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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:

Podcast: Seahawks needs, Adoree’, Jarrad & more

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

The latest podcast covering a number of topics. Check it out…

Jarrad Davis pro-day results

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Davis’ broad jump and vertical would’ve ranked #1 at the combine:

Vertical jump (top five)

Jarrad Davis — 38.5
Tyus Bowser — 37.5
Blair Brown — 37
T.J. Watt — 37
Zach Cunningham — 35

Broad jump

Jarrad Davis — 10-8
T.J. Watt — 10-8
Tyus Bowser — 10-7
Matt Milano — 10-6
Zach Cunningham — 10-5

Davis also ran a 4.56 forty.

He has the character and intensity, the good tape and at his pro-day he’s proving to be a highly explosive athlete. It seems very likely someone will take him in the first round. The Raiders at #24 might be his floor.

Tony Pauline’s two-round mock draft

Monday, March 27th, 2017

You’re probably well aware of Tony Pauline’s ‘Draft Analyst’ website — but if not you’re missing out. Tony’s the best draft insider in the business with a proven track record on Seahawks-specific info.

Today he published a two round mock draft (click here to see it). Two of the big headline picks are Kevin King going at #14 to Philadelphia and Budda Baker going at #17 to Washington.

Although both projections are different, they also make a ton of sense.

King is a unique athlete. Cornerbacks with his physical profile are rare. He has the height and length of a bigger corner (6-3, 200lbs, 32 inch arms) but the long speed and short-area agility of a smaller slot CB.

It means he can be challenged to handle any position at the next level. His agility testing (highlighted by an incredible 3.89 short shuttle) show he can realistically cover the slot against any type of target. His 4.43 forty and size means he can run against a #1 (whatever the size or style), cover dynamic TE’s and be physical in the run game.

He flew under the radar partly because he was seen as the other guy playing across from Sidney Jones. King is a freakish athlete with a rare profile. His performances were always underrated and he has the character and work ethic (and tape study dedication) to compliment what he is physically.

It’s entirely possible he’ll go in the top-20.

Budda Baker meanwhile is just a stud. Size might work against him but it hasn’t been a problem for Earl Thomas. And while Baker will struggle to match Thomas’ sensational career, teams will be enamoured by his intensity, physicality and versatility.

What about Seattle’s picks?

#26 — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Analysis: Adoree’ Jackson is a consideration here as would be any highly rated offensive lineman who slips to 26. Conley is big, athletic and plays smart football and perfectly fits the Seahawks mold.

It’s interesting that Tony notes Adoree’ Jackson is a consideration. We’ve talked a lot recently about Jackson as a potential Seahawk.

Yes, Jackson is undersized. However, he’s also exactly the type of dynamic, natural athlete Pete Carroll loves to draft in round one.

He’s a former 5-star, #6 overall recruit with natural suddenness and athleticism. He’s Percy Harvin without the hassle and he plays defense.

The Seahawks are exactly the type of team to see value in Jackson’s special teams impact (especially with Tyler Lockett returning from a broken leg). They’re the kind of team that will have an ‘Adoree’ Jackson package’ in the offensive playbook. He can handle 70% of the snaps on defense in the slot.

Furthermore you’d be getting an immediate impact player. He’s a day one starter in the slot and on special teams. The Seahawks have been loathe in the past to start outside corners early due to the complex technique they teach. A rookie drafted to play outside corner might not get on the field in week one.

Pauline linking him as a possibility to Seattle adds some validity to the assertion he could be an option. If the likes of Kevin King aren’t available at #26 (plus one or two others) — Jackson could be a player they seriously consider.

Conley, the actual pick at #26 in Tony’s mock, is also a fine possibility. He has the length and athleticism they like. Technique wise he’d have a lot to learn to play in Seattle’s system. Too often in college he handed a free release to the receiver and relied on athleticism to stick. At the next level he’ll be beaten like a drum unless he learns how to jam and use his hands to guide and feel the route, knowing when the receiver’s going to break.

You can have all the recovery speed in the world but in the NFL you’re going to need to get an angle on the route more often than not. That means contact.

Still, it’s highly possible the Seahawks will take one of these long, athletic outside cornerbacks even if they don’t start immediately or experience some growing pains as a rookie.

In round two, Pauline has the Seahawks drafting Charles Harris.

This feels quite low for a player who has received a lot of first round buzz. He handled the position drills at the combine as well as anyone. It’s entirely possible he goes in round one and Detroit at #21 is a popular destination in mock drafts.

I’m not sure he’s a SAM/LEO given he didn’t run an elite 10-yard split and his agility testing wasn’t in the Bruce Irvin range. Neither was he a Frank Clark dynamo at the combine. Still, he’s a talented player with a lot of potential.

Would the Seahawks draft back-to-back cornerbacks?

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Just a quick thought for the weekend…

By signing two offensive linemen and three linebackers in free agency, the Seahawks have bought an opportunity to tap into the strength of the draft class.

The defensive backs.

It’s still entirely possible they could draft an O-liner or linebacker in the first two rounds. Yet with such a strong group of safety’s and cornerbacks available, they’ve set themselves up to tap into the talent pool.

Could they consider drafting a slot corner and an outside corner with their first two picks?

After all, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright require help and competition not replacements. The O-line has a question mark at tackle but they do have competition.

There’s quite a void at outside corner across from Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll was lukewarm when discussing Jeremy Lane’s play in 2016.

Lane played 71% of the defensive snaps last year and was essentially a full time starter. He’s also a possible cap casualty in 2018 (they’d save nearly $5m by cutting him).

It’s entirely possible they draft a ‘big nickel’ to man that spot in the future but a dynamic slot corner could also be a consideration. Especially with the players available.

For example, we’ve talked a lot about Adoree’ Jackson recently. The more I watched him, the more he felt like a prospective Seahawk. Yesterday I suggested he was Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

I’ll say it again…

He’s Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

He has grit. On three occasions I watched him chase down lost causes to make a TD-saving tackle. He’s an incredible athlete and a former 5-star recruit. He didn’t destroy the combine but neither did Harvin. He has the type of natural athleticism that doesn’t necessarily translate to the combine but you watch the games and you see his ability to change direction quickly, to run away from people, to get to 0-60 effortlessly.

He’s sudden. The Seahawks like sudden.

He’s tremendously productive and a playmaker. Five interceptions, 16 passes defended, 11 PBU’s, four return touchdowns and a receiving score in 2016.

He was a team captain at USC.

Jackson might be too small for the Seahawks. Yet he’ll go in round one to somebody, likely as a dynamic slot corner and kick returner. Why not Seattle?

He’d be a 70-80% snap performer on defense and your day one starter as a return man. Don’t underestimate that aspect of his game with Tyler Lockett recovering from a broken leg.

The more you watch him, the clearer it is he’s one of the best players in a great defensive draft.

Upgrading Lane might be one of their priorities. And considering the depth of the class, they could also draft an outside corner in round two.

I wrote about Cordrea Tankersley a few days ago as a possible target. He has a lot of the tools the Seahawks like and a very similar playing style to Byron Maxwell.

Unlike Gareon Conley he’ll jam and use his hands to control the route and get a feel for what the receiver’s going to do. This is a big problem for Conley. He offers free release after free release. At the next level he’ll have to learn how to use his hands, anticipate and re-route. Tankersley’s already there.

He also does a good job baiting quarterbacks into mistakes, gaining position and being the kind of opportunist Seattle likes. He’s a reasonable tackler in run support. He was productive too with 16 PBU’s in 2016, the same number as Kevin King (who got a lot of targets as teams avoided Sidney Jones) and only one less than Adoree’ Jackson and Tre’Davious White. He had four interceptions — as many as Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley.

He’s also a 4.40 runner with ideal height and length (6-1, 32 inch arms).

Jackson and Tankersley would compete to start immediately and could give the LOB a significant boost, providing a solution to Seattle’s flagging turnover numbers.

