I wanted to post a mock draft before the combine officially gets under way tomorrow (work outs begin on Saturday). I’ll make an update next Wednesday when it’s all finished. I suspect that a great deal won’t change but there are several prospects who can help or hinder their stock.
Robert Quinn is one of those guys. He’s getting a good press at the moment largely because Mike Mayock is talking up his 2009 tape (which admittedly is impressive). However, he hasn’t played for a year. A striking performance will pump his stock back towards the top ten range, but anything less than that and the concerns may surface. I suggested a fall in last week’s mock and that’s still a possibility.
There’s an opportunity for prospects like Ryan Williams or Mikel LeShoure to push themselves up the board by running strongly. Several pass rushers can impress with a good work out. Perhaps the player I’ve highlighted the most on this blog is Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith – he can confirm a top 10-15 grade over the next few days.
So what about the Seahawks pick this week? It’s changed again as we continue to review different options. More on that in a moment.
I was going to post a second round projection here but opted against it. I looked across the picks and just felt it was too convoluted. Trying to project the order of the top 64 prospects is like trying to pick the lottery numbers. You end up basing judgements entirely on needs. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a second round compilation in future, but I don’t want to put something out there I didn’t feel was worthy at this stage.
However, here are some of the prospects (in no particular order) that I considered would be off the board before #57:
Ryan Mallett, Muhammed Wilkerson, Mikel LeShoure, Ryan Williams, Quinton Carter, Rahim Moore, Martez Wilson, Titus Young, Drake Nevis, Rashad Carmichael, Jonathan Baldwin, Derek Sherrod, Aaron Williams, Jarvis Jenkins, Dontay Moch, Cortez Allen, Rodney Hudson, Christian Ballard, Davon House and Ben Ijalana.
I was undecided on a handful of prospects. Obviously some of these names will rise or fall and others will come into contention. What I take out of this is the 22-32 range in round one isn’t a great deal stronger (if at all) than a good half of round two.
So what about this week’s pick at #25…
Jabal Sheard isn’t even someone I’ve had in round one before. I’ve long viewed him as a very solid round two pick having enjoyed an impressive 2010 season on a largely disappointing Pittsburgh team.
For me there are two areas of strength in the bottom end of round one: defensive end/pass rusher and offensive tackle. We could see the 21-32 region dominated by those two positions. I remain unconvinced that right tackle will be a serious consideration for the Seahawks at #25, but clearly improving their interior offensive line would be welcome should a prospect like Mike Pouncey last until #25 (which I think is highly unlikely).
Out of the prospects potentially available that could be drafted, my favorite offensive tackle would be Derek Sherrod. Anthony Castonzo is a finesse player who I’m not convinced would suite the right hand side of the line. His struggles with leverage don’t translate to a dominating run blocker. Gabe Carimi is limited in that I don’t feel confident he could play left tackle well enough should Russell Okung suffer further injuries. Sherrod could work as a credible run blocker and has the lateral speed/agility to play the blind side if required.
It’s still a luxury for a position that doesn’t contain a high end value, watches the quarterbacks front view, gets a lot of tight end support and isn’t generally drafted that often in the first round.
We’ve long discussed whether the team will value LEO pass rushers highly enough to draft one in round one. Seattle found production from Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock in 2010, although most of their pressure (and sacks) came when the defense used a blitz package. Not relying on the blitz to create pressure will significantly boost the team’s defensive production.
I still think bolstering the interior (NT, 3-tech) and left end (5-tech) positions will help create better one-on-one match ups on the edge for the LEO, but I cannot rule out the team falling for a talented pass rusher if they stay at #25.
Sheard looks bigger than his size suggests (6-4, 260lbs). He’s capable of holding up against the run – an under rated quality for the smaller LEO right end. You’re not going to see the blistering speed of a Robert Quinn off the edge, but Sheard has a much greater repertoire of moves and he’s a notch faster than the likes of Brooks Reed and Ryan Kerrigan.
I chose Sheard instead of Justin Houston for that greater ability against the run and due to Houston’s reliance on edge speed. He’s a better technician and that will help as a rookie coming up against assured veteran lineman. Houston can’t be ignored here – he has a good skill set for the 4-3 scheme and he’s got the size and quicks for the LEO. His run defense and inability to mix things up could count against him, but he should find a home in round one.
Is it a wildcard? Sure. I like Sheard enough to put him in this bracket. Can he run well enough at the combine to justify this level of faith? We’ll find out on Monday when the defensive lineman and linebackers run through drills.
It’s still a chore to have the Seahawks passing on Ryan Mallett, someone who I believe deserves a lot more credit than he’s getting. Out of this quarterback class, he’s probably the most ready to start from day one and in fairness I think that would still be the case even if Andrew Luck had declared.
However, we all know the character concerns by now and how different teams react to them. When I look at the ‘all-in’ slogan of this regime and the way it’s being set up – can I see Mallett as the focal point of the Pete Carroll era? It doesn’t seem like a logical fit. Maybe I’ll be wrong there – part of me hopes that I am because I rate the guy higher than most.