Seahawks interested in Barron & Hightower?

April 5th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Tony Pauline had an interesting blog post today at DraftInsider.net, discussing Seattle’s possible draft plans on April 26th:

“What will the Seattle Seahawks do? Separate sources told me today the team hopes to move out of the 12th slot and trade into the later portion of round one, where they will then draft linebacker Donta Hightower. If they can’t move the pick they are seriously considering Hightower’s teammate, safety Mark Barron, at that slot and Kam Chancellor would then move to outside linebacker.”

Pauline’s sources are worth noting, especially when it comes to teams in the NFC. His Dallas sources have proven impeccable in recent years. On this one however, I’m not so sure.

Pete Carroll loves safety’s, which is pretty understandable given he played the position in college at Pacific. Carroll made an upgrade at the position one of his top draft priorities in 2010, alongside a new left tackle. Initially, they’d hoped Eric Berry would be available at #6 and Trent Williams would be there at #14. As the process played out, it became clear neither would be available – Williams in particular enjoyed a late surge into the top-five picks. The desire to go OT/FS remained though, evident by the decision to draft Russell Okung and Earl Thomas.

Seattle’s defense puts a lot of emphasis on winning the battle at the LOS, while having a secondary capable of capitalising on turnover opportunities. The safety position has taken a prime role, so the team’s desire to go big on the position shouldn’t be a shock. An alleged interest in Barron equally shouldn’t be surprising.

However… here’s the thing. Kam Chancellor is a pro-bowl safety. He’s the player the Seahawks sent to model the team’s new uniform in New York. He’s one of the big success stories of the Carroll/Schneider era to date. So why would you move him to linebacker? Sure, in the process of the 2010 draft he was considered a possible linebacker project. It’s not a completely ridiculous suggestion. Even so, what if the switch doesn’t work? If he didn’t adapt to the linebacker position, fans and pundits alike would be right to ask, “what was the point?”

Filling a hole at linebacker and making a success of Kam Chancellor would become secondary factors behind the desire to draft Mark Barron. I like Barron, he had a tremendous 2011 season and made a lot of necessary improvements. He’s rangy, he’ll make plays and he’s easily the best safety in this class. But is he that good that you just can’t pass at #12?

It’d be a huge gamble, without much tangible gain. If Barron or Chancellor fail, the move would be ridiculed. Both would have to succeed – and noticeably – for it to be considered a success. Would it be a satisfactory way to address the needs at the linebacker position? And are two first round picks on the safety position really necessary? If the Seahawks did draft Barron, that would be two first round picks on offensive tackles and two on safety’s. When exactly would it be time to concentrate on other key areas like the pass rush, receiver or you know… maybe a quarterback?

For all of the reasons listed above, I just find this information too far fetched. And if you’re doubting the second part about Barron, can you truly believe the bit about trading down for Dont’a Hightower? It wouldn’t shock me if the Seahawks did like Hightower - he’s a tough, physical linebacker with a good field IQ and he’ll be a solid pick for someone in round one. If a deal can be manufactured which enables the Seahawks to move down and possibly acquire draft stock for 2013, I could see it. You’d be looking at a bold trade though, one similar to the deal that allowed Atlanta to move up twenty places last year to claim Julio Jones. Would a team in the 30-35 range make such an offer? It seems pretty unlikely.

And I keep coming back to one particular area of the defense – the pass rush. The number one priority for this draft. If you want to draft a linebacker this year, there are going to be (good) options beyond round one. If you want to draft a pass rusher, the options are far weaker beyond the first. There are situations where maybe the team’s preferred options leave the board before the #12 pick, forcing them to look elsewhere. But only in that scenario can I envisage a situation where they look beyond the pass rushers in this class.

I’ve included game tape videos below of Mark Barron and Dont’a Hightower:

54 Responses to “Seahawks interested in Barron & Hightower?”

  1. SHawn says:

    Is it possible the Seahawks FO sees Hightower as their Elephant of choice, and not Upshaw? He has a pretty good pass rush, is better at covering, has a higher football IQ, or at least spends more time in the film room, and has a similar work ethic in the weight room and on the practice field.

    Maybe this is a show to make people think they dont value him at 12, so no one moves in front of them to get him.

  2. SHawn says:

    From Todd McShay on Hightower:

    “There are times he looks more explosive than [Courtney] Upshaw coming off the edge. So I think it’s legitimately something he can do at the next level.”

  3. woofu says:

    I don’t think it would be Barron they would want in round one. Ilako is better suited to replace Kam at SS and big nickel and would be there in the 2nd round plus they have already been in contact with him.

  4. Hawksince77 says:

    Rob,

    If either of these scenarios plays out (Barron or Hightower) I would suggest it’s due more to circumstances and making the most out of their draft capital than favoring one area over all others (in this case, improving their pass rush). If they could draft a Suh or an elite pass-rushing DE (can’t think of an example), a guy that would start from day one and play every defensive down, and be counted on to be a disruptive force in the pass rush and not a liability in run defense, that’s probably who would be targeted. I just don’t think one of those guys will be there at 12 (or even in this draft). A guy that would replace Clemons/Bryant/Branch[Jones]/Mebane.

    If they really liked Tannehill and he was there, that might be it. Or if Richardson fell, sure. And if we dismiss the possibility of an OT/OG, and a WR (something I am willing to do – don’t know about JS/PC), or a TE, then we are looking at various LB options.

    I know you like Upshaw/Ingram/Coples, and maybe this is all BS to cloud their true intentions, but I can see the logic behind either case (Barron or Hightower).

  5. Rob says:

    Shawn – based on what I’ve been told, I would be surprised if it’s Hightower > Upshaw. But I like both guys. I grade Upshaw higher myself though.

    woofu – Round two seems a little high for Ilako. I was thinking more 4-5 for him.

    Hawksince77 – In fairness, when are Ndamukong Suh type’s ever available at #12? In most draft’s there’s rarely an elite talent at #12, especially at key positions on the defensive line. I truly believe – and I know a lot disagree – that Upshaw can have a big impact early on. Perhaps not with multiple sack games, but at least in run defense, extra QB pressure etc. I think Ingram will have some impact, I’m just not a big fan. The chances of Seattle getting an elite player at 12 that’s also a safe bet for an early impact were always very slim. I think overall, there have been much worse years to be picking 12th than this. Seattle will get a good player unless they receive a bumper trade offer.

  6. woofu says:

    So expect the unexpected? OK,,,Poe at 12 and play him at DE. How about Kuechly at 12 and convert him to SS and Kam to LEO.

    Nope, I’m inclined to stick with the theme of faster and better pass rush front D7 and O TD makers however they think best to do it. only they know for sure and it may not even fall the way they want. Using the Okung/Thomas outcome after going after Williams/Berry shows their MO.

  7. woofu says:

    Rob, I agree it is high but he would be there and further down if possible. I keep pinching myself to remind me where Kam was taken.

  8. John says:

    I would hate drafting Barron. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. I think he’s a boss, but seriously… if there is any position that we can say is secure on our roster, its the safety position. What team has TWO pro bowl safety’s, and that are as young as ours. Plus, Kam has said he doesn’t want to be a LB, which makes it even stranger.

    Unless this has been talked over with Kam, and he has shown elite skill at the LB position, why would you risk it? This move could damage the FOs image as much as selling the farm for a QB that flops. I’m convinced it’s draft bait, and isn’t real, but the voice in the back of my head wants me to investigate it anyway.

    One more thing, is I wonder if the Hightower part is true, just to mix in lie with truth. Because that move makes sense to me, and I like it. Plus a smokescreen also seems odd for JS…

    Anyway, hope we don’t get Barron.

  9. It does seem that moving Kam to SS and drafting a LB would be a high-risk move for a front office not known for high-risk moves.

  10. Stuart says:

    FWIW, last year watching an Alabama football game, this guy named Hightower was all over the place. At the time I didnt know any of the players on Alabama except the RB Richardson. When the tv announcer calls a guys name enough time you start to pay attention.

    In watching the Hightower tape of course I would watch Upshaw too. The thing that bothers me most about Upshaw is his slowness to get off the line of scrimmage. It seems like everybody is already moving and he is just getting out his stance. Petty, but still….

    As a fan I would love Hightower because of his toughness but it sounds like he may not play the way JS/PC envision for the LB spot. Getting Hightower and extra picks would be really excited to me.

    As the draft approaches (sp), it gets more exciting everyday. Todays mock;

    Round 1- LB Dont’a Hightower (and 3rd round pick)
    Round 2- DE/LB Nick Perry
    Round 3- QB Brock Osweiler
    Round 3- RB Robert Turbin
    Round 4- WR Arkansas guy (brain cramp) Kip had a nice write up on him. He is blazing fast and coming off an ACL so his stock is down but he will be a find for whomever drafts this kid. Whats his name???

  11. Rob says:

    Stuart – Greg Childs.

  12. Nate Dogg says:

    If Pauline’s report is accurate I have to think he over simplified Kam’s position change. I doubt they move him to a traditional OLB role like Hill played last year. If they do draft Barron they’ll likely just emphasize Kam’s SS/OLB hybridization more, allowing him to play as kind of a rover/big nickel/deathbacker while running a 4-2-5 base. I don’t think it would be that drastic a change for Kam if that is what they end up doing.

    Could be a fun defense.

  13. Stuart says:

    Joe Adams, thats it, so;

    Round 1- LB Dont’a Hightower (plus 3rd round pick)
    Round 2- DE/LB Nick Perry
    Round 3- QB Brock Osweiler
    Round 3- RB Robert Turbin
    Round 4- WR Joe Adams

  14. Chris says:

    Kam, Barron, and Earl on on the field together could be a potential headache for offensive coordinators. You could move Kam to linebacker in a 4-3 and Earl to nickle corner to easily move back and forth between your base 4-3 and nickle without changing the personnel on the field. Not saying I’d prefer this over drafting a pass rusher in the 1st, but the possibilities are intriguing.

  15. adam says:

    One way or another…this is a smoke screen. 1-PC/JS are banking that either Floyd or Blackmon are still on the board at 12…so that a starry eyed playoff team from last year…just one athlete away from the big game…ala the falcons and julio jones…will trade up into the 12 spot. 2-That team is the Seattle Seahawks…if Floyd or Blackmon are available at 12, then that will be the pick. Defense this, defense that, if the Seahawks are drafting at 12, they’re going offense.

  16. Rob says:

    Adam – I wouldn’t bank on a receiver in R1.

  17. Curlin says:

    So, if the rumor is true essentially the Hawks would be converting to the Bandit package as a base defense? Is that a fair way of looking at it? Given how strong our front 4 is against the run, is it possible we could actually get away with that? Draft a pass-rushing LB in round 2 to put alongside KJ Wright leaving Kam in sort of a hybrid role LB/nickle role. Trying to wrap my brain around how it would work if true…

  18. Galen says:

    I would LOVE Donta Hightower! He reminds me so much of Brian Cushing, from a versatility standpoint. The game against Tennessee he played with his hand on the ground during some passing downs and he reminds me so much of Brian Cushing, from a versatility standpoint. He would both improve the pass rush and the run. 3 down Linebacker

  19. Rugby Lock says:

    Personally, I would much rather that the Hawks trade back and pick Hightower than stay where they are and pick Upshaw. DH looks to be an excellent LB prospect and can provide pass rush. He is not as good a Kuechly as LB but brings a nice ability to pressure the passer. To be fair though I haven’t really watched enough tape of LK to see if they actually tried to use him that way. LK looks faster than DH and with his smarts I think could provide pressure. If they stay at twelve I would pick LK over DH but I would not be an unhappy camper if they picked DH. Both DH and LK are preferable to me than Upshaw…

  20. Mike says:

    Rob,

    I would love to see Shea McClellin in round 2 if possible. Reminds me of Clay Matthews with his versatility and high motor. One clip showed him literally diving to knock down an option pitch. Thoughts?

  21. MLT says:

    Shea mclellin is a stud! Whoever drafts him is gng to get a guy with a high motor like a jared allen type! Never quits and is real football smart. He was the for sure leader of boise defense and a damn good defense @ that! Would love him in the 2nd if he is still there!

  22. Darnell says:

    Just a crazy hypothetical: could they be selling high on their 2010 5th rounder, turning Kam into a 2013 1st rounder or a late 2012 1st rounder (from any of the teams being mocked Harrison Smith). Maybe they’d rather Barron and another 1st rather than Kam.

    That said, please please keep Kam where he is, love him.

    This may however put Antonio Allen into the conversation in the 3rd-4th, Allen had a tremednous season as a rover/lber/safety as South Carolina’s “Spur”

  23. SHawn says:

    Donta Hightower v Mississippi St. @ 1:19.

    He is lined up on the edge with his hand in the dirt. Tell me he doesn’t look exactly how the Elephant is described. Quick, with violent hands. Excellent swim move.

    EXACT SAME PLAY:

    Upshaw is lined up on the opposite side and actually gets to the QB faster, but misses and gets washed out as the QB steps up into HIghtower’s rush.

    POINT IS, I WILL BE HAPPY WITH EITHER ONE, HOWEVER WE DECIDE TO USE THEM.

  24. Jon says:

    So Rob,
    What is your take on the thought of Hightower vs Upshaw? How much do we need in compensation if we trade back to take Hightower instead?

    For me a third rounder does the trick. I Love Upshaw, but Stuart has a point with that possibility of Osweiler and Turbin in Rd 3. though I think there might be a couple options in Rd 2, maybe Curry, McClelin, Perry in that order for me.

  25. Jon says:

    My favorite situation in the draft is still Upshaw and Hightower, even if it means less picks. Shawn points out in the post above exactly what I want to see for the next 5 to 10 years. Upshaw and Hightower Killing QBs.

  26. Blake says:

    RE: Nate Dogg

    This is more how I would interpret this news. I would assume we would operate out of nickel personal for the most part, with 3 safeties & 2 corners, with KJ & “insert LB here” in the middle. We actually did that a bit w/ Atari last year. We then have two run stuffing safeties that can play in the box or cover and then rangy linebackers that can cover or clean up what our massive line doesn’t.

    This would seem to jive w/ Pete’s emphasis on strong run defense, while still accounting for the pass happy offenses & teams that focus on getting the balls to their TEs.

  27. Bobby Cink says:

    I’m starting to think that Hightower would make for an amazing pick. The versatility to be able to switch KJ and Hightower at the MLB and SLB on any given play so that Hightower would be able to rush would be awesome. Obviously Carroll has said that KJ can play MLB but likes him better at SLB, but I don’t think it would be a big deal to switch them for a couple (or several) during a game.

  28. adam says:

    Rob: When was the last time(if ever) a team traded into the top 12 to draft a defensive player?

  29. cougfanstan says:

    Rob,

    This has to be a smoke screen….I cant help but think back to last years draft and the fact that J.S. was thrilled that seattle hadn’t been linked to carpenter before the draft.. This has to be a bluff….or at least thats what im hoping for…We either have to get someone to get pressure of the edge or find an elite playmaker for Matt Flynn on the offensive side of the ball…Im thinking if they dont like the upshaw/coples/ingram options, you move to the other side of the ball.. 28th in total yards in the last 2 years, and and 23rd in scoring the last 2 years…..I think there is a strong argument to be made for some more investment in the offense at the skill positions…..your thoughts? love the blog. its great

  30. FWIW, .net user Throwdown directly asked Kam Chancellor today via twitter if he’d been told he might be moving to OLB, and Chancellor’s tweet back was an almost incredulous sounding and firm no.

    I agree with Scott’s theory (aka Scott from 17power) that this is intentional disinformation to confuse other teams about Seattle’s true intentions and to possibly entice the New York Jets into trading up with Seattle (the Jets are thought to covet Barron).

  31. SHawn says:

    SO does Dallas though (covet Barron), and they pick only two spots behind us I believe, which is why the Jets would need to move up. Either way, if they get into a bidding war over our pick, that is good news for us. I am already down to 50-50 as to who I would rather get, Upshaw or Hightower. If possible I would want both, but that just wont happen without a major move up the board on our part.

  32. James says:

    This Pauline rumor has all the earmarks of the Seahawks trying to mainipulate the draft, as noted above by Rob, Kip and others. If the rumor was: if Floyd was still there at #12, then the Seahawks have a trade down in place with a team desperate to land the WR, and otherwise Seattle is going with their top rated guy among Coples, Upshaw or Ingram…I might believe it. But this doesn’t pass the straight-face test. Picking Barron and moving your pro bowl safety to Will LB (or some permanent nickle position), against his will, is a level of crazy never evidenced by John or Pete before.

  33. NMD says:

    Kip – I’ve heard this a few times today about misinformation to entice a team to trade up with them. I don’t get it, if a team wants Mark Barron and they think Seattle wants him wont they talk to BUF and KC first? In this scenario if the Jets called Seattle and PC/JS seemed so interested in a trade wouldn’t that tell them they must not be that interested in our guy? I would think the misinformation would be aimed at “We don’t like the DE’s/OLB’s so there’s no need for you guys to trade ahead of us to grab them.” I think the best chance for Seattle to trade down is someone looking at OL or 3-4 OLB since that could be the target of Arizona and Dallas with the next 2 picks.

  34. Justin says:

    I would be completely content with Hightower (my favorite LB in draft) or Barron (favorite safety). Kam could play a hybrid OLB/S (mentioned before) and lets face it, he would add quickness to the line backing group. I think Barron is a unique talent and would not be the first choice but could be an interesting option. With that said I think drafting another safety is speculation and think that trading back for Hightower is a win win situation.
    Rob- you mentioned Hightower was born to play defense for the Ravens. Which is quite a compliment and why I would love to have him on the Seahawks causing havoc.

  35. Christon says:

    I love the idea and here is why:

    1) The options for DE at 12 aren’t elite. I don’t care if there hasn’t been a DE taken yet when Seattle picks – there is NOT an Aldon Smith in this class. Coples has a questionable motor. Upshaw doesn’t really have a position and may slip to the second round. Ingram can’t get off of a block and is undersized for DE so he may have to be switched to LB where he has limited experience.

    2) It’s a passing league. The Hawks’s are looking for a cover LB who is not only good in space but also big enough to be matched up against a TE AND physical enough to play in the box. The MLB’s (Kuechly, Kendrick, R. Lewis etc.) are good against the run but questionable against the pass. And the OLB’s (Brown, Spence) are fast but are undersized and also can’t be matched up against a 6 foot, 5 inch TE.

    3) Pete emphasis turnovers. Chancellor isn’t a great ball hawk – he’s decent, but he’s more the enforcer type. With Thomas and Barron you get two ball hawking safety over the top. Turnover differential makes a huge difference in the Win – Loss column.

    I know that Seattle needs pressure on the edge but I don’t think there will be that much difference between what is available in the second and what is there in the first. Chancellor can match up against a TE and is physical enough against the run. I think this make a lot of sense.

  36. Hawkspur says:

    Man, I can’t wait for April 26th!

  37. Rob says:

    Mike – Would be happy with McClellin in R2 if they don’t draft a pass rusher in the first. Although the more I think about it, GB and NE in round one make sense for McClellin.

    Darnell – If they were planning on trading Kam, I doubt they’d be sending him to New York to launch the team’s new uniform.

    Jon – I prefer Upshaw but like Hightower. For me – and I know people have highlighted him playing at the LOS – Hightower will be at his best at traditional OLB in a 4-3. Let him roam around, let him make plays. Upshaw is more of a pass rusher, strong vs the run at the LOS. Good luck running on Seattle with Upshaw playing next to Red Bryant, Mebane, Branch etc. He’ll make enough plays as a pass rusher. To trade back I’d want 2013 compensation and a deal similar of slightly worse than Atlanta’s deal to move up last year. If you’re moving down considerably, aim high. I don’t want to risk waiting for R2 for a pass rusher, given that I expect a rush on the position in the late first.

    Adam – Haloti Ngata?

    cougfanstan – It’s a great point, Stan. Seattle were air tight last year with their ambitions, so for this to leak now seems a bit unlikely – especially given how unlikely the situation appears to be. I agree on the skill positions and I think WR is the most underrated position in the NFL, but I’m led to believe Seattle won’t draft for the position early this year.

    Christon – Upshaw won’t slip to the second round. He will be a top-20 pick.

  38. Hawkfin says:

    I think this could be part true part false….
    True, that they might trade down for Hightower OR just pick Hightower. I don’t think that his stock is that low myself, and right up there with Upshaw.

    False, that we move Chance and the other target is Barron. At least I would hope not.
    I think this part could actaully mean his teammate Upshaw. (Not Barron)
    OR this is to move away from the Luke Kuechly talk, who they could be targeting still.

    Anyway, this is music to my ears if they actually pulled a trade down, and still got Hightower. But, I’m almost fine with just taking him at #12. I think he’s better then Upshaw and fits a true LB for us, with some Blitz ability. Hard hitter. Like someone said, he “stands out”. He’s a difference maker.

    Not to rank on Upshaw, but I would like to reiterate a few posts:

    Stuart – “the thing that bothers me most about Upshaw is his slowness to get off the line of scrimmage.”
    I agree with this… This is what I see as well. He has slowness in general I think.
    I feel he doesn’t solve the pass rushing. And Hightower would be just as capable I think. (Stuart’s entire post was good)

    Christon – “The options for DE at 12 aren’t elite.”
    Everybody say’s this, but I think you and a lot of people are missing the stud in the bunch. Whitney Mercilus who we could also trade down for maybe.
    (And while I have some things against Coples, he’ll probably be real good too)

    Here’s my hope:
    #12 – Trade down if possible – Hightower or Whitney
    2nd round – Ruben Randel/WR or Alden Jeffrey /WR (sp?)
    3rd round – Shea McClellin (I like him also, but I think he could be a 3rd rounder)
    4th round – Turbin/RB – Or best RB on Board. Lots of them.
    (Would like to get a 5th back)
    6th round – Kellen Moore/QB/Boise St or Darron Thomas/QB/Oregon
    7th round – Another LB

  39. Steve in Spain says:

    RE: NMD “I don’t get it, if a team wants Mark Barron and they think Seattle wants him wont they talk to BUF and KC first?” Not necessarily, that’s the beauty of this rumor. It supposes that Seattle’s Plan A is to trade down for Hightower, but failing in that, the Plan B would be to take Barron. This forces the Jets, or whoever wants Barron, to trade up with the Seahawks and accomplish Seattle’s Plan A in order to avoid Seattle’s Plan B coming to fruition. And yes, I think the Barron interest is a smokescreen, and a transparent one at that, but it reveals an important clue that the Seahawks are trying to find a way to move down.

  40. Bill says:

    I really don’t see them drafting a QB in the first round, considering now they have a capable backup in T-jack and the Matt Flynn experiment hasn’t even begun yet. I definately see them taking one in the later rounds, but how do you spend a first round draft pick on a non-elite QB when you have alot of other glaring needs?

    I’m almost positive the seahawks will trade down for a late first rounder and a second and/or third rounder. Who they pick with that pick will probably be determined by whose left on the board i.e. best player availible.

  41. FWBrodie says:

    It’s disgusting how much Alabama film I’ve watched this offseason. Wish Seahawk film was this accessible.

  42. andy says:

    Assuming Coples is gone ahead of us i am all in on a trade with the Jets. Not sure how the point values work…. Would moving down 4 spots pick us up a 3rd?

  43. andy says:

    Found my answer! That trade would get us the Jets 16th pick in the 3rd round.

  44. MJ says:

    Once again, I pose the question why are people constantly saying “there isn’t an elite pass rusher at 12?” name a year when an elite talent at a premium position lasts that long on draft day. Doesn’t happen. Doesn’t mean a player can’t become elite (which does happen), but we have to get over the idea that we should be looking at a 6’6″ 4.5 speed DE with consistent college production, and that 11 other teams would pass on that player.

    Sorry to seem nit picky, but we have the “Applebee’s” of draft picks (affordable, can always get a good tasting meal, a lot to choose from, but you are not going to get Maine Lobster and caviar). Stupid analogy, but 12 is really not a premium pick. So, grab the guy who fits what you want to do, and get him.

  45. Attyla the Hawk says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Like Pauline’s work but I suspect this is one rumor people won’t be referencing when they talk about him being dialed in to NFL front offices. I guess it’s true what they say about making omelettes…

    I would be thrilled to see a top of the draft that looks like:

    Upshaw/McClellin
    Kendricks/Demario Davis

    Even more than just 2 of them. An Upshaw, McClellin and Kendricks/Davis or a McClellin/Kendricks/Davis haul would be a massive infusion of speed and tackling/pass rush acumen for this defense.

    If we want to upgrade speed, which Pete indicated was a priority, then you can’t do better than McClellin and Kendricks at 1 and 2. Kendricks has NFL elite speed at linebacker. Both on the watch (tied for fastest linebacker time for all LBs in the last 5 drafts) and more importantly functional on tape speed. His speed shows up on the field and in the slop. Very fluid. And just as importantly a violent and exceptional tackler.

    This separates him from a slightly slower, and vastly less aggressive Zach Brown. Comparing both players, there really isn’t much of a comparison. Failing to secure Kendricks and being left with Brown is a big downgrade. Really, other than being fast, Brown plays linebacker incredibly soft even at the collegiate level. If he loses leverage on first contact, it’s “No Mas!” for him. He is simply erased from the field entirely. No fight in that dog. You watch tape on him and it’s hard to put your finger on why he doesn’t do more. Reminds me of another Carolina linebacker who ‘should be able to do x but just can’t’. There are no such concerns when you watch Kendricks play.

    McClellin on the watch tied for top 14 time over the last three years running. Not top 14 amongst DE/DL. But amongst DE/DL and OLB/LBs combined. At DE, hes elite fast for an OLB. And that’s carrying a good 15-20 pounds more. Oddly, physically he compares favorably with Aaron Curry. Except he actually does have football instincts you can visibly see on tape and an actual track record for pass rushing.

    McClellin looks like he’s a pick in the 25-30 range. The teams there covet his skill set. And he is a legit 20-50 rated prospect. But that lower rating is due in large part to the fact that he is still viewed as a DE, and for that position, his attributes don’t translate as favorably. For a team looking to insert him at OLB, his ceiling is much MUCH higher. The question becomes, is the risk that he can’t make that transition too high. Because if he had played OLB last year at Boise with the same results as this year, he’d be in the top 15 pick conversation. And undoubtedly graded higher than Kuechly due to the increased relative importance of a pass rushing OLB v. Mike linebacker.

    If we aren’t sold on Upshaw, I’d hope we don’t move below 25. We would miss out on both pass rush prospects and that should probably be viewed as a failure in this draft.

    I just look at these two prospects and think both McClellin and Kendricks are going to be the best at their two positions (Sam and Mike) in this entire class. Even if they aren’t, they will without question be in the top 3 (Kendricks) to top 10 (McClellin) players in terms of speed in the entire NFL. Both players have the versatility to play multiple positions (Kendricks at Will or Sam, McClellin at Sam/DE and Leo).

    And what I like about these two guys: They haven’t been linked to Seattle in any meaningful way outside of fan speculation. Similar to Carpenter last year. We took Carp ahead of his overall grade because we liked him more than the conventional/higher graded prospects and we suspected other teams just after us liked him enough to take him too. McClellin could be a similar case. We’ve shown that if we like a guy more than his grade, we have no problems taking the heat and sticking with the better player on our board if we can’t consummate a deal down where we pick closer to grade.

  46. Jazz says:

    Coples is definitely an Elite prospect. Watch the Espn video of him with the sports science. His wing span and athletic capability are off the charts. That being said will he be there? I think we take him if he is there but hope for a trade if anyone else is there.

  47. Ryan says:

    I think a big factor in how the draft plays out is where Tannehill goes. If the Browns take him/the dolphins figure their shit out then Tampa has to decide between Claiborne and richardson. richardson falling will cause a lot of possibilities and chances for us to get Coples. Ingrams arms are too small. if we don’t get coples I think we trade down. more picks and a lot of depth at LB and RB in the draft. is it just me or is our Defensive line pretty solid with the addition of jones? Our defense is going to be just fine.

  48. MJ says:

    Coples has elite measurables, but effort is the big concern. I don’t know how willing I’d be to draft a guy at 12 who is known for sub par effort and might not even like football. If he had heart and motivation was not an issue, he’d be elite. That said, those 2 factors he lacks are HUGE factors in the success of a player, especially in the NFL, on a level playing field.

  49. Ryan says:

    Good coaching and money in his bank account should be enough… right?

  50. MJ says:

    Ryan…haha my thoughts exactly. I would easily pass on Coples and not look back.

  51. Attyla the Hawk says:

    Beware the ‘should be able to but can’t’ prospects.

    It’s not like Coples has physical characteristics that would allow him to play a position he didn’t in college. He’d be asked to play the exact same position. So he, like Poe, is a classic case of player who should have been able to make plays, but couldn’t.

    Is it any different than a woman marrying a man she thinks she can fix?

  52. D says:

    I must be missig something. Hightower is a bruiser but I am not all that impressed with his reading of the O. Often teh play comes to him rather than the other way around. His pass rush from the end position is nothing like Upshaws. he hget pressures on blitzes in the middle with stunt and stuff.

    He looks like a good player but hardly a top 20?

  53. Kevin S. says:

    Rob,
    I’ve been reading your mocks and i am a fan, but at this point since we dont have a MLB or a WLB do you see us going more for value or for need? Because i see it as our d-line is all still there but we’d like to improve, but we dont even have starters for those 2 linebacking spots. I see this as a problem because i value Upshaw with more value than Hightower but clearly we need linebackers. I can see us trading back to the 18-22 range and getting maybe a third rounder and picking up Hightower and filling another need. I have faith in the FO, but just wondering your views on this?

  54. Rob says:

    Kevin – I think it’s more a review of the way the league is going. Teams generally don’t spend the top picks on linebackers. A lot of teams, including the Giants last year in the SB march, attack heavy from the LOS and put rangy guys who can cover in at LB. It splits the defense into two – pressure + coverage. Seattle doesn’t need elite linebackers to incoporate a similar plan, they need pass rushers though. Not many people had heard of KJ Wright 12 months ago, now he’s a key starter. We can find another pass rusher to take on the SLB/DE role, and a rangy linebacker to play one of the other two positions alongside KJ. From what I’ve heard, Seattle is very likely to take a pass rusher at 12.