10 thoughts on early Seahawks free agency

March 15th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

If the Seahawks make any new signings I’ll update this post with some notes. If you missed it yesterday don’t forget to check out our piece on a trio of Wisconsin defenders and some thoughts on Seattle’s addition of Barkevious Mingo.

It’s early days but so far Seattle’s early moves are confirming our thoughts before free agency began:

1. The early part of the draft provides the best value at running back and interior offensive line. The Seahawks met with two veteran running backs (Jonathan Stewart, DeMarco Murray) and might be looking to sign a hedge (more on that in a moment). They haven’t met with any veteran offensive linemen so far and they haven’t signed a running back. As things stand, it looks like they’re preparing to address both positions in the draft. That might change if they sign D.J. Fluker. He’s reportedly set to visit with the Seahawks.

2. They’re using free agency to look at tight ends and defensive linemen. This also works to the strength of the draft. In the first couple of rounds the options on the defensive line and at tight end are quite limited. It’s a total contrast to the options at guard/center and running back.

3. For the Seahawks to be competitive they still need to significantly bolster their defensive line. This is why they’re reportedly interested in Ndamukong Suh and Sheldon Richardson. Signing one or the other is crucial because they’re unlikely to find an alternative in the draft that can have the same block-absorbing impact to keep Bobby Wagner clean (Vita Vea will be long gone by #18).

4. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to sign both Suh and Richardson but let’s remember two things. Firstly, who thought they’d be able to sign both Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in 2013? Nobody saw either of those moves coming. Secondly, they’ve cleared significant cap space — not just for 2018 but also for 2019. A rotation of Suh, Richardson, Naz Jones and Jarran Reed would create the kind of variety Seahawks fans often talk about when reminiscing about the 2013 team. It’d be a more expensive group for sure — but they’d also be fresh and would make life a lot easier for Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo and any other EDGE rusher they bring in. Again, Suh and Richardson together is improbable and unlikely. Yet the Seahawks under John Schneider and Pete Carroll have made the improbable possible.

5. They could also look to add a pass rusher within the first four rounds of the draft. It could be Lorenzo Carter or Leon Jacobs who are more SAM/LEO types (possibly less likely since the addition of Mingo?). They might consider someone like Kemoko Turay. He’s more of a classic LEO/EDGE type. He has good size and length (6-5, 253lbs, 33.5 inch arms). He ran a 1.62 10-yard split which isn’t elite but it’s a decent time. Like many players at the combine he hurt his hamstring while running. Turay has an edge to him and he’s definitely talented. He might be available in round three. They could also look for an inside/out type rusher to replace Bennett. Ohio State’s Jalyn Holmes could be one to monitor, or his team mate Tyquan Lewis. It’d be easier to roll with some of these younger DE/LEO types if you had a strong interior rotation.

6. Seattle’s defense would be new-look but it’d also be starting to take shape. They’d have a defensive rotation up front. They’d have an opportunity to add to the linebacker position (Leon Jacobs) and at defensive back. The options at corner and safety could include Wisconsin’s Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson, Oklahoma State’s Tre Flowers, Virginia Tech’s Brandon Facyson or Terrell Edmunds, San Diego State’s Kam Kelly or one or two others. There’s plenty of ways to add speed, size and intensity. The signs for the future would be positive. And make no mistake — there will be players available on day three in this draft that can compete to start. Nelson looks like one of the top five cornerbacks in the draft. Could he compete immediately with Justin Coleman in the slot and provide some long term insurance there? Absolutely. Can Jamerson spend a year learning the ropes to play free safety with his 4.40 speed? Absolutely. Does Tre Flowers look every bit the type of long, physical defensive back Seattle has developed in the past? Absolutely.

7. If they’re unable to land Suh or Richardson, they’ll be left in a difficult position. The defensive line will be heavily relying on Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Naz Jones and Dion Jordan. There wouldn’t be much depth. With the cap space they currently have it’d be a major blow if they can’t secure at least one of the two veteran defensive tackles. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

There is this:

However, it’s emerged that Suh will travel to New Orleans on Friday for a meeting with the Saints. Richardson spent today with the Minnesota Vikings. Is it possible the Seahawks could end up failing to land either? Meanwhile receiver Jaron Brown, formerly of the Cardinals, is visiting Seattle. Jordy Nelson has agreed a two-year contract with the Raiders.

8. Austin Seferian-Jenkins will not be a Seahawk. He has agreed a two-year deal with the Jaguars worth up to $11m. It’s not a particularly expensive contract. They might be under some pressure now to finalise a deal with Ed Dickson. Tight end might end up being a draft priority again now.

9. What happens to the running game? You could be looking at drafting one of the top running backs and one of the top interior offensive linemen. One of Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, Austin Corbett, Billy Price or Frank Ragnow would be a big add. You’ve also got Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson and others at running back. The Seahawks can realistically solve their issues this off-season and be competitive.

10. So why are they considering adding a veteran running back as a hedge? Simple. Look at New Orleans last season. They had Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara. It became apparent early in the season Peterson would be the odd man out and they moved him to Arizona. The Seahawks could do the same. Allow a veteran to compete with Chris Carson and a rookie (plus C.J. Prosise if he can stay healthy). The worst case scenario is you trade or cut the veteran. The best case scenario is you’re covered if Carson and/or Prosise get injured again. With several veteran runners already signed this might not be possible after all. It also feels like a draft class where adding two running backs would be a wise move.

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Wisconsin trio could be in play for Seahawks

March 14th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Wisconsin could be something of a supply line for the Seahawks in the draft. In our Seahawks seven-round mock recently we had them taking Leon Jacobs (LB) and Natrell Jamerson (FS).

Tony Pauline reported on Wednesday that Seattle had dinner with Jamerson and cornerback Nick Nelson after the Badgers’ pro-day.

The Seahawks love speed at linebacker and Jacobs was one of the few to run particularly well at the combine. At 6-1 and 246lbs he ran an impressive 4.48:

He’s not as tall as previous LEO projects but he has good arm length to make up for it (33.5 inch arms). He tested well in the vertical (34.5) and broad (10-2). Crucially he also ran a 1.58 10-yard split — the measure of initial quickness and burst. Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin and Barkevious Mingo all ran in the 1.5’s.

As a linebacker prospect Jacobs also ran a similar short shuttle to K.J. Wright (4.44 vs 4.46). In many ways he’s a solid fit. There are limited LEO prospects in the draft or free agency (thus the Mingo signing). He’s a hitter who plays with intensity. He has the demeanour that you want in a linebacker and the potential to develop into a solid pass rush contributor.

Not many players can do this to a left tackle:

He reads plays particularly well and plays with patience. Here he is blowing up a screen:

Here is showing patience in the open field and then the closing speed/finish to make the TFL against the running back:

Here he is handling a receiver to make a one-armed TFL:

There weren’t really any players like Jacobs in last years draft (when Pete Carroll talked about adding youth to the linebacker position). He’s the perfect combination of size, speed, explosive traits and intensity. There’s work to be done here (he was more of a role player at Wisconsin) and he’ll need refining. There aren’t many players with a higher physical upside in this draft, however.

Natrell Jamerson initially stood out for his special teams value. He flies around and recorded 20 tackles on kickoff coverage. He can be a gunner and a returner:

As a safety there’s also an awful lot to work with. He ran a 4.40 at 5-10 and 201lbs so he has range. Somehow he managed 25 reps on the bench press at the combine despite the weight disadvantage (try benching your body weight +25lbs). That’s an incredible achievement. At the Wisconsin pro-day he add three inches to his vertical jump (38) and also improved on his broad jump (10-3).

With Earl Thomas’ future still relatively undecided, the Seahawks are assessing the draft options. Tony Pauline previously noted interest in Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates III. Jamerson has the raw tools and instinct in zone to make plays like this:

I needed to take a look at Nick Nelson. He wasn’t on the radar. After all, why are the Seahawks meeting with him? He’s somewhere between 5-10 and 5-11 and has 30 3/4 inch arms. He is the very definition of a cornerback they don’t draft. He only ran a 4.52 at 200lbs too.

Yet watching him at Wisconsin, it’s clear why they’re showing some interest. Arguably there isn’t a cornerback in this class that plays tighter coverage. He smothers receivers and blankets them, frequently getting a hand to the football.

His performance against Maryland’s D.J. Moore (a possible first round pick) was outstanding. He’s #11 for Wisconsin:

Look at the first attempt in the red zone and how quickly he closes space and narrows the throwing window for the quarterback. On the second red zone snap, he’s all over Moore. There’s no chance for the quarterback to get him the ball.

At the 1:45 minute mark you’ll note the long, looping pass thrown by the quarterback that falls incomplete. Watch after the ball drops to the ground. Nelson comes in and absolute dumps Moore on his backside. It’s a bit unnecessary but fun nonetheless. Seattle has missed some of that attitude recently.

The only reception Moore completed came on a play where Nelson forces him to re-route and he steps out of bounds before illegally catching the pass. At about the 3:20 mark he has blanket coverage on Moore downfield and plays the ball to force an incompletion.

He pitched a shut-out against one of the most athletic, tough and highly rated receivers in the draft.

In total Nelson had 21 passes defended in 2017 — the most in college football. He recorded 42 for his career. It’s very clear why. His footwork is efficient, you don’t see him fooled on double moves. He’s just sticky. It all looks so effortless. He mirrors receivers, tracks the route, doesn’t make many mistakes and when the ball’s in the air he’ll compete.

He’s thick set and physical. He looks like a tremendous prospect to handle slot-corner duties. In an emergency even a team like Seattle could probably trust him to put in a shift outside.

You also wonder if they see him as a possible safety project. After all, he’s so far away from Seattle’s prototype cornerback. They simply don’t draft guys like this. His size, composure, timing and reading of the game could fit a move to free safety. He plays with the competitiveness of a Seahawks safety, that’s for sure.

He didn’t do the agility tests at the combine but he took part at the Wisconsin pro-day:

There’s some quickness on show here:

Nelson received a second round grade from the draft committee but he’s being projected to last a little longer than that.

Jacobs, Jamerson and Nelson are three names to keep an eye on here. All three are highly athletic, physical and competitive. They’re winners. And the Seahawks are going to need to draft some young players like this for their defense.

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Free agency thoughts & open thread

March 14th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

If anything breaks regarding the Seahawks, I’ll post some thoughts. Feel free to use this as an open thread too.

Here’s what we know:

— So the first outside free agent to join the Seahawks is former #6 overall pick Barkevious Mingo. He’s had a disappointing career so far, struggling with the Browns before underwhelming stints in New England and Indianapolis. That said, they needed to add an EDGE with some outside rush ability. Mingo ran a 4.58 at his combine with a 1.57 split. That’s in Seattle’s ball-park for the LEO position. With very limited LEO options in the draft, this might be a necessary project. It appears to be a cheap contract. The potential has always been there with Mingo. Now the Seahawks will be tasked with trying to turn him into a role player. He turns 28 in October.

Mingo is also the fourth top-15 pick they’ve signed from the underwhelming 2013 draft. Luke Joeckel (#2), Dion Jordan (#3), Barkevious Mingo (#6) and Sheldon Richardson (#13) were all acquired by Seattle in the last twelve months.

It’s difficult to identify LEO pass rushers in this draft class. Even Harold Landry might not be a fit. He ran a 4.65 which is slower than they’ve looked for in the past and he has sub-33 inch arms (they’ve never drafted a defensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms). Leon Jacobs at Wisconsin and Lorenzo Carter at Georgia might be their two main options. Aside from that? It’s really limited. Adding Mingo doesn’t prevent them from drafting either Jacobs or Carter.

— DeShawn Shead has signed a $3.5m one-year deal with the Detroit Lions. It can grow to $6.5m based on incentives. That’s a nice deal for Shead, one the Seahawks were unlikely to match.

— The Seahawks tendered Dion Jordan as a RFA. They gave Justin Coleman a second round tender. Unsurprisingly, Thomas Rawls and Mike Davis were not tendered. J.D. McKissic, Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson were given ERFA tenders.

— The Seahawks met with Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He is also meeting with the Jaguars despite the fact they’ve agreed a deal with Niles Paul. According to Ian Rapoport, Seferian-Jenkins has concluded his meeting with Seattle and is now heading to Florida:

— Aside from Niles Paul, blocking tight end Virgil Green (formerly of the Broncos) is off the market. He is joining the LA Chargers.

— Ed Dickson, another tight end, is also flying in for a meeting with the Seahawks.

— Ndamukong Suh has been released by the Dolphins. We know he was in Seattle earlier this week but according to Jordan Schultz, is now heading back to Portland. Suh will likely have numerous suitors so if the Seahawks want him, they’ll have to pay up. Apparently they’re showing some interest…

— Jordy Nelson is set to meet with the team following his visit with the Oakland Raiders.

— Earl Thomas updates are few and far between but here’s some info:

Clearly the Seahawks are unwilling to just give Earl Thomas away. It’s not a seller’s market so all signs, at the moment, point to Thomas returning. After all, if teams are only willing to give the Seahawks a third rounder (for example) you might as well play out the contract.

There’s also this:

— Tyrann Mathieu has been released from his contract by Arizona. This might be a situation to monitor regarding Earl Thomas’ future. Mathieu’s next contract could influence any potential negotiations with Thomas — or could even encourage trade talks.

— Quinton Dial, a defensive lineman formerly of San Francisco and Green Bay, will visit with the Seahawks. He’ll also meet with the Lions.

Thomas Rawls appears to be meeting with the Carolina Panthers.

The only reported interest in Sheldon Richardson is this tentative link to the Vikings. It’s early days but is it possible he’s facing the same cold market previously experienced by Dontari Poe a year ago?

Ian Rapoport says there’s been an assumption Richardson would be staying in Seattle:

Tony Pauline says the Seahawks had dinner with Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson at the Wisconsin pro-day. Jamerson was one of the picks in our recent seven-round Seahawks mock.

— The number of available veteran running backs is thinning. Jonathan Stewart has joined the Giants, Carlos Hyde is moving to Cleveland and the 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon. It seems like the Seahawks will wait this position out until the draft, although they did meet with DeMarco Murray.

— Justin Pugh is meeting with the Arizona Cardinals while according to Mike Silver, the Rams, 49ers and Browns are trying to sign Terrelle Pryor.


Tuesday notes: Thoughts on early free agency

March 13th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

The wide receiver market is red hot

Allen Robinson (Chicago), Sammy Watkins (Kansas City), Paul Richardson (Washington) and Marqise Lee (Jacksonville) have all agreed new contracts already. This is possibly indicative of a mediocre draft at the receiver position.

All received hefty salaries too:

Allen Robinson — 3 years, $42m
Sammy Watkins — 3 years, $48m
Paul Richardson — 5 years, $40m
Marqise Lee — 4 years, $38m

The Seahawks were never going to get involved at these prices.

Where does it leave them though?

After all, they’re losing Richardson to the Redskins.

It might not mean all that much. They still have Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. They’re only a year removed from drafting Amara Darboh in round three plus they just traded for Marcus Johnson. They also seem to be high on David Moore.

When the Seahawks were at their peak in 2013, the main receivers were Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Sidney Rice picked up an injury during the season.

If they’re going back to that formula, an expensive receiver isn’t necessarily required.

All of the names above would’ve compromised their compensatory picks in 2019. There’s also a degree of risk. Robinson is still recovering from a torn ACL, Watkins has underwhelmed so far while Lee and Richardson have missed many games through injury.

What they really need is some extra speed (possibly provided by Marcus Johnson) and a big target. We’ll have to see what the market is for Terrelle Pryor. Michael Floyd could be a cost-effective alternative.

Jimmy Graham heading to Green Bay

Graham leaving was expected. The Seahawks spent two years trying to make him a complete tight end, then finally caved and used him as a touchdown maker in the red zone.

The Packers have struggled to get the most out of veteran tight ends. We’ll see if Graham is any different.

Will the Seahawks sign a veteran tight end?

It feels like a priority. Austin Seferian-Jenkins reportedly wants to play for the Seahawks. It’s also a greater need. Nick Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes are the only contracted tight ends on the roster.

Seferian-Jenkins would cost them a comp pick. It’d cancel out one of the departures — Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham or Sheldon Richardson (assuming Richardson also leaves). They might have to take that on the chin. They’ll need to spend some money.

Here’s the latest:

Will they sign a veteran running back?

They’re meeting with DeMarco Murray. Murray wouldn’t cost them a comp pick next year. Both players were cut. It’s highly likely they will sign a hedge running back at some point — the key is who’s willing to play on a modest deal? Jonathan Stewart is out of the equation though — he’s joining the Giants:

If (when?) the Seahawks sign a running back — it’ll be assumed by many that the position is sorted, or that it’ll allow them to wait in the draft. Perhaps. I suspect it’s more likely it’ll just be insurance or competition. After all, the Saints signed Adrian Peterson and quickly moved on when it emerged Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were the two to go with. The Seahawks signing a veteran creates a similar situation with a veteran, a rookie and Chris Carson competing.

