Updated mock draft: 25th January

January 25th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

 

Regulars will know the score by now. The idea of these weekly mocks is not to make a firm prediction as to what will happen on April 26th, rather it’s an opportunity to look at possibilities and talk about several different options. A lot of people are going to scratch their head at this week’s pick for Seattle, but I’ll try to explain.

Firstly, I suspect the Seahawks will draft for defense in round one. It appears the only situation I can see where they deviate from this plan is if someone makes a surprising fall or having studied Brock Osweiler since his shock decision to declare, they believe he’s worthy of a top-15 grade. If neither of those situations materialise, then even with a mediocre defensive class I think that’s the direction they’ll go. Pete Carroll has been fairly open about where he needs improvement and the way he highlighted greater speed among the front seven, I think that was a big hint as to what the Seahawks might do in round one.

He also mentioned other areas, such as wanting greater depth at cornerback and a ‘touchdown maker’ on offense if one was available. Even so, adding to the front seven makes a lot of sense given the team’s glaring lack of pass rush during the last two years and the seemingly total reliance on Chris Clemons to create pressure. They need more edge speed at linebacker and players that can cause greater issues on the blitz. They need a dynamic three-technique among the interior. They need at least one more complimentary edge rusher to replace Raheem Brock on third downs and obvious passing situations.

When compiling this latest mock, I considered a number of prospects – some more obvious than others. Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama) has the kind of size this front office has looked for at corner and he grades very highly in run support. However, his technique in press coverage is poor and I’ll never forget the way he was abused by Ryan Mallett (understandable) and John Brantley (more concerning) where his weaknesses as a cover corner were exploited. He’s too stiff, he often plays the man rather than the ball and generally I think he’s pretty overrated.

I understand why people want to avoid the cornerback position this early, because the Seahawks uncovered two new starters this year in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. It’s worth noting, however, the injuries Seattle sustained at the position last year and the likely departure of Marcus Trufant. Browner will be 28-years-old when the 2012 season begins and we saw with Mike Williams how a player can regress slightly after appearing from nowhere. Let’s not forget that according to PFP, Browner gave up the 7th most passing yards in the NFL. Carroll wants competition and the attitude among the secondary is having a huge impact on the defense. Adding another young prospect who can further add to the team’s identity might be high on the agenda, especially if they value Kirkpatrick as high as a lot of other people do.

I also looked at Devon Still (DT, Penn State), Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina), Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois) and Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina). Still showed flashes of excellence last year, but I’m not convinced he’s a consistent interior penetrater who can provide the missing piece at three-technique. It may be that he’s valued more by teams looking to move him to the five-tech, although I paired him with Philadelphia (a 4-3 team) in this mock. Brown is definitely an option for the Seahawks, offering pure athleticism at linebacker and an ability to move from sideline-to-sideline making plays. Mercilus remains a bit of a mystery having had the chance to study his UCLA tape this week and I don’t expect the team to draft a LEO specialist in round one this year. Ingram causes a lot of heated debate on this blog, I stil maintain that finding a home for him in this scheme is a dilemma I cannot solve.

So this brought me to a new direction, a player I’ve always been fond of but didn’t expect to get first round consideration due to a lack of size. A significant lack of size.

Sean Spence is 5-11 and 228lbs according to the Senior Bowl numbers posted by Tony Pauline. In truth, he probably played most of his career at Miami closer to 220lbs. He’s basically a strong safety playing at linebacker, but it’s what Spence achieved in spite of his size that intrigues me for Seattle – even in round one. The Seahawks are looking for speed at linebacker, but not the kind of speed that Aaron Curry brings to the table. They want a guy who’s capable of blitzing sharply into the backfield and making a splash play, but they also want someone with the recognition skills, coverage ability and discipline to be more than a reckless heat-seeking missile who makes costly decisions.

There are obvious limitations due to the lack of size and although Spence is generally a sharp tackler in the open field, he’s also had a few missed opportunities because he has such a modest frame. If he was asked to play the SAM I think he’d struggle taking on bigger tight ends in coverage, but the WILL places most emphasis on speed and being able to react to different situations. The way the Seahawks stack up their front line with size (Bryant, Mebane and Branch) may afford for a slightly smaller yet faster linebacker. A further way to compensate could be to build up the size at the MIKE, potentially by signing someone in the mould of Dont’a Hightower to provide that real menacing brutality and run support. He does get engulfed sometimes by bigger lineman, but his speed will be a big factor when blitzing and he’s tougher than the 5-11 frame suggests. He’s one of the best coverage linebackers I’ve scouted.

Russ Lande at the Sporting News gave me the confidence to make this projection when he made Spence a first round pick in his latest mock. He also named him, “The best linebacker to come out of Miami since Ray Lewis.” Here are some of the post-Lewis linebackers to leave Miami and join the NFL: Dan Morgan, Jonathan Vilma, DJ Williams, Rocky McIntosh, Jon Beason and Tavares Gooden. Indeed Vilma has comparable size (two inches taller, but the same weight) and ran a 4.54 at the combine. Spence should top that. I asked Lande for further information given the high praise and he told me he believed Spence was an “elite” linebacker prospect with the ability to play the WILL or even the MIKE in the 4-3.

There’s absolutely no doubt that this would be an unorthodox pick and one that would probably come with widespread criticism from the rest of the league. Yet Seattle’s front office has been anything but conventional so far and to a large extent it’s worked. If they were just looking for big, fast players – Aaron Curry would still be on the roster. Very few people expected James Carpenter to be a first round pick, while the likes of Kris Durham and KJ Wright where considered suprising selections at the time. They’re looking for difference makers, impact players, guys who will buy into the system and lead by example. Quite aside from Spence’s athletic qualities, he’s also been the heartbeat of Miami’s defense for a few years. Reports say he’s a coaches dream off the field – dedicated to his craft, a film room junkie and a student of the game.

As with last week’s projection, there could be an opportunity here to move down the board and add some other picks before making a choice like this. I don’t deal with trades, but it’s worth baring that in mind before you send that venomous email and ask why Quinton ‘I’ll take the next play off’ Coples isn’t the pick instead. If the Seahawks really are looking for speed in the front seven this is a player to keep in mind and don’t underestimate how high he could be taken. At the top of this article, you will find 2010 tape of Spence’s performance vs Clemson. Onto this week’s mock…

Updated first round mock draft

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
The Colts are cleaning house to make room for the Andrew Luck era. They might as well start talking about a contract now.
#2 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
The Rams have to take Kalil, he’s too good to pass up. There’s enough depth at receiver to wait until round two.
#3 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
Minnesota need to protect their investment in Christian Ponder. They’d love to have Kalil, but Reiff is a decent compromise.
#4 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
I’m still not completely convinced by this, but Cleveland does need a dynamic playmaker on offense.
#5 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
Sure, they have big needs at linebacker and corner. However, Richardson is an elite prospect who will transform an offense.
#6 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
This would be a foolish reach but Shanahan wants his guy. If Tannehill really is going to go in the top-15 as speculated, Washington is the obvious choice.
#7 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
Corner’s traditionally don’t go in the top-five and Patrick Peterson was the exception last year. Claiborne would be a nice get for the Jags.
#8 Courtney Upshaw (OLB, Alabama)
Miami needs an outside linebacker and Upshaw is doing enough at the Senior Bowl to warrant this kind of projection.
#9 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
A complete lack of defensive line talent could push a raw youngster like Brockers into this range.
#10 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
The Bills need to boost both lines and could consider Justin Blackmon too. However, taking Martin would be a smart move.
#11 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
I’m not a huge fan based on the tape, but he’s doing as much as anyone to promote his stock in Mobile.
#12 Sean Spence (OLB, Miami)
A titanic reach? Or just what the Seahawks are looking for? More speed in the front seven is the aim and Spence could be the ideal WILL.
#13 Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State)
Someone is going to fall in love with this guy’s skill set. Arizona should dump Kevin Kolb and draft Osweiler.
#14 Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
Elite coverage skills, the concern comes with the off-field issues. He needs to prove to team’s he’s matured in the last 12 months.
#15 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
The Eagles need a linebacker, but Andy Reid hates spending early picks on the position. Still could be an option here.
#16 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
Incredible production in college but has much changed in 12 months when he would’ve likely been a mid-to-late first rounder?
#17 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Slightly over rated, a technician who looks great on the move but lacks elite power at the point of attack.
#18 Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina)
The best receiver in this class as far as I’m concerned. He could end up being the complete package and a sound replacement for Vincent Jackson.
#19 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Electric receiver who would quickly become Jay Cutler’s BFF. Capable of having a big impact quickly.
#20 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
They need to improve their edge rush and Mercilus led the nation in 2011 for sacks. A hard player to work out.
#21 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Over rated corner who’s great in run support but struggles with press coverage. Not as good as advertised.
#22 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Cleveland needs to keep adding playmakers. Floyd has his issues, but put him on that offense with RGIII and it’ll be much improved.
#23 Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
Athletic linebacker who moves well and could go higher than this. As with all the UNC seniors, his play dropped off towards the end the year.
#24 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
His 2011 performance warrants a higher pick, but positional value could lead to a slight fall.
#25 Luke Kuelchy (LB, Boston College)
He’s under sized but what a tackler – he’ll get close to 100 tackles in year one. Has several limitations.
#26 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
The Texans might struggle to re-sign Mario Williams, so could look elsewhere for further additions to their growing defense.
#27 Peter Konz (C, Wisconsin)
Top end interior lineman who could be the best in this class. Stuck out on a talented Badgers line and no surprise he turned pro.
#28 Melvin Ingram (OLB, South Carolina)
He’s a tweaner who best suits playing off the edge in the 3-4. This would be a good fit.
#29 Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
Sanu can line up anywhere and make plays. San Francisco use a lot of gimmicks and need a sure-handed catcher.
#30 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
In recent years Baltimore have capitalised on players falling into this range to get value. Coples could drop into the late first.
#31 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
Big, brutal linebacker who eats up run plays. Would be a great addition to New York’s defense.
#32 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
He plays like a runaway train – unbalanced, a bit out of control, yet with plenty of power and speed.

65 Responses to “Updated mock draft: 25th January”

  1. Craig says:

    As per usual, your mock was insightful and analyzed a new player. The main thing I’ve taken from your mocks is that one thing is apparent: the best value that the Hawks could get from this draft is either in terms of trading up to get a high quality player like RGIII (if he suffers a slight fall) or by trading down and getting a few more picks (along with an under the radar, defensive player). If they stay at 11/12, I will be very disappointed.
    Also, would Mario Williams, who is unlikely to resign with Houston, be a good fit for Seattle?
    Thanks, and keep the articles coming!

  2. MattH says:

    I feel like I’m watching Earl Thomas playing around the LOS. He’s got that same sneakiness that almost makes Thomas invisible to blockers sometimes. He’s got more meat though definitely. That’s an interesting combination. He certainly seems like he knows what he’s doing when making the tackles which definitely belies his relatively slight frame. I don’t know if I see this as such a high pick, but you know I can see this guy doing some pass rushing and coverage for sure which is what we’re looking for right? Certainly an intriguing early second pick especially if he’s such a well-rounded player off the field as you say.

    On another thread I love this blog for the off the map prospects you keep pointing out. It’s the main reason I read here daily. Keep up the good work!

  3. SHawn says:

    I have been intrigued by Spence in the 2nd, and if his stock keeps moving he just might be the pick in the 1st. But I think even if he does move into the 1st rd, we would be able to trade down to around 23 with the Lions ( a move I have been touting for a few weeks now) and he should be there.

    And I still think its not outside the realm of possibility that Richardson falls to 12 due to a decreased positional value for RBs. No one thought Shaun Alexander would still be on the board at #19 twelve years ago either, and that was back when there were typically 4 or 5 RBs taken in the 1st every year. Now it seems like there are never any more than 2.

  4. YDB says:

    In addition to being undersized, Spence doesn’t appear (to my untrained eye) to play with any more game speed than Zach Brown. This seems like a strange pick to me considering Spence is leap frogging a player at his position (Brown) that is widely considered more talented. So, @Rob does Spence appear to be a better fit, or are there strong intangibles at play here…or both? Great job, and thanks for all the hard work you do compiling these.

  5. RJD says:

    This would be the worst.
    I’m sure he’s a good player but I wouldnt want them to reach on a linebacker that small.
    I’ll lose my lunch if Osweiler went to AZ.

  6. Rob says:

    Part of it is just considering other players, YDB, and we’ve had a look at Brown in a former projection. They’re both very realistic options for the Seahawks – similar skill sets. If I’m trying to justify this pick, I’d say there’s an intangible aspect, Spence is a little faster and Brown just mailed in the last few games at UNC (he wasn’t alone). Spence could’ve done the same at Miami, but didn’t. It’s perhaps an article to get into next week.

  7. Doug says:

    I don’t think so..

    “I think I’ll take the next play off” – Coples will be the pick.
    I think pro coaching and Pete will get him motivated.

    I actually think Pete has pushed this concept of this guys character in order to get him…

    hehe – I guess having 4 months to go, you have to list every player conceptually available.

  8. shams says:

    An undersized LB, yeesh. Let’s just re-sign Tatupu.

  9. Ryan says:

    what are the chances the Seahawks move to a 3 – 4 and sign Mario Williams as the OLB to bring pressure. I know we are hesitant of big FA signings and like to build through the draft but I cannot think of a better scenario. It will save our draft capital for a QB, allow for us to fix our biggest need on D and still continue to add young talent (Williams is only 27 I believe).

  10. Bill Bobaggins says:

    Just turned on the Senior Bowl practice and who’s one of the first guys that Mike Mayock mentions…Sean Spence. Says he’s very impressed with him and likes the way he “flies around.”

  11. Rob says:

    Doug – the mentality of this team is set up to ‘buy in’ and play with intensity. Coples has not shown the ability to do either. I think he’s one of the least likely picks for Seattle, especially considering he’s not a logical scheme. Where would he play in this defense? I can’t see it.

  12. YDB says:

    Thanks Rob. I appreciate the “wide net” approach taken on these mocks. It provides for better informed and more well rounded discussion.

  13. Craig says:

    Mayock on Spence:”Everyone talks about how small he is. He flies around, he’s got a violent disengagement. I like the kid.”

  14. jim J says:

    Rob- Since you picked a Linebacker, I would like to know more about the top 5 LBs available. Why not one of the LBs from Alabama? At least one if not both will be available.

    I hope when you get around to the backfield that you will also consider Mark Barron. Another safety could be handy in case of injury.

  15. Griffin says:

    Rob,

    With a projection of Arizona taking Osweiler…are you saying that you think it is likely?…or that they just SHOULD draft him? Because, quite frankly, I see that pick as likely as AZ deciding to give their pick away.

    I mean, they already have a young guy they like (not Kolb) and an expensive QB option that will likely be given more opportunities to start. Not to mention that it would likely get more heat as a bad pick than I would want if I were picking in AZ.

  16. Rob says:

    Jim J – Upshaw is off the board at #8 to Miami, but he’s the one player I’ve mocked multiple times to Seattle. Something about him screams out to me regarding this defense, even if he’s not an obvious fit. Hightower is a bigger guy, I think they want more speed rather than his skill set. As for Barron, really like the guy but he’s a first round pick and that’s one position Seattle won’t be spending a first rounder on. Good player, though.

    Griffin – I think it’s very possible Arizona will just cut ties with Kolb- he’s been a major disappointment. And while they’ve been trying to manipulate this issue since Warner retired (this staff inherited Leinart) they know they absolutely must find a guy they can commit to for the long haul. As neat and tidy as Skelton has been, I’m not sure they’ll make him the starter. We’ll see what happens, but for me Osweiler has a skill set worthy of a first round pick and Arizona have to be an option. They may well target Peyton.

  17. Daniel says:

    I really don’t think that the Seahawks will be interested in Osweiller, except perhaps in the later rounds come draft day. Carroll talked a lot about those Qb’s who had had an extreme amount of expirience because they had begun developeming as Qb’s from a very young age, and for variety of other reasons and that was part of the explanation as to why Qb’s is able to have succes early on. Osweiller is not one of them. He used to play reciever, before he subsequently became a QB and he is even leaving college early which we know is an option that Carroll isn’t that crazy about (see Mark Sanchez). If he is asked to play early, like all those Qb’s who is drafted in round 1 now, i really think this guy will be a bust.

    I believe Carroll will think that he can develope a guy like Cousins, instead of taking a chance on Osweiller in round 1. And if the Seahawks were to select Osweiller in round 1, I would personally be just as happy if they had used the 12th pick on Ponder the year before. I just simply don’t see this guy in round 1 :)

  18. jim J says:

    I think Courtney Upshaw LB could slide down to us. Trent Richardson could slide down. So could a great wide receiver, there will probably be 3-4 wide receivers drafted before the second round.

    Or we could move down and go for size, Dontai Poe DT at 350 pounds. Having a big DT that has to be double teamed should free up a DE to rush the QB.

  19. Nate Dogg says:

    I love the idea, but with as much emphasis as this FO has put on getting bigger/stronger/faster I can’t see Spence as their guy. Very interesting pick though, it’s fun to think about.

  20. Vin says:

    Man, that guy’s small. Like someone else said, he’s like Earl Thomas always at the LOS. I just fear that if he’s not taken out of the play by the line, the TE or FB will sure have a field day with him. If the Hawks target him, that fine, but I would be really disappointed if they got him @ 11/12 with other talents on the board. If they trade up for RG3, great. If they draft Upshaw or Richardson @ 11/12…awesome. But otherwise, I would like for the hawks to trade back.

    Hey Rob, how would you compare Spence to Malcolm Smith (I think thats his name)–the linebacker that would come in every once in awhile in what seemed to be a situational pass rusher role? I thought I read somewhere that he was a pretty fast LB also.

    Thanks

  21. Derek says:

    What are your thoughts on Keenan Robison from Texas. Obviously not an option in the first but in the second. He’s big, 6-3 240 and could play all three linebacker positions. Heard he has been doing really well at the senior bowl.

    Where do you think Upshaw would fit in this defense? I think there is quality depth at the WILL in this draft so we wouldn’t have to reach for one at #11. We could either trade back or choose a talent who falls at #11 (Upshaw/ Richardson/ Blackmon) and get a decent WILL with our second rounder. If Spence is there in the 2nd even better.

  22. Rob says:

    Vin – Smith is a less spectacular version of Spence. He’s 6-0, 226lbs – so virtually the same size. This is kind of why we have to look beyond the size, this team is going to be willing to use a smaller, spectacular athlete at the WILL.

    Derek – I’ve not studied Robinson much but I have some Texas tape saved so I’ll have a look. I spent the evening watching three Alabama games – Auburn (2010) and the two vs LSU (2011). I’ve come to the conclusion that the latest Upshaw will be drafted is #12 at Seattle. He’s going to be drafted in the top-12 picks, no doubt about it. The Seahawks would just have to use him at the line and make it work, fit him in somehow. I guess he’d be a very attack minded rush linebacker who plays a lot of snaps at the LOS. But Upshaw is the real deal.

  23. SHawn says:

    Glad to hear everyone talking about Upshaw. He has been #2 on my board for some time (behind Trent Richardson).

    I think with a little coaching, he has the speed and agility to be taught some decent cover skills, which is his one and only glaring weakness, and start at WILL right away. If we keep him, Hill could be used as depth at all 3 positions.

  24. FWBrodie says:

    Brock Osweiler = Josh Freeman

    Am I late to the party with this comp?

  25. Derek says:

    So Rob would in Bryant’s role or Clemons? Or take turns at both? I would love to take him at #12 and then a WILL backer in the second like Spence or Trevathan/Acho/ Robinson. Then maybe even Bruce Irvin in the third? What are your thoughts now on Irvin after the season. Where do you you think he fits? LEO only?

  26. Rob says:

    FWBrodie – I think they’re different players, but Osweiler could easily experience a similar rise up the board and have a similar introduction to the NFL.

    Derek – I think you play Upshaw at the WILL but as a real attacking threat up at the LOS, almost like a 3-4 OLB. Then on passing downs he plays DE instead of Bryant. Irvin for me is a R4 type guy you take a punt on and hope he works out. Really like the guy, but there are a lot of things working against him.

  27. Derek says:

    Forgot to put Upshaw in that sentence woops. I meant “would Upshaw play in Bryant’s role or Clemons?”

  28. Kip Earlywine says:

    I agree that Seattle will probably draft defense in the first round or two this year, which to me is a mistake. You could have talents like Jones, Blackmon, Miller, Martin, DeCastro, etc, all very realistically being there at #11/#12. In particular it would hurt to pass on Dwight Jones for a “meh” defensive 1st rounder. Jones is going to be very, very good, and you can never have too many stud WR.

    Spence is not a bad player, but the way I feel about linebackers is the same way many feel about right tackles- they have to be special to be worth considering in the first half of the first round. Seattle has a solid LB trio and some under-rated depth in McCoy. Would Spence be an impact addition to this defense? Does he provide something our defense didn’t have? The answer to those questions is an easy “no.” Which doesn’t make him a bad pick. He would make the team better. But would there are probably a half dozen offensive players who would have a far greater impact on the team as a whole. The feeling of reaching for a defensive player feels inevitable though. Its really a buzzkill for what could be a very exciting first round for us.

