Final thoughts: Seattle’s 2014 draft class not that unpredictable

May 10th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

You’re going to hear quite a lot about Seattle’s front office keeping people guessing. But how true is it?

By now we know what they like. The SPARQ chart matters. They want explosive, unique athletes. They don’t want guys who sound passive when they talk and play with a similar attitude. They want competitors with a point to prove. “Smart, tough, reliable” — that’s how John Schneider put it in his day three press conference. Not to mention players who can, in his words, “survive” in Seattle’s locker room.

Let’s break down why this draft class isn’t really that unpredictable.

Round 1 — Missing out on Dominique Easley
It appeared there was at least some disappointment in the war room live feed when New England selected Easley at #29. Ian Rapoport later appeared to confirm Seattle’s interest on Twitter.

He just looked like a Seahawk and that’s why we spent so much time discussing him. Explosive off the snap, unique athleticism. He fought through the adversity of two serious knee injuries. He’s a team captain who commanded respect from his team mates and coaches. Great personality. It didn’t take an expert to realise why he’d be an option at #32. New England got a great pick.

Round 2 — Taking Paul Richardson
The Seahawks love speedy competitors at receiver who high point the football and make big plays. We didn’t spend much time on Richardson because he’s only 6-0. I wrongly assumed the Seahawks would want a bigger receiver to compliment what they already had. That wasn’t the case. They took another one of ‘their’ guys. Richardson ran a 4.40 at the combine officially but managed a hand time in the 4.3′s. He had a 38 inch vertical jump. He’s a classic Hawks receiver.

In hindsight I should’ve been open to the idea they’d go for this. I had Richardson graded in round two and in a two-round mock draft put together after the combine, I had him going to the Jets with the 49th pick. Seattle took him at #45. It’s only a surprise because we didn’t consider a receiver of this size.

Round 2 — Who is Justin Britt?
That’s the question many people asked when Walter Jones announced the name of Seattle’s pick at #64. Morgan Moses was still on the board and they’d already passed on Joel Bitonio and Cyrus Kouandjio. Mike Mayock said he gave Britt a 5th round grade. Other people claimed he was a late rounder at best. It was an unpredictable pick.

However — the Seahawks needed to draft an offensive tackle. And that means Tom Cable gets to pick his guy. You know, the same Tom Cable that scouts possible defensive line converts. He knows what he wants. It would’ve been more surprising to see him go after a sluggish tackle like Morgan Moses. Instead he gets the high school wrestler with a 45-0 record. That’s a Cable guy. And while ever he’s part of Seattle’s coaching staff he’ll continue to hand over his list of targets, rather than just selecting the next big name on the board.

Round 4 — Seahawks go for Marsh, Norwood & Pierre-Louis
We discussed both Marsh and Norwood on the blog. Marsh met with the Seahawks on April 11th. Pete Carroll recruited him during the USC days. We noted he had a solid 10-yard split of 1.66. A surprise pick? Not at all. A week ago I wrote this piece talking about Norwood’s excellent fit in Seattle. They ticked almost every box — athletic, gritty characters, competitive.

Anyone who follows the Field Gulls writers on Twitter will be familiar with Pierre-Louis and his SPARQ rating. He’s a fantastic athlete. A typical WILL linebacker for Seattle’s scheme. With Malcolm Smith a free agent next year it’s no surprise at all they made a pick like this. In fact out of all the linebackers in this class — Pierre-Louis screamed Seahawks the most.

Rounds 5-7 — Taking a shot
They did what they usually do in this range. They drafted an athletic, tall defensive back (Eric Pinkins). They took an interior defensive lineman (Jimmy Staten — pronounced the same as Staton incidentally). They took a SPARQ demon (Garrett Scott) and a running back/full back (Kiero Small).

Perhaps we weren’t overly familiar with the names, but you could write down a list of day three targets and DB, DL, OL and RB would be on it. The Seahawks have consistently looked at these areas for depth later in the draft.

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All of the players in their own way are extremely ‘Seahawky’. In every draft class there are going to be a lot of prospects who fit the bill. We can identify them on an athletic level. We can look at need areas they might target.

But if we actually want to project accurately who they might take we need to sit in on their meetings. We’re going to need feedback from their psychologist. We’ll need injury reports. Because the determining factor won’t be a forty, a three cone or a vertical jump. That just gets you through to the next stage of consideration. Now it’s about fitting and “surviving” in that ultra competitive locker room.

We have little chance of projecting who they’re going to like or dislike based on Youtube interviews. It helps — because you only have to listen to Paul Richardson speak and then Martavis Bryant to see a major difference. But it’s an interview. On Youtube. It’s hardly a detailed session with the club shrink.

Essentially it boils down to this. We know what to expect. This is an incredibly Seahawky draft and even if the names aren’t what we were expecting — when you break it down it is fairly predictable. There’s not some unbeatable code to work out. Yet we’ll never nail it completely. We can talk about likely targets as much as we want — we’ll never be able to go deep enough into personalities and character to know if they passed the ‘Win Forever’ test.

But we can make an educated guess on who they’ll like.

Thoughts on the draft overall

It’s at this point we should probably remember the keys to this off-season:

1. Re-sign Michael Bennett
2. Extend Earl Thomas’ contract
3. Extend Richard Sherman’s contract

All three of the top goals were accomplished. Anything else was a bonus.

It would’ve been nice to add Jared Allen to replace Chris Clemons. It would’ve been nice to add Dominique Easley to the pass rush. It wasn’t to be. There’s still enough of a threat within that front seven and the opportunity is there for the likes of Mayowa, Scruggs, Hill, Boatwright and now Marsh and Staten to have an impact.

However, I don’t we should put ourselves in a position where we never question the front office. Why eliminate debate in favour of blind faith?

There are still two areas that concern me following free agency and the draft:

1. The offensive line

The Seahawks are down a starter from last year after Breno Giacomini — one of the better right tackles in the league — signed with the Jets. Seattle did suffer with injuries last year and that had a major impact on the overall performance of the line. But Russell Okung is an injury-prone left tackle. Right now he’s still recovering from a toe injury that hampered his 2013 season.

The depth of the line has to remain a question mark. It’s clear they have a lot of faith in the young players and also coach Tom Cable. Yet who plays left tackle if Okung goes down again? Is Michael Bowie good enough to start at right tackle permanently? How does Justin Britt fit into the equation — and if he doesn’t beat Bowie out, haven’t you just wasted a valuable second round pick?

They’ve lost a veteran starter and put almost all of their faith in Cable’s youth project and remaining healthy at key positions. Considering this was a clear need area going into the off-season, can anyone say with any conviction that a pretty average line (at best) has improved? Has it possibly got worse? And let’s not forget — they have to play the Niners front seven twice, Arizona’s defense twice and Robert Quinn/Chris Long/Aaron Donald twice.

2. Red zone

According to this study the Seahawks ranked 14th in the red zone in 2013. It’s not bad but you get the sense they could be better. There were missed opportunities last season.

Part of the issue is the lack of a bigger receiver. They don’t have anyone you can just throw a fade to in the corner of the end zone. Zach Miller’s never been a prolific touchdown maker. Getting Anthony McCoy should help.

Neither Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood are red zone targets. They’re basically more of what Seattle already has. And that’s fine. But you can’t help but wonder if it’s an area that needed to be addressed one way or another. Unless, of course, Cassius Marsh’s touted H-back role is going to be the shock find of pre-season.

Seattle’s UDFA class

Here it is so far, although this is yet to be confirmed. Some of these guys will merely be getting a try-out at mini-camp:

Dion Bailey (S, USC)
Keith Price (QB, Washington)
Andu Pulu (T, Eastern Washington)
Garry Gilliam (T, Penn State)
Camren Hudson (S, Troy)
Jackson Jeffcoat (DE, Texas)
Zach Zulli (QB, Shippensburg)
Brock Coyle (LB, Montana)
Demonte Mcallister (DT, Florida State)
Chase Dixon (TE, Central Arkansas)
John Martinez (G, USC)
Bronson Irwin (G, Oklahoma)
A.J. Harmon (T, Cumberland)
Adam Taalat (DE, Gallaudet)
Tavita Woodard (DE, Hawaii)
Jimmy Legree (CB, South Carolina)

There are more than a handful of names on that list with the potential to stick on the roster. It appears Seattle’s decision to release a ‘sales brochure’ to prospective UDFA’s worked a charm.

Brandon Coleman ended up signing with the Saints while Antonio Richardson landed with the Vikings. Both players had knee issues in college and it looks like they were taken off many draft boards.

Over the next few days we’ll look at the players Seattle added and get into the tape.

 

LIVE: Day three of the 2014 NFL Draft (R4-7)

May 10th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Day three begins at 9am PST. I’ll be live blogging on Seattle’s picks, offering thoughts and posting tape/highlights as we go along.

The Seahawks begin the day with three fourth round picks, plus a pick each in rounds five, six and seven.

Remaining picks:

Round 4 — #8 (#108), #11 (#111), #32 (#132)
Round 5 — #32 (1#72)
Round 6 — #32 (#208)
Round 7 — #12 (#227)

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Round 4 — #8 (#108)
Seahawks select Cassius Marsh (DE, UCLA)
Seattle worked Marsh out at UCLA during the off-season. He had a 4.89 in the forty and looked stiff, but he did record a good three-cone (7.08s) and short shuttle (4.25s). Originally committed to LSU but then switched to the Bruins. Had six sacks last year including two against USC. He caught a touchdown in 2012 acting as a tight end. There are some character concerns. He was ejected against California (and subsequently suspended against Stanford) for throwing a punch at an offensive lineman. He’d just been called offside on consecutive plays and took a high block on the next snap. He looks like a guy who lost weight — still carries some size even though he was 252lbs at the combine. He weighed 300lbs as a freshman. They could ask him to add weight to play inside — or they could use him off the edge. Versatile guy, gritty and competitive. He’s 6-4 with arm length a shade under 33 inches.

The Seahawks have traded the #11 pick in round four (#111 overall) to the Cincinnati Bengals. They’ll next be on the clock with the 23rd pick in round four (#123 overall). The Bengals drafted UNC lineman Russell Bodine. They get a sixth round pick (#199 overall) for moving down.

