The Seahawks take SPARQ seriously. It’s a calculation of different variables (40 time, three cone, vertical, broad jump, bench press, height, weight) to provide one overall score.
Until this year, Nike had an online calculator that worked out SPARQ scores with relative ease. It’s no longer available, so Cablinasian has put together his own formula (calling it rSPARQ) so we can review the 2014 receivers.
Unsurprisingly, Jeff Janis is ranked at #1 and it aint close. If anyone ‘won’ the combine, it was Janis.
Height/weight: 6-3, 219lbs
40 yard dash: 4.42
Vertical: 37.5 inches
Broad jump: 10.3
Three cone: 6.64
Short shuttle: 3.98
Bench press: 20 reps
Janis’ rSPARQ score is 137.4 — 5.5 points higher than the second placed receiver (Brandin Cooks).
He’s an incredible athlete, certainly the type Seattle is unlikely to ignore.
But working out how he fits into the 2014 draft is incredibly difficult.
He played at Saginaw Valley State, so he’s a small school player. It’ll be a steep learning curve when he gets into training camp — and even with incredible athletic skills, you’re never really sure how a guy like this will adapt.
He could fit like a glove, thrive on the improved competition and work to develop as quickly as possible. Or he could just be completely out of his depth.
He’ll be a 23-year-old rookie in 2014.
If you’re so inclined you can watch over 45 minutes of coaches copy tape on Janis to get a feel for the type of player he is:
He has small hands (9 inches) and it tends to show up on tape with some clumsy drops. His catching technique could use some work — he doesn’t really attack the ball in the air and he’s not a reliable catcher in traffic.
Having said that, there are some eye-catching grabs too and he’s a legit deep threat.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone like Seattle took a chance on him in the round five range with the idea of red shirting him for a year.
Looking at the rest of the rSPARQ scores, Brandin Cooks (131.9), Martavis Bryant (127.4), Donte Moncrief (122.0) and Odell Beckham Jr (120.1) all score highly. There’s a genuine chance all four could go in the first round — or at least the top forty.
I also find it interesting that Kelvin Benjamin and Brandon Coleman are right next to each other on the list (Coleman — 106.6, Benjamin — 104.1).
It really makes you wonder what Coleman’s stock would be like if he had Jameis Winston throwing the ball instead of Gary Nova.
Here’s Ron Jaworski, praising Johnny Manziel’s pro-day…
For those who aren’t aware, Jaws previously stated he wouldn’t take Manziel in the first three rounds of the draft. A truly hyperbolic remark right up there with last year’s “Colin Kaepernick could be one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL”.
Merril Hoge — who spends his time watching tape with Jaws and Greg Cosell — offered a similar assessment, claiming Manziel had “bust written all over him” giving him a “zero or a one” out of ten in the following categories:
— Decision making
— Playing within the structure of an offense
— Throwing into “voids”
Here’s the video for the rest of Hoge’s critical review:
Again, the “zero or one” out of ten remark is pure hyperbole. But hey, it’s Hoge’s right to be critical. I’m not here to argue Manziel is Andrew Luck or even for that matter Russell Wilson.
But what does irk me slightly about the three musketeers — Jaws, Hoge and Cosell — is the fact they all seem to be living in 1974.
The NFL has changed. It’s different.
Yes, there’s always room for a 6-4 pocket passer. Those types of players still exist.
Yet we’re now in an era where mobility is crucial. The top college athletes are playing defense and the offensive line talent simply can’t match-up for the most part. That’s starting to filter into the NFL.
Being able to escape pressure, extend plays and improvise is vital in the modern game. It’s not just a case of being able to stand on the spot and make three or four precise reads any more. You might need to make two reads, get out of the pocket, keep your eyes downfield or just take what’s on offer and run for a few.
The read option hasn’t been found out as a passing fad. It’s here to stay as a valuable wrinkle for a specific game plan.
Manziel should be judged on how he works within the game today.
You can still make a case for needing better decision making or initial work within the pocket going through reads. But in context, he does most things perfectly well.
You can’t block J.J. Watt. When Seattle beat the Texans in 2013, Watt had their decimated offensive line for dinner. The Seahawks only won that game because Russell Wilson could escape the pocket, extend plays and create a little magic.
