Smart, tough and reliable? One player stands out

April 1st, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

When John Schneider spoke at the owners meeting he talked about the type of player they set out to acquire this off-season.

Smart, tough, reliable guys that love football

All teams are looking for those characteristics. Sometimes they veer off course trying to fill a need. Or they fall for a particular skill set or profile.

Example: Malik McDowell

The Seahawks wanted an interior pass rusher. They’d been looking for one for a while. Calais Campbell was too expensive in free agency and McDowell had some physical similarities to a young Calais.

It’s easy to see why they took a shot.

The pick ended up being a disaster. McDowell may never play a down of NFL football after suffering an ATV accident before training camp.

‘Smart’ and ‘reliable’? Not in the case of Malik McDowell. Hopefully he’ll have an opportunity to make amends. And yet the warning signs were there. They were just ignored.

On April 17th last year it was revealed he was meeting with the Seahawks. Here’s a piece we wrote on the day. And here’s an extract:

His body language is atrocious. I remember watching this interview during the season and immediately thought ‘this guy doesn’t seem like a Seahawk’.

It seems like it isn’t just a lack of enthusiasm for the media either. Eric Edholm reported the following about how teams viewed McDowell’s interviews at the combine:

“Worst interview we did,” said one team. Added another: “Awful interview. Awful.”

“Does he love football? Is he going to work? I can’t figure out what makes this kid tick. He might be the type who, maybe he falls and it lights a fire under him. I don’t know. But I need that light on more often, and he didn’t like it when we asked him about that. McDowell might never fully show his full skill, but passing on him also means you’re missing out on a potentially rare talent.”

It’s not the first time Seattle has taken a chance on talent. Christine Michael was a similar pick. The Percy Harvin trade was high-risk.

Some of the moves have paid off though. Bruce Irvin was a gamble of sorts. Frank Clark is now the best pass rusher remaining on the roster.

Will they continue to roll the dice? Maybe not this year. It’d be a surprise if they drafted Arden Key, for example. Derrius Guice insists he has no off-field issues but there’s consistent chatter to the contrary. Bob McGinn’s anonymous scouting sources say this about Guice:

“He had a lot of hype coming in. He’s got a lot of off-field stuff you’ve got to worry about.”

His aggressive running style is extremely similar to Thomas Rawls — a player hand-picked by Pete Carroll in 2015. He’s not the explosive running back they’ve often targeted (and he’s not the same explosive tester as Rawls) but in terms of size and style — he’s a match. If the character concerns are legit, however, they might look elsewhere.

It’ll also be interesting to see how they approach underachievers. Bo Scarborough had a very underwhelming college career. He flashed incredible talent in 3-4 games and disappeared for the rest, playing well within himself. Lorenzo Carter is seen as an underachiever and Connor Williams had a disappointing 2017 season leading some to question his toughness (per McGinn’s sources: “He should have gone back. Really a soft guy. Really good athlete with really good feet and movement. But he gets pushed and didn’t look like he was real tough“).

Are the Seahawks all about competitive fire, having a chip on your shoulder and production this year? Or will there come a point where talent outweighs performance?

We’ll find out in a month.

So who are some of the players that fit the ‘smart, tough, reliable’ description?

There are a few that spring to mind but it’s difficult to judge from afar. This is why ‘draft media’ can never truly get a thorough grasp on the draft. There’s so much information we’ll never have access to.

Nick Chubb competed like crazy to return from a career-threatening injury and return to his physical best. He visibly bristles when people underestimate him and has this inner fire and determination. He also runs hard but he’s not alone. Ronald Jones II and Kerryon Johnson don’t necessarily have the back story or adversity but they run with real aggression.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the way defensive backs Kameron Kelly, Quenton Meeks and Isaac Yidaom speak. Mature, focused, determined. Austin Corbett has battled and fought to reach a level where he could easily sneak into the back-end of round one.

Andrew Brown lost his mother at a young age and plays with a relentless fire. He didn’t necessarily live up to the recruiting hype but he gives everything on the field. Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans and Maurice Hurst play the right way.

There are also players that overcame personal tragedy like USF quarterback Quinton Flowers or battled for their opportunity like Devante Kincade.

But really, there’s one name that stands out more than any other when you’re talking about ‘smart, tough and reliable’.

Shaquem Griffin will be one of the grittiest players to ever enter the NFL. That’s not hyperbole. I can honestly say I’ve never watched a player perform with his level of intensity, effort, passion and determination. Every drop of adversity he’s faced in his life is taken onto the field with him and punished.

His Peach Bowl performance against Auburn might be the best effort I’ve ever seen from an individual player in a team sport. The only time I can recall a similar effort is when David Beckham dragged England to the 2002 World Cup with an energy sapping solo performance against Greece at Old Trafford.

Griffin gave absolutely everything against Auburn. He chased every lost cause, recorded 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Look at this effort:

Not only did he impact the initial hand-off with his quickness, he then sprints to the near sideline to deliver one of the best blocks you’ll see on a fumble return.

He’s not just an effort player either. He can disengage:

He can work through traffic into the backfield:

Hand use is vital at the next level but so is quickness, the threat to work the edge and a nice counter:

The 4.38 forty really shows up when he’s running in pursuit:

And I could list loads of videos simply highlighting his effort and relentless attitude:

Griffin isn’t a great story because he only has one hand. He’s a great story because there isn’t a single player in college football that can match him for effort, determination speed and production. His effort is infectious and there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this rubbed off on his team mates. UCF were a bunch of BAMF’s last year. Griffin set the tone.

Unquestionably there are things he needs to work on. His zone coverage can be poor at times and he gives up avoidable receptions due to suspect positioning. He may never be able to set the edge against the run and there are going to be plays where he’s driven off the ball. He’s a 227lbs linebacker playing with one hand. It’s going to be quite a challenge to do anything about that. Thus, he possibly won’t ever be an every-down linebacker.

Even so, Griffin is going to dramatically improve the team he ends up with. Through his effort, attitude and ability. He is a terrific nickel pass rusher. He didn’t fluke 33.5 TFL’s in the last two seasons or 18.5 sacks. Put him on the field on third down and there’s a good chance he’ll make a play. There’s great value in that. Teams will have to account for his speed and pursuit whenever he’s on the field.

In a game against a mobile quarterback he could be a useful spy. On special teams he could be an immediate captain. The energy and spirit he brings to a team will be evident. He’ll be the one leading the huddle one minute and then the guy leading by example on the field the next.

Low percentage of snaps? Possibly. Likeliness of impact? High.

I don’t know how early he’s going to go in the draft. You hear all sorts. It’ll depend on how teams see the value of a core special teamer and nickel linebacker. But there isn’t another player in this draft class that personifies grit, toughness, athleticism, strength and reliability better than Griffin. And there won’t be anyone in the next draft either, or the one after that.

If the Seahawks want to go back to punching above their weight, they could do a lot worse than tap into the UCF mentality from 2017. Griffin would provide another pass-rush option and help improve a stalling special teams unit.

Pete Carroll certainly enjoyed his forty yard dash at the combine:

After the draft we may well look back and consider, with hindsight, how inevitable it was that the two Griffin brothers would be reunited in Seattle.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

New Seahawks seven round mock draft

March 30th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Twitter rumours.

Who knows if there’s anything in this but at least it presents a scenario to talk about.

In last weeks mock we had the Patriots trading up to #18 to take a left tackle. The Browns could also be targeting O-line.

There are two tackles expected to go in round one — Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller. When McGlinchey goes off the board (possibly in the top-15) it’ll create some anxiety.

Other teams in the teens might not be inclined to move down into the 30’s. The Seahawks, with no picks in rounds two or three, would presumably be very interested.

Cleveland and New England are also realistic trade partners because they own multiple second round picks. They can afford to be aggressive and still pick in round two.

So let’s say the Browns move up. Here’s a seven round Seahawks mock draft representing this scenario:

#33 — Running back (Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson)
#64 — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
#120 — Kameron Kelly (DB, San Diego State)
#141 — Durham Smythe (TE, Notre Dame)
#146 — Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)
#150 — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
#156 — Dorian O’Daniel (LB, Clemson)
#168 — Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)
#226 — Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
#248 — Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, USF)

#18 (R1) — Trade down with Cleveland
The Seahawks collect #33, #63 and #150. This turns #18 into two second round picks and another fifth rounder. The Browns move up to select Mike McGlinchey or Kolton Miller.

#33 (R2) — Draft a running back
This could be Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson. All three are explosive, physical running backs. Jones II is a Jamaal Charles clone, Chubb fits their physical profile perfectly and Johnson has a very similar running style to Chris Carson. The top running backs in this class will last until about pick #45-50. If you want to take one, you might have to do it here.

#64 (R2) — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
The Seahawks like to draft ‘special’ athletes to rush the edge. Sweat is 6-5, 251lbs and has 34.5 inch arms. He ran an elite 1.55 10-yard split and a 4.53 forty. He also tested superbly in the vertical (39.5 inches) broad (10-4) and short shuttle (4.28). He has a top-10 physical profile and incredible upside ready to be unleashed. The medical checks on his knee will be crucial though. Can he play without a knee brace and improve his get-off?

#120 (R4) — Kameron Kelly (DB, San Diego State)
Kelly is a confident, physical defensive back with size (6-1, 204lbs) and length (32 inch arms). He’s a converted receiver with experience at safety and cornerback. Kelly won’t stand out to many but there’s just something about him that feels ‘Seahawky’. He also has terrific value on special teams. This will be a theme for the rest of the mock draft.

#141 (R5) — Durham Smythe (TE, Notre Dame)
Smythe is a classic Y-tight end who was predominantly asked to block at Notre Dame. He had an excellent Senior Bowl week, during practise and in the game itself. He doesn’t stand out physically and that could keep him on the board into the early fifth round but for the Seahawks he’d be a valued run blocker with some chain-moving ability.

#146 (R5) — Leon Jacobs (LB, Wisconsin)
The Seahawks love speed at linebacker and Jacobs has it. His combine performance deserves more attention — especially his 4.48 forty at 6-1 and 248lbs. He has good length (33.5 inch arms) and managed a 1.58 10-yard split (anything in the 1.5’s is money). The Seahawks could train him to play the WILL or MIKE or they could use him as a situational rusher. Jacobs plays with his hair on fire.

#150 (R5) — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
The Wisconsin defense was really good again last year. It would’ve been nice to find a way to get Nick Nelson into the mock too as competition for Justin Coleman. Jamerson is a free safety who ran a 4.40 at the combine. He also flashed as a kick returner and gunner. He could be an instant force on special teams.

#156 (R5) — Dorian O’Daniel (LB, Clemson)
O’Daniel quietly had an impact for Clemson last season and has been touted as a possible linebacker or safety at the next level. His forty time of 4.61 was nothing to write home about but he excelled in the important agility tests — running a blistering 4.07 short shuttle and a 6.64 three-cone. O’Daniel is also a skull-collector on special teams and would be worth the pick purely for that.

#168 (R5) — Chase Edmonds (RB, Fordham)
The Seahawks could easily draft multiple running backs this year. It’s that kind of class. And they’re paying particular attention to smaller, dynamic and explosive runners like Chase Edmonds and Ito Smith. Edmonds is tenacious and has even been compared to Devonta Freeman by some.

#226 (R7) — Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
I didn’t want to wait this long to draft a defensive tackle and I’ll talk more about that in a moment. Ford is set to visit the VMAC and freely admits his combine-snub has left a chip on his shoulder. He’s only 5-11 but he’s explosive (9-3 broad) and agile (4.47 short shuttle) with long arms (33 inches).

#248 (R7) — Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, USF)
Speed seems to be the order of the day at receiver and MVS ran a superb 4.37 at 6-4 and 206lbs. He also has massive 10-inch hands. He’s a project but the Seahawks have often drafted day three receivers and given them time to develop.

Final thoughts

Since it became public that Maurice Hurst and Christian Kirk are visiting the VMAC, you almost want to find a way to squeeze in extra round two picks to include them in the mock. Both are terrific players but the reality is Seattle will be limited even if they trade down. They’re badly missing those second and third round picks.

The only way to get them back is to trade trade Earl Thomas. Increasingly it looks like Seattle is open for business but nobody is willing to meet the asking price. When #49 comes around (Seattle’s native pick in round two) you’ll be cringing about the names left on the board.

Hurst isn’t the only defensive lineman it would’ve been nice to include. The likes of B.J. Hill, Andrew Brown, Justin Jones, Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan Lewis might provide value in this draft. Kemoko Turay is a talented pass rusher too and could’ve been an alternative to Josh Sweat. If they wanted to wait on an EDGE, Duke Ejiofor is an option.

We talk about this a lot but the value from about 30-50 is going to be fantastic this year. That’s where the likes of Isaiah Wynn, Austin Corbett, as many as six running backs, Christian Kirk and others might land. The Colts, with three picks in that range, have a chance to come away with a great haul.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

Seattle’s VMAC meetings — what can we learn?

March 29th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Firstly, if you missed today’s podcast check it out. Keep an ear out for a (slightly heated) discussion on the value of running backs.

Seahawks set up further meetings

Reports have suggested Justin Reid, Keith Kirkwood and Poona Ford will be taking ‘official 30’ visits to the VMAC. We also know Christian Kirk has a workout planned with the Seahawks (another possible VMAC visit).

Now we can add three new names to the list.

Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, Yale LB/DB Foyesade Oluokun and Southern Miss running back Ito Smith are also reportedly set to visit the Seahawks.

On top of this Seattle interviewed Josh Sweat at the Florida State pro-day, had dinner with Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson after the Wisconsin pro-day and according to Tony Pauline they’ve shown interest in Austin Corbett and Jessie Bates III. Pauline also reported the Seahawks had a ‘notable presence’ at the Fordham pro-day to watch running back Chase Edmonds and they met with Shaquem Griffin at the Combine.

I was told about another private meeting with a prospect but I’ll keep that under wraps because it hasn’t been reported anywhere.

So what can we learn from this? Here’s a few quick thoughts:

They seem to be tracking smaller running backs

They checked out Chase Edmonds and will workout Ito Smith, plus reportedly spent some time with Akrum Wadley at the Senior Bowl. It could be due diligence. We know they need to fix the run. Or they could be looking for a specific type of runner.

Both Edmonds and Smith had explosive testing performances. We’ve often highlighted how important this seems to be for the position. Edmonds had a 34 inch vertical and a 10-2 broad jump at the combine. Smith managed a 37.5 inch vertical at his pro-day.

They might be seeking a committee that blends two different running styles — perhaps similar to the ones used in New Orleans and Atlanta.

And as we connect the dots here, it’s also worth suggesting that maybe Edmonds and Smith are alternatives to Ronald Jones II if they don’t draft him early (assuming they’re interested). Jones II was 5-11 and 205lbs at the combine (and jumped a 36.5 inch vertical). Edmonds is 5-9 and 205lbs. Smith wasn’t invited to the combine and is believed to be 5-9 and 195lbs.

If they want a dynamic ‘smaller’ back it’s possible they could be looking at Jones II early and Fordham/Smith as later alternatives. It’s also possible they’ll draft more than one running back.

Seahawks might still be looking for interior defensive linemen

The signings of Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen added depth at defensive tackle and they might be looking for more (Bennie Logan also met with the team). A heavy rotation at defensive tackle seems like the aim this year, with different players taking on specific roles.

Poona Ford is a competitive nose tackle who might fit that ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentality they’re looking for. At 5-11 he’s often been overlooked and wasn’t invited to the combine. He does have 33 inch arms so he has the length and anyone who watched Texas regularly seems to rave about him. He didn’t stand out at the Senior Bowl but managed an impressive 9-3 broad jump and a 4.47 short shuttle at his pro-day.

Maurice Hurst is a pure one-gap pass rusher. He’ll shoot into the backfield with speed and quickness and he was highly disruptive for Michigan. He was one of the players who jumped off the screen last year, collecting 14.5 TFL’s.

He’s one of the better players in the draft. The only problem is — is his role limited? Some teams will be wary of asking him to handle two gaps at his size (6-1, 292lbs) and defend the run on early downs. He lacks length (32 inch arms) and really could be limited to the Clinton McDonald/Jordan Hill role of specialist interior pass rusher.

One thing to remember though — Geno Atkins was only 6-1 and 293lbs at his combine with the same 32 inch arms. Here’s an extract from his NFL.com blurb:

“He’s undersized as a defensive tackle lacking adequate height and bulk. Doesn?t have the power to consistently hold up at the point of attack against the run and is overpowered by bigger blockers. Must become more consistent with his hand use.”

It sounds very similar to the concerns noted about Hurst. Atkins has since gone on to become one of the more prolific interior pass rushers in the NFL. Hurst has that potential too — he is a terrific pass rusher who plays with quickness and explosion.

The visit makes sense because Hurst didn’t test at the combine after being diagnosed with a heart condition. They might want to let their doctors take a look at him and do some of the positional testing at the same time.

Defensive backs getting a look

With Earl Thomas’ future still up in the air they need to cover their bases. Taking a closer look at Justin Reid and showing interest in Jessie Bates III isn’t a surprise. Neither is the meeting with 4.40 runner Natrell Jamerson.

The meeting with Nick Nelson was interesting though. Don’t write it off just because he has short 31 inch arms.

Nelson might be the best cover corner in the draft. He’s a shadow in the secondary, tracking receivers across the field and shutting them down. He dominated his match-up against Maryland’s D.J. Moore and didn’t give up a single reception against a potential top-40 receiver.

With Justin Coleman’s contract expiring in a year and Jeremy Lane now an afterthought, adding some competition at slot corner would make sense. They won’t want Coleman to be comfortable — and they might prefer not to pay big money to keep him (a big new deal didn’t work for Lane after all).

As for Foyesade Oluokun — I can’t tell you much about him other than he’s a tremendous athlete and a ferocious hitter. He’s described as a linebacker/safety prospect and ran a 4.48 forty at 6-1, 230lbs. He also managed a 37 inch vertical, a 10-3 broad and a 4.12 short shuttle. Those are really strong numbers.

Here’s a highlights video:

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

New Field Gulls podcast

March 29th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

I was invited onto the Field Gulls podcast this week. Check it out. Kenny and I talk about a number of topics including the NFC West outlook and the top-10 in the draft.

I also tried to argue, once again, that running backs are people too. And that the running game actually matters. So if you’re part of the cult on Seahawks Twitter, here’s your trigger warning.

 

What the Christian Kirk workout tells us

March 28th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Christian Kirk revealed at his pro-day yesterday that he’ll be working out for the Seahawks.

It’s an interesting nugget of info because it puts another prospect on our radar. Kirk, a receiver, isn’t likely to be an early round target at the expense of aiding the running game or adding a pass rusher. There is a scenario, however, where he could become an option.

Unfortunately, it means bringing up the possibility of an Earl Thomas trade again.

The Seahawks are extremely limited with just the #18 pick and then nothing until #120. They’ll almost certainly move down in the first round but what they’ll get in return is debatable. In recent years they’ve been able to collect third and fourth round picks. That kind of a return isn’t going to shift the early round focus from fixing the running game (Pete Carroll yesterday reaffirmed it’s the off-season priority).

If they traded Earl Thomas to gain a pair of second rounders — or an early second and an early third (to potentially move back into round two) — it opens things up.

The second round is where a lot of the value is going to be in this draft class. Picking twice or even three times in that round would be a huge boost for a re-tooling team.

Getting two picks for Thomas and then potentially moving back from #18 could be a plan of sorts. There’s a lot of draft fantasy going on here I know. And we’re no clearer to knowing if a trade for Thomas is a.) likely b.) a good thing or c.) going to get the kind of return to make this possible.

Two or three picks in round two, however, would enable you to address the running back position in the sweet-spot for that group (25-50). You could look at the options on the defensive line and at safety (Jessie Bates III and Justin Reid are considered borderline first or second round picks). And the offensive line would remain a possibility.

Receiver could be an option too.

It’s not a good draft for the position overall. Seattle’s willingness to look at receivers in free agency is testament to that. Reportedly they’re set to meet with Brice Butler next.

So why would Kirk be a fit?

For starters, it comes back to what we were discussing yesterday. Attitude and being all about football.

Here’s a section from Kirk’s NFL.com bio written and sourced by Lance Zierlein:

“Scouts like his mental makeup and desire to compete…”

“Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness.”

So in terms of being a competitor with grit, Kirk ticks that particular box.

It’s very difficult to find a negative review of his game. For example, Bob McGinn’s anonymous sources describe him as a ‘big time player’, adding he’s ‘well-built’ with ‘good hands’ and ‘extends and lays out’.

He’s graded in rounds 2-3 by Zierlein and McGinn’s sources seem to consider Kirk a borderline first or second round pick.

The Seahawks have regularly drafted receivers that run in the 4.4 range. Kirk ran a 4.47 at the combine. They’re not tied to a particular size or frame — drafting a wide variety of body types over the years. You can’t get much different than Kris Durham, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson and Amara Darboh. They all ran the same kind of forty, however.

He’s a deep threat, capable of getting open while also offering some special teams dynamism as a returner. If he’s as competitive as the reports suggest, he might be a willing blocker (important in Seattle) although it’s not something he had to do in college.

One area he also seems to excel is the scramble drill. Quite often he was able to break coverage and become invisible downfield, often presenting a wide open target for a quarterback on the run.

He seems like a very focused individual during interviews.

It’s very easy to see why the Seahawks are showing interest. He’s an X-factor playmaker with good character.

Seattle appears to want some game-breakers at receiver to compliment a running game and make the most of play-action opportunities. Kirk would fit into that category. If they wanted to bring him in, however, they might have to do some further roster re-shaping first to gain further draft stock.

Why are the Seahawks looking at quarterbacks?

Last week John Schneider was stood in the rain watching Sam Darnold’s pro-day. He then took a private jet to Wyoming to go and see Josh Allen.

A year ago Ian Rapoport posted this tweet during the 2017 draft:

And now this tweet from Bucky Brooks via Rob Rang (left in to add some context):

So what’s going on?

Probably nothing all that spectacular really. At least not yet.

The Seahawks have a big negotiation coming up in 12 months. Russell Wilson will be in the last year of his contract. Seattle has turned over a significant chunk of the roster in an attempt to get younger, cheaper and more competitive.

Cap space won’t be a problem. They’re set to have about $100m next season. They’re unlikely to want to go absolutely nuts on a Wilson extension, however.

Jason La Canfora recently wrote an article discussing the situation:

“… from afar this still seems like some sort of feeling-out process is going on, that maybe both parties are still sizing each other up, perhaps, and trying to determine what the future holds.

“In the next year we’ll learn a lot more about the direction of this team, how quickly they can get back on track, how heathy Wilson emerges from the 2018 season, how confident he can be in the group of men entrusted to block for him. Will the Seahawks be talking about a five-year deal worth $30M a year for Wilson come this time a year from now? If not, will there be trade rumblings? (Given the supply/demand problems in the quarterback market, a hypothetical Wilson trade would have to be the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, right?) Is Carroll, the oldest coach in the NFC, inching closer to retirement by then if this team is outside the playoffs again?

“Personally, I have a hard time seeing a generational talent at quarterback like this leaving the team that originally drafted him in his prime, and Schneider has displayed the ability in the past to kickstart a rebuild with a single draft. I wouldn’t bet on him being down for long, but with the draft just over a month away and spring finally upon us, the Seahawks can’t be considered among the handful of Lombardi favorites for the first time in a long time, and much work remains to be done to return to the lofty perch their fans have come to expect during the Carroll/Schneider era.”

So there’s a lot to be decided. And John Schneider is working the pro-day circuit.

A lot of this seems to be the Seahawks covering their bases. They’re not going to draft a quarterback at #18. It’s about being ready for all eventualities. Let’s say Jackson dropped into round two and Seattle, somehow, had multiple picks in that round. Suddenly it might be a more viable pick. And then you create leverage. You have a Plan B. You can make a decision on whether you want to pay Wilson $30m a year or whatever it’ll be by the time talks come around.

Green Bay benefitted from planning ahead with Aaron Rodgers. So did New England with Jimmy Garoppolo.

This is the time you prepare for all eventualities. This is when you do your homework.

Otherwise you just end up being the Panthers in 2010 — taking Jimmy Clausen in round two without even knowing all that much about him.

It doesn’t mean they’re about to trade Russell Wilson. It doesn’t mean they’re set for a divorce in the next year or two. It does mean the Seahawks are leaving no stone unturned. Which is a good thing.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

‘All football’ and fixing the running game

March 27th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Unless you weren’t already aware, Seattle sees fixing the running game as a priority.

And it’s no wonder really. The last two years have been a disaster.

Teams treat their running games differently. For some it’s a compliment or even an afterthought. For the Seahawks, it’s crucial. It connects everything together.

Pete Carroll made it abundantly clear again today at the Owners Meeting how vital it is they fix the run:

“Our formula of the running game being an integral part of it is really the focus… We’ve got to get that done. Without that, then we’re still kind of in a mode where we don’t feel as comfortable as we want to be. So it’s hugely important. Somehow we’ve got to keep our running backs healthy. In the last few years it just has not been the factor for us, and it’s been a problem even going back two years when Russell (Wilson) was hurt the whole year. So that needs to emerge as a significant part of our program, and everything else I think will fall into place. We know what the formula is, we know what it takes, we just have to get ourselves back and feel that continuity. So that’ll be a big focus again, and the challenge begins. Here we go.”

The Seahawks are in a transition, a re-tool or whatever other way you want to describe it. They’re not going to be able to fix every need in one off-season.

Does the defensive line need help? Absolutely. Yet with limited draft stock (and a loaded D-line class ready and set for 2019) it might be an area where they go for competition rather than a big splash.

Do they need talent at receiver? Almost certainly yes. Tyler Lockett will be a free agent next year and they’ve already lost Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson. Yet this isn’t a strong class of receivers either. Again, this might be an area where competition wins.

This draft class is tailor made to bolster the running game. It fits perfectly. It’s a beautiful coincidence but maybe the Seahawks deserve a bit of fortune? At the time they most needed some help in improving their run attack, here comes the 2018 draft.

It seems pretty clear. This is the focus for now. And if they can fix the run and find balance on offense — they will be competitive. Russell Wilson and a running game gives you a chance to win. Even as you make changes to the defense.

Carroll also spoke about the existing running backs:

“You can say (Chris Carson is the starter) because of where he was when he got hurt, but Mike Davis did a really nice job for us last year… Mike finished and sustained throughout the season, unlike some guys in the last couple of years, and he showed us consistency and toughness and production. I think Mike really comes back getting the ball first, and the competition is on. That’s the first handoff, then after that it’s dead even.”

And he spoke about the offensive line:

“This is the best we’ve been in some time. A little quietly it’s emerging that it’s a very good group and it’s going to be one that we’re going to look forward to seeing some real progress made… It hasn’t been mentioned that much, but we feel like we have continuity. We haven’t said that in so many years, but we feel like we have some continuity on the offensive line, so we’re looking forward to it.”

It’s difficult to project what the Seahawks are going to do because we don’t know what’s happening with Earl Thomas. That lingering situation will hopefully come to a conclusion, one way or another, very soon. The mystery isn’t really doing anyone any good. If Thomas remains in Seattle, a fairly obvious projection would be:

1. The Seahawks trade down from #18
2. They trade down just far enough to put themselves in position to address the running game

Whether you’re a fan of Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice or another — it feels likely the Seahawks will pick their guy. After that, the other needs are clear — D-line, tight end, cornerback, linebacker, receiver. All likely to be addressed, perhaps too the O-line and special teams.

But it all starts with fixing the run. This is the year to do it and the draft class to do it with. With so few early picks this year, they can’t afford to wait on addressing that vital need.

Bob Condotta also produced a series of quotes from John Schneider. He discusses everything from free agent departures, what happened with Richard Sherman and the possibility of an Earl Thomas trade.

All of those topics will be covered elsewhere. I noticed a theme, however, in Schneider’s answers.

The words “all football” kept coming up.

For example, when discussing the addition of D.J. Fluker:

“He’s all football. When he came out, everyone knew he was an all-football guy. If you look at all the guys we’ve signed and re-signed, we know they all have a chip on their shoulder, they have something to prove, and they’re all football guys, so we’re excited about it. All these guys, every single one of them we signed.”

On if there’s a theme among the collection of players they’ve signed so far:

“Smart, tough reliable guys that love football and have a chip on their shoulder.”

On the Maurice Alexander signing:

“Just a real fast, tough all football guy… We’ve got another fast, tough all football guy.”

On re-signing Mike Davis:

“Again all ball.”

It’s not uncommon for a General Manager to use terms like ‘all football’ or make reference to wanting players committed to the game. It’s a football buzz-word that often gets thrown around to describe virtually any type of player or personality.

It’s also quite common to hear the Seahawks talk in these terms. One of Pete Carroll’s big things is ‘all in’ and buying in. So again, it’s not that surprising to hear Schneider speaking like this.

Yet this is a very different off-season. More than ever these references seem to really mean something. They’ve released outspoken personalities. They’ve dramatically reduced the number of highly paid players on the roster and they’ve balked at paying a high price for anyone in free agency.

Two or three years ago the Seahawks might’ve been ‘all-in’ on a Marcus Peters trade or signing Ndamukong Suh. They would’ve been the ones looking at an $8m salary for Sheldon Richardson as a great opportunity.

Only a year ago they gave Luke Joeckel $7-8m.

This is a different plan now. This is about players with something to prove and a need to earn everything.

It could also be indicative of the Malik McDowell pick a year ago. McDowell might never play a snap of NFL football after hurting himself in an ATV accident during the off-season. There were already concerns about his focus and effort pre-draft. Who can forget John Schneider’s words on the phone when they picked him. “Remember what we talked about?” They knew they were taking a shot.

It’s unlikely they’ll suddenly become risk-averse. But this year, more than ever, they might pick their battles.

The theme of free agency is likely to continue in the draft.

So what will that actually mean?

It could be another indicator they’ll trade down (which already seems pretty certain). There’s an entitlement that comes with being a top-20 pick. So unless you’re getting an absolute must-have prospect (seems unlikely this year at #18) they might prefer to move down and get a player who dropped a bit — or is grateful for the opportunity of going in the 25-45 range.

It’s not cast-iron though. Bruce Irvin certainly appreciated Seattle believing in him as a top-15 pick. Irvin never carried a sense of entitlement and just became one of the guys.

It probably means you can forget about players like Arden Key. The risk is too similar to McDowell.

It doesn’t mean they’ll snub their ideals and physical preferences. Those will likely remain. They’ll just want the players that fit to be gritty, determined and have a point to prove.

It’s hard for us mere observers to properly judge who does and doesn’t have a chip on their shoulder. We can read backstories and watch interviews. It’s not enough really. And that’s the stark reality of any draft coverage. Blogs like this and the media simply have no chance of getting a proper read on these players. We don’t meet with them, we don’t track them from High School to college to the combine.

We can only make assertions and projections.

I think a lot of the top running backs in this class play with the kind of aggression and attitude that suggests they’re ‘all football’. It’s pretty hard not to watch Ronald Jones II and get that impression. Or Kerryon Johnson. Or Nick Chubb. Or Derrius Guice.

They all play hard and tough. It’d be difficult to separate them as a quartet really. However, I think Chubb in particular has the biggest chip on his shoulder.

Case in point. Watch this interview by Terrell Davis (a former Georgia running back). Keep an eye out for Chubb’s change in expression when Davis notes he was ‘surprised’ by his quick feet and the way he answers that question:

‘Guys like you who don’t know’

Ouch.

He also gave Davis a little look at the end of the interview. You can see the fire in his eyes.

A lot of the interior offensive linemen we’ve discussed are also ‘all football’. Isaiah Wynn, Austin Corbett, Billy Price, Will Hernandez, Frank Ragnow. There’s absolutely no question there. And especially not with Quenton Nelson.

Some of the tight ends in the draft also fit in that category. If you’re playing the position in 2017 and are willing to block as your first duty, you’re committed to the game. It’d be difficult to question Dalton Schultz, Durham Smythe and Will Dissly in that regard. Whether they grade well enough for the Seahawks, we’ll see. But they likely need to add another tight end at some point in this draft class.

On the defensive side of the ball it’s a little easier to judge. Pursuit, intensity, motor. These are all easily identifiable. B.J. Hill and Justin Jones for example, with their motors and the way they carry themselves, likely grade well in this area. You’re not likely to question the commitment of any of the Ohio State, NC State and Wisconsin defenders. They all play with attitude.

You see it in Andrew Brown, Josh Sweat, Harrison Phillips, Rashaan Evans, Ronnie Harrison, Maurice Hurst, Leighton Vander Esch, Josey Jewell, Leon Jacobs, Isaac Yiadom, Nick Nelson, Kemoko Turay and others.

This draft class has its faults. Yet for a team like the Seahawks — seeking to fix the run and get young talent on defense — there are options. For a team also seeking guys with good motors and chips on their shoulder, they should also be able to find players that fit.

It’s been tough for Seahawks fans recently. Seeing the Rams add players like Peters and Suh. Watching Richard Sherman move to San Francisco and Michael Bennett to Philadelphia. Earl Thomas could still depart too.

Yet when this draft class is put together and you get to camp — the excitement will be back. This draft is well suited for Seattle’s needs and they’ll have an opportunity to put together a newly competitive environment.

Finally, it seems Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk will workout for the Seahawks:

Kirk is a highly dynamic, X-factor type receiver. It suggests they’re still looking for downfield speed for the offense (a theme with the receivers they’ve added so far). It also suggests they might be trying to acquire multiple second round picks (the range Kirk is expected to go).

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

A tempting pass rusher & is guard back on the radar?

March 26th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

The top-20 defensive end that could tempt Seattle

Recently we’ve focused on the running back and defensive end positions. The Seahawks need help in both areas, whether it’s to fix the running game or get another pass rusher.

They’ll likely need to trade down to address both positions — unless of course they trade Earl Thomas and get a top-40 pick in return. That could potentially free up the #18 pick to be used (although there’s every chance they’d still trade down).

A player who could be of interest at #18, if available? Marcus Davenport.

We analysed Davenport in this piece back in December, so check it out.

But why would he be a player they’d consider taking?

Simply put, at his best he’s a game wrecker. The type you often need to spend a high pick on. He’s not quite got the freaky athleticism and length of a Ziggy Ansah and that’s why he might not go in the top-10. Even so, he tested well at the combine:

Height: 6-5
Weight: 264lbs
Arm length: 33.5 inches
Forty: 4.58
10-yard: 1.63
Vertical: 33.5 inches
Broad: 10-4
Bench: 22 reps
Short shuttle: 4.41
Three-cone: 7.20

Two of these numbers stand out, the rest is just solid across the board. His 4.58 forty is in the 94th percentile for an EDGE. The 10-4 broad jump is in the 91st percentile. So he’s quick and explosive.

Is that ‘special’ enough for the Seahawks? It’s a difficult question to answer. After all, Frank Clark ran a incredible 4.05 short shuttle at 271lbs and jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical. That’s special. Bruce Irvin ran a 4.50 at 243lbs and managed a 4.03 short shuttle plus a 6.70 three-cone. That’s special.

Even so, Davenport is the only pass rusher in the class not named Bradley Chubb where you put the tape on and you’re just wowed by his ability to get after the quarterback.

Personally I don’t think he’ll make it to #18. With pass-rush options so limited this year, you’d have to imagine someone will take him off the board. It could be Oakland at #10, Buffalo at #12, Washington at #13, Green Bay at #14 or Baltimore at #16.

There are reasons why he might last, however.

Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline today published an unnamed teams ‘top-15’. The team, understandably anonymous, owns a pick in the first half of round one. Davenport was not included in the top-15.

It’s only the opinion of one team (and considering they have three quarterbacks at the top, presumably it’s a team needing a signal caller). It’s still food for thought. It could be a consensus.

There’s also this. Bob McGinn has quoted an unnamed scout who offered the following take: “He is going top 20 but I wouldn’t take him in the first round… He scares the crap out of me. He’s a renaissance man, writes poetry and (bleep) like that. I don’t know if football is really that big for him. There’s times he can be soft.”

It’s not the most glowing review if you’re hoping to see him in Seattle. Having listened to interviews with Davenport, he’s clearly a deep thinker. I’m not sure I saw any softness on the field. It’s possible he heard that opinion a little too often at the Senior Bowl. Davenport didn’t really attempt a speed-rush in the early 1v1’s and seemed to try to prove he could bull-rush and win with power.

During the Senior Bowl game, Davenport did what he was doing at UTSA — winning battles and impacting plays. He even scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

He might need time to find his groove at the next level. The scout above might be right about some of his concerns. Yet if the Seahawks want to take a chance on a pass rusher — Davenport could be an option if he lasts.

Of course, it’s still more likely than not they’ll trade down from #18 and look in a different direction. Namely, fixing the run.

One other quick point to make — The Seahawks in 2010-2011 relied almost solely on Chris Clemons as a pass rusher. In 2012 they added Bruce Irvin. It wasn’t until 2013 that they signed Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

While they’ll likely want that type of rotation again in the future, they did take their time to find the right guys. They’ve already got Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo and Marcus Smith. So while a pass rusher could be an early draft priority — if the options aren’t there they probably won’t force it. And 2019 is set up to be a very good D-line draft.

Guard back on the table?

The signing of D.J. Fluker seemed to indicate the Seahawks might look away from the guard position in the draft. After all, they only spent a second round pick on Ethan Pocic last year.

If Fluker was being pencilled in at right guard, Pocic was the presumed starter at left guard. It would’ve been hard to justify yet another high O-line pick, especially if it just forced Pocic onto the bench.

That still remains relatively true. Yet today’s news on Fluker’s contract is interesting:

Considering he’s only guaranteed $300,000 — they have the flexibility to cut him at any point. He’s not a lock to start on this contract. He’s not even a lock to make the roster.

Fluker, essentially, is a hedge. If they’re open to taking a guard but the draft works a different way, they’ll be covered. If they end up selecting, for example, Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez or Austin Corbett — they could just open up the competition and see how it goes.

And that would be a good thing. Wynn in particular is a fantastic prospect and possibly worthy of the #18 choice. Corbett and Hernandez are also very intriguing.

In an ideal world they’d be able to take one of the top O-liners plus a running back in the sweet-spot range of 25-45. Sadly with their lack of early picks there’s no ‘ideal’ situation this year. They have to prioritise. And Fluker provides the kind of experience at guard that Mike Davis and Marcus Smith cannot at RB or DE.

Yet it’d be unwise to rule anything out given today’s news on Fluker’s contract. I won’t mock a guard to Seattle any time soon — but I wouldn’t completely rule it out either.

A final note — this is a really great interview by the NFL Network’s Steve Wyche with Pete Carroll. In under three minutes Wyche asks all the questions that needed to be asked and even pushes Carroll on his future. Well worth a watch:

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

Seahawks & Earl Thomas — set a trade deadline this week

March 24th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

I want to be a Seahawk. I want my jersey retired in the ring of honor with the other greats that came before me. The winning culture we have established, I want to be a part of it for life.

The Seahawks are clearly open to trading Earl Thomas.

Let’s not pretend that isn’t true. It is.

They’re reshaping the team in an attempt to create a new competitive environment. They’re dumping many of the big contracts.

This will be a much younger team in 2018.

Thomas wants a new contract. He’s made that clear. It’s understandable because he’s the best safety in the NFL and like all players, he seeks long term security.

It’s also understandable that the Seahawks have some trepidation over a new deal. They’ve avoided paying anyone big money so far in free agency. They’ve let a number of established names depart.

Based on the current plan, giving a new contract to Thomas is a non-starter. So seeing what you can get in a trade makes sense. Who knows what a team would be willing to pay? You’d be silly to ignore a great offer.

Yet here we are on March 24th and so far, that offer hasn’t arrived. In total, 24 players have been traded this month. Big names like Marcus Peters, Jason Pierre-Paul and Jarvis Landry have switched teams for mid-round compensation only.

No big trades. No first or second round picks exchanged.

It’s still possible a big offer is forthcoming but as every day passes, it seems less likely.

Increasingly it feels like teams are waiting out the Seahawks to see if they lower their demands (reportedly at least a first round pick).

Mike Fisher, a well sourced Cowboys reporter for Cowboys HQ wrote this piece titled: ‘Patience Right Play On Thomas’

The Seahawks are counting on someone panicking. They’re counting on that someone being the Cowboys. Because, if you look around at other reporting, there doesn’t seem to be another team connected to these trade rumors. The Cowboys are the only team I can find. So while there can or maybe will be others, this feels to me like the Seahawks are trying to drum up interest in a player that know is not interested in coming back. The belief is that the Cowboys are moving Byron Jones to corner, which opens up a spot at safety and there’s pressure on the Cowboys to make a move, which is the worst time to make a move.

So the Cowboys are playing this right. Let the price come down, because a first-round pick for Thomas is not worth it. If the Raiders could only extract a fourth-round pick from the Patriots for Randy Moss a decade ago, well, the price has not gone up for a veteran safety. If the Seahawks become willing to part with Thomas for a third, then we’re talking. If you’re worried about the money, don’t worry. Fish has explained in multiple ways the levers the Cowboys can to flip to create more cap space.

We’ll ignore Fisher describing himself a.) as ‘Fish’ and b.) in the third person and concentrate on the point he makes. The Seahawks want a team like the Cowboys to make a move. The Cowboys are inclined to wait for the price to come down.

You end up in a metaphorical staring contest waiting to see who blinks first. The Seahawks can’t be the ones to blink.

So we continue to wait. The owners meeting this week could be a turning point. Everyone will be in Orlando at the same time. If a deal’s going to happen it’ll probably be off the back of conversations taking place over the next few days.

A deal on draft day would seem improbable purely because any prospective buyer would want to agree terms on a new contract. It’s why you never see big-name players traded during the first two rounds of the draft.

Uncertainty about the situation isn’t going to do anyone any good. The Seahawks need to be able to make plans. Earl Thomas deserves to know what’s happening. And so do the fans.

Setting a deadline and making it clear this is the week to get it done — at the owners meeting — would be best for all concerned. Don’t let this drag on any more.

If nobody matches your demands — commit to keeping Earl Thomas.

He said it above: “I want to be a Seahawk”

Prove it then. No more talk of holding out. Play on the contract you agreed to this year. In 12 months time you’ll either be a free agent or playing on the franchise tag. Considering the frozen nature of the safety market currently, a contract of $11-12m guaranteed for the 2019 season might be an attractive proposition, albeit short term.

Thomas wants to be in the Ring of Honor — this is the chance to prove it.

That’s the commitment he needs to make.

In turn, the Seahawks should set a deadline on a trade and then make their own commitment to Thomas if no acceptable offer comes in. Otherwise teams will wait… and wait… and wait… in the hopes of getting a bargain trade.

A third round pick? If the Cowboys think that’s going to happen, tell them to get stuffed.

Now or never. Or more accurately — this week or never. Pony up.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

 

Updated mock draft — two rounds

March 23rd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Trades are again included. Thoughts are underneath.

Before starting, I was invited on the ‘Waxing Lyrical’ podcast this week (a UK based NFL show). Have a listen by clicking here. Chris Wesseling was also a guest.

#1 Cleveland — Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
#2 NY Giants — Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
#3 NY Jets (via Ind) — Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
#4 Buffalo (via Cle, Hou) — Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
#5 Denver — Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
#6 Indianapolis (via NYJ) — Bradley Chubb (EDGE, NC State)
#7 Tampa Bay — Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
#8 Chicago — Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)
#9 Miami (via SF) — Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
#10 Oakland — Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
#11 San Fran (via Mia) — Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)
#12 Cleveland (via Buf, Cin) — Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame)
#13 Washington — Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
#14 Green Bay — Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
#15 Arizona — Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
#16 Baltimore — Derwin James (S, Florida State)
#17 LA Chargers — Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
#18 New England (via Sea) — Kolton Miller (T, UCLA)
#19 Dallas — Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
#20 Detroit — Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
#21 Cincinnati (via Buf) — James Daniels (C, Iowa)
#22 Cleveland (via Buf, KC) — Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
#23 LA Rams — Harold Landry (DE, Boston College)
#24 Carolina — Rasheem Green (DE, USC)
#25 Tennessee — Taven Bryan (DE, Florida)
#26 Atlanta — Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
#27 New Orleans — Justin Reid (S, Stanford)
#28 Pittsburgh — Jessie Bates III (S, Wake Forest)
#29 Jacksonville — Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech)
#30 Minnesota — Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
#31 Seattle (via NE) — Ronald Jones II (RB, USC)
#32 Indianapolis (via Phi) — Austin Corbett (G, Nevada)

#33 Cleveland — Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)
#34 NY Giants — Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)
#35 Cleveland — Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
#36 Philadelphia (via Ind) — Malik Jefferson (LB, Texas)
#37 Indianapolis — Kerryon Johnson (RB, Auburn)
#38 Tampa Bay — Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
#39 Chicago — Connor Williams (T, Texas)
#40 Denver — Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
#41 Oakland — Ronnie Harrison (S, Alabama)
#42 Miami — Billy Price (C, Ohio State)
#43 New England (via SF) — Mike Hughes (CB, UCF)
#44 Washington — Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
#45 Green Bay — Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
#46 Cincinnati — Hayden Hurst (TE, South Carolina)
#47 Arizona — Tyrell Crosby (T, Oregon)
#48 LA Chargers — Brian O’Neill (T, Pittsburgh)
#49 Indianapolis — D.J. Moore (WR, Maryland)
#50 Dallas — Carlton Davis (CB, Auburn)
#51 Detroit — Frank Ragnow (C, Arkansas)
#52 Baltimore — B.J. Hill (DT, NC State)
#53 Cleveland (via Buf) — Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State)
#54 Kansas City — Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa)
#55 Carolina — Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State)
#56 Buffalo (via LAR) — Harrison Phillips (DT, Stanford)
#57 Tennessee — Lorenzo Carter (EDGE, Georgia)
#58 Atlanta — Andrew Brown (DT, Virginia)
#59 San Francisco (via NOR) — Braden Smith (G, Auburn)
#60 Pittsburgh — James Washington (WR, Oklahoma State)
#61 Jacksonville — D.J. Chark (WR, LSU)
#62 Minnesota — Geron Christian (T, Louisville)
#63 Seattle (via NE) — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
#64 Cleveland (via Phi) — Donte Jackson (CB, LSU)

The trades

Buffalo trades #12, #22 and #53 picks to Cleveland for #4
The Bills are in a situation now where their trade partners are quite limited. If they want to move up for a quarterback — and they clearly do — they’ll have to pay a steep price.

Miami trades #11 and #73 to San Francisco for #9
Seeing an opportunity to jump up two spots and secure a long term solution at quarterback, the Dolphins pull the trigger with Arizona, Baltimore and Los Angeles lurking.

New England trades #31 and #63 to Seattle for #18
The Patriots use their extra second round pick to jump into the top-20 to secure a replacement for Nate Solder. The Seahawks get an extra pick in the top-60.

Indianapolis trades #36 and #140 to Philadelphia for #32
The Colts make a small jump back into round one to secure the underrated Austin Corbett.

Mock notes

— There are numerous possibilities in the top-four. New York trading Jason Pierre-Paul could bring Bradley Chubb into play at #2. The Giants could easily take a quarterback there. Either way, Barkley probably doesn’t drop any further than the #4 pick. My prediction is the quarterbacks could come off the board in this order — Darnold, Allen, Rosen, Mayfield.

— In this projection I’ve got two running backs going in round one and seven in the top-50. San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny is the one name I couldn’t find a spot for. He could easily go in the second round too.

— If there are two positions that might get pushed up the board due to lack of numbers it’s offensive tackle and defensive end. I’ve not really represented that here, although Mike McGlinchey at #12 and Kolton Miller at #18 does to some extent. The EDGE rushers might go quickly too. If you need one — you’ll need to take them early.

Notes on the Seahawks

— It’s much harder to project the Seahawks this year because of their lack of picks. It’s pretty certain they’ll trade down from #18 but predicting a deal isn’t easy. It’s even harder to work out how they might fill their most pressing needs.

— I went with Ronald Jones II first because he’s the type of dynamic, high-upside athlete they’ve targeted early (or via trade) in the past. Lance Zierlein’s tweet yesterday was interesting but this is the team that traded for Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch and drafted Malik McDowell. So I’m not sure how impacted they’ll be by this. And let’s be clear — the frustration about Jones II is nowhere near the kind of drama Seattle handled/tolerated with Harvin, Lynch and McDowell. Not even close. I’m just pointing out they’re not easily put off natural talent.

— We talked yesterday how they could go RB/DE or DE/RB. At #31 the defensive end options had pretty much gone in that range. Harold Landry and Rasheem Green were off the board in the 20’s. So running back in this situation felt like a fair choice.

— I considered writing in another trade down for Seattle. In that scenario they would’ve probably missed out on Ronald Jones II. Nick Chubb would’ve been option B.

— In the late second round there might be some appealing defensive line options. I paired Sweat with Seattle based on his profile. It was equally tempting to give them someone like B.J. Hill, Andrew Brown, Kemoko Turay or Jalyn Holmes.

— These two picks would allow the Seahawks to target linebacker (Leon Jacobs?), defensive line (Tyquan Lewis, Justin Jones?), defensive back (Natrell Jamerson?) and tight end (Schultz, Smythe or Dissly?) on day three. The lack of a third round pick could cost them an opportunity to draft some intriguing players, especially on the defensive line and at tight end.

I’ll do a Live Google Hangout at 5pm PST today. If you have a question for the Q&A leave it in the comments section.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Nike NFL Team Free Trainer v7 Collection Shoes

 

Why the Seahawks might not draft a guard early

March 22nd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Here are three facts about this draft class:

1. It’s top heavy at running back
2. It’s thin at EDGE
3. There’s some talent at guard/center in the first two rounds

The Seahawks have the #18 pick and then nothing until #120. It’ll be virtually impossible to draft one of the best running backs, a top guard and a pass rusher before round four. Even if they trade down.

Let’s go through each position.

1. Running back

We could see 6-8 going in the top-60. It’s that kind of class. By the start of round three all eight of the top runners could be gone. Then there’s a drop-off.

The top eight are likely Saquon Barkley, Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, Rashaad Penny and Royce Freeman.

If you want to tap into this great running back group you’re probably going to have to take one in the top-50. And teams know that. Jay Gruden pretty much admitted the Redskins intend to. They won’t be alone.

2. Defensive end

Bradley Chubb and Marcus Davenport will go in the top-15. If you want an impact EDGE rusher with serious potential after that, you’re looking at Harold Landry, Josh Sweat and Kemoko Turay. Some teams might view Uchenna Nwosu, Lorenzo Carter and Leon Jacobs as EDGE options but they’re arguably better suited to SAM/LEO (where Seattle just added Barkevious Mingo). There are inside/out type rushers too (Rasheem Green) but there are some nice DE/DT types available later. That might be a role reserved for Dion Jordan. This could be about finding the next Cliff Avril.

A 1.5 10-yard split is usually a good indicator for a talented EDGE and only Landry (1.59) and Sweat (1.55) managed that. Turay ran a 1.62. Tulane’s Ade Aruna ran a 1.60 and had a very good combine workout but will likely need at least one redshirt year. To compare, Avril ran a 1.50 and Bruce Irvin a 1.55.

The Seahawks need some pass rushers. If Avril retires they’re currently relying on Frank Clark, Jordan and Mingo. They probably need to add a veteran and a rookie. If they don’t take an EDGE early they might miss out.

3. Guard/center

Quenton Nelson will go in the top-10 and then we could see a handful of interior offensive linemen drafted in the late first or early second round. That’s the range where Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez and Austin Corbett are slated to go. Iowa center James Daniels will also go quickly plus injured duo Frank Ragnow and Billy Price will probably be top-50 picks. Braden Smith could also go in round two.

As with the running back position, we’ll then see a drop-off.

If you had multiple picks between 20-60 you could address all three areas. The Colts own #6, #35, #36 and #49. They’ll be rubbing their hands looking at this class. Not only can they address DE early (Bradley Chubb) they’ll be in prime range to add a guard and a running back in the value zone and fill another need.

Jealous much?

The Seahawks are in a very different situation. They’re not going to be able to turn #18 into two early second round picks. At best they might be able to take advantage of New England (#31) and Cleveland (#33) owning multiple second round picks. A deal to move down 13-15 spots could net a late second.

They’re going to have to pick their poison.

Only a big trade involving Earl Thomas can change the situation. Even then, you’d be creating a void at safety that might need to be filled by a Jessie Bates III or Justin Reid. And currently, nothing appears imminent on Thomas. It’s over a week since Jason La Canfora’s tweet about interest in a deal.

By trading down significantly from #18 and acquiring a late second rounder or an early third rounder, they might be able to target two of the need positions.

So far they haven’t signed a defensive end. They re-signed Mike Davis today, although that’s likely a deal to provide competition and depth. The addition of D.J. Fluker as a likely starter suggests they won’t be drafting a guard early.

The focus instead could be RB + DE.

Reasons why they might’ve come to that conclusion

The Seahawks are only a year removed from drafting Ethan Pocic in round two. It’d be a big call to determine he isn’t good enough after just one season.

They’ve invested a ton of draft picks into their offensive line:

Duane Brown — 2018 R3 and 2019 R2
Ethan Pocic — 2017 R2
Justin Britt — 2014 R2
Germain Ifedi — 2016 R1
Rees Odhimabo — 2016 R3

Now they’ve signed D.J. Fluker too.

Eventually, you have to back your judgement and challenge the coaches to make the group function. Mike Solari hasn’t come in to blow up the personnel and create a new line. He’s here to work with the bulk of the existing group. The only new starter might be Fluker at right guard.

There could be some shifting around. George Fant might win the job at right tackle. Rees Odhiambo could compete at left guard. The Seahawks have already poured picks into their O-line. Now it’s time to get it working.

It can’t always be about ‘one more high pick’. The success or failure of the line is unlikely to be determined by the left guard alone. It’s one man in a group of five. Solari’s challenge is to improve communication and execution, particularly in the run game.

Time to deliver.

That’s not to say they wouldn’t benefit from having Isaiah Wynn, Austin Corbett or Will Hernandez lining up at left guard. It’d be great. But what’s the proposal? Bench Pocic and call it a wasted pick, while failing to properly address running back or defensive end? Or give Pocic a chance to take a step forward and fill the other two needs?

This is just part of building a roster. Every team has a call to make. Very few come into the draft with only one or two holes to fill. You’re nearly always working out the best combination.

Seattle drafted Pocic. They signed Fluker. They’ve not done anything significant at running back or defensive end. Things can change but right now those two positions seem to be the draft focus.

If nothing else, it’s logical.

And while some might suggest the Mike Davis signing addresses running back — you’re not passing on the top runners in this draft because of this news. You really aren’t. This is about making sure you’re not going into camp with just a rookie, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise as your depth.

We should spend some time discussing combinations at running back + EDGE that fit for the Seahawks.

They could find a way to go Ronald Jones II then Josh Sweat. Or it could be Harold Landry and Nick Chubb.

Either scenario makes some sense.

They’d be taking a pass rusher that fits what they’ve gone for in the past (highly athletic, 1.5 10-yard split, good agility/explosive testing). If they want an EDGE with plus athleticism, Landry and Sweat are certainly options.

There are alternatives too. If they wanted to go with an inside/out rusher instead they could consider Rasheem Green. He’s projected in the late first or early second round. Sam Hubbard is another who could go in that range. Andrew Brown is rising quickly and could be a target as early as round two.

Jones II is a little lighter than they’ve drafted at running back but he’s that explosive, sudden, dynamic playmaker they’ve often coveted. He has star potential and looks every bit Jamaal Charles 2.0. That’s hard to ignore. He’s also much tougher and aggressive than some of the bigger backs in this class. If only Bo Scarborough played with Rojo’s intensity. He’d be going a lot earlier in the draft.

Chubb meanwhile is practically the definition of the type of running back they’ve previously drafted. About 5-10 and 225lbs, incredibly explosive and tough. Kerryon Johnson is another alternative.

Address these two needs early and you’re set up for the rest of the draft. You can fill out your D-line depth with the beef at Ohio State (Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes) and NC State (B.J. Hill, Justin Jones, Kentavius Street). You can look to bring in another blocking tight end (Dalton Schultz, Durham Smythe, Will Dissly). There are plenty of options at linebacker (Leon Jacobs, Fred Warner, Dorian O’Daniel, Oren Burks) and you can add some talent to the secondary (Natrell Jamerson, Nick Nelson, Tre Flowers, Isaac Yiadom, Brandon Facyson, Terrell Edmunds).

If there’s one other thing free agency is telling us, it’s that the Seahawks aren’t enamoured with the draft options at receiver. They’ve already added Marcus Johnson and Jaron Brown. Reportedly they’re still in the hunt for Terrelle Pryor. They might wait until the last round or UDFA although Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimious St. Brown are intriguing options from the combine.

Re-signing Bradley McDougald and adding Maurice Alexander could take strong safety off the board too, especially if Earl Thomas is retained at free safety.

EDIT — The Seahawks also re-signed Marcus Smith today. It’s valuable depth and he can be an EDGE. As with the Davis signing, I’m not sure it changes anything in terms of the overall discussion in this piece.

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!

Nike NFL Team Free Trainer v7 Collection Shoes