Archive for the ‘Scouting Report’ Category

Chidobe Awuzie could be on Seattle’s radar & a new podcast

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

In this weeks podcast, Kenny and I get into a number of topics including the importance of wingspan and the likelihood of the Seahawks focusing on the nickel/slot position. Check it out:

Today I wanted to build on what we discussed yesterday — the key to this draft could be what Seattle does at the nickel/slot position.

There’s a consensus among draft analysts that the Seahawks will take either an O-liner or an outside cornerback. It’s possible for sure, depending on who’s available.

Yet with the Seahawks shifting towards more of a 4-2-5 formation (and as we highlighted yesterday, it perfectly suits Seattle’s defense) adding a dynamic ‘fifth DB’ could be much more of a priority than people realise.

There’s a relatively high chance they will be attracted to Obi Melifonwu and Adoree’ Jackson for this role — but it’s entirely possible neither will be there at #26.

So today I wanted to look at another option.

Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie.

If you didn’t see this yesterday, take a look…

Before you even get into what he shows on the field, isn’t this just about the most impressive video you’ve seen this year highlighting the football IQ of a draft prospect?

If the Seahawks do draft a ‘big nickel’ in round one, that player is going to need a strong awareness of safety and cornerback duties. You’re basically a match-up weapon — playing at the LOS, blitzing, covering across the middle, dropping into a two-safety deep zone. You might end up travelling to the outside. It’s a complex job requiring a strong understanding of different techniques.

So right off the bat, Awuzie ticks that particular box.

We learnt yesterday how the 4-2-5 looks to utilise blitzing — in particular with the fifth DB. The Seahawks have experimented with the CB Blitz since Kris Richard became defensive coordinator. Awuzie attacks the backfield better than anyone (or at least at the same level as Budda Baker). He had four sacks in 2016 and six TFL’s. In his college career he had an astonishing 226 total tackles.

He isn’t the biggest but he compares to Bradley McDougald in terms of size. He’s 6-0 and 202lbs while McDougald is fractionally taller (6-1) and a little bigger (209lbs). Awuzie on the other hand is much faster (4.43 speed), more agile (4.13 short shuttle) and more explosive (39.5 inch vertical, 11-0 broad). If they’re willing to play McDougald as a big nickel, Awuzie is basically a more athletic version.

Is wingspan a problem? Arguably not considering he’s essentially acting as a ‘third safety’ or a hybrid CB/S. Earl Thomas has a 74.5 inch wingspan, Awuzie’s is 74 1/8 inches. We’ll find out in this draft class how important wingspan is considering the massive difference between the short cornerback group and the long safety group.

What do you see on tape? He’s good in run support with the requisite physicality and aggressiveness. There is absolutely zero doubt he’s a fit in that regard. Awuzie plays with the kind of attitude you expect from Seattle’s defense.

Unlike Adoree’ Jackson he’s not a particularly sudden runner and he does give up separation to more dynamic receivers. That said, he’s competitive to work back and recover and there’s a reason he has 28 PBU’s in his college career.

Awuzie is an instinctive player and he clearly does his homework. His one interception in 2016 came on a play he identified, made himself disappear in coverage and was then able to explode to the ball having anticipated the throw.

I liked in the video above that he basically had a chip on his shoulder about his athletic profile, even giving Daniel Jeremiah some grief for his pre-combine view of his speed.

He might not have the dynamic raw playmaking skills of Adoree’ Jackson or the standard-setting physical profile of Obi Melifonwu — but there’s a ton to like about Awuzie. It’s very easy to imagine him in Seattle’s defense — his personality fits them like a glove and if he needed to he could probably adjust to free safety in an emergency. He has the talent, grit and athleticism to be a starter as a big nickel/slot hybrid.

He’s another player in this class who could easily go in the top-20 or last into range for Seattle. He is a must-consider though for all Seahawks fans at #26. Put him on your radar, add him to the list. He’s a legit option.

While a lot of focus has gone on the offensive line and outside cornerback, it’s worth remembering a few things:

— Seattle likes their young group of O-liners and has already signed two veteran players to support the developing unit

— The Seahawks still have Richard Sherman and while many assume they’re going to want a dynamic #2 or eventual replacement for Sherman, look at how they’ve actually filled that job in the past (Browner — free agent from the CFL, Maxwell — sixth round pick, Williams — free agent, Shead — UDFA converted safety)

— Jeremy Lane has played outside cornerback, they seem to like Neiko Thorpe and Pierre Desir and Deshawn Shead is working to return — this is how Seattle has filled that #2 corner position in the past

— While a case can be made that Bradley McDougald could be the starting ‘big nickel’, as discussed yesterday his signing looks like a hedge

— If McDougald ends up just being a backup safety that’s no bad thing because there is literally zero depth on the roster behind Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor at the moment apart from McDougald

The Seahawks appear to have a pretty strict wingspan ideal and if Kevin King is off the board at #26, it’s hard to find an alternative who matches what they like (unless they want to start Melifonwu at corner)

It’s entirely possible Seattle addresses the following positions in this kind of order:

R1 — Big nickel or slot cornerback
R2 — Pass rusher
R3 x 3 — Safety depth, tight end, receiver, D-line, cornerback or linebacker

So while there’s currently a lot of focus on the Seahawks drafting an outside corner or O-liner with their first pick, that might not be the case.

Seattle’s defensive future lies in the 4-2-5 and here’s why

Monday, April 10th, 2017

For quite some time now we’ve been discussing Seattle’s use of the 4-2-5 formation and why it might feature even more prominently in the future.

Here’s a quick recap on some of the main points:

— Seattle ran a lot of 4-2-5 last season with Jeremy Lane playing 71% of the defensive snaps as the nickel cornerback

— Lane replaced the SAM linebacker as the Seahawks, like a lot of teams, moved towards a ‘nickel base’

— Frequently a 4-2-5 is a Cover-3 look with a post safety or middle-of-the-field safety

— This formation puts the Nickel and the Strong Safety close to the line of scrimmage, leaving the Free Safety aligned in the middle third

— You can also switch into a look that puts the Nickel next to the Free Safety aligned in a two-deep look

— In other words, this is very ‘Seahawks’

— Pete Carroll’s lukewarm review of Jeremy Lane’s play as the starting nickel led us to wonder whether that would be considered a key target area in the draft

— Carroll recently suggested they are willing to use a formation with three safety’s on the field at the same time

— This is a strong draft class at safety

— The Seahawks have not drafted an orthodox cornerback earlier than the fourth round in the Carroll era, so a ‘Buffalo’, ‘Big Nickel’ or ‘Slot’ drafted in the first round arguably would chime with this existing trend

An article was brought to my attention today that further reveals why the Seahawks might be trending towards a permanent switch to the 4-2-5. The piece was written by the TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson, detailing the benefits of the formation and why he’s used it during his career.

Every single word from Patterson is solid gold. I originally intended to highlight some select quotes but basically I’d have to copy and paste the whole thing to do it justice. You’ll read the first couple of paragraphs and I guarantee you’ll be nodding along, fully understanding why the Seahawks are embracing this 4-2-5 concept.

Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of its intentions:

— Provide a simple scheme that promotes execution and athleticism

— Take away an opponents run game

— Establish an eight-man front

— Find a way to counter-punch while playing ‘bend-but-don’t-break’

— Out-hit the opponent, create takeaways and eliminate big plays

— Find ways to blitz using your DB’s

I’ve basically just bullet-pointed Seattle’s defensive plan. Patterson writes about the 4-2-5 like he’s just finished watching the Seahawks defense.

And when you consider the ‘Buffalo’ (a 4-2-5 with a third safety on the field, explained here) is a single-high safety cover-3 scheme anyway — it all makes perfect sense.

This is why I think it’s highly likely the Seahawks will draft Obi Melifonwu if he’s available at #26.

He appears set to be the poster child for the ‘big nickel’ moving forward. If you were to create an ideal prospect for the position, he’d look like Melifonwu. The 4.40 speed, the 6-4, 225lbs size, the 79 1/4 inch wingspan, the 4.09 short shuttle.

For a position of growing importance in the NFL, Melifonwu is essentially the ideal. It’s no surprise the Seahawks’ top brass got excited watching him at the combine.

We already know they love unique traits and freakish athleticism. For this specific role he is the ultimate prospect.

Of course, there are likely other teams with similar intentions. Don’t be surprised if Melifonwu is off the board by #26 as a consequence. He could set a new standard for the trendiest defensive position in the modern NFL.

Carroll recently asserted Bradley McDougald could be used as a ‘third safety’ or ‘big nickel’ in 2017. I suspect he was brought in as a hedge. If the Seahawks really want to run this type of scheme, they couldn’t go into the draft knowing they might miss out and then have to re-think everything they want to do.

The McDougald signing means they can use a 4-2-5 next season with a big nickel. The question now is whether Melifonwu or someone else will end up taking that job as a first round pick.

Melifonwu isn’t the only option. Chidobe Awuzie was 6-0 and 202lbs at the combine. McDougald is listed at 6-1 and 209lbs. It’s entirely possible Awuzie could be drafted to compete for that job.

And despite his lack of size there seems little point in betting against Budda Baker also being a consideration — or Adoree’ Jackson for that matter considering his extreme kick return qualities and rare athleticism.

For some McDougald’s presence on the roster will be interpreted as the Seahawks having ‘got their man’ and now they can look at other positions. Possibly so. Yet their willingness to play the waiting game before eventually getting him for a mere $1.8m would be a curious and cheap way of landing a vital starter.

The price feels like a hedge. And they do need depth at safety as well. So if he’s beaten to the ‘big nickel’ job by a rookie, it’s hardly a wasted signing.

Either way, it still feels like this circled position…

… is the key to the Seahawks plans on defense this year.

And if they don’t take a ‘Big Nickel’ with their first pick, keep an eye on Shalom Luani later on.

Other notes

Jason La Canfora is reporting Gareon Conley is going to be drafted in the top half of round one.

This isn’t a big surprise. Conley is a prototype outside cornerback who had a very good combine, a solid final season at Ohio State and he has zero character concerns.

The question is — how quickly will Kevin King, Obi Melifonwu and Adoree’ Jackson follow after him (assuming Marshon Lattimore and Marlon Humphrey are the first two CB’s off the board)?

Teams generally aren’t stupid. When you have rare physical traits, way beyond the norm, you’re going to go early. Teams will look at King and Melifonwu and see how unique they are and they’ll take a shot. Jackson is an explosive, incredible playmaker.

The Seahawks under Pete Carroll have impacted the league. A player you’d consider ‘Seahawky’ these days is attractive to virtually the entire NFL.

As we discussed above, increasingly this is a match-up league and finding players that can give you a match-up advantage is incredibly important. The best way to create a match-up advantage is to draft for extreme physical upside.

So while there’s been an assumption for a long time that Melifonwu, King, Conley and Jackson will last to #26, do not be shocked if that isn’t the case and the Seahawks have to consider alternatives like Chidobe Awuzie, Budda Baker, Tyus Bowser, T.J. Watt or Justin Evans.

I wanted to finish with a quick word on Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. As we highlighted over the weekend, there are actually very few cornerbacks in this draft class that match Seattle’s previous length barometers.

Witherspoon is one of the few that does.

I watched three of his games again over the weekend and there are so many things to like. He’s terrific in coverage — regularly extending to break up passes. He has the short-area quickness, feel for the route and the deep speed to be a very effective cover-corner.

Only one player in the country defended more passes than Witherspoon in 2016 — his Colorado team mate Tedric Thompson.

However, his play against the run is so bad it’s frankly impossible to imagine him in Seattle’s defense.

When I say bad, I mean Indiana Jones 4 bad. There are literally plays where Witherspoon moves out of the way to avoid contact. He shows zero willingness to even set a strong edge to push the play back inside. His mere presence would be enough at times — he doesn’t need to get off a block and tackle like Richard Sherman. Just hold the point at your side, force the run back inside and let the other players do their work.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t even do that. This isn’t about tackling technique (which also isn’t great) or a couple of things that need tweaking. This is about want and desire. And sadly, as good as he is in coverage, you’re going to give up a ton of plays if Witherspoon plays this way at the next level. Teams will key to his side all day long — whether it’s running the ball, bubble screens, WR screens or whatever.

So unless he can convince teams that he has it within him to change, it’s hard to imagine him being much of a consideration for a club like Seattle that places such a strong emphasis on defending the run and tackling.

The 2017 cornerback class has a wingspan problem

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Ahkello Witherspoon is one of only a handful of CB’s with Seattle’s preferred wingspan

Every cornerback drafted during the Pete Carroll era has had 32 inch arms. They have acquired a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms (Marcus Burley) but he was considered a slot-corner only.

With the Seahawks seemingly prepared to continue playing predominantly in nickel (4-2-5) it looks like addressing the ‘fifth DB’ is a priority (either a big nickel or orthodox slot cornerback) so we’ll see how important arm length is if they address this early in the draft (Adoree’ Jackson and Chidobe Awuzie could easily be on their radar).

However, at the very least they view length as vital at outside cornerback. So are we right to focus on pure arm length or is wingspan the more important feature?

Wingspan is defined as the length between the tip of your middle finger on one outstretched arm to the other.

The average NFL cornerback has a wingspan of 75.5 inches (31.5 inch arm length).

Here’s the arm length and wingspan data for some of Seattle’s draftees, acquisitions and starters since 2010:

Richard Sherman — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Brandon Browner — 33 (arms) 80 (wingspan)
Byron Maxwell — 33.5 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Jeremy Lane — 32.5 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Tye Smith — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
DeAndre Elliott — 32 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Neiko Thorpe — 31 3/4 (arms) 78 1/2 (wingspan)
Stanley Jean-Baptiste — 32 3/8 (arms) 78 3/8 (wingspan)
Pierre Desir — 33 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)

All of these players have at least been tried at outside corner (Lane started as a rookie at outside corner and is currently ‘next man up’ to replace Deshawn Shead).

The Seahawks appear to be less concerned about wingspan at safety. For example, Earl Thomas’ wingspan is only 74.5 inches and Kam Chancellor’s wingspan is 76.5 inches. This is possibly one of the reasons why they might draft a slot corner/big nickel with shorter arms.

Yet if you’re looking at outside corner, the Seahawks have a very consistent ‘type’. They’re adding players with at least 32 inch arms and a wingspan of 77 inches.

Surprisingly, this isn’t a great draft for cornerbacks who fit Seattle’s preference in terms of wingspan. It might be another reason why John Schneider was lukewarm about this class.

Here’s a list of most of the ‘big name’ corner’s in the draft and all of the cornerbacks with 32 inch arms and a +77 inch wingspan. Any names not included here don’t have the necessary arm length or wingspan. The cornerbacks who match each marker are highlighted in bold:

Marshon Lattimore — 31 1/4 (arms) 74 7/8 (wingspan)
Marlon Humphrey — 32 1/4 (arms) 76 1/4 (wingspan)
Tre’Davious White — 32 1/8 (arms) 75 3/4 (wingspan)
Gareon Conley — 33 (arms) 76 (wingspan)
Fabian Moreau — 31 3/8 (arms) 75 3/4 (wingspan)
Kevin King — 32 (arms) 77 7/8 (wingspan)
Jalen Tabor — 32 (arms) 76 5/8 (wingspan)
Cordrea Tankersley — 32 1/4 (arms) 76 1/4 (wingspan)
Adoree’ Jackson — 31 3/8 (arms) 74 (wingspan)
Ahkello Witherspoon — 33 (arms) 79 3/8 (wingspan)
Sidney Jones — 31.5 (arms) 71 7/8 (wingspan)
Rasul Douglas — 32 3/8 (arms) 76 7/8 (wingspan)
Shaq Griffin — 32 3/8 (arms) 74 3/4 (wingspan)
Chidobe Awuzie — 30 5/8 (arms) 74 1/8 (wingspan)
Marquez White — 32 1/8 (arms) 77 3/8 (wingspan)
Treston Decoud — 33 (arms) 77 1/4 (wingspan)
Brian Allen — 34 (arms) 78.5 (wingspan)
Michael Davis — 32 1/4 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Quincy Wilson — 32 1/4 (arms) 75 7/8 (wingspan)

Only six cornerbacks in the entire class have 32 inch arms and a +77 inch wingspan.

