For further thoughts on the Seahawks pick, scroll to the bottom of the piece. This includes opinions on what Seattle might do in rounds 2-4.
#1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State)
Winston stole the show at the combine. He spent the entire weekend playing the role of a superstar quarterback. He was confident, comfortable and in control. On the field he performed well. This just feels like it’s going to happen.
#2 Tennessee Titans — Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
The Titans need a quarterback. They can stick with Zach Mettenberger if they want and be right back here next season. Leonard Williams is a nice option but this is a team that needs a focal point and a face of the franchise.
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
He moved so well for a 300lbs-er. The Richard Seymour comparisons are fair. He can play end for the most part and kick inside for the nickel packages. It’s another building block for the slow moving rebuild in Jacksonville.
#4 Oakland Raiders — Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
He competes for the ball in the air like Larry Fitzgerald and then runs a 4.35. He suffers with confidence issues and that needs to be looked into. Amari Cooper is a more natural receiver but White doesn’t drop passes like Cooper. He has the size of a #1 receiver.
#5 Washington Redskins — Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
You can line him up anywhere — outside backer, defensive end, rushing from the inside. He’s a heartbeat player who just makes plays. Incredible talent with a great motor. He can make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The Skins are likely to lose Brian Orakpo.
#6 New York Jets — Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
What a performance at the combine. People questioned his weight — he turns up at 246lbs. People questioned his strength — he benches 35 reps (more than any other defensive lineman). How will he run with the extra size? A 4.53 — better than any other D-end or linebacker. Beasley was a sack machine in college too.
#7 Chicago Bears — Randy Gregory (OLB, Nebraska)
San Francisco rebuilt their defense with an outside linebacker in Aldon Smith with the #7 pick. Vic Fangio might suggest a similar path for the Bears as they transition to a 3-4. Gregory is lighter than Smith, but they share similar length and potential entering the league.
#8 Atlanta Falcons — Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
If this was a question of length, Ray’s 33 1/8 inch arms should ease any concerns. He’s lean enough to play the LEO and even though he didn’t run at the combine due to injury — expect a big pro-day and eventually a top-ten grade.
#9 New York Giants — Danny Shelton (DT, New York Giants)
They have Johnathan Hankins but he’s not at Shelton’s level. He can rush the passer and that’s what the Giants need — a greater interior presence. They have to focus on rebuilding their defensive line to get back into contention.
#10 St. Louis Rams — Brandon Scherff (T, Iowa)
Scherff ran well at the combine even though he picked up a hamstring injury in the first drill. He was more athletic than I expected. The Rams will likely have their pick of the offensive linemen here and Scherff seems like a Jeff Fisher type player. He could play guard or tackle.
#11 Minnesota Vikings — Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
This would be a bargain for the Vikes. Teddy Bridgewater needs a weapon to grow with. Cooper is a sparky, athletic playmaker with a great attitude. He lacks size but is the most natural receiver to enter the league since A.J. Green.
#12 Cleveland Browns — Bud Dupree (OLB, Kentucky)
They could lose Jabaal Sheard in free agency and he was an ill-fit in the 3-4 anyway. Dupree would step in and provide a jolt to the front seven. He’s passionate about the game and a playmaker. He’ll be a better edge rusher playing in space. They need a solid pick here after last years disaster.
#13 New Orleans Saints — Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)
A lack of true length keeps him out of the top ten, but he’s still a physical 4.31 runner with a great attitude. The Saints could have holes all over their roster — they’re in a nightmarish cap situation.
#14 Miami Dolphins — Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
They have needs at safety, defensive tackle, the offensive line and potentially receiver. Collins is a safe pick for them and an instant starter. They won’t find a solution at this position later in the draft.
#15 San Francisco 49ers — DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville)
Long receiver with good hands. Kind of a surly player who lacks the charisma of a #1 receiver, if not the skills. The 49ers are going to move on from Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick needs a long term go-to target.
#16 Houston Texans — Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
Terrific prospect. Didn’t workout at the combine but wowed the media with an engaging press conference. Former 5-star recruit. Excellent in the run game but also a capable pass rusher. Probably FSU’s best player in 2014. Has nose tackle size.
#17 San Diego Chargers — D.J. Humphries (T, Florida)
They can’t seem to make their mind up on whether D.J. Fluker’s a guard or a tackle. Stick him at guard and make Humphries the long term answer on the blindside. They’ll win or lose on the arm of Phillip Rivers. He has the weapons, he also needs a good offensive line.
#18 Kansas City Chiefs — Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
Strong enjoyed a surprisingly athletic combine, running a 4.44 and posting a 42-inch vertical. He struggled to separate in college but showed he has explosive upside in Indianapolis. He probably needs some route-refinement but the Chiefs are desperate for playmakers at receiver.
