Scott Pioli ranks the underclassmen
Either Daniel Jeremiah knows Scott Pioli, or we’ve just had validation that Sharrif Floyd could be a top ten pick. Jeremiah tweeted last week that an NFL executive had guaranteed Floyd would be drafted early. Yesterday Peter King interviewed Pioli and managed to get his top ten underclassmen. There were a few surprises. Here’s the list in order:
1. Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
2. Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
3. Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
4. Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
5. Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
6. Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
7. Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia)
8. Keenan Allen (WR, California)
9. Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
10. Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
No Damontre Moore or Sheldon Richardson. It’s an interesting list, but perhaps focused towards the 3-4 defense Pioli was scouting for before he got fired. Floyd would make a fine five technique while Johnathan Hankins is a classic space eater who takes up blocks but offers very little pass rush. Bjoern Werner and Jarvis Jones are capable of rushing the edge in the 3-4, in fact Werner could play end or outside linebacker. Sheldon Richardson looks like an ideal fit for 4-3 and you have to believe it’s the main reason he isn’t part of the list. But maybe we have to start considering Floyd — with his massive upside — as the #1 defensive tackle in this class?
For the offense it’s a surprise to see Eddie Lacy that high but there’s every reason to believe he will be an effective running back at the next level. All being well he should be the first runner off the board. Pioli took Jonathan Baldwin in round one so it’s not too surprising to see he ranks Keenan Allen highly. Personally I think, like Baldwin, he’s only worth a second or third round grade. Gavin Escobar ranked as the top tight end above Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert is a big headline, but even more striking is that he’s in the top ten at all. He’s a thoroughly modern tight end — big, fast, gets downfield. He offers no blocking qualities but he’ll be a pass catching force. There’s every chance he could work his way into the first or early second round.
We’ve talked a lot about how unpredictable this draft is going to be and Pioli’s list is another great example of that. Last week Desmond Trufant was an expected third round pick. Tony Pauline quoted league sources that he’d be a first round lock. Now several other members of the media are falling over themselves trying to claim they knew all along. It was a surprise, there was a tone of surprise in Pauline’s Tweet. It was just the latest chapter in a story that’s going to keep us guessing right up to April 25th. This will be the hardest draft in years to call.
Whatever your view of the players listed or Pioli as a talent evaluator, it’s a great insight into how teams might be looking at this draft class. And it might indicate while the likes of Dee Milliner and Sharrif Floyd are unlikely options for the Seahawks at #25, maybe it isn’t completely impossible after all that a player like Sheldon Richardson or Zach Ertz comes into range?
Who is Courtney Gardner?
Apparently he’s one of the biggest draft sleepers in the 2013 class.
Again I refer to Tony Pauline — the quintessential draft insider — had this to say about Gardner today on his blog:
“The name making the rounds in the scouting community as one of the biggest sleepers at the receiver position is Courtney Gardner of Sierra College. The 6-foot, 3-inch/220lb pass catcher was expected to play for Oklahoma in 2013 but opted for the NFL draft after academic “difficulties”. We hear scouts have been raving about the physical skills Gardner brings to the field. Besides his large frame the big pass catcher also has the speed (10.7 sec in the 100 meters) to match. Even college coaches in the area are awed by his ability on the field but focusing at the task at hand seems to be an issue.”
I managed to find the video below for some highlight footage. The quality is awful, but it gives you an idea of his on-field talent. His stock will be pretty limited given he never even left the JUCO ranks, but he might be one to keep an eye on. Meanwhile Pauline also had some pretty interesting information on Ziggy Ansah: “We are now hearing Ansah is a definite mid-first round choice and should be selected anywhere between picks 14-to-18.”
I don’t like Wednesday’s
Wednesday is mock draft day on Seahawks Draft Blog — and I want to keep pumping out different scenarios. I wouldn’t ever try to fool anyone into thinking my mocks are any great insight into what will actually happen. I just want to create debate, present options and see how this thing shakes out. If I did the same prediction every week, I’d be trying to tell you I knew what was going to happen. And nobody knows that. So we’ll keep coming up with different ideas.
The problem is, the draft this year is pretty confusing. It just looks so wide open. My suspicion is that the Seahawks are going to have an unexpected player fall into their direction. Maybe more than one. And if that happens, they still might pick a guy like Khaseem Greene anyway and get another D grade from Mel Kiper. It could be one of those drafts. Again.
There’s a clear need to add a pass rusher or two — will the first round of the draft fill that need? We could see 7-8 defensive lineman leave the board before the #25 pick. Maybe more. So unless they trade up or turn to free agency, the Seahawks could be picking through the remains of a defensive line carcass. So what is the second or third options? A receiver? Tight end? Linebacker?
Every now and again little pieces of information come out — such as the sudden league-wide interest in Sharrif Floyd or Desmond Trufant. You peel back the layers and learn more. But even then, you’re really only scratching the surface.
Whatever happens the Seahawks are going to get a good player at #25. This is a better draft class than maybe most people expected going into the new college season. The hard part is working out what the Seahawks — a team that appears to take pride in thinking outside of the box — is going to do next.
We’ll have another go tomorrow.
Jordan Hill could be one to watch
The three technique position is difficult to judge. If you look over the last few years, so many players have been drafted in round one and it hasn’t worked out for whatever reason. And then you have Geno Atkins — the best three technique in the league — going in round four of the draft. Henry Melton was also a fourth round pick. Darnell Dockett went in round three. So there’s no exact science to finding that elusive interior pass rusher.
The Seahawks can’t be too cute given their extreme need at the position. The roster has developed quicker than anyone expected and finding a pass rush this off-season could be the difference between being winners or merely contenders in 2013.
Having said that, you can’t force the issue. And picking 25th overall makes it difficult to say, “we’ll solve this problem in round one of the draft’. They might have to look seriously at free agency and get the cheque book out. Or they might have to search for that next mid-round steal. If they can find a franchise quarterback in round three, why not a good, pass-rushing defensive tackle?
Out of all the players I’ve looked at so far, Penn State’s Jordan Hill is one of the players to keep an eye on in those mid-to-late rounds.
So what does he do well?
He’s 6-0 and 295lbs and plays with good leverage. If he gets a sniff of a gap he often takes advantage, using his speed to get into the backfield. In a 1v1 match-up he holds his own in the run game, holding his position with surprising power at the point of attack even against top offensive line opposition such as Wisconsin.
Hill’s a fighter — a relentless bundle of energy who defined his teams attitude last season. He chases outside of the tackle box, doesn’t give up on plays and often executes via the second effort. In the Senior Bowl he struggled a bit to generate pressure against a double team, but it was testament that the lineman even in that environment were consistently locking onto him and trying to shut him down. Although he didn’t challenge the quarterback against the double team, he more than held his own and managed to hold position. The Seahawks don’t have enough players on that defensive line right now that warrant a double team.
He doesn’t flash a great bull rush and he could do a better job finishing — his closing burst is average and when he gets into the backfield sometimes, he pressures rather than finishes. His hand use is adequate but not exactly aggressive, while sometimes he takes too long to shed blocks. On the other hand he’s shown an effective lunge to avoid contact, a nice swim move and he’s agile enough to beat a man with a quick first step and break free.
There’s very little injury concern here and he’s an exemplary character off the field. At a time when Penn State needed warriors, Hill stepped up to the mark.
I don’t expect him to be the next great pass rushing three technique. It’s one of the most difficult positions to grade. Take away the sheer importance of the quarterback position and projecting three techniques might be the hardest thing to do in the draft. There really does seem to be a ‘born to do it’ type aspect to it. Even a guy like Gerald McCoy — who looked like the most perfect three technique you’ll find — hasn’t played up to the extreme quality he showed at Oklahoma. You kind of need to be made a little differently. Be edgy.
Hill might be restricted to a nickel role at the next level, working on passing downs and using his agility to create pressure. Even so, I’d still consider taking a shot on the guy. He’s a baller and the type that might just surprise you at the next level. If he can try and get a little stronger in the upper body and work on his closing speed, there’s no reason why he can’t find a home in the NFL and feature on early downs.
Note – He wears #47 in the Penn State videos below and #97 in the Senior Bowl tape