Breaking down Seattle’s picks in rounds 4-7

May 5th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Terry Poole (T, San Diego State)
At the combine he looked like an ideal guard or center with his body shape. The Seahawks love tackle converts to move inside. Pure guards in college usually aren’t great athletes. The ones who are (eg Mark Glowinski) get a shot in Seattle. Otherwise they’ll look at the tackles and find a guy who can slot inside.

Poole can probably play at +310lbs comfortably. What always stood out was his body control. He keeps defenders in front and rarely loses position. First and foremost you have to be able to contain and counter. His hand technique is good and won’t need much work — that should mean he’s able to start quickly if required. He’d never make a tackle — his kick slide is almost as funky as Ereck Flowers’ but with none of the effect.

He can get stronger and if there’s one thing likely to hold him back in 2015 it’s that he could probably use a year in a pro-weight program. He’s a JUCO transfer from Monterrey Peninsula College and didn’t start playing football until his junior year at High School. Until that point he focused on basketball — and it was still his priority as a senior. Importantly he’s never suffered any injuries of note and he was a team captain in 2014.

He’s not a great second level blocker and that’s probably why he projects to the left side where Seattle has focused on size and power. They leave the pulling and progression to J.R. Sweezy on the right side. Poole always plays to the whistle and I suspect that’s one of the big plus points for Tom Cable. Not a SPARQ star (ranked as the 42nd most athletic O-lineman in the draft according to Zach Whitman).

The Seahawks do like to focus on size at left guard. He isn’t the longest either — +33 inch arms. It’ll be interesting to see if he can beat out Alvin Bailey to start. At the very least he’ll provide adequate camp competition and push Bailey.

Mark Glowinski (G, West Virginia)
A very different prospect to Terry Poole and immediately dubbed a right guard by Pete Carroll. Glowinski is ultra athletic with a reputation for being a gym rat. He’s another tackle convert (box ticked). It makes you wonder if he’s being groomed to replace 2016 free agent J.R. Sweezy. Carroll’s relentless praise for Sweezy last season hinted at a long term future in Seattle but can they afford to give their right guard big money? He’ll be 27 next year and hitting his prime. It’s hard to argue against trying to keep things cheap at right guard. Glowinski’s round four salary would enable them to do that for three more years if Sweezy departs.

If they weren’t looking for a replacement — why draft him? Especially with the hole at center. Unlike Poole he’s a SPARQ demon (ranked fourth among offensive lineman according to Zach Whitman). On tape he does a really good job at the second level. He’s very productive on screen plays and was asked to do a fair amount of pulling. He flashes tremendous footwork — looks like a tackle in that regard. Articulate and well spoken during interviews, tough as nails on tape. He’s a lot more polished than Sweezy was (obviously, given the defense-to-offense conversion).

If he’s given a year to red shirt he could make an immediate and telling impact in 2016. He’s been compared to Zane Beadles (who was also compared to Jordan Gross) — a former second round pick in 2010 who went on to sign a $30m contract in Jacksonville. Glowinski topped Brandon Scherff for overall athleticism — but Scherff is an absolute monster and a brutish run blocker. Glowinski is no slouch but Scherff will be an immediate impact player for Washington’s run game and a perennial Pro-Bowler.

He played well against Alabama. There are no obvious flaws on tape, just a few technical things that should be easy to fix (stance, winning with leverage). He’s better than a fair few interior linemen who went earlier in this draft class.

Tye Smith (CB, Towson)
He’s 6-0, 195lbs and has 32 inch arms. Seattle isn’t budging from what it looks for in a corner. There are no concessions here. They want a specific minimum length, minimum size. And they want toughness. He ran a 4.51 and a 4.61 at his pro-day. They’ll work with that. They aren’t necessarily looking for 4.3 runners.

As you can imagine it’s hard to judge Smith given he played for Towson and tape is limited online. He did compete against Kevin White and West Virginia and he struggled (no surprise) in a beat-down defeat. He appears to be a rangy press corner (shock horror). I’ve seen an interview with him where he describes his upbringing. His parents had to work late and he had to look after his sisters. The Seahawks look for prospects who’ve had to fight a little, had to do a lot of growing up early. He credits his parents for his work ethic, stating his father gets up for work every morning at 3am. “He’ll text me when he wakes up and I’ll text him back at 6-something and say ‘I’m up!'”

John Schneider said in his post-draft press conference that Smith reminded him of a superstar corner but wouldn’t share a name. In watching the highlight video below the one player I could only imagine is Richard Sherman. He’s not the most physically gifted corner — or the biggest — but in nearly all the plays he gained position, read the quarterback and played the ball. He was jumping routes and making himself the receiver. He also has a little bit of Sherman’s gangly running style. It might be a bit obvious to make that comparison — and he’s certainly not as tall as Sherman. But that’s the only name I could think of.

They were always likely to add another developmental corner in this range and there’s no pressure on Smith to start. The addition of Cary Williams will give him plenty of time to create an impression. ESPN says he could be “one of the bigger steals in this year’s cornerback class.” That’s exciting to consider given Seattle’s track record with defensive backs.

Obum Gwacham (DE, Oregon State)
In reading up on Gwacham two things are clear — he’s a fantastic, explosive athlete and a big-time character guy. What he isn’t is a particularly accomplished football player right now — and that’s why he’s a sixth round pick. In terms of measurables he’s 6-5 with 34.5 inch arms. That’s incredible length.

He did the high jump and triple jump at Oregon State. He only has a year’s experience on defense having previously acted as a receiver/tight end. He’s pretty much the next Jameson Konz project. What is he? Can he make it stick? Can the football qualities develop sufficiently so that he can find a defined role? Can he show enough in camp and pre-season to warrant an early role on special teams?

Like Konz he could be a slow burner — bouncing on and off the roster and spending time on the practise squad. To make the final roster he’s going to have to beat someone out and that won’t be easy. He moved to the United States when he was seven years old from Nigeria. He ran a 4.72 at the combine and managed a 36-inch vertical jump. As we discuss how athletic Gwacham is — remember that Frank Clark ran a 4.64 carrying nearly an extra 30lbs and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical. Doesn’t it just show off how rare Clark is?

On tape there’s very little evidence of hand use or any sense for counter-attacks. He looks like a guy making the switch from offense in his final year. He had four sacks in his first four games in 2014 but failed to register a single sack in the next eight games. He had a sack against Stanford where he just ran round the tackle and worked to the quarterback. It’s that kind of flash of talent that gets you excited about his long term potential. Yet he faces almost a similar learning curve to Kristjan Sokoli with greater competition to make the roster.

It’ll be fun to see how he operates in pre-season. He can also dunk a basketball as you’ll see in the video below. Even more impressive is Ryan Murphy’s effort to follow (Murphy was drafted in the seventh round by the Seahawks).

Kristjan Sokoli (C, Buffalo)
It’s impossible to project how he’ll transition to center and we can only comment on his skills as a defensive player. Buffalo had him play nose tackle — an ill fit at a lean-looking 6-5 and 300lbs. More often than not he just got drilled off the LOS. He had very little stoutness at the point and he struggled against power blocking. It’s not the most encouraging sign for this switch to offense. He’s still going to be lining up in the middle but he’s going to have to learn to hold position and not get shoved around.

In the very limited tape I’ve seen he showed no sign of the athletic freak he truly is. According to Zach Whitman he’s on a different level completely to pretty much every other player currently in the NFL. While he doesn’t have the pass rushing skills to have any shot on defense, they might be able to coach him up to hold position, snap a football and occasionally break to the second level. He ran a 4.84 forty, jumped a 38-inch vert and managed 31 reps on the bench press. He’s not a regular human being.

The greatest pitfall might be the necessity to learn the offense, make vital calls at the line and do all the little jobs a center has to do. It’s hard enough for a college center to make the transition — let alone a defensive player switching sides. Miraculous things have happened during the Pete Carroll era (Mike Williams making a comeback, J.R. Sweezy starting in week one of his rookie season) but Sokoli starting this year seems like a stretch too far. No doubt he’ll give it a go but he’ll need to prove he’s capable of taking the field even as a backup to warrant a roster spot ahead of Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre.

He might be a safe stash on the practise squad for a year if he can’t make what would be an unprecedented transition and Tom Cable’s greatest success story. If it works out at any point over the next few years the Seahawks would have a J.J. Watt-level athlete controlling the likes of Aaron Donald in the NFC West. That’ll help.

He was born in Albania and moved to the United States aged nine. His father applied for political asylum — a three-year process that eventually succeeded. A humble individual and clearly well respected at Buffalo — who also introduced Khalil Mack to the league a year ago. Sokoli says he wants to work on Wall Street when he finishes in the NFL.

Ryan Murphy (S, Oregon State)
He’s 6-1, 214lbs and runs a 4.45. That’s pretty much all you need to know. On tape there were some missed tackles — some sloppy ones too. However after the pick was made there was a lot of talk about how respected he was at Oregon State and he’s considered a heart-and-soul type player.

He was the second best SPARQ safety (in a mediocre class) according to Zach Whitman. They would’ve been looking for options to replace Jeron Johnson. Certainly some of the injuries on the back end exposed a lack of depth at the end of last season. They need guys who can fill in. You’re always going to suffer a major drop off if you try to replace an injured Kam Chancellor — but at least you’re limiting the damage if you’re putting another physical freak on the field.

Huge hitter in the open field. Big enough to play up at the LOS and have an impact. Had a kick return touchdown in 2014 and averaged over five tackles a game. Managed 6.5 TFL’s for the season plus a forced fumble and eight pass break-ups.

Murphy lost his best friend a few years ago and used it as motivation during his college career. He is also Marshawn Lynch’s cousin and stayed in his house as a 16-year-old. He has a decent shot at making the final roster given his added special teams value. He could be a gunner or a returner.

UDFA of note: Austin Hill (WR, Arizona)
It’s not that long ago that we were looking at Hill as a possible first round pick. He was a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff in 2012 and destined for big things. Then in April 2013 he tore his ACL, missed the year and returned a different player in 2014. He lacked the same level of explosion, he was visibly slower and he faces a battle to deliver on his unquestionable potential.

It’s unclear whether he’ll ever be able to regain his 2012 form but he was an interesting UDFA pickup given some of the other options available. He’s 6-2 and 214lbs and incredibly strong. He plays even bigger than that size. If he can regain another gear and impress in camp he has every chance to be Seattle’s next rookie free agent find. He certainly has the character and attitude to make a good fist of it.


Why Tyler Lockett could be a “legitimate game breaker”

May 4th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

In 2013 the Seahawks ranked #1 for defense, #7 for offense and #5 for special teams according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA system. Cumulatively it put them at #1 overall. The most complete team in the NFL.

Denver came in at #2. They had the #1 offense but only the #15 defense and the #21 special teams unit. Stop the 2013 Broncos offense and you’re facing a league average team. Seattle exploited that in the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks were perfectly balanced in comparison — capable of beating you in three different ways.

In 2014 Seattle again ranked #1 overall in FO’s final DVOA rankings. They had the #1 defense, the offense improved slightly to rank at #5 but the special teams slumped to #19 — a drop of fourteen spots.

While the offense and defense remained consistent and actually showed gradual improvement, Seattle’s special teams performance dropped off significantly last year. With fair catch specialist Bryan Walters manning the returns — there wasn’t any threat. They were totally ineffective the moment Percy Harvin was traded to the Jets.

The defense hasn’t lost any key personnel (they replaced Byron Maxwell with Cary Williams) and actually added talent through Ahtyba Rubin and Frank Clark. The offense gained Jimmy Graham. There’s every chance that both units will once again rank in the top five according to DVOA.

Improving the special teams ranking of #19 is distinctly achievable. If they can get back into the top ten the Seahawks could return to 2013 form overall. But it wasn’t going to just happen. They needed to do something about it.

Welcome, Tyler Lockett.

Back in March I asked Draft Insider Tony Pauline to give me a name to look out for as a specialist returner. If you fast forward to 7:20 below you can hear his response.

I’ll note it in word-form underneath:

“The top guy would be Tyler Lockett of Kansas State. He would add some speed at the receiver position… he’s a threat to score any time the ball is in his hands. He is a legitimate game breaker at receiver or as a return specialist. So if they’re going to take one or they’re looking at one in those first three rounds — Lockett might be the type of guy they have to take in the second round because he may not be on the board when they select in round three. But that is the guy if you’re looking for a return specialist.

He is head and shoulders above everyone else and what else he’s going to do is loosen up that interior of the defense because all of a sudden when he steps up to the line of scrimmage your safety can’t come up to the box and play Marshawn Lynch. He’s not going to be able to defend the run because he’s going to have to move five yards back to guard against the deep pass to Lockett so that’s a guy that if they’re looking for that type of player late in round two or if they trade back from two or trade up in round three — that’s somebody they would look to.”

Not only did Pauline correctly project the range where Lockett would go, he noted Seattle would have to trade up in round three to get him.

He also called him “head and shoulders” above any other return specialist in the draft and a “legitimate game breaker”.

Are you still wondering why Seattle traded up for this guy?

Included among Lockett’s many records at Kansas State is the tally for most kick return yards. In 2014 he led the nation in punt return average. He had six career touchdowns on returns.

He isn’t Cordarelle Patterson or Percy Harvin. Few players are. He is, however, an accomplished returner who will start immediately in 2015. There won’t be any debate over Earl Thomas fielding punts this summer. It’s Lockett’s job from this day forward.

Was it worth giving up a package of picks to get the best return specialist in the draft? Arguably yes. Again, this is the one area a loaded roster can realistically make a big jump in 2015. Lockett is more than just a returner and we’ll get onto his receiving skills shortly. But it should be no surprise Seattle prioritised this role. This is the team that made a move to acquire Leon Washington to be a specialist returner. Part of the motivation to add Harvin was his ability as a return man.

If they’d waited until pick #93, Lockett would’ve been gone. That’s why they moved up. Ty Montgomery — another appealing kick returner — was taken right ahead of Seattle’s original third round choice. If the intention was to add a dynamic return man, sitting and waiting until the third round wasn’t going to get it done.

You also have to match up value. If you want to argue that they could’ve taken an offensive lineman in round three and another kick returner in round four with the extra picks — that’s an argument. But it’s unlikely Seattle had a return man ranked as highly as Lockett and there’s every chance the O-line value wouldn’t have matched up in round three either.

So what makes him such an effective kick returner? Patience, setting up blocks and enough athleticism to exploit opportunities. He’s more of a Leon Washington than a Percy Harvin. He isn’t going to fly past everyone and attack holes with the same aggression as Harvin. That doesn’t make him any less effective.

See for yourself:

You see the patience to find the crease and then he’s gone. He’s going to need a little help at times to make the truly game-changing plays but he does have the talent to exploit an opportunity. He runs hard too and is surprisingly tough to bring down.

Personally I think Montgomery is a more creative returner in the Patterson style. Lockett is a little more opportunistic. The pressure is on Seattle’s entire special teams unit to take a step forward now. Their blocking has to return to 2013 form. If they achieve that, Lockett can be very successful.

As a receiver there’s no getting away from the fact he’s undersized. He’s 5-10 without any great length (30 inch arms). He has 8 3/8 inch hands and only weighed 182lbs at the combine. What he achieved in college despite the lack of size — and his performances on tape — is really the exciting part.

I was guilty of writing off Russell Wilson as a college prospect because I never thought a 5-10 quarterback could work. That’s what conventional wisdom told us. My perspective on smaller players totally changed after making such an ignorant mistake on Wilson. When I watched Lockett for the first time properly it was a game against Oklahoma in 2013. I didn’t know his measurements. I was surprised when I went online and read his size and height. He dominated with three touchdowns and 12 catches for 278 yards.

I remember thinking he had a little Golden Tate to his game. He isn’t Tate — and it’s by no means an exact comparison at all. Yet he has a little extra size in his lower body. It enables him — like Tate — to make the explosive high-point grabs. Lockett had a 35.5 inch vertical at the combine. Tate managed 35 inches. The Seahawks missed Tate’s ability to play beyond his height and size last season and Lockett has some of those traits.

At 1:11 in the video below, this play just felt so ‘Tate’ to me. Tough down the field grab in double coverage, playing beyond his size to make the key play:

He’s very capable of these kind of chunk plays downfield. It’s been said many times over the last 48 hours that he’s nearly always open. Technically he’s very assured. He sells routes perfectly before working over the middle. He’s got a terrific double-move. He varies his play-speed perfectly, lulling the DB forward before exploding into space. He’s a perfect combination of suddenness (Seattle LOVES sudden receivers), technique and intelligence.

It’s unclear whether Lockett will ever be a prolific outside threat due to his lack of size. That doesn’t mean he won’t make the occasional big play down the sideline or breaking over the middle. What he will provide is some of the shiftiness Tate provided on the screens and working underneath. Remember the touchdowns against Carolina and Chicago in 2012? Seattle pretty much lost that when Tate departed for Detroit. It’s back on the table with Lockett.

He’s not a ‘catch everything’ type of player. He’s certainly not unreliable — he’s just not automatic. He’ll let the occasional high throw slip through his grasp. He’ll fail to bring in a low grab. There aren’t any worrisome concentration drops. He’s not as frustrating as Breshad Perriman or even Amari Cooper at times. His catching technique is sound and he certainly knows how to high point. Playing with a more accurate quarterback will help — just don’t expect too much if he’s on the receiving end of one of Wilson’s notorious ‘safely too high’ passes. Leave those for Jimmy Graham.

One of the big plus points of Lockett’s pre-draft process was the Senior Bowl. He shone during work outs and eventually the game. In our live in-game thread I noted at the start of the third quarter: “Tyler Lockett — perhaps the most impressive player so far — makes another eye-catching play. Quinted Rollins (CB, Miami, OH) should get an interception here, but he loses concentration and tips the ball kindly towards Lockett — who taps his toes to make a big first down.”

You can see the play at 1:33 in the video here:

In my closing notes I added: “The most impressive player in the game outside of the running backs (Varga, Abdullah, Cobb, Johnson) was Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett. He looked smooth, crisp and made several impressive grabs.”

I think the touchdown at 4:21 below highlights exactly why he can be so effective, especially 20-30 yards from the end zone. There’s still enough room to work a conventional route. He knows how to win 1v1:

He uses a head fake to the outside before darting inside on the hard slant. He totally sells this at the top of the route. It’s a terrible throw, truly horrific. Even then he tracks back to the ball and makes a difficult grab. Any NFL quarterback worth his salt throws this in stride and it’s the easiest touchdown of the season. All because he wins with the route.

If you watch a lot of Lockett you notice he’s adept at working back to the quarterback. He eats up a cushion quickly before breaking back to the QB. He’s already doing this at a pro level. He’ll pick up the quick 6-7 yards and the occasional first down with a quick release. There are several examples of this in the Texas Tech tape above — including a touchdown at 5:49. This type of receiver play makes the back-shoulder throw so easy to execute. He just makes life easy on the quarterback.

Kyle Posey talked about how Lockett wins at the top of his route in a lot of detail in this article.

He’s compared himself to Antonio Brown. That’s the go-to comparison now for any undersized receiver. Brown is 5-10 and 186lbs and only ran a 4.48 forty. Lockett says his premium weight is in the 186lbs range and he too is 5-10. He ran a 4.40 at his combine.

The thing is — Brown is so rare. There aren’t many players like him. Pittsburgh’s tendency to lob the ball around under Todd Haley also helps. Lockett is never likely to get the same number of targets as Brown. Yet this is the first time John Schneider has made a really aggressive move in the draft to go get a specific player. He didn’t even do it for Russell Wilson. They’re not making that move for a pure kick returner only. They see something in Lockett. His ability to get open gives him a shot.

He certainly doesn’t lack confidence. When asked by Steve Mariucci who he’d like to score a touchdown against, of course his answer was Richard Sherman:

Note the “My dad taught me…” quote in that video. The references and respect to his father sounds extremely Russell Wilson-esque. Lockett in many ways resembles Wilson. He’s a highly productive, record breaking football player despite being undersized. He’s extremely positive, competitive and dedicated to the game of football. He has NFL bloodlines. He’s probably been written off a few times because of his size.

He’s considered a film rat. Is it any wonder this team coveted him?

His initial role will be to provide a special teams boost to a slumping unit. His long term role could be much greater. We talked about finding a receiver Wilson could grow with over the next 5-6 years. Don’t be shocked if it ends up being an undersized, highly competitive production machine. Just like the QB.


Seattle’s Frank Clark flashes first round talent, explosion

May 3rd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Frank Clark was taken by the Seahawks at pick #63

Frank Clark could’ve been a first round pick. The character flags and his dismissal from Michigan made him available to the Seahawks at the end of the second round.

Let’s look at how he compares to the first pass rusher taken in the draft — Dante Fowler Jr (#3 overall).

Clark’s a shade under 6-3, he’s 271lbs and ran a 4.64. Fowler Jr is 10lbs lighter and ran a 4.60 at the combine. Clark beat Fowler Jr in the vertical (38.5 vs 32.5 inches), broad (118 vs 112 inches), three cone (7.08 vs 7.40), short shuttle (4.05 vs 4.32) and the 60-yard shuttle (11.22 vs 11.89).

They’re virtually the same height but Clark’s arms are an inch longer at 34.5 inches.

The most important measurable might be the 10-yard split. Clark ran a 1.58 while Fowler Jr managed a 1.59. Anything under 1.60 is considered excellent.

Statistically Fowler Jr managed 15 TFL’s in 2014 compared to Clark’s 13.5 — although he played two more games due to Clark’s dismissal.

PFF ranked Clark as the third most productive pass rusher in college football last season and the sixth best versus the run. Fowler Jr came in at #8 in terms of pass rush and wasn’t in the top-20 for run defense.

Is it fair to contemplate how much better Dante Fowler Jr actually is — the #3 overall pick? It makes you wonder how high Clark would’ve been drafted without the red flags. That’s not to underplay Fowler Jr’s tape (which is excellent). He showed he could rush from any spot (D-end, inside, linebacker). He’s much more nimble working in space and there are times where he just sidesteps blockers and it’s over. Fowler Jr has cat-like agility and that is the one big separating factor.

The thing is, Clark’s tape isn’t half bad either.

Fowler Jr was the best defensive player in the draft (Leonard Williams was a little overrated, but that’s another story). Clark isn’t a million miles away. It sounds absurd because it hasn’t been talked about. With a clean off the field record it’s almost certain Clark would’ve been one of the biggest risers. He certainly wouldn’t have been available for the Seahawks.

Whether this team should’ve capitalised on that situation is a debate that will dominate Seattle sports media this week.

Cliff Avril ran a 1.50 split at 253lbs. Bruce Irvin ran a 1.55 split at 245lbs. Clark is nearly 20lbs heavier than Avril and 26lbs heavier than Irvin. He’s in the same ball-park for short-range quickness.

We’re talking about an exceptional physical specimen with a rare combination of length, speed and explosion.

So we’ve established he’s a spectacular athlete. What about his play?

Clark is a splash play specialist. A splash play is recorded any time a pass rusher negatively impacts a pass attempt. That could be a sack, knocking down the ball at the LOS, tipping a pass or hitting a QB while he’s throwing the ball.

Not all of these plays show up in the stat column. There’s a lot of focus on sacks in particular — as if it’s the greatest determining factor in how effective a player is.

In many cases it’s a red herring.

Let’s say a defensive end explodes off the snap and gets into the backfield, forcing the quarterback to move off the spot. He tries to scramble and runs straight into the arms of a defensive tackle who records the sack. The D-end makes the play but gets none of the credit.

Clark only recorded 4.5 sacks in ten games for Michigan in 2014. That doesn’t even begin to tell the story of his production. He added 13.5 TFL’s, broke up two passes, averaged 4.2 tackles a game and impacted many more snaps.

His pursuit is phenomenal and virtually unmatched in the 2015 draft class. He works down the line better than any other pass rusher, stringing out run plays and often making tackles by the sideline. He doesn’t give up, the motor never stops. If he doesn’t win initially in a 1v1 battle he keeps going, works off the block and largely holds position at the very least. These are all valuable traits when it comes to run defense. Even if he doesn’t end up being a sack artist — he’ll always hold major value for his range and pursuit against the run. He’s a tough guy to move around.

In a play against Akron he’s double teamed off the edge giving the defensive tackle a 1v1 situation up the middle. It allowed the DT to get the QB off his spot and scramble to his left. Clark disengages and chases the QB down for no gain by the far sideline.

In the same game he stunts inside and explodes through the middle to absolutely hammer the quarterback as he throws (forcing an incompletion). The quarterback limped off to the sideline.

You see everything you look for in an accomplished pass rusher too. Too many college players rely on speed to dominate overmatched offensive linemen. When they get to the next level and they take on superior blockers they are one-dimensional and become ineffective or resort to specialist roles. Clark is capable of taking on a blocker, disengaging with heavy hands and exploding into the backfield. He’s willing to mix things up — stunting inside, using the spin move. He’ll draw you in from different angles. He’s adept at converting speed to power and yet you still see the two fundamental plays — the speed rush to the edge and the bull rush.

Look at the video below and fast forward to 0:28:

Clark engages the tackle and drives him into the backfield. At that point he’s won the battle, it’s all about how quick he can get to the QB. He eventually disengages to make the sack. This is the type of play you see in the NFL all the time. At the next level you rarely beat a tackle with pure speed the same way you do against the college tackles. You have to battle, you have to work. Clark is pro-ready in that regard.

Fast forward to 1:37 in the same video. Clark uses one arm to keep the tackle off his frame (length crucial here) and just rides him into the quarterback. It takes a little while to get the QB down but the end result is a 12-13 yard loss. Speed, power, finish.

Frank Clark’s been outstanding tonight” yells the commentator after the play.

If you need evidence he can be a quick-twitch speed rusher, take a look at 0:52 below:

He glides beyond the right tackle, bending the arc and exploding. The quarterback does well to make a quick throw — but this doesn’t take anything away from Clark’s play.

Look at the same video at 1:35. Clark makes a fantastic break off the snap — he’s a split-second ahead of every other lineman. He’s straight into the backfield leaving the right tackle in his stance. If you freeze the frame at 1:38 you see a quarterback about to be slammed for a big sack. He senses the pressure and tries to escape. On another day he runs straight into a crowded LOS and probably straight into a defensive tackle. A nice double team on the DT means he can scramble up the middle for a short gain before Clark brings him down.

This is a splash play. The quarterback is trying to throw the ball downfield but can’t because Clark’s in the backfield. Just because he avoids a big loss and makes a couple of yards on the play — it’s still a win for Clark.

Look at 1:58. He engages the left tackle four yards behind the LOS. Why? The tackle knows he has to set a deep base against this guy. Clark shrugs him off and tackles the running back for a one-yard gain. It’s a brilliant play.

And that brings us to the Northwestern game. I broke it down in March so rather than repeat myself you can check it out here. Here’s one noticeable line though:

He looks like a second round talent with an UDFA character flag. If you trust him — or if you can make yourself believe you can trust him — you’re going to get a guy who can play quickly, will excel against the run and make plays even as a rookie.

He shoots gaps better than possibly any other defensive end in this class. He’s certainly among the top group. This kind of play flashes up quite a lot:

Lower body explosion and speed isn’t defined solely by a 40-yard run in a straight line. Here’s the 1.58 split and the 38.5 inch vertical showing up on tape.

Without the character concerns, there’s every chance Clark would’ve built momentum at the combine and ended up going in the first round.

Michael Bennett played 763 snaps in the 2014 season. He was always going to have a bigger role in his second season since returning to Seattle, but it’s still too many. Clark can realistically spell both Bennett and Avril. He’s somewhere between the two players in terms of speed, power and the ability to work along the line. There’s even some evidence he can play in space — he dropped on the odd occasion for Michigan and didn’t look out of place.

Seattle retained most of a defense that remained #1 in the NFL for points and yardage last season. The one player of significance they lost — Byron Maxwell — they replaced with their most expensive veteran acquisition in the open market (Cary Williams). Now they’ve acquired an explosive pass rusher to replace two-sack O’Brien Schofield.

If Jordan Hill makes a full recovery, if Cassius Marsh can force his way into the rotation, if Brandon Mebane can reach his 2014 form and if Ahtyba Rubin helps solidify the middle — you could be looking at comparable depth to the 2013 line.

Tomorrow — a look at Tyler Lockett.


That’s that for another year — Day three draft notes

May 2nd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

– Reports emerged right before the fourth round began that Seattle wanted to trade up from #130 to #100 with the Titans. No deal materialised and Tennessee drafted defensive tackle Angelo Blackson instead. At #102 the Panthers did move up to get Daryl Williams. Carolina jumped up 22 spots in a trade with Oakland. Given Williams’ size, character and run blocking qualities, is it safe to presume that’s who the Seahawks were possibly targeting?

— Seattle drafted two offensive linemen in round four — Terry Poole and Mark Glowinski. At the combine Poole looked like he had an ideal guard/center frame and although he played tackle in college — he’ll move inside. Glowinski is a tackle convert to guard with extreme athletic qualities.

— Is it likely the Seahawks will add a veteran center in the next few days (eg Chris Myers)?

— Pete Carroll says Poole will compete immediately for the left guard slot. Glowinski appears to be a right guard. Could they be preparing for life after J.R. Sweezy (a free agent next year)? Glowinski is tailor made for Sweezy’s role. They might not be able to afford him — thus the Glowinski pick.

— John Schneider said in his end of day two press conference they had three players they didn’t want to leave the draft without. They got two of them. Was Mitch Morse the one they lost out on? It’s hard to imagine how they could’ve acquired Morse, Frank Clark and Tyler Lockett. Would they have been willing to trade players and/or 2016 picks to be aggressive?

— No shocks in rounds 5-7. Seattle targets difference making athleticism. Picking in this range is a total crapshoot really. During the Tim Ruskell years, they were pretty much throwaway picks to be spent on long snappers, backup kickers and full backs. The Seahawks know it’s hard to find studs late in a draft — so they go for the guys with upside and try to harness the physical qualities on offer. Two long, fast defensive backs (Tye Smith & Ryan Murphy). A defensive end with experience on offense (Obum Gwacham) and a defensive tackle heading the opposite way (Kristjan Sokoli — played DT but announced by Seattle as a guard). Carroll claims Sokoli will train to be a center. Look at who goes to the VMAC pre-draft and look at the athletic qualities. Nobody knows much about the way these guys play — but based on the measurables you can see who the Seahawks will likely target.

— No quarterback surely means a return for Tarvaris Jackson?

— The Seahawks landed UDFA wide receiver Austin Hill from Arizona. Before an ACL injury in 2013 he flashed genuine first round potential. So far he’s struggled to get back up to 2012 form but he has a shot to make it. He could easily be the next Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse.

— 34-year-old Green Beret Nate Boyer was added as an UDFA. The NFL Network had been running a feature on him during day three’s coverage. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s a long snapper and a long shot to make the cut — but it’s a great story.

— Seattle added several undrafted free agents and minicamp tryouts. Here are some of the names: Alex Singleton, Ron Martin, Rod Smith, Nate Boyer, Quayshawn Nealy, Trovon Reed, Jesse Davis, Austin Hill, Thomas Rawls, Ross Apo, Keenan Lambert, Triston Wade, Michael Hartvigson, Ronnie Shields.

— They didn’t come away with a running back. As soon as they made the trade for Tyler Lockett, picking a RB became very unlikely. They had to spend the two fourth round picks on the O-line. Round five had to be earmarked for an athletic corner (big need).


LIVE: 2015 NFL Draft (rounds 4-7)

May 2nd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Today we’ve got a live blog with a brief reaction to each Seahawks pick. We’ll use this as an open thread. I’ll have a longer piece up at the conclusion of the draft.

Seattle’s day three

Ian Rapoport reported on the NFL Network that Seattle was aggressively trying to trade from pick #130 up to pick #100 (the first pick on day three). Tennessee made a pick instead and selected Angelo Blackson (DT, Auburn).

The Seahawks have major needs on the offensive line. Were they looking to get at the guys who dropped (La’el Collins, T.J. Clemmings)?

Carolina traded up from #124 to #102 with Oakland shortly after. The Seahawks were possibly jostling for an offensive lineman with the Panthers. Both teams have major needs on the O-line. Carolina drafted Daryl Williams. Big character guy. Competitive. Not athletic. So basically the prototype Seattle left guard.

Was that the player the Seahawks wanted to trade up for? The Panthers gave up a 5th and 7th rounder to move up.

T.J. Clemmings was taken with the 11th pick of round four by the Minnesota Vikings. Adam Schefter is reporting he fell due to a navicular fracture and there are doubts about his longevity.

The New England Patriots took Tre Jackson with the following pick. The Washington Redskins took Arie Kouandjio right after that too. Offensive linemen are going off the board.

Round 4, Pick 31 (130)
Terry Poole (T, San Diego State)
Tony Pauline called Seattle’s interest in Poole months ago, enabling us to spend some time on him. At the combine he appeared to have a frame that matched well to the center position. Good length, mobile, strong. This is why they could afford to wait on linemen.

Round 4, Pick 35 (134) (compensatory)
Mark Glowinski (G, West Virginia)
SPARQ’d out guard with major upside. The athletic compliment to Quinton Spain on the West Virginia O-line. He could be an immediate starter just like Poole. Again, another player who theoretically could play center.

Round 5, Pick 34 (170) (compensatory)
Tye Smith (CB, Towson State)
Length, size and speed. The Seahawks know what they want at corner and find a guy in this range every year. He’s quite skinny to play outside but could be tested inside early. They had to add a corner.

Round 6, Pick 33 (209) (compensatory)
Obam Gwacham (DE, Oregon State)
Extremely raw with a ton of upside. Gwacham is kind of a Jameson Konz type. Is a TE? Is he a DE? In the sixth round it’s worth a flier.

Round 6, Pick 38 (214) (compensatory)
Kristjan Sokoli (DT, Buffalo)
Uber athletic defensive tackle prospect originally from Europe. Has been touted as a possible convert to the offense a la JR Sweezy. A predictable Seahawks pick given his athleticism and VMAC visit. EDIT — the Seahawks are calling Sokoli a guard.

Round 7, Pick 31 (248)
Ryan Murphy (S, Oregon State)
Tall and fast with the ability to possibly play corner or safety. Murphy is another predictable choice for the Seahawks, who focus on athletic qualities in the later rounds. He’ll come in, they’ll coach him up. Let’s see if he sticks.

Kenneth Arthur is doing another live commentary on day three. I’m unable to join in today but Kenny will have you covered:


Thoughts on Clark & Lockett plus rounds 2-3

May 1st, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks did trade up quite aggressively. Just not in the way we expected.

Having discussed the possibility of moving up a few spots in round two using a fourth round pick, Seattle had another plan. Several possible targets went in the early stages of round two (Dorial Green-Beckham, Donovan Smith, Preston Smith) making a move from #63 less appealing. Instead they traded from #95 to #69, giving up a fourth, fifth and sixth round pick in the process.

You might think that’s a steep price. It’s not easy, however, to move up nearly a whole round in a draft without giving up some serious compensation. If they were willing to give up a fourth to move from #63 to around #54 — is giving up a fifth and sixth in the 60’s such a big deal?

We’ll come on to the two players they picked in a moment. First — how did events before the #63 selection impact the Seahawks?

— The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded above New England, Seattle and Green Bay to draft Ali Marpet at #61. It doesn’t mean the Seahawks would’ve taken Marpet but the Packers have a starting center. Seattle and New England could’ve been in the market for one.

— So close:

We talked extensively about a move up for Dorial Green-Beckham and Mitch Morse was our pick in the final 2015 mock draft for Seattle. It seems both were considered targets. Both perhaps went just that little bit too early to get into range.

— There are always things you get right and wrong in a draft. It’s shocking to see Eli Harold drop into round three. It was more reassuring to see Morse and Ty Sambrailo go in the second round as projected, to see Markus Golden go in the second frame and Jalen Collins land on a team being moulded to copy the Seahawks.

So… what about the picks?

We’ve talked about both players extensively. The Frank Clark (DE, Michigan) selection is going to dominate sports radio chat shows on Monday. Possibly for the rest of the week, if not longer. Anyone uncomfortable with the Greg Hardy signing will be equally as uncomfortable with this pick.

I wrote about Clark’s troubles in a piece back in March. I’m going to stick to football in this review — because I think that’s what the community would want from this blog. The Seahawks drafted Clark and therefore we shall talk about him as a prospect.

For me he is a terrific pass rusher that offers an immediate impact to the D-line rotation. Without the character issues he would’ve been a possible first rounder or at least an early second round pick. You can find a tape review of his game vs Northwestern here.

So what does he do well?

Hand technique is vital for a pass rusher. Clark shows adequate get-off and foot-speed but he can also engage, disconnect from a blocker and finish. He’s got a classic bull-rush. He possibly won’t be a sack artist but he’ll create splash plays, move the QB off the spot and make his life uncomfortable. He could also line up in various spots to create pressure.

He has an explosive lower body (38.5 inch vertical) and he excelled in several other drills at the combine. He’s a shade under 6-3 and 271lbs. He’s not a LEO. He’s closer to Michael Bennett. But he can act as a pure edge rusher.

Seattle now has a loaded D-line rotation again. They’ve addressed the defensive front and with good reason. The options left in the draft after round three are weak. It would’ve been tempting to go O-line at #63 but the options available are much more attractive on day three.

If there are character concerns surrounding Clark’s addition, there are no such issues with Tyler Lockett. Another player we frequently discussed as a community, he has a slightly thicker lower body akin to Golden Tate that contains a surprising amount of power. He high points the ball, explodes out of his breaks and just knows how to get open. Isn’t that what you want from your receivers?

He’s a special teams dynamo and will be Seattle’s starting kick returner in 2015. He can also act as a gunner. He can high point the ball, make the spectacular grab. He’s not a SPARQ demon like Clark, but he’s tough, gritty and made to play for the Seahawks.

He comes from a football family and broke numerous records at Kansas State. That’s despite poor QB play pretty much from start to finish. Lockett will score touchdowns, will move the chains and will provide a reliable target for Russell Wilson.

Is it a costly price tag to move up? Not if you believe in the player. Seattle needed a receiver and clearly zoned in on Lockett. Despite giving up three additional picks, they were able to move up nearly a whole round and they still retain a further six selections:

Round four — #130, #134
Round five — #170
Round six — #209, #214
Round seven — #248

That’s ample opportunity to draft at least two offensive linemen, a running back and three other players.

So who remains on the board?

South Carolina running back Mike Davis is still there. Tre McBride is still on the board. There are options galore at the three-technique but Rakeem Nunez-Roches seems like a better fit later on.

Filling the two big holes on the O-line must be the priority though. Guard and center. Neither addressed on days one or two.

Luckily there’s still a wealth of options. Josue Matias remains a personal favourite as a hulking left guard convert. Shaq Mason will make one tough NFL center, while Andy Gallik and B.J. Finney are technically adept. Daryl Williams is still available and so is possible left tackle project Rob Crisp. Mark Glowinski and Quinton Spain are both there. Reece Dismukes will appeal to some, as will Max Garcia. Terry Poole can play guard or center as another ex-left tackle.

T.J. Clemmings, La’el Collins and Tre Jackson also remain available with no end in sight for their fall.

Even though the Seahawks didn’t go O-line today, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to add some pieces on Saturday.


LIVE: 2015 NFL Draft (Rounds 2 & 3)

May 1st, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Live commentary on rounds 2 & 3 with Rob Staton, Kenneth Arthur and Danny Kelly.

Seahawks picks:

#63 — Frank Clark (DE, Michigan)
Long, explosive pass rusher who just makes splash plays. The pick won’t sit well with some fans, given the reasons for Clark’s dismissal from Michigan.

The Seahawks traded up in round three with Washington, giving up a 4th, 5th and 6th rounder.

#69 — Tyler Lockett (WR, Kansas State)
High character, occasionally explosive and very productive receiver. A day one kick returner and special teams dynamo. No surprises Seattle coveted a guy.


Thoughts on round two for the Seahawks

May 1st, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

There are a couple of articles I wanted to highlight today. Mike Florio has the Seahawks taking Markus Golden at #63. I’m a big Golden fan but put him to one side after seeing his lack of length (31 1/8 inch arms) and speed (4.90) at the combine. Golden is a high-intensity pass rusher who’s better than those numbers suggest. But there’s no getting away from the fact Seattle hasn’t taken guys like this. Certainly not early.

Jason La Canfora has the Seahawks potentially taking another pass rusher in Michigan’s Frank Clark. He’s one of the SPARQiest DE’s in the draft and for me his tape is very impressive (see below). The character flags are clear and we’ve spent many days talking about Clark. If they can live with the history — and several reports have teams being prepared to do just that — nobody should be surprised if he goes in the second or third round.

There are, of course, other defensive players who could be enticing. Jalen Collins, Eli Harold, Preston Smith, Mario Edwards Jr and Jordan Phillips all remain on the board.

There are two likely reasons why you would take a defensive player at #63:

1. When Dorial Green-Beckham leaves the board, there isn’t another touchdown maker/field tiling playmaker with his upside. They don’t need to force the receiver need for the sake of it. It might be Green-Beckham or move on. And the feeling is DGB will go in the top-15 picks in round two. Seattle would have to be aggressive to get him.

2. The offensive line depth is so strong in the middle rounds. If you don’t move up, you pick four times in rounds 3-4. That’s ample opportunity to get a receiver, running back and two offensive linemen.

Furthermore, the defensive talent wains as the rounds go on. If you want to add a pass rusher, a little reach here might be your best chance. Not that Clark is really even a reach if you put aside the character concerns.

On Green-Beckham, it’s hard to imagine where he might go. He doesn’t make Mel Kiper’s top-25 remaining players on the board. Tony Pauline previously said he wouldn’t take him in the top-50. They both speak to teams. The Bears got their big target. St. Louis and New Orleans have bigger needs. Where does he go?

Ian Rapoport says the Seahawks are willing to trade into the early part of round two. See his Tweet at the top of the page. Green-Beckham won’t be the only target either. They could be looking to move up for a defensive player.

There’s still room for a wildcard — or another team being very aggressive to get him. Or he could fall. And if he gets close to #50 — watch out for Seattle moving up. If they don’t get a receiver early, they could look at Tre McBride later. They worked out Chris Conley and Ty Montgomery seems like a lock to be a Seahawk at some point.

There are so many options on the O-line. There’s no reason to panic there.

Once again we’ll be doing a live Google Hangout tonight throughout rounds 2-3. I hope you’ll join us.


Players the Seahawks could target in round two

April 30th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Dorial Green-Beckham remains on the board after round one

Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Missouri)
As expected he didn’t go in the first round. How far will he fall? Some teams won’t even consider drafting him in the top-50. He won’t last until pick #63 but if he gets beyond #50 — watch out for the Seahawks trading up. It’s hard to place a team before the 49ers who would consider taking him. Can Seattle work out a deal with Minnesota picking just ahead of San Francisco? Will someone else move up to take him? He looks like the best remaining option for the Seahawks — but can they get into range?

Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
Another player the Seahawks would probably have to go up and get. He’s not a 1.50 split rusher like Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin but he’s pissed off to be great and explodes off the snap. He’s a little boom or bust at times but he’d fit right into Seattle’s scheme, rotation and identity. Intense in a good way. Compares himself to Bruce Irvin.

Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
Unlikely to fall much further with teams at the top of round two hunting for offensive line help. He would provide athleticism and left tackle potential, even if his best fit immediately is at guard.

Grady Jarrett (DT, Clemson)
Tenacious interior pass rusher who can get into the backfield but also plays stout against the run. More of a Jordan Hill type than a Brandon Mebane. Some people have him in the early second round, others in rounds 3-4.

Preston Smith (DE, Mississippi State)
Michael Bennett style rusher but a little inconsistent at times. Flashes a disruptive edge and has the potential to cause havoc. Then he’ll go quiet for a half. He has an enticing combination of size and athleticism — but do they need another Bennett? Will be an option for 3-4 teams looking for an athletic D-end as well as teams trying to find a power DE for the 4-3.

Mario Edwards Jr (DE, Florida State)
Three-technique convert if he lands with the Seahawks. He had an official visit to Seattle which is intriguing. Tape is pretty poor but if he can stay in the 280’s and find a role inside there’s something to work with. Certainly one to watch anyway.

Eric Rowe (CB, Utah)
There are still teams with a need at cornerback and you’d expect Rowe to be next on the hit-list. Jalen Collins is a better player with greater upside but Rowe has none of the character red flags. He also has experience at safety.

Devin Smith (WR, Ohio State)
Chunk play specialist and a key special teams gunner. Can make the big play downfield but does suffer the occasional concentration lapse over the middle. Plays above his size, has a little OBJ to his catching style. Lacks OBJ’s massive hands and superstar ability, mind.

T.J. Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
He could be the first pick in the second round. The only thing that’ll force a fall is a lack of polish and experience on offense. In terms of upside the sky’s the limit and he’s unlikely to make it anywhere near Seattle’s pick.

Mitch Morse (C, Missouri)
Almost identical size to Max Unger and performed admirably at left tackle for Mizzou. High character, tenacious and born to block in the NFL. No slouch in terms of athleticism. A gradual riser during the draft process and probably won’t be available when Seattle is on the clock in round three.

Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
Again it comes down to how far he drops. He’s a brilliant prospect with bags of potential. Without the character concerns he’s a sure-fire top-20 pick. Long, fast, competes for the ball and a brawler. He’d be a perfect fit for the LOB in terms of playing style. In the late second round his value might be too good to pass up.

Donovan Smith (T, Penn State)
Not too dissimilar to James Carpenter. People will groan at that — but Seattle seems to have a ‘style’ at left guard. They like tackle converts with massive size and length. Smith looks like a guard on tape but they might be tempted by his experience on the blind side. Russell Okung is out of contract next year.

Ty Sambrailo (T, Colorado State)
Like Smith he’s a tackle convert with size and plus athleticism. His personality is similar to John Moffitt’s. He visited with the Seahawks and worked out at center, so he has some flexibility. Just a solid player with a lot of upside who would likely start at left guard.

Ali Marpet (C, Hobart)
The Seahawks worked him out this week. Why so late in the process? He’s worth a look considering the tape doesn’t give much away. How does he compare to some of the other prospects in this class — or Lemuel Jeanpierre and Patrick Lewis? Can he develop from small school standout to established pro?

Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
Massive size and great mobility combine to create a tantalising prospect. He has hit and miss tape but the potential is there. He can do back-flips at 329lbs, runs in the 5.1’s and has nearly 35-inch arms. He’s not the finished article but he could be very special.

I could add others. I’m not convinced the Seahawks will look hard at Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State) and what’s happening with La’el Collins (T, LSU)? They are two names I’m sure people will ask about.

Any of the mid-to-late round options we talked about could also be in play. Teams started reaching to take guys they like at the bottom of round one. The Seahawks, if they stay at #63, are more than likely to do the same. That could mean anything — a random defensive pick, a receiver like Tre McBride, one of the athletic or big offensive linemen we’ve discussed. Don’t be surprised by anything. If they stay at #63, you almost expect an obscure pick.

However, the options above provide a real opportunity to move up. The first name to watch is Dorial Green-Beckham. He isn’t the only player Seattle will consider moving up for though — they could be interested in several defensive prospects and offensive linemen too.


LIVE: 2015 NFL Draft (first round)

April 30th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Join us from 4:30pm PST for live coverage of the NFL Draft’s first round. Turn the volume off ESPN and the NFL Network and get your analysis with a Seahawks slant.

We’ll be back tomorrow to cover the second and third round.