Thoughts on Seattle’s base defense & a status check on needs

October 30th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Washington’s Nick Harris is a possible first round talent

There’s been a lot of talk about Seattle’s propensity to use base defense this year. In 2018 Justin Coleman played 67.81% of the defensive snaps. Lano Hill played 32.29% — not all as a starter. He was occasionally used as a ‘third safety’ or big nickel.

This year it’s all change. Bobby Wagner has played 100% of the defensive snaps. K.J. Wright has played 93.56%. Mychal Kendricks has played 74.62%. Jamar Taylor, the starting nickel, has played just 26.70% of the snaps since re-signing in week two.

I would highly recommend listening to Mark Schlereth on the Brock & Salk Podcast this week (fast forward to 41:38). Schlereth does a fantastic job breaking down why the switch to base is impacting Seattle’s pass rush. I can’t recommend the interview enough — it’s a must listen.

A lot of fans have been asking why they’ve made this switch. I think it’s pretty understandable, even if the benefits are not obvious at the moment:

1. The personnel

Seattle lost Justin Coleman in free agency because the Detroit Lions offered him an excellent contract. At the time it seemed expensive but Coleman has had a terrific start in Detroit. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though and not many people were saying the Seahawks should’ve matched the deal at the time.

It was always expected that Kendricks would return. Most expected that he would replace Wright, who appeared destined to leave for big money. That didn’t materialise for K.J. and an opportunity emerged to bring him back to Seattle.

Putting a roster together isn’t an exact science. Sometimes you have to take the chances that are presented to you. Seattle lost Coleman but had an opportunity to keep Wright and Kendricks. That’s the way it was. Few questioned it at the time.

With Wagner, Wright and Kendricks all signed — it’s not a surprise the Seahawks have tried to find a way to get all three on the field. If the key is to put your best 11 players out there, that would include the trio of linebackers. The plan made sense even if the execution so far is questionable.

2. Improve the run defense

The Seahawks actually did a pretty good job rushing the passer in 2018. Frank Clark and Jarran Reed both had excellent production. Other players chipped in. They needed more in 2019 but overall, it wasn’t a negative.

The run defense, however, got gradually worse as the season went on. They went from limiting the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Marshawn Lynch to giving up big gains too frequently. It was surely an off-season priority.

Playing base could’ve been an idea to try and solve this problem. You keep a bigger body on the field (Kendricks) instead of a nickel corner. Pete Carroll has talked-up Kendricks in coverage and we saw some of that with his interception in Atlanta. Again the plan makes sense even if the execution is suspect. You have a dynamic, athletic linebacker on the field instead of a nickel. You give up some coverage ability to be bigger in the front seven and hope you see a positive balance. It seems they were hoping Kendricks could replace Coleman.

Schlereth points out why this is impacting the pass rush based on the technique’s they’re using up front, how opponents can double team the end on one side and why they aren’t creating pressure. The Seahawks will already know all of this, of course. I suspect they thought that with Jadeveon Clowney on one side and Ziggy Ansah on the other, they’d be able to rush with four consistently. That hasn’t been the case because Ansah has looked like a busted flush and Clowney has been completely isolated — essentially operating as a one-man-band as a pass rusher.

In the glory days of the LOB Seattle could rush with four thanks to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. They also had the speed and talent elsewhere to give teams almost no time to pick apart the defense. Everything had to be quick because Seattle’s defense was even quicker. The pass rush, the coverage, the hitting. You had no time.

It’s the total opposite now. They’re not creating pressure, teams have time to develop routes to expose flaws at the second level. Only since Marquise Blair has been starting have they had any big hits.

Is this a problem due to being in base or is it a personnel problem? It’s probably a bit of both. With their existing personnel Schlereth identifies some of the problems they’re having because they can’t pressure with four rushers. At the same time — they’re unlikely to fair any better with this group if you simply play Kendricks at WILL instead of Wright and put Jamar Taylor on the field for 75% of the snaps.

Unfortunately the Seahawks are more or less stuck with this until the end of the year.

We might see Kendricks and Wright move on in the off-season. Ansah and Clowney are both free agents (and we can safely assume Ansah, at least, won’t return). There could be a completely new plan.

Whatever happens they need more speed up front. They’re utilising big bodies at defensive tackle, big bodies at defensive end and based on what we’ve seen so far — Wagner and Wright aren’t as quick as they once were.

An absolute priority in the off-season has to be speed on defense.

The Seahawks will improve immensely once they’re able to rush with speed, create more pressure and can fly around at the second level.

Everything will be boosted by more speed. If they’re starting Quandre Diggs and Blair at safety and Tre Flowers and Shaquille Griffin in the secondary, they’ll have speed (and hitting). At linebacker they might be able to get their speed and quickness from Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. The pass rush needs more though. They need to go out and find that dynamic EDGE who can play some LEO, play some SAM and really threaten with speed.

They’ve always had quickness off the edge. Avril complimented Bennett. Bruce Irvin complimented Chris Clemons. Frank Clark had speed and incredible explosive physicality.

Now the pass rush is just big — Clowney, Ansah, L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green. None of them are known for speed. They need more.

It’s hard to see where it’ll come from though. The early signs are this won’t be a good draft for speed rushers. Chase Young is likely going to go in the top-five. Yetur Gross-Matos is more about hand-use and quickness than pure speed. Curtis Weaver used to weigh 300lbs. It’ll be interesting to see how Julian Okwara tests but he was a non-factor in Notre Dame’s two biggest games — both losses — to Georgia and Michigan. Jabari Zuniga is more of a base-end. Terrell Lewis is intriguing but look at his injury record. The Seahawks pay a lot of attention to durability with high picks and Lewis would be a serious gamble.

Other names could emerge. We need to see the Senior Bowl and the combine to get a full picture of what is available. With a fair amount of cap space available, they could also look to free agency.

It shouldn’t just stop at the pass rush either. They need to be faster and more intense across the defense as a whole. They need to be able to impact games as a unit. Russell Wilson and the offense need and deserve a compliment. The 2019 season was essentially stage two of a reset but we might look back on it as a great year from Wilson somewhat wasted because the defense was so poor.

We’re half-way through the regular season already so it’s fair game to assess overall needs for the off-season.

Improving the pass rush and speed on defense is going to be pretty hard to top between now and January. There are some other positions to consider too.

The Seahawks will only have Will Dissly contracted at tight end for next season. There’s no way they’re going to pay Ed Dickson $4,266,668 in 2020. He’s basically played half a season in 2018 and 2019. He’ll be 33 in July.

Dissly has suffered two serious injuries in the space of little over a year. They need some insurance. It’s also a position they’ve taken very seriously over the years when you consider the Jimmy Graham trade and the mega-contract (for the time) that they gave Zach Miller.

Whether they sign a veteran free agent, make a trade or use a draft pick — they have to add at least one prominent tight end. It’s a sure-thing.

There could be some holes on the offensive line. Germain Ifedi, Mike Iupati and George Fant are all free agents. Considering Fant’s ability to play numerous roles, it’d be a bit of a surprise if they don’t work hard to keep him. Iupati is likely a one-year rental and the drafting of Phil Haynes felt like an ‘heir-apparent’ project. Jamarco Jones equally could replace Ifedi at right tackle or even D.J. Fluker at right guard.

There will also be a question about Justin Britt now. His cap hit is $11,666,668 for 2020 and he’ll be coming off a serious knee injury. With a dead cap hit of only $2,916,668, they might prefer to move on and see if they can make a saving there. Britt has been an excellent starter for Seattle but the injury is a game-changer in a cap-tight league. The rest of the year will be an audition for Joey Hunt to make the role his own. If not, they might look elsewhere.

They seem to have adopted a new philosophy on the O-line since Mike Solari replaced Tom Cable. They’ve consistently signed veteran starters and then drafted players in the mid-to-late rounds as development prospects. They’ve sought to acquire quality depth and competition.

There’s little reason to change that approach now. The O-line isn’t perfect but it has improved. College offensive linemen frequently struggle to make the transition to the pro’s. There are a lot more early-round busts than people perhaps realise.

If they lose Ifedi and don’t see Jones as a ready-made replacement, they might prefer to sign a veteran starter. If Hunt doesn’t win the center job and if they cut Britt, they might make a move for Alex Mack (who might also be a cap casualty in Atlanta).

That doesn’t stop them from drafting an O-liner in the early rounds, of course. They just might be more inclined to wait as they did with Jones and Haynes. The 2020 draft does have some intriguing offensive line options though.

At center, personally I think Washington’s Nick Harris is the best prospect. He’s a little undersized but incredibly tenacious and physical. He can get to the second level or execute a screen downfield. He’s a terrific looking prospect with first round potential. Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz is the bigger name but I think he’s more of a top-50 type than a sure-fire first rounder. He leans too much and defenders often jump back so he loses balance. When he locks on he can control linemen and he succeeds.

In terms of offensive tackles — there are question marks across the board. Stanford’s Walker Little is out for the season with a knee injury. TCU’s Lucas Niang is out for the rest of the year with a torn labrum. Tristan Wirfs is said to be seriously considering returning to Iowa for next season. Washington’s Trey Adams has battled a number of injury issues.

There are positives too. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas looks like a top-10 lock at left tackle. His team mate Isaiah Wilson is enormously underrated and has been superb this year. He’s a massive right tackle but could easily find a home in the top-20 himself. Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho is equally well-sized and has some good tape. It’s debatable that any of the trio would last into range for Seattle — thus meaning they might have to take a chance on an injury.

This seems unlikely with a high pick, even if the plan is to draft-and-develop. They’ve never spent a first round pick on a player they knew wouldn’t feature in year one. It has happened for various reasons. L.J. Collier for example hurt his ankle in camp, limiting his development. They’ve not deliberately red-shirted a first round pick however within seconds of calling the pick.

Pass rush and speed on defense, tight end and offensive line (if players depart) feel like the biggest needs at the moment. However, one more position warrants a mention.

The 2020 draft seems set to be loaded at receiver. It’s strong at cornerback too — but that’s a position the Seahawks are yet to draft earlier than the late third round. When there’s been a clear strength in a draft class, Seattle has often tapped into it.

This year it was a great draft for defensive linemen and they drafted L.J. Collier. In 2018 it was the year of the running back — they selected Rashaad Penny. In 2017 it was a deep draft for cornerbacks and they took one (Shaquille Griffin) earlier than they had done previously in the Pete Carroll era. In 2016 it was a good class of offensive linemen and they took Germain Ifedi. They traded their top pick in 2015 for Jimmy Graham but in 2014 it was a top-drawer class of receivers and they selected Paul Richardson.

Every year, consistently, they’ve looked for the strong areas positionally within the class. The 2020 draft is gearing up to be excellent at receiver.

Here are some of the names eligible to declare:

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
Ceedee Lamb (Oklahoma)
Henry Ruggs (Alabama)
DeVonta Smith (Alabama)
Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado)
Jalen Raegor (TCU)
K.J. Hamler (Penn State)
Tee Higgins (Clemson)

This is just a handful of names with first round potential. There’s depth too — with Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson, LSU’s Justin Jefferson, USC’s Michael Pittman Jr, UCF’s Gabriel Davis, Ohio State’s K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor and Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk warranting a mention. Tony Pauline has also recently been talking up Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden.

Yet it’s the names on the initial list that really stand out. Suddenness and quickness wins in the modern NFL. Jeudy and Lamb will probably be gone by Seattle’s pick (maybe Shenault too). The idea of upgrading Jaron Brown for Ruggs, Smith, Raegor or Hamler, however, could be extremely appealing.

Taking a receiver with the first pick wouldn’t be most people’s first choice. You can’t fight a draft though. This is a clear strength in 2020 and while the Seahawks do need to improve the defense dramatically — they also need to do everything they can to support Russell Wilson.

A trio of Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and the speed of a Ruggs, Raegor, Smith or Hamler is a mouth-watering proposition — especially if they can secure the long term future of the O-line and improve the tight end situation.

It’s also worth noting that when they traded up to draft Lockett in 2015, that was only a year removed from drafting Paul Richardson and came shortly after they’d traded for Jimmy Graham. Clearly this is a team never afraid to add another weapon.

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107 Responses to “Thoughts on Seattle’s base defense & a status check on needs”

  1. Sea Mode says:

    Looks like Chiefs released WR Cody Thompson from their PS yesterday and we signed him to our PS.

    IIRC, V12 liked his intensity and production way back when before his injury. “MAC-action”

  2. cha says:

    “Ansah has looked like a busted flush”

    Hilarious. Never quite heard that before. Is that an English term or a Rob term?

    Either way that’s gold.

    • Rob Staton says:

      An English term — as I was writing it I did wonder if you used it in the US or not. Now I know!

      • Kingdome1976 says:

        Funny. I always assumed poker was made popular in America and hence most of the phrases came from here. We really don’t give enough credit to the English really.

        We are on the other side of the pond and really don’t think much about the other side if you know what I mean. As a matter of fact we don’t really think much beyond our borders. Because we’re awsome….lol

      • Robeetle12 says:

        When I first read it I thought it was a typo and should have been Busted Fish. Hahahahahaha

  3. Sea Mode says:

    Pete Carroll Week 9 Wednesday Press Conference notes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFPFtlCspQ8

    In General:
    – Passing the halfway point. Important to keep working and improving. We’re not a finished product.
    – What can we change now with the game experience from the first half of the season? We want to play like last week in the first half.
    – We’re doing pretty well health-wise for the most part.
    – We were working the phones to be in on everything that happened around the trade deadline, but nothing was right.

    On Bucs:
    – Terrific throwing game, incredible WRs. Winston has confidence in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to trust them in contested situations, so that makes it dangerous.
    – Defense is best in NFL vs. the run. Vita Vea and Suh are as big as you can get. Huge challenge for us.
    – JPP coming back and they are at the top of the league in pressures. Very difficult.

    On Injuries:
    – TT needs labrum surgery. He’s been struggling against it for a while. Why now? Cause he can’t make it through it anymore. He came out of the game last Sun. and this is what it amounts to.
    – Why not on the injury report? Ummm… ummm…. “Last year or something like that he had something that he was concerned about and this week it just ‘went’, so we have to fix him up.”
    – It’s Joey Hunt’s time. We’re comfortable with him; he’s played consistently well in practice. Great technician and strong leverage from underneath. It wouldn’t matter who is playing center for us, Vea will be a challenge and we will give him a lot of respect.
    – Roos is backup center. Has been preparing for it with us for 6-8 weeks now. Phil Haynes has done some snapping, but we want to keep him at guard. Kyle Fuller has played center and will be in the competition, but Roos is further ahead in making the calls.
    – McDougald is full speed.
    – Lano needs more time.
    – Diggs is a longshot to make it this week, but we’ll take it up to game time.
    – We just need to get Ed Dickson out on the practice field to see where he is. We’ve pushed him in rehab the past 2-3 weeks to get him ready to slide back in. Can play Y and F, blocks well, and is a playmaker.
    – We’re counting on Tre Flowers being ready to go.

    On defense:
    – Blair is very instinctive and very tough. He attacks the football with a lot of confidence, and will keep growing in confidence and just get better. He didn’t start earlier because it just takes time. We’re forcing the issue now. They have to play their role in the defense first, then make their plays. He feels really comfortable out there.
    – Dakota Watson will have a chance to give us some rush off the edge and he’s a really accomplished ST guy too.
    – Is PC comfortable giving up yards through the air? No, we don’t want to give up anything. But sometimes it happens. We were in two quarters of a two minute drill.
    – After not giving up anything over the top, what is the next step for the defense? Get off the field on third downs. Help out the pass rush with passes defended and knocked down.
    – Clowney has been consistently active, 16-17% pressure percentage. We just need to free him up to get to the QB a few times and get those sacks and hits.

    • Sea Mode says:

      I know it was mentioned in the last thread, but if we lose a pick for not listing TT’s injury, I’m gonna die inside.

      Why not just put it? I mean, Thorpe is listed for a tooth on today’s practice report! Just do it!

      • Rob Staton says:

        Or just say he got hurt this week.

        Either way, won’t be surprised at all if we hear about an investigation in the next few days. Imagine if they lose a pick over this.

      • Eli says:

        I suppose they could reasonably say he’s been banged up or something to that effect but it didn’t rise to the level of a reportable injury b/c every week every guy is banged up, this week it finally went to another level and we got him checked out, discovered the real cause of his soreness/ineffectiveness etc. etc.

        Makes me think back to Richard Sherman and his achilles; I’m sure it was bothering him to some extent, he has said he knew it was gonna give at some point, and then it did.

  4. John_s says:

    Jon Greenard is one guy I would keep an eye on as a LEO type

  5. Sea Mode says:

    Pauline hearing that Shenault will declare.

    Speaking with Fran Duffy on the ‘Journey to the Draft’ podcast, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline passes along that he has been hearing that Colorado junior WR Laviska Shenault will declare for the NFL Draft.

    As Pauline, himself, noted, a declaration by Shenault would not cause anybody to blink. The analyst told Duffy that the Colorado star is “knee deep” in his decision-making process when it comes to choosing an agent, though he has not yet settled on one to this juncture. It’s been something of an up/down year for the 6-foot-2, 224-pounder, who has been dealing with minor injury concerns throughout the fall. Shenault currently owns a 34-514-3 receiving line in seven games. He is one of several draft-eligible wideouts who will be in play for (potentially early) Day 1 selections next spring.

    SOURCE: https://nflphiladelphiaeagles.cachefly.net/content/eagles/production/20191023234130-102319_JTTD_181_v1.mp3

    Oct 30, 2019

  6. Sea Mode says:

    Sorry, maybe my X’s and O’s aren’t up to snuff, but why can’t we just rush 4 like before and have the LBs fill the inside gaps, at least in passing situations?

    Thanks for passing on the link. I guess I’m just having trouble understanding why we are obliged to put our pass rushers in a disadvantageous position just because we have a LB on the field instead of a NCB.

  7. Ukhawk says:

    Great article Rob, thanks

    I completely agree on all counts esp with The need for speed on defense.

    The O line could be a hot mess with so many pending free agents and injuries.

    Do they restructure certain players, Britt yes. Will ge interesting to see what they do about Reed given the emergence of Ford. Will they go cheaper On DL and reinvest on the edge? Jefferson also a FA

    I think safety is the other position they will look at which didn’t make your list. Believe the outside starters are set and Diggs /Amadi will fill the Nickel but given the performance of Hill and TT along with the age of McDougal they may look to upgrade.

    Whilst it may be as tough a position to upgrade in the draft as speed rush, I think they could look to free agency for this. The safety position is very economical for FAs and the ‘20 FA class will be deep with McCourtney, Dix etc… esp liking Joseph, Bell, Simmons who all possess good range, hitting, youth, experience and versatility.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I don’t think safety after trading for Diggs. They have a lot of safety’s and when you look at FA and the draft there aren’t any obvious ways to improve the position. If they draft a safety I think it’d be later on.

      • Colin says:

        I would love for them to draft Reggie Floyd at safety with a mid round pick. Have you scouted him at all yet by any chance?

      • Sea Mode says:

        Agree. And we still need to see what we have in Amadi too.

        If any, I think it will be a late rounder and a guy who can play in the slot and maybe backup at safety if needed.

        Essang Bassey from Wake Forest caught my eye with his plays on the ball and strong tackling. Not sure he could do safety, but that’s a stocky build for a slot guy that shouldn’t be a liability sizewise.

        Essang Bassey || “Strapped” || Official Sophomore Highlights
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s92eUIFHeo8

  8. Xavier says:

    What are the chances that Seattle can re-design their pass rush to create pressure differently? Been watching the Pats defense on the rams and one big piece that stood out was vertical penetration turning into quarterback pressure or tfls on the running backs.

  9. Thorson says:

    I wonder why they don’t try Kendricks in the Bruce Irvin role – part time Will, part time Leo. He’s athletic and similar in size to Irvin. Granted he didn’t play with his hand in the dirt like Irvin did at WVU but at this point, with virtually no appreciable pass rush, what do you have to lose? He had a couple of sacks earlier on blitzes so we know he can get after the quarterback.

    You are absolutely correct that it never pays to fight the draft, but sometimes when there is a particularly deep position group, like WR in 2020, more of that position go off the board early and push other position prospects down into range where the Hawks may be able to get them. I’d love to shore up the trenches – whether O line or D line. If they want to re-establish being the bully, the trenches are a good place to start.

    • Sea Mode says:

      Kendricks is 5-11, 240 with 31 1/2″ arms.

      Irvin is 6-2, 245 with 33 3/8″ arms.

      Yes, they are both excellent athletes, but completely different body type.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I have to say I haven’t seen much evidence of good players being pushed down the board as a consequence of another position being great in R1. Good players still go early, after all a ‘good’ R1 for a position might mean 5/32 picks.

      • Thorson says:

        This is a very fair point, Sea Mode. I was looking at his speed and agility numbers referable to his weight and conveniently forgetting about the whole pesky “length” issue. Of course, a couple of years ago when the Seahawks were in their “let’s turn all the defensive players into offensive linemen” stage, I was advocating for the Hawks to draft Derrick Henry, teach him Dwight Freeney’s spin move and turn him into Von Miller II – his combine doppelgänger. Amazingly, despite this outpouring of brilliant ideas, the NFL has not yet come calling. I’ll probably hold onto my day job 😉

        Rob, I find your point interesting. You’re absolutely correct in stating that in a good year for a position group maybe 5/32 are chosen in the first round. However, that also means that there are fewer teams selecting from the pool of other position groups because there are only 32 first round picks. In this instance, only 27 picks remain to choose from the remaining position groups. if that position group isn’t as strong the next year, maybe only 1-2/32 are chosen in round one. So, that leaves 30-31 picks from another position group(s). It seems in the first example, that more talent from the other position groups would filter down to teams picking later. Unless you’re saying that there aren’t 32 first round picks, talent-wise, in which case I’ve got nothing.

        • GoHawksDani says:

          I don’t think your idea is stupid or anything. Not exactly LEO, but as a rush linebacker who lines up on the LoS pretty wide and can either:
          rush the passer
          run blitz
          drop back as a coverage guy/QB spy
          stay near the LoS and react

          Obviously that’d mean that side needs to be safe for mid routes, so I’d cheat with the SS and line up halfway between a 2deep and near the LBs if something goes free
          Also some 3-4 could be interesting.
          Clowney and Reed has some chance to eat double teams. Maybe QJeff could be the other end. Or Clowney-Poona-Reed. Kendricks is a solid blitzer, so is Wagner, and I feel Barton could be good too.

          They won’t make major changes especially not mid-season, but this defensive scheme is the most ridiculous ever.

          I mean…you have Clowney, a special talent. You have Ansah, who had some injuries and old and seems just not right, but still a bigger name. You have Reed who shined last year. QJeff played pretty good. Ford was a bright spot. You also have Bobby one of the best MLBs. KJ an underrated but special WILL. Kendricks is a playmaker, a madman.
          You have these guys and this front7 seems like the absolute worst in the NFL right now.
          Even Wagner seems rather mediocre.
          They all over the place vs the run. Sometimes makes amazing stops, sometimes an OK runner bust a 15 yarder. They generate 0 pressure, suck badly in coverage 90% of the time.

          Rob wrote the DL doesn’t get sacks because the lack of speed. Well, they could win with strength also. They don’t have speed, don’t have strength, don’t have great technique…but at the end I think it’s on Norton.
          Some of the scheme is absolutely ridiculous. Like sometimes Reed had to cover some WR1? I get it, it was a blitz or something, but c’mon…any semi-decent QB will rape you with that nonsense.

          I cannot see anything special, or even good about Norton’s schemes. The defense play as good as the players play. If some of them have an exceptional night, the defense will play well. If the other OC is good, they’ll punish this defense bad…even with mediocre offenses

  10. Sea Mode says:

    There’s so many good WRs, you even forgot to add Volume 12 and my guy OK St. WR Tylan Wallace to the list of WRs to watch!

    This just in from JustBombsProductions a couple hours ago as well:

    Most Explosive WR in the Big XII || Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace 2019 Midseason Highlights ᴴᴰ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXZtZtrhG4M

    All out beast mode in that first highlight!

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’ll check him out. I notice he only ran a 4.58 at 182lbs at SPARQ though. He’ll need to test better at the combine.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I’ve watched a bit of him. Only first glance but I’d say technically he does some things well but he doesn’t look sudden and super quick to me. He’s talented but not as quick as I’d like given some of the other names in this class.

        • Sea Mode says:

          Oh, I definitely agree on that. I see him in the late R3-early R4 range as of now. I think he’s just a baller, and albeit at a lower level of competition, his production is undeniable.

  11. Nick says:

    Thanks so much for compiling all of these names and your thoughts. I agree with your overall analysis of the team. I particularly appreciate the reminder that Seattle loves playmakers—especially with their first couple of picks.

    I’m very drawn to the idea of a first round center–knowing that we have two second round picks where we could focus on WR and that Justin Britt’s injury could mean he’s done with the Hawks. Center is a key position for a QB to excel and to get a true “class” center for four-five years of club control…I like it.

  12. Jordan says:

    Von Miller may be an extremely enticing trade candidate for this summer. It will be very interesting who the Hawks target in free agency this year. We have alot of cap space but generally do not target big name players. Maybe this year will be different.

  13. Sea Mode says:

    Rob, do you get to watch Watson vs. Minshew this Sun. at Wembley?

  14. mishima says:

    With Green, Collier and Clowney kind of redundant, I wonder if they let Clowney leave (maybe pick up a 3rd round comp) and look for pass rush in free agency.

    Ngakoue, Armstead, Griffen, etc.

    Would still need more speed.

    • McZ says:

      Isn’t Julian Okwara a speed guy?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Griffen maybe but not sure the other two are allowed to walk.

    • Johnham says:

      Clowney has the third best pass rush win rate in the league, %2 better than Khalil Mack. If he wasn’t the only player doing anything we’d be seeing a LOT of production from him I think.

      Honestly, him having a quiet statistical season may be the best possible result. It might hold his price down in FA enough to get a reasonable long term deal done, and if we can add some other talent then he should be a force. Even if he’s “only” a 10 sack a year guy the pressures and TFLs would be a big addition, as well as freeing up whoever we draft/sign to wreck games.

  15. john hartnett says:

    As far as need for speed on edge, what ever happened to the plan to try Shaqueem Griffin? he has plenty of speed and, if i remember correctly, was a great pass rusher in college. Now he seems to be used only on special teams.

  16. Donovan says:

    Great stuff as always. Especially appreciate the Schlereth link.

    On your paragraph noting the Hawks’ history of having their 1st pick follow the positional strength of the draft, all I could think of is, “Yeah, looking at that list of names maybe we should try a different approach. Rather than getting the 7th or 8th best at position X, maybe draft the 2nd or 3rd best prospect at another position.” To be fair, I do t know their approach has been wrong, but man it is an underwhelming result.

  17. Dale Roberts says:

    Free Agency
    -Sign FA Yannick Ngakoue 6 yrs $120 mil. 3 years, $60 mil guaranteed or Javon Clowney 4 yrs, 80 million guaranteed. I’d love to have both but I’d rather have Ngakoue.
    -Sign FA Austin Hooper or Hunter Henry. The draft prospects for a Seattle type TE don’t look great.
    -Resign Reed to a contract befitting his 2019 situation, 3 yrs $40 mil (1 year guaranteed).
    -Resign George Fant… soon. Good tackles are hard to come by.

    Draft
    -If Kinlaw is available draft him otherwise Ruggs, Smith or one of Prince Tega Wanogho or Isaiah Wilson might be available.
    -Leo… Alton Robinson Syracuse or Darrell Taylor Tennessee with the second pick (K’Lavon Chaisson is a mid round prospect).
    -CB Byrce Hall Virginia, Lamar Jackson Nebraska

    I’d love to have Clowney but that’s a spot Collier should be able to hold down. I’d rather have Ngakoue because he’s younger and has more effect on the QB. If the DL can get pressure the defensive backfield will be good enough. On passing downs the line is Ngakoue, Collier, Reed, TBD speed rusher.

    Remaining questions:
    -Is Pocic our center of the future?
    -Cornerback depth… This is a fairly deep CB class that will hopefully fill that need.

  18. Paul Cook says:

    Nice write up as usual. I’m not a draft hound like others around here, so I depend upon good scouts. After all these years, it’s still hard for me to focus on a particular player when I’m watching a game, unless I don’t care much about the teams/games I’m watching. I’m more like “who the hell is that guy?”

    I’ve been watching Nick Harris for 4 years. I love Nick Harris as a Husky fan, though I’m surprised that you think of him even more highly than I do. He’s kind of more a Joey Hunt type of center, shorter, but gets good leverage from his lower center of gravity. He’s also just a real good locker room kind of guy, great team player.

    Someone mentioned that Oklahoma State WR. He’s one of those guys I where I said to myself “who the hell is that guy?”

    Again, thanks for the write-up.

  19. Coleslaw says:

    I think we let Ifedi, Ansah, and 1 of Wright or Kendricks for the comp picks. Probably a 3rd, 4th, and 5th or 6th there.

    • Coleslaw says:

      Let them walk in free agency *

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think Ansah will retire. They would have to cut KJ. Kendricks might get a comp pick.

    • Simo says:

      Man, its so early to start projecting free agents for 2020. Unless we see a dramatic second half turn around from Ansah, he clearly won’t be back. You may also be correct about Ifedi, especially if they resign Fant to take that spot. George has proved he can play serviceable tackle in this league.

      They may definitely decide to cut ties with KJ as well, he just doesn’t seem to have the impact he’s had in previous years. Also think Britt may be a cap casualty due to the injury and sizable cap hit.

      I sure hope they find a way to bring back Clowney though, he has made an impact. If they can add some speed and more rush Clowney will really show out.

    • Matt says:

      Maybe Ifedi gets a 6th round comp…I see no way they get a 3rd or 4th for any of those guys. Nice thought, but there is a reason the Seahawks will be moving on from those guys.

      • Rob Staton says:

        Who knows with Ifedi. O-liners generally get paid very well these days.

      • cha says:

        There’s always somebody willing to overpay for OL. The 2020 comp picks are going to be rich with teams who let a non-world-beating OL sign a fat deal elsewhere (Trent Brown, Ja’Wuan James, Roger Saffold, Billy Turner).

  20. millhouse-serbia says:

    Two biggest are of need for next season are pass rush and OL.

    I really don’t know how we came into this situation with OL, but we have question mark over every single position on OL exept LT (and there we have Brown who will be 35 next year and that is always ? by itself).

    LG- Iupati is gone…Haynes didn’t play a single snap as a pro and Jones played that position last week for I think 6 snaps and had 0.0 pass blocking grade from PFF.

    C – Rob already said enough abou Britt. He is due to 11mil and it would be 2nd most payed C in the league. IMO even if there weren’t this injury he doesn’t deserve that type of money. Is Hunt a solution? Can Pocic be the guy?

    RG – Fluker is injured all the time, Jones is more T than G , who else?

    RT – Ifedi isn’t good…but he isnt bad either…the more I am looking at young RT around the league the more I think we should re sign Ifedi…if not him who can be a solution? Jones? Fant?

    And when we are speaking about Fant, it is small sample but I don’t like him as a full time starter at either tackle position…Ifedi is better than him…and Ifedi is younger too…he is perfect for his 6th OL back up tackle role…

    And when we are speaking about pass rush…yes Clowney is our best DL and its not even close (until Reeed comes back to full mode)…but he is not speed rusher, he is not LEO…he is 5 tech and there we have Green and we just spent 1st round pick on that position…
    Yes I know we need pure quality on DL, but it would be much better if that big name is at LEO position with LJ and Green at 5 tech…to much player at one a none at the other side of DL…and that is why Ngaque over Clowney for me…

    And biseds TE, where we will spent one of the picks just we need to see how high, safety is other one with high possibility…

    They (and we as a draft junkies) need to see where Diggs fits…if he is complementary with Blair and that is our safety duo for next few years, than we can write off S as a position of need in next year draft…but if they start to use him as a (big)nickel than I wouldn’t be surprise at all if they spent one of their two 2nds on safety again…

    • Matt says:

      I know this isn’t realistic, but I’m at the point where I never want to see this team drop heavy draft capital on OL again. It’s not just the Seahawks – OL play stinks across the board. I’d rather overpay for some veterans than continue to drop high draft capital on guys that are serviceable at best.

      Go ahead and spend R3-7 on OL – I’m good with it. It just seems like the end of R1 and R2 is just littered with mediocrity (at best) when it comes to OL. Again – I am not saying this is a Seahawks problem as much as I say it’s a league problem.

      • mishima says:

        Here, here.

        Most (not all) need too much time/development/coaching to justify draft position. By the time they start producing, you have to decide whether to pick up their option or extend them. Let other teams overdraft and develop them; spend coin on the ones that pan.

        Conversely, maybe they shouldn’t overspend in free agency to patch holes on defense. With so much defensive talent entering the draft, every year, why not churn that side of the ball more often. Keep your core, but always add speed, esp. at edge, secondary.

        IMO, take an edge rusher in the first 3 rounds almost every year. Front 7, 24/7.

      • McZ says:

        This season, R2 and R3 will be littered with perfectly possible day one starters.
        I get, where you are coming from, but then, Ifedi and Pocic are players I would not have touched even in R5. We need better scouting, and Phil Haynes is an indication that this is happening.

        Also, players on any other position can be selected from the mid season clean-ups or in FA, at rrasonable cost. This is not true for OL, and you need to have pure luck to land Shaq Barret and get a dozen sacks out of him for basically pennies.

  21. Nate says:

    After the comments a few years ago about Bobby and KJ playing too many snaps it seems like we’re still caught in this predicament despite having a capable player to give them a spell. I get wanting to have your best 11 on the field, but if these guys are seeming a step slow then why not rotate them a little more, and bring in a nickel db if needed? Can’t be doing much worse than what we’re seeing.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think the point is though that the pass rush is so bad that whatever you do at the second level, if you can’t rush with four it won’t make much difference. So it really becomes Kendricks vs Jamar Taylor. And they view Kendricks as a lot better, which isn’t unfair really.

      • Shadow says:

        Honestly, as much as I love KJ, I’d take him off the field on passing downs instead of Kendricks and go with Taylor (or Amadi, if he can handle it) as the nickel DB. It seems like every game now Wright is getting beat down the seam multiple times: Baltimore’s tight end was wide open for most of that game and the only reason why he didn’t burn us more badly than he did was because he dropped something like three passes.

  22. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    USC’s LT Austin Jackson is generating some buzz

  23. Georgia Hawk says:

    I feel like a glaring weakness that is being overlooked is Norton at DC. Yes, we know the Defense is Carroll’s baby, but the play to play calling and management is still Norton. Lets be fair here, Richard was fired for a MUCH better performance considering most of his issues can be linked to injuries. I have a hard time seeing Norton let go, but honestly that might have a bigger impact than anything else at this point.

    Right now you are looking at a #20 ranked Defense at more than 24 ppg. Richard ended 2017 at #13 with 20.8. ppg against. Can you tell me you wouldn’t take that in a heart beat right now over Norton?

    • Georgia Hawk says:

      To clarify, I don’t see Norton being let go in the off season, and not a snowball’s chance in hell during season. Just saying that if we are looking to fix the Defense and regain some swagger, maybe it needs to start there.

    • Rob Staton says:

      None of us really know why Richard was fired though. I sense it was about more than mere performance. The Seahawks cleaned house that off-season. I think there was a sense of a refresh needed within the staff more than anything.

      I don’t know about Norton and that’s why I won’t talk about it in an article. All we can do is speculate on how much true input he has or how responsible he is for the negatives. It’s often very easy to point the finger at a coordinator (people did it to Bevell for years and yet he’s doing very well in Detroit). The reality is we don’t know anywhere near enough to make a reasonable argument because PC is so hands on with everything. And as noted in the piece — everything they have done carries logic. It hasn’t worked so far but again, portioning blame isn’t easy to do. Getting it right doesn’t mean anyone needs to be fired necessarily. In fact learning from this year might be just as beneficial for all concerned.

      • Georgia Hawk says:

        You are absolutely right, we don’t know how much control he actually has. And to be clear, Im not explicitly calling for him to be fired, more of a musing that if fixing the Defense is the off season priority, all options should be on the table.

        Norton was a head scratcher when he was hired, he was seen more of a Rah Rah fire em up type guy than an Xs and Os guy. Nothing we’ve seen over the last 2 years dispels that (or really reinforces it for that matter). There were things that Richard brought, like creative LB blitz packages, that seem to be missing up to this point with him. We saw one against the Falcons that worked out really well. I would love to see more of that, but to your point, we don’t know if that comes from Carroll and over all game planning or from Norton in individual play calling.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I think Pete wanted someone to run his defense and that’s why he went for Gus Bradley then Norton. I also think he wanted to try and find the edge again — something Norton always had in abundance.

          • mishima says:

            Too many yes-men?

            • Rob Staton says:

              No I don’t think so. If you have a firm philosophy as a coach, that’s so important. If someone else is then in doing their own thing, it clashes and it doesn’t work. It’s why Matt Rhule isn’t coaching the Jets right now. And rightly so.

              • mishima says:

                Agree, but I think a little respectful push back is healthy. Carroll and Schottenheimer seem to have struck a balance, while Carroll/Norton seem to be hitting their head against the same wall. Maybe it’s just personnel, this year.

                Seems the Seahawks address position groups every draft: LBs/WRs, last year; secondary, 2 years ago. The year, I think they address team (esp. defense) speed. Lamar Jackson will haunt them the same way the Rams 2017 42-7 blowout did.

                • Rob Staton says:

                  It may well be personnel. The defense wasn’t elite last year but it wasn’t terrible either.

                • GoHawksDani says:

                  I think it’s mostly a coaching issue. The players are just too good when used right.
                  I’d be the most happy if Carroll would just back off a bit and stay as the head of the culture and player mentoring and hire a good, younger, creative DC and let him run the defense. And I’d let Schotty free up a bit more. I think PC starts to trust him and sometimes we can see that he can draw up some pretty great run plays and passing attacks too. And what I love about Schotty is that he tries to really attack the weaknesses of a defense. Sometimes it backfires, but I like that thinking (sometimes utilizing short passes, sometimes bombs, sometimes more runs, etc). Maybe I’m not that good recognizing schemes but I don’t really see that from Norton

  24. LAHawk says:

    Great article. I think as fans it makes sense to think about next year and where the team needs to improve—as we all know, despite the Hawks’ record they’re a second-tier NFC team at best, and without a pass rush shouldn’t be expected to go on a deep playoff run. Luckily we have more cap space and draft picks than some of the other teams in that tier and I imagine there will be more changes this offseason. Thanks Rob for pointing out that the team’s biggest needs may not line up with the draft class and we might end up taking a WR or a corner early…. maybe getting another blue-chip pass catcher would convince the brain trust to pass more than 25 times a game?

  25. Volume12 says:

    I really like those Michigan pass rushers. Kwity Paye and Josh Uche. Neither guy is a day 1 pick or anything.

    I prefer Paye. Uche is more of a SAM/OTTO, but that may be a way to keep 3 LBs on the field, add to your pass rush, and your not sacrificing size.

    This is the game Paye caught my eye.
    https://youtu.be/eW66APJAJ8A

  26. Volume12 says:

    Rob brought up ‘Bama’s Terrell Lewis. Can not wait for his medicals at the combine. He’s very likely a top 10 talent on traits alone that you’ll probably get at a discount.

    • Volume12 says:

      Big ifs and it would kind of need to be a perfect storm scenario, but if Lewis stays healthy, everything checks out for him medically at the combine, and 1 or 2 guys start to come on for Seattle in the pass rush department in the 2nd half of the season here, that’s who I’d target.

    • Rob Staton says:

      But the Seahawks have actively avoided players with injury question marks in the early rounds. We shouldn’t forget that.

    • Eburgz says:

      We need a speed rusher and he looks like the best one that might be available when we pick. DK Metcalf was a highish pick who had serious injury concerns.

      They haven’t drafted first rounders with legit injury concerns but there’s no way we get a guy like that in the second half of the first round if not for the injury concerns. I’d take the chance if he’s healthy come the draft. Shaq Barrett via free agency or Brian Burns via a trade up would have been great additions to the team before this year.

      Another guy on that bama team who would look great as a Seahawk is corner Trevon Diggs. He has got to be a top 15 guy though.

      • Rob Staton says:

        DK Metcalf was the last pick in the second round though and Lewis’ issues have been over a longer period.

        If Lewis is there #60-70 and the Seahawks are in position to take him then it’s worth considering depending on the medical checks. First round is a big difference though.

        And the point here is to project what is likely/unlikely. There isn’t any evidence of Seattle taking a player with Lewis’ injury record in round one. Doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen but we have enough history with PCJS now to make sound projections.

  27. Kingdome1976 says:

    Why did Pete put Richard ahead of Norton a few years back when Norton should have been the next man up? I know Pete is super hands on but surely a DC in the NFL is getting paid for more than just pumping guys up during game time and going through the drills during practice….right?

    Personally I would feel much more comfortable with Richard back at the helm. I know I don’t have intimate knowledge of the day to day or inner-workings of the defense but as a sideline spectator it sure seemed like Richard was….I guess you could say more on top of it.

    • Rob Staton says:

      How do you know though? This is the point. All we can do is speculate on everything. Give Norton the LOB with Avril and Bennett and Richard this group and you might think differently. I don’t see any real value in the debate because it’s just full of supposition and speculation. The podcast and the article do a good job of breaking down the issues and don’t think there’s really much to be gained at all by singling out one coach.

  28. HOUSE says:

    Josh Gordon was just waived by NE. I don’t really seeing him making it to us via waivers, but could we take a shot on him if he did?

  29. C Dub says:

    How do you guys feel about the Seahawks secondary? Seems like it’s a constant complaint Hawks fans have as we get roasted every week by mediocre quarterbacks. Our two starters, Griffin and Flowers are fairly solid, which makes some consider the scheme that we play, which Rob went into detail to describe earlier.

    I like Griffin and Flowers, guessing that the Hawks pick up some CB’s in the next draft for competition. It would be nice to have some more firepower back there in my opinion. I think our safety play will improve with McDougal, Blair and maybe Diggs.

    Go Hawks.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think the secondary needs to improve and someone needs to emerge as a playmaker. They don’t have anywhere near enough interceptions. But they also need a lot more help from the pass rush.

    • GoHawksDani says:

      1, Most secondary will get torched with this front7 (not a lot of CBs can cover WRs longer than 5-6 seconds)
      2, We rarely get beat bad deep or on the outside. The guys beat us there are amazing WRs and on really good throws. Deep catches were made because of poor safety play (khmmm T2)
      3, We mostly play zones. A decent QB and a good receiver will be able to make short throws into holes in the zone
      4, Most of the ugly completions came from crossing/underneath routes and an LB (Kendricks or KJ) were burned most of the time. It’s a scheme issue. Kendricks or KJ will never cover guys like Kirk, Julio Jones, Edelman, etc
      5, Tackling sucked bad. These weren’t throws for 10-15 yards to the outside (most of the times), but 5-7 yard throws into zone holes or against LBs covering that went for 10-20 yards because of poor tackling.

      Flowers is a questionmark. He seems a bit slow and grabby, but Griffin is a CB1 right no, no questions.
      Blair played amazing for a rookie. McDougald is solid. Diggs might also help.
      Unless they target a nickel CB I doubt they’ll go for a starter in FA or in the draft
      And I feel this secondary will be pretty good. Younger guys needs a bit more exp, they need a bit more playing time together and most importantly THIS TEAM NEEDS MORE PASSRUSH. That can make or break a secondary

  30. JJ says:

    Rob,

    How are you sizing up this TE class? I assume we will be looking for similar traits to Dissly. Anyone worth taking with 2nd round picks or is position deep enough to wait?

  31. […] Following yesterday’s piece about Seattle’s needs, I sat down to write this mock and it really emphasised how unappealing the pass rush options are. That can change, of course. The Senior Bowl is very good for highlighting prospects. The combine will reveal who has the kind of speed and upside the defense currently lacks. […]

  32. McZ says:

    I think, it’s time to thoroughly invest into both lines. This means picking safe and high, for both DL and OL, and pick mid rounders, too.

    LT Draft Walker Little, Stanford
    RT Draft Jared Hilbers, UW or Charlie Heck, UNC or Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon; keep Ifedi, if there is a contract on the table at or below 6m/y

    Play Phil Haynes, and let’s see, if we can get another take chande guy in FA. Any of those T including Jones can play as swing tackle and occasional G depth.

    We need to re-sign Clowney, and he will get paid. This means, the air will be thin for resigning Reed, he is no game-wrecker, but will command such money. If this is a Clark-2019-scenario, I would take it in a second. It makes room for a top-notch DT.

    If we need speed in the edges, Julian Okwara should be on our list. He will possibly drop to R2 or even 3.
    Jon Greenard is also intriguing, he is a natural mover who knows how to use his body.
    Kenny Willekes is this years Winovich, high reward and character player, as safe a bet as you can get.
    I happen to like Bradley Anae from Utah, but he comes with technique limitations and is stiff on the heaps.

    At LB, adding Evan Weaver in R5 would add a high-esteem, violent BAMF vs the run.
    Joe Gaziano, NW could be an even later pick or even UDFA. All effort guy and depth pick, because I think we should offload Kendricks, and K.J. may be EOC. Could also play DE depth.

    If the secondary needs help, I guess Julian Blackmon, FS and Nurse, CB, both from Utah are mid rounders. Another guy could be Ashtyn Davis, Cal.

    RBs and WRs are the position group most often producing starters and even pro bowlers from late round picks.
    Isaiah Zuber, MSU (former KSU) in R7 could be a viable depth pick.
    Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, WVU is my favourite mid-round back. If we don’t flat out draft Cam Akers, here is a value pick.

    TE is a 2019 problem. Hollister played well last game, and Ed Dickson is coming back. If we need another TE, there are ample options. Jacob Breeland missed half his senior season and will possibly fall.

  33. Kenny Sloth says:

    Let Joshy Smoke 🚬

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