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Under Carroll & Schneider, Seahawks draft for the offense

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

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

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

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

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

First round picks

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

Ratio: 5:2 to the offense

Second round picks

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

Ratio: 4:1 to the offense

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

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

That isn’t about to change either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Mayock has eight receivers with a first round grade

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Mike Mayock likes the 2015 class of receivers

In a business that demands accuracy, Mike Mayock’s rankings and grades have become a little more ‘informed’ over the last couple of years. Can you really blame him?

It’s no surprise that Mayock’s infectious passion for the game has afforded him the opportunity to become close to a number of coaches and executives. Neither is it a surprise they’re willing to share information. He’s never one to seek approval or be ‘first’ (like it even matters). He delivers draft information in a way nobody else can. He’s a national treasure.

This week he revealed he had eight receivers with a first round grade. That may well be true — but we could interpret this as their are eight receivers that could go in round one. Not all of them will, of course. Only five went in the first frame last year despite a historically talented class.

With John Schneider declaring he’d given out 16 first round grades this year, I think it’s unlikely Mayock would commit eight names at one position (unless 50% of Schneider’s list is filled with receivers). Again, this is probably a big hint that teams like the group overall and many are considering taking a receiver early. I think we’ll see five or six taken on day one. The question is — who?

In his recent top-five’s list at each position he had Breshad Perriman moving up to #4. This is developing into a consensus view. There’s often no smoke without fire and the likes of Mayock, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay do speak to teams and scouts. They’re all touting Perriman in round one. They don’t get everything right — but when certain bits of information catch fire this late in the process, it’s often accurate. It seems like teams have done their homework on Perriman and have determined he warrants a top-20 selection. We’ll probably see Amari Cooper, Kevin White and Devante Parker join him in that range — with the only debating point whether it’s Cooper or White to leave the board first.

There’s growing momentum that Nelson Agholor will go in round one. He was linked to the Eagles last week. Now Mayock is listing him as one of the biggest risers in the class. Again — as teams have done their work and started to finalize their boards, it appears Agholor has been graded highly. If there really are only 16-18 genuine first rounders this year — it opens up the possibility for a prospect like Agholor to rise. He’s very athletic, consistent, hard working and he has special teams value. He’s a solid pick with a high percentage chance to contribute.

The Eagles can probably move down a few spots and take him in the 20’s, with several teams jockeying for position with an expected late first round rush on offensive linemen.

Let’s say Cooper, White, Parker, Perriman and Agholor are gone by the #25 mark. Is there room for one more? Absolutely. It could be Jaelen Strong — an athlete with great ball-skills who struggles to generate separation. It could be Phillip Dorsett — a sprinter who does a very good job at getting open but lacks size. Or it could be Dorial Green-Beckham — the wildcard.

And this is where it gets interesting. Mayock’s thoughts on DGB add another layer to our recent debates. He is talented, no question. But where is he going to go? There’s very little first round buzz — but it could happen. If teams share Mayock’s concern, he could legitimately fall into the deep second round. Yet he’s still regarded as a first round talent:

“I have no idea what to do with him. He has no clue and he didn’t play in 2014 — but he tilts the field.” — Mike Mayock

Herein lies the intrigue for me. Some teams will look at him and nod in agreement at the “no clue” remark. They’ll agree that they don’t know what to do with him. But there it is. “He tilts the field.” A phrase we hear so often from Seattle’s two power-brokers.

Christine Michael was in a similar situation. He fell out with the coaches at Texas A&M and landed in the dog house. He lacked maturity. Yet he tilted the field with extreme athletic brilliance. They took him in round two. I suspect several teams didn’t even have him on their board.

That pick hasn’t worked out, but I don’t think it’ll make the Seahawks gun-shy. Green-Beckham isn’t Michael. He has different issues, different demons to battle. Bob Stoops and the coaches at Oklahoma have done nothing but praise the guy — and they gave him a ton of visible support at his pro-day despite the fact he turned his back on the Sooners without playing a single down.

If there is a team that will take on this challenge, I think it could be Seattle. It’s just a case of whether he falls far enough to become an option. Mayock grades him as a first rounder. It hints at a dilemma within several war rooms about where he should be selected. It’ll only take one team to end any possibility he lands with the Seahawks.

If you were wondering, though, why they might trade up to take him — this is the evidence. Mayock has him as a first round talent for a reason. And he’s keeping him in that range for a reason too. He could’ve just played it safe and said seven first round grades. Green-Beckham is basically Seattle’s only chance to get a first round level talent in the late second. Possibly their only chance to get a player who genuinely “tilts the field”.

Every one of Mayock’s ‘elite eight’ could be gone by pick #40. If that happens, there’s not much you can do. You probably take the best offensive lineman on your board at #63. However — you have to believe the Seahawks would love to add a truly dynamic receiver. They don’t need depth at the position, or another specialist. They need a potential game changer. They need ‘the man’. That’s what DGB could be.

You also have to wonder about the curious timing of Mayock dropping Jameis Winston below Marcus Mariota. Have the Buccs done a bit of digging here? Followed him around for a while? Have they found some information they don’t like? I don’t think it’s something to just write off, that’s for sure.

What kind of receiver does Seattle need?

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Kenny Bell could be an option — but he’s more of a specialist

Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell is popular within this community and for good reason. He’s a 4.38-4.42 runner with great character. You see flashes of real tenacity in his play. I think his blocking ability is slightly overstated but he’s certainly willing. He’s competitive, wins the contested ball and ticks all the character boxes.

I also think he’s a good example of a ‘specialist’ receiver.

Bell, essentially, is a role player. He’s more of a straight line runner. He won a lot of 1v1 battles in college due to the threat of his speed. He was afforded a decent cushion and it opened up the comeback or the back shoulder for the quarterback. There was the occasional deep shot too and he made some vital plays. At the next level his speed will be less of a factor against biggest, faster, more physical players. He will be challenged at the LOS — consistently. He’s going to need more of a counter, he’s going to need to develop several ways to get open. He’s 6-1 and sub-200lbs. He’s skinny.

The Seahawks have maximized players like this. Ricardo Lockette drifts in and out a season. He was the key target on a successful downfield bomb against Denver in week three. He was also the beneficiary of Seattle’s read-option ‘pop-pass’ in week one. In the biggest play of the biggest game of the season — they were throwing at Lockette. Yet he’s never been a consistent feature, despite his fantastic size/speed combination.

Bell’s role in Seattle would probably be similar. And that’s fine. If you draft him later on and are realistic with your expectations, there’s nothing wrong with drafting Kenny Bell. He could theoretically replace the soon-to-be 29-year-old Lockette. This piece isn’t an argument against Seattle drafting Bell because he does carry the kind of characteristics the Seahawks admire. It’s an argument against this type of receiver being the missing link alone.

Instead of a younger, cheaper, skinnier Lockette — they need someone who can be more than a role player.

I’m not sure the addition of Jimmy Graham is the last attempt by this team to dramatically improve the passing game. And that’s why I think there’s a realistic chance they move up in round two.

Doug Baldwin is contracted until the end of the 2016 season. Jermaine Kearse is set to play under a restricted free agent tender. Paul Richardson is recovering from the second serious knee injury of his career. There are long-term question marks about your three key receivers on the roster. The likes of Kevin Norwood and Chris Matthews have a chance to develop their roles going forward — but they’ve got to prove it. Are they likely to develop into legit game changers? They both turn 26 this year.

Receiver is quietly a long term need. There are no assurances over Richardson’s return. Kearse could be gone next year and Baldwin will probably want to test free agency in 2017 (his contract was set up to make it a possibility during his prime). Chemistry between receiver and quarterback cannot be underestimated. It makes sense to try and bring in a player who can work with Russell Wilson and establish a partnership that lasts over the next 5-7 years.

And not just any player, either.

While the Seahawks have reached two Super Bowls mainly using the core of Baldwin and Kearse (they did have Golden Tate in 2013) it’s also one of the few positions on a loaded roster where you can make a genuine case for dramatic improvement. Just because Seattle has won with a bunch of overachievers doesn’t mean they can’t be even better with established difference makers. They’ve been trying ever since Pete Carroll arrived to add a dynamic target — Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin. Now they have Jimmy Graham. Why stop there?

Imagine the offense with a game-changer on the outside to go alongside with Graham working the inside? It wouldn’t even be a luxury. Seattle has a franchise quarterback, the number one defense in the NFL and a number of key stars signed up for the long haul. They trust Tom Cable to put together a functioning offensive line and the depth is there in the later rounds this year to find starters on day three. Receiver is one of the few areas of the team they can upgrade.

Yes — Matthews could be the guy. I’m not sure you can assume that’ll happen based on one game. At the very least it would make sense to proceed as if he won’t be the answer, while letting him compete to fill the role. Let’s see if he can win the job, not just hand it to him because of one game (even if it was the Super Bowl).