From the Tony Pauline Tweet/Scouting report above… I like this particular quote on Cassius Marsh:

“Fights with his hands, works to get off blocks and quickly locates the ball. Chases the action hard. Intense and finds ways to make plays. Fluid if asked to twist or stunt. Shows the ability to redirect to the action and flashes power knocking blockers away.”

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The Cardinals just selected Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. It’s a great pick. Bruce Arians is the perfect coach for Thomas, the Arizona system will suit him down to the ground. In terms of a developmental guy in round four who could start one day — excellent value. Smart pick by the Cardinals.

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Here’s a really interesting take from Mike Florio on the Marsh pick:

Check out this quote from Florio:

“In connection with our position-by-position previews on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, a seasoned and respected NFL scout told me that Barr is regarded as the most overrated pass rusher in the class — and that Marsh is regarded as the most underrated pass rusher.”

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Round 4 — #23 (#123)
Seahawks select Kevin Norwood (WR, Alabama)
I wrote a piece on Norwood just over a week ago (click here). He’s a very dependable receiver. Extremely competitive in the air. Fast forward to 1:41 in the video below:

Alabama toiled against an over-matched Kentucky team in that game. They turned the ball over (T.J. Yeldon fumble) in the red zone. Another drive stalled a few yards out and they had to settle for a field goal. They were making mistakes.

A frustrated A.J. McCarron just throws one up for grabs downfield as he tries to make any kind of play. Norwood is in double coverage and after play action, McCarron really shouldn’t be throwing this pass. Norwood bails him out by high pointing the football between the two defenders and making a huge gain. After this play Alabama coasted along to a big win. That catch changed the game. It was Norwood’s first meaningful contribution too — and the most important by any player on the day.

In the article I wrote last week, I pointed out that Alabama used Norwood in the same way Seattle uses its receivers. They don’t throw a ton. But when they do throw — you better be ready to make a play. That’s Norwood. He might get three targets in a game and make two catches for 45 yards and a score. He also makes improbable catches by the sideline, he extends drives. He’s a very Seahakwy receiver.

Fast forward to 2:48 in the video below to see why he’ll work well in the scramble drill:

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Three big names who could be falling due to injury concerns:

Brent Urban (DT, Virginia) — already had one ACL injury, hurt his foot at the Senior Bowl and didn’t work out during the off-season.

Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers) — had reconstruction surgery on a knee last summer.

Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee) — more knee concerns, talk during the combine suggested he could fall as a consequence.

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Round 4 — #32 (#132)
Seahawks select Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB, Boston College)
6-0, 232lbs — ran a 4.51 at the combine. SPARQ demon (no surprise) and potential depth replacement for Malcolm Smith who’s a free agent next year. Had 28 reps on the bench and a 39 inch vertical. 10-8 on the broad jump also stands out. Should have an immediate impact on special teams. High impact player with great character and experience. Should be protected in Seattle’s scheme — will get a chance to play in space. Great short-area quickness. Below you can see his tape vs the National Champions Florida State, USC and North Carolina from 2013:

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Brent Urban has just been selected in round four by Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens. They always take one player I’m really high on every year.

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Is it me, or has this 5th round dragged like crazy?

Two big name quarterbacks — Aaron Murray and A.J. McCarron — were selected in round five by Kansas City and Cincinnati respectively.

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Round 5 — #32 (#172)
Seahawks select Jimmy Staten (DT, Mid Tennessee St.)
I can’t offer anything here. He doesn’t even have a profile on NFL.com. He’s 6-4 and 303lbs and benched 30 reps at his pro day. He had zero sacks in 2013.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report has this to say about Staten:

Ineffective making plays outside the box. Handled in a one-on-one blocking situations. Does not do a good job using his hands to protect himself. Though marginally productive, Staten was a consistent college lineman and offers potential at a variety of positions in a two-gap system.

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Round 6 — #23 (#199)
Seahawks select Garrett Scott (T, Marshall)
Scott is one of the best SPARQ prospects in the 2014 draft. He had a 33.5 inch vertical and a 9-7 in the broad jump at his pro day. Shade under 35 inch arms. Big time potential and something for the Seahawks to work with. He started at guard and tackle for Marshall. Tony Pauline says in his report that he plays with a passive attitude — which is why he’s available at this stage. He also claims he must, “improve and elevate almost every aspect of his game.” Quite a project then…

Here’s his tape vs Maryland from 2013:

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Round 6 — #32 (#208)
Seahawks select Eric Pinkins (S, San Diego State)
Pinkins is a 6-3, 220lbs safety who had an outstanding pro day. He recorded 4.44 forty, a 39.5 inch vertical jump and he put up 25 reps on bench press. In other words, he’s exactly the type of player you’d expect the Seahawks to draft in round six. Had three career picks and is considered a late bloomer.

Could he convert to corner? If he can make it work at that size… he’ll be some player.

Here’s his tape vs San Jose State:

He has some Youtube videos he may want to take down. Not impressive language used here.

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Round 7 — #12 (#227)
Seahawks select Kiero Small (FB, Arkansas)
Small is a full back and a 5th year senior. He looks a bit like Mike Tolbert — similar body shape and size (5-8, 244lbs). What can I say — this is all I’ve got:

That’s as far as we go for the live blog and also for the 2014 draft. I’ll have another post tonight reviewing Seattle’s picks.

 

Seahawks take Paul Richardson, Justin Britt in round two

May 9th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Paul Richardson -- Seattle's first pick in the 2014 draft

There are two things we can take out of this. The Seahawks do like to draft for need, and they do like to keep people guessing.

They look for their guys. For the most part it’s worked. People laughed at the Russell Wilson selection, they didn’t rate the Richard Sherman’s out there. They don’t always hit with these picks — but they know what they want and they don’t care what anyone thinks about it.

They traded down twice before selecting Paul Richardson (WR, Colorado) with the 45th pick. In the process they passed on several ‘bigger’ receivers to get another explosive, speedy smaller guy. At #64 they took Justin Britt (T, Missouri) a guy many people had in the 7th round or UDFA range.

So Seahawky.

I’m going to get into the tape tonight and over the next few days we’ll really break down what they’ll hopefully bring to the team. Here’s a few thoughts on the picks and other notes:

– John Schneider said at the end of the draft that without a trade at #32 they would’ve taken Richardson in round one.

– They clearly trust Tom Cable implicitly. If he says he wants a guy, they go get him. The James Carpenter and John Moffitt picks didn’t work out as planned. He’s had some success developing later round players. We’ll see how this latest selection pans out.

– In a press conference Cable revealed Britt will compete at right tackle with Michael Bowie — and could also play guard. He also said Alvin Bailey will be the backup left tackle as things stand.

– Both of Seattle’s picks have suffered ACL injuries during their careers.

– Richardson is a dynamite player and was a team captain at Colorado. People have compared him to DeSean Jackson — I think he’s different. He’s not a sparky glider like Jackson. He runs good routes — he’s really crisp into his breaks to create separation. He has a knack of getting open — avoiding press and finding space. When plays break down he sets off downfield. He makes spectacular catches and can high point the ball. He’s another playmaker for the offense. He reminds me more of T.Y. Hilton — who had a big game against Seattle in 2013.

– What Richardson also does, unfortunately, is drop the occasional ugly one. That doesn’t mean he has a ton of drops, it’s just the ones he does have are kind of crazy. In one game last year (I think vs Oregon) he dropped a sure touchdown under no pressure. Let’s hope he avoids that at the next level.

– Seahawks scout Matt Berry said of Richardson in a press conference tonight: “All he does is get open and make plays.” Berry also stated he wasn’t much of a return man.

– The Seahawks still lack a true red zone threat. They don’t have that natural big target. How much of a concern is it though? They won a Championship without that type of player. They had options (Cody Latimer, Brandon Coleman) if they wanted a big man. And they chose to go in another direction.

– In taking Britt the Seahawks passed on Morgan Moses, who lasted until the third round. By trading out of the first round yesterday they subsequently lost the opportunity to draft Joel Bitonio (who landed in Cleveland at #35). After trading from #40 to #45 they missed out on Cyrus Kouandjio (drafted by Buffalo at #44). We’ll never know if they had interest in either player — but having taken a tackle at #64 you can’t help but look back at the alternatives and compare.

– I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Britt other than he has similar athletic traits to the top tackles in this draft. He does have shorter arms but he’s played multiple positions on the O-line. Mike Mayock said he had a 5th round grade on him.

– Seattle has three 4th round picks tomorrow and now only one 5th. They also acquired a seventh rounder in the trade with Detroit.

– The talent level dropped off in a big way at the start of round three. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Billy Turner, Dezmen Southward, Charles Sims, Christian Kirksey, Preston Brown, Jay Bromley, Dexter McDougle. For all the talk of a deep draft — the third round was bang average. And the depth is starting to run dry in terms of the players we’re familiar with.

– The 49ers had a good day. Carlos Hyde offers dynamism at running back, Marcus Martin fills a need at center and Chris Borland is such a fantastic football player.

Players of interest left on the board

Brent Urban (DT, Virginia)
Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson)
Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
Bruce Ellington (WR, South Carolina)
Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech)
De’Anthony Thomas (RB, Oregon)

 

LIVE COVERAGE: The 2014 NFL Draft (rounds 2-3)

May 9th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Send your questions on Twitter to @robstaton

PART TWO

PART ONE

 

Day two preview — Seahawks own picks #40, #64

May 9th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Could Joel Bitonio be Seattle's pick at #40?

Tonight I’m going to be hosting a live Google Hangout through round two. It’ll be a solo effort but you can send your questions to @robstaton on Twitter. We’ll stay live until Seattle makes their two picks (and stick with it if they trade down from #64).

Looking ahead it’s going to be a pretty interesting start to round two. What will the dynamic be? Are we going to see a rush on defensive linemen? The pass rush depth is so weak (probably the catalyst for Dee Ford and Marcus Smith going in round one) I suspect teams with a DE/DT need will go for it early. That could mean more trades — and potentially the opportunity for Seattle to move down again.

Will that happen? The board still looks good right now but for me there’s going to be a major drop off in talent at around #45. Make a pick and see what the options are at #64 and whether trading down into round three is a possibility.

Are there any defensive linemen who could fit in Seattle? They love speed and unique quicks. With Ford, Smith and Dominique Easley now gone there isn’t an obvious target. Kony Ealy and Timmy Jernigan just don’t look like Seahawks — while I’m not convinced Stephon Tuitt will be a candidate in round two. I don’t see any driving desire to replace Red Bryant with a like-for-like type player.

