to get great value in the late third.

— The Timmy Jernigan trade is perhaps indicative of this situation. The Ravens, knowing they were unlikely to pay Jernigan big money at the end of his contract, traded him to Philadelphia to move from #99 to #74. It possibly highlights how teams are viewing this class. Is it relatively deep up to the #75-90 range, followed by a big drop off?

— This could be impacting how they view the value of pick #26. They might want to trade down but if the return is a third, fourth or fifth round pick they’re not really interested in, is it worth moving down?

— If they don’t like their options in round three, it could tempt them to use their extra picks to trade up at some point, or acquire 2018 stock.

—- Some of Schneider’s disappointment might be influenced by a desire to increase depth and competition in a number of areas. This draft might present an opportunity to get a couple of early contributors but it might be light on overall depth once you get out of the top 75-100. And Seattle’s best work under Schneider and Carroll has come between rounds 3-7.

— It’s also possible, as we touched on yesterday, that some of the players we previously expected to be there at #26 are gradually moving up draft boards. It’s at least somewhat possible Obi Melifonwu, Kevin King and Adoree’ Jackson won’t be there, plus some other blog favourites. That could also be provoking a tinge of disappointment. There will still be good options though — such as (possibly) Tyus Bowser, T.J. Watt or Chidobe Awuzie.

— I spent a bit of extra time watching Awuzie yesterday. He’s a warrior for sure. And while he’s nowhere near the sudden, spectacular athlete Adoree’ Jackson is — he’s more of a threat screaming off the edge, making plays in the backfield and he’s an underrated playmaker. Awuzie is also big-time in terms of character. His interviews are possibly the second best I’ve seen this year behind only Jarrad Davis. He’s one to keep in your thoughts.

Looking at a scenario where Seattle goes EDGE early

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

It was at least a little bit interesting last week when Pete Carroll suddenly added ‘pass rusher’ to the list of possible draft options for the Seahawks. He’d previously listed cornerback, linebacker and O-line as the priorities for the off-season. He made reference to CB and LB again — but swapped out the OL following the additions of Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi.

That’s not to say the Seahawks won’t go O-line at #26. If one of the big names falls into range, a Bolles or Lamp for example, they could easily be the pick.

However, I wanted to look at a scenario where the Seahawks consider a pass rusher earlier than we’ve been discussing:

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Cincinnati (Trade) — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#5 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#6 New York Jets — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#7 LA Chargers — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#8 Carolina — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#9 Chicago (Trade) — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#10 Buffalo — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#11 New Orleans — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#12 Cleveland — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#13 Arizona — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#15 Indianapolis — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#16 Baltimore — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
#17 Washington — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#18 Tennessee — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#19 Tampa Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#20 Denver — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#21 Detroit — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#22 Miami — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#23 New York Giants — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#24 Oakland — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#25 Houston — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)

You might say it’s unlikely that Obi Melifonwu, Kevin King, Adoree’ Jackson and Gareon Conley are all off the board before pick #26.

Maybe it is?

Here’s the thing though — it isn’t that improbable and here’s why:

— Melifonwu is the definition of what teams are looking for on defense in 2017. A 6-4, 225lbs defender with the short-area quickness and agility to cover the slot, the size and explosive traits to defend the run and the versatility to line-up in various different match-ups and positions. He could be a corner, a strong safety or a ‘Buffalo’. Simply put, there aren’t many human beings with his physical profile on the planet. He could set a new standard at the big nickel.

— There aren’t many cornerbacks ever that have possessed King’s combination of size, length and athleticism. He has the deep speed to cover outside, the size to handle true #1 receivers and unnatural short-area quickness and agility to work in the slot despite his 6-3, 200lbs frame. When interviewed he talks about the intricacies of the offense he’s facing and what he learned during tape study. He had 16 passes defended in 2016 — as many as any of the top cornerbacks in this draft — and one incredible interception against Arizona State that will have teams salivating at his potential.

— Jackson is a first round pick in any draft class. A genuine, true game-changer. He can handle the slot at a time when teams are predominantly using nickel in base. He has the potential to be one of the all-time greats as a kick returner. He can handle a package on offense. Every time he’s around the ball he’s a threat to score. Furthermore, he was a team captain at USC and despite his lack of size — he doesn’t shirk a tackle. I’ll say it again — he’s Percy Harvin on defense without the hassle.

— Conley isn’t quite as freaky as the other three and he has some issues with hand use, offering far too many free releases in college. He’ll need to learn to jam and re-route and get a feel for when a receiver is breaking without getting flagged. There will be a learning curve. That said, he’s pretty much everything you want from a starting outside corner. He has the size, length, speed and instinct. His positional play — knowing where to position himself to break on the ball — is exceptional. Cornerback is a vital position and Conley has a shot to be a high-end starter in the NFL.

When you actually consider the talent, production, physical profile and positional value of the four players — it’s very easy to make a case that they won’t get out of the top-25.

What is more likely, after all? That Tennessee’s Derek Barnett remains in the top-25 despite being a short-armed, undersized defensive end with a middling physical profile? Or that teams instead look at the extreme potential and ability of the four names above?

I’m not trying to argue that this is definitely going to happen. It will be Seattle’s good fortune if one or more of the four DB’s fall into range. It’s not something we’ve really considered though — that they won’t be there. And whether it’s likely or not, it’s at least possible.

In the top-25 projection above the top O-liners are also off the board and a possible consolation prize like Jarrad Davis is also gone at #24 to Oakland.