Taking all this into account, I suspect the Seahawks will at least leave the door open for the potential to move up and target one of the top 5-9 receivers in a great group. As of today, I see it playing out one of three ways in round two:

1. Trade up using a fourth round pick (as Philadelphia did last year) to target a specific impact receiver

2. Stay at #63 and assess the remaining options at receiver

3. Take the best offensive lineman on the board

Trading up isn’t as simple as just having the intention to do it. You’ve got to find a willing trade partner and agree to a deal. The right player has to fall to a certain point. A few things have to land for this to become a possibility.

There’s every chance the right deal doesn’t materialize or the right player doesn’t fall. That’s the draft — and it’s why taking a player like Ty Sambrailo (for example) is still a distinct possibility at pick #63.

If the right receiver is within your grasp though — why not be the aggressor for once? You’ve got eleven picks. You didn’t lose a pick in the Graham trade, you just swapped a first for a fourth. Whether you pick ten times or eleven times, you’re going to have the opportunity to fill a few needs. Whether it’s Mitch Morse, Terry Poole or another — you will find attractive O-line options in the middle rounds.

So what is the ‘right’ kind of receiver?

Again it comes back to the earlier talk about Kenny Bell being more of a ‘specialist’. The Seahawks have used a few players like that. What if you can get someone who can be that consistent force on the outside? Someone who is either the true #1 or someone who just finds a way to consistently make big plays in the way Golden Tate did? This isn’t just about size and speed (although that would help). It’s about finding a true difference maker, whatever the skill set. Nelson Agholor and Phillip Dorsett could just as easily fill that role as a big receiver. I just happen to think they’ll both be long gone by the early second round.

The player most likely to fill the role remains Dorial Green-Beckham.

Are you ever truly gambling on a player towards the end of the second round? Perhaps. It’s still a reasonably high pick. What isn’t a gamble in that range? Let’s look at Seattle’s recent history in round two:

2010 — Golden Tate
2011 — traded out, took John Moffitt
2012 — Bobby Wagner
2013 — Christine Michael
2014 — Paul Richardson & Justin Britt

They went with what constitutes a ‘safe pick’ in football rhetoric — a meat-and-potatoes guard in 2011. Moffitt is out of the league. They’ve genuinely benefited from the Tate and Wagner picks and yet haven’t suffered after taking a chance on Michael.

The Seahawks will draft from a position of strength for the next few years. There will always be a need or two (this year is a good example of that) and they will need to replace certain players who are sacrificed to keep the core together. Yet while ever that core remains, they will feel good about their chances of contending. Very few teams can take the kind of chances Seattle can afford right now.

The big thing is not to add a disruptive force to the locker room or anything that will further impact team chemistry.

Personally I don’t think DGB is that kind of player. He didn’t have a stable upbringing and some of the things he was accused of during his time in Missouri are troubling. He also kept his nose clean during his year in Oklahoma and you wonder if moving away helped. Did the Mizzou exit act as a wake-up call?

I suspect Green-Beckham is a bigger risk to himself rather than Seattle’s locker room (or anyone else’s for that matter). Will he let himself down? Will he let the team down? Those are the questions to ask — not whether he’s another Percy Harvin-style disruptive enigma. I think we can say with some confidence that he isn’t.

Tony Pauline told us he wouldn’t take DGB in the top-50 and I think a lot of younger, less competitive teams will take that stance. The key contenders with veteran locker rooms will consider drafting him, albeit outside of the top-50 picks. There are too many established teams from #50-#63 for Green-Beckham to last until the Seahawks. If you want him, you probably have to move up a bit.

What is the worst case and best case scenario for such a move?

Best case
You draft a player who looked like a world beater in high-school with limitless potential. You could end up with a genuine #1 receiver to compliment Jimmy Graham. You can still find good offensive linemen in the middle rounds in this draft.

Worst case
Green-Beckham gets into trouble, the decision to draft him is criticized and you wasted a second round pick plus a fourth to move up on a player who already had red flags attached.

Can the Seahawks risk the worst case scenario trying to make the best case a reality? Again, they’re one of the few who can. They’re not scared to be criticized either — that much is clear.

For me the off-field concerns with DGB don’t sit well but the risk factor (at least in terms of expense) is less severe in round two. He’d take up a cap hit of less than a million dollars in his first two years, never going higher than around $1.2m during his first contract. Financially it’s a not a concern. It’s a high pick but as the Moffitt situation showed — even when you go the ‘safe’ route it can backfire.

Sometimes taking a chance does pay off. It certainly did for Seattle with Marshawn Lynch and for Dallas with Dez Bryant.

Look at the draft last year. Martavis Bryant fell to the fourth round due to character concerns. Would he last until the fourth round in a re-draft? I think we know the answer. Sometimes you have to be willing to take a calculated risk. Is the second round too early for that? It’s debatable.

I’d go as far to say the character concerns come a distant second to DGB’s issues against press coverage. He’s too easily re-routed, he doesn’t always play up to his size. He dominates and frustrates in equal measure. You could easily see his will destroyed during his first camp against the LOB. Or, alternatively, he could grow and mature in the face of that challenge. That’s probably what the Seahawks are trying to work out as they edge closer to the draft.

The thing is — he’s 6-5 and 237lbs while running in the 4.4’s. He could probably drop 10lbs and go faster, while not suffering any negative impact to his game. When he gets into full stride he has that gliding effect — a rare quality for a big receiver like this. He has surprising mobility in the open field plus a genuine ability to take the top off a defense. That’s so rare for a player of this size. If he can get stronger and become more physical — watch out. The potential is limitless.

Kenny Bell or Tre McBride or Stefon Diggs or Justin Hardy later in the draft might be able to come in and contribute in a smaller way, possibly eventually replacing one of the existing role players. Imagine this offense though with not just one dynamic game changer — but a pair of size/speed dynamo’s to go with a thriving running attack and a prolific quarterback?

You’re not likely to find that in any of the names mentioned above. The middle rounds could be saved for the offensive line — the options are good and it’ll be a nice sweet spot for tackle converts moving inside with plus athleticism. Even if the Seahawks go with a Ty Sambrailo at #63, it would make sense to still utilize the O-line value in rounds 4-5.

It’s often said Seattle don’t need special receivers because they don’t throw as much. On the contrary — they actually need to be better than average. If you’re throwing less, the margin for error is smaller. You need to max out the opportunities. Some of Seattle’s more agonizing defeats in recent years came as a consequence of bad receiver play.

Role players will always have a part to play in Seattle’s offense and the likes of Bell could be drafted for that reason. But the Seahawks can genuinely improve at receiver — and become a very scary team indeed — by finding ‘the man’. Their #1.

First round mock draft with trades

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Could Phillip Dorsett be a first round target for several teams picking late in the second?

Just for fun.

#1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State)
A foregone conclusion for some time, Winston will be trusted to get the most out of a potent arsenal of receiving options. The question is — will the Buccs trade back into round one to get an offensive tackle to protect their new quarterback?

#2 TRADE Cleveland Browns — Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
The Browns have been chasing a franchise quarterback for some time. They spent first round picks on Brandon Weeden (2012) and Johnny Manziel (2014). They’re still trying to fill this void. They have the ammunition to move up with two first round picks. The Titans collect the #12 and #19 picks plus a mid-round selection and a conditional 2016 pick based on Mariota’s performance as a rookie.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars — Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
Some teams will grade Cooper as one of the top two prospects in the draft alongside Leonard Williams. He’s a very natural receiver with the technical qualities and grit to have an immediate impact. He offers Blake Bortles a true #1 receiver. The Jags had the sixth best pass rush in the NFL last year. They can manufacture pressure. They need to help their young quarterback.

#4 Oakland Raiders — Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
The Raiders would like Cooper in this projection but he’s off the board. Williams remains. They take him as the best player available with the intention of going receiver in round two. They could even trade back into the first to get their guy.

#5 TRADE Miami Dolphins — Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
The Dolphins reportedly want to make a splash. They can get a receiver at #14 but they won’t get one of the top two. The Redskins are said to be looking to move down. They luck out and get a deal similar to Sammy Watkins trade a year ago. The Dolphins — in win-now mode — give up their 2016 first rounder to jump above the Jets.

#6 New York Jets — Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
They would’ve liked a shot at the top two receivers but fall back on Fowler Jr. The defense is pretty set in New York — solid up the middle, talented at corner. They just need an edge rusher. Fowler Jr is the missing piece for a formidable unit.

#7 Chicago Bears — Randy Gregory (DE, Nebraska)
There are definite similarities between Gregory and Aldon Smith. Both were quite green entering the league with major upside potential. Vic Fangio worked wonders with Smith and might see a similar project with Gregory. They need a true 3-4 linebacker.

#8 Atlanta Falcons — Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
The Falcons watch the receivers and quarterbacks go early and smile. They know they’ll get a nice defensive option here. Beasley is a dynamo off the edge with elite burst and athleticism. He’s stronger than you’d expect for his size. A pure stud.

#9 New York Giants — Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon)
The Giants love size and length. Armstead can line up inside and out — playing some three-tech and some edge too. He’s a really versatile compliment to the other players on New York’s defensive line.

