Archive for the ‘Scouting Report’ Category

NFL mock draft (two rounds): 28th March

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Time to mix things up a bit.

This mock includes one trade. The Rams move from #15 to #10, giving the New York Giants the #43 pick and a late round selection in the process.

Round one

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#3 San Diego — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#4 Dallas — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#5 Jacksonville — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#10 TRADE Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#11 Chicago — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#15 TRADE New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#19 Buffalo — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#20 New York Jets — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#21 Washington — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#24 Cincinatti — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#29 Arizona — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#30 Carolina — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#31 Denver — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

Round two

#32 Cleveland — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#33 Tennessee — Cody Whitehair (G, Kansas State)
#34 Dallas — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#35 San Diego — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#36 Baltimore — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#37 San Francisco — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 Miami — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#39 Jacksonville — Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
#40 New York Giants — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#41 Chicago — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
#42 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucy)
#43 TRADE New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#44 Oakland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#45 Los Angeles — Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
#46 Detroit — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#47 New Orleans —Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#48 Indianapolis — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#49 Buffalo — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#50 Atlanta — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#51 New York Jets — Travis Feeney (LB, Washington)
#52 Houston — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#53 Washington — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
#54 Minnesota — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#55 Cincinnati — Willie Henry (DT, Michigan)
#56 Seattle — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#57 Green Bay — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#58 Pittsburgh — Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
#59 Kansas City — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#62 Denver — Hassan Ridgeway (DT, Texas)
#63 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)

Let’s break the analysis down into 10-pick brackets:

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#3 San Diego — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#4 Dallas — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#5 Jacksonville — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#10 TRADE Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

RGIII provides the Browns with a holding starter if they want to draft a quarterback at #2. But what if they decide there isn’t a definite franchise quarterback in this draft? For a team that is probably 2-3 years away from realistically competing, collecting talent could be the order of the day. Hue Jackson will believe he can turn Griffin III into a viable starter for now and that could influence their decision here.

If they’re going to try and train a starter for the longer haul — perhaps they consider Cardale Jones at the top of round three?

It’s high time someone in the league took a page out of Green Bay’s book. Aaron Rodgers clearly benefitted from a spell sitting behind Brett Favre. Philip Rivers is 35 this year so planning for the next era at quarterback would be a smart move by the Chargers. They can compete with their existing quarterback while planning ahead.

In 2013 the Rams gave up essentially a second and seventh round pick to move from #16 to #8 for Tavon Austin. With two second round picks they might make a similar move here to secure a long term answer at quarterback. Chicago and New Orleans could be planning for the future at QB and might be surprise suitors for Paxton Lynch.

#11 Chicago — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#15 TRADE New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#19 Buffalo — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#20 New York Jets — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)

No big shocks here. Conklin deserves to go this early as a legitimate top-15 prospect in the draft. He tested better than expected at the combine, he’s a self-made man and, for want of a better phrase, he plays with massive stones.

We’ve talked for months about the possibility that Ronnie Stanley might fall a bit. His reputation is a little bit bizarre. It’s hard to remove the memory of Stanley tackling Shaq Lawson from behind after a horrific attempt to block him. His three cone and short shuttle were horrendous at the combine.

#21 Washington — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#24 Cincinatti — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#29 Arizona — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#30 Carolina — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#31 Denver — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

We know how Scot McCloughan builds his teams and Washington will soon start to resemble the Seahawks minus Russell Wilson. I can see McCloughan being really interested in Jonathan Bullard and Keanu Neal.

Neal has been invited to the draft — another indicator that he’ll go a lot earlier than most of the media are projecting. He’s a top-25 talent. Both Bullard and Neal are athletic, high character, intense football players. They want to be great — listen to their interviews. You can build around guys like this.

The Seahawks have a choice of either Germain Ifedi or Cody Whitehair. I stuck with Ifedi for now purely due to his freakish size. If you want to swap these guys around and put Whitehair at #26 — feel free. Both players would project to start at left guard and the Seahawks have favoured size in that role previously which is why I stuck with Ifedi. Whitehair is an intriguing alternative though, as we discussed on Sunday.

With Bullard and Sheldon Rankins off the board — it looks like a pretty easy decision for the Seahawks to go O-line at #26 in this scenario. Had either player been available I would’ve been extremely willing to project them to Seattle.

#32 Cleveland — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#33 Tennessee — Cody Whitehair (G, Kansas State)
#34 Dallas — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#35 San Diego — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#36 Baltimore — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#37 San Francisco — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 Miami — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#39 Jacksonville — Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
#40 New York Giants — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#41 Chicago — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)

The Browns need a weapon at receiver with Josh Gordon’s career still in limbo. Doctson would provide a big catching radius and a reliable pair of hands. He’s certainly not A.J. Green but he could at least provide a similar safety net for RGIII and Hue Jackson.

If the Titans are going to commit to taking another offensive tackle at #1 — they might as well add the best guard in the draft too and go the whole hog. With Whitehair, Tunsil and Taylor Lewan they’d be challenging the Dallas Cowboys for pure O-line talent.

Jason Spriggs tested well at the combine but so did Jake Fisher a year ago. Spriggs isn’t a particularly fierce run blocker and he gets beat inside way too much for a guy with his length. He might last a bit longer than people expect.

Speaking of players who might fall — keep an eye on A’Shawn Robinson. He carries his weight well and looks the part of a solid NFL defensive lineman. On tape he just doesn’t make enough plays. Someone might buy into his frame, attitude and purported upside in round one. He could also drop into the 30’s.

#42 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucy)
#43 TRADE New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#44 Oakland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#45 Los Angeles — Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
#46 Detroit — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#47 New Orleans —Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#48 Indianapolis — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#49 Buffalo — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#50 Atlanta — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#51 New York Jets — Travis Feeney (LB, Washington)

Noah Spence didn’t test as well as expected at the combine. As a smaller one-dimensional speed-rusher without elite quickness — how do you justify putting him in round one? A drop into round two is very possible.

Robert Nkemdiche has issues he needs to sort out before starting a career in pro football. We’re not talking about a one-off, isolated ‘college kids’ incident here. We’re talking about a back-catalogue of problems involving both Robert and his brother Denzel. Drugs, violence. He’s an even more serious case than Randy Gregory who dropped into round two last year. If anyone is going to take a chance, Jeff Fisher is probably the guy who will.

Travis Feeney’s shoulder injuries are concerning but players with his combination of speed, athleticism, production and versatility are snapped up quickly in the NFL. He is an ideal fit for the Jets — Todd Bowles likes to utilise a roaming linebacker/safety hybrid who can rush. Without the shoulder issues he could’ve risen like Deone Bucannon.

#52 Houston — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#53 Washington — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
#54 Minnesota — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#55 Cincinnati — Willie Henry (DT, Michigan)
#56 Seattle — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#57 Green Bay — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#58 Pittsburgh — Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
#59 Kansas City — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#62 Denver — Hassan Ridgeway (DT, Texas)
#63 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)

Continuing with Washington’s theme of tough, athletic football players — Joshua Perry is an ideal fit. They use a 3-4 scheme and he can slot into the middle linebacker spot, make plays and lead that defense.

With several possible EDGE and DT prospects off the board before Seattle’s pick in round two — they instead opt for a rush-linebacker with great flexibility. Fackrell can line up at linebacker similar to Bruce Irvin and he can put his hand in the ground and attack the edge. They might prefer to add a DE-DT instead who can play base and nickel in the D-line — but they can’t fight the board here. Fackrell is a high-character splash-play specialist. He lives in the backfield and impacts the quarterback. He’s athletic and explosive. The Seahawks recently met with Shea McClellin before he signed with the Patriots. Fackrell would play a similar role in Seattle. He’s a playmaker with the character that fits this team. He’s underrated.

This is likely the range where we start to see some running backs coming off the board. Tyler Boyd just screams Green Bay — and we know they like to add receivers in round two. Austin Johnson’s all-action style and ability to play nose tackle, three-technique and D-end makes him an attractive second round option.

Whether they go O-line-D-line or vice versa with their first two picks, the Seahawks would have an opportunity to add a running back and another O-liner in round three. San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin continues to look like an attractive proposition and Darrell Bevell met with him during his pro-day. Joe Haeg, Connor McGovern, Evan Boehm and Joe Dahl are possible mid-round O-line targets. The defensive tackle depth is likely to extend into round four and beyond — it’s a deep class.

Considerations in rounds 1-2 (likely options only)

#26 — Jonathan Bullard, Germain Ifedi, Cody Whitehair, Le’Raven Clark, Ryan Kelly
#56 — Kyler Fackrell, Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg, Bronson Kaufusi, Kenny Clark

The importance of agility tests & four O-liners that fit Seattle

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Cody Whitehair’s agility makes him a viable option at #26

There’s a tendency to concentrate on forty times, splits, the vertical and broad jumps at the combine. Less time is afforded to the short shuttle and three cone.

In many ways these tests are more important than the forty yard dash. The majority of NFL plays require short-area quickness and the ability to change direction — not straight-line speed.

The short shuttle measures change of direction and agility. The three cone reveals straight line and linear power, change of direction, ‘braking’ and regaining top speed.

Agility testing is even more crucial these days for Seahawks offensive linemen. Russell Wilson’s mobility and ability to improvise demands the ability to react and adjust on the move. They often aren’t blocking straight ahead for a pocket passer like Peyton Manning. It’s probably one of the reasons they generally look for tackle converts to move inside. They’re used to blocking on the run.