So what happens in this situation?

Have the Seahawks been planning for this scenario?

— Pete Carroll recently noted Bradley McDougald could act as a ‘big nickel’ or ‘Buffalo’. Seattle needed safety depth anyway — but if depth was the key, this draft is loaded with good safety’s. Was McDougald brought in because they feel Melifonwu, a possible target to play as a ‘big nickel’, now won’t be available at #26?

— If they were hoping to draft Adoree’ Jackson but he’s now expected to go earlier than originally expected (top-20 is NOT a stretch), this might explain why the Seahawks had a good look at Houston’s Brandon Wilson at his pro-day last week as a possible later round alternative:

— Carroll stated that Germain Ifedi is moving to right tackle and Luke Joeckel will get a chance to win the left tackle job. Is this an admittance that they don’t believe the top tackles will reach #26?

— A final interesting nugget from Carroll’s conversation with John Clayton last week was Jeremy Lane moving to outside corner as the ‘next man up’ in replacing Deshawn Shead. It essentially cleared the way for McDougald to be the new ‘nickel’ and perhaps signals Seattle’s intention to let their existing corners battle it out to start across from Richard Sherman, rather than bring in a first round pick to start immediately.

Admittedly, a fair bit of dot-connecting is going on here. Yet it doesn’t feel entirely implausible either. The Seahawks generally set themselves up for every draft class and have a pretty good idea of who will/won’t be available at their various picks.

And if this type of situation arises, maybe they will take an EDGE rusher early?

A top-25 like this presents a few different options:

— Trade down (Mahomes and Webb are still on the board as trade bait)

— Continue the rush on defensive backs with Budda Baker, Chidobe Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley, Justin Evans or one of the many other options

— Take a pass rusher such as T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser, Takk McKinley, Jordan Willis or Charles Harris

I’m going to make a case in this piece for Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt.

This piece highlights how similar they both are physically to Khalil Mack.

Here’s the key info from the article:

Ten yard splits
T.J. Watt — 1.59
Tyus Bowser — 1.59
Khalil Mack — 1.64

Short shuttle
T.J. Watt — 4.13
Tyus Bowser — 4.40 (Pro day)
Khalil Mack — 4.18

Three cone
T.J. Watt — 6.79
Tyus Bowser — 6.75
Khalil Mack — 7.08

Vertical jump
T.J. Watt — 37
Tyus Bowser — 37.5
Khalil Mack — 40

Broad jump
T.J. Watt — 10-8
Tyus Bowser — 10-6
Khalil Mack — 10-8

Forty yard dash
T.J. Watt — 4.69
Tyus Bowser — 4.65
Khalil Mack — 4.65

Production (final college season)
Khalil Mack (2013) — 10.5 sacks, 18 TFL’s
Tyus Bowser (2016) — 8.5 sacks, 12 TFL’s (in just eight games)
T.J. Watt (2016) — 11.5 sacks, 15.5 TFL’s

Watch this footage of Bowser at the combine. Look how quick, fluid, twitchy and ripped he looks:

Here’s Watt’s workout as a comparison:

We know both players ran a 1.5 split (Seattle likes that), we know both ran exceptionally well in the agility tests (Seattle likes that) and we know they’re both really explosive, productive and passionate about the game (Seattle especially likes that).

Even in a worst-case scenario with so many good defensive backs flying off the board, there’s still a really attractive, freaky upside alternative in these two.

And with the great depth at cornerback and safety in this class — the Seahawks should be able to find options at both positions in rounds 2-3.

If you’re feeling a little bit down after reading about the top DB’s potentially being off the board at #26, this’ll cheer you up. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay ran through a two-round projection today. Kiper had Seattle drafting Marlon Humphrey and T.J. Watt with their first two picks. That would be a haul.

Here’s another player to keep an eye on too as a possible day-three option. Noble Nwachukwu (DL, West Virginia). Gritty backstory, basketball background, good length, grown man. Could be an inside/out type rusher.

Linebacker 10-yard split times highlight some good options

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Despite signing some veteran linebackers in free agency, Pete Carroll still stated his desire to draft for the position when speaking to John Clayton last week.

Recently we highlighted how important the short shuttle times appear to be for Seattle. Now it’s time to look a how significant the 10-yard splits are.

Here are the times for Seattle’s draftees since 2010:

Kevin Pierre-Louis — 1.53
Mike Morgan (UDFA) — 1.54
Bruce Irvin — 1.55
Bobby Wagner — 1.57
Brock Coyle (UDFA) — 1.60
Malcolm Smith — 1.61
Korey Toomer — 1.61
K.J. Wright — 1.66

K.J. Wright is an exception but everyone else has ran a really good split. Anything faster than a 1.60 is considered elite.

For example, here are the ten yard splits for some of the top DB’s in the 2017 draft:

Jamal Adams — 1.60
Budda Baker — 1.56
Jabrill Peppers — 1.54
Josh Jones — 1.58
Marcus Maye — 1.56
Marcus Williams — 1.61
Gareon Conley — 1.56
Chidobe Awuzie — 1.64
Cordrea Tankersley — 1.56

Seattle’s linebackers ran similar times to some of the DB’s in this loaded draft. Get-off, explosion and short-area quickness appears to be just as important as agility.

There weren’t many fantastic forty times among the linebackers at the combine. However, there were some impressive short shuttle times and the 10-yard splits are also better than expected.

