NFL mock draft: 6th April & Seahawks status check

April 6th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

With three weeks to go this is how I’m looking at Seattle’s options:

1. Will Sheldon Rankins (yeah right) or Jonathan Bullard (more likely) make it to #26? If not, it’s hard to identify the DE-DT they’d be willing to take in round one. They haven’t drafted a defensive tackle earlier than round three (Jordan Hill) and there are players with Hill’s underrated explosion and agility likely to be available in rounds 2-3.

2. If it isn’t going to be Rankins or Bullard, the safe money is on an offensive tackle. Germain Ifedi and Jason Spriggs are the most likely options based on everything we’ve covered that appears to be important to Seattle for the O-line. Size, length, tackle experience, unique traits, versatility, and explosive athleticism.

3. The four first round players I’m focusing on are Rankins (the pipe dream), Bullard, Spriggs and Ifedi. Rankins is such an explosive player (more on that in a bit) it’s almost certain he won’t be there at #26. If he is, run to the podium. Shon Coleman could also be in contention.

4. At #56 we’ll more or less know what they’re likely to do based on their first round decision. If they go defense at #26, expect them to take an offensive lineman in round two. If they take an O-liner, it seems likely they’ll add some kind of pass rusher with their second pick.

5. If it’s offense at #56, Connor McGovern could be their version of Mitch Morse. He’s the second most explosive lineman in the draft after Jason Spriggs, he has the tackle experience and he can play virtually any position on the line. Joe Haeg could be an alternative choice if they go offense in round two.

6. If they’re picking defense in the second round, Willie Henry has the DE-DT capability. He’s not far off Jonathan Bullard in some of the testing and ran a nice short shuttle. Kyler Fackrell is a DE/SAM who could be intriguing at #56 and Bronson Kaufusi’s size and agility makes him a unique talent. Charles Tapper and Ronald Blair III could also be options.

7. Could they take a wildcard in round two? Of course. Running back and wide receiver could be considered. They’ve drafted two receivers in the second round (Golden Tate, Paul Richardson) and one running back (Christine Michael) so they have previous here. Kenneth Dixon’s ball security is an issue but he’s their type. I’m not totally sold on Devontae Booker but he’ll go in the second or third. Braxton Miller could be a player they look at. They might even consider Tyler Ervin if his stock continues to rise.

8. In round three they’ll have options on the offensive line (possibly Joe Haeg, Joe Dahl) and running back (Ervin). There’s a general feeling in the league that the depth on the O-line and D-line drops after the third round. I still think Stanford receiver Devon Cajuste is primed to be a target possibly as early as round four. He’s extremely athletic for a big receiver, he run blocks very well, he maximises his targets in a run-first offense and is very close to Doug Baldwin.

Before we get into this weeks projection, I wanted to talk about four prospects I spent some extra time looking at today.

Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
Only listed at #26 on Daniel Jeremiah’s latest big board, Rankins is arguably the most explosive defensive player in the draft class. His combination of a 34.5 inch vertical, a 9-10 broad jump and 28 reps on the bench press at 299lbs is far superior to nearly every other defensive lineman available. He’s more explosive physically than Robert Nkemdiche.

When we put his numbers through TEF he had an incredible 3.52 grade. Even though TEF is set up to judge offensive linemen relating to Seattle’s physical ideal — it’s still a useful tool to see how the defensive tackles match up. Rankins’ score blitzes every O-liner in the draft other than Jason Spriggs. He is simply a lot more explosive than people realise.

In comparison, DeForest Buckner is a 3.33 in TEF and Jonathan Bullard is a 3.18. Rankins is going to be considerably more explosive than the vast majority of interior offensive linemen he’ll face at the next level. He’s a candidate to put up big time sack numbers and cause major disruption working at the three and five technique.

Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucky)
I made the mistake of reading too much into Spence’s disappointing 4.80 at the combine. Looking at the rest of his numbers there’s a lot to like. A 1.62 split, a 35-inch vertical, 25 reps on the bench press, a 10-1 in the broad jump and a 4.35 short shuttle. He has the quickness and change of direction to work the edge. These numbers prove he’s a great athlete — and his bench performance is good for his size.

The concern from Spence shouldn’t be that he underwhelmed at the combine. It should be his one-dimensional style (speed rush) and the character concerns that led to his departure from Ohio State. For those reasons there is a slight risk factor that could see him drop into the top half of round two. That still wouldn’t be a bad slot for a player who has essentially had to rebuild his career.

Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
Here are Bruce Irvin’s combine numbers compared to Kyler Fackrell’s:

Bruce Irvin
Height: 6-3
Weight: 245lbs
Vertical: 33.5 inches
Broad: 10-3
Bench press: 23 reps
10-yard: 1.58

Kyler Fackrell
Height: 6-5
Weight: 245lbs
Vertical: 34.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench press: 15 reps
10-yard: 1.62

There’s virtually nothing between the two players.

An argument can be made for a SAM/DE not being a priority for the Seahawks. They can start a mix of Mike Morgan and Cassius Marsh in that role if required — plus Eric Pinkins may also challenge.

Yet there’s also an argument to be made for adding Fackrell. He’s very similar to Bruce Irvin and would be able to do, essentially, the exact same job. It’d be a like-for-like replacement.

Both John Schneider and Pete Carroll have talked about their desire to add someone to the defense who forces turnovers. That could very easily mean a DE-DT type who can work inside on third down. Yet if Sheldon Rankins and Jonathan Bullard are unavailable at #26 (not terribly unlikely) the Seahawks are going to struggle to find that type of player. Willie Henry, a possibility in round two, also might not make it to #56.

In that scenario — Fackrell makes a nice alternative. He’s a splash play artist who impacts the quarterback. His flawless character and passion for the game are also appealing. The Seahawks might prefer to add a DE-DT but if they can’t — Fackrell’s combination of size, length, athleticism, character and impact could make him Seattle’s pick at #56.

A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
Everyone’s heard about Robinson’s upside and potential. Daniel Jeremiah, who considers Robinson the 17th best player in the draft, states:

“He has outstanding height, bulk and athleticism for the position. As a pass rusher, he flashes an explosive first step as well as an effective slap/swim move. Overall, Robinson has all of the tools to be a dominant three-down presence but he hasn’t put it all together yet. His best football is ahead of him.”

When I watched tape of Robinson I thought he was distinctly average. No explosion, minimal impact, very few splash plays let alone sacks. He was too easily blocked and didn’t play with any great strength, power, quickness or intensity. He just looked good aesthetically. By that I mean he carries 307lbs very well. He doesn’t have a sloppy frame — he’s chiselled.

I suspect appearances in this instance are deceptive. He looks like he should be very athletic. The truth is completely the opposite — and backs up the disappointing tape. Robinson’s best football isn’t likely ahead of him.

Vertical: 26 inches
Broad: 8-10
10-yard: 1.79
Three cone: 7.80
Short shuttle: 4.74

I collected the data for all of the defensive linemen in this draft that weigh more than 285lbs and worked out the average for each test. Here are the results:

Vertical: 29.7 inches
Broad: 9-2
10-yard: 1.75
Three cone: 7.65
Short shuttle: 4.63

In relation to the defensive tackles or bigger DE’s in this draft class, Robinson tests below average in every single category.

He is thoroughly miscast as a player with upside who didn’t quite play his best ball at Alabama. His ceiling, physically, is pretty low. Robinson might prove to be an average defensive tackle at the next level who isn’t a liability and does a decent job defending the run. That’s all well and good, but he isn’t special.

Notes

Kyler Fackrell had his pro day today, we’re waiting for news on how he performed in the three cone and short shuttle. He did improve his bench press mark from 15 to 17.

Germain Ifedi also had his pro day today and went through drills with none other than Tom Cable. If Ifedi’s on the board at #26 he could be Seattle’s pick.

First round

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#3 San Diego — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#4 Dallas — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#5 Jacksonville — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#10 TRADE Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#11 Chicago — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#15 TRADE New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#19 Buffalo — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#20 New York Jets — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#21 Washington — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#24 Cincinatti — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 Seattle — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#29 Arizona — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#30 Carolina — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#31 Denver — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

Second round

#32 Cleveland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#33 Tennessee — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#34 Dallas — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#35 San Diego — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#36 Baltimore — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#37 San Francisco — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 Miami — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#39 Jacksonville — Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
#40 New York Giants — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#41 Chicago — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
#42 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucy)
#43 TRADE New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#44 Oakland — Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
#45 Los Angeles — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#46 Detroit — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#47 New Orleans — Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
#48 Indianapolis — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#49 Buffalo — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#50 Atlanta — Cody Whitehair (G, Kansas State)
#51 New York Jets — Travis Feeney (LB, Washington)
#52 Houston — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#53 Washington — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
#54 Minnesota — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#55 Cincinnati — Willie Henry (DT, Michigan)
#56 Seattle — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#57 Green Bay — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#58 Pittsburgh — Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#59 Kansas City — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#62 Denver — Hassan Ridgeway (DT, Texas)
#63 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)

 

How TEF helps explain the Justin Britt pick in 2014

April 5th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks took Justin Britt in the second round of the 2014 draft

John Schneider spoke to ESPN 710’s Brock and Salk show today. He had this to say about the offensive line class in the draft:

“It’s a good group. It’s better than it has been in several years. There doesn’t appear to be as many drop-offs, if you will. I remember talking to you guys about Justin Britt. We felt like we needed to take Justin right where we did because there was a huge shelf there, a big drop-off. This one looks pretty consistent all the way through at this point.”

Yesterday we revealed a new equation called the ‘Trench Explosion Formula’ (TEF). It combines a prospects vertical jump, broad jump and bench press to create a rating that directly compares to Seattle’s self-confessed ideals for the O-line.

The formula is explained in great detail here. It paints a pretty clear picture on Seattle’s O-line/draft philosophy.

The Seahawks have not drafted an offensive lineman since 2012 that has graded below their cumulative ideal using TEF. Justin Britt in 2014 had the lowest grade and even he scored a perfectly ideal 3.00 using the formula.

In yesterday’s piece I suggested the Seahawks reached for Britt because he was the last player on their board in the round 2-4 range that matched their physical ideal. Today we have the proof — and it backs up what Schneider told ESPN 710 today.

Only four offensive tackles were drafted between Seattle’s selection of Britt in round two and Garrett Scott, who they drafted in round six:

#64 Justin Britt 3.00
#66 Morgan Moses: 2.69
#67 Billy Turner: 2.83
#140 Cameron Fleming: 2.45
#149 Kevin Pamphile: 2.96
#199 Garrett Scott: 3.27

Remember, anything at 3.00 or above matches Seattle’s cumulative ideal for explosive offensive linemen. They haven’t drafted any player with a sub-3.00 since 2012.

This 2014 sample doesn’t look at all like a coincidence. The Seahawks were willing to reach for Britt because he matched their performance ideals in the explosive tests (vertical, broad, jump). No other offensive linemen available at the end of the second round got close to that level.

If nothing else, it proves we’re onto something with our new formula.

Ultimately, had they missed out on Britt — there’s a very strong chance they wouldn’t have drafted a tackle in 2014 until Scott in round six. They had a gaping hole at right tackle and needed to get one.

Reaching for Britt looks like a classic example of what Pete Carroll often refers to. They draft for their team — not everyone else in the NFL. The Seahawks clearly want explosive offensive linemen and they have a standard they appear to be sticking to. TEF shows Britt was explosive in comparison to Seattle’s self-confessed ideal. Moses, Turner, Fleming and Pamphile were not.

When Schneider talks about a ‘big shelf’ in 2014 and how this draft is different — it likely means they can add guys who fit their proposed criteria without needing to panic and fear missing out altogether.

In the first round they can consider the likes of Jason Spriggs and potentially Germain Ifedi and Shon Coleman. Later on they’ll have the option to target Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg, Joe Dahl and Alex Redmond. They should be able to draft two players they really like in rounds 1-4, without ever feeling like they have to reach.

We talked more about TEF in this weeks podcast. Don’t forget to check it out:

 

Introducing: The Trench Explosion Formula (TEF)

April 4th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Jason Spriggs attempts the vertical jump at the combine

Last week we looked at a basic formula devised by Pat Kirwan to determine explosion and athleticism. Kirawn, who is close to Pete Carroll, added a players broad jump, vertical and bench press statistic together to create an overall ‘explosion’ score.

For example:

Jason Spriggs
Vertical: 35
Broad: 9.7
Bench: 31
Overall score: 75.7

Anything over 70 was considered explosive.

The problem with the formula is it diminishes the broad jump. If you jump a 9-7 like Spriggs you’re only 0.6 points better off than a prospect that jumps a 9-1.

Spriggs’ score with a 9-7 broad jump: 75.7

Spriggs’ score with a 9-1 broad jump: 75.1

Clearly the broad jump is disproportionately represented.

We needed to create a new formula that shows greater value to the broad. This is especially important because as we noted last week — the Seahawks appear to place an extra special emphasis on the broad jump when drafting offensive linemen.

Here’s how BodyBuilding.com describes the test and how it compares to the vertical jump:

“The broad jump expresses horizontal power, which is more specific to football motions than vertical power. Vertical power helps you go up for a ball, bat down passes or hurdle defenders; horizontal power helps you cover the full 5300 square yards of the ironed grid. A pure acceleration step expresses horizontal power.”

Tom Cable admitted a year ago that the ideal athletic profile for a Seahawks offensive lineman is as follows:

Vertical: 31 inches
Broad: 9-0
Bench: 27 reps

I refer to this ideal as ’31 — 9 — 27′.

We can use the following calculation to compare any offensive lineman to Cable’s ideal:

1. Vertical ÷ 31
2. Broad ÷ 9, then cube the result
3. Bench ÷ 27
4. Add the results together

I cubed the broad jump to give it greater emphasis. This is explained later in the piece.

Here’s what the ideal (31 — 9 — 27) would look like using this formula:

1. Vertical: 31 ÷ 31 = 1
2. Broad: 9 ÷ 9 = 1, cubed = 1
3. Bench: 27 ÷ 27 = 1
4. Added together the ideal score is 3.00

What is the benefit of the formula?

1. It provides leeway. If a prospect scores a slightly less than ideal score in the vertical jump, they can still achieve a +3.00 if they excel in the broad jump and/or bench press. A really explosive broad jumper who doesn’t quite bench 27 reps isn’t being severely critiqued for missing the ideal in one test.

2. We’re comparing a prospect to the self-confessed ideal of Seattle’s offensive line coach. Rather than just adding up a set of numbers, the grade is directly relevant to the Seahawks.

Why cube the broad jump score?

Let’s use Jason Spriggs’ score to highlight why this is important:

1. Vertical: 35 ÷ 31 = 1.13
2. Broad: 9.7 ÷ 9 = 1.1
3. Broad cubed = 1.26
4. Bench: 31 ÷ 27 = 1.15
5. Added together Spriggs’ score is 3.54

Spriggs’ 9-7 in the broad jump is arguably more impressive than his 35 inch vertical or his 31 reps on the bench press. Without cubing his 1.1 score in the broad it would actually be marked as his weakest test. Instead it is correctly highlighted as his best work.

This is significant given Seattle’s clear interest in explosive measurements in the broad jump.

Does the formula have a name?

It tests the explosive physicality of players competing in the trenches. Let’s go with the ‘Trench Explosion Formula’ or ‘TEF’ for short.

How does every Seahawks offensive lineman drafted since 2012 score?

Here’s the first revealing bit. Every single player tested at or beyond Seattle’s ideal of 3.00:

Mark Glowinski: 3.34
Terry Poole: 3.12
Kristjan Sokoli: 3.75
Justin Britt: 3.00
Garrett Scott: 3.27
Ryan Seymour: 3.10
Jared Smith: 3.35
J.R. Sweezy: 3.13
Gary Gilliam (UDFA): 3.09

Only Glowinski, Sokoli and Smith actually achieved Cable’s ideal of 31 — 9 — 27 in all three tests (vertical, broad, bench). Yet when we put every prospect into our new TEF formula, they all test cumulatively above the ideal.

Justin Britt, the weakest tester of the group, still scores a perfectly ideal 3.00. The formula also represents Kristjan Sokoli’s incredible athleticism (no player in the entire 2016 draft class comes close to Sokoli’s 3.75).

We have no way of knowing for sure — but it might be that while the Seahawks are willing to concede a lower than ideal 31 inch measurement in the vertical jump or a few reps below 27 in the bench — they might insist on a cumulative ideal of the three key tests plus at least a 9″ broad jump.

So what about the 2016 class of offensive linemen?

When I put every offensive lineman through the formula, only six players hit the ideal mark of 3.00:

Jason Spriggs: 3.54
Connor McGovern: 3.29
Alex Redmond: 3.10
Joe Haeg: 3.06
Joe Dahl: 3.05
Joe Thuney: 3.04

Shon Coleman hasn’t performed the necessary tests due to injury and wasn’t included.

The defensive linemen in this class performed significantly better than the O-liners (we’ll come onto that in a moment). However, only two players (Sheldon Rankins, Dean Lowry) got close to Jason Spriggs’ score of 3.54.

Tony Pauline reported today that Spriggs is expected to go in the last third of the first round. He looks like a very realistic option for the Seahawks at #26 based on these findings.

With a growing discrepancy between offensive and defensive players in terms of athleticism — Spriggs is the offensive lineman best equipped to compete physically with the best defensive players in this draft and the league in general.

It’s not unrealistic that the Seahawks have a similar shortlist of only a handful of names. In 2014 the Seahawks ‘reached’ for little known Justin Britt in round two. People wondered why they made that pick — with the perception it was just down to Britt’s wrestling background and a healthy dose of Tom Cable admiration.

Britt scored an ideal 3.00. If the Seahawks in 2014 were working from a small target pool of 4-6 players that achieved their ideal explosive rating, Britt might’ve been the last prospect available they were willing to select. Put into this context, it arguably makes Seattle’s thought process much more understandable (even if you don’t agree with their philosophy to focus on explosive athleticism on the O-line).

What about the players grading below the ideal?

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 2.97
Germain Ifedi: 2.97
Brandon Shell: 2.91
Ryan Kelly: 2.84
Jake Brendel: 2.83
Joshua Garnett: 2.83
Christian Westerman: 2.82
Isaac Seumalo: 2.81
Tyler Johnstone: 2.81
Jack Conklin: 2.77
Le’Raven Clark: 2.74
Nick Martin: 2.67
Graham Glasgow: 2.66
Evan Boehm: 2.51
Taylor Decker: 2.50
Cody Whitehair: 2.47
Sebastien Tretola: 2.16

What stands out?

— While Cody Whitehair jumped a 9-2 in the broad, his weak efforts in the vertical and bench hammered his score. He is well beneath the physical standard of Seattle’s drafted offensive linemen since 2012.

— Taylor Decker is marginally better than Whitehair. His combination of tests were mediocre across the board and like Whitehair, it would be a major departure from their previous draft habits if they were to select him at #26 this year.

— Germain Ifedi didn’t hit the ideal mark because he managed 24 reps on the bench instead of the ideal 27. I suspect the Seahawks would be completely satisfied with a score of 2.97 due to his size. Ifedi does have unusually long 36 inch arms which is probably worthy of the extra bench reps to get him to 3.00. He jumped a 32.5 inch vertical at 324lbs.

— Ryan Kelly and Jack Conklin, two big name prospects that are widely considered ‘athletic’ offensive linemen, both tested well below Seattle’s cumulative ideal for explosion. Only four defensive linemen at the combine tested worse than Kelly using our formula and only three worse than Conklin. The reality is neither player is that athletic compared to the players they’ll be competing against in the trenches — and they aren’t among the most athletic offensive linemen in this draft either.

Is size a factor?

It’s difficult to incorporate size into the equation. We know the Seahawks have certain physical ideals at other positions. They haven’t drafted an outside cornerback, for example, with sub-32 inch arms.

Equally they haven’t drafted an offensive lineman under Carroll and Schneider with sub-33 inch arms. That could equally be an important marker. Of the six names above who scored higher than 3.00 — only Joe Thuney has sub-33 inch arms (32 1/4 inches). That could rule him out.

If a prospect has unnatural size and length (Germain Ifedi) that could also factor in if they fall just short of the 3.00 ideal.

What can we deduce from all of this?

We’ll find out later this month but of the combine attendees, the Seahawks might be picking only from the following offensive linemen:

Jason Spriggs
Connor McGovern
Alex Redmond
Joe Haeg
Joe Dahl
Germain Ifedi

Shon Coleman could be added to the list in the future, plus any pro-day/VMAC standouts that didn’t perform at the combine.

Is there a wildcard?

We know they like a defensive convert project. Michigan State’s Joel Heath is an ideal candidate at 6-5, 293lbs with 34.5 inch arms. He scored a 3.21 which would’ve put him third on the list of offensive linemen behind only Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern.

How do the defensive prospects compare?

It often gets said that the best athletes are choosing to play defense in college. This isn’t always easy to prove. People look at Jason Spriggs’ athletic profile and wonder how a prospect like Sheldon Rankins can even begin to compare.

After all, does this guy really look like one of the most explosive athletes in the 2016 draft?

Actually, that’s the perfect way to describe Rankins.

Yes he’s 6-1 and 300lbs. He also scored superbly in the three explosive tests. His score is a 3.52 — second only to Dean Lowry among defensive linemen and outscoring every offensive linemen apart from Jason Spriggs.

Rankins is much more explosive than Robert Nkemdiche, Shawn Oakman and Emmanuel Ogbah. Looks, in this case, can be deceiving. This is why he is without a shadow of a doubt going in the top-15. This formula gives us evidence to argue that case now.

But what about the defensive group overall?

Six offensive linemen reached Seattle’s ideal explosive score of 3.00 using TEF.

Twenty-six defensive linemen scored 3.00 or higher.

Twenty-six.

That’s even without the likes of Kevin Dodd completing the necessary tests.

If you were sceptical about those league-wide concerns about overmatched college offensive linemen — here’s the proof you were waiting for. This is also the argument for the Seahawks focusing on explosion and upside when drafting their offensive lineman.

Defensive line grades using TEF

Dean Lowry: 3.54
Sheldon Rankins: 3.52
Robert Nkemdiche: 3.47
Noah Spence: 3.46
Yannick Ngakoue: 3.44
Shaq Lawson: 3.43
Shawn Oakman: 3.36
Ronald Blair III: 3.35
DeForest Buckner: 3.33
Javon Hargrave: 3.33
Charles Tapper: 3.32
Lawrence Thomas: 3.32
Joey Bosa: 3.29
Emmanuel Ogbah: 3.29
Romeo Okwara: 3.28
Matt Judon: 3.27
Connor Wujciak: 3.25
Shalique Calhoun: 3.24
Andrew Billings: 3.23
Joel Heath: 3.21
Jason Fanaika: 3.19
Jonathan Bullard: 3.18
Hassan Ridgeway: 3.11
Matt Ioannidis: 3.09
Willie Henry: 3.08
Anthony Zettel: 3.05
Bronson Kaufusi: 2.98
Giorgio Newberry: 2.93
Carl Nassib: 2.92
Maliek Collins: 2.91
James Cowser: 2.89
Kenny Clark: 2.86
Vernon Butler: 2.85
Kamalei Correa: 2.84
Sterling Bailey: 2.79
Chris Jones: 2.75
A’Shawn Robinson: 2.65
Sheldon Day: 2.62
Austin Johnson: 2.55

For comparisons sake, J.J. Watt is a 3.82. Which is hardly surprising.

What stands out?

— Is this an important test for defensive linemen and the Seahawks? Maybe. Jordan Hill scored a 3.10 when I put his numbers through TEF. Seattle spent a third round pick on Hill — their biggest investment on a defensive tackle so far under Carroll and Schneider.

— They also seem to value the short shuttle at defensive tackle. Their two highest picks at DT (Hill, Jaye Howard) both tested very well specifically in the shuttle.

— Jonathan Bullard tests well — but he’s not on Sheldon Rankins’ level of freaky athleticism. Bullard is a good athlete but not exceptional in terms of explosion compared to the overall D-line class. The options at #56 (Willie Henry? Hassan Ridgeway?) are comparable using TEF. It’s also worth noting Bullard has value elsewhere — he plays with great gap control (vital in Seattle), grit and he had a good 10-yard split (1.66). He also has tremendous character. You still have to ask whether he’s truly special enough for the Seahawks in round one? He might be — but it’s a no-brainer with Rankins.

— Ronald Blair III, according to the TEF formula, tested better than DeForest Buckner and several others. His 3.35 is 0.17 above Jonathan Bullard and 0.17 below Sheldon Rankins. All three play DE-DT and Blair III exactly splits the two big name prospects. He also ran a 4.53 in the short shuttle — 0.02 seconds slower than Jordan Hill. That said, his 10-yard split is only OK (1.75) and his three cone was poor (7.95). He’s explosive but doesn’t appear to have great short-area quickness bizarrely.

— A’Shawn Robinson has been mocked to the Seahawks on several occasions by the national media and is often praised for his athletic upside and potential. He not only scored very poorly compared to his defensive line peers, he’s also less explosive than nearly all of the offensive linemen. This vindicates the distinctly average tape we saw at Alabama. He’s not an explosive player.

— The Seahawks seem unlikely to draft a run-stuffer or one-technique early in the draft. I suspect the testing of players like Kenny Clark and Austin Johnson using this formula likely rules them out in the first two rounds. There are more explosive options available elsewhere.

— Bronson Kaufusi’s rare agility is freaky and unique. He’s 6-6, 285lbs and ran a 4.25 in the short shuttle which is incredible. His 2.98, however, doesn’t really indicate either way how well he fits as a DE-DT. If he was a 3.20 — watch out NFL.

Here are some of the best combinations of TEF + agility. Most prospects seems to have a flaw — such as Blair III’s three cone of Shilique Calhoun’s 10-yard split.

Ronald Blair III
TEF: 3.35
Short shuttle: 4.53
Three cone: 7.95
10-yard: 1.75

Jonathan Bullard
TEF: 3.18
Short shuttle: 4.56
Three cone: 7.31
10-yard: 1.66

Joey Bosa
TEF: 3.29
Short shuttle: 4.21
Three cone: 6.89
10-yard: 1.69

DeForest Buckner
TEF: 3.33
Short shuttle: 4.47
Three cone: 7.51
10-yard: 1.77

Shilique Calhoun
TEF: 3.24
Short shuttle: 4.25
Three cone: 6.97
10-yard: 1.77

Jason Fanaika
TEF: 3.19
Short shuttle: 4.39
Three cone: 7.06
10-yard: 1.68

Willie Henry
TEF: 3.08
Short shuttle: 4.53
Three cone: 7.57
10-yard: 1.75

Matt Judon
TEF: 3.27
Short shuttle: 4.52
Three cone: 7.67
10-yard: 1.66

Shaq Lawson
TEF: 3.43
Short shuttle: 4.21
Three cone: 7.16
10-yard: 1.64

Dean Lowry
TEF: 3.54
Short shuttle: 4.38
Three cone: 7.26
10-yard: 1.70

Noah Spence
TEF: 3.46
Short shuttle: 4.35
Three cone: 7.21
10-yard: 1.62

What does all this tell us about Seattle’s potential draft plans?

— The most likely offensive tackles to be drafted at #26 could be Jason Spriggs and Germain Ifedi. We might be able to add Shon Coleman to the list.

— The Seahawks would probably love Sheldon Rankins to fall (but he won’t).

— Is Jonathan Bullard special enough to warrant a first round pick when there are comparable players in terms of explosion available beyond round one?

— Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg and Joe Dahl could be possible targets in rounds 2-3 for the offensive line.

— Willie Henry could be interesting to Seattle — and he’s close to Frank Clark (if that means anything).

— Keep an eye on Joel Heath as the next possible D-line to O-line convert on day three.

 

Explosion scores and ideal measurables on the O-line

April 1st, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Jason Spriggs is one of only two ‘explosive’ offensive linemen in the 2016 draft

I want to put a bow on this weeks discussion on O-line measurables. Yesterday’s evidence clearly suggests the Seahawks put a lot of draft focus on the broad jump when looking for offensive linemen. Can we take it a step further?

Pat Kirwan, who is close to Pete Carroll, discusses a way of calculating explosive athleticm in this article:

Every time a ball is snapped to start a play there is a critical element of explosiveness that takes place. When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation. It could be a blocker vs. a tackler, a tackler vs. a ball carrier, or many other examples of winning at the point of contact.

Explosiveness is defined in the dictionary as a violent release of energy, a sudden outburst. Football is a series of explosions. How do you measure it in athletes trying to play NFL football?

Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness.

Kirwan’s formula is flawed because it diminishes the impact of the broad jump. A superb 9-7 only achieves a 1.2 point advantage of a below par 8-5. That said, the data still provides an interesting comparison between the previously drafted Seahawks linemen and this years class.

This piece by Davis Hsu and Danny Kelly also offered some interesting quotes by Tom Cable:

“The really cool thing about this group: All of them are broad jumpers of 9-feet or more, they all vertical over 31-inches, they all can lift 27-plus, and they all can change direction the right way.”

Softy pressed him, “You mention 31, nine, and 27-plus, is that kind of the barometer for you? Do you have a set of numbers that you say, okay, if i were to create an offensive lineman from clay, these are the numbers in the broad jump, the vertical leap, the bench press that I’m looking for. Are those the numbers that you’re looking for — the ones you just quoted?”

“Yeah,” replied Cable.

I went back to have a look at the O-liners drafted by Seattle since 2012 to confirm how they performed in the vertical, broad and bench press. You’ll find the information below, plus Kirwan’s (and possibly Carroll’s) ‘explosion’ number in brackets after the players name:

Mark Glowinski (71.5)
VJ 31 BJ 9-5 BP 31

Terry Poole (65.5)
VJ 31 BJ 9-5 BP 25

Kristjan Sokoli (79)
VJ 38 BJ 9-11 BP 31

Justin Britt (64.8)
VJ 29.5 BJ 9-3 BP 26

Garrett Scott (68.2)
VJ 33.5 BJ 9-7 BP 25

Ryan Seymour (68.2)
VJ 29 BJ 9-2 BP 30

Jared Smith (70.2)
VJ 32.5 BJ 9-7 BP 28

J.R. Sweezy (66.5)
VJ 36 BJ 9-5 BP 21

Garry Gilliam UDFA (63.7)
VJ 35 BJ 9-7 BP 19

Of this group, only Glowinski, Sokoli and Smith actually qualify for the 31 — 9 — 27 discussed by Cable. The same three players are the only ones to top Kirwan’s ‘explosive’ marker of 70 points.

This would tend to suggest that as long as you perform well in the broad (the greatest test of an athletes explosion) they’re willing to make concessions elsewhere.

Let’s now review the 2016 class (I’ve only included the prospects that achieved Seattle’s +9-foot marker in the broad jump):

Jason Spriggs (75.7)
VJ 35 BJ 9-7 BP 31

Halapoulivaati Vaitai (61.5)
VJ 29 BJ 9-5 BP 23

Brandon Shell (61.9)
VJ 30.5 BJ 9-4 BP 22

Joe Haeg (incomplete)
VJ 30 BJ 9-3 BP DNP

Alex Redmond (67.3)
VJ 28 BJ 9-3 BP 30

Joe Thuney (65.8)
VJ 28.5 BJ 9-3 BP 28

Cody Whitehair (50.7)
VJ 25.5 BJ 9-2 BP 16

Germain Ifedi (65.6)
VJ 32.5 BJ 9-1 BP 24

Joe Dahl (68.1)
VJ 31 BJ 9-1 BP 28

Connor McGovern (75.1)
VJ 33 BJ 9-1 BP 33

Jake Brendel (62)
VJ 28 BJ 9-0 BP 25

Joel Heath (68.5)
VJ 33 BJ 9-5 BP 26

Of this group, only Jason Spriggs, Joe Dahl and Connor McGovern hit the 31 — 9 — 27 mark discussed by Cable. Spriggs and McGovern are the only two ‘explosive’ linemen according to Kirwan’s formula.

The Seahawks haven’t stuck stringently to those two marks in the way they have with a +9-foot broad jump. 31 — 9 — 27 seems like more of an ideal than a prerequisite.

Justin Murray, who reportedly visited the VMAC this week, had a 29.5 inch vertical, a 9-8 in the broad jump and 20 reps on the bench press at his pro-day. That only creates a 59.3 explosion score.

Broad jump >>>>> everything else

We can still decipher some information from this data:

— Cody Whitehair’s explosion score is significantly lower than any of Seattle’s drafted linemen since 2012. That and the fact Carroll and Schneider have never drafted an offensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms suggests he might be an unlikely fit at #26.

— Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Brandon Shell and Jake Brendel also scored significantly lower than the least explosive lineman Seattle has drafted since 2012 (Justin Britt).

— Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern tick every single box. Length, tackle experience, broad jump, 31 — 9 — 27 and explosion score.

— Joe Dahl’s explosion score is similar to Garrett Scott’s, who the Seahawks really liked. He also qualifies under 31 — 9 — 27. The only thing he lacks is a +70 explosion score and he’s pretty close at 68.1. Based on this information there is every chance he will be high on Seattle’s wish list alongside Spriggs and McGovern.

— Germain Ifedi is three bench reps short of qualifying under 31 — 9 — 27. Considering his 36 inch arms, the Seahawks are probably willing to let that fly. His explosion score is 65.6 but being able to jump a 32.5 inch vertical and record a 9-1 in the broad at 6-6 and 324lbs is likely to be explosive enough for any team.

— Joe Haeg didn’t do the bench press at the combine or his pro-day. Barring a surprise performance similar to Cody Whitehair’s 16 reps, there’s no reason to discount him from any projected Seahawks target list.

— Le’Raven Clark and Shon Coleman are yet to test fully due to injury. They are candidates to both test explosively and come close to Cable’s ideal physical profile.

— Joel Heath, a player we’ve discussed as a potential D-line to O-line convert, had a 33 inch vertical, a 9-5 in the broad jump and recorded 26 reps on the bench press. That’s pretty close to the 31 — 9 — 27. He has a 68.5 explosion score — third only to Spriggs and McGovern.

Since 2012 the Seahawks have not selected any of the 15 best O-line performers in the short shuttle or three cone at the combine. It’s worth noting, however, that Spriggs (4.44) and Haeg (4.47) both tested well in the short shuttle.

We’ll find out how accurate this data is in a few weeks. At the moment, it’s not unfair to consider the Seahawks will draft from the following offensive linemen:

Jason Spriggs (Indiana)
Germain Ifedi (Texas A&M)
Connor McGovern (Missouri)
Joe Dahl (Washington State)
Joe Haeg (North Dakota State)

Le’Raven Clark (Texas Tech) and Shon Coleman (Auburn) could also be on the list depending on how they eventually test. Likewise Joel Heath (Michigan State) if they see him as the latest defense-to-offense convert.

As it happens, Spriggs and Ifedi are being largely projected in the last third of the first round and McGovern, Haeg and Dahl anywhere from rounds 2-4.

Clark and Coleman are also candidates to go in the late first.

If the Seahawks wanted to draft two offensive linemen early, they could probably achieve it with this group even if they chose not to spend their first round pick on the O-line.

I want to finish by reaffirming why this data is important. None of this information is a catalyst for NFL success. The reason why we’re focusing on it — and why the Seahawks appear to put a lot of stock in it — is the growing discrepancy between defensive and offensive athletes.

This is highlighted by the fact that Jason Spriggs had the best broad jump by an offensive lineman at the 2016 combine with a 9-7. Fifteen defensive line prospects beat that mark.

The entire NFL is struggling to find good offensive linemen. It’s an easy physical calculation to think if you put a guy on the field who broad jumps a 9-10 at 300lbs (Sheldon Rankins) against a player who broad jumps 8-0 (Evan Boehm) there’s going to be a problem. One player is significantly more explosive than the other.

Sheldon Rankins’ explosion number is 72.5. That is superior to any offensive lineman in the draft apart from Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern. At least Rankins vs Spriggs/McGovern would be a fair fight. Boehm’s explosion number is only 60.5.

It comes back to Pat Kirwan’s quote from earlier in the piece:

When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation.

Considering the way college offensive lines are used these days — Tom Cable and other coaches have complained that they are having to virtually train rookies from scratch with only a few exceptions. If that is the case, it’s not unfair for a team to consider the following — why not coach up the player who is at least physically comparable to the defensive lineman standing on the other side of the LOS?

And the NFL’s top offensive linemen — how do they test?

Joe Thomas, Andrew Whitworth, Joe Staley, Tyron Smith, Trent Williams, Terron Armstead, Jason Peters, Ryan Clady, Taylor Lewan, Lane Johnson. They all had a +9″ broad jump.

Meanwhile the Seahawks have announced the re-signing of Chris Clemons. This adds another rotational piece to the D-line and increases the likelihood the Seahawks won’t take a pure edge rusher with their top two picks. They already have Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark and Chris Clemons to rotate.

It probably increases the chances that they’ll focus on offensive linemen, adding a DE-DT hybrid, defensive tackles and SAM/DE hybrids in the early rounds.

 

The broad jump seems to be important in Seattle

March 31st, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

The most important test for any prospective Seahawks lineman?

When the Seahawks consider which offensive linemen to draft, the broad jump is the single most important test they consider.

Allow me to present the evidence.

Before we start, here’s how BodyBuilding.com describes the test and how it compares to the vertical jump:

“The broad jump expresses horizontal power, which is more specific to football motions than vertical power. Vertical power helps you go up for a ball, bat down passes or hurdle defenders; horizontal power helps you cover the full 5300 square yards of the ironed grid. A pure acceleration step expresses horizontal power.”

Since 2012, the Seahawks have not drafted a single offensive lineman that has jumped less than a nine-foot broad jump:

Mark Glowinski — 9-5
Terry Poole — 9-5
Kristjan Sokoli — 9-11
Justin Britt — 9-3
Garrett Scott — 9-7
Ryan Seymour — 9-2
Jared Smith — 9-7
J.R. Sweezy — 9-5

Glowinski and Poole ranked joint first among offensive linemen at last years combine in the broad.

Garry Gilliam, an undrafted free agent and now possible starter at left tackle, also jumped a 9-5.

Alternatively, since 2012 the Seahawks have not selected any of the 15 best O-line performers in the short shuttle or three cone at the combine.

It doesn’t look like a coincidence.

For the Seahawks’ O-line: Explosion >>> Agility

The selection of Justin Britt in 2014 was a surprise because he wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a second round pick. The Seahawks, seemingly enamoured with upside and athleticism, took a player who ran an 8.14 in the three cone and had a 4.69 short shuttle — both terribly mediocre results.

For that reason it was assumed Britt was merely a ‘Tom Cable guy’. A prospect Cable simply liked irrespective of any athletic profile.

This likely wasn’t the case at all. Britt performed well in the one test that seemingly really matters — the broad jump. He recorded a 9-3 at his pro-day.

It was revealed this week that Cincinnati offensive tackle Justin Murray has visited the VMAC for a private workout. He managed a 9-8 broad jump at his pro-day. That would’ve ranked #1 at the combine this year.

Like Britt, Murray basically performed really well in only one test. He had a tremendous broad jump but performed poorly in the short shuttle and three cone:

Justin Britt
Broad: 9-3
Three cone: 8.14
Short shuttle: 4.69
Vertical: 27.5 inches

Justin Murray
Broad: 9-8
Three cone: 8.01
Short shuttle: 4.79
Vertical: 29.5 inches

If you ever wondered why the Seahawks zoned in on Glowinski, Poole and Britt — the broad jump gives you an answer.

So what is the likely reasoning for their focus on one particularly explosive test?

Jason Spriggs had the best broad jump by an offensive lineman at the 2016 combine with a 9-7. Fifteen defensive line prospects beat that mark. Fifteen.

It’s another key example of the athletic discrepancy between the defensive and offensive prospects entering the NFL. Sheldon Rankins and Jonathan Bullard — two big DE-DT hybrids — jumped a 9-10 and a 9-8 respectively. Both beat Spriggs’ mark.

If you want to know why the Seahawks focus on measurables — and ultimately why we spend a lot of time talking about them — there’s your answer. If you’re expecting a guy who only jumps an 8-0 like Evan Boehm to play center against a defensive lineman who explodes to the tune of a 9-10 in the broad — you might have a problem.

So much of the O-line battle is based on that first-step explosion and power. Moving people off the LOS with a sudden, explosive movement is key (especially if you want to run the ball effectively as the Seahawks do). The broad jump is a good test of a players ability to do that. Agility is a nice bonus — but if you can’t move people off the line, what difference does it make?

This is likely why the Seahawks are keeping Kristjan Sokoli at center — with his 9-11 broad jump. Sokoli’s mark for an offensive lineman is outstanding. In reality, he’s only as explosive as Sheldon Rankins.

Unfortunately there are barely any O-liners in college who can say that. And that’s why the Seahawks are looking at defensive converts.

So considering the Seahawks have consistently drafted good broad jumpers since 2012 and have not prioritised the best performers in the agility tests — what does it tell us about the 2016 class?

As we noted, the Seahawks haven’t drafted anyone with a sub 9-0 broad since 2012. Here are the players that beat that mark at the 2016 combine:

Jason Spriggs — 9-7
Halapoulivaati Vaitai — 9-5
Brandon Shell — 9-4
Joe Haeg — 9-3
Alex Redmond — 9-3
Joe Thuney — 9-3
Cody Whitehair — 9-2
Germain Ifedi — 9-1
Joe Dahl — 9-1
Connor McGovern — 9-1
Jake Brendel — 9-0

It’s worth taking into account size with these numbers. Germain Ifedi jumped his 9-1 at 324lbs. Alex Redmond is 294lbs, Joe Thuney 304lbs and Jake Brendel 303lbs.

Le’Raven Clark recorded a 9-1 in the broad at his pro-day. Shon Coleman has not performed any tests so far due to injury.

Here’s a list of ‘big names’ that failed to crack 9-0 in the broad jump (the full list would be much longer):

Jack Conklin — 8-7
Ryan Kelly — 8-7
Taylor Decker — 8-5
Jack Allen — 8-5
Joshua Garnett — 8-3
Christian Westerman — 8-2
Nick Martin — 8-1
Evan Boehm — 8-0
Sebastien Tretola — 7-6

I’m not prepared to state firmly that the Seahawks won’t draft Conklin, Kelly and Decker in round one based on one test. Yet Seattle’s recent draft history would seem to indicate that could be the case.

Spriggs, Ifedi, Whitehair and Clark might be the most likely O-line targets at #26. That’s with the caveat that Carroll and Schneider haven’t drafted an offensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms (Whitehair would be the first).

Haeg, Dahl, McGovern and Thuney could be potential targets in rounds 2-3.

We can probably forget about Martin, Garnett, Allen, Boehm, Tretola and Westerman.

It also means a prospect like Justin Murray, with his explosive 9-8 broad jump, could be preferred on day three to some of the bigger name prospects in rounds 1-3. Keep an eye on any future VMAC visitors and how they performed in the broad.

 

What measurables tell us about the Seahawks in the trenches

March 30th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Kyler Fackrell’s identical twin

Here’s an interesting note. Yesterday we mocked Kyler Fackrell to the Seahawks in round two. Look at this comparison with Obum Gwacham, drafted by the Seahawks a year ago seemingly as a Bruce Irvin hedge:

Kyler Fackrell measurables
Height: 6-5
Weight: 245lbs
40-yd: 4.72
10-yd: 1.62
Broad: 10-1

Obum Gwacham measurables
Height: 6-5
Weight: 246lbs
40-yd: 4.72
10-yd: 1.66
Broad: 10-1

The difference between the two is one pound in weight and Fackrell’s split is 0.04 seconds quicker. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re wondering whether Fackrell could be a target for the Seahawks.

By the way, the tape above is another exclusive video you won’t find anywhere else. Thanks to our man Justin P for some great work yet again.

They love freaky D-line athletes

Only two players have had a quicker short shuttle than Frank Clark at the combine since Pete Carroll joined the Seahawks in 2010 — Alex McCallister (2016) and Bruce Irvin (2012). Clark had the #1 short shuttle (4.05) in 2015 and the second best three cone (7.08). He also had an explosive 38.5 inch vertical — fifth best by a defensive lineman since 2010.

Basically, he is the definition of a NFL freak.

So how does Clark compare to arguably this years closest version — Emmanuel Ogbah? They are similar in size (6-3, 271bs vs 6-4, 273lbs). Ogbah’s 4.63 forty beats Clark’s 4.79 handsomely. Yet in the explosion and agility tests Clark is far better. Ogbah’s 35.5 inch is three inches shorter, his three cone is 7.26 vs 7.08 and look at the difference in the short shuttle — 4.05 vs 4.50. That’s significant.

Nobody in this class gets close to Clark’s combination of size and agility. Shaq Lawson managed a 4.21 in the short shuttle and a 7.16 in the three cone. That, plus a reasonable 1.64 ten-yard split, is the likely reason some are projecting him as a top-15 pick.

Clark’s combination of freaky size and athleticism is exactly the type of thing the Seahawks have looked for in the early rounds. This was clearly evident in the two trades for Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham — plus the 2012 selection of Bruce Irvin.

Nobody in this class has that type of talent. So if you’re hoping to see an EDGE drafted early as opposed to a SAM/DE or a DE/DT, you might be disappointed. It might be one of the reasons they look instead to a guy like Fackrell or a DE base/DT nickel hybrid.

What about defensive tackles?

Looking at the best defensive tackle performers in the three cone between 2010-2014 provided some interesting results:

Nate Williams — 6.99
Fletcher Cox — 7.07
Brandon Bair — 7.07
Vaughn Meatoga — 7.10
Aaron Donald — 7.11
Nick Fairley — 7.14
Tyson Alualu — 7.15
Mike Martin — 7.19
Jared Smith — 7.20
Ndamukong Suh — 7.21
Jared Odrick — 7.22
Kerry Hyder — 7.23
Derek Wolfe — 7.26
Tydreke Powell — 7.31
Jaye Howard — 7.32
Gerald McCoy — 7.32
Geno Atkins — 7.33
Marvin Austin — 7.33
Billy Winn — 7.37
J.R. Sweezy — 7.40
Sharrif Floyd — 7.40

The Seahawks drafted three of this list and converted two of them to offensive linemen. It’s not overly surprising when you look at the top 2016 O-line performers in this test. Tyler Johnstone and Jake Brendel rank joint first with a 7.31. Cody Whitehair is at #3 with a 7.32.

Jared Smith, a D-line to O-line convert project, ran a 7.20. There’s the difference in athleticism between defense and offense that everybody talks about.

It’s why Justin Zimmer might be a candidate to be their latest convert — if they can see beyond his shorter arms. Zimmer reportedly ran a 7.01 at his pro-day. Joel Heath — another player we’ve discussed as a possible O-line convert, ran a 7.44 — very similar to J.R. Sweezy.

If the Seahawks place a premium on the agility tests (three cone, short shuttle) — Bronson Kaufusi’s 7.03 at 6-6 and 285lbs compares well to the top names listed above if you consider him a candidate to work inside and out. He also had an excellent 4.25 in the shuttle.

Jonathan Bullard ran the best three cone for a defensive tackle this year at 7.31 which is comparable to Gerald McCoy and Geno Atkins. Sheldon Rankins managed a 7.44.

Why the short shuttle is important at DT

I was asked recently about Jordan Hill’s athletic profile. Looking through the numbers today brought up an interesting statistic.

Hill ran a 4.51 in the short shuttle. Here are some comparisons from this years class:

DeForest Buckner: 4.47
Emmanuel Ogbah: 4.50
Jonathan Bullard: 4.56
Sheldon Rankins: 4.59
Kenny Clark: 4.62
Javon Hargrave: 4.70

Hill only managed a 22.5 inch vertical and a 5.23 forty. His excellent short shuttle, 33.5 inch arms and big hands were likely what convinced the Seahawks to spend a third round pick.

Jaye Howard probably isn’t considered a major athlete by fans either as they recall the fourth rounder spent on him back in 2012. He actually had a 4.47 short shuttle. Again, look how that compares to the top performers in this draft class.

It’s not a definitive review of what they look for in an interior pass rusher — but they haven’t drafted many interior rushers since Carroll took over. The two best examples we’ve got suggest the short shuttle is imperative.

There aren’t many good short shuttle times among this much hyped DT group. As intriguing as Javon Hargrave is based on tape — he had one of the poorer shuttle’s (4.70), he only has 32 inch arms and his mitts are an inch shorter than Hill’s.

That said, Hargrave’s vertical is 12 inches higher and he ran a much quicker forty.

Perhaps Hargrave’s explosive jump and sprint are as intriguing as Hill’s great short shuttle? That’s one possibility. The other is they really value those short shuttle times and zone in on short area quickness and agility. If that’s the case, they might be more likely to focus on Bullard (4.56), Willie Henry (4.53) and Ronald Blair III (4.53) to boost the interior line. All three can work the DE-DT position we’ve been talking about.

On the subject of DE-DT’s…

Cassius Marsh had the second best short shuttle in the 2014 draft (4.25) second only to Jackson Jeffcoat (4.18) who the Seahawks signed as an UDFA. Marsh’s 7.08 three cone ranked third, again just behind Jeffcoat. Marsh’s two agility tests were better than Aaron Donald’s and Jadeveon Clowney’s.

If you’re wondering why he’s a candidate to switch permanently to SAM linebacker — there’s your answer.

If Frank Clark and Bruce Irvin weren’t evidence enough of this team pining for freaky athleticism and agility — Marsh is another classic example.

What about the offensive line?

We talked recently about the possible importance of agility due to Russell Wilson’s willingness to improvise. Yet since Wilson was drafted in 2012 the Seahawks have not selected any of the 15 best O-line performers in the short shuttle or three cone at the combine.

Indeed, Justin Britt had lousy times in both tests (8.14 three cone, 4.69 short shuttle).

However, that doesn’t mean the Seahawks haven’t recently focused on greater mobility on the O-line.

Kristjan Sokoli — who the Seahawks converted from defense to center — ran a 7.25 three cone and a 4.36 short shuttle.

Garrett Scott — a 2014 draft pick — ran an excellent 7.09 in the three cone and a 4.40 in the short shuttle. He wasn’t invited to the combine.

Earlier we highlighted Jared Smith’s 7.20 in the three cone. He was another defense-to-offense project.

There’s a number of names on the list from last year that theoretically could’ve been targets for Seattle. Jake Fisher, Ali Marpet, Cameron Erving and Ty Sambrailo were off the board before Seattle’s pick. All four ranked in the top-five in the three cone in 2015. Mark Glowinski, who the Seahawks did draft, ranked sixth.

Even Terry Poole managed a 7.66 three cone which is similar to Jack Conklin and Joe Dahl.

Athleticism and mobility, based on the 2015 class, might be a greater focus. And if you believe they were interested in Marpet or Sambrailo — then you’ll be invested in the possibility of Cody Whitehair, Joe Haeg or Connor McGovern being options.

The knock on Whitehair is they haven’t drafted a single offensive lineman with sub 33-inch arms in the Carroll/Schneider era.

The broad jump might be the measurable they focus on more than most based on recent history. Since 2012, Mark Glowinski and Terry Poole rank in the overall top-15 among offensive lineman (both jumped a 9-5). In this years class only Jason Spriggs beat that with a 9-7.

Joe Haeg jumped a 9-3, Cody Whitehair a 9-2, while Germain Ifedi, Joe Dahl and Connor McGovern all jumped a 9-1. Whitehair (1.73), Haeg (1.75) and McGovern (1.72) also had good 10-yard splits for their size — with McGovern adding a massive 33 inch vertical.

It’s another tick in the box for some of these potential targets. At least a couple of these players might be playing in Seattle next season.

Texas Tech’s Le’Raven Clark hasn’t completed a three cone or short shuttle due to a hamstring injury. He could also be in the reckoning.

 

NFL mock draft (two rounds): 28th March

March 29th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Time to mix things up a bit.

This mock includes one trade. The Rams move from #15 to #10, giving the New York Giants the #43 pick and a late round selection in the process.

Round one

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#3 San Diego — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#4 Dallas — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#5 Jacksonville — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#10 TRADE Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)
#11 Chicago — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#15 TRADE New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#19 Buffalo — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#20 New York Jets — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)
#21 Washington — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#24 Cincinatti — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#29 Arizona — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#30 Carolina — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#31 Denver — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

Round two

#32 Cleveland — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#33 Tennessee — Cody Whitehair (G, Kansas State)
#34 Dallas — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#35 San Diego — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#36 Baltimore — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#37 San Francisco — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 Miami — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#39 Jacksonville — Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
#40 New York Giants — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#41 Chicago — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)
#42 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucy)
#43 TRADE New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#44 Oakland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#45 Los Angeles — Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
#46 Detroit — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#47 New Orleans —Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#48 Indianapolis — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#49 Buffalo — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#50 Atlanta — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#51 New York Jets — Travis Feeney (LB, Washington)
#52 Houston — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#53 Washington — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
#54 Minnesota — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#55 Cincinnati — Willie Henry (DT, Michigan)
#56 Seattle — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#57 Green Bay — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#58 Pittsburgh — Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
#59 Kansas City — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#62 Denver — Hassan Ridgeway (DT, Texas)
#63 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)

Let’s break the analysis down into 10-pick brackets:

#1 Tennessee — Laremy Tunsil (T, Ole Miss)
#2 Cleveland — Jaylen Ramsey (CB, Florida State)
#3 San Diego — Jared Goff (QB, California)
#4 Dallas — Myles Jack (LB, UCLA)
#5 Jacksonville — Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#6 Baltimore — DeForest Buckner (DE, Oregon)
#7 San Fran — Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
#8 Philadelphia — Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
#9 Tampa Bay — Vernon Hargreaves (CB, Florida)
#10 TRADE Los Angeles — Paxton Lynch (QB, Memphis)

RGIII provides the Browns with a holding starter if they want to draft a quarterback at #2. But what if they decide there isn’t a definite franchise quarterback in this draft? For a team that is probably 2-3 years away from realistically competing, collecting talent could be the order of the day. Hue Jackson will believe he can turn Griffin III into a viable starter for now and that could influence their decision here.

If they’re going to try and train a starter for the longer haul — perhaps they consider Cardale Jones at the top of round three?

It’s high time someone in the league took a page out of Green Bay’s book. Aaron Rodgers clearly benefitted from a spell sitting behind Brett Favre. Philip Rivers is 35 this year so planning for the next era at quarterback would be a smart move by the Chargers. They can compete with their existing quarterback while planning ahead.

In 2013 the Rams gave up essentially a second and seventh round pick to move from #16 to #8 for Tavon Austin. With two second round picks they might make a similar move here to secure a long term answer at quarterback. Chicago and New Orleans could be planning for the future at QB and might be surprise suitors for Paxton Lynch.

#11 Chicago — Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
#12 New Orleans — Sheldon Rankins (DT, Louisville)
#13 Miami — Darron Lee (LB, Ohio State)
#14 Oakland — Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
#15 TRADE New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame)
#16 Detroit — Reggie Ragland (LB, Alabama)
#17 Atlanta — Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
#18 Indianapolis — Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
#19 Buffalo — Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
#20 New York Jets — Mackensie Alexander (CB, Clemson)

No big shocks here. Conklin deserves to go this early as a legitimate top-15 prospect in the draft. He tested better than expected at the combine, he’s a self-made man and, for want of a better phrase, he plays with massive stones.

We’ve talked for months about the possibility that Ronnie Stanley might fall a bit. His reputation is a little bit bizarre. It’s hard to remove the memory of Stanley tackling Shaq Lawson from behind after a horrific attempt to block him. His three cone and short shuttle were horrendous at the combine.

#21 Washington — Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
#22 Houston — Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
#23 Minnesota — Shaq Lawson (DE, Clemson)
#24 Cincinatti — Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
#25 Pittsburgh — Keanu Neal (S, Florida)
#26 Seattle — Germain Ifedi (T, Texas A&M)
#27 Green Bay — Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
#28 Kansas City — William Jackson III (CB, Houston)
#29 Arizona — Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
#30 Carolina — Taylor Decker (T, Ohio State)
#31 Denver — Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama)

We know how Scot McCloughan builds his teams and Washington will soon start to resemble the Seahawks minus Russell Wilson. I can see McCloughan being really interested in Jonathan Bullard and Keanu Neal.

Neal has been invited to the draft — another indicator that he’ll go a lot earlier than most of the media are projecting. He’s a top-25 talent. Both Bullard and Neal are athletic, high character, intense football players. They want to be great — listen to their interviews. You can build around guys like this.

The Seahawks have a choice of either Germain Ifedi or Cody Whitehair. I stuck with Ifedi for now purely due to his freakish size. If you want to swap these guys around and put Whitehair at #26 — feel free. Both players would project to start at left guard and the Seahawks have favoured size in that role previously which is why I stuck with Ifedi. Whitehair is an intriguing alternative though, as we discussed on Sunday.

With Bullard and Sheldon Rankins off the board — it looks like a pretty easy decision for the Seahawks to go O-line at #26 in this scenario. Had either player been available I would’ve been extremely willing to project them to Seattle.

#32 Cleveland — Josh Doctson (WR, TCU)
#33 Tennessee — Cody Whitehair (G, Kansas State)
#34 Dallas — Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State)
#35 San Diego — Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana)
#36 Baltimore — Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
#37 San Francisco — Will Fuller (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 Miami — Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
#39 Jacksonville — Xavien Howard (CB, Baylor)
#40 New York Giants — A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
#41 Chicago — Chris Jones (DT, Mississippi State)

The Browns need a weapon at receiver with Josh Gordon’s career still in limbo. Doctson would provide a big catching radius and a reliable pair of hands. He’s certainly not A.J. Green but he could at least provide a similar safety net for RGIII and Hue Jackson.

If the Titans are going to commit to taking another offensive tackle at #1 — they might as well add the best guard in the draft too and go the whole hog. With Whitehair, Tunsil and Taylor Lewan they’d be challenging the Dallas Cowboys for pure O-line talent.

Jason Spriggs tested well at the combine but so did Jake Fisher a year ago. Spriggs isn’t a particularly fierce run blocker and he gets beat inside way too much for a guy with his length. He might last a bit longer than people expect.

Speaking of players who might fall — keep an eye on A’Shawn Robinson. He carries his weight well and looks the part of a solid NFL defensive lineman. On tape he just doesn’t make enough plays. Someone might buy into his frame, attitude and purported upside in round one. He could also drop into the 30’s.

#42 Tampa Bay — Noah Spence (DE, Eastern Kentucy)
#43 TRADE New York Giants — Sterling Shepard (WR, Oklahoma)
#44 Oakland — Karl Joseph (S, West Virginia)
#45 Los Angeles — Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
#46 Detroit — Le’Raven Clark (T, Texas Tech)
#47 New Orleans —Vernon Butler (DT, Louisiana Tech)
#48 Indianapolis — Nick Martin (C, Notre Dame)
#49 Buffalo — Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
#50 Atlanta — Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA)
#51 New York Jets — Travis Feeney (LB, Washington)

Noah Spence didn’t test as well as expected at the combine. As a smaller one-dimensional speed-rusher without elite quickness — how do you justify putting him in round one? A drop into round two is very possible.

Robert Nkemdiche has issues he needs to sort out before starting a career in pro football. We’re not talking about a one-off, isolated ‘college kids’ incident here. We’re talking about a back-catalogue of problems involving both Robert and his brother Denzel. Drugs, violence. He’s an even more serious case than Randy Gregory who dropped into round two last year. If anyone is going to take a chance, Jeff Fisher is probably the guy who will.

Travis Feeney’s shoulder injuries are concerning but players with his combination of speed, athleticism, production and versatility are snapped up quickly in the NFL. He is an ideal fit for the Jets — Todd Bowles likes to utilise a roaming linebacker/safety hybrid who can rush. Without the shoulder issues he could’ve risen like Deone Bucannon.

#52 Houston — Joshua Garnett (G, Stanford)
#53 Washington — Joshua Perry (LB, Ohio State)
#54 Minnesota — Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
#55 Cincinnati — Willie Henry (DT, Michigan)
#56 Seattle — Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State)
#57 Green Bay — Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburgh)
#58 Pittsburgh — Austin Johnson (DT, Penn State)
#59 Kansas City — Kamalei Correa (DE, Boise State)
#60 New England — Devontae Booker (RB, Utah)
#61 New England — Jihad Ward (DE, Illinois)
#62 Denver — Hassan Ridgeway (DT, Texas)
#63 Carolina — Kenneth Dixon (RB, Louisiana Tech)

Continuing with Washington’s theme of tough, athletic football players — Joshua Perry is an ideal fit. They use a 3-4 scheme and he can slot into the middle linebacker spot, make plays and lead that defense.

With several possible EDGE and DT prospects off the board before Seattle’s pick in round two — they instead opt for a rush-linebacker with great flexibility. Fackrell can line up at linebacker similar to Bruce Irvin and he can put his hand in the ground and attack the edge. They might prefer to add a DE-DT instead who can play base and nickel in the D-line — but they can’t fight the board here. Fackrell is a high-character splash-play specialist. He lives in the backfield and impacts the quarterback. He’s athletic and explosive. The Seahawks recently met with Shea McClellin before he signed with the Patriots. Fackrell would play a similar role in Seattle. He’s a playmaker with the character that fits this team. He’s underrated.

This is likely the range where we start to see some running backs coming off the board. Tyler Boyd just screams Green Bay — and we know they like to add receivers in round two. Austin Johnson’s all-action style and ability to play nose tackle, three-technique and D-end makes him an attractive second round option.

Whether they go O-line-D-line or vice versa with their first two picks, the Seahawks would have an opportunity to add a running back and another O-liner in round three. San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin continues to look like an attractive proposition and Darrell Bevell met with him during his pro-day. Joe Haeg, Connor McGovern, Evan Boehm and Joe Dahl are possible mid-round O-line targets. The defensive tackle depth is likely to extend into round four and beyond — it’s a deep class.

Considerations in rounds 1-2 (likely options only)

#26 — Jonathan Bullard, Germain Ifedi, Cody Whitehair, Le’Raven Clark, Ryan Kelly
#56 — Kyler Fackrell, Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg, Bronson Kaufusi, Kenny Clark

 

Looking at the ‘O-line in round three’ scenario

March 28th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Kyler Fackrell could be a target for the Seahawks

We’ve run through a lot of different topics recently and if you missed anything I wanted to do a quick recap here:

Why agility testing could provide answers for Seattle’s O-line draft intentions

Reviewing Bronson Kaufusi, Jonathan Bullard and Emmanuel Ogbah

The Seahawks are meeting with Jonathan Bullard, so what does this mean?

A seven round Seahawks mock draft

Tyler Ervin is a running back Seahawks fans need to monitor

Will the Seahawks focus on upgrading their interior O-line?

Yesterday we looked at how agility could play an important part in Seattle’s rebuilt O-line. With Russell Wilson’s improvisation skills — blocking on the move is vital. Agility is tested at the combine in the three cone and short shuttle.

It was suggested to me that the Seahawks also value explosion on their O-line (represented mainly by the 10-yard splits and broad jump). Of the players we highlighted, Joe Haeg had the fourth best broad jump at the combine, Cody Whitehair the sixth and Connor McGovern the eighth. Germain Ifedi and Joe Dahl also performed well in the broad jump. These players are agile and explosive.

There’s a very good chance the Seahawks will go O-line at #26 and we’ll look at why in a new mock draft this week. However, some people have suggested in the comments section that they could go defense in the first two rounds and actually wait until the third round to address the offensive line.

It’s unlikely — and I’ll explain why below. I still wanted to use today’s piece to look at this scenario.

Entitled first rounders
Whether you like it or not, Seattle’s O-line is set up to run the ball effectively first and foremost. There’s nothing finesse about the scheme or style of play. The Seahawks generally focus on grit and character in the draft — but it seems even more important when selecting offensive linemen.

The scheme is just so physically demanding. Much more so than many other teams in the league. It’s no surprise that on top of Russell Okung’s regular issues, James Carpenter, Max Unger and Breno Giacomini missed games through injury.

A certain attitude is required to play O-line for this team. It’s an attitude that perhaps doesn’t lend itself to a lot of pampered first round prospects. That’s not to say the Seahawks won’t spend an early pick on the O-line. In Tom Cable’s tenure they’ve already spent a first, second and third round pick on the line. It’s maybe telling though that they’re currently planning to start three undrafted free agents and a fourth round pick unless the rookies come in and win jobs immediately.

Perhaps Cable likes the mindset of a guy with something to prove? A player not earning millions — someone who maybe appreciates they don’t know everything already? Someone not only willing to be coached up — but someone also willing to do the hard graft this scheme requires?

Some first round prospects will have that attitude. Some won’t.

Options in round three
Yesterday we identified three solid options for the Seahawks that could be available in rounds 2-3. We can perhaps add one more name to the list.

Tony Pauline is currently projecting Joe Haeg in round three, Connor McGovern and Evan Boehm in round four and Joe Dahl in rounds 4-5. With the Seahawks picking at the end of each round, there’s a chance they’ll have to take these guys a little earlier than projected here.

Does Haeg make it to the end of the third? Do they take the two Missouri blockers? Do they consider Joe Dahl? All four players are versatile, tough, good in the run game and play with a spark. If the Seahawks want to add competition to the interior line with players that can also play tackle — this could be a way to do it in round three.

Defense wins Championships
Kip Earlywine brought the following information to my attention. Here’s how Football Outsiders ranked the offensive line performance of all the Super Bowl winners during the Pete Carroll era:

DEN: 17th run, 13th pass
NE: 5th run, 2nd pass
SEA: 9th run, 32nd pass
BAL: 6th run , 13th pass
NYG: 28th run, 6th pass
GB: 23rd run, 21st pass

Average: 14.8 run, 14.5 pass (league average is 16.5)

Now lets compare this to defense:

DEN: 1st
NE: 12th (Seattle was 1st)
SEA: 1st
BAL: 19th (SF was 3rd)
NYG: 19th
GB: 2nd

Average: 9.0

Pass defense:

DEN: 1st
NE: 12th (Seattle was 3rd)
SEA: 1st
BAL: 13th (SF was 6th)
NYG: 19th
GB: 1st

Average: 7.8

Kip’s information highlights a key factor. None of the Super Bowl winning teams in recent seasons fielded an elite performing offensive line. The Patriots’ stats in 2014 were undoubtedly more indicative of a top-tier passing game led by arguably the greatest quarterback to play the game.

Alternatively, it’s the teams playing great defense that have generally prospered. Even the Packers, impressively led by Aaron Rodgers in 2010, had the #2 ranked defense in the league and top ranked passing defense.

When you consider the two starting O-lines in this years Super Bowl, it further illustrates the importance of defense and not necessarily the offensive front. The four offensive tackles starting in Super Bowl 50 were Michael Oher, Mike Remmers, Ryan Harris and Michael Schofield.

How many of that quartet are emphatically better than Garry Gilliam and J’Marcus Webb?

That said — the Seahawks are still likely to want much greater O-line competition in camp than they had in 2015. The big question is whether they feel they can achieve that waiting until the 90th pick in the draft?

So after all of that, why is it unlikely to happen?
There’s no guarantee the players you want for the O-line will last until the back end of round three. Imagine if you take two defensive prospects in rounds 1-2 — and then your guys quickly leave the board. Is it really worth failing to address the O-line sufficiently by rolling the dice in this way?

After all — it’s not like the Seahawks are talent deficient on defense. They still have Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. This is a core group any team would be proud of. Add in the expected progression of Frank Clark, the fact you kept Jeremy Lane and Ahtyba Rubin and the likely addition of at least one highly drafted rookie — and there’s no real reason to ignore the offensive line and take any risks.

Also, if the Seahawks want to add two offensive linemen (which seems pretty likely) before the inevitable dip in talent (which is expected to occur after round three) — going DEF-DEF-OL-OL would mean pushing running back into day three. They might be comfortable with that — but it’s not a great class of runners. If you take two O-liners and a defensive player with your first three picks — you at least have the flexibility to consider running back in round three.

Even if it’s unlikely, what would a double-dip defensive draft look like?
It would probably mean something like Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida) at #26 and Kyler Fackrell (LB, Utah State) at #56. Then they would have to hope two of Joe Haeg, Connor McGovern or Evan Boehm are there in round three — or only take one offensive lineman and hope someone like Joe Dahl lasts until the end of the fourth.

The idea of adding two guys like Bullard and Fackrell is very appealing. It’s a nice thought as long as the O-line options were there in round three. It’s just such a big gamble and surely one the Seahawks won’t take.

There’s one other thing to consider on this subject. You can certainly make a case for Jonathan Bullard being Seattle’s first round pick. Ditto Sheldon Rankins. There is at least some chance neither player will be available at #26. And when you consider the alternatives — all of the better players in that late first round range play offense. It’s not improbable for Cody Whitehair, Germain Ifedi, Taylor Decker, Ryan Kelly and Shon Coleman to all be available. Two or three certainly will be.

Pair this with the overall depth on the defensive line this year and the possibility Fackrell lasts until #56 — and it pretty much makes sense for the Seahawks to go O-line first and defense second. Either way — going OL-DL or DL-OL in the first two rounds feels almost inevitable.

It seems unlikely they wait on either area until round three. Address both needs in the top-60 and at least you aren’t going to miss out altogether.

 

The importance of agility tests & four O-liners that fit Seattle

March 27th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Cody Whitehair’s agility makes him a viable option at #26

There’s a tendency to concentrate on forty times, splits, the vertical and broad jumps at the combine. Less time is afforded to the short shuttle and three cone.

In many ways these tests are more important than the forty yard dash. The majority of NFL plays require short-area quickness and the ability to change direction — not straight-line speed.

The short shuttle measures change of direction and agility. The three cone reveals straight line and linear power, change of direction, ‘braking’ and regaining top speed.

Agility testing is even more crucial these days for Seahawks offensive linemen. Russell Wilson’s mobility and ability to improvise demands the ability to react and adjust on the move. They often aren’t blocking straight ahead for a pocket passer like Peyton Manning. It’s probably one of the reasons they generally look for tackle converts to move inside. They’re used to blocking on the run.

We’ve focused a lot on Germain Ifedi because he had a terrific vertical jump of 32.5 inches at 324lbs. His overall size, length (6-6, 36 inch arms) and terrific physique make him an appealing option. Yet it’s worth noting the players who performed better than he did in the agility tests. It could be important.

Ifedi didn’t run a three cone at the combine for some reason but did manage a 4.75 short shuttle — good for 22nd among offensive linemen.

It’s not terrible by any means — and his hulking size and physical comparisons to Kelechi Osemele make him an attractive option at #26. Here are some other offensive linemen, however, that arguably fit better for a team that asks it’s blockers to do a lot of moving around in pass protection:

Cody Whitehair (T, Kansas State)
He had the third best three cone (7.32) and the eighth best short shuttle (4.58). He also had the sixth best split in the forty (1.73). His vertical jump was disappointing (25.5 inches) but in terms of short-area explosion and agility — it’s easy to see why he faired so well as a left tackle at Kansas State.

Joe Haeg (T, North Dakota State)
Haeg’s 7.47 three cone was the fifth best and he impressed in the short shuttle too with the third best time (4.47). Like Whitehair he disappointed in the vertical jump (27.5 inches) but had a good split in the forty (1.75). He’s another player who has the agility and reaction speed that suits Seattle’s O-line.

Connor McGovern (T, Missouri)
With the seventh best three cone (7.50) and 14th best short shuttle (4.65) — McGovern didn’t test as well here as Whitehair and Haeg. However — he had an explosive vertical that topped all offensive linemen (33 inches), had a really good split (1.72) and managed one of the best broad jumps (9-1). His strong, explosive base perhaps lends itself best to center in Seattle’s scheme — but he’s still pretty agile.

Evan Boehm (C, Missouri)
While everyone raved about Ryan Kelly’s athletic performance — he actually ran a slower three cone than both Boehm (7.52) and Nick Martin. We know the Seahawks worked out both McGovern and Boehm and we shouldn’t sleep on either. Mizzou’s center added a 4.69 short shuttle which was quicker than Ronnie Stanley, Christian Westerman and Willie Beavers.

Here are some other interesting numbers to consider:

Jason Spriggs (T, Indiana) ran a 7.70 in the three cone. That’s considerably poorer than the four prospects listed above. It’s strange because Spriggs ran a 4.44 in the short shuttle — the second best time among offensive linemen. There’s such a difference between the two tests it’s hard to determine what it tells us.

Ronnie Stanley (T, Notre Dame) had two horrendous agility tests. He managed a wretched effort of 8.09 in the three cone and an equally bad 4.90 in the short shuttle. For all the hype about Stanley in the top-15 — these are really bad numbers.

It’s also interesting when you consider some of the top performers a year ago. Some of these names were either linked to the Seahawks by Tony Pauline (Ty Sambrailo), were drafted by the team or were considered viable options:

2015 top ten performers in the three cone

1. Jake Fisher — 7.25
2. Ali Marpet — 7.33
3. Cam Erving — 7.48
4. Jarvis Harrison — 7.51
5. Ty Sambrailo — 7.54
6. Mark Glowinski — 7.56
7. Mitch Morse — 7.60
8. Andy Gallik — 7.66
9. T.J. Clemmings — 7.68
10. La’el Collins — 7.70

Four of the top five here were taken before Seattle’s first pick. Jarvis Harrison at #4 lasted until round five and spent 2015 on the Jets practise squad. The Seahawks drafted #6 on the list — Mark Glowinski — and likely had a lot of interest in #7 Mitch Morse.

2015 top ten performers in the short shuttle

1. Jake Fisher — 4.33
2. Ali Marpet — 4.47
3. Mitch Morse — 4.50
4. T.J. Clemmings — 4.54
5. Laurence Gibson — 4.56
6. Andy Gallik — 4.58
6. Mark Glowinski — 4.58
6. Ty Sambrailo — 4.58
9. Rob Crisp — 4.60
10. Jarvis Harrison — 4.62

Again, the top three prospects were off the board before Seattle’s first pick. Fisher, Marpet and Morse could’ve been strongly considered by the Seahawks in round two. Ty Sambrailo at joint 6th was also off the board and he managed the same time as Mark Glowinski.

To compare, here’s the top ten in each drill this year…

2016 top ten performers in the three cone

1. Jake Brendel — 7.31
1. Tyler Johnstone — 7.31
3. Cody Whitehair — 7.32
4. Isaac Seumalo — 7.40
5. Joe Haeg — 7.47
5. Joe Thuney — 7.47
7. Connor McGovern — 7.50
8. Austin Blythe — 7.52
8. Evan Boehm — 7.52
10. Nick Martin — 7.57

2016 top ten performers in the short shuttle

1. Jake Brendel — 4.27
2. Jason Spriggs — 4.44
3. Joe Haeg — 4.47
4. Isaac Seumalo — 4.52
5. Austin Blythe — 4.53
6. Joe Thuney — 4.54
7. Jack Conklin — 4.57
8. Cody Whitehair — 4.58
9. Ryan Kelly — 4.59
9. Cole Toner — 4.59

When you look at the two groups — Cody Whitehair compares very well. His three cone would’ve been #2 to only Jake Fisher a year ago and his short shuttle is exactly the same as Mark Glowinski’s.

Joe Haeg would’ve ranked in the top three in both tests last year.

It’s unclear whether the Seahawks are willing to change their approach at guard. In the past they’ve used bigger left guards weighing in the 320lbs range (James Carpenter, Justin Britt, Alvin Bailey). It was interesting, however, that Terry Poole was drafted a year ago seemingly to compete at left guard and he weighed only 307lbs.

Whitehair’s tackle experience, run blocking, toughness, consistency and agility make him something of an ideal prospect for the Seahawks. The only thing letting him down is length — and that could be a sticking point.

He has 32.5 inch arms. In the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks have never drafted an offensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms. We know they have strict size ideals at cornerback (32 inch arms, have to be taller than 5-10). They might feel the same way about their offensive linemen. They haven’t quite spelled it out like they have at cornerback.

Trent Kirchner (Director of Pro Personnel):

“You mean to tell me, you’re interested in drafting a quarterback that’s 5-10 when we won’t take a corner that’s under 5-10?”

Perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for anyone who wants Whitehair to be drafted at #26? Seattle’s ideal size for a quarterback isn’t 5-10. They drafted Russell Wilson anyway because of his extreme talent. So while they are very strict about their ideals — there’s possibly a chance they’ll compromise for the right guy.

For what it’s worth, Joe Thomas also has 32.5 inch arms.

I mentioned yesterday that I watched Whitehair vs Emmanuel Ogbah and that’s another reason why I wanted to write about him today. He shut Ogbah down in that game, forcing him to switch sides so he could have a better showing against the right tackle.

His balance, strong base, power at the POA and complete body control is reminiscent of Zack Martin during his Notre Dame days. Martin also had sub-33 inch arms and played left tackle but had an immediate impact as a pro after switching to left guard.

Whitehair might go higher than a lot of people believe for that very reason. There are teams in the late teens and early 20’s that might believe he can be that plug-in-and-play guard. The type you don’t have to worry about for the next eight or ten years.

His lack of length and the hulking physicality of Germain Ifedi moved us away from considering a guy like this. Keep him on the radar for now. He’s 0.5 inches in arm length away from being virtually the ideal pick for this team and his excellent agility is a key reason why.

If they go in a different direction at #26 (especially if the don’t draft an offensive lineman in round one) — the likes of Haeg, McGovern and Boehm should also be monitored closely. It might even be a pretty accurate prediction to suggest they’ll try and draft two of Whitehair, Haeg, McGovern and Boehm.

A Seahawks contingent travelled to the North Dakota State pro-day recently where Haeg performed and they also worked out McGovern and Boehm at the Missouri pro-day.

Three of the four players listed above can play multiple positions:

Whitehair (C,G,T)
Haeg (T,G)
McGovern (C,G,T)
Boehm (C)

If the Seahawks want competition and options at multiple spots on their offensive line — that’s another reason why this quartet make sense. Players like Ifedi and Shon Coleman also have the potential to play tackle or guard.

If they draft a prospect like Jonathan Bullard in round one, they could look at Haeg, McGovern and Boehm in rounds 2-3. Remember — the Seahawks draft for their team and will take guys that fit their system even if the pick is considered a reach.

If they draft Whitehair (or another offensive lineman like Ifedi) in round one they could consider a defensive lineman like Willie Henry in round two (he had a quicker short shuttle than Bullard despite weighing 18lbs more). It’ll also be very interesting to see how Kyler Fackrell tests in the agility drills. He didn’t do them at the combine or the Utah State pro-day, probably due to some lingering injury issue.

If the Seahawks don’t like the DE-DT options in this class there’s every chance they’ll just add an EDGE or a player who can compete for the role vacated by Bruce Irvin. Fackrell is a splash-play specialist who impacts the passing game. He’s a high-energy, big effort prospect who had an excellent broad jump (10-1) at the combine and managed a 1.62 split.

He’s also long at 6-5, 245lbs with +33 inch arms and massive hands. They visited with Shea McLellin before he signed with the Patriots. Fackrell would provide a similar option and he might be there at #56.

Two possible scenarios rounds 1-4:

R1 — Cody Whitehair
R2 — Kyler Fackrell
R3 — Joe Haeg
R3 — Tyler Ervin

R1 — Jonathan Bullard
R2 — Connor McGovern
R3 — Tyler Ervin
R3 — Evan Boehm

 

D-line review: Kaufusi, Bullard and Ogbah

March 26th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

Bronson Kaufusi (DE, BYU)
I watched BYU twice in 2015 but didn’t see the Fresno State game (see above). Yesterday I watched it for the first time and he basically took over the game. Granted it was a 52-10 beat down. Yet Kaufusi’s three sacks, TFL’s in the run game and a blocked kick just jumped off the screen.

It was similar to the type of performance we used to see from Margus Hunt at SMU. At 6-8 and 295lbs, Hunt was the #53 pick in 2013. Like Hunt, Kaufusi is also an older player entering the draft. He’ll be 25 as a rookie.

There are key differences between the two though — and this is why Kaufusi might end up having a superior pro career. For starters he’s more consistent on tape. Hunt flashed occasionally but watching Kaufusi — he’s more of a week-to-week impact player. He’s also a better athlete. Kaufusi ran an elite short shuttle at the combine at 4.25 seconds. He also had a 7.03 in the three-cone. He’s 6-6 and 285lbs.

Here’s the list of defensive linemen that performed better in the agility tests:

Joey Bosa (4.21, 6.89)
Shalique Calhoun (4.25, 6.97)
Shaq Lawson (4.21, 7.16)

Bosa is 6-5 and 269lbs, Calhoun 6-4 and 251lbs and Lawson 6-2 and 259lbs. Kaufusi moves as well as the top edge rushers in this class despite being freakishly bigger. He’s basically as agile and quick as Calhoun despite a 34lbs weight difference.

J.J. Watt, for what it’s worth, was 6-5 and 290lbs at his combine and had a 4.21 in the short shuttle and a 6.88 in the three-cone. There’s a 0.04 difference between his forty time and Kaufusi’s. Ziggy Ansah had a 4.26 in the short shuttle and a 7.11 three cone (he also had an incredible 4.56 forty and a 1.62 split).

Let’s state the obvious — these are not bad comparisons.

The Seahawks love top-level athletic traits. They also like production (he has that) and grit (he’s a coaches son and plays that way). That said — I’m not convinced he’s anything more than an edge rusher. Unlike Watt, there isn’t any real evidence of him moving around the line and impacting plays. He just wasn’t used in that way. He has the frame to do it but might need to add a little more bulk. If Seattle’s desire is to find a good inside/out rusher — you’d be taking a chance that Kaufusi can make that adjustment.

Here’s something else to consider — in terms of sack production, here’s the top four in the NFL in 2015:

1. J.J. Watt (6-5, 289lbs)
2. Khalil Mack (6-3, 250lbs)
3. Ziggy Ansah (6-5, 278lbs)
4. Carlos Dunlap (6-6, 280lbs)

There are two types of great NFL rusher at the moment — smaller with elite quicks (Mack, Von Miller) and the super-athletic big men (Watt, Ansah). Physically Kaufusi compares well to the bigger, athletic guys.

The issues on tape are pretty obvious. Because of his height he struggles with leverage when he doesn’t stay low. He has a tendency to play high and when this happens he just doesn’t have an impact. There’s a bit of fire to his play and his effort is excellent but he doesn’t chew glass. He’s not necessarily a war daddy but he equally won’t back down.

You get the sense he got by on athleticism in college and he’s not technically the best pass rusher. There’s no real evidence of a plan in place — he doesn’t take three plays to set up a blocker and he doesn’t have a repertoire. At the next level, when his athleticism is less dominating, he’ll need to be more nuanced. His first priority needs to be to work on his hand placement.

That said it would be interesting to see how he’d fair playing next to Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark. He’s not going to face the double teams he had in college and his agility is good enough to make teams pay 1v1 off the edge. In a draft class without many freaky athletes Kaufusi deserves the description. He could be an option in round two if the Seahawks go O-line at #26.

Jonathan Bullard (DE, Florida)
After talking about Bullard over the last few days, I went back and watched Florida’s games against Ole Miss and Alabama. While he is very capable of playing end and tackle and moving around the line — Bullard isn’t a splash play specialist. In the two games he didn’t have a major impact — he just played well. He perfectly read an option play to drop a running back for a big loss against Ole Miss and he had a clear up sack against Alabama. Jake Coker scrambled away from pressure in the backfield, tried to extend the play and ran into Bullard.

It was good to watch him again if only to remind myself what I thought during the season. Bullard is a high-effort, intense defensive lineman but you don’t watch the tape and see anything particularly special. When he lines up at end he wins shooting the B-gap and timing snap counts. There’s not much variation. Working inside he can barrel his way into the backfield but it’s forceful rather than quick/twitch. At the next level he isn’t likely to just be able to get after the B-gap in the same way — he’s not an edge rusher by any stretch of the imagination even when he lines up at DE and he might end up making a permanent switch inside. That’s fine — but are the Seahawks looking for a smaller interior rusher in round one who doesn’t feature in base (and therefore plays a smaller percentage of snaps)?

If the Seahawks want a stout, consistent DE who plays the run well and doesn’t get shoved around — Bullard will do that. He’s a good run defender at DE. He can set the edge and his ability to close is exceptional. When he sees the ball carrier in front he’ll wrap up and finish the tackle. He never misses a tackle — period. He also does a very good job staying disciplined and filling his gap — something the Seahawks cherish.

But he isn’t a special pass rusher. He has a nice athletic profile but is he an 8-12 sack guy like Cam Jordan? I’m not convinced he will be. The Seahawks might be content with a 5-7 sack defender — essentially replacing the lost production from 2015 that they had in 2013-14 with Clinton McDonald and Jordan Hill. The question is — will they see that as worthy of a first round pick?

As an individual with his competitive nature, the chip on his shoulder, the intensity, the discipline and the run defense — Bullard’s a Seahawk. But they also seem to like unique traits in round one with major upside. Bullard, with respect, might only ever be a stout, solid run defender who gets you a handful of sacks a season working inside. It’s possible he might be the type of player they’d happily take at #56 or round three. They might prefer someone with a greater upside in the first round.

Bullard is a really fun player to watch, a guy who is easy to like and he’s not a slouch athletically. He’s a former 5-star recruit and he did well at the combine. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get a good player if you draft him. Is he capable of being a great player though? That’s what the Seahawks would have to consider if they wanted to take him at #26. He might not be special enough to warrant a first day pick.

Emmanuel Ogbah (DE, Oklahoma State)
Here’s how a NFL area scout described Ogbah: “He’s stiff and upright so he has no counters as a rusher and then he doesn’t even play hard all the time. If you are going to be the hulk, then play hard all the time.”

I watched Ogbah vs Kansas State yesterday and this assessment is pretty much spot on. Cody Whitehair basically had his lunch money. Ogbah was happy to be blocked and probably thanked Whitehair for not being too mean. Time and time again the pair engaged, Whitehair contained Ogbah and finished the block. There was no counter, no physicality, nothing.

Oklahoma State adjusted and moved Ogbah to take on the right tackle. He got a sack and did a big boy pose. It’d would’ve been easier to stomach had he not received a wedgie earlier by a guy who will inevitably move to guard or center in the NFL.

His athletic profile is excellent but if Ogbah is going to succeed at the next level he needs to up the ante. He needs to play with more fire, he needs to work on counters and hand placement and he needs to show more effort. It’s tempting to look at a 13-sack season, a 1.5 split and a terrific forty yard dash for his size and get excited. It’s worth noting, however, that despite weighing 15lbs less than Kaufusi, Obgah’s agility testing led to a 4.50 short shuttle and a 7.26 three cone. Kaufusi, as we noted above, had a 4.21 and a 7.03 at 6-6 and 285lbs.