There are some very surprising notes here:

— Despite having 33 inch arms, Gareon Conley’s wingspan is a relatively modest 76 inches — comparable to Fabian Moreau despite his much shorter arms (31 3/8 inches)

— Sidney Jones has average arm length by NFL standards (31.5 inches) but his wingspan is incredibly just 71 7/8 inches

— If wingspan is really important, Ahkello Witherspoon (79 3/8 inches) could be a key target (especially considering how well he performed overall at the combine)

— It’s not unfair to suggest they might only be interested in Kevin King and Ahkello Witherspoon early in the draft in terms of outside cornerbacks

— Despite having 32 3/8 inch arms, Shaq Griffin’s wingspan (74 3/4) is comparable to shorter cornerbacks like Adoree’ Jackson

The mediocre length on offer among the cornerbacks is even more striking when you looking at the safety class:

Malik Hooker — 32 1/4 (arms) 77 3/4 (wingspan)
Jamal Adams — 33 3/8 (arms) 75 1/2 (wingspan)
Budda Baker — 30 3/4 (arms) 71 3/4 (wingspan)
Jabrill Peppers — 30 3/4 (arms) 74 (wingspan)
Josh Jones — 32 (arms) 76 1/4 (wingspan)
Marcus Maye — 32 1/2 (arms) 77 1/4 (wingspan)
Obi Melifonwu — 32 1/2 (arms) 79 1/4 (wingspan)
Justin Evans — 32 (arms) 76 5/8 (wingspan)
Delano Hill — 32 1/8 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Jadar Johnson — 32 (arms) 77 3/8 (wingspan)
Eddie Jackson — 32 1/4 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Rayshawn Jenkins — 32 3/4 (arms) 77 3/8 (wingspan)
Josh Harvey-Clemons — 35 3/8 (arms) 82 5/8 (wingspan)
Damarius Travis — 31 3/4 (arms) 78 1/8 (wingspan)
Montae Nicholson — 33 3/8 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Chuck Clark — 32 1/4 (arms) 77 1/8 (wingspan)
David Jones — 31 5/8 (arms) 77 3/4 (wingspan)

Shalom Luani — 32 (arms) 74.5 (wingspan)
Leon McQuay — 31 7/8 (arms) 77 1/4 (wingspan)

Cornerbacks with 32 inch arms & a 77 inch wingspan: 6
Safety’s with 32 inch arms & a 77 inch wingspan: 13

There are more than twice as many safety’s than cornerbacks in this draft with Seattle’s preferred length.

I’ve not included every safety in the draft here — but those who aren’t listed above don’t have 32 inch arms or a +77 inch wingspan.

This might be one of the reasons why teams are seriously considering moving Obi Melifonwu to cornerback. Not only does he have the speed and agility to work outside, he also has supreme length.

If the Seahawks are tied to a wingspan number (77 inches) as they appear to be with arm length (32 inches), the options are relatively limited in this draft at outside corner.

If Kevin King is off the board at #26 or they see Melifonwu as a corner, they might focus on the nickel ‘fifth DB’ position unless they’re really high on Ahkello Witherspoon and want to take him with their first pick.

It’s arguably further evidence that a ‘slot’ pick (big nickel or cornerback) could be the choice if they take a defensive back early.

Looking at a scenario where Seattle goes EDGE early

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

It was at least a little bit interesting last week when Pete Carroll suddenly added ‘pass rusher’ to the list of possible draft options for the Seahawks. He’d previously listed cornerback, linebacker and O-line as the priorities for the off-season. He made reference to CB and LB again — but swapped out the OL following the additions of Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi.

That’s not to say the Seahawks won’t go O-line at #26. If one of the big names falls into range, a Bolles or Lamp for example, they could easily be the pick.

However, I wanted to look at a scenario where the Seahawks consider a pass rusher earlier than we’ve been discussing:

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Cincinnati (Trade) — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#5 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#6 New York Jets — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#7 LA Chargers — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#8 Carolina — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#9 Chicago (Trade) — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#10 Buffalo — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#11 New Orleans — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#12 Cleveland — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#13 Arizona — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#15 Indianapolis — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#16 Baltimore — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
#17 Washington — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#18 Tennessee — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#19 Tampa Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#20 Denver — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#21 Detroit — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#22 Miami — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#23 New York Giants — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#24 Oakland — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#25 Houston — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)

You might say it’s unlikely that Obi Melifonwu, Kevin King, Adoree’ Jackson and Gareon Conley are all off the board before pick #26.

Maybe it is?

Here’s the thing though — it isn’t that improbable and here’s why:

— Melifonwu is the definition of what teams are looking for on defense in 2017. A 6-4, 225lbs defender with the short-area quickness and agility to cover the slot, the size and explosive traits to defend the run and the versatility to line-up in various different match-ups and positions. He could be a corner, a strong safety or a ‘Buffalo’. Simply put, there aren’t many human beings with his physical profile on the planet. He could set a new standard at the big nickel.

— There aren’t many cornerbacks ever that have possessed King’s combination of size, length and athleticism. He has the deep speed to cover outside, the size to handle true #1 receivers and unnatural short-area quickness and agility to work in the slot despite his 6-3, 200lbs frame. When interviewed he talks about the intricacies of the offense he’s facing and what he learned during tape study. He had 16 passes defended in 2016 — as many as any of the top cornerbacks in this draft — and one incredible interception against Arizona State that will have teams salivating at his potential.

— Jackson is a first round pick in any draft class. A genuine, true game-changer. He can handle the slot at a time when teams are predominantly using nickel in base. He has the potential to be one of the all-time greats as a kick returner. He can handle a package on offense. Every time he’s around the ball he’s a threat to score. Furthermore, he was a team captain at USC and despite his lack of size — he doesn’t shirk a tackle. I’ll say it again — he’s Percy Harvin on defense without the hassle.

— Conley isn’t quite as freaky as the other three and he has some issues with hand use, offering far too many free releases in college. He’ll need to learn to jam and re-route and get a feel for when a receiver is breaking without getting flagged. There will be a learning curve. That said, he’s pretty much everything you want from a starting outside corner. He has the size, length, speed and instinct. His positional play — knowing where to position himself to break on the ball — is exceptional. Cornerback is a vital position and Conley has a shot to be a high-end starter in the NFL.

When you actually consider the talent, production, physical profile and positional value of the four players — it’s very easy to make a case that they won’t get out of the top-25.

What is more likely, after all? That Tennessee’s Derek Barnett remains in the top-25 despite being a short-armed, undersized defensive end with a middling physical profile? Or that teams instead look at the extreme potential and ability of the four names above?

I’m not trying to argue that this is definitely going to happen. It will be Seattle’s good fortune if one or more of the four DB’s fall into range. It’s not something we’ve really considered though — that they won’t be there. And whether it’s likely or not, it’s at least possible.

In the top-25 projection above the top O-liners are also off the board and a possible consolation prize like Jarrad Davis is also gone at #24 to Oakland.

So what happens in this situation?

Have the Seahawks been planning for this scenario?

— Pete Carroll recently noted Bradley McDougald could act as a ‘big nickel’ or ‘Buffalo’. Seattle needed safety depth anyway — but if depth was the key, this draft is loaded with good safety’s. Was McDougald brought in because they feel Melifonwu, a possible target to play as a ‘big nickel’, now won’t be available at #26?

— If they were hoping to draft Adoree’ Jackson but he’s now expected to go earlier than originally expected (top-20 is NOT a stretch), this might explain why the Seahawks had a good look at Houston’s Brandon Wilson at his pro-day last week as a possible later round alternative:

— Carroll stated that Germain Ifedi is moving to right tackle and Luke Joeckel will get a chance to win the left tackle job. Is this an admittance that they don’t believe the top tackles will reach #26?

— A final interesting nugget from Carroll’s conversation with John Clayton last week was Jeremy Lane moving to outside corner as the ‘next man up’ in replacing Deshawn Shead. It essentially cleared the way for McDougald to be the new ‘nickel’ and perhaps signals Seattle’s intention to let their existing corners battle it out to start across from Richard Sherman, rather than bring in a first round pick to start immediately.

Admittedly, a fair bit of dot-connecting is going on here. Yet it doesn’t feel entirely implausible either. The Seahawks generally set themselves up for every draft class and have a pretty good idea of who will/won’t be available at their various picks.

And if this type of situation arises, maybe they will take an EDGE rusher early?

A top-25 like this presents a few different options:

— Trade down (Mahomes and Webb are still on the board as trade bait)

— Continue the rush on defensive backs with Budda Baker, Chidobe Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley, Justin Evans or one of the many other options

— Take a pass rusher such as T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser, Takk McKinley, Jordan Willis or Charles Harris

I’m going to make a case in this piece for Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt.

This piece highlights how similar they both are physically to Khalil Mack.

Here’s the key info from the article:

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

Short shuttle
T.J. Watt — 4.13
Tyus Bowser — 4.40 (Pro day)
Khalil Mack — 4.18

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

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

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

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

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

Watch this footage of Bowser at the combine. Look how quick, fluid, twitchy and ripped he looks:

Here’s Watt’s workout as a comparison:

We know both players ran a 1.5 split (Seattle likes that), we know both ran exceptionally well in the agility tests (Seattle likes that) and we know they’re both really explosive, productive and passionate about the game (Seattle especially likes that).

Even in a worst-case scenario with so many good defensive backs flying off the board, there’s still a really attractive, freaky upside alternative in these two.

And with the great depth at cornerback and safety in this class — the Seahawks should be able to find options at both positions in rounds 2-3.

If you’re feeling a little bit down after reading about the top DB’s potentially being off the board at #26, this’ll cheer you up. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay ran through a two-round projection today. Kiper had Seattle drafting Marlon Humphrey and T.J. Watt with their first two picks. That would be a haul.

Here’s another player to keep an eye on too as a possible day-three option. Noble Nwachukwu (DL, West Virginia). Gritty backstory, basketball background, good length, grown man. Could be an inside/out type rusher.

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

Friday, March 17th, 2017

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

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

Khalil Mack special, in fact.

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

So what can we learn from their testing results?

Both are really quick over 10-yards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both have great agility

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

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

So again, how does this compare to their peers?

Short shuttle

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

Three cone

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

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

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

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

Both are really explosive

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

Vertical jump

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

Broad jump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks updates

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

Post-combine mock draft: 7th March

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Here we go then — the post-combine, pre-free agency mock draft (including a seven-round Seahawks projection). Trades are included and noted below:

Trade A
Buffalo trades #10, #43 and a 2018 pick to Chicago for the #3 pick
The Bills appear set to move on from Tyrod Taylor and have been aggressive in the past (Sammy Watkins). The Bears welcome the opportunity to trade down.

Trade B
Cleveland trades #12 and #33 to Tennessee for the #5 pick
The Titans are open for business and might be willing to trade down seven spots for the #33 pick in this loaded class. The Browns move up for a quarterback.

Trade C
Tennessee trades #18 to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks
The Titans get a proven, dynamic receiver and the Saints get another pick to help rebuild their defense.

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

Seahawks seven-round projection

R1 — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
R2 — Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
R3 — Isaac Asiata (G, Utah)
R3 — George Kittle (TE, Iowa)
R3 — Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)
R6 — Marquez White (CB, Florida State)
R7 — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

Mock draft notes

There’s probably only 2-3 legitimate top-10 picks. There’s approximately 80-90 players worthy of a top-60 grade.

The players taken between #11-20 are going to have a slightly better grade than the players taken at #40-45.

For that reason, it’s a really difficult class to project.

For example — I didn’t intend to exclude Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan) and Mike Williams (WR, Clemson). I just struggled to find a spot for them.

You might argue it’s unrealistic for these two to drop into the second round — but who are we leaving out to make room?

Is there anyone in that #10-32 range that doesn’t deserve a place in the first round? I’d argue no.

And it’s not like Davis and Williams don’t have their issues. Davis won’t workout pre-draft due to injury and both he and Williams are in the ‘good not necessarily great’ category. What stands out with either player, compared to ECU’s Zay Jones or USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster (for example)?

Jonathan Allen isn’t included due to injury concerns. News about moderate arthritis in both shoulders is significant. We saw a year ago how long-term injury concerns impacted Myles Jack’s stock. He went from sure-fire top-10 pick to second rounder. There’s no doubting Allen’s tape is excellent — but with so many talented alternatives in this draft, you’re going to really need to believe in him to take a chance on his long-term health. He might be a one-contract player.

It’s very possible Davis, Williams and Allen go in the top-20. The fact is though — some really good players are going to be there in round two.

It’s that type of draft.

Other notes

— Haason Reddick at #11? Why not? He’s a notch behind Myles Garrett in terms of explosive traits. New Orleans took Sheldon Richardson at #12 a year ago because of his explosive testing scores. Ryan Shazier was the #15 pick in 2014 and Reddick’s that type of talent.

— Jarrad Davis at #16? Some teams are going to love Davis’ combination of intensity, closing speed, length and love for the game. He’s occasionally compared to Ray Lewis. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Baltimore sees similarities between the two.

— Dalvin Cook dropping to #27? A cursory Google search reveals significant character flags that need checking out. On top of that, he had a thoroughly underwhelming combine. Cook ran a 4.53 three cone. Eddie Vanderdoes — at 305lbs — ran a 4.39.

— Top-45 picks? Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Jonathan Allen, T.J. Watt, Tre’Davious White, Takk McKinley, Quincy Wilson, Cam Robinson, Malik McDowell, Alvin Kamara, Bucky Hodges, Evan Engram, Chidobe Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley and Fabian Moreau could be in contention.

Notes on the Seahawks

The pick at #26 came down to two freakish athletes — Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu. One player has the freakish athletic profile needed to persuade the Seahawks to take a corner early, the other is a dynamic defensive ‘chess-piece’ capable of playing ‘Buffalo’ and a variety of other roles.

Reports on Monday suggested there’s a belief Melifonwu is ‘soft’. I’m not sold on that. There’s a tendency sometimes to see a freakish athletic profile and then expect to witness Garett Bolles, Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette-level intensity on tape.

What you see from Melifonwu are 6-8 plays a game where you see the potential. He’ll run through traffic, explode to the ball carrier and deliver a TFL. He’ll cover a crossing route perfectly and show off that terrific form in the broad jump to knock the ball down. He’ll chase down the running back from behind blitzing off the edge. His tackling form is very assured and he can read/react and close comfortably.

This isn’t ‘soft’ football. What teams need to determine is whether he loves ball. He’s quite a passive character overall. He seems like a nice guy. His coaches admit he’s not a big-time vocal leader although he made some improvements in 2016.

Reports suggest the Seahawks have invested a serious amount of time trying to work him out at the Senior Bowl and Combine. I suspect this is an attempt to get a feel for who he is. Will he come out of his shell sharing a locker room with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor et al?

After all, Kam developed into the heart and soul of this defense. Other personalities on this team have been developed. Bobby Wagner is a good example of this. He’s right up there now in terms of leadership — but it didn’t happen overnight.

If they believe Melifonwu has gritty aspects to his character — they’ll likely back themselves to bring it out. And if that is the case there’s a very good chance he’ll be a Seahawks target at #26. He will be very enticing for this team and could be their guy — as we discussed yesterday.

However, in this mock I went with Kevin King. Pete Carroll specifically stated cornerback, linebacker and O-line were the priority targets this off-season. Melifonwu is a hybrid, King is a corner.

When you run through King’s physical profile, he might be the dream project for an old secondary coach and his younger defensive-coordinator protégé:

— King’s 6.56 three cone was the fastest among cornerbacks this year and it’s the second fastest in the last five years (beaten only by 5-11 Will Davis in 2013).

— His three cone is the seventh best by a corner in the last 12 years (quicker than Patrick Peterson).

— He had easily the fastest short shuttle this year by any player (3.89) and the fourth best time in the last five years.

— Any concerns about his long-speed were misguided and incorrect. He ran a 4.43.

— He’s explosive, recording a 39.5 inch vertical. He didn’t do the broad jump at the combine but managed a 10-10 a year ago at the Husky combine.

— He has the required size (6-3, 200lbs) and length (32 inch arms) this team covets.

What you have here is a player with the deep speed to cover burner’s downfield, the short-area quickness to handle dynamic slot receivers and the size and length to handle big targets and contest the football.

King has so many similar traits to Richard Sherman, only he’s a better athlete.

The question shouldn’t be whether the Seahawks will have any interest in King, it’s whether he’ll even last to pick #26.

The rest of the seven-round projection handles Seattle’s needs. They select a SAM/LEO in Tyus Bowser. They get extra competition on the offensive line with Isaac Asiata — one of the few O-liners who matches their physical profile in this draft. They tap into the tight end class (George Kittle) and find a replacement for Luke Willson. They get depth at safety with one of the grittiest players in the draft (Shalom Luani) and they finish off with another cornerback pick (Marquez White) and some more competition at running back (Chris Carson).

Alternatively, they could take another cornerback in round three (eg Shaq Griffin) or target a versatile linebacker with the potential to provide depth and cover in a handful of spots (Vince Biegel? Alex Anzalone?). With depth on the D-line too, that could be an option between rounds 3-7.

I’m considering doing a live Q&A on the blog (coveritlive style) this week. Let me know in the comments section if this is something you’d be interested in.

And a reminder that free agency begins in earnest today. Here’s one name to monitor:

In case you’re wondering, Schwenke’s TEF score is 3.04.

TEF results 2017: What did we learn?

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

The vertical jump is a key test for offensive linemen at the combine

What is TEF?

Last year we put together a formula (detailed here) based around Tom Cable’s self-confessed ‘ideal’ physical profile. We called it TEF (Trench Explosion Formula).

What exactly does it calculate?

Cable stated two years ago that a prospect would ideally achieve a 31-inch vertical, a 9-foot broad jump and 27 reps in the bench press. TEF uses these numbers to create an overall score for each individual offensive lineman:

1. Vertical ÷ 31
2. Broad ÷ 9, then cube the result
3. Bench ÷ 27
4. Results added together = TEF

How do you judge an ‘ideal’ explosive athlete?

A prospect achieving the exact Cable ideal (31 — 9 — 27) will score a 3.00 in TEF.

How do you know it’s a worthwhile exercise?

We went back and put Seattle’s recent draft picks/UDFA’s through the formula and this is what we found:

Mark Glowinski: 3.34
Terry Poole: 3.12
Kristjan Sokoli: 3.75
Justin Britt: 3.00
Garrett Scott: 3.27
Ryan Seymour: 3.10
Jared Smith: 3.35
J.R. Sweezy: 3.13
Gary Gilliam (UDFA): 3.09
Germain Ifedi: 2.97
George Fant (UDFA): 3.35

The Seahawks also passed on a collection of players scoring below the 3.00 threshold.

Seattle’s starting O-line in 2016 consisted mainly of:

LT George Fant — 3.35 TEF
LG Mark Glowinski — 3.34 TEF
Justin Britt — 3.00 TEF
Germain Ifedi — 2.97 TEF
Garry Gilliam — 3.09 TEF

They were young, they were raw and for the most part they were overmatched. There is no doubting, however, how much the Seahawks are focusing on developing explosive traits to try and create a productive O-line for the future. The evidence is right there — and it’s clear.

What are the TEF scores for the 2017 combine participants?

Forrest Lamp — 3.23
Nico Siragusa — 3.13
Garett Bolles — 3.00*
Isaac Asiata — 2.96
Dorian Johnson — 2.92
Antonio Garcia — 2.89
Sean Harlow — 2.87
Taylor Moton — 2.86
Will Holden — 2.84
Ethan Pocic — 2.81
Jessamen Dunker — 2.77
Corey Levin — 2.76
Erik Austell — 2.75
Dion Dawkins — 2.75
Conor McDermott — 2.73*
Dan Feeney — 2.68
Ben Braden — 2.67
Cam Robinson — 2.67*
Nathan Theaker — 2.64
Danny Isidora — 2.56
Ethan Cooper — 2.52
Adam Bisnowaty — 2.51
Jordan Morgan — 2.49
Daniel Brunskill — 2.48
Julie’n Davenport — 2.48
Dan Skipper — 2.45*
Kyle Fuller — 2.39
Jon Toth — 2.39
Collin Buchanan — 2.38
Damien Mama — 2.38*
Justin Senior — 2.38*
Sami Tevi — 2.37
Jerry Ugokwe — 2.37
Pat Elflein — 2.34
Cameron Lee — 2.28
Chase Roullier — 2.28
Zach Banner — 2.19
Chad Wheeler — 2.14
Avery Gennesy — 2.13
David Sharpe — 2.09

Aviante Collins — DNP in the broad or vertical
Jermaine Eluemunor — DNP in the broad or vertical

* Garett Bolles, Cam Robinson, Damien Mama, Conor McDermott, Dan Skipper and Justin Senior did not do the bench press. They are given a projected score based on the average bench rep number for this draft class (24 reps).

What does this tell us?

If the Seahawks wish to continue drafting explosive offensive linemen, the options are limited.

Garett Bolles is expected to be off the board before the #26 pick. That could also be the case for Forrest Lamp.

TEF suggests that would leave two guards — Nico Siragusa and Isaac Asiata as possible targets.

What about weighted TEF (wTEF)?

This tweaks the formula and accounts for the players with enormous size (eg Germain Ifedi) who perform well in the broad and vertical jumps. Why is this worth considering? It’s simple — jumping a vertical at 320lbs is considerably more difficult than jumping a vertical at 295lbs.

Here is the calculation we use:

Weight x TEF x 0.1

We can give players a score that sufficiently emphasises their unique size.

Germain Ifedi — 324 x 2.97 x 0.1 = 96.1

Spriggs, Jason — 104.9
McGovern, Conner — 101.4
Ifedi, Germain — 96.1
Shell, Brandon — 94.4
Vaitai, Halapoulivaati — 93.8

This helped us determine Ifedi was a distinct possibility for the Seahawks in round one and ultimately they drafted him with the #31 pick a year ago.

wTEF scores for the 2017 draft class

Forrest Lamp — 99.8
Nico Siragusa — 99.8
Isaac Asiata — 95.6
Taylor Moton — 91.2
Garett Bolles — 89.1
Will Holden — 88.3
Jessamen Dunker — 88.0
Ben Braden — 87.8
Dorian Johnson — 87.6
Antonio Garcia — 87.2
Ethan Pocic — 87.1
Sean Harlow — 86.9
Dion Dawkins — 86.3
Cam Robinson — 85.9
Corey Levin — 84.7
Conor McDermott — 83.8
Nathan Theaker — 83.1
Erik Austell — 82.7
Dan Feeney — 81.7
Ethan Cooper — 81.1
Damien Mama — 79.4
Julie’n Davenport — 78.8
Justin Senior — 78.7
Danny Isidora — 78.3
Zach Banner — 77.3
Jordan Morgan — 76.9
Adam Bisnowaty — 76.3
Dan Skipper — 75.7
Collin Buchanan — 75.2
Sami Tevi — 73.7
Kyle Fuller — 73.3
Jon Toth — 73.3
Jerry Ugokwe — 72.7
David Sharpe — 71.6
Cameron Lee — 71.1
Chase Roullier — 71.1
Pat Elflein — 70.9
Daniel Brunskill — 67.7
Avery Gennesy — 67.7
Chad Wheeler — 65.4

What does this tell us?

It reinforces the physical profiles of Forrest Lamp and Nico Siragusa. wTEF also boosts Isaac Asiata into the #3 spot in this class, overtaking Utah team mate Garett Bolles.

Taylor Moton — ranked #8 in TEF with a 2.86 — also overtakes Bolles and several others to become the #4 most explosive athlete in the class.

wTEF also highlights how poorly the likes of Zach Banner, David Sharpe and Damien Mama performed. Despite all three weighing considerably more than most other offensive linemen in this draft — the extra size barely gave them a boost in terms of physical profile.

What else did we learn?

Cam Robinson, one of the biggest names in the draft, is ranked #14 in weighted TEF and #18 in original TEF.

There was quite a lot of buzz around Robinson’s reasonably fast forty time (5.15) but simply put — he is not an explosive athlete and if Seattle drafts him in round one, it would go against everything we’ve discovered over the last five years.

The lack of explosive athletes in this draft class also, yet again, proves the ever growing disparity between O-line and D-line prospects entering the NFL. We’ll put the defensive line prospects through the system on Sunday and it’s absolutely certain there’ll be more than three players scoring a 3.00.

Can anyone else add their name to the list of possible options for Seattle?

Absolutely. For example, George Fant scored a 3.35 at the Western Kentucky pro-day and started at left tackle for the Seahawks during his rookie season. Players who weren’t invited to the combine will get their chance to impress on the pro-day circuit.

Meanwhile Ryan Ramcyzk didn’t workout at the combine as he recovers from labrum surgery and Roderick Johnson didn’t compete due to illness.

What are some of the differences between the 2016 and 2017 O-line classes?

Players scoring a 3.00 or more: six (2016), three (2017)

Players scoring at least a 2.85: nine (2016), eight (2017)

Here’s the top-10 from 2016 combined with the top-10 from 2017:

Jason Spriggs: 3.54
Connor McGovern: 3.29
Forrest Lamp — 3.23
Nico Siragusa — 3.13
Alex Redmond: 3.10
Joe Haeg: 3.06
Joe Dahl: 3.05
Joe Thuney: 3.04

Garett Bolles — 3.00*
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 2.97
Germain Ifedi: 2.97

Isaac Asiata — 2.96
Dorian Johnson — 2.92
Brandon Shell: 2.91
Antonio Garcia — 2.89
Sean Harlow — 2.87
Taylor Moton — 2.86
Will Holden — 2.84
Ryan Kelly: 2.84
Ethan Pocic — 2.81

Do you have any predictions based on this data?

— Unless Garett Bolles or Forrest Lamp are available at #26 the Seahawks will not draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

— The Seahawks might draft Isaac Asiata, Taylor Moton or Nico Siragusa beyond the first round.

— Garett Bolles will be drafted in the top-20 and Forrest Lamp will also be taken in the first round.

Any thoughts on the running back class?

— There’s a lot of talk about Leonard Fournette’s performance today — but here’s some perspective:

Zeke Elliott (225lbs) — 4.47 in the forty yard dash
Dalvin Cook (210lbs) — 4.49 in the forty yard dash
Leonard Fournette (240lbs) — 4.51 in the forty yard dash

Fournette is 0.02 slower than Cook but weighs 30lbs more. He’s 0.04 slower than Elliott but weighs 15lbs more.

He might not be explosive in the vertical or broad jumps (a surprise) — but let’s appreciate his speed/size combo in relation to Elliott and Cook.

— The Seahawks haven’t drafted for speed at the position in the Pete Carroll era. They’ve consistently taken running backs in the 4.47-4.55 type of range. Explosive athleticism, physicality, size (approx. 220lbs) and running style are the key aspects.