#10 St. Louis Rams — Brandon Scherff (T, Iowa)
Whether they play him at guard or tackle this makes a lot of sense. The Rams need to make the O-line their priority and could even use their second round pick to make a further addition. Would they even consider moving back into the first for the right player? It’s time for St. Louis to deliver and be a bit more aggressive.

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

#12 Tennesee Titans — Bud Dupree (LB, Kentucky)
They traded down to this spot from #2, possibly with the intention of revamping their defense. Dick LeBeau is on board and this is going to be a rebuild based on the Steelers. Dupree is athletic, tough and would be an ideal fit at linebacker in that scheme.

#13 New Orleans — Danny Shelton (DT, Washington)
Some of the over-the-top hype on Shelton has died down. He’s still a solid addition, especially for a team prioritizing defense. The Saints lack a hard-nosed, mobile nose tackle for their 3-4 scheme.

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

#15 San Francisco 49ers — Devante Parker (WR, Louisville)
They brought in Torrey Smith but need to keep adding players for Colin Kaepernick. They can’t rely on Anquan Boldin forever and Vernon Davis is nearing the end. Parker’s length, consistency and speed will appeal.

#16 Houston Texans — La’el Collins (T, LSU)
They can use him at right tackle or guard. A very versatile, talented lineman who doesn’t always drive people off the line but has enough overall quality and upside to go in the top-20. He looked great at the combine.

#17 San Diego Chargers — Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
Somebody has to bite in round one. The Chargers need a playmaker and while Gurley probably starts the year on the PUP list he’s a legit top-10 talent without the knee injury.

#18 Kansas City Chiefs — Breshad Perriman (WR, UCF)
His stock is rising and it looks like he’s going to go in round one. The Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin but could double-dip to fully solve their problem at receiver.

#19 Tennessee Titans — Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)
Their second pick acquired from the Cleveland Browns. Tennessee has a need at corner and Peters’ physical style, ability to play the ball and penchant for turnovers will appeal to a team that has to face Andrew Luck twice a year.

#20 TRADE Carolina Panthers — D.J. Humphries (T, Florida)
The Panthers move up and swap picks with Philadelphia for the price of a mid-round pick. The Eagles know they can get their guy at #25 and the Panthers want to jump ahead of Cincinnati to get the player best suited in this class to play left tackle.

#21 Cincinnati Bengals — Ereck Flowers (T, Miami)
The Bengals might prefer Flowers to Humphries anyway. He’s extremely underrated. Technique wise he isn’t orthodox with a slightly odd kick-slide but he’s a punishing blocker with great size and loves to drive defenders off the line.

#22 Pittsburgh Steelers — Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
This would be a great pick for the Steelers. Collins is the best safety in a weak class. For that reason he could easily land in the top-15. Troy Polamalu is coming close to the end. Collins has a similar attitude to the game with terrific range.

#23 TRADE Baltimore Ravens — Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
Harold just seems like a Ravens type of player. Intense, incredibly athletic, great leadership qualities. He could easily be a top-tier pass rusher in a couple of years. The Ravens flip picks with Detroit to get ahead of Arizona, giving up a modest outlay (mid-rounder). The two teams have previous (Haloti Ngata trade) and the Ravens did trade up for Michael Oher in 2009.

#24 Arizona Cardinals — Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
They need an edge rusher but the Ravens have taken Harold off the board. They could fall back on Shane Ray. However, they also have a need at corner. Collins provides too much value here.

#25 Philadelphia Eagles — Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)
The Eagles moved down knowing they could still land Agholor here. They acquire an extra pick in the process. He replaces Jeremy Maclin, providing speed, good hands and underrated big-play ability.

#26 TRADE Jacksonville Jaguars — Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
The Lions trade down into the top-end of the second frame. They know the options will be good on the O-line and at defensive tackle. The Jaguars give up a 4th rounder to jump ahead of the Dallas Cowboys to select Melvin Gordon. They need a feature runner. Imagine how explosive that Jaguars offense could be with Amari Cooper, Melvin Gordon and Julius Thomas supporting Blake Bortles.

#27 Dallas Cowboys — Malcom Brown (DT, Texas)
With Gordon off the board this becomes an easy pick for the Cowboys. They take Brown to improve their interior pass rush. They can wait until the second or third round to get another running back with Gordon off the board.

#28 TRADE Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
There’s a bit of buzz this week with Mel Kiper and Lance Zierlein both quoting sources claiming Ogbuehi will go in the first round. We’ll run with it for now. The player says he’ll be ready for training camp despite an ACL injury at the end of the season. He needs to get stronger but he has the mobility and supreme length to play left tackle for a long time. The Broncos move down for an extra fourth.

#29 Indianapolis Colts — Andrus Peat (T, Stanford)
He’s a really odd shape — bottom heavy without definition. That could be a concern for teams as he doesn’t really look the part of a left tackle. On tape, however, he’s a very natural blind side blocker. The type Indy needs.

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

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

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

The players dropping into round two

T.J. Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
I wanted to fit him in somewhere. There’s just too much upside to ignore. However, if the likes of Cedric Ogbuehi are being rated in the first round again — someone has to fall out. It’s unlikely to be Andrus Peat. Clemmings needs time and that works against him. He looked very raw at the Senior Bowl.

Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
Another player that deserves to go in the first round based on upside. Defensive tackle isn’t a position you see drafted too early too often unless a player really stands out. Goldman is a very good run stopper and flashes enough pass rush ability. Is he a game-changer or just a really good player? And are there enough teams with vital needs at defensive tackle?

What it would mean for the Seahawks

Six receivers are off the board. The likes of Jaelen Strong, Devin Smith, Dorial-Green Beckham, Tyler Lockett and Sammie Coates remain. There are enough options left to make a trade-up possible. A lot of the teams needing a receiver have already addressed the position. At least a couple of good options are likely to remain on the board beyond the #50 pick. That’s the range where the Seahawks can consider using one of their fourth rounders to move up.

With the likes of T.J. Clemmings, Cam Erving and Jake Fisher lasting into round two it also increases the chance of Ty Sambrailo lasting until pick #63. Earlier today Adam Caplan put out the following Tweet:

Caplan also suggested the Seahawks were in the running to sign Charles Tillman before he signed a one-year deal with the Panthers today.

Waiting on the O-line & addressing needs the Seahawks way

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Prospects like Mitch Morse provide the Seahawks with a lot of flexibility

Part of the planning that goes into a draft is working out when and where to solve certain problems. Last years draft is a great example of this.

The Seahawks didn’t own a third round pick due to the Percy Harvin trade. It seems they wanted to accumulate extra picks in the fourth round to target specific players (Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood, Kevin Pierre-Louis) before taking a receiver and a right tackle with their first two picks.

They got their receiver in Paul Richardson — that was the easy part. It was a rich class of receivers. They could trade down twice from #32 and still find an option they liked. In truth they probably could’ve traded down again and either still landed Richardson or found an alternative. We all know how good that 2014 class of wide outs was.

The tough part was getting the tackle. They’d passed on the likes of Joel Bitonio by trading down from #32 to target Richardson. At pick #64 they were left hoping and waiting. Justin Britt was a surprise choice. Graded by many as a later round prospect, nobody expected to hear his name at the end of the second. Without the third round pick the Seahawks knew if they didn’t take a tackle at that spot they’d have to wait until the fourth round. By that point Britt could be gone — and the picks they’d earmarked for Marsh, Norwood and Pierre-Louis would have to be used elsewhere.

They’d pretty much decided to take the best tackle on their board at #64 whatever the situation. I think at the time Tom Cable was quoted as saying they needed to take a guy they liked with that pick — or simply risk missing out altogether. So they took Britt.

The Seahawks have done this quite a few times. I recall being told by a source before the 2012 draft to expect a pass rusher in round one. No alternatives. They were able to trade down to #15 and have their pick of the entire pass rush class. They made a conscious decision to go in that direction. They’d identified the sweet spot for that position.

Speed at linebacker was also said to be a priority in the first two rounds — so we projected Mychal Kendricks to Seattle in the second frame. Personally I didn’t expect Bobby Wagner to remain on the board as a fringe first round prospect. As it happens he was there for the Seahawks and Kendricks was not. Again — they had a need, the options were good. They earmarked that range to address the position.

It comes down to identifying rounds where you can problem solve. Finding the sweet spot in a draft that allows you address a number of different issues.

Looking at this year, it’d be easy to point at guard as the biggest need, or center. It doesn’t mean you necessarily go in that direction with your first or second pick. If the options in rounds 3-5 are strong and you know you can wait to fill a need with another player you like, it’s something to consider. The Seahawks probably won’t feel the pressure they did a year ago when they drafted Britt in round two. The O-line depth is particularly strong in this class.

The Seahawks, in fairness, have done a better job than most finding the right spots in a specific class to target key positions. They have forced things at times (Britt) but they’ve also found unique value (Sherman, Chancellor, Maxwell, Wilson, Wright).