Here are all the linebackers in the 2017 class who ran faster than a 1.65 split either at the combine or at their pro-day:

Dylan Cole — 1.54
Jarrad Davis — 1.54
Duke Riley — 1.56
Anthony Walker — 1.57
Zach Cunningham — 1.58
Alex Anzalone — 1.59
Tyus Boswer — 1.59
Jayon Brown — 1.59
Jordan Evans — 1.59
Haason Reddick — 1.59
T.J. Watt — 1.59
Elijah Lee — 1.60
Blair Brown — 1.61
Brooks Ellis — 1.61
Raekwon McMillan — 1.61
Marquel Lee — 1.62
Paul Magloire — 1.62
Hardy Nickerson — 1.62
Tanner Vallejo — 1.62
Vince Biegel — 1.64
Pita Taumepenu — 1.64

As you can see, there’s a long list of really quick linebackers.

Jarrad Davis stands out at the top. His closing speed shows up time and time again on tape and it’s validated here. Considering his size, quickness, athleticism, tenacity and character it’s impossible to imagine him not going in the first round. He could go in the top-20.

Would the Seahawks consider him? I think they’d have to. And while there might be an alternative defensive back or offensive lineman that wins the day due to need — you at least have to make Davis part of the conversation. He’s that good.

He also managed a 4.29 short shuttle at his pro-day so there’s another positive mark. Bobby Wagner ran a 4.28 at his pro-day.

Of the list of names above, here are the prospects who ran a sub-4.30 short shuttle and a sub-1.65 10-yard split:

Dylan Cole — 4.08 & 1.54
Jarrad Davis — 4.29 & 1.54
Duke Riley — 4.21 & 1.56
Zach Cunningham — 4.29 & 1.58
Alex Anzalone — 4.25 & 1.59
Tyus Boswer — DNP & 1.59
T.J. Watt — 4.13 & 1.59
Blair Brown — 4.18 & 1.61
Brooks Ellis — 4.25 & 1.61
Paul Magloire — 4.28 & 1.62
Vince Biegel — 4.16 & 1.64

That’s not to say the Seahawks wouldn’t draft a linebacker with a +4.30 short shuttle time — but the players they have added since 2010 ran the following times:

Korey Toomer — 4.00
Kevin Pierre-Louis — 4.02
Bruce Irvin — 4.03
Bobby Wagner — 4.28
K.J. Wright — 4.35
Malcolm Smith — 4.54

Smith was a seventh round pick and compensated with a 1.61 split, a 4.44 forty and a 39 inch vertical (he also had knowledge of Pete Carroll’s system at the start of the new regime).

There may not be any 4.44 runners in the 2017 class of linebackers but there’s enough burst and quickness to imagine the Seahawks will come across some attractive options.

And if they want to draft Obi Melifonwu to act as a big nickel or safety/linebacker hybrid — he ran a 1.51 split and a 4.09 short shuttle at 6-4 and 225lbs.

Seahawks first round big board & Tony Pauline’s mock

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Earlier today Field Gulls published a piece I wrote for them looking at possible options at #26. It’s written in a ‘big board’ style. Check it out and let me know what you think, either in the comments section here or on the FG site.

You might also want to check out Tony Pauline’s new three-round mock draft. He has the Seahawks taking Chidobe Awuzie at #26:

“The Seahawks like to play five defensive backs and the versatile Awuzie can play corner, nickel and/or safety. The fact he scored a 35 on his wonderlic at the combine makes him that much more appealing.”

Awuzie is gritty, athletic and had a better combine that a lot of people expected. When we talk about players in this draft who could go anywhere from the teens to the early 40’s, Awuzie is that type of player.

He is undersized — but if the Seahawks are looking for a slot corner that might not be so much of an issue. We don’t have the data to sufficiently judge such a pick. It seems a bit rich though to consider the possibility of Seattle drafting Budda Baker to play as a third safety/nickel and not consider the likes of Awuzie or Adoree’ Jackson.

Personally I think Jackson, who was available in Pauline’s mock, could be more attractive to the Seahawks if they are looking for a slot specialist. His special teams value, freaky athleticism and ability to score every time he touches the ball screams ‘Pete Carroll favourite’.

That said, Awuzie plays with great toughness for his size and he made several big plays in the backfield in 2016. He’d be a creative blitz option and not just a coverage specialist. He has high character and fits the mentality of Seattle’s defense perfectly. He could be a serious option.

Here’s a video if you’re unfamiliar with Awuzie’s playing style:

Trying to identify possible pass rush targets

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Pete Carroll admitted last week the Seahawks are considering adding another pass rusher and he saw a few attractive options in the draft.

So what type of player have they looked at in the past and how does it help us identify possible targets in this class?

Since 2010, the Seahawks have drafted the following EDGE/DE types:

Bruce Irvin
Frank Clark
Cassius Marsh
Obum Gwachum

— All of the players ran a sub-4.30 short shuttle. Irvin and Clark both ran sensational times (4.03 and 4.05 respectively).

— Irvin and Clark also ran elite 1.5 10-yard splits. Marsh ran a 1.70 and Gwachum a 1.66. So an elite time doesn’t appear to be critical even if it’s appealing.

— It’s a mixed bag in terms of explosive traits. Irvin (10-3, 33.5), Clark (9-10, 38.5), Marsh (9-6, 32), Gwachum (10-1, 36) all have different results in the broad and vertical.

— The TEF results also vary. Irvin (3.41), Clark (3.25) and Gwachum (3.38) all performed well but Marsh (2.84) was much less explosive. If you’re unfamiliar with TEF or don’t understand why we use it on defensive linemen, there’s an explanation here.

