Updated two-round mock draft: 13th January

January 13th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

#1 Cleveland — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
Watson has playmaking talent and the personality to be a franchise leader. The Browns need someone to build around at quarterback. Watson can be that man.

#2 San Francisco — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
The 49ers reportedly want Josh McDaniels as coach. Would they deal for Jimmy Garoppolo? It would enable them to take Garrett here if so.

#3 Chicago — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
A prediction — Thomas will destroy the combine and leap into the top-five as a consequence.

#4 Jacksonville — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
Jacksonville has a major need at offensive tackle. Bolles is the best in the class and could rise gradually (like Eric Fisher in 2013).

#5 Tennessee — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
Foster is a class act capable of providing Tennessee with a Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner type presence at middle linebacker.

#6 New York Jets — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
Arguably the best player in the draft. The Jets need a youth movement to build around and could see value with Fournette.

#7 San Diego — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
A lot of people are rushing to criticise a player who recorded 6YPC on offense and recorded 15 TFL’s (the same as Myles Garrett) in 2016.

#8 Carolina — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
Teams will salivate over Cook’s skill set. The Panthers have bigger needs — but could see this as a rare opportunity to land a fantastic player.

#9 Cincinnati — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
There’s no doubting Allen’s talent and production in college but this is a loaded draft at the top end and he isn’t a great athlete.

#10 Buffalo — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
The Bills have needs at both safety spots. Hooker looks like the nearest thing to Earl Thomas since 2010.

#11 New Orleans — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
Humphrey has everything — recovery speed, a nose for the ball, size and length and the ability to tackle. Perfect modern day cornerback.

#12 Cleveland — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
Having gone quarterback at #1, the Browns can still land one of the best defensive players in the draft at this spot.

#13 Arizona — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
Bruce Arians has acknowledged they need to start planning for the future at quarterback. Trubisky is worth the investment.

#14 Indianapolis — Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Indy’s defense is letting the side down. McKinley should perform well at the combine. He’s raw but plays with great effort.

#15 Philadelphia (via Minnesota) — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
Clemson receivers are always technically very gifted. Williams also has great size.

#16 Baltimore — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
Some people see Lattimore as the best corner in the draft. The combine will likely determine the pecking order.

#17 Washington — Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
Constantly around the ball, Cunningham has unique length to go with great instincts and tenacity. He’s also a superb athlete.

#18 Tennessee — Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
More polished but less flashy than Jalen/Teez Tabor — and could easily land in the top-20.

#19 Tampa Bay — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
Highly underrated due to a lack of production, teams will covet Howard. He has incredible, untapped potential. Could go a lot earlier.

#20 Denver — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
Ramcyzk is having surgery and could miss all of the pre-draft schedule. That could mean he lasts this far into round one.

#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
All teams are looking for a Charles Harris. Dynamic off the edge, shocking athleticism and quickness.

#22 Miami — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
Charlton could be a big riser at the combine. He has ideal size but works well in space. He was terrific against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

#23 New York Giants — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
He could easily drop into round two. He looks the part but are there character issues?

#24 Oakland — Demarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
Bruce Irvin says they need more interior rush. Walker can be an inside/out type for the Raiders.

#25 Houston — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
In a different draft class, Baker could easily crack the top-20. Fluid athlete, great in space. Closes really well. Tackles fiercely for his size.

#26 Green Bay — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Another cornerback in a loaded class. Could go earlier if he works out well at the combine.

#27 Seattle — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
Not the biggest priority but we need to see how other prospects work out at the combine. They usually take a major upside type.

#28 Pittsburgh — John Ross (WR, Washington)
The Steelers love dynamic, downfield pass-catchers. Imagine Ross with Big Ben at QB, playing with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

#29 Atlanta — Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
Has so much talent — a natural corner. Size might put some teams off though. Could go a lot earlier than this.

#30 Kansas City — Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
Alex Smith is 33 this year. Time to start planning ahead at quarterback.

#31 Dallas — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Another prospect who could go a lot earlier. It’s a loaded class. Barnett dominated at Tennessee.

#32 New England — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
Tremendous athlete and return man. The only problem is — what’s his position at the next level?

