This is an open thread to discuss the final day of the combine where the defensive backs will perform. The Seahawks are unlikely to be too active with this group considering the talent they have at both safety and corner, but they may look for further depth in the later rounds. I’ll review the numbers when they’re in and provide a breakdown.
Just how well Morris Claiborne works out could be crucial for the Seahawks. Cleveland (if they don’t win the RGIII trade-stakes) and Tampa Bay may see him as an alternative to Trent Richardson – who would be an option for Seattle if he drops out of the top ten. Jacksonville could select Claiborne instead of a top-tier edge rusher – Seattle’s preferred pick at #12. I’m also interested to see how Dre Kirkpatrick performs – a player I’m not overly enamoured with who struggles in coverage and offers more value in run support. Janoris Jenkins’ off-field problems have dominated his projection, he’ll have to explode in drills to rescue his stock.
Select forty yard dash times
Morris Claiborne (LSU): 4.54 & 4.47
Cliff Harris (Oregon): 4.59 & 4.65
Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina): 4.44 & 4.47
Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma): 4.43 & 4.45
Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska): 4.51 & 4.60
Dwight Bentley (Louisiana-Lafayette): 4.37 & 4.41
Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama): 4.44 & 4.50
George Iloka (Boise State): 4.59 & 4.62
Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech): 4.38 & 4.44
Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt): 4.53 & 4.60
Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama): 4.43 & 4.53
Janoris Jenkins ran a 1.47 10-yard split and showed well overall. Jayron Hosley and Stephon Gilmore also took advantage of the opportunity to impress. Hosley in particular is a bit of a risk taker, but has the speed and playmaking qualities to be a star at the next level. Tony Pauline says talk at the combine suggests Tampa Bay will draft Morris Claiborne with the #5 pick.
A few people have asked about Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly after he ran an impressive forty yard dash yesterday and flashed enough athleticism to warrant serious talk as a top-20 pick. He ranked 3rd among linebackers in the 20-yard shuttle and vertical, 4th in the 3-cone drill and 5th in the broad jump – all after running a 4.58. John Clayton mentioned on ESPN 710 yesterday that there’s a chance David Hawthorne could leave Seattle in free agency, creating a potential hole at middle linebacker. Following Leroy Hill’s latest arrest for drug possession yesterday, the Seahawks are faced with losing two starters in one area of the roster. Only second-year KJ Wright is slated to return at this stage, a situation that could make linebacker a priority during the off-season (if it wasn’t already). The defense already has enough issues with it’s impotent pass rush without another position gatecrashing the party.
Kuechly will likely be your classic safe, impact draft pick. Many people expected Aaron Curry to fit that mantra, but Kueckly’s skill set is completely different. A fine athletic showing in Indianapolis this week was seen as a bonus alongside raw tackling ability, a nose for the ball, field IQ and leadership. Unlike Curry, Kuechly isn’t going to make mental mistakes by the dozen ad collect penalties like baseball cards. He’s the type of player you plug in for week one and let him get to work. Size concerns are in the past after he turned up to the combine above the 240lbs mark and he held the extra weight well during work-outs.
However, I still think he’s an unlikely pick for the Seahawks. Middle linebacker is not a position that has traditionally required top-level draft investment – Seattle has seen that with the way they’ve been able to plug in David Hawthorne (a former UDFA). This front office has also shown a good eye for the position – finding KJ Wright in the middle rounds and finding a 7th round diamond in Malcolm Smith. There will undoubtedly be opportunities to fill holes with a modest outlay – either a mid-round pick or calculated free-agency pick-up at linebacker. Kuechly isn’t going to offer any pass-rushing quality, therefore he won’t be improving Seattle’s target area this year. His presence won’t significantly improve the team from their 2011 performance and although he’s clearly a fine football player – I suspect the Seahawks want more of an impact.
I’ve included Kuechly’s tape vs Clemson below, courtesy of JMPasq:
Day six links
Adam Schefter reports that St. Louis has decided to trade the #2 overall pick to a team intending to draft Robert Griffin III. That team is likely to be Cleveland or Washington, with Miami ranked as an outsider. Schefter: “Among the teams Griffin interviewed with in Indianapolis were Miami, Washington, Minnesota and Kansas City. He said all went well, including his talk with Indianapolis executives trying to decide what to do with Manning and that top pick.”
Mike Mayock runs through who impressed during yesterday’s drills. Like most other people – Mayock really liked the way Dontari Poe performed and highlighted the elite mobility he flashed during his work-out.
Michael Lombardi complimented Melvin Ingram and his versatility. He did play down the fact Ingram had the shortest arms among defensive lineman and although a 4.78 forty was fine, it wasn’t the kind of explosive number that could’ve cemented his place in the top-15.
Lombardi also provides a top-ten mock with the Redskins trading up to get Robert Griffin III. Two of the top-tier pass rushers are off the board – Ingram at #8 and Quinton Coples at #10. With Kansas City unlikely to draft him, this would be a very good situation for the Seahawks with ideal-pick Courtney Upshaw still on the board.
Tony Pauline liked what he saw from the defensive lineman and shows how deep this year’s class is by highlighting so many prospects as ‘risers’. Devon Still wasn’t quite as impressive, according to Pauline: “Still struggled throughout his entire workout. His 5.05-second 40 time paled when compared to many of the top defensive tackles at the combine. Still looked stiff in drills and struggled with his balance throughout the session.”
Pauline also enjoyed watching the linebackers work-out, including North Carolina’s Zach Brown. Pauline: “Brown was quick in the 40, timing as fast as 4.45 seconds on a number of watches after tipping the scales at 244 pounds. He flashed ability during drills, but seemed stiff and off balance at times. Despite that, the size/speed ratio and his game film make Brown a Top 25 choice.”
Steve Muench wasn’t too impressed with the Alabama pair of Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower, but he still believes they will be effective at the next level. Muench: “A pair of Alabama linebackers didn’t look great in space, so they aren’t great fits for schemes that ask a lot of their linebackers in space. However, Courtney Upshaw (6-2, 272) and Dont’a Hightower(6-2, 265) are excellent fits for a base 3-4 scheme – Upshaw at outside linebacker and Hightower at inside linebacker. In addition, Upshaw could even line up at end in a four-man front, so don’t expect their average showing in drills to hurt them too much.”
Muench also praised Dontari Poe for his display, but voiced concerns about Devon Still. Muench: “Memphis DT Dontari Poe ran a 4.98 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3½ and 346 pounds, and he shined during position specific drills. Poe showed exceptional lateral quickness and balance for a player his size during bag work, and given his 44 reps on the 225-pound bench press, he’s helped himself as much anyone else with his showing in Indianapolis. Penn State DT Devon Still, on the other hand, did not have a great day. Still looked sluggish changing directions and struggled to bend when asked to slap lower bags while sliding laterally.”