— All of the group had +33 inch arms.

— Three of the four ran a 7.08 or faster in the three cone, with Obum Gwachum running a 7.28.

There are bits of pieces of info here but nothing strikingly consistent apart from arm length.

Now let’s look at the 2017 class…

— No D-line prospects ran a short shuttle anywhere near as good as Irvin or Clark. Carl Lawson had the fastest time at 4.19. Trey Hendrickson (4.20), Solomon Thomas (4.28) and Jordan Willis (4.28) were the only other sub 4.30 runners.

— In terms of 10-yard splits, Jordan Willis (1.57), Haason Reddick (1.59) and Trey Hendrickson (1.59) all ran in the elite 1.5’s. Terrell Basham, Carl Lawson, Takk McKinley and Derek Rivers all ran a 1.60.

— Myles Garrett (4.21), Haason Reddick (3.93), Solomon Thomas (3.83), Jordan Willis (3.70), Ife Odenigbo (3.61), Derek Rivers (3.57), Carl Lawson (3.54) all performed very well in TEF.

— There are over 30 players that topped a 3.00. Here are the prospects who scored a +3.00 with +33 inch arms:

Josh Carraway — 34 1/4
Taco Charlton — 34 1/4
Daeshon Hall — 35 5/8
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 35 5/8
Jeremiah Ledbetter — 34 1/4
Takk McKinley — 34 3/4
Carroll Phillips — 33 3/4
Dawuane Smoot — 33 1/4
Jordan Willis — 33 1/2
Deatrich Wise — 35 5/8

If we isolate this group for now, let’s see how they tested in the short shuttle and 10-yard split:

Josh Carraway — 4.44, 1.72
Taco Charlton — 4.39, 1.70
Daeshon Hall — 4.38, 1.67
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 4.62, 1.69
Jeremiah Ledbetter — 4.56, 1.72
Takk McKinley — 4.62, 1.61
Carroll Phillips — 4.37, 1.64
Dawuane Smoot — 4.39, 1.68
Jordan Willis — 4.28, 1.57
Deatrich Wise — 4.36, 1.70

Considering they haven’t drafted any player with a +4.30 short shuttle, the times by Takk McKinley and Tanoh Kpassagnon (4.62) stand out negatively. Jordan Willis obviously looks like a fit (not a surprise considering he had one of the best combines regardless of position). The times run by Taco Charlton, Daeshon Hall, Carroll Phillips, Dawuane Smoot and Deatrich Wise aren’t particularly troubling even if they’re reasonably below Obum Gwachum’s 4.28.

Can we learn any more using the three cone?

The following players from the list above (33 inch arms, explosive traits) all ran comparatively well to Seattle’s previous draft picks:

Jordan Willis — 6.85
Daeshon Hall — 7.03
Carroll Phillips — 7.06
Deatrich Wise — 7.06
Taco Charlton — 7.17
Dawuane Smoot — 7.18
Josh Carroway — 7.20

The following ran much slower than Seattle’s picks:

Tanoh Kpassagnon — 7.46
Takk McKinley — 7.48
Jeremiah Ledbetter — 7.55

A pattern is more or less forming here. The likes of Jordan Willis, Daeshon Hall, Taco Charlton, Carroll Phillips and Deatrich Wise could be safely on their radar.

That said, there’s not a stand-out piece of data here. Not in the way they’ve consistently taken cornerbacks with size and 32 inch arms. Not in the way they’ve looked at the short shuttle marks at linebacker. Not in the way they’ve highlighted explosive traits on the O-line.

With so many explosive defensive linemen in the class, they might be willing to take one even if their short-area quickness isn’t as good as the likes of Irvin, Clark or Marsh.

The 33 inch arms is a trend but would they really rule out Alabama’s Tim Williams for having 32 3/4 inch arms? Or Derek Rivers? Or Tarell Basham?

And are they willing to look the other way if a prospect runs a really good 10-yard split, such as Trey Hendrickson, Terrell Basham, Carl Lawson, Takk McKinley and Derek Rivers?

These are questions we’ll be able to answer with greater confidence after the 2017 draft (assuming they do add a pass rusher).

It’s also worth considering the rush linebackers. We’ve already highlighted how T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser compare physically to Khalil Mack. So how do they compare to the D-line class?

— Both have +33 inch arms

— T.J. Watt ran a 4.13 short shuttle, faster than any defensive lineman at the combine (Bowser didn’t run a short shuttle at the combine)

— Bowser (6.75) and Watt (6.79) ran faster three-cone times than any of the defensive linemen

— They both ran elite 1.59 10-yard splits

— Watt (3.64) and Bowser (3.61) both excel in TEF

Essentially Watt and Bowser would fit right in with Seattle’s previous pass rush picks. Sadly, both could go in the top-45.

That’s probably the case for Jordan Willis too. So if adding a pass rusher in rounds 2-3 is a target for the Seahawks — Daeshon Hall, Carroll Phillips and Deatrich Wise are perhaps more likely to land in Seattle.

They could, of course, repeat what they did last year. Move down in round one and then trade up in round two.

By this point you’re also probably wondering about interior rushers. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find them in this draft class.

