Thursday notes: C.J. Mosley will return to Alabama

December 20th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

As you can see from the tweet above, Nick Saban announced at a press conference today that C.J. Mosley will not be turning pro. It’s not a major surprise – many of Alabama’s big name defensive players have gone the distance over the last few years. He would’ve been an option for the Seahawks at the WILL position in the first two rounds of next April’s draft. Despite today’s news, Alec Ogletree is still expected to declare while seniors Arthur Brown and Khaseem Greene will make up for the loss of Mosley from the 2013 draft class.

Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft is running an ‘underclassmen tracker’ which is worth bookmarking.

Cordarrelle Patterson is definitely declaring the 2013 NFL Draft.

That’s according to Tennesee’s new Head Football Coach Butch Jones, who wished him well and left it at that.

There’s a reason I keep coming back to this guy. I watched an awful lot of Vols games this year and sure enough – there are some issues. He’s far from the finished article. He’ll enter the league having spent one year in the NCAA as a JUCO transfer. All those words used to describe a guy in this situation – ‘raw’, ‘undercooked’… they all apply.

And yet he has such fantastic physical potential, you just can’t help but get excited. Ideal height (6-4), weight (205lbs) speed (legit 4.3/4.4 runner) and production (record setting all-purpose yards season). He could be the next big thing. Truly, he could.

He chose Tennessee despite serious interest from virtually every big school in the SEC. He visited LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss and Georgia. He had offers from Arkansas, Miami, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Baylor. In the end he probably made the right decision. Despite Tennessee’s struggles this year, he went to a team that found different ways to get the ball in his hands. From the three big name prospects turning pro from that school (Justin Hunter, Tyler Bray and Patterson) – he’s the one with some momentum.

I put him in the top-15 of my updated mock draft yesterday with good reason. Despite all of the ‘boom or bust’ labels he’ll receive, you just can’t get away from the upside. He’s a threat to score every single time the ball’s in his hands. Couldn’t the Dolphins do with a player like that? A big time playmaker to aid the development of Ryan Tannehill? Would he get past a team like Minnesota, who clearly need someone to take some of the strain away from Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin? And if he does make it to the Seahawks, would they not consider adding an explosive receiver to this offense? An offense that’s zoned in to quick strikes in the passing game?

A few years ago Mel Kiper was beating the drum for a similar player, this time on the defensive side of the ball. His name was Jason Pierre-Paul. Terrific athlete, major upside and looked the part on tape. But he was raw. He seemed unprepared for the pro-game, maybe even a little immature. Yet Kiper promoted that guy and in fairness, he was justified in doing so. He might not be the first to the party this time regarding Patterson, but he’s similarly intrigued by Patterson. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see a similar outcome, with CP going on to become one of the league’s more dynamic talents.

Prospect watch: BYU vs San Diego State

BYU has one of the better senior defensive lineman on their roster in Ezekiel Ansah. He’s 6-6 and 278lbs and his best football will likely come at the next level. Although he’s not an obvious target for the Seahawks (not a LEO, Seattle has depth with Clemons/Irvin), he has prototype size for the end position and a lot of upside. Also keep an eye on Kyle Van Noy – an undersized outside linebacker who’s registered 11.5 sacks this year. He’ll have a tough decision to make over whether to declare or not, but he could be a mid-rounder next April. I’ve posted a game tape video below of his performance against San Jose State.

A player perhaps more relevant for Seahawks fans is San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar. He’s a pure pass-catcher and doesn’t do much blocking – but at 6-5 and 255lbs he’s the latest candidate for the ‘could be the next Jimmy Graham’ award. Escobar’s a tremendous athlete for his size and could easily be a second round pick. He’s had big games and very quiet games this year, but hopefully he’ll end the season on a high-note and put on a show for the watching NFL scouts.

A further thought on yesterday’s mock update

Click here to see this weeks ‘far too early’ projection. I think Zach Ertz will interest Seattle if he does declare. There’s no doubting the Seahawks need to do something at receiver or tight end. Right now they’re an injury away to Sidney Rice or Golden Tate and life will become very difficult for Russell Wilson. Ideally, they find a receiver that warrants a high pick. Brandon Coleman, Cordarrelle Patterson, DeAndre Hopkins, Markus Wheaton… there are options out there. They also have a lot of money invested in Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy continues to show enough potential to keep the faith that he can deliver on his major upside.

However, there’s something about Ertz that screams ‘Seattle’.

The Seahawks are already using a lot of 2TE sets. I suspect they’d like to do so even more. Ertz is a good enough blocker (others disagree, but I think it’s actually a strong point of his) to stay on the field for any play call. At Stanford he and Levine Toilolo are pretty much the primary targets in the passing game. They run the ball a lot, utilise play action and look to get the tight ends lined up against linebackers. Theoretically the Seahawks could use Rice and Tate out wide with Ertz and Miller at the line of scrimmage. That’s four legitimate targets for Russell Wilson in a formation that traditionally screams ‘run play’ to the defense.

If necessary, there’s nothing to stop Ertz lining up in the slot or even out wide. He does it at Stanford. It’s not an unthinkable move for the Seahawks.

In round two I went for Khaseem Greene. After Alec Ogletree and Arthur Brown, he’s probably the most logical WILL prospect for this defense. He’s right up there with C.J. Mosley in that regard. He’s an athlete without ideal size for the position, but the Seahawks aren’t asking their linebackers to get too involved in the trenches. They want to rush four, let the defensive line do its job and free up the linebackers and defensive backs to make plays. Ogletree, Brown, Greene or Mosley would be terrific additions to a growing defense. Of course, unless they can add a pass rushing three-technique (the teams greatest need), they’ll struggle to make the most of that second level talent.

Kyle Van Noy (LB, BYU) tape vs San Jose State

17 Responses to “Thursday notes: C.J. Mosley will return to Alabama”

  1. Stuart says:

    This will be draft #4 with PC/JS. I really believe we are close to being an elite team. With that said I would draft for quality over quanitity with this coming draft. My preference is drafting 3 premier players out of the draft vs. 1 elite and lots of depth. This means moving up when nessarsary to grab the desired player. We can afford to do so! I mean getting RW in round 3, WOW!!! How much would we have had to give up to draft a QB in R-1 last year that would have the kind of impact that RW has? We are playing on house money right now…

    • Rock says:

      With that theory last year we would have moved up for Ryan Tannehill rather than down for Bruce Irvin. We would have moved up to take Mykchal Kendricks (68 tackles) rather than Bobby Wagner (121 tackles) and we would have move up for TJ Graham (27 receptions) rather than take Russell Wilson. My point is, where you draft does not ensure you are grabbing the elite guy. We got three pretty elite players last year in Irvin, Wagner and Wilson without moving up. It is largely due to having a role for them to play on the team. We probably could not have done better. Having more choices improves the odds the guys you select will be elite. Drafting entails more than just evaluating player skills. The team must assess how the player will fit into the scheme and roster. They must also predict who the other teams will draft. Wilson is a good example, Pete Carroll was so excited about Wilson he apparently wanted to use a second round pick on him. The draft analysts on the staff had to talk him into waiting for round 3, they also knew the team could afford to move down and still land Bruce Irvin.

      • James says:

        I think it was Schneider, rather than Carroll, who was banging the table for Wilson and had to be talked into waiting until the 3rd (can’t post sources right now but I’ve read this in numerous places).
        I totally agree that “where you draft does not ensure you are grabbing the elite guy” – but I guess what happens if you’ve identified the “elite” guy, as have 5 other teams drafting above you? Then you’ve got to back yourself and trade up. 9 times out of 10 I’d favour trading down and stockpiling picks – but I actually agree with Stuart that this is potentially the draft where quality should trump quantity.

        • Phil says:

          I agree. What sometimes is overlooked is how young our team is. Just look at how we have improved since the first few games this year. I don’t know how far we will go this season, but I bet there are few teams who would want to face us in the post-season.

    • I firmly believe the Seahawks are already an elite team. Improvements can still be made, but no team in the NFL, not even the Niners or Patriots or Broncos, none of them are near the top of the league in all 3 phases like Seattle is.

      Seattle belongs in the elite category. They have a losing record in close games but are undefeated in all others. That’s pretty much the definition of unsustainable. I think this exact same roster could go 13-3 next season with average luck.

  2. Brian says:

    It’s not that I object to the idea of adding a good TE, but the Seahawks don’t currently throw much to the TE’s at all. For the entire season Zach Miller has had 47 balls thrown to him (3.13_/game) Anthony McCoy has 24. In 2009 (when Darrell Bevell was O coordinator in Minnesota) the Vikings TE’s had only 59 receptions as a group. Admittedly, the Vikings had a crappy group of TE’s, but still.

    We can argue that the Seahawks are keeping tight ends in for pass protection because the line is bad against the pass rush, and that if the line play improved they would throw more to Zach Miller. But if that is true it seems like an argument in favor of looking at yet another guard or tackle pick, as much as I would rather add another play maker.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I would argue that the offense would again adapt. I think Zach Miller’s role will continue to be what it is. But if you watch Stanford play, they run a lot of 2TE looks, full back in the backfield with 2WR’s. That’s a running formation. And they run a heck of a lot. But they’re also able to max out play action, quick strikes etc. Levine Toilolo does a lot more blocking (like Miller) and Ertz is more of a target. In Seattle, I would think they’d love to run more formations like that. And with Ertz in the team, they’d be using him a lot more. Plus he also has plenty of experience lining up in the slot or out wide, so what you’re really getting is a hybrid TE/WR.

      Another note – Zach Miller is listed at #31 for targets among TE’s in the league. The guy at #27? Vernon Davis. San Fran’s offense is very similar to ours and Stanford’s and they also run a lot of very effective 2TE sets. This could, realistically, push our offense into the kind of dominating form we see from the 49ers at their best.

      • Brian says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to it, but the offense would have to adapt as you say in order for it to be worth drafting a TE in the first round.

        Vernon Davis is having a down year in 2012 (but still getting almost one more pass attempt per game than Miller) but averaged 106 targets per year the three years previous. Nobody Darrell Bevell has coached has gotten half that amount.

        The question I have is simply . . . why? Why is Zach Miller getting less than half the pass attempts he got with the Raiders? Is this all on Bevell? Is it because the right half of our O line is horrible in pass protection?

        • Rob Staton says:

          Bevell, Carroll, Cable… they all have a say. In fairness, Miller’s role has grown as the season’s gone on. We’ll see if that continues.

        • Colin says:

          Cool stat: The Seahawks have a much better record with Zach Miller getting half the snaps of what he got in Oakland.

        • pqlqi says:

          Zach Miller is getting half the targets because we have a balanced offense.

          Miller was the leading receiver on some of those Oakland teams, and not because he was an unbelievable receiving talent, but because Oakland WRs and QB sucked to high heaven when he was on that team, and he was literally their best option.

          Production (measured by targets, receptions, yards, TD) is just a terrible measure of the contribution a player has to a team. Look at Kellen Winslow in TB last season, whose production was as a top 10 TE in targets, receptions, and yards – he is out of the league now.

          Rob, I really like the idea of Ertz, also because Ertz will be up for a contract renewal the same year that Miller is ending his current contract – a seamless transition. Also, McGrath was just signed to the active roster, and is supposed to get some snaps this week – he really shined during training camp and preseason with reliable hands and a pretty good chemistry with Wilson. With McCoy getting a ton of playing time and showing well, plus Morrah still in the picture, if we do draft Ertz, we would be looking at having one of the best, deepest, and youngest TE groups league wide – perfect for the Bevell and Cable offense we are seeing developing – and absolutely deadly in combination with Wilson.

  3. Christon says:

    Wow. Incredible game for Kyle Van Noy tonight. You’ve got to think he would declare now , especially with Mosley going back to school. Although I think he needs to be in a 3-4 system, Van Noy could one of what? the top six or eight LBs taken? He seems to be making plays with six force fumbles on the year, 13 sacks now, and 18 TFL coming in to this game. He might not be playing the best competition but he looks like a real playmaker.

    Rob, have you had a chance to watch film on BYU receiver Cody Hoffman? If he declares, I think he could be a good depth option for the hawks with their fourth round pick? He has good size and length, looks to have decent athleticism, with decent hands. He might be a cheaper Colbi Hamilton. I was surprised to see he had 90 catches (10 against OSU) with BYU’s QB struggles this year.

    Great read as always. GO HAWKS!

  4. cliff says:

    Also don’t forget that McCoy will be a FA soon and i’m not sure we’ll want to pay him as he’s not an integral part of our offense. You could argue it wouldn’t cost much but at a minimum it will cost around 500k per year more than drafting another TE. Not bad but when you have to give big pay raises to Sherm and Kam among others then saving any amount can help.

  5. I think Patterson has a chance to go very high, but there is also a chance he could be this year’s Demaryius Thomas- a special athlete who will enter the league needing to learn a lot.

    Well it’s year 3 and Thomas now has a real QB throwing to him. He’s got 1210 yards and 8 TDs this season with two games to go.

    Demaryius Thomas went 22nd overall in 2010. That’s fairly close to where Seattle’s draft pick could end up.

  6. A. Simmons says:

    Jason Jones on the IR. Further illustrating our need for a young, active, elite three tech, interior defensive lineman. Our secondary looks young and deep with elite or borderline elite talent. LBs are looking solid and you can usually find quality LBs in later rounds. I hope that we can find some elite defensive line talent in the first three rounds. If we want to compete with that beastly 49er offensive line and maintain our run defense while having a pass rush, we need elite defensive line talent and quality depth.

  7. Phil says:

    Rob – thanks for the heads-up on who we should be watching in the various bowl games.