Thursday draft notes

March 7th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Datone Jones had 19 TFL in 2012 -- among the best in college football

Forget sacks, concentrate on tackles for a loss

A lot of attention is paid to sacks, but is it the best way to determine how productive a defensive lineman really is? As this article from Second Round Stats argues, ‘strength of sacks’ can be influenced by a number of factors. Unblocked plays, strength of opponent, quality of team mates. It all has an impact.

The two Florida State pass rushers for example (Bjoern Werner & Tank Carradine) not only help each other, but according to the article they also weaken the strength of their production. You can’t double team both players.

Strength of opponent also needs to be taken into account. Of Werner’s 13 sacks in 2012, five came against Murray State and Savannah State. Three more came in blow out victories over Wake Forest and Maryland. He had eight games without even recording a sack, but still ended the year with perceived fantastic production. How dominant was he in reality?

Carradine’s production was more spread out — he had just three sack-less games with only one of his eleven sacks coming against Murray or Savannah State.

The best way to judge will always come through watching tape, but another way of projecting overall dominance is to look at tackles for a loss. I think it’s a too-often ignored statistic. Generally if a player is constantly in the backfield, he’ll make plays.

This graph shows the leading players for TFL during 2012. Unsurprisingly, Jarvis Jones is well clear in first place with 24.5 TFL last season. Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State) and Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina) closely follow with 23.5 tackles for a loss. Again, further confirmation of what we already knew. Both players had fantastic seasons and will be coveted players in the 2014 draft.

Datone Jones had only 6.5 sacks in 2012 — which is good, but not amazing production. Yet he ranked in the top ten for TFL with 19. That statistic should be getting more publicity. It validates Jones as a prospect, showing he has the production to go with the athletic skills. Had he recorded 10-12 sacks, everyone would be talking about it. Instead, it’s only 6.5 sacks and very few people mention his production. In reality, he was one of the most productive defensive linemen in college football last season.

In comparison, he had six more TFL than Tank Carradine, Sharrif Floyd and Ziggy Ansah. For what it’s worth, Khaseem Greene had 12 TFL — only one fewer than the three vaunted pass rushers.

Another interesting statistic — J.J. Watt had only seven sacks in his final year at Wisconsin but he had 21 TFL. That’s eerily similar to Jones’ production in 2012.

While the question marks remain over how he fits in the NFL, don’t be surprised if he goes much earlier than people expect. He showed at the Senior Bowl and combine what a fantastic athlete he is. Teams will be aware of his production. If the Seahawks get a chance to draft the guy, I suspect they should probably take it. Seattle needs a defensive lineman not named Chris Clemons who is capable of getting 19 TFL in a season.

If you want a counter argument, remember Jones will have benefited from the presence of Anthony Barr — among the leaders for both sacks and TFL in 2012. He will be a high pick in the 2014 draft too. That undoubtedly helped Jones with the pair often acting as a partnership. The thing is, there’s no reason why Jones can’t strike up a similar partnership with Clemons, Bruce Irvin or any other pass rusher added during the off-season. Essentially, that’s what the Seahawks really need.

Impressive interviews will help defensive duo

You can usually find interviews with high profile college players online. It’s no exact science, but it does give you an insight into a players confidence and technical knowledge. Cordarrelle Patterson for example never looked comfortable being interviewed at Tennessee. On the other hand, DeAndre Hopkins would refer to specific routes and play calls. It’s no surprise that one is an inexperienced spark plug while the other is a polished, consistent hands catcher.

I really wanted to get to know Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams during the season, but no interviews were available. Both players went the JUCO route but for different reasons. Richardson had academic issues which forced him to California before returning to Missouri. Williams struggled to motivate himself in High School, dropped out to work in a car parts workshop before eventually having an epiphany moment and returning to football.

In both cases, you want to hear these guys talk. You want to learn about their personalities. And having finally had the opportunity to listen to both players speak,  I couldn’t have been any more impressed.

At the combine Richardson spoke with confidence and humour, which was reassuring given not only his academic problems in college but also his suspension during 2012 for issues relating to missed classes. I also liked the way he talked about sacking Robert Griffin III in this ‘first draft’ feature.

“Against Baylor I had the game of my life. Had two tackles for a loss, made RGIII fumble. I promise you he remembers that game. All you got to do is ask him about his last game against Mizzou. I was in his face a lot.”

I love that quote. I love his attitude and his personality. It’s confident without being cocky. He’s edgy. He’s the type of guy you want playing the three technique.

Williams also appeared in the NFL Network studios this week and has a very different personality. He wore a shirt and tie, seeming humble and modest. More importantly, he had a complete grasp of his position. Williams comes across as a student of the game. While we’re on the subject, he had 13.5 TFL in 2012. Richardson had 10.5. Age is the big issue with Williams (he’ll be a 25-year-old rookie) but don’t rule him out as an option for Seattle in the first two rounds. You won’t see a sweeter swim move, he’s perfected it.

Countering Cosell

Greg Cosell has a well earned reputation as the senior producer at NFL Films. Admittedly, he’s adept at watching tape and explaining clearly and concisely why something has happened.

However, it’s considered sacrilege by some to contradict anything he says — especially when it comes to the draft. And that’s what I’m going to do today.

This week Cosell suggested Matt Barkley is a fourth round talent:

“Number one, he has average arm strength by NFL standards. Number two, his feet are not particularly quick, he has slower feet. And three, he’s a little shorter. So then I go beyond that and think, ‘OK, how can he be successful in the NFL when you got certain limitations?’ And I think those limitations are the things I notice immediately and it’s very difficult for me to look at him as a first- or second-round pick given those limitations and given what I know works effectively in the NFL.”

Cosell isn’t the first person to offer a low opinion of Barkley, but I took particular issue with the reasoning for such a mediocre grade.

Let’s run through each of Cosell’s points individually:

“Number one, he has average arm strength by NFL standards”

Average isn’t ‘bad’. There are several productive quarterbacks in the NFL with only average arm strength. Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees. You wouldn’t say any of these guys have a ‘big arm’. Others like Matt Hasselbeck have been able to forge successful careers without needing a cannon, while the two most productive quarterbacks over the last decade — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — would not list arm strength among their key attributes.

While there’s some truth that arm strength can be a defining characteristic to own, it’s won’t necessarily make or break a career. Barkley is never going to be Joe Flacco or Cam Newton. He won’t be Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers. But it doesn’t mean he can’t be Matt Schaub. And there are plenty of teams out there who would take a 22-year-old version of Schaub given the opportunity.

“Number two, his feet are not particularly quick, he has slower feet”

Presumably this refers to footwork in the pocket and not the ability to be a threat running with the ball. When watching Barkley in 2011, I thought his footwork was at an elite level. His ability to avoid sacks despite lacking great athleticism was among his best qualities. Even more vital was his ability to keep his eyes down field, make reads on the move and still throw an accurate football. One play still stands out from USC’s victory in Oregon (click here and fast forward to 2:07). Barkley takes the snap under center, drops back and eyes up a receiver on the left hand side. He faces three rushers, one of which penetrates up the middle. Barkley feels the pressure without distraction, side steps to avoid it and keeps his eyes on the desired target. He then slides back to the right and just as he’s about to get hit, delivers one of the best passes you’ll see at any level. Accuracy, poise, footwork and yes — arm strength — all present on that play. It’s only example, but there are others.

In 2012 he lost his left tackle to the NFL, his center got injured and the Trojans were nearly always coming from behind due to a rank bad defense. Barkley was under almost constant duress as a consequence and I’ve no doubt that had an impact on his poise and footwork. He threw a lot off his back foot — something he’d rarely done in three previous years as a starter. He forced passes in a way we’d not seen between 2009-11. He picked up bad habits and his game suffered as a result. However, we’ve also seen how surgical he can be when sufficiently protected. We’ve seen him beat Oregon in their own backyard, handle Notre Dame for three years and destroy other PAC-12 rivals. Ask Chip Kelly what he thinks of Barkley.

A little perspective on the footwork or ‘slow feet’ is probably needed here. I think it’d be a palatable criticism if we’d seen it was a big issue when Barkely was a freshman, a sophomore and a junior. But in fairness, we didn’t.

“And three, he’s a little shorter”

Barkley was measured at 6-2 and a half at the combine. When we’re talking about a 5-10 quarterback like Russell Wilson, I can see the complaint. To suggest a quarterback who is a solid 6-2 going on 6-3 is a little short, for me, is extremely harsh.

And I have to say, are we really still having this debate? Have we not learnt anything from Wilson’s success? That’s not to say every 5-10 or shorter-than-average quarterback will make their height a non-issue. There’s a reason so few short quarterbacks succeed. But Barkley isn’t even short. He’s taller than Geno Smith.

Perhaps Cosell’s fourth round grade will prove to be accurate when the time comes for Matt Barkley to take a NFL field? At worst, I think he deserves a grade in the range where Dalton was drafted (35th overall in 2o11). I still believe Barkley should and will be a first round pick, yet I can see why he might fall into the second round. The fourth round just seems a little extreme, though.

ESPN’s Merril Hodge gave the same judgement today based on a five-game study. That’s the issue though — it’s five games. Had Hodge watched five games from 2011, he’d probably offer a first round grade. It’s one of the reasons they tell talented underclassmen quarterbacks to declare when they get the chance — to avoid this kind of last minute analysis. Hodge calls Barkley a project. He may have limited upside — enough to make his NFL career a short one. But how many four-year starters with this level of technical quality get listed as projects?

Seahawks make call to Woodson & Abraham

Josina Anderson is reporting that the Seahawks are among the teams to express early interest in Charles Woodson.

John Schneider and Pete Carroll continue to leave no leaf unturned. The Seahawks have done their homework on virtually every veteran hitting the market in the last three years. Woodson is no different.

Whether he’s the right fit for this team remains to be seen. He could offer some veteran guidance to a young secondary, particularly if Marcus Trufant moves on this off-season. He might receive stronger offers from other teams promising more time on the field.

Discussions like this will probably set the tone for free agency next week. The Seahawks probably aren’t going to throw big money at anyone, but they’re hunting for value, experience and production. If Woodson or recent visitor Cullen Jenkins don’t get big, attractive offers elsewhere, they could end up playing a role in the Pacific North West.

Doug Baldwin is a fan anyway:

Meanwhile Kimberly Jones is also reporting that former Falcons pass rusher John Abraham will visit the Seahawks:

Again, no stone unturned.

82 Responses to “Thursday draft notes”

  1. Colin says:

    Couple things here:

    1.) Not a huge fan of Greg Cosell. I get that he’s been in the biz, for a long time, but he’s no different than a fan whose watched football for 25 years. Just because you inherited daddy’s business doesn’t make you a stud.

    2.) I don’t think the Seahawks sign a DL in FA to play LEO. I think they use the draft to upgrade either DT or DE and let that sort itself out. Listening to Danny O’Neill a couple days ago, he consistently referred to what his sources inside Seahawks brass had mentioned about Bruce Irvin: they absolutely 100% believe he’ll be an effective LEO in 2013. We all know he struggled playing 3 downs, but it’s not a forgone conclusion that he can’t do it.

    3.) Barkley is not a 4th round talent. He’s a 4th rounder to those who associate the failures of predecessors with USC and assume he’ll be no different. The kid can absolutely play, and had he been at any other university, there wouldn’t be such doubting of his abilities. I firmly believe he goes in the first 15 picks.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I agree with all of that Colin.

      • peter says:

        Me and my fascination with Cosell parted ways during the great “OMG FLYNN IS TOTS QB 4EVS,” vs. “WILSON IS TOO EVERYTHING (SHORT/LOW ROUND PICK/ETC! TO PLAY QB,” debates of last summer. In fact it was during those debates and the near daily hammering home of a one Mr. Cosell’s constant quips that Wilson didn’t have what it took to play QB that caused me to stop reading the comments of another Seahawks site that rhymes with “Zealed Bulls.”

        Cosell has my dream job and to listen to him is a great voice in the otherwise uninformed morass of sports journalism, but when people assume he’s right because they say it enough times, it bothers me.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Nicely put. Personally, I don’t think Cosell is a fantastic talent evaluator. I think he’s very good at explaining why X,Y and Z happened. But in terms of being able to project to the next level, I’m not so sure. Fun to listen to at times but not some kind of draft sage. And it gets a little bit tiring being almost ordered to admire his opinion on Twitter.

          • peter says:

            the X/Y/Z’s are my absolute favorite part of his job. To me to have that level of access would be amazing to study the film. Even here, at times if the film is not about a QB or Dlinemen, say a WR or good grief a DB of any kind it can be a bit infuriating to say the least to “imagine,” how a route develops,etc. But as for future prognostication, actually as though it seems I may kissing butt here, I think you and kip nail it for a players potential for all teams and draft picks covered better then most.

            • Rob Staton says:

              Appreciate the kind words Peter. Personally I find that I get as much hopelessly wrong as I get right. Such is the game. I doubt that will ever change. But at least we can have some fun talking about it along the way.

        • A. Simmons says:

          Exactly. Cosell tends to go along with the general consensus whether he attains that consensus from GMs/Scouts he trusts or other sources. Great that he watches tons of film. He rarely takes chances on his predictions. He also completely missed on Russell Wilson as well. At least he isn’t like Kiper or McShay where he claims to be some kind of expert. He enjoys watching and giving his opinion on football. It is others that have acted arrogantly causing Cosell to leave a bit of a sour taste in your mouth. Cosell himself is usually humble and an interesting listen with lots of football knowledge. I don’t mind Cosell, I don’t care for those that tout him as some kind of expert source superior to an actual GM or head coach. I’d take Schneider or Carroll’s insight and opinion over someone like Cosell. Those two have made a career evaluating talent and coaching it up. They know better than any of the talking heads what a player can and cannot do, especially when it comes to their team. That’s who I go with.

    • Alex says:

      I happen to really like Cossell, but I would admit that he is way off here. He generally doesn’t give grades, but merely describes what’s what. It may be that the increased media attention has slowly gotten into him. I really liked the way he was able to quantify the key characteristics at positions is really something.

      For example, in his evaluations of QBs in Superbowls, he noted that from the earliest day, pretty much all QBs need to

      1. Fit throws in EXTREMELY tight windows. Ball placement must be nearly perfect (e.g. Eli Manning to Mario Manningham sideline throw in the Super Bowl last year).
      2. Have the decisiveness to throw the ball. If you’re timid, you’re letting windows close and open while the pass rush is closing in on you. The example given in the 2011-2012 playoffs was the difference between Alex Smith against the Saints (decisive and confident) and Alex Smith vs the Giants (timid, not “pulling the trigger”).
      3. The ability to read through progressions quickly and accurately. Throwing dump offs all day won’t cut it.

      From my memory, those were the main ones he talked about.

      Aside from those, he never really touched on footwork, touch, vision, arm release. For arm strength, he merely said that having a weaker arm strength can come back to bite you because you have a lesser variety of throws to access to. If a defense gives a look and you know the perfect route tree to counter it, it’s great, but you have to be able ot throw it.

      • PatrickH says:

        Last year. Cosell did post an article on the NFL film blog analyzing the footwork of Buffalo Bills’ QB, and explained why Fitzgerald have just been an average QB so far.

    • Steeeve says:

      I agree, they will be much more likely to re-sign Jones/Branch or bring in comparable players. I just get the sense they like a lot of the possible LEO prospects in this draft. Bring back Branch, draft say, Datone Jones in the first, a LEO in the 3rd or 4th, and we’re looking strong once again. Furthermore, proven pass rushers tend to command a lot of money, even if they’re only going to be used part time. I’d be content but not wholly excited to go into next season with Irvin as a 3 down player.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        They could draft Datone Jones or Short in the first, then pick up a 3rd or 4th round DT as insurance and development player. Chances are Scruggs or Howard will improve next year. It would be nice if they resigned Branch.

        Irvin should improve at the LEO and Jones could rotate with him or move inside.

        Picking 2 DT/DE should be enough to boost our defensive line, along with continued improvement of our players.

  2. Dregur says:

    I really want Datone Jones, and I think he could be the pass rush DT we covet, from everything I’ve seen from him. I think Barkley definitely has flaws, and he doesn’t have the WOW factor, but I agree with you that he’s being severely underrated because of that lack if readily apparent elite skill.

  3. Belgaron says:

    You build a great case for Jones. If he is there at 25, it shows how much depth there is in that area this year. But I think people are underestimating how far some of these medical risk players could fall, pushing him higher.

    The QB market is unique in the NFL due to its relative importance, especially when you track the supply of great ones. Teams that are claiming that this group is weak may be hiding their intention to draft Barkley or Smith. They could go higher than mocks are projecting.

    • Colin says:

      Part of me just wonders Belgaron…. might he be there in the 2nd round? I just can’t quite convince myself he is the guy I want at 25.

      • Belgaron says:

        I hear ya. It’s hard to know with these guys, we all want D-linemen who demand the opposing offense and QB to track where they are because they demand double teams, crush the pocket, shut down runs behind the LOS, and get sacks, fumbles, and tipped balls. Many 1st rounders have been absolute busts. Some absolute gems come up in later rounds. Even though PC/JS have had great success in some areas, the identification and trade for Clemons has been their only true home run. Moving Red to the 5-tech is close to a home run but his injuries have been the difference between dominance and complacency in the run game. I can only imagine if they bring together the d-line the way they have the d-backfield.

        With all that in mind, it is hard to know if Jones would be the right guy or not, but if the ‘Hawks take him at 25, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and be excited to know they saw something in him to make him the 1st rounder. I don’t see him lasting to their current 2nd round pick, he may not make it to 25.

      • Eric says:

        Colin, because of my geographic location (and familial ties) I’ve watched almost every game UCLA has played for more than 10 years. Consequently, I am extremely familiar with the team’s roster from last season, and more specifically, Datone Jones, whose praises I’ve been singing ever since I found this wonderful website about 6 weeks ago. Not many agreed with me back then (Datone who?!?). Many more do now.

        Leaving aside that I’m Seattle native who has been a Seahawk fan from the moment the league expansion was announced in 1975, I’m as big a nut for this current team as you will find anywhere. But regardless of my level of enthusiasm, I’m no more or less of an expert than anyone else posting here. I’m just a guy who LOVES football, college and pro. I also like to think I’m a student of the game in general, and of PC’s game specifically. I’ve studied his defensive scheme intensively because it fascinates me. Accordingly, like many of us here, I understand the importance of a premier pass rushing/pocket collapsing/play disrupting 3T to this particular defense.

        With respect ONLY to SEA, and its particular defensive needs, Richardson and Jones are among the best 3T prospects in the draft. There are those who will argue that Richardson is the one (some might say it’s Floyd, but I gotta pick my battles here so let’s leave him out). I argue it’s Datone. Of course, I didn’t see a single Mizzou game last season, so other than highlight reels and scouting reports, I’ve scant little personal observations upon which to form my opinion of Richardson.

        What I do know is that Jones possesses superior athletic and intellectual abilities. His Combine performance backs up the first part of my assertion, and the fact that he graduated from an academic top-20 university demonstrates the second. No disrespect to Richardson (and any others who did), but Jones didn’t need to go JUCO to get where he is. Jones also had zero off-field issues during his 5 years at UCLA (he redshirted his sophomore year due to a broken foot), something that cannot be said for Richardson (or several other top D prospects).

        You can argue whether one or the other is the better 3T, because that’s largely a matter of opinion with 2 players of such similar abilities. But Combine stats and academic/personal conduct histories are facts, and only a fool argues with facts.

        So, regardless of whether he is your guy at 25, there’s very little chance he slips to R2, and zero chance he’s there when our second pick comes around. In fact, he may not be there for us even at 25, but boy I sure hope he is.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m starting to think they might have to trade up for Datone if they want him.

          • Eric says:

            Which brings up a perfect example of how wacky unpredictable this draft is:

            After the Alex Smith trade, when it looked like KC was a lock go LT with the first pick, I thought Dallas (read: Monte Kiffin) would go DT (read: Datone). If SEA wanted him, they’d have to trade ahead of Dallas to do it. :(

            But then KC franchised Albert, making a LT first pick unlikely for them, and altering the trajectory of R1 picks – suddenly there’s likely to be at least one more premier LT on the board for several O-line needy teams mid-round. This meant that other premier O-line prospects (read: OGs Warmack and Cooper) slip a little deeper into the round into Dallas’ reach. And with their O-line struggles, it would be very difficult for Dallas to pass up on either player. And just like that, I like our chances of finding Jones available at 25. :)

            Hold on. KC just released Winston (WTF?!?) Now it’s likely again that they go LT, which alters the course of R1 back to where Dallas goes DL. And it’s as likely as not they take Jones :(

  4. John says:

    Here’s my deal with Barkley, and why I don’t believe in him as future franchise QB. And I did my homework and watched everything there was to watch of him last year because I truly believe Pete planning to draft Barkley. I think that was Pete’s guy since he took over the Hawks until Wilson absolutely stole the starting job. So, as someone who was never high on Barkley, I watched every bit of film I could and compared it to prospects I liked and tried REALLY hard to like him. I wanted to because I was pretty sure he was going to eventually be my QB.

    That said, I could never bring myself to like him as my QBotF. Barkley did not, in my eyes, elevate the talent around him but was rather, a product of it. I think his 2011 season was spectacular because of incredible offensive tools around him. An All-Pro line and two 1st round talent receivers can hide certain flaws in a QBs game. But I remember watching his junior tape and comparing it to Luck’s junior tape (because there were alot of people making the comparisons) and felt that Luck was a supremely better prospect just from the eye test. Smoother in the pocket and better over the middle accuracy. Luck just looked better to me. Now Luck had a (way) better coach and is overall probably a better talent than Barkley so maybe that comparison is unfair.

    But avoiding the comparison, I didn’t feel like I was watching Barkley making a ton of NFL plays as I watched him. Saw alot of screens, alot of easy throws meant to take advantage of his recievers superior athleticism and ultimately, a deep ball that depended more on his receiver making a great play, than a well placed throw. To be fair, Wilson throws it up for grabs alot too, but with better power and placement.

    So onto my final issue. I’ve never felt that Barkley couldn’t start in the league, but my question when looking at a QB is, “Can he win me a Super Bowl?” It’s an incredibly general question that, if you had ten people in a room, would have ten different answers. “Yes, easy.” “Yes, if you give him a good defense”, “Not unless he has great weapons” etc. My answer just came up as “no”. I have no doubt you could have a decent starter with Barkley. But at best, I see Matt Shcaub/Matt Hasslebeck. And it took alot of great things to happen before Seattle even made it to the Super Bowl with that caliber of QB. And Hasslebeck basically played behind one of the best O-lines to ever play the game. Yeah Seattle got cheated, but I sat through several years of “good but not great” play from Hasslebeck. There’s a saying that medicority is worse than being terrible. And I adhere to that. How many times are you almost going to get there before you realize maybe there needs to be a change? I think the team that drafts Barkley will be stuck there for some time. I don’t think Barkley will elevate his teammates to the level of play needed to win a championship.

    That’s my opinion though. And unlike Cossel, I think Barkley deserves to be a late first round pick. Because he might be someone that gets better as he develops. Or he may land with an organization like the Flacons that know how to build a team around a quarterback’s limited physical skillset. I still think Philly may consider him if he’s sitting there in the Andy Dalton range. And I think that makes sense. I think he could see a degree of success there.

    And for the record, I really like Barkley’s IQ and intangibles and think Lane Kiffin is one of the worst coaches in relevent college football.

    • Rob Staton says:

      If Barkley goes #7 to Arizona — something that is a distinct possibility — he won’t have cost himself any money. We have to remember, a lot of people thought Jake Locker cost himself a lot of money too.

      • peter says:

        I think Barkley may be able to figure out a little faster how to make Fitzgerald bail him out then Carr ever did. Good lord if that happens, Barkley to Arizona, I hope the Seahawks figure out this season how to stop someone for real on 3rd and 6-8

      • Alex says:

        Personally, I hate this talk about rise/fall of prospects and losing money etc (for NBA and NFL). The fact of the matter is that if you’re good, you’ll get resigned to mega bucks (e.g. Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman at this point) while if you suck, you’ll be shown the highway.

        Further, if you come back and you’re further scrutinized and as a result fall, so what? If anything, that means the previous projection of “where you could have been picked at” was wrong and they now have readjust their boards. The truth it, better players ought to be picked higher. If they look at you closer and find that you’re not what they initially thought, it’s right of teams to drop you down their boards.

        People are always like, oh Matt Leinart could have been #1 in his junior year, but fell because he came back. If he fell, it’s probably because there are better players who deserve to picked in front of him.

        In basketball, people always say that if the one and done rule doesn’t exist, these high school players would make major bucks. Well, once they get to college and get exposed, they fall. From the team’s perceptive, isn’t it better to know that this player isn’t what he was hyped up to be? This should result in more accurate and deserving drafting along with a better league.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Couldn’t agree more.

        • A. Simmons says:

          Market changes every year depending on players available and previous year performance. Nature of the draft. As you said, if you’re good you’ll earn the big bucks. Heck, if you’re even just above average like Joe Flacco you apparently get to earn big bucks as well.

      • Ryan says:

        Assuming the crazy is true and Barkley falls to us at #56 a la Jimmy Clausen. ANNY chance we draft him and develop to trade or keep as a backup?

        Factors that play into that thought:
        - GB influence of draft a qb every year
        - always draft BPA

      • DJ says:

        On the off-chance he escapes the first round, what do you think is the earliest the Seahawks would consider drafting Barkley? I’m assuming they’d pass on him at 25 even if available because of obvious other needs. But, we do need a backup/project QB out of this draft, right?

        • Rob Staton says:

          They’d draft him in round two. No doubt about it. But I don’t think he’ll be there.

          • Rob Staton says:

            John Schneider was part of a franchise that had Favre and Rodgers and still drafted Brian Brohm in round two. I don’t think they’ll take a QB in round one, but after that anything goes. It’s not just about look for starters, it’s also about depth and possible trade value down the line.

    • Belgaron says:

      I do not believe the ‘Hawks are in the market for a QBotF because Wilson is the franchise QB right now as well as the QBotF. They are in the market for a dependable backup who will not put them at risk to not win games, as it is unlikely they would keep Flynn in 2014 unless they fail to procure a decent backup. They are also in the market for a low risk project they can build into a tradable QBofF to some other team and also have him available if needed for the organization. So in reality they need 2 QBs right now, and it doesn’t make sense with where they are at to consider a 1st or even 2nd round QB.

      • John says:

        What I said was I think Pete was going to draft Barkley before Wilson came on the scene. I think that if Wilson wasn’t our QBotF then Barkley would be our first round pick this year.

        • Eric says:

          Agreed. Barkley was PC’s last QB recruiting coup at ‘SC.

        • A. Simmons says:

          I’m wondering what you’re basing this assumption on? He has shown no favoritism towards USC players. I see no reason to believe he would have with Matt Barkley.

          • Alex says:

            FWIW, he once noted in an press conference (in a question regaring Russell Wilson) that the only other player that immediately controlled the team upon entering was Matt Barkley. He left out a slew of other QBs including Palmer, Leinart, Booty, and Sanchez.

          • Eric says:

            I dunno, what about Mike Williams, Anthony McCoy, Malcolm Smith, Mike Morgan, Alan Bradford…?

            I think it’s more a matter of which of his former players are available to him rather than a lack of favoritism (I’m not saying it’s that either).

            • A. Simmons says:

              None of them early picks. He cut Mike Williams and Lofa without much of a second thought. He hasn’t showny any favortism in the early rounds. He took more players from opponent schools than he did from USC.

      • Lou Thompson says:

        Agree Belgaron Big time. If anything, they take a flyer late in round 5 or practice fodder in round 6 but with as close as we are to a SB caliber team, this is the year we need to fill game changing positions like Pass rush and WR explosion, not a high pick on a guy that will hold a clipboard for the next 4 years.

  5. sdcoug says:

    I apologize for shifting topics, but what does your instinct tell you (Rob/Kip/Anyone?) about how the team views Leon Washington? Could we be looking at a mid-to-late round pick specifically targeting the punt/kick return position? Or perhaps a higher-round WR that could double as both?

    I have a feeling I will be in the distinct minority here. Although a pro-bowl appearance suggests I’m a moron, I found myself routinely disappointed with Leon last year. He breaks the occasional long return, but I swear I saw hesitation on many punt returns where he signaled for a fair-catch when there appeared to be a good 10 yrds of room. I don’t believe his salary is prohibitive, but could this be an area of savings (considering he doesn’t add much value as a 3rd RB)? Or do you believe JS/PC value his reliability too much to replace at this point? Seems to me this is the year to plug in a much younger alternative.

    Curious to know how everyone else feels about this. By the way, I rarely post, but read daily. This is an amazing blog and I can’t get enough of the articles and fan insight/contributions. Proud to be a Hawk! And you should be very proud of this site.

    • williambryan says:

      I don’t think they would cut him outright. I think there are a couple of things that could lead to him being released during camp though. 1, If someone like Tavon Austin is drafted and shows well as a kick returner in camp and 2, if the team drafts someone like Lattimore (fingers crossed!) bumping him out of a roster spot as a RB. Washington didn’t dissapoint me last year because he still is a threat for a long return every time, but I have been clamoring for Golden Tate to get more return chances. I think he has shown he is pretty electric as a returner. Maybe is someone like Hopkins or Wheaton is drafted by the team, that would free up Tate to do more return work, also bumping Washington from the roster perhaps.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      I was disappointed in him too. He doesn’t have the break away speed that he used too. On the positive side he has the ability to make a modest gain and hold on to the ball. Too many returners are getting jarred loose from the ball – that has to be the number one priority in choosing anyone for that duty.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think they will bring in some form of competition for Leon this off-season one way or another. Could even be Josh Cribbs for all we know. But at the same time, I think there’s a huge amount of respect for Leon within the coaching staff. And while he’s only taking kick offs, he remains relatively fresh. I suspect he’ll be with the Hawks for at least another year.

  6. Lou Thompson says:

    Rob and Kip,

    Do you think DJones is better suited for the 5 tech in the 3-4? He seems like the prototypical 3-4 DE and a forced selection for the 4-3?

    I’m not sure that the Hawks go DJones and he defintely won’t be my 1st round selection when, hopefully, a thread is developed close to draft day for our picks.

    It seems too obvious with information about interviews, liking him, etc, for their style. With PC/JS success, it wouldn’t surprise if someone took their advice and grabbed DJones. Heck, they’re now mimicking our D style. Why not grab some of the players PC/JS like to implement the D with?

    DJones won’t be on my radar unless he slips into round 2. Can’t wait until draft day.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think his best position might be the five, but I can also see him featuring as an undersized three and in the Jason Jones role if he joins Seattle.

      • Eric says:

        In a traditional 4-3, yes his best position is 5. But in PC’s 4-3, I don’t think he would be effective in Red Bryant’s role. He doesn’t follow the ball well enough to stop the strong side run at or near the LOS. PC’s 4-3 scheme favors quickness over size at 3T, and that’s exactly what Jones is, quick.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Sure, I meant 5-tech as in the 3-4, playing end and being used in the same way Watt is used at Houston. In Seattle’s defense he’s a three or a Jason Jones.

          • Eric says:

            Fortunately for those of us who like Datone, he didn’t play DE at UCLA (ok he did – he played up and down their D line), but that’s not what he’s billed as. Combine that with his low sack total (notwithstanding his excellent TFL #’s – thanks for that article Rob!), and he’s just not on anyone’s radar as a top traditional DE prospect. At least I hope not.

  7. Geoff says:

    Saw that Cosell article yesterday. The “he’s a little shorter” comment had me rolling on the floor. What is there to say to that? It’s such a ridiculous statement, especially in the face of Russell Wilson’s success.

    A quick glance at last years top 10 QB’s reveal these to be 6′-2″ or under:
    1 Aaron Rodgers
    3 RGIII
    4 Russell Wilson
    8 Drew Brees
    10 Tony Romo

    • John says:

      To be fair, Rodgers, RGIII, RW, and Romo are all more athletic and have better arms. I think Cossel was saying his height is a problem as a less athletic, weaker armed QB. And I really feel that Cossels comments are grossly oversimplified compared to comments he’s had about Michael Vick or Tim Tebow or even Russell Wilson. Usually Cossel talks more about the types of throws said QB is making and the technique. I’ve enjoyed Cossels stuff in the past and feel like you can learn alot, but his analysis on Barkley was disappointing to say the least.

      • PatrickH says:

        One thing to note is that the article was not written by Cosell himself, but by an NFL network reporter who interviewed him. For all we know, Cosell may have given a detailed analysis with all kinds of nuances during the interview, but the reporter just extracted some money quotes for the (relatively short) article. In the past, Cosell usually posted more detailed analysis of prospects on the NFLfilm blog just before the draft.

      • Kenny Sloth says:

        Brees is much more athletic than given credit for.

  8. peter says:

    Rob, as per your mock and a comment above, if Irvin takes the steps necessary to learn most of the aspects of being a LEO, and does a a sort of Golden Tate, Kam Chancellor thing, and turns the page in his second year, do you see Jarvis Jones being able to play WLB? as per Ken Norton’s comments….most gifted LB ever…etc.

    I like the idea of Lemonier, and get kind of suspicious when someone crosses two or three draft slots in about a week with no real reason, which he has done on several draft sights, but of the two of those guys and this a fingers crossed, don’t really understand what “mild stenosis,” is hopeful projection..I would love to see Jarvis Jones as a Seahawk.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I wouldn’t rule it out that’s for sure. Jones is a once in a while natural football talent who would succeed in multiple positions. Whether he’d be at his best at WLB, I’m not sure. But he’d probably make it work. But when you have a guy with 25 TFL in a season and leading the NCAA in sacks, you want them in attacking positions as often as possible.

      • Eric says:

        Rob, with respect to the Jones’, you’re starting to convince me that Jarvis is as good a R1 pick for SEA as Datone. Perhaps Datone “fits” PC’s D a little better than Jarvis (or, put more accurately, finding a premier 3T is the greater need). But there is no denying what an unbelievable football talent Jarvis is, stenosis or not.

  9. peter says:

    Him as the LEO, and Mr. Irvin back in the third down specialist spot still wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, throw in some screwy way to get Datone Jones, and maybe allow the banality of the WLB position to cause the draft day fall of Khaseem Greene, and I’d be pretty stoked….BTW all this Jarvis Jones love from me is your fault Rob, since you started writing him up, what two drafts ago, before he returned to UGA.

  10. Nolan says:

    If Barkley is available in the 2nd round for the hawks would you take him rob? Not saying he will but if he was?

  11. Sam Jaffe says:

    Nobody (not even Rob) is arguing that Barkley has the skill sets of Luck or Griffin. If a GM waits until they get a chance to draft a “qb who is going to win the super bowl”, he will probably get fired long before that chance comes along. There’s a difference between a franchise QB and a guaranteed Hall of Famer (I would argue that the only one’s that fit that mold in the last thirty years were Peyton Manning, Luck and Griffin). QB’s change dramatically over the course of their first few years in the pros. I see Barkley as having the upside of a Drew Brees when he came out of Purdue, and the downside of a solid backup. That means first round in any draft. As for the Seahawks, if he drops to the 25 pick, that would be extremely important for them. That means that the high pickers who need a QB and passed on one earlier will be chomping at the bit to trade down. A trade like that tends to happen when the team trading down has no chance to take the guy. So if Barkley reaches #25 and the Jaguars, Browns, Bills and Cardinals haven’t picked a qb yet, one of them will make a very nice offer to the Seahawks.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Well, it could be the Seahawks they speak to in that scenario… or Indy, Green Bay, Houston, Denver, New England, Atlanta, San Fran or Baltimore :)

      • Sam Jaffe says:

        I think it comes down to Indy and then Seattle. Remember that those teams aren’t competing against the rest of the round one participants, they’re competing against themselves. So Indy would be the natural place to make such a trade. If it doesn’t happen with Indy, then Seattle gets its pick of suitors. And given the front office’s desire for more draft picks, such a trade willingness is very possible.

  12. Sam Jaffe says:

    By the way, John Abraham is the perfect role playing LEO. Even better than Umenyiora. If Seattle can get him for $3 million/year, they’re signing him. I think they’ll go after Roy Miller at $4-$6 million/year to replace Alan Branch. And I still think they’ll create more cap room by extending/restructuring Rice and Miller–which would give them enough to go for a moderately priced offensive weapon. A couple more free agents for specific roles (Brandon Gibson at WR and Charles Woodson at nickel corner are my favorite choices, but only if they each come in at under $2 mil per year). That should still leave enough hope to extend Kam Chancellor (whom I think will be cheaper than most people assume) and Brandon Browner (whom Seattle might not even be interested in re-signing anyway due to PED’s and age) and the team is ready to draft for pure BPA and then challenge for the Super Bowl. The only dark spot on the horizon at that point is figuring out how to re-sign Okung, Thomas, Tate, Sherman and Wilson over the next three years (probably an impossible task). These are good times to be a Seahawk fan (I haven’t said that in a long time.)

  13. Misfit74 says:

    That’s cool. As soon as I heard/read that about Cosell giving Barkley a 4th round grade and what have you, I immediately thought of one Rob Staton. One thing I admire about this blog – and Rob in particular – is that he doesn’t back down from his beliefs. If Rob likes a guy he stands behind it despite how often the various talking heads’ views change. Agree or disagree, Rob stay true to himself just as I anticipate a GM would stay true to his board.

    I have never been a big fan of Barkley, so I felt a bit of inside gratification when I heard that from Cosell, but that doesn’t mean I’m right or anyone else is wrong. Barkley still hasn’t played an NFL down. I still think he’s closer to Leinart or Cassel than Carson Palmer.

  14. PatrickH says:

    A useful stat developed by Pat Kirwin is production ratio, which is (sacks+TFL)/games played. A DE prospect who played in a BCS conference and has production ratio greater than 1.5 is considered elite (greater than 1.0 for DT prospects). FWIW, Datone Jones’ production ratio was 1.25 last year (0.98 over his college career). For comparison, Bruce Irwin’s productions ratio was 1.94, and Kip’s favorite John Simon also has a production ratio of 1.94.

    The article at the following link has a nice table of the production ratios of 2013 DE prospects: http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2013/2/9/3970250/nfl-draft-2013-finding-playmaking-4-3-defensive-ends-dallas-cowboys

  15. Cameron says:

    Rob, If the Seahawks sign a veteran stopgap LEO to back-up Irvin/Clemons, do you think that pretty well precludes them from drafting one in the first 2 or 3 rounds?

    • Rob Staton says:

      It would depend on the terms of the deal. If DE is the best value at #25 (and it could be) then I think they’d still go for it. Clemons and the stop gap won’t go on forever.

  16. kevin mullen says:

    If for whatever reason Barkely isn’t drafted in 1st round, (assuming AZ passed him up), no way he gets away out of the top of 2nd. JAX, AZ, BUF (assuming no Geno Smith), OAK. Say what you want Mr. Cosell, but Barkley isn’t getting passed by top of 2nd round. Personally, I’d have him over any QB in this draft. I would compare him to a poor man’s Andrew Luck…

    As far as the ‘Hawks taking him? If he’s there in 3rd round, pick him up. I’d like our first two picks going to needs, like the past 3 drafts.

  17. Derek says:

    It looks like DeAndre Hopkins’ stock is really rising, do you think he is becoming more likely if available at #25?

  18. Robert says:

    Is Mangus Hunt a prospect we should be discussing? He is an athletic freak with exceptional size, length, speed and strength. In the videos, he plays a little stiff, but frequently just destroys blockers with raw physical superiority. He possesses very little learned technique at this point. And that fact combined with his amazing physical qualities seems to add up to tremendous upside. Seems like we could use him as a 3 or 5 technique while searching to exploit the best mismatch opportunities from game to game. Another factor is the Seahawks ONLY need to disrupt the middle of the pocket for Bruce Irvin to gobble up QB’s. It started to kind of work with rookie-raw Irvin + Jason Jones stressing the middle.Bruce will be much improved this year. And I think Mangus’ game translates well to the NFL and represents an immediate upgrade over Jones with great upside to follow, once he learnes some techniques…What do you guys think of this prospect???

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Hunt looks like a fit at the Rhino position. Jason Jones role, but not at the 3tech. My favorite player for the 3tech is Sylvester Williams. I love his technique. I think he’s got one of the highest floors in the draft. Low risk guy, but I think the front office likes freaks.

      • Robert says:

        If we traded down, we could probably still get Hunt + an additional mid round pic. Then, what about drafting Brandon Williams? He looked pretty good at the combine. He is very raw and cannot run far, but he is very big, strong and has a bit of finnesse for such a big guy…seems like great upside. Any thoughts on Armonty Bryant? He’s not very fast, but his hands and arms destroy blockers in Division II…Might be a good late round gamble?

        • Barry says:

          That would be pretty sweet in my book. But I just think people are going to see Hunt and regardless of the negatives see all that ability and think Watt, and he leave the board mid first round.

          Another nice scenario would be a team with a high second trade back into the first with us to grab Barkley, us getting a mid- rounder in the deal.

          • Kenny Sloth says:

            I don’t think they would move TO get Barkley, but if he’s available when the Seahawks pick in the second, there’s no way they don’t contemplate pulling the trigger.

        • Kenny Sloth says:

          Nothing otherworldly. Probably a solid depth player to start and a contributor in 3 years.

  19. Well done on disagreeing with Greg Cosell and pointing out how unpopular it seems to be right now. I still highly respect him, and I do think he evaluates individual performance impeccably, which is different than evaluating talent. And he knows that and tends to avoid the latter, he’s a cautious guy. But he’s popular, and so is the draft, so he’s been pressed the past couple drafts to do more draft analysis.

    It’s not the first time I’ve disagreed with Cosell, but it’s by far the most strongly I’ve disagreed with him about anything. I do think it’s way off, but that was an evaluation that plays against what Cosell generally does: a 4th round grade is predicated on what teams want, what they’ll do, what the alternatives are, and all the known unknowns about talent development.

    Why did he not like Barkley’s feet? I’m not sure. I don’t see it. The rest of it aside, that’s the stranger part, because he evaluates performance and execution well. So I dunno.

  20. Madmark says:

    With all this talk about salary and cap issues i could see us always having a Jason Jones type player coming in for a year on a cheap contract that is cap friendly. It seems to be a good way to control cap money. John Abraham for a year at DE on a small 1 year contract to play passsing downs at Red Bryants postion sounds like a win win prop. Completely dreaming of Charles Woodson and what he would do on the field and in the locker room.