Jerry Jones wishes he’d given the Seahawks an early third rounder.
In a fantastic piece by Peter King today, Dallas’ desperation to draft Paxton Lynch is revealed for the first time. They viewed him as the twelfth best player in the draft and were determined to make him Tony Romo’s heir.
The Seahawks traded the #26 pick to Denver in return for the #31 and #94 picks. Dallas were offering their second round selection (#34) and a fourth rounder (#101).
That wasn’t going to work.
In order to get Lynch they needed to deal their third rounder (#67). They chose not to.
“If I had to do it all over again? I’d give the three.”
— Jerry Jones
That’s how close the Seahawks were to securing an early third rounder. There’s every chance they would’ve been able to still select Germain Ifedi at #34.
We’ll never know who they would’ve taken at #67 but the following players were still available:
— Jonathan Bullard
— Bronson Kaufusi
— Kenyan Drake
— Shon Coleman
— Le’Raven Clark
— Braxton Miller
— Kyler Fackrell
King details the negotiations between Seattle and Dallas:
Between 9:25 and 9:45, Stephen Jones had three conversations with Seattle. Jones started with a simple swap offer: Seattle would send the 26th pick to Dallas, with Dallas returning a two and four. Next call: Stephen Jones, apparently sensing interest, tried to move it along, offering to add Dallas’ sixth-round pick if Seattle would give back its lower of two seventh-round picks.
Now 9:54. Schneider back on the phone. The call was quick. Stephen Jones got off the phone, turned to Jerry Jones at the board, and as one eyewitness recalled son said to father: “No way with Seattle. Too much. They want our two and three.”
Quiet in the room. “Thoughts?” Stephen Jones said to his father. “Any thoughts?”
They had a minute, maybe, to up the offer to Seattle, which was the only fish on the line. But no new offer was forthcoming. It was a minute later, maybe two, that Denver consummated the deal with Seattle for the ability to pick Lynch. The Denver deal was clearly better. Dallas was offering picks 34 and 101 for the 26th overall pick. Denver was offering picks 31 and 94—and by staying in the first round with its pick, Seattle got to control the player it picked for a fifth year, as opposed to four-year control for a second-round pick. Denver’s offer was superior. Dallas could have trumped Denver only one way—by offering its third, the 67th overall choice.
That was it. If Lynch turned into a star instead of wearing one, it would bug Jones for years to come.
According to King, Jones slept for just three hours on Thursday night and was wide awake by 6am. Seemingly, he was filled with regret:
“When I got up this morning,” Jones said Friday afternoon, “I second-guessed the hell out of myself for not giving the three. I have always paid a premium for a premium. So many times my bargains have let me down.”
It’d be fascinating to know what the Seahawks would’ve done had they acquired the #67 pick. It’s possible, of course, they would’ve drafted the same three players in round three anyway (Prosise, Vennett, Odhiambo). They noted at the end of day three, for example, that they didn’t expect Vennett to last as long as he did.
It also could’ve provided a scenario nobody could’ve even dreamed about before the draft began. Securing Germain Ifedi, Jarran Reed and potentially one of Jonathan Bullard, Bronson Kaufusi or Shon Coleman? That would’ve been really something.
Thoughts on Nick Vannett
I didn’t spend much time at all looking at Vannett pre-draft because I wrongly predicted the Seahawks wouldn’t select a tight end early. That was a major mistake on my behalf.
We often talk about how the Seahawks look for unique or rare traits. Funnily enough that’s kind of what Vannett provides. There are barely any blocking tight ends in college football. He is a rare gem, a collectors item. Someone who was asked to be, in the purest sense, a blocking TE.
I watched three games yesterday including Vannett vs Notre Dame where he really stood out. He blocks well on the move and squared up. He pulls inside and can deliver the key block to spring an inside run. On one snap against Notre Dame he drove Sheldon Day six yards off the LOS. He cut blocks well. I don’t recall a single poorly executed block.
This play in particular stood out. Look how he moves inside, locates and executes the key block that opens the hole for a big touchdown:
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) May 2, 2016
This isn’t an easy play for Vannett. He’s pulling to the right, hitting the hole and has to key in on the linebacker who is off-center. Make no mistake — he made this play happen. Ezekiel Elliott finishes — but it’s created by Vannett.
With Thomas Rawls’ burst and ability to break off big chunk gains, Vannett could provide tremendous value here.
