If you missed today’s combine live blog you can recap the day here. It includes workout notes, winners & losers, measurements, breaking news and a lot more
We’ll come onto the Seahawks in a moment. Firstly — this is a good class of defensive linemen but it’s also a top heavy group. It’s safe to say after watching today’s workouts there are twelve prospect with legitimate hopes of going in the top-25:
Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
He didn’t jump particularly well with a 29.5 inch vertical (worse than Danny Shelton and Jordan Phillips) and an 8’10” in the broad jump. But a 4.97 in the forty and a good performance in the drills cements his place firmly within the top five. Richard Seymour is a good comparison — he ran a 4.95 in 2001 at 6-6 and 299lbs. Williams is a shade under 6-5 and 302lbs. He could go at #2 to Tennessee or #3 to Jacksonville.
Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
Another prospect who didn’t jump particularly well — and this matters to some teams who want to see that explosive lower body. He jumped a 32.5 inch vertical and a 9’4″ broad. But he has length (arms just under 34 inches) and a 4.60 forty is good enough. A 1.56 ten yard split should attract a team like Jacksonville. Fowler Jr is a pure playmaker who can line up anywhere to rush the passer — even inside.
Randy Gregory (LB, Nebraska)
He’s far from the finished article and people knock him for a lack of production. At Nebraska he didn’t do a lot of edge rush — he played in the open field and read the offense. 3-4 teams will salivate over his skill set. He’s 6-5 and 235lbs but should be able to add weight. He has 34 inch arms and managed a 36.5 inch vertical. He jumped 10’5″ in the broad and ran a 4.64 with a 1.60 split. He had a great day in the drills, particularly when asked to change direction. Gregory has the hips of a defensive back.
Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
He didn’t work out today due to injury but he shouldn’t lose any momentum as a consequence. Ray was a monster all season long for Missouri and answered a few questions without performing. He’s closer to 6-3 than 6-2, he has 33 1/8 inch arms and he’s 245lbs. He’s not the biggest but he’s hardly small and plays above his size. At worst you’d expect a time in the 4.6’s. He’s a gritty, competitive player who should be able to stick in a 4-3 rotation.
Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
This was Harold’s opportunity to announce himself to a mass audience. On tape he flashed explosive pass-rushing qualities, dynamic closing speed, the ability to convert speed-to-power with ease and a relentless motor. He ran a 4.60 with a 1.56 split, jumped 35 inches in the vertial and a 10’3″ in the broad jump. He’s 6-3 with 33 inch arms. He’s the complete package of length, speed and grit. He’s an ideal LEO candidate and should be considered by the Atlanta Falcons at #8 as they build a new defense based on the Seahawks model.
Danny Shelton (DT, Washington)
Shelton is lazily compared to Haloti Ngata, which is unfair. Ngata was a physical freak and ran a 5.13 with a 1.73 split. Shelton’s official time was a 5.64 with a 1.89 split. As pure athletes they don’t compare and it’s wrong to set the bar this high. That doesn’t mean Shelton can’t get around a football field — he flashed impressive mobility and footwork during drills. He is not a rare athlete for his size and he will have limitations. But any 3-4 team looking for a nose tackle will seriously consider drafting Shelton early. He jumped a 30.5 inch vertical and had 34 reps on the bench press. He has 32 inch arms.
Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
Criticized as small and weak by some, Beasley set out to prove the doubters wrong today. After putting up 35 reps on the bench press, he ran the fastest time by a defensive lineman at 4.53 with a 1.59 ten yard split. He added a 41-inch vertical and a 10’10” in the broad jump. He has 32 and a half inch arms which isn’t ideal, but it’s only a shade under Shane Ray and Eli Harold. On tape he looked great for three years, putting up major numbers for Clemson.
Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon)
He chose to play defense instead of left tackle in college and teams are clearly intrigued by his size (6-7, 292lbs). You’d think he’d have longer arms (33 inches). He ran a 5.10 with a 1.76 split which is pretty average, with a 34 inch vertical and a 9’9″ broad. None of these numbers scream physical freak, but you don’t find many players who look this good at this size. Any team looking for a 3-4 end (it’s a big need in New Orleans) will have to consider Armstead with the idea of developing him into another Calais Campbell.
Malcom Brown (DT, Texas)
He flew under the radar a bit today — doing well in all the tests and drills without making any headlines. He ran a 5.05 with a 1.75 split at 6-2 and 319lbs. He could probably drop to 310lbs and play with ideal size for a three technique. He doesn’t have amazing length with 32 and a half inch arms. He flashes constantly on tape and lives in the backfield. He’s also a dependable character guy with a wife and two kids already. Teams needing an every down interior rusher will give Brown a long hard look.
Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
He didn’t work out due to injury but he wowed the media in the interview room. All of the Florida State guys are very talkative and confident. He’s an absolute beast at 6-4 and 336lbs with 33 1/8 inch arms. He’s a superb run defender who can act as a nose tackle in a 3-4 but he also has the technique to disengage and explode into the backfield. Like Brown he’s a former 5-star recruit and he was probably FSU’s best player in 2014.
Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
He didn’t put in the Dontari Poe-type performance we thought he was capable of, but at 6-5 and 329lbs he ran a 5.17 with a 1.84 split. He also recorded a 30 inch vertical and put up 28 reps on the bench press despite having nearly 35 inch arms. The biggest threat to Phillips is a history of back injuries that’ll need to be checked out by any team thinking of drafting him early.
Bud Dupree (LB, Kentucky)
One of the few linebackers to make an impression today, even if he didn’t do drills citing a groin injury. At 6-4 and 269lbs he ran a 4.56 with a 1.60 split. He posted a 42 inch vertical and an 11’6″ in the broad jump. You see that athleticism translate to the tape and he flies around for Kentucky. The problem is — he isn’t a great edge rusher. He doesn’t do a good job rounding the tackle and often runs himself out of contention. He doesn’t always diagnose the play correctly. He might be best used as a Bruce Irvin LB/DE hybrid.
That’s a talent rich group of players. Unfortunately, none of the dozen are likely to make it to #31.
So what’s left?
Seattle loves speed. Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril are in the top-five for defensive linemen in the forty yard dash over the last 12 years. They both posted incredible 1.50 ten yard splits. If you’re going to play LEO for the Seahawks, you need to be long, fast and tenacious.
If the top prospects are off the board, we’re likely concentrating on rounds three and four. The only defensive line prospect Seattle has drafted in the top two rounds since 2010 is Bruce Irvin (who subsequently moved to linebacker). Given the options on the offensive line and receiver, we’re unlikely to see that change in April.
Last year they drafted Cassius Marsh in the fourth round. He didn’t post a great forty time (4.89) but he had a 1.60 ten yard split. Jordan Hill (a third round pick in 2013) managed a 1.75 split at 303lbs (he also had long 33.5 inch arms). If we’re looking at edge rushers, they probably need to be running a similar split to Marsh. Interior rushers need to compare to Hill in terms of length and burst.
Scanning through the results today, these are the few prospects that are in the range for consideration:
Henry Anderson (Stanford)
Ran a 5.03 at 6-6 and 293lbs. Impressed at the Senior Bowl. He recorded a 1.63 ten yard split which is explosive given his size. He managed a 30-inch vertical and has 33.5 inch arms. The most impressive part of his day? Probably a 4.19 short shuttle — tied for first among all defensive linemen. He could be a candidate to replace 6-7, 305lbs Tony McDaniel if he’s cut to save $3m in cap space.
Zach Hodges (Harvard)
He’s nice and long with 34 1/4 inch arms at 6-2 and 250lbs. He ran a 4.68 with a 1.61 split. It’s not overly explosive but he’s a depth option later in the draft or in the UDFA market. He posted a 33.5 inch vertical and a 10’5″ broad jump. He has a terrific back-story.
Danielle Hunter (LSU)
Bit of a ‘looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane’ candidate. He’s 6-5 and 252lbs with 34 1/4 inch arms. He ran a 4.57 with a 1.58 split. He didn’t attempt the vertical or broad jump for some reason. He was too easily blocked at LSU and had a 1.5 sack season in 2014. There’s no denying his potential, but he’s likely to be over-drafted.
Owa Odighizuwa (UCLA)
He had an incredible day, running a 4.62 with a 1.62 split at 6-3 and 267lbs. He also posted a 39 inch vertical and a 10’7″ in the broad jump. He has 33 3/4 inch arms and ran a superb 4.19 in the short shuttle (tied with Henry Anderson). Medical checks are the key with Odighizuwa — previous hip problems will be a concern and need to be checked out. If he’s cleared, he’s one of the combine’s big winners. He needs major work on his technique as an edge rusher, but he’s adept at collapsing the interior.
Preston Smith (Mississippi State)
He’s 6-5, 271lbs with 34 inch arms. He ran a 4.74 with a 1.63 split. He jumped 34 inches in the vertical and recorded a 10’1″ in the broad. He also had an impressive 4.28 in the short shuttle and a 7.07 in the three cone. Smith’s tape drifts between very good and average, but he has the potential to be a terror in the right scheme. I’m not sure where he fits in Seattle’s defense. With Bennett and Marsh, do they need another end who kicks inside?
Anthony Chickillo (Miami)
We’ll need to get a check on his split. In his first attempt at the forty he recorded a 1.59, but in the second attempt he was given a 1.70. His official forty time is a 4.79. He’s 6-3 and 267lbs with 33.5 inch arms. He jumped 34.5 inches in the vertical but only a 9’6″ in the broad. His three cone (7.17) was also impressive. He played out of position in Miami.
Carl Davis (Iowa)
One of the standouts at the Senior Bowl, Davis is just under 6-5 and 320lbs with 34 5/8 inch arms. He ran a 5.07 with a 1.73 split. He also had a 33 inch vertical jump. His tape is flat out bad for the most part. You need to work out whether he can be the guy in Mobile more often than the guy at Iowa. Plays without an edge but he has the size, speed and length Seattle likes inside.
