TJ Watt at inside linebacker?
TJ Watt mentioned that at least one team has talked to him about playing as an inside linebacker.
— owen riese (@RieseDraft) March 15, 2017
Could this be the Seahawks?
Even if it isn’t, it could be an option.
We recently highlighted their focus on the short shuttle for linebackers. Watt ran a sensational 4.13 at the combine — the fastest time by a linebacker.
To put this into content, Budda Baker ran a 4.08 at 195lbs. Watt is 252lbs. His time is comparable to Fabian Moreau’s (4.12), one of the fastest, most explosive cornerbacks.
If the short shuttle really is a point of focus, how can they not be intrigued by Watt?
He’s also six pounds heavier than K.J. Wright and really explosive (Vertical: 37 inches, Broad: 10-8). There could be some flexibility to play SAM or WILL. His attitude and physical approach — plus his great hand use — lends itself to moving inside.
Note — In the 4-3 under the MIKE and WILL essentially play ‘inside’.
We know they want to add depth at the position. Pete Carroll specifically talked about players competing with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright (and carrying some of their extreme workload).
There are still a lot of questions though in terms of what they might do.
1. Are they even looking for a SAM?
Pete Carroll specifically talked about Wagner and Wright — pushing and helping their starting WILL and MIKE. He didn’t mention the SAM. Jeremy Lane played 71% of the defensive snaps in 2016 and they could mix between a 4-2-5 and a 4-3 Under depending on who they draft.
2. Don’t they just want extreme speed?
They’ve used 4.4 runners like Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith and Kevin Pierre-Louis. One of the best athletes they drafted (Bruce Irvin) eventually landed at the SAM. They also tried Cassius Marsh in the role. He didn’t have a great forty but his agility testing was through the roof (like Watt). If they did want speed they might be more inclined to look at Obi Melifonwu or Josh Jones as ‘Buffalo’ nickels.
3. What about Tyus Bowser?
We’ve talked a lot about Bowser potentially being on Seattle’s radar. His workout was almost identical to Watt’s. Almost the same forty, vertical and broad. Very similar splits. Very similar three cone. If they think Watt can move inside — that might be the case for Bowser too.
Watt took part in the Wisconsin pro-day earlier today with Vince Biegel, who re-ran the short shuttle. Tony Pauline says he timed in the 4.07-4.10 range. If accurate, that would be a freakish level of agility that would certainly interest the Seahawks. Biegel is one to monitor for Seattle possibly in round three.
Pauline also notes the Pittsburgh Steelers are ‘unlikely’ to draft Watt in round one but they think he’ll be gone by the end of round two.
He probably won’t last as long as Seattle’s pick in the second frame either. They were aggressive to go up and get Jarran Reed a year ago. If they wanted to trade up to get Watt in round two they have the ammunition to do it.
10-yard splits revealed
Reminder — anything in the 1.5’s is elite for a standard-sized EDGE. These are official 10-yard splits:
1.57: Jordan Willis
1.59: Tyus Bowser, Trey Hendrickson, Haason Reddick, T.J. Watt
1.60: Terrell Basham, Carl Lawson, Takk McKinley, Derek Rivers
1.63: Myles Garrett
Cliff Avril ran a 1.50 split at his combine. Bruce Irvin managed a 1.58.
For Willis, Bowser, Reddick and Watt — this is really good. Reddick is probably going to go in the top-15. His stock just continues to rise and rise. For Bowser, Watt and Willis it strengthens their case as pass rushers. All three were explosive and agile. Now they clearly have top-level get-off and quickness.
Non-combine linebackers continue to shine
The Seahawks are going to add a linebacker or two in this draft, even if a Haason Reddick, Jarrad Davis or T.J. Watt doesn’t land in Seattle. Aside from Vince Biegel possibly being a third round option there are one or two others that are starting to emerge on the pro-day circuit.
According to Tony Pauline, Kansas State linebacker Elijah Lee had an impressive workout:
Measuring 6025/229 pounds, Lee completed 18 reps on the bench, touched 38 inches in the vertical jump and reached 10-foot-2 in the broad jump. His forty time clocked 4.65s, the short shuttle come in at 4.27s and 6.91s was his three cone.
If Lee had been invited to the combine his three cone and short shuttle would’ve been sixth fastest among linebackers. He would’ve had the best vertical jump. His forty time is the same as Tyus Bowser’s and would’ve been the fifth fastest.
This is the kind of profile the Seahawks could consider.
It follows a similarly impressive workout by Jordan Evans at the Oklahoma pro-day. He reportedly ran in the mid 4.5’s, had a 7.03 three cone and a 4.28 short shuttle. He also had a very impressive 38.5 inch vertical.
Both players are explosive, agile and competitive. With three picks in the third round, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks do some moving around with the intention of creating a rich competition for places behind Wright and Wagner. At the moment their linebacker depth is non-existent.
There could be two waves for linebackers in this draft. The initial group of big names in rounds 1-2 and then another blast towards the end of round three stretching into day three.
Seahawks still need an O-liner? No need to panic
After missing out on T.J. Lang and having only added Luke Joeckel so far, there’s every chance the Seahawks will add an offensive lineman in the draft.
That doesn’t mean they have to do it in round one.
Many of the national mock drafts are focusing on Cam Robinson as Seattle’s pick at #26. TEF revealed to us that he’s an ill-fit in round one. The Seahawks don’t have to pass on the great defensive talent available to force this.
If they want to add competition at guard, the likes of Isaac Asiata and Nico Siragusa are certainly appealing and will be available after the first round. Taylor Moton at Western Michigan is a Seahawks type of G/T. All three matched up in TEF/wTEF.
However, they might not solely focus on our identified TEF targets as they go deeper into the draft.
One thing they appear to have done in the past is identify physical alternatives. In 2014 they couldn’t afford to make a move for DeSean Jackson (a Pete Carroll favourite) so they drafted Paul Richardson instead.
A year ago, would anyone dispute Germain Ifedi was targeted as a possible alternative to Kelechi Osemele? At least in terms of body type they’re a match.
That’s not to claim either pick has succeeded in providing an alternative — it’s merely an assertion on what the thought process might have been.
(But don’t make the mistake of thinking Osemele was an instant hit as a rookie in Baltimore)
One player fans discussed as a possible free agent target this year was Ricky Wagner. He ended up signing a contract in Detroit worth $9.5m a year — a price the Seahawks were never going to pay.
I don’t know if Seattle ever had any interest in Wagner or would show interest in a similar player in the draft. However, in December Tony Pauline compared Adam Bisnowaty to Wagner:
Most expect Bisnowaty to be selected earlier than Wagner, who was a fifth round selection in 2013, but feel Bisnowaty doesn’t wow anyone on film and won’t test off the charts athletically. Subsequently he will be under-drafted much in the same manner Wagner was.
Bisnowaty didn’t have a great combine and neither did Wagner. They tested in a very similar fashion and scored almost identical scores in TEF:
It’s also worth highlighting Bisnowaty’s wrestling background (something Tom Cable looks for) and he’s a physical brawler, perfectly designed to excel in the run game. He’s 6-6, 304lbs and has 34 inch arms. He’s not a high-upside type. He might not be on Seattle’s radar. Yet if they’re looking for another Breno Giacomini, someone with a little nasty to their game and an edge, plus somebody who compares physically to Ricky Wagner without the price tag — just keep Bisnowaty in mind.
Todd McShay updated mock draft
The Seahawks take Malik McDowell at #26 which seems unlikely. McDowell mailed it in when Michigan State’s season went south. For a team obsessed with grit, McDowell seems like the last person they’d consider in round one.
Garett Bolles lasts until pick #20. Haason Reddick goes at #22. Ryan Ramcyzk at #23. Kevin King at #24. If it played out this way, Seattle could move up for the price of a third round pick.
It seems unlikely, however, that Bolles and Reddick will last that long.
This is the first national mock projecting King to be gone by Seattle’s pick — a very real possibility. He was always underrated (his tape is very good) and the combine helped shine a light on his talents. He’s a physical freak who played well in college with good character.
This type of scenario would present a perfect opportunity to move down. Budda Baker, Obi Melifonwu, Gareon Conley, Marlon Humphrey, Jarrad Davis, T.J. Watt, Jabrill Peppers, Justin Evans and several others are all still on the board.
King and Melifonwu stand out as possibilities for Seattle in round one. If they want King they probably have to take him at #26 if he’s there. For Melifonwu, they might be able to move down.
It’s another mock that highlights the rich options available in the mid-20’s this year. The Seahawks could be creative and land two impact players with their first two picks — possibly by repeating what they did last year (moving down in round one, then trading up in round two).
Coming tomorrow, a new mock draft and a look at options for the Seahawks in every round. The second round in particular is opening up to be a bit of a potential wildcard.