Listen: Hawk Blogger podcast appearance

January 10th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This week I was invited onto the Real Hawk Tawk podcast courtesy of Brian Nemhauser at Hawk Blogger. Big thanks to Brian for having me on.

We went over several different draft and Seahawks topics. Check it out below.

Underneath the audio I’ve posted some thoughts on Darrell Bevell’s reported firing.

Curtis Crabtree reported in the early hours of the morning that Bevell had been fired.

Firstly, I think whatever your opinion is of Bevell — he deserves some credit for the job he’s done in Seattle. He was the offensive coordinator tasked with helping a rookie Russell Wilson. He was part of two Super Bowl teams. On his watch Seattle’s offense had four consecutive years ranking in the top-10 per DVOA (including a year where they finished #1 in the league).

This was all achieved in a not ideal environment for a play caller. Russell Wilson, as industrious as he is, is also highly unpredictable. Bevell was tasked with orchestrating a ‘scrambling offense’ for a 5-10 quarterback. Not an easy thing to do.

He also had a pretty unique working arrangement. He had to coexist alongside a ‘running game coordinator’ who also acted as the offensive line coach and Assistant Head Coach. And the Head Coach, despite being defensive minded, chose the offensive identity.

It was difficult to apportion blame when things went wrong. Even with that play call against New England. Now isn’t the time to re-hash that debate — but Seattle’s offensive setup hasn’t exactly been orthdox since Bevell arrived in 2011.

That said, it feels like change is required. The Seahawks have regressed in recent years and didn’t make the playoffs this year. It would’ve been too easy to blame injuries — a refresh and a transition is required. On the field and on the sidelines.

It’s time to have one offensive coordinator in charge of the offense, not two. It’s time for the play caller to be responsible for the entire performance. He also needs a significant say in the identity and plan moving forward.

A re-tread or a ‘big name’ will comfort some. Yet the NFC West is now rich in young offensive minded coaches. Arizona might join the party when they name a new Head Coach shortly.

Personally, I hope the Seahawks go for an up-and-comer too. Someone who can craft an offense to support and propel Russell Wilson to new heights. Someone with the potential to be a Head Coach very soon — possibly in Seattle as Carroll’s heir apparent.

John DeFilippo is a strong candidate in Philadelphia. They have a balanced, explosive offense which heavily features the run. He’s a student of the game and speaks clearly and precisely about the little details that make an offense click.

They might have to wait with Philadelphia in the playoffs — but that type of appointment would make sense. And when the next man comes in, he should be granted the freedom to appoint his own support staff.

It’s since been reported by Bob Condotta that Tom Cable has also been fired. This felt inevitable with the running game struggling for two years.

One final note — Damien Harris apparently chose not to declare for the NFL draft. It weakens the running back class slightly — and narrows the options for Seattle if they want to take a runner with their first pick. This wasn’t a big shock — he’d been on the fence about this for a while according to reports.

Tremaine Edmunds, unsurprisingly, did declare today along with his brother Terrell. Tony Pauline is reporting it’s possible Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant all return to Clemson.

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Tuesday draft notes & free agency thoughts

January 9th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

A quick heads up — tonight I’ve been invited onto the Hawk Blogger podcast. Hope you’re able to join us from approximately 7pm.

National Championship reaction

After giving it the big billing that there were several interesting prospects to watch, Georgia vs Alabama didn’t exactly go according to plan.

The Bulldogs abandoned the run and started the game throwing eight consecutive times, relying on their true Freshman quarterback to attack ‘Bama. After half-time they tried to drain clock — which, given it’s predictability, proved to be challenging against the best front seven in college.

Alabama launched their second half comeback thanks to a Freshman quarterback and several other inexperienced players.

Nick Chubb and Damien Harris had minimal impact in the game, Lorenzo Carter disappeared after half time and Javon Wims caught one pass for 16 yards.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

We said yesterday that this could be a game for Sony Michel rather than Chubb. Running against Alabama is tough, especially when your quarterback is a Freshman. ‘Bama sold out to stop Chubb and they did. He managed just 25 yards on 18 miserable carries.

It’d be harsh to overreact to this one game but it’s worth noting this is the second time it’s happened. Chubb toiled against Auburn too facing a stout front seven. Unlike Michel, he wasn’t able to create yardage.

His stock will be determined at the combine, not here. If he goes to Indianapolis and matches his incredible Nike SPARQ workout from 2013 he’ll rise up boards quickly (especially if the medical checks are fine on his knee). This was a performance, however, that has you thinking more second round than first.

Michel was dynamic and really needed to see more of the ball. His 14 carries produced 98 yards including an incredible tightrope run down the right sideline. Somehow Michel dodged three Alabama defenders to get free, leading to a 26-yard gain. It was one of the few memorable offensive plays in the first half:

There have been reports that some scouts rank Michel ahead of Chubb. I can see why. He’s 5-10 and 220lbs. He might be seen as predominantly a pass-catching speed back but he has the size and build of a more orthodox runner. At the moment he’s not the type you slam it up the middle with and try and grind out wins. But he can be used in virtually any play call.

As we saw against Alabama — on a night where rushing yards were hard to find for both teams, Michel was still able to create. Where would Georgia’s running game have been without this type of option? Teams will value that. And while he’s not Alvin Kamara — he’ll provide that same balance to a running attack.

Michel was helped by the brilliant blocking of Isaiah Wynn. I said it yesterday — despite all of the talent at Georgia, he’s probably my favourite prospect. He’s just so consistent. He did a good job in protection and used subtle technique and control to open up several running lanes. Look at this run for Michel (Wynn is #77):

Want more evidence of his ability to set, control the defender and finish? You’ve got to love the end of this play:

This isn’t the best clip but this run from Michel was directly through a hole created by Wynn at left tackle:

It’s a good draft for interior offensive linemen and Wynn will be one of the best available. If he even lasts until the second round it’ll be a bargain. The team that gets him will be very satisfied. He could sneak into round one depending on how he tests.

The standout defensive player for Georgia was clearly Roquan Smith. He might be a little undersized but he flies around the field. His best play was arguably this:

Look how he diagnoses quickly what is happening here, avoids the receiver sent in to rub and then hammers Bo Scarborough. This is just brilliant. It was on third down too — Alabama punted after that play.

Damien Harris (who we’ll come onto next) is one of the best pass-protecting running backs you’ll see in college. He blocks like his life depends on it. Here’s what Roquan Smith did to Harris (#34) in the second half:

Smith won’t fit every scheme because of his size but it’s hard to imagine he won’t go in the top-20.

For Alabama, Harris was again severely underutilized. He had minimal success with his early carries and then took a backseat. Just as they did against Auburn, it felt like Alabama tried too hard to make Jalen Hurts the focal point as a runner. Harris finished the game with only six carries — and he’s far too good to only have six carries in the biggest game of the season. It was a huge waste.

Harris has the athleticism, all-round ability and character to go in round one. He didn’t finish the season strongly, however, and you wonder if that will leave a lasting impression. He’d be a bargain pick in round two. It’s unclear whether he’ll decide to turn pro — there’s been a question mark there for the last few weeks.

