Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

Podcast: Seahawks needs, Adoree’, Jarrad & more

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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

Jarrad Davis pro-day results

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

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

Vertical jump (top five)

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

Broad jump

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

Davis also ran a 4.56 forty.

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

Tony Pauline’s two-round mock draft

Monday, March 27th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about Seattle’s picks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would the Seahawks draft back-to-back cornerbacks?

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Just a quick thought for the weekend…

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

The defensive backs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll say it again…

He’s Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

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

He’s sudden. The Seahawks like sudden.

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

He was a team captain at USC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday notes: Seahawks ‘think highly’ of Forrest Lamp

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Forrest Lamp on Seattle’s radar

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

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

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

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

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

Friday notes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mel Kiper’s mock & does arm length matter at slot corner?

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

No Garett Bolles in round one?

In his latest projection yesterday, Mel Kiper didn’t include Utah’s Garett Bolles in the first round.

Kiper has been one of the few national pundits pushing the possibility of Bolles going in the top-20. In his first 2017 mock draft he paired Bolles with Denver at #20. He also touted the Bills at #10 as a possible option.

This week, he isn’t even in round one.

Instead Ryan Ramcyzk is the first offensive tackle to leave the board at #16 to Baltimore. The other two offensive tackles taken are Forrest Lamp (#22 to Miami) and Cam Robinson (#25 to Houston).

It follows a suggestion earlier in the week by Daniel Jeremiah that Lamp would be the first O-liner taken (in the top-20 no less) and Cam Robinson the first offensive tackle.

It’s possible Kiper has received some information about Bolles’ stock. In this weeks ‘First Draft’ podcast he stated Lamp, Robinson and Ramcyzk “won’t be there” at #26 and if any of the group falls it’ll be Bolles. Kiper referred to him as a ‘boom or bust’ prospect.

Here’s the thing though — if players like Reddick, King and Melifonwu are rising up boards, some of the presumed top-25 will be replaced. This is a draft class where even the worst case scenario will be attractive.

In my next mock I was planning to address some of the media sentiment this week by putting Forrest Lamp at #15 and Cam Robinson at #16. Bolles was set at #10.

Let’s imagine the Bills go in a different direction.

After Indianapolis and Baltimore, there are a collection of teams more likely to go defense than O-line: Washington, Tennessee, Tampa Bay. Denver could take an O-liner but then it’s back to defense — Detroit and Miami.

It’s eminently possible that instead of Jarrad Davis, Charles Harris, Jabrill Peppers and Budda Baker — the likes of Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu could go in the top-22.

If Bolles gets beyond Denver, he comes into play for Seattle. It’s possible they’ll go defense even if he’s available at #26. Yet his extreme tenacity, athleticism and grit could help turn Seattle’s O-line into a strength over the next 3-4 years.

Does arm length matter in the slot?

If Bolles, Reddick, Melifonwu and King are off the board, would the Seahawks consider drafting a specialist slot cornerback?

And if so, does arm length still matter?

Jeremy Lane played 71% of the snaps in 2016. Generally across the league, slot corners are playing around 70% of snaps. Increasingly teams are fielding an extra corner or safety and playing nickel in base.

If the Seahawks wanted an upgrade for Lane (possibly with the intention of moving him outside as one of the few experienced CB’s on the roster) they’d be presented with a decent list of options:

Budda Baker
Adoree’ Jackson
Chidobe Awuzie
Fabian Moreau
Howard Wilson

These five do not pass the arm length test (Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms since Pete Carroll took over).

They are, however, all very athletic.

— Budda Baker ran a 4.45 forty, had the fourth fastest three cone by a safety (6.76) and the fastest short shuttle (4.08). His shuttle time is comparable to Earl Thomas’ (4.05) plus short area quickness and change of direction skills are so important in the slot.

