Archive for April, 2013

Further digging on Christine Michael…

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Michael was the #3 High School running back in 2009 (according to Rivals) behind just Bryce Brown and Trent Richardson. He was a 5-star recruit. Among the teams expressing an interest in his services? USC.

Pete Carroll discussed the advantage of his college experience when he arrived in Seattle. It played a part in the decision to draft Bruce Irvin 15th overall last year. Carroll tried to recruit Irvin to the Trojans before he opted for West Virginia. A few years later, it helped the Seahawks find a level of comfort with Irvin’s background. Other teams feared certain character red flags dating back to his upbringing in Atlanta.

This knowledge hasn’t always led the Seahawks down an obvious path. Pete Carroll reportedly once referred to Arthur Brown as the best linebacker, “he’d seen in seven years.” The Seahawks passed up the chance to draft Brown with the #56 pick this year, trading down so Baltimore could do the honours.

Yet it appears Carroll has some previous with Michael. There’s no way of knowing how deep USC’s interest was during his high school days. Carroll loved to recruit 5-star running backs, making multiple players share snaps as part of an electrifying run game. The chances are he already knows a fair bit about this guy. And that probably factored into the decision to draft him in round two.

I’ve included an interview he conducted with ESPN 710 this week. Below that you’ll see an example of the kind of athlete Seattle added to the roster over the weekend.

The Arizona Cardinals draft class of 2013

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Arizona is where good prospects go to die. Will Ryan Swope be an exception?

Last January the Cardinals cleaned house, firing 11 year general manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt.  Arizona has been a troubled franchise for most of it’s history, so you’d think they would have opted for as big a change of scenery as possible.  Remarkably, they instead opted to stay in house for their next GM hire, promoting vice president of player personnel Steve Keim.

Keim has been with the Arizona franchise for 15 years, and has been part of several dubious drafts and offseason overhauls.  Imagine if Tim Ruskell had lasted over a decade before being fired, only to be replaced by his deputy Ruston Webster.  That’s basically what Arizona did this past winter.  They also fired a quality head coach in Ken Whisenhunt and replaced him with a coach that’s drawn comparisons to Dick Jauron.  (<— Great article, by the way.)

Regardless, Arizona has turned a new leaf even if it looks uncomfortably familiar for Cardinals fans.  Steve Keim was one of four finalists for Seattle’s GM opening in 2010.  He must have impressed on some level to gain this opportunity.  Let’s see how he did:

Round 1: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Round 2: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Round 3: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
Round 4: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Round 4: Earl Watford, G, James Madison
Round 5: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Round 6: Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Round 6: Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
Round 7: D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers

Jonathan Cooper is worth the hype.  It’s not often you see a great technician at guard who also boasts top shelf athleticism.  Even hyped guards like Chance Warmack and Mike Iupati were not as polished as Cooper is, and I would argue that Cooper is a much smoother athlete.  Cooper may not have the ultra-rare power that Warmack and Iupati possess, but he doesn’t lack for strength and can move defenders.  This is the highest a guard has been taken in a very long time, but Arizona’s line has been in bad shape since pretty much the dawn of time.  Cooper was part of an unprecedented early rush on lineman in a historically good o-lineman class.

Kevin Minter has NFL-average athleticism and had as many negative plays as positive ones when I scouted him, missing tackles and misreading the run.  I don’t think I would have wanted Seattle to draft him in any round, but if you forced me to put a grade on him for the league I probably would have said 5th or 6th round.  The linebacker class this year was one of the weakest I’ve ever seen- full of slower linebackers with sloppy tape.  That caused some flawed talents to end up being overdrafted.  Minter among them.

Tyrann Mathieu is over-valued because he made some big plays during a 2011 season when his team nearly ran the table for a national championship.  His size, measurables, and the “luck factor” of his tape lead me to think he’ll be an average NFL player at best.  It appears that he may not yet have beaten his demons off the field.  This pick reminds me a bit of Maurice Clarrett in 2005, the big difference being that Mathieu seems like a better person- the kind you want to root for despite his problems.  It’s rare to see a 3rd round pick not make the initial roster.  Clarrett didn’t.  Mathieu probably makes Arizona’s roster, but if his problems continue, it’s conceivable he might not.

The fourth round feels about right for Alex Okafor, despite the fact that he has second round measurables and a surprisingly good pass rush repertoire.  Where Okafor lacks is speed, and he wasn’t really a dominant force at Texas.  I think that’s what scared teams away- the fact that Okafor felt like he was just getting by instead of dominating.  Cerebral analysis tells me that Okafor deserved to be drafted much earlier than this, but my instincts tell me he’s probably fool’s gold.  Okafor is a classic 4-3 end, so it’s surprising that he was taken by a 3-4 team as an outside linebacker.  I think this would have been a solid pick normally, but I think Okafor is miscast in a 3-4 defense.

Earl Watford was one of four players drafted this year out of the sub-division I Colonial Athletic Association (Seattle’s Jared Smith was one of the others).  There isn’t a ton of stuff on Watford out there, but one thing I noticed about him is how trim he looks- he’s almost like a tight end at guard in terms of his physique and athleticism.  Watford’s measurables are very similar to JR Sweezy, and Sweezy is one of the NFL’s most athletic guards.  One thing Sweezy has in his corner though- Tom Cable’s coaching.  The success of this pick is firmly on the shoulders of Bruce Arians’ coaching staff.

Stefan Taylor reminds me of Nick Foles in a way.  Both are players that looked great in college when you see them with a casual eye, but when you put the tape on and view with a scouting lens, a host of problems appear.  Taylor has quick feet and can sometimes make players miss, but his balance was surprisingly lacking and he had no resilience as a runner (meaning that he was usually dead to rights at first contact).  The lack of resilience is a little surprising given his bulk (214 pounds).  He’s also short (5’9″) and slow (ran just a 4.70 at the combine).  His size, speed, and lack of resilience reminds me of former Pac-12 rusher Justin Forsett, though Forsett was more explosive and had better vision.

I’ll have to assume medical concerns caused a drop for Ryan Swope.  I’d argue that his multiple concussions don’t scare me very much given that he played through them without issues or missed time.  That said, I’m not running an NFL team and most general managers view draft picks as business decisions.  Business decisions weigh risk very heavily, I would say too much so.  I’ve said my piece on Swope and I think that if he stays healthy he’ll be one of the biggest steals in the draft.  Matt Waldman recently had an article that echoed similar sentiments and even claimed that Swope might have a more productive career than Tavon Austin.

Arizona isn’t exactly deep at receiver and you can expect a talented young quarterback to arrive there a year from now.  In the meantime, Carson Palmer may not be a good quarterback anymore, but he can still rack up a ton of yards.  Oddly enough, Arizona might have been a better landing spot for Swope than Seattle would have been.  That would be a worrisome thought, if there wasn’t a gulf separating those two franchises now and for the foreseeable future.

Andre Ellington was the centerpiece of my favorite play from the 2012 college football season.  I like that Arizona is grab-bagging running backs to address their running back need.  This is a league where an average running back can be productive in the right situation, see Stevan Ridley or BenJarvis Green-Ellis.  You don’t have to spend a high pick to get solid results.

I like Ellington’s talent more than Taylor’s.  Both runners are 5’9″ and have quick feet, but Ellington is tougher, more resilient, faster, has better balance and has more power.  The only bad thing I can say about Ellington is that he’s shocking bad as a pass blocker, despite being so strong as a runner.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much on D.C. Jefferson.  What I can tell you is that he only ran a 4.97 forty at 6’5″, 255 pounds.  Seahawks 6th round pick Luke Willson ran a 4.51 at 6’5″, 251 pounds and he plays the same position.  I’d guess that Arizona brought Jefferson in as a blocking specialist or perhaps a special teams player, but I’d be guessing.

Overall impression:

I’m not saying Arizona had a great draft, but the feel of this draft is surprisingly different than Cardinals’ drafts of years past.  The Cardinals are famous for loading up on big names during draft weekend and earning top honors when draft grades are handed out, only to have those drafts look incredibly overrated in retrospect.  The only player Arizona drafted this year that I’d consider a “big name” pick was Tyrann Mathieu, and he was only a 3rd round investment.  I guess I’d argue Stefan Taylor as a “name” pick in round five, too.  I think they drafted a few over-rated prospects (Minter, Mathieu, Taylor) but they had some really solid picks too (Cooper, Ellington).  Swope in the 6th, if he stays healthy, might be the biggest steal in the entire draft.  Watford and Okafor have the tools to be above average players, though both have obstacles to overcome.

If Cooper and Swope have the careers I think they’ll have, they could make this draft on their own.  Their other 6th round pick could end up starting games at running back, too.

Projecting impact for Seattle’s rookies

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Christine Michael (RB, 2nd round)
It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks. He is the tone-setter, the heartbeat, the player who drains energy out of a defense while creating opportunities for the passing game via play action. What he isn’t, unfortunately, is invincible. And while he has played through a series of niggling injuries (back, foot), keeping him from a mountainous work-load is vital for both the long and short term. His contract runs until 2015 and I suspect the the Seahawks want to get through the next three years with Lynch leading the way.

They didn’t have to draft a running back in round two to address this situation — there were plenty of other backs presenting value later on (Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington, Zac Stacy). They already had Robert Turbin and Spencer Ware (taken in round six) is no slouch. Yet Christine Michael stood out as the best player available with the final pick in round two. He was arguably the top running back in the draft and worthy of a grade much higher than the #62 pick. His role as a rookie is simple — maintain the high standards of Marshawn Lynch even when beast mode is taking a rest on the sideline. If the drafting of Michael gets Lynch through to 2015 playing the way he has so far in Seattle, it’ll be worth the investment.

Arian Foster arrived in 2010, establishing himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. Houston also added Ben Tate in the second round of the 2010 draft. In 2011, Foster recorded 1224 yards and ten touchdowns. Tate managed 924 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. The Texans spelled Foster and limited his carries to 278 for the season (49 less than 2010). When Tate got injured during the 2012 campaign, Foster again had to pick up the slack and had a career high 351 carries. Lynch had 315 in 2012 (5th most in the NFL) and the Seahawks might want to get that down to around the 260-285 mark (Frank Gore had 258 carries last year). Drafting Michael allows them to do that and like Tate in 2011 he could see around 175-200 snaps.

Seattle might keep Turbin in for third downs. He showed a decent grasp of pass protection last year and he was targeted in the passing game too (with mixed results). Blocking is an area Michael has to improve and he wasn’t really used as a catcher at Texas A&M (predominantly underneath throws). Instead he’ll likely be a first and second round force, sharing snaps with Lynch in a ‘thunder and lightning’ style combo. He’s also effective in short yardage situations. Don’t rule out some special teams duties especially on kick off returns.

I’ve seen this pick described as a ‘luxury’ by some pundits and I understand that opinion. Last year’s second best rusher behind Adrian Peterson was Alfred Morris — a sixth round rookie. However, I also think there’s a slight misunderstanding of Seattle’s offense. The Percy Harvin trade and the emergence of Russell Wilson has perhaps clouded just how much of a running team this is. Seattle ran the ball 536 times last year — more than any other. In comparison, Tampa Bay (starting productive rookie Doug Martin) ran exactly 120 times less than the Seahawks. If you’re going to run that frequently, why wouldn’t you spend a second round pick on Christine Michael?

Jordan Hill (DT, 3rd round)
Seattle only lost two starters in free agency — Leroy Hill and Alan Branch. Hill remains unsigned and the Seahawks showed minimal interest in re-signing Branch (who joined the Bills after firing his agent). The Seahawks have a lot of young depth at linebacker (including Malcolm Smith, Mike Morgan and Korey Toomer) and appear set to experiment with Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin acting as hybrid rushers from the SAM position. At defensive tackle, there was a little more urgency to find a replacement (or ‘replacements’).

The defensive line is something of a point of contention. The Seahawks have earned a reputation as a tough defense that gets after the passer with a hard hitting and productive secondary. It’s not a complete red herring, but neither is it the absolute truth. Seattle ranked joint 18th for sacks last year with 36. It’s a statistic significantly boosted by one crazy half of football against Green Bay where the team sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times. Anyone who watched the Seahawks regularly last year would acknowledge the pass rush wasn’t prolific — an opinion shared by Pete Carroll when he discussed team needs going into the off-season. Seattle had a particular issue getting off the field on third and long, a bizarre fact given how adept the defense was at limiting big plays.

The Seahawks weren’t bad defending the run, but they were frustrating at times. They started the year particularly well, shutting out several opponents before the San Francisco 49ers crashed the party in week 7. At times it didn’t matter — a handful of blow out victories took away the oppositions run game fairly swiftly. According to Football Outsiders, they ended the year ranked #12 against the run. Like the pass rush, it was still an area for improvement.

Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were signed to help create pressure and lessen the burden of Chris Clemons’ ACL injury, but they still needed an interior presence. One of the issues is the total dependence on the LEO in base. Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane are limited pass rushers, as was Alan Branch. Finding someone who can collapse the pocket or at least force the guard/center into his own backfield was a must. That’s where the pick of Jordan Hill (and Jesse Williams) comes in.

Hill isn’t a big guy at 6-1 and 300lbs, but he’s incredibly stout. His performance against Wisconsin — a game he “took over” according to commentator Brock Huard — was particularly encouraging for his fit in Seattle. Not only did he flash strong gap control and the ability to hold his position against hulking, giant Badger lineman, he was also particularly productive at breaking into the backfield. He might be one of the more understated players in the 2013 draft. Having watched several Penn State games last year, his performance against Wisconsin was not a one-off.

Remember when we highlighted an article discussing “the Bill Walsh defensive tackle”? Walsh’s ideal player measured at 6-2 and 290lbs. “You are looking for somebody who can move down the line of scrimmage and make a tackle, pursuing a ball-carrier. That would be lateral quickness in a short area, being able to get under way and move over and through people.” Again I refer to the Wisconsin tape, where Hill was disengaging, moving across and tackling Montee Ball with relative ease for 0-2 yard gains. “The best defensive tackles move the offensive guard back into the quarterback. They won’t have nearly as many sacks as others, but if they can move the guard back into the quarterback, then the quarterback has to avoid his own lineman.” Again, this is another strong point for Hill. He’s not a sack artist. But he has the upper body power, hand use and drive to be disruptive.

The significance of all this? Pete Carroll takes a lot of inspiration from Walsh’s philosophy. Perhaps more so than any other coach he worked under.

I’m not going to argue he’s the ideal player for Seattle’s scheme. That guy was drafted #13 overall by the New York Jets and goes by the name of Sheldon Richardson. However, Hill has a shot to be an instant hit. He’ll have to compete with Tony McDaniel and Jesse Williams to get the gig, but there’s a reason why they drafted Hill as high as round three. This wasn’t a pure reach as some have suggested. He doesn’t have McDaniel’s size. Williams is a better run defender even if he is one-dimensional. But Hill might be a significantly better disruptive force as a pass rusher. And that, for me, gives him the edge. He’ll probably start in 2013 unless Williams proves his health and dominates in camp. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up contributing substantially.

Chris Harper (WR, 4th round)
As Kansas State emerged as a legit BCS title contender in 2012, I watched their games and kept noticing this big-bodied receiver who just made tough catches. It was easy to become a fan. Then during the off-season I sat down to study him as a draft prospect and started to dampen my enthusiasm. He seemed to make a handful of basic errors — fumbles, drops, missed opportunities. He wasn’t a burner and when the play call breaks down, Kansas State basically looked at Colin Klein and shouted “do something”. His receivers, including Harper, didn’t improvise. Whether they were told not to, I can’t be sure. There are several examples where they immediately became blockers for Klein instead of targets. So it might be an instruction rather than an instinctive problem.

Either way it created a slightly negative impression. This was a relatively deep class for receivers. There weren’t any A.J. Green’s for the teams picking early in round one, but there was plenty to be got at in the middle rounds. And I’ll admit there were a few players I preferred in the range Harper was drafted.

However, now that he’s a Seahawk it’s time to look at what drew them to this pick over a Quinton Patton or Ryan Swope. When you look back with hindsight, it’s fairly obvious why they went in this direction. Chris Harper offers something they didn’t have previously. The Seahawks already have players like Patton and Swope. What they don’t have is a physical possession receiver with strong hands. Harper answers the call.

When I went back to review the tape over the last few days, a couple of things stood out. Firstly, he has a knack of making difficult grabs in double coverage or with a defender draped all over him. Klein was far from a polished, accurate college passer — and a lot of his throws were there to be challenged. I suspect Harper adapted to his environment. He’s adept at positional sense, using his body to shield defenders and competing for the ball. There were two occasions in the games I watched where he made key conversions on fourth down in tight coverage. That’s what the Seahawks have drafted him to be. If he was flawless and didn’t have the frustrating errors, he wouldn’t be available in round four. He’s a possible outside safety-net who can be effective on third and fourth down. He is physical, stocky and competitive. He’s different to what they already have. So while he doesn’t stand to take too much production away from Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, don’t be surprised if he’s out there for a key third down and making a vital catch that extends the drive.

Jesse Williams (DT, 5th round)
A lot of people, including myself, expected Williams to go much earlier than he did. Part of it was hype. Not many college players come from Australia, play for a dominant two-time BCS Champion and have YOLO tattoo’d on the side of their head. He’s a media dream, a story waiting to be written over and over again. As the league desperately attempts to become more global (in a kind of overly forced manner) Williams became a poster-boy along with Menelik Watson, Bjoern Werner and Margus Hunt. As a consequence, medical problems were left largely unreported.

The warning signs were there. Williams only did the bench press at the combine and didn’t appear at the Senior Bowl. He was constantly banged up in 2012, often leaving the field during games. And when asked by Seattle’s media about his draft fall, he admitted he didn’t expect to be a high pick. When a player as well known as Williams falls to round five, you instantly know there’s a problem.

The Seahawks still felt he was worth the risk. Nobody would question his NFL potential. They traded up in round five to make sure they got both Williams and Tharold Simon. You get the sense that John Schneider prides himself on the ability to find value in the 5th round. This was the only time he’s traded up in four drafts. He had to get both of these players.

If Williams is healthy there’s no reason why he can’t fit into the rotation and maybe even start. Carroll says he’s a three technique and that’s the position they have to fill after letting Branch walk in free agency. I’d argue he’s pretty flexible — he’s played the five technique, the three and the nose at Alabama. He could theoretically feature in all three positions in some capacity. There’s a reason he dropped to the fifth, though, and it wasn’t because of a lack of talent. Seattle’s previous hits in this round (Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman) were simply overlooked. It was impossible to overlook Jesse Williams. For that reason you almost have to temper expectations, especially given the fact he’ll be competing with two other off-season additions (Jordan Hill, Tony McDaniel) for playing time.

I wouldn’t rule out his ability to get healthy and even start in 2013. As a pure talent, he’s capable. He’s a terrific run stopper with tremendous upper body power. He plays with attitude and gusto. I’d expect a measured role in year one, helping out in short yardage/run situations. And who knows — maybe he’ll even play some fullback, just as he did in goal-line packages for Alabama. From a talent stand point, there’s no reason why he can’t be another Schneider success story.

Tharold Simon (CB, 5th round)
This could be the most intriguing pick of the bunch. For starters, this is the player Seattle traded up to get. Carroll admitted at the end of the draft that Simon was the player they moved up to get. They were going to take Jesse Williams at the top of the fifth, but didn’t feel they could wait for Simon at the end of the round. Any player that John Schneider moves up to get, you figure they must have something about them.

When you look at Simon’s physical appearance, he just screams ‘Seahawks’. He’s long, tall and pretty much the prototype for Carroll’s vision for the position. There might not be a better staff in the NFL when it comes to coaching cornerbacks. How else do you explain the way Richard Sherman has gone from 5th round flier to elite shutdown corner? Brandon Browner, plucked from the CFL, becomes a pro-bowler. When Browner served a four game suspension, in comes rookie Jeremy Lane to cover Randy Moss in a heated divisional battle. Seattle’s front office knows what it wants in a corner, and the coaches know how to get them ready for the NFL.

Simon’s tape reminds me a little of Sherman’s at Stanford. It’s inconsistent. He gets beat occasionally, particularly on the double move. He’s not a sudden athlete and he’ll give up too many comfortable receptions by easing up on the release. Yet he also plays the ball well and has that aggressive streak that fits the teams current swagger. If you round off the rough edges, coach him up and let him challenge 1v1, he could easily be another late-round steal for this team and a long-term starter.

I don’t expect Simon to start or feature heavily in year one. Like Sherman he’ll need to wait for an opening. It might not come in 2013, he might have to be patient. There’s depth at corner and he better be ready to fight for a roster spot. And when he gets an opportunity, like Sherman, he needs to grab it. He has the potential to start in this league and he couldn’t ask for a better fit. It’s really all down to how much he wants it and his ability to keep working even if he doesn’t see that much game time in year one.

What about the rest?
Like everyone else, I’m scrambling around for information and tape on the other picks. Spencer Ware is going to be tried at full back, but I like his ability as a runner too. As for the rest, it’s difficult for anyone to offer much of an opinion at this stage. Michael Bowie started at Oklahoma State so I’ll run through the back catalogue of games I have saved to get a check on him. I think there’s a feeling they can coach up offensive lineman into Tom Cable’s scheme. Remember, that was Alex Gibbs’ approach too. We might not see any more high picks in that area, given the team is sorted for the long haul at the two key positions (left tackle and center). Bowie, Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith will all get the Cable clinic in camp.

What they’re saying

Evan Silva offers an A- grade for Seattle’s 2013 class. “The Seahawks have drafted just like this every year under Schneider and Pete Carroll. Seems like it’s working.”

Chris Burke gives the group a B-. “The Seahawks had a roster built to roll the dice a bit in the draft, and that’s just what they did with their first three picks.”

Mel Kiper gives it a B, in part because of the Percy Harvin trade. “I don’t know that Seattle added a starter among their picks, but they certainly added one in Harvin.”

2014 way too early watch list

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

USC's Marqise Lee should be a top five pick

It’s far too soon to consider who might go in the first round of next years draft — and players will always emerge (or sink) during a season. Nobody called out Eric Fisher as a prospective #1 pick twelve months ago, so a lot can change. Even so, there’s no harm in having a quick look. And hey, it’ll be fun to see how this list adapts during the course of the next year.

#1 Jadaveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Generational talent at defensive end. As long as he avoids injury, he’s virtually a lock to go first overall.

#2 Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Unflappable. Willing to play through the pain barrier. Strong arm, accurate, has won big games in his career. The only player likely to challenge Clowney to go first overall.

#3 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Doesn’t have elite size but neither does Alabama’s incredible sophomore Amari Cooper. Within the next few years both should be top-five picks.

#4 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Would’ve been a top-12 pick this year had he declared. Will boost his stock even more if he performs well at left tackle. Might be better than Luke Joeckel.

#5 Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
The next great defensive back off the production line for Nick Saban. Tremendous talent.

#6 Cyrus Kouandijo (T, Alabama)
Kept D.J. Fluker at right tackle and he went #11 overall. Should be a top ten pick.

# 7 Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Monster of a receiver. Could be hurt by a lack of good quarterback play. 6-6 with deep speed and YAC ability.

#8 Austin Seferian Jenkings (TE, Washington)
Potentially the next great athletic tight end.

#9 Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
Had a terrific season in 2012 after transitioning from full back (of all positions). Pure speed off the edge.

#10 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Another player who could’ve easily been a top-15 pick this year. No reason why he won’t maintain that grade.

#11 Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU)
Explosive playmaker. Size may be an issue for some but you can’t argue with 19 sacks in the last two years.

#12 Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame)
Looked average against Alabama in the BCS title game but had a very good 2012 overall. Scheme diverse.

#13 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Tall, strong hands and enough speed to be a difference maker. A bit like Brandon Coleman (he’s 6-5, 218lbs) he has limitless potential. If Manziel stays productive, Evans could become a star too.

#14 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Missed time last year and ceded his role as Clemson’s best playmaker to DeAndre Hopkins. Even so, with Hopkins in the NFL now Watkins has a chance to shine.

#15 Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Big nose tackle. Another player who didn’t look great against Alabama. But who did on the night for Notre Dame?

#16 De’Anthony Thomas (WR, Oregon)
The way the NFL is going, Thomas has a shot to be an early pick.

#17 Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford)
Playmaking safety, seemed to be doing something every week in the PAC-12.

#18 Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State)
15 sacks in two years so far for the Beevers. He’s shown a lot of promise and I’m looking forward to seeing more in 2013.

#19 Lache Seastrunk (RB, Baylor)
Ended the year on fire and he’s already making statement’s about challenging for the Heisman. It’s not unrealistic.

#20 Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State)
Limitless upside but like a lot of FSU defensive players, hasn’t dominated to this point. Big year in 2013.

#21 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Surprised a few by not declaring this year. Simply put, he makes plays. He has a nose for the ball.

#22 Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Great corner who could’ve been a high pick this year (round two at worst?). Plays on a winning team and should continue to prosper.

#23 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
He pretty much wings it. I’ve put him on the list, but I need to see more. Huge question marks here on just how effective he may or may not be at the next level.

#24 Austin Hill (WR, Arizona)
Bailed Matt Scott out a few times last year before a bad ACL injury. Amazing hands. Not a burner but so reliable.

#25 Ra’Shede Hageman (DE, Minnesota)
Caught a little bit of a hype during the off-season before choosing not to declare. He has potential, but I need to see more production in 2013.

Honourable mentions: Chaz Green (T, Florida) — may move to left tackle, has the athletic upside to make the switch. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon) — anticipates the ball, times his hits well. Decent upside. Daniel McCullers (DT, Tennessee) — huge defensive tackle but moves so well for the size. Colt Lyerla (TE, Oregon) — I’ve heard great things about Lyerla, I look forward to watching him next year.

If you think I missed anyone out let me know in the comments section.

I also want to touch on the quarterback group briefly. This year I feel like the NFL almost talked itself into disliking the bunch available. While the media waxed lyrical about what a bad class it was, it really wasn’t any worse than previous years where guys like Tim Tebow somehow found a home in round one. Colt McCoy was a third round pick, when he probably should’ve been a sixth rounder. Jimmy Clausen went in round two and Christian Ponder at #12 (!!!) overall. Now either the league is learning to not overvalue the position, or they went a bit over the top this year. If Russell Wilson hadn’t happened in 2012, there are at least 3-4 guys I would’ve thrown my weight behind as possible long term starters in Seattle.

Chip Kelly admitted he had a top-50 grade on Matt Barkley, which is why he traded up in round four to get him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Barkley starts for Philadelphia this year. Stranger things have happened. But why on earth was he (and others) still lurking on day three?

It might be a similar case next year. Teddy Bridgewater looks like a shoe-in to be the top quarterback taken. But after that there’s a cluster of other ‘big names’ who are going to get talked up a lot, but probably don’t match up even to Barkley, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and Tyler Wilson.

Johnny Manziel is a big hit after winning the Heisman, but I’m sceptical about his pro-prospects. Very sceptical. Which is why he’s only at #23 here. Some are suggesting he’ll be a top five pick. A lot of his game is playing in chaos, running around to extend plays and improvising. It’s fun to watch, but completely unorthodox. If he has another amazing year at Texas A&M, perhaps a team will believe in the guy enough to take him early? But for me he’s going to be one of those players that really divides opinion.

Logan Thomas had a miserable 2012 season but the appearance of E.J. Manuel in round one will give him hope. If Manuel succeeds, that probably helps Thomas’ case. But he really needs to improve because last year was car crash at times. The play calling didn’t help, and it hasn’t helped at Virginia Tech for years.

Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray will likely go at it again in the SEC, but neither has the necessary physical tools to warrant much interest until later in the process. Tajh Boyd had a great Bowl game against LSU to end last season, but he lacks the consistency and physical tools to get you excited about much more than a mid round grade.

David Fales has almost a hipster style following on the internet and has some nice tape out there for San Jose State. And yet there’s still something so ‘meh’ about him. He’s one to keep an eye on, though. He looked good against Stanford last year. Derek Carr on the other hand has never really done anything for me and I thought he was poor against SMU in Fresno State’s bowl game to end the season.

While this year’s class was pilloried for its lack of quality, we could see a very similar story in 2014. A lot of teams have invested in young quarterbacks during the boom years of the passing football in the NFL. We might see a little lull as some succeed and others fail, while other ageing quarterbacks approach retirement. Then the craze starts all over again.

Day III GIF reaction and analysis

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Thoughts, reactions, and reaction GIFs after the jump! (more…)

The draft is over… final thoughts

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Perception can be a funny thing sometimes.

For example, if you were told the Seahawks would come out of this draft with Jesse Williams and Christine Michael, I suspect you’d give it a big thumbs up. Yet I sense a slightly mixed reaction to Seattle’s latest class simply due to the order in which the players were taken.

I had Williams pinned to Seattle at #56 in my final mock draft, but he fell due to lingering concerns over a troublesome knee injury. Nobody really anticipated a fall into round five. Put it down to one of those cases where information within the various front offices never leaked to the media. The Seahawks clearly liked something about him, given they traded up for the first time in the John Schneider era to get the big Australian (and Tharold Simon, corner from LSU).

Michael was one of four players — along with Williams, Quinton Patton and Khaseem Greene — who we slated as possible options for Seattle in round two. Michael was the pick after trading down to #62, but Patton and Greene both lasted into round four (somewhat surprisingly). I’m guessing a few people raised an eye brow at taking a running back so early. Some, not unfairly, believed there were greater needs. Such as defensive tackle. Put Michael in round three after Williams in round two, and people would rejoice. Again, perception can be funny sometimes.

I would recommend forgetting the rounds where certain players were drafted and just look at the class overall. When I look at this group I see players with a legit shot to make what has become a pretty deep roster even better.

Michael will instantly have an impact, which is all you can ask for from a second round pick. At a time when a lot of people expect the Seahawks to open up the passing game and begin to exploit further wrinkles within the read-option, this was a statement to the contrary. Pete Carroll has never wavered from his instance that his offense will be built around the run. It’s time to take that point at face value.

Marshawn Lynch is not a machine and his physical running style will lead to injuries. That doesn’t necessarily mean season ending issues, but the little back problems and foot injuries he seems to have carried for the last couple of years will probably continue. It might not keep him off the field (it didn’t last year) but getting Michael allows the Seahawks to manage this situation even better than they were able to last year. Lynch is so important to this team. They don’t want to wait until he gets a serious injury to address this situation.

Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams significantly upgrade what this team had at defensive tackle (which was very little) — a priority area coming into the off-season. The league is full of big-name busts at the position. Pass rushers who flatter to deceive, showing enough leg to find a home in round one. And yet you can count the number of elite three-technique’s on one hand. The elite guys go early (see: Ndamukong Suh, Sheldon Richardson). Even if the Seahawks had kept the #25 pick this year, the best they could’ve hoped for was Sly Williams. Instead of Williams, they get Percy Harvin, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams. Think about that for a second.

The best three technique in the NFL is a former fourth round pick weighing 6-1 and 300lbs. While nobody would necessarily compare Jordan Hill to Geno Atkins, Hill’s frame (6-1 and also 300lbs-ish) is very similar. The Seahawks are right to keep searching for the next diamond in the rough. Darnell Dockett was also a mid-round pick. They may never find what they’re looking for, but they’ve given themselves a shot with the two guys taken this year.

Williams’ health will be key, although Pete Carroll has already pegged him as a three-technique speaking during the press conference today (see above). Hill can play the one or the three. There’s good depth along the line now. And who’d bet against either Hill or Williams starting this year or next?

Chris Harper is a player I have mixed feelings about. Watching Kansas State games last year, I developed a passing interest without really studying him. Once I sat down to focus solely on his play, my interest waned a little. He’s stocky rather than tall (he’s 6-1 and close to 230lbs) but the Seahawks clearly want to use him predominantly on the outside.

Harper’s very clever at shielding the receiver and using his frame to his advantage. I like that about him. He competes for the ball and is capable of making difficult catches in double coverage. But it seemed too often on tape there were more negative plays than positive. Little mistakes, an unwillingness to improvise when a play breaks down and no outstanding characteristics made for a frustrating watch at times.

The Seahawks have been looking for what you’d call a ‘possession’ guy for some time. A physical receiver who compliments the rest of the group. They’ve tried Mike Williams, Kris Durham and Braylon Edwards. Harper is the next man up. There’s plenty of tape out there so we’ll get into him (and the others) over the next few days.

Cornerback Tharold Simon is the type of guy you want to love, but can’t make the full commitment. He has great length, fluidity and the ability to stick in coverage. Despite that, he doesn’t seem to play with any great physical quality or intensity. He’s one of the players the LSU coaches publicly listed as not making the most of his opportunity to be great. An arrest during the draft for intimidating a police officer wasn’t great news either.

Having said all of that, you look at him in pads and think “Seahawks corner” immediately. He has the potential. He has the size and length. He had 22 pass break-ups and seven picks in three years at LSU, despite playing with production machine’s like Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu. He’ll have to battle with a deep crop of corners to win a place on the roster. Who’d bet against him being the next big thing though? We’ve seen this team work their magic on Richard Sherman — a player who looked far from convincing at times for Stanford. I wouldn’t be shocked if Simon was starting for the Seahawks by 2014/15.

I’m not going to pretend I have anything to offer on Luke Wilson, Ryan Seymour, Ty Powell or Jared Smith. Apparently they plan to try Smith — a defensive tackle in college — at guard. He is the second coming of Sweezy. Spencer Ware, a running back at LSU (and also on that list I mentioned earlier) will be transformed into a full back and special teams, errr, specialist. Don’t rule him out as a runner though. His tape is pretty good.

A lot of people talked about a need at offensive tackle. Consider this off-season a vote of confidence in Breno Giacomini. Not that he needed one, he had a terrific 2012 season apart from a spate of early penalties. Giacomini gets a raw deal from the fans for some reason. Perhaps he’s a bit of a scape goat? I don’t know. But the fact Seattle waited until round seven to draft a tackle (NE Oklahoma State’s Michael Bowie) suggests they don’t think this is a major need. After all, they passed on Terron Armstead, Brennan Williams, David Bakhtiari, Jordan Mills and a long list of others.

They didn’t draft a linebacker, which shows a degree of faith in the players already on the roster and gives a nod to the way the defense will line up this year. Expect a few creative looks with an extra pass rusher playing the SAM. It’s something we talked about when discussing Courtney Upshaw last year, and Pete Carroll has been pretty vocal about Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril featuring in adaptable roles this year.

Is it me, or did John Schneider seem a little agitated during the press conference today? It’s maybe nothing. Or perhaps he missed out on a player or two he really wanted during this draft?

What was the biggest shock on day three? For me it’s Tyler Bray and Matt Scott going undrafted. Shocker. Bray’s always had character issues and his play can be wild and erratic. But for nobody to draft the guy is still a little surprising. Scott was maybe overrated during the process but must have had lingering injury concerns to become an UDFA. There was a time when he was considered a possible day two pick.

Prediction: Matt Barkley wins a starting job in Philly. Maybe even this year.

I think the Jets had an incredible draft. Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner — for me — were the two best players available in 2013 They’ll set up that defense for years to come. Geno Smith will almost certainly become the new starting quarterback. Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi will solidify the offensive line and Winters in particular is a great pick. And to top it all off, they trade for Chris Ivory. Bravo, John Idzik. Bravo.

Baltimore, unsurprisingly, finish in a close second for me. Their first five picks were Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Brandon Williams, John Simon and Kyle Juszczyk. At least in Juszczyk’s case, we don’t have to worry about spelling (or saying) that name over and over again.

San Francisco also had an awesome draft. Sorry, but they did. That team isn’t going away. Seahawks fans can dream about Super Bowls if they want, but the first step is overtaking the Niners in the NFC West. And that will not be easy.

Nobody seems to have asked this question or done any digging, but I still want to know if San Francisco moved ahead of Seattle in round two because the Seahawks were planning to draft Vance McDonald at #56. Given the interest in both teams right now, I’m surprised nobody’s gone after that one.

You can keep track of the UDFA’s signed by Seattle here courtesy of Field Gulls.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the drafted guys and find out more about them. I’ve also already compiled a list of 2014 players to watch so we’ll get into that too.

2013 NFL Draft: Day three OPEN THREAD

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Seattle’s day three selections:

Round four – Chris Harper (WR, Kansas State)
Round five – Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama), Tharold Simon (CB, LSU), Luke Wilson (TE, Rice)
Round six – Spencer Ware (RB, LSU)
Round seven – Ryan Seymour (G, Vanderbilt), Ty Powell (DE, Harding), Jared Smith (DT, New Hampshire), Michael Bowie (T, NE Oklahoma State)

Day III preview

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Wanna get away?

Last year, I wrote a fairly massive post in the hours before the start of Day III covering all the good remaining players.  I thought about doing that again today, but then I looked over the remaining talent and was amazed by the sheer amount of it.  There are roughly 75-100 players that I consider at least arguably worth a 3rd round grade or better, and I expect many of them to remain when the draft is over.  Considering that Seattle has ten picks coming up, it makes for the most exciting Day III that I’ll ever experience in my lifetime, most likely.

Consider- this is already the best Seahawks roster in team history.  This is one of the deepest drafts many people have ever seen.  We have a front office that is considered to be the best in the league at nailing late round picks.  And we have an incredible ten picks to use in the late rounds.  The term “perfect storm” feels like an undersell.

When I returned to the blog back in January and talked about my excitement for this draft, I was essentially referring to today specifically.  I knew all the way back then that we’d have an unbelievably loaded late round draft this year, and it appeared Seattle would have a lot of picks too (though I wouldn’t have guessed we’d have this many).  Now is when the fun really begins.  Especially if you’ve done your homework.

If you’ve followed this blog the last few months, and if you read my recent draft visit series, you should be fairly well equipped for many of the names we’ll see later today. With that in mind, I’d just like to cover some basic things that I think might happen.  Having called the Christine Michael pick in round two, I’m on a bit of a roll, so might as well see how far I can push things.

John Schneider intimated in his Day II press conference that defensive tackle was the only true need for the team in this draft.  With the selection of Jordan Hill in round 3, that need is dealt with.  From here on out, all bets are off.  That being said, I expect Seattle to continue to target the weakest areas of the roster with a degree of preference.  On the whole though, I think Seattle will be on the hunt for the best athletes available, guys like TE Chris Gragg, T Luke Marquardt, WRs like Denard Robinson or Terrell Sinkfield (among many others), QB Matt Scott, FB/TE Kyle Juszczyk, FS Earl Wolff, SS Cooper Taylor, or CBs like Demetrius McCray, Tharold Simon, or Sanders Commings.

With that said, here are my thoughts on the positional breakdown for Day III.  Remember, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list- I’m sure there are plenty of players the Seahawks love that are either off my radar or won’t be mentioned here.

Tight End:

I think Seattle will look at this position, perhaps with their next couple picks.  Remember though, Seattle grades for athleticism first, and Seattle’s current #3 Tight End is a terrific athlete from South America.  Upgrading on his athleticism could be very tough, and even the best athletes of the bunch would only break even with Anthony McCoy.

The most likely candidates at tight end for Seattle are Chris Gragg, Nick Kasa, and Ryan Otten.  Otten visited with Seattle.  Kasa was linked to Seattle by Tony Pauline.  Chris Gragg is by far the most athletic tight end in the draft, though he has the build of a receiver.

Offensive Tackle:

There is some very impressive talent still on the board at tackle.

I’m a huge fan of Luke Marquardt and would have probably drafted him at #87 if the pick were mine to make.  He has Nate Solder type measurables, athleticism, and nastiness.  I don’t know if David Bahktiari fits Tom Cable profile well enough as he’s more of a finesse tackle, but he really impressed me on tape and I wouldn’t mind getting him anywhere in the draft.

David Quessenberry had better tape than I expected and has a lot of power.  I think he has fringe second round talent athletically.  He met with the Seahawks, too.  And then you have Jordan Mills, the Louisiana Tech left tackle that was rumored to draw heavy interest from Seattle back in February.

Interior lineman:

I’m not really expecting Seattle to add a guard, but Lemuel Jeanpierre is a free agent next season and prepping a cheap alternative at center could make some sense.  I don’t think Seattle would add an interior lineman under normal circumstances, but they do have ten picks to use.


I don’t think Seattle will bring in another classic running back, unless they feel he has fullback versatility (Kregg Lumpkin and Vai Taua were RB/FB hybrids last year).  Kyle Juszczyk is a player I am highly intrigued by.  A converted tight end moving to fullback, this Harvard grad has a little bit of Gronk to his game, beastmoding through tackles like it’s nothing.

He’s a unique player and a great athlete.  I have to imagine he’s at least on Seattle’s radar.  Oh that’s right, he is on their radar.  He had a team visit with the Seahawks.


I’ve never seen a 4th round this loaded with quarterback talent before.  I don’t need to rehash the names, but I would keep an eye on Matt Scott and Tyler Wilson with one of those 5th round picks.  Matt Barkley would be something, though I feel for the guy and hope he lands somewhere with a real chance to start.

Wide Receiver:

As expected, an incredibly strong and deep receiver class remains loaded heading into Day III.  My favorite player, Ryan Swope, remains available, as does Rob’s, Quinton Patton.  There are seriously fifteen or so receivers I’d be excited to get.  It’s crazy.  And though I think Da’Rick Rogers is probably another Titus Young, everything else about him is very Seahawk-like.

I think Seattle will strongly favor receivers over 6’3″, namely Marquess Wilson, Mark Harrison, Marcus Davis, Rodney Smith, Tyrone Goard, Courtney Gardner, Greg Herd and the guy who I’ve probably jinxed into being a Seahawk by not talking about him…

Brandon Kaufman from Eastern Washington.  Not only is Kaufman basically a better version of Kris Durham, but he had 10 catches from 140 yards against the Huskies when he played them.  He was covered in that game by first round pick Desmond Trufant.


Tharold Simon and Sanders Commings are still around.  I’m not totally shocked, but whoever gets them is getting incredible value at this stage.  Both are big corners that run well and have good tape.

Marc Anthony was a projected second rounder by a consensus of anonymous executives, yet still remains available, and he comes from the Pac-12.

Demetrius McCray has awful tape but awesome measurables- the kind of specific measurables John Schneider really goes for (long arms, etc).

Don’t forget about Brice Butler, the Richard Sherman type project with connections to Pete Carroll.  It should be interesting to see if Seattle drafts him or if they chance using their connections to get him in undrafted free agency.

And then there is my favorite late round corner- Micah Hyde.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Hyde somehow went undrafted, but he’s just a great football player.  In many ways, he’s a poor man’s Dee Milliner.


Look for someone with speed.  Earl Wolff is still out there.  Fantastic athlete.  Ditto Shamarko Thomas.  Jakar Hamilton is a player I like a lot with one of those 7th rounders.  I like him more than the guys he competed with at Georgia:  Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo.  Duke Williams visited Seattle and has great speed to go with his big hitting ability.


I’ve always been lukewarm on Khaseem Green’s tape.  I know that he had good stats, but he seemed to me to be more of a damage control linebacker than a playmaker.  I had a 4th round grade on him and felt confident he’d end up in the 4th round, and that was when I was assuming he’d run a forty time in the 4.5s.  He’s not fast on tape, but he also looked like he was holding back.  I don’t really care about his decent pro-day time, as players usually improve on those.  His combine time was in the 4.7s.  No thanks.  If Seattle does draft him, it means they don’t value speed as much as I thought.  I’d be a little surprised if they did.  I guess we’ll see.

Cornelius Washington, who isn’t even a true linebacker, is the only remaining linebacker to run a forty time under 4.7 seconds at the NFL Scouting combine.  Think about that.  This clearly wasn’t the year for Seattle to grab a linebacker with a significant investment.

Later on, much later on, I would make a case for Jayson Dimanche, Craig Wilkins, Michael Clay, John Lotulelei, Ty Powell and AJ Klein. I kind of hope they avoid Jelani Jenkins, especially after the forty he ran.  If Seattle doesn’t take Khaseem Green, I think there is a very decent chance they wait for undrafted free agency.  The speed at linebacker just isn’t there this year.

Defensive line:

If Seattle only had a few picks left, I wouldn’t really expect them to add more linemen on the defense.  But with ten picks to spend, you can probably assume that defensive line is still in play.  Some of my favorite remaining options include Stefan Charles, Armonty Bryant, Rufus Johnson, Abry Jones, Jesse Williams, Alex Okafor, Brandon Jenkins (a natural LEO), Quinton Dial, Montori Hughes, Joe Kruger, Lavar Edwards, and of course John Simon.

I’m not a fan of Devin Taylor, but I’m keeping an eye on him as he has athleticism that nearly rivals Ezekial Ansah or Margus Hunt.

Quick takes on the rest of the NFL draft

Friday, April 26th, 2013

I was going to include this in my other reaction post, but I was having extremely annoying HTML issues and decided I’d just start a new post. More after the jump. (more…)

Day two reaction, fewer GIFs this time

Friday, April 26th, 2013
Christine Michael, my reaction in GIF form:

For those that didn’t see it, I mocked Christine Michael at #56 in my final “what I think will happen” mock draft posted a few days ago.  Michael was a player that was quickly becoming one of my favorites in the entire draft the more I evaluated him.  Though I wrote an article a while back touting Ryan Swope and John Simon as my favorite players regardless of draft stock, in recent weeks Michael had climbed up to #3 on my personal wish list which I’ve mentioned a few times in the comments here at the blog.

Of course, what I think doesn’t matter.  What matters is how he grades for Seattle.  Back in February, John Schneider revealed that his team grades for athleticism first before grading for anything else.  Seattle entered this draft without a true immediate need, so it stood to reason that they’d draft the highest graded player available.  I could count on one hand the number of running backs I’ve scouted with Michael’s burst and athleticism.  I can scarcely say I was surprised when I later learned that Michael set the vertical jump record for a running back (43″).  He also finished #1 this year in the 3-cone and 20 yard shuttle among the running backs.  And he did that in a 220 pound body.

Michael was the only running back I covered on this blog this draft season, and in that article I mentioned that he was my favorite high ceiling running back in this draft.  I was more than a little excited to hear about his undercover trip to the VMAC a few weeks ago, which might have gone undiscovered until Michael decided he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for the Seahawks via twitter.  I even commented a few days ago that Seattle probably hoped to keep that visit on the down low, because Michael wouldn’t have been that excited to be a Seahawk before the draft if Seattle wasn’t excited about him first.

As far as my thoughts on Michael, you can read my scouting report on him in the link above if you didn’t see it last month.

As far as my reaction?  I loved this pick.  Last year my two favorite players in the draft regardless of draft stock were Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson, so yeah, that draft was rewarding to say the least.  When the #62 pick arrived this year, my 2013 favorites John Simon and Ryan Swope were available, but a wave of last minute self-hype over Michael left me hoping for Michael the most.  His upside is the highest of the three and his opportunity to achieve it is the greatest.  Shouts and high fives erupted as soon as I heard “Chris…”

I fully appreciate that Michael has risks.  He’s had two serious leg injuries (though the Seattle regional scout responsible for this pick said Michael checked out medically).  I’m not really worried about the dischord Michael created with the 2012 Texas A&M coaching staff as it seems those fences have been mended since then.  The head coach himself admitted that his status as a new coach with a harsh approach played a factor and he didn’t seem to hold any kind of grudge against Michael at all.  Further, Pete Carroll has created the kind of team atmosphere that is perfect for players that are competitive to a fault such as Percy Harvin and Christine Michael.

The reason I’m so jazzed about this pick is because Michael has the athleticism, size, and physical upside of Adrian Peterson.  He even looks like AP a little bit.  And as I found out today, they both spent time doing offseason workouts together in Texas.  Peterson has better lateral agility and doesn’t have a fumble problem, but in terms of physical dominance, Michael’s potential is sky high.  I think Michael has 1800+ yard potential during a career year.

Again, he’s high risk, high reward.  I was once super high on Jahvid Best and that looked justified after he had a stellar debut in Detroit.  Then he got hurt the next week and he’s never been the same since.  The same could happen to Michael.  But similar to the Wilson pick last year, if Seattle hit on this pick, it’s out of the park.  You might have noticed too that Seattle has done pretty well on their home run swings to date.

Jordan Hill, my reaction in GIF form:

Jordan Hill was a player I really liked a ton early in the process, but drifted away from once I noticed that he’s more of an “effort” DT than a physically imposing one.

Back in January I liked him more than most and for a brief time I thought he deserved to be in the conversation with the draft’s top defensive tackles (Floyd, Sly Williams, Short, etc). In fact, when I wrote my DT article back in late February I included Jordan Hill in my analysis of the top DTs even though most sites had him listed as a late rounder.

I eventually cooled on Hill and stopped talking about him once I realized that he’s essentially a poor man’s Sharrif Floyd, and I was NOT a fan of Floyd’s, essentially considering him the Aaron Curry of defensive tackles. (Or perhaps a more accurate comparison would be him as a Floyd/Short hybrid: He has Sharrif Floyd’s two-gapping ability and lack of pass rush combined with Kawann Short’s quickness and gap slipperiness but also Short’s poor run anchor and lack of strength).

Here is what I wrote about Hill two months ago:

Jordan Hill:

Hill isn’t very big nor does he anchor well, but he is probably good enough against drive blocks to be a non-specialist defensive tackle. He partially makes up for this by being consistently very fast off the snap, and keeps a good pad level.

Hill’s uses his arms a lot like a 3-4 defensive end would, excelling at disengaging via extension, not unlike Greg Scruggs but with shorter, weaker arms. He has excellent backfield vision and tracks the ball well. If I had to highlight Hill for being the best at anything out of this group, I think he might have the best short area quickness. He can cover two yards side to side very fast, and despite being weak to interior drive blocks he’s actually an asset against slower developing stretch runs because he can disengage and cover short areas of grass very quickly. Not only is he very quick, but he’s exceptionally instinctive and knows where to move to keep a runner in front of him while keeping his shoulders square.

Unfortunately, Hill can’t seem to use his shed ability to actually swim past defenders, which I theorize is from a lack of functional upper body strength. If he had it, I think he’d be using it. He also lacks lower body strength and is impotent as a bull rusher.

Hill is a bit like Kawann-Short-lite as a 3-tech. He can sometimes slip through exploitable mistakes but he doesn’t force guards back. He could be a serviceable 3-tech, but not a star. I like him more as a 3-4 defensive end, where he can use his quickness around the edge more and will get more mileage out of his talent for two-gapping and reading the football. Then again, Hill stands just 6’1″ and doesn’t appear to have the longest arms, so he’d be a bit of a gamble in such a role. Those factors might explain why he’s expected to be drafted in the mid to late rounds despite having some talent.

Bottom line, I think Hill is a high floor, low ceilling option at defensive tackle that might make a nice option for the Red Bryant role in the future while manning either defensive tackle spot in the short and intermediate term (1-tech in emergencies).  He’s good for a few nifty plays a game in the backfield, but he’s not a dominant force. In terms of upside, there were many other DTs who are better that Seattle passed on for Hill. In fairness, Stefan Charles may have the highest upside of them all and he could last into the late rounds, and it’s not inconceivable that Seattle could draft a second defensive lineman with a late pick.

I don’t think John Schneider is immune to reach picks. I don’t think Irvin was a reach, and I don’t think Carpenter was a reach and I absolutely didn’t think that Wagner was a reach. That said, I felt EJ Wilson was a big reach in 2010 as was Kris Durham in 2011. I wasn’t wild on the value of the Jaye Howard pick either. Though I like Hill, I think I’d feel safe calling this pick a reach. I feel pretty good about Hill reaching the 5th or 6th round, and even if he didn’t, there were better options available when Seattle picked him.

Not a horrible pick, but I think in four years time every Seahawks fan (if not every NFL fan) will know Christine Michael’s name, but only the dedicated among the Seahawks faithful will know who Jordan Hill is, because I think he’s pretty likely to be an NFL average player.

Now that I’ve said all that, Hill was a player I liked a ton early in the process, so part of me smiled a bit with this pick.  There isn’t a ton that separates Jordan Hill from Kawann Short and Short was a player I was hoping for in the late second but didn’t make it that far.  Short is much better at penetrating the line but both have very similar strengths and weaknesses and Hill brings consistently high effort whereas Short is known to take plays off.  There are probably 40-50 players I would have preferred over Hill in the late 3rd round, but in an ordinary draft Hill would be essentially a BPA type talent in the late 3rd.  It’s not terribly fair of me to hold it against him that he came out in a historically deep draft.

Overall, I think Jordan Hill will be a John Moffitt type 3rd round pick. John Moffitt is not a star but he’s a perfectly adequate NFL starting guard in my view. The reason he’s struggled for playing time is because Seattle values upside (rightfully so), and that is an area where Moffitt lacks. I see Hill getting playing time and being a rock solid contributor, but never a star. That’s a good return for a 3rd round pick, though I felt Seattle could have done better with the options that were available at #87.