Big Da’Ron Payne had a good performance on defense. His stock is open for debate. He’s the best run stuffer eligible for the draft but we’ve seen those types last into rounds 2-3 before (see: Jarran Reed). He only had one TFL this season and one sack. He had two really good games in the playoffs though and flashed some athleticism at 6-2 and 308lbs. Look at his quickness here (#94):

The combine will be interesting for Payne to see if he performs better than expected. There’s no doubting his ability to handle double-teams and defend the run:

Anthony Averett also impressed despite being far from 100%. He’ll make a really good slot corner at the next level — he’s tenacious, strong and covers a lot of ground quickly.

If you’re hoping the Seahawks can trade down and get a really good running back with their first pick, this game probably helps. It’s possible Harris, Chubb and Michel will all be viewed as second round types. Ronald Jones II, for me, is dynamic enough to warrant serious first round talk — but he was given a second round grade by the draft committee.

Assuming the Seahawks are able to move down, they might be able to do so comfortably and still get one of the best runners. A lot of RB’s are likely to go in the second round though. They won’t be able to wait too long to get a guy they like.

Some quick thoughts on free agency

It’s a bit early to talk about free agency but then this tweet emerged…

It’s unclear why Seferian-Jenkins tweeted this. Lee’s Jaguars are still in the playoffs. Both players will eventually be free agents.

Stuff like this is one of the reasons why social media can be a pain in the backside sometimes. For all we know this is part of a joke between the players, or something similar. Instead we’re all second guessing what it means. Will both players land in Seattle? Nothing about this tweet will determine that.

The Seahawks are also unable to contact either player or their agents until the legal tampering period right before free agency. At the very least they’d have to wait for the combine when the other kind of mini-tampering occurs.

So no, there’s not much to say about this tweet and how it pertains to Seattle’s free agency plans.

However — it would make some sense.

The Seahawks are currently tight against the cap and will need to re-sign or replace several players during the off-season. If they don’t keep Sheldon Richardson, Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, realistically they might have around $10-15m in free cap room to spend. That accounts for cuts (Jeremy Lane, Michael Bennett) a couple of retirements (Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril) and some choice moves elsewhere.

A year ago the Seahawks tried to use the market to their advantage by bringing in players on cheap one-year ‘prove-it’ deals. That plan worked for them in the past with Bennett and Avril and there was some method in trying again with Luke Joeckel, Eddie Lacy and Bradley McDougald.

Sadly, on this occasion McDougald was the only one to shine.

They don’t have the mega money to go on a free agency splurge. They might have enough to sign one highly rated player. Some have suggested Carolina guard Andrew Norwell. Yet if they spend all their available cap room on one player, how do they fill out the roster?

It’s not ideal but this is another reason why they need to get a bit younger and cheaper — to provide the kind of flexibility they had in 2011 when they went after Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery to compliment the talent they’d drafted.

Can Austin Seferian-Jenkins replace Jimmy Graham’s red zone production at a smaller cost?

Will Marqise Lee provide a cheaper alternative to Paul Richardson? Or is he a little more physical and rounded?

Are both players in the range of free agency where they’d consider a short term contract?

A year ago Terrelle Pryor and Alshon Jeffery had to sign one-year prove it deals. This year the receiver market is by far the strongest position group. There’ll be a lot of competition for money. Some good players might be forced to think short term.

Both Seferian-Jenkins and Lee carry a lot of upside.

One other quick thought on free agency — will the Seahawks try to mimic the Saints?

New Orleans’ running game was the envy of the league in 2018. The veteran north-south runner Mark Ingram and the perfect compliment Alvin Kamara.

Can Seattle find a similar duo?

One option could be to test the water with San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde. See if he can be your answer to Ingram. They could then draft Ronald Jones II or Sony Michel to be their Kamara. It’s an option.

They do have Chris Carson too. It might be better to be overstocked than understocked given the issues they’ve had at running back. Plus Carson is on a cheap seventh-round rookie contract for the next three years. Having ‘too much’ talent at RB wouldn’t be a negative thing.

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National Championship draft preview

January 8th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This is the ultimate ‘draft game’ for Seahawks fans. Two SEC teams loaded with talent at positional needs for Seattle.

A lot of the more intriguing names are on Georgia’s roster.

Lorenzo Carter is an extremely interesting option for Seattle. He’s about 6-5 and 240lbs and ideally suited to play LEO/SAM like Bruce Irvin. The Notre Dame-Georgia game was a great insight into his potential.

At the 2013 Nike SPARQ Combine, Carter had the following workout:

Height: 6-5
Weight: 234lbs
Forty: 4.63
Short shuttle: 4.32
Powerball: 41.5
Vertical: 40 inches
SPARQ: 129.75

That was the second best SPARQ score among front seven defenders and even topped Solomon Thomas (121.77).

It’s a different workout to Irvin. He’s not as quick — Bruce ran a 4.50 forty at his combine despite carrying an extra 11lbs. He also had a 4.03 short shuttle. Carter isn’t anywhere near as quick or agile as that. He is, however, potentially more explosive. If he repeats his 40-inch vertical that would considerably top Irvin’s 33.5-inch attempt.

His vertical won’t be a surprise to anyone who watched the Rose Bowl:

There’s a reason Irvin was the #15 overall pick. His incredible production at West Virginia matched with his unique physicality and speed warranted a high selection. Carter won’t go as early. While Irvin was getting double digit sacks at WVU, Carter had just 7.5 TFL’s in 2017. However, he has a physical profile that could interest Seattle. He’s a first or second round possibility.

Running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel had a field day against Oklahoma’s typical Big-12 defense. Both players were bottled up in a big loss on the road to Auburn during the regular season. This is a big test to see if they can deliver against the toughest front seven in college football.

Chubb has the potential to go in round one depending on medical checks at the combine. He was one of the most explosive players to ever test at the SPARQ combines:

Height: 5-11
Weight: 217lbs
Forty: 4.47
Short shuttle: 4.12
Powerball: 43
Vertical: 41 inches
SPARQ: 143.91

If he matches that in Indianapolis in March, he has every chance to not just be a first round pick but also crack the top-20.

He compares favourably to Jonathan Stewart. Chubb is around 5-11, 228lbs. Stewart at his combine was 5-11 and 235lbs. He ran a 4.48, managed a 36.5 inch vertical, a 10-8 broad and a 4.53 short shuttle. Chubb is capable of topping some of these numbers.

Stewart was the #13 pick in 2008. This is why it’s entirely possible Chubb cracks the top-20.

We know what he is — a physical north-south runner capable of getting the tough yards. If he finds a crease he can accelerate and break off big gains. He goes from 0-60 quickly for his size. His footwork can be choppy when he has to stop-start but he’s also capable of sticking his foot in the ground and making a decisive cut.

It’ll be a huge statement if he can make big gains against this loaded Alabama defense. Space will be at a premium. It’ll be an opportunity to show he can create when the odds are stacked against him.

You can imagine the Seahawks showing interest in a back with Chubb’s explosive quality and running style. The combine will determine whether he’s a late first or second round pick or a much earlier selection.

Michel is a better pass catching, multi-dimensional back but it’s worth noting he’s also around 220lbs so he can run up the middle too. We’ll see how Georgia mix him in with Chubb. This might be a game for Michel. Chubb is going to see a lot of extra bodies at the LOS (Georgia’s quarterback is a true freshman). Getting the ball to Michel in space is key. He’s also a potential second round pick.

Possibly my favourite prospect on the Georgia team is left tackle Isaiah Wynn. You won’t see a more in-control blocker, whether it’s playing the pass or run. He is a fantastic offensive lineman. Get excited about this guy.

He just does everything to a high standard. His kick-step is fluid and he sets easily. He never overextends and delivers a timely punch with accurate hand-use to stymie edge rushers. In the running game he perfectly engages contact then turns opponents to open lanes. He’s adept at pulling to the outside and he progresses nicely to the second level to lock onto linebackers. There are examples where he drives defensive linemen 5-6 yards beyond the LOS (check out his Missouri tape for examples of this).

Wynn is 6-2 and 300lbs so his future is likely at guard. We know the Seahawks like versatile O-liners and appreciate tackle experience. Wynn, to me, has an opportunity to be one of the most consistent and useful players from this draft class. He isn’t Quenton Nelson overwhelming people with power and size. He doesn’t play with Garett Bolles’ nasty edge. He is, however, extremely difficult to get the better of. This will be a great test against Alabama’s front seven. He has every opportunity to go in the first round and if he’s available in the second — you run to the podium. No question. As a left guard option to compliment and finalise Seattle’s O-line, Wynn would be a terrific pickup. They’d have to be creative to make it happen with only the #18 pick in the first three rounds. Wherever Wynn ends up, he’s going to make that team very, very happy.

Roquan Smith is also an exciting talent. He’s smaller than ideal (around 6-1 and 225) but plays with such quickness, physicality and delivers a hammer blow when he locks on to the ball carrier. He delivered two stunning hits in the Rose Bowl denying a touchdown on one play and a key first down on the other.

His best fit is likely at the MIKE or WILL at the next level. Seattle has Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, so Smith is an unlikely first round target. At the moment a lot of people believe Smith goes in the top-20. That’s highly possible and I’ve mocked that myself. However, consider this. His size will rule him out of some schemes and Jarrad Davis lasted to pick #21 a year ago. For me, Davis was a better player and a greater athlete too. Smith can go earlier — but it’s possible he’ll be seen as more of a mid or late first type.

Receiver Javon Wims is another Georgia talent to focus on. He became the teams go-to receiver during the season, saving his only college production for his Senior year. He’s 6-4 and 215lbs and could provide the kind of dynamic big outside target the Seahawks have lacked over the years.

The back-shoulder fade has been his best friend but he’s also developed into a key red-zone threat and he does well high-pointing the football. He sometimes produces a nice check down option settling over the middle and he can separate on the shorter routes. He’s at his best, however, working the red line to make big plays.

It’s difficult to project what his stock could be. He’s a one-year wonder and it’s unclear what his physical profile is. Hopefully he gets a combine invite. A safe projection is middle rounds at this stage.

Alabama is equally rich in talent but it’s hard to see how they fit in Seattle. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a bit overrated. You’ll see him touted as a top-10 pick in a lot of mock drafts. His value is probably in the 10-20 range. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix lasted until pick #21. Earl Thomas lasted to pick #14. Keanu Neal was the #17 pick. All three, in my opinion, are better than Fitzpatrick.

He’s not an outstanding athlete. He also worked out at the 2013 Nike SPARQ combine. Here’s how he performed:

Height: 6-0
Weight: 183lbs
Forty: 4.67
Short shuttle: 4.05
Powerball: 34
Vertical: 37 inches
SPARQ: 106.26

The forty time stands out. That’s slower than Lorenzo Carter despite a 51lbs weight difference. There’s nothing wrong with his vertical or short shuttle. He hasn’t got an amazing physical profile though — he’ll want to do better at the combine.

Fitzpatrick plays in a lot of different positions. His coverage in the short game (red zone) is impressive but he’s not a cornerback at the next level and he’s not a tone-setting big tackler either. It’s hard to think he’ll end up on Seattle’s radar.

His safety partner Ronnie Harrison is quite different. He is a big hitter — just ask Kerryon Johnson. Harrison absolutely hammered Johnson in the Iron Bowl, eventually forcing him out of the game. He clearly wasn’t 100% in the SEC Championship as a consequence. Without that hit — this game could easily be Alabama vs Auburn.

Harrison is the type of player you can imagine contributing to a defense consistently. He won’t be the big star. On a team with a good front seven and some coverage talent, he’d be a nice compliment. His stock is possibly late first or second round.

Another player that is talented and will go early is linebacker Rashaan Evans. He is fantastic to watch — a relentless, physical defender who makes every hit count. He doesn’t just bring down the quarterback or running back — he brings the pain. Working out what is his best position will be the tough part.

For Alabama he moves round, sometimes playing inside or working the edge. He’ll blitz and rush the passer. At 6-2 and 232lbs his future at the next level might be WILL or MIKE. He doesn’t really have the length to be a LEO. The combine will be important to determine how early he goes. First round is a distinct possibility. He has good character too. Ultimately though he looks like the type of player you admire throughout the process but doesn’t land in Seattle. He screams AFC North, probably Baltimore.

Like Georgia, there are two high profile running backs to monitor. One is the most underrated player eligible for 2018. One is the most overrated.

Bo Scarborough has not lived up to the hype. There was hope he would be the next Derrick Henry. It hasn’t materialised. At his very best (see: 2016 playoffs) he is a scary opponent. He took over the game against Washington a year ago with his incredible combination of size and speed. Yet this year he failed to take the next step. He’s a tease. You want to believe he has the make-up of a big-time talent. Yet whether he’s banged up, injured, playing within himself or just a nice big target to hammer in the running game — Scarborough hasn’t delivered at Alabama. At the moment, it feels like he’ll last into day three.

Damien Harris, however, is a completely different story. Possibly the most complete runner not named Saquon Barkley, Harris has the ideal combination of grit, physicality, speed, explosion, willingness to pass block like his life depends on it, size and character.

His YPC for Alabama absolutely demolishes any former backs from the school including Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake. He’s also not been worked into the ground like some of those runners. Alabama has tried desperately to feature their sophomore quarterback and use a committee at running back. Harris will be fresh for the NFL.

Harris’ SPARQ workout isn’t as good as Chubb’s but it’s not a million miles off:

Height: 5-10
Weight: 210lbs
40-yard: 4.48
Short shuttle: 4.00
Vertical: 38 inches
SPARQ: 126.93

I think he’s worth a first round pick. If you get him in the early second it’s an absolute steal. It’s worth noting however that there’s some feeling he might return to Alabama. Winning a National Championship might influence his decision, especially if he has a big game. If they don’t win, or if Harris is motivated by a possible Heisman campaign in 2018, he might stay in school.

Receiver Calvin Ridley isn’t big (6-1, 190lbs) and he isn’t an athletic freak. He’s Mr.Consistent. He’s being graded as a top-15 pick by some, I think his stock is more modest. In a class without a lot of star quality at receiver he could go earlier than he otherwise would. The Seahawks are unlikely to draft Ridley, it’s safe to assume. His interviews are a bit weird sometimes.

Da’Ron Payne is arguably 2018’s best eligible run stuffer. He is what he is though. He had just one TFL in 2017. Compare that to Tim Settle’s 12.5 TFL’s. His stock is likely in the second or third round range seeing as he’ll mostly be viewed as an early down defender and not a pass rusher.

Cornerback Anthony Averett is a talented coverage defender. He’s likely to be somewhat limited. He hurt himself getting off the bus before the Clemson game. No joke, he tripped on a curb. He played against the Tigers but wasn’t 100%.

There’s every chance this game will contain at least one future Seahawk, if not multiple. One of the running backs, Isaiah Wynn and Lorenzo Carter would certainly cure a lot of ills in Seattle.

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Why the defense has to be younger & Jones II = Charles

January 6th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Why Seattle’s defense needs to get younger (and cheaper)

In 2017 the Seahawks spent $93,714,666 on their defense, more than any team in the NFL. The split between offense and defense was 36.37% vs 55.98%.

They spent $60,885,063 on the offense — 29th highest in the league.

Of the 12 biggest cap hits on the roster, nine were defensive players. The three offensive players were Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and Luke Joeckel. Graham and Joeckel are both free agents.

At the moment they’re facing a very similar situation for 2018. They’re set to pay $91,613,442 for their defense (#5 in the NFL) and $62,541,747 for the offense (#24).

These numbers will change if/when Jeremy Lane is cut, Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor retire and if some other moves are made. Even so, this could be one of the reasons why a transition is expected. The percentage needs to be nearer 50-50 than the current 56-36.

It’s going to be difficult to redress the balance in 2018 alone, which is one of the reasons they might initiate a transition now. For example, they won’t save much by cutting Michael Bennett (around $3m). However, his cap hit for 2019 (around $9m) would be completely off the books.

It would put pressure on the team to find some cheap replacements. However, pass rushers have been their speciality. They brought in Bennett and Cliff Avril at bargain prices, pulled off a killer trade for Chris Clemons, found Frank Clark with a late second round pick and have identified an exciting reclamation project with Dion Jordan.

It’s not often you see a team paying so many big name players on one side of the ball. The Seahawks did it because they had so much talent. Keeping the defense together felt like the key to multiple opportunities to win a Super Bowl. As those days fade, the need to change is clear.

Part of being younger on defense is also about being a cheaper.

The imbalance in spending isn’t the only reason why Seattle’s offense hasn’t performed. There was still enough talent to expect better results in 2017. However, if you actually write down the number of defensive studs vs offensive studs on Seattle’s roster, it’s quite significantly weighted in one direction. If you want a balanced team, you might need a more balanced spread of talent.

After cuts and possible retirements the Seahawks could be left with around $30m in cap space. It depends how aggressive they want to be. A portion of that would be required to fill out the roster (they carried a lot of players on one-year contracts in 2017). They’d also ideally retain players like Bradley McDougald and Sheldon Richardson. McDougald is the easier keep but I wonder if a statistically poor year for Richardson leads to a colder market than currently expected? Perhaps he’d be willing to return on a one-year deal to improve his stock in 12 months?

If there is the money to spend, it could come on offense. Value deals, possibly short term, appear likely to fill out the roster (with the hope of finding some longer term parts for the next core).

Green Bay want John Schneider

Multiple reports today are suggesting the Packers are interested in making John Schneider their new GM. Some have even suggested, not surprisingly, that Schneider is very interested in the Green Bay job. There’s not really much to say on this other than whatever happens, let’s hope it happens as soon as possible. This is a big off-season for the Seahawks. They need to know where they stand.

Proof Ronald Jones II is Jamaal Charles

Ask most Seahawks fans what they want in a running back and they’ll say tough, physical and someone who gets the hard yards. Many will have watched Nick Chubb against Oklahoma last week and salivated at the thought of him trying to fill the RB void in Seattle.

Clearly the Seahawks have a preference too. It’s worth highlighting again that this team has a type at running back. These are the backs they’ve drafted in recent years:

Robert Turbin — 5-10, 222lbs
Spencer Ware — 5-10, 228lbs
Christine Michael — 5-10, 220lbs
C.J. Prosise — 6-0, 220lbs
Alex Collins — 5-10, 217lbs
Chris Carson — 6-0, 218lbs

Size matters to this team, as does explosive traits. A strong vertical (+35 inches) and broad jump (10-5) has also been a factor. Speed? Not as much.

Chubb, Damien Harris, Kerryon Johnson, Rashaad Penny and others will fit into Seattle’s size prototype. Ronald Jones II probably won’t. He’s expected to be measured at about 6-0 and 203lbs.

The thing is, he is pretty much a Jamaal Charles clone. Charles was one of the more dynamic players in the NFL in recent history, at any position.

Watch the videos below. One is Jones II running for USC, the other is Charles running for Texas. It’s freaky how similar they are:

Jones II, like Charles, is just so dynamic. And despite neither player being 220lbs they get as much as they can out of most runs.

He might not be an aggressive north-south runner with prototype size but if any team believes Jones II can be as good as Charles, that has to be worth an early pick.

He just has ‘it’. He looks like a dynamic playmaker for the next level. Someone capable of making big plays on a consistent basis.

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Friday draft notes — what is the trade value at #18?

January 5th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

— Will the Seahawks trade down from #18? A lot of people think they will. So what can they get in a trade? The late teens have been a difficult dealing spot in recent years but there is some precedent. In 2013 the 49ers moved up from #31 to #18 to select safety Eric Reid. They paid Dallas a third round pick (#74). It was the twelfth pick in round three that year, acquired originally from Carolina. So what can the Seahawks gain if they move down into the 20’s or 30’s? A relatively early third rounder appears realistic.

— I’ve been struggling to get an angle on Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter. His Notre Dame tape (see below) is the one I’ve been looking for. It was fantastic. He flashed in coverage (not bad for his size), rushed the edge successfully with multiple pressures and a sack, he had two forced fumbles and looked every bit a top-50 prospect. The Georgia quartet of Carter, Isaiah Wynn, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel would solve a lot of ills in Seattle.

— This draft class felt a bit underwhelming going into the college season but now it feels a lot more interesting as players have emerged. There’s good depth in the defensive front seven, great depth at running back and plenty of big name quarterbacks (Lamar Jackson declared today). If you’re a team after a QB, RB, interior OL, DL and LB you’re more excited by this draft than if you’re after CB, S, TE or OT.

— In previous years players we really liked were never in range for Seattle. Keanu Neal, Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick are recent examples. For the first time since 2012 that won’t be the case. Players we like a lot will be available at #18. That creates a different dynamic for the draft coverage this year. Should be fun.

— Derwin James is a popular prospect among Seahawks fans, especially with Kam Chancellor seemingly set to retire. James could easily go in the top-15 if a team really likes him. A great combine and sound medical checks would help. I also know there’s a feeling he could fall further than many expect. I think he’s a box safety, stiff in space and not the greatest coverage guy. I wouldn’t expect an amazing forty time or great agility testing. He doesn’t make that many ‘big’ plays. What he does do well is tackle and hit. There’s some real value in that, of course. He’s physical and a really good tackler. But how early are you prepared to take a player with range limitations? Some will really like him. Others might be less keen in round one.

— A safe bet would be that the Browns sign a veteran quarterback and sit the #1 overall pick in 2018. That would validate recent suggestions from people like Peter King that they prefer Josh Allen over Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. Jon Dorsey is the former Kansas City GM so he might be able to convince Alex Smith to make the move. Cleveland has the cap room at least.

— Ronald Jones II officially declared today, adding to the ever growing options in this fantastic draft class for running backs. Reportedly he received a second round grade from the draft committee. It’s worth noting — that doesn’t mean he won’t go earlier. We’ve said it before but he compares favourably to Jamaal Charles. Who the Seahawks draft at running back will depend on the style they’re looking for. Are they after the tough, physical north-south runner (Nick Chubb)? Do they want the dynamic all-rounder with more athletic potential than people realise (Damien Harris)? Are they after a patient Chris Carson type (Kerryon Johnson)? Do they want a Jamaal Charles clone (Ronald Jones II)? There are many other options too. The good thing is — whatever they’re looking for, they should be able to find it in this great group.

We’ve posted a lot this week with the off-season officially starting. If you missed anything, here’s a list if you want to catch up:

New mock draft

Review of the Rose Bowl and Georgia’s loaded roster

Pete Carroll says running back will be a focal point in the off-season

The history of the #18 pick

Top-50 prospects eligible for the 2018 draft

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Thursday notes: Tim Settle declares & a new mock draft

January 4th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

— Virginia Tech defensive tackle Tim Settle will turn pro in 2018. He was only a redshirt sophomore so this is significant news. He’s extremely underrated in the national media and here’s why:

Swim move to take down Deshaun Watson:

Mobility and quickness defending the run:

Quickly diagnoses the play and explodes into the backfield for a TFL:

A quick reminder — Settle is about 325lbs. Possibly bigger. Look how well he moves at that size. It’s unnatural.

He was double teamed frequently in the bowl game against Oklahoma State but was stout and controlled the POA. He’s quite a rare prospect, capable of being the big nose tackle but having the quickness and agility to act as a pass rusher.

It’s not often a player like this has 12.5 TFL’s (Settle’s 2017 total). In comparison, Vita Vea had just 5.5.

He looks like an early round pick and deserves more attention. He must’ve received a good report from the draft committee to make the decision to turn pro now. He’s a former four or five star recruit and was coveted by all of the big schools including Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State.

For a bigger breakdown on Settle, click here.

— Auburn running backs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway both turned pro this week, while Tony Pauline reports Ronald Jones II will make a similar decision:

The speedy back comes off a career season in which he totaled 1,550 yards rushing on 261 carries with 19 TDs. Jones also added 14 receptions last season.

Known for his great burst and breakaway speed, Jones had three runs of 50 yards or longer last season and had a carry of at least 15 yards in all but three games.

This is all good news with the Seahawks expected to focus on the running back position in the draft. It may also encourage them to pick multiple backs (as they did in 2016). That said, given what Pete Carroll said in his end of season press conference, it won’t be a surprise if they focus on one or two key players with their first pick as a starting point.

— Sam Darnold announced, somewhat unexpectedly, that he was turning pro yesterday. It quickly followed a similar announcement from Josh Rosen. During the season there was a lot of talk about Darnold returning to USC. His performance in the bowl game against Ohio State suggested it wouldn’t have been a bad decision.

It’s good news for the Seahawks. The more quarterbacks go early, the better options they’ll have at #18.

Who goes first overall will be an interesting storyline to follow. Tony Pauline recently noted Cleveland’s new GM Jon Dorsey was advising people to ‘stay away’ from Rosen.

Meanwhile, Peter King quotes an anonymous scout suggesting there’s ‘no way’ Dorsey will pass on Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the #1 pick.

On that note, here’s a new mock draft:

#1 Cleveland — Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
#2 NY Giants — Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
#3 Indianapolis — Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
#4 Cleveland (via Houston) — Bradley Chubb (EDGE, NC State)
#5 Denver — Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
#6 New York Jets — Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
#7 Tampa Bay — Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
#8 Chicago — Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
#9 San Francisco — Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
#10 Oakland — Orlando Brown (T, Oklahoma)
#11 Miami — Billy Price (C, Ohio State)
#12 Cincinnati — Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
#13 Washington — Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
#14 Green Bay — Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech)
#15 Arizona — Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
#16 Baltimore — Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
#17 LA Chargers — Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)
#18 Seattle — Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
#19 Dallas — Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
#20 Detroit — Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
#21 Tennessee — Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
#22 Buffalo — Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
#23 Atlanta — Derwin James (S, Florida State)
#24 New Orleans — Arden Key (DE, LSU)
#25 Buffalo (via Kansas City) — Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
#26 Jacksonville — Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
#27 LA Rams — Austin Bryant (EDGE, Clemson)
#28 Carolina — Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
#29 Pittsburgh — Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
#30 Minnesota — Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa)
#31 New England — Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame)
#32 Philadelphia — Ronald Jones II (RB, USC)

Three mocks so far, three running backs paired with Seattle. I will project different positions and scenarios down the line. At the moment, however, there feels very little point fighting this. Carroll practically spelled it out the other day.

The bigger question is — how far can the Seahawks move down and still get the player they like? Chubb at #18 might be a little rich unless he repeats his 2013 SPARQ performance at the combine. I haven’t included trades here — but it’s possible the Seahawks could move down.

The late first and early second round could be a sweet spot for running backs. And that’ll be good news for the Seahawks if they wish to trade down.

The options are very appealing. Chubb, Harris, Jones II, Kerryon, Sony Michel, Royce Freeman, Bryce Love, Rashaad Penny, Derrius Guice.

Running back is the strength of the 2018 draft.

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Rose Bowl review: Isaiah Wynn is really underrated

January 3rd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

When I published the top-50 2018 eligible prospects piece on Sunday, Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn was included. I haven’t done a specific piece on him because we’ve been focusing on other positions. Wynn’s performance in the Rose Bowl was so good, he warrants extra attention today.

I’m fairly confident he’s going to go in round two as an absolute worst case scenario. There’s a chance he sneaks into the first.

At around 6-2 and 300lbs he’s likely going to move inside to guard. Tackle experience at a high level in college will be useful though — and he’ll always have the ability to cover at tackle if needed.

It’s difficult to find flaws in his game.

For starters he’s a true mauler. His hand placement is really good — he delivers a strong jab to the defender and just controls his man. Wynn’s footwork and balance are really good and he rarely loses ground. You don’t see him bull-rushed into the backfield or knocked back. He’s very measured, engages and finishes.

He’s tough and will hand fight to win a battle if required. He’s adept at picking up stunts. Oklahoma were happy to feign the edge rush and have a linebacker make a late move. Wynn identified this and didn’t overcommit. He was prepared and ready and easily passed off the DE to lock onto the new rusher.

His agility and athleticism aren’t going to see him run a 4.90 at the combine and he’s not Lane Johnson. I suspect he won’t be a workout warrior and that’s what might limit his stock. Whatever limitations he might possibly have won’t matter as much when he moves inside. He barely ever loses control, position or leverage. His height and size work to his advantage in that regard. It’s difficult to get under his pads. I’ve not seen one play to date where he overextends — he doesn’t lunge and get himself into trouble. He’s never rattled.

On Nick Chubb’s first big run against Oklahoma, Wynn pulled to the outside and sealed the edge. He had to locate his blocker on the move, engage and finish. Chubb achieved a big gain as a consequence. He’s comfortable on the move and it’s a part of his game that could become even more of a factor at the next level.

This isn’t a great class for offensive tackles. It’s a better class for interior linemen. Nelson, Price and Wynn should go early and Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow (a guard or center) and Washington’s Coleman Shelton (a center) won’t be far behind.

The Seahawks appear likely to draft a running back early. If they’re able to acquire another early pick in the first or second round range — they might be willing to consider someone like Wynn too.

Thoughts on the other Georgia prospects

The Rose Bowl wasn’t just a fantastically entertaining game of football, it was loaded with NFL talent. I want to focus on the Georgia prospects.

Roquan Smith (LB)
After a quiet first half with Oklahoma’s offense rolling, Smith really stepped up his game after half time. He had two fierce, punishing tackles — stone-walling the ball carrier at the point of impact. One tackle possibly denied a touchdown, the other a first down:

He timed a blitz perfectly up the middle with 11:05 left in the third quarter, showing great closing speed and acceleration to force Baker Mayfield’s eyes down. Smith easily skipped by the running back who stayed in to protect, moved Mayfield off the spot and sent him right into the arms of Lorenzo Carter.

Smith flew around the field in the second half. He frequently had an angle on Mayfield when he moved out of the pocket and maybe spied him a few times. He’s not the biggest (6-1, 225lbs) so his workout will be important. There’s evidence to suggest he’s going to test rather well. Look at his closing speed and finish with the tackle:

Lorenzo Carter (LB, Georgia)
I’ve watched a lot of Carter this season and he’s the one player I’ve really struggled to get a feel for. How good is he? For large stretches in games he doesn’t have much impact. Yet in virtually every Georgia game I watched in 2017, he would still make at least one big play.

The Rose Bowl was an interesting watch. Georgia had him lined up in coverage against Mark Andrews the tight end. Andrews is a little bit overrated as a prospect. He gets open on the more basic routes but isn’t a special athlete and he’s not much of a blocker. Oklahoma tried to run the same play to Andrews twice in this game — one throw hit the mark, Georgia learned their lesson the second time and picked off Mayfield.

Carter jolted Andrews back a few times when they matched up in the run — but as noted, Andrews isn’t much of a blocker. In coverage Andrews had the beating of Carter on a couple of occasions — but it’s a bit of a mismatch overall.

There was one play where Carter did a really good job in coverage, albeit in an unorthodox way. Oklahoma tried to use the running back on a wheel route and Carter was able to, quite subtly, get in the way and disrupt the route. He identified quickly what they were trying to do. Mayfield wanted to throw the ball to the right sideline but saw it wasn’t on, tried to scramble to the left and took a big sack.

Carter recorded a sack in the game but that was mostly down to Roquan Smith. Both players blitzed up the middle. Carter was initially held up but Smith got into the backfield to move Mayfield off the spot. Carter cleaned up.

His big play though was vitally important and possibly the most decisive in the game. In overtime Oklahoma were forced to kick a field goal to go three points ahead. Carter leapt from the line of scrimmage and at full extension got a fingertip to the ball. It was an outstanding, athletic play. For a player measuring at about 6-4 and 242lbs, it was an incredible jump:

He should perform well in the vertical at the combine. Sony Michel scored a touchdown to win the game moments later.

Carter’s potential is to be a Bruce Irvin type. He’s not the pass rusher Irvin was at West Virginia but he might be better suited to an orthodox linebacker role, while still acting as a rusher for passing downs.

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (RB)

Both Chubb and Michel saved their best performances of the season for the most important game. They’ve both enjoyed a productive year but they took it to another level here. The only blip was Michel’s fumble returned for a touchdown in the second half.

I did a feature piece on Chubb in November, noting he could still go in the first round. There’s no disputing his potential and talent. Chubb had one of the all-time great workouts at the Nike SPARQ combine in 2013:

Height — 5-10
Weight — 217lbs
Forty yard dash — 4.47
Vertical — 40 inches
Short shuttle — 4.12
SPARQ — 143.91

He is basically a Christine Michael-level athlete.

Without the serious knee injury he suffered in 2015, he would’ve been a high first round pick. Based on what we saw at the Rose Bowl, he’s back to his best. Now we just need to see how he tests. How much juice, if any, has he lost? And what do the medicals say at the combine?

If everything checks out, Chubb will undoubtedly be on Seattle’s radar. He fits their physical profile perfectly (5-10, 228lbs), he’s an extremely explosive athlete and he’s as tough as they come. His running style is physical and sets the tone. He also has the ability to break off big runs.

Despite the athletic comparisons to Christine Michael, Chubb is an incredibly serious individual. He’s all business. His interviews are among the most boring you’ll hear. That just adds to the intrigue. He’s all about football.

Watch this:

I suspect this is what Pete Carroll is looking for. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks are going to be all-in on Nick Chubb. This is a fantastic running back class. We’ve already talked up the quality of Damien Harris, Ronald Jones II and Kerryon Johnson too. Any of those three — and a cluster of others — could interest the Seahawks.

Yet there’s no doubting Chubb fits their prototype and he could easily be a player they consider with their first pick.

(A quick note — Kerryon Johnson announced his decision to turn pro yesterday. Tony Pauline reports Ronald Jones II will make the same decision. The other Auburn runner, Kamryn Pettway, missed most of 2017 but also announced he’s turning pro and could be a day-three bargain).

As for Michel, he’s an interesting partner. If you could insert Chubb, Michel and Wynn into the Seahawks offense for next season, they’d probably see a decent upturn in production. Chubb and Michel are college football’s answer to Ingram and Kamara. Michel probably isn’t the same kind of athlete as Kamara — but they compliment each other in the same way.

Chubb is the more natural ‘born to be a running back’ type. Michel is quicker and more of a factor in the passing game. Yet he showed in this contest why he’s such a dynamic X-factor. Depending on Chubb’s health, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Michel is the first off the board.

He scored a 75-yard touchdown against Oklahoma. In fairness it was a huge open running lane he exploited — but the acceleration he showed to finish was impressive.

Here’s the game winner:

He’s patient to work to the edge, find the gap and then finishes.

Michel isn’t just a player who works well in space or excels in the passing game. He can show toughness and provide some of the inside running to keep things balanced. He’s 5-10 and 220lbs so he’s not small by any stretch. He too fits Seattle’s size profile. They might be willing to consider him as a compliment to Chris Carson.

Both players could be off the board by the time round two concludes.

Javon Wims (WR, Georgia)

Wims is a player we’ve talked about a few times during the season. He really emerged as Georgia’s go-to target in the passing game. Every week he seemed to make a few big plays.

He has seven touchdowns now and 704 yards. Considering he’s working with a true-freshman quarterback, his numbers are quite impressive. Before this season he’d barely featured for Georgia. He saved his best play for his Senior year.

Wims might’ve played himself into the middle rounds, which is a shame. Originally I’d hoped he might last into day three and make a nice project. He’s 6-4 and 215lbs and could provide the kind of dynamic big outside target the Seahawks have lacked over the years.

The back-shoulder fade has been his best friend but he’s also developed into a key red-zone threat and he does well high-pointing the football. He sometimes produces a nice check down option settling over the middle and he can separate on the shorter routes. He’s at his best, however, working the red line to make big plays.

Wims is still a bit underrated and he’s helped provide the balance Georgia’s offense requires to compliment their dynamic duo at running back. Look at the video below. Wims has become enough of a threat that Georgia can use him as a decoy to exploit Sony Michel in the passing game:

And this is what he does in the red zone:

There’s no replay in the clip above but it was a difficult catch under pressure.

Some people might not like the fact it’s two SEC teams in the National Championship game this week. For me, it’s the perfect final for Seahawks fans. Four interesting running backs (Damien Harris, Bo Scarborough, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) a ton of defensive talent on both rosters and some good O-liners and receivers too. It’s a dream for Seahawks fans ready and willing to look ahead to the draft.

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Pete Carroll: Running back “a big focal point”

January 2nd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Pete Carroll wants to add to the running back position.

That was my big takeaway from his two media appearances today — firstly with Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN and then with reporters in his usual press conference.

We have a real formula (for) how we win” stated Carroll. “We’ve been unable the last two years to incorporate a major aspect of that… (it) is to run the football the way we want to run.”

He went on to highlight the resurgence of teams like the Rams, the Saints, the Eagles and the Vikings. Many of the teams in the playoffs are those capable of providing balance on offense.

The Seahawks haven’t had that balance for two seasons. They haven’t been able to run the ball effectively.

In November I wrote a piece titled, ‘Marshawn Lynch shaped hole still gaping in Seattle’. It was clear, I think, even in 2014 when Lynch was still helping the team, that replacing him was going to be the greatest challenge John Schneider and Pete Carroll faced. They either had to find gold somehow as they did drafting Russell Wilson in round three — or it was going to take an early round pick like the ones spent on Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette.

They’re still looking for a guy they crave to feature. A player they can rely on — to provide the tough yards, durability and consistency. It appeared Chris Carson could be that guy. He still could be. You can’t rely on that, however. He only managed a handful of games as a rookie.

So the search has to continue.

Like the Saints and Rams, Carroll believes Seattle can change their fortunes by running effectively:

The critical guys I think are the runners. The runners need to come back to life to us. And that’s Chris Carson and C.J. (Prosise) and Mike (Davis) coming back and whoever else can be part of that thing. J.D. McKissic was a really good positive aspect of our team this year and we need to make that position more competitive. That’s going to be one that we’re focused on because of the durability issues that we’ve faced the last two seasons.”

Carroll later said they would add to the runners, asking, “Who can we add to make it more competitive?” and stating, again, it would be “a big focal point“.

It was particularly interesting when Brock Huard pushed Carroll on the situation. Huard pulled no punches, laying out his concerns about the running game:

“Can you understand from me in this seat or a fan listening when saying, ‘Chris Carson?’ and C.J. — C.J.’s not been able to stay healthy so I can’t count on C.J. and a fan would say, ‘Chris looked really dynamic in the pre-season but I don’t know…’

We’ve gone from Christine Michael to Chris and Rawls and Eddie Lacy and there’s just been so much turnover at that position that a fan, I think, has a hard time saying, ‘man if Chris Carson were running behind that line in the season and with some of the blocking we watched Sunday, that he would be dynamic and be able to close that loop’.”

Carroll’s response?

I think it’s more impacting than you know

Carroll went on to admit the O-line could’ve been better up front. Yet it’s the sentence above I found most telling. He’s essentially spelling out the importance of a quality running back. When Carson was healthy, he ran effectively. He averaged 4.2 YPC and that’s when Rees Odhiambo was at left tackle, not Duane Brown.

They need more at the position. It’s not a cure-all to the problem. The offensive line does need to continue to make progress. They might add a veteran O-liner or two again, as they did a year ago.

But ultimately they need to find their answer to what LA has with Todd Gurley or New Orleans with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.

Carroll’s end of season press conferences have provided a good insight into what the team is planning for the draft and free agency.

A year ago Carroll listed the secondary, young depth at linebacker and the O-line as priorities. The Seahawks spent multiple picks on defensive backs and spent a second rounder on Ethan Pocic while adding Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi in free agency.

They brought in several linebackers to provide depth.

Before the 2011 season the focus was on improving the running game (they drafted James Carpenter and John Moffitt and signed Robert Gallery). In 2012 the target was speed in the front seven (they drafted Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner). In 2013 it was touchdown makers (enter Percy Harvin and Christine Michael with their first two picks).

The comments about the running back position today are enlightening. They’re also not that surprising. There’s a reason why we’ve been talking about college running backs for weeks. It’s also a position of strength and depth in the 2018 draft. This is one of those times where need matches availability perfectly.

The Seahawks don’t have to spend the #18 pick on a running back. They might acquire picks in rounds 2-3, they might trade down in round one. Whatever they do, they’re going to be able to find a running back (or two) that they like.

When I put together an early top-50 for 2018 list on Sunday, ten running backs were listed. That’s ten prospects potentially going before the end of round two. It’s not unrealistic. Some might drop into round three. Alvin Kamara did after all. It speaks to the depth at the position though — and the options available to the Seahawks.

They won’t have a shot at Saquon Barkley but the rest could all be in range. They might wish to consider Nick Chubb, Damien Harris or Ronald Jones II with their first pick. They could find a way to get into round two and look at Sony Michel, Royce Freeman or Kerryon Johnson.

There will be options later in the draft too. It feels like a class where adding two running backs would be a wise move. Take advantage of the depth.

If they had their second and third round picks, they might be more inclined to wait. With only one pick currently — even if they trade down — it feels likely running back will be an early-ish target in the draft.

That’s perhaps backed up by Carroll’s comments later on in his two media appearances. He not only spoke about the positive impact of consistency on the offensive line — he also discussed the “new nucleus” emerging with the likes of Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald and others. He said he’d “love to have” Byron Maxwell back and said he was “really excited” about Dion Jordan — a player who could be a “legitimate factor” in 2018.