Round two

33. Cleveland — Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
34. San Francisco — Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
35. Jacksonville — Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
36. Chicago — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
37. Los Angeles — Antonio Garcia (T, Troy)
38. San Diego — Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
39. New York Jets — Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama)
40. Carolina — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
41. Cincinnati — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
42. New Orleans — Carl Lawson (EDGE, Auburn)
43. Philadelphia — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
44. Buffalo — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
45. Arizona — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
46. Indianapolis — Cordrea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)
47. Baltimore — Dan Feeney (G, Indiana)
48. Minnesota — D’Onta Foreman (RB, Texas)
49. Washington — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
50. Tampa Bay — JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)
51. Denver — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
52. Cleveland — Ryan Anderson (LB, Alabama)
53. Detroit — Cameron Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
54. Miami — Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
55. New York Giants — Alex Anzalone (LB, Florida)
56. Oakland — Elijah Qualls (DT, Washington)
57. Houston — Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami)
58. Green Bay — Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State)
59. Seattle — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
60. Pittsburgh — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
61. Atlanta — Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan)
62. Kansas City — Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
63. Dallas — Jourdan Lewis (CB, Michigan)
64. New England — Marcus Maye (S, Florida)

 

Podcast: Seahawks @ Falcons preview & Deshaun Watson talk

January 12th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

This week Kenny and I discuss Seattle’s game in Atlanta and reflect on Clemson’s shock victory in the National Championship game.

 

Reflecting on Seattle’s previous interest in Mario Edwards Jr

January 11th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Two years ago, shortly before the 2015 draft, Mike Garafolo tweeted the following:

It followed a piece by Jason La Canfora where he touted Edwards Jr as a top-20 pick. At the time it was a bit of a surprise. He hadn’t played much football in 2014 due to injury. There wasn’t much hype going into the draft — or even after the combine.

He ended up being the #35 pick that year, taken by the Oakland Raiders. His pro-career has been similarly injury hit. Today I spent some time looking into Seattle’s reported interest. What intrigued them about Edwards Jr?

We didn’t have TEF in 2015 (Trench Explosion Formula). If we had, we would’ve had clarity — and we would’ve been able to identify Edwards Jr as a possible target long before April.

If you missed our coverage last year and want to know what TEF is, click here.

While TEF was devised mainly to test offensive linemen, overall it’s a good system to compare any player competing in the trenches. More often than not the most explosive player will win a 1v1 battle (see: freak of nature Aaron Donald). It’s not unfair to use a similar formula to judge offensive and defensive linemen.

It helped us identify Sheldon Rankins as one of the most explosive players in the draft last year. Despite being mocked frequently to Seattle, TEF guided us against the likelihood of him lasting into the 20’s. Unsurprisingly he was taken by New Orleans at #12.

Rankins’ TEF score was a mightily impressive 3.52 beating Robert Nkemdiche (3.47), Noah Spence (3.46) and Yannick Ngakoue (3.44).

So what was Mario Edwards Jr’s TEF score based on his combine workout in 2015?

3.61

He didn’t necessarily look like a freak in terms of his body type — but he was a complete monster. A superior athlete to Rankins, Nkemdiche and every other defensive or offensive linemen in the entire 2016 draft.

Two years ago we probably focused on an Okay-ish forty yard dash of 4.84 or a slightly disappointing 10-yard split of 1.76. I wrote a whole article talking about how he didn’t really shine on tape as a pass rusher. Note to self: this is a team that likes to acquire talent and coach it up.

Some teams in the NFL, including possibly the Seahawks, were likely focusing on his explosive testing. That’s probably where La Canfora’s sources were coming from when he was talking about a top-20 grade.

Without the injury history, he probably would’ve cracked that range.

The combine starts later in the calendar this year, with the first set of workouts beginning on March 3rd. We probably need to be looking for prospects like Edwards Jr that are in the 275-290lbs range with a truly explosive physical profile. More so, perhaps, than focusing on a forty or split (unless it’s a pure EDGE). They’ll be easier to uncover thanks to TEF.

So while it’s fun to salivate over Demarcus Walker’s sensational ability to get off a block, look at Taco Charlton’s intimidating size and Derek Barnett’s fantastic career at Tennessee — we still need to see a physical profile before attempting to judge their fit in the draft.

Expect Solomon Thomas to have a remarkable TEF score and ultimately go in the top-10 (if not the top five).

 

Tuesday draft notes: Deshaun Watson deserves credit

January 10th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Deshaun Watson led Clemson to a National title

Watson wins Championship, should be a high pick

Deshaun Watson is the latest victim of familiarity. Increasingly we’re rushing to criticise and lament big name college football players. Every problem is over-analysed. Every hole examined.

