Before I get into the notes, don’t forget to check out this weeks podcast. We get deep into the Seahawks/Arizona tie, discuss PFF’s ‘grading system’, talk about some of the draft topics from the weekend and a lot more.
Alabama set to dominate the 2017 draft
It’s possible that Alabama could have four players drafted in the top 10-12 picks.
With every passing week it’s clear that Tim Williams is a fantastic EDGE rusher with everything a modern day NFL team looks for. He can use his hands to fight to the QB, he’s a capable bull rusher when he wants to mix things up — but it’s his speed and explosion from the snap that could easily make him a top-five pick. He is vastly, vastly underrated with 6.5 sacks in his last six games. He’s second only to Myles Garrett at his position.
Jonathan Allen has been compared to Ndamukong Suh this week and while I’m not a big fan of the comparison — he’s impacting college games in a similar way. His flying sack against Texas A&M is one of the best you’ll ever see. Not only that, he controlled the LOS throughout and even ran in a fumble recovery for his second touchdown of the season. He’s more of an inside-out DE than a pure DT like Suh — but he could be destined to go in a similar range to Leonard Williams in 2015.
Reuben Foster is a phenomenal linebacker. His performance against Texas A&M had to be seen to be believed. His ability to knife through a gap, sift through traffic and explode to the ball carrier will have teams racing to the podium next year. His ability to play stout against the run, impact the game in the backfield with TFL’s, go sideline-to-sideline and do a decent job in coverage practically makes him the complete defender. It is hard to imagine he won’t be off the board very quickly — possibly in the top-10. He’s the best overall linebacker prospect we’ve seen in college since Kuechly.
Marlon Humphrey had an incredible interception against A&M showing off his athleticism and playmaking qualities. He has it all — size, physicality, tackling form in the open-field, recovery speed, instinct, intensity. If you had to draw up the ideal modern day cornerback it’s Humphrey. In a loaded class for DB’s he is going to go very early. The only thing that could hold him back is a decent but not great forty yard dash — but foolish teams will let a 4.50 (if he runs that) dissuade them from drafting this guy.
On top of these four, Ryan Anderson just consistently turns up every week with a big performance. He lacks the length and twitchy traits of the names above but he’s just a really good football player and constantly around the ball. So often he’s right with Allen or Williams as they finish a play — or Anderson’s initial rush or ability to set the edge forces a RB or QB into the path of the bigger name for the stat. He looks like a classic AFC North type and would fit perfectly in Baltimore or Pittsburgh. I’m not sure he’d be athletic enough for Seattle — but we’ll find out at the combine.
Also consider that tight end O.J. Howard is likely to be a first round pick and Cam Robinson could get in the first frame by default based on the dearth of alternatives at left tackle (even though his pass pro and technique has been really poor at times this year & there are major character issues that need investigating).
If Ohio State dominated the early rounds of the 2016 draft — it’s going to be a whole load of ‘Bama in 2017.
Why the Seahawks might not trade for an offensive tackle
Quietly, we’ve entered a time where defensive football is king.
1. Philadelphia (4-2)
2. Seattle (4-1-1)
3. Denver (5-2)
4. Minnesota (5-1)
Now let’s look where each team is ranked on offense and defense:
(Arizona, who just held the Seahawks to six points, has the #4 defense)
Each of these four teams are winning games and playing well enough to be ranked as the best per Football Outsiders because of their defense.
Last year the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl carrying a soon-to-be-retired Peyton Manning who could barely throw. Their running offense ranked #17 during the regular season. Their two starting offensive tackles in the Super Bowl were Ryan Harris and Michael Schofield. They had a fantastic defense.
While we sit and ponder why NFL ratings are falling and why quarterbacks are injured or playing badly — let’s just consider this possibility.
Defense is key right now.
It’s not an unrealistic expectation that the Seahawks will improve on offense sufficiently to field an average or slightly above average unit by the seasons end. Clearly injuries have had an impact on their current ranking (Wilson, Rawls, Lockett etc).
Ultimately though, Wilson will never be as ineffective as Manning a year ago. The running game will surely improve from it’s current 31st placed ranking in the NFL. If they can get close to #17 even like Denver — with the way this defense is playing, they’ll have a great shot at a deep playoff run.
After all, which team do you fear in the NFC right now?
And here’s the interesting part — Seattle’s O-line is actually ranked #13 for pass protection. Only four teams have given up fewer sacks so far.
This is all with a much less mobile quarterback and no running game to speak of — having played some of the NFL’s best pass rushers — Suh, Wake, Donald, Quinn, Wilkerson, Jones, Campbell.
Yes it was ugly at times vs Arizona — but Chandler Jones and Markus Golden are exceptionally good players, supported by Calais Campbell working inside. There’s no reason to expect the same kind of problems against New Orleans this week — or in some of Seattle’s other games down the line.
I can’t sit here and suggest the Seahawks wouldn’t be a lot better with Joe Thomas or Joe Staley (although both teams’ Head Coaches insist neither is available). They would be better, providing both 32-year-olds stay healthy in Seattle’s ultra-physical offense.
But the Seahawks have to consider whether such a move is necessary when they might believe, not unfairly, that they’re doing well anyway. They’re 4-1-1, in control of the NFC West, well placed in the NFC and the numbers per F.O. are saying their pass pro is above average so far based on six games played.
Can they manage a situation like this? Yes, absolutely. They had to in 2013 when Paul McQuistan started eight games at left tackle. Russell Wilson was more mobile that year — but was he the surgically accurate passer we see operating in the pocket today? Did he have Jimmy Graham or Tyler Lockett? Or this version of Doug Baldwin? You can make arguments both ways.
Plus by taking on another veteran contract you are facing two possibilities:
— The need to go to one of your top veterans and ask them to adjust their contract, which may or may not go down well
— The need to absorb a big salary in 2017 and 2018, using cap funds that could be saved to reward deserving core players like Michael Bennett
These are things that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Seattle has just about recovered from all of the murmurings of Marshawn Lynch being unsettled and Kam Chanellor’s hold out. Do you want to risk rocking the boat again?
This may read like I’m staunchly against any kind of trade. I am not. I am indifferent to the idea and wanted to provide a different side of the debate that hasn’t really been made. If it happens it will be exciting to see a top left tackle on the field. If it doesn’t happen — I fully expect the Seahawks to manage the situation perfectly well.