We’ve focused a lot on Germain Ifedi because he had a terrific vertical jump of 32.5 inches at 324lbs. His overall size, length (6-6, 36 inch arms) and terrific physique make him an appealing option. Yet it’s worth noting the players who performed better than he did in the agility tests. It could be important.

Ifedi didn’t run a three cone at the combine for some reason but did manage a 4.75 short shuttle — good for 22nd among offensive linemen.

It’s not terrible by any means — and his hulking size and physical comparisons to Kelechi Osemele make him an attractive option at #26. Here are some other offensive linemen, however, that arguably fit better for a team that asks it’s blockers to do a lot of moving around in pass protection:

Cody Whitehair (T, Kansas State)
He had the third best three cone (7.32) and the eighth best short shuttle (4.58). He also had the sixth best split in the forty (1.73). His vertical jump was disappointing (25.5 inches) but in terms of short-area explosion and agility — it’s easy to see why he faired so well as a left tackle at Kansas State.

Joe Haeg (T, North Dakota State)
Haeg’s 7.47 three cone was the fifth best and he impressed in the short shuttle too with the third best time (4.47). Like Whitehair he disappointed in the vertical jump (27.5 inches) but had a good split in the forty (1.75). He’s another player who has the agility and reaction speed that suits Seattle’s O-line.

Connor McGovern (T, Missouri)
With the seventh best three cone (7.50) and 14th best short shuttle (4.65) — McGovern didn’t test as well here as Whitehair and Haeg. However — he had an explosive vertical that topped all offensive linemen (33 inches), had a really good split (1.72) and managed one of the best broad jumps (9-1). His strong, explosive base perhaps lends itself best to center in Seattle’s scheme — but he’s still pretty agile.

Evan Boehm (C, Missouri)
While everyone raved about Ryan Kelly’s athletic performance — he actually ran a slower three cone than both Boehm (7.52) and Nick Martin. We know the Seahawks worked out both McGovern and Boehm and we shouldn’t sleep on either. Mizzou’s center added a 4.69 short shuttle which was quicker than Ronnie Stanley, Christian Westerman and Willie Beavers.

Here are some other interesting numbers to consider:

Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana) ran a 7.70 in the three cone. That’s considerably poorer than the four prospects listed above. It’s strange because Spriggs ran a 4.44 in the short shuttle — the second best time among offensive linemen. There’s such a difference between the two tests it’s hard to determine what it tells us.

Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame) had two horrendous agility tests. He managed a wretched effort of 8.09 in the three cone and an equally bad 4.90 in the short shuttle. For all the hype about Stanley in the top-15 — these are really bad numbers.

It’s also interesting when you consider some of the top performers a year ago. Some of these names were either linked to the Seahawks by Tony Pauline (Ty Sambrailo), were drafted by the team or were considered viable options:

2015 top ten performers in the three cone

1. Jake Fisher — 7.25
2. Ali Marpet — 7.33
3. Cam Erving — 7.48
4. Jarvis Harrison — 7.51
5. Ty Sambrailo — 7.54
6. Mark Glowinski — 7.56
7. Mitch Morse — 7.60
8. Andy Gallik — 7.66
9. T.J. Clemmings — 7.68
10. La’el Collins — 7.70

Four of the top five here were taken before Seattle’s first pick. Jarvis Harrison at #4 lasted until round five and spent 2015 on the Jets practise squad. The Seahawks drafted #6 on the list — Mark Glowinski — and likely had a lot of interest in #7 Mitch Morse.

2015 top ten performers in the short shuttle

1. Jake Fisher — 4.33
2. Ali Marpet — 4.47
3. Mitch Morse — 4.50
4. T.J. Clemmings — 4.54
5. Laurence Gibson — 4.56
6. Andy Gallik — 4.58
6. Mark Glowinski — 4.58
6. Ty Sambrailo — 4.58
9. Rob Crisp — 4.60
10. Jarvis Harrison — 4.62

Again, the top three prospects were off the board before Seattle’s first pick. Fisher, Marpet and Morse could’ve been strongly considered by the Seahawks in round two. Ty Sambrailo at joint 6th was also off the board and he managed the same time as Mark Glowinski.

To compare, here’s the top ten in each drill this year…

2016 top ten performers in the three cone

1. Jake Brendel — 7.31
1. Tyler Johnstone — 7.31
3. Cody Whitehair — 7.32
4. Isaac Seumalo — 7.40
5. Joe Haeg — 7.47
5. Joe Thuney — 7.47
7. Connor McGovern — 7.50
8. Austin Blythe — 7.52
8. Evan Boehm — 7.52
10. Nick Martin — 7.57

2016 top ten performers in the short shuttle

1. Jake Brendel — 4.27
2. Jason Spriggs — 4.44
3. Joe Haeg — 4.47
4. Isaac Seumalo — 4.52
5. Austin Blythe — 4.53
6. Joe Thuney — 4.54
7. Jack Conklin — 4.57
8. Cody Whitehair — 4.58
9. Ryan Kelly — 4.59
9. Cole Toner — 4.59

When you look at the two groups — Cody Whitehair compares very well. His three cone would’ve been #2 to only Jake Fisher a year ago and his short shuttle is exactly the same as Mark Glowinski’s.

Joe Haeg would’ve ranked in the top three in both tests last year.

It’s unclear whether the Seahawks are willing to change their approach at guard. In the past they’ve used bigger left guards weighing in the 320lbs range (James Carpenter, Justin Britt, Alvin Bailey). It was interesting, however, that Terry Poole was drafted a year ago seemingly to compete at left guard and he weighed only 307lbs.

Whitehair’s tackle experience, run blocking, toughness, consistency and agility make him something of an ideal prospect for the Seahawks. The only thing letting him down is length — and that could be a sticking point.

He has 32.5 inch arms. In the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks have never drafted an offensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms. We know they have strict size ideals at cornerback (32 inch arms, have to be taller than 5-10). They might feel the same way about their offensive linemen. They haven’t quite spelled it out like they have at cornerback.

Trent Kirchner (Director of Pro Personnel):

“You mean to tell me, you’re interested in drafting a quarterback that’s 5-10 when we won’t take a corner that’s under 5-10?”

Perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for anyone who wants Whitehair to be drafted at #26? Seattle’s ideal size for a quarterback isn’t 5-10. They drafted Russell Wilson anyway because of his extreme talent. So while they are very strict about their ideals — there’s possibly a chance they’ll compromise for the right guy.

For what it’s worth, Joe Thomas also has 32.5 inch arms.

I mentioned yesterday that I watched Whitehair vs Emmanuel Ogbah and that’s another reason why I wanted to write about him today. He shut Ogbah down in that game, forcing him to switch sides so he could have a better showing against the right tackle.

His balance, strong base, power at the POA and complete body control is reminiscent of Zack Martin during his Notre Dame days. Martin also had sub-33 inch arms and played left tackle but had an immediate impact as a pro after switching to left guard.

Whitehair might go higher than a lot of people believe for that very reason. There are teams in the late teens and early 20’s that might believe he can be that plug-in-and-play guard. The type you don’t have to worry about for the next eight or ten years.

His lack of length and the hulking physicality of Germain Ifedi moved us away from considering a guy like this. Keep him on the radar for now. He’s 0.5 inches in arm length away from being virtually the ideal pick for this team and his excellent agility is a key reason why.

If they go in a different direction at #26 (especially if the don’t draft an offensive lineman in round one) — the likes of Haeg, McGovern and Boehm should also be monitored closely. It might even be a pretty accurate prediction to suggest they’ll try and draft two of Whitehair, Haeg, McGovern and Boehm.

A Seahawks contingent travelled to the North Dakota State pro-day recently where Haeg performed and they also worked out McGovern and Boehm at the Missouri pro-day.

Three of the four players listed above can play multiple positions:

Whitehair (C,G,T)
Haeg (T,G)
McGovern (C,G,T)
Boehm (C)

If the Seahawks want competition and options at multiple spots on their offensive line — that’s another reason why this quartet make sense. Players like Ifedi and Shon Coleman also have the potential to play tackle or guard.

If they draft a prospect like Jonathan Bullard in round one, they could look at Haeg, McGovern and Boehm in rounds 2-3. Remember — the Seahawks draft for their team and will take guys that fit their system even if the pick is considered a reach.

If they draft Whitehair (or another offensive lineman like Ifedi) in round one they could consider a defensive lineman like Willie Henry in round two (he had a quicker short shuttle than Bullard despite weighing 18lbs more). It’ll also be very interesting to see how Kyler Fackrell tests in the agility drills. He didn’t do them at the combine or the Utah State pro-day, probably due to some lingering injury issue.

If the Seahawks don’t like the DE-DT options in this class there’s every chance they’ll just add an EDGE or a player who can compete for the role vacated by Bruce Irvin. Fackrell is a splash-play specialist who impacts the passing game. He’s a high-energy, big effort prospect who had an excellent broad jump (10-1) at the combine and managed a 1.62 split.

He’s also long at 6-5, 245lbs with +33 inch arms and massive hands. They visited with Shea McLellin before he signed with the Patriots. Fackrell would provide a similar option and he might be there at #56.

Two possible scenarios rounds 1-4:

R1 — Cody Whitehair
R2 — Kyler Fackrell
R3 — Joe Haeg
R3 — Tyler Ervin

R1 — Jonathan Bullard
R2 — Connor McGovern
R3 — Tyler Ervin
R3 — Evan Boehm

D-line review: Kaufusi, Bullard and Ogbah

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
I watched BYU twice in 2015 but didn’t see the Fresno State game (see above). Yesterday I watched it for the first time and he basically took over the game. Granted it was a 52-10 beat down. Yet Kaufusi’s three sacks, TFL’s in the run game and a blocked kick just jumped off the screen.

It was similar to the type of performance we used to see from Margus Hunt at SMU. At 6-8 and 295lbs, Hunt was the #53 pick in 2013. Like Hunt, Kaufusi is also an older player entering the draft. He’ll be 25 as a rookie.

There are key differences between the two though — and this is why Kaufusi might end up having a superior pro career. For starters he’s more consistent on tape. Hunt flashed occasionally but watching Kaufusi — he’s more of a week-to-week impact player. He’s also a better athlete. Kaufusi ran an elite short shuttle at the combine at 4.25 seconds. He also had a 7.03 in the three-cone. He’s 6-6 and 285lbs.

Here’s the list of defensive linemen that performed better in the agility tests:

Joey Bosa (4.21, 6.89)
Shalique Calhoun (4.25, 6.97)
Shaq Lawson (4.21, 7.16)

Bosa is 6-5 and 269lbs, Calhoun 6-4 and 251lbs and Lawson 6-2 and 259lbs. Kaufusi moves as well as the top edge rushers in this class despite being freakishly bigger. He’s basically as agile and quick as Calhoun despite a 34lbs weight difference.

J.J. Watt, for what it’s worth, was 6-5 and 290lbs at his combine and had a 4.21 in the short shuttle and a 6.88 in the three-cone. There’s a 0.04 difference between his forty time and Kaufusi’s. Ziggy Ansah had a 4.26 in the short shuttle and a 7.11 three cone (he also had an incredible 4.56 forty and a 1.62 split).

Let’s state the obvious — these are not bad comparisons.

The Seahawks love top-level athletic traits. They also like production (he has that) and grit (he’s a coaches son and plays that way). That said — I’m not convinced he’s anything more than an edge rusher. Unlike Watt, there isn’t any real evidence of him moving around the line and impacting plays. He just wasn’t used in that way. He has the frame to do it but might need to add a little more bulk. If Seattle’s desire is to find a good inside/out rusher — you’d be taking a chance that Kaufusi can make that adjustment.

Here’s something else to consider — in terms of sack production, here’s the top four in the NFL in 2015:

1. J.J. Watt (6-5, 289lbs)
2. Khalil Mack (6-3, 250lbs)
3. Ziggy Ansah (6-5, 278lbs)
4. Carlos Dunlap (6-6, 280lbs)

There are two types of great NFL rusher at the moment — smaller with elite quicks (Mack, Von Miller) and the super-athletic big men (Watt, Ansah). Physically Kaufusi compares well to the bigger, athletic guys.

The issues on tape are pretty obvious. Because of his height he struggles with leverage when he doesn’t stay low. He has a tendency to play high and when this happens he just doesn’t have an impact. There’s a bit of fire to his play and his effort is excellent but he doesn’t chew glass. He’s not necessarily a war daddy but he equally won’t back down.

You get the sense he got by on athleticism in college and he’s not technically the best pass rusher. There’s no real evidence of a plan in place — he doesn’t take three plays to set up a blocker and he doesn’t have a repertoire. At the next level, when his athleticism is less dominating, he’ll need to be more nuanced. His first priority needs to be to work on his hand placement.

That said it would be interesting to see how he’d fair playing next to Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark. He’s not going to face the double teams he had in college and his agility is good enough to make teams pay 1v1 off the edge. In a draft class without many freaky athletes Kaufusi deserves the description. He could be an option in round two if the Seahawks go O-line at #26.

Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
After talking about Bullard over the last few days, I went back and watched Florida’s games against Ole Miss and Alabama. While he is very capable of playing end and tackle and moving around the line — Bullard isn’t a splash play specialist. In the two games he didn’t have a major impact — he just played well. He perfectly read an option play to drop a running back for a big loss against Ole Miss and he had a clear up sack against Alabama. Jake Coker scrambled away from pressure in the backfield, tried to extend the play and ran into Bullard.

It was good to watch him again if only to remind myself what I thought during the season. Bullard is a high-effort, intense defensive lineman but you don’t watch the tape and see anything particularly special. When he lines up at end he wins shooting the B-gap and timing snap counts. There’s not much variation. Working inside he can barrel his way into the backfield but it’s forceful rather than quick/twitch. At the next level he isn’t likely to just be able to get after the B-gap in the same way — he’s not an edge rusher by any stretch of the imagination even when he lines up at DE and he might end up making a permanent switch inside. That’s fine — but are the Seahawks looking for a smaller interior rusher in round one who doesn’t feature in base (and therefore plays a smaller percentage of snaps)?

If the Seahawks want a stout, consistent DE who plays the run well and doesn’t get shoved around — Bullard will do that. He’s a good run defender at DE. He can set the edge and his ability to close is exceptional. When he sees the ball carrier in front he’ll wrap up and finish the tackle. He never misses a tackle — period. He also does a very good job staying disciplined and filling his gap — something the Seahawks cherish.

But he isn’t a special pass rusher. He has a nice athletic profile but is he an 8-12 sack guy like Cam Jordan? I’m not convinced he will be. The Seahawks might be content with a 5-7 sack defender — essentially replacing the lost production from 2015 that they had in 2013-14 with Clinton McDonald and Jordan Hill. The question is — will they see that as worthy of a first round pick?

As an individual with his competitive nature, the chip on his shoulder, the intensity, the discipline and the run defense — Bullard’s a Seahawk. But they also seem to like unique traits in round one with major upside. Bullard, with respect, might only ever be a stout, solid run defender who gets you a handful of sacks a season working inside. It’s possible he might be the type of player they’d happily take at #56 or round three. They might prefer someone with a greater upside in the first round.

Bullard is a really fun player to watch, a guy who is easy to like and he’s not a slouch athletically. He’s a former 5-star recruit and he did well at the combine. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get a good player if you draft him. Is he capable of being a great player though? That’s what the Seahawks would have to consider if they wanted to take him at #26. He might not be special enough to warrant a first day pick.

Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
Here’s how a NFL area scout described Ogbah: “He’s stiff and upright so he has no counters as a rusher and then he doesn’t even play hard all the time. If you are going to be the hulk, then play hard all the time.”

I watched Ogbah vs Kansas State yesterday and this assessment is pretty much spot on. Cody Whitehair basically had his lunch money. Ogbah was happy to be blocked and probably thanked Whitehair for not being too mean. Time and time again the pair engaged, Whitehair contained Ogbah and finished the block. There was no counter, no physicality, nothing.

Oklahoma State adjusted and moved Ogbah to take on the right tackle. He got a sack and did a big boy pose. It’d would’ve been easier to stomach had he not received a wedgie earlier by a guy who will inevitably move to guard or center in the NFL.

His athletic profile is excellent but if Ogbah is going to succeed at the next level he needs to up the ante. He needs to play with more fire, he needs to work on counters and hand placement and he needs to show more effort. It’s tempting to look at a 13-sack season, a 1.5 split and a terrific forty yard dash for his size and get excited. It’s worth noting, however, that despite weighing 15lbs less than Kaufusi, Obgah’s agility testing led to a 4.50 short shuttle and a 7.26 three cone. Kaufusi, as we noted above, had a 4.21 and a 7.03 at 6-6 and 285lbs.

Seven round Seahawks mock draft

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Tyler Ervin could be the guy they can’t leave the draft without

I’ve chosen two scenarios for rounds one and two. One that will satisfy those wanting the #26 to be spent on an offensive lineman — and one that will satisfy those wanting to see a pass rusher.

Round 1
Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M) or Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
Ifedi is huge (6-6, 324lbs, 36 inch arms) but he’s also a dynamic athlete (second best vertical among O-liners at the combine) and he looks like the Hulk. He’s ranked #1 by SLA among offensive linemen and physically he’s in the 97th percentile for NFL lineman. Mock Draftable also compares him to Kelechi Osemele. A pick like this would allow the Seahawks to look at Ifedi and J’Marcus Webb at tackle and guard and make a decision on who starts where during camp. Starting Ifedi at left guard would give Tom Cable an athletic mauler. He’s a cheaper alternative to Osemele.

I suspect the Seahawks would like to add another DE who can kick inside on third down. That’s the ideal role for Bullard. PFF ranked him as the #1 interior run defender in college football for 2015. He impressed athletically at the combine with a decent three-cone (7.31) and vertical (32 inches). He also has good size (6-3, 285lbs, 33.5 inch arms, 10 inch hands) and has the right attitude for this team. Bullard returned to Florida in 2015 because he wanted to prove he was a better player than the mid-round grade he received from the draft committee.

Round 2
Connor McGovern (T, Missouri) or Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
If the Seahawks take a pass rusher in round one — this surely has to be an O-line pick? McGovern played left tackle for Missouri, following in the footsteps of back-to-back second round picks Justin Britt and Mitch Morse. McGovern is closer to Morse athletically — he’s ranked #4 among linemen by SLA and in the 87th percentile. He had the best vertical at the combine (33 inches) and excelled in the three cone and short shuttle too. He’s incredibly powerful and can squat 690lbs five times. The Seahawks love grit, physicality, athleticism and tackle experience on their O-line. McGovern could line up at guard or center and act as a tackle in an emergency.

As noted above, I’ve got a hunch the Seahawks want a D-end in base formations who can kick inside. Frank Clark was originally posted for that role but he’s now losing weight. They might reach a little bit for BYU’s Bronson Kaufusi. He’s 6-6 and 285lbs but managed a stunning 4.25 short shuttle and an impressive 7.03 in the three-cone. He had 11 sacks in 2015. He matches Seattle’s ideals for athleticism, size and production. You want to see him chewing glass a little bit more but that aside he can move along the line and is a day two athlete for sure. He’s the #3 SLA prospect for defensive linemen and in the 96th percentile.

Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell is smaller but could be another option. He’s more akin to Shea McClellin — who visited Seattle before signing with the Patriots. Maybe the #56 pick could be used in a possible trade, similar to the Arizona’s deal for Chandler Jones?

Round 3
Tyler Ervin (RB, San Jose State)
Everything about Ervin screams Seahawks. He’s a dynamic athlete (4.41 forty, 10-10 broad and 39 inch vertical), he has tremendous production (1601 yards, 13 touchdowns in 2015), he’s a team captain and he’s understated. On tape he runs hard despite a 5-10, 192lbs frame and he doesn’t shirk running between the tackles. He has that gliding speed the Seahawks love when he finds a crease and he goes through the gears to max-out gains. He carried his team on his back. Lance Dunbar recently visited Seattle and it hints at the incorporation of a pass-catching back moving forward. Don’t sleep on Ervin’s ability to be another Brian Westbrook. This pick would be the #90 overall selection — Westbrook is a former #91 overall pick by the Eagles. Ervin leaps off the tape and his combine workout was silky smooth. He might be the guy they feel they can’t leave the draft without.

Round 3 comp pick
Graham Glasgow (C, Michigan)
Whatever they do in rounds 1-2 — a second offensive lineman in round three seems likely. Again it’s likely to be someone that can compete at a couple of different spots. Glasgow in this instance has played center and guard for Michigan. His coach Jim Harbaugh suggested he deserved a first round grade before the Shrine Game. He’s a really tough, tone-setting lineman. He’s a no-nonsense type. He’s almost identical in size to Max Unger (6-6, 307lbs) and he performed well in the three-cone and short shuttle. He’s #10 for SLA just ahead of Christian Westerman who could be another option for the Seahawks. Glasgow has previously had issues with alcohol but he’s worked to address that — even moving in with his grandmother. He’s had to battle a bit and succeeded — the Seahawks tend to like that. Plus he’ll hit you in the chest.

Round 4
Devon Cajuste (WR, Stanford)
This has been a range where the Seahawks have taken receivers in the past (Kris Durham, Chris Harper, Kevin Norwood). They lack a big, athletic target following Chris Matthews’ departure and Ricardo Lockette sadly might not play again. Cajuste is extremely close to Doug Baldwin and would fit in immediately. He’s pushing 6-4 and 234lbs but he’s explosive — recording a 36 inch vertical and a 10-3 broad jump. He also has length (33 inch arms) and big hands (11 inches). He’s the #1 SLA receiver and he’s in the 91st percentile compared to the rest of the NFL. His production isn’t great but neither was Kris Durham’s. He did make some clutch catches in a run-first offense. The Seahawks don’t need him to post 1000 yards — they just need him to play a role, block and make the most of the few targets he gets. That’s what he does well — especially the blocking bit.

Round 5
DeAndre Elliott (CB, Colorado State)
The Seahawks nearly always take a cornerback in this range. That player needs to have +32 inch arms and be a certain height. Elliot is 6-0 and 188lbs with exactly 32 inch arms. He ran a 4.55 at the combine which is similar to Richard Sherman. He did post an explosive 41 inch vertical, a 10-5 broad jump and an incredible 3.93 short shuttle. He’s the #5 SLA cornerback and in the 85th percentile. Physically he’s the type of corner they can work with. He had two interceptions in 2015.

Round 6
Joel Heath (DT, Michigan State)
Heath is a natural leader and a great character. Could he be Seattle’s latest O-line convert? He’s currently 6-5 and 293lbs with 34.5 inch arms. He matched Connor McGovern’s vertical jump of 33 inches and his 4.52 short shuttle would’ve been fourth among O-liners. Given his high character and willingness to adapt in the past (he started at defensive end but added 30lbs to kick inside) he could be primed for a move to the O-line. Mock Draftable says he compares physically to Cam Erving — a first rounder last year who similarly moved from defense to offense at Florida State.

Round 7
Keenan Reynolds (QB, Navy)
The Seahawks could draft Reynolds based on his athletic profile and see how he fits in. That could be at receiver or running back. He had a terrific college career — finishing 5th in the Heisman voting and breaking a FBS record for 88 career running touchdowns.

Round 7
Alex Balducci (DT, Oregon)
The Seahawks took an interest in Balducci at the Shrine Game. Seahawks coaches were also heavily involved in his pro-day workout recently. He could be another camp body for the D-line competition.

Exclusive: RB Darius Jackson highlights & LSU tape

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

The Seahawks like a certain style of running back. Ideally they need to be in the 5-10 to 6-0 range, weigh about 210-220lbs, have plus athleticism and they need to be physical and finish runs.

It’s quite a list — but they base their offensive identity on running the ball.

Only C.J. Prosise and Kenneth Dixon really got into range in Indianapolis (let’s discount Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry for now). Dixon’s ball security issues might be a concern for the Seahawks (13 fumbles in three seasons).

The Seahawks are almost certain to draft a running back at some point — so it’s worth keeping an eye on the pro-days for non-attendees to the combine. It’s also worth monitoring who visits the VMAC between now and the draft.

Eastern Michigan running back Darius Jackson was allowed to workout at the Michigan pro-day. Here’s what Tony Pauline had to say about his performance:

“One of the stars during today’s Michigan workout was Eastern Michigan running back Darius Jackson. The ball carrier measured 6000, 220 pounds, posted a 41-inch vertical jump and an 11-1 broad jump, and completed 20 reps on the bench. He was fast in the 40, timing in the mid 4.3s on many watches. The Detroit Lions spent hours with Jackson after the workout, driving back to EMU with him and watching film.”

Gil Brandt added:

“He did the short shuttle in 4.27 seconds and the three-cone drill in 6.82 seconds. Jackson is from Sparta, Ill., and wanted to be a baseball player. He went to EMU because the school promised that he could play both baseball and football. Jackson ultimately decided that football was his cup of tea. Jackson — who had 1,078 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing in 2015 — had a dynamite pro-day workout, and could be a late-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.”

He ticks the size and athleticism boxes. He’s likely to be regarded as the top SPARQ running back in the 2016 class.

The Seahawks have Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael. They’re likely to add a third down back and possibly some further competition. Jackson could be a target.

What about the tape?

Thanks to Justin P here’s some of Jackson’s college highlights and his tape vs LSU. You won’t find this anywhere else.

NFL mock draft: Free agency edition 16th March

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Don’t forget to check out this weeks podcast…

A few thoughts before we get into this weeks projection…

— The Seahawks were never going to enter the Kelechi Osemele market and the latest reports have Russell Okung wanting $13-14m a year. Limited cap room plus a desire to keep the bulk of their free agents limited their ability to be extremely aggressive in free agency. They’ve fixed their biggest needs in the draft before and it seems like that will be the case again this year.

— Garry Gilliam possibly switching to left tackle, the idea of starting two rookies drafted in rounds 1-3, adding increased competition at a reasonable price. We’ve discussed these things for months. Seattle’s moves in free agency really haven’t been that surprising. They prioritised keeping Ahtyba Rubin and Jeremy Lane and now they’re looking for value in the market. Increased competition on the O-line is crucial in 2016. They didn’t have that last year.

— This is a better draft for the offensive line than the general media has recognised. It’s deep on the defensive line — but there’s a better mix of freaky athletes and physical tough guys on the O-line. They should be able to find two prospective starters and this is the best way to build a cohesive unit for the next few years.

Cris Collinsworth posted an interesting mock draft earlier today and had the Seahawks taking Alabama center Ryan Kelly. If they were to re-sign Okung and with sufficient depth at tackle and guard — this could be a possibility. At the moment they arguably need to keep adding players that can play tackle or guard. There are some nice center options in the middle rounds.

— Following the Chandler Jones trade yesterday, it wouldn’t be a total shock if the Seahawks put together a similar move to add a pass rusher. This isn’t a great class in that regard. If they want to get back to the depth they had in 2013 — trading for a pass rusher makes some sense.

Round 1

** Indicates trade

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#3 San Diego — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#4 Dallas — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#5 Jacksonville — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#6 Baltimore — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#7 San Francisco — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#10 ** Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#11 Chicago — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#15 ** New York Giants — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#19 Buffalo — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#20 New York Jets — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucky)
#21 Washington — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
#24 Cincinatti — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#25 Pittsburgh — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#26 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#29 Arizona — William Jackson (CB, Houston)
#30 Carolina — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#31 Denver — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)

Round 2

#32 Cleveland — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#33 Tennessee — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#34 Dallas — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#35 San Diego — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#36 Baltimore — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#37 San Francisco — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 Miami — Jonathan Bullard (DT, Florida)
#39 Jacksonville — Charles Tapper (DE, Oklahoma)
#40 New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#41 Chicago — Willie Henry (DT, Michigan)
#42 Tampa Bay — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#43 Los Angeles — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#44 Oakland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#45 Los Angeles — Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
#46 Detroit — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#47 New Orleans — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#48 Indianapolis — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#49 Buffalo — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#50 Atlanta — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#51 New York Jets — Travis Feeney (LB, Washington)
#52 Houston — Cody Whitehair (C, Kansas State)
#53 Washington — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
#54 Minnesota — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#55 Cincinnati — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#56 Seattle — Connor McGovern (T, Missouri)
#57 Green Bay — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#58 Pittsburgh — Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
#59 Kansas City — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#62 Denver — Christian Westerman (G, Arizona State)
#63 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)

Thoughts on Seattle’s picks

Ifedi and McGovern are both flexible players. Ifedi played right tackle in college but has the size, length and athleticism to play left guard and both tackle spots in Seattle. McGovern has started all across Missouri’s line but played left tackle in 2016. He’s projected as a possible center candidate.

The Seahawks love unique traits and athleticism and Ifeid and McGovern are both ranked in the top four for SLA. Physically Ifedi is in the 98th percentile for NFL offensive linemen. McGovern’s in the 87th percentile.

Ifedi can compete at right tackle or left guard immediately (with J’Marcus Webb) and McGovern could start at guard or center.

Mock Draftable says Ifedi’s closest pro-comparison physically at guard is Kelechi Osemele. McGovern shares some comparisons to Mitch Morse — who also switched from tackle to center after playing for Missouri. He started immediately for the Chiefs last season.

Alternative scenario

If the Seahawks don’t make a pre-draft trade for a pass rusher, they might look to move up in round two using one of their third round picks.

In the 2014 draft Philadelphia traded from #54 to #42 with Tennessee for the price of a late fourth round pick. It was a generous deal — but a third rounder should at least get you into a similar range.

It could enable them to target a player like Jonathan Bullard or Emmanuel Ogbah if he drops into round two.

Possible Seahawks target Germain Ifedi creating a buzz

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Germain Ifedi (right) looked and moved like a first round pick at the combine

This week we mocked Germain Ifedi to the Seahawks at #26. Ifedi’s tape is far better than some people will have you believe, he’s a genuine physical freak of nature with incredible upside and athleticism.

Essentially, he’s exactly the type of player the Seahawks have drafted in round one.

Ifedi was one of the big winners at the combine. He looked like the Hulk, moved incredibly well in the mirror and kick-slide drills and he had the second best vertical jump at 32.5 inches (Connor McGovern beat him by half an inch). Jumping 32.5 inches at 324lbs isn’t easy.

Scouts Inc. moved him up to #21 on their big board after the combine. You need to subscribe to read their full breakdown — but here are some of the highlights…

They grade players using a 1-5 scale:

1 — Exceptional
2 — Above average
3 — Average
4 — Below average
5 — Marginal

Ifedi is given an exceptional grade for: Production, height-weight, durability and pass protection. He’s given an above average grade for: Intangibles, awareness and toughness.

The one average grade he gets is run blocking. The blurb reads:

“Raw run blocker. Has the size and natural strength. Comes from an offense that predominantly features two-point stances and is more finesse than power in the run game.”

They end with the following status report:

“Straight out of central casting with a massive, long and ripped frame. Ifedi is an early entry with three full seasons as a starter under his belt (started freshman season at right guard and primarily right tackle last two seasons). Ifedi has the tools to develop.”

Jason Spriggs is generally considered the big O-line riser because of his athleticism. However, Scouts Inc. grades him at #46 overall with several average grades for durability, pass protection, run blocking and awareness. He gets a below average grade for toughness.

When you consider Taylor Decker’s middling combine performance, Ifedi could be challenging to be in the top five at his position. His #21 overall ranking on Scouts Inc’s board makes him the #4 offensive tackle.

They aren’t the only ones speaking highly of Ifedi. He was mocked in the first round by Daniel Jeremiah too. At the combine Jeremiah made the following remarks:

“I think he can play tackle. I know that there’s some debate, some belief that he can kick inside and be better at guard. But guys, to me he is what you want your tackle to look like. He can bend. To me the awareness is an issue and that’s something he’s going to have to learn and develop but man all of the tools are there for him to maybe even jump up — maybe sneak into the bottom of the first round. He’s right on that edge.”

It shouldn’t be a major surprise that he’s creating a buzz. He’s always been one of the more underrated prospects in this draft. The fact he wasn’t moved to left tackle in 2015 seems to have created a false impression of his ability.

Here’s what I wrote about him in December:

He’s an enormous 6-5 and 320lbs yet moves superbly. His footwork is quite brilliant for a man his size — his kick slide is good, he moves freely to the second level. In the two games I watched he didn’t get beat once off the edge by a speed rush.

There’s very little ‘bad weight’ to his frame — he’s an enormous tackle and most of it is muscle. When a D-end tries to hand fight he usually absorbs the defender and it’s over. Technically he had some nice blocks — turning his man to open up a crease and moving people off the LOS to create a running lane. He has the athleticism to adjust on the move and if he ever moved to guard he’d have no trouble pulling or kicking out to the next level.

Ifedi’s size and raw athleticism makes for an interesting combination. If the Seahawks make the playoffs and you’re pinning your hopes on an offensive tackle being available beyond the 21st pick — this could be your best bet.

There’s usually a blossoming offensive tackle who makes a late rise. Lane Johnson experienced it in 2013, Ja’wuan James in 2014 and Ereck Flowers in 2015.

Because he doesn’t get hyped like a lot of other prospects — people tend to assume Ifedi isn’t that attractive. As a worst case scenario you’re probably getting a good left guard. It’s a safe pick with the potential to be a great pick if he works out at tackle.

If you missed it earlier in the week, here’s evidence of his athleticism vs Laremy Tunsil in the mirror drill at the combine:

And here’s four back-to-back snaps vs Alabama. Note the way he uses length and a strong base to stone edge rushers. On the third snap he drives the DE into the turf and finishes. On the fourth snap he identifies and reads a stunt and shuts it down.

For all the talk of him not moving to left tackle — look at the pressure given up on the left side vs the right…

It’s only four snaps but it gives you an insight into his pass-protection skills vs the toughest opponent Texas A&M faced in 2015.

We need to spend more time looking at Le’Raven Clark over the next few weeks as an insurance option. He and Shon Coleman (who we’ve covered a lot) likely present the best two alternatives if Ifedi is off the board. Clark also has a high ceiling. Ifedi is far better prepared to start quickly.

While many are projecting a defensive lineman to the Seahawks at #26 — it really goes against everything we know at this stage. If Russell Okung departs in free agency, it creates a major need at tackle. It’ll be difficult to address that need after the first round looking at the players available. The Seahawks have also preferred to use the middle/later rounds and the cheap free agent market for defensive linemen. The sheer depth on the D-line will undoubtedly provide some attractive options in rounds 2-4.

Unless they find a way to retain Okung — everything points towards an O-line pick at #26. Ifedi provides a rare opportunity if he lasts — a prototype at the position available in the late first.

Seahawks free agency & draft predictions

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Jeremy Lane could be Seattle’s top priority in free agency

Russell Okung moves on
With Cordy Glenn getting the franchise tag and reports of an aggressive move by the Raiders to keep Donald Penn, Okung will be the most attractive free agent tackle on the market.

The Seahawks are in a tough spot. Unless they view Okung as the top priority — they can’t offer him a big deal without risking losing the majority of their other remaining free agents. They have to let this one play out and hope he receives a lukewarm market (which is possible due to his shoulder issue and history of injuries).

If a team offers a deal similar to Jake Long’s four-year, $36m contract with the Rams — he’s likely gone.

The Detroit Lions have $33m in free cap space and need a left tackle. Add another $11m if Calvin Johnson retires. Switching to an offense that isn’t quite as physical up front and is tailored to the passing game could suit Okung and keep him healthy.

Prediction: Okung signs a deal with the Lions

Bruce Irvin gets paid
Malik Jackson could be set to earn a deal worth $13m a year. You better believe Irvin’s going to get some serious offers when free agency begins.

There aren’t many super-athletic edge rushers in the draft. With teams trying to copycat Von Miller — Irvin at least has the athletic capacity to be that type of player.

Expect a ton of suitors. San Francisco needs an athletic pass rusher and they have $55m in free cap room. The Giants are rebuilding their defense and have $58m in cap space. Tampa Bay are likely to focus on their defense and have $49m to spend. Chicago and Vic Fangio need an edge rusher and have $46m to play with.

Then there’s the obvious fits — Jacksonville and Atlanta — because of familiarity with the Head Coaches. Irvin’s preference might be returning home to Atlanta.

Fourteen teams in the NFL have +$30m in cap space to spend. Very few are strong defensively. Irvin is going to be wined and dined and can take his pick.

Prediction: If it isn’t Atlanta, the Giants, 49ers, Bears and Buccs could sign Irvin

Jeremy Lane will be Seattle’s priority
Seattle’s famous ‘Legion of Boom’ was a bit of shambles to start 2015. Kam Chancellor’s holdout and Cary Williams’ introduction made for a few struggles in key games — snatching away Seattle’s prime identity in the process.

It became evident that Seattle’s technique at cornerback and safety isn’t easy to pick up in a matter of months. The Seahawks have trained their guys over time with only Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas starting immediately. Chancellor sat out a year, Richard Sherman started in 2011 only due to injuries, Byron Maxwell and Lane had to wait.

There is a stable of young defensive backs in the clubhouse — but losing Lane would put a lot of pressure on one or two to step up in 2016 and possibly start. Keeping Lane maintains a level of consistency — something they haven’t had over the last few years with Browner, Maxwell, Williams, DeShawn Shead and Lane all starting across from Sherman.

The structure of the deal could be interesting. Lane only turns 26 in July. Maxwell signed his enormous contract in Philadelphia aged 27. The Seahawks could make a convincing case to sign Lane to a one-year deal with a promise not to franchise him — allowing him to start for a full year and enter free agency in 12 months with a lot of momentum.

That would also buy more time for the Seahawks to train and establish an heir apparent.

It won’t be cheap to get such a deal sorted — and if a team is willing to offer $8m APY over 3-4 years it could be game over. Good corners get paid in the NFL and even $8m a year would be considerably less than Maxwell’s $10.5m average.

Prediction: If it’s not a multi-year deal, the Seahawks sign Lane to a one-year contract worth $6m-7.5m in 2016 — a similar amount to Cary Williams.

Jermaine Kearse switches teams
The one thing that really works for Kearse is the way he performed in primetime games. The casual observer won’t watch every Seahawks game — but coaches, scouts, GM’s and owners will have noticed the guy who always seemed to make a crucial play on the big stage.

Any team that has a #1 star receiver will view Kearse as an ideal #2. Tough, reliable, a capable run-blocker and unlikely to complain about how many targets he’s getting.

He’s not going to get paid a huge salary — but he’ll likely get offers that are a little too rich for the Seahawks.

Prediction: The Falcons sign him to provide a no-drama sidekick for Julio Jones after cutting Roddy White this week.

UPDATE: Kearse is gone…

J.R. Sweezy moves on
A year ago it seemed likely the Seahawks would make keeping Sweezy a priority. Pete Carroll regularly sang his praises during the 2014 season. He’s young, one of their homegrown stars and the poster-child for Tom Cable’s O-line revolution in Seattle.

A Twitter rumour recently suggested there was friction between Cable and the Seahawks front office. There’s no way of verifying that — but it’d be understandable.

Cable is regularly asked to create a productive O-line on the cheap. Having had a relative success story in Sweezy (a 7th round D-line convert) — to then lose him in free agency must be galling. If they’re asking him to rebuild the line again because Okung is also moving on — his reputation is constantly being scrutinised.

Offensive lines are built on consistency, familiarity and cohesion. Cable’s almost never had that because of all the changes up front. His ability to improve the performance in 2015 from wretched to passable is perhaps his greatest achievement to date.

Unfortunately this is life in football. The Seahawks have chosen to prioritise the defense and their quarterback. Sweezy is a good age and doesn’t have much competition at guard on the open market. He likely commands an offer that is too expensive for Seattle to match. If he’s only getting offers in the $3.5m-4m range — he could easily return.

Prediction: A handful of teams show interest and he ends up in Oakland, San Francisco or Tennessee — unless the value keeps him in Seattle.

Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin remain — maybe
If the only move the Seahawks make is to prioritise and ultimately keep Jeremy Lane — they’ll have plenty of cap room to keep both Mebane and Rubin.

The question is — can they find a better option?

A year ago they swapped Tony McDaniel for Rubin and it seemed like a questionable decision. Carroll later praised Rubin as the best three technique the Seahawks have had during his tenure.

It wasn’t an obvious upgrade at the time. Rubin mustered minimal interest as a free agent and was a bit of a surprise signing. It might not be obvious right now but the Seahawks might be able to find alternatives again to save a bit of cap space.

That said, it’s unlikely both depart. They performed very well in 2015, preventing any 100-yard rushers during the regular season.

They likely place a limited value on what is essentially two base run-stuffing DT’s. If Mebane or Rubin get offers beyond the limit, Seattle probably just moves on.

They didn’t go anywhere near Terrance Knighton before he signed a one-year, $4.45m contract in Washington a year ago. Their limit might be $3.5m-4m for this position moving forward. Maybe less.

Consider this as well — the draft is loaded with run stuffing defensive tackles. The Seahawks might be able to find a replacement in the middle rounds for either player. Alternatively, the extreme depth at DT could weaken the free agent market considerably. That could impact the demands of both Rubin and Mebane — and other potential free agents too.

The Seahawks can go hunting for the best deal — without any real pressure.

Prediction: Rubin signs, we’ll see on Mebane.

Any outside free agents?
If Lane, Rubin, Mebane (or another DT) re-sign, the total outlay could be approximately $13-14m. Based on the brilliant Davis Hsu’s calculations, that would leave around $3-5m to spend on any extras.

They could look to add some D-line depth — especially if there’s a cold market due to the strong draft class. They’re unlikely to be able to afford Mario Williams or any other big name.

They could also look to sign a veteran offensive lineman.

Again, it’s unlikely to be a big name. Not even a backloaded deal starting at around $4m is going to tempt Alex Mack, Alex Boone or Kelechi Osemele.

Mack could sign with the Rams (he went to Cal, they have the cap room to offer him $10m APY).

Minnesota is likely to cut one of Phil Loadholt or Matt Kalil. Loadholt is the favourite to go and could be had at a minimal cost after he missed the entire 2015 season. He’s familiar with Darrell Bevell, specialises in run blocking and has the size plus tackle experience the Seahawks love at left guard.

It also wouldn’t impact Seattle’s compensatory picks in 2017 with Loadholt having been cut. Some of Loadholt’s perceived issues versus speed won’t be a problem if he plays guard.

It’s also a nice hedge. If the top offensive tackles are off the board by #26 (including Germain Ifedi for example) — they can look to start Loadholt at right tackle and draft a left guard possibly in round two (with a DE like Emmanuel Ogbah becoming an alternative pick at #26). It gives them flexibility.

If the contract is low enough it could leave enough room to add a veteran backup quarterback at a minimal cost and some second or third tier FA’s to add depth.

Prediction: Phil Loadholt signs a 1-2 year deal, a veteran quarterback is also added (possibly Tarvaris Jackson after a long wait).

How would this set up the Seahawks in the draft?
The #1 priority would be to fill the hole left by Okung at tackle. The draft is stacked with defensive players so they can wait until rounds 2-3 to address that need. They won’t get a starting tackle after the first day.

Germain Ifedi, Shon Coleman, Jason Spriggs or Le’Raven Clark at #26.

In round two they would need to add to the defense with an impact player. We projected Travis Feeney this week to replace Bruce Irvin and it’s an ideal fit if he checks out medically. Alternatively they could add the best available defensive lineman, linebacker or ‘deathbacker’ (aka the role played by Deone Bucannon and Mark Barron).

The Seahawks have three picks in rounds 3-4 and could target a running back partner for Thomas Rawls (Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise makes sense) an interior lineman (competition at center — possibly Connor McGovern, Joe Dahl, Christian Westerman, Graham Glasgow) and a defensive lineman..

Receiver, cornerback and special teams (punter) to be addressed on day three.

Prediction: R1 — Germain Ifedi (T), R2 — Travis Feeney (LB), R3 — Joe Dahl (C) R3 — C.J. Prosise (RB), R4 — Best available defensive lineman (DT), R5 — Marquez North (WR), R6 — Deandre Elliott (CB), R7 — Nick O’Toole (P)

Tony Pauline’s draft rankings were used to determine who was/wasn’t available in the mid/later rounds. Concentrate on the positions/rounds more than the players.

If you missed this weeks podcast, don’t forget to check it out.

Seahawks combine review, takeaways & questions

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Travis Feeney is one of the few explosive athletes in the draft class

Who is starting at tackle?
This is the first question the Seahawks have to ask. The key to the draft is the future of Russell Okung. With Cordy Glenn getting the franchise tag and reports today that the Raiders are intent to lock up Donald Penn — Okung is probably going to receive a sizeable offer from another team.

Even Mitchell Schwartz is being touted as an $8m APY tackle. The chances of keeping Okung or finding a replacement in free agency appear limited.

But isn’t it a great D-line class?
It’s a very deep class but it lacks more than a handful of exceptional athletes. There will be players you can get at #26 and #56 with similar grades. You can even find a good option in rounds three or four.

Bang the drum for a defensive lineman at #26 if you want. The smarter move is probably to use the depth to your advantage. The depth at offensive tackle is far weaker and if you don’t take one in the first frame — you risk missing out.

So what about this tackle class?
There’s an exceptional chance the top five (Tunsil, Stanley, Conklin, Spriggs and Decker) will be off the board by Seattle’s pick.

Such a scenario would leave three genuine candidates — Shon Coleman, Germain Ifedi and Le’Raven Clark. Coleman didn’t work out at the combine but plays with a tremendous edge, has battled adversity like nobody else in this draft (cancer survivor) and has excellent size/length (6-5, 307lbs, +35 inch arms).

Ifedi gets a bad press in the media but he has incredible upside and the potential to play either tackle spot or left guard. He’s pushing 6-6 and 324lbs with 36 inch arms. This is the profile of a Seahawks offensive tackle based on their draft history.

Ifedi also had the best vertical jump among linemen (32.5 inches) topping even Jason Spriggs despite being 20lbs heavier. He also had one of the top broad jumps (9-1). I wrote about Ifedi back in December. Tony Pauline yesterday reported the Seahawks and Broncos are interested: “Teams were impressed with Germain Ifedi’s workout, and there’s a feeling the Texas A&M offensive tackle could slide into the late part of Round 1. I’m told right now Seattle and Denver are the teams targeting Ifedi late in round one.”