Keep an eye on Shaq Griffin as an alternative too, especially if they decide to take a safety like Obi Melifonwu at #26.

Friday notes: Seahawks ‘think highly’ of Forrest Lamp

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Forrest Lamp on Seattle’s radar

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks are showing interest in Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp:

“The more I speak with people, the more it seems to be a forgone conclusion Lamp ends up in the bottom half of Round 1. The versatility to play either guard position along with center or left tackle in a pinch has teams salivating. When compared to the other highly rated offensive linemen, Lamp is viewed as the safest and surest of the bunch.”

Lamp was the best TEF tester at the combine, scoring a 3.23. He’s also incredibly versatile and could play tackle, guard or even center long term for the Seahawks. After all, Just Britt is in a contract year and could be an expensive re-sign. Lamp’s ability to play guard or tackle this year and maybe move inside to center if they can’t get a deal done with Britt could provide vital insurance.

There’s a realistic chance Lamp won’t make it to pick #26. As TEF shows, he was clearly the most explosive O-liner at the combine. He has good tape against Alabama (see above). Last week Daniel Jeremiah asserted he’d be a top-20 pick.

Yet the reported interest in Lamp suggests the Seahawks are still open to considering further additions to the O-line. They’ve added two veterans in free agency (Luke Joeckel, Oday Aboushi). If Lamp or Garett Bolles falls into range (arguably unlikely in both cases) they could be on Seattle’s radar.

Friday notes…

— Pete Carroll stated cornerback, linebacker and the O-line were Seattle’s ‘priority’ needs this off-season. So far in free agency they’ve added three linebackers, two offensive linemen and zero cornerbacks. This is a defensive back draft and the Seahawks appear ready to fill their boots.

— Adoree’ Jackson could go in the top-20. Tennessee at #18 could be a legit possibility. He’s a genuine X-factor capable of scoring multiple touchdowns as a return man, his cover skills are much improved and he’s a warrior. Was there a more productive player in CFB in 2016? Five interceptions, 16 passes defended, 11 PBU’s, four return touchdowns and a receiving score. He’s the type of player (5-star recruit, stunning athlete, gritty) that Pete Carroll loves. If he lasts until #26 — he might be a target. He is Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

Tony Pauline re-asserted Garett Bolles’ stock following the Utah pro-day: “Most I spoke with say definitely top-20 while some feel top-12 is a possibility.” It’s a nice thought to imagine Bolles lasting until pick #26 — and it’s not impossible — but it still seems unlikely at this stage.

— If the San Francisco 49ers are just accumulating talent this year until they can acquire Kirk Cousins in 2018, they should consider taking Leonard Fournette at #2. The Niners don’t have any real stars. Fournette might be wasted in 2017 but over the long term, he can be the identity of that offense.

— Gareon Conley is getting a lot of praise at the moment and it’s justified. However, one thing stands out watching him that needs rectifying. Hand use. He barely lays a finger on a receiver. No jam to re-route, no feel for the development of the route. He gave up free release after free release at Ohio State. With so many cornerbacks likely to be given similar grades it could be a tie breaker.

— As we’ve discussed a lot, T.J. Watt has supreme agility and explosive physical traits. He’s a rare physical specimen. He still needs time to develop. He doesn’t have an effective counter when rushing the edge and struggles to disengage when the initial burst doesn’t succeed. He only started for one year at Wisconsin. It might take a year or two to deliver on his potential. And for that reason he might last into the mid-second round. He has a ton of potential though.

— A lot gets said about Jabrill Peppers’ lack of production. Is it a false narrative? Peppers had 15 TFL’s playing out of position at linebacker. Myles Garrett, the likely #1 pick in the draft, also had 15 TFL’s in 2016. Peppers had only one interception — the same number as linebackers Haason Reddick and Ryan Anderson. Reuben Foster, Jarrad Davis and Zach Cunningham failed to register a single pick. Safety Jamal Adams only had one interception. Budda Baker only had two. The ‘statistics’ argument against Peppers is significantly overplayed.