The 2012 draft was perfectly executed. While a lot of people expected the Seahawks to target a quarterback early (prior to the Matt Flynn signing) or go after a guard like David De Castro — they knew what they wanted to do. Irvin was considered a major reach but he fit what they were looking for early. They believed the options in the front seven (speed, speed, speed) were better in the first two rounds. Quarterback — despite being the huge gaping void on the roster — well they waited until the third round. They knew that would be the sweet spot for the guy they really wanted (Russell Wilson). Instead of taking a guard early (like many expected or hoped for) they take J.R. Sweezy in the seventh round. A D-line convert. He’s since become Seattle’s most consistent offensive lineman.

I think we’ll see a similar situation in this draft when approaching the offensive line. They could use the overall depth to find their guys on day three. There’s a cluster of really good, athletic, high-character O-liners likely to be available in that range.

The hype surrounding Missouri’s Mitch Morse is legit. The more you watch the more you see a classic developmental lineman who can play guard or center. He has the tackle experience Seattle likes, the athletic qualities they need and the maturity you expect from a Tom Cable project. He’s very much in the Britt/Sweezy camp in terms of grit, character, athleticism and street-fighter style.

Mike Mayock called him a ten-year starter at the Mizzou pro-day.

The Seahawks will know all about him — he’s tight with Britt (see the video below) and I suspect they’ve spent a lot of time watching Mizzouri over the last couple of years. It’s become a NFL production line in recent years.

It wouldn’t be a big shock if they targeted Morse in round three if they are concerned about an interested party in round four. Again, it’ll be about finding the range where you can land a prospect like this. Rounds 3-5 seems like a fair projection. And if you can’t land him — you just move on to the next guy on your list. There’s a cluster of mid-round options from Terry Poole to Laurence Gibson to Ali Marpet and so on.

In fact they could double down on the interior O-line in round four — perhaps targeting a Morse and Poole pairing? If you think it’s a reach, well that’s just part of the approach. How many times have the Seahawks been accused of reaching? I’m just using those two players as an example. They’ll identify the sweet spot for guards and centers and go for it — regardless of the reaction. I’m not convinced that sweet spot will be pick #63 in the second round.

This is the reason I had them going receiver and running back early in my recent seven-round mock. I think with hindsight it was optimistic to expect Morse to last until the fifth. I went WR/RB early not because I felt those were Seattle’s biggest needs — I just think they can find great value (in their mind) at those two positions in rounds 2-3. Plus the O-line value later will also appeal.

We’ve discussed the depth at receiver and the options there. Yet if you’re going to save rounds 3-4 to address the lines, you’re inevitably going to miss out on some of the value at receiver. Again, it’s about the plan you formulate. If you can move up a few spots from #63 and get a receiver you really like — and still get your guys on the O-line in rounds three or four — isn’t that a water-tight solution to the three biggest needs on this team?

It’s very easy to say you would rather wait on a receiver. If you’ve decided as a team the guys you really like on the O-line are third or fourth rounders (in the same way the quarterback you really wanted in 2012 was a third rounder) you’re not going to have the same opportunity to look at the receivers going in that range.

Those picks are already spent.

This could all change of course if there’s a major first round rush on the wide outs. By pick #50 if all of the good options are gone there’s not much you can do. I’m not sure I expect all of the options to be gone — but it could create more of a BPA approach to the late second in that scenario. I think we saw that in 2013 — running back (Christine Michael) wasn’t a big need after all. Still — by now teams should have a good idea on how things are going to play out. They can formulate a plan for that scenario too. I think a good receiver option will linger in the late second and you can get a guy you really like for the cost of a fourth rounder to move up. If not — Ty Sambrailo (if available) looks like a very good alternative. In that case you can look at receivers in the middle rounds because a pick is free’d up.

Let’s expect another structured game plan this year — targeting certain positions in the correct sweet spots and not being a slave to the biggest needs at pick #63. The Seahawks have succeeded with this kind of approach so far.

Further thoughts on the Seahawks & Dorial Green-Beckham

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The video above is a review package of Dorial Green-Beckham’s pro-day. Note the occasional flash of ‘College Navy’ and ‘Action Green’ being sported by one of the observers. The Seattle coach/scout in attendance went through some drills with DGB and was spotted talking to him too.

This follows a previous Tweet by Charles Robinson on March 16th claiming the Seahawks were “digging into” Green-Beckham. Robinson says if he slides to round two, the Seahawks need to be monitored.

It’d be very easy to assume all of this is an elaborate smokescreen. It’s not often you see legit speculation over Seattle’s targets two months before the draft. There’s also cause not to treat every morsel of information with suspicion. Christine Michael provided a running commentary on Twitter of his visit with the Seahawks in 2013. We all heard about Carroll and Schneider’s game of bowling with Russell Okung before the 2010 draft. Doug Baldwin went on the radio to predict the Seahawks would draft Paul Richardson last year.

Then there’s the big one. Chris Mortensen didn’t report Seattle wanted Russell Wilson, he merely knew about it. He told Russell Wilson before the 2012 draft he was going to be a Seattle Seahawk. At least one reporter — Mortsensen — knew about the one player Schneider tried so hard to hide his interest in.

People were aware that Seattle liked him

Of course none of this is the coach turning up to the pro-day — the kind of stuff that typically becomes a red herring. Even so, there could be a bit of reverse psychology at play here. Good luck working it out. I just don’t think we should write this off.

Tony Pauline told us he wouldn’t draft Green-Beckham in the top-50 and I suspect a lot of teams will share that view. I didn’t ask Pauline at the time whether that was the feeling voiced by his sources — but let’s look at the situation. The NFL is still trying to repair its reputation after the whole Rice/Peterson/Hardy saga. Josh Gordon is a talented nightmare for the Browns. All of this stuff weighs on the mind of decision makers.

You’re looking at another loaded class of wide outs. You could make a case for their being ten alternative options in the first two rounds. You can avoid the risks and still find an impact player in this class.

As soon as DGB drops beyond pick #50 he’s a possible target. The Seahawks can realistically give up a fourth round pick to move up (if they even need to). In the late second he becomes fair game for a few different teams. We’ve talked about the depth in rounds 3-5 at various positions — but I suspect we’ll see a weaker point in the draft at around #55-65 where the value is pretty average. The grade range might drop significantly from the earlier part of round two. That could be a reason why Seattle considers moving up.

If the “digging” the Seahawks did on DGB gives them the confidence to take him, there’s always a chance other teams will jump to that same conclusion. He could go quite early — he’s talented enough. There does appear, however, to be momentum behind this possible drop beyond pick #50. While ever there are alternative options (especially at receiver) there’s a chance he falls. The sheer depth of quality at wide out encourages that to happen. Eventually someone will bite in round two. It won’t necessarily be the Seahawks — but it could be.

First round draft notes: Receivers to go early and often?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Could Nelson Agholor be a first round target for the Eagles?

Just a few quick thoughts for Easter Monday…

Why are the Raiders showing interest in Michael Crabtree? According to Ian Rapoport he visited with Oakland. It could be a case of needs must. After all, they have a pretty impotent looking passing game right now. Derek Carr hasn’t got a chance with the existing talent on the roster. Even if they intend to draft Amari Cooper or Kevin White, they could use a veteran option too. Crabtree has his flaws but he’s also a good hands catcher and a reliable possession receiver (when he’s healthy).

However, it’s worth contemplating an ulterior motive for this visit.

The Jaguars are an interesting case. They were quietly a very productive defense in terms of sacks last year (joint sixth in the NFL). Gus Bradley has manufactured a pass rush without early picks on the defense. So far he and GM David Coldwell have spent two top-five picks on offense (Luke Joeckel, Blake Bortles). Bradley is, after all, a defensive coach. The major repair work is needed on offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson were both second round picks a year ago — neither truly convinced as a possible #1 option. Allen Hurns is a classic overachiever.

Making life easier for Bortles has to be a priority. Could they consider taking a receiver at #3? It worked for Cincinnati in 2011. A.J. Green has certainly made up for some of Andy Dalton’s flaws. Amari Cooper looks like the most natural receiver to enter the draft since Green. Whether he can have the same impact remains to be seen — but he’d provide an immediate legitimacy to the Jaguars offense alongside new tight end Julius Thomas.

Instead of relying on Lee, Robinson or Hurns to be your #1 — they become the supporting cast. The Coldwell/Bradley era in Jacksonville will live or die with Bortles. Yes they need a young edge rusher but does it have to be at #3? Especially when, as mentioned, they already have a productive pass rush?

I think Cooper would be more likely to be the target ahead of Kevin White. I think both will go in the top ten but I suspect teams will give Cooper the edge as a naturally gifted receiver who started as a freshman (and played well) at Alabama. White has been known to suffer with confidence issues and whether it’s deserved or not — could be marked down as a ‘one year wonder’ candidate.

If the Jags take Cooper at #3 the Raiders would be forced to either take White (or another receiver) or consider alternatives. Such as Leonard Williams at USC. And that could be why they’re looking at Crabtree. If they intend to take a non-receiver at #4 it would make a great deal of sense to acquire a veteran target for Derek Carr. Particularly a sure-handed safety net like Crabtree on a one-year prove-it deal.