Adding to the defensive line also feels like a priority

Re-signing Sheldon Richardson or adding Ndamukong Suh could be the first big move they make. People will have reservations about both players but they’d be very important in Seattle. It’s not a coincidence Bobby Wagner had a career year with a talent like Richardson absorbing blockers.

Why would they spend big money on either?

A year ago when Michael Lombardi first reported the Seahawks were willing to move Richard Sherman, he made this interesting remark:

I think Seattle really thought twice about paying Richard Sherman. They felt they had to when they won the Super Bowl. Now their cap’s kind of a mess and they need to fix it so I think the reason they need to fix it is because they put all that money in the corner position in a defense where, we feel you can draft players that fit that scheme. Seattle did it, they’ve done it over and over again.

The scheme in Seattle allows you to find corners especially size/speed corners of which there’s a bundle of them in this draft that can play deep third of the defense, they’ll tackle and they can play within the scheme.

The Seahawks clearly have confidence in their ability to find cornerbacks on the cheap and fit them into their scheme. They have a proven track record there. And these quotes from Lombardi shed light on why they were asking Sherman to take a pay cut.

So while they’re saving money at that position by cutting Sherman, it might be with the intention of spending more money on the D-line. In the past they brought in Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. They traded for Sheldon Richardson. They spent high picks on Frank Clark and Malik McDowell.

Now they might be transferring some of the Sherman fund to a different area of the defense.

Will they spend on the offensive line and sign a veteran guard?

Probably only if the price is right. After all, this is an excellent draft for interior O-liners. The options on the market aren’t great either. The Seahawks got burned overpaying for average players a year ago.

What’s happening with Earl Thomas?

During the combine Jason La Canfora suggested he would be traded. Then Ian Rapoport reported Thomas would be staying in Seattle. La Canfora yesterday posted this Tweet:

It’s just his personal hunch rather than a report but it leaves the door open. If Thomas is going to be moved, it’d likely be in the early days of free agency.

Mike Davis wasn’t tendered

According to a report by Brady Henderson. This isn’t a big surprise either. They weren’t likely to give him $1.9m to stay. They can now try and re-sign him on a much cheaper deal.

Google Hangout tonight

I’ll be doing a live Google Hangout later (4pm PST) discussing free agency. I’ll post it at the top of this article. If you have any questions, post them in the comments section. Start the question with ‘GOOGLE HANGOUT’ and it’ll be easier for me to spot.

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Seahawks re-sign Bradley McDougald, Suh next?

March 12th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This isn’t unexpected news. Bradley McDougald had a productive first season in Seattle. The deal appears to be relatively cheap and McDougald will likely start at strong safety next year, assuming Kam Chancellor isn’t able to make a return.

Of all Seattle’s free agents, McDougald felt like the one most likely to re-sign and the one that would provide the best value. This is a good start to the new league year.

Things seem to be moving now for Seattle. And while they are turning over parts of the roster, this isn’t a franchise known for sitting on its hands. It also became apparent today that Miami is going to cut Ndamukong Suh. At pretty much the same time, Suh posted this video on Twitter:

So Suh is in Seattle. He’s about to be cut. And he’s talking about an ‘exciting day’.

This would make a lot of sense for the Seahawks for a number of reasons. Firstly, it wouldn’t impact their comp pick situation in 2019 because he’s being cut. It’d provide leadership to the defensive line plus an element of intensity.

He’s also not regressing as much as some people believe:

Ndamukong Suh, Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas would be a good looking trio to build a younger defense around.

With McDougald signed and potentially Suh to follow, the next priority might be tight end. Jason La Canfora is reporting interest in Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He’s already turned down two offers from the Jets and might have his heart set on returning to the Pacific North West.

Finding targets and spending some money on offense will likely be a target for Seattle. The tight end position needs help that might not be forthcoming in the draft. They also need to add at receiver and Jacksonville’s Marqise Lee could provide some relative value. There’s also a distinct possibility they’ll add a hedge running back at some point.

If you missed yesterday’s article asking, ‘What are the Seahawks doing?’ I’d recommend checking it out. Hopefully it’ll provide some perspective.

Linebacker 10-yard splits published

The NFL Network didn’t show these during the live of the combine but here are the numbers courtesy of NFL Draft Scout:

Shaquem Griffin — 1.54
Fred Warner — 1.55
Lorenzo Carter — 1.56
Leighton Vander Esch — 1.56
Leon Jacobs — 1.58
Roquan Smith — 1.58
Oren Burks — 1.59
Malik Jefferson — 1.59
Peter Kalambayi — 1.59
Tremaine Edmunds — 1.60
Jerome Baker — 1.62
Micah Kiser — 1.62
Kemoko Turay — 1.62
Josey Jewell — 1.63
Uchenna Nwosu — 1.63
Dorian O’Daniel — 1.64
Matthew Thomas — 1.64
Marquis Haynes — 1.66
Darius Leonard — 1.69
Jeff Holland — 1.71

Here are my takeaways from this…

— Lorenzo Carter fits the athletic profile of a SAM/LEO. He ran the same forty time as Bruce Irvin (4.50), they’re a similar weight (245 vs 250) and height (6-4 vs 6-5) plus their splits are similar (1.55 for Bruce, 1.56 for Carter). They both have 34 inch arms. Irvin jumped a 33.5 inch vertical and a 10-3 broad. Carter actually managed a 36 inch vertical and a 10-10 broad. Irvin ran a sensational 4.03 short shuttle but Carter didn’t do the test at the combine. Even so, they are very similar physically. It’s worth noting, however, Tony Pauline’s recent report that some teams medically red-flagged Carter. There are also scouts in the league who see Carter as an underachiever. There’s no doubting his potential though.

— The split times are another feather in the cap for Wisconsin’s Leon Jacobs. He ran a 4.48 at 6-1 and 246lbs. He also jumped a 34.5 inch vertical and managed a 10-2 broad jump. He’s explosive and fast and also has good length (33.5 inch arms). Jacobs put up 26 reps on the bench press (second only to Malik Jefferson among linebackers). His short shuttle time (4.44) was similar to K.J. Wright’s (4.46). He’s an intense, physical prospect. Now we know he also runs an elite 10-yard split. He could easily be on Seattle’s radar.

— As if Leighton Vander Esch needs any more of a boost. He ran a 1.56 and is a lot heavier than a number of the names on the list above. For example, Shaquem Griffin ran at 227lbs. Vander Esch is only marginally slower (0.02 seconds) over ten yards at 256lbs. In our piece a couple of days ago we highlighted what an exceptional physical talent he is, comparing favourably to the best linebackers in the league. Now we also know he runs an elite 1.56 split. That compares pretty well, of course:

Sean Lee — 1.54
Leighton Vander Esch — 1.56
Anthony Barr — 1.57
Luke Kuechly — 1.57
Telvin Smith — 1.57
Bobby Wagner — 1.57
Jordan Willis — 1.57
Vic Beasley — 1.59
Tyus Bowser — 1.59
Haason Reddick — 1.59
T.J. Watt — 1.59
Lavonte David — 1.60
Von Miller – 1.62
Jamie Collins — 1.64
Thomas Davis — 1.64
Khalil Mack — 1.64
K.J. Wright — 1.66
Shaq Thompson — 1.69

Here’s how he compares specifically to Luke Kuechly:

Forty yard dash
Luke Kuechly — 4.58
Leighton Vander Esch — 4.65

Ten yard split
Luke Kuechly — 1.57
Leighton Vander Esch — 1.57

Short shuttle
Luke Kuechly — 4.12
Leighton Vander Esch — 4.15

Three cone
Luke Kuechly — 6.91
Leighton Vander Esch — 6.88

Vertical jump
Luke Kuechly — 38 inches
Leighton Vander Esch — 39.5 inches

Broad jump
Luke Kuechly — 10-3
Leighton Vander Esch — 10-4

Vander Esch is going to go early in round one.

— Fred Warner was a team captain at BYU and tested well at 6-3 and 236lbs. He jumped a 38.5 inch vertical and ran a 4.28 short shuttle. He also managed a 6.88 three cone. The only average mark was the forty. He ran a 4.64 which isn’t amazing at his size. He more than makes up for it with a 1.55 split. He’s another one to keep an eye on, as is Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks.

The Seahawks have a lot more options at linebacker in this draft compared to a year ago.

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What are the Seahawks doing? Plus Austin Corbett

March 11th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Pete Carroll is staring a challenging off-season right in the eyes

What are the Seahawks doing?

We’re all seeking clarity. Here’s my best attempt at answering some of the big questions we’re all asking at the moment…

Are they giving up on 2018?

It’ll never be about ‘not winning’ for Pete Carroll. Even in 2010 when the Seahawks were a cobbled together bunch of retreads, rejects, journeymen and rookies — Seattle found a way to compete.

