Written by Kip Earlywine
Regardless of whether the Seahawks actually had a great draft or not, I found this year’s draft to be one of the most rewarding that I’ve ever followed. Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson were my two favorite players in the whole draft, and I had no expectation that either would become Seahawks. So seeing Seattle draft them, even if it was earlier than people like Mel Kiper expected, was pretty neat. Robert Turbin was another player I’ve really liked for a while now. In all my years of following the draft, this was the first one where I felt like the front office’s wavelength on their favorite players matched my own.
I also thought it was really neat that Seattle drafted both Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin (purely by coincidence). The two had a special relationship at Utah State as the two big stars on a small school team. Now the experience of leaving home for the big scary NFL will be made easier by having a friend close by.
In the previous two drafts combined, the Seahawks drafted one player that I covered pre-draft. This year, each of their first four picks were guys I had scouted and written reports on, and two others (Toomer and Lane) were names I mentioned here on the blog in the last couple days. I even included Korey Toomer at #9 on my top 10 linebackers (from the front office’s perspective) list. I was watching the draft with some family members, and I actually called three Seahawks picks seconds before they happened (Wagner in round two, Turbin in round four, and Toomer in round five), while guessing the correct positions in round one and with both of our sixths. I’m not saying that to brag, but only to say that it feels really awesome to guess so many things right. It’s more fun to follow the draft when you feel like you have your finger on the pulse of it.
There were a few sad parts of this draft though. Dwight Jones was one of my favorite receivers in the draft, and he not only went undrafted, but as of this writing he has yet to sign with a team as a UDFA. He’ll get signed eventually, (maybe he’s holding out for money?), but he’s a guy I would have spent a day three pick on in a heartbeat and he may not even get much of a chance in the NFL. Chris Polk also went undrafted despite being arguably the best running back in modern Washington Huskies history (alongside guys like 1st rounder Napolean Kaufman and 2nd rounder Corey Dillon).
Polk signed immediately with Philadelphia (a good fit), but still, it was heartbreaking to see that. There are two things that can damage draft stock like no other- major character risks and degenerative injuries. Polk was a fringe first round talent that fell completely out of the draft because of reports that his shoulder was degenerative (which he denies). Polk started 38 straight games for Washington (and produced) despite whatever issues he had. I feel terrible for the guy. Most players that go undrafted expect to before hand, or are at least prepared for it. Polk should have been a 4th or 5th round pick at worst, so this couldn’t have been easy. Like a bride getting stood up at the altar, what should have been the greatest day of his life becomes his most painful memory instead. Godspeed Chris.
I loved the fact that this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” was Chandler Harnish. They may have to change the name of that distinction if Harnish has the kind of career ahead of him that I think he could have. Too bad he’ll be stuck behind Andrew Luck, at least for the time being.
Blah, blah, blah, what about Seattle’s picks? Oh yeah, sorry about that.
Robert Turbin is a guy I covered in my draft spotlight series. Though I did not say so in print, he was one of those players (like Bobby Wagner) who I had a sneaking suspicion would be a very likely candidate for Seattle. I guesstimated Turbin to be the 6th highest running back on Seattle’s board, and even said that “it honestly wouldn’t blow me away if Seattle took Turbin at #43.” Turbin is a near clone of Marshawn Lynch. The two have similar size, similar speed, similar styles, similar attitude, and similar strength. Turbin calls himself “the Hulk” for his physical style of play. This is a great pick for Seattle. Turbin can provide injury insurance for Lynch in the short term while having strong potential to replace Lynch in the long term. If Seattle had passed on Russell Wilson at #75, there is a decent chance they may have taken Turbin there, given Lamar Miller’s injury related uncertainty. So getting Turbin in the 4th as running back options were drying up has to feel pretty good for John Schneider and company.
Jaye Howard is a penetrating 300 pound pass rushing DT from Florida. As you may recall, the defensive coordinator for Florida is none other than Dan Quinn, who did a very good job identifying and developing defensive line talent when with the Seahawks the last several years. As with Josh Portis, we’ve seen that coaching connections can have an impact on players getting brought in, and I think it’s distinctly possible that Quinn made the hard sell to Carroll for Howard’s NFL prospects. Getting the assumed Dan Quinn seal of approval is enough to make me optimistic about this pick. I’ll have a scouting report on Howard up this week some time, but the short version is that he’s athletic and has great arm use, but looks a bit lazy and struggles badly against the run. That said, his upside if motivated could be another Rocky Bernard.
Korey Toomer was maybe my favorite pick of day three, in that I highlighted him early this week as a cheaper alternative to Zach Brown. Despite not being listed by a lot of draft sites, Toomer drew strong interest from NFL teams due to his rare size and athleticism. I thought I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t a fan of Zach Brown, but I came to terms with it because Brown was a terrific physical specimen and Carroll has a strong track record of developing talent. I wasn’t looking forward to Seattle spending a 2nd round pick on Brown, but I was prepared to accept it. Seattle passed on Brown and then instead opted to take a very similar player in Toomer three rounds later. In terms of measurables, Toomer is 95% the specimen that Brown is, but he comes at a tiny fraction of the cost. Great pick by the Seahawks.
I don’t think Toomer is going to be handed a starting job, but given how much Pete has preached speed at linebacker, and the fact that as of this moment Leroy Hill is still our starting weak side player, I have to believe that Seattle drafted Toomer with more than special teams in mind. Between Allen Bradford, Malcolm Smith, and Korey Toomer, we’ll have three weak side linebacker prospects with above average speed competing to replace Leroy Hill in the future. Hill is a good player and coming off his best season in years, and he’s hardly slow, but he doesn’t possess the same kind of speed those three do. The Seahawks have done incredibly well with their competition mantra thus far, and I’m really looking forward to the competition for the distinction of becoming Seattle’s future WILL linebacker. EDIT: Per Pete Carroll in his day three press conference, the Seahawks will start by giving Toomer looks at SAM. Toomer believes he can play at all three spots.
Jeremy Lane was a player I listed yesterday as a guy to watch on day three. As I said then, I had a feeling that Seattle would add some more late round defensive backs this year as it was hinted at in the pickup basketball game rumor. Seattle also spent more than a quarter of their team invites on defensive backs, which was also a pretty big clue. Jeremy Lane was one of five defensive backs invited by the Seahawks. I don’t have a personal opinion on Lane yet, but I did stumble across a well written report on him.
Lane has good size (6’0″, 190 pounds at combine), solid speed (4.53/4.48 forty), and has a rare combination of long arms (32.16″) and a high vertical (39.50″). Only 6 out of 53 corners at the combine had longer arms, and only 2 out of 53 corners had a higher vertical jump. John Schneider has often talked about how he values long arms as an asset in coverage. Lane is tall, he jumps very high, and he has very long arms. Quarterbacks are going to hate having to throw over the top of him. Oh yeah, Lane played press corner, and is good at jamming receivers at the line. Of all the picks on day two, I think Lane has the best chance to be this year’s Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman. Which I guess is fitting since he just missed the fifth round by only two picks.
Winston Guy is a hard hitting strong safety that has drawn some comparisons to Kam Chancellor. Guy was injured and ran a slow forty at the combine, but healed up and posted a 4.53 at his pro day. Guy is 6’1″, 213 pounds, with very long 33″ arms and a solid 36″ vertical. Seattle now has two quality depth options at strong safety (Jeron Johnson being the other). Guy will make a contribution on special teams immediately, and could see the field in extra DB packages. EDIT: Carroll said that Guy will take over for the role that Atari Bigby filled last year.
JR Sweezy is a Mansfield Wrotto type pick, having played defensive tackle in college but is now being moved to guard as a project. Wrotto didn’t work out of the Seahawks, and Sweezy probably won’t either, but he does have some intriguing qualities. Sweezy posted a 36″ vertical jump, tied for second among all defensive linemen. His vertical jump would be first among all offensive linemen. Obviously, linemen don’t need much in the way of leaping ability, especially on the offensive side, but vertical jump ability tends to correlate well with explosiveness, which would hint at Sweezy being a potentially explosive run blocker. At least one scouting report I read referred to Sweezy as having “sneaky athleticism.” Sweezy also has long 34″ arms, which is a nice plus. He fits the Tom Cable mold as having a high height to weight ratio.
Greg Scruggs will compete to be depth at the 5-tech position behind Red Bryant. Scruggs stands 6’3″ and weighs 284 pounds, with monstrous 35.5″ arms. His arms are only a half inch shorter than Russell Okung’s. Scruggs also posted a 4.76 forty time, which is pretty solid for a 284 pound player. Scruggs wasn’t very productive in college. At first blush, this pick feels like EJ Wilson with freakishly long arms, but I’ll reserve judgement until we get to see him in preseason action. EDIT: Scruggs will play 3-tech in some nickle formations.
If there is one thing that stands out from this group, it’s that John Schneider clearly has a thing for long arms. Robert Turbin was the only pick in the whole draft that didn’t have above average arm length. The same was true on day one. Bruce Irvin has decently long arms. Bobby Wagner had some of the longest arms among inside linebackers. Even Russell Wilson has decent arm length for his height.
To me the most surprising thing about Seattle’s 2012 draft (other than the Irvin and Wilson picks) was that Seattle had ten picks, yet didn’t draft a single Pac-12 player. Pete Carroll has gone on record saying that 2012 would probably be his last year where his insider knowledge of the Pac-12 would work to his advantage, so I was pretty surprised to see them completely avoid the conference. Then again, they may very well have drafted Mychal Kendricks at #47 if he was available, and they did bring in receivers Tuinei and Kearse in undrafted free agency. Still, I was expecting a lot more activity out of the Pac-12 than that.
Kearse has a chance to make it in the NFL, but he’s going to have his work cut out for him on a roster that is already bursting at the seams with backup wide-receivers. I’ll probably write about him in more detail at a later time.
Anyway, that’s it for now. It’s silly to hand out instant-reaction draft grades, but I feel like being silly, so I’ll have a draft grade post up later today tomorrow.