Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt & Vince Biegel could fit in Seattle

March 11th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

When it comes to grit and agility, T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel score highly

We know the Seahawks are going to draft for the linebacker position (Pete Carroll spelled it out at the end of the season). Two players they might show interest in are Wisconsin pair Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt.

Agility

If yesterday’s assertion on the importance of short shuttle times is accurate, both players fit the bill. Watt ran the fastest time among linebackers at the combine (4.13) and Biegel recorded a 4.30. In comparison, Bobby Wagner ran a 4.28.

Yes the Seahawks clearly like SPARQ’d up dynamic athletes at linebacker. Yet there’s enough evidence, highlighted yesterday, to suggest a tough, physical LB with great agility will also be considered.

Grit

Here’s T.J. Watt talking about his partnership with Biegel:

“We’re so similar in our whole attitude to begin with on football and the high motor, trying to make a play for our defense all the time.”

And here’s how Biegel described being double-teamed in 2016 and how that impacted the defense:

“When I get double teams or more focus on myself, that’s providing opportunity for our defense to make plays. I’m not a big stats guy. I’m a football player, and I want our defense to play well. At the end of the day, the only stat line that means anything to me is the win column.”

Biegel’s NFL.com profile lists the following strengths: ‘Voted team captain. Known for intensity and all-out love for the sport’.

Here’s what Lance Zierlein has to say about T.J. Watt: “He is a tireless worker who pursues from snap to whistle and his brother, J.J., will be a tremendous resource for technique and pass-rush plan.”

Here’s an anonymous source on Watt: “This guy just plays his tail off… Boy, does he have technique. He’s Clay Matthews. Probably more explosive. Uses his hands well. He finishes things better than his brother (J.J.) did. I think he’s special.”

Les Miles similarly called Biegel a special player before LSU’s game in Wisconsin.

J.J. Watt describes in this video the ‘strong competition’ between the three brothers as they were growing up. “Nobody was going to mess with the three of us.”

Production

The Seahawks value run defense. Wisconsin had the #2 unit vs the run in 2016, behind only Alabama. They were also the #4 scoring defense (behind Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State and ahead of LSU and Florida) and ranked seventh in total defense.

That’s without a lot of big stars and five star recruits. Watt and Biegel have been described as the heart and soul of that defense. The two leaders of a very productive group.

When you watch Wisconsin games, Watt and Biegel not only work together to create openings but they frequently reached the quarterback at the same time. Against Michigan State they combined for 20 quarterback pressures. A lot of this was down to the creative (and effective) blitz packages used by Justin Wilcox — but the execution and understanding of the defense was also evident within these two players.

Between 2014-2016, Biegel had a combined total of 19.5 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s. Watt finished the 2016 season with 15.5 TFL’s and 11.5 sacks. And he did this:

Football IQ

Watt has stated in the past how much he has used brother J.J. Watt as a resource, sharing videos of tape and asking for advice. It shows not only in his play but also when he’s discussing the defense:

Biegel discussed his role at Wisconsin in detail at the combine:

If the Seahawks are looking for intensity and players that elevated a team to a level of performance beyond expectations, Watt and Biegel achieved that. They both tested well enough in terms of agility to be considered and although neither ran a particularly fast 40 time, they tested well as overall athletes.

The average pSPARQ score of pure linebackers (not converts like Eric Pinkins) drafted by the Seahawks is exactly 140. T.J. Watt scored a 140.8. Vince Biegel managed a 122.2 but that’s still better than the 117 scored by K.J. Wright. And Biegel’s short shuttle (4.30) is similar to Wright’s (4.35).

They’re both well sized too. One of the supposed knocks on Biegel, at least according to his NFL.com profile, is size. Yet he was 6-3 and 246lbs at the combine — the exact same height and weight as K.J. Wright. T.J. Watt is 6-4 and 252lbs with enormous 11 inch hands.

How would they fit? Pete Carroll often talks about utilising 3-4 personnel within his 4-3 under scheme. Both Watt and Biegel played outside linebacker at Wisconsin in 2016 (Biegel previously played inside) but it’s worth noting K.J. Wright also played OLB in a 3-4 at Mississippi State. Biegel could provide the necessary depth/competition at inside backer that Carroll has talked about. Watt is likely a SAM in Seattle — another potential need area.

The frequent pro-comparison for Watt is Clay Matthews. Bob McGinn’s sources made that reference and so did Mike Mayock recently. Watt, actually, has to be described as the superior athlete:

Name: Clay Matthews
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240lbs
Forty: 4.67
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench: 23 reps
Short shuttle: 4.18
Three cone: 6.90

Name: T.J. Watt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Forty: 4.69
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 10-8
Short shuttle: 4.13
Three cone: 6.79

Watt ran a similar forty and beat Matthews in the vertical, broad, short shuttle and three cone. That’s despite weighing 12lbs heavier.

Projections have Watt currently going in the first or second round, with Biegel potentially going in round three.

The Seahawks shouldn’t have any trouble finding a handful of linebackers they like. Skim through this short shuttle list and find the tough guys, essentially. And with others impressing on the pro-day circuit recently (Jordan Evans, Jimmie Gilbert) this looks like an underrated position in this draft class.

If the Seahawks do target players like Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu early, they’ll have a chance to bolster another key need before the end of day two. Watt’s explosive athleticism and incredible agility could put him in contention at #26. He’s competing with genuine freaks at other need positions.

Sidney Jones injury

At the Washington pro-day today possible #1 cornerback prospect Sidney Jones suffered a suspected achilles injury:

This would be a huge setback for Jones. It’s a highly competitive group of cornerbacks jockeying for position. A serious, long term injury could move him from #1 on many boards to #6-7. Especially if there’s a chance he won’t play in 2016.

Hopefully it’s not a very serious injury although a ruptured achilles can take almost a year to heal.

Two thoughts come to mind:

1. How much does this help players like Gareon Conley and Kevin King, two players who really impressed at the combine?

2. Why the heck are pro-days taking place within a week of the combine? We just saw some of these players going through drills and doing tests less than a week ago.

Seahawks seeking late round/UDFA defensive tackles?

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks attended the Alabama State pro-day and kept a close eye on 6-0, 339lbs defensive tackle Rod Henderson.

As Pauline notes: “This is the second time this week I’ve reported the Jets and Seahawks on hand to see a late round/free agent wide bodied NT/DT.He previously reported the Seahawks have an official visit set up with Colorado’s Josh Tupou.

It looks like they’re searching for cheap, early-down depth up front — possibly to provide a most cost-effective solution to players like Tony McDaniel. This is especially likely given the dearth of good early-round DT options and the extremely good alternatives available at positions like cornerback, safety and tight end.

If you missed it yesterday, the Seahawks also worked out Washington State safety Shalom Luani at his pro-day.

 

Trying to crack Seattle’s linebacker code

March 10th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

On Wednesday we discussed the need to keep an open mind when it comes to the Seahawks and linebackers in the draft. It’s clear they like highly athletic players at the position (Bobby Wagner, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Malcolm Smith) but they also like K.J. Wright — a 6-3, 246lbs bigger linebacker with 4.71 speed.

And then it suddenly occurred to me…

A year ago the Seahawks invited Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland to the VMAC for a pre-draft visit. It was a weird one at the time because Ragland didn’t test well in the forty, vertical or broad jumps.

You can see how important these visits and workouts are from the list below:

If the Seahawks were visiting with Ragland they were likely interested in drafting him (and were thinking of adding a linebacker last year, not just this year).

Officially he ran a 4.72 at 6-1 and 247lbs, jumped 31.5 inches in the vertical and 9-8 in the broad. He’s as quick as K.J. Wright but less explosive.

The drill where he excelled was the short shuttle. Ragland’s 4.28 was the sixth best by a linebacker at the 2016 combine.

It would’ve been the sixth best at the 2017 combine too if he was part of this years draft.

In comparison, K.J. Wright ran a 4.46.

Here’s how Lance Zierlein described him in his draft bio:

Thumping inside linebacker with throwback size and tone­setting mentality. Ragland is a confident and capable early starter in league who has the temperament to become one of the premier run­-stopping inside linebackers in the pro game. Ragland has some coverage and speed limitations, but his instincts and overall awareness should be able to mask those issues.

Ragland didn’t have straight-line speed or explosive traits. He was big, physical and agile. And the Seahawks, seemingly, had some interest.

You know who else ran a 4.28 short shuttle? Bobby Wagner at the Utah State pro-day. Ragland didn’t have Wagner’s speed or explosiveness but he had similar agility.

This could be the test to focus on when judging who the Seahawks might draft at linebacker this year.

Here are the linebacker performers in the short shuttle at the 2017 combine:

= 1. T.J. Watt — 4.13
= 1. Ben Gedeon — 4.13
3. Blair Brown — 4.18
4. Duke Riley — 4.21
= 5. Alex Anzalone — 4.25
= 5. Brooks Ellis — 4.25
7. Zach Cunningham — 4.29
8. Vince Biegel — 4.30
9. Connor Harris — 4.31
10. Anthony Walker Jr. — 4.34

Note: Tyus Bowser, who recorded the fastest three cone by a linebacker, didn’t run a short shuttle.

There’s further evidence that the short shuttle is a crucial test. Kevin Pierre-Louis ran a 4.51 at his combine but his 4.02 short shuttle is the seventh best by a linebacker in the last ten years. They drafted him.

The fastest time in the last ten years (3.96) was run by Jordan Tripp. He signed with the Seahawks last September before landing on injured reserve and eventually being waived. Tripp was a 4.67 runner at his combine but performed well in the agility tests.

At the start of free agency a year ago the Broncos put a second round tender on linebacker Brandon Marshall. Troy Renck reported the Seahawks and Dolphins were showing interest. Marshall ran a 4.81 forty at the 2012 combine but had a superb 4.09 short shuttle.

A tough, physical linebacker with excellent agility could be the profile the Seahawks are looking for — not just the SPARQ standouts.

Go watch the names in the list above — plus Tyus Bowser and Jarrad Davis (just in case) — and look for the toughest, meanest run defender.

It’ll be really interesting to see how Davis tests at the Florida pro-day on March 28th. Hopefully he’ll do a short shuttle and three cone on top of the usual drills.

Despite running middling forty times the likes of Zach Cunningham, Alex Anzalone, Vince Biegel, Anthony Walker Jr. and others could very much be on Seattle’s radar. Oklahoma’s Jordan Evans ran a 4.28 short shuttle at his pro-day this week. It’s also more ammunition for those wanting to see T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser in Seattle.

If there’s something in this, the Seahawks should have no problem adding a linebacker or two they like between rounds 1-3.

While this isn’t a fast group of LB’s — there’s plenty of agility and toughness.

Meanwhile, this piece by Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks lends support to our post-combine suggestion that Obi Melifonwu and Kevin King could be the two players Seattle focuses on at #26.

According to Brooks, Melifonwu is ‘more than a HWS (height-weight-speed) monster’:

He’s an active box defender with outstanding instincts, awareness and a nose for the ball. Melifonwu is a tackling machine who’s capable of displaying “thump” or wrap-up skills in the hole. He rarely misses runners in the open field and his secure tackling skills will make him a coveted player in defensive meeting rooms around the league.

Looking at his career resume, it’s not a coincidence that his tackling production has steadily improved over his four years as a starter (70 in 2013, 75 in 2014, 88 in 2015, 118 in 2016). He not only has a knack for finding the ball but he takes good angles and flashes some explosiveness upon contact. Melifonwu’s superb tackling places him ahead of some prospects who lack the discipline, courage and toughness to hit runners squarely in the chest.

Brooks also suggests: ‘I can see him thriving in a Kam Chancellor-like role as a pro‘.

With Chancellor’s contract set to expire after the 2017 season — the Seahawks might be thinking it’s time to plan ahead.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah has this to say about Washington cornerback Kevin King:

King has outstanding size and he ran much faster than evaluators expected. He also had an outstanding field workout, displaying excellent quickness and change-of-direction skills. Heading into the combine, I had King just outside my list of the draft’s top 50 players, but he clearly established himself as a top-40 selection with his performance in Indianapolis. This draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks, but his combination of size, length, ball skills and speed could make him a late-first-round pick.

If the Seahawks are ever going to take a cornerback in the first round, it feels like it’d be for a player like King. Length, straight-line speed, short-area quickness and agility. He’s a genuine freak of nature, doing everything well at the combine.

It was interesting to see a Seahawks coach work out Shalom Luani at his pro-day. That’s a name to watch for Seattle.

And there’s another name to add to the TEF list (explained here). Chris Muller’s performance at the Rutgers pro-day earned him a 3.25 score. Purdue guard Jason King, another player not invited to the combine, scored 3.30 at his pro-day on Wednesday.

 

Seahawks sign Luke Joeckel, visiting with T.J. Lang & RB’s

March 9th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks fans get their wish — some O-line help. The deal for Joeckel is reportedly worth $8m. It’s a substantial prove-it deal — but look at the going rate:

— The Panthers gave Matt Kalil, a below-average starter who missed 14 games in 2016 through injury, a $55.5m contract with $25m guaranteed.

— The Browns are set to pay Kevin Zeitler $60m over five years with $31.5m in guarantees. They’re also giving often-injured guard Joel Bitonio a $51.5m extension with $23m guaranteed.

— The Broncos are paying Ronald Leary $36m over four years with $20m in guarantees. Leary only started in Dallas in 2016 because of an injury to La’el Collins and he was diagnosed with a degenerative knee issue.

— The Rams are paying Anthony Whitworth $36m with $15m in guarantees, including $13m in 2017. Whitworth turns 36 in December.

— Russell Okung has agreed a $53m, four-year contract with the Chargers including $25m in guarantees.

— Riley Reiff intends to sign for the Vikings. Considering Minnesota’s desperate need on the O-line, they’re likely giving him a big contract.

The Seahawks cannot compete in this market — and that’s a good thing.

Before the Joeckel addition, Seattle only had five players set to earn more than $10m in 2017 — Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and Jimmy Graham. All five justify their salaries. The next five highest earners are Doug Baldwin ($9.6m), Kam Chancellor ($8m), Bobby Wagner ($7.6m), K.J. Wright ($6.8m) and Cliff Avril ($5.5m).

Consider the cap hits for those ten players and then consider what Matt Kalil and Ronald Leary are going to be earning in 2017. Then consider which of the ten above you’d rather lose and replace with Kalil, who would be the third highest paid player on the team.

Like it or not, the Seahawks built their identity on defense and possess a rare, genuine franchise quarterback.

Had the Seahawks built their identity on the O-line like Dallas, that’s likely where the investment would be right now. And we’d all be talking about the defense not being good enough instead.

As it is, the Seahawks didn’t have the #9 pick in 2011 for Tyron Smith or the #16 in 2014 for Zack Martin. They picked at #25 and #32 instead. And they had the foresight to draft Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and others on day three.

They’re left to try and develop a young line with a little help from guys like Joeckel with a point to prove. And they have to identify targets in an ever shrinking pool of draft options.

Good O-liners go early (aka the range where Seattle never picks) and it’s why Garett Bolles will likely go in the top-10 this year. They just don’t last. You’re often looking for upside and potential after the first round.

Have they missed on players? Sometimes. But it’s not a long list of O-line Pro-Bowlers drafted after the first round in the Pete Carroll era:

2010: 0
2011: 2 (Rodney Hudson, Jason Kelce)
2012: 1 (Kelechi Osemele)
2013: 1 (David Bakhtiari)
2014: 1 (Trai Turner)
2015: 0
2016: 0

Five in seven years. That’s it. And at a time when Pro-Bowl invites aren’t exactly hard to come by.

Plus for all the talk of Seattle’s ability to identify talent, it could be a lot worse. See, the 2011 late first round:

#23 Danny Watkins (Eagles)
#26 James Carpenter (Seahawks)
#29 Gabe Carimi (Bears)
#32 Derek Sherrod (Packers)

Meanwhile they’ve turned a defensive tackle into a $6.5m a year guard, a second round tackle into a blossoming center and we’ll see if the current group can take a step forward in 2017.

Joeckel has a point to prove. He was once tipped to be the #1 pick in 2013 before the Chiefs selected the more athletic Eric Fisher. He flopped in Jacksonville after being selected at #2. Yet he has familiarity with Germain Ifedi and might be playing next to him at right tackle.

$8m speaks to how highly rated he was entering the league. It also dispels any theory that the Seahawks are ‘cheap’ on the O-line.

It’s the kind of prove-it deal Seattle nailed with Bennett and Avril. Let’s see if Joeckel can deliver on his potential. He’s not even 26 until November.

As for T.J. Lang — he’s considered one of the best guards in the NFL. He broke his foot in the NFC Championship game and is expected to miss the entire off-season. That could impact his value. And while it seems somewhat likely he’ll end up returning to Green Bay, the news he’s visiting with the Seahawks tomorrow will be welcomed by anyone hoping for proven experience and quality on the O-line.

This level of focus also suggests what we kind of knew already — this is a draft for the Seahawks to go heavy on defense.

Meanwhile other reports claim the Seahawks will visit with Latavius Murray, Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy. A veteran running back addition appears to be a distinct possibility.

And Stephen Hauschka has signed a contract with the Bills. There will be a new starting kicker in Seattle this year.

 

Wednesday draft notes: TEF target, LB & SAM discussion

March 8th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Firstly, if you missed our post-combine podcast, don’t forget to check it out:

Purdue lineman adds to TEF options

According to Nathan Baird at the Lafayette Journal & Courier, we have another name to monitor on the O-line. Purdue guard Jason King recorded a 31 inch vertical, a 9-0 broad jump and managed 35 reps on the bench at his pro-day.

His TEF score is a 3.30.

George Fant (3.35) and Mark Glowinski (3.34) had similar scores. If King had recorded these numbers at the combine, he would’ve been the most explosive tester among offensive linemen (beating Forrest Lamp’s 3.23). He’s a name to watch.

What are the Seahawks going to do at linebacker?

This is what Pete Carroll said about team needs during his end of season press conference:

“We’ve gotta get the corner thing squared away… we’ll certainly be looking at that in the draft. That’ll be one of the areas. We need some youth at the linebacker spot now. Bobby and K.J. played 1000’s of plays this year between the two of them and were extremely successful but we need to address that. We didn’t really get anybody that made a difference in the last couple of years that can really fight to take those guys job. Think if somebody could battle K.J. and Bobby for their starting jobs? That’s what we need to draft towards, so we’ll be looking there. The offensive line will continue to be an area of focus and it will be. We’re looking at everything but I’m trying to give you guys something that you can walk out of here with. That’s probably the obvious focal points.”

Carroll doesn’t talk about drafting a SAM linebacker. Instead he specifically talks about drafting players that can push Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, or at the very least ease their workload.

If they want MIKE and WILL depth and competition rather than finding a starting SAM, it could be indicative of a plan to draft someone like Obi Melifonwu and run a lot of 4-2-5 again this year. Jeremy Lane had 71% of the defensive snaps a year ago. If they take Melifonwu early, he could inherit Lane’s and Mike Morgan’s snaps and be a full-time ‘Buffalo’ nickel offering Deion Jones size and defensive back athleticism.

Even if they draft Kevin King instead, his first role as a rookie could be ‘big nickel’ considering how well he tested in the short shuttle and three cone. His learning curve might be to start in the slot while he develops the outside corner technique. Either way you’re putting Melifonwu or King on the field at the expense of the SAM.

It’s also not unfair to assume if Carroll intends to add a SAM as a priority, he would’ve stated it. Instead he made specific references to Wagner (99.35%) and Wright (97.41%) playing virtually every defensive snap in 2016 and needing help at their spots.

Here’s where it becomes interesting though. What does history tell us about the possible MIKE and WILL fits in this draft?

Community member JT put together this spreadsheet detailing Seattle’s previous draft picks at the various positions, including linebacker.

The biggest takeaway might be the variety of the linebackers Seattle has entertained.

On the one hand, you’ve got a ‘Greek God’ of an athlete in Bobby Wagner at 6-0, 241lbs with 4.46 speed, an 11-0 broad jump and a 39.5 inch vertical. It’s remarkable that Wagner lasted as long as he did in the 2012 draft.

This is off-set though by K.J. Wright — a 6-3, 246lbs bigger linebacker with incredible length (35 inch arms) but only 4.71 speed, a 34 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad.

They’ve drafted smaller, faster linebackers (Malcolm Smith, 4.4 speed) and medium sized, explosive linebackers running in the 4.5’s (Kevin Pierre-Louis).

It suggests they’re not tied to a ‘type’ quite as strictly as they perhaps are at cornerback, running back or the offensive line. A fit at this position could be a player who runs a 4.4 like Wagner or Smith — but it could also be a player who runs a 4.6 or 4.7 if they have other appealing traits like K.J. Wright.

That could be important if they want to fill this need because it’s increasingly likely Haason Reddick will find a home in the top-20. Jarrad Davis, who won’t workout until his March 28th pro-day, is also being tipped to go earlier than many are projecting.

So while they probably prefer to draft a really dynamic athlete at linebacker, a compromise might be needed.

I’ve been thinking a lot since the combine about what the Seahawks are looking for. And while they’re certainly looking for those freakish athletes — they also want players who love football. Their first two picks in 2016 were junkyard dogs in college. Jarran Reed, their second round pick, wasn’t a big-time athlete. But he was their type of guy. Intense, gritty. He fit into the personality of this defense.

That might be the key at linebacker this year.

For example, Zach Cunningham had a middling combine overall. He tested well in the jumps (10-5 broad, 35 inch vertical) but had a mediocre forty time (4.68). He’s only 0.03 seconds faster than K.J. Wright despite being 12lbs lighter.

So he’s off the radar, right?

Not necessarily.

He has 34.5 inch arms — so similar length to Wright. And a couple of quotes in this piece by Chris Low are interesting:

“He’s in love with the game of football, and you see that every day in the way he prepares,” Marve said. “He’s always putting in extra time, but he also does a lot of things naturally that you don’t see in a lot of players. You hear guys say they want to be great. Zach practices that way and approaches every game that way.”

Vanderbilt was playing Georgia, and Cunningham on three occasions tackled Todd Gurley in one-on-one situations. “It was Zach and Gurley one-on-one. It wasn’t Zach and somebody else and Gurley, just Zach, and he made the play all three times,” Mason recalled. “Guys in the NFL don’t tackle Gurley in that situation, and it made me realize how special this young man can be. He sees things before they happen and has so many dimensions to him as a player, but what separates him is his ability to close and finish.”

If the Seahawks are convinced he loves ball and get the sense he’s a physical, committed linebacker that fits the personality of this team — he could be a consideration at some point, even with a 4.67 forty.

It’s also possible other options will emerge on the pro-day circuit. For example, reports from the Oklahoma pro-day today suggest Jordan Evans had a really good workout:

The broad jump would ideally be +10-0 but the other numbers are right up there. He’s faster than Cunningham with a better vertical and a similar short shuttle (4.28 vs 4.29). Evans managed 19 reps on the bench. Another name to keep an eye on.

SAM linebacker options

Let’s suppose the Seahawks don’t seek a ‘Buffalo’ like Obi Melifonwu and want to draft a more traditional SAM instead. I spent some time watching T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser and Jordan Willis last night to consider the options.

Firstly, I think Willis is a pure EDGE. He’ll also be an interesting subject when the draft begins. Physically he has a fantastic profile. His 1.54 10-yard split is the best for a +250lbs player since Cliff Avril’s 1.50. When you look at his combine workout, you can imagine a team in the top-50 taking a shot.

That said, Avril lasted until round three. So did Justin Houston. Occasionally, these fantastic athletes do last into the middle rounds. And when you watch Willis’ tape you do see a tendency to struggle getting off blocks. His hand technique and repertoire needs work. Coaching can get him there — but he’s a player who might need time.

To some extent he reminds me of Donte Moncrief. Both players are tremendous athletes. Both had good plays on tape. Both needed time. Moncrief was being tipped to go in the top-50 after his great combine in 2014 but lasted until round three. Could the same happen to Willis? Don’t rule it out. But I suspect he’s an EDGE rather than a SAM/LEO.

Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt, on the other hand, appear capable of playing SAM. They’re not as fast as Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan (all 4.4/4.5 runners) but they’re really explosive, move well in space and can set the edge vs the run.

Bowser has a freakish physical profile and it feels like we’re only just starting to see him truly develop as a player. His ceiling might be as high as any of the top players in this class. As a ball of clay waiting to be moulded, coaches are going to love this type of project.

One word to describe my style is gritsays T.J. Watt in this video. That will appeal to the Seahawks.

He makes good use of his ridiculous 11-inch hands and controls defenders, winning with power. He also has the agility to stay skinny when attacking his gaps and he finishes. He’s not a quick-twitch speed/athlete (4.69 runner) but he’s quick enough and agile enough in space.

Cassius Marsh, a 4.70 runner, has featured at the SAM for Seattle in part because he has rare agility for his size. How do Marsh and Watt compare? Here’s how they performed at their respective combines:

Name: Cassius Marsh
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Arm length: 33 inches
Forty: 4.89 (he ran a 4.70 at his pro-day)
Three cone: 7.08
Short shuttle: 4.25
Vertical: 32 inches
Broad: 9-0

Name: T.J. Watt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Arm length: 33 1/8 inches
Forty: 4.69
Three cone: 6.79
Short shuttle: 4.13
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 10-8

Marsh’s agility tests were really good for his size — and Watt beats him comfortably in both cases while also proving to be extremely more explosive.

It’s worth noting the Seahawks never made any firm commitment to Marsh at the SAM. It was tested but Mike Morgan started when healthy. I bring this up purely to emphasise Watt’s fit as a possible SAM — although it’s entirely possible he’ll be viewed as a pure 3-4 OLB (and a potential target for Green Bay and Pittsburgh).

Even so, it’s something to consider over the coming weeks. Especially if any reports emerge of King and Melifonwu going earlier than we’re currently projecting.

Free agency outlook

Jason La Canfora is consistently on the money when it comes to the Seahawks, so this is worth paying attention to:

 

Podcast: Combine review & free agency

March 8th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Reflections on the combine and thoughts on free agency:

 

Post-combine mock draft: 7th March

March 7th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Here we go then — the post-combine, pre-free agency mock draft (including a seven-round Seahawks projection). Trades are included and noted below:

Trade A
Buffalo trades #10, #43 and a 2018 pick to Chicago for the #3 pick
The Bills appear set to move on from Tyrod Taylor and have been aggressive in the past (Sammy Watkins). The Bears welcome the opportunity to trade down.

Trade B
Cleveland trades #12 and #33 to Tennessee for the #5 pick
The Titans are open for business and might be willing to trade down seven spots for the #33 pick in this loaded class. The Browns move up for a quarterback.

Trade C
Tennessee trades #18 to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks
The Titans get a proven, dynamic receiver and the Saints get another pick to help rebuild their defense.

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Buffalo (via Chi) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#4 Jacksonville — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#5 Cleveland (via Ten) — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#6 New York Jets — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#7 San Diego — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#8 Carolina — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#9 Cincinnati — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#10 Chicago (via Buf) — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#11 New Orleans — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#12 Tennessee (via Cle) — Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
#13 Arizona — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#15 Indianapolis — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#16 Baltimore — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#17 Washington — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#18 New Orleans (via Ten) — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#20 Denver — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
#23 New York Giants — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#24 Oakland — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#25 Houston — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#26 Seattle — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#27 Kansas City — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
#28 Dallas — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
#29 Green Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)
#30 Pittsburgh — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
#31 Atlanta — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#32 New England — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)

Seahawks seven-round projection

R1 — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
R2 — Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
R3 — Isaac Asiata (G, Utah)
R3 — George Kittle (TE, Iowa)
R3 — Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)
R6 — Marquez White (CB, Florida State)
R7 — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

Mock draft notes

There’s probably only 2-3 legitimate top-10 picks. There’s approximately 80-90 players worthy of a top-60 grade.

The players taken between #11-20 are going to have a slightly better grade than the players taken at #40-45.

For that reason, it’s a really difficult class to project.

For example — I didn’t intend to exclude Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan) and Mike Williams (WR, Clemson). I just struggled to find a spot for them.

You might argue it’s unrealistic for these two to drop into the second round — but who are we leaving out to make room?

Is there anyone in that #10-32 range that doesn’t deserve a place in the first round? I’d argue no.

And it’s not like Davis and Williams don’t have their issues. Davis won’t workout pre-draft due to injury and both he and Williams are in the ‘good not necessarily great’ category. What stands out with either player, compared to ECU’s Zay Jones or USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster (for example)?

Jonathan Allen isn’t included due to injury concerns. News about moderate arthritis in both shoulders is significant. We saw a year ago how long-term injury concerns impacted Myles Jack’s stock. He went from sure-fire top-10 pick to second rounder. There’s no doubting Allen’s tape is excellent — but with so many talented alternatives in this draft, you’re going to really need to believe in him to take a chance on his long-term health. He might be a one-contract player.

It’s very possible Davis, Williams and Allen go in the top-20. The fact is though — some really good players are going to be there in round two.

It’s that type of draft.

Other notes

— Haason Reddick at #11? Why not? He’s a notch behind Myles Garrett in terms of explosive traits. New Orleans took Sheldon Richardson at #12 a year ago because of his explosive testing scores. Ryan Shazier was the #15 pick in 2014 and Reddick’s that type of talent.

— Jarrad Davis at #16? Some teams are going to love Davis’ combination of intensity, closing speed, length and love for the game. He’s occasionally compared to Ray Lewis. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Baltimore sees similarities between the two.

— Dalvin Cook dropping to #27? A cursory Google search reveals significant character flags that need checking out. On top of that, he had a thoroughly underwhelming combine. Cook ran a 4.53 three cone. Eddie Vanderdoes — at 305lbs — ran a 4.39.

— Top-45 picks? Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Jonathan Allen, T.J. Watt, Tre’Davious White, Takk McKinley, Quincy Wilson, Cam Robinson, Malik McDowell, Alvin Kamara, Bucky Hodges, Evan Engram, Chidobe Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley and Fabian Moreau could be in contention.

Notes on the Seahawks

The pick at #26 came down to two freakish athletes — Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu. One player has the freakish athletic profile needed to persuade the Seahawks to take a corner early, the other is a dynamic defensive ‘chess-piece’ capable of playing ‘Buffalo’ and a variety of other roles.

Reports on Monday suggested there’s a belief Melifonwu is ‘soft’. I’m not sold on that. There’s a tendency sometimes to see a freakish athletic profile and then expect to witness Garett Bolles, Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette-level intensity on tape.

What you see from Melifonwu are 6-8 plays a game where you see the potential. He’ll run through traffic, explode to the ball carrier and deliver a TFL. He’ll cover a crossing route perfectly and show off that terrific form in the broad jump to knock the ball down. He’ll chase down the running back from behind blitzing off the edge. His tackling form is very assured and he can read/react and close comfortably.

This isn’t ‘soft’ football. What teams need to determine is whether he loves ball. He’s quite a passive character overall. He seems like a nice guy. His coaches admit he’s not a big-time vocal leader although he made some improvements in 2016.

Reports suggest the Seahawks have invested a serious amount of time trying to work him out at the Senior Bowl and Combine. I suspect this is an attempt to get a feel for who he is. Will he come out of his shell sharing a locker room with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor et al?

After all, Kam developed into the heart and soul of this defense. Other personalities on this team have been developed. Bobby Wagner is a good example of this. He’s right up there now in terms of leadership — but it didn’t happen overnight.

If they believe Melifonwu has gritty aspects to his character — they’ll likely back themselves to bring it out. And if that is the case there’s a very good chance he’ll be a Seahawks target at #26. He will be very enticing for this team and could be their guy — as we discussed yesterday.

However, in this mock I went with Kevin King. Pete Carroll specifically stated cornerback, linebacker and O-line were the priority targets this off-season. Melifonwu is a hybrid, King is a corner.

When you run through King’s physical profile, he might be the dream project for an old secondary coach and his younger defensive-coordinator protégé:

— King’s 6.56 three cone was the fastest among cornerbacks this year and it’s the second fastest in the last five years (beaten only by 5-11 Will Davis in 2013).

— His three cone is the seventh best by a corner in the last 12 years (quicker than Patrick Peterson).

— He had easily the fastest short shuttle this year by any player (3.89) and the fourth best time in the last five years.

— Any concerns about his long-speed were misguided and incorrect. He ran a 4.43.

— He’s explosive, recording a 39.5 inch vertical. He didn’t do the broad jump at the combine but managed a 10-10 a year ago at the Husky combine.

— He has the required size (6-3, 200lbs) and length (32 inch arms) this team covets.

What you have here is a player with the deep speed to cover burner’s downfield, the short-area quickness to handle dynamic slot receivers and the size and length to handle big targets and contest the football.

King has so many similar traits to Richard Sherman, only he’s a better athlete.

The question shouldn’t be whether the Seahawks will have any interest in King, it’s whether he’ll even last to pick #26.

The rest of the seven-round projection handles Seattle’s needs. They select a SAM/LEO in Tyus Bowser. They get extra competition on the offensive line with Isaac Asiata — one of the few O-liners who matches their physical profile in this draft. They tap into the tight end class (George Kittle) and find a replacement for Luke Willson. They get depth at safety with one of the grittiest players in the draft (Shalom Luani) and they finish off with another cornerback pick (Marquez White) and some more competition at running back (Chris Carson).

Alternatively, they could take another cornerback in round three (eg Shaq Griffin) or target a versatile linebacker with the potential to provide depth and cover in a handful of spots (Vince Biegel? Alex Anzalone?). With depth on the D-line too, that could be an option between rounds 3-7.

I’m considering doing a live Q&A on the blog (coveritlive style) this week. Let me know in the comments section if this is something you’d be interested in.

And a reminder that free agency begins in earnest today. Here’s one name to monitor:

In case you’re wondering, Schwenke’s TEF score is 3.04.

 

Combine review: DB’s, overall thoughts & predictions

March 6th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Two players stand out at #26

The combine is over — and we’re starting to get some clarity on what might happen with the #26 pick.

With Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick driving their stock well into the top-20, it might come down to two players:

Obi Melifonwu & Kevin King

The Seahawks have only drafted one defensive back before the fourth round in the Pete Carroll era (Earl Thomas). If they’re going to break that trend in 2017, it’ll likely be for a truly freakish athlete.

That’s exactly what these two bring to the table.

Melifonwu is 6-4 and 224lbs. He’s the antidote to what we saw on Saturday with the tight end class excelling. He ran an official 4.40, jumped 44 inches in the vertical, recorded an 11-9 broad jump and didn’t show any signs of stiffness during drills when asked to redirect, transition and make sharp turns.

Look at the way Pete Carroll reacted after Melifonwu ran the 4.40. He’s rocking back and forth in his seat before turning to say something to Kris Richard:

This is a Seahawks type of first round pick.

How would they use him? In so many different ways. He’s only two pounds heavier than Atlanta’s brilliant linebacker Deion Jones. He has the physical tools to match-up with big wide outs and dynamic TE’s in the slot. He might be too big to play outside corner but he can travel there in certain looks or motions. He’ll provide depth at two safety positions.

A few fans have questioned his tape on Twitter. Personally I don’t think it’s bad at all. His performance against Virginia (link here) highlights the potential he has as a read-and-react, sure tackler. He makes a terrific play running through traffic to take down the running back for a TFL. He shows range in high coverage and he plays the ball.

Seattle’s Head Coach is the best defensive backs tutor in the league. He can work with this physical profile and that tape.

Here’s how the league views him, per Bob McGinn’s anonymous sources:

Four-year player with 48 games and 48 starts. “He reminded me of Deone Bucannon because he can play in the box and in space,” said one scout. “Physical. Square tackler. I was shocked. He’s big and he can run. I think he’s too big for corner. He can replace a ‘backer in the box because he can cover.” Arms were 32½. Eight career interceptions. “He looks the part,” said another scout. “He’s more of a downhill type but he brings a presence.”

A 6-4, 224lbs Deone Bucannon. Think about that for a second.

King ran an official 4.43 at 6-3 and 200lbs and followed it up with a 39.5 inch vertical. He didn’t record a broad jump according to the NFL tracker but a year ago he managed a 10-10 at the Husky pro-day.

His 6.56 three cone was the fastest among cornerbacks this year and it’s the second fastest in the last five years (beaten only by 5-11 Will Davis in 2013). He also had easily the fastest short shuttle this year by any player (3.89) and the fourth best time in the last five years.

Essentially his long speed is as quick as Melifonwu’s, he’s not as explosive but he’s lighter and probably has superior short-area quickness (Melifonwu didn’t run a three cone or short shuttle).

The agility tests really show off how versatile he is. King might be 6-3 and 200lbs but he’s not just an outside corner. He handled the slot for Washington in 2015 and he can do it at the next level too. He can pretty much defend any type of receiver — with the size and length to handle the bigger targets, the short are quickness to match-up with a dynamic slot and the deep speed to go head-to-head against a burner.

When we talk about the Seahawks likely only taking a special player in round one at cornerback — this is what he looks like.

Of course there’ll likely be other players in play at #26. We didn’t see Justin Evans or Jarrad Davis workout at the combine. Who knows where players like Jabrill Peppers and even Haason Reddick will be projected? There’s at least a chance Seattle won’t be able to resist a player like Budda Baker despite his lack of size.

Even so, it certainly feels like Obi Melifonwu or Kevin King could easily be Seattle’s next first round pick if they’re available at #26.

DB class overall shines

There were two big positives about today:

1. Most of the big name prospects lived up to expectations

2. Several second and third tier players performed better than expected

Marshon Lattimore, Sidney Jones, Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, Tre’Davious White and Kevin King all performed well. Cordrea Tankersley ran a 4.40 to throw his name into the first round mix.

Jamal Adams didn’t have a fast, explosive workout but was never really expected to. Budda Baker is what he is — a 4.45 runner, not the most explosive tester but plays well beyond his size.

Jabrill Peppers hopped around Lucas Oil Stadium like he’d been drinking sunshine in a glass — his personality and leadership shining as brightly as his dynamic athletic performance.

Due to injury, Malik Hooker and Justin Evans didn’t workout.

The majority of the names above could go in the first frame.

A lot of the second and third tier prospects performed as expected and even the disappointments were only minor — such as Rasul Douglas running a 4.59 or John Johnson a 4.61.

Shaq Griffin warrants a closer look after his performance. He ran a 4.38 at 6-0 and 194lbs (with 32.5 inch arms) and jumped well too (38.5 inch vertical, 11-0 broad).

Ahkello Witherspoon did as good a job as anyone covering John Ross in 2016 and now we know why. He ran a 4.45 at 6-3 and 198lbs (33 inch arms). He also recorded a huge 40.5 inch vertical and a 10-7 broad jump. His tackling technique and run defense is poor on tape — but you can work on that with this profile. He could be a Kevin King consolation prize.

At safety, Rayshawn Jenkins is one of the grittiest players in the draft class. His ability to run a 4.51 at 6-1, 214lbs and jump a great vertical (37 inches) and broad (10-8) makes him very interesting. He also has 33 inch arms and has hybrid potential.

Montae Nicholson is 6-2 and 212lbs with 33.5 inch arms and he ran a 4.42. In the vertical he managed 35 inches and he followed it up with a 10-5 in the broad jump. Again, it’s another really intriguing physical profile.

Josh Jones is 6-1 and 220lbs and he ran a 4.41. His jumps were also impressive — he managed 37.5 inch vertical and an 11-0 broad. He’s another player that could be used in many different ways by Seattle considering his size and length (32 inch arms).

And while Shalom Luani didn’t post a freaky explosive combine like the three names above, his 4.55 is good enough to justify a team like Seattle giving him a shot — especially with his gritty backstory and physical, tone-setting style of play. He could be a day three steal.

Overall takeaways from the combine

Some thoughts and predictions on other non-DB ‘big name’ prospects…

Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
One of only three offensive lineman to have a truly explosive physical profile, Bolles also performed very well in the agility tests. His short shuttle and three cone (4.55, 7.29) were similar to Dalvin Cook’s (4.53, 7.27). Bolles is destined for the top-12.

Forrest Lamp (T, Western Kentucky)
He might have to move inside to guard (32 1/4 inch arms) but Lamp was by far the most explosive tester among the offensive linemen. With the league desperately short of good O-liners, Lamp might not get past Denver at #20.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
McCaffrey lit-up the RB drills, catching everything in sight while managing to look truly pissed off with the world. His three cone (6.57) is the best by a running back in five years (beating Christine Michael’s 6.69) and he was explosive (37.5 inch vertical, 10-1 broad).

Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
It was a surprise to see Fournette only manage 28.5 inches in the vertical, purely because he looks so explosive on the field. Yet his 4.51 forty at 240lbs showed he is 0.02 slower than Dalvin Cook but weighs 30lbs more and he’s only 0.04 slower than Ezekiel Elliott despite weighing 15lbs more.

John Ross (WR, Washington)
He broke the combine record for a forty yard dash (4.22), jumped 11-1 in the broad jump and 37 inches in the vertical. Combine this with the way he gets open consistently and quickly on tape and Ross is a top-15 lock. He’s DeSean Jackson without the headaches.

O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
Howard ran the same time as Leonard Fournette (4.51) but did it carrying an extra 10lbs of weight. He also ran the fastest three cone by a tight end in the last five years (6.85). In comparison, Jimmy Graham ran a 4.56 forty and a 6.90 three cone at his combine.

David Njoku (TE, Miami)
He jumped an 11-1 broad and a 37.5 inch vertical at 6-4, 246lbs. His forty time (4.64) is only 0.04 seconds slower than former top-10 pick Eric Ebron and his three cone (6.97) is the seventh fastest by a tight end in the last five years.

Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
The buzz is starting to develop for Watson with several onlookers praising the way he performed throwing the ball in Indianapolis. He looked in control, his drop-back and footwork was better than expected and he has the arm strength. Someone is going to believe in this guy very early in round one.

Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
When you put his testing numbers through TEF, he scores a 4.21. Compare that to Jadeveon Clowney (3.50), Mario Williams (3.97), J.J. Watt (3.82), Aaron Donald (3.53) and Khalil Mack (3.81). The term ‘generational talent’ was made to describe Myles Garrett.

Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
The only player more explosive in the 2017 draft is Myles Garrett, a once-every-ten-years type of talent. Reddick scored a 3.93 in TEF and even when you account for his lighter weight (237lbs), he scores a 93.1 in wTEF. Basically, he’s a genuine freak who will terrorise offenses wherever he plays.

Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
Thomas’ TEF score of 3.83 is comparable to J.J. Watt and Khalil Mack. Running a 4.69 at 273lbs is freakish and he managed a 1.66 split despite his size. His 6.95 three cone is the tenth best by a defensive lineman in the last five years. He could be the #2 pick after Garrett.

Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)
His testing numbers weren’t particularly special for a 253lbs defensive end but the way he performed in drills has to have some teams excited. He looked incredibly comfortable working in space and changing direction.

Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan)
He didn’t have the greatest workout, looking quite stiff during drills. When asked to drop into coverage he was the complete opposite of ‘twitchy’. And yet he still had a decidedly explosive overall workout (3.23 TEF) with the size teams love (6-6, 277lbs).

Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Teams are looking for reasons to draft a prospect with Barnett’s intensity and college production. He had an explosive workout (3.15 TEF) and his three cone (6.96) was 0.01 seconds slower than Solomon Thomas’. He gutted it out despite suffering with illness.

T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
Watt flashed an explosive physical profile with a 37 inch vertical and a 10-8 broad jump. He had the second best three cone on Sunday (6.79) and the best short shuttle (4.13). His three cone is the eighth best by a DL or LB in the last five years and his short shuttle is the 11th best (and only 0.08 slower than Frank Clark’s).

Alvin Kamara (RB, Tennessee)
A 4.56 forty is good enough at 5-10 and 214lbs. Kamara jumped out of the building with a 39.5 inch vertical and a 10-11 broad. Long speed is overrated for running backs. Explosive traits are crucial. Kamara is the definition of explosive.

Bucky Hodges (TE, Virginia Tech)
Hodges had a ‘wow’ performance. At 6-6 and 257lbs he ran a 4.57, jumped 39 inches in the vertical and 11-2 in the broad. His size, forty time and vertical compare favourably to Jimmy Graham and his broad jump is significantly better.

Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
Engram is the type of player the league is desperate for. He’s smaller (6-3, 234lbs) than the likes of Hodges and Njoku but he’s just as explosive (36 inch vert, 10-5 broad) with better quickness (fourth best three cone in last five years, sixth best short shuttle). He can be a WR/TE hybrid — a mismatch in a league dominated by mismatches.

Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
At 6-3 and 247lbs Bowser ran a 1.59 split (anything in the 1.5’s is elite), jumped 37.5 inches in the vertical and 10-7 in the broad. He had the best three cone on Sunday (6.75) — the fifth best by a D-liner or linebacker in the last five years. He could be a SAM, a 3-4 OLB or a LEO.

Question marks

Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Allen was the definition of average in every sense at the combine. His times were only decent in the forty (5.00) and three cone (4.50), he’s not particularly explosive (2.75 TEF) and he’s small (6-2, 285lbs). In comparison, Eddie Vanderdoes is more explosive (3.04 TEF), quicker (4.99 forty, 4.39 three cone) and bigger (6-3, 305lbs). There are also lingering injury concerns.

Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
A dynamic runner on tape, Cook had a torrid combine. His three cone (4.53) is a lot slower than Eddie Vanderdoes’ 4.39. He only managed a 30.5 inch vertical and his forty time was only 0.02 seconds faster than Leonard Fournette despite carrying 30lbs less. There are also legitimate character concerns teams will be investigating.

Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
His combine performance was mediocre (2.67 TEF) and he didn’t even get much of a boost in weighted TEF for being 322lbs (85.9). There are better athletes at his size available (Taylor Moton) and he looks like a borderline first rounder only because of the desperate need for O-liners in the NFL.

Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
Unlike the other three ‘big name’ quarterbacks in the draft, Kizer didn’t get a positive review for his performance throwing the ball. He was erratic in college (one really poor game against Duke stands out) and that was the case in Indianapolis too.

Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
Williams didn’t run the forty yard dash, suggesting he wasn’t ready after a long season at Clemson. On the same day, Deshaun Watson competed in everything. That’s not a good look. It feels like he knew he wasn’t going to run fast and bailed. John Ross and Corey Davis appreciate the help.

Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
There are serious concerns about McDowell’s effort and attitude but he put on a show at the combine. He’s 295lbs with great height (6-6) and length (35 inch arms) and ran a 4.85 with a 1.69 split. His three cone (4.53) was the same as Dalvin Cook’s. So why didn’t he dominate every week last year?

Possible Seahawks targets

Offensive line
Assuming both Garett Bolles and Forrest Lamp are off the board by #26, the Seahawks could look at adding Nico Siragusa, Isaac Asiata or Taylor Moton beyond the first round. All three tested well in terms of size/explosive traits and would add further competition to the O-line.

Running backs
The Seahawks have a type (explosive tester, around 5-11 and 220lbs) and the ones best matching it are Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Brian Hill and Chris Carson. Kamara might be a top-45 pick and out of contention but Jones, Hill and Carson could provide day three value and extra competition.

Tight end
With such a dynamic group and Luke Willson out of contract, there’s an opening to draft a TE again this year. With Howard and Njoku possible top-25 picks and Engram and Hodges probable top-45 picks, Iowa’s George Kittle could be a target. He ran a 4.52 at 6-4 and 247lbs while jumping a 35 inch vertical and an 11-0 broad. He’s known for his abilities as a blocker too.

Wide receiver
John Ross aside, the mid or later round options seem more attractive than possible first round picks like Corey Davis or Mike Williams. ECU’s Zay Jones could end up going in round two after a brilliant combine and Senior Bowl. Penn State’s Chris Godwin, Georgia State’s Robert Davis, Michigan’s Jehu Chesson and LSU’s Malachi Dupre have the kind of profile Seattle has liked in the past.

Defensive line
Day three looks like a possible target area considering there are at least 30 explosive D-liners in this class. You can afford to wait and get a nice project. Carlos Watkins, Eddie Vanderdoes and Deatrich Wise are possible options at DT (DE/DT in Wise’s case). Jordan Willis could be seen as a possible SAM/LEO given his sensational workout but how early are you willing to consider him (if at all)? Are there better options at other positions in the range where you’d have to take him?

Linebacker
The Haason Reddick dream is likely over. He’s too good. Jarrad Davis didn’t perform due to injury and won’t workout until the Florida pro-day on March 28th. Zach Cunningham didn’t have a great combine but might be a value pick if he lasts deep into round two as a consequence. How do you view Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt? Are they capable of playing SAM as well as EDGE/LEO? Is Raekwon McMillan a possibility after his surprisingly good combine? Alex Anzalone is another name to monitor — he excelled in the three cone (6.88) and short shuttle (4.25). Pete Carroll said he wanted to draft for this position but there weren’t a ton of options here. Keep an eye on the pro-day circuit for alternatives.

Cornerback
The early realistic options appear to be Kevin King and Gareon Conley. They might consider Ahkello Witherspoon in the first couple of rounds. Much will depend on the range of a player like Quincy Wilson too (is there a chance he lasts deep into round two?). Shaq Griffin could be a third round possibility. How far does Rasul Douglas fall after running a 4.60? There were 15 cornerbacks with +32 inch arms at the combine — and plenty of opportunities for Seattle.

Safety
There are so many options here. Justin Evans didn’t workout due to a quad injury but could come into contention after his pro-day. Obi Melifonwu is obviously another option in the first round. It’s worth keeping Budda Baker on the radar too because even despite his lack of size, he plays with a ‘Seahawks’ intensity. Options later could include Rayshawn Jenkins, Josh Jones, Shalom Luani and Montae Nicholson. This is a DB draft and with five picks in the first three rounds — the Seahawks would be wise to load up to secure the long term future of the LOB.

 

2017 combine day four live blog: DB’s

March 6th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

The live blog will be updated throughout the day. Keeping refreshing and join in the discussion in the comments section.

This could be the best day so far at this years combine. This is a loaded draft for safety’s and cornerbacks. There’s a good chance multiple players competing today will be drafted by the Seahawks.

Here’s a list of all the cornerbacks with +32 inch arms (Seattle’s apparent cut-off for length):

Brian Allen — 6-3, 34
Jeremy Clark — 6-3, 32 7/8
Gareon Conley — 6-0, 33
Treston Decoud — 6-2, 33
Rasul Douglas — 6-2, 32 3/8
Shaquill Griffin — 6-0, 32 3/8
Marlon Humphrey — 6-0, 32 1/4
Kevin King — 6-3, 32
Brendan Langley — 6-0, 32 3/8
Teez Tabor — 6-0, 32 1/4
Cordrea Tankersley — 6-1, 32 1/4
Marquez White — 6-0, 32 1/8
Tre’Davious White — 5-11, 32 1/8
Quincy Wilson — 6-1, 32 1/4
Ahkello Witherspoon — 6-3, 33

Look for CB’s that run a sub-4.55, have the 32 inch arms and perform well in the vertical (+35 inches) and broad (around 10-5).

Forty yard dash times — Group 1

Players with +32 inch arms in bold

Jamal Adams — 4.56 & 4.56
Brian Allen — 4.43 & 4.48
Chidobe Awuzie — 4.44 & 4.46
Budda Baker — 4.46 & 4.51
Jamal Carter — 4.72 & 4.65
Chuck Clark — 4.55 & 4.55
Gareon Conley — 4.45 & 4.48
Treston Decoud — 4.64 & 4.63

Rasul Douglas — 4.60 & 4.63
Cord Elder — 4.56 & 4.59
Justin Evans — DNP
Shaquill Griffin — 4.39 & 4.40
Nate Hairston — 4.56 & 4.53
Josh Harvey-Clemons — DNP
Delano Hill — 4.48 & 4.54
Malik Hooker — DNP
Marlon Humphrey — 4.41 & 4.46
Adoree’ Jackson — 4.39 & 4.42
Eddie Jackson — DNP
Rayshawn Jenkins — 4.51 & 4.55
Lorenzo Jerome — 4.73 & 4.71
Jadar Johnson — 4.71 & 4.61
John Johnson — 4.61 & 4.67
Josh Jones — 4.41 & 4.44

Sidney Jones — 4.48 & 4.52
Damontae Kazee — 4.59 & 4.54
Desmond King — DNP

The most interesting names on this list for Seattle could be Shaq Griffin, Rayshawn Jenkins, Gareon Conley and Josh Jones.

Jenkins in particular is a positive. He’s a talented jumper so should perform well in the vertical and broad. He’s been as big as 6-1, 220lbs and has the ‘grit’ Seattle loves. He’s a fighter on and off the field.

Budda Baker and Sidney Jones both get into the 4.4’s. That’s good enough for both to retain the high stock they’ve been receiving.

The only real disappointment is John Johnson running in the 4.6’s. He looked fast at the Senior Bowl.

The first drill is a back-pedal, turn and finish. It’s a timed drill (Mayock says that isn’t a good thing). Brian Allen looked really smooth for a 6-3, 215lbs corner. Unlocked his hips. Great rep.

Gareon Conley performed poorly in this drill and nearly ran off the track while turning. Shaq Griffin’s good day continues, he turned well and transitioned well into a sprint. Adoree’ Jackson’s transition was also really good and Marlon Humphrey is as good as advertised. Rayshawn Jenkins also performed well for his size.

During the catching drills (downfield throws) Budda Baker looks sluggish and drops a pass. Mike Mayock: “He can’t catch a cold”. Ouch.

Ike Taylor is a little more positive, listing Baker as his #1 safety ahead of Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker.

Conley’s back-pedal/change of direction drill looked good — as did Budda Baker. Possibly their best drills so far. Shaq Griffin continues to impress. Marlon Humphrey and Adoree’ Jackson also looked good. After a bit of warming up the DB’s are hitting their stride.

Conley continues to get better and better. After this performance today — and presuming he jumps well — he’s going to rise well into round one.

Budda Baker a good overall workout. Very solid.

Linebacker agility tests

While these DB drills are ongoing, the NFL has finally released the three cone and short shuttle results for the linebackers yesterday. Here’s the big news:

— Tyus Bowser had the best three cone by any player working out on Sunday (6.75). It’s also the fifth best time by a D-liner or linebacker in the last five years.

— T.J. Watt had the second best three cone on Sunday (6.79) and the best short shuttle (4.13). His three cone is the eighth best by a DL or LB in the last five years and his short shuttle is the 11th best (and only 0.08 slower than Frank Clark’s).

These are really good times for both players.

Official DB 40 times (group 1) (top-10)

Shaq Griffin — 4.38
Marlon Humphrey — 4.41
Josh Jones — 4.41
Adoree’ Jackson — 4.42
Chidobe Awuzie — 4.43
Gareon Conley — 4.44
Budda Baker — 4.45
Delano Hill — 4.47
Sidney Jones — 4.47
Brian Allen — 4.48

Broad jump and vertical notes (DB’s)

Obi Melifonwu just jumped an 11-9 broad jump. What a freak. It’s the second best broad jump ever, only topped by Byron Jones (12-3). His 44 inch vertical is the third highest ever. He will be an option at #26.

Here’s a piece we wrote about him in November if you want to know more.

Broad jumps

Marshon Lattimore — 11-0
Obi Melifonwu — 11-9
Fabian Moreau — 11-4
Josh Jones — 11-0
Gareon Conley — 10-9
Marcus Williams — 10-9
Rayshawn Jenkins — 10-8
Ahkello Witherspoon — 10-7
Marlon Humphrey — 10-5
Sidney Jones — 10-3
Adoree’ Jackson — 10-2
Cordrea Tankersley — 10-1
Jamal Adams — 10-0
Rasul Douglas — 10-0
Teez Tabor — 10-0
Tre’Davious White — 9-11
Quincy Wilson — 9-10
Tedric Thompson — 9-9
Shalom Luani — 9-8
Budda Baker — 9-7
Brian Allen — 9-4

Vertical jumps

Obi Melifonwu — 44 inches
Marcus Williams — 43.5 inches
Ahkello Witherspoon — 40.5 inches
Kevin King — 39.5 inches
Marshon Lattimore — 38.5 inches
Fabian Moreau — 38 inches
Josh Jones — 37.5 inches
Gareon Conley — 37 inches
Rayshawn Jenkins — 37 inches
Sidney Jones — 33.5 inches
Jamal Adams — 31.5 inches
Adoree Jackson — 36 inches
Brian Allen — 34.5 inches
Rasul Douglas — 33.5 inches
Budda Baker — 32.5 inches
Tedric Thompson — 32.5 inches
Tre’Davious White — 32 inches
Quincy Wilson — 32 inches
Shalom Luani — 31 inches
Teez Tabor — 31 inches
Coredrea Tankersley — 29.5 inches
Marlon Humphrey — DNP

Forty yard dash times — Group 2

Players with +32 inch arms in bold

Kevin King — 4.44 & 4.48
Ashton Lampkin — 4.53 & 4.58
Brendan Langley — 4.44 & 4.47
Marshon Lattimore — 4.36 & 4.37
Jourdan Lewis — 4.55 & 4.59
Will Likely — DNP
Shalom Luani — 4.56 & 4.56
Arthur Maulet — 4.66 & 4.63
Marcus Maye — DNP
Obi Melifonwu — 4.46 & 4.40
Fabian Moreau — 4.35 & 4.39
Jalen Myrick — 4.29 & 4.32
Montae Nicholson — 4.48 & 4.43
Ezra Robinson — 4.48 & 4.50
Sojourn Shelton — 4.58 &
Channing Stribling — 4.68 & 4.60
Cameron Sutton — 4.53 & 4.57
Teez Tabor — 4.63 & 4.68
Cordrea Tankersley — 4.47 & 4.40

Tedric Thompson — 4.60 & 4.63
Jack Tocho — 4.55 & 4.60
Michael Tyson — 4.53 & 4.64
Marquez White — 4.68 & 4.60
Tre’Davious White — 4.47 & 4.55

Marcus Williams — 4.57 & 4.58
Howard Wilson — 4.58 & 4.62
Quincy Wilson — 4.56 & 4.54
Ahkello Witherspoon — 4.45 & 4.49

Xavier Woods — 4.54 & 4.58

Welcome to a possible first round grade, Kevin King. A 4.44? Wonderful. He’s another option for the Seahawks. Shalom Luani’s 4.56 is good enough.

Obi Melifonwu ran a 4.40 adding to his great day. Wow. A 4.40 flat on his second run. Incredible.

Melifonwu’s day — 4.40 forty, 44 inch vertical, 11-9 broad.

This was Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s reaction to Melifonwu’s workout:

Watch Carroll turn to Kris Richard.

Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson confirmed their lack of elite speed, running in the 4.6’s and 4.5’s respectively. That’s how they ran in 2013 too. Wilson’s 4.54 isn’t a bad time but this is a really competitive group of cornerbacks.

No big surprises today in terms of Seattle at #26. We thought Obi Melifonwu and Kevin King were options at #26 and that has been confirmed.

In the initial drills, Kevin King and Ahkello Witherspoon are looking really good for their size. Obi Melifonwu doesn’t look stiff at all in his back-pedal despite his size. Shalom Luani is looking good too.

Both NFL Network and NFL.com haven’t shown much of the drills from group two. Lot’s of adverts on the Network, lot’s of interviews on the website. Shame.

Kevin King jumped a 39.5 inch vertical. Ahkello Witherspoon had a 40.5 inch vertical. These are two guys having an amazing day.

Don’t sleep on Luani. His ‘W’ drill was really good for a safety. He’s going to be a good player for someone. He and Rayshawn Jenkins are really intriguing at safety. Ditto Montae Nicholson and Josh Jones.

Official DB 40 times (top-10)

Jalen Myrick — 4.28
Fabian Moreau — 4.35
Marshon Lattimore — 4.36
Shaq Griffin — 4.38
Obi Melifonwu — 4.40
Cordrea Tankersley — 4.40
Marlon Humphrey — 4.41
Josh Jones — 4.41
Adoree’ Jackson — 4.42
Montae Nicholson — 4.42

Other notable forty times:

Chidobe Awuzie — 4.43
Gareon Conley — 4.44
Budda Baker — 4.45
Delano Hill — 4.47
Sidney Jones — 4.47
Brian Allen — 4.48

That concludes the final day of the combine. Thanks for joining us for the live blogs. I’ll have a review piece up shortly. Stay tuned.

 

Sunday notes: Combine reveals sensational D-line class

March 5th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Haason Reddick had a sensational combine performance

TEF proves the NFL has an O-line problem (still)

Why are explosive physical traits important? Pat Kirwan — a confidant of Pete Carroll — tells us why in this piece:

Every time a ball is snapped to start a play there is a critical element of explosiveness that takes place. When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation. It could be a blocker vs. a tackler, a tackler vs. a ball carrier, or many other examples of winning at the point of contact.

Explosiveness is defined in the dictionary as a violent release of energy, a sudden outburst. Football is a series of explosions. How do you measure it in athletes trying to play NFL football?

Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness.

Kirwan’s formula is flawed because it diminishes the impact of the broad jump. A superb 9-7 only achieves a 1.2 point advantage over a below par 8-5. That’s why we developed our own formula (TEF) to essentially do what Kirwan intended — measure explosive traits equally and emphasise their combined importance.

Last year we used TEF to measure offensive and defensive linemen and compare the results. At the 2016 combine there were six prospects we could classify as having an explosive physical profile. In comparison, there were 26 defensive linemen hitting the same mark.

This year, the results are even more comprehensive.

There are only three offensive lineman scoring a 3.00 in TEF:

Forrest Lamp — 3.23
Nico Siragusa — 3.13
Garett Bolles — 3.00

In comparison, there are 30 (thirty) defensive linemen scoring at least a 3.00. Here’s the list in full, with the players scoring a +3.00 highlighted in bold:

Montravius Adams — 2.75
Jonathan Allen — 2.75
Derek Barnett — 3.16
Tarell Basham — 2.91
Tashawn Bower — 3.16
Caleb Brantley — 2.57
Fadol Brown — 3.01
Josh Carraway — 3.25
Taco Charlton — 3.23

Bryan Cox Jr. — 2.48
Dylan Donahue — 3.15
Ken Ekanem — 3.08
Myles Garrett — 4.21

Ryan Glasgow — 2.55
Daeshon Hall — 3.31
Charles Harris — 2.84
Trey Hendrickson — 3.41
Jaleel Johnson — 2.40
D.J. Jones — 2.85
Nazair Jones — 2.50
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 3.48
Carl Lawson — 3.54
Jeremiah Ledbetter — 3.27

Malik McDowell — 2.89
Takk McKinley — 3.39
Avery Moss — 2.74
Al-quadin Muhammad — 3.07
Noble Nwachukwu — 3.04
Ife Odenigbo — 3.61
Olumide Ogunjobi — 3.23
Carroll Phillips — 3.30
Ejuan Price — 3.03
Elijah Qualls — 3.16
Haason Reddick — 3.93
Derek Rivers — 3.57
Isaac Rochell — 3.12

Garrett Sickels — 2.56
Tanzel Smart — 2.60
Dawuane Smoot — 3.11
Pita Taumoepenu — 2.92
Vincent Taylor — 2.88
Solomon Thomas — 3.83
Dalvin Tomlinson — 2.82
Steve Tu’ikolovatu — 2.43
Eddie Vanderdoes — 3.04
Charles Walker — 2.80
Tim Williams — 3.48
Jordan Willis — 3.70
Deatrick Wise — 3.43

Simply put, this is a shockingly explosive group of defensive linemen. An unreal bunch even compared to last year.

Here’s the top five ‘TEF’ scores among defensive linemen a year ago:

Dean Lowry: 3.54
Sheldon Rankins: 3.52
Robert Nkemdiche: 3.47
Noah Spence: 3.46
Yannick Ngakoue: 3.44

There are seven players alone in this draft that beat or equal Dean Lowry’s 3.54:

Myles Garrett — 4.21
Haason Reddick — 3.93
Solomon Thomas — 3.83
Jordan Willis — 3.70
Ife Odenigbo — 3.61
Derek Rivers — 3.57
Carl Lawson — 3.54

If you’re wondering why teams like Seattle, who never get a chance to pick the handful of good offensive lineman that get drafted in the top-15, struggle on the offensive line — here’s your answer.

In the last two years alone, college football has sent nine ‘explosive’ athletes playing O-line to the combine. They’ve sent 56 defensive linemen.

Talk about an ever expanding mismatch in the trenches.

Once again it highlights the problem the NFL is dealing with. The top High School athletes, most of which play O-line and D-line, are using their preference to play defense as a recruiting tool. They know where the money and the glamour is at the next level. Equally, the sudden rise of extreme spread offenses isn’t developing the players who end up being left to play O-line in college.

It’s never been more important to find capable athletes who can match-up physically to the defensive linemen coming into the league. And while the Seahawks suffered severe growing pains in 2016 — the athletic potential of their young O-line is as good as some of monsters they’ll be facing. It’s a worthwhile project for Seattle even if they need to add some veteran support in free agency this week.

The top-three TEF scores among the defensive linemen are no real surprise. Myles Garrett’s insane 4.21 confirms what everyone already knows — he is genuinely special and definitely warrants the #1 overall pick. Haason Reddick and Solomon Thomas, two other big names in this class, will also leave the board very quickly. Thomas might go #2 to San Francisco — and it’s now highly unlikely Reddick will last anywhere near Seattle’s pick at #26.

Here are some other big-name NFL defensive linemen and their pre-draft TEF scores:

J.J. Watt — 3.82
Aaron Donald — 3.53
Mario Williams — 3.97
Jadeveon Clowney — 3.50
Khalil Mack — 3.81

Garrett, Reddick and Thomas are physical peers.

The sheer depth of explosive athletes in this class will provide teams with opportunities beyond round one. The Seahawks will probably tap into this group at some point. There are too many freaks not to.

10-yard splits are important

A 10-yard split in the 1.5’s is considered ‘elite’. Today Haason Reddick (1.59), Jordan Willis (1.54) and Trey Hendrickson (1.59) all achieved the mark.

Cliff Avril ran a 1.50 at his combine, with Bruce Irvin recording a 1.55.

Willis in particular might be one to monitor. He has a similar physical profile to Irvin:

Name: Jordan Willis
Height: 6-4
Weight: 255lbs
Arm length: 33.5 inch arms
Forty: 4.53
Split: 1.54
Vertical: 39 inches
Broad: 10-5

Name: Bruce Irvin
Height: 6-3
Weight: 245lbs
Arm length: 33 inch arms
Forty: 4.50
Split: 1.55 split
Vertical: 33.5 inches
Broad: 10-3

Willis is 10lbs heavier than Irvin but has comparable speed and length plus a more explosive physical profile.

It’s possible they see him purely as a LEO/EDGE rather than a SAM linebacker — but Willis is someone to keep in mind the rest of the way.

Agility drills

A handful of defensive linemen have been drafted by Seattle having really impressed in the agility tests (short shuttle, three cone).

Frank Clark’s 4.05 short shuttle is the second best time recorded in the last five years. Jackson Jeffcoat, an UDFA who signed with Seattle, has the third best time (4.18) and Cassius Marsh is at #10 (4.25)

This year, Carl Lawson ran a 4.19 (#4 in the last five years) and Trey Hendrickson a 4.20 (#7). Both are faster than the 4.21 run by Joey Bosa a year ago.

Jordan Willis meanwhile had the fourth best three-cone drill in the last five years (6.85) again beating Bosa’s time (6.89). Pita Taumoepenu (6.91), Derek Rivers (6.94), Solomon Thomas (6.95) and Derek Barnett (6.96) all cracked the top-15.

Basically, a lot of teams are going to go back and review Willis’ tape after today.

Haason Reddick ran a 4.37 short shuttle and a 7.01 three-cone.

Linebackers hard to judge

This was a weird day for the linebackers. It started well enough — Tyus Bowser, T.J. Watt and Zach Cunningham all performed very well in the broad and vertical jumps:

Tyus Bowser: 37.5 inch vert, 10-7 broad
T.J. Watt: 37 inch vert, 10-8 broad
Zach Cunningham: 35 inch vert, 10-5 broad

This was encouraging, especially with Reddick likely moving himself out of range for the Seahawks at #26.

However, none of the three ran particularly well. Bowser ran an official 4.65 with a nice 1.59 split, with Watt managing a 4.69 and Cunningham a 4.67.

None of these times are horrible but compared to Haason Reddick’s 4.52, they don’t look particularly great either.

Bowser might be in play at the SAM, just like Jordan Willis. His split in particular is encouraging, he has experience at linebacker with Houston and he has the size and length to make that role work.

Cunningham is really lean with a safety-like appearance. He has good length and attitude — but are the Seahawks going to draft a 4.67 linebacker at #26? T.J. Watt is explosive and tough but looks more like a Paul Kruger-type 3-4 OLB.

One final note on the linebackers — we know Pete Carroll coached Clay Matthews at USC and used him as a SAM. Here are Matthews’ combine numbers:

Name: Clay Matthews
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240lbs
Forty: 4.67
Split: 1.61 split
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench: 23 reps

And here’s Jordan Willis, Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt:

Name: Jordan Willis
Height: 6-4
Weight: 255lbs
Forty: 4.53
Split: 1.54
Vertical: 39 inches
Broad: 10-5

Name: Tyus Bowser
Height: 6-3
Weight: 247lbs
Forty: 4.65
Split: 1.59
Vertical: 37.5 inches
Broad: 10-7

Name: T.J. Watt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Forty: 4.69
Split: Unknown
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 10-8

It’s unclear whether Carroll would’ve hand-picked Matthews to feature for the Seahawks in the NFL — but the three 2017 prospects have a superior physical profile.

It’s possible all three are considered better suited as an EDGE rather than a SAM — but it’s food for thought.

Florida’s Jarrad Davis could also be an option for the Seahawks. He didn’t workout at the combine as he continues to recover from an injury. He’ll perform at the Florida pro-day on March 28th.

Thoughts on how the combine so far impacts Seattle at #26

For a few weeks now it’s felt like the key to this draft (based on who is available) would be Seattle’s ability to add a cornerback capable of competing to start, find better depth at safety and linebacker and identify a solution for this position:

The role highlighted by the green circle could be a SAM or it could be a ‘Buffalo’ nickel (the position is explained in more detail here).

It’s entirely possible they could draft a strong-side linebacker at #26 or in the second round. Pete Carroll referenced his desire to add a linebacker at the end of the season. In the past, players like Malcolm Smith and Bruce Irvin have featured in games taking 90% of the defensive snaps.

However, in 2016 they showed their willingness to play predominantly in a 4-2-5. Mike Morgan (starting SAM) only had one game where he played more than 50% of the snaps (@ LA). When he returned from a sports hernia injury, he only had one game where he had more than 30% of the snaps (vs Arizona).

Jeremy Lane on the other hand played 71% of the defensive snaps in 2016.

Finding someone who can combine the two roles is very trendy in the NFL — but with good reason (see: the tight end workouts on Saturday).

Eric Edholm reported earlier today that the Seahawks have spent a lot of time speaking to Obi Melifonwu. Shalom Luani also revealed he met with the Seahawks in Indianapolis.

Both players have the size and length Seattle likes at corner, the speed to handle coverage duties and the size/tackling qualities of a lighter linebacker.

Melifonwu was measured at 6-4, 224lbs at the combine. Deion Jones was 6-1 and 222lbs a year ago. If Jones can become one of the more impactful defenders in the NFL at that size, why can’t Melifonwu? Especially considering he’s expected to have a phenomenal workout tomorrow.

You could end up with a starter at nickel who can provide depth for Earl Thomas and/or Kam Chancellor at safety.

This might also be a way for the Seahawks to justify taking Budda Baker despite his lack of size (5-10, 195lbs) or length (30 5/8 inch arms). The 4-2-5 puts a safety hybrid in the nickel (a role Baker is familiar with) but also has a common look with a pair of rangy free safety’s playing cover-2 and the strong safety lining up at the LOS (something Kam Chancellor is capable of doing).

It’s interesting though that they’re clearly doing their homework on Melifonwu and Luani — two safety’s that have size, length and athleticism.

If the likes of Haason Reddick, Garett Bolles and Forrest Lamp don’t make it into range at #26 — and if they’re not sold on the likes of Tyus Bowser, T.J. Watt, Zach Cunningham or Jordan Willis at #26 — getting an athletic safety carries some logic.

It wouldn’t be a big shock if Seattle ultimately goes safety/hyrbid and cornerback with their first two picks. The talent is their to justify it.

Tomorrow is a big day at the combine. The entire league is going to want to tap into this incredible DB class. Our next live blog begins at 2pm PST on Monday and we’ll be providing updates throughout the day.

 

2017 combine day three live blog: DL, LB

March 5th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

The live blog will be updated throughout the day. Keeping refreshing and join in the discussion in the comments section.

Today the defensive linemen and linebackers workout. Pete Carroll named linebacker as one of three priority needs at the end of the season (CB, LB, OL). This is a group to monitor closely.

Unfortunately Florida’s Jarrad Davis will not take part due to injury.

Later today we’ll put the defensive linemen through TEF to see how they compare athletically to the offensive linemen in this class.

D-line forty yard dash (10-yard split in brackets)

An ‘elite’ split is a 1.5

Group 1:

Montravius Adams — 4.88 (1.72) & 4.94 (1.74)
Jonathan Allen — 5.00 (1.74) & 5.02 (1.76)
Derek Barnett — 4.88 (1.70) & 4.92 (1.70)
Tarell Basham — 4.81 (1.68) 4.70 (1.61)
Tashawn Bower — 4.85 (1.69) & 4.82 (1.66)
Caleb Brantley — 5.15 (1.78) & 5.18 (1.84)
Fadol Brown — 4.94 (1.72) & 4.97 (1.74)
Josh Carraway — 4.74 (1.71) & 4.76 (1.72)
Taco Charlton — 4.92 (1.73) & 4.92 (1.70)
Bryan Cox Jr. — 4.90 (1.74) & 4.91 (1.74)
Keionta Davis — DNP
Dylan Donahue — 4.76 (1.67) & 4.80 (1.68)
Ken Ekanem — 4.89 (1.68) & 4.89 (1.70)
Myles Garrett — 4.64 (1.63) & 4.74 (1.69)
Ryan Glasgow — 5.14 (1.85) & 5.30 (1.93)
Davon Godchaux — 5.27 (1.84) & DNP
Daeshon Hall — 4.76 (1.68) & 4.77 (1.67)
Charles Harris — 4.84 (1.65) & 4.82 (1.66)
Trey Hendrickson — 4.68 (1.62) & 4.64 (1.59)
Treyvon Hester — DNP
Jaleel Johnson — 5.49 (2.03) & 5.38 (1.92)
D.J. Jones — 5.06 (1.76) & 5.04 (1.77)
Jarron Jones — 5.43 (1.96) & 5.34 (1.87)
Nazair Jones — 5.12 (1.81) & 5.18 (1.81)
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 4.83 (1.69) & 4.92 (1.75)
Carl Lawson — 4.82 (1.68) & 4.68 (1.60)
Jeremiah Ledbetter — 4.85 (1.72) & 4.94 (1.79)
Malik McDowell — 4.90 (1.72) & 4.86 (1.69)

A so-so start to the day. In terms of edge rushers, Bruce Irvin ran a 1.55 split and Cliff Avril had a 1.50. The only EDGE here that ran a 1.5 was Trey Hendrickson (1.59).

Frank Clark was considered more of an explosive inside/out rusher and he ran a 1.69 split at 271lbs. Malik McDowell managed the same 1.69 split at 295lbs. Montravius Adams ran a 1.72 at 304lbs. Tarell Basham ran a 1.61 at 269lbs which is pretty freaky. Unlike Adams and Hendrickson, he also has length (34 1/4 inch arms).

Myles Garrett, Trey Hendrickson and Charles Harris looked really smooth in the initial movement drills. All three looked comfortable in space, changing direction and moving with instinct. Most of the group looked really stiff (not a surprise, they’re D-liners) but these three excelled.

Moving over the bags, Caleb Brantley followed up a ‘meh’ forty with a bad movement drill. Montravius Adams, Jonathan Allen, Derek Barnett and Tarrell Basham were really good here. Taco Charlton was decent. Myles Garrett’s technique on this drill was awful.

Charles Harris absolutely NAILED this drill. Wow. Quickness, smooth, explosive. The best by a country mile so far.

GROUP ONE OFFICIAL FORTY TIMES (top-10)

Myles Garrett — 4.64
Trey Hendrickson — 4.65
Carl Lawson — 4.67
Tarrell Basham — 4.70
Josh Carraway — 4.74
Dylan Donahue — 4.75
Daeshon Hall — 4.76
Tashawn Bower — 4.82
Charles Harris — 4.82
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 4.83

In the club/rip drills — Carl Lawson looked powerful and quick. Unsurprisingly Myles Garrett excelled here, showing great power, bend and lean. Ole Miss’ D.J. Jones is performing well but is tiring.

Lawson’s second rep in the club/rip was even better than the first. Superb.

Onto the stack-and-shed drills. Nice rep for Tarrell Basham who’s having a good day. Caleb Brantley bends his waist and looks lethargic. Taco Charlton looked powerful here — his best drill so far.

Most of the players messed up this drill, as is the case every year. So many rush through it, ‘push’ the bag instead of strike and treat is as a quickness test (it isn’t). Basham, Charlton, Lawson and Kpassagnon got it right but the coaches were constantly reminding the group it wasn’t a race.

In the re-direct and chase drill, Harris again excelled. He’s really smooth. You see traits on tape and while he didn’t run a 1.5 split (1.66) his ability to express power and speed, change direction and accelerate is on show today. He looks like a sure-fire first rounder on this evidence.

Taco Charlton is a curious one. He didn’t run well. He’s not moving well in drills. He’s shown some power on the bags. Mike Mayock is comparing him to Carlos Dunlap during the broadcast but Dunlap ran a 4.71 (1.65 split) at 6-6 and 277lbs. Charlton ran a 4.92 with a 1.73 split at the exact same height/size. Dunlap is a superior athlete and it’s hard to watch Charlton’s combine and imagine him being the top-15 pick many are projecting.

Charlton also went through linebacker drills but he looked mechanical and uncomfortable. He’s the opposite of ‘twitchy’. Charles Harris on the other hand — WOW, again. He’s showing a natural fluidity in space, the ability to unlock his hips and change direction. He’s moving like a 220lbs linebacker. The star of the drills so far.

Broad jump

Haason Reddick — 11-1
Myles Garrett — 10-8
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 10-8
Solomon Thomas — 10-6
Jordan Willis — 10-5
Deatrich Wise — 10-5
Tim Williams — 10-4
Daeshon Hall — 10-3
Derek Rivers — 10-3
Trey Hendrickson — 10-2
Taco Charlton — 9-8
Carl Lawson — 9-6
Malik McDowell — 9-4

Vertical

Myles Garrett — 41 inches
Jordan Willis — 39 inches
Haason Reddick — 36.5 inches
Daeshon Hall — 36 inches
Solomon Thomas — 35 inches
Derek Rivers — 35 inches
Fadol Brown — 34 inches
Tim Williams — 33.5 inches
Carl Lawson — 33 inches
Takk McKinley — 33 inches
Taco Charlton — 33 inches
Deatrich Wise — 33 inches
Charles Harris — 32 inches
Tanoh Kpassagnon — 30 inches

Haason Reddick delivering as expected. A sensational 11-1 broad jump and a 36.5 inch vertical to match. He’s a 40-yard dash in the 4.47-4.55 range away from freak status.

The ideal pick at #26 for this team could be Reddick.

According to this Tweet, the Seahawks are doing their homework on Obi Melifonwu:

This isn’t a surprise. Melifonwu has the size and profile they love. He’s a definite athletic freak. However — they need to be sure he fits mentally as well as physically. Seattle’s alpha’s play in the secondary (Kam, Earl, Sherm). A shrinking violet might not be the answer here, especially if they cost a first round pick.

The regular meetings are probably about working out who he is because physically he’s an ideal match for this team. Is he ‘pissed off for greatness’? Is there any dog in him? That’s what they need to find out.

Meanwhile this is a big disappointment:

Evans had a chance to be the star of the combine.

D-line forty yard dash (10-yard split in brackets)

An ‘elite’ split is a 1.5

Group 2:

Takk McKinley — 4.59 (1.61) & 4.64 (1.67)
Avery Moss — 4.86 (1.67) & 4.80 (1.63)
Al-quadin Muhammad — 4.91 (1.73) & 4.89 (1.74)
Noble Nwachukwu — 4.85 (1.72) & 4.84 (unknown)
Ife Odenigbo — 4.72 (1.66) & 4.75 (1.69)
Olumide Ogunjobi — 5.09 (1.84) & 4.98 (1.77)
Carroll Phillips — 4.64 (1.64) & 4.66 (1.65)
Ejuan Price — 4.84 (1.66) & 4.89 (1.66)
Elijah Qualls — 5.13 (1.74) & 5.19 (1.79)
Haason Reddick — 4.52 (1.60) & 4.53 (1.59)
Derek Rivers — 4.61 (1.61) & 4.65 (1.63)
Isaac Rochell — 4.89 (1.72) & 4.93 (unknown)
Garrett Sickels — 4.90 (1.72) & 4.97 (unknown)
Tanzel Smart — 5.24 (1.86) & 5.30 (unknown)
Dawuane Smoot — 4.77 (1.68) & 4.80 (1.71)
Pita Taumoepenu — 4.67 (1.66) & 4.71 (1.65)
Vincent Taylor — 5.16 (1.79) 5.07 (1.77)
Solomon Thomas — 4.70 (1.66) & 4.71 (1.66)
Dalvin Tomlinson — 5.20 (1.81) & 5.21 (1.83)
Steve Tu’ikolovatu — 5.46 (1.86) & 5.42 (1.72)
Eddie Vanderdoes — 5.00 (1.74) & 5.00 (1.70)
Charles Walker — 4.96 (1.75) & 4.96 (1.77)
Demarcus Walker — DNP
Carlos Watkins — DNP
Tim Williams — 4.70 (1.66) & 4.69 (1.64)
Jordan Willis — 4.53 (1.58) & 4.55 (1.54)
Deatrick Wise — 4.93 (1.70) &
Chris Wormley — DNP

Mike Mayock is projecting Haason Reddick as a late first or early second round pick. Daniel Jeremiah: “He’s going in the first round”.

On Reddick’s second run he clinched an ‘elite’ 1.5 split (1.59). The NFL Network did a simulcast of Reddick running his forty vs LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans. Reddick won easily.

I put Reddick’s numbers through TEF to judge how explosive he is. He scored a 3.93 (!!!!!).

Jordan Willis achieved the third ‘elite’ 10-yard split (1.54). That’s a superb split for Willis.

In the initial wave drill, Elijah Qualls looked really agile for his size. No surprise here but Haason Reddick looked good changing direction and working in space. Mayock and the rest of the NFL Network are raving about him. Jordan Willis also looked smooth.

Takk McKinley is struggling to follow instructions from the coaches during the first two drills. His bag/movement drill was cut short. Carroll Phillips didn’t use his arms and was called out by the coaches. Qualls again performed well, followed by Reddick who again excelled.

REALLY good drill by Thomas here. His technique was really good, arms and quick feet powering around the bags. This was a first glimpse at the top-10 potential of Thomas. He also looked explosive in the club/rip. “That’s how it should be done” yells a coach after Thomas’ effort.

Eddie Vanderdoes had a nice rep on the club/rip. Nice quick swipe to the bag and then sprint. Jordan Willis was also drawing praise from the coaches again for his rep. Willis is having a really good day.

Ejuan Price working the bag nicely before Reddick — stop me if you’ve heard this already — looks fantastic. Nice quick club, moves the arm inside, stayed really low and exploded to the QB to finish. Brilliant rep.

Takk McKinley had his best drill in the stack-and-shead drill. Willie McGinest described Reddick’s stack-and-shead as “perfect”.

OFFICIAL DL FORTY TIMES (top-10)

Haason Reddick — 4.52
Jordan Willis — 4.53
Takk McKinley — 4.59
Derek Rivers — 4.61
Myles Garrett — 4.64
Carroll Phillips — 4.64
Trey Hendrickson — 4.65
Carl Lawson — 4.67
Pita Taumoepenu — 4.67
Tim Williams — 4.68

I posted a few different vertical and broad jumps above for the D-line class. There were some negatives. Caleb Brantley has short arms, ran relatively slowly and then posted a thoroughly mediocre 8-9 broad jump and 27 inch vertical. He is not explosive. Neither is Jaleel Johnson — he ran a 5.38 and jumped an 8-4 and a 28. Ugly.

I’ll post TEF scores for all of the defensive linemen later. If nothing else, it enables us to compare the class in terms of explosive traits.

Linebacker vertical jumps

Tyus Bowser — 37.5 inches
TJ Watt — 37 inches
Zach Cunningham — 35 inches
Jabrill Peppers 35.5 inches
Duke Riley — 34.5 inches
Raekwon McMillan — 33 inches
Alex Anzalone — 30.5 inches

Linebacker broad jumps

TJ Watt — 10-8
Jabrill Peppers — 10-8
Tyus Bowser — 10-7
Zach Cunningham — 10-5
Alex Anzalone 9-8

It’s official — Watt, Bowser and Cunningham are very interesting. Those are ‘wow’ numbers for TJ Watt.

Linebacker yard dash

NFL Network didn’t post the 10-yard splits

Ryan Anderson — 4.79 & 4.75
Alex Anzalone — 4.64 & 4.63
Kendell Beckwith — DNP
Vince Biegel — 4.68 & 4.68
Ben Boulware — DNP
Tyus Bowser — 4.71 & 4.66 (1.59)
Blair Brown — 4.66 & 4.66
Jayon Brown — 4.70 & 4.67
Riley Bullough — DNP
Zach Cunningham — 4.71 & 4.68
Jarrad Davis — DNP
Kevin Davis — 4.93 & 4.92
Brooks Ellis — 4.80 & 4.83
Devonte Fields — 4.72 & 4.77
Reuben Foster — DNP
Ben Gedeon — 4.75 & 4.80
Connor Harris — 4.74 & 4.75
Marquel Lee — DNP
JoJo Mathis — DNP
Raekwon McMillan — 4.61 & 4.69
Matt Milano — 4.67 & unkown
Hardy Nickerson — 4.79 & 4.79
Jabrill Peppers — 4.47 & 4.46
Jalen Reeves-Maybin — DNP
Duke Riley — 4.59 & 4.59
Tanner Vallejo — 4.65 & 4.65
Anthony Walker — 4.66 & 4.66
T.J. Watt — 4.71 & 4.70

Raekwon McMillan ran a nice 4.61. Zach Cunningham and Tyus Bowser were both slower than expected (4.71). McMillan also had a 33 inch vertical and a 10-1 broad. Good day for him — surprisingly good.

It’s strange that Bowser, Cunningham and Watt — having all performed brilliantly in the vertical/broad jumps — all ran a middling 4.71. They’re all explosive but don’t have twitchy speed.

Bowser’s second run was a lot better — a 4.66 with an elite 1.59 split.

He looked really smooth during the agility/footwork drills, as did McMillan again. Zach Cunningham looks incredibly lean, almost like a safety. It’s a shame he only ran a 4.68.

Bowser has been the most impressive player in this group so far in terms of the drills. He just looks so smooth. He’s a possible high pick at SAM.

It’s quite clear Jabrill Peppers should be working out with the DB’s tomorrow.

T.J. Watt is a good looking prospect. Nice size, had a really explosive performance in the jumps. He’s not bad in space but is much more suited to be being a pass rusher. He’s probably a pure 3-4 OLB.

Bowser stumbled on the deep drop drill. He’s better in space than Watt, just more loose and fluid. Yet he’s not completely comfortable in space (he is 247lbs after all).

McMillan has been a surprise today. He looks smooth running in space, he ran and jumped well. He’s not an elite athlete but this was a better day than expected.

I’m going to wrap up the live blog for today and start on a review piece. This will include thoughts on options at #26 based on what we learned today and TEF scores for the defensive linemen. Stay tuned.