There are some markers to focus on. The three interior rushers they’ve drafted previously all ran quick short shuttle times for their size:

Jordan Hill — 4.51
Jaye Howard — 4.47
Quinton Jefferson — 4.37

Jordan Hill, the highest interior rusher drafted in the Carroll/Schneider era as a former third round pick, scored a 3.09 in TEF. Jaye Howard only scored a 2.62 and Quinton Jefferson didn’t perform a broad jump.

In the 2017 class, Eddie Vanderdoes ran a 4.39, Ryan Glasgow a 4.50, Jonathan Allen a 4.50 and Malik McDowell a 4.53. These are the quickest short shuttle times among interior defensive linemen.

Only Vanderdoes from the four names above scored a +3.00 in TEF (3.04).

So while a lot of fans are clamouring for another interior pass rusher to be added, it’ll be tough finding one in this class.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on confirmed VMAC visitors, especially any prospects not invited to the combine. It’s a good way to identify potential targets and highly athletic prospects we haven’t discussed here.

Pete Carroll hints Seattle will feature a ‘Buffalo’

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Pete Carroll spoke to John Clayton at the owner’s meeting this week. You can hear the piece here and it’s worth a listen.

Here are some of the higlights:

— With Deshawn Shead currently injured, Jeremy Lane is ‘next man up’ at outside cornerback

— The Seahawks still intend to fill Mike Morgan’s spot on the roster and Morgan, a free agent, remains an option

— Cornerback and linebacker are the two positions of focus on defense

— Carroll stated they’re also ‘always looking to upgrade the pass rush’ adding it’s ‘a good draft for some guys who could help us’

I think the most intriguing thing, however, is the increasing focus on this position:

That’s an image we first looked at in February when discussing the role of a ‘big nickel’ or ‘Buffalo‘.

Seattle ran a 4-2-5 for a large part of 2016 with Jeremy Lane playing 71% of the defensive snaps as an orthodox nickel corner.

John Schneider’s comments on the SAM linebacker position this week suggest they’ll continue to start an extra defensive back:

“When you look at the SAM linebacker position, it’s really hard to say you’re going to take a huge risk on somebody or step out on a limb for somebody because the reps are… it’s 15 to 17… or something like that, is the average. So that’s why you see that position in our defense, it’s just a nickel league now.”

Carroll further emboldened the suggestion they’ll use a big nickel when discussing Bradley McDougald’s role in Seattle:

“Maybe we can do some things with our packaging so we play three safety’s at the same time. We’ve looked at that over the years and done that at times.”

So considering they’ve already signed McDougald, what can we take from all of this?

— With Lane moving outside, at least to begin with, it creates a hole in the slot somebody is going to need to fill

— McDougald might play a high percentage of snaps as a big nickel or he might compete with a rookie

— McDougald might win the nickel job outright or he might spell it with someone else depending on the match-up (eg a dynamic slot corner)

— They might have McDougald try to win that job (similar to Brandon Browner a year ago) and if it doesn’t work, start a more traditional slot corner (as they did with Lane in 2016)

The talk of an extra safety being on the field and the lukewarm discussion of the SAM position highlights why Pete Carroll and John Schneider appeared to look so excited after watching Obi Melifonwu at the combine:

Melifonwu is a unique player. There really isn’t anyone else like him in the league. Linebacker size, 4.40 speed, highly explosive, supreme agility and short area quickness.

For this specific role he could be the new standard. And a virtually unmatchable standard at that — considering how rare his physical profile is.

And that’s why, despite everything we’ve talked about recently with Adoree’ Jackson, he could be a highly coveted prospect for Seattle.

Jackson could be an option for very different reasons. He’d be the compliment to McDougald. A player who might take 90-100% of the snaps one-week and 20-30% the next depending on the match-up. If he wasn’t playing much on defense you’d still be getting his extreme special teams value. So it still makes sense.

However, if Melifonwu is there at #26 he might be their guy. The question could be — will another team beat Seattle to the punch. Will another team acknowledge the way this league is going and consider taking the ultimate Buffalo?

And if he’s not there that might be when you consider the alternatives — slot corner (Jackson, Baker, Awuzie), outside corner (Tankersley, King, Conley) or another safety (Evans).

An alternative would be to draft someone like Shalom Luani later on.

As for Carroll’s mention of the pass rush, it’s an interesting note. With five picks in the first three rounds the Seahawks should be able to find someone they like. It could be, for example, someone like Daeshon Hall. It could be a T.J. Watt, Vince Biegel, Jordan Willis or Tyus Bowser. So while it seems very likely Seattle will go DB with their first pick, the EDGE class is deep enough to consider the options in rounds 2-3.

Some draft thoughts for Friday…

Friday, March 31st, 2017

— This could be the most unpredictable draft in a long time. The players going at #8-10 might have a similar grade as the players going in the 20’s. You’ll get a prospect at #15 arguably with a similar grade to the player at #40. Relatively minor aspects will act as tie-breakers. Names largely associated with round two could easily go a lot earlier than people expect.

— A good example is Evan Engram. He ran the same forty time (4.42) as Adoree’ Jackson despite weighing 48lbs heavier. He’s a reliable catcher with a great attitude. He’s explosive, a willing blocker and a better athlete than Jordan Reed. Players like this don’t often get out of the first round. He’s tipped to go in the 30’s but it shouldn’t be a surprise if a team like Tennessee decides to make him a top-20 pick.

— Where the first cornerback falls could be important. If it’s at #5 to Tennessee, we might see an early rush on the position. This could impact the Seahawks because if they don’t take one with their first pick, the really good options might be gone by #58. Alternatively, the overall depth at corner could mean teams wait until round two — leaving the Seahawks with a chance to draft one of the top five at the position.

