Vic Beasley continues to make an impression
You can see the tape of his performance against NC State above. What a performance it was too — three sacks, three tackles for a loss and two tipped passes. A couple of weeks ago we featured him on the blog and increasingly I feel the need to put him on Seattle’s radar. How do you ignore a pass rusher with this much speed that has 15 sacks in his last 10 games? He fits into the SAM/LEO hybrid role and while the Seahawks are pretty well stocked at the position for now, Beasley looks so much like a fit in Seattle we have to keep tabs on him.
Dominique Easley continues to rise
Florida’s Dominique Easley is another guy who just looks so much like a Seahawk. Let’s not forget that Michael Bennett is on a one-year contract. The way he’s playing so far, it’s going to be very difficult to keep him in Seattle for 2014 while also paying Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright. If they’re looking for a cost effective replacement, Easley could be the guy. Hey — I’d extend Bennett’s deal tomorrow given the chance. But we’ve seen over the last few weeks that cap management is crucial to ‘win forever’ and choosing which guys to pay (and ultimately keep) will determine whether this is a short or long term window of Championship opportunity. Easley is a hybrid DE/DT who can line up anywhere. He lives in the backfield and had another big day against Tennessee on Saturday. If they do need to replace Bennett in the off-season, Easley could be the guy.
Brandon Coleman’s going the other way
Another one of the prospects we’re focusing on isn’t getting it done. Brandon Coleman (6-6, 220lbs) had just one catch for 25 yards against Arkansas on Saturday. Five other receivers had multiple catches in the game, and quarterback Gary Nova seemingly keyed in on Tyler Kroft and Leonte Carroo. After a nine-catch, 94-yard season opener (that wasn’t without error), Coleman has seen his production drop dramatically. In the three games since he has just four catches for 70 yards — with zero touchdowns (he had two in the opener). Nobody can question his upside, but he needed a big year after deciding to return to Rutgers. I’m going to try and watch the tape of the Arkansas game at the weekend to see what happened. But Coleman could be drifting towards a mid-round grade.
Eric Ebron is hit and miss
I had a chance to watch his tape against Georgia Tech over the weekend. The one-handed catches and ability to get downfield is impressive. I’ve not seen many tight ends run a sweep. He blocks well on the perimeter. But there’s also something a little laid back about his play. He plays the game at his own pace. There’s no denying his talent and there’s an opening for a top tight end to shoot up the board. But I just get the impression he could be even better. He’s one to monitor.
Anthony Barr is puzzling
At times last year Anthony Barr looked like the real deal. A converted full back, Barr had 13.5 sacks and could’ve declared for the 2013 draft. He decided to go back to UCLA and admitted he had work to do on his technique. He seems to have a good attitude and at 6-4 and 248lbs he has the length, speed and nose for the ball that the modern NFL is looking for in a pass rusher. However, I found his tape against Nebraska pretty vanilla. Other players on the UCLA defensive line impressed me more, he struggled to get much pressure and the big plays he had were a little incidental. I noticed he got his first sack of the season against New Mexico State on Saturday. After assuming he’d grow into a top-ten lock this year, I’m going to keep an eye on him over the next few weeks against Utah, Cal, Stanford and Oregon.
Cleveland Browns situation is fascinating
Peter King has a great angle in today’s MMQB. He discusses the constant regime change in Cleveland and how it is putting the team in an eternal state of rebuild. He also highlighted how important it is for a GM/front office staff to make good decisions early in a tenure. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert are a poster child for how not to do things. Aside from a shambolic handling of the coaching situation (keeping Eric Mangini against the odds, then making an uninspiring appointment to replace him) they also got big decisions wrong in the draft. Trading down is often considered quite a trendy thing to do among fans. As King points out, 2011′s deal with Atlanta gave the Falcons Julio Jones while the Browns in return received Phil Taylor, Greg Little, Owen Marecic and Brandon Weeden. Cleveland’s new front office will have to do a better job of building a roster at the key positions. And frankly, it’s a bit rich for Holmgren to come out and criticise his replacement — as he did in the Seattle media last week.
What is Seattle’s biggest need?
It’s something we’ll consider after every game, although I suspect we won’t truly have an answer until we discover who will or won’t be retained by the team. After watching Sidney Rice score two touchdowns yesterday, my initial thought was there’s no receiver eligible for 2014 that I want to see replace him. But the reality is, that might have to happen to keep some of Seattle’s other talented young players on the roster. Despite my reluctance to keep going back to the offensive line well – the best place to make savings next year is going to be replacing free agents Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan. Unless they’re willing to sign terrible deals to stay in Seattle. Which they might. You never know what demand will be like on the open market. I like both Giacomini and McQuistan and I think they get a rough deal from a lot of fans. But again, it’s about determining who you can’t live without, and releasing the ones you can. Right now, I’m not sure you can live without Sidney Rice — even at $9.7m a year. He’s not an elite receiver who’s going to put up 1500 yards, but he’s the closest thing Seattle has to a true #1. Things could change if Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey continue to develop and show they’re capable of starting in the NFL.
One quarterback in round one again?
It could happen. I watched Tajh Boyd’s tape versus NC State and he looks like a solid second rounder to me. Throw in Johnny Manziel’s character questions, the unlikelihood (in my opinion) of Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota declaring and the lack of alternatives — and we might only see Teddy Bridgewater go in the first round. A lot will depend on need, of course. But I also think there’s enough defensive talent in the 2014 class to feel like teams in major rebuilding mode won’t want to force anything. I can see one team convincing themselves they can turn likely free agent Josh Freeman into a productive starter. Plus, we could see Ryan Mallett and Nick Foles traded. So there are alternatives outside of the draft. For example, three years removed from missing on Christian Ponder (it’s safe to call that a miss) — are Minnesota really going to spend another high pick on a quarterback not named Teddy? Or do they look for alternatives?
Jadeveon Clowney still #1
This is going to be another year, I suspect, where we see a lot of offensive tackles go early. Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Cyrus Kouandijo and Zack Martin could be top-15 picks. Antonio Richardson and James Hurst could join them in round one. I still think Jadeveon Clowney is nailed on to go first overall. Yes, quarterback is a vital position. I’d just have a hard time passing on Clowney and his frightening upside. Watching the Jaguars on Sunday, if you put a rookie quarterback on that roster it makes no difference. They are devoid of talent. As much as I like Teddy Bridgewater, he’s not Andrew Luck. Jacksonville is another two drafts (maybe three) from being competitive. Just take the player who is most likely to be a superstar — and that’s Clowney. And yes — I’m assuming Jacksonville picks first overall.