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A tale of two seven-round Seahawks mocks

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Is Devin Funchess a possible alternative to Dorial Green-Beckham?

Trade up for a receiver? Stay put? Draft the best offensive lineman on your board?

Our conversations over the last few weeks have been dominated by these questions. This weekend, two different seven-round mocks highlight the possibility that Seattle’s front office will be having the same debate.

Evan Silva and Josh Norris have put together a list of needs and a seven round Seahawks projection.

Silva: “Seattle’s offensive line could afford upgrades, beginning with center and left guard…. The Seahawks have one of the NFL’s weakest receiver corps.”

Norris’ mock has them taking Devin Funchess at #63: “The Super Bowl and acquiring Jimmy Graham makes it seem like Seattle is putting an emphasis on contested catches.”

Funchess is an interesting case. It’s logical to expect the Seahawks will target size. They already have one of the better slot receivers in Doug Baldwin. They’re likely to add a smaller receiver who can return kicks on day three (more on that later). Outside of one-game wonder Chris Matthews there’s a distinct lack of size on the perimeter.

They went away from this last year, seemingly believing speed and the intermediate game would mesh nicely with their power-run attack. Let’s call it the ‘Percy Harvin blueprint’. When Harvin departed the Seahawks lacked the punch to make it work. Having already lost their best contested-catch maker in Golden Tate, they didn’t really have a red-line winner who could make the tough grab.

The reported interest in Vincent Jackson before the trade deadline suggested a change in philosophy. In fairness to the Seahawks, nobody can argue they’re stuck in their ways. They’re willing to evolve.

This probably doesn’t stop with Jimmy Graham. It’s not about one player, in particular a player who’s going to work the middle exploiting match-ups against linebackers. They need that taller outside threat — and they’re unlikely to thrust all their hopes solely on Matthews based on the Super Bowl.

There’s a reason Tony Pauline is reporting interest in Dorial Green-Beckham and a reason why we’ve spent so much talking about him as a possible trade target. Seattle’s offense will always be run-first — but that puts more pressure on the passing game when you do throw the ball. With Baldwin in the slot, Graham working the seam and a dynamic big target outside — the Seahawks can finally field an offense as potent as the league-leading defense.

If they can’t get into range for DGB — the closest alternative is Funchess. He’s slower, less sudden and has nothing like Green-Beckham’s upside. There are question marks about his drive at Michigan. He certainly underwhelmed. But he is a big target who can make plays downfield, box-out defenders and win contested catches.

He wasn’t always reliable at Michigan. It kind of makes this performance against Ohio State all the more frustrating:

He’s making tough grabs, he’s finding ways to get open. He has a chunk play downfield. He looks good.

We just didn’t see enough of this in college.

He’s definitely a build-up speed runner but he can eat up space with long strides. He has one of the best head-fakes you’ll see, setting up a corner to the inside before a nifty little double move to create separation.

If the Seahawks just want a big target they can work with, Funchess could be a consolation prize if DGB ends up elsewhere. He isn’t too dissimilar to Mike Williams. That might put you off — but clearly Carroll has time for that kind of receiver.

Funchess didn’t have a great combine, running a 4.70 at 232lbs. You’re not drafting him to run by people though. You’d be drafting him for this:

The great thing about Green-Beckham is the rare gliding ability at his size and the YAC potential. He’s a downfield threat at a playing weight of around 225lbs. That’s insane. Funchess isn’t the same smooth athlete. He can go up and get a football though — and he has underrated ball-skills and the ability to work to get open.

There are divided opinions on him. Lance Zierlein has him down as the #88 player in the draft. Bob McGinn’s anonymous scouts have him right behind Green-Beckham with an early second round grade: “I wouldn’t take him first (round) but I’d take him early two.”

It’s an alternative option that could be a possibility at #63 or with a small move up the board. Make no mistake though — he’s no DGB. Is he ‘Seahawky’ enough? Is he the gritty determined character they want at the position? Or is he just a slightly passive big target without the offsetting speed and dynamism DGB provides?

Norris has the Seahawks taking Frank Clark at the bottom of round three: “Clark is an outstanding athlete who flashes bend and a conversion of speed to power.” If you’re looking for an impact D-end in the middle rounds, Clark’s probably the best bet (if you can live with the character flags).

You can see the mock for yourself but Norris also gives the Seahawks guard Mark Glowinski and center Shaq Mason in round four. My only question here — is Glowinski big enough? Seattle has used major size at left guard under Tom Cable. Ty Montgomery is also taken in round five.

Increasingly Montgomery is being paired with the Seahawks. He’s tough and plays with grit. He can be more than just a kick-return specialist — although he excels there. Character wise he ticks all the adequate boxes and seems like he’d fit right into Seattle’s ultra-competitive locker room. I’d almost be surprised if he wasn’t taken in round four or five. Whenever they can get him.

The Seahawks need a productive kick-returner who can contribute. Special teams is the one unit on the roster (kick returns specifically) that can dramatically improve in 2015. It’s going to be a priority. So much so — don’t be shocked if some of Seattle’s later round picks or UDFA’s carry specific special teams qualities.

Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter have also put together a seven-rounder for Seattle. They have the Seahawks taking Hroniss Grasu at #63, Tre McBride in round three and of course Ty Montgomery is a fourth round selection.

Both scenarios make a lot of sense. The Seahawks can take the big receiver early and address a defensive need (or even running back) in round three because the depth is so good on the O-line this year. Yet if the options at receiver don’t match up at #63 (and a trade up isn’t possible) taking the top offensive lineman on your board in round two makes just as much sense.

Grasu is intelligent, athletic and just a really solid prospect. You have to be comfortable with the injury history (could be a difference maker given Max Unger’s health issues) but nobody is going to be left scratching their heads if the Seahawks take Grasu at #63. McBride isn’t a big, physical mismatch like DGB or Funchess, but he’s ultra-competitive, wins the contested catch, is certainly athletic enough with special teams value and he’s a great character guy.

You can easily imagine both players in Seattle.

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Everyone will have their own opinion on what they should do — but for a while now it seems like the options are:

1. Trade-up for a receiver

2. Look at the remaining wide-outs at #63

3. Take the best O-lineman on your board

These two seven-round mocks are a further example of that situation. I think we’ll almost certainly see a power running back drafted in rounds 3-5 (neither mock has considered that scenario). Mike Davis remains an option. It’s interesting that in some quarters he’s rated as high as a third rounder — and yet Bob McGinn’s poll of scouts had him outside the top-12 for the position. If the Seahawks can get him in round four — keep an eye on that. With Todd Gurley now expected to go in the top 10-15 and Melvin Gordon likely to follow, we could see the entire class jolted upwards slightly.

The Seahawks have had a lot of success finding cornerbacks in the fifth and sixth round range. They’ll surely add a corner at some point — but it’s probably unlikely to be early unless a big name suffers an unexpected fall. It was good to see SDB favorite Damien Swann projected to Seattle in Norris’ mock. He lacks ideal arm length but he’s a real playmaker.

A heads-up for the rest of the week. We’ll have a podcast on the blog on Tuesday, with a final mock draft on the Wednesday. I’ll probably do two rounds and cover rounds 3-7 for the Seahawks. On Thursday I’ll be doing a live Google Hangout for the third draft in a row with Kenny and the guys at Field Gulls.

Second round mock draft

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Mitch Morse could be an option for Seattle as early as pick #63

Here’s how the first round played out:

#1 Tampa Bay — Jameis Winston (QB)
#2 TRADE San Diego — Marcus Mariota (QB)
#3 Jacksonville — Dante Fowler Jr (DE)
#4 Oakland — Leonard Williams (DE)
#5 TRADE Miami — Amari Cooper (WR)
#6 New York Jets — Todd Gurley (RB)
#7 Chicago — Kevin White (WR)
#8 Atlanta — Vic Beasley (DE)
#9 New York Giants — Bud Dupree (LB)
#10 St. Louis — Brandon Scherff (T)
#11 Minnesota — Trae Waynes (CB)
#12 Cleveland — Devante Parker (WR)
#13 New Orleans — Danny Shelton (DT)
#14 Washington — Byron Jones (CB)
#15 San Francisco — Arik Armstead (DT)
#16 Houston — Melvin Gordon (RB)
#17 Tennessee — Breshad Perriman (WR)
#18 Kansas City — D.J. Humphries (T)
#19 Cleveland — Malcom Brown (DT)
#20 Philadelphia — Nelson Agholor (WR)
#21 Cincinnati — La’el Collins (T)
#22 Pittsburgh — Kevin Johnson (CB)
#23 Detroit — Eddie Goldman (DT)
#24 Arizona — Randy Gregory (LB)
#25 Carolina — Andrus Peat (T)
#26 TRADE St. Louis — Cam Erving (C)
#27 Dallas — Marcus Peters (CB)
#28 Denver — Ereck Flowers (T)
#29 Indianapolis — Benardick McKinney (LB)
#30 TRADE Oakland — Phillip Dorsett (WR)
#31 New Orleans — Shane Ray (DE)
#32 New England — Eric Rowe (CB)

There were four trades in round one. The Baltimore Ravens now own the #41 pick (from St. Louis) and the Green Bay Packers are at #35 (from Oakland).

I haven’t included trades in the second round because there’s a danger things become too convoluted. We saw a cluster of second round deals a year ago and that could be the same this year. It means the Seahawks stay at pick #63 even though I think there’s a reasonable chance they’ll try to move up. There’s a significant drop off in talent from around #48-55. The quality depth on the offensive line in the mid-to-late rounds could also encourage a move up the board.

Without trades this projection forces us to consider a scenario where a move up isn’t possible. It doesn’t stop us, however, considering some of the possible trade-up targets that might be available.

#33 Tennessee Titans — T.J. Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
In this mock the Titans acquired Philip Rivers and drafted Breshad Perriman. Adding a right tackle completes the revolution on offense and sets Tennessee up for a bounce back year in 2015.

#34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
The Buccs could consider moving back into the first round to get a tackle. They need to protect Jameis Winston. They have enough weapons at receiver, now it’s about the O-line.

#35 Green Bay Packers — Eric Kendricks (LB, UCLA)
Just a terrific football player. Not as athletic as his brother in Philadelphia but a cornerstone prospect who will set the tone on defense.

#36 Jacksonville Jaguars — Tevin Coleman (RB, Indiana)
They don’t have a playmaker at running back. If they go defense in round one this appears likely. They have to keep building around Blake Bortles.

#37 New York Jets — Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
Terrific football player who finishes off a formidable looking defense in New York. Could easily be a first round prospect.

#38 Washington Redskins — Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
They have many needs. Having gone for a big athletic corner in round one, they add a big athletic tackle prospect here.

#39 Chicago Bears — Damarious Randall (S, Arizona State)
He’s being tipped to be the first safety off the board. What’s happening to Landon Collins’ stock?

#40 New York Giants — Mario Edwards Jr (DE, Florida State)
The Giants move him inside to the three technique and address a big need.

#41 Baltimore Ravens — Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Missouri)
Having traded down from #26, the Ravens answer their need for a big, athletic receiver.

#42 Atlanta Falcons — Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
If he lasts this long the Falcons will be getting excellent value.

#43 Cleveland Browns — Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)
Not the biggest or fastest player but he brings a high level of intensity and can start immediately.

#44 New Orleans Saints — Devin Smith (WR, Ohio State)
Having missed out on Phillip Dorsett at the end of round one, New Orleans comes back for chunk-play specialist.

#45 Minnesota Vikings — Grady Jarrett (DT, Clemson)
He flies into the backfield like a three-technique but he’s stout enough to be a nose. Really fun player to watch.

#46 San Francisco 49ers — Stephone Anthony (LB, Clemson)
They have to bring in a linebacker. This is a sweet spot for the position and a good time to address the need.

#47 Miami Dolphins — Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
I had a hard time placing him. I’m a huge fan of his potential but a broken foot at the LSU pro-day could push him down some boards.

#48 San Diego Chargers — Ameer Abdullah (RB, Nebraska)
Imagine an offense with Mariota and Abdullah working the controls. That’d be really something.

#49 Kansas City Chiefs — Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
His tape isn’t as good as his combine display. He’s a bit overrated. KC see the value here.

#50 Buffalo Bills — Ty Sambrailo (T, Colorado State)
The Bills need to keep adding to their offensive line. Sambrailo is athletic and flexible and could play a number of spots.

#51 Houston Texans — Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
This feels very low for a huge athletic mountain. If he lasts this long the Texans won’t believe their luck.

#52 Philadelphia Eagles — Ronald Derby (CB, Florida State)
They still have a need at the position and Derby is athletic enough to provide real value in this range.

#53 Cincinnati Bengals — Michael Bennett (DT, Ohio State)
I’m not a big fan personally but he’s the type of interior rusher the Bengals seem to like in their scheme.

#54 Detroit Lions — Donovan Smith (T, Penn State)
Massive college tackle with the skill set and size to project inside. The Lions could use him at guard or right tackle.

#55 Arizona Cardinals — T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama)
Never really lived up to expectations at Alabama but Yeldon is big, long and scores touchdowns.

#56 Pittsburgh Steelers — Henry Anderson (DT, Stanford)
Great length and a superb combine. He can be more than just a great run stopper at the next level.

#57 Carolina Panthers — Tyler Lockett (WR, Kansas State)
The Panthers add a return man and a productive, reliable receiver for Cam Newton.

#58 Baltimore Ravens — Preston Smith (DE, Mississippi State)
After replacing Torey Smith at #41, the Ravens go about replacing Pernell McPhee.

#59 Denver Broncos — Paul Dawson (LB, TCU)
He had a poor combine but on tape he just makes plays. The Broncos have a need at inside linebacker.

#60 Dallas Cowboys — Carl Davis (DT, Iowa)
A little overrated after the Senior Bowl, Davis’ tape is pretty average. Still, he’d provide size to the Cowboys D-line rotation.

#61 Indianapolis Colts — A.J. Cann (G, South Carolina)
The Colts add an immediate starter to their interior offensive line.

#62 Green Bay Packers — Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota)
He just seems like a great fit. Plays tough, reliable, safe hands, slightly cocky attitude. He’d be ultra-productive playing with Aaron Rodgers.

#63 Seattle Seahawks — Mitch Morse (C, Missouri)
Possible the best fit at center for the Seahawks, they take the top O-lineman on their board.

#64 New England Patriots — Sammie Coates (WR, Auburn)
Someone is going to take a chance on Coates’ incredible upside. He needs to do something about the drops if he’s going to work with Tom Brady.

Thoughts on the Seahawks pick

I still believe we’re looking at a scenario where the Seahawks either move up in round two or take the top offensive lineman on their board at #63. With Dorial Green-Beckham taken at pick #41, it’d take a big move to get him. You’re looking at a deal that possibly involves a fourth rounder and a 2016 third rounder. Seattle hasn’t been afraid to make big trades in the past and they’ve been known to give up third round picks (Charlie Whitehurst, Percy Harvin). It’s still a costly move.

Alternatively they could move up a few spots using just a fourth rounder to target a different player. The Detroit Lions at #54 are a realistic trade partner.

So why Mitch Morse if they stay put?

It’d be a bit of a reach but so was Justin Britt a year ago. The late second round isn’t a great position to be drafting in this class. It’s another reason why they might be willing to move up.

Morse’s stock has rapidly grown over the last few weeks. Daniel Jeremiah pointed out this week that if Seattle wants him they probably have to take him at #63. He isn’t going to last until the late third round. If you want a plus athlete with similar size to Max Unger, Morse is your guy. You let him compete with Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre, just as Britt competed with Eric Winston a year ago.

Yes it’s a deep class for centers but do any fit Seattle better than Morse? He’s tough as nails, strong and athletic. He’s graded in the third round but certainly isn’t going to last until Seattle’s pick. You might suggest moving down before drafting him. I’m not sure you can risk it. Washington at #69 need a center and Scot McCloughan is going to be trying to rebuild that roster to match Seattle’s.

In this range you’re really just taking the player you like the most. Morse has a shot to start for a long time, filling one of the biggest holes on the roster at a cheap cost. His relationship with Britt probably helps and retains some familiarity on a changing offensive line.

The alternative pick I considered was Florida State’s Tre Jackson. Tom Cable went to the Florida State pro-day. He could’ve been watching Josue Matias. However, the Seahawks love size at left guard. Robert Gallery, James Carpenter, Alvin Bailey. All big guys with tackle experience. It’s hard to imagine they’ll draft a 300lbs-er for the position. Jackson is 6-4 and 330lbs. You’re looking at a really solid pure guard who just needs a little guidance. He’s an immediate starter.

This is an interesting read on Morse, from Bob McGinn’s anonymous scouting sources:

“Center is a perfect position,” one scout said. “He kind of grows on me. He’s not a naturally big guy so he’s going to get torqued a little bit. He’s got a degree of toughness about him that shows in his play.” Paced centers on the bench press (36 reps) and the vertical jump (31), and scored 29 on the Wonderlic. Short arms (32¼) almost force him inside. “He’s my sleeper,” another scout said. “This guy is one tough sucker. You talk about toughness and tenacity. You grade him and he just blocks his guy. Their left tackle last year (Justin Britt) went to Seattle and started, and there’s no comparison between the two. His feet are good enough.”

Morse gets the nod this week. We’ll do one more final mock next Wednesday.

Tony Pauline: “Less than 10% chance” DGB falls to #50

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The Seahawks like Dorial Green-Beckham according to reports. Can they land him?

We’ll get into the second round of our latest mock draft tomorrow. Today I want to focus on Dorial Green-Beckham.

Draft Insider Tony Pauline published the following report yesterday:

“I’m told the Seattle Seahawks would love to grab Dorial Green-Beckham if he’s available at the 63rd selection but they expect the receiver to be off the board during the initial fifteen picks of round two.”

We’ve been discussing the possibility of Seattle moving up for Green-Beckham for a few weeks. Now we know there’s at least some interest there. I contacted Tony to get a little more meat on the bones. You can hear our conversation below:

So there we go. Green-Beckham probably isn’t going to last beyond the first 15 picks of the second round. The New York Jets at #37 and the San Francisco 49ers at #46 could be a couple of teams to watch here. There are others. The Seahawks would have to make quite a jump to have any shot at landing DGB.

Will they move up? Just yesterday John Schneider noted he has a lot of flexibility because the Seahawks have 11 picks in the draft. Last year the Philadelphia Eagles moved up 12 spots in round two to select Jordan Matthews for the cost of a fourth round pick. Seattle can make a similar move to get into the early 50’s. The question is — what else would they need to concede to move up a little further?

Yesterday Bob McGinn published a piece discussing Green-Beckham. There are some interesting anonymous quotes in the article:

….there are general managers and personnel directors in the National Football League who claim Oklahoma’s Dorial Green-Beckham has the talent to become the finest in another stacked class of wide receivers if he can overcome his complex behavioral issues.

“He has the outstanding athletic package,” an AFC personnel man said. “He may even be better than Cooper. Extremely talented.”

That’s a minority viewpoint among scouts, to be sure, but the AFC man isn’t alone.

“Hard to cover downfield,” said an another AFC scout. “Almost impossible to cover with a little corner. Super talented. He’s a No. 1 for a team if he can control his demons.”

That’s gushing praise even if it is a minority viewpoint as McGinn describes it.

“At Oklahoma they vouch for the kid,” one scout said. “They loved the kid. His pro day was at Oklahoma (March 11), which kind of tells you what they thought of him. His receivers coach (Jay Norvell) was fired, and that was a big reason he decided to come out.

It’s not insignificant that despite leaving Oklahoma without playing a single snap, DGB was invited to participate at the Sooners pro-day and was given 100% backing by the Head Coach Bob Stoops.

Earlier this month, Green-Beckham and his girlfriend went to dinner with officials from a team they were visiting.

“You leave liking him,” one executive said after eating with Green-Beckham. “From a personality standpoint, pretty good. There’s some light behind the eyes. They’re about to have a baby….Seems to be maybe maturing.”

It’s not all positive though:

“If somebody wants him in the second round, go ahead,” said one scout. “I used to draft these kind of guys.”

In a separate article by McGinn yesterday, he ranked Green-Beckham as the #7 receiver in the class. One scout compared him to Josh Gordon — talented, dynamic but ultimately a headache waiting to happen.

There are going to be teams who’ve already taken him off their board. There are going to be teams who are prepared to take him — but only at a certain point in the draft. That’s probably within the first 15 picks of round two as Pauline discussed. The Seahawks love field-tilting ability and DGB has it in spades. They’re also willing to take a chance. It’s going to be very difficult though to move into the top-45 without a serious trade involving multiple picks.

If they can’t move up for DGB, what do they do? They still have the option of trading up for another player. Detroit are light on picks — they have picks in rounds 1-3 and then nothing until round six. They are probably looking to acquire a fourth or fifth rounder and they can do that by moving down from #54. This could be a target range for the Seahawks.

If they stay at #63 all signs point to taking the top offensive lineman left on their board. I suspect they’d be very interested in moving up for the right player. But who — if it isn’t Dorial Green-Beckham?

Don’t forget to check out DraftInsider.net for all the latest information from Tony Pauline — one of he best in the business.

First round mock draft with trades: 22nd April

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

I’ll add a second round projection tomorrow and we’ll do one more seven-round mock before the draft. This time next week I’ll post a final mock draft to be sent to the Huddle Report for scoring.

#1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State)
This feels like a done deal. The big question is whether the Buccs trade back into the first for a left tackle. It’ll only cost a later round pick to move back into day one. It seems like the logical thing to do. Winston has the weapons at receiver but he’ll need protecting.

#2 TRADE San Diego Chargers — Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
I had Cleveland trading into this spot last week so we’ll go with the Chargers today. Both teams seem to be in contention. San Diego is facing one more year with Philip Rivers before a possible divorce. If they like Mariota enough, this deal makes sense. The Titans get Rivers and the #17 pick. San Diego receives the #2 and possibly some extra compensation. Cleveland’s two first round picks are enticing — but the Titans would still be missing a quarterback. They’d surely prefer a deal that lands Rivers?

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars — Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
I still think there’s a chance they go Amari Cooper or Kevin White here. They drafted two receivers last year but neither looks like a true difference maker. The Jaguars had the #6 pass rushing team in the NFL in terms of production. Gus Bradley’s scheme has manufactured pressure. However, Fowler Jr is a fantastic player. You can line him up anywhere — D-end, inside, outside linebacker. He’s a true playmaker.

#4 Oakland Raiders — Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
It’d be a tough call between Amari Cooper and Williams. Some teams are going to have Williams as the unquestioned #1 prospect in the draft. Oakland signed Michael Crabtree recently to act as a safety net for Derek Carr. They can jump back into the first relatively easily and still land a receiver. They won’t find a player like Williams beyond this spot.

#5 TRADE Miami Dolphins — Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
With Cooper dropping to this spot the Dolphins, who are looking to make a splash, go up to get their guy. They traded away Mike Wallace and lost Charles Clay. They have to land a big-time receiver for Ryan Tannehill. They jump above the division rival Jets in a deal similar to the Sammy Watkins trade. They give Washington their 2016 first round pick.

#6 New York Jets — Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
The Jets have a loaded defense and Todd Bowles didn’t need any flashy outside rushers in Arizona. The key is having a good secondary to cover the back-end when blitzing. They have all the pieces to succeed. What they don’t have is a functioning offense. So what do they do here? They already traded for Brandon Marshall. Gurley is reportedly making fantastic progress as he recovers from a knee injury. He’s always been a top-10 talent.

#7 Chicago Bears — Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
They could look at the edge rushers and Randy Gregory looks like a really nice fit at outside linebacker. However, they have a new need at receiver and Kevin White is sitting there. Someone is going to take White early. He won’t last long.

#8 Atlanta Falcons — Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
It’s all about the defense in Atlanta. They need to be tougher, they need to be more explosive. Beasley is a unique combination of fantastic athleticism and unreal college production. He’s strong for his size and only just getting started. He could be a major impact player in 2015.

#9 New York Giants — Bud Dupree (LB, Kentucky)
Although he’s better suited for the 3-4 teams at outside linebacker, Dupree could play the Bruce Irvin role in New York. He can line up at linebacker on early downs and move up to the LOS to rush the passer.

#10 St. Louis Rams — Brandon Scherff (T, Iowa)
The Rams could make the O-line their priority. Will they take a second lineman in round two? Would they even consider moving back into the first for the right player? It’s time for St. Louis to deliver and be a bit more aggressive.

#11 Minnesota Vikings — Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)
The Bengals drafted multiple first round corners for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings could use a similar approach. Waynes is a nice fit for the scheme — he’s physical, long and fast.

#12 Cleveland Browns — Devante Parker (WR, Louisville)
Cleveland’s offense looks like a sorry mess. Do they have any faith in Johnny Manziel? Can they really get anything out of Josh McCown? If they can’t trade up for Mariota, what is plan B? Surely they’d have to consider one of the receivers here?

#13 New Orleans Saints — Danny Shelton (DT, Washington)
Sean Payton says they need plug-in-and-play defenders. Shelton is tailor-made to slot right into a 3-4 scheme. New Orleans can’t really go wrong here — they have needs at nose tackle, outside linebacker and five-technique. They’ll have plenty of options.

#14 Washington Redskins — Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut)
Jones is an incredible athlete and the tape isn’t bad either. Don’t be shocked if a team falls in love and drafts him in the top-15.

#15 San Francisco 49ers — Arik Armstead (DT, Oregon)
There’s still a big question mark over whether Justin Smith will retire. Even if he continues, it’s probably only for one more year. The 49ers bolster the defensive line knowing they need to take a linebacker in round two.

#16 Houston Texans — Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
Don’t be shocked if Gurley and Gordon both go in the top-20. They’re good enough. Houston can’t rely on Arian Foster these days and they quietly have a nicely rounded roster. While they continue to make do at quarterback they need to compensate elsewhere. Gordon can lead the way. Teams will love his workaholic attitude.

#17 Tennessee Titans — Breshad Perriman (WR, UCF)
Philip Rivers has always had big, fast targets in San Diego. The Titans met with Perriman recently and if they make a deal to add Rivers, they need to get him a genuine weapon.

#18 Kansas City Chiefs — D.J. Humphries (T, LSU)
The top four receivers are off the board so they look elsewhere. O-line is just as much of a need. Humphries is the best pure-left tackle prospect available and this allows Eric Fisher to focus on the right tackle spot.

#19 Cleveland Browns — Malcom Brown (DT, Texas)
After taking a receiver at #12 they know they need to enhance their defensive line. Brown is a terrific prospect who just makes plays. He’s tough enough to play the run and he’s an underrated pass rusher.

#20 Philadelphia Eagles — Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)
Jeremy Maclin’s replacement. Agholor is tough, gritty, incredibly athletic and polished. He was a genuine 5-star recruit and flew to the west coast because he wanted to compete against Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. That says everything you need to know. Teams will love him.

#21 Cincinnati Bengals — La’el Collins (T, LSU)
Whether they play him at right or left tackle, this is good value. Collins looked superb at the combine. Minimal body fit, great size, good athlete. He was a team captain at LSU.

#22 Pittsburgh Steelers — Kevin Johnson (CB, Wake Forest)
There’s a feeling Pittsburgh will go corner here. I personally prefer Jalen Collins and Marcus Peters — but Collins has a lingering injury issue and Peters has the character concerns. Pittsburgh has traditionally avoided character flags in round one over the last few years.

#23 Detroit Lions — Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
Fantastic compliment to Haloti Ngata. Goldman was probably FSU’s best player in 2014. He’s immovable against the run and isn’t shy when it comes to splash plays. Goldman + Ngata isn’t Ndamukong Suh, but it gives the Lions a great chance to retain a very productive defense.

#24 Arizona Cardinals — Randy Gregory (LB, Nebraska)
There’s still every chance someone pulls the trigger in the top ten. It could be the Jets, the Bears or even the Falcons. If he falls, the Cardinals could end the slide.

#25 Carolina Panthers — Andrus Peat (T, Stanford)
They know their priority is to find a starting left tackle in this class. Peat is an odd shape and doesn’t look like a left tackle — but on tape he’s extremely accomplished and should be a long-term starter.

#26 TRADE St. Louis Rams — Cam Erving (C, Florida State)
The Ravens move down knowing they can fill their needs on day two. The Rams make an aggressive move to get back into the late first and select Cam Erving — a player unlikely to reach pick #41. The Rams give up a third rounder to make the deal.

#27 Dallas Cowboys — Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)
Any defensive pick has to be applauded really. They get Peters who provides the kind of physical edge they want to maintain going forward.

#28 Denver Broncos — Ereck Flowers (T, Miami)
This would be one of the best picks in the draft. Flowers is underrated because he has a quirky kick-slide and doesn’t look all that natural. He’s extremely effective however — and flashes the ability to drive people off the line in the running game.

#29 Indianapolis Colts — Benardrick McKinney (LB, Mississippi State)
There’s quite a bit of buzz around McKinney — who would slot into the inside linebacker position for the Colts. They could also target Landon Collins to play safety.

#30 TRADE Oakland Raiders — Phillip Dorsett (WR, Miami)
The Raiders wanted to sign Randall Cobb. Dorsett isn’t an identical comparison but they share similar traits (safe hands, extremely fast, know how to get open). The Packers probably want to move down before taking the top inside linebacker on their board. Reggie McKenzie knows enough people in Green Bay’s front office to make this happen for a modest outlay.

#31 New Orleans Saints — Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
The issue for Shane Ray is I suspect many teams will like him — they just won’t love him. He’s undersized and had a disappointing workout at the Missouri pro-day. He might slip a little as teams address bigger needs and debate what his best fit is.

#32 New England Patriots — Eric Rowe (CB, Utah)
The Pats watched their two starting corners walk away in free agency. Rowe is big and athletic. They need to address this position early or risk missing out altogether.

Players dropping into round two

Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
He didn’t light up the combine as many expected. He played well in 2014 but is he a special talent? There’s not a lot of buzz here right now.

Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
He sat out the LSU pro-day with a broken foot. That could be costly as he competes with the likes of Kevin Johnson, Marcus Peters and Eric Rowe to make it into the late first round. He’s extremely talented, though.

Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
One of my personal favorite prospects in this class. He could easily be the pick for a team like Arizona (#24) or Baltimore (#26). He won’t last long in round two if he falls.

Breaking down Daniel Jeremiah’s two round mock draft

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Will the Seahawks replace James Carpenter with a player who looks a lot like James Carpenter?

There’s enough movement here to suggest this is more than just guesswork. For example, Daniel Jeremiah has consistently put Kevin White ahead of Amari Cooper in his top-50 big board. I think all of his previous four mock drafts had White being taken before Cooper. Today — Cooper goes first. There’s no reason to make this kind of late switch without a bit of inside info.

A lot of other moves coincide with some of the ‘vibes’ doing the rounds recently. Marcus Mariota is at #2 with the feeling it won’t be Tennessee making the pick. Cedric Ogbuehi goes in the early second — we’ve been hearing he’ll go earlier than many expect. Mario Edwards Jr is at #40 — representing his high placing according to several recent reports. Nelson Agholor goes in the top #20. The whole mock is pretty much a representation of current trends.

It also sums up perfectly the situation facing the Seahawks at #63.

For many weeks we’ve talked about the likely options for Seattle. Here’s a quick refresher:

1. Trade up in round two using the fourth round pick acquired in the Jimmy Graham trade. Realistically this could get you into the #48-52 range. Philadelphia made a similar move last year to draft Jordan Matthews. The target here would be one of the top-8 receivers.

2. Stay put and draft the best remaining receiver.

3. Stay put and take the best offensive lineman on your board.

The interest in this receiver class will likely make the options pretty thin at #63. Jeremiah has Carolina at #57 and Baltimore at #58 drafting for the position (Devin Smith & Devin Funchess). By the time Seattle was on the clock ten had been drafted.

We’ve spent a lot of time debating whether they could trade up for Dorial Green-Beckham, who is taken by the Jets at #37. The pick makes a lot of sense. In some of my own recent mock drafts I’ve had New York drafting Kevin White at #6, eliminating the need to take a receiver in round two. If the Jets go defense early, DGB is a viable option at #37.

Having said that, if he gets past the Jets the fall out of the top-50 is possible. Seattle would likely need to jump both Carolina and Baltimore — and while we’ve discussed the likelihood of either franchise taking a receiver with Green-Beckham’s specific off-field red flags, I believe this won’t be an issue. Jeremiah — who used to work for the Ravens — specifically states: “The Ravens are looking for a big, athletic target for Joe Flacco.” DGB fits like a glove and could be the pick if he lasts long enough.

Trading in front of Carolina and Baltimore won’t be a problem for the sake of the fourth rounder. Trading up to #37 is a bit too rich. It would cost you possibly an additional fourth rounder or maybe a future third. The Seahawks can afford to sacrifice one of their three fourth rounders, but surely not two. The depth on the offensive and defensive line in that range probably won’t allow it.

Would they trade up for Smith or Funchess? I’m not convinced. I’m a big fan of Smith’s big play ability and he has some DeSean Jackson to his game as a downfield threat. You can find receivers like this later in the draft, however. Funchess, at least physically, would offer the kind of taller ‘box-out’ receiver they currently lack. Yet he had such an underwhelming career at Michigan and lacks the kind of tenacity and grit you usually see in a Seahawks receiver. He also had a sluggish combine and didn’t look sudden enough to be a force at the next level. He’s kind of a poor mans Big Mike Williams.

Conceding a fourth for the huge upside of a DGB is one thing. Conceding it for a player like Funchess just seems unlikely.

They could stay put and gamble on Sammie Coates — although the drops are a major concern there. They could take Tyler Lockett — but again you can probably find a smaller, shiftier receiver and kick returner later on. If they aren’t moving up and they’re presented with a board like this, taking the top offensive lineman available is probably the best plan.

Cue Jeremiah pairing Seattle with South Carolina guard A.J. Cann at #63.

The Seahawks have taken a pure guard in this range before — trading down from the late second round before taking John Moffitt in 2011. Cann is very much a guard-only prospect. He has 32 5/8 inch arms, he’s 6-3, 313lbs and runs in the mid 5.4’s. There’s little to get excited about in terms of athleticism or size. He’s just a really solid, plug-in-and-play guard. That won’t be unattractive for the Seahawks as they attempt to fill two big holes on the O-line. Cann’s also the type of player they haven’t really shown interest in since the Moffitt pick.

He isn’t a big second-level blocker although that’s sometimes used to beat a prospect in terms of the ZBS. Some schemes don’t call for it. You’re not going to rush to the second level if you’re instructed to do the opposite. He’s pretty hard to move off the spot and he doesn’t get bull-rushed. You see some real power at times. Seattle likes mobility and athleticism to a point but they’ve always used a big powerful guy at left guard under Tom Cable.

The football purists will love the move. Solid, no-thrills guard. Meat and potatoes. Not entirely Seahawky, though. But if he’s top of their board, isn’t that the point? That’s what the plan calls for.

There are alternatives of course. Ty Sambrailo is available. He too has the massive size Seattle likes for the left guard position but he has the added bonus of some tackle experience. He was also tested at center during a recent visit to Seattle. Florida State’s Tre Jackson is on the board and has a little more upside (arguably) than Cann. He too has the size (330lbs) and if anything could stand to lose some weight. He’s fleshy. The last thing the Seahawks need is another ill-conditioned left guard.

There are several fast risers to consider too. Missouri’s Mitch Morse is gaining a ton of momentum. Ditto West Virginia’s Mark Glowinski. You’ve got Jamon Brown at Louisville and of course Ali Marpet from Hobart. It’s fair to say all would be a reach in the late second — but didn’t they draft Justin Britt in that exact range a year ago?

The difference between this year and last of course is the third round pick plus a bevvy of picks in rounds 4-5. Seattle didn’t have that luxury a year ago — and there wasn’t the fantastic O-line depth we’re seeing this year.

Jeremiah’s mock does a good job painting the situation for Seahawks fans. If they can’t move up for someone like DGB and the receiver options aren’t great at #63, they kind of have to just take the best O-liner. It might not be a flashy pick. It might be a reach. It is what it is. The #63 spot isn’t a great time to enter the draft. You’re caught between some good value at the top of round two and some decent value in the middle of round three. You can make a case for moving down — but who really wants to move up? And do you need any more late rounders when you already have 11 picks — most of which come on day three?

The volume of picks and the poor value at #63 calls for one to be sacrificed in a second round trade. I suspect it’s what they’d like to do. Yet if the player you want isn’t in range — there’s very little you can do. If a potentially elite, dynamic receiver with some flaws like DGB goes in the top-40, you kind of have to take it on the chin. If he lasts up towards pick #50 — watch out. And there is some sentiment that he could fall out of the top-50. If it doesn’t happen, it increases the likelihood of an O-line pick in round two.

Seattle’s visit with Mario Edwards Jr. also adds a layer of intrigue. The defensive options later in this draft are thinner than the O-line options. Could they move up for a defender if DGB is out of reach?

If they take an offensive lineman at #63 I think we could see a defensive lineman drafted at the back end of round three (is Frank Clark a possibility?). Then in round four you can focus on drafting from a large pool of athletic offensive linemen, you can look at running back and finding a receiver/kick returner.

Possible round 2-4 projection based on Jeremiah’s mock

Round 2: O-lineman
Round 3: D-lineman
Round 4: Running back
Round 4: O-lineman (center?)
Round 4: Receiver/return man

Would the Seahawks trade Michael Bennett? (No, but…)

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Michael Bennett disputed reports he wants a trade, but he does want more money

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt following the Carroll/Schneider regime it’s to expect the unexpected. The high profile trades, the intriguing draft picks, starting a 5-10 rookie quarterback and winning a Super Bowl with him a year later.

Nothing is off the table.

Remember how shocked you were when you found out Percy Harvin was going to the Jets for a late round pick? Remember how shocked you were when you read about the Jimmy Graham deal? Remember how shocked you were when it appeared Marshawn Lynch was on the way out, only for a long drawn-out U-turn and eventual re-signing?

Very little about the last five years has been predictable. And that’s why I’m writing this piece today.

I don’t expect the Seahawks to trade Michael Bennett. In fact it’d be pretty dumb. He really is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. Possibly top-five. He was probably the best player on the field in the Super Bowl. The image of him riding a bicycle around Century Link Field after the NFC Championship game is one of the most iconic in Seahawks history. A surreal yet fitting conclusion to a weird afternoon in Seattle.

I’m not sure why Clarence Hill’s sources indicated Bennett wanted a trade to Atlanta and a new contract. I do think, however, that it’d be wrong to write off that report as nonsense simply because the Seahawks and Bennett have denied it.

The Alex Boone/Jim Harbaugh situation is a gentle reminder of the type of thing that goes on in the NFL. If you missed the story, Boone gave a passionate defense of Harbaugh during the season, stating:

“I’m really kind of sick of everybody talking about my coach, especially because he’s like a brother to me. So if I were everybody I’d just keep their mouth shut because they don’t want me coming after them. Especially Jay Glazer, Deion, all these guys. I’m kind of sick of it. Leave my coach alone.”

Here’s what Boone told Andrea Kramer following Harbaugh’s departure:

“He does a great job of giving you that spark, that initial boom… But after a while, you just want to kick his ass… He just keeps pushing you, and you’re like, ‘Dude, we got over the mountain. Stop. Let go.’ He kind of wore out his welcome… I think he just pushed guys too far. He wanted too much, demanded too much, expected too much. You know, ‘We gotta go out and do this. We gotta go out and do this. We gotta go out and do this.’ And you’d be like, ‘This guy might be clinically insane. He’s crazy.’… I think that if you’re stuck in your ways enough, eventually people are just going to say, ‘Listen, we just can’t work with this.’”

I don’t think Bennett was lying when he disputed the report suggesting he wanted a trade. I do think NFL players generally know how to play the media game. At least the intelligent ones do. Especially the intelligent ones hoping to be paid more money.

Now we’re being told Bennett won’t attend the teams voluntary workouts. It’s not a big deal. They are voluntary after all. Are we really expecting Marshawn Lynch to show up? Yet there’s still this bubbling unrest it seems specifically with Michael Bennett.

There really is no obvious solution to this. Bennett can continue to be dissatisfied with a contract he signed only a year ago. He can hold out. It won’t change the situation. He’s contracted until the end of the 2017 season. Seattle set a precedent by not giving in to Lynch’s annual demands for more money. The earliest Bennett can expect to get a new deal is late 2016/early 2017 — when he’ll be 31. By that point the Seahawks might have little interest in extending his contract deep into his mid-30’s.

Trading him could create the kind of bad precedent they want to avoid. While they don’t want to be renegotiating deals with every key player a year or two down the line, they also don’t want to give the impression you can complain your out of Seattle. What’s stopping Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril or anyone else pulling a similar stunt in the future?

Even so, it was interesting to see the Seahawks being linked with Mario Edwards Jr recently — a player who can line up inside and out. There seems to be little chance he lasts until #63 — but what if the Seahawks acquired an earlier pick?

Again, let me be clear. I do NOT expect Seattle to trade Bennett. I’m not trying to argue it WILL happen. It’s the 20th April and we need something to talk about over the next ten days. As unlikely as this appears, we would’ve said the same about a “will they trade Percy Harvin?” article after the Cowboys game last year.

You never know what’s going to happen next.

It would cost the Seahawks a dead money cap hit of $6m to trade Bennett. That makes such a move even more unlikely — but it would free up an extra $7.5m in 2016 cap room and $9.5m in 2017. Considering extensions for Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are likely to be thin up front in 2015, you can probably make a case either way. The Seahawks had no problem taking a major cap hit after trading Harvin — although there’s no evidence to suggest Bennett is the same kind of locker-room headache that Harvin proved to be.

If the Falcons were willing to cough up their second round pick (#42) and a 2016 pick (possibly another second rounder) would it be a tempting deal? Only if you believe you can pick up the slack. Seattle’s depth on the defensive line isn’t great. You’d need to replace your best pass rusher in a draft where the value is at receiver and the offensive line. If Edwards Jr is even there at #42, he’d have to seriously improve his performance rushing the edge. It’d be the same for Owa Odighizuwa.

You also wouldn’t be receiving any immediate benefit for the trade if you used the #42 pick to directly replace Bennett. You’d essentially be swapping a proven commodity for an unproven rookie while paying a large sum of money for the privilege. It could make some sense, however, if you believed you could replace Bennett at #63 (or lower) and the #42 pick enabled you to target a different position of greater strength in this class (eg wide receiver, O-line). In that scenario you might be able to survive on defense, improve the offense and receive cap and draft stock benefit in 2016.

It’s very unlikely to happen. I know it. You know it. We all know it. Stranger things have happened though. You just never know what’ll happen next with this team.

Elsewhere…

— The Seahawks re-signed Lemuel Jeanpierre today. They needed the extra depth at center and this gives them some flexibility going into the draft. It’s fair to say, however, they’ll almost certainly prioritize adding a new center at some point in a loaded draft class at the position.

Tony Pauline published his updated rankings today. Pauline is one of the most sourced draft insiders in the biz, so this is worth noting. It’s interesting he now has Ty Sambrailo graded in round three just behind Daryl Williams. It suggests there’s a possibility he’ll make it to #63 if the Seahawks want to add a tackle/guard/center project. Pauline only has one pure center graded in day two (Grasu) and he has Mitch Morse in round five. Also of interest — Dorial Green-Beckham has a round 2/3 grade.

— Pauline also reports the Cleveland Browns are pressing hard to move up to #2 to draft Marcus Mariota and that Frank Clark will be drafted in the top-125 picks.

— With ten days to go my opinion on what the Seahawks do at #63 hasn’t really changed. If there’s a chance to move up for one of the top-8 receivers I suspect they’ll consider it using the fourth rounder acquired from New Orleans. They could just take a receiver in the late second. If not, I think they’ll take the best offensive lineman on their board.

— Mark Glowinski & Chris Conley visited the Seahawks. For a list of visits (defense and offense) check out Davis Hsu’s Twitter timeline:

Stefen Wisniewski agrees one-year deal with Jacksonville

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

A shoulder injury (and subsequent surgery) clearly impacted Wisniewski’s stock. We’ll never know how it affected Seattle’s interest. Pete Carroll not only admitted interest in the player during the initial burst of free agency, he also suggested they were “recruiting” and “battling” for Wisniewski. It all went very quiet after that.

He wasn’t the only veteran center Seattle met with. Chris Myers also took a visit. That meeting now looks like a fact-finding mission. How do the veteran options compare to this loaded rookie group? Player A could be capable of starting in year one. Player B might need a little guidance or competition. Last year Eric Winston came in to compete with Justin Britt.

Ultimately they should be able to find a long term option in this class. Missouri’s Mitch Morse remains a strong candidate. He’s also the type of prospect where you consider bringing in a veteran alternative. He’d be switching back inside from tackle. There’s every chance, like Britt, he’d grow into the role. Unlike Britt he would be responsible for a lot of the calls up front. That’s why you potentially bring in a Myers — just in case he needs that extra time to master the position.

It was optimistic to suggest the Seahawks could get Morse in round five of my last seven round mock two weeks ago. His versatility, athleticism, playing style and character could easily put him ahead of most of the center class. Hroniss Grasu’s lingering injury concerns could even put Morse at #2 to Cam Erving. It wouldn’t be a shock if Morse and Ali Marpet were battling to be the next off the board in round three.

If the Seahawks want him, that’s the round they might have to take him. That’s if he’s even there. That would mean potentially trading up for a receiver in the second, taking Morse to play center in round three and then going after a running back, a kick returner, a defensive player or another offensive lineman with the two late picks in round four.

Breaking down Mel Kiper’s three-round mock draft

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Mel Kiper has the Seahawks going corner and center in rounds 2-3

Mel Kiper insists this isn’t a projection (using capitals for emphasis) but it does give us another projection, errr, I mean list of names to run through as we consider options for the Seahawks in rounds two and three.

There’s a pay wall involved but basically we need to concentrate on the range from pick #45 up to #63 and then the end of the third. Kiper’s piece again highlights the possible attraction in moving up in the second frame versus staying put.

At #45 the Vikings take Dorial Green-Beckham. This could be the earliest he starts to garner consideration. We’re going to see a cluster or receivers go in the first round and that doesn’t help DGB. The likes of Nelson Agholor are going to be seen as athletic, consistent and safe. Good solid first round picks who can contribute early. Phillip Dorsett also falls into this category. Kiper has Agholor at #14 to the Dolphins and Dorsett at #31 to the Saints. Both picks could happen.

Eventually Green-Beckham is just going to provide too much value, too much upside. I’m sure several teams are going to be looking at moving up for him.

The Seahawks might be able to get into this range for the cost of the fourth round pick acquired from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham trade. It depends what counter offers are out there. It depends on a teams determination to move down. A team like Cleveland at #43 might be willing to move down if, for example, they give up their two first round picks to move up for Marcus Mariota. However, the latest report from Jason Cole has the Chargers moving up for the Oregon quarterback.

What a deal that would be for the Titans. You get the #17 pick, some change and Phillip Rivers? Talk about a bounty. At the same time, it could be a smart move by the Chargers too. Rivers is soon out of contract. It’s not often you get to replace an ageing long term quarterback with a highly rated prospect like Mariota. By accepting the situation they can solidify their long term future at the position for some initial growing pains. And they don’t even lose a single first rounder to make the move. Look how much it cost Washington to move from #6 to #2 for RGIII in comparison.

Back to the topic at hand. Can the Seahawks jump the Vikings for DGB? Again, yes if the right team likes the deal enough to drop deep into the late second. It’s a solid class with O-line depth in particular stretching into round three. Is that enough to consider dropping twenty spots in round two? Unlikely but not impossible. It might take a bit of extra spice to get it done.

Kiper has Devin Funchess leaving the board at #48, Tyler Lockett at #52 to Philadelphia and Sammie Coates to Carolina at #57. You can see the second run on receivers, leaving limited options for Seattle at #63. If they want to attack the receiver position in round two, they almost have to move up. It’s looking that simple. For a fourth and some change you have a chance to acquire a first round talent — a field-tilter according to Mike Mayock (DGB).

It’s an enticing proposition.

In this mock the top receivers are gone at #63 and Kiper isn’t including trades. For me in this position they’re likely to take the best O-liner on their board. Ty Sambrailo has the potential to play multiple spots on the O-line and would be a nice fallback option here. He leaves the board at #84 (Philadelphia) but could easily be a second round target for the Seahawks.

Instead Kiper has Seattle taking Florida State corner Ronald Derby. It’s an interesting pick because while he has plenty of athletic qualities and the ability to work the slot — he’s also fairly limited to that role. The nick corner is more important today than at any point in the leagues history. Is this a priority though? Derby tested very well at the combine but for a team that has consistently found starting corners later on, this seems like a high pick. You wouldn’t rule it out though.

The mock again emphasizes how difficult it could be to fill the greatest needs at #63 (receiver, guard, tackle). Unless they are smitten with Sambrailo, it could be a tough sell. Without wanting to labor the point, this is why it’s very easy to see them moving up this year. They haven’t done it often under Schneider and Carroll, but this might be as good a time as any.

In round three (#95) they get Oregon center Hroniss Grasu which appears to be great value and shows that they don’t necessarily need to go O-line at #63. The options in the middle rounds this year are pretty much as good as it gets. Grasu has nice length and size, he’s a technically gifted player and he’s a good fit for the ZBS.

In terms of my most recent seven-round mock, there’s some crossover here. I had the Seahawks moving up to take one of DGB, Lockett or Coates in round two (all somewhat attainable) and then taking South Carolina running back Mike Davis in round three. Davis is still on the board in Kiper’s mock at #95.

We don’t have to wait too much longer to find out what the Seahawks are going to do on day two. Finding ways to manipulate picks to get their key targets at center, guard and receiver seems like the key.

Mario Edwards Jr. to meet with the Seahawks

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

This is an intriguing development. As Garafolo notes, the Seahawks would probably have to trade up to have any shot at drafting him. So what’s the deal?

Jason La Canfora wrote a piece recently suggesting the media were missing a trick by not mocking Edwards Jr. in the first round:

“Why aren’t any of you guys writing about Mario Edwards?” one evaluator asked. “I look around the Internet at these mock drafts and I don’t think I’ve seen him in the first round in one of them. He’s not showing up in any of them. I think you’re missing on him. He’s going to surprise some people. I think he goes in the first round. In this [not overly talented] draft, he’s definitely a first-rounder for me.”

For what it’s worth, in my years of dealing with this particular scout, he has been overwhelmingly right. He’s a big reason why I called for Deone Buchannon going in the first round before last year’s draft. The hard-hitting safety largely was considered a mid-round guy who ended up going 27th overall. And this phenomenon occurs seemingly every year, be it Bruce Irvin or Tyson Alualu or Kyle Long. It’s part of the process, and reactions I got from some evaluators regarding Edwards was pretty telling.

Some were loathe to talk about him because, well, they would prefer I not write this column. They would prefer no one shine a light on Edwards. When the same names of defensive linemen show up over and over in mock drafts, you get a lot of smiles in the scouting community. They’re perfectly fine with it. They don’t want a lot of hype about a kid who they think may be falling through the cracks.

La Canfora suggests Edwards Jr. could be a top twenty pick, naming the Minnesota Vikings at #11 as a possible landing spot.

I haven’t mocked him in any of my two-round projections because, quite frankly, his 2014 tape is incredibly average. He isn’t a good pass rusher. Yet nobody can deny his potential and upside. If you want evidence of his freakish athleticism, well here you go:

Mike Mayock recently named him as one of the biggest draft risers:

“Back in August, he was over 300 pounds. At the combine, 279 — 272 at his pro day. Now he looks like a base defensive end who can kick inside on sub-packages. That gets some teams excited.”

However, Mayock also adds:

“The question is, though, now that you’re paying him as a second-round pick, which guy are you getting, the 300-pounder or the 272-pounder with an edge?”

So La Canfora is saying potential top-20, Mayock round two. If teams are having that kind of debate internally, why wouldn’t the Seahawks take a look? Is he intriguing enough to consider moving up for? We’ve debated a lot about how they might trade up for one of the top eight receivers in the class. If they are starting to believe none of those options will fall beyond the #50 pick (allowing them to spend one fourth rounder to move up 10-12 spots) are they looking for alternatives?

Are they of the opinion that none of the realistic options at #63 provide value so moving up is what they want to do? Whether it’s for a receiver or another position?

If that is the case, it makes absolute sense to take a look. According to La Canfora there’s little chance Edwards Jr. drops beyond pick #50. If he’s a second rounder as Mayock projects (and a second rounder with some question marks) — it’s a possible target.

Just not, in my opinion, at defensive end.

He’s 6-2 and a half, and ran a 4.84 at the combine at 279lbs. He’s since slimmed down to 272lbs. He has 33-and-a-quarter inch arms and recorded a 10′ in the broad jump. He’s not a sack artist (7.5 in three seasons) and that is the main issue here. He doesn’t look like a natural pass rusher. At all. In terms of size and athleticism, he’s interesting. But is he just another typical FSU defensive end who’s all style and no substance?

His dad played corner in the NFL so the bloodlines are there. You just wonder if they view him as a project to work inside — perhaps as a full time three-tech. He has the ideal height and weight for that (if he gets back up to the 285lbs range). He plays the run well enough and he ticks the right boxes in terms of arm length (minimum 33-inches). He’d still be a bit of a project but he offers so little excitement as an edge guy.

If we’re talking about a pure DE I’d put him behind even the likes of Frank Clark (see below). He’s a better 3-4 end where the stoutness would provide some benefit against the run. As a 4-3 D-end? I’d pass in round three. There’s just nothing off the snap, no juice. No great get-off or speed. Clark’s a bigger pass rusher but still finds a way to impact a game with splash plays. Edwards Jr’s total lack of production at FSU isn’t a coincidence. Was he too big? Very possible. But it’s a gamble to assume he can be effective 20lbs lighter. You might still be left with a weak edge rusher who suddenly isn’t as effective versus the run.

You don’t see great hand usage — the most underrated skill (in my opinion) for a D-end. If he isn’t winning with speed or get off let’s see a great bull rush or the ability to swipe away a tackle and compete to the quarterback or ball carrier. Too often he just gets tangled up in a pointless battle out of the play, failing to disengage.