Ra’Shede Hageman has the athletic upside but his tape is just so poor. Go and watch the Wisconsin game from 2013. He has the potential to explode through the interior and be a real impact player. And yet it only happens once or twice a game. Demarcus Lawrence ran a 4.8 at the combine but recorded an impressive ten yard split. He could be one to watch. And I suspect a player like Kareem Martin might get over drafted with the depth so weak later on.

I’ll keep mentioning Brent Urban as a wild card. Really talented player. Great length and strength. One to monitor today.

What is the issue with Marqise Lee? Why is he still on the board? Here’s why:

At any point in round two he could be a steal as long as you feel comfortable he can stay healthy. He’s such a competitor. He plays like a former defensive back — he has that intensity. But if he’s such an injury concern there are other receivers you can go after.

Cody Latimer and Joel Bitonio remain two of my favourite players in this class. Bitonio in particular would be a wise pick at this stage. You can slot him in quickly, let him play guard or tackle. It’d firm up a weak area. And you can get your receiver at #64. That to me would be a good plan.

I still think they might target a more explosive option at #40 which brings Martavis Bryant and Donte Moncrief into play. Could Bryant’s immaturity keep him on the board until #64?

Jordan Matthews has the kind of gritty attitude Seattle likes and he’s extremely focused. But is he physical enough? Is he the type of player they would consider early in round two?

If Bitonio isn’t the choice on the offensive line then Morgan Moses and Cyrus Kouandjio could be on the hit list. Here’s the latest on Kouandjio’s health:

At this stage I’d be willing to take a chance. You might have to accept it’s a one-contract-and-done deal with Kouandjio. But for 4-5 years you’ll get a very accomplished, mountainous offensive linemen on a cheap deal. You just have to be willing to accept he’s not a ten year starter.

A lot will depend on how they view Michael Bowie’s future. How highly do they rate him as a potential starter? Is it more about depth on the offensive line or finding immediate starters?

Aside from Lee, Latimer, Bryant, Moncrief and Matthews — the options at receiver are terrific. Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Brandon Coleman, Jarvis Landry, Bruce Ellington, Paul Richardson. Any of those players in the second frame would present a degree of value.

What about tight end? At what stage does the value of a Jace Amaro or Austin Seferian-Jenkins become too good? I don’t expect the Seahawks to take a TE that early (if at all), but we’ll see.

Jeremiah Attaochu is very hit and miss on tape — driven to the turf three times against Miami, then flying past the tackle for a big sack. I’m not sure he’s enough of an athlete to be considered. Kyle Van Noy and Chris Borland will make nice picks for someone on day two — but probably not Seattle.

Would they consider Stanley Jean-Baptiste? Will he even make it to #40?

Possible round two targets

Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)
Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama)
Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson)
Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB, Nebraska)
Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State)
Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU)
Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Davante Adams (WR, Fresno State)
Allen Robinson (WR, Penn State)
Bruce Ellington (WR, South Carolina)

 

Seahawks trade down to #40, won’t pick until day two

May 8th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Did the Seahawks just miss out on their guy?

After weeks of suggesting it might be difficult to trade down from #32, that’s exactly what the Seahawks did today. They made a deal with Minnesota to move out of the first round, collecting a fourth rounder (#108 overall) in the process.

They now own the #40 pick.

Was this always destined to happen? Perhaps.

But you could watch the Seahawks war room on a live feed online. And those watching certainly detected an air of deflation when New England selected Dominique Easley at #29.

It felt pretty deflating watching at home too. Easley is a terrific prospect and clearly some teams feel comfortable about the situation with his knees. He’s not just an explosive interior rusher — he has a Seahawks attitude and personality. He would’ve fit like a glove on this defense. Imagine him blowing up the pocket from the interior with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett working the edge? What a shame.

Ian Rapoport has since confirmed Seattle wanted Easley:

Dan Quinn didn’t join the Gators until 2011 and Easley was part of Florida’s 2010 class — so Quinn didn’t recruit him. But he coached him — and clearly he made an impression.

Only five receivers went in the first round, with several good options remaining in the second frame. Getting Easley at #32 would’ve allowed Seattle to still get a receiver at #64 and feel pretty satisfied with that deuce. Now the best option at #40 could be a wide out, so the complexion of the draft plan potentially shifts in a big way.

Here’s a list of the best players remaining options for Seattle:

Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
He’s extremely competitive and gusty. He’s intense, he fights to succeed. In 2012 he was the ultimate playmaker in college football. So why’s he still on the board? You start to fear if there are unknown health concerns. He’s not the biggest guy. He ran a 4.50 and dropped a few too many passes last year. If the 49ers are willing to take Jimmie Ward at #30 instead of Lee — what does that tell you? Is he a product of other receivers moving up — or is he set for an even bigger fall based on circumstances we don’t know about? Would Seattle even consider him if he’s there at #40 — given so many other teams have already passed?

Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
Tall, fast and with strong hands. He’s a top-tier athlete with big potential. Doesn’t drop the football ever. Spent the off-season working his tail off to get better with Brandon Marshall. I’m surprised he lasted beyond the end of round one. He’s also the best run blocking receiver in the class. He’d make a lot of sense at #40 if they want to take a punt on athletic skills. But is he tough enough to make it in Seattle? Marqise Lee will go up against the LOB and demand respect. Latimer’s a little quieter and won’t get in your face. You better come ready to play in camp if you’re playing receiver for this team. Cleveland (#35), Oakland (#36) and Jacksonville (#39) could take him.

Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)
Solid tackle or guard. Athletic with a great attitude. Had been tipped to go to the Panthers at #28, who instead took Kelvin Benjamin. Not a long-limbed lineman like Okung or Carpenter but will come in and work hard to succeed. Shut down Anthony Barr last year — the #9 overall pick. Is he special enough? I felt coming into today they wanted to add an explosive player and there are more explosive guys available. It really depends how badly the want to fill the depth on the offensive line.

Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson) or Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
If they want explosive, one of these two could be the guy. A pair of 39 inch jumpers, 4.3/4.4 runners with height to match. If you want to swing for the fences this is an option. Bryant is immature but an excellent deep threat who’s well coached. Moncrief needs to play tougher but he has a unique blend of size and speed. Both players really only scratched the surface of their potential in college.

Other options

Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota) — more miss than hit in college but a big time athlete with a lot of potential

Davante Adams (WR, Fresno State) — not a great straight line runner but he can jump (39.5 inch vert) and great character

Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State) — fluid pass rusher with a quick get off, Character concerns

Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama) — would be gone by now if not for the knee issues

Morgan Moses (T, Virginia) — another long limbed, massive tackle

Brent Urban (DT, Virginia) — I’m calling him a wild card. Incredibly athletic, huge size. They love length inside.

Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt) — I’m not a fan personally but he’s competitive and athletic

Second round mock draft up to #40

#33 Houston Texans — Stanley Jean-Baptise (CB, Nebraska)
#34 Washington Redskins — Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
#35 Cleveland Browns — Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
#36 Oakland Raiders — Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
#37 Atlanta Falcons — Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State)
#38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri)
#39 Jacksonville Jaguars — Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
#40 Seattle Seahawks — Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)

Final thoughts on the first round

– The big shock initially was Blake Bortles to the Jaguars. He’s a high character passer with the charisma to lead that franchise. He carries the drive Blaine Gabbert lacks. He’s a competitor and someone the Jags can build around. I like that pick.

– Cleveland grabbed another first rounder next year to pass on Sammy Watkins. It looks like a good deal on paper now that they have Johnny Manziel, but wouldn’t their offense look even better with Mike Evans catching passes from his former QB? Is Justin Gilbert and an extra pick worth giving that up now that they’re all-in on Manziel? As for Buffalo — they better hope they improve in 2014 or that’s a gift for the Browns next year.

– I was surprised to see only five receivers leave the board. I expected seven. A bad call on my behalf.

– The Rams had a great draft getting Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald. Superb. 10/10. I’m not sure what the 49ers were doing with their pick. They now have three safeties. Arizona also added a safety and further improved their blossoming defense.

It’s now 6am here so I’m going to wrap up for tonight. We’ll be back with more live coverage tomorrow — I hope you’ll join us.

 

LIVE COVERAGE: The 2014 NFL Draft (first round)

May 8th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Below you’ll find a live chat service in partnership with the Seattle P.I. I’ll be answering questions and offering analysis on each pick. You’ll also find a Google Hang Out if you want to watch us discuss the first round as it unfolds.

 

Draft day final thoughts…

May 8th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

McGinn posts a mock draft

We’ve been referring to Bob McGinn’s posts for the last week on the blog. Last night he put out a mock draft. Over the last five years his mocks have ranked amongst the most accurate according to the Huddle Report.

There are some interesting picks. Teddy Bridgewater’s in the top ten despite everything we’ve heard over the last few weeks. Johnny Manziel goes to the Rams (it still seems unlikely to me given their continued staunch defense of Sam Bradford).

There’s also a couple of developing late trends — Jake Matthews going second overall, Ja’Wuan James at #19 to Miami (appears very likely). McGinn is projecting Mike Evans to Cleveland and Joel Bitonio to Carolina — Tony Pauline also put forward those two scenarios earlier in the day.

Most interesting for Seattle is the players still on the board at #32. Cody Latimer, Kelvin Benjamin, Dominique Easley, Cyrus Kouandjio and Morgan Moses are all there. If the board fell this way, the Seahawks would have some nice options.

McGinn has the Seahawks taking Ra’Shede Hageman. John McClain also made this projection today. He has rare size and athletic ability so it makes sense. And that brings me onto…

Use the SPARQ

I probably should’ve touched on this in my own mock yesterday.

The Seahawks are in a position now where they don’t have a ton of needs. They like the young depth they have. Remember the end of season press conference this year? In the past Pete Carroll’s been very open and honest about the teams biggest needs. This year he said the key was to keep the group together. No mention of the places they had to improve.

If they feel very positive about the young defensive linemen on the roster, Michael Bowie’s ability to play right tackle and the depth at receiver — this could be another opportunity to simply add a dynamic, unique athlete.

They took Christine Michael a year ago not because they had to have another running back — but because he was a SPARQ demon with incredible potential. There’s a lot to work with and develop. I could see a scenario this year where they may a similar pick even if they stay at #32. Who is this years SPARQ specialist?

