Monday notes: Joeckel, free agency & Sidney Jones

March 13th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Before we get into this, if you missed the Sea Hawkers podcast appearance posted earlier don’t forget to check it out. The draft talk starts after 30 minutes:

Thoughts on Luke Joeckel & free agency so far

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell thinks the Seahawks overpaid Luke Joeckel:

Taking a flier on Joeckel would be one thing, but the Seahawks are paying Joeckel like he’s a solid guard, with his $8 million cap hit more than the rest of the Seattle offensive line combined ($7.5 million).

It’s understandable why there might be a negative reaction to this deal given his underwhelming career to date and recent knee injury.

That said, let’s put the $7m guaranteed into context. The free agent offensive tackle market exploded this year. Russell Okung, Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, Andrew Whitworth and others all got paid more (considerably more in some cases) than anyone expected before the start of free agency.

People like John Clayton were talking about Seattle potentially signing Reiff on a $6-7m type deal. He got $11.75m a year from Minnesota. Apparently there was interest in a return for Okung. The Chargers gave him $13.25m a year to be the highest paid left tackle in the league.

If you told fans before free agency that Seattle would miss out on Reiff and Okung and sign Joeckel for $6m less — most would say ‘fair play’.

The Joeckel contract, in context of the situation, is modest. Matt Kalil was also terribly disappointing as a top-five pick and he too was injured for most of the 2016 season. Even he got $11m a year from Carolina.

Stephen Cohen points out Joeckel will be the 34th highest paid offensive lineman in 2017. More context.

Free agency rarely provides answers and solutions for teams. The Seahawks were priced out of the market for good and average offensive linemen. They move on.

They’re not alone.

Dallas, for example, don’t have the room to make major moves to help their defense. The Patriots have been active — but they’re willingness to give away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins (plus potentially Dont’a Hightower) has enabled them to sign other players. The Falcons have been quiet, the Steelers have been quiet, the Cardinals have lost several key defenders.

When analysing Seattle’s one move so far — and the moves they haven’t made — context usually provides a dose of reality.

They will have to keep managing and developing this offensive line. It doesn’t mean they won’t make further moves in free agency or the draft — and it doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t improve.

Going back to Joeckel, there’s no doubt his career to date has been a let down. He would’ve been the #1 pick in a bad 2013 draft but for the sudden rise of the more athletic Eric Fisher. Joeckel was a technician, capable of handling stunts and deception. He’d worked in a pro-style and spread offense, protecting two different quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel.

Physically he wasn’t as good as Fisher and ultimately that’s why he went at #2 instead of #1. He was still highly regarded and a consensus top-five pick throughout the 2012 college season leading into the draft process.

It’s possible the lack of elite physical skills are too much of a problem to overcome and at this level, he doesn’t have any compensatory skills (mental or physical) to counter the deficiencies. Yet he has shown, even in Jacksonville, that he can be serviceable. A blocker who can properly identify a stunt? That alone will be a boost for Seattle.

There’s very little to lose from the deal. Here are possible scenarios:

1. Joeckel excels and you have a 25-year-old quality tackle with a shot to retain him as a possible core player moving forward.

2. Joeckel excels and you have him for one year before he signs one of those $10-12m contracts, giving you a third round compensatory pick on a one-year rental.

3. Joeckel is average but that in itself might be enough to upgrade the position he ends up playing.

4. Joeckel is awful or gets injured and you have no commitment to him beyond 2017.

This is a Seahawks type of move. He has a point to prove, something at stake. Possibly his last real shot at making a career out of this.

If they can turn a seventh round former defensive tackle into a $6.5m a year guard — they have a shot to resurrect Joeckel’s career.

What happened with T.J. Lang?

According to these tweets, Detroit technically usurped the Seahawks:

You have to have a limit. Seattle likely stretched their’s to get up to the $8m range. Who’s to say if they’d matched Detroit’s offer ($9.5m APY) it still wasn’t going to be enough? The Lions might’ve gone to $10-11m.

Getting into a bidding war was never going to put the Seahawks in a position to get this done. They have to move on. And they will.

Sidney Jones falling?

After hurting his achilles during the Washington pro-day, Tony Pauline believes he could fall into day three of the draft. That would be a titanic fall for a player who would’ve otherwise been a top-15 pick.

It’s hard to imagine why he would fall that far. Yes he likely won’t play in 2017. The injury could also linger or impact his performance going forward. However, Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack both only fell into the early second round a year ago. Smith is now having to deal with drop-foot for the rest of his career. Dallas still rolled the dice.

The deep cornerback class could work against Jones but is there a team in rounds 2-3 that would be willing to take a chance? His talent and attitude warrant that level of faith. He seems like the type of character that will be highly motivated by an injury/draft fall.

If he drops into round three, 31.5 inch arms or not, I hope the Seahawks consider taking him. With three picks in that round it’d be a chance to get a possible future star at a bargain price. Jones is special. This probably won’t hold him back.

Daniel Jeremiah’s big board

It’s difficult to read into these things. Jeremiah, in his final top-50 before the 2016 draft, ranked the following players far lower than they were eventually drafted:

Sheldon Rankins — ranked #26, drafted #12
Will Fuller — ranked #29, drafted #21
Taylor Decker — ranked #31, drafted #16
William Jackson III — ranked #32, drafted #24
Karl Joseph — ranked #33, drafted #14
Josh Doctson — ranked #36, drafted #22
Keanu Neal — ranked #46, drafted #17
Artie Burns — ranked #49, drafted #25

In his latest top-50, Jeremiah has the following ranked within striking range of Seattle’s pick at #26:

#20 Garett Bolles
#22 John Ross
#26 Haason Reddick

All three could/should go in the top-15.

Meanwhile Marlon Humphrey is ranked at #43, Kevin King at #44 and Obi Melifonwu at #46. It’s possible one or two of this trio won’t be there at #26.

What it does highlight though — even if these players go earlier than they’re ranked on Jeremiah’s board, the options are going to be really good at #26. Several players are going to be very appealing when Seattle is on the clock.

Veteran running backs still on the radar

Ian Rapoport mentioned today that Jamaal Charles is the preferred option in Seattle. It’s possibly no coincidence they’re meeting with him after Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray and Eddie Lacy. Get a feel for the rest, then close in on the one you want.

The Seahawks are a shotgun offense these days. Charles fits that the best. Unless they’ve been highly impressed by Peterson, it’s possible Charles could be the player they opt for by the end of the week. Either way, they’ll be looking for value.

It’s unlikely Seattle wants to be the team setting the market for veteran running backs. They’d probably rather have someone else do it for them. Yet if the options for Charles, Murray, Lacy and Peterson remain limited — their value is going to be impacted as a consequence.

Melifonwu visiting Seattle

Aaron Wilson notes the UConn defensive back will take a trip to the North West. This follows reported interest and possible meetings between the Seahawks and Melifonwu at the Senior Bowl and Combine.

There’s no doubting Melifonwu’s physical talent. Learning about the man and how he fits into Seattle’s alpha-male locker room is the key to determining whether he’s an option at #26.

Seahawks meeting with Jared Cook

This is the time to find value in the (somewhat delayed) second wave of free agency.

Cook is looking for a new home after the Packers chose to sign Martellus Bennett.

 

Sea Hawkers Podcast appearance

March 13th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Draft and Seahawks talk (starting 30 minutes in). Check it out:

 

Why Seahawks fans shouldn’t overreact to T.J. Lang news

March 12th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

T.J. Lang won’t be signing with the Seahawks. He’s joining the Detroit Lions after agreeing a three-year contract.

Lang spent the weekend visiting with Seattle. It’s possible the Lions stepped up their interest as he prepared to make a decision, potentially offering an amount the Seahawks and Packers were not willing to pay.

There are reasons why this shouldn’t be seen as terrible news:

1. Lang is injured
He’s set to miss all of the off-season as he recovers from hip surgery and a broken foot. He had a similar situation a year ago as he recovered from shoulder surgery — but he already had chemistry with his team mates in Green Bay. His first playing time in Detroit could be pre-season or it could be week one of the regular season. Not ideal.

Lang isn’t as young as the other offensive linemen getting paid this year. He turns 30 in 2017 and has had a few injuries. It might be something that concerned the Packers enough to balk at re-signing him.

2. Green Bay didn’t prioritise him
The Packers made two significant moves in free agency. They paid linebacker Nick Perry and brought in Martellus Bennett. Have a look at this tweet:

Lang clearly stated the Packers would get first refusal on any offer he received on the open market. They just let him join a competitive divisional rival, despite having plenty of cap room available.

Lament Seattle’s ability not to complete this signing if you want but Green Bay didn’t feel too strongly about needing to keep him.

3. The Seahawks can use this money elsewhere
There’s still a number of good players available on the open market and Seattle has money to spend:

They’re not going to land a big name free agent O-liner — but it’s a bad market this year. Supply is not meeting demand and look at the crazy contracts being handed out. Even Seattle is offering $7m guaranteed to take a punt on Luke Joeckel.

They should be able to land a free agent running back at a team-friendly price. They might be able to pursue a veteran defensive lineman like Connor Barwin. They can look at what’s left on the O-line or D-line.

And perhaps more importantly — they can use the $12m left to reward their own (see: Kam Chancellor).

Seattle clearly wanted to sign Lang. Why else would they bring him in for a pitch and visit? They likely wanted to do this on their terms though. Their price, their value. Not overpaying and getting desperate. The kind of approach that often keeps good teams at the top.

Nobody was talking about Lang two weeks ago. A lot of people wanted to see Russell Okung return. There were discussions about Riley Reiff and Matt Kalil. Lang only really appeared on the radar of Seahawks fans when it was revealed he was coming in for a visit.

That’s worth remembering if you’re feeling overly disappointed by today’s news.

***Update***

$9.5m a year and $19m guaranteed is a considerable sum. Reportedly Green Bay offered $7m a year and only $6.5m guaranteed.

 

Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt & Vince Biegel could fit in Seattle

March 11th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

When it comes to grit and agility, T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel score highly

We know the Seahawks are going to draft for the linebacker position (Pete Carroll spelled it out at the end of the season). Two players they might show interest in are Wisconsin pair Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt.

Agility

If yesterday’s assertion on the importance of short shuttle times is accurate, both players fit the bill. Watt ran the fastest time among linebackers at the combine (4.13) and Biegel recorded a 4.30. In comparison, Bobby Wagner ran a 4.28.

Yes the Seahawks clearly like SPARQ’d up dynamic athletes at linebacker. Yet there’s enough evidence, highlighted yesterday, to suggest a tough, physical LB with great agility will also be considered.

Grit

Here’s T.J. Watt talking about his partnership with Biegel:

“We’re so similar in our whole attitude to begin with on football and the high motor, trying to make a play for our defense all the time.”

And here’s how Biegel described being double-teamed in 2016 and how that impacted the defense:

“When I get double teams or more focus on myself, that’s providing opportunity for our defense to make plays. I’m not a big stats guy. I’m a football player, and I want our defense to play well. At the end of the day, the only stat line that means anything to me is the win column.”

Biegel’s NFL.com profile lists the following strengths: ‘Voted team captain. Known for intensity and all-out love for the sport’.

Here’s what Lance Zierlein has to say about T.J. Watt: “He is a tireless worker who pursues from snap to whistle and his brother, J.J., will be a tremendous resource for technique and pass-rush plan.”

Here’s an anonymous source on Watt: “This guy just plays his tail off… Boy, does he have technique. He’s Clay Matthews. Probably more explosive. Uses his hands well. He finishes things better than his brother (J.J.) did. I think he’s special.”

Les Miles similarly called Biegel a special player before LSU’s game in Wisconsin.

J.J. Watt describes in this video the ‘strong competition’ between the three brothers as they were growing up. “Nobody was going to mess with the three of us.”

Production

The Seahawks value run defense. Wisconsin had the #2 unit vs the run in 2016, behind only Alabama. They were also the #4 scoring defense (behind Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State and ahead of LSU and Florida) and ranked seventh in total defense.

That’s without a lot of big stars and five star recruits. Watt and Biegel have been described as the heart and soul of that defense. The two leaders of a very productive group.

When you watch Wisconsin games, Watt and Biegel not only work together to create openings but they frequently reached the quarterback at the same time. Against Michigan State they combined for 20 quarterback pressures. A lot of this was down to the creative (and effective) blitz packages used by Justin Wilcox — but the execution and understanding of the defense was also evident within these two players.

Between 2014-2016, Biegel had a combined total of 19.5 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s. Watt finished the 2016 season with 15.5 TFL’s and 11.5 sacks. And he did this:

Football IQ

Watt has stated in the past how much he has used brother J.J. Watt as a resource, sharing videos of tape and asking for advice. It shows not only in his play but also when he’s discussing the defense:

Biegel discussed his role at Wisconsin in detail at the combine:

If the Seahawks are looking for intensity and players that elevated a team to a level of performance beyond expectations, Watt and Biegel achieved that. They both tested well enough in terms of agility to be considered and although neither ran a particularly fast 40 time, they tested well as overall athletes.

The average pSPARQ score of pure linebackers (not converts like Eric Pinkins) drafted by the Seahawks is exactly 140. T.J. Watt scored a 140.8. Vince Biegel managed a 122.2 but that’s still better than the 117 scored by K.J. Wright. And Biegel’s short shuttle (4.30) is similar to Wright’s (4.35).

They’re both well sized too. One of the supposed knocks on Biegel, at least according to his NFL.com profile, is size. Yet he was 6-3 and 246lbs at the combine — the exact same height and weight as K.J. Wright. T.J. Watt is 6-4 and 252lbs with enormous 11 inch hands.

How would they fit? Pete Carroll often talks about utilising 3-4 personnel within his 4-3 under scheme. Both Watt and Biegel played outside linebacker at Wisconsin in 2016 (Biegel previously played inside) but it’s worth noting K.J. Wright also played OLB in a 3-4 at Mississippi State. Biegel could provide the necessary depth/competition at inside backer that Carroll has talked about. Watt is likely a SAM in Seattle — another potential need area.

The frequent pro-comparison for Watt is Clay Matthews. Bob McGinn’s sources made that reference and so did Mike Mayock recently. Watt, actually, has to be described as the superior athlete:

Name: Clay Matthews
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240lbs
Forty: 4.67
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Broad: 10-1
Bench: 23 reps
Short shuttle: 4.18
Three cone: 6.90

Name: T.J. Watt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Forty: 4.69
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 10-8
Short shuttle: 4.13
Three cone: 6.79

Watt ran a similar forty and beat Matthews in the vertical, broad, short shuttle and three cone. That’s despite weighing 12lbs heavier.

Projections have Watt currently going in the first or second round, with Biegel potentially going in round three.

The Seahawks shouldn’t have any trouble finding a handful of linebackers they like. Skim through this short shuttle list and find the tough guys, essentially. And with others impressing on the pro-day circuit recently (Jordan Evans, Jimmie Gilbert) this looks like an underrated position in this draft class.

If the Seahawks do target players like Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu early, they’ll have a chance to bolster another key need before the end of day two. Watt’s explosive athleticism and incredible agility could put him in contention at #26. He’s competing with genuine freaks at other need positions.

Sidney Jones injury

At the Washington pro-day today possible #1 cornerback prospect Sidney Jones suffered a suspected achilles injury:

This would be a huge setback for Jones. It’s a highly competitive group of cornerbacks jockeying for position. A serious, long term injury could move him from #1 on many boards to #6-7. Especially if there’s a chance he won’t play in 2016.

Hopefully it’s not a very serious injury although a ruptured achilles can take almost a year to heal.

Two thoughts come to mind:

1. How much does this help players like Gareon Conley and Kevin King, two players who really impressed at the combine?

2. Why the heck are pro-days taking place within a week of the combine? We just saw some of these players going through drills and doing tests less than a week ago.

Seahawks seeking late round/UDFA defensive tackles?

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks attended the Alabama State pro-day and kept a close eye on 6-0, 339lbs defensive tackle Rod Henderson.

As Pauline notes: “This is the second time this week I’ve reported the Jets and Seahawks on hand to see a late round/free agent wide bodied NT/DT.He previously reported the Seahawks have an official visit set up with Colorado’s Josh Tupou.

It looks like they’re searching for cheap, early-down depth up front — possibly to provide a most cost-effective solution to players like Tony McDaniel. This is especially likely given the dearth of good early-round DT options and the extremely good alternatives available at positions like cornerback, safety and tight end.

If you missed it yesterday, the Seahawks also worked out Washington State safety Shalom Luani at his pro-day.

 

Trying to crack Seattle’s linebacker code

March 10th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

On Wednesday we discussed the need to keep an open mind when it comes to the Seahawks and linebackers in the draft. It’s clear they like highly athletic players at the position (Bobby Wagner, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Malcolm Smith) but they also like K.J. Wright — a 6-3, 246lbs bigger linebacker with 4.71 speed.

And then it suddenly occurred to me…

A year ago the Seahawks invited Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland to the VMAC for a pre-draft visit. It was a weird one at the time because Ragland didn’t test well in the forty, vertical or broad jumps.

You can see how important these visits and workouts are from the list below:

If the Seahawks were visiting with Ragland they were likely interested in drafting him (and were thinking of adding a linebacker last year, not just this year).

Officially he ran a 4.72 at 6-1 and 247lbs, jumped 31.5 inches in the vertical and 9-8 in the broad. He’s as quick as K.J. Wright but less explosive.

The drill where he excelled was the short shuttle. Ragland’s 4.28 was the sixth best by a linebacker at the 2016 combine.

It would’ve been the sixth best at the 2017 combine too if he was part of this years draft.

In comparison, K.J. Wright ran a 4.46.

Here’s how Lance Zierlein described him in his draft bio:

Thumping inside linebacker with throwback size and tone­setting mentality. Ragland is a confident and capable early starter in league who has the temperament to become one of the premier run­-stopping inside linebackers in the pro game. Ragland has some coverage and speed limitations, but his instincts and overall awareness should be able to mask those issues.

Ragland didn’t have straight-line speed or explosive traits. He was big, physical and agile. And the Seahawks, seemingly, had some interest.

You know who else ran a 4.28 short shuttle? Bobby Wagner at the Utah State pro-day. Ragland didn’t have Wagner’s speed or explosiveness but he had similar agility.

This could be the test to focus on when judging who the Seahawks might draft at linebacker this year.

Here are the linebacker performers in the short shuttle at the 2017 combine:

= 1. T.J. Watt — 4.13
= 1. Ben Gedeon — 4.13
3. Blair Brown — 4.18
4. Duke Riley — 4.21
= 5. Alex Anzalone — 4.25
= 5. Brooks Ellis — 4.25
7. Zach Cunningham — 4.29
8. Vince Biegel — 4.30
9. Connor Harris — 4.31
10. Anthony Walker Jr. — 4.34

Note: Tyus Bowser, who recorded the fastest three cone by a linebacker, didn’t run a short shuttle.

There’s further evidence that the short shuttle is a crucial test. Kevin Pierre-Louis ran a 4.51 at his combine but his 4.02 short shuttle is the seventh best by a linebacker in the last ten years. They drafted him.

The fastest time in the last ten years (3.96) was run by Jordan Tripp. He signed with the Seahawks last September before landing on injured reserve and eventually being waived. Tripp was a 4.67 runner at his combine but performed well in the agility tests.

At the start of free agency a year ago the Broncos put a second round tender on linebacker Brandon Marshall. Troy Renck reported the Seahawks and Dolphins were showing interest. Marshall ran a 4.81 forty at the 2012 combine but had a superb 4.09 short shuttle.

A tough, physical linebacker with excellent agility could be the profile the Seahawks are looking for — not just the SPARQ standouts.

Go watch the names in the list above — plus Tyus Bowser and Jarrad Davis (just in case) — and look for the toughest, meanest run defender.

It’ll be really interesting to see how Davis tests at the Florida pro-day on March 28th. Hopefully he’ll do a short shuttle and three cone on top of the usual drills.

Despite running middling forty times the likes of Zach Cunningham, Alex Anzalone, Vince Biegel, Anthony Walker Jr. and others could very much be on Seattle’s radar. Oklahoma’s Jordan Evans ran a 4.28 short shuttle at his pro-day this week. It’s also more ammunition for those wanting to see T.J. Watt and Tyus Bowser in Seattle.

If there’s something in this, the Seahawks should have no problem adding a linebacker or two they like between rounds 1-3.

While this isn’t a fast group of LB’s — there’s plenty of agility and toughness.

Meanwhile, this piece by Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks lends support to our post-combine suggestion that Obi Melifonwu and Kevin King could be the two players Seattle focuses on at #26.

According to Brooks, Melifonwu is ‘more than a HWS (height-weight-speed) monster’:

He’s an active box defender with outstanding instincts, awareness and a nose for the ball. Melifonwu is a tackling machine who’s capable of displaying “thump” or wrap-up skills in the hole. He rarely misses runners in the open field and his secure tackling skills will make him a coveted player in defensive meeting rooms around the league.

Looking at his career resume, it’s not a coincidence that his tackling production has steadily improved over his four years as a starter (70 in 2013, 75 in 2014, 88 in 2015, 118 in 2016). He not only has a knack for finding the ball but he takes good angles and flashes some explosiveness upon contact. Melifonwu’s superb tackling places him ahead of some prospects who lack the discipline, courage and toughness to hit runners squarely in the chest.

Brooks also suggests: ‘I can see him thriving in a Kam Chancellor-like role as a pro‘.

With Chancellor’s contract set to expire after the 2017 season — the Seahawks might be thinking it’s time to plan ahead.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah has this to say about Washington cornerback Kevin King:

King has outstanding size and he ran much faster than evaluators expected. He also had an outstanding field workout, displaying excellent quickness and change-of-direction skills. Heading into the combine, I had King just outside my list of the draft’s top 50 players, but he clearly established himself as a top-40 selection with his performance in Indianapolis. This draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks, but his combination of size, length, ball skills and speed could make him a late-first-round pick.

If the Seahawks are ever going to take a cornerback in the first round, it feels like it’d be for a player like King. Length, straight-line speed, short-area quickness and agility. He’s a genuine freak of nature, doing everything well at the combine.

It was interesting to see a Seahawks coach work out Shalom Luani at his pro-day. That’s a name to watch for Seattle.

And there’s another name to add to the TEF list (explained here). Chris Muller’s performance at the Rutgers pro-day earned him a 3.25 score. Purdue guard Jason King, another player not invited to the combine, scored 3.30 at his pro-day on Wednesday.

 

Seahawks sign Luke Joeckel, visiting with T.J. Lang & RB’s

March 9th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks fans get their wish — some O-line help. The deal for Joeckel is reportedly worth $8m. It’s a substantial prove-it deal — but look at the going rate:

— The Panthers gave Matt Kalil, a below-average starter who missed 14 games in 2016 through injury, a $55.5m contract with $25m guaranteed.

— The Browns are set to pay Kevin Zeitler $60m over five years with $31.5m in guarantees. They’re also giving often-injured guard Joel Bitonio a $51.5m extension with $23m guaranteed.

— The Broncos are paying Ronald Leary $36m over four years with $20m in guarantees. Leary only started in Dallas in 2016 because of an injury to La’el Collins and he was diagnosed with a degenerative knee issue.

— The Rams are paying Anthony Whitworth $36m with $15m in guarantees, including $13m in 2017. Whitworth turns 36 in December.

— Russell Okung has agreed a $53m, four-year contract with the Chargers including $25m in guarantees.

— Riley Reiff intends to sign for the Vikings. Considering Minnesota’s desperate need on the O-line, they’re likely giving him a big contract.

The Seahawks cannot compete in this market — and that’s a good thing.

Before the Joeckel addition, Seattle only had five players set to earn more than $10m in 2017 — Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and Jimmy Graham. All five justify their salaries. The next five highest earners are Doug Baldwin ($9.6m), Kam Chancellor ($8m), Bobby Wagner ($7.6m), K.J. Wright ($6.8m) and Cliff Avril ($5.5m).

Consider the cap hits for those ten players and then consider what Matt Kalil and Ronald Leary are going to be earning in 2017. Then consider which of the ten above you’d rather lose and replace with Kalil, who would be the third highest paid player on the team.

Like it or not, the Seahawks built their identity on defense and possess a rare, genuine franchise quarterback.

Had the Seahawks built their identity on the O-line like Dallas, that’s likely where the investment would be right now. And we’d all be talking about the defense not being good enough instead.

As it is, the Seahawks didn’t have the #9 pick in 2011 for Tyron Smith or the #16 in 2014 for Zack Martin. They picked at #25 and #32 instead. And they had the foresight to draft Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and others on day three.

They’re left to try and develop a young line with a little help from guys like Joeckel with a point to prove. And they have to identify targets in an ever shrinking pool of draft options.

Good O-liners go early (aka the range where Seattle never picks) and it’s why Garett Bolles will likely go in the top-10 this year. They just don’t last. You’re often looking for upside and potential after the first round.

Have they missed on players? Sometimes. But it’s not a long list of O-line Pro-Bowlers drafted after the first round in the Pete Carroll era:

2010: 0
2011: 2 (Rodney Hudson, Jason Kelce)
2012: 1 (Kelechi Osemele)
2013: 1 (David Bakhtiari)
2014: 1 (Trai Turner)
2015: 0
2016: 0

Five in seven years. That’s it. And at a time when Pro-Bowl invites aren’t exactly hard to come by.

Plus for all the talk of Seattle’s ability to identify talent, it could be a lot worse. See, the 2011 late first round:

#23 Danny Watkins (Eagles)
#26 James Carpenter (Seahawks)
#29 Gabe Carimi (Bears)
#32 Derek Sherrod (Packers)

Meanwhile they’ve turned a defensive tackle into a $6.5m a year guard, a second round tackle into a blossoming center and we’ll see if the current group can take a step forward in 2017.

Joeckel has a point to prove. He was once tipped to be the #1 pick in 2013 before the Chiefs selected the more athletic Eric Fisher. He flopped in Jacksonville after being selected at #2. Yet he has familiarity with Germain Ifedi and might be playing next to him at right tackle.

$8m speaks to how highly rated he was entering the league. It also dispels any theory that the Seahawks are ‘cheap’ on the O-line.

It’s the kind of prove-it deal Seattle nailed with Bennett and Avril. Let’s see if Joeckel can deliver on his potential. He’s not even 26 until November.

As for T.J. Lang — he’s considered one of the best guards in the NFL. He broke his foot in the NFC Championship game and is expected to miss the entire off-season. That could impact his value. And while it seems somewhat likely he’ll end up returning to Green Bay, the news he’s visiting with the Seahawks tomorrow will be welcomed by anyone hoping for proven experience and quality on the O-line.

This level of focus also suggests what we kind of knew already — this is a draft for the Seahawks to go heavy on defense.

Meanwhile other reports claim the Seahawks will visit with Latavius Murray, Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy. A veteran running back addition appears to be a distinct possibility.

And Stephen Hauschka has signed a contract with the Bills. There will be a new starting kicker in Seattle this year.

 

Wednesday draft notes: TEF target, LB & SAM discussion

March 8th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Firstly, if you missed our post-combine podcast, don’t forget to check it out:

Purdue lineman adds to TEF options

According to Nathan Baird at the Lafayette Journal & Courier, we have another name to monitor on the O-line. Purdue guard Jason King recorded a 31 inch vertical, a 9-0 broad jump and managed 35 reps on the bench at his pro-day.

His TEF score is a 3.30.

George Fant (3.35) and Mark Glowinski (3.34) had similar scores. If King had recorded these numbers at the combine, he would’ve been the most explosive tester among offensive linemen (beating Forrest Lamp’s 3.23). He’s a name to watch.

What are the Seahawks going to do at linebacker?

This is what Pete Carroll said about team needs during his end of season press conference:

“We’ve gotta get the corner thing squared away… we’ll certainly be looking at that in the draft. That’ll be one of the areas. We need some youth at the linebacker spot now. Bobby and K.J. played 1000’s of plays this year between the two of them and were extremely successful but we need to address that. We didn’t really get anybody that made a difference in the last couple of years that can really fight to take those guys job. Think if somebody could battle K.J. and Bobby for their starting jobs? That’s what we need to draft towards, so we’ll be looking there. The offensive line will continue to be an area of focus and it will be. We’re looking at everything but I’m trying to give you guys something that you can walk out of here with. That’s probably the obvious focal points.”

Carroll doesn’t talk about drafting a SAM linebacker. Instead he specifically talks about drafting players that can push Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, or at the very least ease their workload.

If they want MIKE and WILL depth and competition rather than finding a starting SAM, it could be indicative of a plan to draft someone like Obi Melifonwu and run a lot of 4-2-5 again this year. Jeremy Lane had 71% of the defensive snaps a year ago. If they take Melifonwu early, he could inherit Lane’s and Mike Morgan’s snaps and be a full-time ‘Buffalo’ nickel offering Deion Jones size and defensive back athleticism.

Even if they draft Kevin King instead, his first role as a rookie could be ‘big nickel’ considering how well he tested in the short shuttle and three cone. His learning curve might be to start in the slot while he develops the outside corner technique. Either way you’re putting Melifonwu or King on the field at the expense of the SAM.

It’s also not unfair to assume if Carroll intends to add a SAM as a priority, he would’ve stated it. Instead he made specific references to Wagner (99.35%) and Wright (97.41%) playing virtually every defensive snap in 2016 and needing help at their spots.

Here’s where it becomes interesting though. What does history tell us about the possible MIKE and WILL fits in this draft?

Community member JT put together this spreadsheet detailing Seattle’s previous draft picks at the various positions, including linebacker.

The biggest takeaway might be the variety of the linebackers Seattle has entertained.

On the one hand, you’ve got a ‘Greek God’ of an athlete in Bobby Wagner at 6-0, 241lbs with 4.46 speed, an 11-0 broad jump and a 39.5 inch vertical. It’s remarkable that Wagner lasted as long as he did in the 2012 draft.

This is off-set though by K.J. Wright — a 6-3, 246lbs bigger linebacker with incredible length (35 inch arms) but only 4.71 speed, a 34 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad.

They’ve drafted smaller, faster linebackers (Malcolm Smith, 4.4 speed) and medium sized, explosive linebackers running in the 4.5’s (Kevin Pierre-Louis).

It suggests they’re not tied to a ‘type’ quite as strictly as they perhaps are at cornerback, running back or the offensive line. A fit at this position could be a player who runs a 4.4 like Wagner or Smith — but it could also be a player who runs a 4.6 or 4.7 if they have other appealing traits like K.J. Wright.

That could be important if they want to fill this need because it’s increasingly likely Haason Reddick will find a home in the top-20. Jarrad Davis, who won’t workout until his March 28th pro-day, is also being tipped to go earlier than many are projecting.

So while they probably prefer to draft a really dynamic athlete at linebacker, a compromise might be needed.

I’ve been thinking a lot since the combine about what the Seahawks are looking for. And while they’re certainly looking for those freakish athletes — they also want players who love football. Their first two picks in 2016 were junkyard dogs in college. Jarran Reed, their second round pick, wasn’t a big-time athlete. But he was their type of guy. Intense, gritty. He fit into the personality of this defense.

That might be the key at linebacker this year.

For example, Zach Cunningham had a middling combine overall. He tested well in the jumps (10-5 broad, 35 inch vertical) but had a mediocre forty time (4.68). He’s only 0.03 seconds faster than K.J. Wright despite being 12lbs lighter.

So he’s off the radar, right?

Not necessarily.

He has 34.5 inch arms — so similar length to Wright. And a couple of quotes in this piece by Chris Low are interesting:

“He’s in love with the game of football, and you see that every day in the way he prepares,” Marve said. “He’s always putting in extra time, but he also does a lot of things naturally that you don’t see in a lot of players. You hear guys say they want to be great. Zach practices that way and approaches every game that way.”

Vanderbilt was playing Georgia, and Cunningham on three occasions tackled Todd Gurley in one-on-one situations. “It was Zach and Gurley one-on-one. It wasn’t Zach and somebody else and Gurley, just Zach, and he made the play all three times,” Mason recalled. “Guys in the NFL don’t tackle Gurley in that situation, and it made me realize how special this young man can be. He sees things before they happen and has so many dimensions to him as a player, but what separates him is his ability to close and finish.”

If the Seahawks are convinced he loves ball and get the sense he’s a physical, committed linebacker that fits the personality of this team — he could be a consideration at some point, even with a 4.67 forty.

It’s also possible other options will emerge on the pro-day circuit. For example, reports from the Oklahoma pro-day today suggest Jordan Evans had a really good workout:

The broad jump would ideally be +10-0 but the other numbers are right up there. He’s faster than Cunningham with a better vertical and a similar short shuttle (4.28 vs 4.29). Evans managed 19 reps on the bench. Another name to keep an eye on.

SAM linebacker options

Let’s suppose the Seahawks don’t seek a ‘Buffalo’ like Obi Melifonwu and want to draft a more traditional SAM instead. I spent some time watching T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser and Jordan Willis last night to consider the options.

Firstly, I think Willis is a pure EDGE. He’ll also be an interesting subject when the draft begins. Physically he has a fantastic profile. His 1.54 10-yard split is the best for a +250lbs player since Cliff Avril’s 1.50. When you look at his combine workout, you can imagine a team in the top-50 taking a shot.

That said, Avril lasted until round three. So did Justin Houston. Occasionally, these fantastic athletes do last into the middle rounds. And when you watch Willis’ tape you do see a tendency to struggle getting off blocks. His hand technique and repertoire needs work. Coaching can get him there — but he’s a player who might need time.

To some extent he reminds me of Donte Moncrief. Both players are tremendous athletes. Both had good plays on tape. Both needed time. Moncrief was being tipped to go in the top-50 after his great combine in 2014 but lasted until round three. Could the same happen to Willis? Don’t rule it out. But I suspect he’s an EDGE rather than a SAM/LEO.

Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt, on the other hand, appear capable of playing SAM. They’re not as fast as Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan (all 4.4/4.5 runners) but they’re really explosive, move well in space and can set the edge vs the run.

Bowser has a freakish physical profile and it feels like we’re only just starting to see him truly develop as a player. His ceiling might be as high as any of the top players in this class. As a ball of clay waiting to be moulded, coaches are going to love this type of project.

One word to describe my style is gritsays T.J. Watt in this video. That will appeal to the Seahawks.

He makes good use of his ridiculous 11-inch hands and controls defenders, winning with power. He also has the agility to stay skinny when attacking his gaps and he finishes. He’s not a quick-twitch speed/athlete (4.69 runner) but he’s quick enough and agile enough in space.

Cassius Marsh, a 4.70 runner, has featured at the SAM for Seattle in part because he has rare agility for his size. How do Marsh and Watt compare? Here’s how they performed at their respective combines:

Name: Cassius Marsh
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Arm length: 33 inches
Forty: 4.89 (he ran a 4.70 at his pro-day)
Three cone: 7.08
Short shuttle: 4.25
Vertical: 32 inches
Broad: 9-0

Name: T.J. Watt
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252lbs
Arm length: 33 1/8 inches
Forty: 4.69
Three cone: 6.79
Short shuttle: 4.13
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 10-8

Marsh’s agility tests were really good for his size — and Watt beats him comfortably in both cases while also proving to be extremely more explosive.

It’s worth noting the Seahawks never made any firm commitment to Marsh at the SAM. It was tested but Mike Morgan started when healthy. I bring this up purely to emphasise Watt’s fit as a possible SAM — although it’s entirely possible he’ll be viewed as a pure 3-4 OLB (and a potential target for Green Bay and Pittsburgh).

Even so, it’s something to consider over the coming weeks. Especially if any reports emerge of King and Melifonwu going earlier than we’re currently projecting.

Free agency outlook

Jason La Canfora is consistently on the money when it comes to the Seahawks, so this is worth paying attention to:

 

Podcast: Combine review & free agency

March 8th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Reflections on the combine and thoughts on free agency:

 

Post-combine mock draft: 7th March

March 7th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Here we go then — the post-combine, pre-free agency mock draft (including a seven-round Seahawks projection). Trades are included and noted below:

Trade A
Buffalo trades #10, #43 and a 2018 pick to Chicago for the #3 pick
The Bills appear set to move on from Tyrod Taylor and have been aggressive in the past (Sammy Watkins). The Bears welcome the opportunity to trade down.

Trade B
Cleveland trades #12 and #33 to Tennessee for the #5 pick
The Titans are open for business and might be willing to trade down seven spots for the #33 pick in this loaded class. The Browns move up for a quarterback.

Trade C
Tennessee trades #18 to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks
The Titans get a proven, dynamic receiver and the Saints get another pick to help rebuild their defense.

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Buffalo (via Chi) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#4 Jacksonville — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#5 Cleveland (via Ten) — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#6 New York Jets — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#7 San Diego — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#8 Carolina — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#9 Cincinnati — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#10 Chicago (via Buf) — John Ross (WR, Washington)
#11 New Orleans — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#12 Tennessee (via Cle) — Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
#13 Arizona — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#15 Indianapolis — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#16 Baltimore — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#17 Washington — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#18 New Orleans (via Ten) — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#20 Denver — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#21 Detroit — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#22 Miami — Budda Baker (S, Washington)
#23 New York Giants — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#24 Oakland — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
#25 Houston — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#26 Seattle — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#27 Kansas City — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
#28 Dallas — Justin Evans (S, Texas A&M)
#29 Green Bay — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, LSU)
#30 Pittsburgh — Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
#31 Atlanta — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#32 New England — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)

Seahawks seven-round projection

R1 — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
R2 — Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
R3 — Isaac Asiata (G, Utah)
R3 — George Kittle (TE, Iowa)
R3 — Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)
R6 — Marquez White (CB, Florida State)
R7 — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

Mock draft notes

There’s probably only 2-3 legitimate top-10 picks. There’s approximately 80-90 players worthy of a top-60 grade.

The players taken between #11-20 are going to have a slightly better grade than the players taken at #40-45.

For that reason, it’s a really difficult class to project.

For example — I didn’t intend to exclude Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan) and Mike Williams (WR, Clemson). I just struggled to find a spot for them.

You might argue it’s unrealistic for these two to drop into the second round — but who are we leaving out to make room?

Is there anyone in that #10-32 range that doesn’t deserve a place in the first round? I’d argue no.

And it’s not like Davis and Williams don’t have their issues. Davis won’t workout pre-draft due to injury and both he and Williams are in the ‘good not necessarily great’ category. What stands out with either player, compared to ECU’s Zay Jones or USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster (for example)?

Jonathan Allen isn’t included due to injury concerns. News about moderate arthritis in both shoulders is significant. We saw a year ago how long-term injury concerns impacted Myles Jack’s stock. He went from sure-fire top-10 pick to second rounder. There’s no doubting Allen’s tape is excellent — but with so many talented alternatives in this draft, you’re going to really need to believe in him to take a chance on his long-term health. He might be a one-contract player.

It’s very possible Davis, Williams and Allen go in the top-20. The fact is though — some really good players are going to be there in round two.

It’s that type of draft.

Other notes

— Haason Reddick at #11? Why not? He’s a notch behind Myles Garrett in terms of explosive traits. New Orleans took Sheldon Richardson at #12 a year ago because of his explosive testing scores. Ryan Shazier was the #15 pick in 2014 and Reddick’s that type of talent.

— Jarrad Davis at #16? Some teams are going to love Davis’ combination of intensity, closing speed, length and love for the game. He’s occasionally compared to Ray Lewis. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Baltimore sees similarities between the two.

— Dalvin Cook dropping to #27? A cursory Google search reveals significant character flags that need checking out. On top of that, he had a thoroughly underwhelming combine. Cook ran a 4.53 three cone. Eddie Vanderdoes — at 305lbs — ran a 4.39.

— Top-45 picks? Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Jonathan Allen, T.J. Watt, Tre’Davious White, Takk McKinley, Quincy Wilson, Cam Robinson, Malik McDowell, Alvin Kamara, Bucky Hodges, Evan Engram, Chidobe Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley and Fabian Moreau could be in contention.

Notes on the Seahawks

The pick at #26 came down to two freakish athletes — Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu. One player has the freakish athletic profile needed to persuade the Seahawks to take a corner early, the other is a dynamic defensive ‘chess-piece’ capable of playing ‘Buffalo’ and a variety of other roles.

Reports on Monday suggested there’s a belief Melifonwu is ‘soft’. I’m not sold on that. There’s a tendency sometimes to see a freakish athletic profile and then expect to witness Garett Bolles, Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette-level intensity on tape.

What you see from Melifonwu are 6-8 plays a game where you see the potential. He’ll run through traffic, explode to the ball carrier and deliver a TFL. He’ll cover a crossing route perfectly and show off that terrific form in the broad jump to knock the ball down. He’ll chase down the running back from behind blitzing off the edge. His tackling form is very assured and he can read/react and close comfortably.

This isn’t ‘soft’ football. What teams need to determine is whether he loves ball. He’s quite a passive character overall. He seems like a nice guy. His coaches admit he’s not a big-time vocal leader although he made some improvements in 2016.

Reports suggest the Seahawks have invested a serious amount of time trying to work him out at the Senior Bowl and Combine. I suspect this is an attempt to get a feel for who he is. Will he come out of his shell sharing a locker room with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor et al?

After all, Kam developed into the heart and soul of this defense. Other personalities on this team have been developed. Bobby Wagner is a good example of this. He’s right up there now in terms of leadership — but it didn’t happen overnight.

If they believe Melifonwu has gritty aspects to his character — they’ll likely back themselves to bring it out. And if that is the case there’s a very good chance he’ll be a Seahawks target at #26. He will be very enticing for this team and could be their guy — as we discussed yesterday.

However, in this mock I went with Kevin King. Pete Carroll specifically stated cornerback, linebacker and O-line were the priority targets this off-season. Melifonwu is a hybrid, King is a corner.

When you run through King’s physical profile, he might be the dream project for an old secondary coach and his younger defensive-coordinator protégé:

— King’s 6.56 three cone was the fastest among cornerbacks this year and it’s the second fastest in the last five years (beaten only by 5-11 Will Davis in 2013).

— His three cone is the seventh best by a corner in the last 12 years (quicker than Patrick Peterson).

— He had easily the fastest short shuttle this year by any player (3.89) and the fourth best time in the last five years.

— Any concerns about his long-speed were misguided and incorrect. He ran a 4.43.

— He’s explosive, recording a 39.5 inch vertical. He didn’t do the broad jump at the combine but managed a 10-10 a year ago at the Husky combine.

— He has the required size (6-3, 200lbs) and length (32 inch arms) this team covets.

What you have here is a player with the deep speed to cover burner’s downfield, the short-area quickness to handle dynamic slot receivers and the size and length to handle big targets and contest the football.

King has so many similar traits to Richard Sherman, only he’s a better athlete.

The question shouldn’t be whether the Seahawks will have any interest in King, it’s whether he’ll even last to pick #26.

The rest of the seven-round projection handles Seattle’s needs. They select a SAM/LEO in Tyus Bowser. They get extra competition on the offensive line with Isaac Asiata — one of the few O-liners who matches their physical profile in this draft. They tap into the tight end class (George Kittle) and find a replacement for Luke Willson. They get depth at safety with one of the grittiest players in the draft (Shalom Luani) and they finish off with another cornerback pick (Marquez White) and some more competition at running back (Chris Carson).

Alternatively, they could take another cornerback in round three (eg Shaq Griffin) or target a versatile linebacker with the potential to provide depth and cover in a handful of spots (Vince Biegel? Alex Anzalone?). With depth on the D-line too, that could be an option between rounds 3-7.

I’m considering doing a live Q&A on the blog (coveritlive style) this week. Let me know in the comments section if this is something you’d be interested in.

And a reminder that free agency begins in earnest today. Here’s one name to monitor:

In case you’re wondering, Schwenke’s TEF score is 3.04.

 

Combine review: DB’s, overall thoughts & predictions

March 6th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

Two players stand out at #26

The combine is over — and we’re starting to get some clarity on what might happen with the #26 pick.

With Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick driving their stock well into the top-20, it might come down to two players:

Obi Melifonwu & Kevin King

The Seahawks have only drafted one defensive back before the fourth round in the Pete Carroll era (Earl Thomas). If they’re going to break that trend in 2017, it’ll likely be for a truly freakish athlete.

That’s exactly what these two bring to the table.

Melifonwu is 6-4 and 224lbs. He’s the antidote to what we saw on Saturday with the tight end class excelling. He ran an official 4.40, jumped 44 inches in the vertical, recorded an 11-9 broad jump and didn’t show any signs of stiffness during drills when asked to redirect, transition and make sharp turns.

Look at the way Pete Carroll reacted after Melifonwu ran the 4.40. He’s rocking back and forth in his seat before turning to say something to Kris Richard:

This is a Seahawks type of first round pick.

How would they use him? In so many different ways. He’s only two pounds heavier than Atlanta’s brilliant linebacker Deion Jones. He has the physical tools to match-up with big wide outs and dynamic TE’s in the slot. He might be too big to play outside corner but he can travel there in certain looks or motions. He’ll provide depth at two safety positions.

A few fans have questioned his tape on Twitter. Personally I don’t think it’s bad at all. His performance against Virginia (link here) highlights the potential he has as a read-and-react, sure tackler. He makes a terrific play running through traffic to take down the running back for a TFL. He shows range in high coverage and he plays the ball.

Seattle’s Head Coach is the best defensive backs tutor in the league. He can work with this physical profile and that tape.

Here’s how the league views him, per Bob McGinn’s anonymous sources:

Four-year player with 48 games and 48 starts. “He reminded me of Deone Bucannon because he can play in the box and in space,” said one scout. “Physical. Square tackler. I was shocked. He’s big and he can run. I think he’s too big for corner. He can replace a ‘backer in the box because he can cover.” Arms were 32½. Eight career interceptions. “He looks the part,” said another scout. “He’s more of a downhill type but he brings a presence.”

A 6-4, 224lbs Deone Bucannon. Think about that for a second.

King ran an official 4.43 at 6-3 and 200lbs and followed it up with a 39.5 inch vertical. He didn’t record a broad jump according to the NFL tracker but a year ago he managed a 10-10 at the Husky pro-day.

His 6.56 three cone was the fastest among cornerbacks this year and it’s the second fastest in the last five years (beaten only by 5-11 Will Davis in 2013). He also had easily the fastest short shuttle this year by any player (3.89) and the fourth best time in the last five years.

Essentially his long speed is as quick as Melifonwu’s, he’s not as explosive but he’s lighter and probably has superior short-area quickness (Melifonwu didn’t run a three cone or short shuttle).

The agility tests really show off how versatile he is. King might be 6-3 and 200lbs but he’s not just an outside corner. He handled the slot for Washington in 2015 and he can do it at the next level too. He can pretty much defend any type of receiver — with the size and length to handle the bigger targets, the short are quickness to match-up with a dynamic slot and the deep speed to go head-to-head against a burner.

When we talk about the Seahawks likely only taking a special player in round one at cornerback — this is what he looks like.

Of course there’ll likely be other players in play at #26. We didn’t see Justin Evans or Jarrad Davis workout at the combine. Who knows where players like Jabrill Peppers and even Haason Reddick will be projected? There’s at least a chance Seattle won’t be able to resist a player like Budda Baker despite his lack of size.

Even so, it certainly feels like Obi Melifonwu or Kevin King could easily be Seattle’s next first round pick if they’re available at #26.

DB class overall shines

There were two big positives about today:

1. Most of the big name prospects lived up to expectations

2. Several second and third tier players performed better than expected

Marshon Lattimore, Sidney Jones, Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, Tre’Davious White and Kevin King all performed well. Cordrea Tankersley ran a 4.40 to throw his name into the first round mix.

Jamal Adams didn’t have a fast, explosive workout but was never really expected to. Budda Baker is what he is — a 4.45 runner, not the most explosive tester but plays well beyond his size.

Jabrill Peppers hopped around Lucas Oil Stadium like he’d been drinking sunshine in a glass — his personality and leadership shining as brightly as his dynamic athletic performance.

Due to injury, Malik Hooker and Justin Evans didn’t workout.

The majority of the names above could go in the first frame.

A lot of the second and third tier prospects performed as expected and even the disappointments were only minor — such as Rasul Douglas running a 4.59 or John Johnson a 4.61.

Shaq Griffin warrants a closer look after his performance. He ran a 4.38 at 6-0 and 194lbs (with 32.5 inch arms) and jumped well too (38.5 inch vertical, 11-0 broad).

Ahkello Witherspoon did as good a job as anyone covering John Ross in 2016 and now we know why. He ran a 4.45 at 6-3 and 198lbs (33 inch arms). He also recorded a huge 40.5 inch vertical and a 10-7 broad jump. His tackling technique and run defense is poor on tape — but you can work on that with this profile. He could be a Kevin King consolation prize.

At safety, Rayshawn Jenkins is one of the grittiest players in the draft class. His ability to run a 4.51 at 6-1, 214lbs and jump a great vertical (37 inches) and broad (10-8) makes him very interesting. He also has 33 inch arms and has hybrid potential.

Montae Nicholson is 6-2 and 212lbs with 33.5 inch arms and he ran a 4.42. In the vertical he managed 35 inches and he followed it up with a 10-5 in the broad jump. Again, it’s another really intriguing physical profile.

Josh Jones is 6-1 and 220lbs and he ran a 4.41. His jumps were also impressive — he managed 37.5 inch vertical and an 11-0 broad. He’s another player that could be used in many different ways by Seattle considering his size and length (32 inch arms).

And while Shalom Luani didn’t post a freaky explosive combine like the three names above, his 4.55 is good enough to justify a team like Seattle giving him a shot — especially with his gritty backstory and physical, tone-setting style of play. He could be a day three steal.

Overall takeaways from the combine

Some thoughts and predictions on other non-DB ‘big name’ prospects…

Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
One of only three offensive lineman to have a truly explosive physical profile, Bolles also performed very well in the agility tests. His short shuttle and three cone (4.55, 7.29) were similar to Dalvin Cook’s (4.53, 7.27). Bolles is destined for the top-12.

Forrest Lamp (T, Western Kentucky)
He might have to move inside to guard (32 1/4 inch arms) but Lamp was by far the most explosive tester among the offensive linemen. With the league desperately short of good O-liners, Lamp might not get past Denver at #20.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
McCaffrey lit-up the RB drills, catching everything in sight while managing to look truly pissed off with the world. His three cone (6.57) is the best by a running back in five years (beating Christine Michael’s 6.69) and he was explosive (37.5 inch vertical, 10-1 broad).

Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
It was a surprise to see Fournette only manage 28.5 inches in the vertical, purely because he looks so explosive on the field. Yet his 4.51 forty at 240lbs showed he is 0.02 slower than Dalvin Cook but weighs 30lbs more and he’s only 0.04 slower than Ezekiel Elliott despite weighing 15lbs more.

John Ross (WR, Washington)
He broke the combine record for a forty yard dash (4.22), jumped 11-1 in the broad jump and 37 inches in the vertical. Combine this with the way he gets open consistently and quickly on tape and Ross is a top-15 lock. He’s DeSean Jackson without the headaches.

O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
Howard ran the same time as Leonard Fournette (4.51) but did it carrying an extra 10lbs of weight. He also ran the fastest three cone by a tight end in the last five years (6.85). In comparison, Jimmy Graham ran a 4.56 forty and a 6.90 three cone at his combine.

David Njoku (TE, Miami)
He jumped an 11-1 broad and a 37.5 inch vertical at 6-4, 246lbs. His forty time (4.64) is only 0.04 seconds slower than former top-10 pick Eric Ebron and his three cone (6.97) is the seventh fastest by a tight end in the last five years.

Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
The buzz is starting to develop for Watson with several onlookers praising the way he performed throwing the ball in Indianapolis. He looked in control, his drop-back and footwork was better than expected and he has the arm strength. Someone is going to believe in this guy very early in round one.

Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
When you put his testing numbers through TEF, he scores a 4.21. Compare that to Jadeveon Clowney (3.50), Mario Williams (3.97), J.J. Watt (3.82), Aaron Donald (3.53) and Khalil Mack (3.81). The term ‘generational talent’ was made to describe Myles Garrett.

Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
The only player more explosive in the 2017 draft is Myles Garrett, a once-every-ten-years type of talent. Reddick scored a 3.93 in TEF and even when you account for his lighter weight (237lbs), he scores a 93.1 in wTEF. Basically, he’s a genuine freak who will terrorise offenses wherever he plays.

Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
Thomas’ TEF score of 3.83 is comparable to J.J. Watt and Khalil Mack. Running a 4.69 at 273lbs is freakish and he managed a 1.66 split despite his size. His 6.95 three cone is the tenth best by a defensive lineman in the last five years. He could be the #2 pick after Garrett.

Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)
His testing numbers weren’t particularly special for a 253lbs defensive end but the way he performed in drills has to have some teams excited. He looked incredibly comfortable working in space and changing direction.

Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan)
He didn’t have the greatest workout, looking quite stiff during drills. When asked to drop into coverage he was the complete opposite of ‘twitchy’. And yet he still had a decidedly explosive overall workout (3.23 TEF) with the size teams love (6-6, 277lbs).

Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Teams are looking for reasons to draft a prospect with Barnett’s intensity and college production. He had an explosive workout (3.15 TEF) and his three cone (6.96) was 0.01 seconds slower than Solomon Thomas’. He gutted it out despite suffering with illness.

T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
Watt flashed an explosive physical profile with a 37 inch vertical and a 10-8 broad jump. He had the second best three cone on Sunday (6.79) and the best short shuttle (4.13). His three cone is the eighth best by a DL or LB in the last five years and his short shuttle is the 11th best (and only 0.08 slower than Frank Clark’s).

Alvin Kamara (RB, Tennessee)
A 4.56 forty is good enough at 5-10 and 214lbs. Kamara jumped out of the building with a 39.5 inch vertical and a 10-11 broad. Long speed is overrated for running backs. Explosive traits are crucial. Kamara is the definition of explosive.

Bucky Hodges (TE, Virginia Tech)
Hodges had a ‘wow’ performance. At 6-6 and 257lbs he ran a 4.57, jumped 39 inches in the vertical and 11-2 in the broad. His size, forty time and vertical compare favourably to Jimmy Graham and his broad jump is significantly better.

Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
Engram is the type of player the league is desperate for. He’s smaller (6-3, 234lbs) than the likes of Hodges and Njoku but he’s just as explosive (36 inch vert, 10-5 broad) with better quickness (fourth best three cone in last five years, sixth best short shuttle). He can be a WR/TE hybrid — a mismatch in a league dominated by mismatches.

Tyus Bowser (LB, Houston)
At 6-3 and 247lbs Bowser ran a 1.59 split (anything in the 1.5’s is elite), jumped 37.5 inches in the vertical and 10-7 in the broad. He had the best three cone on Sunday (6.75) — the fifth best by a D-liner or linebacker in the last five years. He could be a SAM, a 3-4 OLB or a LEO.

Question marks

Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Allen was the definition of average in every sense at the combine. His times were only decent in the forty (5.00) and three cone (4.50), he’s not particularly explosive (2.75 TEF) and he’s small (6-2, 285lbs). In comparison, Eddie Vanderdoes is more explosive (3.04 TEF), quicker (4.99 forty, 4.39 three cone) and bigger (6-3, 305lbs). There are also lingering injury concerns.

Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
A dynamic runner on tape, Cook had a torrid combine. His three cone (4.53) is a lot slower than Eddie Vanderdoes’ 4.39. He only managed a 30.5 inch vertical and his forty time was only 0.02 seconds faster than Leonard Fournette despite carrying 30lbs less. There are also legitimate character concerns teams will be investigating.

Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
His combine performance was mediocre (2.67 TEF) and he didn’t even get much of a boost in weighted TEF for being 322lbs (85.9). There are better athletes at his size available (Taylor Moton) and he looks like a borderline first rounder only because of the desperate need for O-liners in the NFL.

Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
Unlike the other three ‘big name’ quarterbacks in the draft, Kizer didn’t get a positive review for his performance throwing the ball. He was erratic in college (one really poor game against Duke stands out) and that was the case in Indianapolis too.

Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
Williams didn’t run the forty yard dash, suggesting he wasn’t ready after a long season at Clemson. On the same day, Deshaun Watson competed in everything. That’s not a good look. It feels like he knew he wasn’t going to run fast and bailed. John Ross and Corey Davis appreciate the help.

Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
There are serious concerns about McDowell’s effort and attitude but he put on a show at the combine. He’s 295lbs with great height (6-6) and length (35 inch arms) and ran a 4.85 with a 1.69 split. His three cone (4.53) was the same as Dalvin Cook’s. So why didn’t he dominate every week last year?

Possible Seahawks targets

Offensive line
Assuming both Garett Bolles and Forrest Lamp are off the board by #26, the Seahawks could look at adding Nico Siragusa, Isaac Asiata or Taylor Moton beyond the first round. All three tested well in terms of size/explosive traits and would add further competition to the O-line.

Running backs
The Seahawks have a type (explosive tester, around 5-11 and 220lbs) and the ones best matching it are Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Brian Hill and Chris Carson. Kamara might be a top-45 pick and out of contention but Jones, Hill and Carson could provide day three value and extra competition.

Tight end
With such a dynamic group and Luke Willson out of contract, there’s an opening to draft a TE again this year. With Howard and Njoku possible top-25 picks and Engram and Hodges probable top-45 picks, Iowa’s George Kittle could be a target. He ran a 4.52 at 6-4 and 247lbs while jumping a 35 inch vertical and an 11-0 broad. He’s known for his abilities as a blocker too.

Wide receiver
John Ross aside, the mid or later round options seem more attractive than possible first round picks like Corey Davis or Mike Williams. ECU’s Zay Jones could end up going in round two after a brilliant combine and Senior Bowl. Penn State’s Chris Godwin, Georgia State’s Robert Davis, Michigan’s Jehu Chesson and LSU’s Malachi Dupre have the kind of profile Seattle has liked in the past.

Defensive line
Day three looks like a possible target area considering there are at least 30 explosive D-liners in this class. You can afford to wait and get a nice project. Carlos Watkins, Eddie Vanderdoes and Deatrich Wise are possible options at DT (DE/DT in Wise’s case). Jordan Willis could be seen as a possible SAM/LEO given his sensational workout but how early are you willing to consider him (if at all)? Are there better options at other positions in the range where you’d have to take him?

Linebacker
The Haason Reddick dream is likely over. He’s too good. Jarrad Davis didn’t perform due to injury and won’t workout until the Florida pro-day on March 28th. Zach Cunningham didn’t have a great combine but might be a value pick if he lasts deep into round two as a consequence. How do you view Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt? Are they capable of playing SAM as well as EDGE/LEO? Is Raekwon McMillan a possibility after his surprisingly good combine? Alex Anzalone is another name to monitor — he excelled in the three cone (6.88) and short shuttle (4.25). Pete Carroll said he wanted to draft for this position but there weren’t a ton of options here. Keep an eye on the pro-day circuit for alternatives.

Cornerback
The early realistic options appear to be Kevin King and Gareon Conley. They might consider Ahkello Witherspoon in the first couple of rounds. Much will depend on the range of a player like Quincy Wilson too (is there a chance he lasts deep into round two?). Shaq Griffin could be a third round possibility. How far does Rasul Douglas fall after running a 4.60? There were 15 cornerbacks with +32 inch arms at the combine — and plenty of opportunities for Seattle.

Safety
There are so many options here. Justin Evans didn’t workout due to a quad injury but could come into contention after his pro-day. Obi Melifonwu is obviously another option in the first round. It’s worth keeping Budda Baker on the radar too because even despite his lack of size, he plays with a ‘Seahawks’ intensity. Options later could include Rayshawn Jenkins, Josh Jones, Shalom Luani and Montae Nicholson. This is a DB draft and with five picks in the first three rounds — the Seahawks would be wise to load up to secure the long term future of the LOB.