Two players stand out at #26
The combine is over — and we’re starting to get some clarity on what might happen with the #26 pick.
With Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick driving their stock well into the top-20, it might come down to two players:
Obi Melifonwu & Kevin King
The Seahawks have only drafted one defensive back before the fourth round in the Pete Carroll era (Earl Thomas). If they’re going to break that trend in 2017, it’ll likely be for a truly freakish athlete.
That’s exactly what these two bring to the table.
Melifonwu is 6-4 and 224lbs. He’s the antidote to what we saw on Saturday with the tight end class excelling. He ran an official 4.40, jumped 44 inches in the vertical, recorded an 11-9 broad jump and didn’t show any signs of stiffness during drills when asked to redirect, transition and make sharp turns.
Look at the way Pete Carroll reacted after Melifonwu ran the 4.40. He’s rocking back and forth in his seat before turning to say something to Kris Richard:
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) March 6, 2017
This is a Seahawks type of first round pick.
How would they use him? In so many different ways. He’s only two pounds heavier than Atlanta’s brilliant linebacker Deion Jones. He has the physical tools to match-up with big wide outs and dynamic TE’s in the slot. He might be too big to play outside corner but he can travel there in certain looks or motions. He’ll provide depth at two safety positions.
A few fans have questioned his tape on Twitter. Personally I don’t think it’s bad at all. His performance against Virginia (link here) highlights the potential he has as a read-and-react, sure tackler. He makes a terrific play running through traffic to take down the running back for a TFL. He shows range in high coverage and he plays the ball.
Seattle’s Head Coach is the best defensive backs tutor in the league. He can work with this physical profile and that tape.
Here’s how the league views him, per Bob McGinn’s anonymous sources:
Four-year player with 48 games and 48 starts. “He reminded me of Deone Bucannon because he can play in the box and in space,” said one scout. “Physical. Square tackler. I was shocked. He’s big and he can run. I think he’s too big for corner. He can replace a ‘backer in the box because he can cover.” Arms were 32½. Eight career interceptions. “He looks the part,” said another scout. “He’s more of a downhill type but he brings a presence.”
A 6-4, 224lbs Deone Bucannon. Think about that for a second.
King ran an official 4.43 at 6-3 and 200lbs and followed it up with a 39.5 inch vertical. He didn’t record a broad jump according to the NFL tracker but a year ago he managed a 10-10 at the Husky pro-day.
His 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). He also had easily the fastest short shuttle this year by any player (3.89) and the fourth best time in the last five years.
Essentially his long speed is as quick as Melifonwu’s, he’s not as explosive but he’s lighter and probably has superior short-area quickness (Melifonwu didn’t run a three cone or short shuttle).
The agility tests really show off how versatile he is. King might be 6-3 and 200lbs but he’s not just an outside corner. He handled the slot for Washington in 2015 and he can do it at the next level too. He can pretty much defend any type of receiver — with the size and length to handle the bigger targets, the short are quickness to match-up with a dynamic slot and the deep speed to go head-to-head against a burner.
When we talk about the Seahawks likely only taking a special player in round one at cornerback — this is what he looks like.
Of course there’ll likely be other players in play at #26. We didn’t see Justin Evans or Jarrad Davis workout at the combine. Who knows where players like Jabrill Peppers and even Haason Reddick will be projected? There’s at least a chance Seattle won’t be able to resist a player like Budda Baker despite his lack of size.
Even so, it certainly feels like Obi Melifonwu or Kevin King could easily be Seattle’s next first round pick if they’re available at #26.
DB class overall shines
There were two big positives about today:
1. Most of the big name prospects lived up to expectations
2. Several second and third tier players performed better than expected
Marshon Lattimore, Sidney Jones, Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, Tre’Davious White and Kevin King all performed well. Cordrea Tankersley ran a 4.40 to throw his name into the first round mix.
Jamal Adams didn’t have a fast, explosive workout but was never really expected to. Budda Baker is what he is — a 4.45 runner, not the most explosive tester but plays well beyond his size.
Jabrill Peppers hopped around Lucas Oil Stadium like he’d been drinking sunshine in a glass — his personality and leadership shining as brightly as his dynamic athletic performance.
Due to injury, Malik Hooker and Justin Evans didn’t workout.
The majority of the names above could go in the first frame.
A lot of the second and third tier prospects performed as expected and even the disappointments were only minor — such as Rasul Douglas running a 4.59 or John Johnson a 4.61.
Shaq Griffin warrants a closer look after his performance. He ran a 4.38 at 6-0 and 194lbs (with 32.5 inch arms) and jumped well too (38.5 inch vertical, 11-0 broad).
Ahkello Witherspoon did as good a job as anyone covering John Ross in 2016 and now we know why. He ran a 4.45 at 6-3 and 198lbs (33 inch arms). He also recorded a huge 40.5 inch vertical and a 10-7 broad jump. His tackling technique and run defense is poor on tape — but you can work on that with this profile. He could be a Kevin King consolation prize.
At safety, Rayshawn Jenkins is one of the grittiest players in the draft class. His ability to run a 4.51 at 6-1, 214lbs and jump a great vertical (37 inches) and broad (10-8) makes him very interesting. He also has 33 inch arms and has hybrid potential.
Montae Nicholson is 6-2 and 212lbs with 33.5 inch arms and he ran a 4.42. In the vertical he managed 35 inches and he followed it up with a 10-5 in the broad jump. Again, it’s another really intriguing physical profile.
Josh Jones is 6-1 and 220lbs and he ran a 4.41. His jumps were also impressive — he managed 37.5 inch vertical and an 11-0 broad. He’s another player that could be used in many different ways by Seattle considering his size and length (32 inch arms).
And while Shalom Luani didn’t post a freaky explosive combine like the three names above, his 4.55 is good enough to justify a team like Seattle giving him a shot — especially with his gritty backstory and physical, tone-setting style of play. He could be a day three steal.
Overall takeaways from the combine
Some thoughts and predictions on other non-DB ‘big name’ prospects…
Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
One of only three offensive lineman to have a truly explosive physical profile, Bolles also performed very well in the agility tests. His short shuttle and three cone (4.55, 7.29) were similar to Dalvin Cook’s (4.53, 7.27). Bolles is destined for the top-12.
Forrest Lamp (T, Western Kentucky)
He might have to move inside to guard (32 1/4 inch arms) but Lamp was by far the most explosive tester among the offensive linemen. With the league desperately short of good O-liners, Lamp might not get past Denver at #20.
Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
McCaffrey lit-up the RB drills, catching everything in sight while managing to look truly pissed off with the world. His three cone (6.57) is the best by a running back in five years (beating Christine Michael’s 6.69) and he was explosive (37.5 inch vertical, 10-1 broad).
Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
It was a surprise to see Fournette only manage 28.5 inches in the vertical, purely because he looks so explosive on the field. Yet his 4.51 forty at 240lbs showed he is 0.02 slower than Dalvin Cook but weighs 30lbs more and he’s only 0.04 slower than Ezekiel Elliott despite weighing 15lbs more.
John Ross (WR, Washington)
He broke the combine record for a forty yard dash (4.22), jumped 11-1 in the broad jump and 37 inches in the vertical. Combine this with the way he gets open consistently and quickly on tape and Ross is a top-15 lock. He’s DeSean Jackson without the headaches.
O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
Howard ran the same time as Leonard Fournette (4.51) but did it carrying an extra 10lbs of weight. He also ran the fastest three cone by a tight end in the last five years (6.85). In comparison, Jimmy Graham ran a 4.56 forty and a 6.90 three cone at his combine.
David Njoku (TE, Miami)
He jumped an 11-1 broad and a 37.5 inch vertical at 6-4, 246lbs. His forty time (4.64) is only 0.04 seconds slower than former top-10 pick Eric Ebron and his three cone (6.97) is the seventh fastest by a tight end in the last five years.
Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
The buzz is starting to develop for Watson with several onlookers praising the way he performed throwing the ball in Indianapolis. He looked in control, his drop-back and footwork was better than expected and he has the arm strength. Someone is going to believe in this guy very early in round one.
Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
When you put his testing numbers through TEF, he scores a 4.21. Compare that to Jadeveon Clowney (3.50), Mario Williams (3.97), J.J. Watt (3.82), Aaron Donald (3.53) and Khalil Mack (3.81). The term ‘generational talent’ was made to describe Myles Garrett.
Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
The only player more explosive in the 2017 draft is Myles Garrett, a once-every-ten-years type of talent. Reddick scored a 3.93 in TEF and even when you account for his lighter weight (237lbs), he scores a 93.1 in wTEF. Basically, he’s a genuine freak who will terrorise offenses wherever he plays.
Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
Thomas’ TEF score of 3.83 is comparable to J.J. Watt and Khalil Mack. Running a 4.69 at 273lbs is freakish and he managed a 1.66 split despite his size. His 6.95 three cone is the tenth best by a defensive lineman in the last five years. He could be the #2 pick after Garrett.
Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)
His testing numbers weren’t particularly special for a 253lbs defensive end but the way he performed in drills has to have some teams excited. He looked incredibly comfortable working in space and changing direction.
Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan)
He didn’t have the greatest workout, looking quite stiff during drills. When asked to drop into coverage he was the complete opposite of ‘twitchy’. And yet he still had a decidedly explosive overall workout (3.23 TEF) with the size teams love (6-6, 277lbs).
Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Teams are looking for reasons to draft a prospect with Barnett’s intensity and college production. He had an explosive workout (3.15 TEF) and his three cone (6.96) was 0.01 seconds slower than Solomon Thomas’. He gutted it out despite suffering with illness.
T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
Watt flashed an explosive physical profile with a 37 inch vertical and a 10-8 broad jump. He had the second best three cone on Sunday (6.79) and the best short shuttle (4.13). His three cone is the eighth best by a DL or LB in the last five years and his short shuttle is the 11th best (and only 0.08 slower than Frank Clark’s).
Alvin Kamara (RB, Tennessee)
A 4.56 forty is good enough at 5-10 and 214lbs. Kamara jumped out of the building with a 39.5 inch vertical and a 10-11 broad. Long speed is overrated for running backs. Explosive traits are crucial. Kamara is the definition of explosive.
Bucky Hodges (TE, Virginia Tech)
Hodges had a ‘wow’ performance. At 6-6 and 257lbs he ran a 4.57, jumped 39 inches in the vertical and 11-2 in the broad. His size, forty time and vertical compare favourably to Jimmy Graham and his broad jump is significantly better.
Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
Engram is the type of player the league is desperate for. He’s smaller (6-3, 234lbs) than the likes of Hodges and Njoku but he’s just as explosive (36 inch vert, 10-5 broad) with better quickness (fourth best three cone in last five years, sixth best short shuttle). He can be a WR/TE hybrid — a mismatch in a league dominated by mismatches.
Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
At 6-3 and 247lbs Bowser ran a 1.59 split (anything in the 1.5’s is elite), jumped 37.5 inches in the vertical and 10-7 in the broad. He had the best three cone on Sunday (6.75) — the fifth best by a D-liner or linebacker in the last five years. He could be a SAM, a 3-4 OLB or a LEO.
Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Allen was the definition of average in every sense at the combine. His times were only decent in the forty (5.00) and three cone (4.50), he’s not particularly explosive (2.75 TEF) and he’s small (6-2, 285lbs). In comparison, Eddie Vanderdoes is more explosive (3.04 TEF), quicker (4.99 forty, 4.39 three cone) and bigger (6-3, 305lbs). There are also lingering injury concerns.
Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
A dynamic runner on tape, Cook had a torrid combine. His three cone (4.53) is a lot slower than Eddie Vanderdoes’ 4.39. He only managed a 30.5 inch vertical and his forty time was only 0.02 seconds faster than Leonard Fournette despite carrying 30lbs less. There are also legitimate character concerns teams will be investigating.
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
His combine performance was mediocre (2.67 TEF) and he didn’t even get much of a boost in weighted TEF for being 322lbs (85.9). There are better athletes at his size available (Taylor Moton) and he looks like a borderline first rounder only because of the desperate need for O-liners in the NFL.
Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
Unlike the other three ‘big name’ quarterbacks in the draft, Kizer didn’t get a positive review for his performance throwing the ball. He was erratic in college (one really poor game against Duke stands out) and that was the case in Indianapolis too.
Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
Williams didn’t run the forty yard dash, suggesting he wasn’t ready after a long season at Clemson. On the same day, Deshaun Watson competed in everything. That’s not a good look. It feels like he knew he wasn’t going to run fast and bailed. John Ross and Corey Davis appreciate the help.
Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
There are serious concerns about McDowell’s effort and attitude but he put on a show at the combine. He’s 295lbs with great height (6-6) and length (35 inch arms) and ran a 4.85 with a 1.69 split. His three cone (4.53) was the same as Dalvin Cook’s. So why didn’t he dominate every week last year?
Possible Seahawks targets
Assuming both Garett Bolles and Forrest Lamp are off the board by #26, the Seahawks could look at adding Nico Siragusa, Isaac Asiata or Taylor Moton beyond the first round. All three tested well in terms of size/explosive traits and would add further competition to the O-line.
The Seahawks have a type (explosive tester, around 5-11 and 220lbs) and the ones best matching it are Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Brian Hill and Chris Carson. Kamara might be a top-45 pick and out of contention but Jones, Hill and Carson could provide day three value and extra competition.
With such a dynamic group and Luke Willson out of contract, there’s an opening to draft a TE again this year. With Howard and Njoku possible top-25 picks and Engram and Hodges probable top-45 picks, Iowa’s George Kittle could be a target. He ran a 4.52 at 6-4 and 247lbs while jumping a 35 inch vertical and an 11-0 broad. He’s known for his abilities as a blocker too.
John Ross aside, the mid or later round options seem more attractive than possible first round picks like Corey Davis or Mike Williams. ECU’s Zay Jones could end up going in round two after a brilliant combine and Senior Bowl. Penn State’s Chris Godwin, Georgia State’s Robert Davis, Michigan’s Jehu Chesson and LSU’s Malachi Dupre have the kind of profile Seattle has liked in the past.
Day three looks like a possible target area considering there are at least 30 explosive D-liners in this class. You can afford to wait and get a nice project. Carlos Watkins, Eddie Vanderdoes and Deatrich Wise are possible options at DT (DE/DT in Wise’s case). Jordan Willis could be seen as a possible SAM/LEO given his sensational workout but how early are you willing to consider him (if at all)? Are there better options at other positions in the range where you’d have to take him?
The Haason Reddick dream is likely over. He’s too good. Jarrad Davis didn’t perform due to injury and won’t workout until the Florida pro-day on March 28th. Zach Cunningham didn’t have a great combine but might be a value pick if he lasts deep into round two as a consequence. How do you view Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt? Are they capable of playing SAM as well as EDGE/LEO? Is Raekwon McMillan a possibility after his surprisingly good combine? Alex Anzalone is another name to monitor — he excelled in the three cone (6.88) and short shuttle (4.25). Pete Carroll said he wanted to draft for this position but there weren’t a ton of options here. Keep an eye on the pro-day circuit for alternatives.
The early realistic options appear to be Kevin King and Gareon Conley. They might consider Ahkello Witherspoon in the first couple of rounds. Much will depend on the range of a player like Quincy Wilson too (is there a chance he lasts deep into round two?). Shaq Griffin could be a third round possibility. How far does Rasul Douglas fall after running a 4.60? There were 15 cornerbacks with +32 inch arms at the combine — and plenty of opportunities for Seattle.
There are so many options here. Justin Evans didn’t workout due to a quad injury but could come into contention after his pro-day. Obi Melifonwu is obviously another option in the first round. It’s worth keeping Budda Baker on the radar too because even despite his lack of size, he plays with a ‘Seahawks’ intensity. Options later could include Rayshawn Jenkins, Josh Jones, Shalom Luani and Montae Nicholson. This is a DB draft and with five picks in the first three rounds — the Seahawks would be wise to load up to secure the long term future of the LOB.