#19 Cleveland Browns — T.J. Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
Another safe pick in the sense that Clemmings is a big-time character guy. He struggled at the Senior Bowl but he ticks every box — length, foot speed, aggressive nature. He can be a perfect bookend for Joe Thomas.
#20 Philadelphia Eagles — Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut)
The headline maker at the combine for destroying the broad jump record (12’3″) and posting a 44.5 inch vertical — Jones is making a case to go in round one. Adding to his cause — the total lack of depth at the position. He has a great shot to go in round one.
#21 Cincinnati — Malcom Brown (DT, Texas)
Will Geno Atkins ever be the same again? Either way, Brown is a dynamic interior rusher who lives in the backfield. He also has great size to play the run. Line him up alongside Atkins and go to work. That’ll be tough to stop.
#22 Pittsburgh Steelers — Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
He may be usurped by Byron Jones as the #2 corner, but Jalen Collins is still a terrific player with a huge upside. He has the length, size and speed to be a star at the next level. He’d be a bargain for the Steelers at this point.
#23 Detroit Lions — La’el Collins (T, LSU)
If they lose Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, defensive tackle becomes a crucial need. They seem determined to keep Suh. If they go in a different direction here, Collins makes sense at tackle or guard. For me he’s better off moving inside. He looked superb at the combine and Senior Bowl.
#24 Arizona Cardinals — Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
Harold did a great job at the combine — but was it good enough to overtake some of the bigger names in this class? His passion for the game, attitude, speed and length are a great fit in Arizona. This makes a ton of sense.
#25 Carolina Panthers — Andrus Peat (T, Stanford)
He’s a really odd shape. Small head, enormous lower body. He didn’t look like a natural left tackle. On the tape though — that’s exactly what he is. Someone will take a chance but it won’t be as early as I first thought. He didn’t stand out at the combine.
#26 Baltimore Ravens — Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
Outstanding player with an insane work ethic. Runs like a gazelle. Didn’t have the monster workout we expected and therefore might last into the 20’s. A smart team will take him off the board and the Ravens always find value.
#27 Dallas Cowboys — Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
They could go after Adrian Peterson and that would change things here. If not, Gurley could be the long term replacement for Demarco Murray. We’re unlikely to see him in 2015, but a patient team will be rewarded handsomely. The Cowboys have made the run game a priority.
#28 Denver Broncos — Ereck Flowers (T, Miami)
He had a hit and miss combine but look at the tape. He puts people on their back, he’ll drive linemen off the ball in the run game and he can kick-slide effectively. Whether he lines up at tackle or guard, he’s a better football player than combine star.
#29 Indianapolis Colts — Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
Back problems could be a concern. He didn’t put in a Dontari Poe-style performance at the combine. The Colts released Ricky-Jean Francois yesterday and need an anchor for a defense that gets pushed around too easily in key games.
#30 Green Bay Packers — Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon)
The Packers haven’t done such a good job in the first round in recent years. Armstead is big and has major potential — but he’ll need some coaching. Whoever drafts him will be trying to shape him into the next Calais Campbell.
#31 Seattle Seahawks — Cameron Erving (G/C, Florida State)
Converted defensive lineman who’s played left tackle and center. His days at tackle are over but he can start quickly at guard and be the backup center. Very intelligent/well spoken. Plays with an edge. Had a good combine with a 9’4″ broad jump, a 30.5 inch vertical and a 5.15 forty. Managed 30 reps on the bench press.
#32 New England Patriots — Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
Bill Belichick seems to like these tall, tight end-converts. Fisher might end up at guard like Kyle Long, or he could play right tackle. One of the early combine stars doing every test well. Needs to keep adding strength.
Explaining the pick at #31
Usually we see a premium on offensive linemen in the draft but this class is loaded with defensive talent. Instead of seeing the usual cluster of 3-4 offensive tackles going in the top-15, we could see a number of pass rushers and receivers taking in their place.
When we get to picks #17 (San Diego) and #19 (Cleveland) we could start to see the domino’s fall. The big question is — how quickly do the offensive lineman come off the board when the rush begins? We could see a bunch of o-liners go very quickly. Or we could see a bit of a sweet spot between picks 25-32. In this projection the Seahawks catch the tail end of the rush.
I’m anticipating Byron Maxwell and James Carpenter will depart in free agency, creating holes at corner and guard. They already have a need for a dynamic pass catching target at receiver or tight end. I suspect we could see Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron targeted in the open market.
Right now I’m thinking they’ll strongly consider the offensive line and receiver with their first two picks, before adding depth on the defensive line and eventually bringing in a corner or two. That just appears to be where the value is this year.
