An aggressive move more likely this year?
When Daniel Jeremiah tweeted the following yesterday…
One junior player generating a ton of buzz is Florida DT Sharrif Floyd. Had one high ranking exec guarantee he’d go top 10.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 24, 2013
… I found it pretty disheartening.
Pete Carroll’s been pretty open (again) about the teams biggest need this off-season. It’s refreshing honesty. He’s only stating the obvious of course, because everyone can see the pass rush needs an upgrade. But at least he’s avoiding the usual cloak and dagger approach taken by many Head Coaches.
Sharrif Floyd is extremely athletic, he has a ton of potential. He has the flexibility to work in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. I can totally see him going within the top-15 picks, although the top-10 might be a stretch based on positional need. The thing is, until yesterday most people assumed he’d last a little longer than that. At least until the #25 overall pick.
Presumably he’s going to be an addition to the defensive tackles already going early? Surely it’s not realistic to expect Sheldon Richardson or Star Lotulelei to fall dramatically enough to make it to #25? Or even into the #19-#24 range where a small move up the board would be manageable?
Sure, there’s some concern about Richardson. He had to play in the JUCO ranks due to academic ineligibility. According to Scouts Inc, “Mental capacity and maturity level are being closely investigated by NFL scouts.” He was also suspended for a game in 2012, according to Edward Aschoff, “Because he missed a class multiple times and refused to go through the punishment given to him for missing the class.”
Nick Fairley had similar red flags hanging over him in 2011, but still went #13 overall. I guess the three-technique position isn’t made for choir boys. You want attitude, a mean streak, to have that edge. It has to be natural. Darnell Dockett is the player he is because of the person he is. It comes with the territory.
The concerns over Richardson could keep him out of the top ten, but all the way to #25? It almost certainly won’t happen.
Tennessee, Carolina, New Orleans, Dallas (Jay Ratliff was arrested this week) and Minnesota would all surely consider drafting a defensive tackle. It starts getting expensive if you want to consider trading above Dallas at #18 — even more so when you talk about the others.
Once Lotulelei, Floyd and Richardson leave the board — there’s really only Sylvester Williams as a pass rushing defensive tackle with first round potential. Johnathan Hankins can’t do it. Jonathan Jenkins is a big nose tackle. I think it’s too early for Kawann Short (whose inconsistent motor is a big turn off) and Datone Jones is a nice, penetrative defensive lineman but he just looks too slim to be an every down tackle. He’s a light looking 280lbs. He might be better suited in the Greg Scruggs and Jason Jones role. Can he put on another 10lbs and stick? He’s been as light as 260-270lbs in college.
Tony Pauline sums up the issue with Jones: “Teams loved the play of Datone Jones during Senior Bowl practices but think he won’t be selected early in the draft. The feeling is he has no real position at the next level and is a hard schematic fit. Right now most say third round.”
With a likely rush on defensive ends also very possible (Damontre Moore, Bjoern Werner etc could all be top-ten picks), at #25 the Seahawks could be making a decision over the seventh or eighth best defensive lineman.
Looking back at 2011, I think they were determined to draft an offensive lineman. Carroll wanted to improve the run game, he drafted John Moffitt after James Carpenter and then added Robert Gallery in free agency. Carpenter was the fifth lineman off the board after Tyron Smith, Nate Solder, Anthony Castonzo and Danny Watkins. Castonzo wasn’t a good fit at right tackle or guard, but I think the other three names plus Carpenter could’ve made up Seattle’s tipping point at the position. No Carpenter at #25? Maybe they look elsewhere, perhaps draft Jabaal Sheard?
This is the point I’m getting at here. What is Seattle’s tipping point this year? Who has to leave the board before you either move up or move on?
John Schneider recently compared trading up in the draft to spending big in free agency. In order to improve the pass rush effectively, the Seahawks might have to do one or the other.
Seattle got agonisingly close to the final four this year. Going into next season without the final pieces of the puzzle appears almost unthinkable. If there’s a time to be aggressive, is that time now? You offset that by looking at all the teams over the years that moved away from their philosophy chasing the dream. A calculated approach has worked so far, changing that plan could backfire. In a bad way.
This is the crucial dilemma facing the Seahawks. Clearing the last hurdle might be the toughest challenge so far.
I don’t expect any big moves up the board in round one, involving future first round picks. It’s worth remembering though, that this is a front office that spent a third round pick and took a second round hit on Charlie Whitehurst. You can look at that in two ways. One — being aggressive didn’t work in that instance. Two — this is a team that is prepared to go big to fill a key need. At the time, long term stability at quarterback was the big need. Now it’s the pass rush.
We all expect Schneider to cherish his picks and rightly so given the teams success rate in the draft so far. I’d still argue a modest move up the board this year is more likely than any other so far. Last year the Patriots of all people traded up, searching for that crucial pass rusher. A leap from #27 to #21 cost Bill Belichick a third round pick. Theoretically a jump from #25 to #18 or #19 would come with a similar price.
It might not be enough to get at the top defensive lineman but if there’s a guy there at #18, #19 or #20 — you’re looking at a third round pick to get it done. And regardless of what happened with last year’s third rounder, it’s a small price to pay to put the pass rush on track.
Chiefs not re-signing Branden Albert?
A twitter account called ‘NFL Philosophy‘ claiming to be a former NFL front office employee put out the following Tweet today:
I don’t mean to be a tease but I’m not a reporter. So some stuff you have to trust me on. KC’s not re-signing Albert.
— NFL Philosophy (@NFLosophy) January 24, 2013
There’s no way of testing the legitimacy of this ‘report’. We have no idea how well sourced this guy is, or if he truly did work in the NFL. His Twitter bio reads: “This account will only last until I’m back in the league.” I accept that in highlighting this tweet I might just be endorsing a classic internet deception. There are plenty of people on the internet claiming to be in the know. Those acting anonymously will always be looked at with a degree of suspicion.
At least until they’re proven right.
It’s not a ridiculous suggestion by any means. Albert will expect to be paid like a starting left tackle. Although the Chiefs have an incredible $62.995m in cap room this year, they’re not at liberty to spend it. What if Andy Reid just doesn’t rate Albert?
They don’t have to draft Luke Joeckel with the #1 pick if he walks. They have the #2 pick in round two. They have the freedom to go after a free agent tackle like Jake Long. If they do like Joeckel enough to draft him with the first pick, they can always draft a quarterback in round two. Or even trade back into the first.
In fact we could see a lot of movement on day one if the quarterbacks don’t rush off the board. If Kansas City (Joeckel), Arizona (Eric Fisher) and Buffalo (pick anyone) don’t draft quarterbacks in the top ten, they could look to trade up.
The problem is — what kind of value will be on offer to make such a deal? Tampa Bay traded from #36 to #31 last year by simply swapping fourth round picks with Denver. You’d have to be pretty desperate to trade down with that offer on the table. There won’t be a big drop off between a pick in the 20’s and the top of round two which might encourage some teams to take any value.
Free agency can’t come soon enough (it starts March 12th) so we can stop speculating and start to piece together what teams might do when the draft begins.
Zach Ertz remains intriguing
The real value in terms of pass-catchers is likely to come in the late first or early second. DeAndre Hopkins deserves to be a round one pick. Robert Woods is criminally underrated and not getting anything like enough attention. Markus Wheaton is also a better player than he gets credit for.
I keep seeing Keenan Allen and Justin Hunter as top-25 picks, but where’s the evidence for this on tape? I just don’t see it and expect both to be available in round two or even round three. Terrance Williams looks set for a place in the second round. And there’s going to be guys like Tyler Eifert and Gavin Escobar in the mix too.
Yet the player I’m watching the most tape of at the moment is Stanford’s Zach Ertz.
I know the Seahawks need pass rush help. Part of me hopes that can be addressed in free agency to set-up the possibility of Ertz being a first round option. If they’re able to go out and get a Randy Starks and a Cliff Avril or Osi Umenyiora, then bring it on. I’m not a big fan of chasing needs in free agency, the previous regime in Seattle did it way too much. But I am a fan of drafting Zach Ertz.
The way I see it, it’s very difficult to take the top off a defense and throw in behind — exploiting the deep speed of a receiver. Only a few guys can do this. The best receivers in the NFL right now are mostly big guys who can run, or at least big guys that create mismatches. When I watched the Seahawks last year, there seemed to be an awful lot of jump ball situations, challenging the receiver to exploit single coverage and make a play.
Drafting a smaller, speedy receiver like Robert Woods, Markus Wheaton or even DeAndre Hopkins might not suit this offense (although I think Hopkins plays above his size). Sidney Rice is 6-4 and 202lbs. Golden Tate is 5-10 and 202lbs. Doug Baldwin is 5-10 and 189lbs. Apart from Rice’s height, there’s not a great deal of size there. I think the Seahawks would welcome a bigger, possession style receiver who can still get around the field and make athletic plays.
That’s where Ertz comes in to play.
Although he’s listed as a tight end, he played everywhere for Stanford. Out wide, in the slot, at the line of scrimmage. Whoever drafts him should use him in exactly the same way. Linebackers will struggle to cover him as the third receiver. He can work as the #2 alongside Rice. He can play as the #1 or #2 tight end. You could even run sets with all three of Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy and Zach Ertz on the field in a heavy package, enhancing both the running game and play action.
As you can see with this deep completion against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, he can get downfield.
Drafting Ertz wouldn’t be so much grabbing a replacement for McCoy as the #2 tight end. It’d be more a case of adding a hybrid TE/WR who can act as a dynamic possession receiver. Not many 6-6, 252lbs players move around a field like Ertz and possess his level of catching ability, consistency and playmaking quality.
He might not be there by the #25 pick. Unfortunately I suspect he won’t get past Chicago at #20. If the Seahawks can find a solution to their pass rushing woes in free agency, at least they’d be able to give drafting Ertz some serious thought.