NFL combine preview 2017

February 27th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Groups 1-3 (PK, ST, OL, RB)

Arrival: Tuesday
Measurements: Wednesday
Bench press: Thursday
On-field drills: Friday

Offensive linemen
If you’re not familiar with TEF, here are the details. As soon as we get a full list of workout numbers we’ll calculate and publish the scores. The Seahawks like explosive offensive linemen. 30 reps on the bench press, +9′ in the broad jump and a 31-inch vertical is the ideal physical profile. All of the offensive linemen they’ve drafted since 2010 have had at least 33 inch arms. The three offensive tackles they’ve taken in round one average 35.3-inches for arm length.

Key drills
Vertical, Broad, Bench

Ideal size
6-5, 320lbs, 35 inch arms, +31 inch vertical, +9’ broad, +30 bench reps

Interesting notes
There were 26 ‘explosive’ defensive linemen performing at the combine last year compared to just six offensive linemen (per TEF). The NFL has a tackle shortage and the best athletes, unquestionably, are playing defense instead of offense in college. Who can blame them when a player like Olivier Vernon gets $17m a year?

Some names to monitor

Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
The best left tackle in college football and likely the best athlete. There’s a very good chance he will go in the top-15 if not the top-10. His backstory is emphatically ‘Seahawky’ and he plays with a genuine edge. Tremendous prospect — enjoy his performance and dream about what could’ve been.

Dorian Johnson (T/G, Pittsburgh)
He didn’t attend the Senior Bowl due to injury so it’ll be good to get his measurements (in particular arm length). Johnson is a former 5-star recruit at tackle and could revert back to the outside ala Branden Albert. He’ll need to have the required length and explosive profile to be on Seattle’s radar at #26.

Taylor Moton (T/G, Western Michigan)
Nasty run blocker and physically reminiscent of what Seattle has gone for in the past. He’s 6-5, 330lbs with 33 1/8 inch arms and massive 11-inch hands. They tried Justin Britt at right tackle with this type of profile.

Isaac Asiata (G, Utah)
Really nasty, physical guard who took it to Washington’s talented D-line. Provided a fantastic combo with Garett Bolles on the left side and consistently created huge running lanes for Joe Williams. Let’s see how explosive he is. Asiata might be a better athlete than people realise.

Jermaine Eluemunor (T/G, Texas A&M)
Similar profile to Moton and has nice footwork for 6-4, 325lbs. Has Seattle size. British born and late to the game but there’s some upside here. Will be interesting to see how explosive he is.

Roderick Johnson (T, Florida State)
Looks the part but had an underwhelming career at FSU. Never lived up to the hype as a possible first round pick. That said, in a class without a ton of viable offensive tackle options — Johnson is at least a decent project for someone with starter potential. He’s listed at 6-7 and 311lbs.

Running back
The Seahawks have consistently drafted a ‘body type’ at the position. Christine Michael (220lbs), C.J. Prosise (220lbs), Robert Turbin (222lbs), Alex Collins (217lbs) and Spencer Ware (228lbs) all had similar size, height and athletic profiles. This might be the year Seattle goes ‘bigger’ — but it’ll be the first year they do if so. Look for RB’s in the 220lbs range with fantastic explosive traits (vertical, broad jump).

Key drills
Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
5-11, 220lbs, +36 inch vertical, +10 broad

Interesting notes
The Seahawks haven’t drafted a burner at running back. Michael (4.54), Prosise (4.48) and Turbin (4.50) were explosive rather than really fast. Explosive suddenness and power over straight line speed appears to be the order of the day.

Some names to monitor

Elijah Hood (RB, North Carolina)
In 2013 at the Nike SPARQ Combine he ran a 4.48 at 6-0 and 221lbs, jumping a 36.3-inch vertical. Hood can squat 635lbs and bench 375lbs. He’s in Seattle’s range as a body type and appears to have the explosive qualities too.

Samaje Perine (RB, Oklahoma)
It’ll be interesting to see if Perine really is his listed 5-10 and 235lbs. He should excel in the short shuttle — his change of direction and agility traits are superb. Combine testing will have a huge impact on his stock. Can he pull off a terrific vertical/broad?

Kareem Hunt (RB, Toledo)
It was a bit of a surprise when he turned up at the Senior Bowl weighing just 208lbs. He might be more naturally suited to being 215-220lbs and he looked big in college. Hunt has been tipped to run a really impressive forty time. If he has a complete performance and has added weight, he’ll be one to watch.

Brian Hill (RB, Wyoming)
Listed at 5-11 and 219lbs, Hill is tough to bring down and finishes runs. Ploughs through tackles and gets extra yardage. Another player being tipped to run an electric forty time. Like Hunt, if he has a complete performance and shows off some explosive traits — he could be an option for Seattle.

Wayne Gallman (RB, Clemson)
The RB position is a bit of a complimentary role at Clemson. Gallman doesn’t have the numbers but he’s really tough. He’s a competitor. It’s possible he’s bigger than the listed 6-0 and 210lbs. If so — and if he can test well — he’s another option for Seattle beyond the first two or three rounds.

Groups 4-6 (QB, WR, TE)

Arrival: Wednesday
Measurements: Thursday
Bench press: Friday
On-field drills: Saturday

Quarterbacks
There’s little to capture the imagination of Seahawks fans here unless you think one of the top guys ends up in San Francisco or Arizona. Focus on the buzz more than anything. The Patrick Mahomes hype will likely pick up. We’ll get an angle on how teams view Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky and Deshone Kizer.

Wide receivers
Kenny Lawler (4.64) and Chris Harper (4.50) are the only receivers they’ve drafted who didn’t run in the 4.4’s. Paul Richardson (4.40), Golden Tate (4.42), Tyler Lockett (4.40), Kris Durham (4.46) and Kevin Norwood (4.48) all cracked the 4.4’s. That appears to be a benchmark. The Seahawks have collected sudden, shifty athletes at the position. Kris Durham (216lbs), Chris Harper (229lbs) and Kenny Lawler (203lbs) are the only three receivers drafted that were +200lbs.

Key drills
Forty, catching drills (proper technique)

Ideal size
6-1, 210lbs, 4.45 forty

Interesting note
The best non-FA athlete Seattle has acquired in the Carroll/Schneider era was an UDFA — Ricardo Lockette. He ran a 4.41, had a 39-inch vertical and a 6.76 three-cone. He was also well-sized at 211lbs with 33.5-inch arms. The Seahawks have been comfortable bringing in high-ceiling UDFA receivers, finding success with Lockette, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

Some names to monitor

Jehu Chesson (WR, Michigan)
A forgotten man in this draft class due to Michigan’s propensity to run the ball. Chesson is a dynamic athlete with good size (6-3, 203lbs). His all-round game is very good and he offers plus run-blocking and special teams value.

Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU)
Had a 42.4-inch vertical at the 2013 SPARQ combine. It’s hard to judge Dupre considering LSU basically played without a proper quarterback for the last two years. He might only be a 4.5 runner but could be a steal in the middle rounds.

Mack Hollins (WR, North Carolina)
If they’re looking for another Lockette — Hollins could be an option. He’s 6-4 and 210lbs and expected to run a fast time. He was a special teams captain in each of his four years at UNC with 20 special teams tackles over his first three seasons.

Tight ends
The three tight ends Seattle’s drafted — Nick Vannett, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy — are all quite different. Vannett was considered a throw-back style blocker with some pass-catching potential. Willson ran a 4.51 at his pro-day with a 38-inch vertical. McCoy ran a 4.78 but was familiar with Carroll and had great size and big mitts. This is one of the more unpredictable positions to judge for Seattle.

Key drills
Vertical, Broad, Bench, Forty

Ideal size
6-5, 260lbs, +34-inch arms, +10-inch hands

Interesting note
In 2010 when Jimmy Graham was drafted in round three by the Saints — the following players left the board between pick #95 and Seattle’s next pick at #111: Everson Griffen, Alterraun Verner, Darrell Stuckey, Aaron Hernandez and Geno Atkins. The Seahawks took Kam Chancellor at #133. The 2010 draft had some depth.

Some names to monitor

Scott Orndoff (TE, Pittsburgh)
He’s 6-5 and 256lbs. Not a freak of nature type but a very capable blocker with some downfield ability. Really helped Pitt run the ball as well as they did. If you’re a run-heavy team wanting a TE that can do it all, Orndoff is worth a look. Watch his workout just in case.

Darrell Daniels (TE, Washington)
If the Seahawks want a Luke Willson replacement, Daniels could be the answer. He might have the most athletic/explosive performance among TE’s. He ran a 4.44 at the 2016 Husky combine. Could be a major riser at around 6-4 and 246lbs.

Adam Shaheen (TE, Ashland)
The current small school darling of the national media. He’s listed at 6-6 and 275lbs and being tipped to excel in drills. He’s about 8-10lbs heavier than Vance McDonald (he ran a 4.69). Anything in that region will get teams excited.

Groups 7-9 (DL, LB)

Arrival: Thursday
Measurements: Friday
Bench press: Saturday
On-field drills: Sunday

Defensive line
Quinton Jefferson, Jordan Hill and Jaye Howard all tested superbly in the short shuttle (4.37, 4.51 and 4.47 respectively). If they’re looking for a quicker, interior pass-rush option — this drill appears to be significant. The Seahawks haven’t drafted a defensive tackle with sub-33 inch arms. Dynamic quickness is a trend for EDGE players. Bruce Irvin (4.03) and Frank Clark (4.05) both ran incredible short shuttles. Cassius Marsh’s 4.25 and Obum Gwacham’s 4.28 were also really good. All of the EDGE rushers they’ve drafted also had +33 inch arms.

Key drills
Vertical, Broad, Bench, Short Shuttle, Three-cone, 10-yard split (forty)

Ideal size
6-4, 310lbs, 33 inch arms, +31 inch vertical, +9’ broad, 4.50 short shuttle

Interesting note
The Seahawks have only drafted 5 players with a +140 SPARQ score. Christine Michael (150), Kevin Pierre-Louis (149) and Bobby Wagner (147) were the only three to beat Bruce Irvin (144) and Frank Clark (142).

Some names to monitor

Daeshon Hall (DE, Texas A&M)
Seattle born with great length (34.5-inch arms) and size (6-5, 265lbs). Has the frame to add bulk and play inside/out but might have the athleticism to be a Cassius Marsh type. Pete Carroll has noted the priority needs (CB, LB, OL) so we have to find players that might be available from the end of the third round.

Carlos Watkins (DT, Clemson)
Has the arm length they’ve gone for in the past (33.5-inches). Big hands (10 3/8 inches) to go with good size (6-4, 312lbs). Unlikely to go early despite his 2016 production. The Seahawks have targeted rounds 3-5 at defensive tackle in the past and if they add a DT in this class, that could be the range again.

Carroll Phillips (DE, Illinois)
Listed as a DE and might workout with the defensive linemen at the combine. He’d likely be a SAM project if drafted by the Seahawks. Played well in space at the Senior Bowl and is the same size as Haason Reddick (237lbs).

Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Alabama)
Physical, stout interior defender. Plays three musical instruments and excelled in multiple sports. Has a Seahawks-style backstory plus the length (33-inch arms) and size (6-3, 312lbs) Seattle likes.

Elijah Qualls (DT, Washington)
Played really well next to Vita Vea and Greg Gaines. It’ll be interesting to see how much he weighs and whether he has the necessary length. Disciplined, good cap control and a capable three-technique in a scheme like Seattle’s. Might go too early for their liking.

Linebackers
The Seahawks have drafted a collection of freakish athletes at linebacker since 2010. Kevin Pierre-Louis, Korey Toomer, Malcolm Smith and Eric Pinkins all ran between a 4.44 and a 4.51 in the forty. KPL, Smith and Pinkins all jumped +39 inches in the vertical. Bobby Wagner was a 4.4 runner at his pro-day with a 39.5-inch vertical. Of the five players they’ve drafted with a +140 SPARQ score, Wagner, KPL and Bruce Irvin are included. Speed (forty yard dash) and explosive traits (vertical, broad) appear to be a must.

Key drills
Forty yard dash, Three-cone, Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
+6-0, 230-240lbs, 4.4-4.5 forty, 6.70 three-cone, +10’ broad

Interesting note
Bobby Wagner played 99.35% of the defensive snaps in 2016 and K.J. Wright played 97.41%. How sustainable is this without burning out two core players? Pete Carroll specified in his end of season press conference they would draft for the linebacker position. It looks like a top-heavy class of linebackers.

Some names to monitor

Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
At his junior pro-day he reportedly ran a 4.47, jumped a 10-10 in the broad and had a 36 inch vertical. He’s 6-1 and 237lbs and could be the ideal pick for Seattle at #26. He has the athletic profile, the college production (21.5 TFL’s in 2016), the gritty backstory and the potential to play SAM, MIKE or WILL.

Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
Long limbed. Cunningham was originally recruited to play for Alabama but they switched their attention to Auburn-commit Reuben Foster and he ended up at Vanderbilt. His playing speed is good. Lean frame so it’ll be interesting to see how explosive he is.

Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
Considered a freakish athlete, Bowser has a basketball background and would likely be a SAM in Seattle. He’s 6-3 and 244lbs. He only scratched the surface of his potential in college. Expect him to test well in everything and possibly garner some first round buzz.

Alex Anzalone (LB, Florida)
How athletic is he? At times at Florida he looked really quick and sudden. That showed up at the Senior Bowl too. Medical checks are important because he’s missed time. Has Clay Matthews’ hairstyle and some of his playing style too.

Note: Jarrad Davis would’ve been named on this list but he is missing the combine due to injury

Groups 10-11 (DB)

Arrival: Friday
Measurements: Saturday
Bench press: Sunday
On-field drills: Monday

Cornerback
The final day of the combine will be the most exciting. This is a loaded class at cornerback and safety. It’s possible more than 20 cornerbacks could be drafted in the first two days.

The Seahawks have drafted six cornerbacks in the Pete Carroll era. All six have +32 inch arms. So why is length so important? 100% of multiple first team All-Pro cornerbacks drafted since 1998 have +32 inch arms. You can pretty much run through the list of CB measurements on Saturday and cross off any player with sub-32 inch arms. Having never drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round, a prospect drafted in the first 2-3 rounds (especially at #26) by this team is probably going to need to have a truly sensational workout.

Key drills
Three-cone, Vertical, measurements (arm length)

Ideal size
+6-1, 195lbs, +32-inch arms, 4.50 forty, +35-inch vertical

Interesting note
The player Seattle stashed in 2016 (DeAndre Elliott) ran a 4.55 at 6-1 and 188lbs last year. He jumped 41-inches in the vertical. Speed is not crucial. Five of Seattle’s six drafted cornerbacks ran between a 4.47 and a 4.56 in the forty yard dash (the sixth, Walter Thurmond, was injured at his combine and didn’t run).

Some names to monitor

Howard Wilson (CB, Houston)
Wilson averaged an interception every 15 targets in college and is one of the most underrated prospects in a deep cornerback class. He’s approximately 6-1 and 190lbs with room to grow. Better in run support than most of the other CB’s in this draft. Expect a terrific workout especially in the vertical jump. If he has the 32-inch arms, he could easily be on Seattle’s radar and will probably go earlier than people think.

Kevin King (CB, Washington)
If he repeats his 2016 Husky combine performance he’ll not only run the fastest ever recorded three-cone, he could be a certainty for the first round. Recent reports have suggested he could run in the 4.4’s too. With his size (6-3, 192lbs), length and tremendous physical profile — King is a man to watch for Seattle.

Akhello Witherspoon (CB, Colorado)
On tape he was very impressive in coverage, doing as good a job as anyone in 2016 marking Washington’s top-20 pick John Ross. He’s listed at 6-3 and 190lbs. He needs to do a better job in run-support and his tackling form needs major work. However, he has the size and profile of a Seahawks cornerback.

Rasul Douglas (CB, West Virginia)
Great production in 2016 (eight interceptions) and has 32-inch arms. Made plays during the Senior Bowl week and there’s an X-factor to his game. Would be nice to see some traits to go with the production. A former Four-star JUCO recruit so he has athletic potential.

Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Great size (6-1, 213lbs) and plays with extreme confidence. Carries himself like a pro-corner. He only ran a 4.6 and jumped 32-inches at the 2013 SPARQ combine so he’ll need to do better in Indianapolis.

Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
A player who looks neat and tidy on tape so let’s see how physically good he is. Everyone expects Marshon Lattimore to have a big workout. There isn’t that much separation on tape between the two. They both played well. It helps having Malik Hooker at safety.

Fabian Moreau (CB, UCLA)
Thick lower body suggests he’ll have an explosive workout. Not as physical as you’d expect on tape but that’s a complaint for a number of CB’s in this class. Measured at 6-0 and 205lbs at the Shrine game with 31 3/4 inch arms. Let’s see if a re-measure gets him to 32-inches.

Marquez White (CB, Florida State)
White was one of only two cornerbacks at the Senior Bowl with +32-inch arms (Rasul Douglas was the other). He’s only 184lbs so could do with adding size. There’s a player to work with here but he might need time. It’d be nice to see a really fast forty yard dash given his lack of bulk.

Treston Decoud (CB, Oregon State)
Measured at 6-1 and 203lbs at the Shrine game with +33-inch arms. Let’s see how athletic he is to go with the size/length. Could be a day three option.

Safety
After hitting on Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010, Seattle hasn’t had much success drafting for the safety position. Ryan Murphy, Winston Guy and Mark LeGree have come and gone. There’s a real mix of physical profiles too. Thomas (31 1/4) and Legree (30 1/4) have short arms so the 32-inch test isn’t necessary here — but Guy had great arm length (33). Murphy ran a 4.48 at his pro-day with an impressive 39-inch vertical but Legree (4.59) and Guy (4.70) didn’t run fast times (Legree only had a 31-inch vertical too). Overall it’s hard to determine a Seahawks ‘type’ with these numbers. The only safety they’ve drafted before the end of day two (Earl) is a tremendous athlete. He ran a 4.37 at his pro-day after pulling a hamstring running the forty at the combine (while still managing an official 4.49).

Key drills
Forty yard dash, Three-cone, Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
+6-0, 200-220lbs, 4.4 forty, +39-inch vertical, +10-5 broad jump

Interesting note
Will the Seahawks look to add pure safety depth or a ‘Buffalo’/’big nickel’ to play in a 4-2-5? They’d essentially be swapping the SAM for a highly athletic DB if they did. They’ve already drifted towards this concept. Seattle’s starting SAM, Mike Morgan, only played more than 50% of the defensive snaps in one game last season (@ LA Rams). He played 20% or less of the snaps in four games. Jeremy Lane played 71% of the total 2016 defensive snaps as an orthodox nickel. A ‘Buffalo’ could conceivably take those snaps from Lane.

Some names to monitor

Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
Everyone will be talking about Evans this time next week. Expect a super-fast forty yard dash, potentially +40 inches in the vertical and a leading broad jump. There might not be a more explosive player attending the combine this year. He’s 6-0 and 193lbs and hits like a train. Evans can play nickel, eraser FS, Buffalo. He’d also add to the Kam Chancellor fear-factor on crossing routes. Watch him.

Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)
He has the kind of backstory that screams Seahawks. Deone Bucannon has tipped him to make the transition to ‘Buffalo’. Luani’s the best safety nobody ever talks about. Expect him to turn a few heads at the combine and run a really nice forty. It’d be good to see him excel in the vertical/broad jumps too.

Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
He’s being tipped to be one of the stars at the combine. He has the quickness and fluidity as an athlete to match-up in coverage vs dynamic TE’s and bigger WR’s. He has the size (6-4, 219lbs) and length (32.5 inch arms). He’s a sure tackler and would provide adequate run support as a ‘Buffalo’. Teams might try him at corner.

Budda Baker (S, Washington)
He’s really dynamic, physical and tough — but he’s small. Weigh-ins and measurements will be important. You want to compare him to Tyrann Mathieu but Mathieu is so unique. If the Seahawks were going to consider him at #26 as a nickel/FS hybrid he’ll likely need a really sensational workout. He ran a hand-timed 4.35 at the Husky combine last year, a 4.08 short shuttle and a 6.66 three-cone so the potential is there for a great performance.

Tedric Thompson (S, Colorado)
His brother (unbelievably named ‘Cedric’) had a superb pro-day in 2015, running a 4.48 forty, jumping 40.5 in the vertical and 10-2 in the broad. Tedric flashed incredible closing speed and range in 2016, had major production in terms of interceptions and looks like a player with a future at free safety.

John Johnson (S, Boston College)
He measured at 6-1 and 205lbs with 31.5 inch arms at the Senior Bowl. Let’s see if he can crack 32-inches on a re-measure (it happens sometimes). That could be important because he has experience playing at cornerback and he’s a great athlete. The more you can do etc.

Marcus Maye (S, Florida)
One of those players that never really stands out for his athleticism but made enough plays in college to wonder if he’s secretly got some traits. He’s 6-0 and 216lbs. Quite an underrated player but did give up some plays at Florida.

Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
There’s been so much talk about what Peppers is and what he isn’t. It’ll be nice to finally get some confirmed measurables. It’ll be even better to see if he can prove some of the doubters wrong during this week.

 

Guest post: Kenny Sloth on cornerbacks

February 26th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

This article was written by contributor Kenny Sloth

Pete Carroll’s end of the year press conference is always a revealing time for draft fans. This season was no different with Carroll divulging his expected targets. One of those specific need areas was corner and with the gruesome and unfortunate injury to Deshawn Shead, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback room was left reeling. The team scrambled to fill the hole with career stop-gap Perrish Cox, which inspired little confidence. This safety-sized hole across from Richard Sherman has been the impetus for some fans to clamour for an early round selection at cornerback, something that has not proven to be a part of the brain trust’s modus operandi. Obviously, times change and it would be irresponsible for Seattle draft fans to not do our due diligence.

If you missed the first part of this pre-combine series on linebackers you can check it out here.

1. Tre’Davious White, LSU- I am higher on him than most but I’m a sucker for anybody rockin’ that #18 jersey for the Tigers. The way he carries himself among his teammates screams leader. He is the one holding everyone accountable on that defense. The way he storms away from plays barking at his linebackers just warms my heart. Excellent at tracking the ball in mid-air. Just a natural talent at the position. Best fit is a Cover 2 scheme and he has experience shadowing the oppositions number one. Excellent press technique.

2. Sidney Jones IV, Washington- Enthusiastic run defender, Jones pairs excellent length with fluidity. He’s got room to add weight to his frame (and absolutely needs to) in order to have functional strength at the next level. Despite his willingness to crash downfield and converge on the ballcarrier, he seems to be afraid of getting hurt — likely due to a slender frame. He has a very high ceiling and lockdown potential.

3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama- He might be primarily an off-coverage corner at the next level but his press technique can be improved. Humphrey could certainly benefit from a switch to safety similar to the move Byron Jones made with the Cowboys. If a team is confident using him in a similar way, Humphrey is a terrific athlete that can have an impact at the next level. Faked out far too easily at the cornerback spot. Really benefits from a solid cushion against all types of receivers. If I had to comp him, Devin McCourty is a very favourable likening. Very thick bodied, durable.

4. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State- Decent length and incredibly fluid hips. The comparison gets thrown around but he reminds me so much of Darrell Revis. Chippy on the field, Lattimore displays confidence in the way he moves and controls receivers. Don’t even look his way. Suffocating coverage. Run defense leaves a lot to be desired from the redshirt sophomore. Very weak bump and run coverage and will get called for plenty of fouls, at least as a rookie. Beautiful man coverage and QB baiting. I believe his age relative to teammate Gareon Conley’s factored into his Ohio State coaches’ decision to play him on the right side of the field at CB2.

5. Marquez White, Florida State- Not sure why there is zero buzz around this player but he is one of the least targeted defenders in the country and the season before last in his first year of starting he allowed completions on fewer than 1/3 of his targets. He’s just about the most physical corner available this year. He puts WRs on their buttocks. He’s played basketball for Florida State and just looks like an alpha out there. Very grabby, the type of player that’s always checking to see if he got flagged. Makes me nostalgic for Brandon Browner. Allowed just over 200 yards TOTAL in two years of starting for FSU. A humble and engaging personality, his journey screams Seahawks.

6. Adoree’ Jackson, USC- Jackson exhibits excellent change of direction and wide receiver like ability to track the ball in the air. Tough, if not a particularly physical player, he never gives up on a play and has nice long speed. Decent press technique despite lacking arm length to my eye and some of the best footwork in the class. His ability with the ball in his hands will be a huge plus for some teams.

7. Teez Tabor, Florida- Uses his press to control opponents. Excellent recognition of route combinations and takes advantage of this knowledge. He’s fun to watch and can cover in the end zone. Very high level ball skills, Teez consistently punches and swats the football well.

8. Kevin King, Washington- Clearly King is the best athlete on the field. He has the strength to dominate a receiver at the line of scrimmage and the agility to stay with his man across the field. You want to see him break more decisively on the ball and rip it away more aggressively. Adding weight could behoove him greatly, as is the case with many of the corners in this draft, although perhaps not as profoundly so with King. His press technique leaves a lot to be desired but the athletic package has me drooling the same as everybody else.

9. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado- A decent athlete, his physicality is an asset. Plays downhill and reads the offense incredibly well. Has an insane pre-cognizance for developing plays. Very chippy and vocal. He wants to compete. Awuzie has experience at both corner spots and on the inside.

10. Fabian Moreau, UCLA- Very fluid hips on a solid frame, Moreau shouldn’t leave the second round. Strong hands with long arms to control his receiver. Plays through the receiver and is aggressive in run support.

11. Desmond King, Iowa- Thick, well-built for a corner. Very intelligent — you can tell when he recognizes a play pre-snap. Superb agility, balance, and vision on returns. Chippy player, not afraid to swat a facemask. Arm length looks to be a disqualifying factor for Seattle.

12. Howard Wilson, Houston- Great athlete, Wilson crashes hard on the run and isn’t afraid to lay a big hit. Really sloppy off coverage, when he doesn’t have a target he wastes a lot of steps and takes himself out of position. One of the hardest hitters at corner in this draft.

13. Cameron Sutton, Tennessee- Physical beyond his size, overaggressive and that can hurt his play. Flashes next level recovery speed but has to use it too much. Unfortunately, Sutton’s going to have some intense growing pains at least into his rookie year.

14. Corn Elder, Miami- Doesn’t blow you away with either size or athleticism but is chippy and scheme responsible. Corn is real mean son of a gun, too. He’s a special teams ace for Miami and a leader on the defense. Elder is the cream of the crop Miami’s secondary. He’s the kind that’s liable to pop a WR. He will hit you in the ear. Seriously, an a-maize-ing cornerback. A class act, he’s no flake. . . . His name is ‘Corn’.

15. Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson- A sticky man coverage corner, Tankersley could be an option for Seattle. He plays with great patience and stays with his man. Always has a hand in the bread basket but is not the most efficient dislodger of the ball. Just like many corners in this class, the slender Tankersley can be soundly muscled off the redline and the catch point.

16. Rasul Douglas, West Virginia- Douglas is a very large corner, good feet and fluid hips. He may not test well in the 40 but we’ve seen Seattle generally overlook that. Will give up on backside pursuit and despite his size, lacks a lot of physicality. The best tomahawk chop in this CB class, Douglas has a nose for the ball. Almost caught Dede Westbrook on the ground but instead gave up a touchdown on the screen. He’s got some really up and down tape.

17. Jourdan Lewis, Michigan- An excellent slot corner, his incredibly slender build should limit him to this role at the next level. His physicality is impressive against larger receivers. Gets put on skates by blockers but won’t give up on a play. He was played at safety occasionally to no great success.

18. Quincy Wilson, Florida- Non-factor in run defense. Stays in receiver’s hip pocket deep downfield. Hand fighting is above average in this class. Looks to be a little under-athletic for the next level. While not a death sentence, he will need to continue to improve his technique in order to be a contributor.

19. Gareon Conley, Ohio State- Slightly smaller than his counterpart, Conley played some slot for OSU to great success. Has trouble with larger wide receivers and lacks scheme versatility despite his inside out versatility. Don’t draft him expecting a boomer in run support.

20. Ahkello Witherspoon, Colordao- Not sure that he did as well against John Ross as Rob saw on tape. There were a lot of very poor throws by Browning in that game, including a wide open touchdown directly against Witherspoon. Obviously, Ross is one of the most natural speed WRs to enter the draft in some time and Colorado heavily shaded their coverage to bracket him. Witherspoon can be boxed out due to a slender frame and is not a willing run stuffer. I don’t believe he is his listed 6’3 height. But that’s why we have the combine, right?

21. Channing Stribling, Michigan- Longer and stronger than his secondary counterpart, Stribling is usually allowed to play on an island on the left side of the field. He’s not the most spectacular athlete and loses track of the ball badly. He has some tools but is not a naturally fluid athlete and seems an impatient defender. His breaks leave a lot to be desired. He seems content with letting the receiver catch everything and touching them down.

The one player I want to talk about so bad but I can’t get enough tape to say I have a full evaluation of is Middle Tennessee State’s Jeremy Cutrer. He had an otherworldly performance against Alabama in 2015, including a still-impressive 80 yard interception in garbage time in which he perfectly baited the QB of an elite program — known for emphasizing ball security at the position.

He’s every bit of 6’3 and just flies around very confidently. Would also like to give Treston DeCoud from Oregon State a mention as blog regular Volume12 has been a fan since last year. I also only watched a single video of his but it was apparent from his length, strength, and tenacity, that he should not be discounted as a target.

Now, obviously, there are many more corners available and many more that will end up on our radar after the combine. Whether we add a corner in the first or third, if we select three of them or zero, we know that this draft class is particularly loaded at the position and the team would do well to reload on outside corner depth following a year of roster shakeup at the position.

Player I missed (there’s plenty)? Player I mistook (probably several)? Someone you just can’t say enough about, or want for the Seahawks? Share your thoughts below.

 

Breaking: Seahawks get two extra third round picks

February 24th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Before we get onto the big news today, I recorded a podcast with the UK Seahawkers this week. You can listen below. We get into a ton of combine related subjects. It starts five minutes into the piece:

I also wrote a Seahawks combine guide for Field Gulls which you can read here. I’ll be doing a combine preview on here early next week plus we’ll have the usual live blogs from Friday to Monday. If you have any requests or ideas for the combine coverage this year let me know in the comments section.

Onto the compensatory picks…

There was an expectation that Seattle was going to get a third rounder for Bruce Irvin and a fifth rounder for J.R. Sweezy. Russell Okung’s contract, having been voided by Denver, wouldn’t result in any extra picks due to the signing of J’Marcus Webb. The Bradley Sowell addition would also count out any extra picks for Brandon Mebane.

Luckily for the Seahawks, the NFL had other ideas.

It now means the Sweezy and Mebane deals are cancelled out by Webb and Sowell. Okung’s contract in Denver gives the Seahawks another third rounder.

They’ll pick five teams in the first 106 picks — 26, 58, 90, 102 and 106.

Adding to the intrigue, comp picks are tradable for the first time this year. So the Seahawks can move up or down using #102 and #106.

For example, using the NFL trade chart Seattle could move up from #58 to #49 using the #106 pick if they wanted. Securing two of the top-50 players in this draft class would be a major plus.

And if you deal #106, you’d still have two picks in round three to come.

Even if there isn’t any movement, the Seahawks have gone from possibly losing their second round pick a few weeks ago to now picking five times in the first two days of a loaded draft.

This is a major opportunity to reload for another tilt in 2017.

What’s more, with no major free agents hitting the market this year — the Seahawks are unlikely to miss out on a similar compensatory haul next year if they want to make a big move or two in free agency.

 

Breaking down Lance Zierlein’s mock draft

February 23rd, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein posted his second mock draft today. Time to compare it to the one we published yesterday and see who was available for Seattle at #26.

Zierlein’s pick for the Seahawks: Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)

“Brantley has some of the same play traits that former Seahawk Brandon Mebane had, but I think Brantley has a chance to be an even more impactful player.”

Brantley’s stats were only so-so in 2016 (2.5 sacks, 9.5 TFL’s) but he’s a highly disruptive presence at his best. The problem is, he tends to drift in and out. There are games where you barely notice he’s on the field. At other times, he was unstoppable.

A lot of fans want the Seahawks to add a dynamic interior pass rusher but Seattle’s 4-3 under scheme emphasises gap control and discipline from the starting defensive tackles. The Seahawks want to stop the run, create lanes for the linebackers to make plays and force teams to be aggressive against an opportunistic secondary. Their best interior rushers have been specialists — Clinton McDonald in 2013 and Jordan Hill in 2014. This isn’t a position the Seahawks have drafted early in Pete Carroll’s tenure — and it wasn’t one of the positions he named as a priority need at the end of the season (CB, LB, OL).

Haason Reddick is off the board at #22 to Miami, Garett Bolles lasts until Houston at #25 and Ryan Ramcyzk is drafted at #23 by the Giants. If they get this close to #26, this might be the year to move up. Bolles is probably going to go in the top-15 if not the top-10. Reddick and Ramcyzk could also go in the top-20.

Players available at #26 in Zierlein’s mock who were off the board in our latest projection:

Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
John Ross (WR, Washington)
David Njoku (TE, Miami)
Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)

Obviously the Seahawks won’t be in the market for a quarterback — but if Kizer and Mahomes were still on the board at #26 it might create an opportunity to trade down.

John Ross is getting knocked at the moment due to his injury history. This will likely change when he runs a 4.2 or 4.3 at the combine.

This mock is indicative of the kind of options that could be available to the Seahawks at #26. Good players will fall. It’s just a shame in this case it’s Ross, Njoku and Harris and not players at the stated priority needs (CB, LB, OT).

Other players also available to Seattle:

Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Rasul Douglas (CB, West Virginia)
Budda Baker (S, Washington)
Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
Cordrea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)
Dorian Johnson (G, Pittsburgh)
Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)

There are a lot of nice options available. If they wanted to go linebacker they could consider Jarrad Davis, Zach Cunningham or Tyus Bowser. There are options at cornerback with Kevin King, Gareon Conley, Quincy Wilson, Rasul Douglas, Adoree’ Jackson and others. If they wanted to draft a ‘Buffalo’ nickel, Obi Melifonwu, Budda Baker and Justin Evans are still on the board.

This highlights that even if great options like Bolles and Reddick aren’t there for Seattle, they’ll still have plenty of options. And if they’re gone — trading down seems likely with so many possibilities out there at positions of need.

On a different topic, this is unfortunately going to severely impact Takk McKinley’s draft stock:

Although he’ll perform at the combine, he’ll be racing to be healthy for the start of the season.

Field Gulls are posting a combine preview I wrote so keep an eye out for that. A combine podcast will also be dropping with the UK Seahawkers hopefully before the weekend (recorded yesterday).

 

Updated two-round mock draft: 22nd February

February 22nd, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

This image sums up the way Haason Reddick plays

I did a combine-related podcast with the UK Seahawkers earlier today that’ll drop tomorrow. In the meantime here’s an updated two-round mock draft.

The projection contains trades. Explanations below…

Trades explained

San Francisco trades #2 to Washington for Kirk Cousins
Daniel Jeremiah suggested yesterday there’s a greater than 50% chance Kirk Cousins is traded to San Francisco. If it happens this year, it’ll have to be for the #2 pick won’t it? And if a parting with Washington is inevitable next year, aren’t they better off getting what they can now?

Arizona trades #13 and a third round pick to Cincinnati for #9
The Bengals are happy to move down and the Cardinals want to get ahead of Buffalo to select a quarterback.

Cleveland trades #33 to New England for Jimmy Garoppolo
The Browns need an answer at quarterback and sweeten this deal by offering a conditional 2018 pick too.

Round one

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 Washington (via San Fran) — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Chicago — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#4 Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#5 Tennessee — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#6 New York Jets — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#7 LA Chargers — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#8 Carolina — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#9 Arizona (via Cin) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#10 Buffalo — Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
#11 New Orleans — Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
#12 Cleveland — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#13 Cincinnati (via Ari) — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#14 Indianapolis — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#15 Philadelphia (via Min) — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
#16 Baltimore — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#17 Washington — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#18 Tennessee — Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
#19 Tampa Bay — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#20 Denver — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#23 New York Giants — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#24 Oakland — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
#25 Houston — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
#26 Seattle — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#27 Kansas City — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
#28 Dallas — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
#29 Green Bay — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#30 Pittsburgh — Takkarist McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
#31 Atlanta — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
#32 New England — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)

Round two

33. New England (via Cle) — Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
34. San Francisco — Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama)
35. Jacksonville — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
36. Chicago — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
37. LA Rams — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
38. LA Chargers — Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
39. New York Jets — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
40. Carolina — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
41. Cincinnati — Alvin Kamara (RB, Tennessee)
42. Philadelphia — Rasul Douglas (CB, West Virginia)
43. Buffalo — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
44. New Orleans — T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
45. Arizona — Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
46. Baltimore — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
47. Indianapolis — Cordrea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)
48. Minnesota — Dorian Johnson (G, Pittsburgh)
49. Washington — Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
50. Denver — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
51. Cleveland — D’Onta Foreman (RB, Texas)
52. Tampa Bay — Marcus Williams (S, Utah)
53. Detroit — Teez Tabor (CB, Florida)
54. Miami — Ryan Anderson (LB, Miami)
55. New York Giants — Demarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
56. Oakland — Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
57. Houston — Marcus Maye (S, Florida)
58. Seattle — Taylor Moton (T, Western Michigan)
59. Kansas City — Dan Feeney (G, Indiana)
60. Dallas — Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
61. Green Bay — Fabian Moreau (CB, UCLA)
62. Pittsburgh — Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State)
63. Atlanta — Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan)
64. New England — Gerald Everett (TE, South Alabama)

Seahawks round three picks (native pick & Bruce Irvin compensatory pick)

Howard Wilson (CB, Houston)
Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)

Seahawks notes

— The Seahawks address all of Pete Carroll’s stated needs (CB, LB, OL) in the first three rounds by taking Reddick, Moton, Wilson and Luani.

— Why is Reddick arguably the ideal pick at #26? He can line up the SAM, he can spell Wagner or Wright at the MIKE and WILL. He can rush the passer when asked, he can cover. He has the gritty backstory. He’s 6-1 and 237lbs — Bobby Wagner was 6-0, 241lbs entering the league. Carroll stated he wanted a guy to compete with their two studs at linebacker — Reddick can do this and fill the void left by Bruce Irvin.

— Seattle is stuck either side of the first and second rush on cornerbacks. We know, however, they are comfortable waiting on this position. They haven’t drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round under Carroll and John Schneider. Here they take one in round three.

— Taylor Moton might be better suited at guard but he has similar length and size to Justin Britt who they tried at right tackle. He can compete at 2-3 different spots, an aspect Seattle values.

— If Haason Reddick and Jarrad Davis weren’t there at #26, trading down would appeal. Seattle could move down a few spots and still target one of Kevin King, Quincy Wilson, Rasul Douglas, Obi Melifonwu, Budda Baker or Zach Cunningham (to name a few). So while the Seahawks don’t trade down in this projection — you can see how likely it might be if the likes of Reddick, Davis, Bolles and Ramcyzk are gone.

— I spent a bit more time studying Quincy Wilson yesterday and feel like I’ve been underrating him. However, the 4.6 he ran at the 2013 Nike combine (and his 32-inch vertical) could end up being a tie-breaker in a deep CB class. If he performs a lot better in Indianapolis keep an eye on him. He’s physical (unlike a lot of CB’s in this draft), long, has production (allowed fewer than 40% completions when challenged) and the confidence of a pro-corner.

 

Seahawks off-season predictions & possibilities

February 21st, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Supporting Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright could be a key off-season target

— No big splash in free agency. The Seahawks have some cap room but it’s the 24th most in the league according to Spotrac. A big move for someone like Calais Campbell isn’t impossible but it’s unrealistic. Campbell earned $11.25m, $14.75m and $15.25m in the last three seasons and he’s good enough to justify a continuation of that level of salary.

— Seek value on the O-line. The Seahawks are not known for signing second rate players on first rate money. Spending $10m a year on a player like Ricky Wagner hasn’t been their thing. With the likes of Russell Okung expected to be available and possibly Jason Peters and Jared Valdheer, Seattle can check out different options and hunt for value. It might not be what fans want to hear — but they genuinely might be willing to continue developing their own guys instead of signing an ageing veteran with injury history just to appease the masses.

— If there’s going to be a creative move it might be on the O-line. Is there a trade out there to be made, possibly involving one of their third round picks (assuming they receive a third round comp pick for Bruce Irvin)? The only problem is — the dearth of talent at offensive tackle becomes so obvious when you start to scour the depth charts for possible targets. The league has a left tackle problem.

— Add depth to the D-line in free agency. The Seahawks have consistently had success bringing in cheap veterans in this area. There are some nice options this year that might not break the bank — such as Dallas’ Terrell McClain. Would they also consider adding another EDGE — for example Jabaal Sheard or Connor Barwin if he leaves Philadelphia?

— There’s a desire among the fan base to see a dynamic interior rusher added. Seattle’s defensive scheme, however, places a large responsibility on gap control and discipline. While the Seahawks need that 5-6 sack presence they had in 2013 (Clinton McDonald) and 2014 (Jordan Hill) they might be focusing on finding a cost-effective solution considering the lack of options in free agency and the early rounds of the draft. Finding someone who is relatively cheap to compete with Quinton Jefferson might be the plan.

— What veteran running backs are available? If the Panthers cut Jonathan Stewart, he’d be intriguing. Pete Carroll has often spoke of his respect for Stewart going back to the USC vs Oregon days.

— Pay Kam Chancellor. Without doubt Chancellor proved in 2016 he is the beating heart of this team. With cap room available, the priority needs to be paying Chancellor even if it’s a deal similar to Marshawn Lynch’s golden handshake before retirement. Seattle needs Kam.

— Let Jimmy Graham play out the final year of his deal. There’s little reason to do anything else right now. If you want to move on in 12 months you’ll likely get a nice comp pick down the line. The franchise tag for tight ends in 2016 was $9.118m. This is less than Graham’s 2017 cap hit. If they want to retain him beyond 2017 and can’t agree on a long term deal, they can simply use the tag.

— When Carroll talked in detail about his desire to draft another linebacker, this was arguably the most revealing nugget in his end of season press conference. Bobby Wagner (99.35%) and K.J. Wright (97.41%) played virtually every defensive snap in 2016. Keeping them fresh — not just for 2017 but to extend their careers — might be a bigger priority than fans imagine.

— This could match up with how the Seahawks view the first round of the draft. Yes they have other needs (CB, OT). The best option at #26 might clearly be a linebacker. The top two tackles (Bolles & Ramcyzk) could be off the board. Five or six corners might be gone by Seattle’s pick. And while the CB depth extends deep into day two, that isn’t the case at LB. Simply put — if Haason Reddick, Jarrad Davis and/or Zach Cunningham are there, it might be an obvious case of BPA at a position of need.

— We know the Seahawks are comfortable drafting cornerbacks without spending first round picks. So unless a player like Kevin King proves to be an athletic freak or Adoree’ Jackson actually is 5-11 and has the requisite length, they might be willing to wait on this position until day two. With as many as 6-7 cornerbacks possibly going in round one — the key for Seattle is to identify when the second wave occurs.

— Haason Reddick in many ways is the ideal pick at #26. He has the athletic profile, production and gritty backstory. He’s a sound fit at the SAM but he’s capable of spelling Wagner or Wright at the MIKE/WILL. Jarrad Davis is more of a MIKE/WILL but is highly athletic, intense and plays with the same ferocity as Wagner/Wright. Both Reddick (6-1, 237lbs) and Davis (6-2, 238lbs) have similar size to Wagner (6-0, 241lbs) entering the league and a similar athletic profile.

— The wildcard is the notion of a ‘Buffalo’ or ‘Big nickel’. It could be that Reddick and Davis aren’t there at #26 or they might simply love the potential of Obi Melifonwu, Budda Baker, Justin Evans or another. Jeremy Lane (71.39%) played the fifth most snaps on defense in 2016 so they played a lot of nickel. Spending a first round pick on this position wouldn’t be a luxury. It could also help the Seahawks provide greater depth at safety and tap into arguably the superior positional class in this draft.

— Melifonwu, Baker and Evans appeal for different reasons. Melifonwu is a greek god type of athlete, Baker plays like a Seahawks defender while Evans is expected to dominate the combine and he’s a ferocious hitter. All possess the range and athleticism to play in a 4-2-5. If the linebackers and offensive tackles are gone — this type of player feels like a very possible option at #26.

— Keep an eye on Washington State’s Shalom Luani. They might be able to add a ‘big nickel’ later on. He might be as good as the names listed above. Deone Bucannon is tipping Luani to emulate his role in Arizona at the next level. It’s not unrealistic for the Seahawks to get their ‘Buffalo’ without spending a first round pick.

— While the Seahawks might not be able to get at the likes of Garett Bolles or Ryan Ramcyzk in round one — and overall it isn’t a good O-line draft — there will still be some options on days 2/3. Dorian Johnson, Antonio Garcia, Roderick Johnson, Taylor Moton, Dion Dawkins, Chad Wheeler and others exist. We’ll learn more about potential targets at the combine thanks to TEF.

— There will be options at linebacker in round two but then there might be a drop. Houston’s Tyus Bowser is a name to monitor.

— A possible plan could be: R1 — Linebacker, R2 — O-line or cornerback, R3 — O-line or cornerback, R3 (comp) — Shalom Luani. This would address the key needs emphasised by Pete Carroll in his press conference within the first three rounds.

 

Guest post: Kenny Sloth on linebackers

February 20th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

This article was written by contributor Kenny Sloth

Every year at his end of the season conference, Pete Carroll has stated several target areas he has in mind for the upcoming draft. One of these target areas was extrapolated upon, at length, by Carroll, who had a great deal to say about his linebacker depth and the competition behind his all-everything starters. And Pete would never lie to us, so they are definitely, definitely, for sure, going to pull the trigger on a LB. 100% positive.

To better prepare myself for that eventuality (and to give you guys a reason to think I’m cool), I took to the Draft Breakdown archives, in an effort to familiarize myself with some of these players’ traits and skill levels before having quantifiable athletic traits to apply to each tester and wanted to share my findings. Note; I reviewed only prospects that had at least some 2016 game tape available at Draft Breakdown and were listed as ‘pure’ LBs (hence Haason Reddick’s notable absence).

As always, the views below are based on my own observations and evaluations and do not reflect any insider information or Rob’s own opinions of these prospects.

TO THE LIST!

1. Reuben Foster, Alabama- Great fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense seems destined for the top 12. Cerebral and a leader. A true Blue Chip Draft Prospect. Just pray he doesn’t end up in the NFC West somehow.

2. Jarrad Davis, Florida- 4-3 MIKE or 3-4 WILL. This guy is a plug and play LB that can feature at MLB or WLB in Seattle’s 4-3 under. Could slip slightly and would be a steal at our native pick.

3. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt- 3-4 ILB or 4-3 OLB. Cunningham is a very smooth athlete which lends itself nicely to his versatility. He reminds me of KJ Wright because of his incredibly long arms. Can play soft and quiet at times, which is wild because there are some hitters on that Vandy D — but rarely is Cunningham out of position. Sidesteps most blocks instead of stacking-and-shedding. A leader on that defense. He maybe can’t play SAM as well as some would hope but I personally view the strongside as better for the lengthy, slower, KJ Wright, while a more athletic WLB would have better range than the hyper-cerebral Wright.

4. Kendell Beckwith, LSU- One of the best options for 3-4 ILB in this draft. Listed at 255lbs with the giant bubble to match; Beckwith is the definition of Thicc. Sneaky quick with an eyebrow raising ability to knife into the backfield. Great strength to fight off blocks, never more evident than against Wisconsin’s semi-pro OL. Needs to clean up his tackling technique (he tackles like Earl with 40 extra pounds, diving for the ankles).

5. Jordan Evans, Oklahoma- 4-3 OLB, 4-3 ILB, 3-4 ILB, 3-4 OLB. If we happen to miss out on Zach Cunningham, I’ve recently stumbled upon under-the-radar prospect Jordan Evans. Hard to believe there is so little hype around such a well-respected player on a championship contender — but such is draft analysis. I digress. Evans plays with ferocious attitude making tackles from his knees and always leaving everything on the field. In his obvious athleticism, I believe he could play anywhere among a LB corps (with the right coaches). Oklahoma used him as a moveable chess piece at LB last year. Watch him single-handedly blow up that fumblerooski against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to see how he can be used in different positions. Later in the same game he has an astounding redzone, 3rd down stop against a flying Auburn QB. The more I watch, the more I’m screaming “Why is no-one talking about this guy?!”.

6. Paul Magloire Jr., Arizona- 3-4 OLB or 3-4 ILB. A potential fit for the Seahawks at SAM or WILL, I don’t think Magloire has the chops to play inside at the next level. Decent get-off but gets stymied by blockers occasionally. He can be blocked out of plays with relative ease. Excellent second effort and pursuit, never count him out of a play. Hard tackler — needs to work on his coverage but showed well enough in that department at the Shrine Game to warrant his selection.

7. Anthony Walker Jr., Northwestern- Seems capable of playing 4-3 MLB or 4-3 OLB — he works decently at the line but I like this type of player off the ball. Recommended to the blog by several users, Walker Jr. is anomalous to me. He has excellent feet and seems quite intelligent in his on-field communication. He displays a highly competitive style and has a high motor. And yet, despite his obvious knowledge of the game, he is often out of position or over-pursuing. He strikes me as a leader and perhaps the thrill of being a rookie and doing one job will emend these bad habits.

8. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee- 4-3 WOLB. Twitchy, athletic LB, closes in a hurry. One to watch at the combine. Great feel for zone coverage. Great leaping ability but lacks the strength to attack the line of scrimmage.

9. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State- Possibly limited to a pure 3-4 MLB. Real issues with backside pursuit. When he is allowed to patrol the A gaps he is a great run-stuffer but seems ultimately limited by his inability to recognize developing plays. Strong at the point of contact and has great feet. Expect him to perform very modestly at the combine. Really sloppy technique in coverage.

10. Isaako Savaiinaea, UCLA- 4-3 OLB, 3-4 ILB, 4-3 ILB. The best fit for this player would be a 4-3 MLB position with a strong pass rush in front of him. Has some of the best coverage instincts in this class. I would consider him if you wanted to run some Tampa 2. Rips away from blockers and finishes plays, Savaiinaea (I’d love to hear Kenneth Arthur try to pronounce that one ;P ) has great instincts and could grow into a starting role.

11. Brandon Bell, Penn State- 4-3 OLB 3-4 OLB. High intensity, pursuit-type LB. Very short limbs and struggles to disengage. Athletic but limited by an inability to disengage which I find hard to see developing. His ceiling doesn’t go much higher.

12. Steven Taylor, Houston- 4-3 OLB only. Undersized, understrength, underspeed, understand? Did not see much to like at all from Taylor.

The Seahawks have consistently targeted the exact needs Carroll points out during his end of the year presser and we cannot expect this year to be any different. With the overall depth at LB, though, I’m not convinced they will feel like they are forced to take a LB on day one. That being said, if one of Davis, or, god-willing, Rueben Foster are sitting there at 26, I don’t see any reason to not expect them to be dominant players at the next level. Don’t sleep on Jordan Evans. If we did draft Hassan Reddick, I would consider him a Bruce Irvin type his rookie year. Although, I think Reddick can be much better than Bruce.​

Player I missed? Evaluation you disagree with? Let me know in the comments who you like in general and who you think would be a good fit for the Seahawks.

 

The Buffalo nickel — Melifonwu, Baker, Evans & Luani

February 19th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing how the Seahawks could use a prospect like Obi Melifonwu. One of the suggestions is he could be used as a ‘big nickel’ working against larger receivers and tight ends.

The Panthers drafted Shaq Thompson at #25 in 2015 and have used him as a SAM linebacker and ‘Buffalo’ nickel. So what is a Buffalo?

Essentially it’s a hybrid linebacker/safety, used instead of a traditional DB to counteract big targets and help vs the run.

Bucky Brooks noted two and a half years ago that the ‘big nickel’ look was the hottest trend in the NFL:

“The defensive coordinator will instead bring on an extra safety who acts as a hybrid linebacker/cornerback. While the nickel safety is also assigned to cover tight ends and receivers in the slot, he is a more effective run defender and possesses the size, strength and length to match up with the league’s increasing number of big-bodied, pass-catching tight ends. Thus, the coordinator has a better option for defending opponents who prefer to play “12” personnel (one running back, two tight ends and two wide receivers) as their primary offense.

“With three safeties on the field, it becomes tougher for the quarterback to identify potential rushers from the second level. The constant movement and deking creates confusion at the line of scrimmage, leading to blown protection calls and misreads in the passing game. The big nickel package is also effective against the run, due to the presence of better athletes near the line of scrimmage. The overall speed and quickness of the defense improves with more defensive backs on the field, and safeties — more so than most cornerbacks — are comfortable playing in the box and taking on blockers due to their role in eight-man fronts on early (running) downs.”

There’s a defensive scheme based around the concept, as explained by John Turney:

“Buffalo was a 4-2-5 defense that showed a Cover-3 look with a post safety (or middle-of-the-field safety).”

“Nickel defense was the same personnel, but it was a 4-2-5 defense that showed a Cover-2 look, with the safeties near the hashes.”

It’s unclear how prepared the Seahawks are to adopt this type of formation. By now we know what they are — a 4-3 under defense focussing on execution.

That said, the Buffalo defense isn’t straying too much from Seattle’s current scheme. As Thurney notes, it’s a single-high safety cover-3 concept. The only difference is instead of a SAM you’re fielding a nickel. This DB still has some of the responsibilities of the SAM (defend the run, cover the TE) but you’re giving up some size to have a better athlete on the field.

This wouldn’t be a great departure for the Seahawks considering how often they fielded two linebackers and a nickel corner (Jeremy Lane) in 2016.

And while they might prefer to simply acquire a really good SAM (eg Haason Reddick) — if that player isn’t available, this seems like an alternative.

They’ve at least flirted with the possibility of using a ‘Buffalo’ type of player in the past. The Eric Pinkins project (moving him from safety to linebacker) and Brandon Browner’s return hints that they’ve considered having this type of weapon on defense. Neither was able to nail down a role on the roster.

It’s also interesting that Brooks in his piece talked about ‘big nickels’ and listed the following examples:

Aaron Williams — 6-0, 199lbs
Tyrann Mathieu — 5-8, 186lbs
Kenny Vaccaro — 6-0, 214lbs
Antrel Rolle — 6-0, 206lbs
Eric Berry — 6-0, 212lbs

None of these are players are 6-4, 219lbs like Melifonwu.

Two thoughts come to mind here:

1.) Melifonwu’s excellent size and length could make him an especially effective ‘Buffalo’. Physically he’s a closer match to the big WR/TE he’ll be competing with.

2.) The concept allows us to contemplate other players. Budda Baker (5-10, 180lbs), Justin Evans (6-0, 193lbs) and Shalom Luani (6-0, 201lbs) are physically similar to the players listed above.

All three play with a rabid intensity that fits Seattle’s defense. It might be difficult to project Baker defending big WR’s and TE’s at the next level at his size — but he’s a competitor and Tyrann Mathieu manages it. He’s also really good at making plays in the backfield and vs the run (10 TFL’s in 2016, three sacks). Evans will be one of the stars of the combine and has a reputation for jarring, punishing hits. Luani might an option beyond the first round.

You can easily imagine the Seahawks liking all three.

This does, however, detract from what Pete Carroll stated in his end of season press conference about team needs. He was quite specific about tapping into the cornerback class, adding linebackers similar to Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the draft and looking at offensive linemen. Unless you’re willing to call this suggestion a nickel corner, it doesn’t chime with the specified target needs.

Indeed they might be more inclined to draft one of the orthodox linebackers (Haason Reddick, Jarrad Davis, Zach Cunningham) early and work them into the line-up with Wagner and Wright. We know they are comfortable with Wright playing the SAM — it’s not a ridiculous thought to imagine Jarrad Davis and Wright rotating positions or a nice overall rotation coming into play, with the Seahawks simply continuing to use their nickel formations whenever they choose.

They could also just draft a pure nickel or outside corner at #26.

But the Buffalo concept is intriguing to the extent that it opens up the discussion on Melifonwu, Baker, Evans or Luani and how they might fit in Seattle if selected.

 

Is Kevin King set to run a 4.45?

February 17th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

A few weeks ago we discussed the possibility of Seattle drafting Kevin King (CB, Washington) in the first round — with one caveat.

He had to have a great combine.

It’s well advertised the Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round in the seven years of the Pete Carroll era. Two questions come to mind:

1. How easy is it to continue doing that?

2. What would it take to change that trend?

To answer question one, it is becoming increasingly difficult. Lance Zierlein highlights the problem:

“Speed matters, but more teams are beginning to trend toward length and takeaways over all else at the position. While there have always been teams who covet size at cornerback (including Green Bay), Seattle’s combination of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman from years ago had to be an eye-opener for teams.”

Pretty much since 2013, teams have been looking to mimic Seattle’s approach to defensive backs. Richard Sherman likely wouldn’t be available in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. He was right there for them in 2011.

This week Kyle Shanahan talked about copying Seattle’s defense in San Francisco.

‘Their guys’ are going earlier.

Question two comes down to two things. The first is a need at the position. For a long time Seattle had good depth at corner. Unless the likes of Pierre Desir, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and DeAndre Elliott step forward in 2017, that isn’t going to be the case this year. Deshawn Shead’s injury increases the urgency to find a starter.

Secondly, it’s down to whether there’s a freaky enough athlete at #26. They’re not breaking this trend for Mr. Average, especially at cornerback. We know what the Seahawks like in round one — traits.

Kevin King has freaky potential.

At the 2016 Husky Combine he ran a 4.02 short shuttle, a 6.40 three-cone, jumped 39.5 inches in the vertical and 10-10 in the broad. If he repeats that three-cone at the NFL combine it’ll be the fastest by any player at any position. His broad jump would’ve matched Vernon Hargreaves’ effort a year ago for third best among cornerbacks. His 39.5 inch vertical would’ve also ranked third.

The only question mark is long speed.

According to Tony Pauline, that might not be a problem:

“I’m told the big corner has been running under 4.4 seconds hand-timed during combine training. When converted to electronic timing, King has spanned the 40 yards in about 4.45 seconds.

And while 4.45 is by no means an extraordinary time, it beats any expectations scouts had of King’s foot speed.

Consider the fact that scouts believed King to be a high-4.5 second corner in the 4.58-second range and that, throughout the season, speed was the sole criticism I heard about his game. The conversations usually went something to the extent of, “He [King] has the size and ball skills but can’t run.”

If he’s able to break into the mid-4.4s on the final day of combine workouts, King will cement himself as a top-45 selection.”

The average forty time of the cornerbacks drafted by Pete Carroll is 4.51. If King runs in the 4.4’s with outstanding height and length, incredible short-area quickness and explosive physical traits — he could be in contention at #26.

His tape isn’t bad either. In five games I didn’t see him beaten over the top once. He’s adept at covering crossing routes and comfortably lined up in the slot a year ago. He broke up 15 passes in 2016 — as many as Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley and one less than Tre’Davious White and Adoree’ Jackson.

Like a lot of corners in this draft he can be more physical and improve his tackling.

There are reasons why King at #26 might not happen even if he does run a 4.4. The depth at the cornerback in this draft could allow Seattle to wait until rounds 2-3 for someone like Rasul Douglas, Howard Wilson or Ahkello Witherspoon. If Haason Reddick is there at #26, he’d be tough to pass up. Obi Melifonwu might be bigger, faster and freakier. If a slot corner is the priority maybe they consider Budda Baker, Adoree’ Jackson or a Justin Evans?

Yet King remains a very intriguing option for Seattle. And if he really does run in the 4.4’s, he will be one of the big winners at the combine.

 

Thursday draft notes — Jarrad Davis is under-appreciated

February 16th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Tony Pauline reports Shalom Luani looks ‘very quick’ as he prepares for the combine. We’ve talked a lot about Luani and he’s one to keep an eye on in Indianapolis. His gritty background, athleticism, versatility and intensity could be an ideal fit in Seattle. He doesn’t get much of a mention in the national draft coverage — but Luani is really good.

— If you don’t include KJ Wright and his 4.71 — Seattle has drafted five linebackers in the Pete Carroll era running an average forty time of 4.48. Clearly they are willing to overlook a lack of great speed if a player has other valuable traits (Wright had unnatural length) — but it’s a safe bet that any future Seattle linebacker is going to have speed as an asset. Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith ran in the 4.4’s, Bruce Irvin (4.50), Korey Toomer (4.53) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (4.51) just missed out. It’s worth noting Haason Reddick reportedly ran a 4.47 at his junior pro-day and Jarrad Davis has been timed in the 4.5’s.

— Speaking of Florida’s Davis, he’s under-appreciated. His intensity, attitude and closing speed is as good as it gets. Mel Kiper mocked him to Arizona at #13 but he’s in the minority rating him that highly. Look at what he’s capable of:

Bench pressing Ryan Kelly (#18 pick last year):

Closing speed:

Coverage skills:

He’s an A* character:

If he really does run in the 4.5’s (link here) — what’s stopping him going a lot earlier than people realise?

In terms of Kiper’s mock, Haason Reddick was available to the Seahawks at #26 — as was Zach Cunningham, Ryan Ramcyzk and Obi Melifonwu. Five cornerbacks were off the board. This is why it might be difficult to justify a pick at corner unless a freaky ‘under the radar’ athlete emerges. That could be Kevin King if he repeats his 2016 Husky Combine performance in Indianapolis. The value at cornerback might be better in rounds 2-3 for Seattle — and it might be better at linebacker, safety and offensive tackle at #26.

Washington’s Psalm Wooching has announced he’s retiring from football to take up rugby. As a big rugby fan I look forward to seeing if he can make the transition and achieve his goal of playing in the Olympics.