Thoughts / explanation on the Christmas mock

December 27th, 2010 | Written by Rob Staton

You may have seen the mock draft I posted on Christmas Eve (click here). Draft order will change after the teams scheduled to pick between #2 overall and #6 all won on Boxing Day. Seattle came into the weekend owning the #13 selection. Next week’s game with St. Louis will determine who wins the NFC West – meaning Seattle could either be picking in the top ten or no lower than 21st overall.

As you know I like to run through different scenarios with my mocks and consider all possibilities.

This week I went with something I haven’t done before – what if Seattle feels it has to draft a quarterback early?

Watching this week’s heavy defeat in Tampa Bay will give few people confidence in Charlie Whitehurst as a starter. He’s contracted through 2011, but you fear for his future considering the salary he’s set to earn next year. Spending a third round pick and moving down in round two was a heavy price to pay for someone who might not succeed – but I still maintain it was a risk worth taking to try and answer the problem at QB.

Unfortunately, it’s a problem that will still exist in the 2011 off season.

Whitehurst has failed to impress in limited time on the field. The starter – Matt Hasselbeck – has not fared better with 17 interceptions and five lost fumbles. With his contract due to expire at the end of this season (and with Hasselbeck set to celebrate his 36th birthday next September) you have to believe the end is nigh.

The Seahawks need to draft a quarterback, but it’s unrealistic to expect Hasselbeck to act as any kind of ‘mentor’ to a young QB.

The situation is a mess.

Ideally you don’t want to start a rookie in week one next year. However, re-signing Hasselbeck may be merely prolonging the inevitable and is there likely to be many options available on the free agent market who can play a holding role?

What won’t be acceptable though, is to drift through another year with these same questions unanswered. This is a situation that should’ve been solved by the previous regime and wasn’t. Last year the options at quarterback were limited to one prospect – and he went first overall. In 2011, there may not be five Sam Bradford’s to choose from, but there are enough QB’s for the Seahawks to make sure they get one.

That has to be the defining point of the entire off season. People can talk about the offensive line or cornerback (a position which in my opinion is a huge need). The Seahawks need a quarterback first and foremost – they need someone to invest their future in.

In my latest mock Andrew Luck (#1, Carolina), Cam Newton (#3, Cincinnati) and Jake Locker (#9, Washington) all go in the top ten. I don’t project trades, but you would have to believe there’s some possibility the Seahawks would consider a move up the board if they truly believed in a guy like Locker (my article here explores why that may be the case).

But what if they don’t want to trade up – or can’t?

Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri) is someone who impressed me when I watched the Tigers take on Oklahoma (who were unbeaten at the time). It was a methodical, if not spectacular performance. Gabbert’s 308 yard, one touchdown performance matched the Sooner’s productive offense for a 36-27 win. He was accurate, fit the ball into some tight windows and showed consummate poise.

More importantly, he flashed certain qualities that Seattle will look for in their next quarterback. Gabbert has the arm, the size (6-5, 235lbs) and the mobility the Seahawks want at the position going forward. Here’s what I wrote in my week eight notes:

The thing that immediately stands out are the physical qualities Gabbert has. He’s 6-5, 235lbs with a good arm. He’s able to get the ball out quickly with a nice release and he gets plenty of zip on his throws. He’s not immobile despite the size, but he’s not a factor as an athlete. There were a couple of really good throws in this game where he flashed the ability to drive the ball downfield into a tight window, splitting coverage for a nice gain. Overall his decision making was sound and there weren’t any bad mistakes. 

His release point isn’t a problem, he’s throws nicely off the front foot. He’s an accurate passer and a lot of his throws over the middle were on the money and made life easy for his receivers. There was a lot of underneath stuff and screens, but it didn’t dominate the game plan and show a restriction on his ability to make a big pass play. 

However, he also faced very little pressure from Oklahoma’s front four and had a lot of time in the gun to get the ball out. He comes from a spread system, working in the gun and he’s not going to walk in and be able to take snaps under center. He’ll need to work on that when he’s drafted, along with the usual stuff (pro-reads, footwork etc). 

The learning curve for rookies is substantial but for me slightly overplayed. Nearly every rookie with only a few exceptions will be learning how to improve their footwork, make more than a couple of reads and learn a substantially larger playbook. One of the knocks on Sam Bradford was the ultra-productive offense he played in and a lack of pressure when throwing. He also had a slight side-arm release point.

Even so, you could see these issues were fixable. He was an accurate passer with generally could mechanics. Interview and research confirmed he was a dedicated and willing learner who would work hard to correct any problems.

Physically Gabbert is a capable quarterback. Meetings will determine whether he’s likely to adapt to the pro’s and step up to the plate. I understand Gabbert is a vocal leader for his team who has shown talent off the field as a first-team academic All-Big 12 selection in 2009.

On the whole his performances have been somewhat erratic in 2010 – which led most people to presume he would return for his senior season. He’s not the first QB to struggle against Nebraska’s defense (199 yards, one touchdown, one pick) but a 95-yard, 40% completion struggle against Texas Tech looks bad on paper. He ended the year with mediocre numbers against Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas.

Despite this, speculation persists that he’ll likely declare as a junior. The deadline for any decision is January 15th.

On Tuesday he’ll face Iowa in the Insight Bowl. This will be interesting as he faces a solid defense and a good performance (and a victory) may increase the chances he declares.

I gave him a round two grade when I watched him, based on a single performance but with potential to move into round one given his physical talents. Do not underestimate the power of a strong combine and pro-day - especially for quarterbacks with physical talents.

Todd McShay (ESPN/Scouts Inc) ranks Gabbert as the #2 quarterback available in 2011 behind Andrew Luck. He’s ranked as the #20 overall prospect.

If he can move his stock into round one, the Seahawks have to consider him if Luck, Newton and Locker are off the board. It may be a slight reach, but if the Seahawks like what they see in Gabbert – enough that he could be considered a legitimate long term starter – his value dwarfs any other position.

It’s a tough decision to make, as in my latest mock Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama) and Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida) both remain on the board. I regard both as top-ten prospects who fill big needs for the Seahawks.

But the Seahawks cannot afford to wait any longer for a quarterback even if that does mean a reach – albeit not a substantial one.

Again – the issue isn’t to draft ‘any’ quarterback. However, you can’t afford to wait for the perfect prospect to land on your door. Josh Freeman – who scored five touchdowns against Seattle today – was far from the perfect prospect. Like Gabbert, he was a big QB with a strong arm and mobility. He was originally considered a border line R1/2 prospect but eventually settled as a round one lock.

Can Gabbert emulate that? We’re a long way from finding out. Let’s not rule it out though. I need to watch more tape from this year, starting with the bowl game on the 28th December.

Just briefly – some people may ask about Ryan Mallett – a prospect I am fond of but remains outside of round one.

I would refer you to this article I wrote in November.

30 Responses to “Thoughts / explanation on the Christmas mock”

  1. Alex says:

    Interesting, you posted this as I wrote my last comment.

    I guess I can see your point, but for some reason I didn’t think of him as a potential franchise QB. I too only saw the Oklahoma game and from my memory, I had a slighter lower opinion of the accuracy and touch part (Holmgren would have said “no more rocket balls please”), but I too graded him out as a early-mid 2nd rounder. My issue is exactly that though, you have elite prospects like Jenkins out there and we’re picking at 13. That’s a reach of about 1 whole round and if would be too much of a shame to pass on a talent like Jenkins. If we decide QB is the way to go, I prefer to trade down (which I know you don’t include in your mocks) and hopefully accumulate another 2nd rounder. Even as a 2nd round QB, I feel Gabbert might be worth the risk at say 25-32 since he does play the QB position. That way, we can also find a solid OG and CB in the 2nd round, which there should be plenty of. Granted, they wouldn’t be as good as Pouncey or Jenkins, but solid nevertheless and you’re filling all 3 needy positions rather than 2 (I consider DL less of an issue if Bryant is in there).

    Alex

  2. Kelly says:

    I gotta be honest. I’m sooooo torn right now. I don’t know what QB to root for and I don’t really know what the best end scenario will be for my Hawks…

    1. Matt: I have ALWAYS stuck by Matt, but he has sorta become a liability over the last 3 years. He obviously gives you the best chance to win, but as we have seen over the past 6 weeks, it hasn’t been a very good chance. The phantom injury is beyond me. I can’t see that injury being the last play Matt will ever play as a Seahawk. A crappy way to go out…for sure. I think its gotta be known though, that there could be a distinct possibility that Matt won’t want to be a Seahawk next year with the lack of talent behind him. I would hate to pay him 15-18 million for 2 years as a bridge QB.

    2. Charlie: The skeptics have been out for Charlie’s head ever since we gave up the third round pick for him. Their have been glimpses of brilliance, but as we saw today…I don’t believe Charlie can lead a team to 10 victories…which is essentially what you need to get into the playoffs each year.

    So…it all comes down to next week. And for arguements sake…a win will put us at 21 in 2011 draft and a loss will put us at 10. The question is…does a win hurt us more than a loss?

    1. Win: A franchise who won 9 games the previous 2 years returns to the playoffs and gets the opportunity to host a playoff game. (regardless of the record) as a football and Hawks fan…you gotta love this scenario. Not only does it give us a another division title, but it gives some of our young players TRUE PLAYOFF experience. (Curry, Thomas, Okung ect.) And as unreal as it may sound….ANYTHING can happen in the NFL. What happens if the Hawks beat the Saints at home. All of a sudden…even more positives come from this scenario. I think playoff experience outweighs 10 spots in the draft.

    2. Loss: A loss puts the Hawks at 10. Regardless if we win or lose I think this season will end up being a disappointment no matter what. #10 in the draft REALLY allows us to be aggressive though and puts us in position to nab a top 3 QB or trade down and get some 2nd round picks for depth.

    Just my thoughts…

  3. Kelly says:

    PRIMETIME BABY! Lets see if this is what gets the Hawks to wake up and play some football.

  4. Kelly says:

    According to my current numbers: (assuming Minnesota loses to Philly) the Hawks currently own the 12th pick in the draft. Washington didn’t do themselves any favors by beating Jacksonville yesterday. As they moved from the 9th pick overall to 14th pick overall. Detroit also had a big jump in the draft order after their 3rd straight victory against Miami. As they went from picking 5th overall to 10th.

    After looking at the scenarios if the Hawks lose next week…and theres a strong possibility they might…they could potentially pick as low as 7th in 2011.

    Here’s how:

    1. San Fran would need to beat Arizona (Should happen)
    2. Dallas would need to beat Philly (Shouldn’t happen)
    3. Houston would need to beat Jacksonville (Could happen)
    4. Minnesota vs. Detroit game gives an automatic 6 game winner so we gain a spot no matter what with this one, due to strength of schedule
    5. Cleveland would need to beat Pitt (Shouldn’t happen)

    So lets assume 3 out of 5 of these come true. You then have the Hawks picking 9th overall next year and probably 2-5 spots ahead of Washington

  5. Matt Q. says:

    Charlie did not look like a leader. He didnt seem into it and from the very first time he went in he looked like he was trying to get through the game, not to win it. Something is wrong with him and he is not worth money.

  6. Matt Q. says:

    I was looking at the mock draft agian, and man would A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson kill!!!!!! Also, i dont think the bucs will take mark ingram, they are solid at the RB position.

  7. Frankfrog says:

    I take nothing from yesterday, meaningless game called by the coaches to show nothing to the Rams for next week. Whitehurst knew the only goal yesterday was stay healthy. I’m okay with Whitehurst competing next year with a rookie for the job, kinda a win win. Like Brees/Rivers if he shows up great, if he under achieves great a Rookie moves strait in.
    I hate first round QBs really believe the Patriots nailed how to build a team better than anyone striking gold on Brady then Cassell both MVP candidates this year. That said the time for half measures has came and past I can’t see our pick in the first not being a QB. I just hope we are looking for a Tom Brady not a Mike Vick. McNabb and Hasselbeck have both looked horrible this year after leaving West Coast timing offenses, they just don’t seem accurate enough for deep vertical passing.
    Mallet seams the superior QB on film in this draft to bad It sound like he doesn’t impress off field like he does on. Philip Rivers, Ben Rothlessburger, Jay Cutler all have huge attitudes and they all stayed in round one.
    I can’t wait to get the dirt on him because I want to know what the stigma is. Last year Clausen who was touted as more talented Mark Sanches took a huge slide because of unnamed red flags. I don’t get it, I believe in Rivers, Rothlessburger, Cutler chip on their shoulder makes them better players. Is this such a strong QB class that talent is just going to slide to round two. Is it 1983? or 2004? all over again?
    Thats right that Marino guy slide because of unfounded Rumors as well. Ken O’brien, Tony Eason, Todd Blackledge were all more mobile, safer bets and great character guy’s. Marino had major attitude issues bad knees and was on drugs. I’ll still take Marino, matter of fact I’d suit him up next week.
    This choice will shape the next decade hopefully we grab a player not a project.

    • Rob says:

      Hi Frank,

      I think the character issues on Clausen were over played. The reason – in my opinion – why he fell is simply that he’s just a really limited quarterback.

  8. matt says:

    Rob,

    Glad you are starting to see the truth about Amukamara. I’ve never been impressed by his play and he plays on a loaded defense. I would be very wary of drafting him in the top 15 and assuming you are getting a lock down corner. I will not be surprised at all if he ends up being the 4th CB taken.

    Patrick Peterson is a similar style corner, just dial up the athleticism up to an elite level (considering his size). Jenkins and Harris are smaller but they move considerably better (hips, foot quickness) than Amukamara. Not to mention, there’s always a chance a guy like Jimmy Smith goes lights out at the combine and moves Amukamara down even more. Smith is longer and leaner, and just looks more natural/fluid.

    Assuming the Hawks pick 10th (nice even #) and snatch up their QB in round 1, what types of guys do you think we will be looking at at the top of round 2? Considering we have so many holes everywhere, there’s bound to be a player or two who sticks out like a sore thumb talent wise. Always seems to happen in that 30-50 range. Your thoughts Rob? Who would you target and who realistically do you think we might be looking at?

    • Rob says:

      Hi Matt,

      I’ve never hidden my fondness for Rodney Hudson (OG, Florida). I’d like to think he would be considered and his like of size concerns me less than a lot of others. He has surprising strength given his size. I have Allen Bailey (DE, Miami) falling – someone who flatters to deceive at times but has that versatility to play on Seattle’s line and the physical qualities could be worth the gamble in round two. I do not expect the Seahawks to draft a LEO prospect in the first two rounds, but Jeremy Beal (DE, Oklahoma) has impressed me at times this year and has had good production in his career. Brooks Reed (Arizona) and Aldon Smith (Missouri) are other possibilities.

      If they want to stick with offense, Jonathan Baldwin is worth considering in round two. Don’t sleep on Juron Criner (Arizona) who’s another receiver who might find his way even into round one.

  9. Kelly says:

    Obviously CB is becoming a HUGE hole that needs to be addressed in the offseason…Prior to the season we had Trufant, Jennings and Wilson. Ever since we let Wilson go, this group seems to be one of our weakest links. The Hawks actually seem fortunate that for the most part our CB’s have stayed relatively healthy throughout the season.

    Now I realize that our defensive front hasn’t exactly helped our DB’s with consistent pressure, but the lack of coverage is rediculous! How many more times do I have to watch our DB’s either slip or be 10 yards away from the receiver on a 3rd down and 7.

    I am 100% against Kelly Jennings being on this team next year…I think his size makes for a huge disadvantage. I have always been behind Trufant as he has been the hometown guy, but even his coverage skills seem to have diminished lately. I think 3 of the 5 Josh Freeman TD’s were targeted at Trufant. I think ever since he got his long term contract, he has lost the hunger to be an elite shutdown cornerback. I am truly hoping this will be addressed in the first 2 rounds or in FA.

