ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay published new mocks this week, and both had the same player at #32 to Seattle.
I can see why they think Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt is a good fit. Unlike other analysts, they’ve retained a degree of belief in him throughout this process. He didn’t have a great 2013 and we’ve all heard the excuses as to why — weight gain after an injury, not being 100% healthy. I think they’re legit excuses, but the fact he’s been unable to properly work-out for teams during the off-season will be a concern.
Essentially he’s still injured and still not 100%. He didn’t do anything at the combine except the bench press. It just feels like there’s so much we don’t know. How good is he? Do teams have all the answers they need?
If they were looking to replace Red Bryant with a similar player — Tuitt has the size to do the job. I suspect Kiper and McShay are making the pick with that thought in mind. However, Pete Carroll has already discussed his preference to adapt the defense and not necessarily rely on a two-down big body against the run.
It’s also worth noting that Bryant was more than just a big guy. He was the heartbeat of the defense until Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman wrestled that away. Keeping him in the line-up could’ve been as much about keeping Bryant the man out there as it was having a big five technique on the field.
The Seahawks have looked for unnatural size, length or speed on the defensive line. Tuitt has the size that’s for sure — and the length (nearly 35 inch arms). But I’m not convinced his 2012 pass rush production is going to translate to the next level and if it doesn’t — what are you truly getting? A more athletic version of Bryant who still only plays two downs?
I just have a feeling Seattle will end up looking for more than that. Having lost Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald (and with Cliff Avril a free agent next year) a pass rusher seems more likely at #32 than a big body. I’ve no doubt they have faith in the players already on the roster (Jordan Hill, Kenneth Boatwright, Benson Mayowa, Greg Scruggs) but a collection of unproven, low cost individuals probably won’t prevent them from adding another interior or edge rusher.
I’m going to run through some of the players off the board in the Kiper and McShay mocks and look at the options at #32.
Players off the board in both mocks:
Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State)
Kiper has eight receivers taken in round one, while McShay has seven gone before #32. That sounds about right to me — I think we’ll see seven. That includes Cody Latimer who doesn’t get past #26 in either mock.
Morgan Moses is a real head scratcher. He was superb against Jeremiah Attaochu and Georgia Tech, extremely competent against Virginia Tech and their collection of pass rushers. Yet against Vic Beasley and Clemson he looked tired, slow and cumbersome. McShay says “it’s a $10 dollar cab ride” to get around Moses — and he’s kind of right. He’s tough to pass — but it’s exhausting watching him play. Against a top speed rusher like Beasley, he didn’t look comfortable.
In fact he looked like he was running the Boston Marathon wearing a sumo suite. If you value length and massive size at tackle you’ll probably really like Moses. The Seahawks DO value length and size as we’ve seen with Russell Okung and James Carpenter. So he has to be considered an option at #32. But you’ll have to keep an eye on his conditioning and stamina. It could be a battle — he’s a big guy.
I think he’s unlikely to make it to Seattle — as McShay and Kiper suggest in their mocks.
And here’s why:
Gettleman: We’d like a left tackle. You’d like a young receiver. I wouldn’t be mad if a corner was there. I’m not going to lie to you.
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) April 29, 2014
That’s a quote from Carolina’s GM Dave Gettleman, openly admitting he’d like a left tackle. The depth at receiver and corner is better than the depth at tackle this year if you want/need a potential blindside blocker. Moses can play on the left — so he’s unlikely to get past #28 if he even falls that far. Tony Pauline also reported earlier this month: “I’m told the Carolina Panthers could grab Moses late in round one.”
Both Kiper and McShay have Ryan Shazier going to Green Bay at #21 — an excellent fit because they need more speed and grit at linebacker. The Packers run a 3-4 but throw in a lot of different looks. They didn’t sign Julius Peppers to be dropping back in coverage as a pure outside linebacker. They’re still struggling against the read option a year after that playoff game in San Francisco. Shazier would help in a big way, although Dom Capers…
In McShay’s previous mock he had Shazier falling into the middle of round two. This to me is a sign of sourced information. Nobody else makes this kind of jump in either of the two mocks. Mike Mayock yesterday also referred to Shazier as a “first round lock”.
Another player McShay had available at #32 last time was Anthony Barr. Both analysts have him going to San Diego at #25 which looks like an excellent fit for team and player. Barr’s length, 10-yard split and potential would make him a very intriguing option for Seattle. He’s too much of a project for a team picking in the top-10 needing an impact player — but for a good team using a rotation on the defensive line, Barr makes a great deal of sense.
Ra’Shede Hageman goes to New England at #29 in both mocks. He’s another player who might interest Seattle. Although some reports have suggested he’s difficult to coach and on tape he’s boom or bust — when he dominates he really dominates. Unfortunately it happens too infrequently. As Bob McGinn’s anonymous scout source put it: “For the one or two plays a game he plays good, he’s a first-rounder… For the other 30 when he’s out of the game, or the other 20 when he doesn’t do anything, then he’s a free agent.”
I think Kelvin Benjamin’s going to go in the 12-22 range. Yes — there are some lousy drops on tape. But there’s also a lot of potential, a heck of a lot in fact. Kiper has him going at #22 to Philadelphia which makes a lot of sense. They could use a big receiver to work in the red zone and compliment what they already have on offense. Nick Foles had a good year last season, but he needs receivers who can compete in the air and win contested passes. Benjamin has the size and reach to flourish in that system.
McShay thinks he’ll fall to #30 and the Niners.
Players available in Kiper’s mock:
Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)
Ja’Wuan James (T, Tennessee)
Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
Players available in McShay’s mock:
Ja’Wuan James (T, Tennessee)
Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
I’m not sure anyone has a perfect smokescreen detector, but I think there are ways to help determine fact or fiction. When a team like St. Louis suddenly reveals it’s making a dramatic last minute trip to Texas A&M to work out Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans — it’s fair to question their motive.
When Mark Dominik comes out and names a list of first round locks — I think we can take that on face value. And when a newspaper like the Miami Herald backs that information up in relation to the Dolphins’ grades — again, I think it’s safe to take it on face value.
Ja’Wuan James is probably going to go in the first round — as Dominik and the Herald projected last week. The tackles go early and often every year — and it’ll be exactly the same in 2014. If Zack Martin is gone within the first 10-12 picks, there are enough needy teams for James to find a home in the late teens if not earlier.
If you think that’s too high, you’re probably right. But tackles get over-drafted every year because it’s such a vital position. If James really is a plug-in-and-play type of player (and I believe he is) then there’s every chance he’ll go earlier than most people think. Especially given he’s pretty much a prototype in terms of physical appearance.
In these two mocks he’s available to Seattle at #32 and would probably be the pick all things considered. He has the length (35 inch arms) and size (6-6, 311lbs) they like. He needs to get stronger as the 22 reps on the bench at the combine suggests. He isn’t driving people off the ball in the run game on tape. Joel Bitonio was a much better run blocker at Nevada but if I’m prepared to say it’s inevitable he’ll improve his core strength at the next level (he managed 24 reps in Indianapolis) — I need to offer the same pass to James. What he lacks in power he makes up with technique.
You’d be getting a really solid player with a ton of experience (nearly 50 games) at right tackle in the SEC. I suspect he was the main focus when Tom Cable attended the Tennessee pro day. At one point in 2010 they thought they could get Trent Williams at #14 before he shot up draft boards. He ended up being a top-5 lock. Perhaps Cable made that visit thinking James would likely be there at #32 — and he’s since enjoyed a similar late rise?
Kiper has Bitonio available for Seattle, but McShay has him going to Carolina at #28. He also has Morgan Moses going at #19. If Moses lasts to the Panthers, there’s every chance Bitonio makes it to the Seahawks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he too goes earlier than people think — much in the way Kyle Long became a popular pick a year ago.
People complain about Bitonio’s arm length but often fail to realise he has longer arms than Jake Matthews and identical arm length to Taylor Lewan. If Seattle is unwilling to draft Bitonio in the late first on that issue, would they also pass on Matthews and Lewan given the opportunity? I’d say that’s unlikely. And I’m not convinced there’s a huge drop off in talent between the three.
I suspect ideally they’d like length at tackle, but they’ve never picked this late in round one before. If a player scores highly in other categories — technique, tenacity, desire to finish blocks, nasty attitude on the field — they might be willing to re-consider the penchant for length. When you watch Bitonio frustrate the living daylights out of Anthony Barr and really get under his skin — I think that’s what they want. He’s proven he can perform against the best college football has to offer — not just Barr, but also the Florida State defensive line teeing off with a big lead. He never backed down.
Versatility is key too. Bitonio can play right tackle, guard and yes — he can fill at left tackle just like Paul McQuistan. Except he’ll do a lot better than McQuistan.
If James and Moses are off the board — Bitonio might be the best or even only option to address right tackle. They may decide to pass and go down the later round route. They’ve visited with multiple tackles and continue to dig around for gems. There’s some depth out there and rounds 4-6 could be the area where they take two or maybe even three offensive linemen if they don’t address the need early.
Donte Moncrief is available in both mocks. Trying to work out how much interest Seattle would have in Moncrief is a toughie. On the one hand he’s an incredible athlete with terrific size, speed and leaping ability (6-2/220lbs, 4.40 forty, 39.5 inch veritcal, 11 foot broad jump). He’s a very balanced individual with a high ceiling.
Here’s the catch though — the one thing he can really work on is one of the things Seattle treasures. The ability to win contested passes and dominate the red line.
Moncrief isn’t hopeless in this category, but he could be a lot better. He doesn’t have Cody Latimer’s strong hands or ability to snatch the ball away from an opponent. He’s not overly physical when jumping for the ball. Run blocking is also a point of contention. When he’s in the mood, he can be a ferocious blocker. Yet too often he doesn’t make the extra effort to get involved. Once again this is another area Latimer is superior.
The Seahawks take pride in developing players so they could look at Moncrief’s upside and salivate over the challenge. Or they could assume he’s not what they’re looking for and grade him accordingly. Bob McGinn posted a new article last night sourcing league info on the receivers and tight ends. This is one GM or scouts take on Moncrief: “Really soft… He doesn’t want anything to do with it.”
“There are certain guys you spend a lot of time with because you’re trying to figure out the man. What’s in his heart, what’s his personality like, would he fit in the locker room? And there are certain guys we haven’t done a very good job with in my opinion, and that’s something we’ve really focused on this year. Just getting to know the person. How would he compete in this locker room? That’s something we’ve really focused on because this is such a young, competitive group. You guys saw Earl yesterday. He’s 24 years old. I mean, he’s a fairly intense guy. These guys have to have a certain quality about them that’s going to enable them to come in and compete with guys — with and/or against guys like that.”
If the Seahawks also see Moncrief as “really soft” — he isn’t going to be the pick at #32. The gritty attitude Schneider refers to would fit a player like Bitonio — and the next man on the list.
We talked about this more here — but Easley is pretty much the epitome of what this team will be looking for if you take’s Schneider’s quote on face value. He was a team captain at Florida. He’s shown tremendous character and determination to fight back successfully from two serious knee injuries — a mental challenge as much as a physical battle. He’s dancing on the field between snaps (sound familiar?), he plays with all-out effort. He looks like a Seahawks defensive linemen.
On tape he’s an explosive, sensational player — a true top-20 talent. The only issue is the big one — injuries. But all the noise is positive right now and talk around the league is he could find a home in the back end of round one. Do not rule this out.
Other possible options available in both mocks: Demarcus Lawrence, Marcus Smith, Martavis Bryant