Change is imminent on the defense. Too many well sourced reporters are talking about it. Michael Bennett admits he doesn’t think he’ll be back. Carroll suitably dodged a question about Earl Thomas returning, opting to answer by saying he’d had a great season.

Most of the change might come from within. They do have some pieces. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright will return for sure. Frank Clark and Jarran Reed have become important players while Naz Jones had a great rookie season. Sheldon Richardson could still return while Shaq Griffin, Maxwell, McDougald and Justin Coleman impressed at various points.

A younger, cheaper defense appears to be on the cards. A new era, so to speak.

And that could mean more investment and greater expense on the offense.

That’s not to say they won’t add to the new core on defense. There are some very appealing defensive players eligible for 2018. Carroll’s words today were revealing, however. He knows he needs to repair his running game. They can’t continue to struggle there for a third straight year.

Fixing the run has to be — and will be — a priority.

If you missed it earlier I posted a piece on the recent history of the #18 pick. Check it out by clicking here. Sometimes I will be posting multiple posts in a day, so if you want to follow along click the ‘HOME’ tab in the title bar and scroll down.

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The history of the #18 pick

January 2nd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

We know the Seahawks officially own the #18 pick. In recent years that has been a good range to be in.

2017

The #18 pick was Adoree’ Jackson, one of the best and most athletic players in the draft. Jackson was a very accomplished cornerback at USC and a big time playmaker — but also a dynamic kick returner. He’s had a good start to his NFL career with the Titans.

There were plenty of good options just after Jackson was picked:

#18 Adoree’ Jackson
#19 O.J. Howard
#20 Garett Bolles
#21 Jarrad Davis
#22 Charles Harris
#23 Evan Engram

The Seahawks were rumored to rate Howard very highly. Bolles was the top offensive tackle in the class and the first off the board. Davis and Harris were both highly regarded defensive players and Engram was one of the most athletic and productive pass-catchers available.

2016

The #18 pick was center Ryan Kelly, a player the Seahawks apparently rated very highly. Doug Baldwin famously tweeted after Kelly was off the board, suggesting he was Seattle’s guy. Injury hampered his 2017 season but he had a very good rookie year.

Aside from Kelly, Atlanta’s brilliant safety Keanu Neal was the #17 pick. Two of the best players in the whole class were within range of #18.

2015

Another draft, another great option at #18. In 2015 Kansas City selected Marcus Peters here. He looked like an ideal Seahawks corner and has since gone on to become one of the best defensive players in the league.

The players taken immediately after Peters were Cam Erving, Nelson Agholor, Cedric Ogbuehi, Bud Dupree and Shane Ray.

2014

This is the first year where the #18 pick was a bit of a disappointment. The Jets selected hard-hitting Louisville safety Calvin Pryor. He was traded to the Browns this year, then cut after fighting with Ricardo Louis. The Jaguars picked him up but released him shortly after.

Pryor was a flop but look at some of the names that went off the board in the teens:

#13 Aaron Donald
#15 Ryan Shazier
#16 Zack Martin
#17 C.J. Mosley

All within striking distance of pick #18.

2013

The Niners used #18 on safety Eric Reid. He’s had a decent career to date and has been a mainstay during the numerous coaching changes in San Francisco.

Also on the board — Desmond Trufant (#22 to Atlanta), Xavier Rhodes (#25 to Minnesota) and DeAndre Hopkins (#27).

Of course, none of this will be relevant if the options in 2018 are much weaker. It goes to show though, in previous years there have been very talented prospects available at #18.

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Top 50 prospects for the 2018 NFL draft

December 31st, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

I’ve posted two pieces today — this article on the draft and the usual instant reaction piece which can be viewed by clicking here.

With the regular season complete, here’s an early look at the top-50 prospects eligible for the 2018 draft (and it’s early, so this is subject to major change).

The Seahawks own the #18 overall pick after finishing 9-7.

The players are listed position-by-position:

Quarterbacks (6)

Sam Darnold (USC)
Josh Rosen (UCLA)
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Josh Allen (Wyoming)
Drew Lock (Missouri)

It’s a decent crop of quarterbacks. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen have both declared. It’s possible as many as five quarterbacks go in round one with 3-4 potentially going in the top-15.

Running backs (9)

Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
Damien Harris (Alabama)
Ronald Jones II (USC)
Kerryon Johnson (Auburn)
Nick Chubb (Georgia)
Bryce Love (Stanford)
Royce Freeman (Oregon)
Rashaad Penny (San Diego State)
Sony Michel (Georgia)

It’s a loaded class at running back. Barkley will probably go in the top-five and the rest of the names will likely be gone by the end of round two. Several could go in round one including Harris, Jones II, Chubb and Johnson. Derrius Guice misses out here — I think he’s in the R2-3 range.

Wide receiver (5)

Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
Courtland Sutton (SMU)
James Washington (Oklahoma State)
Anthony Miller (Memphis)
D.J. Moore (Maryland)

It’s a down year in terms of the first round at receiver but there are some interesting mid-to-late round options (eg Javon Wims at Georgia). Ridley isn’t particularly big or fast but he gets open and he’s consistent. Sutton is a big bodied Alshon Jeffrey type. Washington, Miller and Moore could go in the 20-40 range.

Tight end (0)

As things stand, there’s a chance we won’t see a tight end go in the first two rounds of the draft. It’s almost certain there won’t be a first round tight end.

Offensive line (9)

Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
Billy Price (C/G, Ohio State)
Orlando Brown (T, Oklahoma)
Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame)
Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
Frank Ragnow (C, Arkansas)
Braden Smith (G, Auburn)
Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)
Coleman Shelton (C, Washington)

It’s a decent crop of interior linemen but a weak looking tackle class. Nelson could go in the top-10 and Price isn’t far behind. Brown and McGlinchey are expected to be first round tackles. Expect the rest to go in the late first or second round.

Defensive line (12)

Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)
Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech)
Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
Arden Key (DE, LSU)
Derrick Nnadi (DT, Florida State)
Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
Austin Bryant (DE, Clemson)
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (DE, Oklahoma)

This is a really good looking D-line group. Chubb, Ferrell, Davenport and Vea could go in the top-12. Others will be competing for places in the second half of round one. There’s a bit of everything here — speed, power, length, size.

Linebacker (6)

Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
Roquan Smith (Georgia)
Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
Lorenzo Carter (LB, Georgia)
Keishawn Bierria (Washington)

Edmunds is the outstanding linebacker prospect and could easily go in the top-15. Smith, Vander Esch, Evans and Carter are equally capable of going in the first frame.

Cornerback (0)

It’s not a good looking cornerback class. Iowa’s Joshua Jackson has major production this year with eight interceptions and a pair of touchdowns. He could sneak into the first round. Ohio State’s Denzel Ward is another possible high pick.

Safety (3)

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
Derwin James (Florida State)
Ronnie Harrison (Alabama)

The safety’s are a bit overrated but Fitzpatrick is likely a top-15 pick, James could go between 15-30 and Ronnie Harrison could be a late first or early second round type talent.

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