Part of these visits will be to really find out what you’re getting. I suspect Seattle met with South Carolina running back Mike Davis because his 2013 tape is vastly superior to the 2014 stuff. He’s struggled with conditioning. So how good is he? How dedicated is he? Bringing him in could be about answering those questions. This could be the same situation with Edwards Jr.

Even if he falls a bit, they’d have to believe he’s one heck of a three technique in the making. It still feels somewhat inevitable that Seattle’s first pick in this 2015 draft will involve a move up to get a receiver or the best offensive lineman on their board at #63.

Let’s also not rule out the possibility of a smokescreen or some advanced scouting. Is he a well known target for another member of the NFC West? You can never rule anything out — although Seattle has consistently drafted from their pool of visits. I imagine they’re genuinely intrigued by Edwards Jr. and want to find out more.

I also wanted to pass on this article by Matt Hardman. He has Dorial Green-Beckham rated as his #1 receiver in this class:

He certainly runs more routes than given credit for, and that was apparent in his Reception Perception study. Even with inconsistent route running technique, he effortlessly separates from coverage. Those same movement skills translate to when he has the ball in his hands. If he is put in the right role, Green-Beckham will amass up a ton of yards after the catch in the NFL. It would certainly help if he had some better route and technical skills, but even without them, there is nothing he cannot do on the football field.

We’ve debated DGB’s ‘special’ qualities and how they compare to several other more athletic receivers in this 2015 group. Essentially, none of them can do what DGB does. None ’tilt the field’ like DGB (Mike Mayock used that term to describe him). He may not fall into range beyond pick #50 (although there’s every chance). Out of all the receivers the Seahawks might trade up for, he remains the one to monitor the closest.

Jaelen Strong’s stock could be impacted by the news he’s fractured a bone in his wrist. Ian Rapoport says Strong will need surgery at some point this year.

We mentioned Frank Clark earlier…

Last month we discussed Clark in two articles here and here. He could go anywhere from rounds 2-5 (or even later depending on how teams view the red flags). He is a terrific pass rusher though.

ULL’s prolific pass rusher Christian Ringo also has a visit scheduled in Seattle. Here’s some tape:

A final note today — Virginia Tech’s athletic offensive tackle Laurence Gibson will meet with the Seahawks. He only has one year of starting experience but excelled at the combine and could easily be a day three target.

Under Carroll & Schneider, Seahawks draft for the offense

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Since 2010, Seattle’s early picks have been consistently invested in the teams offense

Given Pete Carroll is a defensive minded coach, it’s not surprising that the Seahawks have been overwhelmingly offensive-minded in the first two rounds of the draft since 2010.

You often see examples of this. A defensive coach knows what he wants. He’ll back himself to produce a capable unit. The Seahawks found stars at cornerback, linebacker and safety shopping in day three. They fit key free agents into the defensive line. They’ve crafted the #1 defense in the NFL without investing a lot of draft stock.

Carroll’s expertise isn’t offense — although it’s very much his vision on that side of the ball too. By means of compensation it appears they’ve focused the draft to build the offense. Just look at the ratio in the first two rounds since Carroll’s arrival:

First round picks

2010 — LT, FS
2011 — RT
2012 — DE
2013 — WR (Harvin)
2014 — WR (after trading down)
2015 — TE (Graham)

Ratio: 5:2 to the offense

Second round picks

2010 — WR
2011 — G (after trading down)
2012 — LB
2013 — RB
2014 — RT

Ratio: 4:1 to the offense

They’ve spent three times as many first and second round picks on the offense compared to the defense. If you included the third round it’d be even more significant. Seattle invested their 2011 third rounder in quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, their 2012 pick in Russell Wilson and their 2014 pick was used in the Percy Harvin trade. So far they’ve only spent one third rounder on a defender — Jordan Hill in 2013. They didn’t own a third round pick in 2010 because the previous regime used it to draft Deon Butler.

I’m not big on trends because you have to judge every class on its merits. You also have to judge shifting needs, injuries, free agent signings and more. So much goes into impacting what you do in a draft. Yet it’s somewhat interesting that Seattle has focused so much stock on the offense.

That isn’t about to change either.

They’ve already spent their 2015 first rounder on Jimmy Graham. They’re likely to focus on the offensive line and wide receiver in this class. All signs point to the #63 pick being used either on a receiver or the top offensive lineman on their board. It also remains a distinct possibility that they’ll move up to target a specific wide out should the right player fall into range.

The Seahawks also maintain the #1 defense in the NFL and haven’t lost any significant parts this off-season. Replacing O’Brien Schofield is achievable on day three (he had two sacks in 2014). The addition of Cary Williams allows them to target cornerbacks between rounds 4-7 (where they’ve had so much success before). Signing Ahtyba Rubin takes some of the pressure off drafting depth in the interior D-line.

On offense the needs are much stronger. They have to find competition to start at guard and center. Luckily this is a rich draft for both positions and they should have no issue addressing those needs, even if they wait until the fourth round. They need a kick return specialist who can double up as a role player on offense — essentially filling the shoes of the largely ineffective Bryan Walters.

They also need a receiver who can grow and develop with Russell Wilson over the next 5-6 years. Jermaine Kearse could be gone in a year, while Doug Baldwin is only contracted until the end of the 2016 season. Paul Richardson’s future is in doubt after a second serious knee injury in his career. Kevin Norwood and Chris Matthews are still in the ‘prove it’ category. It would make a lot of sense to target a dynamic receiver who can contribute in 2015 while growing into a preferred and reliable target over time.

Let’s also remember — Jimmy Graham is 29 in November. He should be able to play to a high standard for at least another 2-3 years but it’s possible he’s not a long term addition. Is he another Tony Gonzalez? Or will that 6-7 frame start to gradually break down in his early 30’s like a lot of other tight ends?

Does Wilson need ‘his guy’? Does he need someone he can have a real chemistry with? Maybe, maybe not. It’s inevitable though that he faces greater pressure as an eventual $100m quarterback. That pressure will only grow with further responsibility — something he has to expect when Marshawn Lynch retires. It doesn’t mean Seattle will suddenly start throwing more. They might have to make more of the times they do throw, however, with Lynch no longer wearing out defenses.

When they’ve got their O-liners (the fourth round still looks like a sweet spot there) they can look at the gems on defense. A possible pass rusher for the edge and inside. A corner. They will probably consider adding a safety (although Dion Bailey showed promise last year). This will fill out the depth.

Essentially there’s not a great deal the Seahawks can do to improve defensively. Even though they ranked 5th overall on offense (according to Football Outsiders), there are still obvious potential improvements. The high ranking was based around a prolific run attack. Reaching the #1 spot on offense and defense is achievable next year if they can improve the passing game.

If you doubt whether the Seahawks will consider drafting a specialist kick returner — consider the #19 ranking on special teams. That was a considerable drop from 2014 (#5). Part of it was injuries hitting the depth. Part of it was the total lack of even a moderate kick-return threat. Walters was a fair catch specialist (only half joking). Adding a legit return man and gaining a little more fortune with injuries presents the greatest possible opportunity for improvement in 2015. The Seahawks could prioritize this area given it’s such a fixable issue.

I sense there’s still room for a ‘luxury’ pick. And by luxury what I really mean is ‘planning wisely ahead’. A player who won’t contribute much this year but potentially has a vital impact in 2016. Although the Seahawks have generally attacked needs early in each of the PCJS drafts, they showed in 2013 with the addition of Christine Michael two things:

1) They know how difficult it’s going to be to replace Marshawn Lynch and are being especially prepared for that eventuality

2) They have no issue drafting a possible ‘running back of the future’ early

If they see a running back they like, if the value fits, if it means being particularly prepared one year before Robert Turbin is a free agent and Lynch possibly quits, I think they’ll be willing to take that step. The stars possibly don’t align to make this a reality. It certainly can’t be ruled out, however, just because football rhetoric in 2015 undermines the role of a great running back. Seattle’s offense will always be focused on the run. That’s not the case for most other teams.

If you missed it, here’s my most recent seven-round Seahawks mock draft.