This is without doubt the most fascinating, infuriating, unpredictable draft in a long time. If I was trying to palm this off as a proper prediction, it’d be a waste of time. The only people with any clue about how this might shake out are working in NFL war rooms. The rest of us are throwing darts blindfolded. You could argue that’s the case every year with mock drafts. This year though, it’s especially true.
There was a pretty substantial bombshell today with the news San Francisco would trade Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for the #34 overall pick plus change. So apparently the going rate for a guy who turns 29 in May and loves a checkdown is a borderline first rounder. Incredible. Andy Reid clearly feels he needs to hit the ground running (which he kinds of does) and doesn’t want to put his faith in a rookie. I can see the logic behind the trade. I just don’t get the price tag. It’s not like the 49ers would’ve been in any great rush to keep a backup quarterback earning nearly $10m for the next two seasons. The word ‘fleeced’ comes to mind.
Nevertheless, the deal will be finalised on March 12th. It likely rules out any shot of a quarterback going #1 overall and increases the chances of a left tackle being the pick instead.
So what are the big changes to the mock post combine?
Dion Jordan, Dee Milliner and Ziggy Ansah cemented their places in the top ten. Bjoern Werner and Damontre Moore are seemingly going the other way. Tavon Austin booked his place in the first round. Apart from that, the one big change is that everything became even murkier and unpredictable than it was before. The first couple of rounds are going to be pure entertainment. Shocks, gasps, surprises. Right from the top of round one.
When I say the draft is fascinating, infuriating and unpredictable, it’s mainly down to the weekly confusion the #25 pick generates. I’m pretty comfortable thinking the Seahawks will draft a defensive lineman. It’s been spelt out to us anyway. And every single week I sit down to do a mock and can’t place a guy with this team. Nobody obvious jumps out. It’s very irritating. And it’s why I’ve looked at players like Khaseem Greene and Zach Ertz in the past, despite the big need for a pass rusher.
I went back and listened to Pete Carroll’s interview with John Clayton this week and one quote stood out… “We worked with Jason Jones last year and he got banged up a little bit. But that’s the right kind of move. We’ve got to find a guy in the draft here that can help us. We’d love to get a young guy, you know, we would really like to find the guy in the draft if it’s possible.”
When Carroll and John Schneider speak about the draft, they often say a lot without saying much at all. After the event you go back and have that moment of realisation. “Oh! That’s what they meant!” You think you’re getting a clue, only to interpret it a fraction incorrectly. Even so, we’ve got two months to go. We need to at least have a go at working this thing out.
I translate the above quote as an admittance that the ‘scheme’ and way of doing things is not considered a problem. That would mean they like the size up front in base while relying on the LEO to create pressure. They may well be a little more aggressive with Dan Quinn back on board, but I suspect that might just mean more creative looks from the same formations. “We worked with Jason Jones last year and he got banged up a little bit. But that’s the right kind of move” — that to me suggests that they’ll also continue to utilise more aggressive pass rush fronts on third, nickel and obvious passing downs. Maybe they like the idea of a specialist ‘three technique’ — it’s just that Jones’ injury issues prevented them from feeling the full benefit of his presence?
If they truly believe in that role and almost see it as an interior-Bruce Irvin, then maybe they would be open to spending the #25 pick there? After all, if that’s the big issue — better pass rush on key downs — why wouldn’t they?
Carroll also admitted in his interview with Clayton that he wanted another LEO and another defensive tackle, but it was the “that’s the right kind of move” reference to the Jason Jones position which really made me sit up and take notice. I could be a mile off here. They could have a third or fourth round guy earmarked for that role. It could even be a prospect like Margus Hunt. And they might just go after someone like Sylvester Williams or the best defensive end left at #25. Who knows?
Yet clearly they were optimistic about the inclusion of a specialist interior pass rusher last year even if it didn’t live up to expectations. If they intend to re-sign Alan Branch — not unlikely — then a move like that makes sense. So I gave in and put UCLA’s Datone Jones at #25. I’m honestly not just copying every projection by Derek Stephens — as I believe he was among the first to pair Jones with Seattle (and Khaseem Greene previously). Frankly, I’m not crazy about the pick. But Jones could, theoretically, replace his namesake. And I’m not here to choose my favourite players, but to discuss what the Seahawks might do once a week.
I tried to find physical comparisons for Datone Jones to see if I can feel a little better about this projection. He’s 283lbs and ran a 4.80 with an unofficial 1.63 ten-yard split. He benched 29 reps of 225lbs and a 31.5 inch vertical jumps. J.J. Watt — who only recorded six sacks like Jones in his final year in college — had a 4.81 forty at 290lbs with a 1.64 ten-yard split. Watt had 34 reps on the bench press but a 37 inch (!!!) vertical. Watt’s 20-yard shuttle (4.21) was also superior to Jones’ (4.32). So there are some similarities there. That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad news.
2008 combine. 6-4, 271lbs. 4.82 forty yard dash with a 1.60 ten-yard split. A 34-inch vertical jump and 31 reps on the bench press. The player in question? Lawrence Jackson. So there are similarities there too.
I suppose what I’m trying to argue here is Jones isn’t an insane athlete. The question is whether he can be effective to even 40-50% of the level of J.J. Watt, or is he just another Lawrence Jackson coming out of California? He might be somewhere in the middle, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Yet if they do place quite a high level of importance on that niche three-technique role, Jones is probably the most likely fit. And he can still feature off the edge or even as a starter at the three if needed. Perhaps by being more aggressive, they’ll look to use a swing pass rusher, lining up all over the place?
Either way the object of these mocks is to look at different scenarios. This is one we haven’t projected yet. And I’m still dreaming there’s a way to get at Sheldon Richardson. It’d be costly, though. I need to get over that already.
In round two I’ve added a guy who can provide some edge rush depth and a player both Kip and I are big fans of — Ohio State’s John Simon. Again, this pick probably relies on Branch being re-signed (or another big tackle). There are worse suggestions out there than adding Jones and Simon to the pass rush.
I’m currently going through prospects who stood out at the combine who didn’t get much attention pre-Indianapolis. One of the guy I’ve got Seattle taking in round four this week is a good example. He’s 6-3, 231lbs and runs a 4.31. As you’ll see in the tape at the top of this article, he can play a bit too. I’ve also put some Cornelius Washington tape at the bottom of the piece, as a lot of people wanted to see what he looked like at Georgia. Big thank you to JMPasq for putting it together for us.
|#1 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
Alex Smith. Ok. I still think Joeckel will stave off a challenge from Eric Fisher to be the best left tackle available.
|#2 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
Floyd has a ton of upside. He could play the one or three technique in Gus Bradley’s scheme.
|#3 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
They seem ready to move on from Carson Palmer. That regime needs to put down some roots.
|#4 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
Limitless potential. The next great young pass rusher? He could be.
|#5 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
Officially, now the complete cornerback prospect.
|#6 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
He shined at the combine and would be an asset as Cleveland adjusts to the 3-4.
|#7 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
After the fiasco of 2012, don’t expect Arizona to do anything but draft a quarterback here.
|#8 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
Would they trade up for one of the top two quarterbacks? Probably.
|#9 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
I suspect we’ll discover in the next few weeks that Lotulelei will be able to continue his career as planned. Let’s hope so.
|#10 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Prototype three-technique. Brilliant.
|#11 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)
He could go earlier especially if Arizona doesn’t take a quarterback in round one.
|#12 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
He has so much potential, the Dolphins might have to consider this if he falls to #12.
|#13 Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)
The Buccs could be aggressive to fill this need.
|#14 Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
Running a 4.4 at his size will get teams very excited.
|#15 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
Tremendous athlete but the 2012 tape is pretty mediocre.
|#16 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
They want weapons on offense. Here’s a weapon.
|#17 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
David DeCastro and Chance Warmack is a pretty good guard combo.
|#18 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
Werner’s fall ends here and this would be a good fit in Dallas’ new 4-3 defense.
|#19 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Some team will convince themselves over this.
|#20 Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Assuming they get a tackle in free agency, this is step two in improving the offensive line.
|#21 D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
I’m not a fan personally, but then I was never really a fan of Andre Smith either.
|#22 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
If they’re losing Steven Jackson, then they’ll need a big, physical runner to win in the NFC West.
|#23 Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
His work out at the combine summed it up – loads of upside, but equally so frustrating.
|#24 Travis Frederick (G, Wisconsin)
More than anything they need to bolster the offensive line.
|#25 Datone Jones (DE, UCLA)
He could be a pimped up Jason Jones. Maybe that’s what they’re looking for?
|#26 Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
Donald Driver’s retired, Jermichael Finley might be cut. They could go for a pass catcher here.
|#27 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
Someone will take a shot in round one.
|#28 Matt Elam (S, Florida)
He did well enough at the combine to warrant a place in round one.
|#29 Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
Just a terrific football player.
|#30 Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
Even if Tony Gonzalez returns, it’s time to start planning ahead.
|#31 Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
More size up front for the Niners.
|#32 Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)
Tough shoes to fill, but the Ravens often look for value in round one.
#33 Jacksonville – Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
#34 Kansas City – Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
#35 Philadelphia – John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
#36 Detroit – Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia)
#37 Cincinnati – DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
#38 Arizona – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State)
#39 New York Jets – Keenan Allen (WR, California)
#40 Tennessee – Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
#41 Buffalo – Mike Glennon (QB, NC State)
#42 Miami – Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
#43 Tampa Bay – Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
#44 Carolina – Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
#45 San Diego – Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
#46 St. Louis – Larry Warford (G, Kentucky)
#47 Dallas – Shawn Williams (S, Georgia)
#48 Pittsburgh – Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State)
#49 New York Giants – Alex Okfaor (DE, Texas)
#50 Chicago – Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
#51 Washington – Phillip Thomas (S, Fresno State)
#52 Minnesota – Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)
#53 Cincinnati – Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
#54 Miami – Ryan Swope (WR, Texas A&M)
#55 Green Bay – Giovanni Bernard (RB, North Carolina)
#56 Seattle – John Simon (DE, Ohio State)
#57 Houston – Jordan Reed (TE, Florida)
#58 Denver – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#59 New England – Dallas Thomas (G, Tennessee)
#60 Atlanta – Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
#61 San Francisco – Brandon Williams (Southern Missouri)
#62 Baltimore – Terron Armstead (T, Arkansas Pine-Bluff)
Projected Seahawks third round pick: Zaviar Gooden (LB, Missouri)
Projected Seahawks fourth round picks: Mark Harrison (WR, Rutgers), Sanders Commings (CB, Georgia)
Cornelius Washington (DE, Georgia) could also be a mid-to-late round option. Here’s his tape vs Buffalo from 2012, he is wearing #83 (courtesy of the man — JMPasq):