    • Rob says:

      I suspect it will be a major area for improvement this off season, Kelly. There are some good corner’s who will hit free agency and it’s a deep draft at the position. I’m sure we’ll see some moves there.

  10. Ralphy says:

    I’m pretty sure there has never been a game that has the potential for such a swing in the draft as this weeks game against the Rams which makes it interesting for all of us draft lovers. As a season ticket holder I want them to win but if they lose I wont be that upset about it.
    I’m wondering what you think of Brandon Weeden Rob? He’s obviously a good athlete since he was with the Yankees previously but he has blown me away in every game this year. Granted he plays in a wide open offense but he doesn’t have great WRs and he has made Blackmon a Bilitnekoff winner in his first year at QB. Plus in the game that he came off the bench last year (as the third string QB) he led the team from behind to a win on a Thursday night nationally televised game. He really hasn’t had a bad game yet. I think he could be a steal later in the draft if the Hawks miss out on a QB in the first round.

    • Rob says:

      He’s a solid college QB. You can tell he’s mature and a step ahead in that sense. His age is the big issue though and he’s not going to offer any long term planning. Neither is he strikingly good – he’s mastered a very productive passing scheme which I would expect from somebody like him.

      • Ralphy says:

        Rob I think when you watch the video on the Pokes you are going to be surprised with Weeden. Much better footwork in my opinion than Gabbert plus he has a cannon of an arm. I know he’s older but I think he could be a pleasant surprise for a team that waits to draft a QB.

        • Rob says:

          I’ve seen Weeden twice. As I said before, he did a decent job both times but just nothing spectacular. Decent not elite arm, fairly mobile. But it’s hard to get past the fact he’d be a 28-year-old rookie if he declares this year. He has one more season if he wants it at Oklahoma State which would actually make him a 29-year-old rookie. I’m not even sure he’s planning for a career in the NFL.

  11. T-Town says:

    I was very intrigued by your choice of Gilbert in that mock draft.

    I am also a fan of Gabbert and I think he is a tremendous pro prospect with ideal physical size and tools at his disposal.

    I just dont think he will declare for this draft even though rumors have been circulating that he might.

    Missouri has a good shot at winning the Big-12 title next year. Assuming Gabbert returns they will be highly ranked in the 2011 pre-season polls. Like you said, Gabbert was very erratic this season. His final four games were very mediocre with a 53% completion rate, 4TD’s and 4INT’s. He was the first Missouri QB since 2005 not to throw for over 3000 yards in a season.

    While there is a possibility Gabbert could be chosen as early as the 1st round I think it would be more likely for him to fall into the second or even third. If he stays for his senior year and just slightly improves upon his numbers than I would suspect that Gabbert is the #1 or #2 QB prospect in the 2012 NFL draft.

    If Gabbert has a great showing in the Insight Bowl vs Iowa his draft stock could rise dramatically however and that could possibly push him to declare.

    By the way very nice site! I am glad you made it and as a seahawks draft enthusiast I look forward to conversing with you in the future.

    T-Town

  12. Kelly says:

    Rob I have a quick question for you…

    Terell Pryor has been suspended for 5 games next season but is allowed to play in the bowl game.

    If Pryor decided to declare for the NFL draft, does that suspension just disappear or does the suspension make him ineligable to declare?

    Just curious…I don’t really like him as a player, I was just curious if you knew the rule on that.

    • Rob says:

      If he declares the suspension will disappear. It will only affect him if he stays at Ohio State.

      • Ralphy says:

        What do you think of Pryor Rob?

        • Rob says:

          He’s flashed talent in patches. Like the obvious physical qualities but wary of the technical flaws and whether he’ll ever become a consistent package. I haven’t concentrated too much on Pryor this year because I didn’t think he’d declare, but the suspension changes things. I he declared for 2011 I suspect he’d be a pick in the round four range.

  13. Matt Q. says:

    Will Aldon Smith from mizzuo declare?