You’re going to hear quite a lot about Seattle’s front office keeping people guessing. But how true is it?
By now we know what they like. The SPARQ chart matters. They want explosive, unique athletes. They don’t want guys who sound passive when they talk and play with a similar attitude. They want competitors with a point to prove. “Smart, tough, reliable” — that’s how John Schneider put it in his day three press conference. Not to mention players who can, in his words, “survive” in Seattle’s locker room.
Let’s break down why this draft class isn’t really that unpredictable.
Round 1 — Missing out on Dominique Easley
It appeared there was at least some disappointment in the war room live feed when New England selected Easley at #29. Ian Rapoport later appeared to confirm Seattle’s interest on Twitter.
He just looked like a Seahawk and that’s why we spent so much time discussing him. Explosive off the snap, unique athleticism. He fought through the adversity of two serious knee injuries. He’s a team captain who commanded respect from his team mates and coaches. Great personality. It didn’t take an expert to realise why he’d be an option at #32. New England got a great pick.
Round 2 — Taking Paul Richardson
The Seahawks love speedy competitors at receiver who high point the football and make big plays. We didn’t spend much time on Richardson because he’s only 6-0. I wrongly assumed the Seahawks would want a bigger receiver to compliment what they already had. That wasn’t the case. They took another one of ‘their’ guys. Richardson ran a 4.40 at the combine officially but managed a hand time in the 4.3’s. He had a 38 inch vertical jump. He’s a classic Hawks receiver.
In hindsight I should’ve been open to the idea they’d go for this. I had Richardson graded in round two and in a two-round mock draft put together after the combine, I had him going to the Jets with the 49th pick. Seattle took him at #45. It’s only a surprise because we didn’t consider a receiver of this size.
Round 2 — Who is Justin Britt?
That’s the question many people asked when Walter Jones announced the name of Seattle’s pick at #64. Morgan Moses was still on the board and they’d already passed on Joel Bitonio and Cyrus Kouandjio. Mike Mayock said he gave Britt a 5th round grade. Other people claimed he was a late rounder at best. It was an unpredictable pick.
However — the Seahawks needed to draft an offensive tackle. And that means Tom Cable gets to pick his guy. You know, the same Tom Cable that scouts possible defensive line converts. He knows what he wants. It would’ve been more surprising to see him go after a sluggish tackle like Morgan Moses. Instead he gets the high school wrestler with a 45-0 record. That’s a Cable guy. And while ever he’s part of Seattle’s coaching staff he’ll continue to hand over his list of targets, rather than just selecting the next big name on the board.
Round 4 — Seahawks go for Marsh, Norwood & Pierre-Louis
We discussed both Marsh and Norwood on the blog. Marsh met with the Seahawks on April 11th. Pete Carroll recruited him during the USC days. We noted he had a solid 10-yard split of 1.66. A surprise pick? Not at all. A week ago I wrote this piece talking about Norwood’s excellent fit in Seattle. They ticked almost every box — athletic, gritty characters, competitive.
Anyone who follows the Field Gulls writers on Twitter will be familiar with Pierre-Louis and his SPARQ rating. He’s a fantastic athlete. A typical WILL linebacker for Seattle’s scheme. With Malcolm Smith a free agent next year it’s no surprise at all they made a pick like this. In fact out of all the linebackers in this class — Pierre-Louis screamed Seahawks the most.
Rounds 5-7 — Taking a shot
They did what they usually do in this range. They drafted an athletic, tall defensive back (Eric Pinkins). They took an interior defensive lineman (Jimmy Staten — pronounced the same as Staton incidentally). They took a SPARQ demon (Garrett Scott) and a running back/full back (Kiero Small).
Perhaps we weren’t overly familiar with the names, but you could write down a list of day three targets and DB, DL, OL and RB would be on it. The Seahawks have consistently looked at these areas for depth later in the draft.
All of the players in their own way are extremely ‘Seahawky’. In every draft class there are going to be a lot of prospects who fit the bill. We can identify them on an athletic level. We can look at need areas they might target.
But if we actually want to project accurately who they might take we need to sit in on their meetings. We’re going to need feedback from their psychologist. We’ll need injury reports. Because the determining factor won’t be a forty, a three cone or a vertical jump. That just gets you through to the next stage of consideration. Now it’s about fitting and “surviving” in that ultra competitive locker room.