Here’s a reminder:

Change has been on the cards. We’ve known that since Mike Silver published his piece in December.

It doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t or can’t be competitive next season.

So how are they going to be competitive? They’re cutting key veterans!

I think they believe if they can fix the running game it will cure a lot of ills. Russell Wilson would get the support he needs on offense and that helps the defense too.

Complete the circle.

This also allows them to challenge as best they can in 2018 while they make some difficult but possibly necessary changes to the roster. Moves that will increase competition and the speed/health of the defense.

That’s all well and good but there’s intent and there’s execution!

As bad as the Seahawks were at times in 2017, they still won nine games and should’ve won more despite playing virtually an entire season without a running game.

When they were able to run the ball, they looked terrific.

Remember the Eagles game in week 13? Seattle defeated the eventual Super Bowl Champions handsomely. Richard Sherman didn’t play. They ran the ball and were balanced. It was one of the few times in 2017 everything clicked together. They were a proper team.

So even as bad as things were last year, they still put together a clear example of what they want to be. It’ll be a lot easier to repeat that performance if they can turn a hopeless running game into a functioning and consistent one in 2018.

Why couldn’t they just fix the run and keep Sherman?

The Seahawks spent spent $93,714,666 on their defense last season, more than any team in the NFL. The split between offensive and defensive spend was 36.37% vs 55.98%.

There needs to be more balance there.

Not only was it an expensive defense, it was an ageing one too. Multiple veteran players suffered key injuries or simply didn’t practise during the week.

Getting cheaper and younger on defense had to be part of the 2018 plan. And that meant difficult decisions had to be made.

But now they have so many holes on defense!

Pete Carroll deserves some benefit of the doubt here. Even last year they found Dion Jordan, Justin Coleman, Bradley McDougald, Shaq Griffin and Naz Jones.

Carroll is a very experienced and proven developer of talent. He gets the best out of people, especially on defense. So here we go again. Let’s see what they can do.

Even if they needed to get younger and cheaper on defense, they won’t be that competitive even if they fix the run!

Any team with a franchise quarterback and a running game will be tough to beat. Any team carrying those two aspects plus a defense led by Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas will be competitive.

What are they going to spend all this cap space on?

They don’t have to spend it immediately. They can be picky. They have the flexibility to chase the next Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril if they become available in 2018, 2019, 2020 or whenever. The next time a Calais Campbell hits the market, that player might be heading to Seattle.

Their biggest outlay this year might be a veteran blocking tight end, a receiver or a recently cut defensive or offensive lineman. It might be a hedge running back for the draft. They might spend to retain their own, be it Bradley McDougald or Sheldon Richardson.

Rolling cap and protecting comp picks could be the ultimate goal.

So how do they fix the run if they’re not going to just go and spend $14m a year on Andrew Norwell?

Well, this just so happens to be the ideal draft class to fix the running game. The first two rounds will be loaded with talented running backs and interior offensive linemen.

They couldn’t have picked a better year to face this challenge.

I know some people (no names mentioned *cough* *Seahawks Twitter* *cough*) are allergic to talking about the running back position with anything other than pure disdain — but the Seahawks have a great opportunity to get things back on track.

They only have one early pick though! So how are they going to do this?

They’ll need to be creative but that’s fine.

Trading down twice from #18 (initially into the mid-20’s and then possibly down into round two) could net two third round picks. That would give you three picks in the sweet-spot of the draft (R2-3).

Turning #18 into three day-two picks could be their objective. And it’s achievable.

They’d also have much more flexibility if that happened. They could trade down again, trade up if needed. They should be able to land the tools they need to fix the run.

Trade down AGAIN? No thanks!

Well, there aren’t that many legit first round players in the draft this year. I think there are about 10-15. Phil Savage says 20. Either way, the player you take at #18 might not have a significantly higher grade than the player drafted at #35.

The sweet-spot this year, without a doubt, is rounds 2-3.

What about the defense though! Surely they need to spend a high pick there!

Let’s have some names then. Defensive line is often suggested as a must-pick following Michael Bennett’s departure. The options are limited in round one. If you compare Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry and Taven Bryan to Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, Austin Corbett and the running backs (especially players like Ronald Jones II) — good luck convincing anyone a defensive lineman at #18 is a better option.

Vita Vea will go in the top-10. Leighton Vander Esch could go in the top-16 and Derwin James might be off the board too. The defensive options at #18 aren’t likely to be that appealing and they’ll be even thinner if you trade down.

So how exactly do you plan to add to the defense!?

Again, you play to the strength of the draft. It’s quite simple this year. The early round value is at running back, linebacker and the interior offensive line. The later round picks should provide a lot of value on defense in general.

Our seven-round Seahawks mock draft highlighted this. There is plenty of day three talent on defense this year.

So how quickly can they get back to their best?

Atlanta and Philadelphia turned things around pretty quickly. Seattle can do the same. But it starts with fixing the run first and foremost.

Nevada’s Austin Corbett could be Seattle’s first pick in the draft

Austin Corbett should be on our radar

Tony Pauline connected him to the Seahawks during Senior Bowl week, suggesting they could target him in round two.

Considering the Seahawks are likely to trade down from #18 — possibly out of the first round altogether — Corbett is a name to monitor. If they did want to go O-line first after a significant move down, Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez might be off the board. Corbett could be a prominent alternative.

Today I spent time watching two of his games from 2017 (vs Boise State, Hawaii) and it’s easy to see why he’s being considered a possible first round pick by some scouts.

Watching him leaves you wondering whether Corbett has done any martial arts. Often he’ll judo-throw a defensive lineman off balance. he generates a lot of power in his hips. In the two games I kept seeing this same move time and time again and he tried it at the Senior Bowl when lining up at center for this rep:

He also has a chop he likes to bring in which is a thing of beauty. Hand-technique is vital in the trenches:

He also has a great punch, jolting blockers off balance and frequently stoning them at the point of attack. Here he is versus likely top-25 pick Marcus Davenport:

He’s very willing to progress to the second level and Corbett combo blocks as well as anyone else in this class. He appeared very comfortable dealing with stunts and twists:

Corbett is physical and plays with the attitude you want to see on the O-line. Need evidence?

That’s him dominating Marcus Davenport again, by the way.

Like Wynn he’s extremely competent and doesn’t get flustered. It’s difficult to beat him. It’s incredibly difficult to find obvious flaws. And that’s the one thing that separates this class of lineman compared to previous years. Even the guys like Wynn and Corbett who played left tackle in college are barely ever beaten off the edge. They combat speed, get into position and have the kind of hand technique and recovery to sustain blocks. You’re not looking at highly athletic, raw projects and seeing the obvious areas where they can improve. This is rare in 2018 but they genuinely look like plug-in-and-play O-liners.

This isn’t the cleanest rep against Ogbonnia Okoronkwo in the Senior Bowl. His footwork isn’t particularly smooth but he just finds a way to get it done. Decent use of the hands, eventually gets into position. No way through for Okoronkwo:

You can find tape where Mike McGlinchey is beaten, for example. Watching Wynn and Corbett — it barely ever happens. They are both incredibly difficult to beat. There’s no rhyme or reason to it either. Neither are sensational athletes or particularly long or big. They’re both adequately sized. Decent but not elite physical traits. There aren’t many of these players around in college football but they’re just really, really good at blocking. In both the passing and running game.

Being extremely competent might seem like you’re dabbing a prospect with faint praise. Maybe so for other positions but not necessarily on the O-line.

This might be important too — he’s very durable. He played more than 600 snaps in college, starting 49 of 50 games at Nevada. He missed only one game because of an ankle injury and that came in his Freshman year.

Corbett’s not the most explosive lineman. He only managed an 8-10 broad and a 28.5 inch vertical. His 5.15 forty isn’t bad but Joel Bitonio, who he’s often compared to, ran a 4.97 and also had better explosive testing results (e.g. 32 inch vertical).

He did do well in the 10-yard split though. His 1.76 was only bettered by Kolton Miller (1.67), Brian O’Neill (1.70) and Joseph Noteboom (1.72). Miller, O’Neill and Noteboom all ran sub-5.00 forty’s. Joel Bitonio might’ve run a quicker forty but Corbett beat him in the split (1.76 vs 1.78).

It’s also worth noting that one of the other players to run a 1.76 split was 327lbs Will Hernandez. Both Corbett and Hernandez ran 1.76 splits and 5.15 forty’s (Hernandez is 21lbs heavier though).