Most people remember Matt Schaub’s careless pick-six to Richard Sherman as the key moment. For me it’s the 90-yard drive from Wilson to make it a one-score game. He faced crucial third and fourth down calls. He was under constant duress. He dragged the offense kicking and screaming into the end zone with sheer escapability and inspiration.
Joe Flacco would’ve gone three and out on that drive — while eating a face full of turf courtesy of Watt and co.
Players like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and even someone like Aaron Rodgers are having success because of their mobility — not just because they operate within the pocket standing tall chucking bullets around the field.
They’re built to deal with players like Watt and Robert Quinn.
All we’ve heard from the Jaws/Hoge/Cosell trio is Manziel isn’t a good enough pocket passer. He’s too frantic, leaving the pocket too soon and creating chaos for himself.
And yet here’s a guy who thrives amid chaos. I’m not suggesting he runs the football twenty times a game or remains quite as reckless with his body as we saw at Texas A&M. But Manziel’s ability to be creative, to buy time and to make plays downfield is everything you want to see.
Embrace him. Build your offense to enhance his strengths and limit or improve his weak spots. Acknowledge that he’s different to the Joe Flacco’s of this world and ‘different’ can still win a Super Bowl.
If your preference is a conventional system and quarterback, just say. But don’t make out a guy like Manziel can’t succeed unless he’s willing to conform to your conventional ways.
Seattle won a Super Bowl by being thoroughly unconventional.
Going back to the original video — which is essentially Jaws offering a gushing review of Manziel’s pro-day — I fully expected a much more positive impression going forward.
And then I read this quote, courtesy of PFT:
“I certainly would move him up a bit… I moved him from the fourth round to the third round.”
He then revealed his top-five quarterbacks for 2014:
Ron Jaworski's Top-5 QBs for the 2014 draft: 1. Blake Bortles 2. Zach Mettenberger 3. Teddy Bridgewater 4. Johnny Manziel 5. Derek Carr.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 28, 2014
What a surprise — tall, immobile pocket passer Zach Mettenberger comes in at #2.
“When you watch him on tape, this guy has an NFL skill set.”
Of course he does. He’s tall and a pocket passer. Boxes, ticked.
I long for the day when the band of brothers — Jaws, Hoge and Cosell — are able to admit the game is changing. That we don’t have to build a football team based on age-old formula’s and specifics.
But let’s not hold out any hope. Fast forward to 28:30 in the podcast below:
When Cosell is asked — twice — to name a player he missed on in the draft, he refuses to answer the question. Even when pushed by Ross Tucker, he finds a way to avoid offering even one name.
I’ll give you two names, Greg.
Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
And they succeed not just because of the benefit of great defensive play either. This is the NFL in 2014. Unconventional quarterbacks like this can thrive.
Johnny Manziel won’t fail just because he’s not an orthodox passer. We shouldn’t be judging him like there’s only one way to succeed at the position.
DeSean Jackson cut by the Eagles
After careful consideration this offseason, Eagles decide to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 28, 2014
The Seahawks were linked to Jackson for a while, and then those rumours were denied.
Now that he’s a free agent, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they looked into this — even if it’s an exercise in leaving no stone unturned.
Jason La Canfora seems to think there will be interest…
The Seahawks, 49ers, Jets, Raiders among the trams that had prior interest in DeSean Jackson, FWIW. Have a gut Seattle is a major player
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 28, 2014
This article raises some off-field concerns and it could limit his potential to sign a new long term deal.
The Seahawks have an estimated $15.2m in remaining cap space. Much will depend on background checks not just relating to the gang-stuff, but also the questionable work ethic noted in the article.
Pete Carroll hasn’t shirked away from players with character flags — yet even he will be cautious on this one. Carroll has spent considerable time trying to end gang violence through ‘A Better LA’.
Albert Breer says the pair have some history:
I know there are reasons why Seattle wouldn't sign DeSean Jackson, but Pete Carroll's relationship with him makes Seahawks worth watching.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 28, 2014
He was recruited by USC, had an official visit and even attended a camp before committing to Cal. A week ago Jackson posted this picture on his Instagram account. It shows Carroll sat in his front room during a recruitment visit.
*** UPDATE ***
“I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible.”