Notes below, including a few thoughts on each round for the Seahawks.
#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Chicago — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#5 Cleveland (trade) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#6 New York Jets — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#7 San Diego — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#8 Carolina — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#9 Cincinnati — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#10 Buffalo — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#11 New Orleans — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#12 Tennessee (trade) — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#13 Arizona — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#15 Indianapolis — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#16 Baltimore — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#17 Washington — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#18 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#20 Denver — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
#23 New York Giants — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#24 Oakland — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#25 Houston — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#26 Seattle — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#27 Kansas City — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
#28 Dallas — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
#29 Green Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)
#30 Pittsburgh — Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
#31 Atlanta — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#32 New Orleans — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Seahawks trading down?
There’s possibly going to be a drop off in talent in the second round at around pick #50-55. The Seahawks pick at #58.
A year ago they moved down from #26 to #31 before trading up in round two (#56 to #49) to get Jarran Reed. Trading down in the first again this year could provide the ammunition (fourth round pick) to repeat the act.
With Kevin King off the board in this scenario (#24) they might be able to move down a few spots and still land Obi Melifonwu.
Trading up in round two? Who for?
It could be for one of the cornerbacks they really like. Cordrea Tankersley has size, length and speed. Let’s see if he can improve his broad and vertical jumps at the Clemson pro-day today.
They could look at T.J. Watt. His ability to play SAM and potentially the WILL could be appealing. He’d add another pass rush option as well. His agility testing at the combine almost certainly got Seattle’s attention. Tyus Bowser had a near-identical workout and could also be on their radar. Does either last to #58?
Wildcard options? How about Evan Engram (possibly out of range as a pick in the early 30’s) or Zay Jones?
Would they trade down in round two?
If there is a drop in talent in the pick #50-55 range, the Seahawks might trade out of round two (just as they did in 2011). The late second round is a bit rich for some of the linebackers in this draft. If they move down into the early third round, that could be the range to justify taking someone like Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel.
Who probably won’t be there for the Seahawks in round one?
Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick. They’re destined for the top-15.
Reddick is second only to Myles Garrett in this draft in terms of explosive, natural athleticism. Bolles is a beast at left tackle with the athletic qualities to go top-10. He sets the tone on offense. For example:
Bolles/Asiata bash bros.. Firstly excellent job by Bolles (punch, catch, drop step) – then Asiata finishing the job. Brutal to face all game pic.twitter.com/G1CJlbMgWQ
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 16, 2017
It’s also why his team mate (#54 Isaac Asiata) might appeal to the Seahawks. He plays with the exact same intensity.
What does this likely mean at #26?
Get a defensive back. It’s a DB-draft. There could be alternatives (Forrest Lamp for example) but this class is going to be defined by the cornerbacks and safety’s. They will go early and often. Every team is going to want a piece of this group.
There will be good options at linebacker and the O-line in rounds 2-3.
Notes on Obi Melifonwu
Melifonwu gets nitpicked more than a lot of other prospects probably because his physical profile is so exceptional. People expect to see a combination of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. When they don’t, an overreaction occurs.
Here’s a small sample of what he’s capable of. Watch him cover the slot receiver, recover and then break on the ball:
There aren’t many players in the league with this level of short-area quickness and recovery speed, with the explosive traits to make a play on the ball. There are even fewer players that possess this level of agility and quickness covering the middle of the field with Melifonwu’s size. So while you might be able to find that quick-twitch, nimble orthodox slot corner to make a play like this, they’re often 5-10 and 190lbs. Melifonwu is 6-4 and 230lbs. Why is that important? He’ll never be a mismatch vs tight ends and bigger receivers working inside.
The video below belittles the suggestion he plays without instinct and isn’t a good fit as an orthodox safety:
You can see him read the quarterback and flash the range to make a play on the ball. It’s a late throw by the QB admittedly. That said, he feels confident enough to attempt this pass because the safety is covering the middle. This is a throw to the left corner of the end zone. Look how much ground Melifonwu makes up to intercept the ball. That’s range defined.