Greg Robinson hasn’t lived up to expectations as a pro but he was considered an athletic monster at the 2014 combine. Ifedi had a superior vertical by four inches, a broad jump that was only three inches shorter and his short shuttle was 0.10 quicker.

Clark had a good workout at the combine and he’s an athletic 6-5, 314lbs with +36 inch arms. Again — size and length is Seattle’s profile. He’s technically poor but has the ceiling of a top-five tackle in the league. A team with a good O-line coach might fancy their chances of turning Clark into a stud.

These three ‘fall-back’ options might not sound all that appealing. The alternative — not taking a tackle and putting Justin Britt back on the right — might be even less appealing.

Coleman, Ifedi and Clark don’t carry anywhere near as much hype as the D-line class but it’s rare to find this combination of length, size and athleticism at offensive tackle in the late first round. To find it in three players? That’s not to be sniffed at.

What about the defensive linemen?
I’m not sure about the talk of needing to go D-line at #26. That’s somewhat missing the point on the class. It’s not that the options in round one are particularly fantastic. It’s the overall depth and quality. There could be +30 prospects carrying grades in rounds 1-3.

Pete Carroll noted to Pat Kirwan that they’re looking for players that can force turnovers. The one big complaint about this deep D-line class is its lack of quick-twitch pass-rushers (edge or interior).

Emmanuel Ogbah can impact plays and had 13 sacks in 2015 — but his motor is wildly inconsistent. The Seahawks spoke to him at the combine and with good reason. Has he got the grit-factor? He and Charles Tapper were the only two D-liners to run an elite 1.5 10-yard split. These two are the most intriguing edge rushers in the class with length (Ogbah 35.5 inch arms, Tapper 34.5 inches) and size (Ogbah 6-4, 273lbs, Tapper 6-3, 271lbs).

Ogbah also had a 35.5 inch vertical, a 10-1 broad jump and a 4.62 forty. Tapper had a 34 inch vertical, a 9-9 broad jump and the quickest forty among D-liners (4.59). They both flash on tape.

According to Bob McGinn’s anonymous source, Ogbah could be available in the late first round. Tapper is likely a second round selection.

If you feel comfortable with Ogbah’s motor and you’re able to find a solution at offensive tackle (or keep Okung) he makes sense at #26.

Jonathan Bullard had a better than expected workout, testing well among potential interior candidates. On tape he looks most comfortable as a five-technique. McGinn’s source suggests he’ll be available in rounds 2-3 and despite his performance in Indianapolis that grade seems pretty accurate. His best fit might be at DE in a 3-4.

There were several disappointing performances including Adolphus Washington and Chris Jones. Kenny Clark likely bolstered his stock with a good performance and looks like an early second round pick as a pure one-technique. Michigan’s Willie Henry could also provide some value — and Javon Hargrave continues to be an intriguing smaller school option.

Seattle drafted Jordan Hill in round three with a 5.23 forty (1.75 split) and a 22.5 inch vertical. He did have a decent 4.51 in the short shuttle. The Seahawks seem less concerned by SPARQ stars on the D-line once they cross the third round threshold. Keep an eye on Washington if he falls into round three — he’s a better pass-rusher on tape than he is a combine warrior.

Two others players are pretty interesting. Shaq Lawson is 6-3 and 269lbs with 33 inch arms. He had a fairly average forty (4.70) but had a fantastic three-cone and short shuttle. His ten-yard split time was 1.64. Carl Nassib is 6-7 and 277lbs with 34.5 inch arms. He ran a nice 1.62 split for his size and a good 4.37 short shuttle and 7.27 three cone. He did only jump 28.5 inches in the vertical though. Both players were productive in 2015 (Lawson 12.5 sacks, Nassib 15.5). Lawson could be a late first or early second round pick. Nassib could go in the third or fourth round.

Cutting down the running back class
Based on the combine workouts there’s really only three options — Derrick Henry, C.J. Prosise and Kenneth Dixon. Henry could be off the board by #26 and probably won’t appeal as a first round candidate. Dixon is being graded in rounds 2/3. Prosise might be available in the late third.

The Seahawks have a definitive size ideal at running back and demand a certain level of athleticism and toughness. Alex Collins (4.59, 28.5 inch vertical) and Paul Perkins (4.54, 32 inch vertical) didn’t really make any waves.

Prosise has the size (6-0, 220lbs), speed (4.48) and explosion (35.5 inch vertical) they seem to like. Dixon isn’t far behind at 5-10, 215lbs with a 4.58 and a 37.5 inch vertical. Both players are useful in the passing game and finish their runs.

Indiana’s Jordan Howard and Utah’s Devontae Booker didn’t workout so we’ll need to see how they test at their respective pro-days.

Round two could be a wildcard
While they might feel obliged to draft the best available offensive tackle at #26, they could have a ton of flexibility at #56.

The D-line class is deep enough to wait until round three if they want to. That could open the door for a receiver (Braxton Miller? Sterling Shepard?) an interior offensive lineman (Christian Westerman? Connor McGovern?) or another position.

The Green Bay Packers consistently draft receivers in round two and the Seahawks have used some of that philosophy with John Schneider. Golden Tate (2010) and Paul Richardson (2014) were both second rounders. They traded up in 2015 to take Tyler Lockett in the early third round.

With some uncertainty over Jermaine Kearse’s retainability, Doug Baldwin being a free agent next year and Paul Richardson’s injury concerns — it wouldn’t be a total surprise if they considered someone like Miller or Shepard in the late second.

What about a defensive playmaker?
The one player I couldn’t get off my mind yesterday was linebacker Travis Feeney. This is a guy who had eight sacks in 2015, has terrific size and length (6-4, 230lbs, 33.5 inch arms) and just exploded at the combine.

Feeney ran a 4.50 with an elite 1.59 split. He also had a 10-10 in the broad jump and a 40-inch vertical. According to Rand Getlin, he was also suffering with a hernia. Imagine if he was 100% healthy?

That’s part of the issue with Feeney — his health. He’s had multiple shoulder surgeries and who knows how he checked out medically in Indianapolis?

If he got the all-clear — he could go much earlier than people expect. In a class lacking genuine explosive athletes with freaky length and size — Feeney is a diamond in the rough. Health permitting, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Seahawks took him a lot earlier than expected to fill the hole left by Bruce Irvin.

And the interior offensive line?
Missouri’s Connor McGovern is 6-4, 306lbs with 33 inch arms and he put on a show with a 1.72 split, a 33 inch vertical and a 4.65 in the short shuttle. The Seahawks like their Mizzou O-liners and McGovern could easily find himself in Seattle to play guard or center.

South Carolina’s Brandon Shell could be a classic Tom Cable tackle-to-guard convert. He has the size Seattle likes at left guard (6-5, 324lbs) with 35 inch arms. Shell ran a 1.75 split and managed a 30.5 inch vertical.

Michigan center Graham Glasgow also had a good workout posting a 1.76 split and a 4.63 short shuttle (both excellent). He’s 6-6, 307lbs with 33.5 inch arms and nearly 11 inch hands. He’s the definition of gritty and hard-nosed. He’s also almost identical in size to Max Unger (with longer arms).

Cornerback options on day three
The Seahawks quietly have a deep crop of up-and-coming corners. Because of the technique they teach it’s difficult to pick it up and start quickly. Even a veteran like Cary Williams struggled badly with the adjustment.

Tye Smith, George Farmer, Stanley-Jean Baptiste, Mo Seisay, Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon could all compete in camp. There’s also a chance they retain Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead will be with the team in 2016.

This looks like another 5th or 6th round job — if at all. We also know the Seahawks like length and size and are unlikely to draft any cornerback with sub-32 inch arms.

Of the list working out today that fit the size criteria, here’s the ones that stand out:

James Bradberry — 6-0, 211lbs, 33 inch arms — 4.50, 36 inch vertical
Deandre Elliott — 6-0, 188lbs, 32 inch arms — 4.55, 41 inch vertical
T.J. Green — 6-2, 209lbs, 32 inch arms — 4.34, 35.5 inch vertical
Deiondre Hall — 6-1, 199lbs, 34.5 inch arms — 4.68, 37 inch vertical
Eric Murray — 5-10, 199lbs, 32 inch arms — 4.50 u, 39.5 inch vertical
Rashard Robinson — 6-1, 171lbs, 32 inch arms — 4.50 u, 35.5 inch vertical
Justin Simmons — 6-2, 203lbs, 32.5 inch arms — 4.62 u, 40 inch vertical
Daryl Worley — 6-0, 204lbs, 33.5 inch arms — 4.66 u, 35.5 inch vertical

Richard Sherman ran a 4.56 with a 38 inch vertical at 6-3, 195lbs. Justin Simmons is the best comparison physically and athletically, although he played safety at Boston College. Some people are ranking Simmons in day two after he beat Byron Jones’ long shuttle time.

Byron Maxwell ran a 4.46 with a 33 inch vertical at 6-0, 202lbs. Daryl Worley is similar physically but ran a much slower time.

Late round or UDFA sleeper?
We’ve talked a lot about Tennessee receiver Marquez North. He burst onto the college scene as a major recruit and just as quickly disappeared. A change of regime, injury and inconsistency led to a disappointing career for the Vols.

North still showed flashes of genuine talent. With the right mentor and pro-coaching he could be a great project for someone. North ran a 4.48 at 6-2 and 223lbs. He has a big catch radius (33.5 inch arms) and had a 35 inch vertical. He also shone in the short shuttle (4.13).

