In seven days time we’ll know the identity of Seattle’s latest first round pick. Here’s a few thoughts as we prepare for the home straight…
John Schneider speaks
Seattle’s GM has been talking to the media and offered a couple of interesting quotes:
“We’re not gonna pass up a really good player if he doesn’t fit into what we do.”
“You can’t just manufacture a guy, create him… that’s when you get in trouble.”
“(It’s a) really cool place to pick” – On owning the #12 pick
“He’s not gonna be there (at 12). Hes gonna be drafted high.” – On Ryan Tannehill
Before last year’s draft, Schneider was pretty open and honest about the team’s ambitions without really giving much away. He talked about the desire to move down, which was very real, and about the need to get bigger up front. It’s perhaps telling that he’s not advertising the team’s pick quite so aggressively this time, although that may purely be a negotiating strategy with the team owning a pick 13-places higher in round one.
When he says #12 is a cool place to pick, I believe him. I think it is a cool place to pick. That’s not to say the team are totally against any opportunity to trade out of the spot, but I think they’ll quite happily draft a player in that position and feel comfortable with the choice. There are two slightly contradictory quotes – the claim of not passing on a player if he isn’t an obvious scheme fit, while also arguing you can’t manufacture or ‘create’ a prospect. There’s probably a ‘lost in translation’ aspect here that separates the two quotes. Even so, I think you could file this under the Seahawks being willing to consider a prospect who isn’t an obvious scheme fit, but needing that player to have a track record at the position you’re drafting him to play. Think outside of the box for the player/position, but it’ll be a guy who knows what he’s doing.
And the Seahawks won’t be drafting Ryan Tannehill, as Schneider admits. Speaking of Tannehill…
Where does Ryan Tannehill go?
It’s a question I’m struggling to answer. A lot of people seem to love the guy, with a lot of ‘always had him in the top-15‘ type comments doing the rounds at the moment. I go back and watch the Texas tape, the Oklahoma tape, the Oklahoma State tape – and I feel like I’m watching a different guy. He has undoubted potential and I’d never argue he’s a lost cause, destined to be a total disaster upon entering the NFL. Yet I have some pretty serious reservations because some of his turnovers and decisions as a bona fide starter last year were awful. Yes – he had a lot of dropped passes. At the same time – he played behind an offensive line that kept him cleaner than any quarterback in the NCAA not named Kellen Moore. So why so many mistakes in big games?
I’m very much part of the group that sees quarterback as king in the NFL. If you’re a team that needs a quarterback and you believe in Ryan Tannehill, then go for it. I wouldn’t personally draft the guy in the first round. But I also understand quarterbacks who aren’t head-cases with plus athleticism and arm strength will go early. In an era where Christian Ponder goes 12th overall, Ryan Tannehill can go in the top-10.
I doubt he goes to Cleveland, they surely must take Trent Richardson and build a productive run-game in the AFC North with the league’s next superstar. As soon as the Browns pass on a quarterback, it gets interesting. With Mike Sherman now working in Miami, what kind of a review would it be if the Dolphins passed on Tannehill? Some people believe they will – in favor of a defensive end or even a receiver to replace Brandon Marshall. The Dolphins worked out Brock Osweiler and could also consider Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins outside of the first round. A precedent was set by Cincinnati last year with AJ Green and Andy Dalton, and this is a copy-cat league. When many people expected Brady Quinn to be a Dolphin, Miami took Ted Ginn.
Tanehill’s floor appears to be Kansas City at #11 if you believe the rumors. Yet I’d love to see the reaction of the Chiefs’ war-room if Mike Sherman couldn’t convince the Dolphins to draft the guy – or if he even advised them not to. Would KC second-guess the pick? Probably not, but I’d love to see the reaction and subsequent discussion. The Seahawks will benefit from Tannehill going in the top-10 as it almost certainly increases the number of pass-rushers being available at #12. Essentially, it makes sense for John Schneider to promote Tannehill’s top-10 credentials (see above).
What will the Rams do at #6?
There’s a lot of talk right now that St. Louis will pass on Justin Blackmon in preference of a defensive tackle like Fletcher Cox. I can see the line of thinking – and St. Louis needs an interior presence to compliment their edge rushers. However, it’s an idea concocted seemingly on Fisher’s previous history for the Titans and his desire to build ‘in the trenches’. That is partly true, and Fisher’s reign over the Oilers/Titans franchise always seemed to include a solid offensive and defensive line. But let’s look at the facts here. Fishers joined the team as Head Coach in 1994. The following year, they drafted quarterback Steve McNair. Over the next 16 years, the franchise used first round picks on the following positions:
QB’s – 1 (Vince Young)
RB’s – 2 (Lorenzo White, Chris Johnson)
WR’s – 2 (Kevin Dyson, Kenny Britt)
DE’s – 3 (Kenny Holmes, Jevon Kearse, Derrick Morgan)
DT’s – 1 (Albert Haynesworth)
LB’s – 1 (Keith Bullock)
DB’s – 3 (Andre Woolfork, Pacman Jones, Michael Griffin)
So in 1.6 decades with the franchise, Fisher’s franchise didn’t spend a top-pick on the offensive line and only used one pick on a defensive tackle. Four offensive skill position players were drafted in round one, along with three defensive backs and three defensive ends. St. Louis have the edge rushers, but they don’t have any outside threat at receiver and they could use an upgrade at cornerback/safety. Admittedly, Fisher wasn’t the only person involved in making the picks listed above – but if we’re using previous history to project the direction of the Rams at #6, then it doesn’t necessarily point to Fletcher Cox or a defensive tackle.