On the subject of receivers, Eliot Shorr-Parks at wrote has an interesting suggestion. He believes the Eagles will draft USC’s Nelson Agholor at #20. He might have a point.

Gil Brandt put out a Tweet on the 9th March claiming he knew Philadelphia’s first round pick. He went on to add it wasn’t Marcus Mariota and the player should be available when they’re on the clock. He’s hinting it’s a bit of a quirky, unexpected pick.

The Eagles need to replace Jeremy Maclin and Agholor has similar characteristics. He’s a terrific athlete, technically sound and should be able to have an instant impact. He’s not just a slot receiver — he can line up anywhere. The Eagles need a rounded threat like this.

In the three years since Kelly’s arrival in Philly they’ve gone for high upside in round one. Lane Johnson — an incredibly athletic, mobile offensive tackle. Marcus Smith — a long pass rusher with production and an explosive ten-yard split. Agholor has the speed and burst to replace Maclin but also the college production and character to go in round one. He’s also an accomplished return-man.

Don’t be surprised at all if he goes in the first frame. This would certainly fit the kind of pick Brandt was hinting about.

It’d certainly raise a few eyebrows if it happened but maybe we should be expecting a few like this? Tony Pauline told me recently there could be a rush on receivers in round one. John Schneider said he had 16 first round grades for this draft class — what if other GM’s see it that way too? There are several clubs with needs at receiver this year. They could simply prioritize the position, especially if they fear missing out in round two.

Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett. There are several players who could jump into day one. Receivers and cornerbacks could dominate day one. That in turn could push some of the defensive or offensive line options into the early second round.

I wouldn’t expect, however, Dorial Green-Beckham to make it into round one. The character issues and lack of physical play to go with the size/speed should ensure he drops out of the top-50. He can’t handle press, he’s easily re-routed and he needs time. I suspect he will garner quite a bit of interest in the late second round.

What happens to Marcus Mariota? Because the quarterback options are so weak in this draft it’s almost impossible to imagine he falls. He has to be the #2 pick. Has to be. If Tennessee passes him up it has to be for a bevvy of picks.

I suspect they will get offers. There’s been talk recently of the Titans targeting Phillip Rivers in a deal that would see San Diego get the #2 pick. Rivers has made it clear he doesn’t intend to move to Los Angeles and he’s out of contract next year. More realistically I think Cleveland might move up, offering their two first round picks to Tennessee. The Browns have been quiet so far this off-season which is unusual for their owner (the guy pulling the strings). Johnny Manziel didn’t work out. This would be another splash in an attempt to change the fortunes of a perennial struggler.

If Tennessee keeps the pick are Ruston Webster and Ken Whisenhunt going to gamble their employment on Zach Mettenberger? A sixth round pick from last year. It seems unlikely.

Seahawks seven round mock draft: 3rd April

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Will Ty Montgomery be returning kicks for Seattle in 2015?

The Seahawks are still meeting with veteran players and we could see another addition before the draft. It’ll probably be an experienced center or another defensive linemen. They could use an edge rusher to replace O’Brien Schofield and they’ve met with Chris Myers and Stefen Wisniewski.

For the purpose of this mock let’s assume they bring in a veteran center.

Second round pick
Seahawks trade up for a receiver using pick #112
They’d make a move like this for two key reasons — they need better talent at receiver and the cost to move up is minimal. Seattle can deal the fourth round pick they acquired from New Orleans to move up. Philadelphia jumped from #54 to #42 last year for the price of a fourth rounder. The Seahawks would still pick four times in rounds 4-5 — enough to make multiple additions to the offensive line. Jermaine Kearse is a free agent in 2016, Paul Richardson’s health is a genuine concern and the likes of Kevin Norwood and Chris Matthews are virtual unknowns. Be optimistic over Matthews if you wish — but one swallow doesn’t make a summer. There are likely to be good options in rounds 3-6 but this is all about grading. Let’s say a receiver drops into range in round two who not only grades significantly higher than the others in the class — but also grades well compared to your existing roster. For the measly price of a fourth rounder you can go up and get another big prize for the offense and Russell Wilson. It’s not about changing your offensive identity, this is about putting better talent around Wilson (your future +$100m quarterback). We discussed the possibility of a second round trade in more detail here. In my second round mock this week, Dorial Green-Beckham, Tyler Lockett and Sammie Coates were in striking distance. I’ll let you decide which of those options they might prefer.

If the deal isn’t right or the guy you’ve got your eye on doesn’t fall into range — I think you take the best offensive lineman on your board. I’m curious why the Seahawks have tried to acquire an early fourth round pick on two occasions (Harvin trade, Graham trade). The Eagles used pick #122 to move up twelve spots in 2014. The #112 pick could get you up the board 10-15 places.

Perhaps it’s coincidence, or maybe there’s a plan for that pick?

Third round pick #95
Mike Davis (RB, South Carolina)
I can already feel the angry bashing of keyboards in the comments section. A receiver and running back with the first two picks? Are you insane? I wrote a blog post yesterday arguing why this could be a possibility. In twelve months time the only contracted running back on the Seahawks roster could be Christine Michael. Marshawn Lynch is the new Brett Favre when it comes to retirement and Robert Turbin is a free agent in 2016. I don’t believe they trust Michael enough to make him the unchallenged starter next year. I also think they’d rather be overly prepared for life after Lynch — not needing to force an early pick on a running back in the future. The solution is to draft one this year — a player you really like with the potential to start in 2016. You can carry five running backs — they actually did it in 2013 (Lynch, Turbin, Michael, Ware, Coleman). If you’re prepared to stash a ‘full back/running back of the future’ in Spencer Ware that year — making some tough cuts in the process — you better believe they’d be willing to stash a future Lynch replacement. The odds are against Coleman and Will Tukuafu both making the cut. They can carry five running backs this year, easily. That would present, as a worst case scenario, two contracted running backs to compete for the job in 2016 plus a further opportunity to add. That to me seems like a very viable scenario. I’m not a big Mike Davis fan — I saw plenty of average performances last year. I’m making this pick because the Seahawks are clearly intrigued. He’s making a VMAC visit soon, just like Michael did in 2013. It doesn’t mean they’ll take him but it could mean they’re trying to work out just how good he is. This mock isn’t about picking ten or eleven players I like. It’s about a projection. I might not like Davis that much. You might not like Davis that much. All that really matters is whether the Seahawks like him.

A quick note on the first two picks. You could argue you can get a receiver or running back later on. And you’d be right. You can. But you have to consider the following:

What if…

1. You’re grading the wide receivers in round two in the 5.7-6.0 range and the receivers in the mid-to-late round in the 5.2-5.5 range

2. You’re grading most of the offensive line class in the 5.5-5.8 range

There’s depth in both areas but you might get a player in round two at receiver with a much better grade than the guy you’re taking in round four. The offensive lineman you take at #63 as a fall back if you can’t/don’t trade up could easily have a similar grade to the O-liner you take in round four.

Basically I’m trying to emphasize the overall depth on the offensive line. It’s significant enough to allow you to make one or even two luxury picks to kick things off. And while I flagrantly use the term ‘luxury’ — there won’t be anything luxurious about either pick if Mike Davis is the starting running back in 2016 and Dorial Green-Beckham is enjoying a breakout year as the teams #1 receiver.

Fourth round pick (original selection #130)
Terry Poole (T/G/C San Diego State)
When I watched Terry Poole at the combine, his body shape and posture really stood out. He looked like an ideal interior lineman with a nice straight back, hand technique and solid footwork. He’s a bit of a project for sure but he’s also athletic enough for the scheme with nice size (6-5, 307lbs) and there’s a lot to work with here. Tom Cable has drifted towards project-type linemen in recent years. He moved J.R. Sweezy from defense to offense, brought in the raw Justin Britt and has tried to develop a cluster of other lineman with unique size or athleticism. The Seahawks seem to like players with tackle experience that they can move inside. Poole ticks that box. It’d be an eyebrow raiser for the media — immediately calling this a reach. We have to remember that the Seahawks just DNGAF. They drafted Jimmy Staten in round five last year. Heck, some people were calling Britt a seventh round prospect and he went at #64. They’ll take whoever they think has the best shot to fit in. If that’s Poole and they can guarantee him here, they’ll do it. If you haven’t noticed Cable has a lot of sway in Seattle. He’s trusted to bring in his guys, develop them and start them quickly.

Fourth round pick (compensatory selection #134)
Ty Montgomery (WR, Seahawks)
Look, it’s the fourth round of the draft. While we all like to believe you can find these major impact players in this range (and the Seahawks have a good record on day three) the reality is if you can find a contributor at all you’re doing well. You don’t draft Montgomery here to be a dynamo at receiver putting up major yardage. You draft him to be a return specialist. He takes up the Bryan Walters roster spot — limited snaps on offense but handles every punt and kick return. He scored four touchdowns on returns in 2013-14. Over time you can work him into the offense to see if he contributes there. As a worst case scenario you get a cheap return man on a four-year deal. The Seahawks basically played without a return game last season and spending a fourth round pick to turn that around would be a wise investment. He’s a genuine game-changer on returns. Montgomery is scheduled to visit with the Seahawks.