Across the three games he proved to be an extremely willing and effective blocker. I think desire is a big thing here. At a time when the whole NFL is looking for the next Gronk or Jimmy Graham, Vannett’s college role could’ve seriously impacted his pro-prospects. In many ways it did — he lasted until the late third and never had a chance to show what he can do as a receiver. Yet he’s out there, doing the job asked of him. He earned this shot.
It’s impossible to judge him as a target for the Seahawks — but that’s unlikely to be his role. With Graham returning and Luke Willson a superior athlete — he might not be asked to do much route running at least initially. He will keep a defense honest though and allow them to be more creative with Graham — using him perhaps as more of a mismatch and receiver instead of an in-line blocker.
On the handful of routes he did run in the three games I saw, he lacked snap especially on the shorter stuff to the sideline or inside. On more than one occasion he seemed to be just going through the motions. He doesn’t exactly fire down the seam and create much of a challenge for the linebackers. He might be most useful in the red zone where his size, length and enormous wingspan can be effective.
Per Zach Whitman, Vannett has the third longest wingspan in the last three drafts at tight end.
Zach Miller’s Seahawks career was a bit underwhelming in terms of receptions considering what he achieved in Oakland. Vannett is likely to have a similar role. A key blocker vs the run and pass — the occasional target but much more effective in the red zone.
It’s not a flashy pick — but it’s typical of the way Seattle approached this draft. Tough, physical, re-establishing their identity in the post-Marshawn era. Vannett might not make any headlines as a rookie — but his impact could be vital.
Thoughts on Alex Collins
We spent most of the 2015 college season talking about Alex Collins. On May 6th last year we named him on our early 2016 watch list and on February 16th we mocked him to Seattle in round two. Everything about his running style screamed Seahawks — physical, hits the hole with a nice burst, doesn’t run out of bounds, finishes runs, pushes the pile and doesn’t go down on contact.
This remind you of anyone?
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) May 2, 2016
His combine performance, however, was a major turn off. He ran a 4.59 and managed only 28.5 inches in the vertical jump. He just looked sluggish and went from a possible second or third round target to off our radar completely.
It’s nice to see the Seahawks didn’t feel the same way — because Collins has the potential to be a fantastic value pick. There wasn’t a single Arkansas game I watched where he didn’t have an impact. He first stood out against Texas A&M in 2014 and I wish, with hindsight, I hadn’t been so swayed by his combine.
The competition at running back in camp is going to be intense. Don’t be shocked if Alex Collins emerges as the legit #2 option behind Thomas Rawls. Christine Michael is going to have a fight on his hands.
Drafting for the Cleveland Browns
The Browns are going through yet another big rebuild. Another new front office setup, another new Head Coach. Another shot at trying to make the franchise relevant.
The latest plan involved trading down from #2 to #8 and then down to #15. They acquired a cluster of picks in the middle rounds and in 2017. They stuck to an analytical approach that seemed to include drafting anyone who put up big stat numbers (Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib).
Unfortunately they didn’t really come out with anything that looked like a coherent plan. Building a team is surely more than simply acquiring production? What is their identity?
I went through the draft and considered what I think would’ve been a better plan for the Browns.
First and foremost — they’re in the AFC North. They need physicality on defense. That needs to be the identity, secured with a productive running game. I looked at the players available with each of their picks and took an alternative view:
#15 KEANU NEAL
#32 MYLES JACK
#65 JONATHAN BULLARD
#76 SHON COLEMAN
#93 JOSHUA PERRY
#122 WILLIE HENRY
#138 CHRISTIAN WESTERMAN
#154 ALEX COLLINS
#172 KENNY LAWLER
#173 TYVIS POWELL
The only pick that remains the same is Shon Coleman at #76.
Maybe the Browns will be proven right over time? They needed a wide out and Corey Coleman is a playmaker. Hue Jackson is a good enough QB coach to make Cody Kessler an interesting project.
Yet they had a chance to begin building a defense with toughness, athleticism, physicality and grit. Neal at safety, Jack paired with Perry at linebacker with Bullard and Henry anchoring at DE.
Reinforce the O-line with Coleman and Westerman.
This is a rebuild after all — not an attempt to win the Super Bowl in 2016. Put down the foundations for defense and look to next year on offense.
If you missed our review of Joey Hunt (C, TCU) check it out here. Later today Kenny and I will be recording our final podcast of the draft season.