What I don’t think the Seahawks will do
Some people think Seattle’s secondary has the potential to be the best in the league (Peter King). Some think the Seahawks need to consider drafting a cornerback in round one (an increasing number of people, which I find surprising). The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. There’s a lot of young talent at corner and safety and it’s a unit that really took a step forward last year. The re-signing of Marcus Trufant offers veteran depth, while Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner provided a nice partnership at corner.
I can also see the argument that carries some suspicion with Browner, who struggled at times in coverage and made up for it with big plays. He’s approaching 30 and may not necessarily be a long term feature at the position. I also buy into the opinion that argues you can never have enough good corners or wide receivers.
Even so, I think it’s a virtual lock that the Seahawks will not be drafting a cornerback in round one this year. I believe Pete Carroll and John Schneider see the secondary as an area they can exploit. Add scheme-fit players for low value then coach them up. It’s already made the likes of Sherman, Browner and Kam Chancellor household names, while Earl Thomas has had a major impact as a first round pick. The team can probably keep adding quality depth without the top end investment, allowing them to continue working on other areas. And even if Browner isn’t quite the player some believe, he deserves a chance to start next year. That would probably change if Morris Claiborne was available – but he won’t be. And I doubt Stephon Gilmore and Dre Kirkpatrick will be graded highly enough to warrant the investment.
The depth at linebacker in this class and the re-signing of Leroy Hill decreases the likelihood of a linebacker being drafted in round one – and maybe in round two. Maybe. I don’t expect the Seahawks to draft for offense in round one unless Trent Richardson suffers an unlikely fall. This has always been about the pass rush in round one. Don’t expect to see a quarterback taken in the first two rounds. You probably aren’t expecting that anyway.
Try not to overreact
Pete Carroll and John Schneider made some pretty out-there picks in 2011.
“Who is KJ Wright?”
“I didn’t like Richard Sherman in that one game!”
“Kris Durham? Is he a kicker?”
“Why are they drafting James Carpenter in round one when Andy Dalton is still on the board?” (YAWN)
Since the dynamic-duo drafted a left tackle with their first pick in Seattle in 2010, very little has been conventional. Yet they’ve since managed to set a trend for big, physical corners, helped promote a penchant for elite safety play and who’d bet against the run-first offense making a comeback league-wide? Nobody projected James Carpenter would be the team’s pick in round one last year and they’ve risked the wrath of the meaningless draft grades that appear on the internet moments after the event concludes.
So while you’re perusing the numerous high-profile mock drafts and listening to the talking heads over the next seven days, don’t be too upset if the Seahawks do what most people would call the unexpected. Rest assured it’s just part of the plan – a plan that so far has worked pretty well.
Mike Mayock on Whitney Mercilus
“I think on the positive side, there’s production, albeit one-year production which scares some teams, crazy numbers for one year, which begs the question, where were you before then. However, when you look at what he is on tape, he’s a natural pass rusher. He’s a natural edge rusher. He’s got excellent take off. He understands how to work up the field. Does he need to learn technique and more pass rush moves? Yes, because right now, like a lot of gifted college kids, he depends on his speed to win.
“What I would say, so he’s one of the most gifted natural pass rushers in this draft. What I would say is that even though he repped out 225 27 times and the numbers look good, on tape he can struggle at the point of attack in the run game. And I think that’s the biggest concern that if you draft him today in the first round, how many snaps are you going to get out of him. Maybe it will be similar to what [Aldon] Smith did in San Francisco; a situational pass rusher that’s disruptive and effective, and he will grow into that point of attack role where he’ll be a three-down player. But I think that’s really the only side is can he be stout enough at the point of attack down the road to justify being a first-round pick.”
Greg Cosell on Courtney Upshaw
“He’s similar style player as Pittsburgh’s (Lamar) Woodley: 3-4 OLB who’s more of power rusher than speed rusher.”
Jason La Canfora on Vinny Curry
“You don’t hear much about Marshall DE Vinny Curry, but could he be the second outside rusher selected? Wouldn’t shock me. He’s raw, but teams are very interested. He had 13 visits, and late private workouts with teams like the Jets, Lions and Eagles. He could be in play starting around No. 14, depending on what happens up top. He’s someone a lot of teams wanted to spend some time with and learn a little more about. Knocks have emerged on other defensive ends over time. I can’t help but wonder if Curry ends up hearing his name called much higher than many have projected, similar to a Tyson Alualu a couple years back.”