Yesterday I wrote a piece asking whether the Seahawks could learn something from the Baltimore Ravens. Today, I’m going to take it a step further.
Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome has consistently managed to get value out of the draft. One way he’s achieved this is by taking advantage of the mistakes of others. He’s taken calculated risks when others ran a mile, used common sense and snatched at any opportunities presented to him. Newsome was ready and waiting when Ed Reed was still on the board in the mid-20’s. He repeated the act when Ben Grubbs, Michael Oher and Jimmy Smith fell into the same range. He was able to trade down last year and still managed to get Courtney Upshaw in round two. And when he’s been presented with picks in the top-15, he’s drafted Terrell Suggs, Haltoi Ngata and Joe Flacco (after a trade down).
When Tim Ruskell traded up to take John Carlson in 2008, he dealt with the Ravens. Newsome drafted Ray Rice with Seattle’s pick.
It’s not all been perfect — he chose Kyle Boller at #19 overall in 2003. I also appreciate I’m not shocking anyone by simply highlighting one of the leagues best GM’s is actually good at the draft.
The point I want to make here is to highlight the opportunistic way Newsome has gone about his business. He traded up for Ngata, Flacco and Oher. He knew the value on offer when trading down with Seattle in 2008. He’s built a team by sensing opportunity when others sensed danger. When certain players suffered unexpected falls, he’s made the necessary moves to get them to Baltimore. In some cases that meant a small move of just a single position (Ngata). In others it means being a little more proactive (Flacco).
Picking 25th overall, the Seahawks have an opportunity to mimic the Ravens. This draft is going to be so unpredictable, I think we could see two or three players reach the late teens unexpectedly. There may be an opportunity for the Seahawks to seize the initiative and make a small move up the board. That’s something John Schneider will have to judge. They be be able to sit tight but dropping to #25 is a lot more substantial than say #17-19.
Newsome has proved that sometimes you have to be proactive. The Seahawks are yet to trade up in a draft in the Carroll/Schneider era. This could be the year to do it.
So who could fall into a position where such a move is likely? Keep an eye on guys with character concerns. When the combine kicks off later this month we’ll start to find out who interviewed badly and who is a concern for scouts and GM’s. Baltimore’s previous picks are a great example of the types of players that can fall. Micheal Oher was a storied prospect made famous by a book and (in my opinion) a lousy film. Character concerns saw him drop from top-ten certainty to late first rounder. Jimmy Smith is one of the best cornerback prospects I’ve ever scouted. He also fell due to character concerns. In both cases, the media speculated they would fall. As it happens, they fell right into Ozzie Newsome’s lap.
Both players offered supreme physical talents with limitless upside, but there was enough suspicion with their character to provoke a fall. There are more than a few players who could also fall for similar reasons in 2013. Here’s three examples:
Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia) — (see tape vs Kentucky below) He might have the biggest upside in the 2013 draft and his tape against Ole Miss will get anyone buying into his potential. However, he’s missed games due to drug related suspensions and he has quite a passive off-field personality. It’s a limited sample size, but he comes across quite distant in interviews and he’s not the kind of confident talker you see with Khaseem Greene. Some teams will decide he’s more upside than proven production and might be turned off by his personality, forcing a drop. Those suspensions also need checking out. Personally I still think he’s a top-15 lock, but I thought the same about Jimmy Smith. He’d make a great WILL in Seattle’s defense and it’d be very difficult to pass up the chance to bring him to the North West.
Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri) — Another player with the athletic potential to get anyone excited. He’s a brilliant three-technique with a relentless motor and he should be a top-ten pick on talent alone. Richardson also had to play JUCO football because of bad grades, flip-flopped over his decision to attend Missouri despite a previous commitment and was suspended at a crucial time in the 2012 season for violating team rules. His personality might rub some people up the wrong way — but as a three technique you kind of want to see a bit of fire and brimstone. ESPN notes on his draft profile: “Mental capacity and maturity level are being closely investigated by NFL scouts.” He’s unlikely to get past the Cowboys if Monte Kiffin has any sway in Dallas — he tried very hard to recruit him for USC. It might cost only a third round pick to get above Jerry Jones if he falls, however.
Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU) — This isn’t a suggestion necessarily for the first round, but he’s a player to monitor in rounds two and three. At times Montgomery has looked the part of a dynamic pass rusher alongside Barkevious Mingo. Yet there are so many lingering issues with his attitude and work rate. He started the season on the bench as a wake-up call from the coaches and then an image started doing the rounds on the internet that wasn’t exactly flattering. I’ve seen Montgomery listed in some first round projections but he’ll need to flash big time at the combine to get over these concerns. Even so — the Seahawks are likely to consider adding another LEO following Chris Clemons’ ACL injury. At 6-5, 260lbs they could get a bargain in the second or third round if they’re willing to take a shot on a talented but floored prospect.
Never underestimate the perception of a ‘sure thing’ versus a risk. GM’s, scouts and coaches love high character players with big time potential. Nobody is talking about Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene at the moment, but wait until he impresses at the combine. Not only will he flash the athletic qualities befitting a converted defensive back, he’ll also blow teams away during interviews. And that could potentially put him ahead of a guy like Alec Ogletree who has a higher ceiling, but also a much lower floor.
Despite thinking that one or two players could fall in the draft, I can’t bring myself to express this in a mock draft. When you pair the Seahawks with a player expected to go much earlier, it just looks like wishful thinking. You almost want to see other people making those projections so you can refer to it and make it seem that little bit more possible. Let’s just say it’ll be a nice surprise if it happens. In tomorrow’s mock though I will have a team ahead of the Seahawks falling for Khaseem Green, and that’ll mean a different pick at #25.