The Buffalo nickel — Melifonwu, Baker, Evans & Luani

February 19th, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing how the Seahawks could use a prospect like Obi Melifonwu. One of the suggestions is he could be used as a ‘big nickel’ working against larger receivers and tight ends.

The Panthers drafted Shaq Thompson at #25 in 2015 and have used him as a SAM linebacker and ‘Buffalo’ nickel. So what is a Buffalo?

Essentially it’s a hybrid linebacker/safety, used instead of a traditional DB to counteract big targets and help vs the run.

Bucky Brooks noted two and a half years ago that the ‘big nickel’ look was the hottest trend in the NFL:

“The defensive coordinator will instead bring on an extra safety who acts as a hybrid linebacker/cornerback. While the nickel safety is also assigned to cover tight ends and receivers in the slot, he is a more effective run defender and possesses the size, strength and length to match up with the league’s increasing number of big-bodied, pass-catching tight ends. Thus, the coordinator has a better option for defending opponents who prefer to play “12” personnel (one running back, two tight ends and two wide receivers) as their primary offense.

“With three safeties on the field, it becomes tougher for the quarterback to identify potential rushers from the second level. The constant movement and deking creates confusion at the line of scrimmage, leading to blown protection calls and misreads in the passing game. The big nickel package is also effective against the run, due to the presence of better athletes near the line of scrimmage. The overall speed and quickness of the defense improves with more defensive backs on the field, and safeties — more so than most cornerbacks — are comfortable playing in the box and taking on blockers due to their role in eight-man fronts on early (running) downs.”

There’s a defensive scheme based around the concept, as explained by John Turney:

“Buffalo was a 4-2-5 defense that showed a Cover-3 look with a post safety (or middle-of-the-field safety).”

“Nickel defense was the same personnel, but it was a 4-2-5 defense that showed a Cover-2 look, with the safeties near the hashes.”

It’s unclear how prepared the Seahawks are to adopt this type of formation. By now we know what they are — a 4-3 under defense focussing on execution.

That said, the Buffalo defense isn’t straying too much from Seattle’s current scheme. As Thurney notes, it’s a single-high safety cover-3 concept. The only difference is instead of a SAM you’re fielding a nickel. This DB still has some of the responsibilities of the SAM (defend the run, cover the TE) but you’re giving up some size to have a better athlete on the field.

This wouldn’t be a great departure for the Seahawks considering how often they fielded two linebackers and a nickel corner (Jeremy Lane) in 2016.

And while they might prefer to simply acquire a really good SAM (eg Haason Reddick) — if that player isn’t available, this seems like an alternative.

They’ve at least flirted with the possibility of using a ‘Buffalo’ type of player in the past. The Eric Pinkins project (moving him from safety to linebacker) and Brandon Browner’s return hints that they’ve considered having this type of weapon on defense. Neither was able to nail down a role on the roster.

It’s also interesting that Brooks in his piece talked about ‘big nickels’ and listed the following examples:

Aaron Williams — 6-0, 199lbs
Tyrann Mathieu — 5-8, 186lbs
Kenny Vaccaro — 6-0, 214lbs
Antrel Rolle — 6-0, 206lbs
Eric Berry — 6-0, 212lbs

None of these are players are 6-4, 219lbs like Melifonwu.

Two thoughts come to mind here:

1.) Melifonwu’s excellent size and length could make him an especially effective ‘Buffalo’. Physically he’s a closer match to the big WR/TE he’ll be competing with.

2.) The concept allows us to contemplate other players. Budda Baker (5-10, 180lbs), Justin Evans (6-0, 193lbs) and Shalom Luani (6-0, 201lbs) are physically similar to the players listed above.

All three play with a rabid intensity that fits Seattle’s defense. It might be difficult to project Baker defending big WR’s and TE’s at the next level at his size — but he’s a competitor and Tyrann Mathieu manages it. He’s also really good at making plays in the backfield and vs the run (10 TFL’s in 2016, three sacks). Evans will be one of the stars of the combine and has a reputation for jarring, punishing hits. Luani might an option beyond the first round.

You can easily imagine the Seahawks liking all three.

This does, however, detract from what Pete Carroll stated in his end of season press conference about team needs. He was quite specific about tapping into the cornerback class, adding linebackers similar to Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the draft and looking at offensive linemen. Unless you’re willing to call this suggestion a nickel corner, it doesn’t chime with the specified target needs.

Indeed they might be more inclined to draft one of the orthodox linebackers (Haason Reddick, Jarrad Davis, Zach Cunningham) early and work them into the line-up with Wagner and Wright. We know they are comfortable with Wright playing the SAM — it’s not a ridiculous thought to imagine Jarrad Davis and Wright rotating positions or a nice overall rotation coming into play, with the Seahawks simply continuing to use their nickel formations whenever they choose.

They could also just draft a pure nickel or outside corner at #26.

But the Buffalo concept is intriguing to the extent that it opens up the discussion on Melifonwu, Baker, Evans or Luani and how they might fit in Seattle if selected.

136 Responses to “The Buffalo nickel — Melifonwu, Baker, Evans & Luani”

  1. Cameron says:

    Good write up and compelling formation concept. Once again I feel compelled to add Jabrill Peppers into this mix. He’s bigger than BB and Justin Evans, every bit the athlete, and essentially already has experience playing the position being discussed. Peppers is also a hell of an instinctive blitzer, and the zone blitz schemes Kris Richard could design around this player concept would be interesting.

    Obi Melifonwu the SAM backer/Safety hybrid makes way more sense than Obi Melifonwu the outside corner. I could see Obi being an everydown player in this capacity, potentially playing the WILL backer in base downs (with KJ Wright playing base SAM), and then swapping on passing/3rd down etc downs.

    • Volume12 says:

      Does Jabril Peppers have the coverage skills? That’s his weakness.

      • Volume12 says:

        I also really hope they don’t move KJ. Can he play the strong side LB? Well we know he can. But, your taking away what makes him unique by possibly flipping him. How many 6’4, 250 pound LBers with his length play the weakside?

        • Cameron says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong but the SAM plays strong side and WILL plays weakside? I’m thinking Obi can play WILL on base if that position calls for him to flow to the football and tackle, whereas the SAM has to maintain his gap and engage blockers.

          • Kenny Sloth says:

            Takes advantage of KJ’s length while taking him out of coverage against the Gronks of the world

      • Cameron says:

        If it’s a weakness it’s a very slight one in my opinion. He’s certainly athletic enough.

        From the tape I’ve watched Peppers just didn’t get asked to do much in this regard, but when he did it was usually in the capacity for which we are having this discussion – against larger targets like TE’s. He mostly acquits himself well.

        • Volume12 says:

          Sure, but what happens when he gets matched up on a WR?

          IMO you want this as close to the LOS as possible and not moving in reverse. Your taking away his strength.

          • Cameron says:

            I understand the dilemna, and if I really thought Jabrill Peppers was incapable of manning the slot then I wouldn’t have brought him up – but I think he can.

            We are looking for a unicorn, a hybrid safety/lb type who can cover and defend the run. There’s not a lot of players who fit that profile, but Jabrill Peppers just might.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’m not sure Peppers will measure/weight what he’s listed at.

      • Cameron says:

        He’s listed at 6’1 and 207. Suppose he’s 2 inches shorter and 10 lbs lighter? He’s still got 17 lbs on Budda Baker.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Not disputing he can do it — merely that his size will likely not measure up.

          I do think, however, Baker and Evans more likely to appeal for this role.

          • Cameron says:

            I’ll freely admit Jabrill Peppers is probably one of the harder players to scout and also probably one of the players most widely disagreed on. The way Michigan used him I believe only contributes to this problem.

            Consider:

            1) He was frequently used as a traditional stand up linebacker even though he’s severely undersized for the position at the next level. Many will see his plays in the backfield and discount them due to where he lined up on the play.

            2) His weaknesses in pass coverage have been documented. Particularly in zone coverage Peppers has documented coverage lapses and missed assignments. I can’t help but think being asked to play 3 or 4 positions, often over the course of a single game doesn’t help when it comes to playing assignment correct football.

            However:

            1) Pending actual measurements from the tape he appears to be an exceptional athlete.

            2) He’s a very good tackler who consistently takes good angles when converging on the ball carrier. As a hybrid/safety playing zone coverage he would frequently be assigned the flat/curl area of the football field, an area where we were once strong but have faded in recent seasons.

            • BobbyK says:

              Your #2 under “consideration” sounds an awful lot like Taylor Mays scouting reports going into the draft a number of years ago.

              • Cameron says:

                Taylor Mays wasn’t asked to do nearly as much while USC as Peppers was.

                I watched a couple tape breakdowns of Peppers again today. Against Ohio St he appeared to play the following positiions:

                Off Ball LB
                On Ball LB
                Slot Corner
                Single High Safety
                Strong Safety
                Running Back
                Punt Returner
                Kick Returner

                It’s hard enough playing football as it. Imagine how difficult it must be when you practice 5 or 6 positions?

        • 12thManderson says:

          I promise you Jabrill can NOT play slot, I’ve been So intrigued with Peppers due to Locketts injury and Peppers PR Ability and his athleticism, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about him. He is not the type of player who can read what a Slot WR wants to do and shadow him. He just doesn’t have that split second patience to reaction skill set to run a WR’s route for them. He’s a roamer, who’s been schemed to be a chase and tackle type player, and those tackles are nothing to gawk at… Sadly

          My Pro Comparison for Peppers stems from last year’s draft, oddly another player I was enamored with Duke/Carolina Panther, Jeremy Cash… A College Hybrid Stud, He went Undrafted and Totaled up 6 Tackles on a NEEDY Panther Defense.

  2. Volume12 says:

    Great piece. Its articles, if you will, like this that keep people coming to this site. Telling those that maybe don’t know, I mean there’s gotta be at least 100 people who lurk here but don’t post, something that will make their viewing capacity more enjoyable and knowledgeable.

    Before I started posting here I was a longtime visitor but never said anything and I can’t tell ya how many things I picked up on, learned, or came to understand/realize.

    So, no response necessary, but A+ job my man.

  3. Ty the Guy says:

    I like the big nickel sets. Are we sure we haven’t run some form of this in the past?

    Evans looks like a Hawk. Obi’s size is “unique” enough for PCJS. Baker has that playmaker ability most comparable to the Honey Badger. Would not cry if any of them are our pick.

    Curious if Shalom Luani could fit that role too? Slightly undersized, but the speed, cover skills, and physicality are there. Could be later round option that can get on the field as our Buffalo.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Definitely on Luani.

      I should’ve mentioned him in the piece. Will add now.

      • Volume12 says:

        If you like Jabril Peppers, Luani should be high on your list too. This dude is so underrated its ridiculous.

        Luani is a mix of Peppers and Chidobe Awuzie. I honestly beleive that.

        When JS personally scouts a team, that’s a fairly good indicator they’ll draft someone from that squad. Of course that guy has to be available.

        Last year of the known JS personal visits? ND and CJ Prosise. Maryland and QJeff. Ohio St and Nick Vannett.

        This year? Udub, Wazzu, W.Michigan.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m a big Luani fan. Have mentioned him for many weeks now as a likely target. Screams Seahawks with everything — position, physicality, athleticism, backstory.

          Moton, Luani, Budda, King likely on the radar then.

        • LLLOGOSSS says:

          Who might be from W.Michigan?

          • HawkTalker #1 says:

            Might be a big clue towards Moton if that trend continues. Although picking up a quality OT would sure help the team, there is some amazing defense of talent that you end up passing on if you go that direction.

            • JimQ says:

              Maybe a later round option?
              Draft Scout Keion Adams News (from draftscout.com)
              12/20/16 – 2016 ALL-MAC SECOND TEAM (COACHES): Down Lineman – Keion Adams, Western Michigan,…Adams is receiving All-MAC honors for the first time in his career. He leads the league in tackles for loss with 17.0 and leads the Broncos in sacks with 7.5. He has constantly harassed opposing quarterbacks, registering 10 quarterback hurries and forced three fumbles. Against Toledo, Adams came from the blindside of quarterback Logan Woodside to force a fumble which set up an eventual score. – Western Michigan Football

        • CHawk Talker Eric says:

          WMICH? I got a feeling that if Moton passes TEF, SEA will take him on Day 2.

          • LLLOGOSSS says:

            Rob, we haven’t gotten very deep into the day-2/3 possibilities yet (I know your waiting for the combine, and it’s super early), but have you formed an opinion about Moton yet? He certainly LOOKS the part.

            • Rob Staton says:

              I think Moton is a guard personally. There are things to like. But I wonder about whether he plays tackle at the next level.

              In fairness I think we’ve gone quite far into day 2-3 possibilities especially over the last couple of weeks. I’d recommend checking the archives.

        • peter says:

          Who at wazzu? and W. Michigan? guesses?

  4. Coleslaw says:

    I think we’re set up perfectly to run this defense. The 4-2-5 Would put more pressure on BWagz and KJ but they already do it and excel. If we were going to run this more often it would dampen the need for a SAM, and greatly increase our need for backers like kj and bobby, in case one goes down with an injury. Anzalone would be a great value for IMO.

  5. Naks says:

    It reminds me of the versatility we had in the bandit package. But here instead we have 4 down lineman and 2 rbs. Same concept of rushing from different points

    The one thing I wonder is why we didn’t try this with McCray? He’s 6-2, 202 and filled in for kam. When kam came back we didn’t really try to do this 3 safety look.

    • Del tre says:

      Thats a great point, its difficult to read this coaching staff for stuff like that though, they might have felt Mccray doesn’t have the same size upside or run support ability. Maybe they see him more as pure strong safety? I think the fact that they never used him in that capacity speaks more to McCray not fitting the mold

      • I agree. Carroll has not shown a willingness to deviate much from what he has been comfortable with over the years. But the lack of creativity is what is killing the defense. Maybe Carroll’s age is catching up to him in this area.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Considering they nearly topped the league on scoring defense again despite everything that happened in 2016, I think it’s out of whack to suggest there’s anything wrong with Carroll or the defensive scheme.

          Most of the league has copied or is copying Seattle.

          • Andrew says:

            I think they used the bandit package to cover up deficiencies on the DL and with the LB. They don’t really have many deficiencies now. Didn’t they draft Winston Guy and Mark Legree to try and fill a big nickel role or just for safety depth? They also used Atari Bigby as a big nickel sparingly.

  6. Totem_Hawk says:

    Based on how he may test what round do you think Shalom Luani may be drafted?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Depends how he tests. Could be one of the big risers.

      • Totem_Hawk says:

        Ya, i’m surprised he isn’t getting much press. His production was solid.

        • lil'stink says:

          Really would like to see more tape on Luani. Draft Breakdown only has one game on him. Seems like an intriguing player. Have an odd hunch he’s one of those players that Mayock will be talking up come the combine.

          • JimQ says:

            A couple of mid-round DB’s that could be available a little later in the draft.
            —-SS-Tedrick Thompson(133), Colorado, 6-0/205,
            2016: 58-tkls, 40-solo, *7-INT*, 3.0-TFL, *15-PBU*, 1-QBH.
            —-FS-Josh Jones, North Carolina St., 6-2/215, + experience at both Safety positions. speed=?
            2016: 13-games, *109-tkls*, 62-solo, 3-INT, 3.5-TFL, 1.0-sacks, *8-PBU*, 1-FF

            A couple of mid-round LB’s, in the event that the Seahawks don’t take one earlier.
            —-OLB/Edge-Jordan Willis, Kansas St., 6-4/255/33.25-arms, 10.0″-hands, speed=?
            2016: 13-games, 52-tkls, 34-solo, 17.5-TFL, 11.5-sacks, 3-PBU, 4-QBH, 3-FF
            —-OLB-Carroll “wild man” Phillips, Illinois, 6-3/237, 31.75″-arms, 9.5″-hands. length/speed=?
            2016: 12-games, 56-tkls, 30-solo, 20-TFL, 9.0-sacks, 3-QBH, 1-FF.

  7. 12thManderson says:

    This has been said in similarity on here before, but I feel due to the articles subject matter and to make a case for a player, I should take a shot at it.

    Mr. Budda Baker

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have Two Earl Thomas’s as our 2 deep safeties. The range and distances Earl and Budda could cover in today’s pass happy offense is just astonishing. Yes, in those circumstances Kam would move into the box. Arguments I’ve seen against have been, Losing Kam’s Communication on the back end or Kam’s body possibly not being able to withstand the riggers of playing more LB. But that’s the thing, this wouldn’t be our base defense, it’s an adaptive wrinkle.

    We wouldn’t be losing Kam’s communication, he’s still on the field and in theory creating an even more imposing defense to run on, throw screens against, or even hit those explosive plays against in those 2nd/3rd and Longs. As far as his durbility concerns. I have different concerns, Sherm and Earl. Sherm is still Shutdown Rock Solid, but he’s never been an extraordinary athlete, he beats you with technique and film to field knowledge, how much longer can that truly last? While losing Earl was the proven season killer.. Well with Budda we would have his heir apparent, all the while gaining another nickel corner, possible coverage scheme, and playmaking leader as he was at UW in recruitment and in battle.

    • Rob Staton says:

      The 4-2-5 Buffalo (image in the piece) portrays a nickel formation with the FS and the Buffalo Nickel (eg Budda, Evans, Luani etc) in a two-deep look and Kam (SS) up at the LOS. Could definitely see Seattle using some of this if they take one of these guys and putting together the look you speak of with two really rangy and athletic safety’s. They would, however, need to feel comfortable rolling that nickel over the slot for other scenarios if they take them early.

    • BobbyK says:

      I can’t remember a draft where there are so many different guys who would fit in so many different ways that I’d be thrilled with as our 1st round pick. Really, Cunningham, Davis, and Reddick are all different LBs I’d be thrilled with. Heck, I’d be happy with TJ Watt. I see him excelling in our defense at Leo (not a big need with Clark – I know). But if he’s our pick, I’d be fine. Then there’s the guys like Obi-wan or Budda-the-Hutt. I’d be happy with either. However, I still think the most glaring weakness is the CB opposite Sherm. That’s where I hope the BPA comes from because I think it’s the biggest need. But you give me any of those other guys (Watt, Cunningham, Davis, Reddick, etc.), I’m going to be thrilled. Heck, if Kevin King tests well and is the guy at #26 – I’ll be stoked. In reality, if we get a RB like McCaffrey or an OT – I’m going to be happy, too. I like how they really could go so many separate ways… but if we listen to Pete… it seems we’re destined to take a CB at #26 if nothing major happens in FA or via trade.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I think it could be quite fluid. The BPA at a position of need might be linebacker and if Reddick’s there he could be the guy. But there are 2-3 options at LB at #26, they could go corner, they could go with one of these safety’s and have them play big nickel. It’s unlikely one of the top two OT’s are there but that would be an option too.

        Lots of attractive possibilities.

    • Cameron says:

      “Sherm is still Shutdown Rock Solid, but he’s never been an extraordinary athlete, he beats you with technique and film to field knowledge, how much longer can that truly last? ”

      Interesting that you seem to suggest there’s an expiration date on those qualities. Seems to me those sorts of attributes would get better with age.

      • 12thManderson says:

        Father Time Always Wins, and if you don’t think Sherm will Start regressing in the near future, speed wise.. You are in for a rude awakening. There are 2 types of people in this world, those who view the glass half full and those who drink that glass, readying for the next one, all the while acknowledging there’s the looming morning after.

        • Del tre says:

          Sherms technique at corner is pretty flawless, at the very least he will be an elite slot corner until he retires but he should hold onto being a top corner for a long time. He couldn’t have a better system to keep him in top either. But father time is undefeated

          • Volume12 says:

            Sherm is in the mold of a Darrell Greene or Champ Bailey for example. Yes, ‘father time’ will catch up to him as it does everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be an asset. His technique, positioning, football IQ, and film study will keep him as one of the premier corners for quite awhile.

  8. Volume12 says:

    OT Branden Albert being traded to Jax for TE Julius Thomas.

  9. Seahawcrates says:

    One way of thinking that PC stays true to his identification of team needs at corner AND drafting early one of the Buffalo Nickel prototypes listed above is to return Jeremy Lane to the outside corner position. Early in their careers Lane was ahead of Maxwell on the depth chart. When Browner was suspended for drugs in 2012, it was Lane who started in BB’s place, not Maxwell.
    I can easily see Pete wanting the most experienced corner in his system manning the outside while Shead rehabs. Lane may be a better outside corner than a nickel corner. It also makes me think Shead would fit the Buffalo Nickel well, especially if he has lost quickness with the knee injury.

    • HawkTalker #1 says:

      It is my hope that we can find a starting upgrade option over Lane ASAP. I understand opinions are going to vary on that opinion and it seems challenging in the Hawks D to get a rookie CB up to speed quickly and able to start, but Lane seems to blow so many plays, doesn’t get he head around sometime at all (worse than Shead) and seems to be one on the least ball-Hawks guys Seattle has starting. IMO our CB “need” is as much due to Lane as it is to Shead’s recent injury. I’d be open to taking one (or two) of the many ball-Hawky CBs available in this deep class, pressing the learning curve and starting them ASAP.

      • Del tre says:

        Maybe lanes ability was hampered because he was still recovering from his previous injuries. I hold hope for lane he is a freaky athlete and seems like he has struggled because he isn’t as athletic as he once was

        • HawkTalker #1 says:

          I could also be tainted by recent poor performances, but the memory I have never getting his head around and getting often. He has always appeared to me to be the weak link in our secondary, although I’m not a Shead fan either.

          • All I see is 12s says:

            I’m also over Land. The last great play he made was in the Super bowl. I honestly believe that had Shead no gotten injured, lane may have been cut. I agree with the comments above . He just doesn’t seem very athletic or explosive. He’s just kind of a guy who knows the system. Lane is precisely the reason for the arguments in favor of an explosive Nickel cb in draft.

    • nichansen01 says:

      Lane is horrible. No thanks. Remember the first play against the packers when he was burned by davante adams?

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Lane and Shead are super underrated.

      But there’s probably a slight upgrade to be had so let’s take a corner in the first and develop him for two years. 😉

      • Volume12 says:

        I agree with seahawcrates.

        Lane is better suited outside. The part of his game that needs to be cleaned up is tackling.

        Makes a ton of sense to me. Have Lane start outside, bring a rookie along slowly, and when they go to Nickel depending on the type of CB they draft, move Lane inside the rookie outside, or vice versa.

        A 3rd corner is a must nowadays.

      • Ishmael says:

        Lot of truth to this. We’re so used to having superstars at every level, that as soon as a player dips below that we think they’re awful – I know I’ve fallen into the trap in the past.

        Lane had a down year, they’ll bring in competition to push him. I’m pretty bullish about Neiko Thorpe, but that might just be because he’s such a ridiculously good gunner.

  10. bankhawk says:

    As I juggle various formation options in my head, I get a little befuddled. Im getting the sênse that going after one of thêse big safety/lb hybrid types in no way obviates the utility of a Reddeck/Davis/C-Ham type pure lb? So should we manage to land a Davis, or whoever at #26, which of the hybrid types could we then add later and when do you see that opportunity arising? (bearing in mind, of course that the combine may shuffle that deck)

    • bankhawk says:

      p.s. Rob, this article is, as they often are-just too tantilizing. You lay it out so well that it makes me want it ALL! Good one!

      • HawkTalker #1 says:

        Agreed. The amount of thought, inside and research that goes in the each one of these is simply amazing. I’ve said it before but I am so glad I don’t have to pay for this information, because I sure would. It makes my entire Seahawk experience so much better than it ever was before I found this blog. One easy way to tell how good these articles are, after almost every single one of them many of the readers are stuck on having the blog player of the day be their new number one pick ( until the next article comes out) 🙂

    • Rob Staton says:

      Luani is a nice option as a S/LB Buffalo hybrid beyond R1.

  11. Ground_Hawk says:

    Nice work Rob! I hope everything is going well with the latest addition to your family!

    I appreciate the images of the defensive schemes. It’s also nice to imagine how possible plays can unfold, much like moves in chess. The 4 players you mentioned (Melifonwu, Baker, Evans, and Luani) are really interesting players that look like they could play for Seattle. What are your current thoughts on Tankersley and Rasul Douglas as prospects who could possibly play a similar role? At this point, it seems like Seattle could trade down from their 1st Round Pick, and still draft one of these players. Anyone’s input is appreciated, cheers!

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think Tankersley and Douglas are pure outside CB’s. Like Douglas a lot. I’m holding court on Tankersley until the combine. He’s a hard one to analyse on tape, nothing that really screams at you but how athletic/long is he? Traits matter a lot to this team at this position.

      • TCHawk says:

        I don’t know about Douglas. Seems too slow to me in the tape I’ve seen. I really like Luani in the middle rounds.

  12. Ishmael says:

    I’ve liked the idea of a big nickel for ages, interesting to see how relevant some older concepts still are. The game really is swings and roundabouts. Sooner or later teams are going to get smashmouth again, starting to already I guess – see Dallas and Tennessee – and then defences are going to want to be playing more base.

  13. C-Dog says:

    After a FA period in which Seattle added to the DL and a bit to the OL, comes the 2017 NFL Draft. Seattle needs help at corner, wants to get younger and more talented at linebacker, and wants to add to the OL and find help with the running game.

    Seattle faces an early run on linebackers, and doesn’t see a cornerback that is freakishly athletic enough that they want to take at 26. They trade pick with Cleveland, and acquire their early forth. With the 33rd pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Obi Melifonwu, Safety, Connecticut.

    33: R2P1
    S OBI MELIFONWU
    UCONN

    58: R2P26
    CB RASUL DOUGLAS
    WEST VIRGINIA

    90: R3P26
    EDGE JOE MATHIS
    WASHINGTON

    105: R3P41
    LB ANTHONY WALKER
    NORTHWESTERN

    106: R4P1
    RB ELIJAH HOOD
    NORTH CAROLINA

    184: R5P39
    OT ADAM BISNOWATY
    PITTSBURGH

    211: R6P26
    G AVERY GENNESY
    TEXAS A&M

    229: R7P8
    TE DARRELL DANIELS
    WASHINGTON

    Pete Carroll expresses how much they love his freakish traits. They will use him in coverage against tight ends, and bigger receivers. Carroll will remind us about the role they hoped Brandon Browner would fill, he says they may look at him some at corner, and also adds “we might also look as him as a potential linebacker for us.. there’s a lot we gotta figure out about this kid.”

    Douglas is the BPA at a need position at 58, and John Schneider will say that if Obi was off the board at 33, they would have felt good taking Douglas there. Pete Carroll goes off on an epic pitch about how Douglas represents everything they want in their corners that has us all ready to tear off our shirts and run through walls.

    R3 brings the team 2 legit linebackers, Mathis to play SAM and rush, and Walker to give quality competition to KJ and Bobby. Pick 105 lands Elijah Hood to compete with Rawls, Prosise, and Collins.

    R5 and R6 they add to the OL depth with a couple Cable guys. R7 they draft another former Husky in TE Darrell Daniels who replaces the departed Luke Willson.

    UDFA include K Nick Weiler, DT Joey Ivie, SS Xavier Woods, WR Gabe Marks, WR Jehu Chesson, LB Richie Brown, FB Sam Rogers, QB Josh Dobbs, and DL Darius Hamilton. Joey Ivie they try to convert to OG.

    • RWIII says:

      Guys. Anyone have an idea how well Okung played last year.

      • C-Dog says:

        I think he had a decent year. Stayed pretty healthy. The Okung return to Seattle hot take is one that I subscribe to.

    • Ed says:

      I like that a lot. Would prefer a DT at 105, but the first 3 are great.

    • Del tre says:

      I’d be all in on that draft, Obi and Rasul to me gives the defense a 3 down nickel to run all game but the pick up of Mathis also gives the defense the option of a more traditional 4-3 and on top of it all we will have lane incase the match up calls for him, and later in the season in shead, the defense will.be extremely adaptable and deep at every position.

  14. michigan12th says:

    Thanks for another great article. Living here in Michigan and being stuck in the heart of Lions and Bears fans it’s sure a great escape for me to hear about the Hawks. I love reading these pieces and really appreciate what you do for Rob. I often tell my friends about these guys before the major media starts covering them and they are always asking me how I knew about them 😉 Thanks for the cure to the off season doldrums.

    By the way is there any pocket collapsing DT’s that can be had in the later rounds this year. I still feel that is our biggest need, and I am hesitant in thinking that the JS/PC are going to do to much with this in free agency, unless the world turns on its head and Poe goes underrated and we get him on a cheap prove it deal. But that scenario is so unlikely.

    Love all the profiles you give us on the players, and the education on the technical stuff.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Sadly it’s bone dry this year at this position. I haven’t seen a single pocket collapsing interior rusher I really like, early or late.

      • Kenny Sloth says:

        Jaleel Johnson, my dude!!!

        Too splashy for you?

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m just a bit concerned that he’s not outstanding physically and whether he’ll be pretty average at the next level. And I think we see that on tape. Not explosive, more high-motor.

          • Kenny Sloth says:

            True that we’ve seen high motor, subpar athletes not translate well.

            I guess he probably wouldn’t really be an amazing first round pick.

            Why draft a solid rotational guy in the first?

    • C-Dog says:

      I actually think DT might be something the team might really go after in FA, but Seattle talked with Carlos Watkins and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu during the Senior Bowl week. So they are looking at college players as well, but both these guys are more run defenders.

      Two CFB guys really interest me right now for Seattle. one guy to watch out for that you might be familiar with is Michigan’s Ryan Glasgow if he’s still out there on day three. Love that guy. The other is Tulane’s Tanzel Smart.

      Glasgow did most of the dirty work for Michigan inside while other guys stunted and made flash plays. At the nose, he still pushed the pocket and got rush. He also moved around some. PFF had him as one of the highest graded inside guys in the country. Former walk on, but might be more athletic than some realize. I will be really interested to see what he does at the combine.

      Smart’s different. He looks like he could be one of those quick low gravity inside rushers, high motor guy. I think he would be more in the mold of Jordan Hill and Clinton McDonald. Probably wins with quicks and leverage.

      In terms of inside rush, one other guy that might have some twitch is WV’s Christian Brown, but he’s a project. Florida’s Joey Ivie is another one to think about.

      • Rob Staton says:

        The thing is — I’m not convinced they even desire a great pocket collapser (or at least one that costs mega money). The scheme is basically gap control and keep the LB’s clean. I think they want that type of player but at a certain cost. Which is why they look at FA and day 2/3 of the draft.

        I think they will add a DT in FA but probably a second wave type.

        • Sea Mode says:

          +1 Right on.

          I think they are looking for big boys (+310lbs.) to play the run first, and then see if they win the lottery and discover some untapped pass rush potential as a bonus. This has been the theme with most of the recent DTs:

          – Jarran Reed (311lbs)
          PC: “he’s a great run defender, and we’ll see how he does with his pass rush. We’re going to coach him a little differently than he’s been coached in some regards and we’ll see what that means.”
          (2016 draft day 2 press conference)

          Reed: “Whatever it is, whatever I need to do, I’m going to get it done. Whether it’s two-gapping, or whether it’s playing one-gap, rushing the passer, I’m going to get it done, I promise that.”

          – John Jenkins (340lbs)
          “Head coach Pete Carroll said he hoped the 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive tackle might be able to help the team’s interior pass rush.

          “We think we can get a little bit more out of John Jenkins,” Carroll said during his Wednesday press conference from the VMAC. “We’re anxious to see what he can do for us, and we’ll see how that works out.”

          “I’m one of the guys where I feel like I’m capable of a lot of things,” Jenkins said. “I just need the opportunity to be able to prove it. A lot of guys may look at me as not a pass-rusher, but I never really had the opportunity to show that I was a pass rusher.”

          – Earl Mitchell (310lbs)

          – Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (350lbs)
          “I would play all 3 downs, so I was able to get a little bit of pass rush, but I would always just push the pocket instead of trying to get the sacks myself, you know, try to flush the quarterback out.” (from Sr. Bowl interview)

          So, first and foremost, they are looking for guys who will “fill the role that our tackles have been playing the last few years. He keeps us the same, in that regard, that we’ve got good inside tough guys that can stop the running game” (PC on Reed)
          http://www.seahawks.com/video/2016/04/29/john-schneider-and-pete-carroll-draft-day-2-press-conference

          • Volume12 says:

            Stevie ‘T’ said he plans on getting down to 330 or so. Doesn’t want to weigh more than 335.

            I’d also add OK St DT Vincent Taylor (someone caught Seattle’s eye here. Scouted them 3 times, and back to back games to end the year).

            And ‘Bama DT Dalvin Tomlinson. But, IMO they’ll be looking for value at this position and he could go earlier than where they may want to spend a pick on at DT.

        • C-Dog says:

          I would agree with all this. I think depth is probably something that they’d love to bolster. I think taking a gander at Earl Mitchell this week and talking with Big Stevie might signal that they are open to a bit of a variety. It’s going to be interesting to see what unfolds.

  15. Sea Mode says:

    Tony Pauline on Miami sports radio this morning. Talks Cunningham, Peppers, Ross, Njoku.

    http://www1.play.it/audio/joe-rose-show/

  16. lil'stink says:

    A fan’s breakdown on Jaleel Johnson:

    http://www.blackheartgoldpants.com/2017/2/20/14662558/the-bhgp-film-room-2017-nfl-draft-profile-jaleel-johnson-iowa-football

    Definitely a little homerism going on, but mildy interesting nonetheless.

  17. Golfstud84 says:

    Rob,

    Love all that you do, the blog and fan interaction is awesome!

    Could you do a piece on potential trade targets? While it might strike some as off point, I am pretty certain we will see a trade prior to the draft. Reason being, JS/PC don’t like to be backed into a corner in terms of picking one specific need & most of the high profile FA targets would command a large chunk of our FA $.

    I think they target a former high pick that hasn’t fit as well in current team’s structure at either OL or CB to improve flexibility for draft.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think this is possible. I doubt they’d trade for a corner with this draft class, but an OL seems plausible. I’d suggest Ja’Wuan James but Miami are dealing Albert. Maybe Dennis Kelly at Tennessee?

  18. dean says:

    Rob what are your thoughts on SS Josh Harvey-Clemons 6-4 228 4.5-4.59 Could he play big nickel ? olb?

  19. Sea Mode says:

    Just looking over some stuff they said about Jarran Reed last year just reinforces how important it is to Seattle to find the “Alpha Dogs”.

    “He’s the alpha dog of that program,” Seahawks southeast area scout Jim Nagy said. “No matter who you talk to there—everyone’s going to have differing opinions on certain players and their skillsets and everything—but across the board, this guy was the leader of that program. He was the guy on game day who got them juiced and got them going, and he’ll bring that to this team for sure.”

    In addition to Reed’s on-field talent, Alabama teammates, including fellow second-round pick Reggie Ragland, have raved about his leadership:

    “He’s the backbone, not just of our defense, but of our whole team,” defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. “He’ll get the offense going, the special teams going. If you’re not having the best practice or the best game, he’ll let you know right there. He’ll tell you straight to your face, but he’s also somebody you can lean on during hard times.”

    “There are always a few players who steer off, but he’s always been there to steer them back on the right path,” defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson said of Reed. “He keeps the juice going.”

    “He’s the one who kick-starts everything for us,” linebacker Reggie Ragland said. “As soon as he gets to talking, you can tell in his eyes that he’s bringing everything he’s got. When he’s going, we’re going. And when he’s not, we gotta get him going because he’s as disruptive as it gets in college football.”

    http://www.espn.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/113109/jarran-reed-provides-life-force-for-alabamas-entire-team

    Who are the alpha dogs on each of the college teams this year? Let’s find them.

  20. Trevor says:

    Jared Odrick got released and might be a nice fit as a rotational interior pass rusher similar to Clinton Mcdonald and Jordan Hill. Guess it depends on his health.

  21. Kenny Sloth says:

    Went through the last several drafts and calculated some numbers from the positions drafted in the first two rounds.

    Expect 2 QB’s in the first and at least one in the second. Trubisky, Watson; Mahomes.

    .75 first round runningbacks with 2.75 in the second. Approximately 4 in the first two rounds. Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey, ________

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      4.5 OT in the first, 2 in the second

      2 Guards, 1 and a quarter in the second

      Three quarters of a center in the first and second, each

      4.5 wide receivers in the first. 3.75 in the following round

      A half of a TE (ebron) in the first and 2.25 in the second

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      2.5 first round DE’s, 3.75 in the next round

      3.25 DT’s, 3 more each year in the second round

      3.75 linebackers (depending on designation), another 4.75 in the second

      4.5 corners in the first, another 4 and a quarter

      2.5 safeties, on average, 1.75 in the second.

      And one quarter of a Kicker was taken on average in the second round

  22. JimQ says:

    Re: mid/late round RB, a bit off topic for this particular tread; I found a recent piece by Matt Waldman,
    who IMO, is one of the better technical analyst of football talent. Here, he comps RB-Jamaal Williams
    with RB-Marcus Allen (from the 1980’s). I see a similar running style between the two, however, Allen seemed to have more receiving highlights, even though he had much, much better QB’s in a different
    system and at a different time. Jamaal Williams seems to be currently regarded as a round 5/6 prospect. Maybe a consideration for the Seahawks?
    –Interesting read with comparison videos. — https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2017/02/09/a-thought-about-byu-rb-jamaal-williams/

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