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Assessing cornerbacks using their short shuttle times

Monday, March 20th, 2017

The short shuttle tests lateral quickness, explosion in short areas, body control and the ability to change direction quickly. We’ve talked about how important it appears to be for linebackers — but what about cornerbacks?

In this visual demonstration of the drill, Mike Mayock states:

“It’s important for literally every position. Why? For the little guys it’s obvious. Quickness, acceleration, change of direction. How about the big guys? Can they bend? Are you a natural bender or are you a heavy-legged waist bender? A great time for a defensive back is a 4.2.”

If a great time is a 4.2, it’s fair to assume anything quicker than a 4.00 is exceptional.

Since 2010, only four CB’s have run a sub-4.00 short shuttle and measured with 32 inch arms (Seattle’s apparent cut-off):

2017 — Kevin King (3.89)
2016 — DeAndre Elliott (3.94)
2015 — Byron Jones (3.94), Tye Smith (3.96)
2010-2014 — No qualifiers

It’s interesting that of the four names above, one could easily be Seattle’s pick at #26 (Kevin King), one was drafted by the Seahawks (Tye Smith), one was signed as an UDFA and kept on the roster (DeAndre Elliott) and the other was an athletic freak unavailable to the Seahawks because they traded their 2015 first round pick to New Orleans for Jimmy Graham.

It’s an indicator that an exceptional short shuttle on a lengthy cornerback is something the Seahawks find particularly appealing.

It’s not, however, a binding indicator. Byron Maxwell ran a 4.49 and Tharold Simon managed only a 4.31. So a mediocre short shuttle won’t necessarily take you off Seattle’s board. A good time, however, could increase their interest.

Here are the short shuttle times for drafted/UDFA cornerbacks in Seattle:

DeAndre Elliott — 3.94
Tye Smith — 3.96
Jeremy Lane — 4.14
Deshawn Shead — 4.23
Brandon Browner — 4.24
Richard Sherman — 4.29
Tharold Simon — 4.31
Byron Maxwell — 4.49

Here are the short shuttle times for select 2017 prospects:

Kevin King — 3.89
Quincy Wilson — 4.02
Budda Baker — 4.08
Fabian Moreau — 4.12
Jamal Adams — 4.13
Ahkello Witherspoon — 4.13
Chidobe Awuzie — 4.14
Shaq Griffin — 4.14
Gareon Conley — 4.18
Shalom Luani — 4.21
Rasul Douglas — 4.26
Sidney Jones — 4.28
Cordrea Tankersley — 4.32
Tre’Davious White — 4.32

Several prospects didn’t run a short shuttle, including Adoree’ Jackson, Marlon Humphrey, Marshon Lattimore, Obi Melifonwu, Teez Tabor and Marquez White.

Considering Mayock’s assertion that a 4.2 is a good time for a defensive back, those are some seriously impressive numbers.

For a bigger cornerback, Quincy Wilson’s 4.02 is noteworthy. He didn’t have a really explosive workout (4.54 forty, 32 inch vertical, 9-10 broad) but for his size (6-1, 211lbs) he ran a superb short shuttle.

Shalom Luani nearly cracked a 4.1, highlighting why he’s quite an underrated prospect in this class.

Kevin King’s time looks even better placed alongside those of his peers. He’s a genuine freak athlete.

It’s also a good way to emphasise T.J. Watt’s extreme agility. Look at the list with Watt included:

Kevin King — 3.89
Quincy Wilson — 4.02
Budda Baker — 4.08
Fabian Moreau — 4.12
Jamal Adams — 4.13
T.J. Watt — 4.13
Ahkello Witherspoon — 4.13
Chidobe Awuzie — 4.14
Shaq Griffin — 4.14
Gareon Conley — 4.18
Shalom Luani — 4.21
Rasul Douglas — 4.26
Sidney Jones — 4.28
Cordrea Tankersley — 4.32
Tre’Davious White — 4.32

Again, Watt is 252lbs. Chidobe Awuzie and Budda Baker are 202lbs and 195lbs respectively.

Here’s what Mayock had to say about linebacker’s running the shuttle in his demonstration video:

“In the ’09 combine Clay Matthews, linebacker from USC, he ran a 4.18. Think about it. A linebacker running what is considered a great time for a defensive back and oh by the way, it was the identical time run the year before by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.”

Is this a good time to mention Watt’s 10-yard split (1.59) is also comparable to the DB class?

Obi Melifonwu — 1.51
Kevin King — 1.55
Ahkello Witherspoon — 1.55
Gareon Conley — 1.58
Sidney Jones — 1.59
Quincy Wilson — 1.59
Tre’Davious White — 1.60

Watt’s vertical jump (37 inches) and broad jump (10-8) would each rank at #6 among defensive backs if he’d gone through drills with the DB’s.

Tyus Bowser was right there with him too.

And one other thing I noticed when running through the three cone results from the combine — if you rank the DB’s and linebackers together, Bowser had the fifth fastest time and Watt the seventh. Despite the fact they’re carrying an extra 40-50lbs in weight:

Kevin King — 6.56
Brian Allen — 6.64
Gareon Conley — 6.68
Howard Wilson — 6.68
Tyus Bowser — 6.75
Marlon Humphrey — 6.75
T.J. Watt — 6.79

(I get it, enough already about Watt and Bowser)

The point is though — there are several really enticing prospects in this draft class that make a ton of sense for the Seahawks.

They should be able to land a defensive back or a linebacker they really like at #26 and the options in round two will be strong too.

Saturday draft notes: Garett Bolles & planning ahead

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick might be this years answer to Sheldon Rankins and Keanu Neal.

Rankins tested as one of the most explosive players in the 2016 draft, while Neal possessed a combination of great athleticism and intensity. They screamed ‘top-20’.

There was a general feeling within the national/draft media that Rankins could fall into the 20’s (he was often mocked to the Seahawks) and Neal was being projected in the second round by many if not most.

They ended up going at #12 and #17 overall.

This year a lot of mocks pair Bolles with Seattle. Reddick is starting to rise in the national draft coverage but you’ll still see the occasional pairing with Pittsburgh at the end of round one.

In my latest mock draft I had Bolles at #6 to the Jets and Reddick at #11 to the Saints.

Here’s why…

Bolles had a terrific combine, highlighted by a superb 9-7 broad jump and a 3.00 TEF score (TEF explained here). His tape is exceptional. There just aren’t many college tackles capable of opening their hips and turning a D-liner to open up running lanes with the mastery shown by Bolles. His desire to reach the second level and punish linebackers/DB’s is especially appealing.

At the combine he was asked about his playing style. His response?

“As an offensive lineman, you want to be the nastiest p***k that you can be.”

These aren’t just empty words. That’s exactly how he plays on the field. Every snap. Every game.

The positional value, the attitude, the way he’s turned his life around, the athleticism. Everything matches up.

Here’s a piece we wrote about Bolles in November detailing what makes him such an exciting prospect.

Reddick meanwhile ranked as the second most explosive tester at this years combine (per TEF):

Myles Garrett — 4.21
Haason Reddick — 3.93
Solomon Thomas — 3.83
Jordan Willis — 3.70
Ife Odenigbo — 3.61

Myles Garrett’s physical profile is generational. Reddick is much smaller and therefore less freaky — but he’s still a tremendously explosive athlete. Considering his terrific final year at Temple (22.5 TFL’s) plus his character, grit and versatility to play several roles (including rushing the passer) — he looks like a lock to crack the top-15.

It’s hard to imagine either lasting to #26. Even if Bolles’ age factors in and the inflated free agent spending is a review of how teams view this O-line class — someone between #4 and #25 will surely roll the dice?

And yet here’s some words from Daniel Jeremiah to at least offer some hope if you’re #1 choice for Seattle in round one is an offensive linemen who ‘wants to be the nastiest p***k’ he can be:

“Much has been made about the lack of elite offensive linemen in this year’s draft class. I don’t believe we will see a lineman drafted in the top 10, which is a very rare occurrence. However, I do believe we will see four of them come off the board in the first round. Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp is clearly the top interior offensive line prospect and I have him as the best linemen overall as well. I expect him to go in the top 20. Here are the three offensive tackles likely to land in the first round: Garett Bolles (Utah), Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin).”

He goes on to say…

“As mentioned above, it is a three-player race to be the first offensive tackle off the board. In talking to coaches and scouts around the league, the name generating the most buzz is Alabama’s Cam Robinson. He’s not without faults on tape (he overextends too much and his balance is an issue at times) but he has outstanding size, length and power. He had a combine workout that was better than people expected, and he was very impressive in his team interviews. I won’t be surprised if he ends up being the first offensive tackle selected, landing between picks 15 and 20.”

If the first tackle leaves the board as late as the 20th pick and it isn’t Bolles, he will be within striking range for Seattle. Here are the teams picking between 21-25:

#21 Detroit — spent millions on their O-line in free agency
#22 Miami — have greater needs at linebacker and safety
#23 New York Giants — could be a consideration
#24 Oakland — more likely to focus on defense
#25 Houston — could consider O-line but currently have no long-term quarterback

Of course, this assumes Jeremiah’s scenario plays out as suggested. You need Cam Robinson to be the first tackle off the board and Forrest Lamp to be the first O-liner. Bolles needs to last beyond the top-20.

It still seems a stretch. After all, Jeremiah didn’t rank Germain Ifedi in his top-50 prospects right before the 2016 draft and he had Taylor Decker at #31. With hindsight, both players were underrated in terms of their placing in last years class.

(DJ also had the aforementioned Rankins and Neal at #26 and #46 respectively)

The Jets at #6, the Panthers at #8, the Bengals at #9, the Colts at #15 and the Ravens at #16 could all seriously consider Bolles. At the absolute latest he’d be a great pick for the Broncos at #20.

He was the best left tackle in college football last season and he’s the best offensive lineman in this draft.

Bolles, if he lasted, has the potential to be a stud right tackle for this team. He possesses the punishing tenacity and attitude of Breno Giacomini with a far superior explosive, athletic profile. His backstory is the definition of ‘Seahawky’.

If Luke Joeckel can provide some consistency and solidity to the left tackle position, a group consisting of Joeckel-Glowinski-Britt-Ifedi-Bolles might afford the Seahawks an opportunity to take a step forward in 2016, even if they aren’t that much more experienced than they were a year ago.

Alternatively they could also put Joeckel at left guard and show faith in George Fant’s development at tackle.

The other thing to consider is whether another first round pick on an offensive lineman is part of Seattle’s plan. At the combine John Schneider admitted they were too young and raw in 2016. Another first round pick only adds more inexperience to the O-line.

While there’s a feeling that their greatest current weakness is the O-line, this team is known to plan ahead. And that could mean focusing on the defense (this is, after all, very much a defensive draft).

Kam Chancellor is out of contract in a years time, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril come off the books in 2019.

Could they all re-sign? Possibly. We also know Chancellor and the Seahawks have had financial disagreements before, Thomas has contemplated retirement and the recent talk about Sherman casts a new light on his future (notice that the rumour hasn’t been denied anywhere?).

Look at the Arizona Cardinals as an example of how things can change very quickly. They lost several key defensive pieces in free agency and in a year might lose Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald to retirement.

There isn’t a quarterback in waiting at the moment. The Cardinals face, possibly, the prospect of a semi-serious rebuild over the next 2-3 years.

The Seahawks are unlikely to make this mistake and that’s why finding possible long term pieces for their secondary and at linebacker could be the key to this draft, even if everyone else thinks they’ll zone in on the O-line again.

Why T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser compare to Khalil Mack

Friday, March 17th, 2017

How athletic are T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser?

They’re special. Not just in this draft class but also on a NFL level.

Khalil Mack special, in fact.

This hasn’t really been discussed, possibly because they ran middling forty times (Watt a 4.69, Bowser a 4.65). Yet they excelled in every other test. Watt scored a 140.4 in pSPARQ, Bowser a 142.7.

So what can we learn from their testing results?

Both are really quick over 10-yards

It isn’t very often that a linebacker is going to run forty yards in a straight line. The 10-yard splits and short area quickness drills are arguably more pertinent for linebackers, defensive linemen and offensive linemen.

A 10-yard split in the 1.5’s is considered elite. Both Watt and Bowser ran a 1.59. So while they might not be running like Von Miller over forty yards, they most definitely are over ten.

Here’s how they rank next to a collection of peers and NFL stars:

Sean Lee — 1.54
Anthony Barr — 1.57
Luke Kuechly — 1.57
Telvin Smith — 1.57
Bobby Wagner — 1.57
Jordan Willis — 1.57
Vic Beasley — 1.59
Tyus Bowser — 1.59
Haason Reddick — 1.59
T.J. Watt — 1.59
Lavonte David — 1.60
Von Miller – 1.62
Jamie Collins — 1.64
Thomas Davis — 1.64
Khalil Mack — 1.64
K.J. Wright — 1.66
Shaq Thompson — 1.69

Officially they are quicker over 10-yards than Von Miller and Khalil Mack. They’re in the same range as NFL studs like Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly and Vic Beasley. They ran the same split as potential top-15 pick Haason Reddick.

In the test of speed that arguably matters at their position, both players excelled.

Both have great agility

As noted in a recent article, the short shuttle appears to be crucial for linebackers (at least in Seattle). Bowser didn’t run a short shuttle at the combine but Watt recorded the fastest time by a linebacker (4.13) despite being the second heaviest (Ryan Anderson is one pound heavier than Watt).

Bowser did run the three cone, recording a 6.75 compared to Watt’s 6.79. Both scores ranked in the top five among linebackers.

So again, how does this compare to their peers?

Short shuttle

Thomas Davis — 4.01
Von Miller — 4.06
Shaq Thompson — 4.08
Luke Kuechly — 4.12
T.J. Watt — 4.13
Vic Beasley — 4.15
Sean Lee — 4.16
Khalil Mack — 4.18
Anthony Barr — 4.19
Lavonte David — 4.22
Bobby Wagner — 4.28
Jordan Willis — 4.28
Zach Cunningham — 4.29
Jamie Collins — 4.32
K.J. Wright — 4.35
Haason Reddick — 4.37
Telvin Smith — 4.57

Three cone

Von Miller — 6.70
Tyus Bowser — 6.75
T.J. Watt — 6.79
Anthony Barr — 6.82
Jordan Willis — 6.85
Sean Lee — 6.89
Vic Beasley — 6.91
Luke Kuechly — 6.92
Shaq Thompson — 6.99
Haason Reddick — 7.01
Zach Cunningham — 7.03
Telvin Smith — 7.04
Khalil Mack — 7.08
Jamie Collins — 7.10
Thomas Davis — 7.10
Bobby Wagner — 7.10
K.J. Wright — 7.21
Lavonte David — 7.28

Of the 18 names listed above, only three players ran a three cone in the 6.7’s — Von Miller, T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser.

They were considerably quicker than a number of top linebackers (Sean Lee, Telvin Smith, Thomas Davis, Lavonte David, Jamie Collins) and were also quicker than Anthony Barr, Vic Beasley and Khalil Mack.

Watt’s short shuttle (4.13) is 0.44 seconds faster than Telvin Smith’s despite a 34lb weight disadvantage. He’s only 0.01 seconds slower than Luke Kuechly. The three other players that beat Watt in the short shuttle were Thomas Davis (230lbs), Von Miller (246lbs) and Shaq Thompson (228lbs). Watt is 252lbs.

Both are really explosive

The vertical and broad jumps measure explosive traits. Again, both Watt and Bowser tested extremely well with very similar numbers. Watt managed a 37 inch vertical and a 10-8 broad jump. Bowser recorded a 37.5 inch vertical and a 10-6 broad.

Vertical jump

Jamie Collins — 41.5
Vic Beasley — 41
Khalil Mack — 40
Bobby Wagner — 39.5
Jordan Willis — 39
Luke Kuechly — 38
Tyus Bowser — 37.5
Sean Lee — 37.5
Von Miller — 37
T.J. Watt — 37
Lavonte David — 36.5
Thomas Davis — 36.5
Haason Reddick — 36.5
Zach Cunningham — 35
Anthony Barr — 34.5
K.J. Wright — 34
Shaq Thompson — 33.5
Telvin Smith — 31.5

Broad jump

Jamie Collins — 11-7
Haason Reddick — 11-1
Bobby Wagner — 11-0
Vic Beasley — 10-10
Khalil Mack — 10-8
T.J. Watt — 10-8
Tyus Bowser — 10-6
Von Miller — 10-6
Anthony Barr — 10-5
Zach Cunningham — 10-5
Jordan Willis — 10-5
Luke Kuechly — 10-3
Sean Lee — 10-0
K.J. Wright — 10-0
Lavonte David — 9-11
Telvin Smith — 9-11
Shaq Thompson — 9-9
Thomas Davis — 9-7

It’s also important to take size into account. Some of the linebackers listed weigh between 220-230lbs — considerably lighter than both Watt and Bowser:

Anthony Barr — 255
Jordan Willis — 255
T.J. Watt — 252
Khalil Mack — 251
Jamie Collins — 250
Tyus Bowser — 247
Vic Beasley — 246
Von Miller — 246
K.J. Wright — 246
Luke Kuechly — 242
Bobby Wagner — 241
Haason Reddick — 237
Sean Lee — 236
Zach Cunningham — 234
Lavonte David — 233
Thomas Davis — 230
Shaq Thompson — 228
Telvin Smith — 218

So not only are Watt and Bowser testing favourably compared to their peers and the best linebackers in the NFL, they’re doing it in some cases with 20lbs of extra weight.

The only test where they aren’t performing at an extremely strong level is the forty yard dash:

Bobby Wagner — 4.46
Haason Reddick — 4.52
Telvin Smith — 4.52
Vic Beasley — 4.53
Von Miller — 4.53
Jordan Willis — 4.53
Luke Kuechly — 4.58
Thomas Davis — 4.60
Sean Lee — 4.60
Jamie Collins — 4.64
Shaq Thompson — 4.64
Tyus Bowser — 4.65
Lavonte David — 4.65
Khalil Mack — 4.65
Anthony Barr — 4.66
Zach Cunningham — 4.67
T.J. Watt — 4.69
K.J. Wright — 4.71

Even then, they’re in the same range as Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack. They just aren’t close to the times posted by Wagner, Reddick and Miller.

If the forty yard dash is less important at their position than the 10-yard split, short shuttle, three cone, broad jump and vertical jump — there’s a strong case to be made that Watt and Bowser are not just exceptional athletes in this draft class. They are exceptional athletes at a NFL level too.

Let’s isolate Khalil Mack. Here are his combine numbers compared to Watt and Bowser:

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

Short shuttle
T.J. Watt — 4.13
Tyus Bowser — DNP
Khalil Mack — 4.18

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

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

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

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

Mack is superior to both in one test — the vertical jump. That’s it.

Even in terms of production there’s not a great deal of difference. Here’s how they performed during their final season of college football:

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

Production, physical profile, explosive traits, short area quickness — all comparable between Mack, Watt and Bowser.

It’d be naive to suggest any player with Mack’s physical profile is going to mimic his pro career. That isn’t realistic. The purpose of this piece and the comparison is to assess the level of Watt and Bowser’s ceiling.

It’s interesting to contemplate, however, how Watt and Bowser would be judged had they had the same kind of consistent college career. Mack had an accomplished four-year stint at Buffalo and gradually honed his craft. He chose not to declare as a junior after receiving feedback from the advisory committee and had a textbook progression from college player to pro.

Watt was a one-year starter at Wisconsin after switching positions from tight end. Bowser was a basketball player who transitioned to football. Both players suffered debilitating injuries.

So while they have similar athletic profiles, unlike Mack they may require further development (and time) before reaching their potential.

You’ll also notice Jordan Willis’ name high on a lot of the lists. He might be more of a pure EDGE rather than a flexible SAM/LEO with the potential to play inside in the 4-3 under — but he’s another name certainly worth monitoring. I haven’t spent as much time on him as I’d like. He’s on a list of priorities for this week.

Seahawks updates

Seattle added two new free agents today — offensive lineman Oday Aboushi and linebacker Arthur Brown. They re-signed Luke Willson and Deshawn Shead to one-year deals. They’ll meet with defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois on Sunday and met today with offensive tackle Ryan Clady.

Michael Lombardi: Seahawks willing to deal Sherman

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Michael Lombardi is the former GM of the Browns and most recently worked in New England as an assistant to the coaching staff.

He had some interesting things to say in the following podcast about Richard Sherman and the Seahawks:

Here are the quotes:

“If they (the Saints) were to call the Seattle Seahawks up and say, ‘we would be interested in obtaining Richard Sherman, would you be willing to do it?’ — I truly believe based on what I hear in the National Football League that the Seahawks would in fact for the right deal trade Richard Sherman. He has two years left at around $11m a year. He’s two years older than Malcolm Butler… he would come in and fix their defense in a style they want to play. They want to emulate the Seattle defense in New Orleans. So could that be a trade that they make? To me that’s an option. I’m not saying they’re going to do that but it would be an option.”

He goes on to say…

“I think Seattle really thought twice about paying Richard Sherman. They felt they had to when they won the Super Bowl. Now their cap’s kind of a mess and they need to fix it so I think the reason they need to fix it is because they put all that money in the corner position in a defense where, we feel you can draft players that fit that scheme. Seattle did it, they’ve done it over and over again. They rewarded Sherman. I think New Orleans would be better off drafting.”

And then this…

“They’ve paid a lot of players. I think they would have to get their cap back in shape. They don’t have very much cap room now. They signed Eddie Lacy on a really pay-for-play deal which is probably the right thing to do but again, the scheme in Seattle allows you to find corners especially size/speed corners of which there’s a bundle of them in this draft that can play deep third of the defense, they’ll tackle and they can play within the scheme.”

This is a difficult one to digest. On the one hand, it would be an unusual move for the Seahawks to make, especially a week into the new league year. If such a trade was forthcoming, it likely would’ve come together at the combine or the early stages of free agency.

There’s also very little chance of the Seahawks getting market value considering Sherman’s age (he turns 29 this month) and the rich upcoming cornerback class.

And yet Lombardi is relatively connected and doesn’t hedge at all in this podcast. There was a lot of unrest surrounding Sherman at the end of last season and he did, for whatever reason, become a distraction.

It’s probably a non-story but neither is it one to immediately dismiss outright.

The absolute best Seattle could hope to gain in a trade with New Orleans would probably be the #32 pick they recently acquired from New England. Given the Saints’ desperation to repair their defense, an injection of pure talent could be preferable over an inexperienced rookie.

Yet the Seahawks, by trading Sherman, would be forcing themselves to not only replace one of their best players but also fill the existing void on the other side of the field. If they had ready made replacements on the roster, it would make more sense. They don’t, so would be taking a huge risk.

So while a trade seems unlikely, the concerning question right now is — how does this team really feel about Sherman? Is it simply a marriage of convenience? And what kind of dynamic can we expect in 2017, given the way 2016 ended?

In other news…

Luke Willson has re-signed with the Seahawks, agreeing a one-year deal worth up to $3m. Deshawn Shead has also reportedly agreed a one-year contract.

How does this impact the draft? It probably won’t at the cornerback position with Shead expected to miss considerable time in 2017. Re-signing Willson lessens the need to get a tight end contributor for this year. They still might draft one with both Willson and Jimmy Graham out of contract in 2018. It’s likewise not an immediate priority and it’s entirely possible Willson and Graham will agree extensions in the future.

There’s also talk today of Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement to play for the Raiders. Who knows if Lynch is serious about this? It seems like a lot needs to happen. He would need to un-retire and commit to a return. The Seahawks and Raiders would need to come to an agreement (or Seattle would need to release him). That won’t be easy because the Raiders are unlikely to be willing to pay much for a one-year rental. The Seahawks, likewise, are not inclined to help the Raiders and waive their right to compensation.

It seems farfetched but I’m sure we can all agree, the NFL is better with Beast Mode — even if he’s in Oakland.

Anyway, at least it provided Bruce Irvin the opportunity to post this fantastic Tweet:

The Seahawks are also meeting with receiver Kamar Aiken tomorrow. Ricky Jean-Francois and Arthur Brown are the latest defensive players to visit Seattle. Veteran depth on the D-line and at linebacker appears to be the target in this latest stage of free agency. Offensive tackle Ryan Clady also reportedly met with the Seahawks today.

UPDATE — Arthur Brown has agreed terms with the Seahawks.

Finally, I also made an appearance on a British-based NFL podcast yesterday. You can hear us talk Seahawks and the draft via this link (click the 16th March podcast).

Updated mock draft: March 16th

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Notes below, including a few thoughts on each round for the Seahawks.

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Chicago — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#5 Cleveland (trade) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#6 New York Jets — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#7 San Diego — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#8 Carolina — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#9 Cincinnati — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#10 Buffalo — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#11 New Orleans — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#12 Tennessee (trade) — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#13 Arizona — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#15 Indianapolis — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#16 Baltimore — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#17 Washington — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#18 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#20 Denver — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
#23 New York Giants — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#24 Oakland — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#25 Houston — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#26 Seattle — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#27 Kansas City — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
#28 Dallas — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
#29 Green Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)
#30 Pittsburgh — Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
#31 Atlanta — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#32 New Orleans — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)

Seahawks trading down?

There’s possibly going to be a drop off in talent in the second round at around pick #50-55. The Seahawks pick at #58.

A year ago they moved down from #26 to #31 before trading up in round two (#56 to #49) to get Jarran Reed. Trading down in the first again this year could provide the ammunition (fourth round pick) to repeat the act.

With Kevin King off the board in this scenario (#24) they might be able to move down a few spots and still land Obi Melifonwu.

Trading up in round two? Who for?

It could be for one of the cornerbacks they really like. Cordrea Tankersley has size, length and speed. Let’s see if he can improve his broad and vertical jumps at the Clemson pro-day today.

They could look at T.J. Watt. His ability to play SAM and potentially the WILL could be appealing. He’d add another pass rush option as well. His agility testing at the combine almost certainly got Seattle’s attention. Tyus Bowser had a near-identical workout and could also be on their radar. Does either last to #58?

Wildcard options? How about Evan Engram (possibly out of range as a pick in the early 30’s) or Zay Jones?

Would they trade down in round two?

If there is a drop in talent in the pick #50-55 range, the Seahawks might trade out of round two (just as they did in 2011). The late second round is a bit rich for some of the linebackers in this draft. If they move down into the early third round, that could be the range to justify taking someone like Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel.

Who probably won’t be there for the Seahawks in round one?

Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick. They’re destined for the top-15.

Reddick is second only to Myles Garrett in this draft in terms of explosive, natural athleticism. Bolles is a beast at left tackle with the athletic qualities to go top-10. He sets the tone on offense. For example:

It’s also why his team mate (#54 Isaac Asiata) might appeal to the Seahawks. He plays with the exact same intensity.

What does this likely mean at #26?

Get a defensive back. It’s a DB-draft. There could be alternatives (Forrest Lamp for example) but this class is going to be defined by the cornerbacks and safety’s. They will go early and often. Every team is going to want a piece of this group.

There will be good options at linebacker and the O-line in rounds 2-3.

Notes on Obi Melifonwu

Melifonwu gets nitpicked more than a lot of other prospects probably because his physical profile is so exceptional. People expect to see a combination of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. When they don’t, an overreaction occurs.

Here’s a small sample of what he’s capable of. Watch him cover the slot receiver, recover and then break on the ball:

There aren’t many players in the league with this level of short-area quickness and recovery speed, with the explosive traits to make a play on the ball. There are even fewer players that possess this level of agility and quickness covering the middle of the field with Melifonwu’s size. So while you might be able to find that quick-twitch, nimble orthodox slot corner to make a play like this, they’re often 5-10 and 190lbs. Melifonwu is 6-4 and 230lbs. Why is that important? He’ll never be a mismatch vs tight ends and bigger receivers working inside.

The video below belittles the suggestion he plays without instinct and isn’t a good fit as an orthodox safety:

You can see him read the quarterback and flash the range to make a play on the ball. It’s a late throw by the QB admittedly. That said, he feels confident enough to attempt this pass because the safety is covering the middle. This is a throw to the left corner of the end zone. Look how much ground Melifonwu makes up to intercept the ball. That’s range defined.

Notice how in the two videos above he undercuts the route. That’s instinct. It’s football savvy. It’s knowing what you need to do to put yourself in position to make a play. Melifonwu’s athleticism will often get him to the ball — here’s the evidence he can take advantage when he gets there.

Here’s another example:

He’s reading this play and covering ground from centre-field. He might not be smashing people into next Tuesday like Kam Chancellor. Yet his combination of size and athleticism will enable him to make rangy plays all over the field.

Adding to this, here’s an interesting article on his play courtesy of PFF. They’re asserting he ranked ninth in run-stop percentage and seventeenth in tackling efficiency among CFB safeties last season.

It’s not a big surprise. Melifonwu doesn’t always deliver the highlight-reel hits but he’s an incredibly assured tackler. Again, his athleticism will often get him to a ball-carrier. The important thing is the finish. And he’s a finisher.

For a defense designed around not giving up the big play, creating pressure gradually and being bigger and faster than the opponent, he’s a good fit.

PFF’s comparison for Melifonwu in their piece is Kam Chancellor. That’s a little rich given the difference in their playing styles — but in terms of sheer physical potential, they kind of have a point:

This comparison is low-hanging fruit, but the reality is there just isn’t another existing player in the NFL who can play up to Melifonwu’s ceiling based on his size and athleticism. Chancellor’s role is one that many teams try to emulate and Melifonwu is one of the few capable of living up to that type of hype.