Fifth round pick (original selection #167)
Shaquille Riddick (DE, West Virginia)
You’re waiting until round five to make your first defensive pick? Of course. The Seahawks put out the #1 defense in terms of yardage and scoring the last two years and are retaining all of their key starters apart from Byron Maxwell (who they’ve already replaced). Seattle doesn’t need that much on defense. They need to replace Jerron Johnson — something they can probably do in UDFA (or just give Dion Bailey his shot). They need to add another cornerback. They need some extra depth for the interior defensive line. They can fill those needs on day three of the draft — starting here with O’Brien Schofield’s replacement. Riddick is very raw — he transferred to West Virginia from Gardner-Webb and faced the same fate as Bruce Irvin. Both players ended up playing the five-technique in WVU’s slightly odd three-man front. It didn’t suit Irvin and it didn’t suit Riddick. He struggled for production but here’s what you need to know — he ran a 1.57 ten yard split at his pro-day, ran an insane 6.67 three-cone, jumped a 36-inch vert and a 10-4 broad. He’s 6-6 and 244lbs. He’s a project and might not last this far. If he does, the Seahawks can take a chance and fit him into the rotation immediately as a specialist.

Fifth round pick (compensatory selection #170)
Mitch Morse (T,G,C, Missouri)
This is why you can afford to wait on offensive linemen this year. Morse isn’t a big name but he doesn’t half play with grit and determination. If the Seahawks are willing to take his former team mate and close friend Justin Britt in round two, they have to at least be willing to consider Morse in this range. For me he’s a project center. He has almost identical size to Max Unger (6-5, 305lbs) and you could redshirt him this year behind a Chris Myers before starting him in 2016. He’s strong at the point and matches up well 1v1, he’s strong (36 reps on the bench) and looks like a really solid fit at center. He will look to get to the second level and he’s enough of an athlete to work into the ZBS. With a bit of seasoning he could develop into a legit starter. On tape you’ll be more impressed with an Andy Gallik at Boston College but Gallik is a limited athlete with marginal upside. Morse has a much higher ceiling and again that all important tackle experience. I have a hard time imagining the Seahawks going with a conventional college center like Gallik or B.J. Finney when they can tap into the upside of a Morse who is bigger and more athletic with just as much (if not more) grit.

Sixth round pick (Percy Harvin trade #180)
Rakeem Nunez-Roches (DT, Southern Miss)
Considering his performance against Alabama last season he might go a lot earlier than this. There aren’t many really intriguing interior pass rushers. Nunez-Roches gave Bama’s O-line fits — consistently knifing into the backfield to make plays. He fires off the snap and wins a lot of the time with a quick get-off. His motor and relentless effort stood out against Alabama — here he was playing on a losing team and still bringing it every down. He won’t fit every scheme at 6-2 and 307lbs. His arms are a shade under Seattle’s apparent ideal of 33 inches but he’s possibly close enough. The Seahawks have enough beef up front with Mebane, McDaniel and Rubin. They need another three-technique who can spell/backup Jordan Hill. Nunez-Roches is the best later-round option available by some distance.

Sixth round pick (compensatory selection #209)
Tray Walker (CB, Texas Southern)
If there’s a rush on cornerbacks in round one (I think there will be) the options are going to be really diluted by even the third round. Players like Alex Carter are going to go higher than initially thought and it’ll leave the Seahawks searching far and wide for their next corner project. Tray Walker is taking a VMAC visit and he’s 6-3 and 189lbs. According to Tony Pauline he’s the biggest corner in the draft with the longest wingspan. He ran in the 4.5’s at his pro-day but only managed a 32.5 inch vertical according to He’d be a project much like the Jeremy Lane’s of yesteryear but this is the market Seattle’s shopping in and it’s why they made such a big push for Cary Williams. The top corners will go early before even Seattle’s first pick at #63. They will be forced to look for project players. Walker with his speed and length at least looks the part.

Sixth round pick (compensatory selection #214)
Rob Crisp (T, NC State)
I’ve been a Rob Crisp fan for some time. Go and watch his performance against Vic Beasley if you’re not convinced he has a future in the NFL. He’s pushing 6-7 and over 300lbs. He managed a 32.5 inch vertical which was the joint highest for offensive linemen at the combine. He’s a really good football player with legit blindside potential. So why is he available here? Persistent injury issues. The Seahawks took a chance on Jesse Williams and they’d be taking a chance on Crisp too. He’s had concussion problems and suffered a broken tailbone. He could still go in the middle rounds — he’s certainly talented enough, tough enough and he really can play left tackle. If he falls because teams are worried about whether he can stay healthy, he’d be an absolute bargain here. He’d provide depth in year one and he’d have an outside chance to replace Russell Okung one day if they can’t re-sign him.

Seventh round pick (original selection #248)
Quinton Spain (G, West Virginia)
He ran a 5.02 at his pro-day despite weighing 332lbs. You’re talking about a massive, athletic offensive guard with horrible hand-technique. He needs a ton of coaching in terms of hand placement, leverage and learning to anchor properly. You see flashes of genuine quality here but a lot of teams will prefer the more polished ‘finished articles’ available earlier in the draft. Even so, we know the Seahawks love this kind of size and he could come in and immediately compete to start at guard. When you can get this type of value later on (Spain is being graded as an UDFA or seventh rounder) you don’t have to rush things with the O-line. You can add other players with higher grades, look at a variety of needs and still find guys for Cable to coach up. A lot of people will prefer the bigger names but guys like Poole and Spain are determined, physical blockers with size and athleticism plus the right attitude. They also have room to grow. That’s what Seattle appears to be looking for.

Overall draft class

Wide receiver (DGB, LOCKETT OR COATES)
Mike Davis RB
Terry Poole G/T
Ty Montgomery WR/KR
Shaquille Riddick DE
Mitch Morse C/G
Rakeem Nunez-Roches DT
Tray Walker CB
Rob Crisp LT
Quinton Spain G

With this class you’d be starting Poole, Spain or Alvin Bailey at guard in 2016. You’d be signing a veteran center with the plan to develop Morse for the role long term. You’ve brought in another dynamic weapon for Russell Wilson in round two after a small trade up and dramatically improved the return game for the cost of a fourth rounder. You have a possible starting running back for 2016, extra defensive line depth for the edge and the interior. You also get a project left tackle and another corner with length and speed.

It won’t please everybody, it’s unconventional. But it fills quite a few short and long term needs.

Don’t rule out a running back for Seattle (possibly early…)

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Robert Turbin is out of contract in 2016

Is drafting a running back early this year a luxury? Sure. The Seahawks have three already, including Marshawn Lynch.

You can’t rule it out though — and here’s why…

— Marshawn Lynch has a new three year contract but nobody knows what he’s planning. That’s a scary situation for the Seahawks.

— Robert Turbin is entering the final year of his contract.

— Christine Michael is entering the penultimate year of his contract.

In twelve months you could be left with only Christine Michael entering a contract year. Some people will embrace that situation. It is difficult, however, to describe Michael as anything other than a disappointment so far. Surely they didn’t intend to spend a second round pick (their first in the 2013 draft) on a #3 running back? He hasn’t been able to usurp Robert Turbin as the #2 and it’s optimistic at this stage to expect he’ll be the feature runner in 2016.

It’s not about writing him off. Yet even if the Seahawks do maintain some internal faith in his NFL future, they’re unlikely to go into a situation where he’s the unchallenged starter. They’ll want to see him competing and beating out a team mate for the job. And not just some camp body either — a legit starter candidate.

Seattle could wait to draft a running back in 2016. That makes sense — they’ll know exactly where they are with Lynch and Turbin.

However, you also have to do some forward planning. You certainly don’t want to be handcuffed in the draft next year, needing to take a running back with an early pick.

That brings us to this 2015 class of runners. It’s not a bad group, some would argue it’s very deep. Nobody performed exceptionally well at the combine but the sentiment during the season was that this is a great class. John Schneider will know what some of the options are in 2016 and he might feel it’s better to address this situation now.

You might suggest they can draft Ezekiel Elliott in a year. If he plays as well as he did for Ohio State in the playoffs he might be a very high pick in 2016. What if he gets injured? These are things you have to consider and you can’t rely on one possible target.

If you’re Schneider and you see a running back in this class who you really believe can be a long-term franchise back for this team why wouldn’t you consider it? You have to take the opportunities when they come. That’s how important the running game is in Seattle.

Yes they have other needs at guard, center and wide receiver. They need further depth at corner and the defensive line. Personally I think there is room for at least one ‘luxury’ pick in rounds two or three. You have eleven total picks including three in round four. You’ll have ample opportunity to bring in some O-liners for Tom Cable in a deep class plus a receiver, not to mention another corner and a defensive lineman or two.

