Talkin’ Seahawks with Joe Fann & thoughts on the top-10

April 1st, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

This week I was invited onto Joe Fann’s ‘Talkin’ Seahawks’ podcast. We had a good conversation about Jamal Adams, the off-season and how I came to follow (and ultimately write about) the team.

Check it out here:

I also wanted to share some thoughts on the top-10 picks.

I think we’re starting to gain some clarity on what’s going to happen at certain spots and how this will ultimately shape the rest of the draft.

#1 Jacksonville Jaguars

This is straight forward. They will select Trevor Lawrence.

#2 New York Jets

Short of any medical issues, they will select Zach Wilson. He had a surgically repaired shoulder and players will soon travel to Indianapolis for medicals. Provided everything checks out, Wilson will be the pick here.

#3 San Francisco 49ers

I think this is nailed on to be Mac Jones. Kyle Shanahan’s offense doesn’t call for off-script improv. Not in the slightest. He wants to call the plays, he wants you to read the defender he isolates and execute. There’s a difference between a bootleg and backyard football. Justin Fields and Trey Lance don’t process anywhere near as well as Jones and they don’t throw with the same anticipation either. Fields in particular is better playing off-script, not within structure. Jones is the ideal fit for what Shanahan wants. Remember — his offense in Atlanta in 2016 was virtually unstoppable with Matt Ryan (the MVP) simply executing. Jones will win the locker room over quickly (just ask DeVonta Smith & Jaylen Waddle for their thoughts on Jones over Tua). They went and got their guy and to be honest, I’d be a lot more fearful of someone who can execute Shanahan’s genius rather than a superior, flashier athlete.

#4 Atlanta Falcons

I think this comes down to two players — Kyle Pitts and Trey Lance. To cut or trade Matt Ryan next year will cost Atlanta $40m. So they are tied to him for at least two more seasons. For me, the best thing to do would be to draft Pitts at #4 and then take Kellen Mond with your second selection. However, if the Falcons see this as a rare opportunity to pick a quarterback in the top-five to set themselves up long term, they could select Lance and sit him until 2023. I think the smart move is clearly Pitts and new GM Terry Fontenot insists they’ll take the best player on the board. Plus I think Lance only warrants a placing similar to Jordan Love a year ago.

#5 Cincinatti Bengals

The Bengals are going to draft Ja’Marr Chase. Book it. It’s as nailed on as the top-three picks.

#6 Miami Dolphins

Reportedly the Dolphins are avoiding players who held out of the 2020 season. That makes Penei Sewell unlikely. If Kyle Pitts is still on the board, he’s a strong option. The two Alabama receivers — DeVonta Smith & Jaylen Waddle — are strong options too. However — I still think Patrick Surtain is also a possibility. This is a deep receiver class and with #18 and two second rounders, the Dolphins can wait if they want to. Xavien Howard’s days are numbered in Miami and Tony Pauline recently indicated the Dolphins are planning to take a corner early. Some people view Surtain as one of the top four or five players in the draft, with a low floor and decent ceiling. So I think this pick comes down to Pitts, Smith, Waddle or Surtain.

#7 Detroit Lions

This seems like another cast-iron lock. The Lions are desperate at receiver and will select one of DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.

#8 Carolina Panthers

All the talk was about a powerplay for Deshaun Watson but that’s not happening now. I wonder if the Panthers will kick the can down the road at quarterback. They could take Justin Fields but I sense Matt Rhule and David Tepper want proven experience. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took Penei Sewell here to play left tackle and revisited the Watson situation down the line. Patrick Surtain could also be a consideration, or Rashawn Slater.

#9 Denver Broncos

They could go quarterback but I’m just not sure it’s what the new GM will want to do. You have to be really convinced if you’re going to attach yourself to a quarterback with your first pick. I think they will trade down and target linebackers in the mid-teens. I think New England will have their eye on Justin Fields as an ideal transition project from Cam Newton. I have them moving up to get him.

#10 Dallas Cowboys

The consensus seems to be cornerback for Dallas — meaning either Patrick Surtain or if he’s off the board, Jaycee Horn. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they looked at Rashawn Slater to play guard or one of the top-two pass rushers (Azeez Olujari, Jaelen Phillips).

Other notes…

— I’m going to be publishing TEF results for the 2021 O-line class in the next couple of days. No spoilers here but I can tell you this is by far the most explosive group of offensive linemen we’ve ever covered.

— I’ve also updated my horizontal board and will be publishing the new version within the next few days.

— Teven Jenkins secured a place in the first round with his pro-day today. He measured with 33.5 inch arms (longer than expected) and jumped a 32.5 inch vertical. He also delivered the quote of the off-season. I would draft him for that answer alone.

— I didn’t expect Chubba Hubbard to weigh in at 210lbs and jump a 36 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad. I still don’t think he’s a Seahawks ‘type’ of running back but this combination of size and explosive testing warrants further study.

I shared more thoughts on the top-10, the Seahawks and a lot more in a live stream Q&A I did yesterday, which also featured Robbie and I discussing the Tyler Lockett news. If you missed it, check it out here:

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Seahawks sign Tyler Lockett to big extension

March 31st, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

If you missed it earlier, here’s a re-run of the live stream I did with Robbie reacting to the Tyler Lockett news. Plus, I did a 30-minute solo Q&A after…

“Tyler’s been a great Seahawk”

Those were the words of Pete Carroll, when Lockett signed his last extension in 2018.

Several times over the years, Carroll has made reference to his fit within Seattle’s culture.

It shouldn’t be any surprise. All Lockett has done since entering the league in 2015 is produce. He has delivered big numbers, key plays and a level of consistency which remains highly underrated within the wider NFL.

Further to that, you never hear anything negative about him. He never complains. He’s never in the news for the wrong reasons.

Tyler Lockett is the perfect player for a coach.

One of the silliest debates during this off-season was whether the Seahawks would trade Lockett to recoup draft stock. It was never, ever going to happen.

Quite aside from the impact it would have on an already troubled relationship with the franchise quarterback, or the already thin depth at receiver, there was no chance Seattle was going to send Lockett to play somewhere else.

He is too treasured, too reliable, practically too perfect to move.

You might say this is too expensive. However, you need to look at where the receiver market is.

Here are the league leaders in average salary:

DeAndre Hopkins — $27.25m
Julio Jones — $22m
Keenan Allen — $20m
Michael Thomas — $19m
Odell Beckham — $18m
Kenny Golladay — $18m
Tyreek Hill — $18m
Allen Robinson — $16.5m
Mike Evans — $16.5m
Robert Woods — $16.25m
Brandin Cooks — $16m

We don’t know the structure of Lockett’s contract yet but $69m divided by four is $17.25m. It’s hardly unfair to place him, fresh off a new deal, somewhere between Golladay and Brandin Cooks.

The market simply dictates the value and that’s what he is worth.

No doubt this will be structured to save money this year and maybe there will be outs down the line — or the contract will be structured to coincide with an increase in revenue as the NFL economy recovers post-Covid.

But there was never any chance of Lockett leaving Seattle — via trade or free agency next year.

This was inevitable, it is deserved and the key for the Seahawks now is to make sure they take some of the pressure off Lockett and D.K. Metcalf in 2021 by adding a proper third weapon to the arsenal.

Keep an eye out for Joe Fann’s latest podcast dropping tomorrow. I was invited on and had a great chat with Joe about a number of topics.

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The Sam Darnold situation is… maybe worth discussing?

March 30th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Sam Darnold has been linked to the Seahawks

At the height of the Russell Wilson-to-Chicago talks, Sam Darnold’s name emerged as a candidate to replace Wilson in Seattle.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quoted a NFL GM linking Darnold to the Seahawks. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News cited a source, claiming Pete Carroll ‘has a high opinion of Darnold’ and that people should ‘keep an eye on Seattle’.

Days earlier, Colin Cowherd also made the connection.

Some have been very dismissive of this talk.

Yet there’s likely a reason Darnold’s name was doing the rounds.

Given the Seahawks were reportedly talking to Chicago about a Wilson trade, only for Carroll to eventually turn down the Bears offer, it’s hardly a stretch that contingency plans were made and that Darnold was considered.

There’s too much smoke here to write it off completely.

And clearly, as has been reported by Adam Schefter and others, any potential Wilson move has to come with the Seahawks gaining a viable replacement.

Chicago’s offer, perhaps, came at the wrong time.

Two weeks ago when all this Wilson trade talk was bubbling, several teams remained prospective suitors for Darnold. Since then, San Francisco has traded up to #3, Washington has signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chicago has added Andy Dalton.

It’s not exactly clear who would take Darnold at this stage, leaving the Jets in a not too favourable position. Especially given the world knows they’re set to take Zach Wilson with the second pick.

Then, this report emerged yesterday:

It shouldn’t be a surprise, really.

Who is trading for Darnold?

He pretty much has no market.

It led to this half damage limitation, half ‘please make us an offer’ response from the Jets, courtesy of ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

So why is this relevant to the Seahawks?

Where as two weeks ago it might’ve meant the Bears giving the Jets a second round pick to include Darnold in a deal — or the Seahawks offering #56 — now it’s possible a third or maybe even a conditional fourth rounder gets this done.

If that’s the case, it makes it much easier to include Darnold in some kind of package. It makes a trade much more likely than it did two weeks ago.

That doesn’t mean anything will happen — or that Darnold was anything more than a possible option which has since been rejected.

It’s just something worth keeping in mind as we count down the days to the draft.

Personally, I’m not sure it’s possible to create a deal that suits all parties. Chicago not owning a high pick, plus the need to include a third party, makes it incredibly tricky.

I do think, however, that the lack of a viable proposal is probably the only reason why this hasn’t happened already.

So it comes down to whether a trade can be presented between now and the end of April, that does work. Again, I’m very doubtful. But I’m also not going to completely ignore the NFL’s #1 insider when he says this:

A lot of fans might be wishing into reality that everything is hunky dory now. If it was, the Seahawks would’ve restructured Wilson’s contract — the ultimate sign of a marriage that won’t be broken this year or next.

Or he would’ve signed an extension. Or they would’ve spoken publicly, to nip this in the bud.

Neither party has come out and explicitly stated that this relationship is continuing. It feels like everyone’s keeping their options open.

Filling obvious holes at left guard and at defensive end isn’t a move to appease Wilson as much as it’s a move to build a team. It’s not really indicative of anything. Neither are a few tweets from Wilson celebrating returning team mates. After all, he’s still Seattle’s quarterback. Why not welcome back people he’ll need to work closely with if he does indeed stick around?

After all — I don’t think Wilson pines to leave Seattle. I think he wants to stay but with the team doing things differently. With less control from the Head Coach. You can make a strong argument that he’s right to feel that way. You can also make a strong argument to suggest Carroll won’t consider it — which is why we’ve had to endure the last two months of drama.

There’s no rush for the Seahawks now that the meat of free agency is complete.

They need to work out whether Wilson is willing to extend his list of trade suitors. Recent reports suggest he’s not adding to the initial four. Yet with Deshaun Watson almost certainly un-trade-able for now, you have to wonder if the Dolphins, Panthers and Eagles at least test the water.

Could they sell Wilson on a deal? I think it’s pretty unlikely but you never truly know.

And let’s be right — picking at #6, #8, #12 or #18 instead of #20 is more appealing.

Alternatively, the Seahawks may get another call from the Bears. Can they work Darnold into a package? Can they manufacture a way to move up the board, to offer Seattle a more attractive pick in round one?

Are they willing to wait until the start of the draft to confirm a deal, affording them the opportunity to include 2024 picks (something they’re unable to do currently)?

Or is there a chance, finally, for both Wilson and the Seahawks to come together and put things right and move forward for the long term?

I actually think that is the least likely scenario at the moment. Tony Pauline’s recent report painted a picture of a couple knowing their futures were heading in separate directions. Several people close to Mark Rodgers insist this is Wilson’s last contract in Seattle, meaning it’s best for the Seahawks to max out his value while they can.

Putting two and two together — Carroll was presented with an offer, negotiated by John Schneider and Ryan Pace after talking and then meeting at the North Dakota State pro-day — to trade Wilson. Carroll rejected it.

To me that implies Schneider was at least comfortable with the offer, otherwise he wouldn’t have pitched it to Carroll. I suspect that Schneider has had his fill of Mark Rodgers and feels, maybe, it’s time to move on. Get the picks back he’s missing in the next couple of drafts, add a quarterback and build. That’s what GM’s do.

Alternatively, Carroll (ever the optimist) might be backing himself to make things right. It will be his decision, ultimately, on whether to move on. Remember the comment from Mike Silver that suggested if Paul Allen were still with us, Wilson probably would’ve been traded by now? That to me also lends itself to a situation where the front office and Carroll might have a difference of opinion here.

This could also be why Schefter is warning not to rule anything out just yet. It could come down to whether Carroll is presented with a scenario with which he is comfortable — with Schneider, perhaps, fully prepared to move on.

Whether that’s with picks plus Darnold, or with a quarterback in this draft.

And despite the world telling you that all the quarterbacks will go quickly, or that there’s little chance of Justin Fields or Trey Lance falling — I’d encourage people to investigate, watch tape on the pair, study their footwork, anticipation, and ability to process and make up your own minds.

I don’t think it’s totally out of the question Mac Jones goes at #3 and Fields and Lance last a bit longer than most expect.

Personally, I think Kellen Mond has a lot to offer. He can improvise more with his athletic profile and his footwork on his drop needs work — but aside from that his release, anticipation, accuracy and ability to throw under pressure is of a high level. He also has a lot more starting experience (four years at Texas A&M) and he performed very strongly at the Senior Bowl.

Unlike a lot of people, I’ve also taken the time to study Darnold — watching six games from 2019/20. You can read my thoughts here but again — check him out yourself on GamePass (they have all-22) and make your own call.

Either way — this is a situation with Wilson that warrants monitoring, discussing and not dismissing.

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Seahawks free agency review & assessment

March 29th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Kerry Hyder — one of Seattle’s solid free agent additions

With limited resources, a difficult financial climate and multiple key needs — the Seahawks have arguably done as much as they could in free agency.

They avoided another months-long saga regarding the pass rush by re-signing Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, while adding Kerry Hyder.

Losing Jarran Reed, a player who recorded 17 sacks from defensive tackle in 2018 and 2020 combined, might be a bigger issue than people think. Yet ultimately this team needs edge pressure and it looks like they found it.

They’ve upgraded at left guard, which was the position Pete Carroll singled out at the end of last season. They’ve added a tight end who at least has the potential to operate as an effective #3 target for the quarterback.

Those are the key moves. I think the jury’s out on whether Ahkello Witherspoon can be an effective starter. Chris Carson also needs to prove he can lead the rushing attack, after a 2020 season where the Seahawks had to mother him to the playoffs.

Overall when you look at the roster, the Seahawks have likely avoided any regression.

They appear on a trajectory where they will win about 10 games, which has been the norm with Russell Wilson at quarterback (although his future, at least according to Adam Schefter, is not entirely secure). With a bit of luck here and there they can win more than 10 games, as we saw in 2020.

A playoff place is in their sights.

There are two questions still to be answered though.

Are they capable of advancing on the last four years, where they only have one playoff win?

What are the long term prospects for a team that has been very much built for today and not tomorrow?

On the first point, it’s hard to say with any real confidence that the Seahawks have taken a step forward. Much will depend on the ability of the defense to perform adequately as they did in the second half of last season, albeit against some poor opponents.

In conjunction, the hope will be that Shane Waldron can deliver a consistent offense that is better equipped and capable of adapting when necessary.

It has to be hope rather than expectation currently. There’s no reason not to believe it can’t happen but Waldron has never called plays before. It also remains to be seen how his vision for the offense will mesh with Pete Carroll’s and whether the hybrid they’re left with can function on a high level.

We’ll not know the answer until September and beyond.

There are a couple of other question marks offensively.

For the last two years, Seattle’s running back depth has been severely tested. They ended the 2019 season starting Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer. In 2020, they preferred to bring guys in off the couch (Bo Scarborough, Alex Collins) rather than start Deejay Dallas when Carson and Carlos Hyde were hurt.

With Carson so far unable to deliver a full season of consistent power-running and with Rashaad Penny still a mystery, this feels like a glass vase of a positional group. It looks pretty good at the moment but a little nudge and it’s in pieces on the floor.

At receiver, you need multiple options. Not just game-to-game but in case of injuries. Currently the Seahawks rely far too much on D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and the rest of their depth is poor. While Everett could effectively be their #3 — in LA he wasn’t able to take on that role and Seattle under Carroll has struggled to feature the tight end in the passing game.

From last season the Seahawks have lost prospective targets Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon, plus David Moore, Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister. Their only addition so far is Everett.

Ideally the Seahawks would be able to tap into another vibrant receiver draft class to find a dynamic #3. They may do so with pick #56. Yet their limited options make this a difficult prospect, especially with a couple of other areas that also need addressing.

Regarding the future, it’s impossible to be serious about this team and not express some concern.

At the end of the 2021 season, the following players will all be out of contract:

Duane Brown
Brandon Shell
Ethan Pocic
Tyler Lockett
Gerald Everett
Quandre Diggs
Jamal Adams
Ahkello Witherspoon
DJ Reed
Rashaad Penny
Michael Dickson

On top of this, several key backups or depth players are also out of contract.

At the moment, Seattle only has 25 contracted players for 2022. And while it’s true they have an estimated $72.7m to spend at the moment, that will soon evaporate when you start retaining or replacing the names above.

For example, if Jamal Adams signs a big new extension — you might have to wipe off a minimum of $18m immediately. They might structure his contract to avoid such a big hit in 2022 but the point still stands. That commitment alone will set you back to a high extent.

The simple fact is that at every key position apart from quarterback, the Seahawks have a big question mark beyond the 2021 season.

Meanwhile, they don’t have the draft picks this year to start planning ahead. Plus, they currently won’t have a first round pick next year either.

This isn’t just a case of being too aggressive, simply to try and max-out the here and now through the Adams trade.

It’s also a misuse of resources over a period of time.

Seattle hasn’t drafted well in years. You need to use the draft to build a foundation.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, the two most recent Super Bowl winners, are a good example.

They are in equal parts constructed through the draft and free agency.

For every Tom Brady, Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett there’s a Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, both starting linebackers, most of their offensive line, an entire secondary, Vita Vea and Ronald Jones.

In Kansas City, they too had drafted their line and weapons. Obviously they selected the quarterback plus Chris Jones to provide interior pressure. They complemented everything by signing Tyrann Mathieu and trading for Frank Clark.

Seattle’s inability to draft well has prevented their intelligent veteran moves — the Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs trades for example — elevating them to a new level.

The 2017 draft was poor and a missed opportunity but let’s just isolate the last three drafts, right at the start of the reset in 2018.

The Seahawks drafted 28 players between 2018-2020.

How many hits have they had?

D.K. Metcalf for sure. Michael Dickson has been a success.

Ugo Amadi has been a decent role player while injury seems to have robbed Will Dissly of a chance to be a truly effective tight end.

It’s too early to judge the 2020 group fully but Damien Lewis showed a lot of promise as a rookie while Jordyn Brooks and Alton Robinson played in flashes.

That’s it though. That’s your lot from 28 drafted players.

They’ve used first round picks on Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier and Brooks. They spent a second and a third round pick on Darrell Taylor. Marquise Blair was taken at #47 after trading down from the end of the first round.

They also spent day two picks on Rasheem Green and Cody Barton.

This is where the Seahawks needed to create their foundation. When you consider they’ve also already spent their next two first round picks and a third rounder this year on Adams (who is out of contract after this season) — you realise how little bang they’ve got for their buck.

This roster has had, essentially, six first round picks spent on it since the 2018 draft. And they haven’t got one sure-fire long term building block.

The Seahawks have squandered top picks on a backup running back and a backup defensive end. Brooks showed some promise in 2020 but he’s still a first round investment at the WILL linebacker position.

Things like the Taylor trade-up — completely risky with little reasoning other than desperation — are what has put the Seahawks in a situation where they are having to think so short term it’s unreal.

Even just taking the picks spent on Penny, Collier, Blair and Taylor — these are premium resources. You’re talking about essentially three first round picks, a second and a third.

Had the Seahawks done a better job here — some of the long term question marks would’ve been answered.

Nevertheless, the draft is an annual event. There’s always a chance to put things right.

If they had all seven native picks this year, they could realistically draft a left tackle for the future — to replace Brown in 2022 or 2023. They could draft another receiver. They could draft a cornerback.

Yet their inability to do a better job is likely what inspired them to make the Adams trade. They’ve thrown more picks and money at one ‘impact’ player, to make up for the wasted picks of the last few years.

So now they just have #56 and #129 (plus a throwaway seventh rounder).

So the opportunity to put down some roots simply isn’t there.

What happens if Brown retires at the end of the upcoming season? You have no first rounder in 2022. Is it back to the days of Bradley Sowell and Rees Odhiambo?

If you draft a left tackle at #56 this year, are you comfortable starting with Freddie Swain as your third receiver and Ethan Pocic as your starting center?

You’ve got to have some long-term planning in the NFL. There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive and pro-active. Yet getting yourself into a situation where numerous key positions are a mystery beyond this year with limited resource to address those pending needs is a recipe for trouble.

It’ll mean more short-term scotch-taping of a roster when you need to be drafting and harnessing your core, not trying to manufacture it with cheap one and two year deals in free agency and via trade.

The Seahawks found themselves in a similar situation in 2019. They had four draft picks and needed to put down some roots.

They ultimately opted to trade Frank Clark to regain stock and save money. They didn’t make best use of the Clark trade but they acknowledged they had to try and create resource and project ahead.

With that in mind, I still think there’s at least a reasonable possibility something significant will happen before the draft.

Trading Clark wasn’t conducive to immediate success two years ago. They tried to work around his departure by drafting Collier, signing Ziggy Ansah and then trading for Jadeveon Clowney.

There are really only three players you can project as similar candidates for a deal this year.

Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams.

Losing any of the three wouldn’t be ideal. Yet neither was it ideal to lose Clark.

At least, in the case of Wagner and Adams, there are players on the roster who could step in. They spent a first round pick on Jordyn Brooks and a second round pick on Marquise Blair after all.

With renewed stock, they could also look to the draft or the veteran market to add at either position too.

But this is also why a Wilson trade also remains something we should take seriously, rather than writing it off as a total non-starter.

Adam Schefter was again on ESPN following the big 49ers/Dolphins/Eagles trade fest referencing how he wouldn’t rule anything out.

Not to mention, Tony Pauline suggested the Seahawks are ready to move on from Wilson. Which, let’s be fair, wouldn’t be a totally unsurprising stance given the now annual Mark Rodgers-inspired drama.

Do they want to do this again in 12 months? Or right up until whenever the divorce occurs? Probably not.

If the Seahawks can manufacture a way to acquire a quarterback they are comfortable with — Sam Darnold for example — and gain a boat-load of picks for the next three years, they will be much better equipped to tackle the pending unknown that casts a shadow over the roster from 2022 onwards.

I’m not saying for a second this is my preference. Anyone who has read my near 5000-word Seahawks off-season plan knows that I would prefer to build around Wilson, saving money on Wagner and Adams instead and creating draft stock this year and next.

But I also know two other things:

1. Adam Schefter doesn’t report nonsense

2. The Seahawks require a solution to some long-term problems at several key positions

Just as trading Clark replenished stock and enabled Seattle to try and fill some needs, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility they will consider moving Wilson to create $37m in 2022 cap space while adding first round picks this year and next, plus in 2023.

From there, they could potentially trade down and draft for the center and left tackle positions. Or they could look at receiver and cornerback. Or they could add at all four, depending on what they get done and how the board falls.

Suddenly, you’re looking at a future where you have some building blocks in place and you have money/picks to use. Yes — they’d have to do a far better job at using the resources. That’s going to need to be the case anyway whether they have three picks or 10 picks this year.

It would come at the cost of losing a franchise quarterback. Yet here’s something to remember:

— In 2015 the Broncos won Super Bowl with a highly ineffective Peyton Manning at quarterback, spelling with Brock Osweiler

— In 2017 it was Nick Foles vs Case Keenum in the NFC Championship game, before Foles went on to win the Super Bowl while being named MVP

— Also in 2017, Blake Bortles was minutes away from winning the AFC Championship game with the Jaguars

— In 2018 and 2019, Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo were the two quarterbacks representing the NFC in the Super Bowl

— Also in 2019, Ryan Tannehill played in the AFC Championship game

— Go a little further back into history and note that Eli Manning won two Super Bowls and Joe Flacco one other

Indeed when the Seahawks won their Super Bowl, they did so with a third round rookie starting at quarterback — and Wilson, although talented — was not at the time playing at a level of a top-five signal caller.

Meanwhile, leading NFL quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees — consistently in the MVP race — have only won a Super Bowl each.

Can we honestly sit here and say the key to being a legit contender is having a top-five quarterback, earning top-five quarterback money? Because while it’s been enthralling to watch Wilson over the years — this hasn’t translated to playoff success. Not in the slightest.

Part of me wonders if San Francisco’s bold, aggressive trade up to #3 is an acceptance that they’re better off having a cheap quarterback for the next five years who can operate the Kyle Shanahan offense (Mac Jones) to complement a deep overall roster.

Let me be clear again. I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I’m not predicting a Wilson trade will happen. I’m just presenting a scenario and talking through the options. I think we need to have conversations like this.

Building a more rounded team, with a cheaper quarterback with fewer demands, might be appealing to the Seahawks.

And even if it doesn’t happen this year — it could well happen in 2022.

I’m sure the reaction to this will be a mix of people in agreement and others getting very angry — because any challenge to the Seahawks is seen as a personal affront to some. Talking about Wilson’s future is consistently referred to as clickbait hysteria — even on a free blog with no adverts.

To summarise, I think Seattle has done a reasonable job in free agency to address needs and they are unlikely to regress in 2021. I also think there’s little reason to feel like they’ve taken a step forward or are more equipped to avoid another early playoff defeat.

Which I suppose begs the question — how many times do you need to see a movie sequel before you realise a few of the actors are different but it’s the same story?

There are also some serious questions about the roster beyond this season.

And the only obvious way to answer those questions is to do something uncomfortable between now and the end of April.

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New mock draft: 27th March (post 49ers/Miami/Philly trades)

March 27th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Mac Jones’ Hasselbeck-bod could be heading to the NFC West

Following Friday’s day of drama, I thought I’d join the millions of others rushing to put out another mock draft.

To recap — the 49ers traded up from #12 to #3 in order to position themselves to get a quarterback. Miami, having traded down to #12, then struck a deal with the Eagles to move back up to #6.

Here are a few notes before getting into a two-round mock:

— When thinking about what the 49ers might do, consider the following. Kyle Shanahan has predominantly had success with Matt Schaub, Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan. They traded for Jimmy Garoppolo. They passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. The scrambling, creative, improvising quarterbacks have not been Shanahan’s style. The players capable of staying on schedule, playing within structure and distributing the ball quickly and on time are the ones he’s gone with. A lot of people might not want to believe this but when you really think about it, Mac Jones could easily be their guy.

— Why would you trade so much to get up to #3 for Jones? Consider that many people, such as Mike Tannenbaum, have been saying that the feeling is Jones’ floor was #8 and the Panthers. If you truly believe Jones is the guy you can win with — and you know you have to trade into the top-seven — you might as well just go to #3 and make sure you get him. If you believe in a quarterback strongly enough to take them in the top-10, you clearly believe they are franchise-QB material. So while it seems expensive, is it really if you think you’ve found ‘the guy’?

— According to Tony Pauline, the Dolphins are planning to avoid players who held out of the 2020 season. Personally I think they moved back into the top-six because it was representative of where they think the elite talent stretches to in this class. The money is on them taking a receiver or Penei Sewell. I’m not so sure.

— I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Trey Lance and Justin Fields. I’m not saying for a second they are bad players. But I just cannot project them as high as some currently do. Fields has significant technical floors. From the long stride he makes on delivery to his elongated motion. The inability to process and progress through reads at a high level. That’s a problem. With Lance, he has minimal starts and he too carries technical issues which impacts his accuracy. He doesn’t throw with anticipation in the way some of the other QB’s in this class do.

— The Panthers apparently want to hit a home run at quarterback. Here’s the issue though. With the Deshaun Watson situation increasingly making it look like he won’t be dealt pre-draft, Russell Wilson having no interest in the Panthers and the top QB’s expected to go 1-2-3 — Carolina might have to accept their fate and kick the can down the road to next year.

— I’ve included four more trades in this projection. I have the Patriots moving from #15 to #9 in a deal with the Broncos. I have the Jets and Dolphins also trading back into round one. I have the Panthers trading into the back-end of round two with the Packers trading down.

As usual I’ve written out the mock in list form first, with thoughts on each pick to follow…

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
#3 San Francisco (v/MIA, HOU) — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
#4 Atlanta — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
#6 Miami (v/PHI) — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
#7 Detroit — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#8 Carolina — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
#9 New England (v/DEN) — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
#10 Dallas — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
#11 New York Giants — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
#12 Philadelphia (v/SF, MIA) — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
#13 LA Chargers — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
#14 Minnesota — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
#15 Denver (v/NE) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
#16 Arizona — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
#17 Las Vegas — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
#18 Miami — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
#19 Washington — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
#20 Chicago — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
#21 Indianapolis — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Kelvin Joseph (CB, Kentucky)
#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
#26 Cleveland — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
#27 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
#28 New York Jets (v/NO) — Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
#29 Green Bay — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
#30 Buffalo — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
#31 Miami (v/KC) — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
#32 Tampa Bay — Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
#34 New Orleans (v/NYJ) — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
#35 Atlanta — Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
#36 Kansas City (v/MIA, HOU) — Quinn Meinerz (G/C, UWW)
#37 Philadelphia — Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
#38 Cincinnati — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
#39 Carolina — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#40 Denver — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
#41 Detroit — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
#42 New York Giants — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
#43 San Francisco — Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)
#44 Dallas — Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
#46 New England — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
#47 LA Chargers — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
#48 Las Vegas — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
#49 Arizona — Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
#50 Miami — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
#51 Washington — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
#52 Chicago — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
#53 Tennessee — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
#54 Indianapolis — Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
#55 Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins (T, Oklahoma State)
#56 Seattle — Alex Leatherwood (G/T, Alabama)
#57 LA Rams — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
#58 Baltimore — Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
#59 Cleveland — Payton Turner (DE, Houston)
#60 New Orleans — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
#61 Buffalo — Tommy Tremble (TE, Notre Dame)
#62 Carolina (v/GB) — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
#63 Kansas City — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
#64 Tampa Bay — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)

A thought on each pick…

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

Even despite Zach Wilson’s mind-blowing pro-day, the Jaguars are clearly set on Trevor Lawrence being their guy.

#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
He showed he’s a special talent. The problem for the Jets now is getting value for Sam Darnold.

#3 San Francisco (v/MIA, HOU) — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
A lot of people will freak out but the reality is Jones fits the Shanahan offense better than the remaining options here.

#4 Atlanta — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
New GM Terry Fontenot said they would take the best player available here. That’s Pitts.

#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Of course, the offensive line is an issue for the Bengals. But reuniting Joe Burrow with the player he enjoyed so much success with has to be tempting?

#6 Miami (v/PHI) — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
Some teams are going to view Surtain as an elite-level player. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dolphins went in this direction here.

#7 Detroit — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
This could be Jaylen Waddle too. But when you’re desperate for a receiver and the player who dominated college football is available, it’ll be hard to pass.

#8 Carolina — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
If the Panthers have to punt on addressing the QB position pre-draft, this is a nice consolation prize.

#9 New England (v/DEN) Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
Fields shares a lot of similarities to Cam Newton. This would be an ideal transition for the Patriots, who move up to make sure they get their guy.

#10 Dallas — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
He looks like a Greek God of a cornerback. Incredibly put together. Dominated Auburn’s Seth Williams.

#11 New York Giants — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
I’m not as sold on Slater as some others but plenty think he’s a top-10 prospect. I think he’ll make a good guard.

#12 Philadelphia (v/SF, MIA) — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
What do the Eagles love at receiver? Pure speed.

#13 LA Chargers — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
He’s fast and explosive with a dynamic burst to threaten the edge and the balance to straight and attack the quarterback. He has long arms. He could be special.

#14 Minnesota — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
Phillips was once a major recruiting superstar and has natural talent to get after the quarterback. Few players have his upside in this draft.

#15 Denver (v/NE) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
Highly explosive and dynamic — a true first round talent. He can jump a 39-inch vertical and a 10-3 broad jump.

#16 Arizona — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
The profile is there but he reminds me a bit of Eugene Monroe. Can he be arsed to be great?

#17 Las Vegas — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
He’s just a class act. He has short arms so will kick inside but his explosive testing will be right up Tom Cable’s street.

#18 Miami — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
There are some character question marks that could lead to a bit of a fall.

#19 Washington — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
I’ve said for a while that Lance warrants a grade similar to Jordan Love. This is the range I think he should go in.

#20 Chicago — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
Incredible player. Sturdy, explosive and fast. He ran a 4.35 at pro-day.

#21 Indianapolis — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
The Colts love an insane physical profile and while Paye is rough around the edges, he has a high ceiling.

#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
He only ran a 5.03 forty at SPARQ but when you put on the tape he jumps off the screen. He looks like a first rounder.

#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Kelvin Joseph (CB, Kentucky)
They’ve added some pass rushers so they might pivot here to cornerback and O-line.

#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
He had a record 0.48 broken tackles per rush attempt in 2020, registered 7.0 YPC and 4.59 yards-after-contact per carry. He’s exceptional.

#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
There’s been talk that his main passion in life might be a music career.

#26 Cleveland — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
He gets after it up front with effort and speed. He can disrupt. Some will be put off by a lack of length and skinny lower body.

#27 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
Incredibly consistent, tough and very athletic center with a long career ahead of him. He ran a 4.49 short shuttle at 310lbs.

#28 New York Jets (v/NO) — Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
I have the Jets moving up from #34 to get ahead of Green Bay and Kansas City. Injuries or not, teams are going to clamber over each other for a chance to draft Dickerson.

#29 Green Bay — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
He’s a 3.25 TEF tester and teams will covet his mix of explosive physicality, aggressiveness, combo-blocking and agility. Players with his profile go early.

#30 Buffalo — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
In this range they can afford to seek value. Najee Harris is good but Etienne is simply quicker and more explosive.

#31 Miami (v/KC) — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
The Dolphins, having added two defensive studs with their first two picks, move up from #36 to add Harris to their offense.

#32 Tampa Bay — Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
They’ve brought everyone back so can take a few shots in the draft. Oweh’s incredible pro-day performance could secure a place at the end of round one.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
The ‘Baby Gronk’ nickname is warranted. Superb body control and size. They’ve appointed his old coach.


#34 New Orleans (v/NYJ) — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
I think he’s a great talent and he’s worth considering as a quarterback with starter potential.

#35 Atlanta — Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
This has become a big need for the Falcons. Moehrig is steady if somewhat unspectacular.

#36 Kansas City (v/MIA, HOU) — Quinn Meinerz (G/C, UWW)
Meinerz is a 3.41 TEF tester with great length and size. He was also superb at the Senior Bowl. He could go earlier than people think.

#37 Philadelphia — Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
He ran a quicker than expected forty but appeared to tire quickly during his pro-day workout.

#38 Cincinnati — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Turned it on late in the season but had a slow start. No doubt he can flash as a pass rusher in college but can he do it consistently at the next level?

#39 Carolina — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
His injury is a concern. His tackling is another issue.


#40 Denver — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)

A TFL machine in 2020 (13.5). Nixon creates havoc from the interior and is a true playmaking defensive tackle.

#41 Detroit — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
Outstanding player who will only last this long based on his size and straight-line speed. Ran a 3.93 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#42 New York Giants — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
He’s long and lean but a lot of his wins are unusual. He’s not a dynamic speed rusher and he lacks the sand in his pants to control as a five-technique.

#43 San Francisco — Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)
An ascending player with great length, speed, agility and great consistency on tape.

#44 Dallas — Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
What a pro-day! He ran a 4.25 short shuttle at 284lbs and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical. Incredible physical talent who can rush inside/out.

#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
Massive, highly athletic prospect who will shock people when he runs and does the agility testing. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#46 New England — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
The mountain from Game of Thrones.


#47 LA Chargers — 
Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
Tackle or guard prospect with the skills to succeed at either position

#48 Las Vegas — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
Wow-athlete at linebacker with tremendous character and intensity. Ran a 4.18 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#49 Arizona — Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
He ran a sensational 4.21 short shuttle at 250lbs at SPARQ.

#50 Miami — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
The Dolphins wait on the receiver position and are rewarded with a highly competitive, very talented player in Wallace.

#51 Washington — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)

He has great size and agility but his agility and change of direction might be an issue and I just didn’t see him play the ball well enough in college.

#52 Chicago — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
Very solid guard prospect who can start quickly.

#53 Tennessee — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Had a highly consistent 2019 season but followed it up with a weird 2020 — before he wisely took himself out before damaging his stock any further.

#54 Indianapolis — Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
They need a tackle and the Colts consistently take highly explosive athletes for their O-line. Cosmi excelled at his pro-day.

#55 Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins (T, Oklahoma State)
He’s big and physical but do you need to kick him up the arse to max out his potential?

#56 Seattle — Alex Leatherwood (G/T, Alabama)
With the top center’s off the board the Seahawks pivot to a tackle for the future. Leatherwood has decent length and jumped a 34.5 inch vertical plus an incredible 9-10 broad. That’s the kind of profile Seattle likes.

#57 LA Rams — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
He’s a first round athlete — the question is whether he’s more than just a gadget player.

#58 Baltimore — Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
Outstanding athlete who can drop when needed and is a great fit for the Ravens defense.


#59 Cleveland — Payton Turner (DE, Houston)
Massive potential, great personality. A player with a big future.

#60 New Orleans — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
He’s had some concentration drops but he still excelled during a miserable season for LSU.

#61 Buffalo — Tommy Tremble (TE, Notre Dame)
He’s a head-hunter as a blocker. His second name is what players do when they’re near him on a run-block. He destroys defenders.

#62 Carolina (v/GB) — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
The Panthers move up to at least buy a lottery ticket at the QB position this year.

#63 Kansas City — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
He has what you want in a left tackle. He’ll only last because he hasn’t played for two years.

#64 Tampa Bay — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
Big, physical interior defender with a fantastic motor.

Thoughts on the Seahawks

This is why you sign a draft hedge. Ethan Pocic is eminently replaceable. But you’re picking at #56. You’re not sat there at #23, knowing you’ll be able to get one of the top guys (even after potentially trading down).

Explosive offensive linemen go early. Explosive offensive linemen with good college tape and a top Senior Bowl go even earlier.

I wouldn’t bank on Quinn Meinerz or Creed Humphrey being available and there’s just too much buzz around Landon Dickerson (even with his injury issues).

In this scenario the Seahawks have to look elsewhere.

They could focus on the guard position where options remain in a deep class (Aaron Banks, Trey Smith). I’m not a fan of moving Damien Lewis to center and I really hope they don’t decide to do that. However, it’s the kind of thing Seattle is always willing to contemplate it seems.

They could draft a tackle/guard. In this mock I have them taking Alex Leatherwood. I’m not convinced he has the feet and agility to hold down the left tackle position at the next level. Yet he does have decent length (34.5 inch arms) and major explosive traits. That’s generally what Seattle goes for on the O-line.

Dillon Radunz is a similar prospect they could consider here. D’Ante Smith has great length and excelled in Mobile. Brady Christensen had an unbelievable workout at the BYU pro-day but his lack of length (32 inch arms) is an issue in terms of projecting him to the Seahawks.

They could also move off the O-line altogether and look at receiver. Speed is important here — a 4.4 forty or faster is Seattle’s benchmark.

Rondale Moore is so explosive and quick that he could be an option. However — he’s very much an ‘around the LOS’ and YAC type player when the Seahawks want deep threats. They might prefer D’Wayne Eskridge, who was also available.

Another option could be Duke’s Chris Rumph, depending on how he tests. For me he’s a linebacker who can reduce down rather than a full-time EDGE. He could act as a SAM/LEO for the Seahawks but typically they only take exceptional athletes for that role. He would need to perform well at Duke’s pro-day on Monday. If they don’t re-sign K.J. Wright though, he’s an option.

So many people rush to tell you this draft is a write-off or worth punting on purely because there’s no combine, meetings and a few players opted out of the 2020 season. If you actually study this class, there’s a lot of really good players with quality depth at several positions.

The value from the end of the first deep into the second is not to be sniffed at.

I’ll happily hold my hands up if I’m wrong — but I cannot see any way John Schneider goes into this draft with only three picks. I also can’t see him trading out of the top-60 completely for the sake of a couple of late round picks to boost the coffers.

One way or another — I think they’ll make a move to re-gain stock.

We have to be realistic about how they’re going to do that though. A lot of people, in our comments section and on other sites, thought they could get a third or fourth round pick for Jarran Reed. That was never going to happen. In the end they couldn’t even get a swap of picks or a seventh rounder.

Trading Tyler Lockett would decimate your receiving group and create more friction with the quarterback (Freddie Swain and John Ursua as WR2 & WR3? No chance).

There are only three players on the roster who can be realistically moved to re-gain legitimate stock. The draft is a month away. It should be an interesting few weeks.

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New podcast & thoughts on the 49ers trade

March 26th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Before getting into the big news of the day, earlier I conducted a live stream with Robbie, discussing the latest news relating to Seattle’s free agency.

Check it out here…

Now onto the San Francisco 49ers trade.

They’ve moved from #12 to #3, giving up a third rounder this year and their first round picks in 2022 and 2023.

Miami immediately dealt the #12 to Philadelphia for a 2022 first rounder in a crazy, unprecedented day of draft board manoeuvring.

Although no name has been suggested, I have to imagine they are planning to draft Trey Lance.

For starters, he had his pro-day a while ago. Justin Fields’ pro-day isn’t until March 30th. You don’t make a trade like this unless you’re at least convinced by Lance and are willing to be convinced by Fields.

I would suggest, though, that because Lance has had his pro-day that he suitably impressed the Niners and that’s why they made this move.

On top of that — Fields struggles to play within structure, has difficulty processing and progressing through reads and relies on improv. His throwing technique, with a large stride and elongated delivery, needs a ton of work.

This isn’t the way Kyle Shanahan runs his offense.

I wouldn’t completely rule out Mac Jones. Out of the three, he’s arguably the best fit in terms of the offense, scheme and what Shanahan wants to do.

Yet Lance has far more physical upside.

So is this a good move?

I recently watched Lance’s pro-day in full. Here were my notes:

The overwhelming reaction from the workout was positive with media types everywhere heaping praise on Lance.

I watched every throw. I was nowhere near as convinced.

His accuracy was highly inconsistent with too many throws behind the receiver or a fraction high. Remember — he’s throwing against thin air here.

I can’t recall a recent pro-day with so many balls hitting the turf. I saw overthrows and under-throws. He’s toesy with his feet and his technique needs further work to sharpen up his accuracy.

On tape you see some of this show up. North Dakota State does a good job scheming to create wide-open targets. When he has to read plays, go through progressions and throw with anticipation — I thought Lance was lacking.

This isn’t a huge surprise given his limited number of starts. That in itself though is a cause for concern — especially when his accuracy was more miss than hit in a scripted environment designed to show off what he can do.

He has a great physique and all of the traits you want. In part, I think that’s why he got such a positive review. He looks the part. I think people were smitten with his physical appearance.

He did throw some nice passes, especially one long down-field bomb to the sideline that was inch perfect. His throws had velocity. Yet to me he looks incomplete and a significant project. He may need the same two-year learning curve that Josh Allen had — yet he doesn’t possess Allen’s super-human profile.

Allen was a gift from the football gods in terms of height, athleticism, arm strength, hand-size and mobility. Lance is good but not that good.

The hype is too much for me. It’s always possible a team becomes enamoured with the upside and takes him very early. I think he’s a fraction more appealing than Jordan Love and deserves to go in the same kind of range.

There’s no doubting he’s physically impressive and in terms of character and personality — he looks and sounds like a pro.

Yet for me he’s going to need at least two years to develop.

For that reason the Niners might hold on to Jimmy Garoppolo for now. Lance will require time and patience.

From a Seahawks perspective I don’t think it’s particularly scary news.

Lance is really raw. If it’s Fields instead — yes he has the physical attributes too but he also needs time and comes with a lot of question marks. Jones operated the Alabama offense well but is he a terrifying prospect to face twice a year?

It’s a highly aggressive move by the Niners but I’m not sure it’s the best — unless their intention is to move up one more spot to try and get to Zach Wilson.

For a team that passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, I’m a little surprised Shanahan is staking his legacy on a move like this.

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Carlos Dunlap is back, Jarran Reed on the way out

March 25th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Carlos Dunlap is back with the Seahawks

In 2019 and 2020, the Seahawks had to scramble around to address the pass rush.

It was critical they didn’t make it three years in a row.

With the greatest respect to Kerry Hyder and Benson Mayowa, there was a danger history would repeat.

Carlos Dunlap might not be perfect but he was clearly Seattle’s best pass rusher last season.

He has 87.5 career season sacks for a reason. Part of that is talent. Part of it is durability. He’s consistently been available in an 11-year career. That’s important.

Cutting him to save $14m wasn’t a problem as long as he returned. Getting him back was vital. It’s a huge relief that today, without weeks of uncertainty, he’s agreed terms.

He’s only a short-term fix, obviously. He just turned 32. Yet for next season at least he legitimises Seattle’s pass rush and ensures they have someone who can reliably threaten the edge in 1v1 situations.

My points raised in the article earlier today are still relevant.

What exactly is the future at left tackle, right tackle, defensive end, cornerback, free safety and receiver? So many of Seattle’s key players are out of contract after 2021. If they pay Jamal Adams a salary worth $18-20m a year, they simply won’t have much to spend unless they’re willing to shift Bobby Wagner or Russell Wilson.

And let’s be right here — the Seahawks, by not restructuring Wilson’s contract — are leaving the door open to a trade. Until they do that, the possibility of him being dealt (either this year or next) remains distinct.

They can eliminate any lingering uncertainty by re-working his deal, without his permission, to free up millions.

Until that happens, it’s a thing. Especially when, currently, they decide to part with Jarran Reed rather than re-work Wilson’s deal.

Cutting (or trading) Reed, as the Seahawks will reportedly do tomorrow if they can’t find a trade partner, doesn’t put the Seahawks in the black in terms of cap space. So subsequent moves are required.

With only three draft picks — I still think a trade involving someone is realistic.

These are things we have to consider if we want a serious, proper discussion about the Seahawks.

At the same time though, it does at least seem like a lesson has been learned from a year ago.

Bringing back Dunlap and Mayowa and adding Hyder provides a much better rotation of pass rushers than a year ago. Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier aren’t good enough, so Hyder will hopefully be an upgrade at the five-technique. Mayowa’s at his best in a rotational role spelling a DE1. Now, the DE1 is back in the building.

They might not be Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, Chandler Jones and JJ Watt or Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead — but neither is this group the inadequate unit they began last season with.

They have a chance to create pressure and deliver results. That’s a big plus.

I do think Reed’s departure warrants some reflection.

Signing him to a hefty two-year contract as a priority a year ago, only to burden yourself with $5m in dead money 12 months on, is careless.

I think we all knew what Reed was and wasn’t a year ago. His 10.5 sack season in 2018 was partly inspired by the brilliance of Frank Clark, who had a career year absorbing attention off the edge.

Even with an $8.5m saving, they’re set to pay him $5m to play somewhere else. In a year where the cap is tighter than ever, that’s not great.

Personally I will miss Reed too. He was one of the few draft hits the Seahawks have had in recent years. His play might not have been spectacular but he was solid and produced 22 sacks from the interior. That’s not to be sniffed at.

The trade up to get him in 2016 was, for me, the Seahawks at their opportunistic best. When players fall for whatever reason, they’re good at identifying the moment to strike. We’ve seen that a few times over the years.

They tend to get in trouble when they force needs. It’s strange how the two extremes clash so much with this front office. There’s not a lot of in-between.

He provided intensity and attitude. He was often the man in the middle of a pre-game huddle, rallying the troops.

Cutting Reed to pay for some of the prior free agency moves was a challenging thought. Cutting him to help bring back Dunlap is far more palatable.

There are still big decisions to be made though and positions of need, plus depth, to address.

Other moves are forthcoming. I wonder what they’ll be?

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Why the Seahawks should STILL trade Jamal Adams

March 25th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

It’s not you, it’s me

A lot of arguments are made to justify the Jamal Adams trade but none really cut the mustard. I argued against some of them here and here but here’s a brief recap of some of the points.

He set a record for sacks by a defensive back

This is explained by a highly unusual 8.2 blitzes per game, producing 0.8 sacks.

If you blitzed Ryan Neal eight times a game there’s a chance he will record one sack. I’m afraid this record is more an indication of Seattle’s need to justify Adams’ presence, rather than any sign of anything remarkable about his performance.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (especially with this being an unusual draft with no combine or in-person meetings)

Not really. With a cap crunch consuming every team, you need cheap talent to fill out your roster.

At the moment the Seahawks are officially $6m over the cap — that’s the worst cap situation in the league. They also have the third fewest contracted players (57).

Something has to give. In order to simply fill out the roster — they’re going to have to either sacrifice players they’d rather keep or they’re going to have to borrow against the cap — with consequences down the line.

He’s a blue-chip stud and you need players like that

There’s no doubting Adams is a talent but is he a fit in Seattle? It’s well known by now that he was the 53rd ranked safety according to PFF in 2020. Injuries and a new scheme may have partly contributed to that ranking. However, I’m not convinced it’s just down to that.

The 3-4 schemes run by Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams in New York exploit looks where any defender can rush. You never know where the pressure’s coming from. The Seahawks don’t do this in their scheme. Often Adams simply rushed off the edge with the linebackers also blitzing to suck in protection. It’s predictable.

I don’t think his 53.1 coverage grade was just ‘one of those things’ either. The Seahawks essentially put him in a position where they needed him to be a downfield attack-dog so often. That’s not conducive with some of the traditional duties expected of a safety.

Either way you’re paying $18m for someone who has to blitz a lot or just plays like a more orthodox defensive back. For all his desire to be seen as a ‘football player’ with no defined position, the reality is he’s a box safety.

You can’t trade a player so soon after making a big investment in him

I think this is the worst argument of the lot. Not being too proud to fix a mistake isn’t something to criticise. It should be celebrated. The Seahawks have done it plenty of times already — moving on from Michael Bennett a year after giving him a huge extension, in order to repair their culture. Getting rid of Percy Harvin.

Right now the Seahawks need depth, they need to invest in key positions for the future and they need club-control on salary.

They don’t need a safety absorbing $18m a year.

Look at it this way. The Seahawks gave up two firsts and a third rounder for Adams. They’re paying him $9.8m this year. He will expect at least $18m a year from 2022.

That works out as three cheap players drafted in the top-100. If they trade down in round one, you could theoretically be getting five players in the top-100.

And while it’s true that their recent draft history is poor — that’s not a reason to stop drafting altogether.

Selecting Rashaad Penny instead of Nick Chubb, Malik McDowell instead of TJ Watt and LJ Collier instead of AJ Brown or Deebo Samuel is simply indicative of team needing to make better decisions, not eliminate those decisions altogether.

When they’ve avoided desperately drafting for need — they’ve made terrific choices (DK Metcalf, Damien Lewis).

Adams’ salary this year is similar to Gabe Jackson’s. Trade him and you’d have no issue bringing back Carlos Dunlap. You might even get Dunlap and another.

Next year you could have two players on the same salary as Jackson.

So the reality of the trade is it’s either Jamal Adams or five drafted players over the next two years plus potentially two Gabe Jackson-level free agents/trades.

I find it impossible to argue that Adams is the better decision when it’s broken down like that. Especially given Seattle’s striking lack of depth, cap space and picks.

The trade could only be justified for a true game-changer — a Myles Garrett or Aaron Donald for example. Not a highly energetic, blitzing box safety.

I still maintain that getting out of the deal, saving money and regaining picks is the right thing to do.

Today, I’ll try to explain further as to why.

The Seahawks have no long term solution at left tackle, cornerback or pass rusher.

These are key positions, second only to quarterback.

Duane Brown turns 36 in August. He has one year left on his deal. You might need to replace him in 12 months.

A good plan would be to draft and develop.

Usually it’s very difficult to find explosive, physically talented tackle prospects. Not this year. For all the concern about the 2021 draft, multiple offensive linemen have excelled at pro-day.

Some of these players need developing and harnessing. Yet they have the kind of skills you usually can’t find beyond the top-15.

For example, Texas’ Sam Cosmi jumped a 30 inch vertical and a 9-9 broad jump. That’s remarkable. He could easily last into round two because technically he needs major work and he needs to learn how to finish. Give him a year or two learning the ropes and you could find a natural successor to Brown.

Alex Leatherwood has footwork issues preventing him from kick-sliding effectively to defend the edge. He needs to learn how to make the most of his length. Yet at his pro-day he jumped a 34.5 inch vertical and a 9-10 broad. Again — he could be a tremendous prospect to work with as a potential heir apparent.

Alijah Vera-Tucker lacks length (32 inch arms) but he had a majestic season at left tackle for USC which should allay some fears. He jumped a 32 inch vertical and an 8-10 broad. He’s a fantastic talent who will go in round one, it’s just a case of how early.

Walker Little hasn’t played for two years due to injury and sitting out 2020. Yet he has the ideal tackle frame and he managed a 9-3 broad to go with a 29.5 inch vertical.

Dillon Radunz had an explosive workout, jumping a 32 inch vertical and a 9-4 broad. He also excelled at the Senior Bowl.

Some players are yet to test and I could add even more names to the list.

The fact is for the first time in a long time, there’s an opportunity for the Seahawks to draft a tackle who might be able to be their long term answer at a vital position.

Without any picks though — they’ve pretty much eliminated themselves from contention. With only #56 and then nothing until #129 — they can’t afford to draft someone who won’t play in 2021.

If/when Brown calls it a day — what then? Another expensive trade? The next version of Bradley Sowell or Rees Odhiambo?

What is better for the Seahawks? Being forced to start the safety they took in round two in 2019 — Marquise Blair — and having a potential long term left tackle? On top of all the other players you can add. Or is it having Jamal Adams?

Let’s go a step further.

For three seasons now they’ve been going year-to-year at defensive end. They don’t have a consistently effective, dynamic, young pass rusher.

If you want to believe Darrell Taylor could be that guy, that’s fine. Personally, I think until we see him out on the field practising it’s impossible to have any faith. His is an unusual injury that requires him feeling comfortable playing with a plate in his leg. The reality is, it seems to be a challenge for him (understandably so).

I’m not a big Jayson Oweh fan because of his tape. He looks like a man without a plan. He didn’t have any sacks in 2020.

Yet Lance Zierlein raises a good point. He only started playing football in 2016. He has rare physical skills. He just ran a 4.36 at the Penn State pro-day, adding a 39.5 inch vertical. He’s 6-5 and 257lbs.

Oweh has the kind of physical profile Seattle badly needs attacking the edge. If you can harness that potential, he could be a star.

There’s a chance because of his testing he’ll go in round one. He could’ve been there for Seattle — and if not, the chances of Kwity Paye, Jaelen Phillips or even the #1 edge Azeez Olujari being there increase.

So right off the bat you could’ve been looking at a pass rusher and left tackle for the long term with your first two picks — with a $9.8m salary saving that could’ve been used to upgrade at center next to Gabe Jackson.

Again — how is that not more appealing?

It’s been a long time since the Seahawks spent regular picks at cornerback. This is a rich class at the position. It would’ve been a good opportunity to potentially add someone in the middle rounds to develop. Especially given that both prospective starters and your backup at the moment are all out of contract after 2021.

Yet with only picks #56 and #129 — the chances to get someone you like are severely limited.

I haven’t even discussed a third receiver. This draft is loaded there too.

It really does feel like a massive missed opportunity for the Seahawks this year to try and address some needs for the present and future.

The Adams trade was highly aggressive and with hindsight, ill-advised. Many still back the move and probably always will. Yet the chances of Adams ever justifying the picks and salary investment are remote.

The Seahawks need cap space. They need to fill holes. They need cheap talent.

They don’t need an expensive safety blocking Marquise Blair’s path to starting, essentially wasting the second rounder spent on him too (because there’s no reason to kick Ugo Amadi out of the nickel role).

All is not lost though. They can still put things right.

They won’t get a refund on what they spent. Finding the best deal to move on, get back in the draft and save salary is still however, by far the most sensible option.

There are a lot of weird and wonderful trade suggestions involving the likes of Jarran Reed and Tyler Lockett at the moment because everyone acknowledge something’s got to give and people are uncomfortable with the thought that the man to depart could still be the franchise QB.

You wouldn’t get anything for Reed. He has one year left on his contract. He’s expensive. He’s a defensive tackle. You might get a fifth rounder if you’re lucky. You only save $8.5m this year and nothing in 2022.

Moving Lockett would obliterate Seattle’s receiving options while adding to Russell Wilson’s angst. Good luck justifying it to the quarterback. Hey Russell — other than Metcalf your next two best receivers are Freddie Swain and John Ursua. Now go win us the NFC West. Yeah right.

The clear and obvious answer is to trade Jamal Adams, start Blair, make better use of your resources and just move on — with the intention of trying to draft a long-term piece for the O-line and D-line.

The only other option is to trade Bobby Wagner and start Jordyn Brooks at linebacker. The draft compensation won’t be as good, however, and Wagner is clearly a good fit for Seattle’s defense.

Nobody forced the Seahawks to spend high picks at safety and linebacker. They could’ve used those picks on other positions.

If they pay Adams — they’ll be on the hook for around $38-40m just for their starting strong safety and middle linebacker in 2022. That’s incomprehensible.

Neither is it realistic to go into next year with about $55m in cap space and only 25 contracted players — with Brown, Lockett, both starting cornerbacks, Reed, Quandre Diggs and others out of contract. All for the sake of a luxury addition in Adams.

I’ve argued this since day one and nobody, so far, has produced a convincing counter. Too much resource has gone into safety and linebacker. They don’t have long term answers at key positions.

That simply has to change.

Of course, the elephant in the room is that one other player could still be dealt.

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Three round mock draft: 24th March

March 24th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Unfortunately we’ve had to postpone tonight’s live stream. We’ll re-arrange soon. However, it does mean I can post my three-round mock draft a day earlier.

I haven’t done one of these for well over a month — so here’s a three-round projection. It’s a little different than the others you’ll see on the internet. Yet this could easily be the most unpredictable draft we’ve ever seen, given the circumstances.

Expect surprises. I wanted to show that here.

I’ve put the mock in list form first, then there’s a note on each pick. I finish with thoughts on Seattle’s selection and the options available.

Pre-mock notes

— There’s a lot of talk that we’ll see four quarterbacks drafted in the first eight picks. I’m just not convinced you can make a call on Trey Lance or Justin Fields that early. I’d have a really tough time if I was Miami and Atlanta at #3 and #4 passing on the two best players in the draft not named Trevor Lawrence.

— This might be the most explosive offensive line class ever. I’m recording pro-day data for a TEF article down the line. Some of the testing by the O-liners so far is remarkable. It’s an exciting group.

— There’s strong depth at receiver and cornerback in this draft too — with a value sweet-spot all the way from the end of the first round all the way to the top of the third. For all the hand-wringing about no combine or meetings — there’s clearly a lot to like about this class, especially on day two.

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
#3 Miami (v/HOU) — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
#4 Atlanta — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
#6 Philadelphia — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
#7 Detroit — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#8 Carolina — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
#9 Denver — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
#10 Dallas — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
#11 New York Giants — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
#12 San Francisco — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
#13 LA Chargers — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
#14 Minnesota — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
#15 New England — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
#16 Arizona — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
#17 Las Vegas — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
#18 Miami — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
#19 Washington — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
#20 Chicago — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
#21 Indianapolis — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
#26 Cleveland — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
#27 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
#28 New Orleans — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#29 Green Bay — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
#30 Buffalo — Kelvin Joseph (CB, Kentucky)
#31 Kansas City — Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
#32 Tampa Bay — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
#34 New York Jets — Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)
#35 Atlanta — Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
#36 Miami (v/HOU) — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
#37 Philadelphia — Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
#38 Cincinnati — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
#39 Carolina — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
#40 Denver — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
#41 Detroit — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
#42 New York Giants — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
#43 San Francisco — Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
#44 Dallas — Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
#46 New England — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
#47 LA Chargers — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
#48 Las Vegas — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
#49 Arizona — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
#50 Miami — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
#51 Washington — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
#52 Chicago — Asante Samuel Jr (CB, Florida State)
#53 Tennessee — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
#54 Indianapolis — Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
#55 Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins (T, Oklahoma State)
#56 Seattle — Quinn Meinerz (G/C, UWW)
#57 LA Rams — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
#58 Baltimore — Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
#59 Cleveland — Payton Turner (DE, Houston)
#60 New Orleans — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
#61 Buffalo — Tommy Tremble (TE, Notre Dame)
#62 Green Bay — Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
#63 Kansas City — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
#64 Tampa Bay — D’Ante Smith (T, ECU)

Third round

#65 Jacksonville — Amari Rodgers (WR, Clemson)
#66 New York Jets — Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)
#67 Houston — Alex Leatherwood (G/T, Alabama)
#68 Atlanta — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
#69 Cincinnati — Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
#70 Philadelphia — Joseph Ossai (LB, Texas)
#71 Denver — Jay Tufele (DT, USC)
#72 Detroit — Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
#73 Carolina — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
#74 Washington (v/SF) — Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
#75 Dallas — Dillon Radunz (T, North Dakota State)
#76 New York Giants — Benjamin St. Juste (CB, Minnesota)
#77 New England — Forfeited
#78 LA Chargers — Ifeatu Melifonwu (CB, Illinois)
#79 Minnesota — Talanoa Hufanga (S, USC)
#80 Arizona — Chris Rumph (DE/LB, Duke)
#81 Las Vegas — D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Western Michigan)
#82 Miami — Khalil Herbert (RB, Virginia Tech)
#83 Washington — Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)
#84 Chicago — Trey Smith (G, Tennessee)
#85 Philadelphia (v/IND) — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
#86 Tennessee — Cade Johnson (WR, South Dakota State)
#87 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Cam McGrone (LB, Michigan)
#88 Pittsburgh — Nico Collins (WR, Michigan)
#89 Detroit (v/LAR) — Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC)
#90 Cleveland — Justin Hilliard (LB, Ohio State)
#91 Minnesota (v/BAL) — Richie Grant (S, UCF)
#92 Cleveland (v/NO) — Dyami Brown (WR, North Carolina)
#93 Green Bay — Tyler Shelvin (DT, LSU)
#94 Buffalo — Jamien Sherwood (S, Auburn)
#95 Kansas City — Liam Eichenburg (T, Notre Dame)
#96 Tampa Bay — Michal Menet (C, Penn State)
#97 New England — Joshua Kaindoh (DE, Florida State)
#98 LA Chargers — Jamin Davis (LB, Kentucky)
#99 New Orleans — Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
#100 Dallas — Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
#101 Tennessee — Jackson Carman (T, Clemson)
#102 LA Rams — Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)
#103 San Francisco — Jemar Jefferson (RB, Oregon State)
#104 LA Rams — Jaelon Darden (WR, North Texas)
#105 Baltimore — Spencer Brown (T, Northern Iowa)
#106 New Orleans — Cornell Powell (WR, Clemson)

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

Urban Meyer took this job because of big Trev.

#2 New York Jets — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
His ability to drive the ball downfield from difficult angles, off-balance, and on the run, is reminiscent of the top quarterbacks dominating the modern NFL.

#3 Miami (v/HOU) — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
The depth at receiver means they might be able to wait on the position, while plugging in Penei Sewell to complete their O-line rebuild.

#4 Atlanta — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
I’m just not convinced you can pass up a player like Pitts to take a rough-around-the-edges quarterback prospect, when Matt Ryan’s only 35.

#5 Cincinnati — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Joe Burrow and Jam’Marr Chase were the dynamic duo in 2019. Reunite them.

#6 Philadelphia — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
The Eagles love speed. Waddle provides the electric downfield quickness that De’Vonta Smith lacks.

#7 Detroit — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
This is a huge need for the Lions and DeVonta Smith would be a great pickup for them here.

#8 Carolina — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
I’m not convinced Jones will be their guy. But DeShaun Watson is hardly in a position to be acquired at the moment.

#9 Denver — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
Highly explosive and dynamic — a true first round talent. He can jump a 39-inch vertical and a 10-3 broad jump.

#10 Dallas — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
There are questions about his long speed but he’s in fantastic physical shape, he’s explosive and he can start quickly.

#11 New York Giants — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
I’m not as sold on Slater as some others but plenty think he’s a top-10 prospect. I think he’ll make a good guard.

#12 San Francisco — Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
I think he’s a terrific prospect and the third best quarterback in the draft.

#13 LA Chargers — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
He’s fast and explosive with a dynamic burst to threaten the edge and the balance to straight and attack the quarterback. He has long arms. He could be special.

#14 Minnesota — Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
Phillips was once a major recruiting superstar and has natural talent to get after the quarterback. Few players have his upside in this draft.

#15 New England — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
The athleticism is top notch. The decision making, processing and ability to go through progressions is a concern. He and Cam Newton can run a similar offense — so this would be a seamless transition.

#16 Arizona — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
He looks like a Greek God of a cornerback. Incredibly put together. Dominated Auburn’s Seth Williams.

#17 Las Vegas — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
He’s just a class act. He has short arms so will kick inside but his explosive testing will be right up Tom Cable’s street.

#18 Miami — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
There are some character question marks that could lead to a bit of a fall.

#19 Washington — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
The profile is there but he reminds me a bit of Eugene Monroe. Can he be arsed to be great?

#20 Chicago — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
I thought his pro-day was more miss than hit. His technique isn’t quite right and it leads to inaccurate throws, even in a scripted setting. I’m not convinced you can bank on him in the top-five. For me, he’s a slightly better prospect than Jordan Love.

#21 Indianapolis — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
The Colts love an insane physical profile and while Paye is rough around the edges, he has a high ceiling.

#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
He only ran a 5.03 forty at SPARQ but when you put on the tape he jumps off the screen. He looks like a first rounder.

#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
I thought he had a ‘meh’ 2020 season but ultimately he’s dynamic and quick and could produce big results in the Shanahan running scheme.

#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
He had a record 0.48 broken tackles per rush attempt in 2020, registered 7.0 YPC and 4.59 yards-after-contact per carry. He’s exceptional.

#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
Moore is sturdy for his size and just a marvellous playmaker. He’s underrated.

#26 Cleveland — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
He gets after it up front with effort and speed. He can disrupt. Some will be put off by a lack of length and skinny lower body.

#27 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
Incredibly consistent, tough and very athletic center with a long career ahead of him. He ran a 4.49 short shuttle at 310lbs.

#28 New Orleans — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
He has talent but you don’t see much effort in run-support, his tackling isn’t great and he’s not a physical player. He’s a player you want to like a lot but there’s enough to make you pause for thought.

#29 Green Bay — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
He’s a 3.25 TEF tester and teams will covet his mix of explosive physicality, aggressiveness, combo-blocking and agility. Players with his profile go early.

#30 Buffalo — Kelvin Joseph (CB, Kentucky)
Looks the part of a pro cornerback and after departing LSU he showed well for Kentucky

#31 Kansas City — Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
Teams will just love his personality and playing style. It won’t be a shock if someone takes a punt in this range.

#32 Tampa Bay — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
You’re the Super Bowl champs. Why not make a pick like this?

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
The ‘Baby Gronk’ nickname is warranted. Superb body control and size.

#34 New York Jets — Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)
An ascending player with great length, speed, agility and great consistency on tape.

#35 Atlanta — Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
This has become a big need for the Falcons. Moehrig is steady if somewhat unspectacular.

#36 Miami (v/HOU) — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
Outstanding player who will only last this long based on his size and straight-line speed. Ran a 3.93 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#37 Philadelphia — Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
Not a huge fan personally, I think he’s fairly average. He ran a quicker than expected forty but appeared to tire quickly during his pro-day workout.

#38 Cincinnati — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Turned it on late in the season but had a slow start. No doubt he can flash as a pass rusher in college but can he do it consistently at the next level?

#39 Carolina — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
Tackle or guard prospect with the skills to succeed at either position

#40 Denver — Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
He has great size and agility but his long-speed might be an issue and I just didn’t see him play the ball well enough in college.

#41 Detroit — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
Aggressive, physical receiver who plays beyond his size. The Lions double-dip at a key need.

#42 New York Giants — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
He’s long and lean but a lot of his wins are unusual. He’s not a dynamic speed rusher and he lacks the sand in his pants to control as a five-technique.

#43 San Francisco — Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
He ran a sensational 4.21 short shuttle at 250lbs at SPARQ.

#44 Dallas — Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
What a pro-day! He ran a 4.25 short shuttle at 284lbs and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical. Incredible physical talent who can rush inside/out.

#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
Massive, highly athletic prospect who will shock people when he runs and does the agility testing. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#46 New England — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
Having lost Joe Thuney, Davis could be a high-upside replacement.

#47 LA Chargers — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
He has what you want in a left tackle. He’ll only last because he hasn’t played for two years.

#48 Las Vegas — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
Wow-athlete at linebacker with tremendous character and intensity. Ran a 4.18 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#49 Arizona — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
A TFL machine in 2020 (13.5). Nixon creates havoc from the interior and is a true playmaking defensive tackle.

#50 Miami — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
There’s some talk that he loves making music more than football and there’s a roughness to his game.

#51 Washington — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
I think he’s a terrific prospect. Only having 11 starts to judge isn’t anywhere near enough, so he will last. Yet he has everything you want in terms of a player to draft and develop.

#52 Chicago — Asante Samuel Jr (CB, Florida State)
They created a hole at cornerback and it needs to be filled.

#53 Tennessee — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Had a highly consistent 2019 season but followed it up with a weird 2020 — before he wisely took himself out before damaging his stock any further.

#54 Indianapolis — Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
They need a tackle and the Colts consistently take highly explosive athletes for their O-line. Cosmi excelled at his pro-day.

#55 Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins (T, Oklahoma State)
He’s big and physical but do you need to kick him up the arse to max out his potential?

#56 Seattle — Quinn Meinerz (G/C, UWW)
The Seahawks will be fortunate if Meinerz is here. His combination of explosive traits, length and a wow-Senior Bowl could push him into the top-50 easily.

#57 LA Rams — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
Incredibly physical interior defender who is a better-than-expected pass rusher and his motor never stops.

#58 Baltimore — Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
He could go a lot earlier than this. He looks like a Terminator and can rush the edge with skill of brute force.

#59 Cleveland — Payton Turner (DE, Houston)
In terms of potential, Turner’s upside is through the roof. He can rush the edge with speed, mix things up with power and hand-use and he has superb balance to bend the arc.

#60 New Orleans — Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
Marshall has some concentration drops but he also excelled during a difficult 2020 season for LSU.

#61 Buffalo — Tommy Tremble (TE, Notre Dame)
He’s a head-hunter as a blocker. His second name is what players do when they’re near him on a run-block. He destroys defenders.

#62 Green Bay — Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
He has a first round physical profile and day three tape.

#63 Kansas City — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
He’s fast, explosive and an incredible tester. The question is — can he be more than just a gadget player at the next level?

#64 Tampa Bay — D’Ante Smith (T, ECU)
He was superb at the Senior Bowl and whether he plays at tackle or guard he has the kind of potential teams crave on the O-line.

Third round

#65 Jacksonville — Amari Rodgers (WR, Clemson)
They need to build around Trevor Lawrence and he already has chemistry with Rodgers, who is built like a running back.

#66 New York Jets — Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)
I love some of his tape and he plays with his hair on fire — but he doesn’t have an ideal frame for the position and his testing was pretty ‘meh’.

#67 Houston — Alex Leatherwood (G/T, Alabama)
Big, long, physical offensive lineman. He just isn’t very spectacular and he didn’t excel at the Senior Bowl.

#68 Atlanta — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
He’s the ‘mountain’ from Game of Thrones. We’ve always said he’s a far better athlete than many think. He’s 350lbs and runs a 4.85. The strongest player in the draft.

#69 Cincinnati — Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
Big, tough, physical left guard. This would be tremendous value.

#70 Philadelphia — Joseph Ossai (LB, Texas)
Explosive linebacker-turned pass rusher who could quickly move into their rotation.

#71 Denver — Jay Tufele (DT, USC)
Kind of a forgotten man in this class but he does a bit of everything — interior anchor, some pass rush ability.

#72 Detroit — Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
I really like Nick Bolton but the problem is he just isn’t very fast. He’s an old-school thumper.

#73 Carolina — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
He had a very disappointing 2020 season and it seems his stock has plummeted. He can still be a great slot corner for me.

#74 Washington (v/SF) — Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
He has physical tools but does he need to slim down to play the edge or get bigger to kick inside?

#75 Dallas — Dillon Radunz (T, North Dakota State)
Physical and held his own at the Senior Bowl but probably has to kick inside.

#76 New York Giants — Benjamin St. Juste (CB, Minnesota)
Long, intelligent, extremely agile cornerback who does a superb job playing the ball to break up passes.

#77 New England — Forfeited

#78 LA Chargers — Ifeatu Melifonwu (CB, Illinois)
I think he looks more like a safety than a corner.

#79 Minnesota — Talanoa Hufanga (S, USC)
I really like him. He plays like Jamal Adams for a fraction of the cost.

#80 Arizona — Chris Rumph (DE/LB, Duke)
Possibly the ideal replacement for Haason Reddick. He’s a hybrid SAM/DE.

#81 Las Vegas — D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Western Michigan)
A dynamite kick returner who can make things happen in space.

#82 Miami — Khalil Herbert (RB, Virginia Tech)
He’s super quick and when he has a lane he can accelerate and break off big gains. Slightly older than ideal.

#83 Washington — Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)
Another forgotten man in this class after opting out who could provide some value.

#84 Chicago — Trey Smith (G, Tennessee)
He looks like a first round pick in terms of body type. His tape and health record is more day-three level.

#85 Philadelphia (v/IND) — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
He was underwhelming in 2020 after returning from an ACL-tear.

#86 Tennessee — Cade Johnson (WR, South Dakota State)
He reminds me a lot of Tyler Lockett. He’s incredibly mature and won’t be fazed by the first weeks in camp. Superb Senior Bowl.

#87 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Cam McGrone (LB, Michigan)
Robert Salah loves athletic, dynamic linebackers with speed and agility. That’s Cam McGrone.

#88 Pittsburgh — Nico Collins (WR, Michigan)
The Steelers do a good job finding value at receiver. Collins competes for the ball well and can be a red zone threat. Can he separate at the next level, though?

#89 Detroit (v/LAR) — Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC)
He’s polished and consistent but is he fast enough to go earlier than this?

#90 Cleveland — Justin Hilliard (LB, Ohio State)
His performance level at the end of the season was remarkable, especially against Northwestern.

#91 Minnesota (v/BAL) — Richie Grant (S, UCF)
He excelled at the Senior Bowl and made a lasting impression with his playmaking ability.

#92 Cleveland (v/NO) — Dyami Brown (WR, North Carolina)
Seemed to do a good job moving the chains for UNC and he can get downfield.

#93 Green Bay — Tyler Shelvin (DT, LSU)
Big, physical nose who can eat up space but he offers no pass rushing upside.

#94 Buffalo — Jamien Sherwood (S, Auburn)
Great testing numbers, packs a punch and could be terrific value here.

#95 Kansas City — Liam Eichenburg (T, Notre Dame)
The O-line rebuild continues. He could be tried at guard or tackle.

#96 Tampa Bay — Michal Menet (C, Penn State)
There’s nothing that spectacular about Menet — he’s just very, very consistent.

#97 New England — Joshua Kaindoh (DE, Florida State)
Kaindoh could go undrafted. But a few years ago he was the talk of recruiting circles and he has rare traits.

#98 LA Chargers — Jamin Davis (LB, Kentucky)
Solid linebacker prospect who flashes some big plays but doesn’t ‘wow’ on tape.

#99 New Orleans — Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
A dynamic athlete and playmaker who has a shot to be really good at the next level. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ, adding a 36 inch vertical.

#100 Dallas — Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
He has real mismatch qualities attacking the seam and in the red zone.

#101 Tennessee — Jackson Carman (T, Clemson)
I thought his tape was underwhelming and he’s very much a move-inside prospect.

#102 LA Rams — Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)
Explosive and capable of chunk plays but really undersized.

#103 San Francisco — Jemar Jefferson (RB, Oregon State)
I’ve got a feeling he could emerge as a mid-round steal.

#104 LA Rams — Jaelon Darden (WR, North Texas)
I can’t recall a player so adept at juking defenders in the open field.

#105 Baltimore — Spencer Brown (T, Northern Iowa)
Explosive tester, could eventually replace Orlando Brown at right tackle.

#106 New Orleans — Cornell Powell (WR, Clemson)
Only one season of production but he really flashed at times in 2020.

Thoughts on Seattle’s pick

It’s still not clear exactly how the Seahawks are adding to the roster, given they’re over the cap. No news has emerged on any contract restructures and there haven’t been any trades either.

The signing of Ethan Pocic was a classic draft hedge. It’s cheap, he can be carried as a backup and if the board works against you — you’ve at least retained your 2020 starter.

There are some strong center options in this draft. Explosive, physical players.

I have the Seahawks selecting Quinn Meinerz, who ticks every box for Seattle.

He has +33 inch arms. He had a superb Senior Bowl. He’s highly explosive — jumping a 32 inch vertical and a 9-3 broad jump at his pro-day. Had he achieved his 35 reps on the bench press (he didn’t do the bench due to a slight wrist issue) he would be a 3.41 TEF tester.

His attitude, personality and physical profile makes him the ideal Seahawks center target.

Of course, there will be other teams who also feel this way. It won’t be a surprise if he’s off the board by #56 and in that scenario, the Seahawks would have to pivot.

In my projection Creed Humphrey and Landon Dickerson are also off the board (although Humphrey has short arms and Dickerson has a concerning injury record). I still believe there’s a chance Josh Myers will go in the late first round too.

If Meinerz wasn’t available, they could look at guards instead with the possibility of shifting Damien Lewis inside (something I’m not a huge fan of). Ben Cleveland is a huge mountain of a man — the strongest player in the draft with great athleticism to match. Alex Leatherwood had an excellent pro-day. Aaron Banks, Dillon Radunz, Trey Smith and D’Ante Smith are alternative options.

There are pass rushers available — I’ve interviewed both Joe Tryon and Payton Turner and they’d be great options. Ronnie Perkins is there but I’m not sure his body type and agility testing will appeal to Seattle.

Jayson Oweh is pretty much Seattle’s dream of a LEO but while his physical profile is worth a top-10 grade, his tape is day-three level. Chris Rumph could be a SAM/LEO option.

At receiver, the highly explosive Rondale Moore falls a bit this time. There’s no doubting his athletic upside, it’s just a case of whether he’s just a gadget player or someone capable of becoming an all-round dynamic weapon.

Amari Rodgers might not have run well enough (4.5’s) to be considered. Cade Johnson was a joy to interview and plays a lot like Tyler Lockett.

The Seahawks need a third wide receiver one way or another.

There are plenty of quality players available. Picking in the 30-70 range will be a big deal this year. The Seahawks could really do with getting back into that part of the draft.

I’ve interviewed a number of the prospects in Seattle’s range here. I’ve re-posted them below in case you missed them, starting with my conversation with Quinn Meinerz…

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Seahawks sign Kerry Hyder & Benson Mayowa

March 23rd, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Well, we called for pass rushers.

Now we’ll see if the Seahawks have found some answers to a huge need area.

On the one hand, addressing this now at least eliminates some of the uncertainty.

Last year was a bit of a disaster for Seattle. Too much patience waiting for Jadeveon Clowney. Feeling like they had to trade up for Darrell Taylor. In part, the Jamal Adams trade was an aggressive attempt to improve the situation.

They started the season with no semblance of pressure and if it wasn’t for the Carlos Dunlap trade, the defensive unit probably would’ve continued on a historically bad pace, setting records along the way.

By retaining Benson Mayowa and adding Kerry Hyder, at least they won’t be left in the same situation.

And perhaps the addition of Hyder is indicative of a desire to avoid history repeating.

I have no idea what Dunlap’s situation is. Let’s assume, based on the news today, that he’s perhaps not that close to making a decision. He might be going somewhere else. Yet for the purpose of this scenario, let’s say he’s waiting to feel out the market.

You don’t want to be left in the cold again — waiting for him and ultimately missing out, just as they did with Clowney.

Now, at least they have someone. If they have to wait for Dunlap, at least they won’t be asking Mayowa to play an obscene number of snaps, reducing his effectiveness.

Sincerely, I hope there’s still a chance Dunlap comes back. He’s ageing but he’s also a proven quality player. He had a big impact in Seattle and brought out the best in Mayowa and Jarran Reed.

I don’t know if we can necessarily expect the same from Hyder.

He’s bounced around the league as a former undrafted free agent. He’s had spells with the Jets, Cowboys and Lions before joining the 49ers last season. He turns 30 in May so he’s not young.

In five years he’s had two decent seasons — recording eight sacks for Detroit in 2016 and 8.5 sacks for the Niners in 2020.

In his other three years in the league, he has three total sacks.

Dunlap has 87.5 in his career.

Throwing Hyder into the pot as a potential upgrade for Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier is a decent idea. Buying into him as a direct replacement for the far more proven and consistent Dunlap would be a potential downgrade.

And despite his 8.5 sacks in 2020, it’s worth noting his pass rush grade via PFF was a very disappointing 58.8. His run defense grade, in comparison, was a 69.9.

I’ll never complain about pass rush additions. It needed to be the focus for the Seahawks along with the O-line this off-season.

It’s still a little hard to stomach that while the rest of the NFC West boasts Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Chandler Jones and JJ Watt — the Seahawks have zero game-wreckers up front.

Without a doubt, this has been one of the great failures of this franchise since the reset began in 2018. They’ve done a pretty awful job replacing Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and having made the decision to trade Frank Clark — it’s been one band-aid after another, trying to find solutions.

I don’t know if these two moves present any big step forward in that regard. Mayowa has always been a fairly average rotational player. A good #3. Hyder is hardly the game-changer they need. We have to hope he can emulate his two eight-sack seasons moving forward, while continuing to deliver good run support.

But with no picks and a desperate need to make the most of free agency — to me it still feels like they badly need Dunlap back. He might be 32. He might not be quite as good as he used to be. He’s the best available though and he fits.

Bring him back and they might at least have a functioning D-line — even if they badly need a better long-term plan for beyond 2021.

If you missed my stream with Jeff Simmons yesterday, check it out below:

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