We have little chance of projecting who they’re going to like or dislike based on Youtube interviews. It helps — because you only have to listen to Paul Richardson speak and then Martavis Bryant to see a major difference. But it’s an interview. On Youtube. It’s hardly a detailed session with the club shrink.
Essentially it boils down to this. We know what to expect. This is an incredibly Seahawky draft and even if the names aren’t what we were expecting — when you break it down it is fairly predictable. There’s not some unbeatable code to work out. Yet we’ll never nail it completely. We can talk about likely targets as much as we want — we’ll never be able to go deep enough into personalities and character to know if they passed the ‘Win Forever’ test.
But we can make an educated guess on who they’ll like.
Thoughts on the draft overall
It’s at this point we should probably remember the keys to this off-season:
1. Re-sign Michael Bennett
2. Extend Earl Thomas’ contract
3. Extend Richard Sherman’s contract
All three of the top goals were accomplished. Anything else was a bonus.
It would’ve been nice to add Jared Allen to replace Chris Clemons. It would’ve been nice to add Dominique Easley to the pass rush. It wasn’t to be. There’s still enough of a threat within that front seven and the opportunity is there for the likes of Mayowa, Scruggs, Hill, Boatwright and now Marsh and Staten to have an impact.
However, I don’t we should put ourselves in a position where we never question the front office. Why eliminate debate in favour of blind faith?
There are still two areas that concern me following free agency and the draft:
1. The offensive line
The Seahawks are down a starter from last year after Breno Giacomini — one of the better right tackles in the league — signed with the Jets. Seattle did suffer with injuries last year and that had a major impact on the overall performance of the line. But Russell Okung is an injury-prone left tackle. Right now he’s still recovering from a toe injury that hampered his 2013 season.
The depth of the line has to remain a question mark. It’s clear they have a lot of faith in the young players and also coach Tom Cable. Yet who plays left tackle if Okung goes down again? Is Michael Bowie good enough to start at right tackle permanently? How does Justin Britt fit into the equation — and if he doesn’t beat Bowie out, haven’t you just wasted a valuable second round pick?
They’ve lost a veteran starter and put almost all of their faith in Cable’s youth project and remaining healthy at key positions. Considering this was a clear need area going into the off-season, can anyone say with any conviction that a pretty average line (at best) has improved? Has it possibly got worse? And let’s not forget — they have to play the Niners front seven twice, Arizona’s defense twice and Robert Quinn/Chris Long/Aaron Donald twice.
2. Red zone
According to this study the Seahawks ranked 14th in the red zone in 2013. It’s not bad but you get the sense they could be better. There were missed opportunities last season.
Part of the issue is the lack of a bigger receiver. They don’t have anyone you can just throw a fade to in the corner of the end zone. Zach Miller’s never been a prolific touchdown maker. Getting Anthony McCoy should help.
Neither Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood are red zone targets. They’re basically more of what Seattle already has. And that’s fine. But you can’t help but wonder if it’s an area that needed to be addressed one way or another. Unless, of course, Cassius Marsh’s touted H-back role is going to be the shock find of pre-season.
Seattle’s UDFA class
Here it is so far, although this is yet to be confirmed. Some of these guys will merely be getting a try-out at mini-camp:
Dion Bailey (S, USC)
Keith Price (QB, Washington)
Andu Pulu (T, Eastern Washington)
Garry Gilliam (T, Penn State)
Camren Hudson (S, Troy)
Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
Zach Zulli (QB, Shippensburg)
Brock Coyle (LB, Montana)
Demonte Mcallister (DT, Florida State)
Chase Dixon (TE, Central Arkansas)
John Martinez (G, USC)
Bronson Irwin (G, Oklahoma)
A.J. Harmon (T, Cumberland)
Adam Taalat (DE, Gallaudet)
Tavita Woodard (DE, Hawaii)
Jimmy Legree (CB, South Carolina)
There are more than a handful of names on that list with the potential to stick on the roster. It appears Seattle’s decision to release a ‘sales brochure’ to prospective UDFA’s worked a charm.
Brandon Coleman ended up signing with the Saints while Antonio Richardson landed with the Vikings. Both players had knee issues in college and it looks like they were taken off many draft boards.
Over the next few days we’ll look at the players Seattle added and get into the tape.