Scouting combine day two review

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

A mediocre day
As far as underwhelming combine days go — this was right up there. Is this a defensive draft? Absolutely based on the way the skill positions performed on Friday and Saturday.

If you want to know why the Seahawks are firmly keeping hold of Jimmy Graham — this is why. It’s a horrible tight end class again. Graham, even coming off a significant injury, is a far superior option than anyone in this draft.

The receivers are mostly slow or average (or both) and the top quarterback trio (Lynch, Wentz, Goff) look like guys you prefer to admire from afar. If you’re a fan with Russell Wilson leading your team they probably seem pretty good. I’m not sure, however, if you’d be quite so thrilled if you were pinning your hopes on any of the three winning you a Championship over the next decade.

The running backs yesterday had a couple of highlights (Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry) but some of the second tier options were very average. C.J. Prosise and Kenneth Dixon are probably battling to be the next guys up.

There are some nice options on the O-line — but the star power is mostly on defense.

Josh Doctson made a statement
After running a decent 4.50 at 6-2 and 202lbs — Doctson followed it up with a 41 inch vertical and a 10-11 broad jump. He’s not the longest player (31 7/8 inch arms) but on tape he does a good job adjusting to the ball and making difficult grabs. He’s a nice compliment of reasonable size and explosion (he does turn 24 this year). He could be an early second round pick depending on what teams are looking for. If you want speed you go Will Fuller, if you want a bit more size you take Doctson.

Sterling Shepard is also moving up
Bring on the comparisons to Tyler Lockett. Shepard was incredibly reliable in college but needed to flash some athleticism here. Job done. After running a 4.48 he jumped 41 inches in the vertical. That’s a nice combination and could secure a second round grade.

Marquez North states his case
We highlighted North as a later round option — or even an UDFA option. At 6-2 and 223lbs he ran a 4.48, jumped 35 inches in the vertical and had a 10-3 in the broad. North is pretty much the receiver version of running back Keith Marshall. They were both highly rated recruits flashing major talent early in their college careers. Now they’re starting over in the NFL after some struggles and injuries. North also caught the ball very well during drills, presenting his hands to the quarterback.

Duke Williams & De’Runya Wilson struggle badly
Nothing represents the rampant mediocrity of the day better than these two. Williams, who was kicked out of Auburn, claimed he was a first round talent with seventh round character earlier in the week. After running a 4.72 he might want to rethink the self-scouting. Wilson was even worse — running a 4.85 and posting a ridiculous 28 inch vertical. He’ll sink like a stone unless a legit injury issue emerges.

How to rank the receivers
Corey Coleman didn’t run a forty but jumped a 40.5 inch vertical. He’s an explosive athlete who makes big plays. Laquon Treadwell is sturdy and looks in great condition — he’s just not a speed guy. That’s your top two. After that? It could be anything. Josh Doctson and Will Fuller maybe stole a march on Michael Thomas and the rest. Sterling Shepard is closing the gap.

The top three QB’s
There wasn’t a great deal to separate the top three. Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch and Jared Goff all looked fairly comfortable. Lynch was perhaps a little weaker in terms of accuracy during the throwing drills. He also arguably has the greater physical upside — jumping a 36 inch vertical at 6-7 and 244lbs. In comparison, Andrew Luck also jumped a 36 and Cam Newton had a 35. Wentz managed a 30.5 inch vertical and Goff a 27. Lynch presents an intriguing skill-set. Wentz and Goff might be deemed ‘safer’ prospects — but neither has Lynch’s upside, size, arm strength and athleticism. The combine buzz seems to indicate Wentz will be the first off the board.

What about the next group?
Christian Hackenburg has some of the physical traits you like but he was all over the place during drills today. His accuracy was well off — even standing in shorts throwing to open receivers. Connor Cook looked OK — pretty much how he looked in college. Good but not great. Nobody else really stood out as a nice developmental guy to work behind Russell Wilson.

Time to forget about Apple, Alexander and Howard
The Seahawks won’t take cornerbacks with sub-32 inch arms. There’s always a chance they make an exception for an exceptional athlete. Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander don’t appear to have the dynamic athleticism to combat a lack of length. Xavien Howard? We’ll see. We’ll find out for sure on Monday when the DB’s work out.

Apple and Mackensie have 31.5 inches arms, while Howard’s are 31 inches. It’d take an amazing athlete for the Seahawks to consider a corner in the first frame regardless. They’re unlikely to find one at #26.

Vernon Hargreaves — still overrated
On tape he bites on double moves, gambles way too much and is a poor open field tackler. Yes — he’ll probably have a great work out on Monday. At 5-10, 204lbs and with 30.5 inch arms — can you seriously put him out wide? People love to compare Hargreaves to Joe Haden — but Haden has 33 inch arms and was far more polished.

Hargreaves looks like a pure slot corner. Which is fine — he could be a very good one with explosive athleticism and a nose for the ball working across the middle. It’s a nice fit. But how early are you willing to take a slot corner? Bradley Roby was the #31 pick in 2014. I still think there’s a chance Hargreaves drops into that kind of range.

Keanu Neal looks more attractive by the day
We highlighted him a couple of days ago as a possible option at #26. That talk isn’t going away. Neal is almost identical in size to Deone Bucannon (6-0, 211lbs) but he has superior length (33 inch arms). Length, speed, athleticism, grit, tenacity — it’s everything the Seahawks look for.

I sense some scepticism about taking a ‘deathbacker’ (hybrid S/LB) in the first round. I get that. There are bigger needs today on the O-line and D-line. If they’re able to fill some of those needs in free agency then don’t rule this out. The Seahawks pick four times in the first three rounds and will have an opportunity to fill several needs in the first two days.

Neal is explosive and hard-hitting and would be Seattle’s answer to Bucannon and Mark Barron. He can cover the slot too and possibly replace Kam Chancellor at strong safety one day.

He might not even make it to #26. For me Keanu Neal is one of the best 25 players in the draft. And if you’re wondering about the name…

The group of 32
If we need to focus on defensive backs with 32 inch arms, here’s the list:

James Bradberry — 6-0, 211lbs, 33 inch arms
Artie Burns — 6-0, 193lbs, 33 inch arms
Jeremy Cash — 6-0, 212lbs, 32.5 inch arms
Deandre Elliott — 6-0, 188lbs, 32 inch arms
T.J. Green — 6-2, 209lbs, 32 inch arms
Deiondre Hall — 6-1, 199lbs, 34.5 inch arms
William Jackson — 6-0, 189lbs, 32 inch arms
Karl Joseph — 5-10, 205lbs, 32 inch arms
Jayron Kearse — 6-4, 216lbs, 34 inch arms
Miles Killebrew — 6-2, 217lbs, 32 inch arms
Jordan Lomax — 5-10, 202lbs, 32 inch arms
Eric Murray — 5-10, 199lbs, 32 inch arms
Keanu Neal — 6-0, 211lbs, 33 inch arms
Jaylen Ramsey — 6-1, 209lbs, 33.5 inch arms
Rashard Robinson — 6-1, 171lbs, 32 inch arms
Keivarae Russell — 6-0, 192lbs, 32 inch arms
Justin Simmons — 6-2, 203lbs, 32.5 inch arms
Brandon Williams — 5-11, 197lbs, 32.5 inch arms
Daryl Worley — 6-0, 204lbs, 33.5 inch arms

Tony Pauline says Jaylon Smith could be a day three pick
It’s the saddest story of the combine so far — but Notre Dame’s star linebacker is set to go from top-five lock to day three flier. All because he injured his knee in a meaningless bowl game.

Pauline says he could last until rounds 4-7. Like Marcus Lattimore, he’ll get a chance to return. There’s also a realistic possibility we don’t see him until 2017 at the earliest — and will he ever be 100%?

Pauline also says Jack Conklin is destined to go in the top-15, Le’Raven Clark is going to be a second round pick at worst and Mitchell Schwartz will command $8m APY in free agency.

The line on Clark is interesting. Teams clearly love the potential but are probably petrified of the work he needs on his technique. If it clicks though you could be looking at an elite left tackle. The risk/reward could be appealing to any team with a good O-line coach.

Tomorrow and Monday is when the fun begins
Here’s the key for tomorrow — look for edge rushers running a 10-yard split in the 1.5’s. Cliff Avril ran a 1.50, Bruce Irvin a 1.55 and Frank Clark a 1.59. Anything in the 1.5’s is elite.

For the defensive tackles — anything in the 1.6’s is excellent. Aaron Donald ran a 1.59 split but he’s a freak of nature.

The Seahawks would like to add a pass-rusher and while it might be interesting to look at some of the bigger-bodied guys and see how they move — this front office has preferred to draft base DT’s in rounds 3-5 or look to free agency.

Quickness, agility, explosion. For all the depth on the D-line in this class there aren’t a ton of great interior pass rushers. Let’s see if there are any prospects with at least the upside to get there.

Mid-combine mock

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#3 San Diego — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#4 Dallas — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#5 Jacksonville — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 *TRADE W/BALTIMORE* Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#7 San Francisco — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#8 Miami — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#9 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucky)
#10 New York Giants — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#11 Chicago — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Philadelphia — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#14 Oakland — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#15 Baltimore — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#16 Detroit — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#19 Buffalo — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#20 New York Jets — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)
#21 Washington — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#24 Cincinatti — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#25 Pittsburgh — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#26 Seattle — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#27 Green Bay — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#28 Kansas City — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#29 Arizona — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#30 Carolina — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#31 Denver — Cody Whitehair (G, Kansas State)