Corbett excelled in the short shuttle, running a 4.50. That’s similar to Bitonio’s 4.44 and better than Garett Bolles’ 4.55 and Jack Conklin’s 4.57. It’s the eighth best time in the last three years and put him in the top five for O-liners at the 2018 combine:

James Daniels — 4.40
Joseph Noteboom — 4.44
Kolton Miller — 4.49
Austin Corbett — 4.50
Brian O’Neill — 4.50

He showed off his agility during the combine drills:

As we’ve often discussed, this is a very strong looking group of interior linemen this year. Quenton Nelson could go in the top-five. Wynn and Hernandez likely sneak into the back-end of round one and Billy Price could still get into that range too. Frank Ragnow and Austin Corbett won’t be too far behind. I’m yet to study James Daniels the Iowa center.

It won’t be a surprise if teams look to trade into the last 5-7 picks of the first round to get at the interior O-line class or the group of running backs. There’s going to be a ton of talent at those two positions leaving the board between 25-45.

It won’t be a total shocker either if Corbett sneaks into round one. He’s probably more likely to be an early R2 but listen — this is possible. He’s really good.

If the Seahawks want to go OL-RB — and if Wynn and Hernandez are off the board after they’ve traded down — Corbett could be a target. It might surprise a few people on draft day but it’s possible.

It’s a shame they don’t have their native second round pick to be able to say with some confidence they can tap into the interior O-line and running back classes early.

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Leighton Vander Esch is really good

March 10th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Open a mock draft over the next few days and you’ll very likely see the Seahawks paired with a defensive player at #18.

Most mocks don’t include trades so it won’t really mean much. The Seahawks are as likely as any team to move down, considering they don’t own picks in rounds 2-3. Even so, the mocks are interesting to read because it’s an outsider view on where the Seahawks are at.

Unfortunately, most will overreact to the Richard Sherman departure. They’ll put a cornerback at #18 despite the fact the Seahawks have a proven record of doing the opposite. They’ve waited until day three for their corners and drafted a profile. The earliest they’ve taken a corner is round three and it’s almost certain they won’t take a corner any earlier this year.

If there’s one position Pete Carroll is comfortable coaching up, it’s corner.

The most likely early pick will be something to help the running game. Pete Carroll has identified this as a major cause for concern. Anyone following the team closely will know how desperate the situation became in 2017. One running touchdown by a back all year. That isn’t Pete Carroll football.

They’re unlikely to just blame this on the O-line too. Having invested so many early picks on the unit, it’ll likely be up to Mike Solari to get more out of the group. They might make some changes but a ‘just one more high pick‘ approach might be unlikely — even if there are some exceptional guard candidates this year (Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez etc).

It’s fashionable to play down the importance of the running back position but we’ll see how the Seahawks approach it in April.

If they were going to go defense early (a proposition much more likely if they acquire extra stock in rounds 2-3) it probably wouldn’t be a corner. I’m not sure it’d be a defensive lineman either. There’s isn’t any quite special enough. Nobody with Bruce Irvin’s 4.4 speed or Cliff Avril’s 1.50 split to work the edge. Marcus Davenport didn’t have a bad workout but it wasn’t particularly exciting either.

Bruce Irvin, Frank Clark, Malik McDowell — all freakishly athletic and physical in their own different way. Nobody is particularly unique among this D-line class outside of Bradley Chubb and Vita Vea.

And that’s why both Chubb and Vea will go in the top-10.

So what would the Seahawks do if they wanted to take a defensive player in round one? And what would they look for?

It’d probably have to be a player with cornerstone potential. Someone who can develop into an integral part of the next core. It’d also need to be someone with leadership qualities and eye-catching physical numbers.

Derwin James will be a name that springs to mind. It’s difficult to judge his stock at the moment. He had a terrific combine but that wasn’t unexpected. He’s considered a leader. The only thing holding him back somewhat is position (few teams take a box safety early). Are you getting a major, significant impact if you take him in round one? At Florida State his tape was, in fairness, frequently quite dull. What counters that is the ability of James to develop into a greater playmaker given his testing numbers and the impact he might provide for a young defense breaking in a new identity.

For those reasons, he could interest Seattle.

That said, there might be an even more appealing option.

I spent some time today looking closely at Leighton Vander Esch. It’s high time he earned widespread recognition as a likely top-20 pick.

His first-step quickness at 6-4 and 256lbs is legit. He explodes to the ball and has enough range to play inside or outside linebacker. So often it’s difficult for opponents to get to him — whether it’s a running back covering the blitz or even a lineman. He’s just too quick, too agile:

When he needs to power through a blocker, he can do that too:

We’re talking about a highly athletic, physical and at times violent player. He plays the game bigger and stronger than the opponent and has the attitude and passion on the field you want to see for the position. He loves to fill gaps vs the run, he’ll chase down the ball-carrier from behind and he has a knack for being in the right place due to an instinctive feel for the game.

Last year he had eight TFL’s, three interceptions, four sacks and four forced fumbles. At the next level he’ll be a stat machine and a playmaker.

He ran a 4.65 at the combine which is fine. Not outstanding but fine. Vander Esch more than made up for it elsewhere. He had an outstanding 4.15 short shuttle highlighting his extraordinary quickness for his size. Mike Gesicki was lauded for his short shuttle time (4.10) but Vander Esch is nine pounds heavier.

He showed off his mobility/agility during the drills:

He also managed a 39.5 inch vertical, a 10-4 broad and a 6.88 three-cone.

A man weighing 256lbs shouldn’t be able to move like this covering a pass to the flat (and bonus points for the hit):

This might be my favourite clip. Look at the way he diagnoses the play, works across the line, avoids blockers and executes the tackle. Not to mention the way he stands over the ball-carrier afterwards and gives him a little, ‘enjoy it down there’:

Can he drop into coverage, read the play and make a pick? You bet:

Let’s look at how his testing numbers compare to some of the players already in the league:

Short shuttle

Thomas Davis — 4.01
Von Miller — 4.06
Shaq Thompson — 4.08
Luke Kuechly — 4.12
T.J. Watt — 4.13
Vic Beasley — 4.15
Leighton Vander Esch — 4.15
Sean Lee — 4.16
Khalil Mack — 4.18
Anthony Barr — 4.19
Lavonte David — 4.22
Bobby Wagner — 4.28
Jordan Willis — 4.28
Zach Cunningham — 4.29
Jamie Collins — 4.32
K.J. Wright — 4.35
Haason Reddick — 4.37
Telvin Smith — 4.57

Quicker in the short shuttle than Bobby Wagner and placed nicely between Luke Kuechly, Sean Lee, Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr. He also ran the same time as Vic Beasley.

Three cone

Von Miller — 6.70
Tyus Bowser — 6.75
T.J. Watt — 6.79
Anthony Barr — 6.82
Jordan Willis — 6.85
Leighton Vander Esch — 6.88
Sean Lee — 6.89
Vic Beasley — 6.91
Luke Kuechly — 6.92
Shaq Thompson — 6.99
Haason Reddick — 7.01
Zach Cunningham — 7.03
Telvin Smith — 7.04
Khalil Mack — 7.08
Jamie Collins — 7.10
Thomas Davis — 7.10
Bobby Wagner — 7.10
K.J. Wright — 7.21
Lavonte David — 7.28

Again, this is impressive company. This time he’s quicker than lee and Kuechly (but ran a comparable time) and was considerably quicker than Mack, Wagner and Telvin Smith.

Vertical jump

Jamie Collins — 41.5
Vic Beasley — 41
Khalil Mack — 40
Leighton Vander Esch — 39.5
Bobby Wagner — 39.5
Jordan Willis — 39
Luke Kuechly — 38
Tyus Bowser — 37.5
Sean Lee — 37.5
Von Miller — 37
T.J. Watt — 37
Lavonte David — 36.5
Thomas Davis — 36.5
Haason Reddick — 36.5
Zach Cunningham — 35
Anthony Barr — 34.5
K.J. Wright — 34
Shaq Thompson — 33.5
Telvin Smith — 31.5

It’s never a bad thing to be as explosive in the vertical jump as Bobby Wagner (despite carrying an extra 15lbs in weight). Vander Esch is again nicely placed near Mack and above Kuechly, Lee and even Von Miller.

Broad jump

Jamie Collins — 11-7
Haason Reddick — 11-1
Bobby Wagner — 11-0
Vic Beasley — 10-10
Khalil Mack — 10-8
T.J. Watt — 10-8
Tyus Bowser — 10-6
Von Miller — 10-6
Anthony Barr — 10-5
Zach Cunningham — 10-5
Jordan Willis — 10-5
Leighton Vander Esch — 10-4
Luke Kuechly — 10-3
Sean Lee — 10-0
K.J. Wright — 10-0
Lavonte David — 9-11
Telvin Smith — 9-11
Shaq Thompson — 9-9
Thomas Davis — 9-7

Vander Esch didn’t perform as well as Wagner and Mack here but he’s in the same range as Barr, Kuechly and Lee.