— The order in which the cornerbacks leave the board is also open to debate. Marshon Lattimore is expected to go first but it could easily be Marlon Humphrey. Kevin King is understandably moving up but so is Gareon Conley. A team could become enamoured with Adoree’ Jackson’s playmaking qualities. And the likes of Tre’Davious White, Quincy Wilson and Cordrea Tankersley are good enough to go earlier than a lot of people are projecting.

— Obi Melifonwu, when asked recently who he’s based his game on, said confidently he is unique and that there isn’t anyone like him. When you think about it, he’s right. Physically there isn’t anyone like him.

— The second round will be a fun one for Seahawks fans. Having added O-liners and linebackers in free agency, there’s a degree of flexibility for Seattle (assuming they draft a needed defensive back in round one). It’s entirely possible they’ll address a stated need (DB, OL, LB) at #58. Yet the options at receiver and tight end could be equally enticing.

— The depth at tight end possibly pushes that position into round three or even day three for Seattle. Yet if they wanted to add a receiver, it’s not improbable they could be looking at one of Zay Jones, Chris Godwin or JuJu Smith-Schuster being there at #58. It’s not Seattle’s greatest need and it’s entirely possible they don’t go in that direction. Yet it could be a situation where — if the top DB’s, LB’s and OL’s are off the board at #58 — they see some long term value.

— I didn’t include a D-line pick in my seven-round mock draft because it’s hard to find a likely target. This class is rich in bigger, athletic nose tackles that will be available on day three. It’s light on interior pass rushers and top heavy on EDGE rushers.

— For example, DeMarcus Walker at Florida State has received good reviews for his pro-day performance. Yet his workout, including a 31.5 inch vertical, 9-7 broad and 21 reps on the bench, only provided a 2.96 TEF score. It’s not terrible but there were over 30 players at the combine that tested over 3.00.

— That’s not to say there aren’t D-liners they will like. It’s generally an explosive group. Dalvin Tomlinson at Alabama would possibly be a fit — but is another Jarran Reed type likely in the first two rounds? Are you willing to snub the DB’s, LB’s, TE’s, WR’s and other rich positions to take a Carlos Watkins or Eddie Vanderdoes before the end of day two? Will the likes of T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser and Jordan Willis go too early? And at what point are you comfortable considering a player like Tarell Basham or Daeshon Hall?

— Sometimes you just feel momentum really building with a prospect and they end up going a lot earlier than people originally thought. That could easily happen to Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech.

— It’s really unlikely the Seahawks trade Richard Sherman. If they did, however, here’s something to remember. Pete Carroll isn’t just Seattle’s Head Coach and VP of football operations. He’s the best secondary coach in the NFL. And if they had to plug a rookie or two into the line-up in 2017, they’d probably be ‘just fine’ (as Carroll might say). It’ll probably be a moot point though because even if teams are interested in Sherman, the strong cornerback draft impacts value and the Seahawks aren’t going to give him away.

— Keep an eye on Texas Tech FB/TE Tyler Scalzi. John Schneider was at the Texas Tech pro-day today where Scalzi recorded a 36 inch vertical, a 10-6 broad and managed 37 reps on the bench. He also ran a 4.69. Impressive. He was part of his High School wrestling team for all four years. He was also a walk-on at Texas Tech. He has the grit and the profile.

— Whoever Seattle takes with their first pick, they’ll be a really dynamic and unique athlete in some shape or form. That’s why the likes of Kevin King, Obi Melifonwu and Adoree’ Jackson make sense (as do a handful of others). The Seahawks shoot for greatness, backing the coaches to bring it out. This is still the staff that turned one of the NFL’s worst rosters in 2010 into one of the best in the space of two years — without lots of top-10 picks. Their formula does work. There are just more teams trying to copy them these days, taking away some of the options.

— Greater depth and competition, plus a playmaker or two, might not sound overly exciting to fans. It’s important to remember how close this team has come to being in the NFC Championship the last two years despite a laundry list of issues, injuries, distractions and drama. This is the draft class to achieve greater depth. It’s loaded in rounds 1-3, where the Seahawks have five picks. And while they might not hit five home runs, they should be able to find competitors and contributors — plus a sparky playmaker at the top.

Seahawks seven round mock draft breakdown

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

If you missed it yesterday, I wrote a seven round Seahawks mock draft for Field Gulls. You’ll find a link in the tweet above.

I wanted to run through some of the thought process on here today so check it out, let me know what you think and then read on…

Breaking down the seven round mock

Increasingly it feels like it’s coming down to two options with Seattle’s first pick:

1. Take one of the few highly rated offensive linemen available

2. Draft a defensive back

Offensive linemen

Who’s in contention?

Garett Bolles and Forrest Lamp. The two likely first round talents who beat TEF (explained here if you’re unaware) and could usurp the defensive backs at #26.

Bolles is a tenacious, fierce and athletic blocker well suited to Seattle’s ZBS and their desire to be physical in the running game. He’d be an immediate starter at tackle.

Lamp was the most explosive O-liner at the combine and will likely move inside to play guard or center. He could start at guard and provide insurance at center if the Seahawks are unable to sign Justin Britt to a new contract.

How likely are they to be available?

Not likely.

Lamp is being tipped to go in the top-20 by Daniel Jeremiah and Tony Pauline estimates a place in the 20’s. With such a dearth of explosive, talented offensive linemen in the league, someone will likely take him before #26.

Bolles was the best left tackle in college football in 2016 and should go in the top-15. His absolute floor is likely Denver at #20.

Anyone else?

Would Cam Robinson and Ryan Ramcyzk be considered? Possibly. Robinson’s combine and lack of explosion would make him something of a recent anomaly. Ramcyzk’s torn labrum injury and on-off-on football career might be a tie-breaker.

Defensive backs

Who’s in contention?

It really depends what the Seahawks want to prioritise.

How badly do they want an outside cornerback? There are some really good, long, athletic corner’s in this draft. Deshawn Shead’s injury has left a big void that’ll need to be filled.

However, the Seahawks teach a technique that is difficult to master. The only rookie corner to start in the Carroll era is Richard Sherman and that was only due to an injury to Marcus Trufant. Will they want immediate impact with their top pick or are they playing the long game?

Do they want to upgrade the slot? Pete Carroll was lukewarm when discussing Jeremy Lane’s 2016 performance. Lane was virtually a full time starter last season, playing 71% of the defensive snaps. Drafting a dynamic slot corner could also allow the Seahawks to shift Lane to compete outside as one of their more experienced performers.

They could also look to add a ‘Buffalo’ or ‘big nickel’. The position is explained in more detail here. It’s commonplace for teams to use an extra safety instead of a nickel corner or SAM these days, affording superior match-ups against tight ends while not giving up as much in the running game.

Pete Carroll yesterday noted that recent signing Bradley McDougald could act as a ‘big nickel’ in Seattle.

Outside cornerbacks

Marlon Humphrey, Kevin King and Gareon Conley are all athletic enough and talented enough to go in the top-20. If there’s an early rush on cornerbacks, it’s likely none of the three will be there for Seattle. If teams wait on the position knowing there will be depth in round two, it’s possible at least one of the three will make it to #26.

Obi Melifonwu could be viewed as an outside cornerback project given his physical profile, speed and short area agility. It’s also possible Quincy Wilson and Cordrea Tankersley could be considered but they are more frequently projected to round two at this stage.

Slot cornerbacks

Is 32 inch arms still important? Is height and length still crucial? Or are they looking for a twitched up, sudden athlete capable of being a playmaker (irrespective of size/length)?

Adoree’ Jackson leaps off the screen as a possible Pete Carroll pick. Not only does he express natural, sudden athleticism (former 5-star recruit) — he also had fantastic production in 2016 (16 passes defended was among the best in the country, five interceptions and 11 PBU’s). He has has a bright, sparky personality and was a team captain at USC. You can imagine the Seahawks having a package of offensive plays for Jackson and he legitimately has the potential to be one of the very best all-time kick returners in the NFL.

He’s Percy Harvin on defense. A true threat to score any time the ball’s in his hands.

Alternatively Chidobe Awuzie and Budda Baker are physical and athletic. They’re not as twitched up as Jackson but they’re capable of making plays beyond the LOS. Fabian Moreau was another possibility but appears less likely considering his recent torn pec injury.

Buffalo/big nickel

Melifonwu is a possibility here as well as outside corner. He’s similar in weight to Deion Jones in Atlanta but longer and a better athlete. His sure-tackling, willingness to deliver the occasional jarring hit and coverage skills make him a strong candidate for this role, even if he ends up outside or at strong safety for the long haul.

Texas A&M’s Justin Evans is 6-0 and 200lbs, incredibly explosive and would’ve had a sensational combine but for a late injury. His tackling is a bit boom or bust (literally) but his cover skills as a dynamic slot with hitting capability keeps him on the radar. He performed well at his pro-day today:

Why are other positions unlikely at #26?

The Seahawks have consistently attacked their stated needs early in the draft. Carroll listed cornerback, linebacker and O-line as the priority positions at his end of season press conference.

Having signed several free agent linebackers and considering the likelihood Seattle retains a 4-2-5 type of formation, they’re probably looking for young depth for the MIKE and WILL and not necessarily an every down starter (unless a player like Haason Reddick somehow lasts until #26).

Is a SAM linebacker out of the question? Possibly, yes. Especially considering what John Schneider said at the owner’s meeting this week:

“When you look at the SAM linebacker position, it’s really hard to say you’re going to take a huge risk on somebody or step out on a limb for somebody because the reps are… it’s 15 to 17… or something like that, is the average. So that’s why you see that position in our defense, it’s just a nickel league now.”

T.J. Watt and Tyus Bower still have some versatility and value but might not be a high priority considering Schneider’s words above.

Receiver and tight end could be possible targets in rounds 2-3 depending on who’s available. It seems unlikely Seattle would go down that road with their first pick.

It’s also a severely weak draft for interior defensive linemen with barely any good options. The value is at nose tackle on day three.

What about round two?

John Schneider highlighted the strength of the draft was DB’s and TE’s. Either could be in play here.

For example, if the Seahawks take a dynamic slot corner first will they go back for an outside corner at #58? What safety/big nickel options remain available?

Cordrea Tankersley and Quincy Wilson could be very intriguing if they last deep into the second frame. Shaq Griffin is another possibility. Ahkello Witherspoon has the talent to warrant going in this range but his tackling form is off-putting.

Tight end options could include Evan Engram and Bucky Hodges but it’s unlikely Engram will last beyond the top-40. Zay Jones has the type of attitude and athleticism they’ve liked at receiver in the past and could be someone to monitor. Chris Godwin is another receiver option.

While it’s unlikely Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt last to Seattle’s pick in round two, if the Seahawks make a similar move to last year (trade down in round one, trade up in round two) they could be on the radar. Ditto Zach Cunningham.

And the offensive line has to remain a possibility. Keep an eye on Nico Siragusa, Isaac Asiata and Taylor Moton.

With three picks in round three, who could be on the radar?

This could be the range where the Seahawks start thinking linebacker if they didn’t take one with their first two picks. Vince Biegel, Alex Anzalone, Duke Riley, Ben Gedeon, Elijah Lee and Jordan Evans tested well enough in terms of short area agility (the importance of which is explained here) to be possible candidates for Seattle.

This could be where they take a tight end, especially with Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson out of contract in 2018. Iowa’s George Kittle has the explosive traits, blocking skills and overall athleticism to be on their radar. Jake Butt could be a ‘redshirt’ candidate while Gerald Everett and Jonnu Smith could also be options.

It’ll be interesting to see which offensive linemen remain available. Does Asiata, for example, make it to the late third round? And would they consider someone like Adam Bisnowaty given the comparisons to Ricky Wagner and his wrestling background?

This could be a good range for receivers including Jehu Chesson, Malachi Dupre, Taywan Taylor, Quincy Adeboyejo, Robert Davis or Josh Reynolds.

If they haven’t added any depth at safety by this point, Washington State’s Shalom Luani continues to look like an appealing option. This could also be the range where Rasul Douglas, Rayshawn Jenkins, Shaq Griffin, Montae Nicholson and Marquez White are considered.

What about day three?

The Seahawks currently only have picks in rounds six and seven, so a trade down at some point appears likely to bridge the gap between rounds three and six.

Keep an eye on the players Seattle invites to the VMAC, especially the high upside athletes. The Seahawks sometimes use the late rounds to get a step ahead in the UDFA market, backing themselves to recruit well when the draft is over. So positional preference comes in to play here.

For example, they’d already drafted two running backs a year ago when they took Zac Brooks in round seven. Perhaps fearing they wouldn’t be able to convince him to sign as a free agent, they took him in round seven.

Takeaways from Pete Carroll & John Schneider

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

John Schneider and Pete Carroll both spoke at the owners meetings this week. Here are some of the headlines (courtesy of Twitter) and some takeaways:

The Seahawks need somebody to step up and start at outside corner this year. Given the complexity of Seattle’s scheme, it’ll be difficult for a rookie to start in week one. Pierre Desir, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Lane or another will likely get a chance to start in week one. Even if the situation changes as the season progresses.

Schneider did little to pour cold water on a possible trade, with Carroll being more forward in admitting he didn’t think anything was likely.

That said, there was no categorical ‘we are not trading’ Richard Sherman. That was Hue Jackson’s statement amid the Joe Thomas rumours before the last trade deadline.

It’s unclear how serious Seattle is about trading Richard Sherman. This wasn’t a ‘come and get it’ plea. Yet neither Carroll or Schneider stopped the rumours dead in their tracks.

If they did want to move him, the problem is this isn’t a seller’s market. With such a rich draft in cornerbacks, the motivation to give up a first round pick plus for a 29-year-old corner, however good he is, really isn’t there.

So while there might be interest in Sherman and a willingness to deal him, working out a deal that works for all parties just seems highly unlikely.

Here’s Carroll’s quotes in full on the situation:

“You either are competing or you are not… so we have always had to be open to every suggestion that comes along. There have been some teams that have called and so we have talked about it but he is extremely important to our football team. I don’t see anything happening at all. I don’t see anything happening with any of our players. It has been talked about. He is a great player and he can impact a team. I can see why people would be interested in him.”

The big question is — if no trade is forthcoming, how is the relationship between Sherman and the team and is there any danger this becomes a further distraction?

This is encouraging. And while Chancellor might ultimately be too pricey given the current safety market — at least this indicates a desire to get something done and make sure Seattle’s heart and soul in the locker room remains a crucial part of this team for years to come.

This is the first time (I think) that Carroll has referenced the ‘big nickel’ position and Seattle’s preference to play in nickel (adjusting with the rest of the league).

We talked about the big nickel or ‘Buffalo’ position in more detail here.

Carroll’s words highlight the distinct possibility of the Seahawks taking a specialist nickel corner with their first pick (e.g. Adoree’ Jackson, Budda Baker) or a ‘Buffalo’ (Justin Evans, Obi Melifonwu).

This was a stated off-season priority for the Seahawks (improving linebacker depth). Carroll also re-stated they will seek to get younger at the position too, opening up a probable pick or two at the position in the draft.

Round three could be a target area with Vince Biegel, Alex Anzalone, Duke Riley, Elijah Lee, Ben Gedeon and Jordan Evans possible options.

Carroll asserted Luke Joeckel could start at left tackle, affording George Fant a chance to sit and learn. He also discussed the possibility of Germain Ifedi moving back to right tackle.

This is interesting because it opens up the possibility of an early pick on the O-line. If Forrest Lamp lasts to #26, he could come in and play left or right guard. Taylor Moton, Isaac Asiata and Nico Siragusa could be options in rounds two or three.

With Odhiambo and Glowinski likely competing at left guard and Aboushi on the right side, there’s ample room for an early pick on the offensive line.

Elsewhere…

Today is the Texas A&M pro-day so we’ll see if Justin Evans works out. He didn’t perform at the combine due to a late injury.

If you missed this weeks new podcast discussing a wide range of Seahawks and draft topics, you can listen here: