Why the Seahawks might not draft a guard early

March 22nd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Here are three facts about this draft class:

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

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

Let’s go through each position.

1. Running back

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

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

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

2. Defensive end

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

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

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

3. Guard/center

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

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

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

Jealous much?

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

They’re going to have to pick their poison.

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

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

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

The focus instead could be RB + DE.

Reasons why they might’ve come to that conclusion

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

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

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

Now they’ve signed D.J. Fluker too.

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

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

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

Time to deliver.

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

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

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

If nothing else, it’s logical.

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

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

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

Either scenario makes some sense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Assessing the D-line options in the 2018 draft

March 21st, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks are thin on the defensive line. Michael Bennett is gone, Cliff Avril might be going. Sheldon Richardson is in Minnesota and there’s no news about Malik McDowell’s future.

They were able to re-sign Dion Jordan as a restricted free agent (as expected) but no other moves have been made. Simply put, they need to bolster their rotation and add pass rushers.

The options early in the draft aren’t great. That’s not a problem. The Seahawks probably need to focus on their running game anyway. Thankfully there are possible targets later on.

Crucially the options are better at defensive tackle than EDGE. It’s likely one of the reasons, alongside money and culture change, that the Seahawks appear to be showing minimal (if any) interest in Ndamukong Suh.

Senior Bowl review

This week I went back and watched some of the Senior Bowl practises (OL vs DL). NC State’s B.J. Hill and Justin Jones just flat out dominated in the 1v1’s. Both players consistently drove offensive linemen 4-5 yards into the backfield. Power, leverage, great hand placement.

They looked like Alabama linemen in Mobile. They were just bigger and more physical than any one else. They stood out. I’m not sure how easy it’d be to acquire both (especially with multiple needs and limited picks) but Seattle’s interior D-line rotation would be a force. Naz Jones, Jarran Reed, B.J. Hill and Justin Jones would be a quartet of nasty, physical linemen.

If there’s any way at all to get these two, it’d be a huge boost for Seattle’s D-line rotation. Hill in particular just looks like a force. It won’t be a surprise if he goes in the second or third round range.

On a separate note — while re-watching the day-three Senior Bowl practise — Will Hernandez struggled a bit. He was beaten on a B-gap rush thanks to suspect footwork (heavy feet) and then struggled to handle Kemoko Turay rushing from the inside. Turay jolted him backwards and then tried a neat pull-push move. All Hernandez could do was grab his jersey. It would’ve been a holding penalty in a game. It was a bit of a surprise to see Hernandez toil against a smaller speed rusher working inside.

Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis had a great Senior Bowl and that showed up in the practise re-watch. He dominated Jamil Demby on one snap working at defensive end. He was equally comfortable rushing the left or right side and had a great rep against Brian O’Neil too, just dominated him.

Both Lewis and team mate Jalyn Holmes had to share reps in a heavy D-line rotation for the Buckeye’s. Don’t sleep on either player. Lewis is an exceptional athlete:

Andrew Brown at Virginia stood out on the Senior Bowl re-watch too. It won’t be a shock if he goes in round two or three and B.J. Hill isn’t far behind. There was one snap where Brown jumped offside and tripped up. He suddenly flipped back up to the turf and got back into position. It was an impressive show of athleticism at 296lbs.

He’s really quick off the snap:

He also plays like his hair is on fair. There are some general technique things to work on. Sometimes Brown gets a little high and loses leverage. It’s coachable.

If Hill and Jones are just nasty and rich in attitude, Brown has a none-stop motor and plus athleticism/quickness.

What range are they going to go in?

NFL.com’s draft tracker (put together by Lance Zierlein) currently lists the players in the following range:

B.J. Hill — R4-5
Tyquan Lewis — R5-6
Justin Jones — R6
Andrew Brown — R6-7

I’m pretty sure all four will go earlier than projected. Much earlier in some cases (Hill, Brown). If they were all available on day three it’d be a fantastic opportunity to really bolster the D-line depth and it might be one of the reasons why they haven’t really added anyone in free agency.

Do they actually fit the Seahawks?

Yes. As noted in our combine preview, the Seahawks like length and agility. They haven’t drafted a D-liner with sub-33 inch arms. They’ve often drafted players that performed well in the short shuttle, such as Quinton Jefferson (4.37), Jordan Hill (4.51), Jaye Howard (4.47) and Malik McDowell (4.53).

How did the four players above measure and test?

B.J. Hill — 33 inch arms, 4.53 short shuttle
Tyquan Lewis — 34 inch arms, DNP
Justin Jones — 33.5 inch arms, 4.74 short shuttle
Andrew Brown — 34.5 inch arms, 4.48 short shuttle

Hill and Brown in particular stand out here. They’re also the two most likely to go earlier than expected (possibly rounds 2-3).

Jones didn’t actually perform that well in the short shuttle. However, the attitude and way he plays might still appeal to the Seahawks. Naz Jones ran a 4.63 short shuttle so they’re not tied to the 4.4 or 4.5 range.

Lewis didn’t do the short shuttle or many of the combine drills due to illness. He did do the vertical (35.5 inches) and broad (10-2) and tested very well in both jumps. At the Nike SPARQ combine he ran a 4.41 short shuttle.

Two of Lewis’ team mates are worth monitoring too. Sam Hubbard ran a 4.32 short shuttle and had the best three-cone among defensive linemen (6.84). He has 33 inch arms and is a pure 4-3 defensive end with some Patrick Kerney level upside. Jalyn Holmes is 6-5 and 283lbs with 34 inch arms. He didn’t do the short shuttle but ran a superb 1.67 10-yard split for his size.

Ohio State and NC State have some great options to fill out a defensive line in this draft class. They might need to fill out their day two board to have a shot at B.J. Hill or Andrew Brown (plus possibly Jalyn Holmes) but the likes of Lewis and Jones might be there on day three.

There are options here for the Seahawks.

What about EDGE/speed rushers?

It might be difficult to find them in this draft. There are only a handful.

We know the Seahawks like 1.5 10-yard splits from the EDGE. They’ve taken freaky, long, high-ceiling athletes to play D-line. Bruce Irvin, Frank Clark and Malik McDowell were all physical freaks. They’re not going to settle on an average athlete here. They’re going to look for someone with special traits.

Only two pure EDGE rushers ran a 1.5 10-yard split at the combine — Harold Landry (1.59) and Josh Sweat (1.55). That was a bit disappointing. Two SAM/LEO prospects also ran in the 1.5’s (Leon Jacobs and Lorenzo Carter).

The likes of Landry, Hubbard and USC’s Rasheem Green might go a bit too early for Seattle. It’s also questionable whether they’re truly special enough in the way Irvin, Clark and McDowell stood out.

Josh Sweat on the other hand could be exactly the type of player they’re looking for.

It’s not a surprise they’re keeping an eye on him. There aren’t many human beings on the planet with this type of physical profile:

Height: 6-5
Weight: 251lbs
Arm length: 34.5 inches
Forty: 4.53
10-yard: 1.55
Vertical: 39.5
Broad: 10-4
Short shuttle: 4.28

That’s a freakish looking combination of size, length, speed, explosion and agility. If they’re looking for high-upside with rare traits, Sweat’s your guy.

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks interviewed Sweat after his workout.

On tape he can be a little frustrating at times. He’s not necessarily the high-intensity player you see with B.J. Hill, Justin Jones and Andrew Brown. He has an injury history too including a severe knee injury in high school and a meniscus tear in 2016.

The feeling is Sweat will go in round two based on upside and the lack of alternatives in this class. If the Seahawks were going to consider taking him, they’d likely need to acquire multiple picks in that range. Quite aside from their other needs (running game) it’d be quite the gamble to take a chance on Sweat staying healthy.

An alternative could be Rutgers’ Kemoko Turay. He also has some of the size (6-5, 253lbs) and length (33.5 inch arms) they like. He didn’t do any of the agility testing at the combine after injuring a hamstring running the forty. He managed a 1.62 10-yard split. Turay really impressed at the Senior Bowl and looked twitchy and capable of playing some SAM/LEO as well as EDGE.

Reviewing the options

In the near future I’m going to put together a ‘targets list’ that we can update as the process goes along. This will include any VMAC visitors, players they’ve met with or players that fit certain physical ideals.

On the D-line I’ll be including B.J. Hill, Andrew Brown, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Justin Jones, Josh Sweat and Kemoko Turay.

It might be frustrating for fans at the moment watching the Rams flirt with Ndamukong Suh while other teams make bold moves in free agency. I would stress the need to be patient. This isn’t a loaded draft class rich in legit first round prospects. It might be the perfect draft for the Seahawks though if they want to fix the running game and re-make the defense.

The only position they might struggle to add is at cornerback. There are some options that fit their profile but not many. Re-signing Byron Maxwell could be pretty important.

Quick note on the USC pro-day

Ronald Jones II didn’t do a full workout today. According to Tony Pauline he’s only at 70% health after recently hurting his hamstring. The belief is he will conduct a workout some time in early April.

We’ve been saying it for a few months now — but keep an eye on RoJo for the Seahawks. He’s a special talent, the kind Seattle has added in the past. He’s an extremely physical, tough, aggressive running back with explosive traits and incredible speed/suddenness. He’s a playmaker in the mould of Jamaal Charles and he could easily end up being Seattle’s first pick in this draft. For more on Jones II check out these articles here and here.

Defensive end Rasheem Green did the bench press today, managing 23 reps. It means his TEF score is now confirmed as a 3.20.

Sam Darnold received mixed reviews for his throwing performance. None of the quarterback have really separated so far. I think it’ll be between Josh Allen and Darnold to go first overall, then the Giants will have to make a decision on whether to go quarterback or Saquon Barkley. One way or another we’ll probably see three QB’s off the board in the top four plus Barkley.

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Are the Jaguars a possible Earl Thomas trade partner?

March 21st, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Could these two be lining up together in 2018?

Jacksonville has been busy creating cap room over the last few days. Cutting Marcedes Lewis and Allen Hurns freed up $10m. Today it was revealed they’ve restructured Telvin Smith’s contract.

It means they have approximately $18m to spend.

So why are they making these moves?

Could they be creating room for an Earl Thomas trade?

The Jaguars are in ‘win now’ mode. They’ve been aggressive in free agency. Jason La Canfora called it a two-year window for Tom Coughlin in a piece earlier this week.

Despite fielding one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, the Jaguars were susceptible to the deep ball. Look how easily the Seahawks climbed back into the week 14 game between the teams. Unusually simple deep throws to Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett almost inspired a late victory.

In the AFC divisional game against Pittsburgh, Jacksonville were in complete control but blown coverages downfield kept the Steelers in it right until the end. Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdowns and 469 yards.

That play above happened with 25 seconds left in the first half. It was a 36-yard pass from Roethlisberger, with the Steelers desperately trying to find some points trailing 28-7. That play — plus a 43-yarder to Antonio Brown later — kept Pittsburgh alive.

Thomas could be the missing piece to the defense. He’d take away the deep post and make the most of Jacksonville’s extreme talent at cornerback, linebacker and on the defensive line.

Furthermore, they also use a similar defensive scheme to the Seahawks. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash was Seattle’s D-line coach in 2011 and 2012 before leaving with Gus Bradley.

The Jaguars are picking in the late first round (#29). It’s possible New Orleans (#27) and Pittsburgh (#28) take safeties off the board right before they pick. Acquiring Thomas wouldn’t just make that a moot point. They’d add a future Hall-of-Famer to an already loaded defense. Jacksonville would be in a great position to go one better in 2018 and win the AFC.

For the Seahawks, it might be their best chance to get the desired first and third round pick they’re reportedly asking for.

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Why would a team trade up to #18?

March 20th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

UCLA’s Kolton Miller could be a target for teams needing a tackle

It’s fairly safe to assume that the Seahawks will trade down from #18. Without going over old ground too much, here’s a quick summary:

— They don’t have any picks in rounds 2-3, meaning they’d pick at #18 and then not until #120. Particularly this year, the Seahawks can’t afford to sit and watch 102 players come off the board.

— It’s a common opinion that there’s anywhere between 10-20 legit first round grades in this draft class. Even if they stay at #18, it’s possible they’ll be picking from a pool of players with second round grades.

— Seattle’s priority appears to be fixing the running game. With a cluster of talented guards and running backs set to come off the board between picks 25-60, trading down would allow them to tap into that value and address key needs.

The Seahawks successfully traded down in the last two drafts. Last year the Falcons were determined to add a pass rusher so made an aggressive move to go from #31 to #26 to get Takk McKinley. In 2016 the Broncos and Cowboys were bidding with Seattle to move up and get Paxton Lynch.

Here are three scenarios that could lead to a team coveting the #18 pick…

1. Left tackle

This isn’t a great class for offensive tackles but there are quite a few teams needing one. Joe Thomas retiring in Cleveland and Nate Solder leaving New England for the Giants created needs for the Browns and Patriots. The Broncos, Colts and Eagles could also be in the market for an athletic tackle.

There’s no real top-tier prospect in this class. Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller are likely competing to be the first off the board. When one goes, however, it could create a scramble for the second. After these two the options are extremely limited. The position is also important enough to warrant an aggressive trade.

The Cardinals at #15, Ravens at #16 and Chargers at #17 could all take McGlinchey or Miller. If one goes and the other remains by #18, teams might get a little anxious about missing out. Especially if the Seahawks end up talking to multiple teams about tackles. They also had representatives at the UCLA pro-day and might send out signals that they’re also prepared to take Miller.

This might be the ideal scenario for a trade down. The Browns, Patriots and Colts all have multiple second round picks. The Seahawks could be able to turn #18 into two second rounders or in the case of the Patriots — #31 and #63.

2. Wide receiver

This isn’t an appealing draft for receivers. It’s likely one of the reasons the wide out market exploded in free agency. We might only see one prospect — Calvin Ridley — drafted in the first round.

Ridley’s stock is tough to get an angle on. Some really like his polish and ability to get open. He had a fairly accomplished career at Alabama. There’s also nothing particularly outstanding about his physique. He’s only 6-0 and 189lbs. He ran a 4.43 which is fine at his size but not remarkable and his short shuttle time of 4.41 was beaten or matched by five defensive linemen, 10 edge rushers and one offensive lineman (James Daniels).

Even so, someone is going to take a shot on Ridley as a reliable target. The Dallas Cowboys might be looking for a receiver in this draft and could take him at #19. If teams grade Ridley as the clear #1 receiver they might be willing to jump ahead of Dallas to get their man.

Atlanta, Indianapolis, New England, Philadelphia, Tennessee, New Orleans and Minnesota are not improbable suitors.

One other thing to consider here — the rising cost of the receiver market in free agency could make Ridley an appealing option. Having him at a relatively cheap price for five years could be an attractive proposition. And some teams are going to really like Ridley. He might generate quite a mix of opinions across the league. But some teams might even see him as a top-10 type talent.

3. Defensive prospects

It’s quite possible the two teams picking after Seattle (Dallas, Detroit) will go defense. Quite a few of the teams in the 20’s could also be thinking defense in round one (Buffalo, Los Angeles, Carolina, Tennessee, Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville).

Dallas and Detroit could be thinking linebacker. This is a good draft for the position with some high class talent set to go in round one. Tremaine Edmunds will likely go in the top-10. Personally I think Leighton Vander Esch will be the second off the board.

Roquan Smith is regularly mocked in the top-12 picks and he had a particularly strong end to the season with Georgia. However, Tony Pauline has reported on some possible injury red flags and scheme fit is also important with Smith. He’s a very good player but he’s only 6-0 and 236lbs. He’s unlikely going to be an option for the 3-4 teams.

Alabama’s Rashaan Evans is also a very talented, highly touted option. He’s expected to go in the second half of round one.

If you want either of these players, you might need to get ahead of Dallas and Detroit. Both teams could be thinking D-line as an alternative. It’ll also be curious to see how long Derwin James lasts.

A year ago Atlanta traded with Seattle to secure the defender they wanted. We might see a similar situation this year.

No quarterback scenario?

It just doesn’t seem likely. Increasingly it looks like the ‘big four’ will go in the top-10 and that could push Lamar Jackson up the board too.

Would the Cardinals take Jackson at #15?

Most of the teams in the 20’s already have a quarterback anyway. Assuming Buffalo also makes a move using their #12 pick, virtually all of the teams in the second half of round one have an established starting quarterback or someone they only recently drafted.

What can the Seahawks collect in a deal?

The best move would be to trade straight from #18 into the late first or early second round. The bigger the drop the more likely they are to come away with a haul. They need multiple day-two picks.

Getting two second rounders, for example, would enable them to address O-line and running back.

Such an offer might not be forthcoming though, which could mean two separate trades. Can they move from #18 to about #25 and collect a third rounder? Then make a similar move from #25 into the top of round two?

That would give them three picks instead of one. An Earl Thomas trade could also generate a late first or second round pick — enabling them to address multiple key needs. If they were able to come out of day two with a running back, guard, defensive lineman and safety — that could be a good days work.

The players are there to make it happen:

Running back — Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, Royce Freeman, Rashaad Penny

O-line — Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, Austin Corbett, Frank Ragnow, Billy Price, Braden Smith

Front seven defense — Josh Sweat, Lorenzo Carter, Kemoko Turay, Andrew Brown, B.J. Hill, Sam Hubbard

Safety — Jessie Bates III, Justin Reid, Ronnie Harrison


This is an interesting signing. It could be an O-line hedge if they want to go running back first in the draft. It could purely be a move to add competition at right guard.

In an ideal scenario the Seahawks would be able to add one of Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez or Austin Corbett to the O-line while still landing one of Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb or Kerryon Johnson. That won’t be easy though unless they own two picks in the top-45.

Nevertheless, there’s no harm in adding some competition up front. Fluker worked with Mike Solari in New York last year and had a decent spell before injury ended his season prematurely.

Meanwhile defensive tackle Bennie Logan and cornerback Dontae Johnson reportedly visited with the Seahawks.

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Status check after the first wave of free agency

March 19th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

— So far the Seahawks haven’t made any significant moves to improve their running game. The first two rounds of the draft are loaded with talent at guard and running back. All signs point to the Seahawks focusing first and foremost on those two areas.

— I still think the names to keep an eye on are Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia), Will Hernandez (G, UTEP), Austin Corbett (G, Nevada), Ronald Jones II (RB, USC), Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia) and Kerryon Johnson (RB, Auburn). Getting two of this group of six would be a huge win.

— Why those three running backs in particular? Details here.

— They also need to pad out their defensive line. There will be options from the middle rounds onwards. NC State held its pro-day today and they have four beasts entering the draft this year. Bradley Chubb will go in the top-six. B.J. Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street are also worth monitoring. All three have +33 inch arms (Seattle has never drafted a D-liner with sub-33 inch arms) and just look built for the pro’s. Of the three, Hill could be the earliest to go. He’s highly athletic for his 311lbs frame (4.99 forty, 4.53 short shuttle) and plays with great intensity. You could imagine him rotating with Jarran Reed and Naz Jones and plays with the kind of attitude they’ll be looking for. Both Hill and Jones stood out at the Senior Bowl. Street is a three technique with explosive power and quickness. He ran a 1.67 10-yard split at 280lbs — a good time for his size.

— Ohio State also has three appealing options. Sam Hubbard might go too early but he proved to be a lot more athletic than expected at the combine. His 6.84 short shuttle was the fastest among defensive linemen and is the sixth fastest in the last 10 years. He was also an explosive tester (estimated TEF score of 3.26) and has great size (6-5, 270lbs). Hubbard will likely go in round two at the latest. Jalyn Holmes is another name to keep an eye on. He’s 6-5 and 283lbs with long arms (34 inches). Like Kentavius Street he also ran a 1.67 10-yard split and could be a useful inside/out type rusher. Tyquan Lewis was ill at the combine but did the vertical (35.5 inches) and broad (10-2). He also has long arms (34 inches) and good size (6-3, 270lbs).

— Keep an eye on Virginia’s Andrew Brown. Very few players can match him for aggression and intensity. He’s a former five-star recruit and had a terrific Senior Bowl. He has everything you want physically — size (6-3, 296lbs), long arms (34.5 inches), speed (5.03 forty) and great agility (4.48 short shuttle). It won’t be a surprise at all if he sneaks into round two. If the Seahawks manage to acquire multiple day two picks, Brown could be a target. Along with the guys from NC State and Ohio State, there are clearly options here to create a solid D-line rotation.

— The EDGE options are limited and it’s even worse at the SAM/LEO. It’s not a surprise at all that Seattle prioritised signing Barkevious Mingo in free agency. There are only three logical LEO types — Harold Landry, Lorenzo Carter and Kemoko Turay. Landry and Carter both ran 1.5 10-yard splits but might go a bit too early for Seattle’s taste. Turay ran a 1.62 split but could be an option in the middle rounds. He has a lot of potential as a speed rusher off the edge.

— The other name to keep an eye on is Josh Sweat. He’s more of a pure EDGE than a SAM/LEO but there aren’t many human beings with his combination of size, length and incredible athleticism. He had injury issues at Florida State but he’s a good character with great potential. He’s nearly 6-5 and 251lbs with 34.5 inch arms. He still managed to run a 4.53 with a 1.55 10-yard split and his explosive and agility testing was also excellent. He’ll go in round two at the absolute latest.

— For anyone thinking Seattle should prioritise D-line early because of the loss of Sheldon Richardson, Michael Bennett and potentially Cliff Avril — it’s not an unfair position to take. But please look at the options available. The likes of Vita Vea will be long gone by #18. Marcus Davenport will not last to #18. It is possible to address the running game early and still get some very intriguing defensive prospects later on. That is how this draft is set up. It’ll be much harder to go defense early and then fill your offensive holes. Much, much harder.

— For more on the defensive line class read our positional review from the combine.

— Will the Seahawks sign Ndamukong Suh? It looks highly unlikely. After some early excitement about the possibility, it’s becoming increasingly clear what Seattle’s plan is. Young, hungry, poor, competitive. It’d be a curious move to cut back as much as they have and then suddenly spend big money on Suh. Plus, as we’ve noted above, there are some good D-line options available in the middle or later rounds this year.

— It’ll be a good year to add some depth at linebacker. The Seahawks need some speed on defense. Wisconsin’s Leon Jacobs ran a 4.48 at 6-1 and 246lbs. He plays with his hair on fire. It’ll be a surprise if he’s not on Seattle’s radar along with Wisconsin team mates Natrell Jameson and Nick Nelson. The Badgers are a production line for defensive talent at the moment.

We discussed the Earl Thomas situation (or stalemate) yesterday. You have to wonder if the Seahawks will eventually lower their demands and be willing to take a lesser pick, such as a second rounder. They’ve been checking out the safety class (Justin Reid, Natrell Jamerson, Jessie Bates III) and need picks in the valuable round 2-3 range.

— Why will teams trade up to #18? I don’t think it’ll be for a quarterback. The ‘big four’ are increasingly likely to go in the top-10. Lamar Jackson could move up as a consequence and possibly go in the top-15. It will mean other players drop. With limited offensive tackle options, someone might be willing to move up and take UCLA’s Kolton Miller. Roquan Smith probably isn’t going to go as early as many expect and could be a target for the Dallas Cowboys. If Calvin Ridley remains on the board, he too could be a target for Dallas at #19. Teams might be willing to move up quite aggressively to take possibly the only receiver that’ll go in round one.

Tony Pauline says Temple receiver Keith Kirkwood will visit with the Seahawks. At his pro-day today he ran in the 4.4’s at 6-3 and 221lbs. The Seahawks have regularly targeted receivers running in the 4.4 range. He also jumped a 35 inch vertical and a 10-5 broad.

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Justin Reid set to visit Seahawks

March 18th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This is interesting for quite a few reasons.

Reid is going to go in the first two rounds of the draft. It’ll be a surprise if he makes it out of the top-40.

His brother Eric (still available as a free agent) was the #18 overall pick in 2013. Justin performed better in the speed/agility tests at the combine (4.40 forty, 4.15 short shuttle, 6.65 three cone compared to Eric’s 4.53, 4.22 and 6.99). Eric was slightly more explosive (40.5 inch vertical, 11-0 broad compared to Justin’s 38.5 and 10-8).

Justin didn’t get enough attention for his performance in Indianapolis. At 6-0 and 207lbs, these are really good numbers. If you’re looking for a modern day safety capable of playing up in the slot, lining up deep in single-high or playing at the LOS — this kind of physical profile tells you Reid has the potential to do it all.

Having watched three of his games there are areas he can improve. His tackling isn’t textbook and there are question marks about his ability to play deep in space.

For the Seahawks to even think about drafting him early — you know what that means for Earl Thomas. And with 4.40 speed they might be thinking Reid can develop into a free safety.

A visit doesn’t mean the Seahawks are automatically going to target Reid in the draft. It has occasionally been a telltale sign, however. Last year they met with both Malik McDowell and Shaquille Griffin. In 2016 they invited Zac Brooks and Christian French to the VMAC (both ended up with Seattle) and held private workouts with Germain Ifedi, Rees Odhiambo and George Fant.

There’s also a long list of players they met and didn’t draft. In 2016 Derrick Henry, Vernon Butler and Chris Jones visited the VMAC. They took Ifedi instead with their first pick. So there’s the perspective.

Yet there’s a trend occurring specifically at the safety position. Reid will visit the Seahawks. Last week they had dinner with Natrell Jamerson after the Wisconsin pro-day. In February Tony Pauline reported they were ‘looking hard’ at Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates III.

They could be doing due diligence. After all, there’s no point trading Earl Thomas if you don’t think there’s an adequate replacement available. Even if they planned to start Bradley McDougald at free safety, they’d likely want to know what the draft options are.

Thomas is also out of contract after the 2018 season. If he stays for one more year, they might be planning ahead.

The report about the Reid visit will add fuel to the fire that Thomas is about to be dealt. It’s gone a bit quiet after Jason La Canfora’s tweet/report on Thursday that the Seahawks were talking to potential trade partners. The detail presented (trade price, contract value) made it seem like a deal was close. Yet there hasn’t been any kind of update since. It makes you wonder if teams are playing a long game. Do they think they’ll get a cheaper price if they bide their time? Possibly.

The Seahawks have already moved Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. If other teams believe they’re determined to move Thomas too — why are you going to pay a high draft pick? Wait it out until the Seahawks lower their demands.

Seattle’s only counter, because it’s obvious they are making major changes, is to try and create a lot of interest so teams feel like they have to act or they’ll miss out.

We could be witnessing a stalemate. No teams willing to pay the asking price, Seattle not budging. Who’s going to blink first? The Seahawks need the pressure of multiple interested parties to create some urgency.

There are plenty of teams out there that could use an upgrade at safety. Here’s the league-wide picture. A lot of the focus has been on Dallas yet Carolina, Denver, Detroit, the LA Chargers, Pittsburgh and Miami could all use an upgrade.

Regardless, it feels increasingly like the Seahawks are planning for life after Earl Thomas.

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What are the Seahawks doing? (Part 2)

March 17th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

What are the Seahawks doing? (Part 2)

I spent some time last night considering the free agency situation with Seattle and came to his conclusion. Why is anyone surprised?

We came into this off-season expecting changes, especially on defense. We thought they’d try to get younger and cheaper.

Not many people expected (or wanted) Sheldon Richardson to return. Did anyone think Jimmy Graham or Paul Richardson would be back?

We thought they’d re-sign Bradley McDougald.

We wondered whether they’d add a veteran running back and look at a ‘prove-it’ deal for a receiver. Both of those options are still possible. The team met with DeMarco Murray recently and Terrelle Pryor is reportedly visiting the Seahawks.

We thought they’d add a veteran blocking tight end. Ed Dickson has signed a three-year deal. They need a SAM/LEO and they’ve added Barkevious Mingo.

Pretty much everything we talked about has happened.

So what’s the problem?

Reality bites I suppose. It’s difficult to accept but we’re watching other teams in a better position to compete for Championships.

For a few years now the Seahawks were the franchise to mimic and chase. They were the ones being aggressive, making the big signings and trades that left the rest of the NFL envious.

Now other teams are the ones chasing the Championship and Seattle is re-tooling. Minnesota is in a better position to find that one extra defensive lineman and make the $28m splash on a single player. The Jaguars are the ones using their remaining cap room to load up the roster and try to cover the mediocrity of their quarterback.

The Seahawks are what they are — in transition.

They can still make some moves to be relatively competitive in 2018. Ndamukong Suh is still available. His addition alone would provide a huge lift to the fan base. It has to be the right fit though. The big spending days are gone. If Suh signs it’ll be on Seattle’s terms.

They added Jaron Brown yesterday and appear to be providing second (or third) chances to a number of players who perhaps feel they deserve an opportunity. That’s probably what they want — hungry veterans to compliment the youth movement that’s about to take place.

The draft is going to be the focal point of the off-season. That’s how they’re going to repair the running game. That’s how they’re going to compliment the defense. That’s how they’re going to add speed on both sides of the ball.

Rounds 1-2 — great options at RB/OL
Rounds 3-7 — great options and value on defense

Whether they trade Earl Thomas or not, they’re likely going to be doing a lot of moving around.

So that’s the dose of reality that’s maybe required right now.

That said — it’s also understandable why there’s some anger and frustration out there. This team parted ways with two legendary players last week. A third legendary player is the subject of trade rumours. A fourth and fifth legend might have to retire.

The Seahawks could lose as many as eight starters, if not more. The Mingo, Dickson and Brown signings are hardly lifting a fan base that has got used to watching a highly competitive football team.

They’ve gone from doing anything to try and win a title in 2017 to rebuilding in the space of a matter of months.

It’d be easier for fans to accept major change if they had a cluster of draft picks to look forward to. Currently they do not. The Indianapolis Colts have also lost a few starters in free agency. By trading with the Jets, they now have a treasure trove of picks second only to Cleveland’s. They’re still in the top-10 (and should be able to land a very good player) and pick three times in the valuable second round.

Colts fans will be buzzing with excitement today, imagining the four or more starters they’ll acquire from the 2018 draft.

The Seahawks have one pick in the first three-and-a-half rounds. They’ll have to trade down (possibly multiple times) to fill holes.

And their only option to emulate the Colts and acquire extra stock is to trade away one of the most popular players in franchise history.

On top of that, there’s an increasing frustration about some of the decision making in recent years. Hindsight is very popular at a time like this but there are more misses than hits in recent memory:

— The Jimmy Graham trade didn’t work out as planned
— The 2013 draft class produced almost nothing
— The Malik McDowell pick was a major risk and backfired
— They traded a second rounder to the Jets for one year of Sheldon Richardson

You can probably add more to this list. I don’t think there’s much point dwelling on it though. Moves that were made simply haven’t worked out.

You could argue, however, at least the Seahawks took a chance to maximise their window. Ask fans in Green Bay whether they wish their team had taken a few more chances during the Aaron Rodgers era. You know what the answer will be.

So what now? Probably more of the same. Players acquired with smaller salaries. The roster filled out. A draft that includes trading down and fixing the running game as a priority. A season that probably leans on said running game and Russell Wilson. Just as it leaned on the defense in previous years.

And in fairness, it’s not the worst scenario is it? Relying on one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and (you’d hope) a much improved running game.

The one big question mark remaining is the future of Earl Thomas. It’s gone very quiet again after Jason La Canfora’s report that Seattle were talking to teams and might get even more than a 1st and 3rd round pick in return.

Who knows what the latest is? Are the Seahawks trying to flesh out suitors? Are they trying to move things along?

And what happens if they don’t get the kind of offer they’re looking for?

It probably doesn’t help that Tryann Mathieu, a free agent, only managed to secure this deal on the open market:

Thomas is better than Mathieu but if he’s hoping for +$13m he’s probably going to be disappointed. Teams are unlikely to be willing to pony up that kind of salary on top of a collection of picks.

The rest of the safety market is ice cold in free agency too. Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro remain unsigned.

None of this is good news for Earl Thomas. If the Seahawks are trying to convince a team to give up picks and pay him a massive salary, it’s not good news for the team either.

How the New York Jets trade changes things

The Jets have jumped from #6 to #3, giving Indianapolis three second round picks in the process (two this year, one in 2019).

After missing out on Kirk Cousins they’re being aggressive to get their quarterback. By trading into the top three they possibly usurp division rival Buffalo (also looking to move into the top-five) and guarantee they’ll get one of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield.

So what might happen?

For a while I’ve thought Saquon Barkley was a lock to go in the top two. I’m not as convinced after listening to Mike Silver during the NFL Network’s ‘free agent frenzy’ show. Silver’s well sourced and reliable and he seemed to believe Cleveland and the New York Giants would both take quarterbacks at #1 and #2. With the Jets now at #3, they’ll definitely be taking a quarterback.

Here’s a quick prediction:

#1 Browns — Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
#2 Giants — Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
#3 Jets — Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
#4 Browns — Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
#5 Broncos — Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
#6 Colts — Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)

Having added Tyrod Taylor and with Hue Jackson already announcing there won’t be a competition at quarterback this year, to me that suggests Allen might be Cleveland’s choice. Physically he is the prototype. He will need time to learn and adjust to the NFL — more so than Darnold and Rosen.

We could see a team move into the top-six to get Baker Mayfield and the Bills are clearly plotting something. They’ve set everything up to acquire a quarterback. Surely they won’t bail now?

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Some thoughts on UCLA’s Kolton Miller

March 16th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks had representatives at the UCLA pro-day today to take a look at offensive tackle Kolton Miller.

Pauline also notes Seattle had a coaching presence at the Nevada pro-day to monitor Austin Corbett (Mike Solari?).

We’ve already covered Corbett (click here). He’s one of the more underrated players in the draft and just an extremely competent blocker. The breakdown last week goes into more detail but the Seahawks could do a lot worse than fill their left guard spot with Corbett.

So what about Miller?

Unlike Wynn and Corbett, the first thing that stands out is size and athleticism. Miller measured 6085 in height at the combine. That means he’s nearly 6-9. He weighed in at 309lbs and carries the weight well too. He also has decent length (34 inch arms).

Miller made headlines at the combine by setting an O-line record in the broad jump (10-1). How does that compare?

Kolton Miller — 10-1
Minkah Fitzpatrick — 10-1
Bradley Chubb — 10-1
Rashaad Penny — 10-0
Harold Landry — 9-11
Rasheem Green — 9-10
Tremaine Edmunds — 9-9
Shaquem Griffin — 9-9
Rashaan Evans — 9-8
Calvin Ridley — 9-2
Da’Ron Payne — 8-11

This highlights how impressive Miller’s attempt really was. Especially considering the explosive nature of some of the athletes also listed.

NFL.com provides historical combine data dating back to 2006. Here are the top-five broad jumps by offensive linemen in the last 12 years:

Kolton Miller — 10-1
Lane Johnson — 9-10
Taylor Lewan — 9-9
Eric Fisher — 9-8
Garett Bolles — 9-7

Now here’s the same list noting each players draft placing:

Kolton Miller — TBD
Lane Johnson — #4
Taylor Lewan — #11
Eric Fisher — #1
Garett Bolles — #20

The next two names on the list were Jason Spriggs and Joel Bitonio — both were second round picks.

Explosive athleticism matters in the trenches. Through TEF we’ve been able to highlight the problem facing the NFL. Many more ‘explosive’ defensive athletes are entering the league vs offensive linemen. Teams are desperate to redress the balance.

I keep coming back to this quote from Pat Kirwan detailing the importance of explosive athleticism in the trenches:

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.

By jumping a 10-1 broad and adding a 31.5 inch vertical jump, Miller has shown he has the physical potential to win these 1v1 battles.

It means he can drive a guy deep into the end zone like this:

It doesn’t mean he’s necessarily destined to be a great player but at the very least he has the capability of developing into a very effective force.

Let’s look at how Miller’s combine compared to Lane Johnson’s:

Forty yard dash
Lane Johnson — 4.72
Kolton Miller — 4.95

Ten yard split
Lane Johnson — 1.68
Kolton Miller — 1.67

Short shuttle
Lane Johnson — 4.52
Kolton Miller — 4.49

Three cone
Lane Johnson — 7.31
Kolton Miller — 7.34

Vertical jump
Lane Johnson — 34 inches
Kolton Miller — 31.5 inches

Broad jump
Lane Johnson — 9-10
Kolton Miller — 10-1

Bench press
Lane Johnson — 28
Kolton Miller — 24

The only significant difference is the forty yard dash time — arguably the least important of the tests above. The 10-yard split is considered a more useful test for offensive linemen. There’s very little between the two players over 10-yards.

Again, this doesn’t mean Kolton Miller is going to be Lane Johnson at the next level. It’s clearly not as simple as that. Yet their physical profiles are very similar. For that reason, you have to do your homework. If you believe there’s even a moderate chance Miller can have a similar impact at right tackle, you have to consider him in the first round and possibly in the top-20. That’s how rare good offensive linemen are these days.

There are two other things to highlight.

Firstly, the aggressive nature of the players involved. Taylor Lewan, Lane Johnson and Garett Bolles were nasty, tone-setting offensive linemen. Yes they were explosive athletes but they’re also perfectly suited to playing O-line in the NFL. You want these types of characters blocking for you. The Seahawks have had characters like this in the past — Breno Giacomini for example. The likes of Lewan, Johnson and Bolles combine a similar attitude with first-round physical traits.

Miller isn’t cut from the same cloth. He’s not quite that grizzled, nasty blocker. He’s more of an athlete. He’s probably not going to get into an argument with Richard Sherman like Lewan or absolutely hammer a linebacker after the whistle like Bolles. It’s not necessarily a bad thing it’s just worth pointing out.

The other thing is the height. How tall is too tall? Being nearly 6-9 might have some benefits but it also presents a nice big target for defensive linemen. It’s harder to play with adequate pad level. You’re going to lose quite a lot of leverage battles. He might be susceptible to a change-up where a defensive end rushes with speed and then converts to power. Is he going to be able to adjust and avoid just being jammed in the chest? You don’t see many 6-8 or 6-9 offensive tackles. Giacomini is 6-7 and that might be the tallest Seattle has used so far.

Watching the UCLA-Stanford 2017 game, quite early in the tape you see a snap where he moves backwards to protect against a speed rush and the defensive end just prods him. Miller loses balance and does well to stay on his feet. By that point, however, he was extremely close to moving into Josh Rosen’s throwing lane.

There were a handful of occasions where this was repeated. The D-end gets into Miller’s frame and he loses balance/control. That’s not to say he’s consistently beaten off the edge. He isn’t. On each occasion Miller somehow found a way to recover and just about finish the block. He does manage a last-gasp anchor quite frequently. There are moments where you think, ‘here we go’ and then he ends up getting the job done. Just.

It’s a common theme watching his tape. Quite frequently you’ll see something and think ‘oh no‘ but he recovers just in time.

Look at this false step in his kick-slide. You’d imagine it’d lead to a problem. Miller recovers, stays calm and actually executes well in the end:

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way:

Isaiah Wynn and Austin Corbett showed an ability to drop the anchor and handle anything that’s thrown their way. They’ll contain against power, planting their feet and staying strong in the base. They handle double moves and stunts. They handle speed and power equally competently. Miller doesn’t provide that same reassurance.

That might be one of the things you have to live with if you draft him. Both Wynn and Corbett are going to move inside to guard because they’re squatty players without the kind of length and size you want at tackle. Miller has the size, the length and the rare athleticism to stick outside. He might need some work to realise his potential.

There are things to like. He does play with a degree of patience and calm. Despite some technical flaws and issues with his long frame — you don’t see him beaten very often. Nobody is blowing him away with speed off the edge. There were a couple of occasions against Stanford where he got up to the second level. He generally seems to take good angles in order to make life a bit easier controlling the edge.

When he plays square-up and goes up 1v1 against a defender he often wins. This is a good example below. Miller takes out two defenders highlighting the benefit of being an extremely explosive and agile blocker:

The sensational athleticism could get Miller through some possible growing pains. If he smooths out his kick slide and masters a way to keep people from getting into his pads he’s a good enough athlete where he could end up being a very useful NFL lineman. At the very least you’d be pitting an extremely explosive, talented athlete against another. Very few teams can say that about their right tackles when they face LDE’s.

I’m not convinced this is a direction the Seahawks will go (or a direction they should go). After all, Miller lacks the ability to kick inside as a worst-case scenario if he doesn’t stick at right tackle. A lot of people want to write-off Germain Ifedi but he probably deserves a year working with the new staff (he’ll also greatly benefit from the pass-blocking ability of Ed Dickson). They also believed enough in George Fant to make him the left tackle of the future a year ago. He’ll be returning and could win the right tackle job.

That said, they might see this as too good an opportunity to pass up. Miller’s upside is considerably high. If you believe he can develop into a Lane Johnson type, that’s hard to ignore. He’s the type of player that might not have lasted to the Seahawks in previous years. If they acquire extra stock from a possible Earl Thomas trade, they could be interested. It’s also worth noting — they like to take high-upside players early. Players with unique traits.

Very few offensive linemen with Miller’s upside are available.

So what are they looking for if they decide to go O-line early? The upside pick with major tackle potential (Miller) or the competent guard who might be more reliable early in his career albeit with a lower ceiling (Wynn, Corbett, Hernandez)?

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Friday notes: Sheldon Richardson to the Vikings

March 16th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

— We discussed the possibility of a relatively cold market for Sheldon Richardson. He didn’t put up big sack numbers in 2016 or 2017. A year ago Dontari Poe had to settle for a one-year $8m deal to bet on himself. He turned it into a reasonable three-year commitment from the Panthers. Charles Robinson claims the Seahawks offered Richardson only $6.5m a year. Seattle is increasingly thin on the defensive line.

— The Seahawks have signed tight end Ed Dickson. It seems he was their target all along. They hastily arranged a meeting with Dickson once free agency officially began. They were unwilling to match a relatively modest contract for Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Dickson signing could be a nice hedge for the draft. He’s a decent pass blocker. They’ll have some flexibility if they want to consider a player like Dalton Schultz, Durham Smythe or Will Dissly in the draft. Schultz in particular excelled as a run blocker at Stanford, opening numerous holes for Bryce Love.

— There’s no further news on Earl Thomas’ future. Jason La Canfora reported yesterday that the Seahawks are negotiating a trade with multiple teams. At the time it felt like something was forthcoming. It was quite an assertive report — including details of Thomas’ apparent desired contract (five years at $55m). Twenty-four hours on, however, there’s no further movement. The safety market is currently ice cold in free agency and the possibility of a Thomas trade could be the reason why. Tyrann Mathieu could also be waiting to see what happens with Thomas before negotiating a contract.

— Seattle continues to shop around and meet with various players. Receiver Markus Wheaton, defensive tackle Tom Johnson and defensive end Tank Carradine are scheduled for visits. Wheaton has had an underwhelming career so far but he has speed to burn and looked destined for a big pro-career when he was at Oregon State. Ian Rapoport also says, unsurprisingly, the Seahawks are negotiating to re-sign Byron Maxwell.

— It’s frustrating for fans at the moment. They’ve seen big name departures and want something to get excited about. Yet this isn’t a time for reckless spending. Playing the slow game can work. Ndamukong Suh remains unsigned. We need to see what’s happening with Earl Thomas. In a weeks time you might feel very differently about the direction of this team. Pete Carroll is a master recruiter. They have cap room. Let’s see how it plays out.

— The Seahawks appear to be spending a lot of time studying the O-line options in the draft. According to Tony Pauline, they met with Kolton Miller at the UCLA pro-day. They also sent a representative to Nevada to watch Austin Corbett. Miller had an outstanding combine while Corbett is a highly underrated prospect in the same mould as Isaiah Wynn. He’s just a really good blocker. Having only met with D.J. Fluker so far, it looks increasingly likely they’ll tap into the draft class. With a priority to fix the running game, adding an early pick on the O-line and at running back continues to make a lot of sense based on the talent available.

— Running back Mike Davis is visiting the Lions and according to Ian Rapoport has other meetings lined up too. Thomas Rawls also met with the Chiefs.

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Report: Seahawks discussing Earl Thomas trade

March 15th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This is the first update in a while on the future of Earl Thomas. It might also partly explain the relatively quiet start to free agency.

Maybe they’ve been waiting for this domino to fall?

After all, this would be a big call. It’d be another high profile departure.

Has it been coming though? Seattle’s first move in free agency was to re-sign Bradley McDougald. That could’ve been stage one. Stage two could be trading Earl Thomas. And from that position, the rest of the off-season plan kicks into place.

The Seahawks clearly want to make changes to the roster and specifically get younger on defense. It’s safe to presume they want to avoid handing out large contract extensions similar to the ones given to Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor.

Why are they not committing money (so far) to a hefty pursuit of Ndamukong Suh? Why didn’t they sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins? Why is Sheldon Richardson visiting with the Vikings and not inking a new contract with Seattle?

Possibly for the same reason — avoiding expensive and regrettable contracts.

The Seahawks got themselves into an ugly cap situation before. They might be doing their upmost to avoid that happening again. And that includes with Earl Thomas.

If the Seahawks deal Thomas and receive as much as a first and third round pick — it would open up the draft. With only one pick in the first three rounds currently, they’re going to struggle to fill most of their needs. With two first rounds picks, a third and the option to move down and acquire extra stock — they’d be much better placed to retool.

How would they replace Thomas?

They’ve already re-signed Bradley McDougald for insurance. Eric Reid has had a suspiciously quiet start to free agency (surprisingly it hasn’t received more media coverage considering his connection to the protests). He could provide a cost effective short-term solution next to McDougald while they draft and develop some younger players. Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson are also on the roster.

They could also look at Jessie Bates III early in the draft. He’s a highly talented free safety with the range, instinct and discipline Seattle likes. Natrell Jamerson at Wisconsin could be another option and they seem to have taken a shine to his team mate Nick Nelson too.

Tyrann Mathieu also remains a free agent.

Essentially, they’d have options at safety. They won’t be able to replace Earl with a younger replica. Thomas is a Hall of Fame talent, one of a kind. It’s important to remember though — the Seahawks almost didn’t have Earl Thomas to begin with. Philadelphia traded up in the 2010 draft to get ahead of Seattle. Everyone thought they would select Thomas. They took Brandon Graham. That’s how close they were to never having Earl. And yet the Pete Carroll era wouldn’t have just crumpled had the Eagles made a different choice.

Having two first round picks would provide the opportunity to add defensive talent and properly fix the running game at a reasonable price. They’d have no trouble manipulating the board to get one of the top running backs (Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson for example) and one of the top interior offensive linemen (Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, Austin Corbett, Billy Price, Frank Ragnow).

They could also seek value on defense. Jessie Bates III is likely an earlier round option and we’ve discussed the huge potential of Leighton Vander Esch. They could look at Josh Sweat who certainly fits some of the traits they’ve looked for in an EDGE rusher.

There’s a long list of names they could look at. That’s a topic we’ll save for another day if/when a trade is complete. At the moment it’s just one report, albeit quite a matter of fact report.

It might provide some insight into Seattle’s inactive start to free agency though. Have they been waiting for this? Keeping an eye on some of the options but knowing this had to fall first? Planning around this potential bombshell?

This feels like a crucial 24-48 hours.

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