Notice how in the two videos above he undercuts the route. That’s instinct. It’s football savvy. It’s knowing what you need to do to put yourself in position to make a play. Melifonwu’s athleticism will often get him to the ball — here’s the evidence he can take advantage when he gets there.
Here’s another example:
He’s reading this play and covering ground from centre-field. He might not be smashing people into next Tuesday like Kam Chancellor. Yet his combination of size and athleticism will enable him to make rangy plays all over the field.
Adding to this, here’s an interesting article on his play courtesy of PFF. They’re asserting he ranked ninth in run-stop percentage and seventeenth in tackling efficiency among CFB safeties last season.
It’s not a big surprise. Melifonwu doesn’t always deliver the highlight-reel hits but he’s an incredibly assured tackler. Again, his athleticism will often get him to a ball-carrier. The important thing is the finish. And he’s a finisher.
For a defense designed around not giving up the big play, creating pressure gradually and being bigger and faster than the opponent, he’s a good fit.
PFF’s comparison for Melifonwu in their piece is Kam Chancellor. That’s a little rich given the difference in their playing styles — but in terms of sheer physical potential, they kind of have a point:
This comparison is low-hanging fruit, but the reality is there just isn’t another existing player in the NFL who can play up to Melifonwu’s ceiling based on his size and athleticism. Chancellor’s role is one that many teams try to emulate and Melifonwu is one of the few capable of living up to that type of hype.
He isn’t going to be Kam. Nobody is. But he has the potential to be really, really good with the right guidance. There is a chance he could be tried at cornerback but his best fit is likely big nickel and strong safety. Essentially he’d provide depth behind Chancellor and the potential to take Jeremy Lane’s 71% of defensive snaps working the slot.
Melifonwu is set to visit the VMAC according to reports and the Seahawks are clearly doing their homework. The key to this fit isn’t likely to be his physical potential and tape. It’s the mental side of things. How does he fit in the locker room? Can he handle being part of a defense littered with alpha-males? We’ll never know how the Seahawks assess him in that regard. It’s probably the only hurdle he has to clear to secure a spot in round one.
Possible round-by-round options
This is a very tentative and most definitely incomplete list. It’s just a guide for now if you want to look at possible options.
In terms of what the Seahawks might look for specifically at linebacker and the O-line, I’d recommend reading these two articles:
I’ve also discarded some positions (eg running back) in the early rounds. It seems unlikely they’d spend a high pick on a RB after adding Eddie Lacy this week.
R1 — (DB) Kevin King, Obi Melifonwu, Budda Baker, Justin Evans, Tre’Davious White
(Expectation — Garett Bolles, Haason Reddick, Marlon Humphrey and Gareon Conley are unavailable)
R2 — (LB/SAM) T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser, Jordan Willis, Zach Cunningham, (DB) Cordrea Tankersley, Ahkello Witherspoon, Josh Jones, Quincy Wilson (OL) Taylor Moton (WR) Zay Jones (TE) Evan Engram, Bucky Hodges
R3 — (LB) Vince Biegel, Duke Riley, Anthony Walker Jr, Elijah Lee, Alex Anzalone (OL) Isaac Asiata, Nico Siragusa, Adam Bisnowaty (TE) George Kittle, Jonnu Smith, Marcus Maye (DB) Shaq Griffin, Rasul Douglas, Shalom Luani, Jadar Johnson, Rayshawn Jenkins, Delano Hill (WR) Robert Davis, Jehu Chesson, Malachi Dupre, Josh Reynolds
R6 — (DT) Carlos Watkins (LB) Ben Gedeon, Jordan Evans (DB) Marquez White, Treston Decoud, Brendan Langley (WR) DeAngelo Yancey (K) Zane Gonzalez
R7 — (RB) Chris Carson (WR) Quincy Adeboyojo (DB) Brian Allen, Montae Nicholson (DT) Josh Tupou, Rod Henderson
If you missed it earlier in the week, don’t forget to check out the Sea Hawkers podcast appearance. The draft talk starts 30 minutes in: