Further thoughts on the QB situation & weekend links

February 5th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Following up my article on Ryan Mallett yesterday, I wanted to draw attention to this piece written by the NFL Network’s Albert Breer:

“Is it possible the Seahawks could pay a heavy price for sneaking in the playoffs at 7-9? It certainly is. With Charlie Whitehurst difficult to count on as a “quarterback of the future,” and Matt Hasselbeck’s contract up, Seattle has planned for months to seriously consider pulling the trigger on a new signal-caller in the first round. And here’s where the issue is — Pete Carroll and Co. are now picking 25th. Had they lost in Week 17 to the Rams in the defacto NFC West title game, Seattle would’ve been picking eighth. That difference of 17 spots? Enormous. There are likely three quarterbacks going in the top half of the first round: Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Cam Newton and Washington’s Jake Locker. Now, to get any of those three would require a serious move up and a heavy cost to Seattle, and that means there would have to be serious conviction on the part of the staff. Maybe Carroll has that withthe hometown kid Locker, who the coach will be able to get all the insight he needs on, with his former OC Steve Sarkisian being the coach at UW.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that the Seahawks may have intended to draft a quarterback this year – and that still may be the case. Finding a long term starter at the position remains Seattle’s #1 need and that will stay true until the problem is solved.

Breer’s angle hints that the Seahawks should perhaps, in hindsight, rue winning the NFC West title and defeating the Saints in the playoffs because it has cost the team a legitimate chance to fill their biggest need.

I would have offered some sympathy to the view had Seattle lost to the Saints in the wildcard round, but I think defeating New Orleans gave the new regime in Seattle a key note victory to build on. You don’t often get the chance to eliminate the defending champs in the playoffs – doing so with a flair and swagger made any thoughts of the draft redundant for at least a few weeks.

The fact isSeattle has to deal withthe position it’s in and live with it. Winning playoff games never stops you drafting a quarterback, it simply narrows the field or makes it more expensive. If the Seahawks were zoned in on a quarterback in December when it looked like the team would pick in the top ten, nothing should change now it owns the #25 overall pick.

Make the move and solve that problem if the guy you want is part of this draft class.

Trading from the mid-20’s to the top ten isn’t unheard of as Jacksonville did just that in 2008 to select Derrick Harvey. The package sent to Baltimore included two third round picks and a fourth round choice. If Seattle can find a buyer there’s nothing to suggest they couldn’t package their second round choice (#57 overall) and the second pick in round four – acquired from the Patriots for Deion Branch.

Funnily enough, the move down the board didn’t stop the Ravens moving back up from #26 to #18 to grab Joe Flacco for a deal worth a third rounder and a sixth rounder. They made their move to get their quarterback, as did the New York Jets in (Mark Sanchez) and Tampa Bay (Josh Freeman). Both teams traded up and left nothing to chance and both teams have won games as a result.

I understand a lot of people cringe at the idea of giving up picks and I accept the Seahawks need depth as well as quality.

Yet we’re not talking about filling any old need here. This isn’t something that will be solved with a fourth round flier like when the team traded for Marshawn Lynch. You won’t stumble upon a starting quarterback the same way Seattle stumbled upon Chris Clemons or RaheemBrock. The Seahawks don’t have the time to train up a late round pick behind Matt Hasselbeck, who’s future remains undecided. If he starts the 2011 season (should it avoid a lockout) he will almost certainly be the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL aged 36.

To win in this league you need a quarterback who can make things happen and those guysgenerally are found in round one. Scouting is too good these days for quality quarterback prospects to drop into the later rounds. Publicity is huge around college QB’s.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong here – I hope I am – but the Seahawks will not contend year in, year out until they draft a QB early and build around that prospect. If that means trading up – so be it. I’d rather give up two other picks, including this year’s late second round choice, to solve that problem. Seattle’s recent history picking in round two isn’t glorious anyway.

But what if they don’t move up? Breer chips in there as well:

“All this might mean the team would be left with the option of Ryan Mallett at the bottom of the first round, and the Seahawks already are well aware of the kind of risk he presents from a character perspective.”

It’s undetermined whether this quote is generally speaking or rather information relayed from a member of the Seahawks’ staff. As I discussed yesterday, the suspected character concerns with Mallett are there for all to see. This may be assumption rather than inside info. Quite asidefrom all that, he doesn’t fit the mobile quarterback this team appears to want for their offensive scheme. Mallett isn’t the statue some want you to think and he’s more than capable of executing a great play action. He won’t however be running boot legs, avoiding pressure and breaking off runs like Pete Carroll reiterated he wanted his QB’s to do in his post-season press conference.

There are also huge positives that aren’t often discussed amid all the negative publicity – such as Mallett’s ability to read a defense better than possibly any college quarterback I’ve scouted. He has unique arm strength and he made improvements across the board in his second year starting for Arkansas.

At #25 overall the cost is limited too – perhaps making any risks less of a factor. Tim Tebow signed a contract worth $8.7m in guarantees as last year’s #25 pick. The possibility of a rookie pay scale in the next CBA could lessen that further. It’s all a far cry from the $50m St. Louis has committed to Sam Bradford.

The last time the Seahawks picked in the 20’s, they ended up giving Lawrence Jackson a deal worth $6.1m in guarantees. It did not hamper their ability to trade him to Detroit when the pick didn’t work out.

Seattle would be committing to Mallett being a long term starter if they took him, but they wouldn’t be financially crippled if he failed. Would it be an embarrassing bust? Possibly. Yet if Oakland are able to cut Jamarcus Russell and his huge contract so easily as the #1 pick (and move on quickly in the process), there’s no reason why the Seahawks couldn’t similarly move on in a worse-case scenario.

The most positive outcome of drafting Mallett is you end up with a franchise playmaker with immense potential. For all the negativity surrounding Mallett, he’s going to have a step on Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker when he enters the league. He’s already used to progressing through reads and he’s come up against the best defenses in college football competing in the SEC. Protect him and give him weapons and that arm will score you points.

The team will no doubt do all it’s homework, do their background checks and put themselves in a position to decide whether the risk is worth it. But Seattle cannot wait for the faultless prospect, not unless they intend to endure a one or two win season in the near future.

Weekend links

Kyle Rota is a close friend of the blog and the guy I respect the most when it comes to player evaluation. He’s produced this scouting report on Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey for his new website ‘NFL Draft Reports’.

Regular visitors know my opinion of Colorado Jimmy Smith. For me, there’s nothing between Smithand Patrick Peterson and both are well ahead of Prince Amukamara and Brandon Harris. Russell Lande from the Sporting Press agrees. This follows Todd McShay’s admittance recently that Smith is ahead of Amukamara. There was never any doubt Smith’s stock would rise. He’s flown under the radar and people have merely ‘topped up’ their mocks by casually putting him in the late first round. Some mock drafts don’t even have him in the first round. Jimmy Smith is a top 10-15 talent.

Scouts Inc rank Smith the 10th best prospect on their draft board.

Eric Galko from Optimum Scouting reports that neither Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder will throw at the combine. People always act surprised when prospects opt not to throw at the combine and after all these years I still don’t understand why. It never hurts the top prospects’ stock. Quarterbacks rightly don’t want to risk throwing to receivers they’ve never met before when they can just wait until their pro-day. The importance of the position dictates that team’s are unconcerned by not watching them throw balls in shorts and a t-shirt in unnatural conditions.

Nick Fairley catches up with ESPN for a status check:

26 Responses to “Further thoughts on the QB situation & weekend links”

  1. Charlie says:

    Does anyone know who fairley is talking about when he says “Big reverend, number 89″ for the reason he picked the steelers? did he mean casey hampton 98?

  2. Steve says:

    As a locker fan and believer, I would like the idea of a trade up to secure him. If the seahawk gods determine he is the future then I would not mind a trade up from 25 to 9 infront of the redskins to get him.
    Rob, how do you feel about a trade up of picks and instead grabbing a few younger free agents(if we have free agents)? I think someone like Nicks or mankins at guard. I’m a little scared of gallery’s injury history. Also I would throw money at Asomugha as I feel he will age nicely in the woodson mold. I think those are young enough free agents go help and build around for years. If some reason by the grace of god if Ngata became a free agent I would back up Paul Allens back truck myself.
    I guess I can see us using a few young free agents as a replacement for the ammo it will take to go up to grab a locker QB of the future.

    • Rob says:

      I am less than enthused with Gallery, but I also think he’d be a stop gap who’ll be used to the Cable way of doing things. It’s hard to judge free agency without knowing when it will happen and under what environment. I will be surprised if Mankins gets out of New England, in spite of everything that’s been said there. I think the Seahawks need to find a QB first and foremost who they can invest in and build around. For me, it’s much harder to build a great team and ‘fit in’ a QB than it is to get a good young QB and build around them. If they see ‘the guy’ in this draft you go get him. If he isn’t there, you take the BPA at a position of need at #25.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BVM, Rob Staton. Rob Staton said: Thoughts on Seattle potentially drafting a QB this April & weekend draft links: http://seahawksdraftblog.com/?p=1310 [...]

  4. Patrick says:

    After talking up how much I’d love to see us grab Ryan Mallett a few days ago, my opinion has changed a bit as I’ve read more about Colin Kaepernick. I know you have your doubts Rob, and I’m sure they are warranted. But he seems to sort of fit the mold of what the Seahawks would like. The athleticism is there. The arm strength is there. And I think very importantly, the character off the field seems to be there. Peter King wrote that he believes Colin Kaepernick could sneak into the first round. At 25, he might be worth the risk. What do you think? After reading about Kaepernick, I’d almost rather take a shot on a guy like him then someone who may or may not have character concerns like Mallett.