He isn’t going to be Kam. Nobody is. But he has the potential to be really, really good with the right guidance. There is a chance he could be tried at cornerback but his best fit is likely big nickel and strong safety. Essentially he’d provide depth behind Chancellor and the potential to take Jeremy Lane’s 71% of defensive snaps working the slot.

Melifonwu is set to visit the VMAC according to reports and the Seahawks are clearly doing their homework. The key to this fit isn’t likely to be his physical potential and tape. It’s the mental side of things. How does he fit in the locker room? Can he handle being part of a defense littered with alpha-males? We’ll never know how the Seahawks assess him in that regard. It’s probably the only hurdle he has to clear to secure a spot in round one.

Possible round-by-round options

This is a very tentative and most definitely incomplete list. It’s just a guide for now if you want to look at possible options.

In terms of what the Seahawks might look for specifically at linebacker and the O-line, I’d recommend reading these two articles:

Trying to crack Seattle’s linebacker code

TEF results 2017: What did we learn?

I’ve also discarded some positions (eg running back) in the early rounds. It seems unlikely they’d spend a high pick on a RB after adding Eddie Lacy this week.

R1 — (DB) Kevin King, Obi Melifonwu, Budda Baker, Justin Evans, Tre’Davious White

(Expectation — Garett Bolles, Haason Reddick, Marlon Humphrey and Gareon Conley are unavailable)

R2 — (LB/SAM) T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser, Jordan Willis, Zach Cunningham, (DB) Cordrea Tankersley, Ahkello Witherspoon, Josh Jones, Quincy Wilson (OL) Taylor Moton (WR) Zay Jones (TE) Evan Engram, Bucky Hodges

R3 — (LB) Vince Biegel, Duke Riley, Anthony Walker Jr, Elijah Lee, Alex Anzalone (OL) Isaac Asiata, Nico Siragusa, Adam Bisnowaty (TE) George Kittle, Jonnu Smith, Marcus Maye (DB) Shaq Griffin, Rasul Douglas, Shalom Luani, Jadar Johnson, Rayshawn Jenkins, Delano Hill (WR) Robert Davis, Jehu Chesson, Malachi Dupre, Josh Reynolds

R6 — (DT) Carlos Watkins (LB) Ben Gedeon, Jordan Evans (DB) Marquez White, Treston Decoud, Brendan Langley (WR) DeAngelo Yancey (K) Zane Gonzalez

R7 — (RB) Chris Carson (WR) Quincy Adeboyojo (DB) Brian Allen, Montae Nicholson (DT) Josh Tupou, Rod Henderson

If you missed it earlier in the week, don’t forget to check out the Sea Hawkers podcast appearance. The draft talk starts 30 minutes in:

Wednesday notes: Linebackers, splits, O-line, McShay

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

TJ Watt at inside linebacker?

Could this be the Seahawks?

Even if it isn’t, it could be an option.

We recently highlighted their focus on the short shuttle for linebackers. Watt ran a sensational 4.13 at the combine — the fastest time by a linebacker.

To put this into content, Budda Baker ran a 4.08 at 195lbs. Watt is 252lbs. His time is comparable to Fabian Moreau’s (4.12), one of the fastest, most explosive cornerbacks.

If the short shuttle really is a point of focus, how can they not be intrigued by Watt?

He’s also six pounds heavier than K.J. Wright and really explosive (Vertical: 37 inches, Broad: 10-8). There could be some flexibility to play SAM or WILL. His attitude and physical approach — plus his great hand use — lends itself to moving inside.

Note — In the 4-3 under the MIKE and WILL essentially play ‘inside’.

We know they want to add depth at the position. Pete Carroll specifically talked about players competing with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright (and carrying some of their extreme workload).

There are still a lot of questions though in terms of what they might do.

1. Are they even looking for a SAM?

Pete Carroll specifically talked about Wagner and Wright — pushing and helping their starting WILL and MIKE. He didn’t mention the SAM. Jeremy Lane played 71% of the defensive snaps in 2016 and they could mix between a 4-2-5 and a 4-3 Under depending on who they draft.

2. Don’t they just want extreme speed?

They’ve used 4.4 runners like Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith and Kevin Pierre-Louis. One of the best athletes they drafted (Bruce Irvin) eventually landed at the SAM. They also tried Cassius Marsh in the role. He didn’t have a great forty but his agility testing was through the roof (like Watt). If they did want speed they might be more inclined to look at Obi Melifonwu or Josh Jones as ‘Buffalo’ nickels.

3. What about Tyus Bowser?

We’ve talked a lot about Bowser potentially being on Seattle’s radar. His workout was almost identical to Watt’s. Almost the same forty, vertical and broad. Very similar splits. Very similar three cone. If they think Watt can move inside — that might be the case for Bowser too.

Watt took part in the Wisconsin pro-day earlier today with Vince Biegel, who re-ran the short shuttle. Tony Pauline says he timed in the 4.07-4.10 range. If accurate, that would be a freakish level of agility that would certainly interest the Seahawks. Biegel is one to monitor for Seattle possibly in round three.

Pauline also notes the Pittsburgh Steelers are ‘unlikely’ to draft Watt in round one but they think he’ll be gone by the end of round two.

He probably won’t last as long as Seattle’s pick in the second frame either. They were aggressive to go up and get Jarran Reed a year ago. If they wanted to trade up to get Watt in round two they have the ammunition to do it.

10-yard splits revealed

Reminder — anything in the 1.5’s is elite for a standard-sized EDGE. These are official 10-yard splits:

1.57: Jordan Willis
1.59: Tyus Bowser, Trey Hendrickson, Haason Reddick, T.J. Watt
1.60: Terrell Basham, Carl Lawson, Takk McKinley, Derek Rivers
1.63: Myles Garrett

Cliff Avril ran a 1.50 split at his combine. Bruce Irvin managed a 1.58.

For Willis, Bowser, Reddick and Watt — this is really good. Reddick is probably going to go in the top-15. His stock just continues to rise and rise. For Bowser, Watt and Willis it strengthens their case as pass rushers. All three were explosive and agile. Now they clearly have top-level get-off and quickness.

Non-combine linebackers continue to shine

The Seahawks are going to add a linebacker or two in this draft, even if a Haason Reddick, Jarrad Davis or T.J. Watt doesn’t land in Seattle. Aside from Vince Biegel possibly being a third round option there are one or two others that are starting to emerge on the pro-day circuit.

According to Tony Pauline, Kansas State linebacker Elijah Lee had an impressive workout:

Measuring 6025/229 pounds, Lee completed 18 reps on the bench, touched 38 inches in the vertical jump and reached 10-foot-2 in the broad jump. His forty time clocked 4.65s, the short shuttle come in at 4.27s and 6.91s was his three cone.

If Lee had been invited to the combine his three cone and short shuttle would’ve been sixth fastest among linebackers. He would’ve had the best vertical jump. His forty time is the same as Tyus Bowser’s and would’ve been the fifth fastest.

This is the kind of profile the Seahawks could consider.

It follows a similarly impressive workout by Jordan Evans at the Oklahoma pro-day. He reportedly ran in the mid 4.5’s, had a 7.03 three cone and a 4.28 short shuttle. He also had a very impressive 38.5 inch vertical.

Both players are explosive, agile and competitive. With three picks in the third round, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks do some moving around with the intention of creating a rich competition for places behind Wright and Wagner. At the moment their linebacker depth is non-existent.

There could be two waves for linebackers in this draft. The initial group of big names in rounds 1-2 and then another blast towards the end of round three stretching into day three.

Seahawks still need an O-liner? No need to panic

After missing out on T.J. Lang and having only added Luke Joeckel so far, there’s every chance the Seahawks will add an offensive lineman in the draft.

That doesn’t mean they have to do it in round one.

Many of the national mock drafts are focusing on Cam Robinson as Seattle’s pick at #26. TEF revealed to us that he’s an ill-fit in round one. The Seahawks don’t have to pass on the great defensive talent available to force this.

If they want to add competition at guard, the likes of Isaac Asiata and Nico Siragusa are certainly appealing and will be available after the first round. Taylor Moton at Western Michigan is a Seahawks type of G/T. All three matched up in TEF/wTEF.

However, they might not solely focus on our identified TEF targets as they go deeper into the draft.

One thing they appear to have done in the past is identify physical alternatives. In 2014 they couldn’t afford to make a move for DeSean Jackson (a Pete Carroll favourite) so they drafted Paul Richardson instead.

A year ago, would anyone dispute Germain Ifedi was targeted as a possible alternative to Kelechi Osemele? At least in terms of body type they’re a match.

That’s not to claim either pick has succeeded in providing an alternative — it’s merely an assertion on what the thought process might have been.

(But don’t make the mistake of thinking Osemele was an instant hit as a rookie in Baltimore)

One player fans discussed as a possible free agent target this year was Ricky Wagner. He ended up signing a contract in Detroit worth $9.5m a year — a price the Seahawks were never going to pay.

I don’t know if Seattle ever had any interest in Wagner or would show interest in a similar player in the draft. However, in December Tony Pauline compared Adam Bisnowaty to Wagner:

Most expect Bisnowaty to be selected earlier than Wagner, who was a fifth round selection in 2013, but feel Bisnowaty doesn’t wow anyone on film and won’t test off the charts athletically. Subsequently he will be under-drafted much in the same manner Wagner was.

Bisnowaty didn’t have a great combine and neither did Wagner. They tested in a very similar fashion and scored almost identical scores in TEF:

Bisnowaty: 2.51
Wagner: 2.57

It’s also worth highlighting Bisnowaty’s wrestling background (something Tom Cable looks for) and he’s a physical brawler, perfectly designed to excel in the run game. He’s 6-6, 304lbs and has 34 inch arms. He’s not a high-upside type. He might not be on Seattle’s radar. Yet if they’re looking for another Breno Giacomini, someone with a little nasty to their game and an edge, plus somebody who compares physically to Ricky Wagner without the price tag — just keep Bisnowaty in mind.

Todd McShay updated mock draft

The Seahawks take Malik McDowell at #26 which seems unlikely. McDowell mailed it in when Michigan State’s season went south. For a team obsessed with grit, McDowell seems like the last person they’d consider in round one.

Garett Bolles lasts until pick #20. Haason Reddick goes at #22. Ryan Ramcyzk at #23. Kevin King at #24. If it played out this way, Seattle could move up for the price of a third round pick.

It seems unlikely, however, that Bolles and Reddick will last that long.

This is the first national mock projecting King to be gone by Seattle’s pick — a very real possibility. He was always underrated (his tape is very good) and the combine helped shine a light on his talents. He’s a physical freak who played well in college with good character.

This type of scenario would present a perfect opportunity to move down. Budda Baker, Obi Melifonwu, Gareon Conley, Marlon Humphrey, Jarrad Davis, T.J. Watt, Jabrill Peppers, Justin Evans and several others are all still on the board.

King and Melifonwu stand out as possibilities for Seattle in round one. If they want King they probably have to take him at #26 if he’s there. For Melifonwu, they might be able to move down.

It’s another mock that highlights the rich options available in the mid-20’s this year. The Seahawks could be creative and land two impact players with their first two picks — possibly by repeating what they did last year (moving down in round one, then trading up in round two).

Coming tomorrow, a new mock draft and a look at options for the Seahawks in every round. The second round in particular is opening up to be a bit of a potential wildcard.

Seahawks sign Eddie Lacy

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Interestingly the Seahawks are still meeting Jamaal Charles. If they were to sign Charles too, it’d create a ferocious competition in 2017. Considering how much Seattle struggled in the run game last season, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Relying on Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise staying healthy would’ve been a gamble.

Lacy when healthy and in shape is a force. The type of runner that will commit defenders into the box and create better opportunities for Jimmy Graham and the other tight ends. It’ll help the play action game too.

The problem is, Lacy hasn’t been able to stay healthy or in shape. He missed most of last season with an ankle injury. This tweet from Bob McGinn suggests he’ll again need to lose significant weight over the summer:

This wasn’t going to be a problem for someone like Adrian Peterson. It’s possible Peterson was unwilling to sign a deal worth $5.5m ($3m guaranteed). Lacy is currently set to be the ninth highest paid running back in the NFL in 2017. It’s a modest contract and a minimal gamble with no long term commitment.

Lacy is also a better scheme fit — but don’t take my word for it:

With only Luke Joeckel added to the O-line, they needed a runner to get the hard yards. Lacy, in fairness, has excelled in that area:

Let’s see what he can do. It’s a minimal risk addition. If he gets in shape (admittedly a big ‘if’) and stays healthy, it could be an inspired signing.

What does this mean for the draft and running backs? It’s worth noting again that there aren’t many runners in this class that fit Seattle’s ‘type’. They’ve drafted players who weigh +220lbs and are really explosive, running in the late 4.4’s or 4.5’s.

It’s also quite an overrated bunch of running backs. Leonard Fournette will go in the top ten. There are two or three others who have a shot to be really good. Then there’s a lot of average runners.

The Seahawks had around $12m in available cap room after T.J. Lang opted to sign with the Lions. They still have some room to seek value or extend contracts (e.g. Kam Chancellor, Justin Britt).

We’ll see if they agree terms with Jamaal Charles. They’re also meeting with tight end Jared Cook today.

The second wave of free agency is oddly still quite expensive. The Chiefs just signed defensive tackle Bennie Logan on a one-year deal with $7.68M fully guaranteed. Value will be the key for Seattle if they add anyone else.

Monday notes: Joeckel, free agency & Sidney Jones

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Before we get into this, if you missed the Sea Hawkers podcast appearance posted earlier don’t forget to check it out. The draft talk starts after 30 minutes:

Thoughts on Luke Joeckel & free agency so far

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell thinks the Seahawks overpaid Luke Joeckel:

Taking a flier on Joeckel would be one thing, but the Seahawks are paying Joeckel like he’s a solid guard, with his $8 million cap hit more than the rest of the Seattle offensive line combined ($7.5 million).

It’s understandable why there might be a negative reaction to this deal given his underwhelming career to date and recent knee injury.

That said, let’s put the $7m guaranteed into context. The free agent offensive tackle market exploded this year. Russell Okung, Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, Andrew Whitworth and others all got paid more (considerably more in some cases) than anyone expected before the start of free agency.

People like John Clayton were talking about Seattle potentially signing Reiff on a $6-7m type deal. He got $11.75m a year from Minnesota. Apparently there was interest in a return for Okung. The Chargers gave him $13.25m a year to be the highest paid left tackle in the league.

If you told fans before free agency that Seattle would miss out on Reiff and Okung and sign Joeckel for $6m less — most would say ‘fair play’.

The Joeckel contract, in context of the situation, is modest. Matt Kalil was also terribly disappointing as a top-five pick and he too was injured for most of the 2016 season. Even he got $11m a year from Carolina.

Stephen Cohen points out Joeckel will be the 34th highest paid offensive lineman in 2017. More context.

Free agency rarely provides answers and solutions for teams. The Seahawks were priced out of the market for good and average offensive linemen. They move on.

They’re not alone.

Dallas, for example, don’t have the room to make major moves to help their defense. The Patriots have been active — but they’re willingness to give away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins (plus potentially Dont’a Hightower) has enabled them to sign other players. The Falcons have been quiet, the Steelers have been quiet, the Cardinals have lost several key defenders.

When analysing Seattle’s one move so far — and the moves they haven’t made — context usually provides a dose of reality.

They will have to keep managing and developing this offensive line. It doesn’t mean they won’t make further moves in free agency or the draft — and it doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t improve.

Going back to Joeckel, there’s no doubt his career to date has been a let down. He would’ve been the #1 pick in a bad 2013 draft but for the sudden rise of the more athletic Eric Fisher. Joeckel was a technician, capable of handling stunts and deception. He’d worked in a pro-style and spread offense, protecting two different quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel.

Physically he wasn’t as good as Fisher and ultimately that’s why he went at #2 instead of #1. He was still highly regarded and a consensus top-five pick throughout the 2012 college season leading into the draft process.

It’s possible the lack of elite physical skills are too much of a problem to overcome and at this level, he doesn’t have any compensatory skills (mental or physical) to counter the deficiencies. Yet he has shown, even in Jacksonville, that he can be serviceable. A blocker who can properly identify a stunt? That alone will be a boost for Seattle.

There’s very little to lose from the deal. Here are possible scenarios:

1. Joeckel excels and you have a 25-year-old quality tackle with a shot to retain him as a possible core player moving forward.

2. Joeckel excels and you have him for one year before he signs one of those $10-12m contracts, giving you a third round compensatory pick on a one-year rental.

3. Joeckel is average but that in itself might be enough to upgrade the position he ends up playing.

4. Joeckel is awful or gets injured and you have no commitment to him beyond 2017.

This is a Seahawks type of move. He has a point to prove, something at stake. Possibly his last real shot at making a career out of this.

If they can turn a seventh round former defensive tackle into a $6.5m a year guard — they have a shot to resurrect Joeckel’s career.

What happened with T.J. Lang?

According to these tweets, Detroit technically usurped the Seahawks:

You have to have a limit. Seattle likely stretched their’s to get up to the $8m range. Who’s to say if they’d matched Detroit’s offer ($9.5m APY) it still wasn’t going to be enough? The Lions might’ve gone to $10-11m.

Getting into a bidding war was never going to put the Seahawks in a position to get this done. They have to move on. And they will.

Sidney Jones falling?

After hurting his achilles during the Washington pro-day, Tony Pauline believes he could fall into day three of the draft. That would be a titanic fall for a player who would’ve otherwise been a top-15 pick.

It’s hard to imagine why he would fall that far. Yes he likely won’t play in 2017. The injury could also linger or impact his performance going forward. However, Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack both only fell into the early second round a year ago. Smith is now having to deal with drop-foot for the rest of his career. Dallas still rolled the dice.

The deep cornerback class could work against Jones but is there a team in rounds 2-3 that would be willing to take a chance? His talent and attitude warrant that level of faith. He seems like the type of character that will be highly motivated by an injury/draft fall.

If he drops into round three, 31.5 inch arms or not, I hope the Seahawks consider taking him. With three picks in that round it’d be a chance to get a possible future star at a bargain price. Jones is special. This probably won’t hold him back.

Daniel Jeremiah’s big board

It’s difficult to read into these things. Jeremiah, in his final top-50 before the 2016 draft, ranked the following players far lower than they were eventually drafted:

Sheldon Rankins — ranked #26, drafted #12
Will Fuller — ranked #29, drafted #21
Taylor Decker — ranked #31, drafted #16
William Jackson III — ranked #32, drafted #24
Karl Joseph — ranked #33, drafted #14
Josh Doctson — ranked #36, drafted #22
Keanu Neal — ranked #46, drafted #17
Artie Burns — ranked #49, drafted #25

In his latest top-50, Jeremiah has the following ranked within striking range of Seattle’s pick at #26:

#20 Garett Bolles
#22 John Ross
#26 Haason Reddick

All three could/should go in the top-15.

Meanwhile Marlon Humphrey is ranked at #43, Kevin King at #44 and Obi Melifonwu at #46. It’s possible one or two of this trio won’t be there at #26.

What it does highlight though — even if these players go earlier than they’re ranked on Jeremiah’s board, the options are going to be really good at #26. Several players are going to be very appealing when Seattle is on the clock.

Veteran running backs still on the radar

Ian Rapoport mentioned today that Jamaal Charles is the preferred option in Seattle. It’s possibly no coincidence they’re meeting with him after Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray and Eddie Lacy. Get a feel for the rest, then close in on the one you want.

The Seahawks are a shotgun offense these days. Charles fits that the best. Unless they’ve been highly impressed by Peterson, it’s possible Charles could be the player they opt for by the end of the week. Either way, they’ll be looking for value.

It’s unlikely Seattle wants to be the team setting the market for veteran running backs. They’d probably rather have someone else do it for them. Yet if the options for Charles, Murray, Lacy and Peterson remain limited — their value is going to be impacted as a consequence.

Melifonwu visiting Seattle

Aaron Wilson notes the UConn defensive back will take a trip to the North West. This follows reported interest and possible meetings between the Seahawks and Melifonwu at the Senior Bowl and Combine.

There’s no doubting Melifonwu’s physical talent. Learning about the man and how he fits into Seattle’s alpha-male locker room is the key to determining whether he’s an option at #26.

Seahawks meeting with Jared Cook

This is the time to find value in the (somewhat delayed) second wave of free agency.

Cook is looking for a new home after the Packers chose to sign Martellus Bennett.

Why Seahawks fans shouldn’t overreact to T.J. Lang news

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

T.J. Lang won’t be signing with the Seahawks. He’s joining the Detroit Lions after agreeing a three-year contract.

Lang spent the weekend visiting with Seattle. It’s possible the Lions stepped up their interest as he prepared to make a decision, potentially offering an amount the Seahawks and Packers were not willing to pay.

There are reasons why this shouldn’t be seen as terrible news:

1. Lang is injured
He’s set to miss all of the off-season as he recovers from hip surgery and a broken foot. He had a similar situation a year ago as he recovered from shoulder surgery — but he already had chemistry with his team mates in Green Bay. His first playing time in Detroit could be pre-season or it could be week one of the regular season. Not ideal.

Lang isn’t as young as the other offensive linemen getting paid this year. He turns 30 in 2017 and has had a few injuries. It might be something that concerned the Packers enough to balk at re-signing him.

2. Green Bay didn’t prioritise him
The Packers made two significant moves in free agency. They paid linebacker Nick Perry and brought in Martellus Bennett. Have a look at this tweet:

Lang clearly stated the Packers would get first refusal on any offer he received on the open market. They just let him join a competitive divisional rival, despite having plenty of cap room available.

Lament Seattle’s ability not to complete this signing if you want but Green Bay didn’t feel too strongly about needing to keep him.

3. The Seahawks can use this money elsewhere
There’s still a number of good players available on the open market and Seattle has money to spend:

They’re not going to land a big name free agent O-liner — but it’s a bad market this year. Supply is not meeting demand and look at the crazy contracts being handed out. Even Seattle is offering $7m guaranteed to take a punt on Luke Joeckel.

They should be able to land a free agent running back at a team-friendly price. They might be able to pursue a veteran defensive lineman like Connor Barwin. They can look at what’s left on the O-line or D-line.

And perhaps more importantly — they can use the $12m left to reward their own (see: Kam Chancellor).

Seattle clearly wanted to sign Lang. Why else would they bring him in for a pitch and visit? They likely wanted to do this on their terms though. Their price, their value. Not overpaying and getting desperate. The kind of approach that often keeps good teams at the top.

Nobody was talking about Lang two weeks ago. A lot of people wanted to see Russell Okung return. There were discussions about Riley Reiff and Matt Kalil. Lang only really appeared on the radar of Seahawks fans when it was revealed he was coming in for a visit.

That’s worth remembering if you’re feeling overly disappointed by today’s news.

***Update***

$9.5m a year and $19m guaranteed is a considerable sum. Reportedly Green Bay offered $7m a year and only $6.5m guaranteed.

Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt & Vince Biegel could fit in Seattle

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

When it comes to grit and agility, T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel score highly

We know the Seahawks are going to draft for the linebacker position (Pete Carroll spelled it out at the end of the season). Two players they might show interest in are Wisconsin pair Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt.

Agility

If yesterday’s assertion on the importance of short shuttle times is accurate, both players fit the bill. Watt ran the fastest time among linebackers at the combine (4.13) and Biegel recorded a 4.30. In comparison, Bobby Wagner ran a 4.28.

Yes the Seahawks clearly like SPARQ’d up dynamic athletes at linebacker. Yet there’s enough evidence, highlighted yesterday, to suggest a tough, physical LB with great agility will also be considered.

Grit

Here’s T.J. Watt talking about his partnership with Biegel:

“We’re so similar in our whole attitude to begin with on football and the high motor, trying to make a play for our defense all the time.”

And here’s how Biegel described being double-teamed in 2016 and how that impacted the defense:

“When I get double teams or more focus on myself, that’s providing opportunity for our defense to make plays. I’m not a big stats guy. I’m a football player, and I want our defense to play well. At the end of the day, the only stat line that means anything to me is the win column.”

Biegel’s NFL.com profile lists the following strengths: ‘Voted team captain. Known for intensity and all-out love for the sport’.

Here’s what Lance Zierlein has to say about T.J. Watt: “He is a tireless worker who pursues from snap to whistle and his brother, J.J., will be a tremendous resource for technique and pass-rush plan.”

Here’s an anonymous source on Watt: “This guy just plays his tail off… Boy, does he have technique. He’s Clay Matthews. Probably more explosive. Uses his hands well. He finishes things better than his brother (J.J.) did. I think he’s special.”

Les Miles similarly called Biegel a special player before LSU’s game in Wisconsin.

J.J. Watt describes in this video the ‘strong competition’ between the three brothers as they were growing up. “Nobody was going to mess with the three of us.”

Production

The Seahawks value run defense. Wisconsin had the #2 unit vs the run in 2016, behind only Alabama. They were also the #4 scoring defense (behind Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State and ahead of LSU and Florida) and ranked seventh in total defense.

That’s without a lot of big stars and five star recruits. Watt and Biegel have been described as the heart and soul of that defense. The two leaders of a very productive group.

When you watch Wisconsin games, Watt and Biegel not only work together to create openings but they frequently reached the quarterback at the same time. Against Michigan State they combined for 20 quarterback pressures. A lot of this was down to the creative (and effective) blitz packages used by Justin Wilcox — but the execution and understanding of the defense was also evident within these two players.

Between 2014-2016, Biegel had a combined total of 19.5 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s. Watt finished the 2016 season with 15.5 TFL’s and 11.5 sacks. And he did this:

Football IQ

Watt has stated in the past how much he has used brother J.J. Watt as a resource, sharing videos of tape and asking for advice. It shows not only in his play but also when he’s discussing the defense:

Biegel discussed his role at Wisconsin in detail at the combine:

If the Seahawks are looking for intensity and players that elevated a team to a level of performance beyond expectations, Watt and Biegel achieved that. They both tested well enough in terms of agility to be considered and although neither ran a particularly fast 40 time, they tested well as overall athletes.

The average pSPARQ score of pure linebackers (not converts like Eric Pinkins) drafted by the Seahawks is exactly 140. T.J. Watt scored a 140.8. Vince Biegel managed a 122.2 but that’s still better than the 117 scored by K.J. Wright. And Biegel’s short shuttle (4.30) is similar to Wright’s (4.35).

They’re both well sized too. One of the supposed knocks on Biegel, at least according to his NFL.com profile, is size. Yet he was 6-3 and 246lbs at the combine — the exact same height and weight as K.J. Wright. T.J. Watt is 6-4 and 252lbs with enormous 11 inch hands.

How would they fit? Pete Carroll often talks about utilising 3-4 personnel within his 4-3 under scheme. Both Watt and Biegel played outside linebacker at Wisconsin in 2016 (Biegel previously played inside) but it’s worth noting K.J. Wright also played OLB in a 3-4 at Mississippi State. Biegel could provide the necessary depth/competition at inside backer that Carroll has talked about. Watt is likely a SAM in Seattle — another potential need area.

The frequent pro-comparison for Watt is Clay Matthews. Bob McGinn’s sources made that reference and so did Mike Mayock recently. Watt, actually, has to be described as the superior athlete:

Name: Clay Matthews
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240lbs
Forty: 4.67
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench: 23 reps
Short shuttle: 4.18
Three cone: 6.90

Name: T.J. Watt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Forty: 4.69
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 10-8
Short shuttle: 4.13
Three cone: 6.79

Watt ran a similar forty and beat Matthews in the vertical, broad, short shuttle and three cone. That’s despite weighing 12lbs heavier.

Projections have Watt currently going in the first or second round, with Biegel potentially going in round three.

The Seahawks shouldn’t have any trouble finding a handful of linebackers they like. Skim through this short shuttle list and find the tough guys, essentially. And with others impressing on the pro-day circuit recently (Jordan Evans, Jimmie Gilbert) this looks like an underrated position in this draft class.

If the Seahawks do target players like Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu early, they’ll have a chance to bolster another key need before the end of day two. Watt’s explosive athleticism and incredible agility could put him in contention at #26. He’s competing with genuine freaks at other need positions.

Sidney Jones injury

At the Washington pro-day today possible #1 cornerback prospect Sidney Jones suffered a suspected achilles injury:

This would be a huge setback for Jones. It’s a highly competitive group of cornerbacks jockeying for position. A serious, long term injury could move him from #1 on many boards to #6-7. Especially if there’s a chance he won’t play in 2016.

Hopefully it’s not a very serious injury although a ruptured achilles can take almost a year to heal.

Two thoughts come to mind:

1. How much does this help players like Gareon Conley and Kevin King, two players who really impressed at the combine?

2. Why the heck are pro-days taking place within a week of the combine? We just saw some of these players going through drills and doing tests less than a week ago.

Seahawks seeking late round/UDFA defensive tackles?

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks attended the Alabama State pro-day and kept a close eye on 6-0, 339lbs defensive tackle Rod Henderson.

As Pauline notes: “This is the second time this week I’ve reported the Jets and Seahawks on hand to see a late round/free agent wide bodied NT/DT.He previously reported the Seahawks have an official visit set up with Colorado’s Josh Tupou.

It looks like they’re searching for cheap, early-down depth up front — possibly to provide a most cost-effective solution to players like Tony McDaniel. This is especially likely given the dearth of good early-round DT options and the extremely good alternatives available at positions like cornerback, safety and tight end.

If you missed it yesterday, the Seahawks also worked out Washington State safety Shalom Luani at his pro-day.