The Luke Kuechly debate & Thursday notes

March 22nd, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Luke Kuechly is the red-hot choice for Seattle if you believe the mock drafts. Todd McShay thinks so, stating, “Linebacker is among the Seahawks’ top needs, and Kuechly would immediately improve Seattle’s linebacker corps with his instincts, consistency, production and leadership.”

Rob Rang agrees, “Seattle doesn’t appear particularly concerned about the possibility of losing (David) Hawthorne or (Leroy) Hill to free agency. Perhaps that’s because they’re targeting the All-American Kuechly, who’d be an upgrade in the middle.”

So does Walter Cherepinsky, “Kuechly is the best player available who makes sense for the Seahawks. They’ll need an inside linebacker if they don’t re-sign David Hawthorne.”

It’s certainly true that linebacker is a top need, but whether it’s an issue addressed in round one is open to debate. The aforementioned Hawthorne and Hill remain unsigned despite limited interest in the open market. It’s still technically possible both will return to Seattle, but it seems likely the Seahawks will use the draft to upgrade. After all, Pete Carroll highlighted linebacker as an area for improvement in his end of season press conference. What’s more, this is a strong class at the position with strong depth across the first three rounds of the draft.

So are the Seahawks likely to spend their first pick on a MIKE linebacker? Not for me.

Here’s what I wrote in yesterday’s mock draft to explain my reasoning:

Improving the pass rush has to be the priority and that’s something Kuechly won’t do. He’s a pure MIKE who will make plenty of tackles at the second level, but isn’t going to cause too many problems behind the LOS. He added size for the combine (appearing at 242lbs) but is likely to have a playing weight of around 235-240lbs. That’s a concern and people wondering whether he’ll have a Brian Urlacher-type impact in the league have to remember Urlacher is 20lbs heavier. A better comparison for Kuechly would be Sean Lee in Dallas – a fine football player, but also the type that doesn’t cost a top-15 pick.

“Great leadership is another reason quoted to justify Kuechly to Seattle, but the Seahawks already have a vocal and emotional leader on defense and just gave him a $35m extension. While a hole remains at MLB, it’s also worth remembering that David Hawthorne was an UDFA and the front office did a good job plucking KJ Wright from round four last year. Without doubt the MIKE spot will have to be filled if no free agent is signed, but with prospects such as Mychal Kendricks available beyond the first round, there’s no real need for the Seahawks to avoid drafting an impact pass rusher with the #12 pick should the opportunity present itself.”

There’s a lot to like about Kuechly’s game. As you can see in the tape at the top of the article, he’s like a magnet to the ball. His decision making is first class, but he also has the pursuit to match. It’s no fluke he made 191 total tackles in 2011 and he’ll likely enter the NFL and just carry on where he left off. He’s a Field-Marshall at the second level, mopping up the work of the defensive line and consistently gravitating to the ball carrier. The comparison to Dallas’ Sean Lee is fair and just, flashing similar instinct and leadership while possessing the kind of attitude teams love. There’s a reason the Cowboys’ war room celebrated drafting Lee with such vigour, and I suspect whoever drafts Kuechly will have the same reaction. Simply put, a defensive coaches a dream.

On the other hand, there are some concerns. The size issue are unavoidable and while he’s a combative player who will consistently make tackles, he’s not a big hitter and won’t always stop the ball carrier on the initial contact. Will Kuechly be quite the same force in the much more physical NFL? He doesn’t have a lot of forced fumbles or game-changing plays and in goal-line/short-yardage situations he can be a bit of a liability because he’s just not that big. He has the speed and athleticism to be great in coverage and teams won’t have any complaints with the tape in that aspect. He’ll work well in zone, he reads the field extremely well and perhaps most importantly – plays with real control. But again, we haven’t seen many big-plays.

It’s hard to dislike a decision to draft Kuechly and there’s a very real chance someone will take him early. One team could buy into the idea he’ll be a safe, steady player for a long time. He’s the kind of prospect Gene Smith and Scott Pioli like to draft and could easily go at #7 to Jacksonville or #11 to Kansas City. Yet it’s just not a vital position on defense anymore. The introduction of mic’d up helmets has taken away the full effectiveness of an intelligent MIKE with a superb field IQ. One of Lofa Tatupu’s greatest strengths early in his career was the ability to read the offense and organise. Now, a coach sitting in a booth can tell one player on defense – usually the MIKE – what needs to happen. Players like Tatupu will soon be dinosaurs and it’ll just be another position for the bigger, faster player you can find. One of Kuechly’s greatest aspects – his ability to organise – won’t be truly maxed out at the next level.

It could also be argued that the number of difference makers at middle-linebacker in the NFL can be counted on one hand. Seattle needs a pass rush more than anything, and it’s something they just aren’t going to get from Kuechly. With so much young talent in the secondary and with some nice pieces on the defensive line, the Seahawks really need to find someone who can compliment Chris Clemons and get to the quarterback. While it can be argued there may be some defensive end talent in round two, there could be a late-first round rush on the position leaving the Seahawks with limited options. However, there’s unlikely to be a rush on linebackers and a player such as Mychal Kendricks could be primed for the team’s pick in round two. Drafting Kuechly at #12 would put a lot of pressure on Seattle to attack the second tier of pass rushers, something they’ll want to avoid if possible.

Above all else it just smacks of a luxury pick. Kuechly’s the kind of player most teams want to have, but most team’s will only draft him if they’re set at other key positions. Tony Pauline sums it up best in his pro-day round round-up for Sports Illustrated:

“Kuechly continues to impress scouts with his athleticism and quickness. The linebacker was swift today and looked better in pursuit drills than he showed at the combine. That said, most at the workout feel Kuechly grades as a late-first-round pick.”

Essentially, everybody likes the guy, but he’s likely to go to a competitive team that can afford to spend a first round pick on a middle-linebacker. I had Kuechly going to Baltimore in my latest mock draft- not because I don’t like him – simply because I couldn’t find a team that can justify the pick earlier. Denver are a strong candidate at #25, but may feel obliged to keep building their offense to suit Peyton Manning. I could still see Kuechly going in the top-15, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he dropped to the late first. And it certainly would surprise me if the Seahawks drafted him instead of one of the top pass-rushers at #12.

David DeCastro an alternative?

A quick look at the latest mock drafts on NFL.com show Charley Casserly, Chad Reuter and Bucky Brooks all projecting the Stanford guard to Seattle. There’s some logic to the pick, considering the Seahawks released Robert Gallery and haven’t been able to bring in a big-name replacement. They wanted Steve Hutchinson, but he signed a substantial contract in Tennessee. I like David DeCastro, even if I think he’s a little overrated and believe comparisons to Hutchinson are lazy. His best position might be the one he played at Stanford – right guard – where his technical quality and smarts against the run will be fully utilised. But the Seahawks spending another first round pick on the offensive line would be pure overkill and a move they’re highly unlikely to make.

Although talent will always be more important than anything else, consistency and familiarity are also integral when trying to build a succesful line. The Seahawks have talent and depth, including two first round picks, a second round pick and a third round pick on their line. That’s a sizeable investment so far, while other positions haven’t received quite as much love (namely – quarterback and defensive end). For the most part last year, Tarvaris Jackson stayed clean and Marshawn Lynch prospered. Seattle clearly likes Paul McQuistan, Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini while they recently signed Frank Omiyale for further depth. All are familiar with Tom Cable and the zone scheme the Seahawks wish to run, and that familiarity cannot be underestimated. Let’s not forget that the greatest offensive line in the team’s history included just two first round picks and the rest was built around two mid-rounders and an UDFA.

It’s all about weighing up what will make this team more successful. Sure, you draft DeCastro at #12 and maybe he does become a lynch-pin at left guard for the next decade (but that’s not a lock by any means). If the Seahawks start Paul McQuistan at left guard instead, will the impact on the running game and pass protection be significantly weaker in 2012? I’d argue not. This is a well coached line and I expect that’ll continue next year.

Meanwhile, if the Seahawks avoid improving their pass rush in round one, is a solution likely to be forthcoming later? Because the idea of the draft has to be continued overall improvement, not just plugging guys in who might stick around the longest. Maybe some people could argue drafting a Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram is a little bit more of a gamble (I disagree, but I digress…) yet you’re still taking a chance to improve the overall quality of the team. Seattle needs a pass rush more than it needs another first round offensive lineman and I think Pete Carroll and John Schneider will focus on other areas for now. You can’t just keep pumping first round picks into one area of the team and besides – Seattle’s MVP for the offensive line may well be stood coaching from the sidelines anyway. That counts for something.

I want to see Courtney Upshaw work out

One of the consistent complaints I hear about Courtney Upshaw is the fact nobody has seen the guy work out. In fairness, he did perform at the combine - just not in every drill. He chose not to work out at the Alabama pro-day due to a minor injury, which is his prerogative considering he only gets one shot at this. He also knows that every scout in the league will be coming to watch Trent Richardson and Mark Barron, so delaying things a little bit isn’t too harmful in my eyes.

But one thing that’s also forgotten is that Upshaw did perform at the Senior Bowl - every drill. I’ve added a video from Mobile below which focuses on those work outs. I want to highlight two things. Firstly, the glowing review from Mike Mayock in the booth (the first few drills contain no volume, so don’t worry if you’re not hearing anything – it will kick in eventually). The second is a bag drill at 3:16 used to show a prospects quick feet and mobility. Upshaw is the last to compete in this clip (3:35) which also includes Melvin Ingram (the second to have a try). Anybody worried that this guy can’t move should take a look.

75 Responses to “The Luke Kuechly debate & Thursday notes”

  1. CFR says:

    0:53 – He says the words “competitive” and “compete” 3 times in about 5 seconds. Think PC likes hearing that? Always compete.

  2. Stay Off The Flowers says:

    Great analysis as always. Great how you keep up with other analysts and respond with logical viewpoints as opposed to thinking in a narrow-minded bubble.

  3. Derek says:

    If both Hightower and Kendricks were available for our second round pick, who would you prefer? This is assuming we pick Upshaw at #12.

  4. Rob says:

    Wow great question Derek – can we find a way to get both? Imagine that defense with Upshaw, Hightower and Kendricks. Scary.

  5. John says:

    I wish we could get both Hightower and Upshaw… would be the most amazing thing ever… *sigh*… A fan can dream :(

    Anyway, I love Upshaw. Truly. The dude is mean. We’re talking Beast Mode on both sides of the ball with Upshaw.

  6. Jarhead says:

    Yeah considering I have zero interest in Ingram or Coples (both of whom I believe will be unmitigated flops) managaing to snare Upshaw, and Hightower in the first, and Kendricks in the second would instantly give us the most feared YOUNG LB core with the potential to become like Baltimore or Chicago. But any 2 of those three would be amazing. We will have to overcome horrific QB play, I’d wager worse than last year, if we are to remain competitive. This year we face a lot of solid passing teams with great TE’s and so out LB’s will have to be on point. If our D starts to give up more than 17 points in too many games, it will get dicey. So hopefully we can bolster the LB core, stuff the run, and get the opposing O off the field on 3rd downs

  7. Rob says:

    By the way… here’s Mychal Kendricks combine workout:

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/09000d5d827cc7f6/2012-Combine-workout-Mychal-Kendricks

    The guy can move.

  8. Hawksince77 says:

    Rob,

    Well, you know what I think (I think). If Upshaw is drafted as the best OLB – great. As a DE – not so great. If the priority is LB – I say draft the best LB available, and that’s probably Keuchly. I just can’t see the downside of having such a player in the middle. Luxury? Maybe, but no more so than drafting a safety at 14.

    As for the pass-rush, target Bruce Irvin. That’s his specialty and will play immediately as the back-up Leo (and future Leo, probably) and DE on passing downs. If he develops as an OLB (coverage skills) great. If not, he still fulfills a role in a positon of pressing need.

    Any first round DE/DT would have to replace a starter (Mebane/Branch/Bryant/Clemons) or be part of the rotation/situational. Not sure spending a first on such a player that wouldn’t start in the front four worth it.

    I really like the idea of having a talented fast smart long player manning the middle of the field. It might allow the front four to do more.

  9. Hawksince77 says:

    Very nice article, BTW. Should have opened with that comment.

  10. Ben2 says:

    Pass rushers are not only more valuable than a mike linebacker but good pass rushers are also more rare (so get em early!). More pass rush will make our secondary even better! PC even mentioned 12 draftable linebackers….are there that many draftable pass rushers? Whatever PC means by draftable….

  11. Brian says:

    The problem I have with the idea of drafting DeCastro is that he clearly isn’t the next Steve Hutchinson; for example I can’t remember Hutchinson being beaten with a bull rush when he with the Seahawks. If he really was destined to be a hall of famer I wouldn’t mind picking a guard.

    Kuechly is faster than Clay Matthews and about as fast as Ray Lewis, so he might be able to develop some pass rushing ability if we changed our defensive scheme ala the Ravens using Lewis in that capacity. He certainly won’t be as effective as a good DE, though.

  12. Brian says:

    Re above:

    I mention Clay Matthews despite the fact he is an OLB because of his progression as a pass rusher. When he was at USC, Matthews started out as a special teams player, then Pete Caroll used him as the elephant, where he picked up 4.5 sacks. Then he further developed as a pass rusher in the NFL as an OLB.

    I think Kuechly’s speed and ability to recognize what the offense is doing could help him generate some pressure if we are willing to let him do some blitzing.

  13. MJ says:

    To the Upshaw doubters…

    “Just go back to the tape, and you see he does everything so easy…set the edge, rush the passer, and he is relentless.” – Mayock

    It’s like drafting a baseball player because he’s got a sweet swing off of a tee. Give me the gamer every time. Not to mention, the attitude of this defense with Upshaw, Chancellor, Bryant is just scary. Think Beanie Wells will want 20 carries?

  14. Swamp_fox says:

    I just look at the Giants success in generating pressure on the QB – hitting consecutive HR’s with Strahan, Ominyura, Tuck, and Pierre Paul by the way – and cant help but nod my head when Rob talks about pass rush over LB’s.

    I can’t even name the Giants LB’s from this past season.. Point being, it was not their strong suit yet they gave up what, 45 points in 4 playoff games?

    It’s gotten important enough to warrant picks on Day 1 year in year out. I won’t be disappointed is Seattle focuses on D line early on draft day for the next 3 years.

  15. John says:

    Rob- Totally totally off topic, but I’ve been re-watching every piece of Matt Barkley game film, and I’m curious of what you think of Robert Woods? I’m trying to gain a better perspective on MB, and I’m looking at his receiving core. I like Woods, but I wanna know how good of a target he is in your eyes. And his receiving core as a whole for that matter.

  16. SHawn says:

    I have been preaching about Upshaw for months now. Not a workout warrior. Just a football player. And a damn good one. Exactly what this FO likes to bring in. Has been on the very top of my draft board since the championship game. Instantly makes our defense better.

    As for position, I have swayed back and forth, and that just means its hard to tell where he will be most effective. Now that we signed Jason Jones, it becomes a bit clearer that we would use him as much more of a weakside backer who is asked to pass rush A LOT. Which is just fine and dandy with me.

    So if our base D D-line looks like this – Bryant/Mebane/Jones/Clemons
    And our backfield looks like this – Sherman/Chancellor/GOD/Browner
    We plug in our top two picks at LB – Wright/Kendricks or Hightower/Upshaw

    This is a defense (a YOUNG defense) that will scare the crap out of the opposition.

  17. Chris says:

    I don’t mind Kuechly, but with the attitude Pete is trying to emphasize on defense I have a hard time believing they will pick a finesse MLB this high in the draft. An MLB with attitude is one that can shoot gaps and put the pain on people, and that is absolutely not Kuechly. He plays MLB almost like it’s a safety position. He’ll move laterally or backwards and make sure there isn’t a huge gain, but he rarely blows up a play. The way he plays MLB might actually be a very smart way to play the position, but I just see him as far too passive to be of interest to the Hawks.

  18. Doug says:

    Regardless of which D players we pick, Shaun, you are correct. Our D will be frightening next year.

    One point that hasn’t been mentioned in all of these debates about who will bring the best pass rushing skills is that no matter who it is, just by creating more pressure from that side will help the pass rush from everywhere else as well because somebody will be pulled over to help. And the hole that is left will be exploited by someone….

    I think you have to use math…

  19. Tanner says:

    Rob, how would you feel about ProFootballTalk’s choice for the ‘Hawks of Whitney Mercilus at 12?

  20. Misfit74 says:

    I liked that Farrar, LeLande, and Bloom discussed Seattle’s draft options today and one of he comments that came out of it was:

    @RUSSLANDE ·
    @SigmundBloom @SC_DougFarrar – Decastro not only can play center, but I believe he could be an excellent right tackle.

    @SC_DougFarrar ·
    @RUSSLANDE @SigmundBloom I agree with that. He could learn outside pass pro and little tackle pulls right away.

    Makes for an interesting scenario given his well-respected talent-level and perceived versatility. Obviously, Seattle is looking good at Center and beside that and Left Tackle, we can use upgrades at either RT, LG, or RG depending on where Carpenter eventually is slotted to play once healthy. Having a premiere young RT and LG would be pretty sweet between the two of them.

    I’m not sold on Reiff as a RT.

    I agree that Kuchley shouldn’t be the pick. The positional value just isn’t there at 12 – and you can also argue that for the selection of a RT or Guard prospect.

    Although they make logical sense in terms of need-fillers or injury-insurance, perhaps, you better be talking an all-pro lead-pipe lock elite player if you’re drafting either a MLB or Guard at 12.

    These are some of the same reason that I say if you’re not sold on one of the perceived ‘big 3′ pass-rushers or one you want isn’t there at 12, you take BPA. Probably take BPA regardless! If that is Richardson, who I don’t think falls then so be it. If that is Floyd or Blackmon so be it.

    With so few clear-cut ‘elite’ players in this draft, it’s hard to peg. I don’t view any of the pass-rushers as elite, though Couples has elite potential based on his physical/talent upside. I think the top 2 WRs are close to elite – certainly capable of being the next Nicks or Bowe and if so I’d have no hesitation taking them and insuring Sid Rice’s position against injury and giving him a bookend to open the middle for Z.Miller, TE TBD, Baldwin, and Tate rather than ‘reaching’ on a pass-rusher you’re not in love with. Well, I’m not in love with.

    It’s also important to note the teams at the top of round 2. Especially the top teams will draft early in round 1 having a darn good idea of what will/should be available at their round 2 (or in CLE’s case later round 1 also) picks. Does a team like TB go with Claiborne and Martin or T-Rich and ? Does Seattle reach in round 1 for a need or wait until round 2 to get better value at OLB/Leo/pass-rusher?

  21. Belgaron says:

    With PC stating he likes the DEPTH at LB, he’s clearly looking down in the pack, not at the top. He could be referring to Brown, Kendricks, Hightower, Cole, McClellin, Spence, Irvin, or even Burfict late.

    Kuechly will be a great NFL player, but I agree that it is unlikely he gets picked by the Seahawks. It is still possible they could have choices between Richardson, Floyd, DeCastro, Coples, or some of the other pass rushers. Not all of them will be there, but some of them will be. If six guys they like are there at 12, they trade back 6 and pick up pick(s). It just depends who they like better and who they pick up on the cheap at the end of free agency.

  22. Bubba Gill says:

    I think that Urlacher is 268 pounds 6’4 why couldnt kuechly add 10 -15 pounds of muscle or girth to his 6’3 frame, Kuechly is superb in coverage and has excellent instincts, and we all know Rob that the Mike is the most important position in a tampa -2, we do run that alot. I just think Kuechly will be a superb MLB in the NFL. I still love me some Upshaw, but wouldnt mind Kuechly over Poe, coples, or ingram.

  23. Turp says:

    Robert Woods is the real deal. The more tape of him you see, the more you want him on your team.

    I would not like a Kuelchy pick. Heater played just fine for the Mike and he was UDFA. Drafting for pass rush still seems like a smarter way to get value for a 12th pick. All this hype about Kendricks, though, and he’s not gonna make it to our 2nd round pick. If we stick with drafting a RB in the 3rd (seems likely), then who else looks good for our second? Spence?

  24. Brian says:

    Urlacher was huge when he came into the NFL, though. I remember he was that year’s combine freak, with DE size and strength with safety speed. He was already used to playing at that size in college.

  25. Dave B says:

    I think Kuechly is going to be a great NFL player, but I do not want the Hawks taking him in rd 1. If he is such a finesse player as critics say, then he would simply become a project player, and thus not worthy of a rd1 selection. I’m with Upshaw as he is versatile, “mean” and just seams to fit our system better. Rd2 Kendricks and that more than makes up for the MLB spot. Plus, who knows, I wouldn’t be surprised if both Hill and Hawthrone are re-signed in the near future.

  26. John says:

    Urlacher is a freak of nature. I saw him chase Reggie Bush all the way down the field. Human’s shouldn’t be that huge and that fast.

    And yah, the more I watch of Woods, and Lee for that matter, those guys are bad asses. Woods in particular. He can line up anywhere and his not only straight line fast, but quick and agile as hell.

  27. YDB says:

    Great article Rob–very well written and supported assessment of the Seattle’s draft situation. It’s easy this time of year to get caught up in the dog and pony shows known as the combine and pro days as well as the free agency circus. However, you have maintained a disciplined approach to provide a level-headed view of the team’s probable draft intentions.

    We are a long way removed from the last Seahawks game, so it becomes easy to over think the means by which the Seahawks can address the various weaknesses of the team. But, our poor pass rush should be the primary concern to fans hoping to see the Seahawks make strides toward building the championship team we all want. Our team’s one effective pass rusher is an overachieving thirty year old that is entering the final year of his contract. That is quite a scary thought.

    Now, I don’t think the FO should (or will) operate out of fear or panic, but we may be staring at a golden opportunity. Thanks to Upshaw not running in his underwear this draft season, he may fall right into our laps. This would present an ideal situation of BPA meeting greatest need.
    We just need to watch the tape of this beast playing actual football–in pads–to see why Rob has stuck to his guns on this pick. The thought of Upshaw roaming the field in Seahawks blue makes me very excited for the draft in hopes that he will be available to answer the phone when the Seahawks are on the clock.

    Keep up the great work Rob!

  28. Clayton says:

    Kuelchy to the Seahawks I hope not. Yeah he might be a tackling machine and football smart but that does not help our pass rush. I remember a few years ago, there was a player from Wake Forest who was a cant miss LB. The knock on him was he was not used to rushing the QB, but many said that could be developed in the pros. That player was Aaron Curry, where is that cant miss player now. Address the needs, Pass rushing DE and LBs (Coples, Irvin, Upshaw)

  29. Rob says:

    John – Woods is pretty inconsistent in that he’s capable of being spectacular and frustrating in equal measure. He won’t be a high draft pick because of that and the lack of elite size, but the true freshman at USC (name’s passed me by) looked like an elite prospect last year. He was sensational against Oregon.

    Tanner – Mercilus is hard to judge. One year wonder, but what a year 2011 was for production. On tape he doesn’t flash can’t-miss potential, he doesn’t dominate. But he still gets sacks. He is one of the toughtest players in this class to project.

    Misfit – I disagree that taking one of the DE’s would be a reach. They might not have mind blowing upside, but you’ll be getting a guy who performs every week and does a job. I truly believe Upshaw would be BPA if he’s there at 12. Coples might be too, despite his obvious issues.

    Bubba – that may be true, but I don’t believe Carroll sees the MIKE as the most important position in his defense. That impact is less since the introduction of mic’d up helmets.

  30. D says:

    I’ve played a lot of LB, OLB acctually but anyway. I like to think I know how you read an OL, how to act in a zone coverage etc. etc.

    The UFC clip above shows a MLB that reads plays lightning fast. I do believe that plays like 1:05 and 3:09 also shows great preparation. He sometimes knows what’s going to happen before the ball is snapped. Gets off blocks well because he moves very well.

    That said, he’s just a MLB. Does all the things a MLB should do and does it very well indeed. But that’s it. No pass rush is evident, no blowing OL players up, SOLID tackling but not a head hunter. This is not a R Lewis or P Willis.

    Nitpicking here. One thing I thought I saw is that he tends to let TE and WRs pass him in zone or man without bumping them of their route when he has the chance to do so but I can be wrong. Easy to coach though.

  31. peter says:

    Rob-

    what do make if anything about the news that Seahawks scouts were talking to Fleener at Stanford’s pro-day….

    Seems like his size and athleticsm are going to perhaps push him into the second round. Especially with the success of Graham and Gronkowski

    I would love it if we got Kendricks, but since there are a ton of two TE sets it would be nice to have two that could release and catch, Miller and ..?… Unless Mccoy turns a corner this year I think we may be going for TE earlier then people expect.

  32. peter says:

    I’m still curious about Shea McClellin, Tony Pauline reported that he continued to work out at both DE and LB, for scheme versatility he may be a good pick up and though I say this about every prospect he also seems logically in the second round..

    Myself and everyone else has to remember that not every prospect moves up to the second round! They all seem to though during this time!

    I don’t know about Irvin’s skills against the run but if he falls to the fourth because of off field issues I’d like him from a pure “ears pinned back,” perspective to hopefully terrorize QB’s.

  33. MeatWad says:

    @D- Exactly my thoughts, good post. He does have great anticipation and reads very very well. The check marks against him however is what would concern me if he was picked at 12. Red zone he is a liability.

  34. Phil says:

    I’ll take Kendricks over Kuechly.

    Peter — Mike Mayock reported that Fleener ran a 4.51 40 at Stanford’s pro day (some others had him in the 4.4s). At 6’6″ and 247#, he’s an inch taller than Mike Williams and maybe 12# heavier, and a lot faster. IMHO, he looks more like a really big wide receiver than a TE. The Seahawks have been slow to fill the TE vacancy left by Carlson’s departure — maybe they are interested in Fleener.

    But, I ask myself if there would be more value in a player like Upshaw or in Fleener (he won’t last until our 2nd pick). I think defense is the way to go — Upshaw, then Kendricks (but I’m doubting that he will still be around).

  35. Phil says:

    More on Kuechly — he looks really good at anticipating where the play is going, but then he looks a little passive in reacting. Hightower and Kendricks seem to react quicker and then they attack the ball carrier.

  36. AlaskaHawk says:

    Rob- Thanks for the video clip on Upshaw! I still want another medical check before draft day…. It’s not personnel, just verifying his health.

  37. peter says:

    Phil,

    thanks for the additional info. I understand his blocking is suspect….which is McCoy’s strength. I too doubt he will last until our second pick, and I’m all for defense, I am just trying to see it from the stand point if they don’t go DE,LB,LB,….maybe there is a wrinkle I’m not seeing yet like Dexter Davis, filling into Clemmons shoes, which would give us some flexibility in the draft…Or maybe this is the year that Konz doesn’t go on IR (yeah right) plus there is Pep Levingston and Pierre Allen, who has the right size, speed make-up and just needs if possible to work on finishing technique…

  38. andy says:

    The more we talk about all these prospects the more i realize the kind of quality depth there is from the late 1st thru the 3rd round. I want more picks in that range and i am sure Schneidey and Petey do as well. I am really, hoping for a trade down and gaining another pick in THE ZONE! Fingers crossed that some schmucks gotta have their guy at #12…….

  39. myjackrebel says:

    You’ve officially sold me on Upshaw. Compete compete compete! He sounds like a Seahawk already!

  40. David says:

    Kuechly- looks more like a 3rd to 4th round prospect in this video. Definitely would not draft him in the 1st.

  41. Smeghead says:

    Brock and Salk are engaging in a lovefest over DeCastro and Kuechly for the #12 pick and it is driving me nuts! This is a great article Rob. The points against us taking DeCastro and Kuechly make complete, total and logical sense. And thank you for the SB vid, I would say Upshaw’s footwork in that drill looked as good if not a bit better than most of the other recruits to my untrained eye. Plus, he just looked strong and more than held his own against those big olinemen…. can’t wait for the draft…

  42. AlaskaHawk says:

    We will probalby pick defense the first two rounds. I wouldn’t mind picking offense, but if we did – make it a game changing WR or Trent Richardson. Not another offensive linemen until the later rounds.

    It seems like PC in first round picks counter to the prevailing talent in the draft. Last year it was widely believed that defense was strong, and he picked Carpenter. This year it looks like offense talent is strong, and he will pick defense. Not that the defensive players aren’t good, but I don’t see the talent that was there last year. The two most talented players, Poe and Coples, both have question marks attached to them.

    Anyhow, it doesn’t matter, because we got two years of drafting to fil our needs. If he wants to pick defense then fine. But mark my words – we will be looking for OL, WR and TE by next year.

  43. Jmpasq says:

    Luke Kuechly looks like a WIll Linebacker. Look at his body type. He has a thin waste , thin legs. i dont think he is stout enough to play inside in the NFL

  44. akki says:

    I agree with the general assessment on Kuechly’s value (or lack thereof) at the #12 pick, but I don’t know if Schneider agrees. He was part of the Green Bay team that drafted AJ Hawk at #5. True, one would size up Hawk out of college and expect more impact plays than a Kuechly would be expected to, but I can’t say you can rule out MLB.

    DeCastro I’m having a harder time placing as a Seahawks pick because all the reasoning centers around cutting Gallery and having a hole to fill. That makes no sense. No team would consciously create a roster hole, one so big that it needs to be addressed in the 1st round, by cutting a starting player when they’re not in salary cap trouble. Is someone really saying that the Seahawks were looking at improving pass rush, then cuts Gallery, and then suddenly need to blow off pass rush and replace Gallery? More likely when a vet like Gallery gets cut, his replacement is already on the roster, even if it’s not someone most have heard of.

  45. Michael says:

    I believe upshaw would be a great fit. He would play linebacker in base formation and spell red on passing situations. He obviously has a huge upside and my huge concern is that he will be gone taken to Carolina or Miami. Yes the dolphins need a quarterback but i bet they hold out till later rounds. Rob is seattle interested enough in Upshaw to move up or just sit tight and take best player available in your opinion? I hate this waiting game, but love the draft.

  46. Doug says:

    I think it’s funny how everybody is so sure they know what;s going to happen on draft day….
    Myself included! Except I change my mind every day. Robert holds Upshaw to his dying last breath…
    My pick this week has been DeCastro, and I’m sticking with it! Until tomorrow probably.

  47. peter says:

    I just saw Don Banks with the laziest mock drafts ever, pinning us with Decastro, I’d like to submit Ryan Miller Colorado University Guard: 6’7″ 322 not a great 40 but above solid numbers in the 20 shuttle and 3 cone, 32 reps on the bench, and as someone who lives in Colorado he was a bright spot on an otherwise horrible program….I think he’s someone who can come in and be a back up for two or more positions,or start… plus can be had anywhere in from the 4th to the 6th.

    It just stands to reason that if Seattle can find guys like Sherman, Browner, Baldwin, they could use the same process to find talent especially for the purposes of solid backup or beyond at other positions…

    As for wide recievers I’d like to see Seattle bring in Dale Moss, he will probably need a year of practice squad or special teams, but 6’3″ 213 amazing three cone, good to great 40 and played football for one year at South Dakota State, and put up pretty good numbers

  48. AlaskaHawk says:

    My pick would be Floyd or Hill as WR, or Trent Richardson if he falls to us. Then I would go DE or LB in the second round. They are all playmakers.

  49. AlaskaHawk says:

    My enduring memory of Gallery was some game where he stepped back in pass protection and the Defensive Tackle knocked him on his butt and then jumped over his prone body to tackle our QB.

    I do hope our offensive line can pull it together next year.

  50. Rob says:

    Peter – unfortunately we’re at that time of year where we’ve moved on from ‘OMG COMBINE’ and now we’re currently in ‘OMG FREE AGENCY’. People who took no part in the process of college football or the draft during the season are making judgements at a time when most teams are very comfortable with their grades and draft board and are just making finishing touches. It’s all about the tape. Right now a lot of people just see a space at OG (Gallery) and a space at LB (Hill, Hawthorne) and it makes it very easy to pair that with two hyped prospects who people want to find a way to fit into the top-15 (Kuechly, who had a great combine so there we go). Very few of the high profile mocks are going pass rusher right now (Mike Florio did, but he had RGIII at #1 which isn’t happening). Seattle’s #1 priority right now is pass rush, we’ll see that in a month’s time.

  51. SHawn says:

    I remember seeing that play. It happened more than once last year though. Poor old fella. Jeanpierre played well last year and will likely make significant strides in full offseason with Cable. I see him challenging Moffitt (if Moffitt makes it back in time) for the dtarting RG spot. Quist will start at LG.

    Okung/McQuistan/Unger/Moffitt or Jeanpierre/Giocomini

    backups:
    Moffitt or Jeanpierre
    Omiyale
    Fanaika
    Barbre

    Yep, we need more depth. If no other free agents are signed, I expect us to get a versatile guy in rd 4 or 5, maybe higher.

  52. SHawn says:

    Dont point out that I forgot Carpenter, he will be on the PUP list if he comes back at all next year.

  53. peter says:

    Alaska,

    I was just throwing out a few names, if the Seahawks do in fact go DE, then LB….some later round talent, that may not be getting a ton of hype. Realistically I think a team needs to both look towards the obvious, i.e. first round big school names as well as having an eye towards players that may not be getting noticed.

    And you of course want a kick ass Oline, And an amazing QB, but beyond that I think being proactive every off season in regards to what you need but also looking towards ways to get better even at positions you like. It’s why I agree with a lot of the posters about finding a guard or at least depth, I just don’t want it to be in the first round. I like Sidney Rice as another example, but if we could find a Hill (as per your example) or maybe Lockette, or someone who no one knows yet emerges, it won’t make me cry to release Rice.

    I felt that the 2005 seahawks rested way to long on that team and never planned on players aging or getting injured…..

  54. Steeeve says:

    I have faith in this front office, but I think some people here are overrating their ability to find studs in the late rounds. Sherman was a terrific find, but let’s not forget Mark Legree was taken 3 picks later and didnt even make it out of the preseason. While I do believe they are excellent evaluators, it’s not always going to be as easy as “Forget taking a first round LB, we can just find a star in the 5th round!” Sometimes you hit a home run, and sometimes you chop it off home plate.

    That said, these does seem like a very deep draft at a lot of positions, and I’m super excited to see what PC & JS are able to dig up.

  55. peter says:

    Rob,

    I agree with what you are saying, it’s not as if Gallery is standing trial in a Thai prison for possession or went missing on hike in the Cascades, the dude got released because it turns out then you have to pass in the NFL and he never was that good at pass-pro.

    I always chuckle when the draft grades come out, as that you get a bad grade not on who you picked but on who the pundits said you should have picked and whether or not you did that.

    I think DE is the way to go, for all the hype of the great offenses I keep coming back i my mind to the Giants and their amazing dline, pass rush and the two superbowls.

    You problem or fault (and I mean this in the best way) is that you have systematically tipped us all off to great talent that I think the vast majority of us didn’t even know the names of until you sat down and wrote cogent articles on why they work for the Seahawks. Then like clockwork the players start marching up the boards…

    Sometimes I think you could spark furious debate and reasoned arguments if you did a breakdown of potential Long snappers, FB’s, kickers, and a whole segment on just guys who should play special teams.

  56. peter says:

    Steeeve,

    The late round mystique is in part I think made possible by running the offseason and the roster churn like college football…If Pete and John bring in enough options at one position or a segment say DB’s safeties, et al, then sooner or later something will work. I don’t think the approach is as haphazard as I am making it, but it helps. In hindsight it seems that Ruskell/Holmgren just knew who was going to play what position at the end of every year, and letting it ride without improving year in and year out at certain spots. Then you lose a Hutch, or you lose Mack Strong to injury and ooops! we can’t run the ball. Or old Hass cracks some ribs, and starts throwing a pick for every touchdown and ooops turns out we can’t win a game.

    I’m not always sold on the late round magic, but if you take the long view and you let players mature like Kam, or Giaccomini, you can have some success with your own blueprint.

  57. AlaskaHawk says:

    My gut feeling over the last two years is that PC struck out twice in the early rounds. It isn’t his fault – it’s due to injuries. I just am not counting on ever getting a season out of Okung, Carpenter or Moffit. I hope we do, but I’m not counting on it.

    PC has struck gold in the later rounds, but I do have to wonder how our CBs would hold up against the #1 or 2 CB of the draft this year. Sherman is my favorite. Browner is good but doesn’t look for the ball. At the same time he had some interesting choices that didn’t pan out. That kid from the applachian conference – I was really excited about him and then he got cut :-(

    Likewise, I think if we picked a receiver or TE in the first and second, it would make a world of difference to the team. I’m not going to blame all of last season on TJ. The offensive line had issues, and he held onto the ball because the receivers coudn’t get open. When they did get the ball they didn’t always catch it.

    That’s why I’m only confident in Baldwin and Rice, because they have the speed and the hands. I’m on the fence with Tate, I think he should have the skills, but not sure if he will succeed. As for the rest, they are either slow or unproven.

  58. Mike says:

    Okung only got IR’d last season because Trent Cole took a cheap shot – that’s not really an injury indictment. Take away that incident and you’d already have a season out of Okung – its pretty far-fetched to never expect a full season based on that.

    Jury’s still out on Carp and Moffitt, of course.

  59. Randy says:

    “I have faith in this front office, but I think some people here are overrating their ability to find studs in the late rounds. Sherman was a terrific find, but let’s not forget Mark Legree was taken 3 picks later and didnt even make it out of the preseason. While I do believe they are excellent evaluators, it’s not always going to be as easy as “Forget taking a first round LB, we can just find a star in the 5th round!” Sometimes you hit a home run, and sometimes you chop it off home plate.

    That said, these does seem like a very deep draft at a lot of positions, and I’m super excited to see what PC & JS are able to dig up.”

    Well do remember that one of the reasons that Lagree was released was because Jeron Johnson was playing so well. And don’t forget the UDFA’s of Baldwin and Portis making the 53 man.

  60. peter says:

    Alaska,

    You mean struck out with Okung and Carp right? Because Earl Thomas is the man. Browner does have his limitations but he was a far cry better then Kelly Jennings.

    I have a feeling that Tate is going to finally turn the old corner this year, he’s always been a YAC guy so throwing a high ball to him on the sidelines is a total waste of his talent. If and here’s the if, flynn wins the QB competition then Tate will be more useful. A lot of what goes on in Greenbay is YAC. Hit your man in stride. Tjax, can’t even really do that when healthy. He’s got that great arm but I always see him as a pick your spot and stand on an island waiting for the high ball.

    As for Mark Legree, he did have potential so it seemed, but we got Jeron Johnson, so now we have ET, kam, and Johnson..which I like. This sort of layering mechanism wherein say Lawyer Milloy, Atari Bigby play, or perhaps Gallery might end up being like this, then when the new guy is ready you turn them loose and let the older guy go.

    You may be right about Okung, Moffit and Carp never playing together. I hope not, but right now the signs aren’t good. I think Okung will work out though, the ankle stuff sucked but again I’ve already said it, how do you plan on taking a Jui Jitsu throw in a game? It doesn’t seem quite right to say that those two injuries, chest and ankle are symptomatic.

  61. Misfit74 says:

    I think both Okung and Earl Thomas are absolute studs. Saying we struck out on those picks is insanity. You can’t predict injuries, and Okung has been a dominant left tackle most of his young career with the look of a stalwart, 10-year starter that can play singled-up vs. the best pass-rushers and is also strong in the run-game.

    Jury is still out on Carp and Moff.

  62. Phil says:

    Check out the video of Coby Fleener at http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/2012/03/22/hawks-interested-in-stanford-te-fleener/
    Especially the one-handed TD catch at approx. 1:45.

    Flynn to Fleener has a certain sound to it …

  63. peter says:

    Rob,

    I know DE a high priority, but didn’t Pete Carrol say something about TD makers in his off season press conference?

    I know you are loath for trades either up or down, but does it make sense to trade down a bit, if possible, and grab Fleener in the first? and pass rush in the second and third?

  64. peter says:

    Or heck, maybe a move back into the first and grab Fleener?

  65. Rob says:

    I think it’d be a major shock if they draft a TE in round one. Let’s not forget, they have a good one already earning an elite contract. That would be beyond a luxury pick, and in R2 he’d have to be the clear BPA to justify it. I’m not expecting Seattle to draft Fleener in R1 even if they really like the guy.

  66. AlaskaHawk says:

    Yes Earl Thomas and Kim Chancellor are studs. Okung and Rice are studs when healthy. I’m going to stop on an upbeat note and say the hawks will kick ass next year.

    Peter it’s good to meet you. Keep up the chatter .

    Rob thanks for doing all the hard work and blogging – I need my daily fix!!

  67. peter says:

    This is just speculation on my part, I think the reality is they stay put on thier picks, not as high as some would like, but not as low as last year in the subsequent rounds…Plus Miller is great, and will/should be even better as soon as we get him off the Oline all the time! I even think McCoy is pretty good and near great from just a blocking standpoint which though the NFL changes all the time, is half the TE’s job…maybe this Fleener stuff is due diligence….

  68. peter says:

    Same to you Alaska…no one has to agree all the time, and it makes for better discourse in fact when we all as fans have different opinions

  69. AlaskaHawk says:

    Seems like there will be a shortage of quality tight ends in the near future. This years draft isn’t rated as being strong in that area, so not many coming out. With the rule changes that allow a receiver to grab the ball, swivel around, make a phone call to their gf, and then lower their shoulder for the hit, the middle routes that TEs excel at are easier to run. So their should be more TE play in the future.

    Speaking of rule changes. Whatever pass rusher we get should carry a few spare pillows and a binky in case the QB gets tired of running from them and wants a little nap time.

  70. seattlesetters says:

    I’m not down with a MLB at #12 in R1, unless his name is Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher. Kuechly may work out OK, but let someone else find out.

    I’m not huge on Upshaw but I understand why he gets a lot of love here. He’s a good football player with a lot of “attitude” which seems to fit the type of defense Seattle is trying to build.

    However, if you’re going all in for pass rush, I’d hope the freak of nature that is Quinton Coples is still tehre at #12. The dude has serious Peppers/Williams athleticisim and could end up being a monster pass rush specialist. I see high risk/high reward with Coples, but to me, that type of high ceiling is what you want in R1.

  71. James says:

    I’m a huge Upshaw fan. Players like him, in the right role, help win championships. But my question is will Pete change his defense? Pete’s defense does not employ hybrid OLB/DEs, but rather a Leo, which is a pure speed pash rusher, along with a Red Bryant type at the other end. Upshaw and Ingram are hybrids, or 3/4 OLBs Mercilus and Perry, who already played the position for USC, are the Leo types.

  72. Hawkfin says:

    GREAT read and all valid points…….

    I’m shocked so much love for Upshaw. I don’t really think he’s all that. I actually like Hightower better. They are both pretty similar I guess.
    Upshaw seems like another Curry to me though. He’s looks slow and to me it looks like he takes plays off. Also, not sure he’s the brightest guy out there.

    I think Hightower is better. However, what do either of these two guy’s give us as far as pass rush and per the article?
    (They are no better then what Luke would give us who’s rated higher)

    I guess they give us power on the inside more so then Luke. But, if I can’t get a pressure rush, then I’ll go for the solid pick and the guy that makes all those tackles I think.

    Another problem I have with Upshaw is his coverage skills. Did he even do coverage?
    If he’s going to be our LB, then I’m thinking we need coverage skills also.
    Luke is the more solid LB other then maybe Hightower.

    I THINK WE SHOULD TRADE DOWN, and then pick from these guy’s.
    OR
    Lock up Whitney Mircilus who WILL get us that pressure we need.

    Ingram is another guy that might give us both LB and Rush and coverage….
    But, Whitney is my favorite by far!

    Between the 3 LB’s, Whitney, and Ingram trading down would be a good idea.
    Not to far though.

  73. williambryan says:

    He seams a lot like Lofa Tatupu but a better athlete, and a little better size which seemed to be the reasons Lofa was a 2nd rounder and I guess why Kuechly would make sense in the top half of round 1? Idk, he definitely is no Patrick Willis, and I would prefer to get Kendricks or even Hightower in the 2nd.

  74. Attyla the Hawk says:

    Kuechly is more like a grappling machine. He locks on and doesn’t work free. I’m not sure that kind of talent is acceptable for a pick that high.

    A Mike taken that high needs to have a high impact on the outcomes of plays. I like him in a lot of ways, but I don’t see the guy that will meet a back on the offensive side of the hole and make stops. He just looks like a guy where you can assume a yard or two after contact is a given.

    Very solid and should not miss many plays. But also mildly satisfying. Kind of like that QB that ‘only takes a team so far’ kind of player. A guy that can be a productive 10+ year veteran but also a guy that seems eternally cursed to leaving his teams wanting more.

  75. James says:

    After spending a lot of free time this weekend looking at all the scouting reports and videos I could find on the various likely suspects for the Seahawks, I am more convinced than ever that they will pick Kuechly #1, and one of the Leo’s (Perry, Branch, Jones, Curry) or one of the OLB/DE/Elephant hybrids (McClellin, Brown, Lewis, Irvin) at #2. The reason is that Kuechly is a unique talent, and though Upshaw and Ingram are top notch, the round two guys at the same position are not that far behind. The mock at Walter football has Seattle taking Kuechly and Branch. I would take those picks in a new york minute.