    • Rob says:

      I think he’s possibly the one to benefit most from combine hype. Guys like Peter King don’t follow the draft until Jan/Feb. He said Colt McCoy was a first round lock last year and quickly went quiet as he nearly fell into round four. Kaepernick is a great athlete and that will interest some teams. I can understand why he might go earlier than the 4-5 round grade I gave him after watching Nevada in their bowl game and against Boise State. He will not go in round one though – I’m very confident of that.

  5. FWBrodie says:

    Pretend someone held a gun to your head and said “forget about salary, forget about slot, forget about off field drama, and forget about what the fans think… which QB in this draft will win the Seahawks the most games in the next 5 years?” How would you answer that question?

  6. Leonard Sims says:

    The QB position absolutely needs to be addressed in this draft

  7. Matt says:

    Rob,

    You do not get enough credit for the incredible insight. I go to ESPN and am flabbergasted by how far Mel Kiper has fallen. Jimmy Smith, Ryan Mallet, and Jake Locker are no longer on the big board while the likes of Gabe Carimi breaks the top 20 and Anthony Costanzo is even on the list. Not to mention, he has Amukamara at 6. Anyways, just wanted to give you a lot of credit for actually watching footage and objectively passing on your thoughts.

    As far as the Hawks go, I fully expect them to make a move to get their QB. We can no longer afford tomjust wait around.

    • plyka says:

      Most of a guy like Kiper’s value comes from connections more than analysis. He knows and talks to a lot of teams, is basically it.

  8. Leonard Sims says:

    U want real mock drafts and great draft boards then follow Mike Mayock. Kiper is a JOKE and McShay and even bigger one. Kiper rarely knows what he’s talking about. I mean how does he still have a job?

  9. Mr Fish says:

    Has anyone ever produced a quote to back up the claim that the Seahawks have been planning to take a QB in the first round of this year’s draft, or is that just speculation on the part of draft pundits and fans who think that’s what the team should do?

    No one really knows if the Carroll/Schneider approach is to get the QB first, or the offensive line, or even to let the offense slide while building up the defense.

    But it’s fun to talk anyway.

  10. Ed says:

    I think all the qb’s have too many faults to trade into top 12. If a few qb’s (locker/mallet) fall past that, I think only miami (16) would still go qb, i would think locker would fall.

    I say let the draft play thru 10, and if gabbert/newton are gone, plan on cb/dline at #25.

  11. plyka says:

    I think Mallet is the guy at #25. I’ve been on the Mallet bandwagon for a long time now, and nothing has changed my mind. He is the most NFL ready QB in this league, the author of this blog even said that he can read a defense as well as Andrew Luck, and I tend to agree. With this ability to read a defense and progress through reads, he has an absolute ROCKET for an arm, in fact, the strongest arm in this draft most believe.

    What’s the problem here? This guy is a top ten talent, and would not be available at 25 were it not for all this negative “off the field issues.” Everyone talks about pre-draft hype, what about pre-draft dehype? Mallet at 25 is a GREAT pick in my opinion.

    • plyka says:

      Sorry, i obviously meant “most NFL ready QB in this draft,” not “league.”

      • Charlie says:

        Hes only a great pick if the rumors arent true. would you rather pick him over jimmy smith if he was to still be there? you never know whos gonna be available come draft day, but he will still be bust if theres better talent available at 25 and he flops out. it may be pick 25, but its still a first round pick and they tend to have a bit of worth, id rather get a contributor like phil taylor than a guy whos got questionable things circling him to be honest.

    • Alex says:

      I’m actually ok with Mallet at 25 since it’s a low risk/high reward situation to select a QB at 25. I would also be ok with Locker as well.

      The thing with the “off the field” issues with Mallet as your potential franchise QB is that QB is usually the face of the franchise. You don’t want a player with low morals or even worse, doesn’t get the respect of his teammates. Even in the case of Big Ben, he may be a person of low morals, which BTW did affect the perception of the Steelers, he still had the respect of his teammates. By all accounts, Mallet is not the best person off the field and he doesn’t get the respect of his teammates.

      The next thing is to see how his work ethic is. In college, you can get by with sheer raw talent assuming your team doesn’t suck too badly (i.e. Jake Locker), but at the next level, all the elites have top level work ethic. Peyton Manning for one is particularly noted as a workaholic.

      The last thing to note is that Mallet is not the ideal fit for a zone-run heavy variation of the WCO. QB mobility is a must and even after Bates got fired, it seems like they’re still sticking with it. Mallet for one is not the greatest passer when he has to reset his feet or when he is moving around. Mallet is about as pure of a pocket passer as you can find in the top 4.

      Alex

  12. Ed says:

    as much as i think locker will be good/great pro, i almost hope all 4 qb’s are taken by 17 (panthers/bills(newton)/bengals/cardinals/49ers/titans(gabbert)/redskins(locker)/vikings(mallet/dolphins/jaguars) all need qb’s. i really think if/when hass gets hurt next year, whitehurst deserves a shot. surronding a decent qb with a good team can still win superbowls (ravens/steelers/tampa bay). if whitehurst stinks, we draft qb next year. if he doesn’t, we could still draft a qb and let him sit, or feel he can be the long term answer and build solid team around him (ravens with dilfer).

  13. Matt says:

    Is Von Miller still being talked about as a top 5 pick? I thought the honeymoon phase would wear off by now.

    How is this possible? An undersized DE that must transition to LBer, and will still be undersized for the position. Am I missing something here? Is there a GM or team that would really pick Von Miller over let’s say Marcel Dareus?

    Anyways, the lack of depth in the draft this year is scaring me quite a bit. I’ve seen so many mock drafts that basically have the Hawks getting a late second round value at 25. Yes, these are just mock drafts, but to me, it’s looking like it would be wise of the Hawks to package their 1st and 2nd to move up and get a guy they want and that has value. Yes, I am not a fan of trading picks, but this year’s draft is so bad depth wise that you are going to have to draft a guy who would be a borderline 2nd/3rd rounder any other year. I mean Titus Young and Torrey Smith being considered in late round 1? That just shows the terrible depth. Apologies for the rant, but I don’t think I can live with spending a 1st rounder on the likes of a Gabe Carimi (Titus Young, Torrey Smith) because there is nothing better on the table.

    My gut tells me the likes of Jimmy Smith, Liuget, Phil Taylor, and Muhammed Wilkerson will be off the table by 25. None of those O-lineman will be (or should be) in the top 25 besides Tyron Smith and Mike Pouncey. This year, I think a move has to be made because we will be getting a very mediocre talent at 25.

  14. CReid says:

    I live in CO and I’ve seen a lot of Jimmy Smith over the last few years and I completely agree that until the recent buzz, he’s been underrated by the nfl draft pundits. However, I don’t think that he’s on par with Patrick Peterson. Peterson has a physical edge in almost every regard except maybe length- but beyond that he’s a better tackler and as much as I hate the term- he’s more of a play maker. Jimmy Smith played a lot of man at CU and he’s certainly very good at that, probably on par with Peterson, but he could look a little lost in zone coverage at times and he doesn’t break on the ball like Peterson or Amukamara nor is he the physical presence near the line of scrimmage (tackling or coverage) that they are.
    Smith also didn’t always cover the best receiver on the other team. He almost always lined up at RCB and rarely followed the best receiver wherever he lined up. He did a good job when he was matched up against elite opponents, but he never had to do it for a full game and often the opposing team would avoid him. Not really his fault, but something to think about. He’s a pretty good tackler in the open field, but he can get washed out of plays because he plays a little high.
    I think that Peterson is clearly the best, then Smith and Amukamara (depending on what the team is looking for, very different players) and Harris very close behind.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks for the insight Colin, good to hear from someone who has seen a lot of Colorado and I’ll take what you’ve said on board.

  15. TJ says:

    I think that there is less than a 50% chance that the Seahawks draft at #25. I think that there is a good chance that they will move up if a QB drops out of the top 10-15 and an equally good chance that they move down to pick up the missing 3rd round pick if their guy, whoever that may be, is gone.

  16. Jeriod Klovas says:

    Is anybody talking about next year, what if we are horrible and have the #1 pick, we could get Luck(y). Just a thought, maybe we build up some young talent in this years draft, like last years. It may take some time for the young guys to catch up to the speed of the pro game, so we lose a majority of our games, and pick 1st. I got my fingers crossed.

    • Matt says:

      Sadly, you could be right. Our schedule is tough and the rest of the division actually looks to have more talent, and that’s not considering the QB moves that SF and Arizona WILL make. Could be an ugly year. I just hopenthere isn’t huge backlash against Pete and Schneider.

    • Rob says:

      It’s hard to root for the team to be so bad they only win one or two games to be in that situation. Obviously if it happens you take solace in the knowledge you’ll have the chance to draft the best available quarterback, but as a regime hoping to build on what they achieved in year one it wouldn’t exactly be a vote of confidence in Carroll and Schneider to witness a season that bad in a division where 3-4 wins should be a given. If you think back to how bad the Seahawks were in 2008 and 2009, they were still only bad enough to pick 4th and 6th overall.