On Wednesday we discussed the need to keep an open mind when it comes to the Seahawks and linebackers in the draft. It’s clear they like highly athletic players at the position (Bobby Wagner, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Malcolm Smith) but they also like K.J. Wright — a 6-3, 246lbs bigger linebacker with 4.71 speed.
And then it suddenly occurred to me…
A year ago the Seahawks invited Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland to the VMAC for a pre-draft visit. It was a weird one at the time because Ragland didn’t test well in the forty, vertical or broad jumps.
You can see how important these visits and workouts are from the list below:
Reminder of unofficial VMAC visits and workout list- pic.twitter.com/CAHknyNW3p
— DAVIS HSU (@DavisHsuSeattle) April 28, 2016
If the Seahawks were visiting with Ragland they were likely interested in drafting him (and were thinking of adding a linebacker last year, not just this year).
Officially he ran a 4.72 at 6-1 and 247lbs, jumped 31.5 inches in the vertical and 9-8 in the broad. He’s as quick as K.J. Wright but less explosive.
The drill where he excelled was the short shuttle. Ragland’s 4.28 was the sixth best by a linebacker at the 2016 combine.
It would’ve been the sixth best at the 2017 combine too if he was part of this years draft.
In comparison, K.J. Wright ran a 4.46.
Thumping inside linebacker with throwback size and tonesetting mentality. Ragland is a confident and capable early starter in league who has the temperament to become one of the premier run-stopping inside linebackers in the pro game. Ragland has some coverage and speed limitations, but his instincts and overall awareness should be able to mask those issues.
Ragland didn’t have straight-line speed or explosive traits. He was big, physical and agile. And the Seahawks, seemingly, had some interest.
You know who else ran a 4.28 short shuttle? Bobby Wagner at the Utah State pro-day. Ragland didn’t have Wagner’s speed or explosiveness but he had similar agility.
This could be the test to focus on when judging who the Seahawks might draft at linebacker this year.
Here are the linebacker performers in the short shuttle at the 2017 combine:
= 1. T.J. Watt — 4.13
= 1. Ben Gedeon — 4.13
3. Blair Brown — 4.18
4. Duke Riley — 4.21
= 5. Alex Anzalone — 4.25
= 5. Brooks Ellis — 4.25
7. Zach Cunningham — 4.29
8. Vince Biegel — 4.30
9. Connor Harris — 4.31
10. Anthony Walker Jr. — 4.34
Note: Tyus Bowser, who recorded the fastest three cone by a linebacker, didn’t run a short shuttle.
There’s further evidence that the short shuttle is a crucial test. Kevin Pierre-Louis ran a 4.51 at his combine but his 4.02 short shuttle is the seventh best by a linebacker in the last ten years. They drafted him.
The fastest time in the last ten years (3.96) was run by Jordan Tripp. He signed with the Seahawks last September before landing on injured reserve and eventually being waived. Tripp was a 4.67 runner at his combine but performed well in the agility tests.
At the start of free agency a year ago the Broncos put a second round tender on linebacker Brandon Marshall. Troy Renck reported the Seahawks and Dolphins were showing interest. Marshall ran a 4.81 forty at the 2012 combine but had a superb 4.09 short shuttle.
A tough, physical linebacker with excellent agility could be the profile the Seahawks are looking for — not just the SPARQ standouts.
Go watch the names in the list above — plus Tyus Bowser and Jarrad Davis (just in case) — and look for the toughest, meanest run defender.
It’ll be really interesting to see how Davis tests at the Florida pro-day on March 28th. Hopefully he’ll do a short shuttle and three cone on top of the usual drills.
Despite running middling forty times the likes of Zach Cunningham, Alex Anzalone, Vince Biegel, Anthony Walker Jr. and others could very much be on Seattle’s radar. Oklahoma’s Jordan Evans ran a 4.28 short shuttle at his pro-day this week. It’s also more ammunition for those wanting to see T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser in Seattle.
If there’s something in this, the Seahawks should have no problem adding a linebacker or two they like between rounds 1-3.
While this isn’t a fast group of LB’s — there’s plenty of agility and toughness.
According to Brooks, Melifonwu is ‘more than a HWS (height-weight-speed) monster’:
He’s an active box defender with outstanding instincts, awareness and a nose for the ball. Melifonwu is a tackling machine who’s capable of displaying “thump” or wrap-up skills in the hole. He rarely misses runners in the open field and his secure tackling skills will make him a coveted player in defensive meeting rooms around the league.
Looking at his career resume, it’s not a coincidence that his tackling production has steadily improved over his four years as a starter (70 in 2013, 75 in 2014, 88 in 2015, 118 in 2016). He not only has a knack for finding the ball but he takes good angles and flashes some explosiveness upon contact. Melifonwu’s superb tackling places him ahead of some prospects who lack the discipline, courage and toughness to hit runners squarely in the chest.
Brooks also suggests: ‘I can see him thriving in a Kam Chancellor-like role as a pro‘.
With Chancellor’s contract set to expire after the 2017 season — the Seahawks might be thinking it’s time to plan ahead.
Meanwhile, Jeremiah has this to say about Washington cornerback Kevin King:
King has outstanding size and he ran much faster than evaluators expected. He also had an outstanding field workout, displaying excellent quickness and change-of-direction skills. Heading into the combine, I had King just outside my list of the draft’s top 50 players, but he clearly established himself as a top-40 selection with his performance in Indianapolis. This draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks, but his combination of size, length, ball skills and speed could make him a late-first-round pick.
If the Seahawks are ever going to take a cornerback in the first round, it feels like it’d be for a player like King. Length, straight-line speed, short-area quickness and agility. He’s a genuine freak of nature, doing everything well at the combine.
It was interesting to see a Seahawks coach work out Shalom Luani at his pro-day. That’s a name to watch for Seattle.
And there’s another name to add to the TEF list (explained here). Chris Muller’s performance at the Rutgers pro-day earned him a 3.25 score. Purdue guard Jason King, another player not invited to the combine, scored 3.30 at his pro-day on Wednesday.