Of the running backs competing today, the following stand out:

Christopher Carson — 6-0, 218lbs, 37 inch vert, 10-10 broad
Brian Hill — 6-0, 219lbs, 34 inch vert, 10-5 broad
Alvin Kamara — 5-10, 214lbs, 39.5 inch vert, 10-11 broad
Joe Williams — 5-11, 210lbs, 35 inch vert, 10-5 broad

Disappointingly, Elijah Hood didn’t compete in any drills other than the bench press (18 reps) and he was heavier than expected (232lbs).

— This looks like a ‘play-it-by-ear’ running back class. If there’s value at the end of round three or between rounds 4-7, perhaps they consider adding another back.

Otherwise, pass.

The options aren’t great and with a host of top defensive talent available this year, this is already looking like a defense-minded draft for a team like Seattle that values traits and specific profiles.

The first day of the combine arguably suggests that if the Seahawks are going to make additions to the offensive line and at running back this off-season — those additions will come in free agency.

2017 TEF preview and tweaking the formula

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The vertical jump is a key test for offensive linemen at the combine

What is TEF?

Last year we put together a formula (detailed here) based around Tom Cable’s self-confessed ‘ideal’ physical profile. We called it TEF (Trench Explosion Formula).

What exactly does it calculate?

Cable stated two years ago that a prospect would ideally achieve a 31-inch vertical, a 9-foot broad jump and 27 reps in the bench press. TEF uses these numbers to create an overall score for each individual offensive lineman:

1. Vertical ÷ 31
2. Broad ÷ 9, then cube the result
3. Bench ÷ 27
4. Results added together = TEF

Here’s what the ideal (31 — 9 — 27) would look like using this formula:

1. Vertical: 31 ÷ 31 = 1
2. Broad: 9 ÷ 9 = 1, cubed = 1
3. Bench: 27 ÷ 27 = 1
4. Overall score = 3.00

How do you judge an ‘ideal’ explosive athlete?

A prospect achieving the exact Cable ideal (31 — 9 — 27) will score a 3.00 in TEF.

How do you know it’s a worthwhile exercise?

When we went back and put Seattle’s recent draft picks through the formula, this is what we found:

Mark Glowinski: 3.34
Terry Poole: 3.12
Kristjan Sokoli: 3.75
Justin Britt: 3.00
Garrett Scott: 3.27
Ryan Seymour: 3.10
Jared Smith: 3.35
J.R. Sweezy: 3.13
Gary Gilliam (UDFA): 3.09

The Seahawks also passed on a collection of players scoring below the 3.00 threshold.

If explosive athleticism is so important, why did they reach for Justin Britt?

I’m glad you asked, because TEF perfectly explains the Britt pick in 2014. He was one of the last ‘explosive’ offense lineman on the board when the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks picked at the very end of round two:

#64 Justin Britt 3.00
#66 Morgan Moses: 2.69
#67 Billy Turner: 2.83
#140 Cameron Fleming: 2.45
#149 Kevin Pamphile: 2.96
#199 Garrett Scott: 3.27

Despite their greater name recognition and reputations, Seattle passed on Moses and Turner and selected the unknown Britt — the considerably more explosive athlete.

The next explosive O-liner to leave the board, Garrett Scott, was also drafted by the Seahawks 135 picks later. They passed on all of the names in-between Britt and Scott, none of which had the 3.00 score.

Remember, the Seahawks didn’t have a third round pick in 2014 because of the Percy Harvin trade. They needed a right tackle and were willing to reach to make sure they got an athlete matching their ideal physical profile.

You mocked Germain Ifedi to Seattle a year ago, so what did TEF tell us?

Ifedi, for what it’s worth, scored a 2.97 in TEF. He didn’t hit the 3.00 mark but let’s put this into context. In the bench press he achieved 24 reps. With 25 reps, he would’ve scored a 3.00. You’re not deciding whether or not to draft a player based on one bench press rep.

Why else did they take Ifedi if he scored a 2.97 and not a 3.00?

Size matters and for that, we have ‘weighted TEF’ (wTEF). Original TEF doesn’t really account for the players who are enormous (Ifedi) and test well for their size.

How does wTEF work?

Here’s the formula:

weight x TEF x 0.1 = wTEF

This accounts for a player at 325lbs (like Ifedi) having an incredible vertical and broad jump performance despite weighing 20-25lbs more than other O-line prospects. Weighted TEF considered Ifedi’s incredible size and suggested he was the third best overall athlete in the O-line class:

Germain Ifedi — 324 x 2.97 x 0.1 = 96.1

Spriggs, Jason — 104.9
McGovern, Conner — 101.4
Ifedi, Germain — 96.1
Shell, Brandon — 94.4
Vaitai, Halapoulivaati — 93.8

This helped us determine Ifedi was a distinct possibility for the Seahawks in round one and ultimately they drafted him.

For more on wTEF, click here. When we have the results of Friday’s workouts we’ll put the data for TEF and wTEF on the blog as soon as possible.

Is there anything else to consider?

Arm length, intelligence and grit are also important factors. The Seahawks have only drafted one lineman with sub-33 inch arms — Joey Hunt, a sixth round pick at center. Cable has specifically discussed the importance of intelligence and coachability. We also know they want players that play with an edge.

Are you doing anything different this year?

For 2017 we have tweaked the formula slightly (and made it better).

Because there are 12 inches in a foot, a broad jump of 9’11” was being recorded as a 10.0 in TEF. We were rounding up because we had to.

9’6″ = 9.6
9’11” does not = 9.11 in this formula
9’11” had to = 10

Any player jumping a 9’10” or 9’11” was being credited with a 10’0″ broad jump.

To overcome the issue we’re converting the jump to inches and then dividing by 12 (then dividing by 9 and cubing the total as before). Every inch is worth 0.083 instead of 0.1 and provides a more accurate assessment of a broad jump performance (and overall explosive athleticism).

It won’t impact the scores too much but they’ll be more accurate.

Can you use TEF for any other positions?

Because the offensive linemen directly face off against the defensive linemen, we can also use TEF to compare the two groups. Last year we identified only six ‘explosive’ offensive linemen compared to 26 explosive defensive linemen. It was unintentional — but TEF helped emphasise the growing physical disparity between D-line and O-line prospects entering the league.

Other FAQ’s

What is the overall benefit of the formula?

1. It provides leeway. If a prospect scores a slightly less than ideal score in the vertical jump, they can still achieve a +3.00 if they excel in the broad jump and/or bench press. A really explosive broad jumper who doesn’t quite bench 27 reps isn’t being severely critiqued for missing the ideal in one test.

2. We’re comparing a prospect to the self-confessed ideal of Seattle’s offensive line coach. Rather than just adding up a set of numbers, the grade is directly relevant to the Seahawks.

Why cube the broad jump score?

Let’s use Jason Spriggs’ TEF score a year ago to highlight why this is important:

1. Vertical: 35 ÷ 31 = 1.13
2. Broad: 9.7 ÷ 9 = 1.1
3. Broad cubed = 1.26
4. Bench: 31 ÷ 27 = 1.15
5. Added together Spriggs’ score is 3.54

Spriggs’ 9-7 in the broad jump is arguably more impressive than his 35 inch vertical or his 31 reps on the bench press. Without cubing his 1.1 score in the broad it would actually be marked as his weakest test. Instead it is correctly highlighted as his best work.

This is significant given Seattle’s clear interest in explosive measurements in the broad jump (explained here).

Why are you saying the prospect I like isn’t any good just because your formula gives him a low score?

I’m not and you’re getting it all wrong.

TEF is not asserting how good a player is. It is merely a formula to help us determine which offensive linemen physically match-up to Tom Cable’s stated ideals (and therefore are more likely to be drafted by the Seahawks). If a player scores a 2.65 it doesn’t mean I think he’s bad. If a player scores a 3.45 it doesn’t mean I think he’s going to be a regular all-pro. TEF is merely a guide for Seahawks fans to determine who is more likely to be drafted by the team.

TEF didn’t project Rees Odhiambo and Joey Hunt did it?

Their data was never accumulated. Joey Hunt didn’t workout pre-draft and Rees Odhiambo didn’t appear at the combine. He struggled through a pro-day appearance while still recovering from a serious injury. If you don’t have the numbers you can’t project a score.

How did this help a year ago?

Here are the predictions/assertions we made after collecting the 2016 data:

— The most likely offensive tackles to be drafted at #26 are Jason Spriggs and Germain Ifedi

Seattle drafted Ifedi after trading down to #31

— The Seahawks would probably love Sheldon Rankins to fall (but he won’t)

Rankins, commonly linked to the Seahawks at #26, was the #12 overall pick (New Orleans) and the #2 TEF tester in the draft

— Is Jonathan Bullard special enough to warrant a first round pick when there are comparable players in terms of explosion available beyond round one?

Bullard lasted until the third round with the Seahawks passing on him twice

2017 bench press results

The O-liners conducted the bench press today, the first part of the TEF equation:

Antonio Garcia — 24 reps
Garett Bolles — DNP
Dorian Johnson — 21 reps
Forrest Lamp — 34 reps
Taylor Moton — 23 reps
Cam Robinson — DNP
Nico Siragusa — 28 reps
David Sharpe — 19 reps
Ryan Ramcyzk — 25 reps
Ethan Pocic — 26 reps
Chad Wheeler — 15 reps
Zach Banner — 22 reps
Adam Bisnowaty — 23 reps
Julie’n Davenport — 18 reps
Dion Dawkins — 26 reps
Jermaine Eluemunor — 34 reps
Dan Feeney — 26 reps
Isaac Asiata — 35 reps
Aviante Collins — 34 reps
Sam Tevi — 15 reps
Damien Mama — DNP
Roderick Johnson — DNP

The following players have +33-inch arms and achieved at least 27 reps on the bench press: Isaac Asiata, Aviante Collins, Jermaine Eluemunor and Nico Siragusa. Forrest Lamp had an impressive 34 reps on the bench but only has 32 1/4 inch arms.

Asiata is a key name to watch tomorrow. There were a few plays in 2016 where he really flashed surprising athleticism (including one brilliantly executed screen pass to Joe Williams where Asiata led him — sprinting — deep downfield). He also showed plenty of explosion creating running lanes against Washington’s fearsome D-line.

Cam Robinson didn’t take part due to past shoulder issues. Reportedly he will not do the drill pre-draft. It’s unclear why Garett Bolles, Roderick Johnson and Damian Mama did not participate. All four players will receive a projected TEF score using the average number of bench reps for this draft class (24 reps).

The offensive linemen will compete in the vertical and broad jumps tomorrow. We will be live blogging from 6am PST.

Cornerback class in review & Pete Carroll notes

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I’m splitting this article into two parts. Firstly, some notes and quotes from Pete Carroll’s final press conference. Secondly, some thoughts after studying the top ranked cornerbacks in the 2017 draft.

Pete Carroll’s final press conference

On Seattle’s needs going into the off-season, Carroll listed the following:

— Secondary
— Young depth at linebacker
— O-line

Carroll has been very honest about off-season needs in the past. After the 2010 season he highlighted the need to dramatically improve the running game and they spent their first two picks on run blocking O-liners (James Carpenter, John Moffitt). Before the 2012 season he stated more speed in the front seven was the big need. They drafted Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner.

It doesn’t expel them from targeting a different area of the team (eg, if the opportunity to sign Calais Campbell presents itself). Yet the needs listed today will likely be prioritised.

On Jimmy Graham: “I’m excited for him to come back.”

There’s no need to continue debating his presence on the roster. The Seahawks have $40m in cap space, more than enough to compete for additions. They don’t need to save an extra $10m and they certainly don’t need to create an unnecessary void at tight end by moving one of the NFL’s best players.

When asked if they should spend more money on the offensive line, Carroll explained why they’d essentially been forced to go with a younger O-line this year, before adding: “We’re not going to spend a ton of money on one guy to save the day… I don’t think you can buy your way to it.”

Carroll admitted Germain Ifedi has the ability to play guard or tackle but will remain at right guard for the sake of continuity.

Not making a host of changes was a common theme. “(It’s a) chance to come back with the same group… but we’ll challenge them.” Carroll talked about adding one or possibly two offensive linemen in the draft and also made a reference to free agency. It didn’t sound like a major O-line rebuild was in the works.

On George Fant: “He made a big impact on us.” It sounds like he’s the future at left tackle, at least for now. Rees Odhiambo could compete for that job.

He admitted some concern about the durability of C.J. Prosise: “He has to show it.” Carroll seemed less concerned about Thomas Rawls’ injury problems, referencing the incidental nature of his broken leg and previous broken ankle.

He talked positively about the running back group, name checking Rawls, Prosise and Alex Collins, “plus whatever else comes up.” Adding a running back to the competition seems likely — but it didn’t sound like a major priority either.

When asked about criticism of Darrell Bevell and certain fans wanting a change, Carroll fired back, “They don’t know what they’re talking about. Darrell does a great job.” He also ruled out any other coaching changes unless Tom Cable becomes the Head Coach in San Francisco.

Unsurprisingly he also made reference to the run/pass balance: “I don’t like how it split this year. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.” Expect a greater commitment to the running game in 2017. A healthy Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls will help.

We know what to focus on now. Defensive backs, offensive linemen, linebacker depth. Here are two possible early round targets at each identified need area:

OT — Garett Bolles (Utah), Ryan Ramczyck (Wisconsin)
LB — Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt), Haason Reddick (Temple)
DB — Adoree’ Jackson (USC), Kevin King (Washington)

Studying the cornerback class

I’ve been eager to look at this group. The Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback before the fourth round during the Pete Carroll era. Yet this is considered a deep draft at the position at a time when Seattle’s depth has never been lighter. They’re young and raw and incumbent starter Deshawn Shead could miss the start of next season with a serious knee injury.

Yesterday I watched at least one game of all of the top ranked corner’s according to draft media.

The lasting impression was it’s clearly a deep group of good cornerbacks. However, it wasn’t easy to find guys that leap off the screen. It’s very easy to throw on some Garett Bolles tape, watch Solomon Thomas’ Bowl game, enjoy Malik Hooker’s range or the relentless nature of several EDGE rushers in this draft and be wowed.

The cornerbacks all shared similar features. Generally they’re decent cover corners that aren’t physically imposing. Some of them are sub-6-0. The tackling form wasn’t great across the board. Run support was mixed.

I wanted to see a Jimmy Smith type — 6-2, 210lbs, physical, runs in the 4.4’s. Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey might be the closest thing if he declares — but he likely won’t last beyond the top-15.

The Seahawks have such a clear and defined approach with cornerbacks — draft and develop their own — that any potential early round pick at the position probably needs to be a physical freak with major upside. We also know they have a specific profile for size and length.

We’ll have a better idea of who they might target after the combine. There’s certainly potential within some of these prospects to be fantastic athletes. The Seahawks could always draft someone to play in the slot. Carroll offered a lukewarm assessment of Jeremy Lane’s season earlier. If they wanted to add some competition there that would possibly take away the need to focus on tremendous size/length and prioritise suddenness and athleticism.

The freakiest athlete could be Washington’s Kevin King. He’s 6-3 and 192lbs but look at how he performed at last years Husky combine:

4.02 short shuttle
6.40 3-cone
39.5 inch vert
10-10 broad

He’ll probably only run a similar forty time to Richard Sherman (4.56) but these are crazy numbers.

King’s three cone of 6.40 would’ve been easily the best by a cornerback at the 2016 combine. Maryland’s Sean Davis ran the fastest time a year ago with a 6.64.

If he repeats it at the NFL combine, it might be the best three-cone by a cornerback ever. Buster Skrine’s 6.44 is the current best mark since records began in 2006.

His broad jump of 10-10 matches Vernon Hargreaves’ effort and would’ve been the third best in 2016 (Jalen Ramsey was #1 with an 11-3). His vertical jump would’ve also been the third best at last years combine (DeAndre Elliott incidentally had a 41 inch vertical).

His short shuttle would’ve ranked at #6.

If King can replicate these numbers in Indianapolis, he could easily find a home in the first round.

In November Tony Pauline reported teams were ‘salivating’ over King.

Long speed is a concern and pre-draft forty times are critical but as told to me by one insider, King is a typical Seattle Seahawks type of cornerback who will be selected during the second day of the draft.

Pauline added on December 13th he believes King could be a top-45 pick.

In terms of prototype Seahawks size and length for an outside corner, he ticks the boxes. In terms of freakish athleticism, he has that too.

He also had a productive 2016 season. King defended 15 passes, tied for #16 in the country (level with Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley). He also had two interceptions. He was targeted a lot as teams generally avoided Sidney Jones on the opposite side of the field. This is useful experience if he does end up playing across from Richard Sherman.

If they’re going to take a cornerback in round one, it could easily be Kevin King.

In terms of the rest of the class, I liked Ohio State’s Gareon Conley more than I expected. He doesn’t have insane size but there doesn’t appear to be much of a talent difference between Conley and team mate Marshon Lattimore. It was fun watching him match-up against Clemson’s Mike Williams. Both players had their moments.

