The combine is over for another year and this is always a pretty exciting time, more so than the event itself. The work-out’s highlight prospects you know little about, make you want to dig out the tape again. Cornelius Washington being a great example (I’ve put the request in for some game tape so stay tuned).
But it’s not just the unknowns that you need to check back on. It’s some of the big names too. Damontre Moore had a disastrous combine and could sink as a consequence. A few weeks ago he was pretty much a consensus top-20 pick, but what if he’s there at #25? I think it’s incredibly unlikely this team would draft any defensive end running a 4.95, but what if it was just a bad day at the office? What if he improves at the Texas A&M pro-day? These are the kind of questions you have to ask. We have to find out if a pathetic combine display is the real truth here and recalculate his stock.
Datone Jones is getting a lot of publicity at the moment and he did have an impressive work out. Yet I feel obliged to feather the breaks a little bit here. Running a 4.80 at 280lbs is not insane, difference making athleticism. Cam Jordan ran a 4.69 despite weighing a little more in 2011. J.J. Watt ran a 4.81 at the combine, but weighed 290lbs. If Jones needs to add weight to be a permanent interior feature, he’s not going to get any faster. On tape I watch his run defense and cringe at the thought he could be an every down three-technique for Seattle. As we’ve discussed before, being able to match-up with San Francisco is paramount for the Seahawks. And that means being big, aggressive and nasty up front to combat one of the leagues best offensive lines and a dominating power-running game. Can Jones deal with Mike Iupati? Or maybe even a double team? If he’s below average against the run, is he a good enough pass rusher to compensate? There are about ten UCLA games out there, we need to get into them and decide if the sudden hot favourite amongst mock drafts really is a realistic option at #25.
Barkevious Mingo’s tape was rank average in 2012. Flashes of quality, flashes of anonymity. A classic nearly man for the most part, he just did not impact any games last year. None. And while Bruce Irvin might’ve been a specialist for West Virginia, he made two or three plays a game that made a difference. Irvin’s sack numbers were right up there with the best college football had to offer. Mingo on the other hand was more reputation than production. I watched five LSU games recently and thought ‘meh‘. Mingo, Bennie Logan, Sam Montgomery — they all kind of played like they were coasting along. “We’re LSU, we’re going to the NFL, we’re the s**t.” That’s the impression I got. Other people like Mike Mayock watch the tape and make the same judgement. Then you see his combine performance and he looks incredibly athletic. You realise that there are a few teams out there who probably fancy their own Bruce Irvin. And if Irvin can go at #15 overall, then why can’t Mingo? So what’s his range? Is he a realistic option to drop into the 20′s? And is he an option for the Seahawks?
The defensive backs performed today and there were some interesting results. Who ever thought David Amerson would run a 4.44? He had a disastrous 2012 season but as a possible converted safety, that kind of speed will do. Dee Milliner’s 4.37 guarantees him a spot within the top-six picks I’d say. The only question mark with Milliner was straight line speed. Now there’s absolutely no reason to suggest he isn’t the complete cornerback prospect. He’s not a beast like Patrick Peterson or Morris Claiborne, but certainly good enough to be a pimped-up Joe Haden. Xavier Rhodes helped himself with a 4.43. Will Desmond Trufant make it passed Tampa Bay at #13 now that he’s run a 4.38? Tyrann Mathieu managed a 4.50 but yeah, the ridiculous off-field issues. I’m even more of a fan of Sanders Commings for Seattle after his 4.41. But what happens to Johnthan Banks after a 4.61? Not good for a potential first round pick, but not a death sentence given Joe Haden’s awful combine in 2010.
Tomorrow is mock draft day and it’ll be fun to see how things have changed after everything that happened in Indianapolis. I wanted to end today with an interview between John Clayton and Pete Carroll (see below). Seattle’s Head Coach is nothing but honest (again), admitting he has to get an interior pass rusher and another LEO. They seem to be the two top targets, although he does admit linebacker and receiver are also needs. This could be a classic smokescreen especially if they add a veteran LEO in free agency (Umenyiora? Avril? Freeney?) or a defensive tackle (Melton? Starks?). Assuming they don’t make the big splash, then it stands to reason that the first round pick is probably going to be a defensive lineman of some kind. They’ve attacked key needs so far, that probably isn’t going to change this year. And they need pass rush help more than anything.
Free agency begins on March 12th and it’ll be fascinating to see if the Seahawks re-sign Alan Branch. I suspect they’ll want to stay big and stout up front on first and second downs — they’ll need to against the 49ers and Rams. Signing Branch takes a lot of the bigger-bodied tackles in the draft out of the equation. Then the priority could be replacing Jason Jones with a more dynamic rusher inside. That’s where Datone Jones could fit. For me, that role is ideally suited to him. Is it worth a first round pick? Perhaps, if it helps Seattle get off the field on third down. I just need to be absolutely sure Jones is ‘special’ enough to go that early. I’m still a sceptic, for now.
Alternatively, they could go after another LEO. I think it’s more likely they pursue a Corenlius Washington or Corey Lemonier in the mid-rounds rather than spending another first round pick. But what if that unexpected player falls? Is Barkevious Mingo for example better value than Datone Jones? Or maybe there’s a defensive tackle they can rely on to play in any situation — Sylvester Williams for example — who is big enough to defend the run at a decent level but also offer one or two impact players as a pass rusher per-game? Is Kawann Short an option? Or a player we’re not talking about, but should be?
Finally, is there any way what so ever they can find a deal to trade up and get Sheldon Richardson? It’s probably a pipe dream, but watching his interview at the combine made me want him in Seattle even more than before. I can’t see him getting past Carolina at 14 as a worst case scenario. But man, it’d be good to see him in Seattle. If only…