In this projection the Seahawks could move down into the late 30’s or early 40’s and select the best receiver on their board, before possibly targeting a player like Ty Sambrailo in round two. That would also make some sense.
Instead I have them taking Cameron Erving because I think the value dictates this to be a good range to take an offensive lineman. I also believe that once the top four receivers are off the board, there really isn’t much between the #5 receiver and the #10 receiver in a deep class. If you can get a similar quality player at #63 compared to #31 — why would you fight the board?
Erving’s days at tackle are in the past. He struggled manning the blindside in 2014 before an inspired switch to center. He looked very comfortable — finishing blocks in the run game, controlling the point of attack and doing a good job nullifying the interior rush. He has the potential to play any of the three interior spots. He can start at left guard replacing Carpenter and act as the main backup to Max Unger at center.
It’s hard to work out exactly what Tom Cable, John Schneider and Pete Carroll look for in a lineman. James Carpenter provided massive size and length plus proven run-game production at Alabama. John Moffitt also had reasonable length and size. Ditto for Justin Britt. None of the trio tested particularly well at the combine.
Their most athletic starting offensive lineman is J.R. Sweezy — a converted defensive lineman. He ran a 4.9 in the forty and posted a 38 inch vertical. He was a later round project who came good. They also went after a similar project in Garrett Scott in round six last year.
Many will pin Jake Fisher to the Seahawks because of his outstanding combine workout. It makes sense — a converted tight end with major athletic upside. He might have a future at tackle, a potential need if they don’t re-sign Russell Okung. But as we’ve seen with the Carpenter, Moffitt and Britt picks — major athletic potential is not something they’ve necessarily coveted in an offensive lineman in the early rounds. Instead they’ve looked for traits — such as Carpenter’s run blocking in college, Britt’s attitude and wrestling background or Moffitt’s mauler mentality.
Erving is somewhere between Fisher and the trio mentioned above. He’s 6-5 and 314lbs with 34 1/8 inch arms. He’s not as big or as long as Carpenter, but it’s close. He ran a 5.15 with a 1.84 split. He managed a 30.5 inch vertical and a 9’4″ broad jump. The only three offensive linemen to record a superior broad jump were Terry Poole, Laurence Gibson and Mark Glowinski (all posted a 9’5″). He’s not as athletic as Fisher, but he’s certainly no slouch.
What traits does he have that could specifically appeal to the Seahawks? Versatility to play multiple spots including center, fantastic character (incredibly well spoken and trusted by the FSU coaches) and he plays with an edge. Like Sweezy, he’s also a converted defensive lineman.
A final point on Erving vs Fisher. Stability and consistency is as important as anything for an offensive line. Replacing Carpenter like-for-like isn’t a sea-change in personnel. Moving Britt inside and asking him to learn a new position while starting yet another rookie at right tackle is much more disruptive. Unless you intend to switch Fisher to guard.
Regular visitors to the blog will know I’ve spent many posts arguing against the need to invest further high picks in the offensive line. It’s received more attention in the draft than any other position group on the roster. We could easily see a situation where Seattle lets Cable pick a couple of guys on day three to compete for a start. Let’s not forget, they were prepared to start Sweezy in the first game of his rookie season (a 7th round recent defensive convert). On this occasion I just believe the value matches need to warrant another high pick.
Providing they go O-line in the first frame, in round two I can imagine the Seahawks drafting a playmaking, physical receiver with speed. William & Mary’s Tre McBride makes a lot of sense at #63, especially as he offers some kick return value.
Want a wildcard alternative? Georgia Tech’s Darren Waller ran an official 4.46 which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. We know the Seahawks admire Vincent Jackson. Waller and V-Jax are virtually identical players ten years apart:
Vincent Jackson (2005 draft)
39 inch vertical
32 inch arms
9 5/8 inch hands
Darren Waller (2015 draft)
38 inch vertical
33 1/4 inch arms
9 inch hands
Jackson was the #61 pick in 2005. Is Waller going to be the #63 pick in 2015? It’s probably too early. But if we see a second round rush on the position, I don’t see any reason why he won’t see a higher than expected selection. And if you’re worried about the hand size — a quick reminder that Calvin Johnson has 9 1/4 inch hands. I’ve seen no evidence on tape that Waller has an issue with drops.
Stanford’s Henry Anderson has the length and size (6-6, 294lbs, 33 1/2 inch arms) plus the athleticism (5.03 forty with a 1.64 split) to potentially offer a cheaper alternative to Tony McDaniel at defensive tackle. Is he a third round option? We could also see another Stanford prospect targeted on day three — cornerback Alex Carter has the length, size and speed to match Seattle’s ideals at the position. As for beyond, I’m still a fan of NC State left tackle Rob Crisp and Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond.