— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 13, 2017
It’s not surprising the Seahawks brought in Witherspoon for a visit. He’s one of two projected early round cornerbacks with the wingspan Seattle has exclusively preferred. He had a terrific combine and he’s a smart guy — he plans to become a doctor after football.
I suspect there’s at least some possibility however, that the Seahawks sat him down and played clips like this…
…and asked what the heck was going on.
The Seahawks, with their extreme focus on defending the run, are not going to draft a player who defends his side of the field like this. There are times where Witherspoon appears to actively avoid contact. At the very least he needs to hold position, force the ball carrier back inside and hold down his side of the field. Just get in the way.
If he plays in the NFL the way he did at Colorado, teams will design plays to attack his side. They’ll exploit the WR screen game. They will go after him over and over again.
It’s a shame because his coverage skills are exceptional. He is a terrific cover corner. I’ve said a few times — he defended John Ross better than any other corner I’ve watched from this class.
Teams need to look him in the eye and see if there’s any dog in there. Can he at the very least avoid being a liability as a tackler or run defender? That’s the key and could’ve been the tone of the meeting.
I just wish we could say with any confidence this a problem that can be rectified. You need to see it to believe it.
— Draft Analyst (@DraftAnalyst1) April 13, 2017
This was disheartening to read. Awuzie is a terrific player and fully warrants a place in the top-20. He wasn’t getting much hype. It was a bit of a gut punch to see this report just a couple of days after we talked about him being an option for Seattle.
It’s possibly one of the reasons why the Seahawks are looking at Jourdan Lewis, as discussed yesterday. The slot cornerback position seems to be a key target. Lewis doesn’t have Awuzie’s physical profile but he’s incredibly gritty, competitive and has terrific coverage and run-defending skills. Don’t underestimate his stock either — he’s worthy of a place in the top-50.
If players like Awuzie are starting to rise, others will begin to fall. That isn’t necessarily a great thing for Seattle though. For example, there appears to be some concern about Marshon Lattimore at the moment. If he dropped deep into the 20’s, why would the Seahawks halt the fall? Especially given the concerns are injury related and he doesn’t have the kind of length Seattle wants.
I suspect there’s a chance Corey Davis and Mike Williams will go a lot later than many are projecting. It seems unlikely though that Seattle would go receiver with their first pick. The quarterbacks might drop and a player like Ryan Ramcyzk might fit a positional need but are the Seahawks going to draft an injured tackle without a complete physical profile?
The good news about this class is there will likely be a good option, even in the worst case scenario. Even if some of the prospective top targets are off the board (Awuzie, Melifonwu, Adoree’, King) there’s always another option (Lewis, Watt, Bowser, Budda).
One way or another the Seahawks should be able to add a corner (outside, big nickel or slot) and a pass rusher with their first two picks if that’s the direction they want to go in.
Finally, here are the 22 players set to attend the draft this year:
Here are the 22 prospects scheduled to attend the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia: pic.twitter.com/nDaT6EGCMl
— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) April 13, 2017