Adoree’ Jackson is clearly a tremendous athlete. His 16 passes defended was tied 11th in the country with LSU’s Tre’Davious White. At the 2013 Nike SPARQ combine Jackson managed a 4.44 forty and a 37-inch vertical. His SPARQ score was a decent 122.7. He’s petit but could be an option as an explosive slot corner/safety hybrid. If providing competition for Jeremy Lane is a priority — Jackson could be a key target.

Two players I enjoyed watching again were the aforementioned White and Tennessee’s Cam Sutton. Both have a lot of value in the kicking game, they’re good athletes and respected leaders. In terms of character they’re top of the draft class at CB. White has had the coveted #18 jersey at LSU for the last two seasons. Sutton is a tremendous public speaker with a great backstory related to Hurricane Katrina. I think teams will like him.

The issue with both is size and length. They’re in that 5-10-5-11 range which is borderline for Seattle. We know the Seahawks want +32 inches in arm length. I’ll be rooting for both players at the combine. Sutton in particular is a very intriguing prospect overall.

Two players I expected more from were Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor. Wilson looks thick set and lacks suddenness. Tabor equally didn’t stand out as an athlete. I went back and looked at the 2013 Nike combine numbers and they were revealing:

Quincy Wilson — 4.60 forty, 32 inch vertical
Teez Tabor — 4.64 forty, 35 inch vertical

They’ll need to do a lot better than that at the NFL combine. For whatever reason, a string of Florida Gator cornerbacks have not performed well in these testing events. Even Vernon Hargreaves last year ran an underwhelming 4.50.

Teams avoided throwing at Washington’s Sidney Jones all season — he was targeted only 48 times. It was clear to see, especially watching him live against Arizona State. He’s an athletic, technically gifted cornerback with major pro talent. He looks dinky in size — but so did Hargreaves and Eli Apple last year. It won’t be a surprise at all if he lands in the top-20.

Cordea Tankerlsey is intriguing but how much of an athlete is he? Tankersley can really bolster his stock with a good combine.

I’m going to spend more time looking at the group after the combine and Senior Bowl when we have measurements and physical profiles to work with. However, at this point I would project the following players have a good chance to go in the top-25:

Marlon Humphrey (Alabama)
Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State)
Sidney Jones (Washington)
Adoree’ Jackson (USC)

The following players could also work their way into the first round:

Kevin King (Washington)
Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)
Gareon Conley (Ohio State)

I’m going to reserve judgement on Wilson and Tabor until after the combine and further study. Wilson is technically sound and can be physical. He’s cocky in a good way. He has a pro cornerback mentality. But he has to do more than a 4.6 and a 32 inch vertical to get ahead of some of these players.

None of this group are as exciting as Marcus Peters was entering the league. Arguably the NFL’s best cornerback these days, Peters just looked like a stud — size, length, physicality, ball skills, athleticism, attitude.

So it’s a deep class of good cornerbacks instead of 2-3 studs at the top of round one. If the Seahawks truly wanted to invest in the secondary, they should be able to get two solid defensive backs in the first four rounds.

I’m sure other names will emerge during the process. We’ll keep monitoring this class and I haven’t watched everyone yet. Colorado’s Akhello Witherspoon needs to work on his tackling — but he did a decent job covering John Ross. He could be a later round option at 6-3 and around 190lbs. Witherspoon was #2 in the country for passes defended (22).

The big stars of the 2017 draft might come at other positions. It’s a fantastic safety class and Malik Hooker in particular has a chance to be special. Whenever you watch Washington Budda Baker jumps off the screen. He’s a fantastic, underrated talent.

It could end up being a really productive group of defensive linemen and edge rushers. Solomon Thomas has generational potential. It’s easy to imagine Taco Charlton and Charles Harris having a big impact quickly in the league. Jonathan Allen is consistently disruptive at Alabama, while Takk McKinley has some DeMarcus Ware and some Ziggy Ansah to his play. Tim Williams has character flags to check out — but he had a tremendous career at Alabama.

The top two running backs — Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook — appear destined for greatness. Garett Bolles has a chance to be a really good offensive tackle in a league desperate for quality at the position. The top two tight ends — O.J. Howard and David Njoku — can also have a major impact.

And at linebacker — Reuben Foster could be another Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner. Zach Cunningham is another tremendous talent and Raekwon McMillan looked better on a second glance at Ohio State yesterday. Florida’s Jarrad Davis is one to watch.

Three round projection based on what we heard today:

R1 — Kevin King (Outside CB, Washington) or Adoree’ Jackson (Slot CB, USC)
R2 — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
R3 — Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)
R3 — Adam Bisnowaty (T, Pittsburgh)

And with approximately $37m in free cap space — they’ll have an opportunity to add to the D-line, O-line and possibly running back.

Stanford’s Solomon Thomas is going in the top-15

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Solomon Thomas declared for the draft today. Don’t expect him to be available for the Seahawks.

Thomas took part in the 2013 Nike Sparq Combine and look at the results:

Height: 6-3
Weight: 261lbs
Forty: 4.95s
Short shuttle: 4.25s
Powerball: 44
Vertical: 36.7 inches
SPARQ: 121.77

Only the following players had a better SPARQ score in the 2013 event:

Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State) — 126.78
Speedy Noil (WR, Texas A&M) — 153.51
Ed Paris (CB, LSU) — 130.8
Christian Miller (LB, Alabama) — 124.17
Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State) — 141.96
Trey Marshall (CB, Florida State) — 126.99
Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC) — 122.77
Elijiah Hood (RB, North Carolina) — 133.47
Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia) — 143.91
Shaun Hamilton (LB, Alabama) — 123.84
Lorenzo Carter (LB, Georgia) — 129.75
Tony Brown (CB, Alabama) — 136.2
Braxton Berrios (WR, Miami) — 131.37
Dillon Bates (LB, Tennessee) — 126.69
Joey Alfieri (LB, Stanford) — 131.28
Kavin Alexander (CB, Arkansas State) — 123.78

Notice the lack of defensive linemen on that list? Of those taking part in the nationwide Nike combines, Thomas was by far the most athletic D-liner. His SPARQ number is superior to the following:

Jamal Adams (S, LSU) — 117.63
Budda Baker (S, Washington) — 110.94
Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee) — 109.92
Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State) — 110.64
Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU) — 120.72
Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon) — 121.17
Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M) — 115.83
Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame) — 74.88
Joe Mixon (RB, Oklahoma) — 105.33
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama) — 97.5
Travis Rudolph (WR, Florida State) — 107.01
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC) — 94.35
Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida) — 93.69
DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson) — 96.93
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida) — 97.65

His time in the short shuttle (4.25 seconds) would’ve been the fourth best time at the 2016 NFL combine for defensive linemen. Only Alex McCalister (4.00), Joey Bosa (4.21) and Shaq Lawson (4.21) ran faster than a 4.25.

Thomas’ vertical jump of 36.7 inches would’ve come second only to Dadi Nicolas’ 41 inch effort. The second best effort was Emmanuel Ogbah’s 35.5 inches.

The powerball is arguably a greater test of translatable strength compared to the bench press. Thomas’ score of 44 was only beaten at the 2013 Nike combines by Dante Booker Jr. (45.5).

The only think stopping him reaching the freakish SPARQ score of +130 is an average forty yard dash of 4.95 seconds. It’s worth noting that Joey Bosa only ran a 4.85 and Robert Nkemdiche a 4.87. Thomas ran this time at a lighter 261lbs. He’s currently listed at 273lbs but would ideally get into the 4.8’s after specific pre-combine speed training.

It’s not even that important really. Ultimately his 10-yard split time is the thing to keep an eye on.

This is a very intriguing pre-college physical profile and there’s every chance he’s more athletic now after a few years at Stanford.

Thomas took over the Sun Bowl against North Carolina with a statement performance. He lived in the backfield, winning with quickness off the edge, power working the interior and creating several splash plays. He had the play of the game — crashing into the backfield on a two-point attempt with UNC trying to tie with seconds remaining.

On this evidence he’s a top-15 lock and the top ten isn’t unrealistic either.

He lines up at DT a lot and moves around. In one sack against Notre Dame he engages the right guard and then uses the center/DT battling to his right almost as a shield to loop around and get to Deshone Kizer. It’s a creative way to get to the QB — highlighting his game awareness and not just his physicality.

Notre Dame often doubled teamed him in that game. He drew two false start flags on the same drive.

This is Thomas at his best working the interior:

That said, you do occasionally find plays like this:

It’s hard to imagine Alamaba’s Jonathan Allen toiling with a tiny running back sent in to help out an overmatched O-liner. In fairness the running back does a good job here and really helps out the lineman — but Thomas needs to throw him to one side.

When he plays with the fire and attitude we saw against North Carolina he was virtually unstoppable. Playing with that level of intensity snap-by-snap is crucial to deliver on his massive potential. Let’s see that nasty edge every week. If he maintains that spark — he can be a special player at the next level.