Let’s not forget — Seattle’s biggest need going into the 2013 draft wasn’t a running back and they still drafted Michael. They also took him knowing he probably wouldn’t start in year one. If you’re wondering how likely they are to draft a ‘running back for the future’ with an early pick — there’s your answer. They’re clearly more than comfortable doing it.

The offense will change significantly when Lynch departs and I suspect the Seahawks will want to cover that eventuality with a great plan. They won’t want to leave it to chance. They won’t want to risk the running game taking a step backwards.

It could mean drafting a running back this year and next. They drafted Turbin and Michael in back-to-back years after all.

The point of this piece isn’t to argue it’ll definitely happen. It’s really just to bring up the possibility Seattle will consider a running back at any stage in the draft. It won’t just necessarily be a late round flier. If they’ve identified a guy who is a potential Lynch replacement and he can be had at #63 or #95 — they’d be daft not to at least consider it. Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

So who could they consider?

Let’s assume the top two are long gone (Gurley & Gordon). Any player after that is probably fair game. The buzz around one player in particular though is quite notable:

So Davis is going to visit the VMAC — just like Christine Michael in 2013.

Unlike Michael, however, he’s not a workout warrior. It’s always funny seeing the huge discrepancy between pro-day and combine forty times. He ran a 4.61 at the combine and a 4.38 at the South Carolina pro-day according to Rapoport. He’s quick in space and accelerates very well — but I don’t think he’s a 4.3 runner. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle (all the running backs ran surprisingly slow times in Indianapolis — it could be a slow track). has his pro-day time at 4.52 which seems fair.

Davis does provide grit, character and explosion in some areas. He ran a 1.58 split which highlights the burst he shows on tape. He’s a worker who needs a lot of carries, not a flashy sports car with questionable steering.

At times he really underwhelmed in college. There are several games where he just failed to have an impact. He struggled against Clemson, was banged up in the opener against Texas A&M and just looked sluggish and ineffective against Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. We get a ton of access to the SEC over here and I watched a lot of South Carolina’s games. I always seemed to catch him on a bad or average day. Conditioning is also a concern — and there’s a history for that kind of thing at SCAR (Jeffrey, Clowney).

He also had some big games against Kentucky, Missouri and Auburn. I suspect part of the visit will be to find out exactly how good (or average) he really is. He’s one of the toughest projections for the next level. He’s stout at 5-9 and 217lbs and doesn’t always push the pile. He’s not a spectacular running back but he can be effective. He’s not bad in pass protection and he’s capable of wearing a defense down.

We’ll have to see how the Seahawks view him — but they’re showing some interest with that official visit. If they believe he is a possible starter for 2016 they might take him with a nod to the future. It also wouldn’t be a total stunner if he went in rounds two or three the way he’s generating a buzz.

It’s something to consider as we edge closer to the draft.

Second round mock draft: 1st April

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Could Cedric Ogbuehi be an option for the Seahawks?

If you missed yesterday’s first round you’ll find it here.

For me it comes down to two areas for Seattle in round two — offensive line and receiver. I think they’d ideally take a wide out here. John Schneider’s background is in Green Bay where they regularly stock up on receivers in the second round. In Seattle they’ve already taken Golden Tate and Paul Richardson in that range. It’s a good year for the position and I think there’s a chance they move up a few spots to get ‘their guy’ (whoever it may be).

Because they’re picking late in the round there’s also a chance we see a rush on the position and maybe the options aren’t great beyond pick #50?. In that scenario I think they’ll end up taking the best offensive lineman left on their board. They did it with Justin Britt a year ago and they’ll know they can fill a hole at guard or center at #63, even if they make a bit of a reach.

What about the other positions? I just don’t see a defensive line pick this early. There aren’t any standout options here and as we discussed with Tony Pauline recently, there’s going to be a few rough diamonds available in the mid-to-late rounds. By signing Ahtyba Rubin and Demarcus Dobbs they’ve replenished some of the depth up front. We could see Kevin Williams return. There are still veteran edge options on the market and they could bring in a Frank Clark or another D-liner later on.

Let’s not forget — they haven’t lost any key defensive linemen this year. Twelve months ago Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald went out the door. The depth compared to 2014, if anything, is actually improved with the addition of Rubin. Yes they need to replace O’Brien Schofield but he had two sacks last season and minimal impact. They might be banking on Cassius Marsh picking up the slack. They will add here — I just don’t expect it to be early. Schneider and Carroll have a much better hit rate on defense in the later rounds.

I don’t see any reason to go corner in round two and after that — you’d have to be talking about a player you just can’t pass up. They drafted Christine Michael in the late second round in 2013. I doubt there’s anyone that enticing where they blow needs and just go for it — but you never know. I’m struggling to even think of a candidate where that would be possible. I wouldn’t expect them to push it for Maxx Williams for example and Shaq Thompson had a disappointing combine even if he’s very versatile.

I’ve not included any trades in this second round projection but I do believe it’ll be an option for Seattle, especially considering they own eleven picks and five in rounds 4-5. You can still exploit the value in those rounds with four picks. You still have a late third rounder. If conceding one fourth rounder is the difference between getting a player you really like in round two and simply a player who fills a need — you have to consider it.

#33 Tennessee Titans — Breshad Perriman (WR, UCF)
The drops still bother me, even if he had an explosive pro-day. We always knew he was a great athlete. Still, the Titans don’t have enough game changers on offense. If they’re really trying to build around Zach Mettenberger, they need to give him a variety of weapons.

#34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Cameron Erving (C, Florida State)
I could see the Buccs moving back into the first round to make this move. They take Winston with the first pick, they have great options at receiver. Now they need to protect the investment. Erving snapped to Winston in college — doesn’t it just make a great deal of sense if he’s there?

#35 Oakland Raiders — Ronald Derby (CB, Florida State)
The Raiders take a corner capable of playing in the slot or outside. He’s not the biggest but adds a nice option to a defense that faces three short-passing attacks in the AFC West with a lot of crossing routes.

#36 Jacksonville Jaguars — Tevin Coleman (RB, Indiana)
The Jags lack a feature back and while Coleman isn’t the kind of burrowing power-runner Gus Bradley watched in Seattle, he’s a dynamic playmaker with the ability to make plays every week. He can carry the load when he needs to.

#37 New York Jets — Bendarick McKinney (LB, Mississippi State)
The Jets have a gaping hole at outside linebacker. McKinney has the power and speed to work inside but a few teams have considered using him in space. This would actually be a nice fit and another complimentary addition to what could be a very good unit in 2015.

#38 Washington Redskins — Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
The Redskins add a pass rusher in the first round and now bring in a much needed addition to the offensive line. You might argue this is too low for Fisher — but Joel Bitonio was very similar physically and lasted until pick #35 a year ago.

#39 Chicago Bears — Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
They traded away Brandon Marshall and that opens the door to take a receiver with one of their first two picks. They could go with the speed of Phillip Dorsett — but they already brought in former Jay Cutler favorite Eddie Royal to act as a smaller target. Strong is a more natural replacement for Marshall.

#40 New York Giants — Carl Davis (DT Iowa)
He had a terrific Senior Bowl and this would be a nice pick-up for the Giants. They can plug him inside on early downs. He has the size to combat the run and the quick feet and get-off to cause problems as a pass rusher. He needs to be more consistent.

#41 St. Louis Rams — A.J. Cann (G, South Carolina)
I can see the Rams making a big commitment to the offensive line this year. They take Scherff to book-end Greg Robinson and then add a center or guard in round two. They have a few options here but Cann seems to be generating some nice buzz recently.

#42 Atlanta Falcons — Grady Jarrett (DT, Clemson)
Dan Quinn is there to rebuild a bad defense. They get Leonard Williams in round one and come straight back to the D-line for Grady Jarrett. He’s a disruptive pass rusher with enough about him to work against the run. He’s incredibly stout for such a good interior rusher.

#43 Cleveland Browns — Quinten Rollins (S, Miami Ohio)
I don’t think Rollins showed enough at the combine to be considered a corner. Even so, he has the ball skills and stop-start ability to become a terrific NFL safety. This would fill a need in Cleveland as the options at safety are pretty thin this year.

#44 New Orleans Saints — Phillip Dorsett (WR, Miami)
We might see a very different Saints offense next year. It could be a lot more run based with speed the crucial factor at receiver. They have bigger targets even without Jimmy Graham — imagine trying to cover Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett?

#45 Minnesota Vikings — Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)
Perryman just looks like a Mike Zimmer linebacker. Not a flashy physical talent but plays his ass off, puts his head on the line and hits like a sledgehammer. Not an exciting player but certainly a very effective one.

#46 San Francisco 49ers — Eric Kendricks (LB, UCLA)
We could see a little run on linebackers here. There’s no reason to try and justify this — they’ve lost two possible starters to retirement this off-season and simply have to address this need in the draft.

#47 Miami Dolphins — Stephone Anthony (LB, Clemson)
With all the off-season moves so far the Dolphins have created a bit of a hole at inside linebacker themselves. Anthony has turned a few heads recently and could be a candidate to slip into round one (Green Bay?).