— Adoree’ Jackson is a sensational athlete and the most explosive kick/punt returner to enter the league in a long time. He ran a 4.42 at the combine but didn’t do any agility testing as he wasn’t 100% recovered from an ankle injury. He ran a three cone at his pro-day yesterday, timed at a reported 6.49. If accurate, that would’ve been the fastest three cone at the combine.

— Chidobe Awuzie ran a 4.43, jumped 11-0 in the broad and ran a 4.14 short shuttle. That’s the exact same shuttle time as current Seahawks starting slot corner Jeremy Lane. He ranked in the top-ten in both the shuttle and three cone and has experience working in the slot. Awuzie’s also capable of making plays in the backfield (four sacks, six TFL’s in 2016).

— Fabian Moreau’s tape is hit and miss. In USC’s game against UCLA he made a beautiful interception but also gave up a deep throw working against JuJu Smith-Schuster and a far-too-easy inside slant for a touchdown. Yet his combine was remarkable — 4.35 forty, 38 inch vertical, 11-4 broad, 4.12 short shuttle. In terms of upside he’s off the charts.

— Howard Wilson was the only cornerback other than Kevin King to run a sub-4.00 short shuttle. If the Seahawks drafted him, Wilson’s 3.94 shuttle time would be the fastest by any defensive back selected during the Carroll era. His 6.68 three cone was third fastest among CB’s, level with Gareon Conley.

Lane’s arms are 32 1/8 inches long. Here’s the arm length measurements for the five cornerbacks above:

Budda Baker — 30 3/4
Adoree’ Jackson — 31 3/8
Chidobe Awuzie — 30 5/8
Fabian Moreau — 31 3/8
Howard Wilson — 31 3/8

Three of the players (Jackson, Moreau, Wilson) have arms that are less than an inch shorter than Lane’s. Is it that much of a difference working inside?

It might be given the propensity for teams to put a tight end or bigger receiver in the slot these days. Using a safety or ‘Buffalo’ nickel instead guards against mismatches and enables you to retain some strength vs the run.

Yet there are productive smaller DB’s playing in the slot. And the Seahawks love dynamic athletes.

So while history tells us they’re unlikely to draft a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms, if they see the slot as a vital need area and sense an opportunity to get a cornerstone talent, it’s worth not completely ruling it out just yet.

And if other attractive options aren’t there at #26 (Melifonwu, Reddick, Bolles, King) it might be increasingly appealing.

Focus on Adoree’ Jackson

The five names above stand-out for different reasons. Wilson’s quickness, Baker’s agility and tenacity, Moreau’s brilliant physical profile and after watching more of Awuzie yesterday, he could easily go in the top-25. Stud.

Yet there’s just something about Adoree’ Jackson that says ‘Seahawks’.

Here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks ago about Jackson that was never published:

Under Pete Carroll they’ve never drafted a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms. We can’t ignore that and it’s why the combine is a vital tool (drills + measurements).

That said, we also know Seattle is prepared to make an exception. A 5-10 quarterback probably isn’t their ideal and yet here they are with Russell Wilson. It took Wilson, however, to be exceptional in every facet barring height. His athletic profile, leadership, production, backstory, huge hands, creativity, accuracy. So yes they’ll make an exception for the right guy, it’s just the right guy might have to be Mr. Perfect.

Adoree’ Jackson has always been intriguing. He isn’t big but he ticks enough boxes that if he only has 31.5-inch arms (31 3/8 at the combine) they might be willing to make the exception.

Here’s where he excels:

Cover skills

In this area, Jackson’s as good as any corner in this class. He shows the ability to feel coverage and react and flash excellent redirect quickness/recovery speed. He consistently plays the ball and will bait quarterbacks into mistakes. Despite his lack of great size his tackling is more than adequate for the position with sufficient aggression (a problem for some CB’s in this class).

The production validates all of this. He had 5 interceptions in 2016 and 16 PBU’s (tied 11th in the country with LSU’s Tre’Davious White). While many people will recall the way John Ross juked Jackson off his feet in the USC @ Washington game — that’s simply a perfect example of why John Ross is going to be a top-15 pick.

