Perception can be a funny thing sometimes.
For example, if you were told the Seahawks would come out of this draft with Jesse Williams and Christine Michael, I suspect you’d give it a big thumbs up. Yet I sense a slightly mixed reaction to Seattle’s latest class simply due to the order in which the players were taken.
I had Williams pinned to Seattle at #56 in my final mock draft, but he fell due to lingering concerns over a troublesome knee injury. Nobody really anticipated a fall into round five. Put it down to one of those cases where information within the various front offices never leaked to the media. The Seahawks clearly liked something about him, given they traded up for the first time in the John Schneider era to get the big Australian (and Tharold Simon, corner from LSU).
Michael was one of four players — along with Williams, Quinton Patton and Khaseem Greene — who we slated as possible options for Seattle in round two. Michael was the pick after trading down to #62, but Patton and Greene both lasted into round four (somewhat surprisingly). I’m guessing a few people raised an eye brow at taking a running back so early. Some, not unfairly, believed there were greater needs. Such as defensive tackle. Put Michael in round three after Williams in round two, and people would rejoice. Again, perception can be funny sometimes.
I would recommend forgetting the rounds where certain players were drafted and just look at the class overall. When I look at this group I see players with a legit shot to make what has become a pretty deep roster even better.
Michael will instantly have an impact, which is all you can ask for from a second round pick. At a time when a lot of people expect the Seahawks to open up the passing game and begin to exploit further wrinkles within the read-option, this was a statement to the contrary. Pete Carroll has never wavered from his instance that his offense will be built around the run. It’s time to take that point at face value.
Marshawn Lynch is not a machine and his physical running style will lead to injuries. That doesn’t necessarily mean season ending issues, but the little back problems and foot injuries he seems to have carried for the last couple of years will probably continue. It might not keep him off the field (it didn’t last year) but getting Michael allows the Seahawks to manage this situation even better than they were able to last year. Lynch is so important to this team. They don’t want to wait until he gets a serious injury to address this situation.
Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams significantly upgrade what this team had at defensive tackle (which was very little) — a priority area coming into the off-season. The league is full of big-name busts at the position. Pass rushers who flatter to deceive, showing enough leg to find a home in round one. And yet you can count the number of elite three-technique’s on one hand. The elite guys go early (see: Ndamukong Suh, Sheldon Richardson). Even if the Seahawks had kept the #25 pick this year, the best they could’ve hoped for was Sly Williams. Instead of Williams, they get Percy Harvin, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams. Think about that for a second.
The best three technique in the NFL is a former fourth round pick weighing 6-1 and 300lbs. While nobody would necessarily compare Jordan Hill to Geno Atkins, Hill’s frame (6-1 and also 300lbs-ish) is very similar. The Seahawks are right to keep searching for the next diamond in the rough. Darnell Dockett was also a mid-round pick. They may never find what they’re looking for, but they’ve given themselves a shot with the two guys taken this year.
Williams’ health will be key, although Pete Carroll has already pegged him as a three-technique speaking during the press conference today (see above). Hill can play the one or the three. There’s good depth along the line now. And who’d bet against either Hill or Williams starting this year or next?
Chris Harper is a player I have mixed feelings about. Watching Kansas State games last year, I developed a passing interest without really studying him. Once I sat down to focus solely on his play, my interest waned a little. He’s stocky rather than tall (he’s 6-1 and close to 230lbs) but the Seahawks clearly want to use him predominantly on the outside.
Harper’s very clever at shielding the receiver and using his frame to his advantage. I like that about him. He competes for the ball and is capable of making difficult catches in double coverage. But it seemed too often on tape there were more negative plays than positive. Little mistakes, an unwillingness to improvise when a play breaks down and no outstanding characteristics made for a frustrating watch at times.
The Seahawks have been looking for what you’d call a ‘possession’ guy for some time. A physical receiver who compliments the rest of the group. They’ve tried Mike Williams, Kris Durham and Braylon Edwards. Harper is the next man up. There’s plenty of tape out there so we’ll get into him (and the others) over the next few days.
