Archive for the ‘Scouting Report’ Category

Brandon Coleman underwhelming in week one

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

I’m a big fan of Brandon Coleman. Not many 6-6 receivers run with his fluidity and he’s flashed a playmaking quality to break off big runs after the catch.

Having said that, his nine catch, 94 yard and two touchdown performance against Fresno State might be one of the least impressive nine catch, 94 yard and two touchdown performances I’ve seen in a while.

Coleman will be blighted by bad quarterback play at Rutgers. With the greatest respect, Gary Nova is incredibly limited as a passer. Yet there are also instances where Coleman lets down his quarterback. And it’s those instances that’ll hold back his draft stock, no matter how much upside he has.

A good example of Nova’s limitations come at 1:05 in the video above. Coleman pulls off a superb double move on the cornerback, creating separation down the far sideline and opening up a potential big play. Nova throws the ball out of bounds. It was an easy 30-40 yard gain wasted.

On a simple underneath route at 2:06, Nova throws a pass I could’ve completed at the knees of Coleman. You could argue that maybe he should still make this catch and complete an easy first down. But look at the pass. It’s simple. Nova turned a routine completion into a chore. He followed it up with a rotten fade attempt, again to Coleman.

Then at 2:38 it’s almost like the frustrated receiver decides to have some revenge. Nova, for once, throws pretty much on the money downfield on a play action. Coleman has separation. You think it’s going to be a huge gain — possibly a touchdown. And the ball goes straight through his hands. At no point does Coleman locate the ball in the air. It’s ugly. He’s waving his arms around, he knows it’s coming. And before he sees the football it’s bouncing off the turf. You have to make that catch. You just have to.

There’s perhaps an uglier play at 5:27. He’s wide open. It’s in his basket. And he drops it. In fact this play is worse than the jugglers arms earlier. A key first down wasted after good work from the quarterback to keep the play alive. Coleman has to make that catch if he wants to be a first round pick.

He makes up for it at 3:42 with his first touchdown — Coleman does well to get open here and Nova hits him for a simple score. His second touchdown at the end of the game shows good positioning and body control to shield the corner away from the football.

There are other positive highlights — his first reception of the night, the play at 1:27 coming back to the receiver and the difficult grab at 5:13.

But the game ends with a pretty tepid attempt to catch a winning two point conversion. It’s not a great throw from Nova, but it’s catchable. He’s under a lot of pressure, he could get drilled. Yet the game is on the line here. Make the difficult grab, be the hero and have everyone talking about you this week. Instead he fails and it’s a bad defeat for Rutgers at Fresno State in week one.

Coleman is still a tremendous talent with limitless upside but despite the stat line this isn’t a great start. We’ve seen with Stephen Williams this pre-season what a big bodied receiver can do. Make tough downfield grabs, use height to your advantage and snatch the ball away. You can throw it up there and feel confident your guy wins the 50-50. Coleman isn’t doing that and he is making basic errors. Time is on his side, but he needs to improve as the season progresses to max out his potential.

Pre-season 2014 mock draft

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Look for the mouth guard

I did this for two reasons:

1. People like mock drafts

2. We can have a good laugh at it in a few months time

I determined the order by splitting the 32 teams into three groups.

Group 1 – the ‘is it April yet?’ collection
Oakland, Jacksonville, San Diego, New York Jets, Detroit, Arizona, Cleveland, Buffalo, Tennessee, Carolina

Group 2 – The ‘oh dear, you’re really average’ section
Dallas, Miami, Kansas City, Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

Group 3 – The big guns, like Seattle etc
New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle

I put the three groups into a random organiser and the results were fairly acceptable. Oakland were given the #1 pick, which is apt given they’re already planning what to spend it on next April. New England face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl (again). And although the Seahawks only picked at #24, at least there’s the satisfaction of seeing San Francisco at #21 — meaning a first round playoff exit for Jim Harbaugh. Shame.


#1 Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
I see the argument that says quarterback here — and the Raiders desperately need a quarterback. But how do you pass on Clowney? The simple answer is, you can’t.


#2 Arizona Cardinals – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
If the Cardinals are picking this early in 2014, Carson Palmer clearly didn’t work out. Bridgewater is exactly the type of quarterback the league is looking for — capable of running all the new wrinkles such as the read option but also a formidable pocket passer.


#3 San Diego Chargers – Cyrus Kouandijo (T, Alabama)
The Chargers have holes all over the roster but own a competent veteran quarterback. They started to try and rebuild their offensive line last year and that might continue in 2014. Kouandijo would theoretically replace King Dunlap and he looks like a future franchise left tackle.


#4 Cleveland Browns – Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
I’m not a huge Brandon Weeden fan, but Norv Turner’s offense actually really suits him. Is he the future? Maybe not. But he can be a nice transition player for that franchise. He’ll need help at receiver and Marqise Lee is a phenomenal talent.


#5 Carolina Panthers – Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Jordan Gross is flirting with retirement and is a free agent next year after restructuring his deal. It’ll create a big hole when he leaves. Matthews has to show he can transition to the left side but there are things about his game that suggest he could be a better player than Luke Joeckel.


#6 New York Jets – Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
The Jets don’t have an outside rusher who can make plays. Kyle Van Noy is undersized but he makes things happen. If he keeps churning out sacks and performs well at the combine, there’s no reason why he can’t be a high pick.


#7 Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
The Bills are switching to a hybrid defense and will be looking for a flexible pass rusher to help Mario Williams. Barr has the look of a future star and can play at the line or in space.


#8 Tennessee Titans – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Big nose tackle prospect who really turned up in Notre Dame’s Championship run last year. Nix will interest the 3-4 teams too and could be a very early pick.


#9 Detroit Lions – Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
I was a big Dallas Thomas fan in Tennessee and the fact he had to move to guard to accommodate Richardson speaks volumes. I only realised a few weeks ago he was eligible for the 2014 draft. The Lions have Riley Reiff slated to start at left tackle but he could easily move over to the right.


#10 Jacksonville Jaguars – Aaron Lynch (DE, USF)
Lynch is a monster who could go higher than this. The Jaguars are in a talent accumulating transitional stage. If he gets backs up to his Notre Dame weight, Lynch would make a great 5-tech for Gus Bradley’s four man front.


#11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
I think he’ll end up finding a home at right tackle. The Buccs have a decent roster and much will depend on the form of Josh Freeman this year. Assuming he earns a new contract, a player like Lewan could further bolster Tampa Bay’s offensive line.


#12 Kansas City Chiefs – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Andy Reid drafted fast, playmaking receivers in Philadelphia. While he’s already re-signed Dwayne Bowe and now traded for 49ers bust A.J. Jenkins, he might still be looking for a receiver next year. Watkins is electric but needs to show renewed focus.


#13 Chicago Bears – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
A player who just gets better and better at Ohio State. Roby is a fantastic football player and could be a top ten pick. Chicago’s two starting corners are aged 32 and 29.


#14 Pittsburgh Steelers – Loucheiz Purifoy (CB, Florida)
Purifoy isn’t too far behind Bradley Roby and despite a disappointing Sugar Bowl performance last season, SEC teams generally kept away from him in the passing game.


#15 Philadelphia Eagles – Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
Philly’s defense has been terrible in pre-season. While it was tempting to put a quarterback in this slot (Manziel? Mariota?) it’s hard to see anything but an all-out assault on the defense coming up. It’s just not good enough at the moment. Tuitt has great size and flashed as a pass rusher in 2012. He also looked decidedly average in the BCS Championship against Alabama.


#16 Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
It’s still a mystery why the Dolphins threw good money at average free agents, yet allowed Jake Long to join the Rams. Jonathan Martin looked surprisingly poor as a rookie and getting a new left tackle might be priority #1 next year for Miami.


#17 Minnesota Vikings – Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson)
I’m not sure who will be the #2 quarterback to leave the board behind Bridgewater, but I know Minnesota will probably have to consider getting him next year. Christian Ponder’s 90-yard games won’t cut it. Boyd’s display against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was tremendous. He’s lost DeAndre Hopkins but retains Sammy Watkins.


#18 St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Unless Brian Quick really turns it on this year it’s not unrealistic that the Rams go in search of another big receiver. Coleman makes unreal plays for a guy his size and his inconsistencies can be levelled at the fact he plays with one of the most erratic quarterbacks in college football.


#19 Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State)
Prototype three-technique that’d probably interest Monte Kiffin. Jernigan has all the physical potential in the world but needs to put together a more consistent season. That’ll be tough without Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner.


#20 St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton Dix (S, Alabama)
A safety prospect with a ton of potential, he could be the next Nick Saban protege to make it into the first round.


#21 San Francisco 49ers – De’Anthony Thomas (WR, Oregon)
With Tavon Austin going in the top ten this year, could Thomas also secure a high grade? He’d look good in the read option for San Francisco. Plus the NFC West is quickly becoming a copy-cat division. The Rams have Austin, Seattle has Percy Harvin. Will the Niners go for their version?


#22 New Orleans Saints – Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)
The Saints have gone to a 3-4 and might have some teething problems this year. Up front they need a nose tackle, while they lack a top outside rusher at linebacker. Even so, I’m giving them an inside guy in Perryman here purely as a long-term cornerstone and defensive leader. He’s been compared to Ray Lewis by Tony Pauline.


#23 Atlanta Falcons – Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington)
Tony Gonzalez can’t go on forever and already appears semi retired (he’s been allowed time off during camp). Seferian-Jenkins would be a natural successor to Gonzalez. You never want to compare college players to first-ballot Hall of Famers, but ASJ could be special.


#24 Seattle Seahawks – Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon)
Whether he becomes more of a feature for Oregon this year or not, Lyerla is destined to blow up the combine in 2014. You have to believe the Seahawks would enjoy moving Lyerla all over the field to create mismatches. He’s 6-5 and 250lbs, but takes snaps at running back, blocks, lines up as a receiver. He’s a great chess piece for a creative offense.


#25 Baltimore Ravens – Adrian Hubbard (LB, Alabama)
The Ravens always make some kind of intelligent move and this would be another one. Hubbard is more of a pass rusher than C.J. Mosley and would fit nicely into Baltimore’s defense.


#26 Denver Broncos – Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
Needs to bring it this year. There are too many underwhelming players at Texas these days. Jeffcoat has flattered to deceive but a big year in 2013 and he has first round potential. Let’s see it.


#27 Houston Texans – Daniel McCullers (DT, Tennessee)
At the moment McCullers is more about potential than production. However, at 6-8 and around 350lbs, he’ll turn some heads this season. He won’t be helped by a Tennessee team that is transitioning (again) to a new coaching staff. But he could shine in the post season and be a quick riser.


#28 Indianapolis Colts – Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt)
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more consistent, reliable receiver in college football than Matthews. He took major strides in 2012 and  just looks like the kind of guy you can imagine Andrew Luck throwing to.


#29 Green Bay – Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford)
Just a flat out playmaker and interception machine. Might not have the athletic qualities to warrant an earlier pick but has every chance of making it into the first frame.


#30 Cincinnati Bengals – Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State)
I can see the Bengals looking at quarterbacks if Andy Dalton continues to hold back the plethora of weapons Cincy has on offense. Dalton is average. The guys he’s throwing to are world class. The extension for Carlos Dunlap makes keeping Michael Johnson difficult. Although they did draft Margus Hunt.


#31 New York Giants – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon)
There’s every chance New York goes cornerback next year. Ekpre-Olomu has great athletic qualities and would fill a need for the Giants.


#32 New England Patriots – Damian Swann (CB, Georgia)
I spent a lot of time watching the Bulldogs last year and this guy constantly kept jumping out. Georgia’s lost a lot of defensive talent to the NFL so it’ll be interesting to see if Swann continues to shine in 2013.

Notes

- Only two quarterbacks are listed in the first round. I can only give Teddy Bridgewater a sure-fire first round grade going into the new college season.

- Don’t sleep on Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech) making a comeback. He had a lousy 2012 season but has all the physical tools. If he can rebound this year and put together a strong season — he could be back in contention as an early pick. A game against Alabama early in the year is the perfect platform to get back on track.

- I resisted the temptation to flood the mock with read-option quarterbacks. I’m not convinced Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Stephen Morris (Miami) and Brett Hundley (UCLA) will declare. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) just has too much baggage right now to put in round one.

- A.J. McCarron (Alabama) might start in the league for a team that features an orthodox passing game and likes to run the ball. But he isn’t a first round talent. And for me, neither is David Fales (San Diego State).

- The two players I really wanted to include here but couldn’t? Boston College defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey. He’s had too many injury issues but nobody can deny his talent. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley. Terrific player but other talented linebackers have struggled to crack the first round.

- If I had to include a running back in this mock it probably would’ve been Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona) or Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) but I can’t see the first round runner for 2014. It’ll be interesting to see how Michael Dyer gets on in Louisville.

Seahawks trade John Moffitt

Monday, August 19th, 2013

John Moffitt, we hardly knew ye

The Seahawks and 49ers love to mimic each other. So after watching San Francisco swap receivers with Kansas City earlier, Seattle decided to make a deal too.

John Moffitt, 2011 third round pick, has been dealt to Cleveland for undrafted defensive end Brian Sanford.

The Seahawks have had some big hits in the draft. 2010 landed a number of prominent starters, while the 2012 class provided cornerstone players like Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.

However, the front end of the 2011 class can only be classed as a disappointment so far. James Carpenter has been plagued by injury and inconsistent play. Now Moffitt is moving to the other end of the country.

The pair were signed along with Robert Gallery to bolster the teams struggling running game. Instead the likes of Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini, J.R. Sweezy and Max Unger have been left to lead the revolution.

It’s easy to say after the event, but I always saw Moffitt as just a guy. It’s difficult to judge Wisconsin offensive lineman. They’re similar to Florida State pass rushers. They keep churning them out, they always look good in college and then flop in the NFL.

With the likes of Alvin Bailey almost certain to make the team (and maybe start), Moffitt was in serious danger of being cut. The trade with Cleveland symbolises that. They got what they could before the inevitable occurred.

I don’t know anything about Brian Sanford. He appears an odd fit in Seattle as a 280lbs defensive lineman without any great length (6-2). Is he a specialist three technique? I think they try him in that role, ala Greg Scruggs.

But he’s no lock to make the team, especially with the depth on the defensive line. And that kind of sums it up. The team took the hit on Moffitt and admitted it as an error. Even if Sanford doesn’t make the roster, Moffitt was likely a goner.

Thoughts on Jesse Williams

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Seattle's first Australian...

Jesse Williams is good at what he does. It’s what he doesn’t do that limited his stock.

It’s emerged that he suffered a fall in the draft due to medical concerns. Some teams apparently didn’t include him on their board. The Seahawks believed he was worth a shot in round five — they traded up for the first time in the Carroll/Schneider era to make sure they got both Williams and Tharold Simon.

I’m not sure the fall from possible first or second round pick to round five was purely down to the medical situation. Personally, I thought he was a solid second round pick who could fall into round three. Others had him rated higher than that, perhaps a little too high.

He’s pretty one-dimensional. He’s a run stopper. You put on the tape and he’s tough to move. He anchored the Alabama run defense from the nose after switching from end. He’s all upper body power. In a 1v1 situation he really excels at holding his ground and limiting the inside run. Time and time again Alabama could rely on Williams to do his job.

But when you actually sit down to study his tape, he doesn’t do a great deal other than excel in a 1v1 situation versus the run. He gets stuck on blocks far too much which really limits his ability to get into the backfield. There are times where he shows very good footwork and hands to get away from a block, force the runner to change direction and dive into traffic. These are few and far between though. He’s occasionally disruptive but never really a difference maker. He is not a pass rusher. Not yet, anyway.

We’re not talking about a fantastic athlete here — and I don’t think Williams would necessarily mind anyone saying that. He’s a worker, a grafter. He’s more perspiration than inspiration. Just an honest, salt of the earth defensive tackle who will turn up every week and put in a shift. He has a clear mean streak and an edge to his game. Teams won’t fancy running his way. They’ll probably have to do a bit of game planning, maybe double team him from time to time. But unfortunately they’re unlikely to be too concerned about his ability to crash the pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, there are substantial positives to having a guy like this on your team. I maintain that in short yardage and goal-line situations, I want Williams on the field. It’s going to be very difficult to run inside with Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Jesse Williams lining up next to each other. Seattle’s run defense seemed to get gradually weaker as the year went on and Williams’ addition helps in a big way.

But…. he isn’t going to rush the passer. And alongside the injury issues, that’s probably why he lasted until round five. I’m guessing teams weighed up the situation. He’s one-dimensional with medical concerns over his knee. That dropped his stock. Seattle might actually be the best fit for him. They’re a team that could use some depth and strength inside, but can live with the situation if he never plays a down. He’s versatile enough to play the one, three or five technique. His attitude and personality fits like a glove.

What we might see is Jordan Hill start in base, Michael Bennett used at the three on third down and in passing situations and Williams coming in to spell Hill and play some short yardage and goal-line. That would be a nice mix. Different fits for different scenarios.

For Williams to start full-time in Seattle he’ll probably need to see Hill struggle to create pressure. If it comes down to who is better versus the run with neither being great against the pass, Williams wins that battle. But I suspect the Seahawks believe Hill can be effective getting into the backfield (while being acceptable versus the run) adding a dimension to the defensive line that they lacked last year.

This was a solid pick in round five but I do understand why he fell — and I don’t think it was just the knee. To some teams the upside potential wasn’t really worth taking the chance. To Seattle, it clearly was. Even if Williams only ever offers light relief for the starters and solid run support, it’ll still be a good move. If he struggles to have an impact or the injuries play up, it really was no big gamble for this team. Working alongside Hill and Bennett this year, the Seahawks should be able to find a combination that works.

Jordan Hill: problem solver

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Jordan Hill is what the Seahawks need for their defense.

It’s a pretty obvious statement, considering they took him in the third round. How much did we talk about defensive tackle being a priority during the regular season? Every week? This pick wasn’t a reach or a desperate attempt to solve one of the few problem areas on the team. It was calculated, planned and inspired.

I’ve long been a fan of Hill’s, which is in part why I’m fairly positive about the pick. However, I wanted to go back and see what I’d actually written about Hill on the blog, before returning to the tape for a closer look. On January 29th I noted the following:

Out of all the players I’ve looked at so far, Penn State’s Jordan Hill is one of the players to keep an eye on in those mid-to-late rounds.

He’s 6-0 and 295lbs and plays with good leverage. If he gets a sniff of a gap he often takes advantage, using his speed to get into the backfield. In a 1v1 match-up he holds his own in the run game, holding his position with surprising power at the point of attack even against top offensive line opposition such as Wisconsin.

Hill’s a fighter — a relentless bundle of energy who defined his teams attitude last season. He chases outside of the tackle box, doesn’t give up on plays and often executes via the second effort. In the Senior Bowl he struggled a bit to generate pressure against a double team, but it was testament that the lineman even in that environment were consistently locking onto him and trying to shut him down. Although he didn’t challenge the quarterback against the double team, he more than held his own and managed to hold position. The Seahawks don’t have enough players on that defensive line right now that warrant a double team.

On February 14th after further tape review, I also wrote the following:

I cannot talk highly enough of this guy. He’s solid against the run despite a lack of pure size (6-0/6-1, 295lbs), he gets into the backfield to make plays and he’s got that little spark to his game that you want to see from a three technique.

Since the Seahawks drafted Jordan Hill, I’ve gone back to watch four Penn State games. You’ll find tape of two of the games below (vs Wisconsin, Iowa). The other two were Ohio State and Virginia from last season. You tend to watch a guy a little more closely when he’s going to be on the team. You look for ways in which he fills a need. I’m fairly confident Hill is the closest thing Seattle could find to the interior penetrator they needed. That’s without being in a realistic position to draft a guy like Sheldon Richardson.

I’m still not sure how the Seahawks intend to play their hand at defensive tackle. I’m not sure anyone is, because they have some options now. Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard remain on the roster from last year. They signed Tony McDaniel in free agency and added Hill and Jesse Williams during the draft. They could rotate these guys to suit. Williams (who I’ve also watched more of since the weekend) is a one-dimensional player who offered very little pass rush in college. He was tough up the middle, difficult to move. In short yardage and goal-line situations he could be an asset. I’m not convinced he’ll offer any kind of pressure though, which is really what the Seahawks need inside.

To be more exact, they need a three technique. An orthodox three technique. A guy who isn’t completely hopeless against the run, but is quick enough to shoot a gap, force the guard or center into the pocket, get some pressure on the quarterback and move well laterally against the run. Hill ticks all of the boxes, which is why I think he’ll eventually win a starting job. He’s not an amazing athlete otherwise he’d have been going in the top-15 like Richardson. Yet the style of play is fairly similar. Even though Hill played a lot of one technique in college, he’s not merely a backup for Brandon Mebane. He can start at the three. And he can be disruptive.

Looking at the defensive line, they have the ability to use three different players at the LEO (Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril). They can double up with speed off the edge in an obvious passing situation. They can use Michael Bennett as a specialist three technique or power end. They say they’ll try Avril and Irvin at linebacker. There’s so much potential there, so many different looks to present to an offense.

The biggest difference maker for Seattle’s pass rush next year might be from the inside in base. On 1st and 10 at the 20, I don’t think they’re going to get too cute with a lot of foreign looks. I think we’ll see a LEO alongside Red Bryant, Mebane and another (probably Hill). We’ll see three linebackers on the field. Or maybe two linebackers and Antoine Winfield in the slot. Just my guess. For the last three years in this situation, the entire responsibility for a pass rush lay with the LEO (Clemons). While that position has been productive for the Seahawks, alone it hasn’t been the catalyst for a fearsome pass rush.

Increasing the amount of pressure in base will take this defense to another level. Being able to really get at a team early will enhance Seattle’s status as a contender. Too many times last year they came up against a lousy offensive line filled with stopgaps and never took advantage. Press from the inside, collapse the pocket and watch the speed at the LEO position dominate.

Bennett will probably come in on third down or in situations where the other team has to chase. That’s the finishing move. The clincher. There’s improvements to be had here too — third down defense wasn’t good enough at times in 2012. Winfield also gives that area a boost.

But focusing on Hill, he offers a real chance to solve the issues in base. Let’s look at the Iowa tape. Fast forward to 2:14 in the video below:

The first thing to highlight isn’t a pass rushing move, but it’s a fun play nonetheless. Notice how well he moves laterally to the left, disengaging one block, picking through the traffic and making the tackle on a running back for a loss. That’s dominating. Let me refer back to the Bill Walsh ideal for a three technique:

“You are looking for somebody who can move down the line of scrimmage and make a tackle, pursuing a ball-carrier. That would be lateral quickness in a short area, being able to get underway and move over and through people. If you get knocked off the line, or get knocked sideways or knocked off balance, you cannot play this position. You must be able to work your way through people, so that kind of strength is a must.”

At 2:25 he’s lined up over the center and knifes through the A-gap to collapse the pocket. He forced the quarterback to move (and fumble) forcing a turnover. This is what Seattle needs. This is what it wasn’t getting from a nose tackle masquerading as a three technique last year (Alan Branch).

You want to see some hands? Go to 3:04 and watch how he schools the Iowa guard to break into the backfield for a big sack. Lost amid all the forty times and drills at the combine is the benefit of quick, aggressive hands. Hill has them. He can play stout against the run (holds position well) but he also has the ability to get into a lineman and quickly disengage, before rushing the passer.

Hill’s not the biggest guy, but he’s well proportioned. He’s got a nice thick base and room to get even bigger up top (muscle, rather than bad weight). I think it’s actually a good thing that he’s only 6-0 and 290-300lbs. Size is important but Hill clearly gets leverage because he’s a little shorter, he’s slight enough to stay mobile but not too small that he gets dominated. I hate comparing him to the best defensive tackle in the NFL, but that’s the kind of thing that helps Geno Atkins be so successful. Hill isn’t Atkins, but they share some similar characteristics.

At 3:25 he faces a center/guard double team. The guard eventually breaks off to try and attack the second level, but as a pair they fail to drive Hill backwards. As noted in the January piece I wrote, he faced a lot of double teams at the Senior Bowl and see you it often in the Penn State tape. He was the primary focus for the offensive lineman he faced. Very few — including Wisconsin’s brutish line — managed to slow him down.

It’s not all positive, of course. In the Iowa tape you see him get pushed back at 3:41. I’m willing to take my chances on that. There are going to be plays where he gets caught a little off balance and can’t recover. You can’t win every battle. But in the four games I’ve watched since the draft, I feel very comfortable about Hill’s ability to have an impact for this team and potentially solve a pretty big problem for the Seahawks. Only two other defensive tackles went off the board before Seattle took Jesse Williams in the fifth round (Brandon Williams, Akeem Spence). I’d argue they took Hill in just the right spot, from a value stand point and in terms of availability and need. He almost certainly wouldn’t have been there in the late fourth.

Seahawks fans should be excited about this pick.

The video below is of the Wisconsin game, always worth a watch:

Projecting impact for Seattle’s rookies

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Christine Michael (RB, 2nd round)
It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks. He is the tone-setter, the heartbeat, the player who drains energy out of a defense while creating opportunities for the passing game via play action. What he isn’t, unfortunately, is invincible. And while he has played through a series of niggling injuries (back, foot), keeping him from a mountainous work-load is vital for both the long and short term. His contract runs until 2015 and I suspect the the Seahawks want to get through the next three years with Lynch leading the way.

They didn’t have to draft a running back in round two to address this situation — there were plenty of other backs presenting value later on (Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington, Zac Stacy). They already had Robert Turbin and Spencer Ware (taken in round six) is no slouch. Yet Christine Michael stood out as the best player available with the final pick in round two. He was arguably the top running back in the draft and worthy of a grade much higher than the #62 pick. His role as a rookie is simple — maintain the high standards of Marshawn Lynch even when beast mode is taking a rest on the sideline. If the drafting of Michael gets Lynch through to 2015 playing the way he has so far in Seattle, it’ll be worth the investment.

Arian Foster arrived in 2010, establishing himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. Houston also added Ben Tate in the second round of the 2010 draft. In 2011, Foster recorded 1224 yards and ten touchdowns. Tate managed 924 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. The Texans spelled Foster and limited his carries to 278 for the season (49 less than 2010). When Tate got injured during the 2012 campaign, Foster again had to pick up the slack and had a career high 351 carries. Lynch had 315 in 2012 (5th most in the NFL) and the Seahawks might want to get that down to around the 260-285 mark (Frank Gore had 258 carries last year). Drafting Michael allows them to do that and like Tate in 2011 he could see around 175-200 snaps.

Seattle might keep Turbin in for third downs. He showed a decent grasp of pass protection last year and he was targeted in the passing game too (with mixed results). Blocking is an area Michael has to improve and he wasn’t really used as a catcher at Texas A&M (predominantly underneath throws). Instead he’ll likely be a first and second round force, sharing snaps with Lynch in a ‘thunder and lightning’ style combo. He’s also effective in short yardage situations. Don’t rule out some special teams duties especially on kick off returns.

I’ve seen this pick described as a ‘luxury’ by some pundits and I understand that opinion. Last year’s second best rusher behind Adrian Peterson was Alfred Morris — a sixth round rookie. However, I also think there’s a slight misunderstanding of Seattle’s offense. The Percy Harvin trade and the emergence of Russell Wilson has perhaps clouded just how much of a running team this is. Seattle ran the ball 536 times last year — more than any other. In comparison, Tampa Bay (starting productive rookie Doug Martin) ran exactly 120 times less than the Seahawks. If you’re going to run that frequently, why wouldn’t you spend a second round pick on Christine Michael?

Jordan Hill (DT, 3rd round)
Seattle only lost two starters in free agency — Leroy Hill and Alan Branch. Hill remains unsigned and the Seahawks showed minimal interest in re-signing Branch (who joined the Bills after firing his agent). The Seahawks have a lot of young depth at linebacker (including Malcolm Smith, Mike Morgan and Korey Toomer) and appear set to experiment with Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin acting as hybrid rushers from the SAM position. At defensive tackle, there was a little more urgency to find a replacement (or ‘replacements’).

The defensive line is something of a point of contention. The Seahawks have earned a reputation as a tough defense that gets after the passer with a hard hitting and productive secondary. It’s not a complete red herring, but neither is it the absolute truth. Seattle ranked joint 18th for sacks last year with 36. It’s a statistic significantly boosted by one crazy half of football against Green Bay where the team sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times. Anyone who watched the Seahawks regularly last year would acknowledge the pass rush wasn’t prolific — an opinion shared by Pete Carroll when he discussed team needs going into the off-season. Seattle had a particular issue getting off the field on third and long, a bizarre fact given how adept the defense was at limiting big plays.

The Seahawks weren’t bad defending the run, but they were frustrating at times. They started the year particularly well, shutting out several opponents before the San Francisco 49ers crashed the party in week 7. At times it didn’t matter — a handful of blow out victories took away the oppositions run game fairly swiftly. According to Football Outsiders, they ended the year ranked #12 against the run. Like the pass rush, it was still an area for improvement.

Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were signed to help create pressure and lessen the burden of Chris Clemons’ ACL injury, but they still needed an interior presence. One of the issues is the total dependence on the LEO in base. Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane are limited pass rushers, as was Alan Branch. Finding someone who can collapse the pocket or at least force the guard/center into his own backfield was a must. That’s where the pick of Jordan Hill (and Jesse Williams) comes in.

Hill isn’t a big guy at 6-1 and 300lbs, but he’s incredibly stout. His performance against Wisconsin — a game he “took over” according to commentator Brock Huard — was particularly encouraging for his fit in Seattle. Not only did he flash strong gap control and the ability to hold his position against hulking, giant Badger lineman, he was also particularly productive at breaking into the backfield. He might be one of the more understated players in the 2013 draft. Having watched several Penn State games last year, his performance against Wisconsin was not a one-off.

Remember when we highlighted an article discussing “the Bill Walsh defensive tackle”? Walsh’s ideal player measured at 6-2 and 290lbs. “You are looking for somebody who can move down the line of scrimmage and make a tackle, pursuing a ball-carrier. That would be lateral quickness in a short area, being able to get under way and move over and through people.” Again I refer to the Wisconsin tape, where Hill was disengaging, moving across and tackling Montee Ball with relative ease for 0-2 yard gains. “The best defensive tackles move the offensive guard back into the quarterback. They won’t have nearly as many sacks as others, but if they can move the guard back into the quarterback, then the quarterback has to avoid his own lineman.” Again, this is another strong point for Hill. He’s not a sack artist. But he has the upper body power, hand use and drive to be disruptive.

The significance of all this? Pete Carroll takes a lot of inspiration from Walsh’s philosophy. Perhaps more so than any other coach he worked under.

I’m not going to argue he’s the ideal player for Seattle’s scheme. That guy was drafted #13 overall by the New York Jets and goes by the name of Sheldon Richardson. However, Hill has a shot to be an instant hit. He’ll have to compete with Tony McDaniel and Jesse Williams to get the gig, but there’s a reason why they drafted Hill as high as round three. This wasn’t a pure reach as some have suggested. He doesn’t have McDaniel’s size. Williams is a better run defender even if he is one-dimensional. But Hill might be a significantly better disruptive force as a pass rusher. And that, for me, gives him the edge. He’ll probably start in 2013 unless Williams proves his health and dominates in camp. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up contributing substantially.

Chris Harper (WR, 4th round)
As Kansas State emerged as a legit BCS title contender in 2012, I watched their games and kept noticing this big-bodied receiver who just made tough catches. It was easy to become a fan. Then during the off-season I sat down to study him as a draft prospect and started to dampen my enthusiasm. He seemed to make a handful of basic errors — fumbles, drops, missed opportunities. He wasn’t a burner and when the play call breaks down, Kansas State basically looked at Colin Klein and shouted “do something”. His receivers, including Harper, didn’t improvise. Whether they were told not to, I can’t be sure. There are several examples where they immediately became blockers for Klein instead of targets. So it might be an instruction rather than an instinctive problem.

Either way it created a slightly negative impression. This was a relatively deep class for receivers. There weren’t any A.J. Green’s for the teams picking early in round one, but there was plenty to be got at in the middle rounds. And I’ll admit there were a few players I preferred in the range Harper was drafted.

However, now that he’s a Seahawk it’s time to look at what drew them to this pick over a Quinton Patton or Ryan Swope. When you look back with hindsight, it’s fairly obvious why they went in this direction. Chris Harper offers something they didn’t have previously. The Seahawks already have players like Patton and Swope. What they don’t have is a physical possession receiver with strong hands. Harper answers the call.

When I went back to review the tape over the last few days, a couple of things stood out. Firstly, he has a knack of making difficult grabs in double coverage or with a defender draped all over him. Klein was far from a polished, accurate college passer — and a lot of his throws were there to be challenged. I suspect Harper adapted to his environment. He’s adept at positional sense, using his body to shield defenders and competing for the ball. There were two occasions in the games I watched where he made key conversions on fourth down in tight coverage. That’s what the Seahawks have drafted him to be. If he was flawless and didn’t have the frustrating errors, he wouldn’t be available in round four. He’s a possible outside safety-net who can be effective on third and fourth down. He is physical, stocky and competitive. He’s different to what they already have. So while he doesn’t stand to take too much production away from Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, don’t be surprised if he’s out there for a key third down and making a vital catch that extends the drive.

Jesse Williams (DT, 5th round)
A lot of people, including myself, expected Williams to go much earlier than he did. Part of it was hype. Not many college players come from Australia, play for a dominant two-time BCS Champion and have YOLO tattoo’d on the side of their head. He’s a media dream, a story waiting to be written over and over again. As the league desperately attempts to become more global (in a kind of overly forced manner) Williams became a poster-boy along with Menelik Watson, Bjoern Werner and Margus Hunt. As a consequence, medical problems were left largely unreported.

The warning signs were there. Williams only did the bench press at the combine and didn’t appear at the Senior Bowl. He was constantly banged up in 2012, often leaving the field during games. And when asked by Seattle’s media about his draft fall, he admitted he didn’t expect to be a high pick. When a player as well known as Williams falls to round five, you instantly know there’s a problem.

The Seahawks still felt he was worth the risk. Nobody would question his NFL potential. They traded up in round five to make sure they got both Williams and Tharold Simon. You get the sense that John Schneider prides himself on the ability to find value in the 5th round. This was the only time he’s traded up in four drafts. He had to get both of these players.

If Williams is healthy there’s no reason why he can’t fit into the rotation and maybe even start. Carroll says he’s a three technique and that’s the position they have to fill after letting Branch walk in free agency. I’d argue he’s pretty flexible — he’s played the five technique, the three and the nose at Alabama. He could theoretically feature in all three positions in some capacity. There’s a reason he dropped to the fifth, though, and it wasn’t because of a lack of talent. Seattle’s previous hits in this round (Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman) were simply overlooked. It was impossible to overlook Jesse Williams. For that reason you almost have to temper expectations, especially given the fact he’ll be competing with two other off-season additions (Jordan Hill, Tony McDaniel) for playing time.

I wouldn’t rule out his ability to get healthy and even start in 2013. As a pure talent, he’s capable. He’s a terrific run stopper with tremendous upper body power. He plays with attitude and gusto. I’d expect a measured role in year one, helping out in short yardage/run situations. And who knows — maybe he’ll even play some fullback, just as he did in goal-line packages for Alabama. From a talent stand point, there’s no reason why he can’t be another Schneider success story.

Tharold Simon (CB, 5th round)
This could be the most intriguing pick of the bunch. For starters, this is the player Seattle traded up to get. Carroll admitted at the end of the draft that Simon was the player they moved up to get. They were going to take Jesse Williams at the top of the fifth, but didn’t feel they could wait for Simon at the end of the round. Any player that John Schneider moves up to get, you figure they must have something about them.

When you look at Simon’s physical appearance, he just screams ‘Seahawks’. He’s long, tall and pretty much the prototype for Carroll’s vision for the position. There might not be a better staff in the NFL when it comes to coaching cornerbacks. How else do you explain the way Richard Sherman has gone from 5th round flier to elite shutdown corner? Brandon Browner, plucked from the CFL, becomes a pro-bowler. When Browner served a four game suspension, in comes rookie Jeremy Lane to cover Randy Moss in a heated divisional battle. Seattle’s front office knows what it wants in a corner, and the coaches know how to get them ready for the NFL.

Simon’s tape reminds me a little of Sherman’s at Stanford. It’s inconsistent. He gets beat occasionally, particularly on the double move. He’s not a sudden athlete and he’ll give up too many comfortable receptions by easing up on the release. Yet he also plays the ball well and has that aggressive streak that fits the teams current swagger. If you round off the rough edges, coach him up and let him challenge 1v1, he could easily be another late-round steal for this team and a long-term starter.

I don’t expect Simon to start or feature heavily in year one. Like Sherman he’ll need to wait for an opening. It might not come in 2013, he might have to be patient. There’s depth at corner and he better be ready to fight for a roster spot. And when he gets an opportunity, like Sherman, he needs to grab it. He has the potential to start in this league and he couldn’t ask for a better fit. It’s really all down to how much he wants it and his ability to keep working even if he doesn’t see that much game time in year one.

What about the rest?
Like everyone else, I’m scrambling around for information and tape on the other picks. Spencer Ware is going to be tried at full back, but I like his ability as a runner too. As for the rest, it’s difficult for anyone to offer much of an opinion at this stage. Michael Bowie started at Oklahoma State so I’ll run through the back catalogue of games I have saved to get a check on him. I think there’s a feeling they can coach up offensive lineman into Tom Cable’s scheme. Remember, that was Alex Gibbs’ approach too. We might not see any more high picks in that area, given the team is sorted for the long haul at the two key positions (left tackle and center). Bowie, Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith will all get the Cable clinic in camp.

What they’re saying

Evan Silva offers an A- grade for Seattle’s 2013 class. “The Seahawks have drafted just like this every year under Schneider and Pete Carroll. Seems like it’s working.”

Chris Burke gives the group a B-. “The Seahawks had a roster built to roll the dice a bit in the draft, and that’s just what they did with their first three picks.”

Mel Kiper gives it a B, in part because of the Percy Harvin trade. “I don’t know that Seattle added a starter among their picks, but they certainly added one in Harvin.”

2014 way too early watch list

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

USC's Marqise Lee should be a top five pick

It’s far too soon to consider who might go in the first round of next years draft — and players will always emerge (or sink) during a season. Nobody called out Eric Fisher as a prospective #1 pick twelve months ago, so a lot can change. Even so, there’s no harm in having a quick look. And hey, it’ll be fun to see how this list adapts during the course of the next year.

#1 Jadaveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Generational talent at defensive end. As long as he avoids injury, he’s virtually a lock to go first overall.

#2 Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Unflappable. Willing to play through the pain barrier. Strong arm, accurate, has won big games in his career. The only player likely to challenge Clowney to go first overall.

#3 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Doesn’t have elite size but neither does Alabama’s incredible sophomore Amari Cooper. Within the next few years both should be top-five picks.

#4 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Would’ve been a top-12 pick this year had he declared. Will boost his stock even more if he performs well at left tackle. Might be better than Luke Joeckel.

#5 Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
The next great defensive back off the production line for Nick Saban. Tremendous talent.

#6 Cyrus Kouandijo (T, Alabama)
Kept D.J. Fluker at right tackle and he went #11 overall. Should be a top ten pick.

# 7 Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Monster of a receiver. Could be hurt by a lack of good quarterback play. 6-6 with deep speed and YAC ability.

#8 Austin Seferian Jenkings (TE, Washington)
Potentially the next great athletic tight end.

#9 Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
Had a terrific season in 2012 after transitioning from full back (of all positions). Pure speed off the edge.

#10 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Another player who could’ve easily been a top-15 pick this year. No reason why he won’t maintain that grade.

#11 Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
Explosive playmaker. Size may be an issue for some but you can’t argue with 19 sacks in the last two years.

#12 Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
Looked average against Alabama in the BCS title game but had a very good 2012 overall. Scheme diverse.

#13 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Tall, strong hands and enough speed to be a difference maker. A bit like Brandon Coleman (he’s 6-5, 218lbs) he has limitless potential. If Manziel stays productive, Evans could become a star too.

#14 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Missed time last year and ceded his role as Clemson’s best playmaker to DeAndre Hopkins. Even so, with Hopkins in the NFL now Watkins has a chance to shine.

#15 Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Big nose tackle. Another player who didn’t look great against Alabama. But who did on the night for Notre Dame?

#16 De’Anthony Thomas (WR, Oregon)
The way the NFL is going, Thomas has a shot to be an early pick.

#17 Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford)
Playmaking safety, seemed to be doing something every week in the PAC-12.

#18 Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State)
15 sacks in two years so far for the Beevers. He’s shown a lot of promise and I’m looking forward to seeing more in 2013.

#19 Lache Seastrunk (RB, Baylor)
Ended the year on fire and he’s already making statement’s about challenging for the Heisman. It’s not unrealistic.

#20 Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State)
Limitless upside but like a lot of FSU defensive players, hasn’t dominated to this point. Big year in 2013.

#21 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Surprised a few by not declaring this year. Simply put, he makes plays. He has a nose for the ball.

#22 Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Great corner who could’ve been a high pick this year (round two at worst?). Plays on a winning team and should continue to prosper.

#23 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
He pretty much wings it. I’ve put him on the list, but I need to see more. Huge question marks here on just how effective he may or may not be at the next level.

#24 Austin Hill (WR, Arizona)
Bailed Matt Scott out a few times last year before a bad ACL injury. Amazing hands. Not a burner but so reliable.

#25 Ra’Shede Hageman (DE, Minnesota)
Caught a little bit of a hype during the off-season before choosing not to declare. He has potential, but I need to see more production in 2013.

Honourable mentions: Chaz Green (T, Florida) — may move to left tackle, has the athletic upside to make the switch. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon) — anticipates the ball, times his hits well. Decent upside. Daniel McCullers (DT, Tennessee) — huge defensive tackle but moves so well for the size. Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon) — I’ve heard great things about Lyerla, I look forward to watching him next year.

If you think I missed anyone out let me know in the comments section.

I also want to touch on the quarterback group briefly. This year I feel like the NFL almost talked itself into disliking the bunch available. While the media waxed lyrical about what a bad class it was, it really wasn’t any worse than previous years where guys like Tim Tebow somehow found a home in round one. Colt McCoy was a third round pick, when he probably should’ve been a sixth rounder. Jimmy Clausen went in round two and Christian Ponder at #12 (!!!) overall. Now either the league is learning to not overvalue the position, or they went a bit over the top this year. If Russell Wilson hadn’t happened in 2012, there are at least 3-4 guys I would’ve thrown my weight behind as possible long term starters in Seattle.

Chip Kelly admitted he had a top-50 grade on Matt Barkley, which is why he traded up in round four to get him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Barkley starts for Philadelphia this year. Stranger things have happened. But why on earth was he (and others) still lurking on day three?

It might be a similar case next year. Teddy Bridgewater looks like a shoe-in to be the top quarterback taken. But after that there’s a cluster of other ‘big names’ who are going to get talked up a lot, but probably don’t match up even to Barkley, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and Tyler Wilson.

Johnny Manziel is a big hit after winning the Heisman, but I’m sceptical about his pro-prospects. Very sceptical. Which is why he’s only at #23 here. Some are suggesting he’ll be a top five pick. A lot of his game is playing in chaos, running around to extend plays and improvising. It’s fun to watch, but completely unorthodox. If he has another amazing year at Texas A&M, perhaps a team will believe in the guy enough to take him early? But for me he’s going to be one of those players that really divides opinion.

Logan Thomas had a miserable 2012 season but the appearance of E.J. Manuel in round one will give him hope. If Manuel succeeds, that probably helps Thomas’ case. But he really needs to improve because last year was car crash at times. The play calling didn’t help, and it hasn’t helped at Virginia Tech for years.

Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray will likely go at it again in the SEC, but neither has the necessary physical tools to warrant much interest until later in the process. Tajh Boyd had a great Bowl game against LSU to end last season, but he lacks the consistency and physical tools to get you excited about much more than a mid round grade.

David Fales has almost a hipster style following on the internet and has some nice tape out there for San Jose State. And yet there’s still something so ‘meh’ about him. He’s one to keep an eye on, though. He looked good against Stanford last year. Derek Carr on the other hand has never really done anything for me and I thought he was poor against SMU in Fresno State’s bowl game to end the season.

While this year’s class was pilloried for its lack of quality, we could see a very similar story in 2014. A lot of teams have invested in young quarterbacks during the boom years of the passing football in the NFL. We might see a little lull as some succeed and others fail, while other ageing quarterbacks approach retirement. Then the craze starts all over again.

FINAL 2013 mock draft

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

So here we are. The final mock draft. I’m sending this one off to the Huddle Report. They allow trades, but I want to keep it simple for the final projection.

By the way, don’t forget to keep it here tomorrow. I’ll be taking part in a live Google Hangout throughout day one of the draft (starting at around 4:30pm PST). For more details click here.

I’ve included a full second round plus picks for Seattle in rounds 3-7. At #56 I’ve gone for one of the few players I think they’ll consider at defensive tackle in round two. Jesse Williams is highly rated by some, while others (Mayock) gave him a third round grade. I can see why he’d fall. He has a top-heavy frame which will concern some teams. He’s completely one-dimensional as a pure run-stopper. He gets banged up. There’s also fairly good depth at his position and demand probably isn’t going to match supply. So he could drop. Also, I can definitely picture a tattoo’d 300lbs Aussie sat between Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

If you want alternatives, I still believe they’ll consider Quinton Patton if he lasts. Ditto Khaseem Greene. I wouldn’t be shocked if they found an offensive tackle they liked enough to draft in that range, but I think it’s more likely to be a later round pick. Christine Michael is an exciting proposition, even if it’s only to spell Marshawn Lynch and return some kicks.

Before we get into it, how about this little corker. Tyrann Mathieu announced today he was hosting a celebratory draft party. To take place after the first round. The poster advertising the part refers to Mathieu as a ‘first round pick’. If you were planning on attending, unfortunately it is now cancelled. Apparently someone got the message to Mathieu it probably wasn’t a great idea. It might not be the most ridiculous thing you hear this year, but it’s probably in the top five.

I’m not sure what is worse. The fact Mathieu’s people thought he’d go in round one and therefore felt it was necessary to organise a party for Thursday evening. Or that Mathieu allowed this to happen in his name. More than anyone he should be keeping his head down this week. Hosting a party at a nightclub in New York should be last thing on his mind. The negative reaction and subsequent cancellation says it all. What were his representatives thinking?

Anyway, onto the mock. It’s been fun. Let’s do this again some time.

First round

#1 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
Jay Glazer says he believes Fisher goes #1. He doesn’t put out bad information.
#2 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
If Joeckel lasts to #2, I can understand why Jacksonville makes this pick. Even if he plays right tackle.
#3 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
This will be a long rebuild.
#4 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
Philly’s line was a mess last year. Johnson looks like a smart fit in Chip Kelly’s offense.
#5 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
Plenty of options here for Detroit.
#6 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
I still think this is Cleveland’s favourite.
#7 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
With the tackles off the board they have to turn to defense. Jordan would be a nice consolation.
#8 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
Rumour has it this pick will come down to Barkley or Ryan Nassib.
#9 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
They need a spark on offense.
#10 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
A lot of people say this will be a guard, despite the addition of Andy Levitre.
#11 D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
There’s a buzz around this guy going into the draft.
#12 Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
If they trade for Branden Albert, this could be considered the final piece of an offensive rebuild.
#13 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
They could be tempted by a quarterback. Mingo would provide a needed edge rusher, however.
#14 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Fantastic pick for Carolina if this happens. Watch out for Atlanta trading up.
#15 Star Lotuelei (DT, Utah)
Can play the nose or five technique.
#16 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
Tough to pass on this guy here.
#17 Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
He could sink in a bad way, but he is the prototype fit at outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s scheme.
#18 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
Fills a need.
#19 Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
Looked good in his work out this week. Recovering well from an ACL injury.
#20 Justin Pugh (G, Syracuse)
Getting rave reviews and this is a big need.
#21 Eric Reid (S, LSU)
Speculation suggests a few teams have a round one grade on Reid.
#22 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
They need a linebacker and Jeff Fisher’s never been afraid of a challenge.
#23 D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston)
Leslie Fraser would approve this pick you’d imagine.
#24 Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
They’ve been looking at the corners.
#25 Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Age is the only thing holding him back.
#26 Datone Jones (DE, UCLA)
It’s easy to forget just how much San Francisco abused Green Bay’s defense in the playoffs.
#27 Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
Receiver looks like a strong option here.
#28 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
Not a flashy player and could fall as a consequence.
#29 Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
They’ll surely consider a cornerback here?
#30 Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State)
Will they move up to get Dion Jordan, Dee Milliner or Sheldon Richardson?
#31 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
Hard-hitting safety, would look good in this defense.
#32 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
Big shoes to fill.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
#34 San Francisco – Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)
#35 Philadelphia – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
#36 Detroit – Terron Armstead (T, Arkansas Pine-Bluff)
#37 Cincinnati – Jonathan Franklin (RB, UCLA)
#38 Arizona – Kyle Long (G, Oregon)
#39 New York Jets – Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
#40 Tennessee – Darius Slay (CB, Mississippi State)
#41 Buffalo – Robert Woods (WR, USC)
#42 Miami – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#43 Tampa Bay – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
#44 Carolina – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
#45 San Diego – Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
#46 St. Louis – Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
#47 Dallas – Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
#48 Pittsburgh – Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)
#49 New York Giants – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State)
#50 Chicago – Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
#51 Washington – D.J. Swearinger (S, South Carolina)
#52 Minnesota – Keenan Allen (WR, California)
#53 Cincinnati – Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
#54 Kansas City – Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)
#55 Green Bay – DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
#56 Seattle – Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
#57 Houston – Larry Warford (G, Kentucky)
#58 Denver – Christine Michael (RB, Texas A&M)
#59 New England – Brian Winters (G, Kansas State)
#60 Atlanta – Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
#61 San Francisco – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
#62 Baltimore – Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)

Other Seahawks picks: R3 – RB Denard Robinson, R4 – TE Nick Kasa, R5- T Luke Marquardt, R5 – S Duke Williams, R6 – DT Stefan Charles, R7 – RB Jeremy Wright, R7 – WR/CB Russell Shepard, R7 – TE Michael Williams R7 – QB B.J. Daniels

Mock draft Wednesday’s: 17th April

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Could this man be an option for the Seahawks at #56?

This is my penultimate mock draft. My final projection will be next Wednesday, the night before the first round begins. That is also the projection I’ll be sending to the ‘Huddle Report’ so I can secure 93rd position again this year.

Seattle’s pick at #56 works alongside the seven-round mock I created for the team a few days ago. There are more immediate needs than receiver, but most of the top WILL prospects were off the board and several of the defensive tackles had gone too. It’s worth remembering that Golden Tate is a free agent in 2014 and Sidney Rice’s contract doesn’t shrink in the same way Zach Miller’s does. So while receiver isn’t an immediate need, there could be some forward planning here — particularly if a prospect they really like is available.

I’d also highlight the way Green Bay seem to constantly re-load at receiver, something John Schneider might have latched onto.

The Seahawks need to pick their battle’s. They’re going to need to start paying some members of the existing roster. They’re going to have very little cap room to play with as a consequence. Players like Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson by theory could be easier to sign if they continue their elite-level performance. You pay them as the best players at their respective positions. It’s guys like Golden Tate that become harder to judge.

What is he worth to Seattle? Or the rest of the league? On the one hand he’s become very close to Wilson and had a breakout year in 2012. He made some big plays and helped the Seahawks to some key victories. He’s become a household name because of the whole ‘Fail Mary’ incident. Yet his greatest season of production in the NFL is 688 yards and seven touchdowns.

Another team might be willing to pay him as a ‘name’ player — and we’ve seen a handful of receivers get overpaid in the last two years. It could be very difficult for the Seahawks to justify making a deal unless he has a tremendous 2013.

Rice is due a cap hit of $9.7m this year, a further $9.7m in 2014 and $10.2m in 2015. If he stays healthy and productive, then it’s not such an issue. Yet he’s earning true #1 money and if he does miss further time or surrenders some of his production to Percy Harvin, can you justify such a massive contract? Again, it’s a moot point if he succeeds this year, just like Tate. If he doesn’t, he might be a necessary sacrifice in order to keep others on the roster.

The Seahawks are essentially paying two guys (Harvin and Rice) elite contracts at the position, while also giving their starting tight end (Miller) a hefty sum. I’m not sure going forward they’ll want to be pumping that much money into their receivers. Being smart in the draft is key here, because they also don’t want to stunt Russell Wilson’s growth or diminish the talent level of his targets.

Being able to plan ahead, save money where possible and maintain quality is crucial. There’s no room for sentiment. So while receiver isn’t a great defining need this season, it might be a wise move for the long haul to look at a guy like Quinton Patton in round two.

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First round

#1 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
They’re keeping their cards close to their chest. Some believe it could be Eric Fisher.
#2 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
They need a pass rusher. Pure and simple.
#3 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
This will be a long rebuild.
#4 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
Even if they are getting guys back from injury, Philly’s line hasn’t been good enough for a while.
#5 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
Plenty of options here for Detroit. Ansah, Milliner, Johnson. What about Tavon Austin?
#6 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
If they get Milliner, they can feel pretty good about this off-season.
#7 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
This is far and away the teams biggest need following the Carson Palmer trade.
#8 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
They could move up to make sure they get Smith. They can’t rely on Kevin Kolb.
#9 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
They need a spark on offense.
#10 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Too many people are saying this will be a guard, despite the addition of Andy Levitre.
#11 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
With the top left tackles off the board, they’re forced to look elsewhere.
#12 D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
A lot of men in that Miami front office like road grader-style tackles.
#13 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
It seems certain this pick will be traded by Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis.
#14 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Fantastic value for Carolina if this happens.
#15 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
Local connections plus they need a pass rusher.
#16 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
Safety could be a target area.
#17 Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
He could sink in a bad way, but he is the prototype fit at outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s scheme.
#18 Sly Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Switching to a 4-3 could put a fair amount of emphasis on the DT position.
#19 Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
Terrific little player.
#20 Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
I have a feeling they’ll still be open to drafting a tight end this early.
#21 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Someone will bit. It’s not like Cincy hasn’t made moves like this in the past.
#22 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
They must have a physical runner in this division.
#23 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
Consistent but not an explosive athlete.
#24 Justin Pugh (G, Syracuse)
A huge need for the Colts.
#25 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
They hit on Rudolph and Harrison, so why not go back for the Notre Dame hat-trick?
#26 Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
It’s easy to forget just how much San Francisco abused Green Bay’s defense in the playoffs.
#27 Robert Woods (WR, USC)
Receiver looks like a strong option here.
#28 Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
The Elvis Dumervil saga leaves them needing another pass rusher.
#29 Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State)
Gives off a Bill Belichick-pick vibe.
#30 Datone Jones (DE, UCLA)
They could move up to do this.
#31 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
Hard-hitting safety, would look good in this defense.
#32 Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)
Who knows where this guy will be drafted? This isn’t out of the question.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville – Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
#34 San Francisco – Johnthan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
#35 Philadelphia – E.J. Manuel (QB, Florida State)
#36 Detroit – Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
#37 Cincinnati – Jonathan Franklin (RB, UCLA)
#38 Arizona – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
#39 New York Jets – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
#40 Tennessee – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
#41 Buffalo – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
#42 Miami – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
#43 Tampa Bay – D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston)
#44 Carolina – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State)
#45 San Diego – Terron Armstead (T, Arkansas Pine-Bluff)
#46 St. Louis – Kyle Long (G, Oregon)
#47 Dallas – Travis Frederick (C, Wisconsin)
#48 Pittsburgh – Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
#49 New York Giants – Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)
#50 Chicago – Larry Warford (G, Kentucky)
#51 Washington – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#52 Minnesota – Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
#53 Cincinnati – Eric Reid (S, LSU)
#54 Miami – Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
#55 Green Bay – DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
#56 Seattle – Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)
#57 Houston – John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
#58 Denver – Christine Michael (RB, Texas A&M)
#59 New England – Sio Moore (LB, Connecticut)
#60 Atlanta – Darius Slay (CB, Mississippi State)
#61 San Francisco – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
#62 Baltimore – Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)

Other Seahawks picks: R3 – RB Denard Robinson, R4 – DT Montori Hughes, R5 – T Luke Marquardt, R5 – LB Zaviar Gooden, R6 – DT Stefan Charles, R7 – K Dustin Hopkins, R7 – WR/CB Russell Shepard, R7 – B.J. Daniels, R7 – TE Michael Williams

Mock draft Wednesday’s: 10th April

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Jesse Williams lasting to #56? It could happen

Time for this week’s mock and only one trade in this projection. I think it’s fairly obvious New York and Tampa Bay will come to some kind of deal for Darrelle Revis. Despite the posturing going on at the moment, the Jets would be silly to let the only suitor drift away when they appear willing to part with a high first round pick. In twelve months the Jets will get nothing. Zilch. Nada. They cannot franchise Revis per the terms of his contract.

If they want extra’s like Minnesota got for Percy Harvin, I’d argue don’t jeopardise the deal. After all, the difference between the #25 pick and the #13 pick is worth more than a 2014 third rounder and a 2013 seventh. Plus the Vikings would’ve had the freedom to franchise Harvin next year. Plus Harvin isn’t coming off an ACL injury.

In fact, why hasn’t this deal been completed yet? Surely the Jets won’t blow this opportunity? Sure, Revis is a good player. A very good player. But they’ll lose him for nothing next year anyway. That much is almost guaranteed. Get the deal done already.

The Seahawks’ pick is fairly straightforward. I think they have to consider what defensive tackles are on the board at #56. In this situation I considered the pick a bit of a no-brainer. While Jesse Williams is considered a borderline first rounder in some quarters, ESPN’s Scouts Inc ranks him as the #55 overall prospect and Mike Mayock only has him as the #5 ranked 3-4 defensive end (below even William Gholston).

There are two things to remember here in terms of a potential fall. Firstly, Williams seems to get banged up a little bit. Nothing too serious, but he left games as a junior and senior. He missed the Senior Bowl. He didn’t do all the drills at the combine. Secondly, he’s not a pass rusher. He’s a one-dimensional defender who excels in holding position and taking away running lanes.

He reminds me a little bit of Stephen Paea who went #53 overall in 2011. Williams is bigger in size, but Paea has greater core strength (as emphasised by his 49 reps of the bench press). Both will be effective against the run. The Seahawks weren’t particularly hard to run against in the second half of the 2012 season. Put Williams alongside Brandon Mebane and a healthy Red Bryant and that might change. Plus, he has the flexibility to cover Bryant at end which could be crucial.

I’ve included a possible third round pick for the Seahawks at the bottom of the article — Xavier Nixon, left tackle from Florida who’s more likely to end up on the right side in the NFL.

I also wanted to represent a report today suggesting Cordarrelle Patterson could drop into round two, with LSU’s Eric Reid heading in the opposite direction. Patterson has a lot of physical talent as a kick returner and open field runner. Yet he’ll come into the league needing to learn pretty much everything from scratch. He has one year of experience in the NCAA playing receiver, didn’t run any complex routes and his technique catching the ball (always into the body) leaves a lot to be desired. He’s quite a reclusive personality too which I suspect will be difficult for teams to judge. How badly does this guy want to be great? He’ll need to want it, given the sheer number of technical improvements he has to make.

That could lead to a fall. This report, if true, wouldn’t shock me. But of course at this time of year, teams just love to put out a lot of misinformation. So tread carefully.

As for Reid, he’s a brutish safety in the Kam Chancellor mould. While he had a pretty average year for LSU in 2012, I can see why teams needing a hard-hitting safety will look his way. He’s better than Taylor Mays who went in the second round. Quite a few people who’ve worked in the league have talked positively about Reid this off-season.

By the way, if you missed it earlier Kip wrote a fantastic piece on the late round quarterback options for Seattle. Make sure you check it out.

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First round

#1 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
They’re keeping their cards close to their chest. It’ll be Fisher, Luke Joeckel or Dion Jordan, surely?
#2 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
They need a pass rusher. Pure and simple.
#3 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
This will be a long rebuild.
#4 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
Hard to pass on a player who can lock down the left tackle position for years to come.
#5 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
Again, I just have a hunch that he’ll go earlier than most people expect.
#6 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
If they get Milliner, they can feel pretty good about this off-season.
#7 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
This is far and away the teams biggest need following the Carson Palmer trade.
#8 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
They could move up to make sure they get Smith. They can’t rely on Kevin Kolb.
#9 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
He could line up in multiple looks for Rex Ryan.
#10 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
It’s hard not to love this guy.
#11 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
With the top left tackles off the board, they’re forced to look elsewhere.
#12 D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
A lot of men in that Miami front office like road grader-style tackles.
#13 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
He’s too good to stay on the board for long. It seems certain this pick will be traded by Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis.
#14 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
Another solid addition to that Panthers defense.
#15 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
Local connections plus they need a pass rusher.
#16 Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
They need an outside linebacker.
#17 Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
He could sink in a bad way, but he is the prototype fit at outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s scheme.
#18 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
This would be a nice get for Dallas.
#19 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
He could fall further than this.
#20 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Fills a need. Athletic potential could make this a steal. Character concerns linger.
#21 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
Fierce hitter with playmaking qualities.
#22 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
They must have a physical runner in this division.
#23 Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Talent-wise he deserves to go in round one.
#24 Justin Pugh (G, Syracuse)
A huge need for the Colts.
#25 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
They hit on Rudolph and Harrison, so why not go back for the Notre Dame hat-trick?
#26 Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
Donald Driver’s retired, Greg Jennings is in Minnesota. They could go for a pass catcher here.
#27 Robert Woods (WR, USC)
Receiver looks like a strong option here.
#28 Eric Reid (S, LSU)
Perhaps we under estimated his upside? Talk today suggests he could be a first round pick. He does have admirers.
#29 Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State)
Gives off a Bill Belichick-pick vibe.
#30 Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
He hopes to work out on April 20th.
#31 Datone Jones (DE, UCLA)
Defensive line will get early attention you’d think.
#32 Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)
Who knows where this guy will be drafted? This isn’t out of the question.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville – Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
#34 San Francisco – Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
#35 Philadelphia – E.J. Manuel (QB, Florida State)
#36 Detroit – Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
#37 Cincinnati – Jonathan Franklin (RB, UCLA)
#38 Arizona – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
#39 New York Jets – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
#40 Tennessee – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
#41 Buffalo – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
#42 Miami – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
#43 Tampa Bay – Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)
#44 Carolina – DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
#45 San Diego – Terron Armstead (T, Arkansas Pine-Bluff)
#46 St. Louis – Kyle Long (G, Oregon)
#47 Dallas – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State)
#48 Pittsburgh – Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
#49 New York Giants – Keenan Allen (WR, California)
#50 Chicago – Travis Frederick (G, Wisconsin)
#51 Washington – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#52 Minnesota – Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)
#53 Cincinnati – Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
#54 Miami – D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston)
#55 Green Bay – Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
#56 Seattle – Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
#57 Houston – John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
#58 Denver – Christine Michael (RB, Texas A&M)
#59 New England – Denard Robinson (RB, Michigan)
#60 Atlanta – Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
#61 San Francisco – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
#62 Baltimore – Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)

Seahawks 3rd round pick: Xavier Nixon (T, Florida)