  29. Elias says:

    I can’t see it. Maybe because I see another undersized first round pick out of Miami who never worked out (Kelly Jennings). He’s fast but he’s seems too small and therefore a liability. Is that the unique characteristic this team is looking for? If we’re reaching at pick 12, then I think we would be better reaching for Vontaze Burfect. Now there is a guy with unique ability and passion and when he matures would serve this team well. Ouch!

  30. Peter says:

    Rob, first I like many am addicted to this website. I find myself checking at least 3 times a day! I just sat down for dinner and was shocked when K5 Sports just reported that Peyton Manning prefers either Arizona or Seattle if he is let go. Is there any truth to this? If he is healthy enough to play it seems like an ideal fit for Seattle. We would have a coach on the field in Manning to run the young team that JS and PC put together with all the offensive talent. Jackson could be a perfect backup option if anything where to happen to Peyton. Go Def with our first 2 picks and pickup the QB of the future in RD 3 (Cousins??) Learning from one of the all time greats?? Like I said I don’t know if there is any validity to Peyton showing interest in Seattle but it could be an ideal fit.

  31. Doug says:

    Hi Rob,

    With Coples upside of speed, strength, size, and length, he can play opposite (spell) Clemons, and Red can move inside. We have NO pass rush. We have a lot of large bodies though, and I think Pete can get imaginative with how he plays guys. I think this guy is the only scary DE in the bunch with all the tools.

    Attitudes can be adjusted, but you can’t make undersized players grow. Pete likes big guys, and has basically removed every undersized player on the team.

    Obviously, I am very hungry for an impact player on the DL edge, so I just drool over what this guy COULD bring. He has the tools, and I think the “boys” could bring it out of him.

  32. Griffin says:

    Rob,

    So I watched the tape and Spence did not jump out at me. He usually seemed close to the ball but that was about it. He seemed to shoot gaps alright except he usually seemed late in doing so and would bring the ballcarrier down from behind after he had been already slowed.
    Additionally, if we were to go after a coverage linebacker it would seem to me that we would want someone who could cover a TE (a weakness among last year’s LB trio) and he seems too small to be effective in that role.
    Also, how much of an upgrade would you consider him over Malcolm Smith? They are both small, fast linebackers, except we already have Smith. Do you think the difference in talent is worth a 1st round pick?

    One more thing, the scout that you cited that called Spence “the best since Ray Lewis” is kind of weird. His mock rates players quite strangely. For example, one of your favorites, courtney Upshaw, didn’t even make it into the 1st in his mock. That was one example that made me not hold his opinion very high.

  33. dave crockett says:

    Kip,

    I couldn’t have said it better m’friend. Bingo. If SEA stays at 11/12 I feel like the value will most likely be on offense. A trade back could help that. I just hope the team goes BPA rather than get fixated on defense. We know they can find defensive talent late.

  34. Griffin says:

    Rob,

    I looked more into the physical differences between Malcolm Smith and Spence and it seems to me that Smith would have the advantage. The following is a link to his proday

    http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2011/3/30/2081853/2011-nfl-draft-defense-on-display-at-west-coast-pro-days

    Says he did like 25 reps of the 225lb and ran 4.47 forty. I have a hard time thinking that Spence would be much faster than that.

    This brings me back to the previous point which is, Smith WAS NOT a high draft pick, and he is a very similar physical specimen, so what do you see in him that makes him a 1st round pick better than Smith (who we already have)?

    Also, I get the point of putting him in the mock…he’s fast and Carroll said he wanted to get faster. Combine this with the idea that you are trying to point out that the Seahawks might do something drastic in an attempt to improve their defense…but I just don’t see this happening.

    I just see them replacing Mike Williams with this pick and grabbing either a big or fast WR (Carroll loves size and speed) if they can’t get Upshaw or a QB that they rate highly enough to take in the 1st.

  35. David says:

    Hi Rob,

    I dont know if that was brought up before but i was reading Walterfootball and i came across this

    “University of Regina (Canada) defensive tackle Akiem Hicks landed on a number of teams’ radar at the East-West Shrine Game last week. In speaking to sources this week, a few teams have serious interest in Hicks. Those teams include the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks”

    have you done anything on him? whats your thoughts?

  36. Michael (CLT) says:

    Just cannot seem to get myself behind any linebacker or end player in round one. They are all ugly sisters. Take an offensive lineman or a CB. We may not think we need them… which we most likely will need them in spades.

  37. Christon says:

    Thanks Rob for your thought-provoking mock.

    I don’t see Spence taken until at least the 3rd round though. Don’t get me wrong he does look fast on tape and Pete wants speed at that position, but I think he would be the linebacker equivalent of Darrious Heyward-Bey if he went in this range. I don’t think he has great instincts, and he misses on way too many arm tackles at that level which would translate to even more at the NFL level.

    There aren’t a ton of interesting guys in the 10-15 range. I like J. Martin, Q. Couples, and K Wright but besides that…it seems like a semi vanilla draft class after the first couple of play makers are taken.

  38. Turp says:

    Kip, right on with that analysis. Offense is clearly the value at 11/12 this year, and that’s our best chance to have an impact pick. I’m sold on Osweiler…so clearly that pick will not happen :) .

    Great off-the-map pick Rob. Your evaluation of what the Hawks would want a guy like Spence seem pretty legitimate to me. I do agree with the one counter-argument for drafting Spence [from Doug] which is that PC likes drafting big bodies and not undersized players – can you comment on that?

  39. Turp says:

    *Actually* I guess you already answered that question in your mock. Nevermind!

  40. Hawkspur says:

    Kip – apparently the Seahawks have met with Jones at the Senior Bowl. I agree that unless they can get a top defensive talent that receiver should be the pick at 12

  41. andy says:

    A few of you hit the nail on the head already! Why on earth use the top pick on a Malcolm Smith type clone when you already have him on the roster for dirt cheap. I only see them using this pick on a QB, 3 tech or a DE.

  42. Rob says:

    Elias – he’s smaller in stature but for the WILL that’s not such a big issue. When you look beyond the size, I think you’ll see there are a lot of positives in a guy like this. Vontaze Burfict is not going to land in Seattle – too many of the same negatives experienced with Curry on the field and the guy’s a complete head-case. You can’t trust a guy like Burfict.

    Peter – Jason La Canfora speculated that Manning would entertain a move to Arizona or Seattle. I think like you it’d be an ideal situation. You have Manning for anywhere between 1-3 years and it buys you time to find ‘the guy’ to replace him, even if that means putting the training wheels on a prospect. That’s the long term benefit, but the short team benefit is even a 75% healthy Peyton Manning makes Seattle an instant contender in the NFC.

    Doug – I just think it’s a leap of faith with Coples and doesn’t go with what this team has drafted so far. They’ve looked for guys with a chip on their shoulder, with a point to prove – they’ve avoided players who coast along in games and don’t max out their talent. Coples is so lethargic, he runs hot and cold like a tap in a bad motel. For all his physical potential, it’s no good if he’s ‘not in the mood’ and coaches aren’t always miracle workers. I keep coming back to UNC’s 2011 season where the guy was being spelled out of 40% of the team’s snaps. Why? If he’s such a unique talent, why is he on the sideline for first down on the 50? I’d run a mile from guys like Coples in round one.

    Griffin – I find I agree with Lande 50% of the time. He doesn’t rate Barkley, but for some reason really liked Donte Paige Moss (I don’t). We’ve found common ground on Spence who to me will embody what this team wants in terms of attitude and leadership. He’s all over the field, and as the WILL he won’t need to cover the tight end. He’s a little faster than Smith IMO even though MS is another plus athlete, but it’s his instinct, recognition and clear understanding of what the other team is going to do that gives him an edge and for me, matches him as a possible R1 pick. I understand why people don’t like it, but I think if the Seahawks can’t get hold of a guy like Courtney Upshaw, they may end up looking at prospects like Spence and Zach Brown.

    David – I’ve no access to Canadian players so can’t share much of a view, unfortunately. Like you I read that he impressed at the Shrine game. Apologies for not being able to offer more here.

    Christon – this is the most difficult class I’ve had to mock in round one, especially for Seattle. Very difficult to get an angle on what they might do.

    Turp – they want speed at the WILL and it’s often difficult to find great speed at 260lbs. While I think they do want to be bigger, faster and stronger, I think there are two positions (LEO & WILL) where they appreciate speed over everything else. Dexter Davis is another example of a guy they like but is smaller than most DE’s.

    Andy – there are differences between Smith and Spence. Although physically they may be similar, there’s a lot of technical advantages in Spence.

  43. Jeff M. says:

    Rob – You’ve identified Dre Kirkpatrick many times as overrated, being good in run support but poor in man coverage. Are his bundle of skills/physical traits enough for a team to see him in a late-career Charles Woodson role? (ie playing in/near the box out of a base nickel, providing run support, covering TEs and backs, blowing up screens, and blitzing off the edge) I don’t know enough about his pass-rush or block-shedding abilities to project him in that role, but it seems that as more teams use more nickel on early downs, big physical DBs who can’t necessarily play one-on-one outside but thrive in hybrid-LB-like roles should become more valuable.

  44. Elias says:

    Hello Rob – Thanks for the response and additional insight to a player I did not initially consider. After watching more video clips (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWzJi1y6uhY), I realize this kid can play and he presents unique qualities that would benefit the hawks. Also, post game interviews indicate that he’s a respected team leader with great “lead by example” work ethic. I look forward to keeping-up with your excellent blog .

  45. Doug says:

    This is a great blog Rob.

    It covers so many angles on so many players. it’s like an ice cream truck. Everything in it is good, but everyone likes something different from the other guy.

  46. Colin says:

    The only pick in the 1st round that I would not understand at all is corner. Depth is always welcome, but would that really be improving our team now? No. The single most important thing this team can do is to keep improving at the things they do well- play defense and run the ball. We can’t afford to regress in those areas. We’re not going to become stellar at throwing the ball or rushing the passer in one off season. Is that an excuse to ignore our glaring needs? Absolutley not. Let’s keep stoking the fire that we’ve built.

  47. MEat says:

    This is not really draft related, but interesting nonetheless.

    http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/01/17/drop-rate-2011-which-receivers-are-dropping-the-ball/

    I hope he is featured more next season.

  48. MEat says:

    I have been infatuated with Dwight Jones this season. Is he Seattle’s TD maker Pete is looking for??? Can Seattle trade down in the first, pick up Jones and pick up Osweiler or Spence too?

  49. Patrick says:

    I can honestly say, prior to today I’d never heard of Spence. Which, well to be honest, I was drawing a blank when James Carpenter was selected last year. Like you’ve said many times before, Seattle will go after the guy they want, regardless of it being a “reach.” I truly believe we could be in for a giant surprise at #11/12. I would not be upset if we grabbed Spence, Upshaw, or a guy like Osweiler. Right now though, visions of Peyton Manning and Kirk Cousins are dancing in my head. I would love to see Trent Richardson fall as well. I suppose the big test will be if he makes it past Tampa at #5. I just don’t see him going to Washington (Shanahan has always prefered late round RBs), Jacksonville (Other needs besides a backup for MoJo), Miami (Bush and Thomas), Buffalo (Jackson and Spiller), or Carolina (Williams and Stewart).

  50. Charlie says:

    What are your thoughts on Alameda Taamu in the first? Physically how does he compare to a a phil taylor from last year? He’s apparently been impressing at the senior bowl, and some people are speculating his season was held back by the coaching staff (nick holt). What do you think Rob?

  51. FWBrodie says:

    Rob, what is so contrasting about Freeman and Osweiler?

    BTW, in regards to Spence or any other unexpected pick, one thing that the Seahawks have demonstrated is that they are not afraid to make a pick against the grain. I think that is a very positive trait.

  52. Craig says:

    Players I wouldn’t mind trading up to the 7-8 range to draft: Trent Richardson, RGIII
    Players I wouldn’t mind drafting at 11/12: *DeCastro, Upshaw, Kirkpatrick, Blackmon
    Players I wouldn’t mind trading down for and drafting later on in the first round: Jones, Wright, Still, Tannehill**

    *I feel like he could turn our OL into one of the most promising for years to come
    **If he makes it to 12, I don’t see a point in taking him there. The next team that needs a QB is the Browns at 22 and they would likely already have one. After that, there really isn’t another QB needy team in the first round.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  53. Misfit74 says:

    Fins, Seahawks top two for Flynn
    Based on conversations with Matt Flynn “in the last few days,” Aaron Rodgers believes the Dolphins and Seahawks are the “two top dogs” in the race for the free agent QB.
    “I think it’s a strong possibility that [the Dolphins] would make a run at him,” Rodgers said. “Joe [Philbin] in that system, which I’m sure is going to be very similar to this system, and Matt having a great grasp of that and playing well in his recent opportunities.” Seahawks GM John Schneider, formerly with the Packers, is “pulling some strings” to bring Flynn to Seattle, according to Rodgers.

    ;)

  54. Misfit74 says:

    Certainly, there is great value at the first RB spot, WR, and perhaps CB. Safeties are rarely 1st-round players and last year’s Safety class showed that teams typically don’t like drafting Safeties, let alone early in the draft. Fortunately, we’re set at both S spots. What does that leave? Do we reach on a 2nd or 3rd-tier QB? Are Sherman/Thurmond/Browner/(Tru) in desperate need of upgrade? Is the O-line really set after so many injuries and an aging Gallery at LG? Is Carpenter the long-term answer at RT? Heater is a UFA – does Wright just step into his spot? What happens with Leroy Hill?

    Unless we are in love with a draft-prospect QB (and not Flynn through FA), I think we can take the BPA. That might mean Richardson, Blackmon, or a WR. That might mean another Offensive Lineman or a guy like Couples or other DT/DE type. Maybe – MAYBE – there is a pass-rusher that suits what we do. A guy like Upshaw comes to mind but I think he might be better served playing in a 3-4.

    Lots of questions, few answers for me.

  55. Rob says:

    Jeff M – I’d like to say yes, but so few players have been able to match Woodson. I think ultimately you could be looking at a guy who moves to safety or just has to deal with the fact he’s never going to be great in coverage, that he’ll give up the occasional big play but provide some positives playing up against the run. However, those mocking him in the top-10 are seeing a different player to me. Watch the Alabama vs Arkansas game from last season or the Florida game from 2011 – I’d worry about him in coverage.

    Elias – Thanks man, good to have you on board and spread the word!

    Doug – Completely agree, and I love ice-cream.

    MEat – possibly, but I think they’re zoning in on defense in round one. Jones has so much potential though, whoever gets him won’t regret it.

    Charlie – I like Ta’mu’s upside – a frame to die for and the potential is through the roof. He could end up being an elite nose tackle. However, I have to say the tape is so hit and miss. The overall rank bad quality of the Washington defense may have played a part, but it’s a bit of a gamble to draft the guy early and hope that was the case. He needs to be more consistent and dominate as much as his physical quality suggests he can. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like Houston took a shot in round one based on the guy’s upside.

    FWBrodie – Freeman is a little more orthodox with his technique and is a thicker set QB with greater ability to run than Osweiler. Having said that, coming out of college I think Osweiler makes the more challenging throws. They’re different players to break down, but they could go in similar ranges in the draft and have similar starts to their NFL careers.

    Craig – I think DeCastro is best suited to right guard give his skills set – he’s not quite as dominating as some will have you believe. I think the Seahawks have shown that the line is going in the right direction, eventually you have to move on and look at other areas. I’m not sure DeCastro can make that much difference and having three first round picks, a second round pick and a third round pick on the OL is a luxury, especially with no QBOTF and no pass rush. I’d avoid Tannehill completely in round one or two.

    Misfit74 – Rodgers is speculating and needs to zip it. He’s basically insinuating that Seattle is tapping up Flynn. I have it on good authority the Seahawks have very little interest in making Matt Flynn their long term quarterback per Scott Enyeart.

  56. dave crockett says:

    Spence has impressive speed, instincts, and coverage skills. If I squint a little I can see it, but probably with a trade down.

    One question: how do you project Dwayne Allen, Clemson’s TE? (The film reminded me that I’d forgotten that guy.) I haven’t been seeing his name in mocks. Do you think he’s not a first round talent, or is it that TEs are not historically valued highly?

  57. Griffin B says:

    Rob,

    While I won’t say who told me this, because he’s probably shouldn’t be telling me, but this person was at an ESPN radio studio in Seattle and they overheard Kevin Calabro telling one of the hosts that if the Seahawks don’t get Flynn (something he was saying that they want to do), they will sign Peyton Manning if his injury checks out.
    Additionally, they heard that Peyton would like to play here for three reasons: he wants to come to a solid locker room, have a coach that is focused, and have an owner that will spend because he wants to be paid top three QB in the league money and a 3-year contract.
    Also, apparently Calabro knows the Mannings because he grew up in Indiana and has connections there (like his brother is a sportscaster in Indiana).

    I don’t know if Calabro is right but hey…I thought I would pass it along.

  58. Rob says:

    Interesting info, Griffin B – thanks for sharing. Manning would be a superb addition if healthy.

  59. Tarry says:

    You explain your reasoning for your picks very well. The type of player Spence is and what he would bring to the table is the same characteristics I see in Nick Perry with speed getting into the backfield for the WILL. I think if this type of player is indeed your target here, Perry is the better choice of the 2 (also a reach for 11/12). Same scenario as someone else mentioned and trading back, they liked Chicago, I thought Bengals with their 2 1st rounders (no they wont trade both for our 11/12 of course), could panic on their CB, and want to trade up for either Kirkpatrick or Dennard (I know he’s not in your 1st round here, but he will be, better corner than Jenkins IMO.

    Thought about your Miami pick, with their new HC… I’m assuming Flynn will follow him there, and being offensive minded as he is, I suspect he’s going to give Flynn the weapons needed to succeed, Marshall needs solid #2 WR to compliment him (Blackman if there or Dwight Jones if not), 2nd round, they get their TE Dwayne Allen… (Coby Fleener to Colts 2nd round to follow Luck… predicting now… Clark likely not back).

    Anyway, sorry started to ramble there a bit. Looking forward to your next weeks draft.

  60. Misfit74 says:

    I can’t say I’d be anywhere near excited to draft a linebacker anywhere near our original #11 slot this year. In part because of Curry and the bad taste that left, but especially because of my belief that JS/PC can procure mid-late round LB talent – starting talent like KJ Wright might just be. I just don’t see the positional value in Linebacker in that range except in very rare cases. Von Miller = yes. Most anyone else recently = no. Unless we’re talking a Clay Mathews, non-roided Brian Cushing, or Sean Weatherspoon/Sean Lee type guaranteed it’s not just worth it – and even then! Quality staring LBs can be had later and in later rounds. Positional value is important to our current regime, which is evidenced by the fact we no longer have half our defensive payroll wrapped up in Linebackers.

  61. genax says:

    fascinating scenario if a healthy payton plays for seattle for 3 years

  62. Jim says:

    Hello all,

    I’m a Hurricane fan who has had the pleasure of watching Spence play for the past 4 years. This guy is a 4 year starter and an absolute animal. I honestly can’t remember the last LB to come through The U that can diagnose a play like Spence. He played under 3 different defensive coordinators and was the best defensive player on the team for at least his So. Jr. and Sr. year.

    Keep in mind that this guy is extremely dedicated, and 24/7 football will only help him fill out his frame. I think one thing that Spence cannot do as well as other LBs is consistently shed blockers in order to make a tackle. He has shown the ability to do it with good form, etc, but just not consistently. If he is not completely taken on by a good OL, even if he is on the backside of the play, he will be near the pile when the tackle is made. And he has the best form tackling I have seen in college in quite some time, which is becoming a lost art in the NFL.

    Bottom line: Someone is going to get a player when they take Spence. I know you guys may have some other needs, and it’s not even guaranteed he will be a 1st round pick. But you could do worse than Spence, in my opinion. Best of luck to you guys in the draft and in the 2012 season.

  63. Emil says:

    Hello,

    Another lifetime Cane fan. I don’t know that I’d call Spence the best since Lewis (Beason was a monster player on a bad team and Morgan pre-injury was rock-solid). But Spence is an extremely smart and quick linebacker. I’d figure 2nd round, but possible 1st if it’s the right fit for a team.

  64. Ben says:

    Hi guys-
    Canes grad and Canes fan here — no rooting interest in the Seahawks. Stumbled across this mock and was surprised to see Spence go this high. A quick disclaimer: If you’re expecting him to run a 4.4, you’re nuts. He won’t light up the combine circuit. What Spence has plenty of, however, is playing speed. He’s consistently been one of Miami’s most dependable defensive players since he stepped on campus as a 185-pound high school senior. He has incredible instincts.

    While I do think 12 may seem a bit high (as some posters have mentioned, is weakside linebacker worth addressing in the top 15?), Spence is in the mold of Jon Beason — a fundamentally sound tackling machine. He has the potential if he gains weight to slide inside, but would be able to start from Day 1 as a weakside linebacker.