Cornerback Tharold Simon is the type of guy you want to love, but can’t make the full commitment. He has great length, fluidity and the ability to stick in coverage. Despite that, he doesn’t seem to play with any great physical quality or intensity. He’s one of the players the LSU coaches publicly listed as not making the most of his opportunity to be great. An arrest during the draft for intimidating a police officer wasn’t great news either.
Having said all of that, you look at him in pads and think “Seahawks corner” immediately. He has the potential. He has the size and length. He had 22 pass break-ups and seven picks in three years at LSU, despite playing with production machine’s like Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu. He’ll have to battle with a deep crop of corners to win a place on the roster. Who’d bet against him being the next big thing though? We’ve seen this team work their magic on Richard Sherman — a player who looked far from convincing at times for Stanford. I wouldn’t be shocked if Simon was starting for the Seahawks by 2014/15.
I’m not going to pretend I have anything to offer on Luke Wilson, Ryan Seymour, Ty Powell or Jared Smith. Apparently they plan to try Smith — a defensive tackle in college — at guard. He is the second coming of Sweezy. Spencer Ware, a running back at LSU (and also on that list I mentioned earlier) will be transformed into a full back and special teams, errr, specialist. Don’t rule him out as a runner though. His tape is pretty good.
A lot of people talked about a need at offensive tackle. Consider this off-season a vote of confidence in Breno Giacomini. Not that he needed one, he had a terrific 2012 season apart from a spate of early penalties. Giacomini gets a raw deal from the fans for some reason. Perhaps he’s a bit of a scape goat? I don’t know. But the fact Seattle waited until round seven to draft a tackle (NE Oklahoma State’s Michael Bowie) suggests they don’t think this is a major need. After all, they passed on Terron Armstead, Brennan Williams, David Bakhtiari, Jordan Mills and a long list of others.
They didn’t draft a linebacker, which shows a degree of faith in the players already on the roster and gives a nod to the way the defense will line up this year. Expect a few creative looks with an extra pass rusher playing the SAM. It’s something we talked about when discussing Courtney Upshaw last year, and Pete Carroll has been pretty vocal about Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril featuring in adaptable roles this year.
Is it me, or did John Schneider seem a little agitated during the press conference today? It’s maybe nothing. Or perhaps he missed out on a player or two he really wanted during this draft?
What was the biggest shock on day three? For me it’s Tyler Bray and Matt Scott going undrafted. Shocker. Bray’s always had character issues and his play can be wild and erratic. But for nobody to draft the guy is still a little surprising. Scott was maybe overrated during the process but must have had lingering injury concerns to become an UDFA. There was a time when he was considered a possible day two pick.
Prediction: Matt Barkley wins a starting job in Philly. Maybe even this year.
I think the Jets had an incredible draft. Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner — for me — were the two best players available in 2013 They’ll set up that defense for years to come. Geno Smith will almost certainly become the new starting quarterback. Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi will solidify the offensive line and Winters in particular is a great pick. And to top it all off, they trade for Chris Ivory. Bravo, John Idzik. Bravo.
Baltimore, unsurprisingly, finish in a close second for me. Their first five picks were Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Brandon Williams, John Simon and Kyle Juszczyk. At least in Juszczyk’s case, we don’t have to worry about spelling (or saying) that name over and over again.
San Francisco also had an awesome draft. Sorry, but they did. That team isn’t going away. Seahawks fans can dream about Super Bowls if they want, but the first step is overtaking the Niners in the NFC West. And that will not be easy.
Nobody seems to have asked this question or done any digging, but I still want to know if San Francisco moved ahead of Seattle in round two because the Seahawks were planning to draft Vance McDonald at #56. Given the interest in both teams right now, I’m surprised nobody’s gone after that one.
You can keep track of the UDFA’s signed by Seattle here courtesy of Field Gulls.
Tomorrow we’ll get into the drafted guys and find out more about them. I’ve also already compiled a list of 2014 players to watch so we’ll get into that too.