Forty yard dash

Bobby Wagner — 4.46
Haason Reddick — 4.52
Telvin Smith — 4.52
Vic Beasley — 4.53
Von Miller — 4.53
Jordan Willis — 4.53
Luke Kuechly — 4.58
Thomas Davis — 4.60
Sean Lee — 4.60
Jamie Collins — 4.64
Shaq Thompson — 4.64
Tyus Bowser — 4.65
Lavonte David — 4.65
Khalil Mack — 4.65
Leighton Vander Esch — 4.65
Anthony Barr — 4.66
Zach Cunningham — 4.67
T.J. Watt — 4.69
K.J. Wright — 4.71

Even in the forty yard dash — his time didn’t initially stand out but it’s as quick as Mack and and Barr and in a similar range to Kuechly and Lee.

This isn’t a draft class loaded with legit first round graded players. It’s still easy to look at certain prospects and imagine star-quality. Saquon Barkley obviously has it. I think Ronald Jones II has it too. Bradley Chubb, Vita Vea, Quenton Nelson, Tremaine Edmunds. At least a couple of the quarterbacks could become big names in the league and I wouldn’t rule out Derwin James having an excellent career too.

It’s possible a decent number from this class could become top players in the league.

Vander Esch also has that kind of feel.

He can learn to shed better but he has the arm length (34 inches) to improve there. If he plays outside it won’t be as much of an issue (he played inside for Boise State).

I think you’re talking about a player who will fly to the ball, play fast and raise the intensity level of your defense. You can trust him to play the run and pass, he’ll be instinctive and he won’t just be a tackle collector. He will make plays, force turnovers and impact games.

I’m not sure whether the Seahawks will contemplate drafting him given their needs in the running game. He could end up in Oakland, Washington or Green Bay inside the top-15. It’s not improbable.

As Seattle begins a new chapter on defense, you can’t necessarily pick and choose where your blue-chip players will come. Vander Esch would be a temporary SAM and possibly a long term WILL. If they had their full compliment of picks, Vander Esch might be able to give them the type of attitude and talent they require as they turn over a new leaf.

He might not end up in navy blue but he’s still a player worthy of a high projection this year.

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Seahawks seven round mock draft

March 9th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

The projection

R1/2 — Running back (one of Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson)
R3 — Dalton Schultz (TE, Stanford)
R4 — Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)
R5 — Tyquan Lewis (DE, Ohio State)
R5 — Tre Flowers (DB, Oklahoma State)
R5 — Dorian O’Daniel (LB, Clemson)
R5 — Jordan Thomas (CB, Oklahoma)
R7 — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
R7 — Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)

Round one — #18
Trade down

It feels inevitable the Seahawks will trade down. The value in this draft will come in rounds 2-3. With no pick currently in either round, Seattle is highly likely to try and acquire some stock in that range. They could trade down into the late first or early second. What can they get in return? The only precedent we have is the 2013 trade between Dallas and San Francisco. The Niners moved from #31 to #18 and gave up a relatively early third round pick.

First pick — R1/2
Running back

Many fans will want the Seahawks to consider adding an O-liner here. It’s a very valid position to take. This is an extremely good class for interior offensive lineman. We’ve talked a lot recently about the possibility of Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez. Both players could be a consideration.

However, if the Seahawks retain Earl Thomas and don’t add extra picks in the second or third round, they’ll be limited. Having already spent a bounty of high draft picks on Duane Brown, Ethan Pocic, Germain Ifedi, Justin Britt and Rees Odhiambo, they might feel it’s time to invest in a different area of the team. They’re also creating the kind of cap room that could enable them to sign a veteran in free agency.

‘Getting by’ at running back hasn’t worked for two straight years. For all the talk about ‘finding running backs anywhere’, Seattle’s collection of mid/late round picks, UDFA’s and free agents haven’t brought about a solution. They were at their best when they had a consistent, physical, reliable running back with exceptional skill. It’s time to find another and this is the draft class to do it.

With their first pick in this seven round projection, the Seahawks select one of Ronald Jones II, Kerryon Johnson or Nick Chubb.

Round three — acquired via trading down in round one
Dalton Schultz (TE, Stanford)

The Seahawks need to address the tight end position at some stage, possibly with a rookie and a free agent. Jimmy Graham is on the way out and Luke Willson is also hitting the market. They could re-sign Willson or another veteran. That could be a blocking TE like Virgil Green or Niles Paul. It’s also quite possible they will spend a high pick on the position.

Schultz’s main responsibility at Stanford was to block. He frequently opened up lanes for Bryce Love and was a major factor in the running game. The Seahawks need someone who can be a factor as a blocker and make the occasional chain-moving catch.

Zach Miller did this job superbly and Schultz had a very similar combine:

Zach Miller
Height: 6-4
Weight: 256
Arm length: 32
Hand size: 10
Forty: 4.86
Vertical: 34
Broad: 9-7
Bench: 16 (pro day)
Short shuttle: 4.42
Three cone: 7.01

Dalton Schultz
Height: 6-5
Weight: 244
Arm length: 31 1/4
Hand size: 9.5
Forty: 4.75
Vertical: DNP
Broad: 10-0
Bench: 15
Short shuttle: 4.40
Three cone: 7.00

They’re particularly similar in the short shuttle and three cone plus their explosive testing and size/length are similar. Schultz was quite a bit quicker in the forty.

Round four
Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)

The Seahawks love speed at linebacker. Jacobs was one of the few to run particularly well at the combine, recording a superb 4.48 at 6-1 and 246lbs. He also jumped a 34.5 inch vertical and managed a 10-2 broad jump. He’s explosive and fast and also has good length (33.5 inch arms). Jacobs put up 26 reps on the bench press (second only to Malik Jefferson among linebackers). His short shuttle time (4.44) was similar to K.J. Wright’s (4.46). After re-watching some Wisconsin yesterday, Jacobs plays with real intensity. He’s a hitter with good closing speed and he can offer some value as a pass rusher. He could be an option to play strongside linebacker.

Round five
Defense time

This isn’t a bad round to own four picks. There will be some value on defense in this range. The four players I’m projecting are Tyquan Lewis (DE, Ohio State), Tre Flowers (DB, Oklahoma State), Dorian O’Daniel (LB, Clemson) and Jordan Thomas (CB, Oklahoma).

Tyquan Lewis had an explosive workout at the combine (35.5 inch vertical, 10-2 broad jump) and has the ideal size to play inside/out (6-3, 270lbs). He also has 34 inch arms. Lewis had a strong Senior Bowl and is a mature, well spoken individual. He could develop quickly into a strong voice on the team.

Tre Flowers competed as a safety at the combine but looks every bit a cornerback. He’s 6-3 and 200lbs with 34 inch arms. He ran a 4.45 forty and managed a 34.5 inch vertical and a 10-2 broad. He’s long and lean and as soon as he started working out in Indianapolis, he just looked like a Seahawks cornerback project.

Dorian O’Daniel is a skull collector on special teams. He’s not the biggest (6-0, 223lbs) or the fastest (4.61) but he ran an excellent 4.07 short shuttle and a 6.64 three cone. These short area tests are vital for linebackers (highlighted here) and O’Daniel found a way to make plays for Clemson in 2017 (11.5 TFL’s, two interceptions, two touchdowns).

Jordan Thomas is 6-0 and 187lbs and has 32 inch arms. He only ran a 4.64 forty but he became only the fifth player since 2010 to run a sub-four second short shuttle (3.94) with 32 inch arms (joining Kevin King, Byron Jones, Tye Smith and DeAndre Elliott). His short shuttle (6.28) is the fastest in 10 years at the combine by an enormous 0.16 seconds. Thomas has some issues but there’s a lot to work with here.

Round seven
Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin) & Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)

Wisconsin’s Natrell Jamerson is another fantastic special teams player. Seattle’s special teams wasn’t good enough last year for many reasons and I’ve deliberately looked for players who excelled in that area. Jamerson can return kicks and is an excellent gunner. He had 20 special teams tackles on kickoff coverage. He’s also rangy, running a 4.40 at 5-10 and 201lbs. Jamerson added an impressive 25 reps on the bench press (pretty incredible at his weight) plus a 35.5 inch vertical and 10-0 broad.

Yesterday Tony Pauline reported the Seahawks sent a number of people to watch Chase Edmonds perform at his pro day:

Fordham running back Chase Edmonds stood on most of his combine numbers but looked terrific in position drills, especially catching the ball, for the 18 teams who were on hand. Edmonds ran more than a dozen routes coming out of the backfield as well as lining up as a receiver. He did re-run the 3 cone (6.89s) and short shuttle (4.00s).

The Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons sent multiple people to watch Edmonds’ workout and the running back spent time with the New York Jets, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.

Edmonds is smaller than they’ve drafted previously (5-9, 205lbs) but he’s also reasonably explosive (34 inch vertical, 10-2 broad). It could indicate they are looking for a complimentary back of this size. For what it’s worth, Ronald Jones II is also 205lbs. Perhaps if they don’t get Jones II they’ll look for a similar runner?

No offensive linemen!?!
If it doesn’t happen early, it might not happen. At the end of the day, they have a collection of highly drafted linemen already. Unless they’re planning major changes to the line, they might be looking to fill one or two spots only. And they might want a more veteran-influenced O-line. So it’s possible they address this next week and focus on other areas. It’s not necessarily what I would do — but they’re limited with their solitary early pick.

What else could it mean for free agency?

— If they plan to draft Ronald Jones II, potentially they could pair him with a bigger veteran like Carlos Hyde or Jonathan Stewart.

— Re-sign Bradley McDougald or consider adding Eric Reid.

— Sign a receiver (Marqise Lee?) and a veteran tight end (or re-sign Luke Willson). They might add a big target too.

— Find some veteran D-line options. With the freed cap room they might be able to retain Sheldon Richardson but they might prefer the 2019 comp pick. Luckily this is one area where they have a proven track record (Clemons, Bennett, Avril, Clark, Jordan). If Ndamukong Suh is cut, would the Seahawks look at him? It wouldn’t cost a comp pick.

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A deeper look into the combine numbers

March 8th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Jordan Thomas has freaky agility

Since 2010, only five cornerbacks with 32 inch arms (Seattle’s prototype) have managed a sub-4.00 short shuttle:

2018 — Jordan Thomas (3.94)
2017 — Kevin King (3.89)
2016 — DeAndre Elliott (3.94)
2015 — Byron Jones (3.94), Tye Smith (3.96)
2010-2014 — No qualifiers

Thomas is the new name on a select list that includes two players Seattle eventually added (Elliott & Smith).

He also ran a 6.28 three cone. That is 0.16 seconds faster than anyone else in the last 10 years of the combine:

Jordan Thomas (2018) — 6.28
Buster Skrine (2011) — 6.44
Chykie Brown — 6.50
Grant Haley (2018) — 6.51
Avonte Maddox (2018) — 6.51
Will Davis (2013) — 6.52
Shiloh Keo (2011) — 6.55
Josh Robinson (2012) — 6.55
Kevin King (2017) — 6.56
Terrance Mitchell (2014) – 6.57
Patrick Peterson (2011) – 6.58
Curtis Brown (2011) — 6.59
Terrence Frederick (2012) — 6.59
Malcolm Jenkins (2009) — 6.59
Coty Sensabaugh (2012) — 6.60

That’s quite an achievement for Thomas. He’s not just quicker than the rest of the field, he’s considerably quicker.

On top of this, Thomas had a 38 inch vertical and a 10-4 broad jump.

The downside is he’s only 6-0 and 187lbs so he’s not the biggest but he does have 32 inch arms and a 77 6/8 inch wingspan. An average NFL cornerback has 31.5 inch arms and a 75.5 inch wingspan.

According to his NFL.com bio, Thomas is “known by scouts as an ‘over-thinker’ who has bouts of low confidence”. He’s also said to be an inconsistent tackler.

Neither aspect is particularly Seahawky. However, his athletic testing and length might interest the team late in the draft.

Running backs also excel in the short shuttle

Saquon Barkley is known for his low centre of gravity and ability to change direction quickly with explosive power and agility. He ran a 4.24 short shuttle. Nick Chubb ran a 4.25 and Kerryon Johnson a 4.29. Pretty similar times.

Without doubt Barkley is quicker and much more sudden than Chubb or Johnson but it was interesting to see how they compared in the short shuttle. They were all similarly explosive too with comparable vertical jumps.

If speed matters, is this guy an option?

Leon Jacobs, a linebacker from Wisconsin, had a quietly excellent combine. At 6-1 and 246lbs he ran a 4.48, jumped a 34.5 inch vertical and managed a 10-2 broad jump. He’s explosive and fast and also has good length (33.5 inch arms). Jacobs also put up 26 reps on the bench press (second only to Malik Jefferson among linebackers).

His short shuttle wasn’t too bad either. He ran a 4.44 — a time that compares favourably to K.J. Wright’s 4.46. If the Seahawks want speed in the front seven, Jacobs could be an option as a late-round SAM/LEO.

How quick was the safety class?

Eight players ran a 4.4 or faster at the 2018 combine. How does that compare to previous years?

2018 — 8
2017 — 5
2016 — 2
2015 — 3
2014 — 4
2013 — 3
2012 — 0
2011 — 0

At the 2011 combine the two fastest safety’s were Jeron Johnson (4.53) and Mark LeGree (4.56) — both acquired by the Seahawks.

This is the fastest group of safety’s in draft history. It’s perhaps indicative of the way college football and the NFL is going. It’ll be a surprise if the Seahawks don’t tap into the supply at some point.

Big receiver has a big day

Courtland Sutton (6-3, 218lbs) ran a faster short shuttle (4.11) than 5-10, 180lbs Keke Coutee (4.15). Coutee was quicker in the forty (4.43 vs 4.54) but in terms of agility and change of direction, that’s a nice comparison for Courtland Sutton. Essentially he’s as quick-footed as a much smaller back and he was more explosive in the vertical and broad. Sutton also managed the 11th best three-cone time by a receiver in the last 10 years.

Lauletta and Gesicki stand out

Here are the top-15 performers in the short shuttle at the 2018 combine. It’s a weird group. I’ve included position and weight in brackets:

Grant Haley (CB, 5-9, 190) — 3.94
Jordan Thomas (CB, 6-0, 187) — 3.94
Jaire Alexander (CB, 5-10, 196) — 3.98
Avonte Maddox (CB, 5-9, 184) — 4.00
Troy Akpe (S, 6-1, 200) — 4.01
Dylan Cantrell (WR, 6-2, 226) — 4.03
Josh Jackson (CB, 6-0, 196 — 4.03
J’Mon Moore (WR, 6-2, 205) — 4.04
Andre Chachere (CB, 5-11, 197) — 4.07
Chase Edmonds (RB, 5-9, 205) — 4.07
Justin Jackson (RB, 6-0, 193) — 4.07
Kyle Lauletta (QB, 6-2, 222) — 4.07
D.J. Moore (WR, 6-0, 210) — 4.07
Dorian O’Daniel (LB, 6-0, 223) — 4.07
Mike Gesicki (TE, 6-5, 247) — 4.10

Kyle Lauretta of all people is the one mixing it with nimble, smaller running backs and cornerbacks. The list also highlights Mike Gesicki’s freaky athleticism. He’s 21lbs heavier than the next biggest player on the list (Dyan Cantrell).

How important is the vertical and broad for running backs?

Here are some of the notable testers over the years:

David Johnson — 41.5 vertical, 10-7 broad
Christian McCaffrey — 37.5 vertical, 10-1 broad
Kareem Hunt — 36.5 vertical, 9-11 broad
Alvin Kamara — 39.5 vertical, 10-11 broad
Jay Ajayi — 39 vertical, 10-1 broad
Jordan Howard — 34 vertical, 10-2 broad
Melvin Gordon — 35 vertical, 10-6 broad
Jerick McKinnon — 40.5 vertical, 11-0 broad
DeMarco Murray — 34 vertical, 10-4 broad
Adrian Peterson — 38.5 vertical, 10-7 broad
Jonathan Stewart — 36.5 vertical, 10-8 broad

The historical average for a RB at the combine is:

Vertical: 35 inches
Broad: 9-11

As we can see, many of the top runners in the league exceeded the league average in both tests. There are recent exceptions though:

Ezekiel Elliott — 32.5 vertical, 9-10 broad
Leonard Fournette — 28.5 vertical, DNP
Le’Veon Bell — 31.5 vertical, 9-10 broad
Mark Ingram — 31.5 vertical, 9-10 broad

LeSean McCoy and Todd Gurley didn’t work out at the combine.

Here are some of Seattle’s notable running backs and how they tested:

Marshawn Lynch — 35.5 vertical, 10-5 broad
Chris Carson —37 vertical, 10-10 broad
C.J. Prosise — 35.5 vertical, 10-1 broad
Thomas Rawls — 35.5 vertical, 9-8 broad
Christine Michael — 43 vertical, 10-5 broad
Robert Turbin — 36 vertical, 10-2 broad

And here’s a reminder of some of the big names from the 2018 combine:

Saquon Barkley — 41 vertical, DNP
Ronald Jones II — 36.5 vertical, DNP
Nick Chubb — 38.5 vertical, 10-8 broad
Kerryon Johnson — 40 vertical, 10-6 broad
Sony Michel — DNP, DNP
Derrius Guice — 31.5 vertical, DNP
Rashaad Penny — 32.5 vertical, 10-0 broad
Royce Freeman — 34 vertical, 9-10
John Kelly — 35 vertical, 10-0 broad
Bo Scarborough — 40 vertical, 10-9 broad

How do the vertical jumps stack up?

Here are the top-15 testers this year:

Terrell Edmunds — 41.5
Mike Gesicki — 41.5
Joshua Kalu — 41.5
Matthew Thomas — 41.5
Troy Akpe — 41
Saquon Barkley — 41
Siran Neal — 40.5
Chandon Sullivan — 40.5
D.J. Chark — 40
Derwin James — 40
Kerryon Johnson — 40
Bo Scarborough — 40
Oren Burks — 39.5
D.J. Moore — 39.5
Josh Sweat — 39.5

Now here are the top three jumps from the last three years:


Obi Melifonwu — 44
Speedy Noil — 43.5
Marcus Williams — 43.5


Daniel Lasco — 41.5
Jalen Ramsey — 41.5
Josh Doctson — 41
DeAndre Elliott — 41
Dadi Nicolas — 41
Sterling Shephard — 41


Chris Conley — 45
Byron Jones — 44.5
Ameer Abdullah — 42.5
Davis Tull — 42.5

Denzel Ward is rising for a reason

And it’s not just because this is an ugly looking cornerback class overall. Aside from running an excellent 4.32 and jumping a 39 inch vertical, Ward also managed an astonishing 11-4 broad jump.

Only five players have achieved a superior jump in the last ten years:

Byron Jones — 12-3
Obi Melifonwu — 11-9
Jamie Collins — 11-7
Chris Conley — 11-7
Bud Dupree — 11-6

Ward’s effort is identical to Julio Jones’ 11-4 and an inch longer than Jalen Ramsey’s 11-3. Clearly he’s a highly explosive and sudden athlete. He appears destined to be taken very early in round one.

Jaire Alexander also rising?

He’s started to appear in the first round of a few high profile mock drafts. It’s absolutely fair. Alexander was one of the very few cornerbacks to come out of the combine drills with any credit. He looked incredibly smooth, sudden and focused. It’s not a stretch at all to think he’s the second best corner in this class.

He also tested exceptionally well at the combine. He ran a 4.38, jumped a 35 inch vertical and a 10-7 broad. His best feat was possibly a sub-4.00 short shuttle (3.98). Alexander doesn’t fit Seattle (5-10, 196lbs, 31 inch arms) but he’ll certainly interest other teams.

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Seahawks trade Bennett, Sherman next?

March 7th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

The end of an era is forthcoming.

Michael Bennett is being traded to the Eagles. Richard Sherman has reportedly ‘said goodbye’ to team mates. With Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor unlikely to play for the Seahawks again too, a legendary defense is moving on.

And none of this should be a surprise.

Michael Silver called this weeks ago. Following the 42-7 blowout against the Rams, Silver (who was in Seattle for the game) reported a very detailed breakdown of what was going to happen in the off-season.

“…reality bites — and next year, in all likelihood, the Seahawks will look very, very different. It’s something the front office has refrained from referring to as a rebuild, instead preferring the word transition. Yet given the Seahawks’ salary-cap situation (the team is currently pressed up against the spending limit) and the wear and tear on so many of their defensive stalwarts, big changes could indeed be coming, including a death blow to the Legion of Boom.

“Of the four Pro Bowl defenders who missed Sunday’s game, only outside linebacker K.J. Wright is likely to return in 2018. Safety Kam Chancellor’s season-ending neck injury, suffered last month, could be career-threatening; if he does try to keep playing, it likely wouldn’t be in Seattle.

“Fellow Legion of Boom stalwart Sherman, who tore his Achilles tendon in November, will be 30 next spring and is due to make $11 million (with a $13.2 million salary-cap number). The Seahawks shopped him in trades a year ago and are expected to move forward without him in 2018.

“Avril, who turns 32 in April, suffered a season-ending neck and spinal injury in early October which may end his career; either way, his time in Seattle is probably done. Improbable as it sounds, it’s possible the Seahawks would also move on from another accomplished defensive end: 32-year-old Michael Bennett, a versatile player who signed a three-year, $31.5-million contract extension last Dec. 30.”

This wasn’t hearsay or a hunch. It was clarity.

So why is this happening? Here’s my best guess:

1. The Seahawks need to get cheaper on defense. As noted in early January, they spent $93,714,666 on their defense last season, more than any team in the NFL. The split between offense and defense was 36.37% vs 55.98%.

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

There needs to be more balance in the spending. It’s probably no surprise that while there’s been this huge difference in offensive vs defensive spending, the running game has collapsed and the offensive line continues to struggle.

2. As we’ve talked about a lot during this crucial off-season, some of these moves are not being made for 2018 financial gain. Many talked about the likelihood of Michael Bennett staying in Seattle because the potential saving this year was minimal. This was never really the point.

By trading Bennett now, the saving in 2019 is much more significant. And at the end of the day, Pete Carroll’s mantra is ‘win forever’ not ‘win for one more year’. Especially when the likelihood is Seattle wouldn’t be a top contender in 2018. Those days, sadly, seemed to have passed. The 2017 season wasn’t a mirage.

Now they can accelerate the churn. They will always be competitive with players like Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright on the roster. Wilson is one of the very best players in the league, let alone quarterbacks. The Seahawks might not be a top-10 favourite for the Super Bowl in 2018 and, realistically, probably won’t win it.

But by 2019 and 2020, they might be back at the top. It didn’t take the Philadelphia Eagles or Atlanta Falcons very long to change their fortunes, after all. Both of those teams reloaded with an injection of youth at key positions. Seattle can do the same.

3. The Seahawks need to get younger. Former writer for this blog Kip Earlywine recently suggested during a conversation that we might be experiencing a repeat of Pete Carroll’s time with the Patriots. An older, veteran locker room where the message didn’t quite resonate. Carroll has enjoyed incredible success working with younger players at USC and predominantly younger players in Seattle. Perhaps the message of competition, buying in and playing fast requires an element of youth?

Here’s a quote from Richard Sherman from December 2016:

“It’s always Pete. It’s always Pete,” he said. “We going into the Kumbaya meeting room and sit there and, ‘Kumbaya.’

“They are effective. It’s a different element for the younger guys. Older guys, we kind of see it every year, so the younger guys, give them something different.”

At the time it sounded like Sherman was being dismissive of the type of meeting that might’ve resonated when he was an outspoken young corner blazing a trail during his second season in the league.

It’s immensely difficult to keep a core group of players for such a long time. It’s a challenge to keep winning and keep the message fresh. There’s a reason why the Patriots consistently churn and work around the two focal points (QB and HC).

4. Injuries destroyed the team last year. Not just the players missing games — the sheer number of players on the injury report or not practising. It’s very difficult to preach ‘always compete’ when what you’re really doing is ‘always managing the health of the roster’. Age plays a part in this. Seattle acquired a bunch of warriors who gave everything for this team. After nearly a decade together, it’s no surprise the injuries started to stack up.

Those are just my initial thoughts. Whatever the reasons, one thing is clear. This defense, along with Marshawn Lynch, gave Seahawks fans an era of football we could only dream about. What a journey. I’ll never forget the growth in 2012, the march to a Championship in 2013, the ‘tip’, the comeback against Green Bay, the agony of that New England Super Bowl loss.

From a personal point of view, all of this happened at a time in my life when I got married (2010) and had two kids (2013 & 2017). I’ll never forget the amazing comeback in 2013 against Houston. My son was born and I didn’t think anything could make that day any more perfect. As Richard Sherman returned that pick six and eventually Steven Hauschka kicked the winning Field Goal, I thought to myself, ‘now I know this is the best day of my life’.

What a ride it has been. We’ll likely never experience anything like it again. And we should all be eternally grateful for experiencing this amazing run.

Meanwhile Ian Rapoport is also reporting the Seahawks are meeting with Brian Cushing today.

I’m going to push everything back a day in terms of the blog. I’ll still do the Google Hangout later at about 3:30pm PST. The piece on the combine details we haven’t discussed will be published tomorrow and the Seahawks seven round mock will wait to Friday. After all, they might have some more picks by then.

As things stand they have this haul: 1, 4, 5, 5, 5, 5, 7, 7