Can the Seahawks afford a luxury pick in round one?

March 1st, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Todd Gurley would be a luxury pick for the Seahawks, so can they justify it?

The answer to the title is most definitely yes. They’re one of only a few who can justify a luxury pick. While we discuss, debate and (occasionally) fret about who will replace Byron Maxwell next season — it’s easy to forget the Seahawks have a good thing going.

They’ve already re-signed K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril for the long term. The only two significant starters they’re likely to lose (not including any imminent cuts) is Maxwell and James Carpenter. They could use reinforcements elsewhere but put it into context. More than half the teams in the league are going through some form of relevance-chase. Then there’s a cluster of teams like Detroit, San Diego, Carolina and Arizona that are close to contending but still seem pretty far away.

The Seahawks are part of a very small and elite group. The clan of legit contenders. New England is in the club. So is Green Bay. Baltimore is close but are they included? What about Dallas and Denver?

Very few teams in the league have it as good as Seattle — even without Maxwell and Carpenter. They have eleven picks in the 2015 draft and enough cap room to not feel completely restricted going into free agency.

A few problems will be solved in the open market. Darnell Docket has just been released by Arizona and could offer interior line depth while improving the pass rush. Julius Thomas or Jordan Cameron could provide the dynamic big target Wilson badly needs in the passing game. Those two additions alone would allow the Seahawks to enter the draft feeling confident. And they might even add a veteran corner or offensive lineman in the second wave of free agency.

With their eleven picks they can get a receiver or two, a replacement for Carpenter at guard, a cornerback or two with length, further depth at linebacker and safety, another defensive lineman. They can manipulate the board and fill out the roster.

They can save a pick for a ‘luxury’ and not jeopardize the short term goal of the team (to return to the Super Bowl next season).

So what would constitute a ‘luxury’ pick?

Todd Gurley. There’s your luxury.

In 2013 the Seahawks gave up a first round pick for Percy Harvin. They weren’t on the clock until the late second round. Even then, they traded down before selecting Christine Michael — a SPARQ demon with incredible physical skills. He wasn’t likely to challenge Marshawn Lynch for snaps and would have a job on replacing Robert Turbin as the #2 running back. This was a shot. The kind of move a team rich in depth (as the Seahawks were in 2013) can make with confidence. They were planning ahead at the running back position.

The depth isn’t quite the same these days — mainly because the 2013 and 2014 drafts haven’t thoroughly replenished the loss of certain individuals. The Harvin fiasco robbed the Seahawks of a first round talent and a third round pick in 2014. But it’s still a deep group. How else could they survive an injury plagued season to return to the Super Bowl?

There’s no reason to believe they won’t be bold again, with an eye to the future.

Todd Gurley probably won’t play football in 2015. He tore an ACL on November 15th in a game against Auburn. He didn’t work out at the combine and admitted he won’t be ready for the Georgia pro-day on March 18th. Unlike other prospects in recent years, he’s doing the sensible thing. Don’t rush back just to make a token performance pre-draft. Let the tape speak for itself and get healthy.

Scientific advances mean ACL injuries are no longer the career death sentence they used to be. Adrian Peterson made a spectacular comeback from a similar injury. Chris Clemons also returned for the Seahawks in 2013 with almost no obvious side effects. Dr. James Andrews is working on Gurley’s knee and recently stated he was ahead of schedule. He also shot down speculation over the health of the knee, after Gurley refused to be examined by medical teams at the combine:

“I heard some fuss that Gurley wouldn’t let teams examine him and that’s just totally misleading… The team physicians I have spoken with who are there — and I have spoken to a bunch of them — were all happy about what they saw. I mean, they’re smart enough to know you can’t have 32 teams pulling and tugging on a knee just 3½ months removed from surgery. But the doctors I spoke with said he looked great and I’d say he’s probably six weeks ahead with his recovery.”

Gurley needs to go to a team that is prepared to let this process play out. Rushing him back in 2015 is not the answer. Accept the situation for what it is, let him build up strength and prepare for a long career. That approach is significantly going to impact his draft stock, but it’s totally necessary. He could’ve been a top-15 pick without the knee injury. Instead he’s going to fall to the late first round or even the second round.

I think it’s fair to assume the Seahawks are going to get a deal done with Marshawn Lynch. A fairly relaxed appearance on Turkish Television (yep) this weekend didn’t feel like the final days of a players career. Despite denials from the players agent, Jason La Canfora continues to report a deal will be done. It feels like a matter of time. The Seahawks need to know if he’s accepting the offer before March 10th when free agency begins.

Even with a new contract in his pocket, there’s going to be an annual ‘will he or won’t he’ discussion on Lynch retiring until the decision is finally made. He’s the new Brett Favre. Eventually he will retire and it’s going to leave a massive void.

Robert Turbin is a free agent after the 2015 season. The market for running backs isn’t great financially, but Turbin has very little tread on the tires. He might be a difficult keep unless the Seahawks intend to make him the starter after Lynch.

You might lose both Lynch and Turbin in a years time. I’m not convinced this team has anywhere near enough faith in Christine Michael to become a starter. They don’t even trust him to contend for the kick returners role — a position he filled for Texas A&M.

Gurley would be a luxury pick in terms of 2015 — he wouldn’t take the field. But in 2016 he could be a vital addition — either in support of Lynch or as the bona fide starter.

The decision to draft or pass on Gurley really comes down to four things:

1. Do you believe he can make a full recovery?

2. Is he special enough to warrant a redshirt season?

3. Can you live with another first pick in the draft providing minimal or no impact as a rookie?

4. Is the running back position vital enough to draft one for the future?

The first question we’ll never know the answer to as mere observers. The second question? I certainly think he’s special enough. You just don’t find many players with Gurley’s combination of size, speed, patience, home-run hitting ability and pro-ready skills in the passing game. I think the third question, ultimately, is the big one for Seattle. Having received virtually no return from their first and second round picks in 2013 and only a minimal return on their first pick in 2014 — this would be a big decision.

The answer to the fourth question would probably be ‘no’ for most teams. Yet the Seahawks want to run the ball with style and substance. It’s their identity. Replacing Lynch is going to be one of the biggest challenges in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era. Having the opportunity to draft a player as talented as Gurley to eventually replace Lynch is attractive. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to do it — but you’d understand it if they did.

Nate Liss at Field Gulls has written an article arguing the case for Gurley in Seattle:

“Would you take him? With all the damage to our secondary and players leaving in free agency I wouldn’t put up a fight if you decided otherwise, but I think deep down inside the idea of transitioning from one Marshawn Lynch to the next sounds like a pretty incredible prospect to all of us.”

I wouldn’t be surprised by the move. The Seahawks are projected to receive compensatory picks in the fourth, fifth (x2) and sixth rounds. If you’re able to land Julius Thomas and some D-line help in free agency, you can target receivers, offensive linemen, cornerbacks and defensive linemen with the seven picks you have between rounds 2-5.

We’ve seen talented players drafted in the late first/early second round while recovering from ACL injuries. Dominique Easley would’ve been a top-20 pick — instead the New England Patriots drafted him at #29 a year ago. The 49ers drafted Tank Carradine with the #40 pick in 2013.

There’s also this:

It’s possible, due to the injury, that 2015 wouldn’t count as an accrued season. Meaning if you draft him at #31, you can control his contract for six years.

If the Seahawks are going to remain contenders for several years, they’re unlikely to get a shot at a talent like Gurley without some kind of red flag forcing him down the board. This would be an opportunistic pick — a calculated risk for the long term benefit of your running game. They were willing to roll the dice on Christine Michael with an early pick — a player with character flags and an injury history.

At the same time — this is a team looking to remain on top in the NFC. Their four first round picks between 2010-12 (Okung, Thomas, Carpenter, Irvin) all started or had an impact in year one. 2012 feels like a long time ago.

Do you need to plan for the long term at running back? Do you need a player of Lynch or Gurley’s quality to establish a top running game? Can you afford to wait out the Lynch situation and simply address the problem in 2016, 2017 or whenever he decides to retire?

Lynch reportedly took offense to Darrell Bevell’s suggestion of a ‘running back by committee’ approach in 2014. Given the fractious nature of the relationship between player and coaches/front office, would drafting a running back with the first pick open up old wounds?

Hey — sign the new contract we really need you! By the way, meet your replacement.

Gurley has a tendency to get banged up. Aside from the ACL tear, he missed three games in 2013 with an ankle injury and finished the season playing hurt. He was spelled in two other games due to ankle and hip issues. Lynch is a freak of nature with the strength of two men. He’s avoided serious injuries as a consequence. Gurley played at around 230lbs at Georgia but slimmed down to 222lbs for the combine. He’s marginally taller and 7lbs bigger than Lynch. It remains to be seen whether he can be as durable.

Running back is a short career. A redshirt year is unlikely to have much impact on Gurley playing into his 30’s — rare for most players at the position. Stashing him for an entire season might be a hard sell if you don’t think it’s likely to extend his career.

College football always churns out running backs. Yes — 2014 provided a disappointing crop. But this year there’s depth and quality. Next year’s class will likely be fronted by the excellent Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State. How important is it to take Gurley compared to waiting until 2016 or beyond?

Will he be there at #31? The Baltimore Ravens could redshirt Gurley and re-sign Justin Forsett for another season. Arizona, Dallas, Denver and Indianapolis could also be in the market for a running back. How determined are the Seahawks to trade down from #31 to accumulate further picks in the middle rounds? I still think a trade down from #31 is the most likely scenario as explained here.

Will they ever spend a first round pick on a running back? Some teams flat out refuse to. I suspect it’d take a special talent to warrant the investment, but that’s the same for all teams in this modern pass-happy NFL. I think it’s pretty clear Gurley is ‘special’ — but the injury situation clouds the situation.

You can make a strong case for or against drafting Gurley. The Seahawks are one of the few teams who can justify it — but they might be more interested in adding an immediate impact player. It’d be a luxury for 2015 but a possible life-saver for the running game when Lynch hangs up his cleats.

He’s good enough to warrant the pick. But how keen are the Seahawks to add a ‘running back of the future’?

 

John Schneider’s ideal trade scenario, Darnell Dockett & more

February 27th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

“A first rounder to move back into round two? What’s the catch?”

In yesterday’s Field Gulls Podcast one of the things we touched on was the 2011 trade involving Mark Ingram. The New Orleans Saints traded their second round pick (#56 overall) and a 2012 first rounder to New England for the opportunity to take Ingram with the #28 pick. The Pats essentially traded down 28 spots and acquired what turned out to be the #27 pick in the following draft.

Isn’t this just John Schneider’s perfect trade scenario?

It makes you wonder if he harbored hopes of a similar deal last year when Teddy Bridgewater was still on the board. No mad scramble ensued and the Seahawks ended up moving down a few spots for a fourth rounder. He’s already made it clear he’d be open to trading down again this year.

A deal similar to the Ingram trade is unlikely of course. It’s rare to see a team place that much faith in a player that they’re willing to trade a future first rounder. Atlanta did it in 2011 but that involved moving from #26 to #6 to select Julio Jones. The Saints were buying back into the first using a late second rounder. Cleveland did something similar in 2007 to select Brady Quinn.

Let’s entertain the thought for one moment. If there is a possible scenario where a similar deal could materialize this year, I think this is. And it involves another running back (because there’s surely no way anyone is trading back into the first round for a quarterback this year).

Melvin Gordon didn’t have the kind of explosive workout we expected. But he is a coveted player with fantastic character and work habits. He should be a first round pick, but a few teams might be second guessing his value after the combine. If he drifts and is available at #31 — would a team be willing to move up and get him?

We’ve talked about the possibility of only 15-20 players being awarded first round grades this year (and that might be a generous review). Gordon will be rated as a first rounder on several boards. If you’re a team like San Diego — eager to win in a closing window under Phillip Rivers — would you be willing to go offensive tackle or defense at #17 and then trade back into the first for Gordon? The Chargers own the 16th pick in round two (#48 overall). Would they be willing to offer that pick and their 2016 first rounder to get another playmaker?

It’s very unrealistic given the depth at running back, but not totally ridiculous either. There weren’t too many people criticizing the Saints four years ago. If the Chargers intend to win it all next year or at least make a deep playoff run, they’d be aiming to be picking between #28-32 anyway. Gordon is a terrific player at a position of need.

It’s the teams in a ‘win now’ mentality that are more likely to be aggressive. The Chargers know time is ticking away to win a title in the Rivers/Antonio Gates era before the inevitable reboot. They’re not really that close right now, so a bold move to try and close the gap is something to consider. Whether they feel a running back is the the way to make it happen, well I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The Seahawks would be extremely fortunate to receive such an offer — just as they lucked out in 2009 with Denver’s bizarre move for Alphonso Smith. But it’s sometimes the team determined to make a deal that receives the deal. Everyone knows New England likes to move around and that’s perhaps why the Saints negotiated with the Pats in 2011. Schneider pretty much walked around Lucas Oil Field wearing a cut out shouting “Pick #31 for sale”.

Trading back into the late 40’s or 50’s would still allow the Seahawks to bring in a solid receiver, offensive lineman or defensive lineman. You might even move back up in the second round — Seattle traded back into the second to select Max Unger in 2009 after the Denver trade.

There are so many things that would have to connect for this to happen. Gordon slipping, a team wanting him badly enough, Seattle being the chosen recipient of the offer. But it’s something to consider as we move through this process. And you just know they’d love to move down 20-30 spots to get another first rounder next year.

Darnell Dockett is a free agent

A week ago Dockett tweeted he’d be playing in Arizona next season one way or another, adding “think about it”. He was clearly insinuating he would be joining a NFC West rival if he was cut. It doesn’t have to be the Seahawks, it just feels like that way. I’m not sure he’d be making such a excitable remark about joining the Rams or 49ers.

It could be a major assumption on his behalf or just a playful tease. He’ll turn 34 in May and he’s coming off an ACL injury. If the knee clears, he’d still be a terrific addition for this team. The Seahawks need a proven interior pass rusher to add to their rotation. They also need experienced depth up front. Kevin Williams is probably going to move on or retire. They met with Ricky-Jean Francois yesterday before he signed with the Redskins.

A healthy Dockett at the right price would be a coup for the Seahawks. And that’s the key. Is he healthy?

Daniel Jeremiah’s updated mock draft

It’s good to break down some of these mock drafts, compare them to the ones we do and see what players were available to the Seahawks at #31. You naturally have a tendency to overrate the players you like and take them out of contention for the late first round. So I had a look to see who was available in Daniel Jeremiah’s mock that wouldn’t be available in my own (both published this week).

The answer? Cameron Erving and Jake Fisher. The two players I have going at #31 and #32. Jeremiah’s top 30 players were the same as mine, just in a different order. It might be a similar reaction to the combine (eg Byron Jones in the first round) or it might be that obvious this year.

Jeremiah projected Dorial Green-Beckham to the Seahawks and Carl Davis to the Patriots:

“The Seahawks were a play away from winning consecutive Super Bowls. Green-Beckham is a play-making machine. If he passes the character tests, this would be a great value selection.”

I understand why Green-Beckham gets projected to Seattle. There’s a feeling within the national media that the Seahawks are willing to take chances. It’s an overstated feeling. Bruce Irvin was not a character concern entering the 2012 draft — in fact he’d turned his life around through football and kept his nose clean in the JUCO’s and at West Virginia. They traded for Percy Harvin — but that ill-fated move at least came from a position of experience (Darrell Bevell worked with him in Minnesota, Pete Carroll recruited him at USC).

There’s a bit of a difference between those two moves and taking a chance on Green-Beckham. Right now the NFL is embroiled in controversy over its handling of the Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy cases relating to domestic abuse. You can argue about DGB’s case being dropped but I would urge everyone to read this article and assess the situation. It makes for a difficult read.

Personally I don’t think any team needs to deal with this right now. I suspect he’ll be crossed off several boards. A Randy Moss-esque combine performance would’ve helped but he didn’t have a great workout. He has an odd body shape — big and tall (6-5, 237lbs) but with shorter arms (32.5 inches) and small hands (nine inches). He ran a decent 4.49 but only managed a 33.5 inch vertical and a 9’11” broad jump. In comparison, 6-5, 305lbs Laurence Gibson also managed a 33.5 inch vertical and had a 9’5″ broad jump. So he has the size and some speed, but he doesn’t jump well and hasn’t got the long reach or big hands.

There’s a real thirst to talk him into physical freak status (I sense based on his history as a top high school recruit). In reality a player like Darren Waller is a much more exciting physical specimen. I don’t think he handled the media well at the combine. I don’t see any reason why the Seahawks would take a chance on him in this draft.

Who could be there at #31?

While we’re talking about mock drafts, I thought I’d quickly run through some of the players I think could be available at #31 that I had off the board in my post-combine projection:

Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
He had a surprisingly good overall workout, running a 4.44, posting a 42 inch vertical and a 10’3″ broad jump. He also had a good 1.57 ten yard split. Taking all that into account, why couldn’t he separate in college? He has every physical skill you need to win in the short game with suddenness. And yet he looks almost sluggish at times. He’s also only 6-2 (not the advertised 6-3) with nine inch hands. He could go in the top-20 but it’ll come down to whether you believe he can be coached up to take advantage of that explosive lower body power.

Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut)
‘Senator Jones’ as he’s known at UConn broke records at the combine with his 12’3″ broad jump and remarkable 44.5 inch vertical. He isn’t even 100% because he’s still recovering from a torn labrum. He could easily be a top-15 pick because you just don’t see that level of explosion in the legs. He also has ideal size (6-1, 199lbs) and length (32 inch arms). He’s the complete package physically. His tape is boom or bust though. He can cover for sure, but he wasn’t a lockdown corner and that’s why nobody was really talking about him until the combine.

Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
I’m a big fan of Eli Harold’s but I also really liked Jabaal Sheard in 2011. He ended up going in the early second round and Harold could too. He had a nice combine but didn’t do anything extraordinary (35 inch vert, 4.60, 10’3″ broad jump). He did post a really good ten yard split (1.56) and an excellent short shuttle (4.16 — #3 among defensive linemen). To compare, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin both ran 1.50 over ten yards. He’s far better than Dee Ford who went at #23 last year. But I also believe Sheard is/was much better too.

 

Real in the Field Gulls Podcast appearance

February 26th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Today I joined Kenneth Arthur and Danny Kelly on the ‘Real in the Field (Gulls)’ Podcast. We talk draft and free agency — including thoughts on the combine, who the Seahawks might target and how to solve various holes on the roster (including cornerback and kick returner). We also touch on a topic I’m going to write about tomorrow — a 2011 trade that would’ve been very appealing to John Schneider.

 

Why Seahawks will trade down from #31, take ‘their’ guys

February 25th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Stanford’s Henry Anderson could be a target for the Seahawks

I put out an updated mock draft yesterday — but to be honest, I have very little faith in it. I think they’re going to trade down from #31.

The Seahawks manipulated the board in 2014 accumulating picks along the way. It seems they always intended to draft Paul Richardson with that first pick and knew the range they could move into to get him. I suspect the plan to draft Richardson was as much to do with trading down (and getting a guy they liked) as it was to draft any particular prospect with that top pick. Why? Because their main intention in round one last year was to use the #32 selection to make sure they got more picks for other targeted players later on.

Seattle traded down twice — acquiring an extra fourth rounder from Minnesota and a seventh from Detroit. They also swapped a fifth for a fourth with the Lions. That deal essentially allowed them to take Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood and Kevin Pierre-Louis in the same round. A calculated move — because all three screamed ‘Seahawks’ pre-draft. This wasn’t done on a whim. And you can’t draft all three without the carefully orchestrated trades.

I’m not sure Marsh or Norwood necessarily go in the fourth round unless Seattle takes them. They made sure they got the guys they liked. There are other examples. They knew at #64 they had to take a tackle or risk missing out altogether (they had no third round pick because of the Percy Harvin trade). So they took Justin Britt — a move that, in fairness, seemed like quite a reach.

Garrett Scott provided a physical upside at tackle (a SPARQ demon) in round six. Eric Pinkins was a total unknown, but also a total fit for what they look for in a defensive back. Does Jimmy Stated get drafted if the Seahawks don’t pick him in round five? Moves to get physical ideals onto the roster or obtain players they’d struggle to attract in UDFA.

There weren’t a lot of ‘big names’ on the 2014 list of draftees. There were a lot of players that made you say, “of course!” right after the pick when you looked at the measurables.

I suspect we’ll see something similar again this year. It’ll be a combination of hitting certain positional needs (and possibly reaching a little) in targeted rounds and selecting physical/character fits in other spots.

There’s every chance they’ll trade down again from the #31 pick to give themselves a chance to draft more of their ‘target list’. We get caught up names, we see players we like. The reality is there’s probably only 15-20 players in this draft that the teams will grade in the first round. Which means the player taken at #22 (for example) might not be graded that much higher than the player graded at #35. So if you’re John Schneider picking at #31, the motivation is there to move down.

Another lesson from last year — don’t overrate the combine too much. I think I’m already guilty of that, as I’ll explain in a moment. Donte Moncrief’s workout in Indianapolis a year ago was exceptional. Most people believed he’d be a third rounder before the 2014 combine. With a perfect blend of size, speed and vertical leaping ability — you had to mark him up. You go back to the tape and watch with a positive eye and you see what you want to see. I mocked him in the first round on more than one occasion, eventually settling on a second round grade. He went in the third — the original mark everyone expected.

It’s easy to sit here today and wonder if Tre McBride will go in the second (as I have) or whether Darren Waller with his Vincent Jackson physical comparison will get pumped up the board (guilty, again). It might happen, but is it more likely both players will settle into rounds 3-6? If they like either player enough they might be willing to go a round early. But that’s a big if. Just because they each had a good combine doesn’t mean they’re going to sky rocket into round two or higher.

So while we sit here and wonder what Seattle might do at #31 — it’s probably more worthwhile to simply identify a group of players that could be taken at any point. Prospects Seattle might like and will work out a way to collect.

Receiver might even be a position they’re willing to wait on. If they’re able to pull off a move for a free agent like Julius Thomas — they’ll be adding that elusive dynamic, tall receiving threat to the team. A guy who can work the middle, create a mismatch wherever he lines up, produce in the red zone and convert third downs.

If you sign Thomas as a free agent, you can afford to wait on ‘your guys’ because you’ve added the missing piece to the offense. And you can perhaps afford to develop McBride and Waller (if they’re on your target list) over time. It took V-Jax four years to post a 1000 yard season in San Diego.

They could take two receivers (Pete Carroll and Schneider looked particularly busy in their booth during the WR forty yard dash runs), two corners, two offensive linemen, a linebacker, a safety, a running back and a couple of defensive linemen. That’s a pure guess. The tight end class offered very little to get excited about — and if you sign Julius Thomas (or Jordan Cameron) it’s much less of a need.

Of course, if you’re trying to manipulate the board — you also might trade up for a certain player. They did it for Tharold Simon in 2013. I think it’s unlikely in round one, but certainly is a possibility from the #63 pick onwards.

Players they might manipulate the board to target:

Henry Anderson (DT, Stanford)
Similar size to Tony McDaniel at 6-6 and 294lbs — 33 1/2 inch arms. Ran a 5.03 with an impressive 1.63 ten yard split. He aced the short shuttle with a 4.19 — quickest among defensive linemen. Anderson performed very well at the Senior Bowl. Can play the five technique or work inside. Typical Stanford lineman, great attitude. He’s projecting in rounds 3-4.

Alex Carter (CB, Stanford)
One of the few corners in this class to tick the right boxes for Seattle. He’s 6-0, 196lbs with 32 1/8 inch arms (the Seahawks have not drafted a corner with sub-32 inch arms). He ran a 4.51 (Richard Sherman ran a 4.56). He tested well in the short shuttle and posted a 10’1″ in the broad jump. According to reports he aced interviews at the combine. He’s projecting in rounds 4-5 but might need to be taken earlier due to the weak overall cornerback class.

Ty Sambrailo (T/G, Colorado State)
Active blocker who will be a good fit in a zone scheme. Showed off his movement skills with a terrific 4.58 in the short shuttle (fifth overall among offensive linemen). 6-6 and 311lbs so compares to Carpenter/Britt in terms of size. Short arms so has to play guard. Tony Pauline reported in January that Seattle had interest in Sambrailo. He’s projecting anywhere from rounds 2-4.

Tre McBride (WR, Williams & Mary)
High character receiver. 6-0 and 210lbs with 32 1/8 inch arms. Smallish hands (nine inches) aren’t ideal but they’re bigger than Paul Richardson’s a year ago. Ran a 4.41 with a 1.51 split. Posted a 38 inch vertical and a 4.08 short shuttle. Kick return experience. Plays big on tape — high pointing the football and making contested catches downfield. Sparky on the field and respectful off it. Made ‘wow’ plays even against big school opponents. Recently projecting in rounds 3-4 but rising.

Zack Hodges (DE, Harvard)
Pass rusher with a relentless motor. 6-2 1/2, 250lbs with fantastic length (34 1/2 inch arms). 4.68 forty isn’t ideal for a LEO but a 1.61 split is intriguing. Showed explosiveness in the broad jump (10’5″). Incredible back-story. Lost his mother in high school after losing his father aged six and then his grandfather aged 14. Fought to get to Harvard. Will not quit on or off the field. Touted as a day two pick going into the Senior Bowl, a more modest expectation is mid-to-late round.

Rakeem Nunez-Roches (DT, Southern Miss)
Missed the entire 2013 season with a knee injury but bounced back in 2014 to lead the team in TFL’s (14). Declared early after finding a way to impact games. He’s 6-2 and 307lbs with a shade under 33 inch arms. Ran a 5.02 and posted a nice 34 inch vertical. He could sneak into the later rounds as a priority UDFA. Moved well at the combine.

Rob Crisp (T, NC State)
Handled Vic Beasley better than any tackle in college football last season. Injury history is concerning but he’s 6-7, 301lbs and has 34.5 inch arms. Ran a 5.26 and posted a 32.5 inch vertical (same as T.J. Clemmings). Short shuttle was in the top-eight for offensive linemen at the combine. Could be a steal in the later rounds or UDFA.

Laurence Gibson (T, Virginia Tech)
Only started full-time for the Hokies in 2014 and considered a bit of a surprise invite to the combine in the media. He’s 6-6, 305lbs with vines for arms (35 1/8 inches). Ran an impressive 5.04 forty, posted a 33.5 inch vertical (best among offensive linemen) and a top-five short shuttle. Combine invite hints at respect within scouting circles. Could be a nice later round option ala Garrett Scott a year ago.

Terry Poole (T/G, San Diego State)
Another player linked to the Seahawks by Tony Pauline. Moved well in drills and looks like a big, mobile guard prospect at the next level. 6-5 and 307lbs with a good body shape. Ran a 5.09 forty with a good 1.79 split (Jake Fisher’s split was 1.75). 31 inch vertical and another lineman who put in a good short shuttle. Possible later round ball of clay for Tom Cable.

Kurtis Drummond (S, Michigan State)
Not the fastest (4.68) but showed explosion in the vertical jump (39.5 inches). 6-0 and 208lbs. As good as any safety not named Landon Collins in this mediocre class at the position. Showed genuine range on tape and seen as the organizer within Michigan State’s secondary. Performed well at the Senior Bowl before picking up a slight hamstring strain. Instinctive. Graded in the later rounds — the kind of range Seattle could target a safety.

Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)
Better athlete than people realize — click hear for evidence. Didn’t do the jumps at the combine after dislocating his finger during catching drills. Ran a 4.42 which is quicker than Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Mr. Reliable for the Trojans. Chose to go to USC specifically to compete with Lee and Woods. Former big-time recruit. Tremendous 1.53 split. 6-0 and 198lbs — but the Seahawks will take receivers in that range. Productive return-man. Could be a top-40 pick.

Darren Waller (WR, Georgia Tech)
Almost identical size, speed, length, jumping ability to Vincent Jackson. It’s quite unbelievable how similar they are physically entering the league. 6-6 and 238lbs and still ran a 4.46. One of only two players in the NCAA not to drop a single catchable pass in 2014. 37 inch vertical with 33 1/4 inch arms — tremendous catching radius. Still growing into his body and production was poor in the triple option (no surprises there). Seen as a tight end project for some teams. Has the upside to go day two, more likely a day three selection.

Josh Shaw (S, USC)
The guy who lied about saving his drowning nephew. He doesn’t have the length to play corner in Seattle (6-0 but only 30 3/4 inch arms) but he could be a mobile safety project. He ran a 4.44 forty at 201lbs, jumped 37.5 inches in the vertical and 10’10” in the broad. Will go in the tail end of the draft if not UDFA.

Adrian Amos (CB, Penn State)
Is he a corner or a safety? He has the size, length and speed to play corner in Seattle (6-0, 32 1/4 inch arms, 4.56 forty). He is 218lbs though and that’s big. Jumped a 35.5 inch vertical and a 10’2″ broad jump. Passionate about the game. Apparently the Seahawks contacted his old High School coach to ask about him. This has legs it seems. Graded mainly in rounds 4-5 it seems.

Mitch Morse (T, Missouri)
6-5, 305lbs lineman with guard length (32 1/4 inch arms). Ran a 5.14 but more impressively posted the third best short shuttle (4.50) among linemen. Would be a later round guard project for Tom Cable. Missed the Senior Bowl after undergoing surgery on his index finger. Replaced Justin Britt at left tackle for the Tigers but also has experience at center.

Tony Lippett (Michigan State) & Nick Marshall (Auburn)
I’m listing both players together for a reason. I highly doubt Seattle drafts either to play receiver (Lippett) or quarterback (Marshall). But both players could be converted to cornerback. Marshall worked out at corner during the Senior Bowl. Lippett is 6-2 1/2 and 192lbs with nearly 33 inch arms. He ran a 4.61 with a 36 inch vertical. Marshall is 6-1 and 207lbs with 32 1/8 inch arms. He ran a 4.54 and posted a 37.5 inch vertical.

Chris Conley (WR, Georgia)
The combine freak of the year until Byron Jones showed up. On tape he actually makes some nice plays — but he clearly lacks refinement. Seemed to be one of the players leading the way at Georgia. He’s nearly 6-2, 213lbs with just under 34 inch arms and ten inch hands. He ran a 4.35, benched 18 reps, posted an insane 45 inch vertical and an 11’7″ on the broad jump. Going into the combine he wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Now? You wonder if he’ll be over-drafted.

Cameron Erving (G/C, Florida State)
Intelligent, edgy player and a converted defensive lineman (like J.R. Sweezy). Had a year and a bit at tackle before moving inside to center. Unlikely to go back to tackle but can easily cover three spots in the interior. 6-5 and 313lbs with 34 1/8 inch arms and ran a 5.15 in the forty. Managed 30 reps on the bench press, a 30.5 inch vertical and a 9’4″ in the broad jump (top five among offensive linemen). Also had an excellent three cone (7.48) and short shuttle (4.63). Would start at left guard you’d imagine. Expected to go in the top-50.

Eric Rowe (CB, Utah)
How long are his arms and how much does it matter? At the Senior Bowl he was measured with 32.5 inch arms. At the combine? 31.5 inches. Again, the time Seattle drafts a corner with sub-32 inch arms will be the first. Wingspan also matters — Rowe isn’t short or small (6-0, 205lbs). Another prospect who could play corner or safety. Ran a 4.45, jumped 39.5 inches in the vertical and 10’5″ in the broad. Originally considered a round 4-5 type prospect, Rowe’s impressive combine could lead to a rise.

Davis Tull (LB, Tenn-Chatt)
It’s a bad class of linebackers but this guy is athletic enough to warrant later round or UDFA consideration. He’s 6-2 and 246lbs, jumped a 42.5 inch vertical and posted an 11 in the broad. He played defensive end in college but should convert to the SAM linebacker spot at the next level. Didn’t run the forty at the combine due to injury.

Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
Converted tight end who lit up the combine last Friday. 6-6 and 306lbs but ran a 5.01, recorded a 32.5 inch vertical, posted incredible three-cone (7.25) and short shuttle (4.33) times. Had a 1.75 ten yard split. Arm length a shade under 34 inches. Tape isn’t as good as Joel Bitonio’s but they’re similar athletes. Could play guard or tackle. Following his workout in Indianapolis it’s probably #31 or bust if you want Fisher.

Buck Allen (RB, USC)
Cut-and-run specialist who had the best ten yard split among running backs at the combine (1.58). Ran a 4.53 at 6-0 221lbs. Doesn’t come close to the raw athleticism Christine Michael showed in 2013 but he’s a more technically sound runner. Only managed 11 reps on the bench press. Had a 10’1″ in the broad jump (top-five for running backs).

Kenny Bell (WR, Nebraska)
Ran faster than people expected (4.42) and also had a 41.5 inch vertical and a 10’9″ in the broad jump. Probably the best run blocking receiver in the draft. That won’t be reason enough to draft him, but the physical upside could make the entire package intriguing as a day three project. He’s 6-1 and 197lbs. He only had seven reps on the bench press with 31 5/8 inch arms.

Players not included because they’re unlikely to be available to Seattle: Eli Harold (DE, Virginia), Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut), Jalen Collins (CB, LSU), Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State), Ereck Flowers (T, Miami).

Getting a player like Cameron Erving at #31 (as projected yesterday) is all well and good, but the Seahawks might prefer to get as many players on a list similar to the one above versus just drafting one big name at #31. Especially if they are able to make a splash in free agency — beginning March 10th.

 

Post combine mock draft: 24th February

February 24th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

After running a 4.44 at 6-6, 238lbs — Darren Waller could be on his way to Seattle

For further thoughts on the Seahawks pick, scroll to the bottom of the piece. This includes opinions on what Seattle might do in rounds 2-4.

#1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State)
Winston stole the show at the combine. He spent the entire weekend playing the role of a superstar quarterback. He was confident, comfortable and in control. On the field he performed well. This just feels like it’s going to happen.

#2 Tennessee Titans — Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
The Titans need a quarterback. They can stick with Zach Mettenberger if they want and be right back here next season. Leonard Williams is a nice option but this is a team that needs a focal point and a face of the franchise.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
He moved so well for a 300lbs-er. The Richard Seymour comparisons are fair. He can play end for the most part and kick inside for the nickel packages. It’s another building block for the slow moving rebuild in Jacksonville.

#4 Oakland Raiders — Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
He competes for the ball in the air like Larry Fitzgerald and then runs a 4.35. He suffers with confidence issues and that needs to be looked into. Amari Cooper is a more natural receiver but White doesn’t drop passes like Cooper. He has the size of a #1 receiver.

#5 Washington Redskins — Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
You can line him up anywhere — outside backer, defensive end, rushing from the inside. He’s a heartbeat player who just makes plays. Incredible talent with a great motor. He can make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The Skins are likely to lose Brian Orakpo.

#6 New York Jets — Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
What a performance at the combine. People questioned his weight — he turns up at 246lbs. People questioned his strength — he benches 35 reps (more than any other defensive lineman). How will he run with the extra size? A 4.53 — better than any other D-end or linebacker. Beasley was a sack machine in college too.

#7 Chicago Bears — Randy Gregory (OLB, Nebraska)
San Francisco rebuilt their defense with an outside linebacker in Aldon Smith with the #7 pick. Vic Fangio might suggest a similar path for the Bears as they transition to a 3-4. Gregory is lighter than Smith, but they share similar length and potential entering the league.

#8 Atlanta Falcons — Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
If this was a question of length, Ray’s 33 1/8 inch arms should ease any concerns. He’s lean enough to play the LEO and even though he didn’t run at the combine due to injury — expect a big pro-day and eventually a top-ten grade.

#9 New York Giants — Danny Shelton (DT, New York Giants)
They have Johnathan Hankins but he’s not at Shelton’s level. He can rush the passer and that’s what the Giants need — a greater interior presence. They have to focus on rebuilding their defensive line to get back into contention.

#10 St. Louis Rams — Brandon Scherff (T, Iowa)
Scherff ran well at the combine even though he picked up a hamstring injury in the first drill. He was more athletic than I expected. The Rams will likely have their pick of the offensive linemen here and Scherff seems like a Jeff Fisher type player. He could play guard or tackle.

#11 Minnesota Vikings — Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
This would be a bargain for the Vikes. Teddy Bridgewater needs a weapon to grow with. Cooper is a sparky, athletic playmaker with a great attitude. He lacks size but is the most natural receiver to enter the league since A.J. Green.

#12 Cleveland Browns — Bud Dupree (OLB, Kentucky)
They could lose Jabaal Sheard in free agency and he was an ill-fit in the 3-4 anyway. Dupree would step in and provide a jolt to the front seven. He’s passionate about the game and a playmaker. He’ll be a better edge rusher playing in space. They need a solid pick here after last years disaster.

#13 New Orleans Saints — Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)
A lack of true length keeps him out of the top ten, but he’s still a physical 4.31 runner with a great attitude. The Saints could have holes all over their roster — they’re in a nightmarish cap situation.

#14 Miami Dolphins — Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
They have needs at safety, defensive tackle, the offensive line and potentially receiver. Collins is a safe pick for them and an instant starter. They won’t find a solution at this position later in the draft.

#15 San Francisco 49ers — DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville)
Long receiver with good hands. Kind of a surly player who lacks the charisma of a #1 receiver, if not the skills. The 49ers are going to move on from Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick needs a long term go-to target.

#16 Houston Texans — Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
Terrific prospect. Didn’t workout at the combine but wowed the media with an engaging press conference. Former 5-star recruit. Excellent in the run game but also a capable pass rusher. Probably FSU’s best player in 2014. Has nose tackle size.

#17 San Diego Chargers — D.J. Humphries (T, Florida)
They can’t seem to make their mind up on whether D.J. Fluker’s a guard or a tackle. Stick him at guard and make Humphries the long term answer on the blindside. They’ll win or lose on the arm of Phillip Rivers. He has the weapons, he also needs a good offensive line.

#18 Kansas City Chiefs — Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
Strong enjoyed a surprisingly athletic combine, running a 4.44 and posting a 42-inch vertical. He struggled to separate in college but showed he has explosive upside in Indianapolis. He probably needs some route-refinement but the Chiefs are desperate for playmakers at receiver.

#19 Cleveland Browns — T.J. Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
Another safe pick in the sense that Clemmings is a big-time character guy. He struggled at the Senior Bowl but he ticks every box — length, foot speed, aggressive nature. He can be a perfect bookend for Joe Thomas.

#20 Philadelphia Eagles — Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut)
The headline maker at the combine for destroying the broad jump record (12’3″) and posting a 44.5 inch vertical — Jones is making a case to go in round one. Adding to his cause — the total lack of depth at the position. He has a great shot to go in round one.

#21 Cincinnati — Malcom Brown (DT, Texas)
Will Geno Atkins ever be the same again? Either way, Brown is a dynamic interior rusher who lives in the backfield. He also has great size to play the run. Line him up alongside Atkins and go to work. That’ll be tough to stop.

#22 Pittsburgh Steelers — Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
He may be usurped by Byron Jones as the #2 corner, but Jalen Collins is still a terrific player with a huge upside. He has the length, size and speed to be a star at the next level. He’d be a bargain for the Steelers at this point.

#23 Detroit Lions — La’el Collins (T, LSU)
If they lose Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, defensive tackle becomes a crucial need. They seem determined to keep Suh. If they go in a different direction here, Collins makes sense at tackle or guard. For me he’s better off moving inside. He looked superb at the combine and Senior Bowl.

#24 Arizona Cardinals — Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
Harold did a great job at the combine — but was it good enough to overtake some of the bigger names in this class? His passion for the game, attitude, speed and length are a great fit in Arizona. This makes a ton of sense.

#25 Carolina Panthers — Andrus Peat (T, Stanford)
He’s a really odd shape. Small head, enormous lower body. He didn’t look like a natural left tackle. On the tape though — that’s exactly what he is. Someone will take a chance but it won’t be as early as I first thought. He didn’t stand out at the combine.

#26 Baltimore Ravens — Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
Outstanding player with an insane work ethic. Runs like a gazelle. Didn’t have the monster workout we expected and therefore might last into the 20’s. A smart team will take him off the board and the Ravens always find value.

#27 Dallas Cowboys — Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
They could go after Adrian Peterson and that would change things here. If not, Gurley could be the long term replacement for Demarco Murray. We’re unlikely to see him in 2015, but a patient team will be rewarded handsomely. The Cowboys have made the run game a priority.

#28 Denver Broncos — Ereck Flowers (T, Miami)
He had a hit and miss combine but look at the tape. He puts people on their back, he’ll drive linemen off the ball in the run game and he can kick-slide effectively. Whether he lines up at tackle or guard, he’s a better football player than combine star.

#29 Indianapolis Colts — Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
Back problems could be a concern. He didn’t put in a Dontari Poe-style performance at the combine. The Colts released Ricky-Jean Francois yesterday and need an anchor for a defense that gets pushed around too easily in key games.

#30 Green Bay Packers — Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon)
The Packers haven’t done such a good job in the first round in recent years. Armstead is big and has major potential — but he’ll need some coaching. Whoever drafts him will be trying to shape him into the next Calais Campbell.

#31 Seattle Seahawks — Cameron Erving (G/C, Florida State)
Converted defensive lineman who’s played left tackle and center. His days at tackle are over but he can start quickly at guard and be the backup center. Very intelligent/well spoken. Plays with an edge. Had a good combine with a 9’4″ broad jump, a 30.5 inch vertical and a 5.15 forty. Managed 30 reps on the bench press.

#32 New England Patriots — Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
Bill Belichick seems to like these tall, tight end-converts. Fisher might end up at guard like Kyle Long, or he could play right tackle. One of the early combine stars doing every test well. Needs to keep adding strength.

Explaining the pick at #31

Usually we see a premium on offensive linemen in the draft but this class is loaded with defensive talent. Instead of seeing the usual cluster of 3-4 offensive tackles going in the top-15, we could see a number of pass rushers and receivers taking in their place.

When we get to picks #17 (San Diego) and #19 (Cleveland) we could start to see the domino’s fall. The big question is — how quickly do the offensive lineman come off the board when the rush begins? We could see a bunch of o-liners go very quickly. Or we could see a bit of a sweet spot between picks 25-32. In this projection the Seahawks catch the tail end of the rush.

I’m anticipating Byron Maxwell and James Carpenter will depart in free agency, creating holes at corner and guard. They already have a need for a dynamic pass catching target at receiver or tight end. I suspect we could see Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron targeted in the open market.

Right now I’m thinking they’ll strongly consider the offensive line and receiver with their first two picks, before adding depth on the defensive line and eventually bringing in a corner or two. That just appears to be where the value is this year.

In this projection the Seahawks could move down into the late 30’s or early 40’s and select the best receiver on their board, before possibly targeting a player like Ty Sambrailo in round two. That would also make some sense.

Instead I have them taking Cameron Erving because I think the value dictates this to be a good range to take an offensive lineman. I also believe that once the top four receivers are off the board, there really isn’t much between the #5 receiver and the #10 receiver in a deep class. If you can get a similar quality player at #63 compared to #31 — why would you fight the board?

Erving’s days at tackle are in the past. He struggled manning the blindside in 2014 before an inspired switch to center. He looked very comfortable — finishing blocks in the run game, controlling the point of attack and doing a good job nullifying the interior rush. He has the potential to play any of the three interior spots. He can start at left guard replacing Carpenter and act as the main backup to Max Unger at center.

It’s hard to work out exactly what Tom Cable, John Schneider and Pete Carroll look for in a lineman. James Carpenter provided massive size and length plus proven run-game production at Alabama. John Moffitt also had reasonable length and size. Ditto for Justin Britt. None of the trio tested particularly well at the combine.

Their most athletic starting offensive lineman is J.R. Sweezy — a converted defensive lineman. He ran a 4.9 in the forty and posted a 38 inch vertical. He was a later round project who came good. They also went after a similar project in Garrett Scott in round six last year.

Many will pin Jake Fisher to the Seahawks because of his outstanding combine workout. It makes sense — a converted tight end with major athletic upside. He might have a future at tackle, a potential need if they don’t re-sign Russell Okung. But as we’ve seen with the Carpenter, Moffitt and Britt picks — major athletic potential is not something they’ve necessarily coveted in an offensive lineman in the early rounds. Instead they’ve looked for traits — such as Carpenter’s run blocking in college, Britt’s attitude and wrestling background or Moffitt’s mauler mentality.

Erving is somewhere between Fisher and the trio mentioned above. He’s 6-5 and 314lbs with 34 1/8 inch arms. He’s not as big or as long as Carpenter, but it’s close. He ran a 5.15 with a 1.84 split. He managed a 30.5 inch vertical and a 9’4″ broad jump. The only three offensive linemen to record a superior broad jump were Terry Poole, Laurence Gibson and Mark Glowinski (all posted a 9’5″). He’s not as athletic as Fisher, but he’s certainly no slouch.

What traits does he have that could specifically appeal to the Seahawks? Versatility to play multiple spots including center, fantastic character (incredibly well spoken and trusted by the FSU coaches) and he plays with an edge. Like Sweezy, he’s also a converted defensive lineman.

A final point on Erving vs Fisher. Stability and consistency is as important as anything for an offensive line. Replacing Carpenter like-for-like isn’t a sea-change in personnel. Moving Britt inside and asking him to learn a new position while starting yet another rookie at right tackle is much more disruptive. Unless you intend to switch Fisher to guard.

Regular visitors to the blog will know I’ve spent many posts arguing against the need to invest further high picks in the offensive line. It’s received more attention in the draft than any other position group on the roster. We could easily see a situation where Seattle lets Cable pick a couple of guys on day three to compete for a start. Let’s not forget, they were prepared to start Sweezy in the first game of his rookie season (a 7th round recent defensive convert). On this occasion I just believe the value matches need to warrant another high pick.

Providing they go O-line in the first frame, in round two I can imagine the Seahawks drafting a playmaking, physical receiver with speed. William & Mary’s Tre McBride makes a lot of sense at #63, especially as he offers some kick return value.

Want a wildcard alternative? Georgia Tech’s Darren Waller ran an official 4.46 which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. We know the Seahawks admire Vincent Jackson. Waller and V-Jax are virtually identical players ten years apart:

Vincent Jackson (2005 draft)
6-5
240lbs
4.44 forty
39 inch vertical
32 inch arms
9 5/8 inch hands

Darren Waller (2015 draft)
6-6
238lbs
4.46 forty
38 inch vertical
33 1/4 inch arms
9 inch hands

Jackson was the #61 pick in 2005. Is Waller going to be the #63 pick in 2015? It’s probably too early. But if we see a second round rush on the position, I don’t see any reason why he won’t see a higher than expected selection. And if you’re worried about the hand size — a quick reminder that Calvin Johnson has 9 1/4 inch hands. I’ve seen no evidence on tape that Waller has an issue with drops.

Stanford’s Henry Anderson has the length and size (6-6, 294lbs, 33 1/2 inch arms) plus the athleticism (5.03 forty with a 1.64 split) to potentially offer a cheaper alternative to Tony McDaniel at defensive tackle. Is he a third round option? We could also see another Stanford prospect targeted on day three — cornerback Alex Carter has the length, size and speed to match Seattle’s ideals at the position. As for beyond, I’m still a fan of NC State left tackle Rob Crisp and Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond.

 

Seahawks face dilemma to replace Byron Maxwell in the draft

February 23rd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Alex Carter is one of the few options for Seattle in this draft

Replacing Byron Maxwell is going to be the toughest challenge of the off-season.

He will leave, inevitably, to the highest bidder within hours of free agency starting. The word is he will command offers worth $10m a year. It’s an incredible sum of money and a perfect review of this cornerback class. It just isn’t very good, so teams will overpay for solutions elsewhere.

We’ll get onto how Seattle might address this situation in a moment. First, here’s the positive news from today’s defensive back workouts at the combine:

Trae Waynes had a big day and could move into the top-ten discussion. He’s a better player than Justin Gilbert a year ago without any of the character concerns (Cleveland really should’ve done their homework). He doesn’t have Gilbert’s length (31 inch arms) but he ran an official 4.31 at 6-0 and 186lbs. He also had a 38 inch vertical and a 10’2″ broad jump. On tape he’s a bit grabby but you can work on that. He’s physical, fast and professional. He won’t last long in the first round.

Jalen Collins will quickly follow. At 6-1 and 203lbs he ran a 4.48, adding a 36 inch vertical and a 10’4″ in the broad jump. He has excellent length (32 1/8 inch arms) and has so much potential. He only started 10 games at LSU but with the right coaching he’ll excel. There’s so much to like on tape — recovery speed, ball skills, physicality, edge.

After that? It’s a bit of a black hole — brightened ever so slightly by the star of the day. UConn’s Byron Jones is still recovering from a torn labrum and chose not to run. That aside, he smashed the broad jump record with a ridiculous 12’3″. He had one of the all-time best vertical jumps (44.5 inches). He also managed a superb 6.78 in the three cone and a 3.94 in the short shuttle. He’s 6-1 and 199lbs with 32 inch arms. He’s a brilliant forty away from being potentially the greatest athlete to ever test at the combine.

Why is any of this important? Speed isn’t the only factor in judging athleticism. A lot of teams (Seattle included) pay close attention to the broad and vertical jumps. It’s a great way to measure lower body explosion. Christine Michael had a 43 inch vertical in 2013 — it’s probably one of the main reasons he ended up with the Seahawks.

What kind of grade will Byron Jones receive after today? It’s hard to say. He was considered a mid-rounder at best going into the 2014 season. This adds a new dynamic. There’s not much tape available online, but this emerged in the last hour or so:

You see nice tight coverage and some decent recovery speed. There are a few plays where he’ll get flagged at the next level — or he’ll be punished by superior pro-receivers. We need to watch more to find out exactly what he’s capable of.

Teams will also need to check out his shoulder injury and look into whether it’s a serious long-term issue. Overall he’s very similar to Chris Conley. An incredible physical talent who flashes a bit on tape. Both players need refinement. How much is the potential worth to a team? How early do you back yourself or your coaches?

People who would know have told me in the past that Seattle will only consider spending an early pick on a cornerback if they possess the kind of physical upside we saw from Patrick Peterson. That’s how confident they are in developing later-round players. Jones jumps further and higher than Peterson. Can he match his 4.34 forty yard dash? If he does, he probably won’t be available to the Seahawks anyway.

He’s one of the few draftable options at corner. Zach Whitman, who does a lot of work with SPARQ, repeatedly makes the point that the Carroll/Schneider Seahawks have not drafted a corner with sub-32 inch arms. They want length. They don’t have to be tall — just long.

Aside from Jones, these are the guys who matched Seattle’s apparent physical ideals from a group of over 50 defensive backs:

Adrian Amos (Penn State)
There’s some debate over Amos’ position at the next level. Some think he’ll play safety and he’s big — 208lbs. It’s not too big, but still. He’s 6-0 with 32 1/4 inch arms. He ran a 4.56 which is identical to Richard Sherman. He posted a 35.5 inch vertical with a 10’2″ broad jump. He’s an athletic guy. I’m not sure he looked loose enough during drills to be a permanent cornerback but the Seahawks have made concessions there in the past. They’ll take a bit of stiffness if you’ve got the size, speed and length.

Alex Carter (Stanford)
He’s flashed on tape but he’s also had a few bad games. Does that remind you of another former Stanford corner? He looked terrific today. He’s 6-0 and 196lbs with 32 1/8 inch arms. He ran a 4.51 and jumped a 40 inch vertical. He also recorded a 10’1″ broad jump. He’s lean and long and the 4.51 is impressive. There’s a lot to work with here. Out of all the options he might be the most logical. Experience at the position, competitive, long, fast.

Jalen Collins (LSU)
It’s very unlikely he’ll be available for Seattle but he certainly fits the bill. We listed his data at the start of the piece but essentially he ran a 4.48 at 6-1 and 203lbs. He’s only going to get better at the next level with the right coaching. It’s a shame a player like this won’t last. That’s the price you pay for success. Every team in the league is looking for long and fast cornerbacks. He’s a stud.

There are others. Jaquiski Tartt ticks a lot of boxes but he’s 221lbs. Durrell Eskridge looked good in drills but an official 4.63 hurts. Kurtis Drummond is a very intriguing safety prospect to consider in the later rounds. Cody Prewitt could be another safety project.

Utah’s Eric Rowe is a curious case. When he was measured at the Senior Bowl, he had 32.5 inch arms. At the combine they measured him at 31.5 inches. I’m not sure which is accurate — or whether Seattle would refuse to draft a player who is half an inch below the ideal. For the record, Rowe is 6-0 and 205lbs, ran a 4.45 with a 39 inch vertical and a 10’5″ broad jump. It might be worth keeping him in our thoughts for now.

With so few options it’s hard to imagine how the Seahawks are going to solve this issue. Coming into the combine I thought they’d probably draft a couple of corners as a priority on day three. Watching this group makes you realize — that isn’t going to be easy. There are other possibilities — including small school prospects and players not attending the combine. Who among us can say they knew anything about Eric Pinkins a year ago? That was their guy. Their guy this year possibly wasn’t in Indianapolis.

Even if that’s the case, are we expecting a non-combine attendee to step in and start in week one? Are we expecting someone like Alex Carter to do that?

You can see the problem.

For a team that has constantly replenished the cornerback position, the well has run dry this year. There’s no Richard Sherman to replace Marcus Trufant. No Walter Thurmond to replace Brandon Browner. No Byron Maxwell to replace Walter Thurmond. Tharold Simon appeared to be out of his depth in the Super Bowl and might need off-season shoulder surgery. Jeremy Lane, a possible candidate to start, is facing a long road to recovery after breaking his wrist and tearing an ACL.

So what else can they do?

They could pony up for Maxwell. It would mean around 25-35% of your cap room for the next few years is tied up in four players — Maxwell, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. You might argue it’s in Seattle’s best interests to secure the entire starting secondary for the long haul. Isn’t it the identity of the team?

The thing is, Maxwell is only a possible $10m per-year player because the market dictates that in 2015. In the future, say next year, you might regret making that deal. It might mean you lose another one of the group (Irvin? Wagner?). You might miss out on a dynamic free agent you’d love to have (Julius Thomas?).

Overpaying Maxwell might mean you avoid a tricky situation this year — but you’re not planning to avoid issues in 2015. You’re building for several years into the future. I’m not convinced Maxwell is a player you just have to have because the options to replace him in 2015 aren’t great.

This might be about finding a one year solution and pushing the problem into 2016. A veteran stopgap. Accepting the situation for what it is. You still draft your guys later in the draft this year. Maybe one of them shines and even wins a starting job by the end of his rookie season? By 2016 you could have a long term, cheaper replacement for Maxwell. And if not, perhaps it’ll be a better class of corners in 12 months time?

Who that veteran option could be — I have no idea. Some have suggested a possible return for Walter Thurmond. He missed most of the 2014 season with a torn pec. His one-year deal in New York last season carried a $3m cap hit. There’s every chance he burned bridges in Seattle with multiple suspensions. He had a chance to be the one replacing Browner ahead of Maxwell and blew it. In a Super Bowl year no less. Can they trust him?

Veteran Charles Tillman had a triceps injury end his 2014 season. Would he consider a one-year stint in Seattle? He turned 34 today. He’s played for the Bears since 2003. The Seahawks have plugged in vets before — Kevin Williams is a good example of that in 2014. They also added Antoine Winfield before the 2013 season but he didn’t make the team.

This isn’t the year to chase cornerbacks in the draft and sometimes you just have to accept a situation for what it is. The Seahawks could go offensive line and receiver with their first two picks, then take a defensive lineman like Henry Anderson. After that, rounds 4-6 could be the area they bring in a corner or two. Alex Carter could be on the list after today’s performance. But you wouldn’t be expecting those players to start.

With Byron Maxwell possibly heading to Philadelphia if you believe certain reports, finding a veteran one-year rental for the LOB might be the best, or even only option.

 

LIVE BLOG: Combine day six (DB workouts)

February 23rd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

HIGHLIGHTS

— Byron Jones records best broad jump since 2003 (12’3″)
— UConn’s Jones also posts a 44.5 inch vertical, but won’t run
— Jalen Collins runs an official 4.48
— Trae Waynes runs an official 4.31

We’re live blogging throughout the combine. Keep refreshing this page for the latest Seahawks news, data and notes on the DB workouts as they take place today (beginning 6AM PST).

Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms. Here’s a list of all the DB’s today with +32-inch arms:

Adrian Amos
Alex Carter
Jalen Collins
Kurtis Drummond
Durrell Eskridge
Gerod Holliman
Byron Jones
Cody Prewitt
Jordan Richards
James Sample
Tye Smith
Jaquiski Tartt
Julian Wilson

Mike Mayock begins the NFL Network broadcast by stating it’s a poor safety class. He name-checks Richard Sherman and says the entire league is looking for length and speed. The secret’s been out for a while.

Mayock says the key will be hitting in the middle rounds. It’s like he’s speaking directly to us.

Time for the first set of forty’s. The first two prospects are on the length list.

To compare, Richard Sherman at the 2011 combine was 6-3 and 195lbs. He has 32 inch arms. He ran a 4.56.

The guys in bold have +32 inch arms:

Adrian Amos — 4.56
Alex Carter — 4.52
Donald Celiscar — 4.62
Justin Coleman — 4.53
Jalen Collins — 4.48
Landon Collins — 4.54
Justin Cox — 4.37
Ronald Darby — 4.37
Quandre Diggs — 4.57
Lorenzo Doss — 4.50
Kurtis Drummond — 4.65
Durrell Eskridge — 4.57
Charles Gaines — 4.45
Clayton Gaethers — 4.55
Jacoby Glenn — 4.58
Senquez Golson — 4.46
Doran Grant — 4.44
Ladarius Gunter — 4.69
Chris Hackett — 4.83
Troy Hill — 4.56
Gerod Holliman — DNP
Kyshoen Jarrett — 4.58
Anthony Jefferson — 4.72

Alex Carter is a guy I’m focusing on here. He looked really smooth and fluid and ran a 4.52 first up. He’s in fantastic shape, has good length (6-0, 196lbs, 32 1/8 inch arms). Another Stanford corner.

Jalen Collins ran a 4.48 with his first attempt. That’ll do.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider watched Kurtis Drummond closely, one of the players with 32 inch arms. He is a safty though.

pcjsdb

Durrell Eskridge ran in the Richard Sherman range. He’s also 6-3 and 208lbs with 32 3/8 inch arms. I believe he also had a 1.52 ten yard split, they’re not showing them in the broadcast for some reason.

NFl Network crew talking about the Super Bowl play. Ouch.

Jalen Collins having fun today:

jalen

Mayock: “I’ve seen more 4.7’s and 4.8’s this morning then I think we’ve seen in the last five years.”

Time for the second runs:

Adrian Amos — 4.49
Alex Carter — 4.54
Donald Celiscar — 4.63
Justin Coleman — 4.50
Jalen Collins — 4.43
Landon Collins — 4.53
Justin Cox — 4.40
Ronald Darby — 4.32
Quandre Diggs — 4.56
Lorenzo Doss — 4.56
Kurtis Drummond — 4.70
Durrell Eskridge — 4.56
Charles Gaines — 4.45
Clayton Gaethers — 4.52
Jacoby Glenn — 4.67
Senquez Golson — 4.46
Doran Grant — 4.46
Ladarius Gunter — 4.65
Chris Hackett — 4.81
Troy Hill — 4.55
Gerod Holliman — DNP
Kyshoen Jarrett — 4.58
Anthony Jefferson — 4.76

Jalen Collins’ second attempt is a 4.43. I’m convinced he’s going to go in the top-20.

Daniel Jeremiah says ‘defensive back’ is the hardest group to evaluate these days and find good players. Just to make you that little bit more concerned.

Mayock: “I’m struggling finding safety’s”. He again points out it’s the slowest group he’s seen in a long time.

Syracuse’s Durrell Eskridge just ran a 4.56 on his second attempt., identical to Richard Sherman’s 2011 time. He’s 13lbs heavier than Sherman but has longer arms and they’re both 6-3. There’s a candidate for Seattle. Mayock says he’s best friends with Devonta Freeman (running back in Atlanta).

Onto the drills. This combine has lurched between explosive and mediocre. A rotten group of TE’s followed by the impressive receivers. The average looking running backs before the brilliant defensive linemen. Then the frankly miserable linebackers and this.

If you’re in the second group of DB’s — you’ve got a real opportunity to stand out.

Here’s some running back news:

Jalen Collins’ backpedal is pretty good in the first drill. Not spectacular. Landon Collins is moving well at 228lbs. The average time for this first group of DB’s in the forty yard dash was a 4.55. Kurtis Drummond moves like a safety but could be of interest to Seattle. Durrell Eskridge has a thick lower body. He’s not as lean as a Sherman. That impacts his movement and his backpedal is a little stiff. Senquez Golson is slow to break after his backpedal. Doran Grant is a lot smoother. It’s astonishing that Chris Hackett ran a 4.8 at 195lbs. He looks small and heavy legged.

This is also troubling:

Jalen Collins moved his hips nicely and showed good ball skills downfield. He transitions well enough to be a starting corner in the league — size, length, backpedal, recovery speed. He’s only going to get better with the right coaching. Jacoby Glenn appeared really tight running downfield and did a poor job tracking the football. Chris Hackett looked even worse. Alex Carter struggles to open up and looked stiff. I’m not sure what happened on his deep throw, it’s like the ball slipped out of the quarterbacks hands and went to the wrong end of the field. Adrian Amos also looked a bit stiff.

Wow — UConn’s Byron Jones (who was a doubt to participate as he recovers from a torn labrum) just recorded a 12’3″ in the broad jump. It’s the best jump by any player at any position since 2003. And yes, he has 32 inch arms.

Jones just added a 44.5 inch vertical jump. In a bad class of cornerbacks, he might be flying up the boards here. The tape wins the day, but you can’t teach that kind of explosion. He’s 6-1, 199lbs and has 32 inch arms — and he has the best broad jump for 12 years and a 44.5 inch vertical (among the best ever). That’s incredible.

It’s not unfair to say he’s already one of the most explosive players in combine history. And he’s not 100%.

Oregon’s Troy Hill showing good footwork and ball tracking skills. Sub-32 inch arms though.

Pete Carroll on the phone during the first group of DB drills:

pc phone

Here’s some Byron Jones tape:

]

According to Ian Rapoport, Byron Jones won’t run a forty yard dash because he isn’t 100%. This is unfortunate. After what he showed in the jumps, you want to see him run.

Troy Hill continues to impress during drills. Moves well laterally. Anthony Jefferson ends the latest drill with a wonderful diving catch.

The DB’s are running the gauntlet for the first time this year. It’s a mess. They all struggled. None of them have any technique catching the ball as you’d expect. It’s just a bunch of football’s pinging around. None of them can catch over the middle. It’s a total waste of time. What a way to end a disappointing workout for most of these DB’s.

Onto the second group. They start with the forty. The guys with 32 inch arms are in bold again (Seattle’s apparent cut off):

Kevin Johnson — 4.52
Byron Jones — DNP
Craig Mager — 4.44
Dean Marlowe — 4.58
Bobby McCain — 4.54
Tevin McDonald — 4.65
Steven Nelson — 4.49
Garry Peters — 4.67
Marcus Peters — 4.57
Cody Prewitt — 4.61
Damarious Randall — 4.47
Jordan Richards — 4.67
Quinten Rollins — 4.67
Eric Rowe — 4.45
James Sample — 4.62
Josh Shaw — 4.44
D’Joun Smith — 4.46
Tye Smith — 4.60
Damian Swann — 4.55
Jaquiski Tartt — 4.54
Trae Waynes — 4.35
Kevin White — 4.64
Jermain Whitehead — 4.65
P.J. Williams — 4.62
Julian Wilson — 4.59

Tartt, Prewitt and Richards have +32 inch arms but play safety. Eric Rowe ran a nice time but he has 31 1/2 inch arms. Josh Shaw ran a nice time but has 30 3/4 inch arms.

Trae Waynes just put himself at the top of the cornerback rankings with a 4.35. He and Collins can expect to go early because the depth at the position isn’t there. Waynes is physical and fast — he’s quite grabby and will need to watch that at the next level. He’s a good player.

Second attempts:

Kevin Johnson — 4.56
Byron Jones — DNP
Craig Mager — 4.57
Dean Marlowe — 4.59
Bobby McCain — 4.52
Tevin McDonald — 4.64
Steven Nelson — 4.52
Garry Peters — 4.62
Marcus Peters — 4.54
Cody Prewitt — 4.70
Damarious Randall — 4.47
Jordan Richards — 4.66
Quinten Rollins — 4.58
Eric Rowe — 4.48
James Sample — 4.56
Josh Shaw — 4.44
D’Joun Smith — 4.48
Tye Smith — 4.70
Damian Swann — 4.51
Jaquiski Tartt — 4.60
Trae Waynes — 4.32
Kevin White — DNP
Jermain Whitehead — 4.59
P.J. Williams — 4.57
Julian Wilson — 4.58

Marcus Peters runs a 4.57 and a 4.54. It’s not bad but it’s not great, even for a press corner. Waynes betters his first attempt with a 4.32. Kevin White didn’t run his second forty due to a hamstring injury.

Onto the drills.

Prewitt’s backpedal looking smooth for his size. Randall a big looking DB and a bit stiffer in transition.

Steve Nelson is one of my favorite corner prospects in this class — he stays low in his backpedal, shows great balance and transition and explodes. He doesn’t have the length Seattle looks for but he’s very competitive on the field and a playmaker. He’s looking good in the early drills.

Marcus Peters not doing anything that screams first round cornerback so far. Average change of direction. Bit stiff in the backpedal. Quinten Rollins just nearly fell over during his latest transition. Eric Rowe showing good hip movement and change of direction. This is a good day for Rowe so far. Damian Swann a little bit stiff.

Trae Waynes stays really low in his backpedal — love that. Can snap his hips better and explode but we know he was the speed after a 4.32 today.

This group overall performing better than the first collection.

Daniel Jeremiah says he thinks Waynes will go in the top ten after today’s performance. I’m going to post a mock draft tomorrow.

The NFL Network isn’t showing drills for the second group and hasn’t been for the last ten minutes.

Here are the top-10 official forty times for the DB’s. Trae Waynes has been given an incredible 4.31:

official db

Jalen Collins ran an official 4.48.

Kurtis Drummond managed an impressive 39.5 inch vertical. He’s one to monitor. Eric Rowe had a 39 inch vertical and a 10’5″ broad jump. Impressive day for Rowe.

Josh Shaw’s back story is very weird, but he runs an official 4.44, records a 37.5 inch vertical and jumps a 10’10” in the broad. You can see all the data from today by clicking here.

The NFL Network continue to keep their camera’s away from the drills so I’m going to end the final combine live blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed the coverage over the last few days. I’ll have a new post on the blog later today so stay tuned.

 

Seahawks unlikely to find defensive line help in first two rounds

February 22nd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Henry Anderson could provide a cheaper option to Tony McDaniel

If you missed today’s combine live blog you can recap the day here. It includes workout notes, winners & losers, measurements, breaking news and a lot more

We’ll come onto the Seahawks in a moment. Firstly — this is a good class of defensive linemen but it’s also a top heavy group. It’s safe to say after watching today’s workouts there are twelve prospect with legitimate hopes of going in the top-25:

Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
He didn’t jump particularly well with a 29.5 inch vertical (worse than Danny Shelton and Jordan Phillips) and an 8’10” in the broad jump. But a 4.97 in the forty and a good performance in the drills cements his place firmly within the top five. Richard Seymour is a good comparison — he ran a 4.95 in 2001 at 6-6 and 299lbs. Williams is a shade under 6-5 and 302lbs. He could go at #2 to Tennessee or #3 to Jacksonville.

Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
Another prospect who didn’t jump particularly well — and this matters to some teams who want to see that explosive lower body. He jumped a 32.5 inch vertical and a 9’4″ broad. But he has length (arms just under 34 inches) and a 4.60 forty is good enough. A 1.56 ten yard split should attract a team like Jacksonville. Fowler Jr is a pure playmaker who can line up anywhere to rush the passer — even inside.

Randy Gregory (LB, Nebraska)
He’s far from the finished article and people knock him for a lack of production. At Nebraska he didn’t do a lot of edge rush — he played in the open field and read the offense. 3-4 teams will salivate over his skill set. He’s 6-5 and 235lbs but should be able to add weight. He has 34 inch arms and managed a 36.5 inch vertical. He jumped 10’5″ in the broad and ran a 4.64 with a 1.60 split. He had a great day in the drills, particularly when asked to change direction. Gregory has the hips of a defensive back.

Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
He didn’t work out today due to injury but he shouldn’t lose any momentum as a consequence. Ray was a monster all season long for Missouri and answered a few questions without performing. He’s closer to 6-3 than 6-2, he has 33 1/8 inch arms and he’s 245lbs. He’s not the biggest but he’s hardly small and plays above his size. At worst you’d expect a time in the 4.6’s. He’s a gritty, competitive player who should be able to stick in a 4-3 rotation.

Eli Harold (DE, Virginia)
This was Harold’s opportunity to announce himself to a mass audience. On tape he flashed explosive pass-rushing qualities, dynamic closing speed, the ability to convert speed-to-power with ease and a relentless motor. He ran a 4.60 with a 1.56 split, jumped 35 inches in the vertial and a 10’3″ in the broad jump. He’s 6-3 with 33 inch arms. He’s the complete package of length, speed and grit. He’s an ideal LEO candidate and should be considered by the Atlanta Falcons at #8 as they build a new defense based on the Seahawks model.

Danny Shelton (DT, Washington)
Shelton is lazily compared to Haloti Ngata, which is unfair. Ngata was a physical freak and ran a 5.13 with a 1.73 split. Shelton’s official time was a 5.64 with a 1.89 split. As pure athletes they don’t compare and it’s wrong to set the bar this high. That doesn’t mean Shelton can’t get around a football field — he flashed impressive mobility and footwork during drills. He is not a rare athlete for his size and he will have limitations. But any 3-4 team looking for a nose tackle will seriously consider drafting Shelton early. He jumped a 30.5 inch vertical and had 34 reps on the bench press. He has 32 inch arms.

Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
Criticized as small and weak by some, Beasley set out to prove the doubters wrong today. After putting up 35 reps on the bench press, he ran the fastest time by a defensive lineman at 4.53 with a 1.59 ten yard split. He added a 41-inch vertical and a 10’10” in the broad jump. He has 32 and a half inch arms which isn’t ideal, but it’s only a shade under Shane Ray and Eli Harold. On tape he looked great for three years, putting up major numbers for Clemson.

Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon)
He chose to play defense instead of left tackle in college and teams are clearly intrigued by his size (6-7, 292lbs). You’d think he’d have longer arms (33 inches). He ran a 5.10 with a 1.76 split which is pretty average, with a 34 inch vertical and a 9’9″ broad. None of these numbers scream physical freak, but you don’t find many players who look this good at this size. Any team looking for a 3-4 end (it’s a big need in New Orleans) will have to consider Armstead with the idea of developing him into another Calais Campbell.

Malcom Brown (DT, Texas)
He flew under the radar a bit today — doing well in all the tests and drills without making any headlines. He ran a 5.05 with a 1.75 split at 6-2 and 319lbs. He could probably drop to 310lbs and play with ideal size for a three technique. He doesn’t have amazing length with 32 and a half inch arms. He flashes constantly on tape and lives in the backfield. He’s also a dependable character guy with a wife and two kids already. Teams needing an every down interior rusher will give Brown a long hard look.

Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State)
He didn’t work out due to injury but he wowed the media in the interview room. All of the Florida State guys are very talkative and confident. He’s an absolute beast at 6-4 and 336lbs with 33 1/8 inch arms. He’s a superb run defender who can act as a nose tackle in a 3-4 but he also has the technique to disengage and explode into the backfield. Like Brown he’s a former 5-star recruit and he was probably FSU’s best player in 2014.

Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
He didn’t put in the Dontari Poe-type performance we thought he was capable of, but at 6-5 and 329lbs he ran a 5.17 with a 1.84 split. He also recorded a 30 inch vertical and put up 28 reps on the bench press despite having nearly 35 inch arms. The biggest threat to Phillips is a history of back injuries that’ll need to be checked out by any team thinking of drafting him early.

Bud Dupree (LB, Kentucky)
One of the few linebackers to make an impression today, even if he didn’t do drills citing a groin injury. At 6-4 and 269lbs he ran a 4.56 with a 1.60 split. He posted a 42 inch vertical and an 11’6″ in the broad jump. You see that athleticism translate to the tape and he flies around for Kentucky. The problem is — he isn’t a great edge rusher. He doesn’t do a good job rounding the tackle and often runs himself out of contention. He doesn’t always diagnose the play correctly. He might be best used as a Bruce Irvin LB/DE hybrid.

That’s a talent rich group of players. Unfortunately, none of the dozen are likely to make it to #31.

So what’s left?

Seattle loves speed. Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril are in the top-five for defensive linemen in the forty yard dash over the last 12 years. They both posted incredible 1.50 ten yard splits. If you’re going to play LEO for the Seahawks, you need to be long, fast and tenacious.

If the top prospects are off the board, we’re likely concentrating on rounds three and four. The only defensive line prospect Seattle has drafted in the top two rounds since 2010 is Bruce Irvin (who subsequently moved to linebacker). Given the options on the offensive line and receiver, we’re unlikely to see that change in April.

Last year they drafted Cassius Marsh in the fourth round. He didn’t post a great forty time (4.89) but he had a 1.60 ten yard split. Jordan Hill (a third round pick in 2013) managed a 1.75 split at 303lbs (he also had long 33.5 inch arms). If we’re looking at edge rushers, they probably need to be running a similar split to Marsh. Interior rushers need to compare to Hill in terms of length and burst.

Scanning through the results today, these are the few prospects that are in the range for consideration:

Henry Anderson (Stanford)
Ran a 5.03 at 6-6 and 293lbs. Impressed at the Senior Bowl. He recorded a 1.63 ten yard split which is explosive given his size. He managed a 30-inch vertical and has 33.5 inch arms. The most impressive part of his day? Probably a 4.19 short shuttle — tied for first among all defensive linemen. He could be a candidate to replace 6-7, 305lbs Tony McDaniel if he’s cut to save $3m in cap space.

Zach Hodges (Harvard)
He’s nice and long with 34 1/4 inch arms at 6-2 and 250lbs. He ran a 4.68 with a 1.61 split. It’s not overly explosive but he’s a depth option later in the draft or in the UDFA market. He posted a 33.5 inch vertical and a 10’5″ broad jump. He has a terrific back-story.

Danielle Hunter (LSU)
Bit of a ‘looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane’ candidate. He’s 6-5 and 252lbs with 34 1/4 inch arms. He ran a 4.57 with a 1.58 split. He didn’t attempt the vertical or broad jump for some reason. He was too easily blocked at LSU and had a 1.5 sack season in 2014. There’s no denying his potential, but he’s likely to be over-drafted.

Owa Odighizuwa (UCLA)
He had an incredible day, running a 4.62 with a 1.62 split at 6-3 and 267lbs. He also posted a 39 inch vertical and a 10’7″ in the broad jump. He has 33 3/4 inch arms and ran a superb 4.19 in the short shuttle (tied with Henry Anderson). Medical checks are the key with Odighizuwa — previous hip problems will be a concern and need to be checked out. If he’s cleared, he’s one of the combine’s big winners. He needs major work on his technique as an edge rusher, but he’s adept at collapsing the interior.

Preston Smith (Mississippi State)
He’s 6-5, 271lbs with 34 inch arms. He ran a 4.74 with a 1.63 split. He jumped 34 inches in the vertical and recorded a 10’1″ in the broad. He also had an impressive 4.28 in the short shuttle and a 7.07 in the three cone. Smith’s tape drifts between very good and average, but he has the potential to be a terror in the right scheme. I’m not sure where he fits in Seattle’s defense. With Bennett and Marsh, do they need another end who kicks inside?

Anthony Chickillo (Miami)
We’ll need to get a check on his split. In his first attempt at the forty he recorded a 1.59, but in the second attempt he was given a 1.70. His official forty time is a 4.79. He’s 6-3 and 267lbs with 33.5 inch arms. He jumped 34.5 inches in the vertical but only a 9’6″ in the broad. His three cone (7.17) was also impressive. He played out of position in Miami.

Carl Davis (Iowa)
One of the standouts at the Senior Bowl, Davis is just under 6-5 and 320lbs with 34 5/8 inch arms. He ran a 5.07 with a 1.73 split. He also had a 33 inch vertical jump. His tape is flat out bad for the most part. You need to work out whether he can be the guy in Mobile more often than the guy at Iowa. Plays without an edge but he has the size, speed and length Seattle likes inside.

Grady Jarrett (Clemson)
Lacks length and that could be an issue. He’s 6-0 with 32 3/8 inch arms and that might be too short for the Seahawks. On tape he explodes off the screen in some games and today he ran a 5.06 with a 1.69 split at 304lbs. In the middle rounds he’s a value interior pass rusher who can hold his own in the run game. Posted a 31 inch vertical. Could sneak into round two.

Derrick Lott (Tennessee-Chatt)
He’s 6-4 and 314lbs with 33 5/8 inch arms. He ran a 4.99 with a 1.77 split. He didn’t jump particularly well but the speed and length is intriguing enough to search for some tape. One to take a look at.

Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Southern Miss)
6-2 and 307lbs — ideal size to work inside. Only has 32 5/8 inch arms and that might be a problem. He ran a 1.72 split and a 5.02 forty. He also managed a really impressive 34 inch vertical. Another one to monitor moving forward.

Marcus Hardison (Arizona State) and Christian Covington (Rice) didn’t participate.

You might ask about Davis Tull at Tennessee-Chatt who had an excellent workout even though he didn’t run a forty yard dash. He posted a 42.5 inch vertical and an 11′ in the broad jump. The problem is — he’s 6-2 and 246lbs with 31 1/4 inch arms. The Seahawks aren’t drafting a player with such paltry length to rush the edge. Mike Mayock suggested he’ll be a SAM linebacker at the next level.

None of the names above particularly appeal at #31 considering the possible sweet spot on the offensive line and the overall depth of quality at receiver. I would expect Carl Davis and Owa Odighizuwa to be off the board by #63, possibly Preston Smith and Grady Jarrett too. If the Seahawks go OL/WR (or vice-versa) with their first two picks, Henry Anderson could be an option in round three. He is the #88 ranked prospect according to ESPN.

If you need help on the defensive line and you’re picking in the top-15, this is a great draft. Many teams in the second half of round one will miss out. With so many attractive free agents hitting the open market, we could see plenty of interest from the clubs picking between #20-32.

Barring any unforeseen falls, the Seahawks are unlikely to find defensive line value at #31. Is it really that much of a need anyway? Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are a pass rush duo most teams can only dream of. Bruce Irvin has developed into one of the better defensive playmakers in the NFL. Brandon Mebane, Jordan Hill and Cassius Marsh will return. They could keep Tony McDaniel. There’s every opportunity they’ll add a veteran presence to replace Kevin Williams.

Three days ago Darnell Dockett was hinting at a move within the NFC West:

Adding Dockett on a team-friendly deal could be the best way to improve Seattle’s interior pass rush. You might be able to give him McDaniel’s salary and then draft a guy like Anderson in the third. How much can a soon-to-be 34-year-old pass rusher expect to earn as a free agent coming off an ACL? Like him or loathe him, his competitive personality would really mesh with Seattle’s defense.

Of course, Arizona has to cut him for this to have any legs.

There are some players we can possibly rule out today. The early round talk on Nate Orchard seemed premature after the Senior Bowl. He has the length (33 3/4 inch arms) but a 4.80 forty was unimpressive today at just 250lbs. He only had a 31.5 inch vertical too. He’s just not a special enough athlete. Xavier Cooper had a good workout and ran a 4.86 with a 1.68 split at 293lbs. The problem? 31 1/2 inch arms. The Seahawks would need to be willing to make a concession there. Markus Golden is an easy player to root for but he has 31 1/8 inch arms and ran a 4.90 at 260lbs.

The less said about today’s group of linebackers the better. I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to draft any of the prospects we saw today. They have depth at the position and will probably look for athletic options in UDFA.

Free agency can change things very quickly but are we seeing some clarity on what might be the plan this off-season? Here’s my best projection for the 22nd February:

— Use any free cap room to target a dynamic pass-catcher like Julius Thomas (this could include cutting Zach Miller to save $3m)

— Draft an offensive lineman and a receiver with your first two picks, replacing James Carpenter and adding another weapon for Russell Wilson

— Consider adding a defensive lineman in round three

That would essentially leave one hole to fill — cornerback. This could be the greatest off-season challenge.

Tomorrow the defensive backs workout. Very few prospects fit Seattle’s size ideal (32 inch arms, long). UConn’s Byron Jones — a possible candidate — is recovering from a torn labrum and might not participate. There’s also a real lack of depth and quality at the position — and free agency will be an expensive market to dabble in. It could be a case of searching through the second wave of available veterans — or even looking to make a trade for a player buried on someone else’s depth chart.

The Seahawks are the best team in the league at developing cornerbacks but they’ll need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to replace Byron Maxwell this year. Tomorrow should be interesting, if not a little scary.

 

LIVE BLOG: Combine day five (DE/LB workouts)

February 22nd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

HIGHLIGHTS

— Bud Dupree with an 11’7″ broad and 42 inch vertical
— Vic Beasley runs an official 4.53
— Eli Harold and Dante Fowler Jr run 4.60
— Danny Shelton rumbles to a 5.66
— Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Randy Gregory both impress
— Shane Ray & Eddie Goldman don’t workout
— Linebackers fail to impress during drills

We’re live blogging throughout the combine. Keep refreshing this page for the latest Seahawks news, data and notes on the DE/LB workouts as they take place today (beginning 6AM PST).

The player I’m most looking forward to seeing workout today is Virginia pass rusher Eli Harold. Check out this video on NFL.com. Aside from his taste in music — what’s not to like? He says this about Bruce Irvin: “He’s a physical specimen, he’s fast he’s quick — he’s like a cat, like a cheetah. That’s who I model my game after.” And then there’s this quote: “My style of play is — speed, I’m quick. I’m tough.” And this one: “I bring a lot of high energy, an unstoppable motor, I go hard all the time, I do whatever I’m asked — you’re going to get a gem.”

If he performs well enough today he could get into the top-15 mix. Atlanta needs a LEO and Harold is the ideal LEO from this class. He’s scheduled to workout with the linebackers — so is Bud Dupree.

Shane Ray and Eddie Goldman have chosen not to workout due to injury. Someone needs to let Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah know.

The defensive linemen are dressed in bright green and look like comedy superhero villains.

green goblin

Forty yard dash times with the ten yard split in brackets (first attempt):

Henry Anderson — 4.97 (1.75)
Arik Armstead — 5.10 (1.76)
Tavaris Barnes — 4.84 (1.70)
Vic Beasley — 4.66 (1.72)
Angelo Blackson — 5.06 (1.77)
Malcom Brown — 5.05 (1.75)
Anthony Chickillo — 4.77 (1.59)
Frank Clark — 4.79 (1.70)
Xavier Cooper — 4.88 (1.70)
Corey Crawford — 5.02 (1.79)
Carl Davis — 5.19 (1.87)
Tyeler Davison — 5.29 (1.91)
Ryan Delaire — 4.97 (1.73)
B.J. Dubose — 4.98 (1.66)
Mario Edwards Jr — 4.84 (1.76)
Kyle Emanuel — 4.77 (1.70)
Trey Flowers — 4.94 (1.84)
Dante Fowler Jr — 4.61 (1.59)
Markus Golden — 4.90 (1.72)
Randy Gregory — 4.64 (1.62)
Eli Harold — 4.61 (1.68)
Zack Hodges — 4.74 (1.63)
Danielle Hunter — 4.57 (1.58)
Martin Ifedi — 5.01 (1.73)

This is pretty interesting. Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril in the top five forty yard dash times in the last 12 years. Speed matters at the LEO.

interesting

A quick reminder — both Avril and Irvin had 1.50 ten yard splits.

This is a must read by the way. After the forty times we’ll break some of it down:

Second attempts:

Henry Anderson — 4.93 (1.63)
Arik Armstead — 5.14 (1.76)
Tavaris Barnes — 4.75 (1.63)
Vic Beasley — 4.53 (1.59)
Angelo Blackson — 5.03 (1.79)
Malcom Brown — 5.07 (1.77)
Anthony Chickillo — 4.87 (1.70)
Frank Clark — 4.88 (1.76)
Xavier Cooper — 4.87 (1.68)
Corey Crawford — 5.04 (1.78)
Carl Davis — 5.07 (1.73)
Tyeler Davison — 5.19 (1.82)
Ryan Delaire — 5.02 (1.69)
B.J. Dubose — 5.08 (1.78)
Mario Edwards Jr — 4.79 (1.72)
Kyle Emanuel — 4.79 (1.69)
Trey Flowers — 4.93 (1.74)
Dante Fowler Jr — 4.65 (1.63)
Markus Golden — 4.81 (1.65)
Randy Gregory — 4.57 (1.60)
Eli Harold — 4.53 (1.56)
Zack Hodges — 4.68 (1.61)
Danielle Hunter — 4.58 (1.61)
Martin Ifedi — 4.88 (1.69)

Danielle Hunter with a typically explosive run. I tend to agree with this, however:

Vic Beasley ran an excellent 4.53 with a 1.59 split. Remember, he benched 35 reps yesterday.

We have our first Pete Carroll and John Schneider shot of the day. Again, not as animated as they were with the receivers yesterday.

pcjs

There’s a difference between the first and second forty/split times. Anthony Chickillo ran .11 slower in the forty and split. B.J. Dubose picked up an ugly hamstring injury on his second run.

Eli Harold ran a 4.53 with a 1.56 ten yard split on his second run. That’s the type of time I was expecting — the type of time that can get him into the top-15. He is a perfect LEO prospect for a team like Atlanta.

Avril and Irvin ran in the low 4.5’s and had explosive ten yard splits. It’s hard to match them, as noted earlier — they were top-five in the last twelve years. But he’s just a shade behind. It’s just what Harold needed today.

The drills are underway. Randy Gregory very fluid changing direction. Sharp cuts, really athletic frame. Eli Harold follows him and looks equally polished. The hip movement is exceptional with both players — almost DB-esque. They’re having a good day so far — Dante Fowler Jr too. All three could go in the top eight.

Next it’s the bag drills.

Mike Mayock says Xavier has to get stronger for the next level. Corey Crawford showing good movement running between the bags. Carl Davis also performs well here for a big guy. Malcom Brown had good footwork, wasn’t too upright. Trey Flowers shows quicks and balance and gets a roar of approval from the coaches.

Markus Golden is struggling a bit so far. Randy Gregory just blew up the first bag drill. Did it in record time, explosive. He isn’t polished as a pass rusher but he’s leaping off the screen here. Eli Harold let his eyes drop at the end but was also quick.

Onto the club and rip. One coach screams “fight the bag” at Mario Edwards Jr. Trey Flowers gets another round of applause for his effort — so does Dante Fowler Jr.

Nobody bosses the bags like Aaron Donald last year from this group.

They’re bringing out the football on a stick for the punch drill. Corey Crawford and Malcom Brown the first pair to do the drill properly (it’s about staying low and punching, not speed). Xavier Cooper goes way too fast and barely touches the final bag. Trey Flowers lost balance on his attempt. Looking at his forty times from earlier, it’s hard to see him playing the edge at the next level in a 4-3.

Randy Gregory is again the best so far. Slowed it down and focused on technique. Eli Harold also doing a good job. Markus Golden is improving and looking nimble. He didn’t have a great forty or split but he’ll forge a role at the next level for someone (probably AFC North). They finish off with some running in space drills.

No surprises here — the edge rushers look smooth, the interior guys look like defensive tackles. Vic Beasley, Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler Jr and Eli Harold shine.

Some of the first DL group are now going to go through linebacker drills for the 3-4 teams. None of the group looked particularly comfortable dropping, opening their hips and playing the ball. Harold looked the best. Even Gregory looked raw here, as did Fowler Jr. Trey Flowers performed surprisingly well.

Neither the NFL Network or the online feed are showing the drills now. We’ll get ready for the second group of defensive linemen to run the forty yard dash.

The first group of defensive linemen are now going through the jumping segments of the day.

Vic Beasley continued his fantastic day — posting a 41 inch vertical. Mario Edwards Jr managed a 10′ on the broad. In comparison, Leonard Williams only jumped an 8’10”.

The second group of defensive linemen are running the forty. Here’s a reminder how the first group performed (unofficial):

forty times

Grady Jarrett — 5.23 (1.84)
Derrick Lott — 5.08 (1.81)
Joey Mbu — 5.42 (1.81)
Ellis McCarthy — 5.23 (1.82)
Rakeem Nunez-Rochez — 5.06 (1.74)
Owamagbe Odighizuwa — 4.64 (1.63)
Nate Orchard — 4.84 (1.67)
Leon Orr — 5.19 (1.85)
David Parry — 5.41 (1.76)
Jordan Phillips — 5.20 (1.84)
Darius Philon — 5.03 (1.82)
Bobby Richardson — 5.20 (1.85)
Ryan Russell — 4.77 (1.64)
Danny Shelton — 5.66 (1.88)
Deon Simon — 5.14 (1.78)
Preston Smith — 4.78 (1.64)
Za’Darius Smith — 4.85 (1.76)
J.T. Surratt — 5.22 (1.89)
Lynden Trail — 4.96 (1.77)
Louis Trinca-Pasat — 5.00 (1.75)
Zack Wagenmann — 4.85 (1.67)
Leterrius Walton — 5.29 (1.79)
Leonard Williams — 5.01 (1.74)
Gabe Wright — 5.09 (1.80)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa looked incredible. Fluid running style. Very relaxed — like a sprinter. Ripped muscle tone. An unofficial 4.64 with a 1.63 split is very good at his size (pushing 270lbs).

Florida’s Leon Orr is challenging the coach ahead of his forty yard dash. He’s trying to argue he wants to start on the first line, adding an extra six inches to his run. It’s bizarre. He’s not taking the coaching at all. It’s a very awkward situation.

Nate Orchard doesn’t look like a quick twitch speed guy on tape — a 4.84 and 1.67 split confirms that. The first round buzz during the Senior Bowl was premature.

A 5.20 for Jordan Phillips isn’t bad at all — but it’s not in the realm of Dontari Poe. The back injuries might scare some teams off. In comparison, Danny Shelton ran a 5.66. Rich Eisen jokes he might be able to out-run him: “I’m coming for you Danny Shelton.”

Leonard Williams ran a very solid time. I still think he can tone up and be even more effective.

Second attempts:

Grady Jarrett — 5.09 (1.69)
Derrick Lott — 5.02 (1.77)
Joey Mbu — 5.57 (1.85)
Ellis McCarthy — 5.30 (1.87)
Rakeem Nunez-Rochez — 5.12 (1.72)
Owamagbe Odighizuwa — 4.66 (1.62)
Nate Orchard — 4.87 (1.68)
Leon Orr — 5.23 (1.87)
David Parry — DNP
Jordan Phillips — 5.29 (1.86)
Darius Philon — 5.05 (1.82)
Bobby Richardson — 5.17 (1.78)
Ryan Russell — 4.84 (1.66)
Danny Shelton — 5.66 (1.91)
Deon Simon — 5.21 (1.83)
Preston Smith — 4.78 (1.63)
Za’Darius Smith — 4.87 (1.77)
J.T. Surratt — 5.26 (1.86)
Lynden Trail — 5.09 (1.86)
Louis Trinca-Pasat — 4.99 (1.77)
Zack Wagenmann — 4.84 (1.67)
Leterrius Walton — 5.27 (1.79)
Leonard Williams — 5.00 (1.72)
Gabe Wright — 5.08 (1.79)

Vic Beasley added a 10’10” in the broad jump to his 41 inch vertical. Very impressive.

Jason Cole says the 49ers are going to draft a receiver at #15. After this weekend, they’ll be lucky if one of the top three lasts until #15.

Tony Pauline says in the piece below that UConn’s Byron Jones, one of the few cornerback prospects with 32 inch arms, is a “game time decision” to workout tomorrow. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum two months ago. Seattle has never drafted a corner with sub-32 inch arms.

A quick comparison for you — Haloti Ngata ran a 5.13 with a 1.73 split in 2006. Danny Shelton ran a 5.66 at 1.91. It’s not a fair comparison. Ngata is/was much more athletic. It’s a lazy comparison based on size and the desire to backup a positive opinion on Shelton with a success-story comparison.

The drills are underway with the change of direction assessment to start. Preston Smith moves nicely for his size. It’s difficult to project his stock — late second? Leterrius Walton showed some good footworka and quickness. Leonard Williams aced this drill.

Onto the bag drill next. Danny Shelton showed good footwork for his size but he kept his eyes down and cheated a little. The second group of defensive linemen is much less impressive compared to the first group.

Davis Tull didn’t run but he’s jumped an 11′ broad. Joey Mbu recorded a 22.5 inch vertical. Mbu has long arms and not much else unfortunately. Shelton had a 30.5 inch vertical.

In the club/rip drill, Williams dominated the bags. He didn’t jump well earlier with a 29.5 inch vert and an 8’10” broad. Preston Smith clubbed the bags nicely and showed some zip. Shelton ran around the bags with real intensity and acceleration.

Owa Odighizuwa managed a 39 inch vertical. Incredible. He’s helping himself big time today. He’s a positive medical report (previous hip problems) from being a genuine first round talent. He still needs to learn how to rush the edge. He presses the interior really nicely with power but often looks lost trying to bend the edge and beat a tackle.

In the stack drill, Shelton got a nice punch in and didn’t rush. Leterrius Walton was told to “bend the knees” — as was Williams. Shane Ray isn’t working out — but he’s holding the bags on this drill getting involved.

The official forty yard dash times are coming in for the defensive linemen. Leonard Williams’ is 4.97. Eli Harold and Dante Fowler both get official 4.60’s. Vic Beasley’s official forty is a 4.53. Danielle Hunter’s is 4.57. Owa Odighizuwa managed a 4.62.

Here’s the top-10:

official forty

Here’s the vertical jump data for the key prospects:

Arik Armstead — 34 inches
Vic Beasley — 41 inches
Malcom Brown — 39.5 inches
Carl Davis — 33 inches
Mario Edwards Jr — 32.5 inches
Trey Flowers — 36.5 inches
Dante Fowler Jr — 32.5 inches
Randy Gregory — 36.5 inches
Eli Harold — 35 inches
Danielle Hunter — DNP
Owa Odighizuwa — 39 inches
Nate Orchard — 31.5 inches
Jordan Phillips — 30 inches
Danny Shelton — 30.5 inches
Preston Smith — 34 inches
Leonard Williams — 29.5 inches

Of all the players to help themselves today — Odighizuwa, Beasley and Harold stood out. Odighizuwa also had a 10’7″ broad jump. Harold’s was 10’3″.

Davis Tull is getting a lot of love from Charles Davis on the NFL Network. Tull recorded a 42.5 inch vert and an 11′ on the broad jump. He’s 6-2 3/8 and 246lbs. Impressive. One to watch. Charles Davis predicted a high 4.5 or low 4.6. He didn’t run the forty due to a hamstring injury.

Some of the linemen are now running linebacker drills — including Preston Smith bizarrely. In a few moments we’ll be ready for the linebackers to run the forty yard dash — including Bud Dupree.

Even in space Odighizuwa doesn’t look uncomfortable. In terms of a physical specimen — he’s as good as anyone in this D-line class.

The defensive linemen are done for the day. I’ll have a review post up later. Now we wait for the linebackers to begin the forty yard dash.

Bud Dupree had a broad jump of 11’7″ and a vertical of 42 inches. To compare, Chris Conley yesterday had an 11’6″ and a vert of 45 inches. The difference is, Conley is 213lbs and Dupree is 269lbs. There’s still time for Dupree to be the star of the day.

Bendarick McKinney had a 40.5 inch vertical, second only to Dupree.

I believe Christine Michael is #1, incidentally.

Here’s the linebackers running the forty yard dash:

Kwon Alexander — 4.59 (1.59)
Stephone Anthony — 4.59 (1.57)
Aaron Davis — 4.99 (1.77)
Paul Dawson — 4.95 (1.69)
Xzavier Dickson — 4.77 (1.71)
Bud Dupree — 4.57 (1.60)
Alani Fua — 4.75 (1.67)
Geneo Grissom — 4.85 (1.66)
Obum Gwacham — 4.77 (1.68)
Bryce Hager — 4.65 (1.64)
Ben Heeney — 4.62 (1.63)
Amario Herrera — 4.86 (1.73)
Jordan Hicks — 4.65 (1.53)
Mike Hull — 4.71 (1.60)
Taiwan Jones — 4.84 (1.56)
Eric Kendricks — 4.66 (1.64)
Lorenzo Mauldin — 4.90 (1.71)
Benardick McKinney — 4.78 (1.74)
Denzel Perryman — 4.81 (1.69)
Hayes Pullard — 4.81 (1.68)
Edmond Robinson — 4.70 (1.69)
Jake Ryan — 4.71 (1.64)
Martrell Spaight — 4.90 (1.72)
J.R. Tavai — 4.94 (1.71)
Shaq Thompson — 4.72 (1.78)
Max Valles — 4.99 (1.77)
Tony Washington — 5.02 (1.75)
Damien Wilson — 4.80 (1.66)
Ramik Wilson — 4.81 (1.70)

Hau’oli Kikaha did not run the forty yard dash.

Here’s Rob Ryan, confused by a Microsoft Surface:

rob ryan

After jabbing his finger at the screen, he shrugged and turned away. This was definitely the lasting image of the combine for me. A genuine rival to ‘Andy Reid eating a sandwich’ from 2013:

Mike Mayock, clearly tired from the long broadcasting stints, is now signing funk music (badly). Rich Eisen found it very amusing:

eisen

According to the NFL Network, Bud Dupree won’t participate in drills. We’ll see if he runs his second forty. Apparently he intends to do drills at the Kentucky pro-day instead. Not sure about that decision.

Washington’s Shaq Thompson ran a mediocre 4.72 with an even worse 1.78 split.

Here’s the second attempt:

Kwon Alexander — 4.63 (1.63)
Stephone Anthony — 4.69 (1.66)
Aaron Davis — 4.99 (1.75)
Paul Dawson — 4.96 (1.73)
Xzavier Dickson — 4.91 (1.77)
Bud Dupree — 4.73 (1.71)
Alani Fua — 4.80 (1.70)
Geneo Grissom — 4.93 (1.68)
Obum Gwacham — 4.75 (1.67)
Bryce Hager — 4.57 (1.56)
Ben Heeney — 4.68 (1.68)
Amario Herrera — 4.95 (1.76)
Jordan Hicks — 4.71 (1.63)
Mike Hull — 4.79 (1.73)
Taiwan Jones — 5.01 (1.79)
Eric Kendricks — DNP
Lorenzo Mauldin — 4.88 (1.69)
Benardick McKinney — 4.69 (1.64)
Denzel Perryman — 4.81 (1.68)
Hayes Pullard — 4.80 (1.64)
Edmond Robinson — 4.63 (1.61)
Jake Ryan — 4.68 (1.62)
Martrell Spaight — 4.91 (1.72)
J.R. Tavai — 4.97 (1.74)
Shaq Thompson — 4.69 (1.72)
Max Valles — 4.87 (1.66)
Tony Washington — 5.03 (1.75)
Damien Wilson — 4.90 (1.71)
Ramik Wilson — 4.81 (1.67)

Bud Dupree ran a 4.73 the second time around after a 4.57 to start. That’s a pretty big difference. I wonder that the explanation is there? He’s inconsistent on tape and at the combine.

Danny Shelton found a camera in Michael Bennet-finds-a-bicyle style:

shelton stole a camera

That concludes the forty yard dash for today. The linebackers are heading out for drills.

This is a really poor group of linebackers — and I can’t imagine the Seahawks drafting any of this group. They have a group of backers under contract, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Brock Coyle will return. They’ll likely shop in the UDFA market again.

Only four guys ran in the high 4.5’s. You really want to see that explosive speed — early 4.5’s.

In the change of direction drill, Ben Heeney is warned not to guess the drill as he stumbles a couple of times. Obum Owacham gets praise for his drill and looked as smooth as anyone.

Bud Dupree isn’t working out (apparently due to a groin injury, even though he ran a forty). Eric Kendricks is clearly the next best linebacker out there.

Hau’Oli Kikaha didn’t run the forty but is doing drills. He looked really stiff trying to change direction in space. Shaq Thompson showed a nice backpedal and transition. He ran a disappointing pair of forty’s but looked good in space.

This is pretty funny:

mayock tweet

Paul Dawson always felt a bit overrated to me. He ran in the 4.9’s and doesn’t look free and easy in the drills.

Mayock calls Davis Tull his “best value” player of the day based on his athletic performance. He did everything but run the forty. Mayock says he’s a SAM linebacker.

Even the better runners in this linebacker class don’t look fluid in space. It’s a stiff looking group with a distinct lack of explosion in space. Penn State’s Mike Hull looking as good as anyone. Most are struggling to get low and stay balanced. Hayes Pullard was standing up far too tall.

Kikaha really tight and struggling to get around. Tony Pauline graded him as an UDFA recently. He might be right, despite all of the production.

Mayock says of this linebacker group: “They all have hands like feet.” He goes on to add he’s disappointed with the groups performance in field drills. It’s even worse than the tight ends on Friday. Just mediocrity across the board — no spark, nobody shining or standing out. The coaches are clearly frustrated, barking at the group and telling them basic things like “keep your eyes up”.

One of the few players that has done even OK is Stephone Anthony of Clemson. I don’t understand why Max Valles decided to turn pro. Anthony will make a nice inside guy for someone — he’s moving pretty well for a big guy. He’s 243lbs and ran a 4.57.

One of the coaches just stopped the final drill, told the players the performance wasn’t good enough and started again. It’s a really flat group — nobody is encouraging anyone. There’s no applause.

Shaq Thompson’s official forty yard dash time is a 4.64. He did a good job in the penultimate drill and drew some praise from the coaches. Nice transition, hip movement, catch and finish.

Denzel Perryman is a curious case. He’s thick cut and struggles to change direction. He’s a thumper inside. Is he an every down backer? Is he big enough for the 3-4?

The final drill is the rip. Lorenzo Mauldin showed some nice power here. Perryman cheated a little bit and just ran by it.

Here are the official linebacker forty times:

The NFL Network has completed its coverage so we’ll call it a day too for the live blog. Stand by for a new post debating Seattle and the defensive line class in a few moments.

 

Receivers impress at the combine — where does it leave Seattle?

February 21st, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Tre McBride ran a 4.41 and recorded a 38 inch vertical jump

If you missed today’s combine live blog, you can recap the day here. It includes workout notes, winners & losers, measurements, breaking news and a lot more

The #1 thing we learned today? This receiver class has everything. Explosive athleticism, freakish size and speed, suddenness and most of all — depth.

While a hyped-up running back class chugged it’s way through a bitterly disappointing, average workout — the receivers lit up Indianapolis with a series of dynamic performances.

Nineteen players ran sub-4.4. Thirteen players jumped above 37 inches in the vertical. If you’re a team in need of a receiver or two — congratulations. The Seahawks happen to need a receiver or two.

It’s hard to read too much into the body language of coaches at the combine. Some sit in the stands with their own stopwatch (Tom Coughlin). Others kick back and let their scouts do most of the data-recording. Jason Garrett joined the NFL Network crew for an interview as Jerry Jones attempted to type forty-times into an Ipad.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider stayed glued to their seats in the Seahawks booth — side-by-side. And they paid particular attention to the receivers. Carroll was seen scribbling notes at a pace. Schneider was deep in conversation, binoculars in hand. The room was a hive of activity. When the running backs started to workout, they sipped soda and looked positively relaxed. No notes were being taken. For once, I think we can read into this.

Rand Getlin is reporting the Seahawks have offered Marshawn Lynch a contract extension worth over $20m for the next two years. It’s a significant offer. If Lynch wants to be the best paid back in the league, this is his opportunity. If Adrian Peterson departs Minnesota he might have to take a pay cut (especially if he wants to join his favorite team in Dallas). Peterson is the only challenger to Lynch in terms of salary if he signs this new deal.

Assuming it gets done, there’s very little reason for the Seahawks to draft a running back. It’s going to be hard enough for eleven or more rookies to make the roster without asking a mid or late round pick to beat out Robert Turbin or Christine Michael. Secure Lynch and you can focus elsewhere. The average performance today of the running backs — where most just looked sluggish and slow — just compounds the situation. Do what it takes to keep Lynch and move on.

They can focus on other needs — receiver, tight end, cornerback, offensive line and defensive line.

I think the Seahawks will address the tight end position in free agency as they look to bring in that elusive second level mismatch for Russell Wilson. They need a guy who draws attention in the way Rob Gronkowski did in the Super Bowl. They need a red zone threat in the passing game. They need someone who can run the seam route and make big plays. All signs point to Julius Thomas — a player they tried to acquire during the season. While he has his critics and doubters, there’s no mistaking his physical quality, speed and production (24 touchdowns in 2013/2014). He’s the type of player who demands respect from a defense and constant attention.

If they sign Thomas (and there’s no comparable TE mismatch in this draft class), the focus turns to receiver, the offensive line, cornerback and the defensive line.

Cornerback could be a problem area. The options in the draft are limited. The 2015 prospects were measured today and we know the Seahawks like their outside cornerbacks to have 32-inch arms. Here’s a full list of defensive backs with +32 inch arms:

Adrian Amos
Alex Carter
Jalen Collins
Kurtis Drummond
Durrell Eskridge
Gerod Holliman
Byron Jones
Cody Prewitt
Jordan Richards
James Sample
Tye Smith
Jaquiski Tartt
Julian Wilson

That’s it. And they’re not all corner prospects either, there’s a few safety’s in there. You can pretty much limit your Monday viewing to this group when the DB’s workout.

(Note — Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall will also go through cornerback drills. He has 32 1/8 inch arms and ran a 4.54 today)

Tony Pauline gave Byron Jones a fourth or fifth round grade last summer but he’s been steadily rising. He’s a press-corner coming off a torn labrum. Alex Carter flashed at times for Stanford. There’s some debate whether Adrian Amos is a safety or a corner, but he’s another to monitor.

The top-talent on the list is clearly Jalen Collins. I suspect he’ll end up going in the top-20. This is a bad group and teams know it. The good cornerbacks will go early. The other possible first rounders — Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters, don’t pass the 32-inch arms test. Neither does Utah’s Eric Rowe or Georgia’s Damian Swann.

This is why Byron Maxwell is going to get $10m (too much, in my opinion) on the open market and why he’ll be priced out of a return to Seattle. It’s a really rough year if you have a need at the position. We probably need to scour the free agent market for a diamond in the rough. I’ve always liked Brandon Flowers but he’s short and lacks length — plus he could be costly. 2015 will provide the greatest test to Seattle’s vaunted cornerback production line.

Assuming they don’t go cornerback early, that leaves receiver, defensive line and offensive line as the most likely options at #31. We’ll see the defenders workout tomorrow. I’m not sure the D-line is quite the dramatic need some people believe. Brandon Mebane and Jordan Hill are under contract. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are both signed-up. Cassius Marsh will return. Tony McDaniel is under contract. They’ve done a good job finding defensive line value in the free agent market. Players like Brian Orakpo might be willing to work on a cheap prove-it deal. There are other candidates too.

There’s also a good chance of a first round rush on defensive linemen. Eli Harold is one to watch out for — a good fit for Seattle’s LEO position. Shane Ray wont perform due to injury. We could see Harold, Ray, Leonard Williams, Dante Fowler Jr, Danny Shelton, Jordan Phillips, Eddie Goldman, Malcom Brown, Arik Armstead, Vic Beasley, and Bud Dupree off the board by #31, limiting the available options.

We’ll see if tomorrow changes anything, but I’m leaning towards receiver and offensive line being a likely bet for Seattle’s first two picks in this draft as we edge towards free agency.

I noted at the start of today’s live blog that #31 could be a sweet spot for the O-line. With the reports today that James Carpenter will be a target for the New York Jets, it’s looking increasingly likely the Seahawks will need to fill a hole at left guard. While the receivers are flying up the board today (more on that in a moment) — several good O-line prospects could be available at #31 or even after a small trade down. Ereck Flowers, Cameron Erving, Jake Fisher, La’el Collins. Players who could, theoretically, play guard or tackle. There’s enough OL depth in this draft to wait and let Tom Cable bring in his guys to fill out the roster. But there’s even more depth at receiver.

The top three wide outs all confirmed their status as probable top-18 picks today. Kevin White’s official 4.35 was as unexpected as it was impressive. He’s not a quick-twitch receiver but he has great acceleration and long speed. He has the frame and hands to win in the short game and the ability to get deep and take the top off a defense. He’s smaller than Larry Fitzgerald but plays with a similar physicality. And he’s faster.

Amari Cooper is a naturally gifted receiver — the smoothest wide out to enter the league since A.J. Green. The fact he also ran a 4.42 shows he’s no slouch either. But he doesn’t have great height or length and he suffered with drops in college. White has possibly usurped Cooper as the top receiver — and he’ll be a candidate to go fourth overall to Oakland. Cooper shouldn’t last beyond Minnesota (#11) and Cleveland (#12).

That leaves DeVante Parker, who also performed well today (4.45 forty, 36.5 vert, 10’5″ broad). He could go ahead of Cooper if it comes down to personal preference. Greater size/athleticism versus polish. It’s also worth noting Parker is curt and introverted while Cooper is well-spoken and competitive. Either way, there’s a chance both players will be off the board by San Francisco at #15. The worst case scenario is Kansas City at #18.

Here’s the possible problem for Seattle. If White, Cooper and Parker are off the board by #12 or #15, we have to assume Kansas City will take the next best receiver available. That could be Jaelen Strong — who had a fantastic combine performance (4.42 forty, 42-inch vert, 10’3″ broad). With the likelihood of four receivers leaving the board in the top-20, you’re looking at taking the 5th or 6th best receiver at #31. There’s probably ten players with similar grades vying to be #5 and #6. The value at #31 will be pretty similar to the value at #55.

Theoretically, you could trade down from #31 and fill a need on the offensive line — then trade up from #63 to get a receiver you like. You run the risk of losing picks, but you also have the chance to make a cumulative gain and get the players you really want.

So who are the ten if White, Cooper, Parker and Strong are off the board?

Nelson Agholor (USC)
Ran an impressive 4.41 with the top ten-yard split (1.53). He makes up for a lack of size (6-0, 198lbs) with suddenness, catching technique, good hands, leaping ability and grit. He’s an effective kick returner too. It’d be more of the same for Seattle, but this is the type of receiver they’ve shown interest in. If they sign a big target (eg Julius Thomas) in free agency, this could be an option.

Sammie Coates (Auburn)
He was as advertised today. Coates is a physical freak with fantastic muscle tone and a T.O. style frame. He ran a 4.43 with a 41-inch vertical, 10’11” broad jump and he put up 23 reps on the bench press. Physically he’s a top ten pick. Catching the ball he might be an UDFA. During drills he struggled to track the deep ball and had some drops. For all the potential, he’s likely to be a frustrating player at the next level. Very boom or bust.

Phillip Dorsett (Miami)
He’s a really effective deep-receiver with 4.33 size. He posted a 37-inch vertical today with a 10’2″ broad jump. He’s not just a sprinter playing football — he’s very much a football player. He uses his athleticism to get open and does a good job catching the ball. Can he win in the short game? He showed flashes at Miami. He’s a competitive player but he’s only 5-9 and 183lbs. How many receivers with that size become anything more than a sparky role-player?

Devin Funchess (Michigan)
Funchess really should’ve worked out with the tight ends yesterday. Instead of shining as the obvious top athlete among a bad group, he just looked like a slow receiver today. He’s always been a build-up-speed player at 6-4 and 232lbs — but a 4.70 was considerably worse than Dorial Green-Beckham’s 4.49 at a similar size. He did have a 38-inch vertical to fall back on. He lacks suddenness (1.67 ten yard split) and won’t win off the snap. He needs to be used as a mismatch in the slot or working the seam. He is adept at boxing off defenders, the head-fake and making difficult grabs.

Dorial Green-Beckham (Oklahoma)
DGB has a very peculiar body shape. He’s 6-5 and 237lbs but only has 32 and a half inch arms. He doesn’t appear long despite the height. If anything he looked quite stocky. He only has nine inch hands. Running a 4.49 at that size was impressive, but he only managed a mediocre 33.5 inch vertical and a 9’11” in the broad jump. He’s fast but he doesn’t have a great catching radius or wingspan. The off-field concerns are legit and he didn’t do a convincing job in front of the media. Tall but not long, fast but can’t jump.

Rashad Greene (Florida State)
Mr. Consistent for FSU but doesn’t seem like a fit for Seattle. He’s only 5-11 and 182lbs, ran a 4.53 today and posted a 36.5 inch vertical and a 10’2″ broad jump. He catches everything and any offense needing a reliable slot receiver will consider Greene on day two. But the Seahawks don’t need a 4.5 runner at 5-11. The ten-yard split on his first forty yard dash matched Nelson Agholor’s 1.53. He has nine inch hands and 31 5/8 inch arms. He’s a competitive player with lots of production.

Tyler Lockett (Kansas State)
After a fantastic Senior Bowl, Lockett further improved his stock at the combine. He’s just under 5-10 and 182lbs (similar size to Rashad Greene) with 30 inch arms and sub-9 inch hands. That’s not a great mix and he too might be out of contention for the Seahawks. But he looked sharp running a 4.40 forty and he also posted a 35.5 inch vertical and a 10’1″ broad jump. He showed spectacular hands in Mobile and he has some kick return potential. His stock has risen so high he’s probably drifted out of any reasonable consideration for Seattle.

Tre McBride (Williams & Mary)
A Seahawks Draft Blog favorite coming into the combine — McBride showed up big time. He’s 6-0 and 210lbs and ran a 4.41 with a 38 inch vertical, a 10’2″ broad jump and a 4.08 short shuttle (top five among WR’s). On tape he makes numerous circus catches — flashing excellent catching technique and the ability to make plays in the short game and downfield. He’s a kick return specialist too. He has average height at 6-0 but plays big with a nice thick frame. He could play at 215lbs comfortably. He has A+ character — he’s well spoken and polite during interviews, gritty and fun on the field. He’s rising and could be a legit second round option for the Seahawks.

Breshad Perriman (UCF)
He didn’t workout at the combine due to injury. He’s very much flavor of the month among draft pundits. Mel Kiper recently put him at #15 in a mock draft. Mike Mayock has also discussed his possible rise up the board. He’s 6-2 and 212lbs with NFL bloodlines. On tape he’s comparable to Sammie Coates — capable of big plays and equally capable of some horrendous drops. Neither player is going to be on a quarterbacks Christmas Card list. He does have enough potential to entice a team to take a shot on day two. The first round would be a significant reach in my opinion.

Devin Smith (Ohio State)
The expected contest with Phillip Dorsett never really materialized but a 4.42 is still a decent time for a 6-0, 196lbs receiver. He’s a smooth, fluid runner — very natural with no wasted steps. You can see why he’s such an effective downfield catcher. He posted a 39-inch vertical with a 10’2″ broad jump. He made several Odell Beckham Jr-style catches for the Buckeye’s. He doesn’t have ODB’s unreal hand size (only nine inches) but they share similar athletic traits. He’s a fantastic high point catcher and a big play artist. He also has genuine special teams value as a gunner.

You might have to take Nelson Agholor, Devin Smith or Devin Funchess at #31 or in the top-40 if you trade down. You might be able to get Tre McBride in the #55-63 range. That’s what you have to consider here. Where is the best value coinciding with the best way to upgrade the existing roster? There are likely two sweet spots at this position — #4-15 and then #35-50.

The Seahawks manipulated the situation last year to get the player they wanted (Paul Richardson) in the right range. I can see a similar situation here. Either take the guy they like after a small trade down, or find a way to get the receiver you want in the late second round. The alternative, of course, is to make a Julio Jones-style trade into the top ten to target Kevin White. Can anyone really see that happening?

Last year the value at #32 was probably leaning towards the offensive line (Joel Bitonio) and at #64 towards receiver. It might be a similar situation again this year. The Seahawks kind of fought the board a little bit — especially in admitting they took Justin Britt in the second round to avoid missing out altogether on a right tackle they liked (they didn’t own a third rounder). That’s what the Seahawks do — they draft for their roster and not for the league.

With four solid fits at receiver likely to leave the board before the #31 pick — going OL with the first pick and WR with the second could make a great deal of sense. And who would rule out some movement up and down the board to make it happen?

One receiver we need to go back and have a look at — Georgia’s Chris Conley. At just under 6-2 and 213lbs he ran a 4.35 forty, recorded a 45 inch vertical, an 11’7″ in the broad jump and even had 18 reps on the bench press. Oh yeah, he also has 33 3/4 inch arms and just under ten inch hands. That’s incredible size, length, speed and athleticism. I’ve scanned through some clips and there’s a lot to like here. He can separate, high point the football, get behind the defense and make big plays. He appears to be well respected with tremendous character. Can’t wait to see more.

Also today the quarterbacks and running backs went through drills. Jameis Winston put on a masterclass — on and off the field. He gave a superstar interview with the NFL Network, took on a leadership role within the QB group and was the clear vocal leader on the field. Greg Knapp working the drills took a clear shine to him. He nailed a tough media conference last night and just looks the part of a #1 overall pick. It’s not a done deal, but you get a real vibe that Tampa Bay is going to take Winston with the first pick. Everything is trending that way. I mean, how impressive is this?

Marcus Mariota also performed well but faded into Winston’s shadow when they both appeared on the NFL Network and the same thing happened on the field. He’s not a loud person and prefers to lead by example. He will be a high pick, but you sense he’s losing ground to Winston in the race to go first overall. The big question could be — will Tennessee take Mariota at #2, or will they take a defensive prospect like Leonard Williams? If Mariota lasts until the #5 pick, will that encourage a team like Cleveland or Philadelphia to trade up? If the Eagles are being aggressive at cornerback (willing to pay Maxwell), they could be laying the foundations for a big trade up on draft day.

The running back workouts were miserably average. It’s shocking how slow the group looked. Even Melvin Gordon put in a disappointing performance — running a 4.53 and recording a 35 inch vertical. During drills they nearly all looked sluggish. T.J. Yeldon is too big, Gordon was stiffer than expected, Duke Johnson was slow, Josh Robinson was even slower and David Cobb pulled a quad. Jay Ajayi and Ameer Abdullah both posted impressive vertical jumps (39 and 42 inches respectively) but that’s about as good as it gets for this years crop. This was a total anti-climax.

For all the combine data from today, click here.

And one final note to close out the day — Vic Beasley put up 35 reps on the bench press. That’s more than Danny Shelton (34). Incredible. We’ll be live again from 6AM PST tomorrow with coverage of the defensive linemen and linebacker drills.