Grady Jarrett (Clemson)
Lacks length and that could be an issue. He’s 6-0 with 32 3/8 inch arms and that might be too short for the Seahawks. On tape he explodes off the screen in some games and today he ran a 5.06 with a 1.69 split at 304lbs. In the middle rounds he’s a value interior pass rusher who can hold his own in the run game. Posted a 31 inch vertical. Could sneak into round two.
Derrick Lott (Tennessee-Chatt)
He’s 6-4 and 314lbs with 33 5/8 inch arms. He ran a 4.99 with a 1.77 split. He didn’t jump particularly well but the speed and length is intriguing enough to search for some tape. One to take a look at.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Southern Miss)
6-2 and 307lbs — ideal size to work inside. Only has 32 5/8 inch arms and that might be a problem. He ran a 1.72 split and a 5.02 forty. He also managed a really impressive 34 inch vertical. Another one to monitor moving forward.
Marcus Hardison (Arizona State) and Christian Covington (Rice) didn’t participate.
You might ask about Davis Tull at Tennessee-Chatt who had an excellent workout even though he didn’t run a forty yard dash. He posted a 42.5 inch vertical and an 11′ in the broad jump. The problem is — he’s 6-2 and 246lbs with 31 1/4 inch arms. The Seahawks aren’t drafting a player with such paltry length to rush the edge. Mike Mayock suggested he’ll be a SAM linebacker at the next level.
None of the names above particularly appeal at #31 considering the possible sweet spot on the offensive line and the overall depth of quality at receiver. I would expect Carl Davis and Owa Odighizuwa to be off the board by #63, possibly Preston Smith and Grady Jarrett too. If the Seahawks go OL/WR (or vice-versa) with their first two picks, Henry Anderson could be an option in round three. He is the #88 ranked prospect according to ESPN.
If you need help on the defensive line and you’re picking in the top-15, this is a great draft. Many teams in the second half of round one will miss out. With so many attractive free agents hitting the open market, we could see plenty of interest from the clubs picking between #20-32.
Barring any unforeseen falls, the Seahawks are unlikely to find defensive line value at #31. Is it really that much of a need anyway? Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are a pass rush duo most teams can only dream of. Bruce Irvin has developed into one of the better defensive playmakers in the NFL. Brandon Mebane, Jordan Hill and Cassius Marsh will return. They could keep Tony McDaniel. There’s every opportunity they’ll add a veteran presence to replace Kevin Williams.
Three days ago Darnell Dockett was hinting at a move within the NFC West:
People ask me am I gonna play in az next year. My response is “ill be in az next year 1way or another rather … http://t.co/VposAGsBh7
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) February 19, 2015
Adding Dockett on a team-friendly deal could be the best way to improve Seattle’s interior pass rush. You might be able to give him McDaniel’s salary and then draft a guy like Anderson in the third. How much can a soon-to-be 34-year-old pass rusher expect to earn as a free agent coming off an ACL? Like him or loathe him, his competitive personality would really mesh with Seattle’s defense.
Of course, Arizona has to cut him for this to have any legs.
There are some players we can possibly rule out today. The early round talk on Nate Orchard seemed premature after the Senior Bowl. He has the length (33 3/4 inch arms) but a 4.80 forty was unimpressive today at just 250lbs. He only had a 31.5 inch vertical too. He’s just not a special enough athlete. Xavier Cooper had a good workout and ran a 4.86 with a 1.68 split at 293lbs. The problem? 31 1/2 inch arms. The Seahawks would need to be willing to make a concession there. Markus Golden is an easy player to root for but he has 31 1/8 inch arms and ran a 4.90 at 260lbs.
The less said about today’s group of linebackers the better. I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to draft any of the prospects we saw today. They have depth at the position and will probably look for athletic options in UDFA.
Free agency can change things very quickly but are we seeing some clarity on what might be the plan this off-season? Here’s my best projection for the 22nd February:
— Use any free cap room to target a dynamic pass-catcher like Julius Thomas (this could include cutting Zach Miller to save $3m)
— Draft an offensive lineman and a receiver with your first two picks, replacing James Carpenter and adding another weapon for Russell Wilson
— Consider adding a defensive lineman in round three
That would essentially leave one hole to fill — cornerback. This could be the greatest off-season challenge.
Tomorrow the defensive backs workout. Very few prospects fit Seattle’s size ideal (32 inch arms, long). UConn’s Byron Jones — a possible candidate — is recovering from a torn labrum and might not participate. There’s also a real lack of depth and quality at the position — and free agency will be an expensive market to dabble in. It could be a case of searching through the second wave of available veterans — or even looking to make a trade for a player buried on someone else’s depth chart.
The Seahawks are the best team in the league at developing cornerbacks but they’ll need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to replace Byron Maxwell this year. Tomorrow should be interesting, if not a little scary.