This interception, his second against Washington, is a really ill-advised throw by Jake Browning back across his body. That said — look at the quick reaction by Jackson, the closing speed and the finish:

Character

No issues here. Jackson is well spoken and interesting during interviews. This heart-warming post-game piece with his mother was one of the highlights of the season:

What’s more, we’ve seen tangible proof of progress throughout his college career. This indicates he’s coachable and willing to learn. He turned from a gimmicky return specialist and jack-of-all-trades type playing offense and defense into one of the more accomplished cornerbacks in college football.

I noted three examples when watching his Draft Breakdown tape where he chased down a runner to prevent a touchdown. On each occasion he failed to give up on an apparent lost cause — making the crucial tackle.

Athleticism

He’s one of the most sudden athletes you’ll see in this draft class. He glides as a runner and shifts through the gears with natural ease. When he gets a head of steam — he just seems to be moving a lot faster than everyone else.

He might be the most dynamic return man to enter the league since Percy Harvin. He had eight return touchdowns at USC, averaging nearly 30-yards a return on kick-offs in 2016.

His third score on a kick return vs Notre Dame, hurdling the last defender, is a thing of beauty:

Also, this is not easy to do:

Jeremy Lane played 71.39% of the defensive snaps in 2016. Only five players played more defensive snaps — Bobby Wagner (99.35%), Richard Sherman (97.59%), K.J. Wright (97.41%), Deshawn Shead (85.09%) and Cliff Avril (77.04%). Michael Bennett would’ve likely made it six without his knee injury.

If Jackson was brought in to assume that role, they’d be getting plenty of bang for their buck. Add on the special teams value (especially with Tyler Lockett recovering from a broken leg) and there’s no reason to think the Seahawks would avoid drafting a nickel early.

Someone will probably take Adoree’ Jackson in the first round. Tony Pauline reported the following recently:

Despite the fact he’s likely to measure under 5-feet/10-inches at the combine most I spoke with say Adoree’ Jackson of USC is a lock first round pick.

They are willing to overlook Jackson’s height as teams have stamped the junior “a difference maker” at cornerback, as a return specialist and even at the receiver position.

There’s no denying the ‘difference maker’ tag and the explosive athletic traits he clearly possesses. He’s a special athlete. The type Pete Carroll has really admired in the past.

The question is — are the Seahawks willing to buck their arm length trend to go after a player like Jackson, knowing he can have an immediate impact as a kick returner and possibly start quickly as a slot corner?

Obi Melifonwu pro-day numbers revealed

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Obi Melifonwu ran the agility drills for the first time at UConn’s pro-day today:

Here’s an updated list of defensive back performances in the short shuttle, with Melifonwu’s time included:

Kevin King — 3.89
Quincy Wilson — 4.02
Budda Baker — 4.08
Obi Melifonwu — 4.09
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

Melifonwu is 6-4 and 224lbs. His shuttle time is 0.01 seconds slower than Budda Baker’s at 195lbs. It’s quicker than every tested cornerback with +32 inch arms apart from Kevin King and Quincy Wilson. Melifonwu weighs 24lbs more than King and 13lbs more than Wilson.

Here are the short shuttle times for drafted/UDFA DB’s in Seattle:

DeAndre Elliott — 3.94
Tye Smith — 3.96
Earl Thomas — 4.05
Jeremy Lane — 4.14
Jeron Johnson — 4.20
Ryan Murphy — 4.20
Steven Terrell — 4.22
Deshawn Shead — 4.23
Brandon Browner — 4.24
Tyis Powell — 4.25
Winston Guy — 4.29
Richard Sherman — 4.29
Tharold Simon — 4.31
Kam Chancellor — 4.41
Byron Maxwell — 4.49

His three cone time (7.01) actually wouldn’t have cracked the top-15 among defensive backs at the combine, offering a slight contrast. Here’s how Seattle’s previous DB draft picks performed in the three-cone:

Earl Thomas — 6.68
Richard Sherman — 6.72
Deshawn Shead — 6.76
Winston Guy — 6.79
Steven Terrell — 6.84
DeAndre Elliott — 6.93
Jeron Johnson — 6.95
Tye Smith — 6.97
Tharold Simon — 7.01
Jeremy Lane — 7.02
Tyis Powell — 7.03
Ryan Murphy — 7.06
Byron Maxwell — 7.12
Kam Chancellor — 7.36

It’s interesting that Melifonwu has Kam Chancellor’s size and his agility dissects Earl Thomas and Chancellor in terms of three cone testing.

In the 60-yard shuttle, Melifonwu’s 10.69 would’ve set a new record at the combine and easily beat the top three times:

Kevin King — 11.14
Brendan Langley — 11.19
Shalom Luani — 11.22

According to Tony Pauline the Lions met ‘extensively’ with Melifonwu yesterday and will meet with Tampa Bay tomorrow. The Buccaneers own the #19 pick, with Detroit picking at #21. It’s not unrealistic he’ll go in this range.

Pauline also says 40% of teams are viewing Melifonwu as a cornerback. That could include the Seahawks. His tape matches up to the athletic testing. He will visit Seattle before the draft:

Melifonwu is the latest potential target to see his stock gain a tremendous boost. It started with Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick, now Kevin King and Melifonwu appear to be rising quickly.

He could easily be Seattle’s pick at #26. It’s just a case of whether he lasts that long.

Here’s a reminder of how Pete Carroll and John Schneider reacted to his 4.40 forty yard dash at the combine:

Tuesday draft notes: Mayock’s rankings, Cordrea Tankersley

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Mayock updates rankings board

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock updated his prospect rankings today. It’s his first update since the combine. Here are the headlines:

— Kevin King is ranked as Mayock’s #3 cornerback

— Gareon Conley and Fabian Moreau move into the top five at CB

— Budda Baker is now classified as a slot corner, ahead of Chidobe Awuzie

— Jarrad Davis is now the #3 linebacker

King’s rise is the big news here. This is a deep cornerback class and a lot of players will have similar grades. Upside can be a difference maker, so can size and length. King has everything.

Furthermore, his tape has always been really good. Perhaps because he was the ‘other guy’ across from Sidney Jones, he never quite got the credit he deserved.

The only real concern mentioned by anyone was long speed. He ran a 4.43.

He has no character flags. He regularly references tape study and the intricacies of the position. He has experience in the slot and working outside.

King won’t necessarily be graded any better for his play than Tre’Davious White. Yet the size, length, athleticism, agility and upside could act as a tie breaker.

By placing him at #3 in his rankings, Mayock is practically asserting he’s a top-25 pick. In this class, the corner’s will go early and often. It brings about a scenario we touched on in last weeks mock — with King off the board before Seattle’s pick.

Conley, Awuzie and Moreau are also seemingly moving up boards for the same reason. They too showed tremendous upside at the combine. Although this is concerning:

Jim Mora spoke after the workouts stating the injury ‘was nothing to worry about’.

Kris Richard apparently attended the UCLA pro-day. If Moreau had 32-inch arms you’d have to think he’d be a legitimate option for Seattle with his explosive, twitchy athleticism. That’s not to say he won’t be on their radar — but he’d be the first corner they drafted with sub-32 inch arms in seven years of the Pete Carroll era.

The talent at cornerback and safety is so good early in this draft, we could see an unprecedented run on defensive backs in the first round. Teams will want a part of this. They won’t want to miss out. This is without doubt a defensive back draft. We could see 13-15 DB’s going in the top-40. It’s not as crazy as it sounds when you list the names out. It’s quite realistic:

Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Budda Baker (S, Washington)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)
Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
Fabian Moreau (CB, UCLA)
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Teez Tabor (CB, Florida)
Cordrea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)

And this isn’t accounting for arguably the top corner prospect, the injured Sidney Jones. There was some good news on Jones’ achilles earlier today when he tweeted this:

It’s still quite likely Jones will start the season on the PUP list and may endure a medical redshirt in year one. However, he’s a highly talented corner and well worth a second round investment by someone.

A defensive back in round one still feels the most likely pick for Seattle considering the lack of roster depth at both corner and safety. It’ll be interesting if both Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu are off the board at #26. With Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick very likely to be unavailable too, a trade down scenario at that point could come into play.

Notes on Cordrea Tankersley

I spent a bit of time watching Clemson’s Tankerlsey over the weekend. He could be an option for Seattle with their second round pick or if they trade down from #26.

According to Charlie Campbell, he met with the Seahawks at the combine.

— Tankersley has a knack of undercutting routes, showing ample recovery speed to react and make a break on the ball.

— He’s generally very sticky in coverage. He’s grabby and might have some rough days early in his career as he works out what he can get away with. Yet unlike Gareon Conley he’ll jam and use his hands to control the route and get a feel for what the receiver’s going to do. This is a really underrated part of a CB’s game and it’s a big problem for Conley, who too often gives a free release and the room to make a cut or double move.

— Tankersley appeared to have a strong grasp of Clemson’s scheme and worked well with the free safety to cover his zone and pass off receivers.

— Showed ability to bait the QB by dropping off route, getting out of the line of sight only to make a late adjustment and play the ball. This was the type of move Kam Chancellor made against the Niners in the NFC Championship game. On two occasions I saw Tankersley pulled a similar move, gaining one interception.

— Uses his length well. Will jam at the line and disrupt routes. Has 32 inch arms. High pointed the football to make one brilliant sideline pick. Has some understanding of how to use the sideline to his advantage.

— He’s less finesse than other CB’s in this class. He’s not Brandon Browner but he’s not Ahkello Witherspoon either.

— Tankersley is an opportunist. Bad throws were punished. When a quarterback was moved off the spot and running for his life, Tankersley would read his eyes and make a play. Showed instinct and feel, has a habit of being in the right place at the right time.

— He had 16 PBU’s in 2016, the same number as Kevin King (who got a lot of targets as teams avoided Sidney Jones) and only one less than Adoree’ Jackson and Tre’Davious White.

— Tankersley matched-up vs Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges and won that battle comfortably, showing he can cover big, athletic receivers/tight ends. He did blow an assignment covering Isaiah Ford in the same game.

— He ran a 4.40 at the combine so there’s no problem with long speed.

— Run support was fine. He had a nice TFL vs Derrick Henry in the 2015 National Championship. Fine in this class is a bonus because a lot of the corners are below average in run support.

— Athletically he didn’t have an amazing combine despite the 4.40. He only managed a 29.5 inch vertical at the combine (improved to 30.5 at his pro-day). His 4.32 short shuttle was slower than a lot of the top prospects (and doesn’t compare favourably to some of the LB’s either) but it’s only 0.03 seconds slower than Richard Sherman’s 4.29. He ran a 7.00 three cone. The Seahawks have drafted three players with a +7.00 three cone (Byron Maxwell, Tharold Simon and Jeremy Lane) and Tye Smith ran a 6.97.

— He has the playing style of a Seattle corner and has a bit of the Byron Maxwell’s about him (Maxwell went to Clemson too so this isn’t a surprise in terms of playing style and technique).

While the Seahawks are unlikely to see him as a freakishly good athlete worthy of the #26 pick — he could be a very solid cornerback investment in round two. He isn’t as flashy as some of the corner’s being tipped for the first round but he’s grittier with a knack for making plays.

Vince Biegel insight

If the Seahawks don’t take a linebacker in the first two rounds, Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel could be a target in round three. The Badgers make videos of their players offering an insight into their background and personality. There’s a T.J. Watt version too. Here’s Biegel’s:

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.