This team has a Championship core. What’s the one thing Seattle’s opponents don’t want to see? Another incredible athlete they have to account for — on offense or defense.

So while I can see them going for a solid, long right tackle — I also think there’s every chance they’ll swing for the fences with another big time athlete on either side of the ball. Someone with unique qualities — and not necessarily at the positions we’ve focused on.

Manziel mystery continues

A few days ago Chris Mortensen reported Johnny Manziel wouldn’t get past Cleveland at #4. Then Jay Glazer shot down the report. Then Mike Mayock — a well sourced, big supporter of the Texas A&M quarterback — left him out of the top-15 of his mock draft.

It’s safe to say, nobody knows who’ll be drafting JFF.

Now we get this from ESPN’s Ed Werder:

***UPDATE*** — Now Glazer is ruling this out too.

I think we’re all ready for less speculation and more answers. Only a few hours to go.

Our live Google Hang Out begins tonight at 4:45pm PST (just before the first round kicks off). I’ll also be providing analysis and answering questions in text form in partnership with the Seattle P.I. from 4:30pm. Both events will be live on the blog and I hope you’ll join us.

 

The final 2014 mock draft

May 7th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Here’s what I considered for Seattle when putting this final mock draft together:

– I believe, first and foremost, they’d love to come away with a starting right tackle. As John Schneider often mentions, they grade for the team and not the league. When he looks at Seattle’s depth chart and sees Michael Bowie as the only realistic starter — I suspect he feels that’s an area they can make an upgrade. No disrespect to Bowie — but he is what he is. I’m not convinced they’d have faith in him to work the blindside if Russell Okung suffers another injury. They can’t have another situation where a player like Paul McQuistan plays multiple games at left tackle. The guy on the right side needs to be able to move across. I’m not sure Bowie is that man.

– Is there a situation where tackle isn’t the priority? Yes — if one of the top receivers drops to #32. And I include Cody Latimer as part of the top group. Again, it’s about grading for the existing roster. If you have a split end prospect graded very highly, that might provide a greater upgrade than going with the tackle. And if the Seahawks don’t find a right tackle early — you know Tom Cable has a list of later round guys ready and waiting. So while I think a starting RT will be the priority at least initially, it doesn’t mean they won’t go after a tall, athletic receiver who owns the red line. Or even an explosive defensive player depending on how round one falls.

– The Seahawks love size and length at tackle. They drafted hulking James Carpenter in the first round. Bowie has long arms. Okung has long arms. They’re all big guys. I don’t believe they’re philosophy has changed much. For that reason, I’m convinced they’d love the opportunity to draft Ja’Wuan James. He might be something akin to the ideal pick. Solid, immediate starter with 49 college starts to his name and a great attitude. Unfortunately he’s likely to be long gone by #32.

– I haven’t at any point in this process considered a first round pure guard. They rotated the left guard spot last year and started a converted defensive lineman on the right side. Clearly this is an area where the Seahawks don’t place too much value. Tom Cable is an Alex Gibbs disciple. You know, the same Alex Gibbs who used to say he could train a garbage man to play guard in the NFL. They’ll keep finding their guys and plugging them in without the need for big investment here.

– Joel Bitonio doesn’t have 35 inch arms. He has 33 and 7/8 inch arms. Which is the same as Taylor Lewan and better than Jake Matthews. James Carpenter was drafted to play right tackle with 34 inch arms. Breno Giacomini has 32 1/8 inch arms. Bitonio’s length shouldn’t be an issue — and what he lacks in massive size he makes up for with classic technique, grit and rare athleticism. He tested superbly at the combine. I think he’d be an excellent fit for Seattle but in this mock he goes to Carolina at #28.

– So James and Bitonio are off the board. Seven receivers have gone in the first round. Even Dominique Easley has been taken by the Patriots at #29. I think in this situation they would be hammering the phones trying to trade down. I’ve mentioned time and time again that I think it’s unlikely to happen unless the Seahawks are willing to take a cheap deal. In this scenario — I think they probably would take a token gesture trade. Potentially for as little as another 5th round pick or even flipping picks in a round (eg swapping a late 4th for an early 4th). I’ve not included trades in this mock.

–  I had to make a pick and it really came down to (again) what I think they’ll consider as the best possible upgrade. And it’s still right tackle. There are two players left on the board who are big, long offensive linemen. Morgan Moses had a hit and miss final season at Virginia. Against Jeremiah Attaochu he dominated. Against Vic Beasley he looked exhausted and uncomfortable. Despite the size, I’m not convinced he’s what they’re looking for.

– I ended up wondering how they will feel about Cyrus Kouandjio’s knee situation. We’ve seen the reports about possible arthritis and the damage limitation campaign to counter it. He also had a lousy combine, but I’ve always felt quite positive about Kouandjio’s college performance. If the Seahawks’ medical staff are comfortable with his health he has the size and length to be considered at #32. It’s a huge ‘if’. Some teams won’t have him on their board. He needs coaching. The thing is — if he clears the medical, the Seahawks have the ideal coach to get him working that right side. He is capable of holding his own in pass protection, he can blow people up in the run game. He can also play left tackle. And he’ll cost no more than $1.25-2.5m until the end of the 2018 season. I like his attitude towards this difficult off-season.

– You might ask, why Kouandjio? Why now? We’ve spent the last few months talking up so many other players. It’s a risky pick that could smack me in the face if the knee problems are legit. I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to be safe. If I put Bitonio, Latimer or Easley at #32 and they’re the pick — does it make any difference? We as a community have talked about these guys. We know who they are. Why does one final mock draft defeat all the coverage we’ve done since August on this draft class? It doesn’t. It shouldn’t. I’d hate to think all the work comes down to this. We don’t need to nail this pick. We’ve covered this thing the best we could. So why not take a shot with a day to go?

We do these projections to start talking points, not to seriously try and predict what will actually happen. And you know what? It’s time for one final talking point. Cyrus Kouandjio. Let’s have it. You’ll find the mock draft below. There are some further notes underneath.

Why are the Cardinals taking Johnny Manziel?
Placing Johnny Football was the toughest part of this mock. I like the guy — I think he’d be a great pick for the Jags at #3 or even the Texans at #1. And yet I think we’re going to see a similar situation to last year where no quarterbacks go in the top ten. I’ve not included trades and it wouldn’t shock me if a team moved into the teens or the early 20′s to get Manziel. He’s nothing like a Bruce Arians prototype and I don’t think the Cardinals would take him. But this is the kind of area where I expect him to go. Arizona could move out of this spot and accumulate some extra picks. I had to include Manziel somewhere for the purpose of Huddle Report scoring.

Why a tackle for Cleveland at #4?
There’s a lot of buzz about Mike Evans to Cleveland but I just have this feeling the Browns want to create a dominant, run based attack. That’ll probably mean adding another running back in round two or three (Carlos Hyde?). Putting Jake Matthews at right tackle across from Joe Thomas (and with Alex Mack at center) will enable you to play ball control offense in the AFC North. They already have a top-tier receiver who can be a downfield threat off play action — and Derek Carr has the arm to exploit Josh Gordon’s playmaking ability.

Could more than seven receivers leave the board?
Sure. And there’s a lot of speculation about Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant, Donte Moncrief, Jordan Matthews and even Bruce Ellington finding a home in round one. The thing is — I think there’s going to be a cutting off point where teams are prepared to wait until rounds two or three. The Seahawks are a good example here. I think there’s every chance they go wide out at #32. But the options at tackle will be limited at #64. Potentially you could have 3-4 enticing receivers available in the second frame. I doubt they’ll be the only team thinking this way.

Picks I’m most confident about…
Aaron Donald and Zack Martin in the top ten, Ryan Shazier going earlier than people think, Kelvin Benjamin going between #12-22, Ja’Wuan James landing in the top-20.

Picks I’m not that confident about…
Manziel falling this far, Eric Ebron going to the Giants at #12, Kyle Fuller going this early, Calvin Pryor sticking in round one, the lack of pass rushers given the depth is poor and teams will reach.

Options at #32 for Seattle at the three key areas
OT: Ja’Wuan James, Joel Bitonio, Cyrus Kouandjio, Morgan Moses
WR: Cody Latimer, Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant
DL: Dominique Easley, Marcus Smith, Demarcus Lawrence, Ra’Shede Hageman

Which position would they likely take in R2 if they draft a right tackle at #32?
Receiver

I had a request from ‘hawkfaninMT’ to name some players I’d most like to leave the draft with. Here’s five players I’d bang the table for… not including likely top ten picks:

1. Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State) — incredible athlete, great character. In the right scheme could be a sensational playmaker.

2. Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada) — I like everything about the guy. Tough, gritty, athletic, gets under an opponents skin with great play. The second coming of Logan Mankins.

3. Brent Urban (DT, Virginia) — Won’t be as good as J.J. Watt, but that’s who he reminds you of.

4. Dominique Easley (DT, Florida) — Explosive interior force who would be a top-20 certainty without the injuries. Team captain.

5. Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU) — Not the biggest or the fastest. But he’ll make a play when you need one. The kind of guy you want to go to war with.

6. Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana) — In a few years we might wonder how this guy was (approximately) the seventh receiver off the board.

And finally…

A reminder that tomorrow we’ll be hosting a Google Hang Out and I’ll be providing live analysis for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you’re at home, watch the Hang Out. If you’re at work, read the analysis. All bases covered throughout the first round. I also want to take this chance to thank everyone who makes this community what it is. It’s not about my views, what we get wrong or right or any of that stuff. It’s about a bunch of Seahawks fans coming together to talk draft every year. And it’s freaking awesome.

 

Richard Sherman signs 4-year extension with the Seahawks

May 7th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

I’ll be posting my final 2014 mock draft later today. For now let’s use this as an open thread to discuss Sherman’s new deal.

The contract is worth $57.4M — with the four years added to the one remaining on his current deal. On average he’ll be paid around $11.8m per year, with $40m guaranteed.

The Seahawks had three key objectives entering the off season:

1. Re-sign Michael Bennett

2. Extend Earl Thomas’ contract

3. Extend Richard Sherman’s contract

Whatever happens in the draft over the next few days, the big business is complete. The future is set behind a core group of elite players — with the next move being Russell Wilson’s new deal in 12 months time.