Yesterday we brought you information on what the Seahawks might be planning for next week. I wanted to offer a few thoughts.
People have latched onto the information about the quarterbacks and the possibility that Colin Kaepernick has received consensus approval in the team’s scouting department. The other big headline is the suggestion Ryan Mallett is not part of the team’s draft board.
The same source last year told me, accurately, that Jimmy Clausen was not in the team’s plans and neither was C.J. Spiller. Both players had been projected regularly to the Seahawks with the #6 and #14 pick in the 2010 draft yet the team passed on both. Of course, they had many options among the top-15 picks but let’s not forget just how regularly both were mocked to the Seahawks.
Let’s start with the Ryan Mallett news. After all, I graded him higher than a lot of prospects in this draft. I understand the concerns that a lot of people have, but I also value some of the positives more others too. If I’m a team in need of a quarterback and Ryan Mallett is available on the board, then I’m giving serious consideration to making that pick. Not every NFL team will feel that way and it appears the Seahawks are a case in point.
When Jeremy Bates was offensive coordinator a lot was talked about mobility at the quarterback position and arm strength. This was a Shanahan-style offense that required a Shanahan-style quarterback. Bates’ departure made many believe the Seahawks would make clinical changes, possibly towards a more conventional west coast offense. I never agreed with that suggestion. This is the Pete Carroll offense – this is the Pete Carroll show.
Make no mistake that the direction this offense goes will be dictated by Carroll. Sure, the man charged with making the play calls may change and at the moment it’s Darrell Bevell. The idea, the philosophy on how this offense coordinates is being dictated from the top.
Jeremy Bates did not trade for Charlie Whitehurst, that was a decision made by Carroll and John Schneider. Look at the two quarterbacks that have arrived since then – JP Losman and Nate Davis. Are we seeing a pattern here? All three are mobile guys capable of getting the ball downfield. This was more than a pure Bates philosophy.
In Carroll’s end of season press conference he stated himself that not much would change on offense. The plan stays the same – they want to run the ball using the zone blocking scheme and they want a quarterback who can run bootlegs, handle play action and be a threat running the ball in order to further open up the attack. Bates’ departure was certainly down to the problems running the ball. The departure of Alex Gibbs played it’s part, because the party that won that battle didn’t achieve results. Yet the core value of the Carroll offense remains. They will start again with Tom Cable effectively running the ZBS and with Bevell attempting to bring it all together and be the designated play caller.
That is the strictness with which this situation is being handled. The flexibility that some thought might be there perhaps isn’t after all. They won’t be signing a quarterback and building around them. Seattle will draft a quarterback who fits their plan and while that doesn’t mean drafting any old QB who fits, it does mean refining the search.
It’s not that Mallett doesn’t fit an assumed version of the WCO that keeps him off the team’s board, he won’t be an option because he’s immobile. I don’t necessarily agree with this approach because I rate Mallett, but if you believe the information provided yesterday this is my read on the situation.
I anticipated a battle between Washington and the Seahawks for quarterbacks during the 2010 NFL season. Neither team was performing particularly well and for large parts were projected as picking in the top ten. Seattle would’ve picked 8th overall had they lost to St. Louis in week 17, instead they win a playoff game and the rest is history. It’s not much of a competition now with the two picking at opposite ends of the first round.
The Bates connection to Shanahan really was the catalyst for this thinking, but as I mentioned before it’s looking more and more like the ‘Carroll’ offense is based around some similar aspects. I am absolutely certain that given the opportunity Washington will draft Jake Locker tenth overall. I think Seattle would do the same if roles were reversed. Pete Carroll is a Jake Locker fan and I truly believe he’d love to coach the guy in Seattle, what’s more he fits what they want to do on offense perfectly.
Would they consider trading up? I seriously doubt it. Imagine the backlash such a move would create, particularly because it would almost certainly involve 2012 compensation to get as high as #9. The reality is they are left with little option here and Locker is out of their hands.
My source speculated that Kaepernick had received consensus approval in the Seahawks draft camp. This is another guy who fits the mantra – mobility, arm strength, character. I have seen two games from Kaepernick (vs Boise State and vs Boston College) which is not enough to make a valid opinion. In comparison, I’ve seen 10+ games from Ryan Mallett and Cam Newton because I have a lot more access to the SEC.
I spoke to a friend yesterday who is very knowledgable on the draft and he informed me of two scouts he knew who both rated Kaepernick highly, one even graded him 14th overall on his big board. Perhaps he is ranked higher than a lot of the draft media has been reporting? It wouldn’t be the first time someone flew under the radar (see: Tyson Alualu).
Perhaps the Seahawks view Kaepernick as a viable alternative at quarterback and one they would be willing to make the investment on?
Yet here’s the important thing to remember – my source said they like Kaepernick, but this only produces a possibility. What if there’s a shock and he’s off the board before #25? What if someone else falls? What if the Seahawks actually grade 3-4 players higher than Kaepernick and they are available, or what if a trade down the board isn’t possible?
There’s a big difference between rating someone highly and actually pulling the trigger. I wouldn’t assume the Seahawks will draft Kaepernick, I’d just prepare yourselves for it being a possibility.