#48 San Diego Chargers — Devin Smith (WR, Ohio State)
Eddie Royal isn’t a great player or anything, but he had a role in San Diego. Smith can replace Royal and add a little extra as a downfield threat. Nobody matched Smith’s production on the deep ball in college football the last few years.

#49 Kansas City Chiefs — Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)
They avoid the position in round one because the options here are good enough to do it. Agholor seems like an Andy Reid type player — athletic, intelligent, versatile. He wins in the short game and that’s necessary when Alex Smith is playing quarterback.

#50 Buffalo Bills — Ty Sambrailo (T/G, Colorado State)
The Bills want to run with power and could use another addition to the offensive line. Sambrailo is big and athletic and has the attitude and personality Rex Ryan will like. He’d be an immediate starter at either right tackle or guard.

#51 Houston Texans — Sammie Coates (WR, Auburn)
Coates is pretty much the anti-Andre Johnson but the Texans need some speed and playmaking on the outside. Someone is going to take a chance on Coates, despite all of the drops and errors. If you get him right he can be special. It’s just an absolutely titanic-sized ‘IF’.

#52 Philadelphia Eagles — Shaq Thompson (LB/S/RB, Washington)
I can just see Chip Kelly drafting this guy and playing him all over the place. The Eagles need a safety and that’s a good starting point. Would you be shocked if he played a little running back too? It just seems like a Kelly move.

#53 Cincinnati Bengals — Tyler Lockett (WR, Kansas State)
Fantastic character, knows how to get open, explosive lower body, deep threat, return man. Lockett ticks a lot of boxes and had a good Senior Bowl. The Bengals use a smaller receiver in their offense and could do with an upgrade.

#54 Detroit Lions — Preston Smith (DE, Mississippi State)
They’re pretty much re-building their defensive front. Smith can play the edge and kick inside. He’s big and they’ll need that without Suh and Fairley. They’ve gone from a stout, incredibly disruptive D-line to a shell. They can address the O-line later.

#55 Arizona Cardinals — T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama)
The Cards want a bigger running back who can carry the load — but who? They have a few options in this draft. Yeldon has 5-star recruit talent but underwhelmed at Alabama. He has a ton of potential.

#56 Pittsburgh Steelers — Henry Anderson (DE, Stanford)
Anderson seems like a typical Steelers pick. No-nonsense, stout as anything and tackles well. The Steelers are needing to get younger and re-charge on defense. The offense is set up. Anderson isn’t a flashy player but you can build around players like this.

#57 Carolina Panthers — Owa Odighizuwa (DE, UCLA)
It’ll be interesting to see how teams view Odighizuwa. When he loops inside and attacks the interior he’s a ferocious, effective pass rusher. Working the edge he’s a total non-factor. They need to do something here though with Greg Hardy now in Dallas.

#58 Baltimore Ravens — Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Missouri)
They need a receiver with Torrey Smith in San Francisco and Steve Smith in his mid-30’s. DGB carries a risk-factor but he also has a lot of potential. He needs to land in a veteran, mature locker-room. This is a great fit.

#59 Denver Broncos — Paul Dawson (LB, TCU)
Not a great athlete by his own admission and that could impact where he goes. Yet on tape he’s a production machine and he’ll have an immediate impact at the next level. The Broncos don’t have too many major needs.

#60 Dallas Cowboys — Jay Ajayi (RB, Boise State)
It seems inevitable they’ll take a running back early. Does anyone really see Darren McFadden as the answer? They invested so much in becoming a power-run team they need a back who will maintain that philosophy.

#61 Indianapolis Colts — Derron Smith (S, Fresno State)
The Colts have to do something about their defense. Safety is a big need and so is slot corner. Smith can fill both positions and he’s capable of starting quickly. The Colts won’t take the next step unless they improve on defense.

#62 Green Bay Packers — Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota)
Williams just looks, sounds and acts like a Green Bay Packer. They don’t always go for the big-time athletes — and Williams has that mature, self-confident personality they seem to like. He’s a sure-handed target and would excel playing with Aaron Rodgers.

#63 Seattle Seahawks — Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
Essentially it comes down to the offensive line or receiver. If they don’t move up they might have to take the best offensive lineman on their board. I’ve put down some more considered thoughts below as to why this pick could make sense.

#64 New England Patriots — Michael Bennett (DT, Ohio State)
They need to keep adding depth at defensive tackle. I think Bennett’s a little overrated and that’s why I have him going here. The Patriots are going to struggle to get another Vince Wilfork and might need to go smaller and quicker up front to improve what remains a pretty average pass rush.

Further thoughts on the Seahawks pick at #63

In this scenario the opportunity to move up for a receiver is virtually limited to Dorial Green-Beckham. If you use the fourth round pick acquired from New Orleans, I think you’re looking at a 10-12 pick jump at best. I wouldn’t rule out that kind of trade. If Baltimore’s locker room is a good fit for DGB, I think Seattle is similar in that regard. You’re taking a small swing on a big — albeit troubled — talent. He’s a possible difference maker with unique size/speed.

There are also well advertised concerns not just with his character background but also his fit. He destroyed Kentucky and Auburn but struggled against the tighter coverage used by teams like Ole Miss. You’d need to be convinced he’s ready to compete against Seattle’s big dogs in the secondary. I agree with Tony Pauline when he says he wouldn’t touch him in the top-50. After that? It’s something to consider. It’d only take a small jump up the board to make this work.

I can’t see them moving up for the defensive options available. There are reasons to like Owa Odighizuwa and Preston Smith but essentially both play the Michael Bennett/Cassius Marsh role. It’s not really a need area.

If they stand pat (and we’re not including trades here) I think they’ll take the best offensive lineman on their board and just roll with it.

Cedric Ogbuehi had a rough 2014 season after moving to left tackle. He gave up sacks, he reportedly wasn’t the best worker. Then he picked up an ACL injury in Texas A&M’s bowl game. It’s not really been discussed much but his decision not to declare for the 2014 draft has been something of a disaster.

You can also understand it. He saw Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews go in the top ten after playing left tackle for the Aggies. Ultimately though it’s hard to imagine teams watching the 2014 tape and noting the injury and slotting him into the top-50.

So why would he appeal to the Seahawks?

Ogbuehi needs major technical refinement to play left tackle at the next level but the potential is clearly there. He looked terrific in the less-pressurized environment of right tackle, physically dominating first rounder Dee Ford in 2013. He has experience at tackle and guard — something the Seahawks like. If you’re prepared to be patient and if you’re confident he’ll make a full return to health — you could be looking at a project with a lot of upside.

He says he can be healthy for training camp. If that’s true, you fit him in at left guard in year one and you let the situation play out. Eventually he could kick outside to right tackle if you want to move Justin Britt inside. There’s also the possibility he replaces Russell Okung at left tackle. And that’s what makes this pick intriguing.

The Seahawks are going to make Russell Wilson the highest paid player in the NFL between now and September. They’re also likely to make Bobby Wagner the highest paid linebacker. Throw in the top contracts you’re paying Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham and eventually you’re going to have to make a saving. I suspect they’ll view J.R. Sweezy as a priority keep and they’ll probably want to extend Bruce Irvin too.

Okung is also a core player and ideally you find a way to extend his deal. However, his extension is likely to be more costly than Irvin’s and Sweezy’s. If he is looking for a top offensive tackle salary, it might be too costly for the Seahawks. They’ve shown they’re willing to skimp on the O-line — allowing Breno Giacomini and James Carpenter to walk and trading Max Unger. Okung might be end up being a sacrifice down the line.

You could get three years of Ogbuehi at left tackle at a late second round salary before you need to make a decision. By that point some of the bigger contracts you’ve paid out will be coming to a conclusion. Lynch will presumably be gone, Graham will be nearing the end of his deal.

Even if you work out a new deal for Okung it doesn’t stop you just continuing to use Ogbuehi at guard. It just gives you that extra bit of flexibility because he can play multiple positions.

He’d need to get stronger, much stronger. Hand placement can be improved as can his base when setting his feet to work the edge. You see flashes but not a lot of consistency. He does have ideal left tackle size (6-5, 305lbs) and enormous arms (almost 36 inches). Teams are going to love that kind of length and look beyond some of the flaws. You’ve got to love his kick slide and mirror skills when he’s really on it and he can handle speed.

I’m not totally sold on the Seahawks going in this direction but it’s a possibility we should consider and discuss. If they can’t trade up to target a receiver or if they choose not to — someone like Ogbuehi could offer you a cheap alternative to Okung for the long term and at the very least a capable addition to the interior offensive line.

I think ideally you find a way to get a receiver here (trade or no trade), eventually re-sign Okung and go with a cluster of offensive line picks later on. There are so many good, athletic options for Seattle and Tom Cable in rounds 3-7. Yet as noted, even if you keep Okung for a few more years, there’s nothing stopping Ogbuehi playing guard. If you can’t get a second round receiver, this at least makes some degree of sense.