Seahawks showing interest in Courtney Upshaw?

January 26th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Courtney Upshaw could be Seattle's first choice in round one... if they

Depending on your level of faith in the internet, Pete Carroll really likes Courtney Upshaw. An anonymous Alabama fan going under the moniker of ‘8:16am’ supposedly entered an impromptu game of basketball with the Seahawks Head Coach during Senior Bowl week in Mobile. The conversation turned to the Crimson Tide players available this year, where Carroll supposedly revealed his admiration for Upshaw:

“He thinks he is a better player than Von miller. He said Von was more athletic, but Upshaw is stronger, more technically sound and doesn’t have weaknesses.” 

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this story is true, given that it’s totally believable that a.) Carroll was shooting some hoops and b.) he didn’t sprint out of the building at the prospect of communicating with a member of the public. Even so, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether there’s any truth to this. 

I felt obliged last night to go back and review some Alabama tape, so I skimmed through the game against Auburn last year and the two most recent meetings against LSU. My opinion on Upshaw has shifted several times, initially from one of disinterest because I couldn’t logically place him in Seattle’s defense. I became more intrigued when watching the Florida game this season where he stood out and then watched him closely against Arkansas, Auburn and those two games against LSU. After further review, I felt confident enough to make Upshaw the one player I’ve mocked to the Seahawks on multiple occasions. Even so, I still couldn’t place exactly what his best position was. Is he a 4-3 left end? A 3-4 OLB? Can he logically move to outside backer in a 4-3 with a lot of rush duties similar to Von Miller? 

I’ve charted every play he had an impact in for the three games I watched last night – and I’ve come away convinced he’s going to be an early pick. In a season without a lot of elite defensive talent, someone is going to draft this guy at the top of round one. In my most recent mock I projected he could go #8 overall to Miami to play OLB, so I was slightly surprised to see their announcement today that they’ll switch to a 4-3. That shouldn’t exclude Upshaw from being an option for the Dolphins, who suddenly have to find a 4-3 edge rusher as a main priority. I wonder if they have the cash to compete in the Mario Williams sweepstakes? If the Dolphins don’t take Upshaw, then Buffalo (also possibly moving to a 4-3) and Kansas City could show real interest. Being the #11 or #12 pick should be his floor. 

Here’s what I saw on tape and why I think he’s a real option as a pass-rushing linebacker for the Seahawks. For starters, his recognition skills are elite. In the two meetings with LSU and Cam Newton/Auburn, he came up against a lot of run-option. Not only did he show top-end instinct to react to the ball carrier, he also consistently drew the quarterback on the pitch and then adjusted to the runner – essentially taking both opponents out of the play. You see real awarness and athleticism when he tackles the pitch and I’ve not seen anyone comparable with Upshaw here. He showed fantastic awareness to react to screens and reverses and while he’s not an elite athlete, his pursuit skills more than make up for it. It’s incredible how often when teams tried reverse plays and other gimmicks it was Upshaw making the tackle. 

He’s only 6-1 and around 270lbs, so he’s not got the ideal length for an edge rusher. However, the guy just ‘gets‘ leverage. He will consistently attack a lineman with great pad level and drive players into the backfield. He has a deceptive second effort when trying to beat blocks, dropping a shoulder and seemingly giving the impression he’s beaten before bursting by a tackle to make the play. He’ll disengage with violent hands and rarely gets absorbed by even the biggest lineman. Despite not having the longest arms, he does a fine job keeping blockers away from his body so that he’s able to dip inside or burst around the edge. Upshaw’s thick set is comparable to a small three-technique and he has similar skills. He’s never likely to move inside at his size, but it’s funny how the hand use, the bubble and the strength are all comparable to an interior lineman. The guy bull rushes like he was born in Pamplona. 

For a team like Seattle that wants to shut down an opponents runing game, Upshaw is going to make it really difficult to run on the left side when he’s placed next to Red Bryant. Perhaps even more of an advantage though is the ability to spell Bryant a little more and maybe even kick him inside, knowing you can use Upshaw as a pure power end on more orthodox four-man sets. As great as Bryant has been for this team the last two years, there’s going to be big advantages on first and second down when the defense is able to press from both sides. At linebacker you’ll be giving up some coverage ability because he’s never going to be able to stick with top-end slot receivers and tight ends (he worked predominantly on underneath coverage at Alabama) but the WILL position is designed to be more of an attacking threat. Seattle has enough range at the SAM and MIKE (if they keep Hawthorne) to accommodate a player like Upshaw. In those sets the defense will have more of a 3-4 feel to it, but that’s not such a bad thing as discussed earlier this week. 

I also see Upshaw as the kind of guy who will make 4-5 key plays in a season. Not big plays, key plays. Whether that’s a crucial interception to end the game, a sack or a forced fumble – there will be a handful of games at the end of the year where people are talking about Courtney Upshaw’s performance on the ride home. And hey – the Seahawks are building a defense that is filled with attitude. Upshaw wouldn’t just fit into the brooding attitude that’s already part of this team, he’d take it a stage further. 

There aren’t a lot of stand-out defensive options for the Seahawks in this class. I like both Devon Still and Michael Brockers, but I’m not convinced either are the missing three-technique this team is looking for. Drafting a guy like Upshaw will improve the front seven as Pete Carroll is planning. You’re getting an 8-10 sack guy who can become a focal point on the defense for the next ten years. He’ll be the kind of player that is permanently talked about as ‘under rated’, when people suddenly realise they talk about him so much that couldn’t possibly be the case. People have compared him to LaMarr Woodley – I’m not sure he’ll bring the same rush impact as Woodley in Pittsburgh (positions and duties will be different), but his all-round influence could certainly be similar. 

What’s more, the guy is used to high standards at Alabama. He’s used to winning. That’s not a bad thing to have on a growing defense that has already achieved quite a lot given it’s starting point in 2010. 

Last year I argued – quite strongly – against Von Miller being a top-five pick. This wasn’t because I didn’t think he had elite speed and a very attractive skill set – I often remarked that he was the defensive player I’ve enjoyed watching the most in the last few years of writing this blog. My concern was his likely transition to linebacker, that he would have to adapt to different responsibilities and that could ultimately limit what he does best – rush the passer. His size made it unlikely he would play permanently at the LOS, so would he be able to have the same impact at OLB in a 4-3? I’m always happy to admit when I’ve made a bad call and kudos to Denver and Miller for making it work. The biggest concern I have for Upshaw is being able to make the same move, to the same position and role. Yet this is all about a learning process and acknowledging when you’ve made a mistake. Having misjudged Von Miller’s potential impact, perhaps Upshaw deserves a greater investment of faith this time? 

It would not surprise me at all if those internet rumors prove to be true and that Upshaw is near the top of Seattle’s board. He should be, possibly right behind the top two quarterbacks considering they don’t need a left tackle or running back (if they re-sign Marshawn Lynch). The only question is whether he’ll still be on the board at #11 or #12. I suspect not. If he is, then you could be looking at the next big piece in Seattle’s defense. 

Below I’ve included a series of videos featuring ‘every snap’ tape 

 

 

 

 

 

52 Responses to “Seahawks showing interest in Courtney Upshaw?”

  1. Nathan says:

    He’s got good size to play 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE so I can’t imagine him getting past Buffalo and their hybrid scheme. Too bad, I would be very happy with Upshaw in Seattle

  2. MJ says:

    Would love this. Upshaw and Hightower are my two faces in this draft. They scream NFL success with their strength and discipline.

  3. Rob says:

    MJ – Hightower is a beast. Just a brutal force against the run. Whoever lands that pair will have two fine NFL prospects.

  4. tompage says:

    Its interesting you are projecting him as a linebacker. I also thought Upshaw’s lack of speed was an issue, it will be interesting to see what he runs at the combine.

    If they draft Upshaw, I thought he would be a rush defensive end. He immediately takes Raheem Brock’s role coming in when the other team goes to passing formations and personnel. He would then be the heir apparent for Clemons when he starts to slow down.

  5. Colin says:

    Upshaw never fails to impress. Has an amazing nose for the ball. Doesn’t get fooled by fakes and has great leverage on linemen. I love how he gets off blocks and tracks down those backs. If we got him and Osweiler, I’d probably have a heart attack.

  6. Rob says:

    After further review I definitely think he can have a bigger impact than that, Tom. Honestly believe he can be Seattle’s version of Von Miller at LB – a little less explosive in terms of speed, but makes up for it with raw power.

  7. tompage says:

    The only game I watched Upshaw was the National Title game and he was a beast in that game. He made plays all over the field and it seemed like he couldn’t be blocked. So I guess I understand the type of production you think is possible.

  8. Micah says:

    I have to say that he looks more like an end to me. I don’t think he has the speed for linebacker. For linebacker I prefer Melvin Ingram, as he doesn’t appear to be useless in coverage. They have similar measurables, with Upshaw having more power and ability against the run, and Ingram having more speed and ability against the pass. At this point I prefer Ingram.

  9. Micah says:

    Whether we resign Marshawn or not, we do need a RB. Forsett and Leon didn’t look very useful. I would anticipate us adding a RB, the question is in what round?

  10. Derek says:

    So you have him projected at WILL on early downs and then taking Bryants spot on passing down? With his strength, do you think he could play Bryant’s role and not give up much against the run on early downs? From your analysis of his tape, does he have more of an impact when he is standing like an OLB or with his hand on the ground like a more traditional DE?

    I think we could take him at 11/12 and then a WILL like Spence in the second. That would give this defense a lot of options. I know PC wanted to make this defense faster so do you think Upshaw is faster that Hill? Also, how would he fit at the Sam position if KJ had to move to MLB?

  11. Rob says:

    Micah – I’m not a fan of Ingram in any situation but rushing the passer at the LOS. I’m still not convinced by him, not by a long stretch. He divides opinion quite strongly on this blog. I think there’s a chance they’ll draft a RB in the R3-5 range unless one of the top second tier guys is available in R2, but then you’re talking about missing out on maybe a second tier QB, which is more vital.

    Derek – I think Pete ultimately just wants improvement in the front seven and a greater pass rush. I do think Upshaw is better at end than WLB, but then I think he can play both roles and really contribute, while maintaining Bryant and the other two big bodies in the middle. It’d be more of a hybrid 3-4 than a hybrid 4-3, but I don’t mind that. The speed issue can still be addressed, but I think more than anything it’s about quality and Upshaw will deliver that. I think he’d struggle in the SAM due to the greater coverage responsibilities.

  12. James says:

    I am an Alabama alum and have seen most all their games the past few years. Courtney Upshaw is a supremely violent player who will try to take the opposing qb out of the game. He will try to bust his ribs or ride him down on his throwing shoulder. He has knocked a half dozen qb’s out of the game during his college days. LSU’s Jefferson was not the same in the title game after Upshaw threw him down and did a 270 lb. half-gainer off his ribs. Florida’s Brantley missed several games after Upshaw took him down, and the Arkansas qb had to be forced back into the game by his coaches after Upshaw smashed him for about the tenth time. If that is what the Seahawks want, they should pick him; if they are looking for a nice, polite guy who will play fair, they should take someone else.

  13. Chris says:

    Similar size to Ingram, but Ingram is a far better pass rusher with much better moves. Upshaw looks like a natural linebacker to me that is playing end because he’s so big. In college his strength and power works for him at end, but at the NFL level I just don’t see him as a legitimate pass rusher. He can’t get around even college OTs and doesn’t have the moves to get through them with guile. At his height and arm length he just isn’t athletic enough to be a real threat. It’s just bull rush after bull rush if he can’t get a great 1st step (which he does get from time to time) … which isn’t going to work in the NFL. Although Ingram has more pass rush moves and skills he probably can’t play LB though, which I’d want him to be able to play in order to fit into the Hawks schemes.

  14. SHawn says:

    James,

    That comment makes me want to move up to get this guy. I already have him extremely high on my board, and a top 5 or maybe 6 pick may be needed to get him after he is done at his pro day and at the combine. That might be too high for us, but whoever takes him will be getting a BEAST.

    He does need to work on his coverage skills to be taken that high though, if a team plans to use him in any sort of hybrid role. For us I think he could replace Hill without giving up much in coverage skill as is, or he could replace Bryant at end if he can stuff the run anywhere close to effectively. Bryant could then be used situationally, or move back inside.

  15. Rob says:

    Chris – I can’t agree that he doesn’t get around college OT’s. In the video’s above their are several examples where he just beats the guy off the edge. He’s got a fantastic bull rush, a deceptive double move and the ability to cut inside. I appreciate he’s not going to be an explosive speed rusher at the next level, but there’s enough there for me to think he can offer some balance to this pass rush. Ingram is a better speed rusher, but as an overall skill set I think Upshaw is superior. It really depends what a team is looking for. If we were talking about needing a guy who can rush in space, Ingram would be your guy. If you’re looking for more of a WLB who can play at the line, maintain the quality vs the run and offer a decent pass rush – Upshaw is your guy. But I’d grade Upshaw among the top defensive prospects in this class, if not the best.

  16. Rich says:

    I really like Upshaw as well. What’s interesting is how we can all watch him and have a different impression. I actually thought he looked more effective when he was standing up and moving around about the time of the snap (like a LB), than he was with his hand on the ground and bull rushing. Not that he was bad at that either. I would not be dissapointed to have him on the Seahawks at all.

  17. Kip Earlywine says:

    Upshaw is one of my favored defensive prospects in the first round, but I don’t really see him being much like Von Miller. Miller had precocious pass rush skills in college that were easy to see but had questions about size and run stopping ability. The closest thing to Von Miller in this draft is probably Bruce Irvin, although Irvin is even more difficult to fit into a defense than Miller was.

    Watching Upshaw reminds me of watching Patrick Willis, even though they play different positions. Willis has never had more than 6 sacks in a season, but when asked to rush the passer he’s explosive and tracks the QB down. Both LBs are nasty players who exhibit smart, fundamentally sound play. I think Upshaw’s future is at LB, possibly even MLB. He’s decent as a standup end, but I’ve noticed that most of his best plays come when he’s standing 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

    Upshaw does strike me as a bit of a luxury pick given the lack of need at LB, but so would drafting a WR or O-lineman. I wouldn’t feel giddy about drafting Upshaw at 11th/12th, but I would like that pick more than almost any other defensive pick in that area.

  18. Jarhead says:

    Okay so Upshaw could be a force on the defense, true enough. But honestly, think about it like this. If Seattle drafts him, but also takes one of the high profile second tier QB’s as the QBOTF in Round 2, will anyone honestly be discussing Upshaw more than ancillary. So being under the radar could be good for him. Quite frankly if the Hawks actually DO pull the trigger on a early round QB, I won’t care WHO they draft in the first. I’ll be too excited to care. I feel at this point, with the players available on the defensive side of the ball, they are all on a fairly similar skill level. Above average at best. No Clay Matthews’s, Von Miller’s, Brian Orakpo’s here in my eyes, so another decent contributor is what we’re looking at. So whoever it is, that’s fine. But let me know when it’s time to pick the Quarterback

  19. Doug says:

    In my younger days as an outfielder playing baseball, I would always judge a guys power by the size of his lower end, and take a few steps back when the widebodies stepped up to the plate in order to get a better jump on the longball.
    This kis has some serious lower end, and could be a nasty little banger.
    I like him…

  20. Darnell says:

    To be fair though Cay Matthews the prospect wasn’t the Clay Matthews we know today. He suprised. Some guys suprise (we have our share of them, two are in the probowl) and some guys bust (we know these ones well – they now play in Oakland, Cincy,Chicago and Detroit). I’d argue that Upshaw as a prospect is superior to Matthews.

    Someone else mentioned Miami’s move to the 4-3, I wonder if this puts Cam Wake on the trade market. Doesn’t seem like a traditional 4-3 end to me, I know thats the position he blew up playing in BC but holding the point against NFL OTs is a lot different than holding up in the running game against NFL OTs.

  21. shams says:

    Good stuff, Rob.

    “I’m always happy to admit when I’ve made a bad call and kudos to Denver and Miller for making it work.”

    You see, sports pundits? It’s not hard.

  22. Matt says:

    In all honesty, I have significantly more faith in a power college player converting into a good NFL player over a pure speed guy. Upshaw will hold up physically, whereas the likes of Von Miller will always be dinged up. Not to mention, Upshaw does so many little things well and is so well rounded (run and pass rush).

    I would personally love this pick because he’s a guy that can stay on the field and do many things well. Not to mention, his attitude/mentality is just awesome. He’s violent but not dirty. Him and Hightower stood out so much on an already awesome Alabama defense. They were always in the right spot and definitely “cleaned up.”

    I am really starting to come around to the idea that we can build a winner with a stout defense and good run game. As much as I am dying to get a big time QB, we have to luck out with draft position and who is available. I’d be perfectly content with an Upshaw-Cousin-Spence combo in rounds 1-2-3. I love Spence, but his size will push him down the board, especially since he is not a pure pass rush artist a la Von Miller.

  23. jim J says:

    How about taking care of defense first. Upshaw for LB, Cox or Wynn for DL, a QB and then a cornerback. We still need a running back and another receiver.

    Man we got so many holes, it will take two more drafts to fill them all.

    That’s an important point, because we all want the Seahawks to be excellent now. And we have played pretty well for being a flawed team. In 2010 it was the defense that went down with injuries. In 2011 the offense. And there are positions that need filling. So lets be patient for the next two years and see what we have then!

  24. Randy says:

    I really like Upshaw. His instincts are great, and he does have some burst getting into the backfield. I also like his aggressive, but still disciplined play on the field. He does seem to be more of a traditional defensive end than a LB though, I don’t think he could cover man to man.

  25. Rob says:

    The point isn’t to compare Von Miller to Upshaw, it’s that Pete supposedly said he thought Upshaw was a superior player and to ask whether CU could play the same role as VM in Seattle’s scheme. Clearly, they are very different players.

  26. bigspicy says:

    I would love the Seahawks to go to a 3-4 Red, Mebane and CC on the front then KJ, Heater, Hill and Upshaw would look hype!!!

  27. [...] I highlighted Courtney Upshaw yesterday as someone who could be a better fit given the circumstances. He has superb recognition skills, he’s a contributing force against the run and will be able to rush the passer in a lot of different packages. Drafting Upshaw would essentially push Seattle’s hybrid defense closer to the 3-4 on certain downs than the current 4-3. It’s still largely the same ideology with the same personnel on the field – but with Upshaw at WLB yet playing a lot of downs at the LOS across from Clemons. This would give the team a lot more balance in terms of a pass rush, while also improving the teams run defense. It’s not impossible for Ingram to play a similar role but Upshaw is vastly superior defending the run (perhaps the key identity for this defense), he’s harder to move, he has the ability to read and react with superb pursuit and he has greater experience on underneath coverage. Ingram is a better speed pass rusher, but I think the other qualities are strong enough to separate the two in terms of what the Seahawks are looking for with the #11 or #12 pick. [...]

  28. David says:

    I have to say, i dont think Okung struggled with Miller, didnt he hold Miller to 0 QB sacks his last year on Campus?

    I personally dont know what i want to do in this draft, id suck as a GM because id want an Explosive WR, but then id want Defense, wait no i want a Signal Caller, I have no idea what the hawks should do with their 11th/12th pick.

  29. Rob says:

    TommyComeSooner – If you believe the quote was indeed from Pete Carroll as linked to in this article, I’d say the team’s coach thinks there’s every chance Upshaw can fill the same role in Seattle.

  30. Rob says:

    David – Okung struggled against some opponents as a senior although I can’t remember the TAMU game. I know in the bowl game against Ole Miss he had a rough ride in the second half.

  31. Rob says:

    Tommy – I want to take him out of coverage situations and have him rushing the passer as often as possible. That’s why I want him at WLB.

  32. Misfit74 says:

    I like Upshaw and do think he can fit our defense and help with the pass-rush. However, unless his pass-rushing skills or pass-rushing ceiling is this best trait and near-elite or elite, I’m not sure we can’t get a similar play later. I’m curious: does Upshaw reminds anyone of current PHI DE and former Michigan player Brandon Graham?

    Re: Hightower I think his knee-injury history makes him a risky pick anywhere in the draft. He should not be on our radar in round 1.

  33. Rob says:

    Hey Misfit,

    I think Graham is a different player – more of an orthodox edge rusher. He was busy, competitive – but lacked a lot of the physical talent seen with Upshaw. Really, CU’s lower body power is that of a defensive tackle. He’s got the bubble of a three-tech, yet the size of a DE. Something about the eye tests screams perennial pro-bowl about the guy.

  34. PatrickH says:

    If the Seahawks do draft Courtney Upshaw, I wonder whether they should change to 4-3 Over scheme in order to best utilize him. Upshaw can line up at the strongside 9-tech spot and will only be responsible for containing the strongside run or rushing the passer. Clemons and Mebane can stay at weakside DE and 1-tech positions respectively. Red Bryant and Alan Branch will have to rotate at the strongside 3-tech spot. This way, the DL will still be somewhat stout against the run, improve in pass rush, and will still be able to rush 4 and drop 7 into coverage. On the other hand, if they remain in their 4-3 Under scheme but rush Upshaw as often as possible, then a lot of times they will be rushing 5 and only have 6 defenders in coverage, which is risky.

  35. Rob says:

    An extremely legitimate point, Patrick. I do think there’s a chance they’ll go towards more of a 3-4 hybrid with Upshaw acting at OLB if they draft him – and this will allow them to keep Branch, Bryant and Mebane on the field. But the beauty is when they want to play 4-3 over but be more aggressive, they can play Upshaw at end. When they want to play 4-3 under, they can keep Upshaw at WLB because he’s disciplined enough to work that role, even if you’re having to use him in underneath coverage. Basically they will have multiple options and looks, which I think will be a good thing going forward. But I foresee this hybrid D leaning more towards the 3-4 if they draft Upshaw.

  36. David says:

    My apologies, I didnt look up anything i just remember reading somewhere that since his gamne against Miller that was the reason Okungs stock might of jumped up, but I dont know. you’re right though, Okung was getting beat pretty bad there haha, My Apologies..GO HAWKS!

    Id love to have Upshaw, but it would be cool to also get an Offensive weapon, i wonder if Pete forgot how good Zach Miller can be if a QB is looking for him and hes not a blocker.

    I think if Upshaws gone, i can see them maybe going to Blackmon or trading back, and maybe picking up Jones if hes there while picking up more Picks.

  37. Michael (CLT) says:

    Wow. Everyone is drinking the koolaide. That is fine. Upshaw plays with an elite group of defense. His hand work is average at best, he is not quick, he is not fast. He is a big strong dude. So, effectively is his Aaron Curry with instincts.

    I will pass on the fungilble WILL players in the 1st round. Pittsburgh plays 3-4 with 2nd round (or free agent) linebackers that dominate.

    A first round player should differentiate. Upshaw does not do so. But hey, he was on a great team and beat the crap out of players that had to avoid 10 others that were better than the opposing players 11.

    Upshaw may be great, but I’ve nothing… nothing, that validates such comments. Von Miller did it on his own, and is great. Upshaw did it with 10 others, and has no true differentiating skills. He is the Andy Dalton of linebackers from a national championship team.

    He is just a guy.

  38. Rob says:

    I think that is an incredibly harsh assesment, Michael. Could it not be that those ten others you refer to benefitted greatly from Upshaw’s presence? Are we to mark down every player in future who plays within a good team? The idea that teams were zoned in on the other ten allowing Upshaw so many opportunities seems a little obtuse. I mean, can you really watch that BCS MVP performance and tell me that’s a guy who is incapable of making things happen?

    Pittsburgh’s current linebacker group contains Lamarr Woodley (outside linebacker) and Lawrence Timmons – both first round picks made in recent times. They signed James Farrior – another former first round pick. This isn’t a team that has just dug out the scrubs to find production. Woodley is crucial to that team.

    It just seems like an overly negative opinion.

  39. PatrickH says:

    Rob,

    I agree that drafting Upshaw can enhance the flexibility of the Seahawks base defense. Against teams like the 49ers, they can play the current 4-3 Under or 3-4 hybrid as their base defense scheme, keep both Bryant and Branch on the field, be dominant against the run and go after the QB with 5 pass rushers (just make sure Vernon Davis is double covered). Against teams like the Packers, take out either Bryant or Branch and play the 4-3 Over as the base defense scheme, pressure the QB with the front 4 and keep 7 guys back in coverage.

  40. Michael (CLT) says:

    Yes, it is a negative opinion. Linebackers do not win championships. Go back and watch the senior bowl coverage. He is easily contained by the top OT. He is a bull rush specialist. He has not shown that he covers in space well, he does not show good hand usage, he has not shown speed, he has not shown pass rush moves… my God.

    I feel like I’m watching the drafting of Aaron Curry all over again. LB’s do not win championships.

    I am surprised by your impression of Upshaw compared to your lack of buy-in with Von Miller last year. Von Miller differentiates. Upshaw is a two down player. Couples, for all his misgivings, has much more differentiation. If you are going to take a chance, take one on a differentiator. Not a bull rush WILL.

  41. Michael (CLT) says:

    First round picks should differentiate on their own accord. To balance out Red and Branch need not require a 1st round pick of a strong guy. No one saw KJ Wright as an impact performer when he was drafted, but I’d say he was the Hawk’s second best pick. 4th round… where linebacking gems are found.

    Pick a WR, a RB, an elite guard… someone, who on his own merit, changes the game. Balancing an already unbalenced defensive scheme seems childish.

    I’m not buying. And I’m pretty passionate about it. I see a herd mentality here, and I can appreciate that… but I’m not buying.

  42. Rob says:

    I didn’t see that from the Senior Bowl coverage I watched, but certainly I’ll always trust tape over what happens in Mobile. I disagree on the hand usage, I think it’s superb personally and I love his understanding of leverage and how he uses his strengths (lower body power, low centre of gravity, strength) to his advantage. I’ve seen him beat enough guys at the edge to believe he can rush the passer. On coverage, well he’s only asked to cover underneath and that won’t change in Seattle.

    Aaron Curry was a very different player. Completely different. Aside from having virtually no field IQ (one of Upshaw’s strengths) he also played 10 yards behind the LOS at Wake Forest. He was a heat seaking missile. He had no pass rush duties and had less sacks in a four year career than Upshaw had in 2011 alone. CU was pretty much a defensive end for Alabama with modest coverage duties. Seattle wouldn’t be using Upshaw the same way they tried to use Curry.

    My situation with Von Miller was a lack of concern he would fit into a 4-3 scheme as a rush linebacker and maintain what he was best at – getting after quarterbacks. The whole point here is that I’m wondering if Upshaw can also do the same. I was wrong to question Miller and admitted so. For that reason, I’m being more open minded on this one. I liked Miller, but was too conservative with my judgement. I like Upshaw, let’s roll with it.

    And as for Coples – well if we want a guy who only played 60% of UNC’s snaps in 2011 and was regularly subbed in and out of games, didn’t show consistent effort, coasted along has basically used about 50% of his potential in college – there’s your man. I’ll take a guy like Upshaw every year over a guy like Coples. And I do believe CU can have an impact as a pass rusher.

  43. Doug says:

    Geez Rob,
    Your distain for Coples is really clouding your judgement of the guy. I’m quite sure you have watched more tape of the guy than I have, but what I just watched of your tapes posted is a pretty darn good player.

    While Upshaw has some dope power, Coples has length and speed. I think he had some issues with getting stuck inside more than he liked his junior year.

    I realize he isn’t a superb high motor player, but I don’t see him in the dark brooding light that you do… But he still has first round potential way above Upshaw through my rosy glasses.

    But I still dig Upshaw too.

  44. Misfit74 says:

    Great discussion.

    The same drum I’ve been pummeling is similar, though, to what Michael said about LBs being fungible. Positional value is important and unless you have an elite pass-rusher in your sights you don’t take him in the top-half of round 1. Yes, you take ‘difference-makers’, which, short of a glaring need, can be BPA for us – even if it’s a RB or WR. Again, unless Upshaw is a premiere pass-rushing threat: Pass. JS has found gems in later rounds and LB is one of the easiest positions to fill in later rounds.
    .
    If we took a LB (or LB/DE in Upshaw’s case), why let Hawthorne walk via FA and add a LB with your greatest draft-capital? Make the team better. Get impact players almost regardless of position. Other than being rock-solid at TE and both Safety spots, anything goes, I say…well, except FB, K, P, LS, lol.

  45. Griffin says:

    Misfit74,

    I pretty much agree with you.

    I think that unless they see upshaw as some missing piece of the pass rush that they pass. I’m thinking they will go like this:
    1st choice – for some crazy reason one of the top QB’s fall to them (or they think another QB is worth drafting)
    2nd choice – somehow improve the pass rush
    3rd choice – impact offensive player (likely a WR)

  46. Rob says:

    Doug – I never let ‘disdain’ get in the way of a grade. What we don’t see in the tape I post on this blog is the number of snaps where Coples was taken off the field and spelled by Donte Paige-Moss (who also had a bitterly disappointing season). I have no agenda with Coples – but we have to appreciate here that this is a guy with physical tools to dominate college football, but never did. Sure, he flashed occassionally, but he should be flashing every snap – certainly not spending 40% of the time on the sideline. He doesn’t play with fire, with attitude. For all his talents, the coaches at UNC didn’t trust him to be out there every snap. That’s a major red flag for me. For everyone’s concerns about Carlos Dunlap at Florida, I personally feel Dunlap showed so much more in college than Coples.. but he went in round two. I don’t expect the light to switch on once the guy gets paid.

    Now, that’s the attitude situation. Now in terms of Seattle – I just don’t see the fit. He’s not a LEO. He’s not a three technique. He’s probably best suited to the 5-tech, but Seattle doesn’t use an orthodox 5-tech. So even if we were able to see past all of the warning signs in terms of his character, there’s the fact he has no obvious fit in this scheme.

  47. PQLQI says:

    Rob,
    I 100% agree with what you say about a coach not having the faith the put his most talented player on the field for as many snaps as possible – it speaks very poorly of the player… And while I feel like the offense has established leaders to deal with a rookie with an attitude, I don’t see a “get your act together” speech from Kam or Earl really having an impact on a 280 lb DE. So yeah, he screams red flag.

    The real question is was there something beyond just Coples work ethic that was in play? a relationship could sour and it could just become a toxic environment for both the player and the coach such the subordinate just can’t function right. At 21-23 years old, most players are still incredibly immature adults, and wouldn’t handle the situation well. It can also be hard on film to tell the difference between an entitled/lazy player and a player who lacks self motivation.

    The argument for Coples is that he might be the kind of player who needs the motivator that Pete is, someone who is always encouraging and supportive after each play, and serves as a mentor about how to be a professional and mature man. I’m sure that the FO will look into this thoroughly, and without interviewing Coples and the players and coaches around him, there is really no way to tell from the film.

    As for Upshaw, I totally see what you say about the power, and while he does not have elite speed, I see the value he could have if he can close down an extra foot or two of the pocket while still maintaining contain on the weakside. Too often this year I have seen Clemons redirected just a little deep to the QB, and the QB having just enough room to take a good step forward to release the pass. All we really need is a little more discomfort on the QBs back, and to close out the weakside scramble, and the pass rush we have from the strongside and in the middle would become so much more effective. I even wonder if another year removed from knee surgery and entering the season in peak condition, we might see even more explosiveness and upfield penetration from Bryant, especially seeing the blocked FGs in the second half of the season.

  48. Ed says:

    I agree with you Rob. Heart is one thing most scouts don’t really measure (good and bad). Too many 1st rd picks don’t have the heart (drive) and they become flops real fast. A guy with all the talent and no will gets coaches/scouts fired.

    My top 2 choices outside of luck (Richardson/Claiborne), if that doesn’t happen (which it won’t), i would love to trade down a bit and get upshawn/brockers or even drop all the way down and get burfict/perry and get another 1st

  49. Doug says:

    yes PQLQI,

    Thanks for saying that a little better than me. I am totally down with Coples having an issue with his coach as being a possible reason for his “lack of effort”. I’m not saying it shines well for the youngster, but he might just be a bit immature still. I mean it took me until I had a heart attack at 55 to get serious about life.

    As far as a scheme for him to play in, I could see him spelling both Red and Clemons. Is he too big to play the Leo? I don’t see Pete having a problem working him into some rotations, and what not. I mean look what he did for Red.

    Don’t get me wrong here Rob, I’m not in love with the guy, as there are numerous players I would be thrilled about drafting, and you may be totally right about this guy, I really don’t know for sure. I just personally see one of our greatest needs to be a pass rush, and I see this guy as the highest chance of getting us there. I would just hate to see his blossem on some other team because we pass on him due to a bad rap…

  50. diehard82 says:

    Well, to the original point of the thread and as to whether the comment Pete supposedly made during a pickup game of hoops could be true, I think yes. But hasn’t it been a point of this FO to keep secret their interest in players? Didn’t they congratulate everyone in the organization for not leaking their interest in James Carpenter? I’m sure Pete marvels at Upshaws talents like most of us do. Doesn’t mean he has any intention to pick him at 11/12 if available.

    Personally, I think Upshaw will probably be a real stud in the right 3-4 scheme, and if he comes to Seattle I’m certain they will adjust the D to take advantage of his strengths, whether that means playing more 4-3 Over or 3-4 sets. Still, I’d rather see Michael Brockers at 11/12 to rotate at 3-tech, or a trade down to garner more picks. But I wouldn’t be dissappointed by Upshaw as I don’t think they’d simply try to plug him into SAM or WIL in the 4-3 under.

  51. Misfit74 says:

    I’m starting to warm to the idea of Couples playing the Red Bryant role for us, with the ability to kick inside in pass-rush situations, if needed. I think the size/power/pass-rush potential of Couples actually fits Red’s position pretty well, and I know I’m not alone in thinking this. Rob has a good point about his motor or heart, and it’s a really hard intangible to read correctly. Couples had the ability to dominate and I like that. Sometimes you take the raw talent and hope it matures, a la Jason Pierre-Paul.

  52. Bert says:

    I think it’s a great possibility that Upshaw falls to 11/12 and we grab him. He’s not going to have a fantastic 40 time and I think teams overvalue that a lot in general and is a reason he falls. Though we’re trying to increase our team speed too, I think upgrading the pass rush is more important. He could certainly rotate between WILL, LEO, and RDE (Red’s spot) and have a huge impact on the team, upgrading the front 7 tremendously.