When do we get back to focusing on what a player can do?

Very few of these prospects are the finished article. Players like Andrew Luck or Von Miller are rare. Look how long it’s taken Jadeveon Clowney to have an impact.

This year already we’ve seen criticism of Leonard Fournette and Jabrill Peppers. Fournette just runs over, around or past SEC defenses and wins a poll among NFL staff vs Ezekiel Elliott. Peppers only averaged +6 yards per carry on offense, recorded 15 TFL’s and was a constant threat in the kicking game at Michigan.

Expectations have never been higher. That’s part of the problem with access. Ten years ago you’d maybe get a chance to watch a live game without being able to pause and rewind TV. Opinions were often recycled from your favourite draft expert.

Now you can log onto Draft Breakdown, take 100 opinions from various Twitter accounts and find condensed, full College Football games on YouTube. If you want to find a flaw in a top prospect, it’s not hard.

Watson started the year being touted as a potential #1 overall pick but that quickly changed after a few difficult games. He still led Clemson to a National Championship against possibly the best defense we’ve ever seen in college football. It’s a unit loaded with first round picks. He had 41 touchdowns this season compared to 17 picks. He has prototypical size, a good arm and the kind of mobility teams love.

He can improvise. He can create as a runner. He has the character and personality to lead a team.

Are there flaws? Yes. Some of his turnovers this season were careless and reckless. Yet overall he has a 90:32 touchdown/interception ratio in college. He’s been a relentless winner on a team that was previously never quite been able to get over the top.

There are so many positives. Would he improve a team like Cleveland or San Francisco? Absolutely. Is he a superior prospect to the #1 pick last year? Probably.

There’s probably a lesson for us all here. There’s a constant need for people to Tweet opinions, offer ‘takes’ and provide relentless mock drafts. There’s nothing wrong with critiquing players and assessing what they can and can’t do. Just maybe spend a bit more time on the ‘what they can do‘ bit.

Watson could and probably should go in the top-10. I can’t believe there are bad teams in the NFL without quarterbacks that won’t be significantly better off with him under center.

Offensive tackles will likely go early

Ryan Ramcyzk declared for the draft today, joining Garett Bolles. Cam Robinson will likely follow after last night’s game.

Watching the NFL playoffs over the weekend highlighted once again the major issue teams have up front. This isn’t exclusively a Seattle issue. Most of the league is looking for help.

The New York Giants have a top-10 pick at left tackle and another first rounder at left guard. Weston Richburg the center is a second round pick. Their right guard is a former third round pick by Miami. The right tackle is a seventh rounder.

Looking at what Giants fans were saying after their blowout loss to the Packers — almost universally they believed rebuilding the O-line was their #1 need.

They won’t be alone.

There was a surprised reaction when Kansas City gave the 2013 #1 overall pick Eric Fisher a contract extension worth $12m a year. He’s been OK but not great. The thing is, the Chiefs would rather keep him than have to replace him. And they’ve paid a high price to retain Fisher — a fairly modest player based on what we’ve seen so far.

With an increasing shortage of good offensive linemen in college, those deemed to be of a certain standard will go early. Jack Conklin wasn’t a perfect player last year. Some graded him in the second or third round. He went eighth overall after a very good combine — Tennessee took a shot and it paid off.

Bolles, Ramcyzk and Robinson will likely have the same experience. There might be better players on the board but ‘best player available’ is just a cliché. Most teams go by ‘best player available at a position of need’. A hell of a lot of teams need offensive tackles. The good ones will not last long in April.

Quick thoughts on the Seahawks

When I mocked David Njoku (TE, Miami) to Seattle in round one last week, I expected a lot of push back. It’s not a huge need with Jimmy Graham on the roster and it’s only a year since they spent a third round pick on Nick Vannett.

The chances are they will go in a different direction. As good as the win was against Detroit, we’ve seen some holes on the roster this year. Whether it’s help for the running game or reinforcements on the D-line — they will have some things to address barring a special end to the current season.

In defense of the pick though — we know the Seahawks will not settle for a middling physical profile with their first round pick. From Germain Ifedi’s hulking size and explosive qualities to Bruce Irvin’s quickness or Earl Thomas’ range. They’re looking for special — even if it means a lot of coaching up.

That doesn’t have to mean an insane combine — but you’re going to need to stand out physically one way or another.

We know they’re unlikely to take an undersized cornerback in round one unless they run like Patrick Peterson. We know they’re unlikely to take a pass rusher with all of the production but a mediocre set of measurements.

Njoku is a freak of nature. A 6-4, 245lbs monster reportedly capable of running in the 4.4’s and jumping 2.09 metres in the High Jump. That’s the kind of special we’re talking about for a coaching staff always happy to try and turn potential into an X-factor.

Until we reach the combine we’ll struggle to confidently judge who else might be on their radar. There will be defensive linemen, offensive linemen, running backs, defensive backs, linebackers, receivers — whatever — that will come to prominence at the end of February.

Until then it’s hard to talk in any kind of depth. We need details. Let’s hope there are several remaining Seahawks games to fill the sizeable gap between now and the combine.

 

National Championship: open thread

January 9th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

 

Draft related thoughts post-Lions game

January 8th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks showed they can run the ball successfully yesterday — with this O-line and these running backs.

Whatever the reason — the opponent, some schematic tweaks, greater commitment to run — this was their identity reborn. Re-established.

Calais Campbell, working for the NFL Network post-game, stated:

Seattle’s unbeatable when they get the run game going because their play action is unstoppable.”

One performance doesn’t make everything right. It does offer pause for thought though. Is it a one-off, or have they turned a corner?

This is a young offensive line, crafted for the future. Was last night a glimpse into that future? Maybe, maybe not. The challenge next week is to prove this isn’t a one-week-wonder.

Can they buy some faith as a unit?

It’s likely the Seahawks will keep adding to the O-line regardless — but the extent is open to change. Another collapse against Atlanta and perhaps they’ll feel obliged to spend free agent dollars on some proven, veteran replacements? Finish the season like they did against Detroit and they can probably justify adding extra competition via the draft and saving their cap resources for other positions (eg D-line).

At running back it feels inevitable they will add at least one more body in the off-season (if only to replace the spot vacated by Christine Michael). Thomas Rawls, infectious as he is during press conferences and a joy to listen to and root for, is arguably his own worst enemy. His penchant for physicality despite a modest frame has led to injuries.

He has Marshawn Lynch’s mindset, toughness and running style — but perhaps not his ability to absorb punishment.

When he plays like he did against Detroit — it’s clear he has an important role. It might be that his workload needs constant management. Yet when he’s on it — he can be spectacular and dynamic and everything they need. A tone setter.

C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins could be enough as a supporting cast — but do you want to risk the same problem happening again? Especially with the recent injury history of Rawls and Prosise?

Elijah Hood opting to turn pro after all was a potentially crucial piece of news this week. Slated to go somewhere in the middle rounds, Hood matches the type of running back Seattle has drafted in recent years in terms of physical profile (as highlighted in this piece I wrote for Field Gulls in November).

Hood isn’t necessarily going to come in and be a superstar — but he isn’t going to cost you an ultra high draft pick either. So unless you’re determined to go big at the position either with a veteran move or an early round prospect — he makes sense as an explosive, cost-effective option for this team.

The other good thing about the performance last night is it reminds you how talented and balanced Seattle’s roster is overall. They have needs — but who doesn’t? If they can run the ball, the defense will benefit. Everything connects.

And instead of needing to contemplate major overhauls and restarts, you’re looking at a whole range of different possibilities:

— Can they use their free agent money to go after a big fish D-liner such as Calais Campbell?

— Can they consider doubling down on the D-line, with a free agent splash and a first round pick given the extensive depth in that area in this class?

— Can they consider spending a high pick on a 6-4, 245lbs weapon (David Njoku) who could be set to run in the 4.4’s and in High School jumped 2.09 metres in the high jump — #1 among his peers during that particular indoor track season.

— Can they consider adding to the secondary with a high pick, something they haven’t done since Earl Thomas in 2010?

The above suggestions play into the hands of the draft class overall. There aren’t many good offensive tackles slated to go in the first two rounds. There’s better depth in the middle rounds — and that’s likely to be the same at running back. This is a draft class for DB’s and DE’s — with some freaky athletes mixed in at other positions.

It’s not worth overreacting to one game and assuming everything is fixed with the running game. Yet the Seahawks showed what they’re capable of. Let’s see if they can repeat the success in Atlanta next week and maybe change the complexion of the off-season in the process.

 

Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Lions, head to Atlanta

January 7th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

As enjoyable as that was, is it wrong to ask where this brand of football has been for the last few weeks?

The Seahawks committed to running the ball, overpowered Detroit and battered them into submission. This was classic Pete Carroll football.

This is what this team was built to do.

Admittedly it would’ve been tougher to repeat this against Calais Campbell and Aaron Donald — but it showed the Seahawks are capable of this type of offensive performance. Russell Wilson was back to being a point guard, the O-line used their size and explosive qualities to create huge running lanes. The defense benefitted from the ball control offense.

If they can build on this into next week, this could be a dangerous team after all.

Seattle dominated in every key facet. They were 9/16 on third downs (56%) compared to Detroit’s 2/11 (18%). They had 387 yards of offense compared to 231. The Seahawks gave up just 49 rushing yards but managed 177 of their own.

This is how you win in the playoffs.

The 26-6 score didn’t flatter Seattle — and they limited Detroit in a way Green Bay and Dallas (their previous two opponents) could not. The Packers and Cowboys conceded 24 and 21 points respectively against the Lions. Detroit didn’t get a sniff of the end zone in this one, barely reaching Seattle’s 35-yard-line.

It’d be quicker to list the players who only played a decent game. Everyone, collectively, had an impact. I’ll mention a few names but you could run through the whole team:

— Thomas Rawls showed his incredible talent. His big challenge is to do it again next week and stay healthy.

— Kam Chancellor was quietly exceptional again both in coverage and his play recognition to impact the LOS.

— Frank Clark is quickly developing into one of the more underrated players in the league. This was a ferocious performance of splash play magic on a night he was needed.

— DeShawn Shead had his best game in a few weeks, with only a dropped easy interception blotting his copybook.

— Mark Glowinski had arguably the best performance of his short career and he was ably supported by the rest of the line, including what felt like another strong outing by Garry Gilliam.

— Jeron Johnson had a spectacular night on special teams.

I wanted to save Paul Richardson for the end. This Tweet says it all:

And let’s hear some credit too for the offensive staff. This was a well crafted and executed offensive gameplan.

If there was a downside it was Steven Hauschka’s latest missed PAT. That’s seven for the season now, apparently a NFL record.

Next week in Atlanta will be a very different contest. The Falcons have a better offense and they have momentum going into the post-season unlike the Lions. They are thoroughly dynamic — finding creative ways to feature their running backs and of course Julio Jones.

The Seahawks will need to continue this level of performance and then some to have any chance against an opponent they only just beat in the regular season at home.

That said, Atlanta’s defense has given up some points this year. Just look at their home scores:

Tampa Bay 31-24 Atlanta
Carolina 33-48 Atlanta
San Diego 33-30 Atlanta
Green Bay 32-33 Atlanta
Arizona 19-38 Atlanta
Kansas City 29-28 Atlanta
San Francisco 13-41 Atlanta
New Orleans 32-38 Atlanta

That’s 27.75 points per game they’ve conceded at home and a 5-3 record that includes a one-point victory over the Packers.

You can see how potent they are on offense (35 points per game) but they also lost to the Buccs, Chargers and Chiefs in their own backyard.

It feels like the game will come down to Seattle’s defense being able to have some kind of control, the offense not starting poorly as it did against Arizona, Green Bay and Tampa Bay and avoiding first half mistakes. Keeping it close early, establishing the run. Similar ingredients to tonight — while acknowledging the Falcons are going to get their plays and points on offense over the course of 60 minutes.

Special teams and turnovers could be key. It’s a while since Seattle had a big return in the kicking game. The defense hasn’t had a single interception since Earl Thomas broke his leg against the Panthers in week 13.

The Seahawks will certainly be helped on offense if C.J. Prosise returns, as Pete Carroll has suggested is possible.

By the way, someone was watching the game closely tonight:

 

NFL Playoffs open thread: Seahawks in wildcard

January 7th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Here’s an open thread for your predictions and thoughts on the two games today: Oakland @ Houston and Detroit @ Seattle.

 

A two round mock draft compared with Tony Pauline’s

January 5th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Below you’ll find an updated two-round mock draft. One thing we like to do every year is look at other high profile projections and assess the options available to Seattle.

Today we’ll look at Tony Pauline’s first 2017 mock.

Rob’s projection

Round One

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#3 Chicago — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#4 Jacksonville — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#5 Tennessee — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#6 New York Jets — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#7 San Diego — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#8 Carolina — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#9 Cincinnati — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
#10 Buffalo — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#11 New Orleans — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#12 Cleveland (via Philadelphia) — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#13 Arizona — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#14 Indianapolis — Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama)
#15 Philadelphia (via Minnesota) — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
#16 Baltimore — Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
#17 Washington — Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
#18 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
#20 Denver — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
#23 New York Giants — Demarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
#24 Oakland — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#25 Houston — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#26 Seattle — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#27 Green Bay — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#28 Pittsburgh — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#29 Atlanta — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
#30 Kansas City — Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
#31 Dallas — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
#32 New England — Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)

Round two

33. Cleveland — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
34. San Francisco — Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
35. Jacksonville — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
36. Chicago — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
37. Los Angeles — Antonio Garcia (T, Troy)
38. San Diego — Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
39. New York Jets — Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
40. Carolina — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
41. Cincinnati — Carl Lawson (EDGE, Auburn)
42. New Orleans — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
43. Philadelphia — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
44. Buffalo — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
45. Arizona — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
46. Indianapolis — Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
47. Baltimore — Dan Feeney (G, Indiana)
48. Minnesota — D’Onta Foreman (RB, Texas)
49. Washington — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
50. Tampa Bay — JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)
51. Denver — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
52. Cleveland — Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami)
53. Detroit — Cameron Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
54. Miami — Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
55. New York Giants — Cordrea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)
56. Oakland — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
57. Houston — Elijah Qualls (DT, Washington)
58. Seattle — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
59. Green Bay — Alex Anzalone (LB, Florida)
60. Pittsburgh — Ryan Anderson (LB, Alabama)
61. Atlanta — Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan)
62. Kansas City — Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State)
63. Dallas — Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
64. New England — Marcus Maye (S, Florida)

(Note — we’ll come back to this in a minute. I know you’re going to want an explanation for Seattle’s first round pick)

Now click here to go and check out Tony Pauline’s mock draft at his new site Draft Analyst. Tony is without doubt the #1 draft insider, the undisputed best in the business, and updates his new website daily with the best info you’ll find on the internet. It’s also worth noting he’s been extremely accurate with his info on the Seahawks in recent years.

I like to compare mock drafts because sometimes if I’m high on a player, I tend to count them out too easily for the Seahawks. The players available after pick #20 in Tony’s projection that were off the board in mine are as follows:

Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
Demarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)

This highlights what an intriguing draft class this is going to be. There are plenty of options there. If they want to be aggressive in adding to the O-line and running game, they have an opportunity to do that. They’d probably feel quite comfortable moving down. But look at the defensive talent on the board: Jamal Adams, Takk McKinley, Charles Harris, Demarcus Walker, Taco Charlton, Budda Baker, Zach Cunningham, Quincy Wilson, Adoree’ Jackson. Nice.

Pauline’s mock also highlights how unlikely it is Garett Bolles will be available to the Seahawks. We spent most of the college football season mocking him to Seattle, while acknowledging he would eventually gain national attention and move up the board.

Bolles is a top-15 talent for sure and could easily land in the top ten. He’s too good to last into the bottom third of the first round.

Whether Seattle picks at #21 or #32, there’s a good chance they’ll be looking at a heavy defensive board. That doesn’t mean they won’t or can’t select an offensive player. There will be offensive lineman they might consider, running backs (possibly) and maybe even a wild card like a receiver or tight end (see below). But the defensive depth in this draft is outstanding.

So what about that Seahawks first round pick in my own mock? David Njoku, Miami.

I would urge people not to read too much into it. We’re at that pre-combine, pre-Senior Bowl stage. Knowledge and numbers are sadly lacking. Let’s see the O-line class, D-line class. Let’s get the info we need to have better discussions about what they might do. Let’s get into free agency and see how aggressive they are to fill needs.

Until then I’m going to start running through different options and creating different talking points. Because… why not?

Clearly tight end is not a big need. There’s enough hand-wringing about the use of one athletic 6-7 monster on this roster already. Adding a second might cause Twitter to explode (that might not be such a bad thing).

Please consider this though — the Seahawks don’t draft average athletes. They shoot for major, titanic sized upside. And if they are able to make some moves in free agency, considering a 6-4, 245lbs target who reportedly runs in the 4.4’s isn’t totally unrealistic.

Njoku received a second round grade from the draft committee. If the Seahawks have the #26 overall pick, they’ll likely be drafting a player with a second round grade.

So no — a tight end in round one doesn’t come close to addressing Seattle’s big needs. But it’s January 5th. Free agency hasn’t started. The combine invites haven’t even been sent out. And Njoku is an absolute beast.

 

Stanford’s Solomon Thomas is going in the top-15

January 4th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Solomon Thomas declared for the draft today. Don’t expect him to be available for the Seahawks.

Thomas took part in the 2013 Nike Sparq Combine and look at the results:

Height: 6-3
Weight: 261lbs
Forty: 4.95s
Short shuttle: 4.25s
Powerball: 44
Vertical: 36.7 inches
SPARQ: 121.77

Only the following players had a better SPARQ score in the 2013 event:

Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State) — 126.78
Speedy Noil (WR, Texas A&M) — 153.51
Ed Paris (CB, LSU) — 130.8
Christian Miller (LB, Alabama) — 124.17
Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State) — 141.96
Trey Marshall (CB, Florida State) — 126.99
Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC) — 122.77
Elijiah Hood (RB, North Carolina) — 133.47
Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia) — 143.91
Shaun Hamilton (LB, Alabama) — 123.84
Lorenzo Carter (LB, Georgia) — 129.75
Tony Brown (CB, Alabama) — 136.2
Braxton Berrios (WR, Miami) — 131.37
Dillon Bates (LB, Tennessee) — 126.69
Joey Alfieri (LB, Stanford) — 131.28
Kavin Alexander (CB, Arkansas State) — 123.78

Notice the lack of defensive linemen on that list? Of those taking part in the nationwide Nike combines, Thomas was by far the most athletic D-liner. His SPARQ number is superior to the following:

Jamal Adams (S, LSU) — 117.63
Budda Baker (S, Washington) — 110.94
Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee) — 109.92
Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State) — 110.64
Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU) — 120.72
Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon) — 121.17
Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M) — 115.83
Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame) — 74.88
Joe Mixon (RB, Oklahoma) — 105.33
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama) — 97.5
Travis Rudolph (WR, Florida State) — 107.01
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC) — 94.35
Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida) — 93.69
DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson) — 96.93
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida) — 97.65

His time in the short shuttle (4.25 seconds) would’ve been the fourth best time at the 2016 NFL combine for defensive linemen. Only Alex McCalister (4.00), Joey Bosa (4.21) and Shaq Lawson (4.21) ran faster than a 4.25.

Thomas’ vertical jump of 36.7 inches would’ve come second only to Dadi Nicolas’ 41 inch effort. The second best effort was Emmanuel Ogbah’s 35.5 inches.

The powerball is arguably a greater test of translatable strength compared to the bench press. Thomas’ score of 44 was only beaten at the 2013 Nike combines by Dante Booker Jr. (45.5).

The only think stopping him reaching the freakish SPARQ score of +130 is an average forty yard dash of 4.95 seconds. It’s worth noting that Joey Bosa only ran a 4.85 and Robert Nkemdiche a 4.87. Thomas ran this time at a lighter 261lbs. He’s currently listed at 273lbs but would ideally get into the 4.8’s after specific pre-combine speed training.

It’s not even that important really. Ultimately his 10-yard split time is the thing to keep an eye on.

This is a very intriguing pre-college physical profile and there’s every chance he’s more athletic now after a few years at Stanford.

Thomas took over the Sun Bowl against North Carolina with a statement performance. He lived in the backfield, winning with quickness off the edge, power working the interior and creating several splash plays. He had the play of the game — crashing into the backfield on a two-point attempt with UNC trying to tie with seconds remaining.

On this evidence he’s a top-15 lock and the top ten isn’t unrealistic either.

He lines up at DT a lot and moves around. In one sack against Notre Dame he engages the right guard and then uses the center/DT battling to his right almost as a shield to loop around and get to Deshone Kizer. It’s a creative way to get to the QB — highlighting his game awareness and not just his physicality.

Notre Dame often doubled teamed him in that game. He drew two false start flags on the same drive.

This is Thomas at his best working the interior:

That said, you do occasionally find plays like this:

It’s hard to imagine Alamaba’s Jonathan Allen toiling with a tiny running back sent in to help out an overmatched O-liner. In fairness the running back does a good job here and really helps out the lineman — but Thomas needs to throw him to one side.

When he plays with the fire and attitude we saw against North Carolina he was virtually unstoppable. Playing with that level of intensity snap-by-snap is crucial to deliver on his massive potential. Let’s see that nasty edge every week. If he maintains that spark — he can be a special player at the next level.