Archive for February, 2015

Thoughts on Oregon’s Jake Fisher and his fit in Seattle

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Jake Fisher stole the show at the combine today

If you missed today’s combine live blog, you can recap the day here. It includes workout notes, winners & losers, measurements, breaking news and a lot more

There were several key performers today but nobody had a better athletic performance than Oregon’s Jake Fisher. His 7.25 in the 3-cone and 4.33 in the short shuttle were top-five for OT’s over the last decade. He ran an official 5.01 in the forty yard dash with a 1.75 ten yard split and posted a 32.5 in the vertical jump.

Nobody came close to that kind of performance this year. It brought back memories of Joel Bitonio twelve months ago and Kyle Long in 2013. Both players went in the top-40 of their subsequent drafts. Fisher might be on the fast track to a similar result this April.

I’ve spent the last hour digging through some Oregon TV tape to have another look at him. Here’s some thoughts before we get into his potential fit in Seattle…

He doesn’t jump off the screen like Bitonio, but then it’s easy to forget just how accomplished Bitonio looked at Nevada. Against top-tier opponents in 2013, he excelled (National Champions Florida State, Anthony Barr and co at UCLA). He mirrored well in pass protection, drove people off the ball in the running game, loved to get to the second level and played with a constant edge. I recall one play against Fresno State where he dumped a linebacker on his backside. He finished plays every game.

I guess you’d call Fisher more ‘finesse’, but that’s really just a kind way of saying he doesn’t play with the same level of intensity. He’ll do his job on each given play to a reasonable level. But he rarely goes above and beyond — rushing to the second level, finishing a block with a little extra spice or driving someone out of a play after the whistle. He’s very grabby and gets a ton of flags (six for holding in 2014 alone). You don’t see the same kind of raw attitude. He’s a converted tight end and plays up to that.

One thing he does really well is recover. In the National Championship against Ohio State there were at least two occasions where he got beat on an inside move in the run game. He had a nice counter — pushing the defensive end into the pile and creating a new crease off the edge. In one particular play it created a huge lane for the running back. You can’t expect him to dominate every snap so it’s good that he’s alert and intelligent enough to counter-attack.

He’s an effortless lateral mover — that’s no surprise given what he achieved at the combine today. He’ll be able to cope with speed. There’s very little tightness in his hips and that’ll bode well if a team decides to keep him at tackle (more on that later).

Sadly, though, he is not a great run blocker. Not yet, anyway. He lacks punch and very rarely pushes people off the LOS. He can hold position nicely, but you don’t see those ‘wow’ blocks where the defensive lineman just gets jolted back. His footwork, while good when he tries to set in pass protection, is inconsistent in the running game. He needs to keep moving and work the defender, using his speed and size as an advantage. Too often when he initiates contact he stops and tries to win purely with upper-body power and this is where he struggles. He should get better here over time, but for now it is what it is. He must continue to get stronger.

Both Bitonio and Long showed more snap on tape. For that reason it might be worth pumping the breaks on his sky-rocketing stock. Yet the fact is — there just isn’t anyone with his level of athletic upside available at offensive tackle this year. There’s no Greg Robinson or Taylor Lewan. No Bitonio sitting there in round two. We’ve talked about this a lot — the top college athletes are gravitating towards defense. It’s been happening for a while. And it’s putting a premium on athletic offensive linemen who can match-up at the next level. It’s why Eric Fisher jumped Luke Joeckel as the first pick in 2013 — and it’s why Lane Johnson went in the top five.

There’s a big market for players like Jake Fisher in the league, however much work they require. A top-40 grade feels right today, but you’d still expect several other offensive linemen to leave the board first (including Andrus Peat, T.J. Clemmings, La’el Collins, Brandon Scherff and the blossoming D.J. Humphries).

So what about his fit in Seattle?

Some people believe a long-term plan is required on the offensive line, essentially to prepare for life after Russell Okung. I’m not one of those people. For me, Okung is a core guy on the offense. I don’t think he’s in the top echelon of NFL left tackles, but he’s probably in the next tier. It’s incredibly difficult to find even a solid starting left tackle and they usually cost a top-ten pick. The Seahawks have their guy and depending on what they do in free agency, they should work to extend his contract which expires after the 2015 season.

Of course, this all depends on what happens in free agency. If the Seahawks make an improbable move for Ndamukong Suh, they’re going to have to make savings somewhere. Signing Suh is attractive but still only a dream at this point. I’d expect Seattle to be active in free agency — probably to add a veteran receiver or tight end and maybe some depth to the defensive line — without spending mega-money.

There’s a theory that Okung is too banged up — and he has missed games. A bit of context is required though. Okung has never missed a full season or even most of a season. His most injury hit campaign was 2013 when he played eight regular season games. It’s easy to forget how poorly the O-line played in his absence with Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie at tackle. He returned late in the season to help the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl. He was needed.

In 2014 he missed two games. In 2012 he missed one game. Bobby Wagner has missed seven games in the last two seasons. Players are going to get injured. Had Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas picked up their late-season injuries earlier, they probably go on I.R. in 2014. Okung has a tendency to get banged up, but it’s more a case of frustrating niggling injuries instead of anything career threatening. This is part of the game and for me, it’s overstated when people talk about Okung. Especially when you consider every member of Seattle’s starting offensive line has missed time in the last two seasons.

The idea you could draft a tackle at #31 and use that player to replace Okung down the line is slightly fanciful for me looking at this crop of players. None get close to the kind of quality Okung showed entering the league. You’d be banking on serious development at the next level. I’d rather look into a Jared Veldheer type extension for Okung like Davis Hsu has suggested — he penned a 5-year, $35m deal with the Cardinals.

Of course it’s not just about potentially replacing Okung. James Carpenter is a free agent and might not be retained, creating a hole at left guard. I’m not convinced Alvin Bailey will simply step in to replace Carpenter. Even if he does, they need to add depth to the offensive line.

You could draft Fisher and move him to left guard. The switch to guard worked well for Kyle Long. You could put Fisher at right tackle and move Justin Britt inside. Would either move appeal?

Firstly, Fisher is a very different player to both Carpenter and Bailey. I’m not sure if Seattle is totally focused on massive size and length at left guard, but that’s what the current incumbents provide. Carpenter is 6-5 and 321lbs. Bailey is 6-3 and listed at 320lbs (but looks bigger). I quite like the size they bring even if performances have been inconsistent. Long is 6-6 and had to work to get to 306lbs for the combine. Run blocking, as discussed above, is not his calling card. The Seahawks do run a zone blocking scheme at heart, but they’ve also used players like Okung, Carpenter, Bailey and Giacomini to offer some power/size and grit. I suspect they’d like to retain that edge. With Fisher, Sweezy and Britt all starting on the line — there’s a real danger they’d get over-matched against tougher opponents (eg Arizona).

The Seahawks want to run the ball as their identity — I’m not sure getting lighter at guard will aid that cause.

Would you move Britt inside? Possibly. He had a mixed first year at tackle and has similar size to Carpenter (6-6, 325lbs). He also has short arms and might even suit the switch. The Seahawks like their guards to have tackle experience. It makes some sense. It would also mean two high picks at right tackle (Carpenter, Britt) who lasted a year before needing to move inside. If Fisher is also better suited to guard, are you going for the hat-trick? How many high picks do you want to spend trying to solve a position (RT) that most teams fill without the big price tag?

I wonder whether Fisher’s best role at the next level might be at right guard — just like Kyle Long and Seattle’s own J.R. Sweezy. He’s smart enough to play the position and teams seem to like extra mobility in that area. Of course, the Seahawks already have a long term starter there (and J.R. Sweezy is almost assured of a contract extension considering how much Pete Carroll gushes about his performances).

Ultimately I think it comes down to this — how much of an upgrade are you getting swapping Carpenter for Fisher (if any), versus swapping him for someone like Terry Poole who also enjoyed a good combine workout? Tony Pauline reported at the Senior Bowl that Seattle has interest in Poole. He also has tackle experience. He has similar size to Fisher (shade under 6-5, 307lbs, 33 1/4 inch arms) and also tested well (1.79 split, 5.09 forty, 31 inch vertical, 7.90 3 cone and 4.66 short shuttle). Poole could be had in the mid-to-late rounds but if you want Fisher, it might be #31 or bust.

There could be other options in the late first round based on today’s workouts. Ereck Flowers performed poorly in drills but he’s a terrific drive blocker who plays with an edge. On tape you really see him finish blocks — in one game he drove a right end to the left sideline and played beyond the whistle. He gets a nice push at the LOS in the run game. He has experience playing both tackle spots, he has size (6-6, 324lbs) and enough foot speed to evolve into a ZBS tackle or guard.

Today’s sluggish display could cost Flowers a place in the top-25, but is he be an alternative choice to someone like Fisher? He has 34 and a half inch arms. His official 5.31 forty time isn’t great, but it’s better than Ju’Wuan James’ last year (5.34) and he looked the part of an established NFL tackle in 2014.

Cameron Erving is also an intriguing option. He’s versatile enough to play guard, center or right tackle. The NFL Network pundits repeatedly compared his physical skill set to Eric Wood — which is no bad thing. He ran well — posting a 5.15 at 6-5 and 313lbs. He has 34 and 1/8 inch arms. He’s a work in progress as a converted defensive lineman who only kicked inside last season after starting at left tackle. He’ll be a tremendous project for the offensive line coach who gets to work with him at the next level.

And then there’s La’el Collins, who had a really good day today. He looked good in the Senior Bowl game, if not during the daily workouts. I’ve flip-flopped on Collins, originally seeing him as a top-five prospect in this class, then feeling he would be better at guard and more of a top-15 selection as a consequence. The all-22 tape against Alabama exposed some flaws (lack of push off the line, tendency to lunge) and suggested he simply had to move inside. But then you see this workout and can’t help but be impressed. He looked superb carrying very little bad weight. He moved around in the drills with a lot of grace for his size. He ran a nice 5.12 at 6-4 and 305lbs. I think he’ll go in the top-25.

Don’t sleep on Rob Crisp by the way — a player we highlighted during the college season. Nobody dealt with Vic Beasley better than NC State’s Crisp last year. He’s 6-6 and 5/8th’s, 301lbs, has 34 and a half inch arms and had an impressive 32.5 inch vertical jump plus a good 4.60 in the short shuttle.

Players like Crisp and Poole offer some depth to this class, not to mention other performers today like Mitch Morse, Ali Marpet, Takoby Cofield, Jamil Douglas, Donovan Smith and Jeremiah Poutasi. There is real depth on the OL to go with the options at WR, RB and DL. Seattle can afford to let Tom Cable keep adding his guys, even if Fisher’s performance today warrants greater attention moving forward. On the other hand, the #31 pick has the potential to be a bit of a sweet spot for offensive linemen.

LIVE BLOG: Combine day three (OL/TE workouts)

Friday, February 20th, 2015


— Jake Fisher has an outstanding day, could be a first round pick
— Maxx Williams runs an official 4.78, excels in pass-catching drills
— Missouri’s Mitch Morse performs well across the board
— OT’s Flowers, Peat lose ground to Humphries, Clemmings & Collins
— Tony Pauline suggests Byron Maxwell could earn $10m APY
— Eagles reportedly leading the chase for Maxwell’s signature
— Pete Carroll says negotiations with Marshawn Lynch continue “in earnest”
— Eddie Goldman won’t work out tomorrow
— Eli Harold is 6-3 with 33 inch arms
— Jameis Winston shines during his press conference

For the next four days I’ll be live blogging during the combine. Keep refreshing this page for the latest Seahawks news, data from the defensive linemen measurement session and notes on the OL/TE workouts at they take place today (beginning 6AM PST).

Join in the debate using the comments section.

To start the day — the DE measurements are coming in:

Shane Ray — 6-2 5/8, 245lbs
Dante Fowler Jr — 6-2 5/8, 261lbs
Vic Beasley — 6-3, 246lbs
Randy Gregory — 6-4 7/8, 235lbs

That’s big news for Beasley. He’s bigger than many expected. There was some talk he’d be in the 230-240lbs range. Gregory basically is an outside backer at 235lbs.

Mike Mayock says there are six potential first round offensive linemen. He touts Ali Marpet from Hobart College as one to watch.

The O-linemen are running the forty. The NFL Network is providing an immediate time with a 10 yard split (in brackets).

The average times last year were 5.21 (1.82). The splits are really the thing to look for here. Anything under 1.80 is exceptional.

T.J. Clemmings — 5.24 (1.84)
La’el Collins — 5.13 (1.86)
Rob Crisp — 5.27 (1.91)
Jamil Douglas — 5.20 (1.75)
Cameron Erving — 5.16 (1.86)
B.J. Finney — 5.26 (1.84) — former H/S wrestler
Jake Fisher — 5.05 (1.75)
Ereck Flowers — 5.32 (1.90)

Jake Fisher looks the part of an athletic tackle or guard. I’d prefer him inside. Looks in excellent shape, nice length (33 3/4 inch arms) and ran a 5.05 with a superb 1.75 split in his first attempt.

Here are some of the key times on the second runs:

T.J. Clemmings — 5.15 (1.80)
La’el Collins — 5.16 (1.81)
Rob Crisp — 5.34 (1.97)
Jamil Douglas — 5.25 (1.81)
Cameron Erving — 5.20 (1.84)
B.J. Finney — 5.34 (1.88)
Jake Fisher — 5.01 (1.78)
Ereck Flowers — 5.29 (1.78)

Ereck Flowers managed a 1.78 split on his second run at 6-6, 329lbs. Remember, these are not official times. But if that holds, it’s big for Flowers.

Tight end Tyler Kroft won’t be running a forty today:

The O-liners are now going through movement drills (the wave drill). This is all about changing direction quickly, how quickly you can react and the coaches want to see if you have any stiffness in footwork and lateral mobility.

T.J. Clemmings looked very fluid and loose — very impressive. He looks the part of a high first round prospect he just needs time and coaching. Mike Mayock is signing his praises on the NFL Network, while noting his poor Senior Bowl display.

Rob Crisp looked a bit stiff but carries his weight well. It’s a really nice start for Cameron Erving who moves well for his size.

Jake Fisher’s lateral movement is good as you’d expect. Wonderful side step. Just looks like a really fluid athlete. Ereck Flowers also showed a nice slide. He’s not on Fisher’s level but he’s carrying an extra 30lbs, it’s hard not to be impressed with the start to his day.

They’re onto the pull drills — taking a stance and then off the snap tracking the direction they have to go (signal by the coaches) and the idea is you stay low and move fluidly, keeping your eyes up without a false step. Clemmings again looks sensational. Like the former D-end he is.

Cameron Erving has a football to snap for his version of this drill as a center.

The second stage of this drill has the players blocking a fake strong safety at the second level. Clemmings again is the star. It’s effortless. Jake Fisher almost just sprints the drill. This was the first time Ereck Flowers looked a bit sluggish.

The live feed has compared La’el Collins to Logan Mankins. I prefer the Joel Bitonio/Mankins comparison a year ago, but the two players do have a lot of physical comparisons (length, size, speed).

Mayock’s top OT in the class is Clemmings and it’s easy to see why teams might agree with him on this evidence so far. You can coach technique — and he only recently converted from defense. You can’t teach this combination of size, length and speed.

The bags are out and now they’re asking two linemen to work together. One runs a down block with the aim of driving the guy with the bag 6-7 yards downfield. The other blocks inside. This is where the technical flaws of Clemmings shows up. His hand use was poor, took a poor angle and struggled to drive the bag-man downfield. It was really awkward. La’el Collins looked good here. Shaun O’Hara compares Collins to Bitonio.

Fisher had good leverage on this drill, gaining pad level with his hands and driving forward.

Now it’s the kick slide. Clemmings is reminded, “Don’t wait for him” by a coach, as he slows to monitor the rusher. They want to see him finish this drill and flash how quick he can be. He’s showing by far the smoothest footwork here. Jake Fisher is a close second.

Clemmings and La’el Collins in their second go-around actually tried to block the guys getting their hands up — this is a footwork drill and they had to be reminded of that. Collins looked really smooth with excellent size/definition. He’s carrying minimal bad weight.

Here’s Ereck Flowers’ two attempts at the kick slide:

As you can see — not great. He looked surprisingly sluggish on both tries (left and right side).

Pete Carroll and John Schneider are watching closely:

pete and john

Mike Mayock says Ereck Flowers should be a right tackle at the next level, but can play on the left. He’s starting to struggle here.

Now it’s the mirror drill. Another big tick for Clemmings here. Wow. Just so athletic. Cameron Erving did an accomplished job with his footwork and staying square. Jamil Douglas also did well, ditto jake Fisher.

Ereck Flowers looked tired and all over the place on this drill. His arms flailed around, he struggled to stay square, he was blowing a lot. Flowers started well and gradually got worse. It’s hard to say we saw a first round performance from him today.

That’s the end for group one. The two standouts were Clemmings and Collins with an honorable mention for Jake Fisher. Charles Davis compares Collins to Josh Sitton of Green Bay.

Here’s the Collins/Mankins comp:


A quick further note on Ereck Flowers — James Carpenter didn’t have a great combine but he had tackle experience and projected well inside. Today’s performance wasn’t indicative of a NFL left tackle, but there’s no reason why he can’t be highly drafted as a guard. Daniel Jeremiah just compared him to Cordy Glenn.

Group two is just about ready to get going. For more on Tyler Kroft — this is bizarre:

A quick reminder, the average times last year were 5.21 (1.82). The ten yard split is in brackets.

Key Group 2 forty times

Chaz Green: 5.16 (1.75)
Rob Havenstein: 5.48 (1.86)
D.J. Humphries: 5.13 (1.81)
Tre Jackson: 5.54 (1.92)
Ali Marpet: 5.10 (1.81)
Andrus Peat: 5.20 (1.82)
Terry Poole: 5.10 (1.79)
Jeremiah Poutasi: 5.33 (1.86)
Ty Sambrailo: 5.37 (1.84)
Brandon Scherff: 5.07 (1.78)
Donovan Smith: 5.37 (1.86)
Laken Tomlinson: 5.39 (1.89)
Daryl Williams: 5.41 (1.86)

Andrus Peat is an odd shape. He was a big lower body and a flabby upper body. He didn’t look in great shape.

A Seahawks scout timing group two is spotted yawning on the live feed. Long days for these guys.

Daryl Williams sported gold track shoes to run his forty, before pulling off a 5.41. Talk about a deceptive image.

Tony Pauline reported during the Senior Bowl that Seattle had interest in TY Sambrailo and Terry Poole. Sambrailo is almost certainly destined to move inside to guard with a 5.37. Poole is intriguing with an above average forty and a sub-1.80 ten yard split.

Onto the second runs:

Chaz Green: 5.25 (1.83)
Rob Havenstein: 5.48 (1.86)
D.J. Humphries: 5.16 (1.82)
Tre Jackson: 5.56 (1.94)
Ali Marpet: 5.00 (1.74)
Andrus Peat: 5.26 (1.85)
Terry Poole: 5.17 (1.79)
Jeremiah Poutasi: 5.38 (1.87)
Ty Sambrailo: 5.38 (1.81)
Brandon Scherff: 5.07 (1.79)
Donovan Smith: 5.28 (1.84)
Laken Tomlinson: 5.33 (1.86)
Daryl Williams: 5.29 (1.75)

The NFL Network is comparing D.J. Humphries to Bryan Bulaga. Ali Marpet ran the quickest forty and ten yard split of the day (unofficially) with a 5.01 and a 1.74. Mayock says he projects to center at the next level.

The cameras panned onto Bill Belichick (wearing a hoodie sporting his own name) polishing off a chicken wing. There was no meat left on the bone. He ate every last bit. So far we haven’t seen the usual ‘Andy Reid devouring a big sandwich’ clip.

Brandon Scherff has the build of a guard — but moved really well. Very fluid athlete with a sub-1.80 split. Daryl Williams had a major improvement in his second run (he ran in a straight line for a start). He posted a sub-1.80 split at 6-5 and 327lbs. That’s special if it holds up officially.

No offensive linemen ran a sub-5.00 forty yard dash. There were five last year including Joel Bitonio and Taylor Lewan.

Tony Pauline is reporting Byron Maxwell could be set to earn $10m APY in free agency. He wont be returning to Seattle.

Time for the drills.

Andrus Peat moved really well in the lateral drills. Effortless. Terry Poole also showed well and received praise from the coaches. They called for Ty Sambrailo to open up more and show more fluidity in his hips. “Stay down low” was the shout. Brandon Scherff clung to his hamstring after his first drill — hopefully it’s just a twinge.

Tyrus Thompson looks a lot like James Carpenter in body type. He took an age to stand up for the first drill but once he got moving he covered some ground. Donovan Smith also performed well, showing good change of direction and foot speed. This was a good start for group 2.

Neither the NFL Network or the online feed is showing the second drill. Brandon Scherff has changed and is done for the day with a tweaked hamstring.

D.J. Humphries did a nice job firing off the snap in the second pulling drill. Ali Marpet continues his athletic performance, sprinting in a similar fashion to Jake Fisher. Possible Seahawks target Terry Poole looks really crisp getting out of his stance and exploding to the second level. This is a nice, mobile group.

The tight ends will run later but they’re starting to go through the jumps. Jesse James posted 10-1 broad jump (impressive). Some more of the DL measurements are coming out too:

Eddie Goldman — 6-4, 336lbs, 33 1/8 arms, 10 1/8 hands
Arik Armstead — 6-7, 292lbs with, 33-inch arms, 10 1/2 hands
Eli Harold — 6-3, 247lbs, 33-inch arms, 9 3/8 hands
Dante Fowler — 6-2 1/2, 261lbs, 33 3/4 arms, 9 1/2 hands
Danielle Hunter — 6-5, 252lbs, 34 1/4 arms, 10 1/2 hands

The offensive linemen are onto the bag drills as we’re skimming through some of these measurements. Nobody stood out, but nobody had any glaring issues here.

There’s also some breaking news on Todd Gurley:

D.J. Humphries cut off his kick-slide. Missouri’s Mitch Morse looked good in this drill and received praise from the coaches. Robert Myers went the other way — putting in a poor effort. Andrus Peat’s was a little clumsy. Terry Poole was good here. Ty Sambrailo moves a lot better than his 40 would suggest. Tyrus Thompson just got hammered by the coaches. One shouted, “Don’t you listen?”

The full list of measurements is slowly coming out for the defensive linemen. You can see them here.

Vic Beasley is tall (6-3) but only has 32 and 1/2 inch arms. Eli Harold has decent length at 6-3 and 33 inch arms. Markus Smith had 34 inch arms last year.

Xavier Cooper is tall (6-3) but shockingly short arms (31 1/2 inches). That might put him out of contention in Seattle.

Leonard Williams is 6-5, 302lbs, has 34 5/8 inch arms and 10 5/8 inch hands.

Back to the OL drills — D.J. Humphries has really nice hips, opens up in the change of direction drill and looked incredibly smooth. Mitch Morse again looked good. He has short arms but incredibly mobile. I like Terry Poole’s overall workout. Moves well. Looks like a guard convert. Ty Sambrailo looked really tight in the hips. Daryl Williams also struggled somewhat.

Mike Mayock is praising the injured Brandon Scherff, comparing him to Maurkice Pouncey. At the same time, Daniel Jeremiah is Tweeting this:

They’re onto the mirror drills. Humphries again moves well and might be seeing a nice boost for his stock having got above 300lbs. Mitch Morse looks really, really smooth. Love the way he’s worked here. One to go back and watch on tape next week.

Mike Mayock on Andrus Peat: “He looks like a young, big (Barack) Obama.”

Shaun O’Hara watching Ty Sambrailo work out says he could use a redshirt year. Andrus Peat is tough to diagnose. He’s huge in the lower body and moves surprisingly well. But when he got tired, his technique disappeared and he looked awkward. He doesn’t have a traditional left tackle body despite having ideal length and weight. He’s going to be a really tough one to work out. He could go anywhere from #10-25.

That’s the end of the second group’s drills. The winner’s for me were Mitch Morse, Ali Marpet and D.J. Humphries. Both Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis say they expect Humphries to be the first offensive tackle taken this year.

Now we wait for the TE’s to run the forty and perform drills. And it’s time for me to eat…

Florida State DT Eddie Goldman says he will not do the drills at the combine.

There’s also this:

The official forty times are the offensive linemen. Here are the best times:

Ali Marpet (4.98)
Jake Fisher (5.01)
Laurence Gibson (5.04)
Brandon Scherff (5.05)
Terry Poole (5.09)
La’el Collins (5.12)
D.J. Humphries (5.12)
T.J. Clemmings (5.14)
Mitch Morse (5.14)
Cameron Erving (5.15)

Tight end forty yard dash times:

Blake Bell: 4.80 & 4.82
Nick Boyle: 5.04
Jesse James: 4.86 & 4.83
Nick O’Leary: 4.93 & 4.94
Wes Saxton: 4.56 & 4.66
Jean Sirfin: 4.84 & 4.84
Clive Walford: 4.79 & 4.81
Maxx Williams: 4.90 & 4.77

Nobody expected Williams to run a great forty, but I don’t think anybody expected a 4.90. His second time of 4.77 is more realistic for his skill set. It’s about what you’d expect.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the Seahawks are reportedly very interested in Julius Thomas. The few TE’s who actually ran here (many didn’t) showed very little explosion. There’s just not that much to get excited about with this group. People who fantasize about later round picks will convince themselves there’s a find here. In reality, this is yet another poor class of TE’s.

If the Seahawks want a dynamic pass-catching tight end, they are probably going to have to look at Thomas and Jordan Cameron. Thomas is a fantastic open-field runner who can make big YAC in the open field. He can take a pass over the seam for a chunk play. He’s an exceptional athlete and receiver, not just a dynamic red zone target (24 touchdowns in two seasons).

Mayock compares Maxx Williams to Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph.

The drills are about to begin. There’s really only two things I focus on here — hands and catching technique. Do they cup the football? Do they double catch? Is it smooth?

Nick Boyle double catches on the sideline and spills the ball, getting the attention of the coaches who say he should’ve caught it. The coach leading the drill says, “You need to move your feet like a typewriter but you guys probably don’t know what one is.”

Jean Sifrin looks lean, almost more like a big receiver. Clive Walford and Maxx Williams do a great job on the first drill (route to the sideline, catch in bounds) — the coaches let them know it too with some big praise.

The TE’s are now running downfield. Maxx Williams is putting on a clinic. No wasted steps, tracking the ball downfield, catching over his shoulder, cupping the ball (perfect technique) and catching it at the highest point. NO body catches so far. Just a really, really nice workout.

He isn’t a mismatch in terms of size/speed (or a great blocker) but he’s going to be a very reliable target for someone at the next level. There’s a bit of Dallas Clark on show here. He is very clearly the best tight end in this years draft, assuming Devin Funchess continues on this quest to prove he’s a receiver for financial purposes (he lacks the short area quick’s or long speed, he’s better working the slot or TE).

The one thing Funchess does that Williams won’t? Box off defenders. And that’s one of the things Seattle desperately needs on offense.

Official forty times for the TE’s:

M. Pruitt — 4.58
W. Saxton — 4.65
M. Williams — 4.78
C. Walford — 4.79
B. Bell — 4.80
J. James — 4.83
J. Sifrin — 4.84
N. O’Leary — 4.93

4.78 seems about right for Maxx Williams.

Now it’s time for the gauntlet. Blake Bell showed nice catching technique and didn’t drop a ball. The coaches yelled, “Classic” at him. Nick Boyle had a tough run, dropping a couple of balls. Cam Clear dropped two passes. Jesse James dropped one pass, let the ball into his body and he weaved around the route.

Ben Koyack looked smooth apart from one bad drop. Nick O’Leary was slow but showed fantastic hands — and he didn’t wear gloves. MyCole Pruitt jogged through his rep and dropped a couple. Wes Saxton labored through his. Jean Sifrin double caught one and missed another, but also high pointed a high throw.

Clive Walford dropped one but like Sifrin high pointed a really tough catch. Maxx Williams caught every ball away from his body and looked excellent. Again. He probably has the best hands in the draft (WR and TE).

In the second run it was more of the same. O’Leary was incredible again — natural catcher, no gloves, ran in a straight line, didn’t miss a step. No double catching. Excellent rep. Jean Sifrin dropped two passes on his second go-around. Walford’s second attempt was much better — no drops. Maxx Williams had another clean run with zero drops. Again, brilliant hands. Doesn’t let the ball into his body. All natural movements and technique.

Mayock: “This whole thing (the workouts) confirms to me that this is a below-average group of tight ends in this draft class.”

Clive Walford jumped 10-feet in the broad jump. Still waiting on the other numbers. Jesse James had a 10-1.

You can’t help but feel Devin Funchess missed a trick not working out with these TE’s. Instead of looking like a physical freak among an average class, he’ll look like a big target among a bunch of really athletic receivers tomorrow.

It’s been a tough day for Nick Boyle. He had a nice Senior Bowl game but has struggled a bit here. Jesse James is lean — almost skinny — but runs nicely and can get to the second level. I don’t think he’s a big mismatch who can box people off, but give him a year to add size and maybe he’s a nice project for someone.

Every single tight end just struggled on a deep drill to the right hand side — except Maxx Williams. Whether they couldn’t locate the ball, catch it, get deep enough. Williams ran a fantastic route and caught it in stride without breaking sweat. Wonderful.

If you want to compare TE’s:

That ends the drills for today. The most impressive performers? Mitch Morse from Missouri, D.J. Humphries from Florida, T.J. Clemmings from Pittsburgh, Jake Fisher from Oregon, La’el Collins from LSU, Maxx Williams from Minnesota, Terry Poole from San Diego State and Ali Marpet from Hobart.

I’ll keep the blog open for another hour or so. We’re still waiting for news on the vertical/broad jumps and the full list of DL measurements. There’s also this:

According to Mike Loyko, Jake Fisher posted the third best short shuttle (4.33) for an offensive lineman and the fourth best 3-cone (7.25) since 2006. It’s impressive. We’ll need to consider his stock moving forward. Is he getting into Kyle Long territory? Very possible. Look at the physical similarities.

Jameis Winston is holding a press conference — and you have to say, he’s owning it. Very confident. Very chatty. Cracking jokes. The off-field concerns are legit but he played the role of a franchise quarterback very well today.

Pete Carroll’s press conference is taking place at the same time, meaning it’s getting very little attention and no live feed. The only news so far is he’s still looking to fill a couple of assistant coaching spots.

He praised Bruce Irvin, leading to this Twitter response:

Carroll says they are negotiating “in earnest” to re-sign RB Marshawn Lynch. “We’ve had big offers out there.” He praises Jim Harbaugh and says he’ll “kick butt” at Michigan (it seems the pair became BFF’s following Seattle’s victory at Century Link during the 2014 season).

Going back to Jake Fisher, I had a look at Joel Bitonio’s combine numbers for a comparison. Bitonio had a 32 inch vertical (Fisher — 32.5), a 4.97 forty (Fisher — 5.01), a 7.37 3-cone drill (Fisher — 7.25) and a 4.44 short shuttle (Fisher — 4.33). Bitonio had 22 reps on the bench, Fisher had 25 reps. They are very similar. I’ve seen plenty of Fisher and felt, like Bitonio, he might end up moving inside. Bitonio is 6-4 and 302lbs with 33 7/8 inch arms. Fisher is 6-6 and 306lbs with 33 3/4 inch arms.

I’ll go back and review his tape with this new information. You have to say he’s in with a very good shot of the top-40 after this display and could easily land in round one if teams see the comparisons to another former Duck in Kyle Long.

That’s pretty much it for today. We’ll be back to do it all again tomorrow from 6AM PST. Don’t forget if you want to see any measurements or timings from today at the combine, click here.

Julius Thomas rumours, Darnell Dockett & live combine day two

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

I’ll update the blog as we go along. Today the offensive linemen and tight ends will do the bench press. The quarterbacks, running backs and receivers will be measured and interviewed by the media.

This is the big early headline:

That’s some considerable weight gain by DGB. Is it good weight? He looked slim at Missouri and had room to add bulk. But 12lbs is quite a lot. It’ll be interesting to see how he tests on Saturday. Meanwhile Jameis Winston is just under 6-4 and 231lbs, Marcus Mariota is just under 6-4 and 222lbs.

The other thing to start with today — speculation linking Seattle with Julius Thomas, courtesy of Matt Bowen:

“The Seahawks are looking to upgrade the tight end position, and league sources say Julius Thomas could be in play once he hits the free-agent market. Thomas would give quarterback Russell Wilson a true matchup weapon to target inside the numbers and in the red zone. Think of “50-50″ balls that Thomas can go up and get at the point of attack.”

“League sources” doesn’t mean a deal will happen. Reports recently suggested Thomas turned down a multi-year contract with the Broncos worth $8m a year. That was in 2014. Since then, he’s had another injury plagued season (but still scored 12 touchdowns in 13 starts). His stock might not be quite as high today, but it won’t be far off.

Would the Seahawks pay $8m a year? They would if they genuinely see Thomas as the kind of dynamic threat they’re missing on offense. They paid Zach Miller a lot more than $8m in 2013. Seattle needs a mismatch at the second level and a red zone option. Thomas provides both — when he’s healthy.

Whether it’s at receiver or tight end, they need an impact player on offense. The draft might not produce that immediate production. And the veteran receiver options are dwindling with Larry Fitzgerald signing a new contract in Arizona — and the Buccs stating at the combine they’ll keep hold of Vincent Jackson.

Seattle can afford Thomas. If they want him, they can get him. And while they’ll likely face competition from teams like Oakland — he’ll know he has a chance to win a Championship with the Seahawks.

And if you weren’t aware, Seattle reportedly tried to trade Percy Harvin for Thomas during the 2014 season.

Adding a unique edge to the story, Thomas’ father Greg played football at University of the Pacific in 1983. Coaching him at the time? Pete Carroll, who was the offensive (!!!) coordinator. Greg Thomas suffered a career-ending leg injury during his time at Pacific. After a quick scan on Thomas Senior’s Twitter account, you’ll find these:

But before you get too carried away (if you want to see Thomas in Seattle), there’s also this:

The running back measurements are coming in:

Todd Gurley — 6-0 and 5/8, 222lbs
Melvin Gordon — 6-0 and 5/8, 215lbs
Jay Ajayi — 5-11 and 6/-8, 221lbs
T.J. Yeldon — 6-1 and 2/8, 226lbs
Tevin Coleman — 5-10, 206lbs

John Schneider is up at the podium for his press conference:

He says “not really” in response to a question on whether he’d be shocked if Marshawn Lynch retired. There’s still no clarity on whether he’ll return. Schneider complimented the group of running backs in the draft.

Schneider also admitted Seattle could get 11 draft picks after all. He claims he previously said 10 because he didn’t want to be disappointed if the Seahawks missed out on an extra compensatory pick.

It’s been revealed receiver Breshad Perriman won’t workout at the combine due to injury:

The receiver measurements are coming in. Some early details:

— Devin Funchess has a 82 and 5/8 inch wingspan.

— Amari Cooper and Justin Hardy have ten inch hands. Todd Gurley also has ten inch hands.

Dorial Green-Beckham has been speaking to the media too. For a full set of quotes click here.

Green-Beckham is 6-5 and 237lbs with 32 and a half inch arms and nine inch hands. That’s big but he doesn’t necessarily have the length or hand size you’d expect. Devin Funchess is 6-4 and 232lbs, with 33 and a half inch arms and nine and 3/4 inch hands.

Jaelen Strong is only 6-2 — something I suspected watching tape. He didn’t look 6-3. Here are the measurements for some of the receivers:

Dorial Green Beckham — 6-5, 237lbs, 32 1/2 inch arms, 9 inch hands
Devin Funchess — 6-4, 232lbs, 33 and a half inch arms, 9 and 3/4 inch hands
Jaelen Strong — 6-2, 217lbs, 32 and a half inch arms, 9 inch hands
Amari Cooper — 6-1, 211lbs, 31 and a half inch arms, 10 inch hands
Tre McBride — 6-0, 210lbs, 32 and 1/8 inch arms, 9 inch hands
Nelson Agholor — 6-0, 198lbs, 32 and 1/4 inch arms, 9 and 1/4 inch hands
Sammie Coates — 6-1, 212lbs, 33 and 3/8 inch arms, 9 and 3/8 inch hands
Phillip Dorsett — 5-10, 185lbs, 30 and 1/4 inch arms, 9 and 3/8 inch hands
Tyler Lockett — 5-10, 182lbs, 30 inch arms, 8 and 3/8 inch hands
Vince Mayle — 6-2, 224lbs, 31 and 3/4 inch arms, 9 inch hands
DeVante Parker — 6-3, 209lbs, 33 and 1/4 inch arms, 9 and 1/4 inch hands
Breshad Perriman — 6-2, 212lbs, 32 inch arms, 9 and 1/4 inch hands
Devin Smith — 6-0, 196lbs, 31 inch arms, 9 inch hands
Kevin White — 6-3, 215lbs, 32 and 5/8 inch arms, 9 and 1/4 inch hands

For a full list of today’s QB, RB and WR measurements, click here.

Todd Gurley (10 inches) and Melvin Gordon (9 and 3/4 inches) have bigger hands than most of the top-tier receivers.

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims confirmed he has met with the Seahawks. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Josh Robinson also said they have had meetings with Seattle. Tight end Maxx Williams confirmed he met with the team yesterday. Auburn QB/CB Nick Marshall also had a meeting.

Todd Gurley says he won’t workout at the combine or the Georgia pro day on March 18th. This is the right move. Too many prospects rush back to get a workout in before the draft. Focus on recovery.

One note we missed earlier — John Schneider has all but admitted Byron Maxwell is going to be moving on:

One thing to remember on this — Seattle has significant finances pumped into its secondary. Overall there’s quite an imbalanced swing towards the finances on defense vs offense. That will change when Russell Wilson gets paid, but Bobby Wagner (and probably Bruce Irvin) stand to get significant pay increases too. Maxwell is a good player, but he’s not irreplaceable. A salary worth around $8m might be too much for Seattle and just right for other teams trying to build a defense from scratch. C’est la vie sometimes.

Meanwhile Jason La Canfora wrote a post today suggesting the Seahawks could allow Russell Wilson to play out his rookie contract, essentially saving several million against the 2015 cap:

At a time when everyone is assuming that, voila, this Wilson deal will just automatically get done this offseason, let be among the minority, if not the only one, to state that it’s possible that Wilson actually plays out his rookie contract. It’s plausible. Might even be probable.

Schneider joined La Canfora and Pete Prisco after his press conference today and was asked about this. He refused to comment on specifics, but did mention aggressive acquisition of other players as part of his answer. If there’s a guy they want in free agency — and if paying Wilson next year helps — you know they’ll do what is best for the team.

The projected franchise tag for quarterbacks in 2015 is $18.38m. That will increase in a years time, but could still be lower than $20m. The Seahawks have that option in a years time. It might be a little harsh on a player who deserves a long-term deal — but if it helps improve the roster enough to win another Championship, could it happen?

The one concern I’d have is this — the price of a franchise quarterback is only going to increase. Especially when Andrew Luck gets paid. Waiting to do a deal with Wilson only makes it more expensive as you delay the inevitable. An expensive contract today might be a bargain in three years time.

Ian Rapoport had this to add:

And I’d recommend this piece by Davis Hsu at Field Gulls on Wilson’s contract:

La Canfora also has this to say about the Marshawn Lynch situation: “From what I hear, this Lynch deal is getting close to being resolved.”

And just when you think things couldn’t get any more interesting today:

The quote ends: “ill be in az next year 1way or another rather its 1 game or 8. #thinkaboutit!”

It doesn’t mean Seattle but tell me it doesn’t half feel like they’d be interested. The Seahawks are crying out for a guy like Dockett working the interior pass rush and might need that veteran presence if Kevin Williams moves on. Dockett is 34 this year and tore his ACL last August, missing the entire 2014 season. There’s still a decent chance he ends up back with the Cardinals. But a year in Seattle makes sense if he’s released.

He peaked in the 2007-2010 portion of his career, collecting 25 sacks in four years. He had 4.5 sacks in 2013. His competitive edge, ability to play the run and pass and pocket-collapsing skills would still be intriguing.

The bench press reps are starting to come in for the tight ends and offensive linemen. Here’s a selection:

Maxx Williams — 17 reps
Jeff Heuerman — 26 reps
Jesse James — 26 reps
Tyler Kroft — 17 reps
Clive Walford — 20 reps

Brandon Scherff — 23 reps
La’el Collins — 21 reps
T.J. Clemmings — 22 reps
D.J. Humphries — 26 reps
Cedric Ogbuehi — 26 reps
Cameron Erving — 30 reps
Rob Haverstein — 16 reps
Rob Crisp — 26 reps
Jake Fisher — 25 reps
Ereck Flowers — 37 reps
Ty Sambrailo — 23 reps
Corey Robinson — 28 reps
Terry Poole — 25 reps
Donovan Smith — 26 reps
Tyrus Thompson — 29 reps
Darryl Williams — 27 reps

Melvin Gordon combine press conference highlights:

Sea Hawkers Podcast appearance & combine day one

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

I’ll update this post as we go along. Feel free to use it as an open thread. The TE’s and O-liners get measured today. Good times.

While we’re waiting — this week I was invited to join Adam Emmert and Brandan Schulze on the official Sea Hawkers Podcast. We talk free agency and the draft.

Check it out by clicking here. The interview begins 45:31 into the piece.

The big news of the day so far is a new deal for Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. He’ll finish his career with the Cardinals. Strike off one veteran receiver option for the Seahawks.

Marshawn Lynch update

Here’s Rapoport’s piece.

Some of the OL measurements are trickling out:

Jake Fisher (T, Oregon) — 6-6, 306lbs, 33 3/4 inch arms
Ereck Flowers (T, Miami) — 6-6, 329lbs, 34 1/2 inch arms
Cameron Erving (T, G, C, Florida State) — 6-5, 313lbs, 34 1/8 inch arms
Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M) — 6-5, 306lbs, 35 7/8 inch arms
Andrus Peat (T, Stanford) — 6-7, 313lbs, 34 3/8 inch arms
La’el Collins (T/G, LSU) — 6-4, 305lbs, 33 /14 inch arms
Jeremiah Poutasi (T/G, Utah) — 6-5, 335lbs, 33 7/8 inch arms
D.J. Humphries (T, Florida) — 6-5, 307lbs, 33 5/8 inch arms
T.J. Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh) — 6-5, 309lbs, 35 1/8 inch arms
Rob Crisp (T, NC State) — 6-6, 301lbs, 34 1/2 inch arms
Terry Poole (T, San Diego State) — 6-5, 307lbs, 33 1/4 inch arms
Corey Robinson (T, South Carolina) — 6-7, 324lbs, 35 5/8 inch arms
Ty Sambrailo (T/G, Colorado State) — 6-6, 311lbs, 33 inch arms
Brandon Scherff (T/G, Iowa) — 6-5, 319lbs, 33 3/8 inch arms
Donovan Smith (T, Penn State) — 6-6, 338lbs, 34 3/8 inch arms
Tyrus Thompson (T, Oklahoma) — 6-5, 324lbs, 34 7/8 inch arms
Daryl Williams (T, Oklahoma) — 6-5, 327lbs, 35 inch arms

Some comparisons from last year:

Taylor Lewan — 6-7, 309lbs, 33 7/8 inch arms
Joel Bitonio — 6-4, 302lbs, 33 7/8 inch arms
Justin Britt — 6-5, 325lbs, 33 1/2 inch arms
Zack Martin — 6-4, 308lbs, 32 7/8 inch arms
Jake Matthews — 6-5, 308lbs, 33 3/8 inch arms
Greg Robinson — 6-5, 332lbs, 35 inch arms

Some thoughts on the numbers here:

— Cedric Ogbuehi, Corey Robinson and Daryl Williams have incredible size. Someone will get a nice player in Robinson later on. Ogbuehi is recovering from a torn ACL after a disappointing 2014 season.

— Ty Sambrailo is a T-Rex — 6-6 and 33 inch arms. It’s hard to imagine he’ll play tackle at the next level and should kick inside to guard, although it’s worth noting Justin Britt has 33 1/2 inch arms and the Seahawks were comfortable playing him at right tackle.

— D.J. Humphries has cracked the 300lbs mark — if he moves well in drills he’ll continue to bolster his stock. I skimmed two Florida games on Monday and came away impressed.

— Brandon Scherff has almost identical size to Riley Reiff and Robert Gallery. And like that pair — his future is almost certainly at guard or right tackle.

— Rob Crisp has good size — he’s a later round sleeper to keep an eye on. He did a great job against Vic Beasley in 2014.

— Jeremiah Poutasi has been compared to Mike Iupati. You’ve got to like his size working inside at 335lbs and 33 7/8 inch arms.

— Ereck Flowers looks the part at 6-6, 329lbs and 34 1/2 inch arms. Andrus Peat was as tall as advertised at 6-7 and has 34 3/8 inch arms.

— Is Donovan Smith too big at 338bs?

Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams will be meeting with the Seahawks at the combine:

Here are some of the tight end measurements:

E.J. Bibbs (Iowa State) — 6-2, 258lbs, 31 1/8 inch arms, 10 1/4 inch hands
Nick Boyle (Delaware) — 6-4, 268lbs, 33 3/8 inch arms, 10 3/8 inch hands
Jeff Heuerman (Ohio State) — 6-5, 254lbs, 33 1/4 inch arms, 10 1/8 inch hands
Jesse James (Penn State) — 6-7, 261lbs, 33 inch arms, 9 3/8 inch hands
Ben Koyack (Notre Dame) — 6-5, 255lbs, 32 5/8 inch arms, 10 3/4 inch hands
Tyler Kroft (Rutgers) — 6-6, 246lbs, 33 inch arms, 9 5/8 inch hands
Nick O’Leary (Florida State) — 6-3, 252lbs, 29 3/4 inch arms, 9 3/8 inch hands
Wes Saxton (South Alabama) — 6-3, 248lbs, 32 inch arms, 9 5/8 inch hands
Jean Sifrin (UMass) — 6-5, 245lbs, 33 3/8 inch arms, 11 inch hands
Clive Walford (Miami) — 6-4, 251lbs, 34 inch arms, 10 1/4 inch hands
Maxx Williams (Minnesota) — 6-4, 249lbs, 33 1/2 inch arms, 10 3/8 inch hands

— Jean Sifrin is a basketball-style talent with massive 11-inch hands. One thing to remember though — he’s already 27. Meaning he’s two years older than Rob Gronkowski.

— Maxx Williams matches his listed size by Minnesota. He has decent length and huge hands. He doesn’t drop passes on tape. Very consistent catcher. Only one receiver in the 2014 draft had hands as big as Williams — Jordan Matthews. Mike Evans’ hands are 9 5/8 inches. This is a major positive for Williams.

— Jesse James is 6-7, but has shorter arms than Maxx Williams and only 9 3/8 inch hands.

— Devin Funchess was originally listed to work out as a tight end. He didn’t measure today or take interviews. Presumably we’ll see him with the receivers after all.

Yesterday we debated Melvin Gordon’s stock. If you need convincing over his willingness and ability to run up the middle, get the tough yards, patiently set up blocks, exploit small holes to make big gains, push the pile for extra yards, produce in the red zone and be a chunk-yard specialist — here’s the tape vs Auburn:

Melvin Gordon is ready for the combine

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Check the second video — it offers an insight into his personality and competitive streak.

What I’m looking for at the combine

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Will there be another Bruce Irvin this week?

I’ll be conducting a daily live blog Friday-to-Monday during the combine workouts. I hope you’ll join in the debate and get involved. Today I wanted to run through some of the things I’ll be looking out for over this year. Measurements begin on Wednesday with the OL’s, TE’s and PK’s. Workouts begin on Friday. For a full schedule breakdown, click here.

— Eli Harold is a perfect LEO pass rusher. He’s long, lean and explosive. I think he could end up going in the top ten. Is there a more natural fit for Dan Quinn if he wants to emulate Seattle’s scheme in Atlanta? Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin are good comparisons for what to look for. Avril ran a 4.51 with a 1.50 ten yard split. Irvin ran a 4.50 with a 1.55 ten yard split. They were both 6-3 — Avril had 8lbs on Irvin (253 vs 245). Harold is listed at 6-4, 250lbs.

— Will LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter win the combine? He has a ridiculously low body fat percentage (4%), he’s incredibly long and fluid. Personally I think his tape is horrendous but you can see the upside based purely on athleticism. He could go off in Indianapolis, excelling across the board in every drill.

— Who are the candidates to challenge Hunter? Eli Harold has to be in with a shout. Owamagbe Odighizuwa is built like a Greek God and could have a Ziggy Ansah type weekend. Ansah ran a 4.63 at 271lbs, had a terrific 4.26 short shuttle and a 34.5 inch vert. Odighizuwa doesn’t have Ansah’s 35-inch arms but he has enormous 11-inch hands and similar size (266lbs).

— Melvin Gordon is a workout machine. A true gym rat. Let’s see if all the work was worth it here. Jamaal Charles, the player he’s often compared to, ran a 4.38. I wouldn’t expect that kind of speed, but he’s probably a solid 4.4 runner. He has a fantastic, errr, ‘ass’, so he could challenge the 11-2 broad jumps by Lache Seastrunk, Anthony Alridge and Carl Stewart (best recorded jump in last ten years).

— Can William & Mary receiver Tre McBride prove he’s a fantastic athlete? Reports suggest he can get into the 4.4’s. I need to see it to believe it. Even if he runs in the 4.5’s — it shouldn’t be a concern. He’s shown enough suddenness, playmaking ability, ball skills, size and character to warrant serious consideration possibly as early as the late second round. He’s one of the most exciting receivers in the class and deserves more attention.

— Will Tevin Coleman work out? Tony Pauline reported in December he was carrying a foot injury. He was compared to Darren McFadden by Mike Mayock today. It’d be interesting to see if he can get anywhere near McFadden’s 4.33 forty time. UPDATE — Gil Brandt has confirmed Coleman will not participate.

— How fast is Jaelen Strong and what is his broad jump? I think he’s going to produce an excellent vertical with his basketball bloodlines. The main concern is separation skills. Can he show initial quickness in the forty and lower body explosion in the broad? He’s got a real chip on his shoulder — his Twitter timeline is a constant stream of retweeted criticisms. Let’s see if he can prove the doubters wrong.

— Just how fast are Devin Smith and Phillip Dorsett? I think Dorsett has a clear edge between the two and should provide the fastest time over the four days. Considering both players lack size, speed is going to be crucial. The quickest time by a receiver in the last ten years was the 4.27 by Marquise Goodwin in 2013, followed by Jacoby Ford (4.28) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (4.30). If I had to guess, I think Dorsett runs in the 4.3’s.

— Sammie Coates and Breshad Perriman have similar traits. They look the part and should have excellent combines. They need to. They have to convince teams to invest in upside potential because catching the ball consistently is a problem for both. If they want to generate high second round (or even first round) grades, they have to live up to expectations and test well across the board. And they need a team or two to believe they can improve with a summer on the jugs machine. Athleticism alone wasn’t enough for Cody Latimer (who had amazing hands) to get in round one. I think Coates and Perriman will struggle to crack day one, but if they’re going to — it’ll be down to their physical skills.

— Can Dorial Green-Beckham make a statement? He doesn’t just have to ace team interviews in Indianapolis. I think he needs to speak well to the media and show a ‘changed man’ vibe. I want to see him answer some difficult questions. On the field he needs to flash freak-of-nature talent at 6-6 and 225lbs. This is an opportunity to regain some momentum. The character concerns are legit and damaging for DGB. He needs to make some positive headines. Cornerback Marcus Peters faces a similar test — although I expect he’ll ace team and media interviews. He’s a smooth operator.

— How quick is Nelson Agholor? Watching him dunk a basketball, compete all over the field, return punts and play with real grit and determination makes you want to believe in the guy. A really good forty time could pump up his stock. Running a 4.52 last year hurt former teammate Marqise Lee. I’m not sure he has the potential to add too much weight and he’s skinny. That’s a concern. Guys without size need to be sudden and quick. I think he can beat Lee’s time. I like him.

— Just how special is Devin Funchess? Speaking of dunks, how about the video posted in yesterday’s piece? Expect an incredible vertical jump. I think he can produce a terrific 3-cone too, he shows good change of direction skills on the field. The main concern is he’s a build-up-speed runner and might not break the 4.7’s. If he can crack the 4.6’s — watch out. He’s working with the TE’s not the WR’s. Mike Mayock says he has better movement skills than Kelvin Benjamin. Funchess is the biggest enigma in the draft.

— Will we see any separation among the top three receivers? Hand size, forty times, vertical jumps — all could be difference makers for Amari Cooper, Kevin White and Devante Parker. For me Cooper is the cream of the crop and could surprise a few people. He’s more athletic than he gets credit for.

Yesterday we discussed how Maxx Williams won’t be judged on speed. He has a knack of making plays, he has exceptional character and he’s just a good football player. But if he can impress here with a great work out — and if he has above average length/hand size, it won’t hurt. If Coby Fleener can manage 27 reps on the bench press I’d like to see that from Williams. He doesn’t look particularly toned in the arms. Has he got natural strength? If he is going to run in the 4.8’s like Marcedes Lewis — a 37-inch vert would be a nice trade-off.

— How does Penn State tight end Jesse James perform at 6-7 and 245lbs? We’re all looking for a freak of nature TE. At that size it’s harsh to expect a remarkable workout. You can guarantee if we do see a special workout warrior at TE this year (we didn’t in 2014) he’ll be going earlier than he probably should. Every team is looking for the next Gronk/Graham. Of all the tight ends capable of making a statement — Wes Saxton at South Alabama might be the guy. He’s lighter (6-4, 235lbs) and that could help in the quickness drills. He looks good on the field.

— Which of the OT’s separate? Every year athletic linemen really boost their stock. It’s why Eric Fisher ultimately usurped Luke Joeckel as the #1 pick in 2013. It’s why Lane Johnson propelled himself into the top-five. D.J. Humphries at Florida has reportedly added 20lbs of weight. He’s long and smooth. If he can show mobility despite the extra size he could jump into the round one mix. T.J. Clemmings should also impress physically. Teams really focus on the athletic qualities here — much more so than they used to. Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan and Joel Bitonio were all incredible athletes with consistently good physical traits and drill performances. It’s no surprise Lewan and Bitonio impressed in year one. With the best athletes in college playing on the D-line these days, agility on the O-line has become absolutely vital.

— Will Andrus Peat and Ereck Flowers perform as well in the kick-slide drill as I expect? Can they match it with the length and strength to cement their place in round one? Can Brandon Scherff and La’ell Collins convince teams they can play tackle? How will Ty Sambrailo do in the bench press? He needs to show strength to match his foot speed. Can Jake Fisher likewise show upper body power and maybe a little extra (good) weight? How athletic is Penn State’s Donovan Smith or Corey Robinson at South Carolina?

— Is Leonard Williams as good as advertised? I think he shows real flashes of quality and his production at USC is good. But I’m not sure he’s quite the player he’s been hyped up to be in the media. If he shows up here with a supreme workout — I’ll eat my words. Speaking of USC prospects — how does running back Buck Allen perform? He doesn’t flash eye-catching size, speed or power — but he cuts on a dime. He has a shot to break round two as a top-notch cut-and-run back.

— How big is Shane Ray? He’s listed by Missouri at 6-3 and 245lbs but he looks smaller on tape. If he’s 6-1 and lacks length, how does that impact his stock? Rest assured he’ll do well in every drill as an explosive pass rusher. But teams value length and size, especially if you’re going to play D-end in the 4-3.

— I’ve seen some tape complaints on Oklahoma nose tackle Jordan Phillips. You know who had lousy college tape? Dontari Poe. Then he ran a 4.98 and went in the top-12 picks in 2012. If Phillips can run a similar time — and if he passes all the medical checks on his back — don’t be shocked if he enjoys a similar rise.

— Arik Armstead appears to be a favorite within the various front offices, much more so than in the media during the 2014 college season. He’s listed at 6-8 and 290lbs. Let’s see how big he really is and whether he can put on a show at that kind of size. You want to believe he’s another Calais Campbell. And yet Campbell didn’t have an amazing combine — running a 5.04 in 2008, posting 16 reps on the bench press (long arms — problematic here) and a 29.5-inch vertical. He had a 1.69 ten-yard split. It’ll be interesting to compare.

— We’ve been waiting 18 months to see Vic Beasley run a forty yard dash. He’s small, light and lacks length. It’s all about the speed with Beasley. Can he get anywhere near Bruce Irvin’s numbers (size and speed)? He’s going to have to run in the 4.5’s at least — you’d hope for the 4.4’s if he’s in the 230-240lbs range. He needs a great ten yard split too. Given his shorter arms you’d like to see a not-hopeless performance on the bench press too to alleviate some of the strength concerns. Irvin had 23 reps.

— I don’t see any of Carl Davis, Preston Smith, Henry Anderson or Mario Edwards Jr going in the first round. But they get hyped up a lot, so let’s see how athletic they really are. Smith is the most intriguing with excellent size and length. I’m just not sure he’s a top-athlete. Datone Jones forced his way into round one with a 4.80 forty, 112-inch broad jump and an excellent 4.32 short shuttle. That’s the benchmark for guys like Smith and Edwards Jr. Davis is bigger and has to look good compared to Malcom Brown and Eddie Goldman — two former 5-star recruits. As well as he played at the Senior Bowl, Davis’ tape is rank average.

— The defensive tackle I’m most interested in watching here? Washington State’s Xavier Cooper. I watched my first batch of games last week and he was very, very impressive. A possible second or third rounder for me, but I want to watch more before making a firm judgement.

— Hau’oli Kikaha’s medical checks will be interesting. Is he 100% healthy? And how athletic (or not) is he? He has the production, he’s a great hands fighter and he just gets to the quarterback. But he’s going to need to prove he’s more than a good college player. I’m not overly optimistic. If he he’s healthy though, teams will take interest in his production.

— Alabama safety Landon Collins was touted as a SPARQ demon a couple of years ago. Here’s your chance to prove it, Landon. In an especially weak year for safety’s he could go very early.

— LSU cornerback Jalen Collins is one of my favorite players this year. I think he could be a top-15 pick. He has the size and length. We know that already. I think on tape he shows rare athletic qualities too (eg chasing down Melvin Gordon in the open field). Monday could be his day. Get ready because Collins is a stud in the making. Jonathan Joseph ran a 4.31 at 5-11 and 188lbs in 2006. I’ll stick my neck out and say Collins pushes the 4.3’s at 6-2 and 198lbs.

— In terms of later round corners, I really like Alex Carter, Steven Nelson and Damian Swann. Out of the three, I suspect only Swann ticks the required ‘length/size’ boxes for Seattle. Which other corners stand out athletically to be the next possible Sherman/Maxwell/Browner? It’ll be a fascinating watch on Monday. This is the position, more than any other, where you can look at a sheet of measurements and eliminate three quarters of the group and focus on certain size ideals.

— Is Quinten Rollins a safety or a corner? You can ask the same question about Utah’s Eric Rowe. They need to show nimble footwork, change of direction skills, initial quickness and explosion. Still, Richard Sherman didn’t have the greatest combine so it’s never worth ruling anything out.

Let me know what you’ll be looking out for in the comments section.

Maxx Williams: Forty time will not make or break his stock

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

What makes a first round tight end? It’s not as simple as you think.

If you look at the last ten years a real cluster of very different tight ends have been drafted in the first frame. You’d expect to see a bunch of big guys with incredible speed. That isn’t quite the case. Here’s every tight end drafted in the first round since 2005 alongside their forty yard dash time.

There are nine in total:

Eric Ebron (#10, 2014) — 4.60
Tyler Eifert (#21, 2013) — 4.68
Jermaine Gresham (#21, 2010) — 4.66
Brandon Pettigrew (#20, 2009) — 4.83
Dustin Keller (#30, 2008) — 4.53
Greg Olsen (#31, 2007) — 4.51
Vernon Davis (#6, 2006) — 4.38
Marcedes Lewis (#28, 2006) — 4.80
Heath Miller (#30, 2005) — 4.77

Vernon Davis is the only genuine ‘freak of nature’ drafted in the last ten years — he also had a 42 inch vertical to go along with that 4.38 forty. He was 6-3 and 250lbs. It’s no wonder he was a top-ten pick. After that, there were a couple of ‘great’ athletes for their size. Greg Olsen and Dustin Keller both ran in the early 4.5’s — Olsen at 6-6, 254lbs and Keller at 6-3, 242lbs.

Three players ran in the 4.6’s. Eric Ebron almost cracked the 4.5’s but still went in the top ten last year (one pick ahead of Odell Beckham Jr). Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham both ran ‘good but not great’ times in the high 4.6’s. And then you have the downright sluggish times recorded by Brandon Pettigrew, Marcedes Lewis and Heath Miller.

You’re looking at one incredible physical specimen out of nine. The Lewis/Miller/Pettigrew trio were drafted as much for what they did on the field in college as they were for their athleticism. You could pretty much say the same about Eifert (Gresham’s forty time was seen as a surprise, given the athleticism he flashed on the field for Oklahoma).

When you put all this into context — what does it say for Maxx Williams’ chances of going in round one? He’s the only 2015 prospect with any shot at being a day one pick. This is a tremendously weak looking TE class — and that could impact the free agent market for Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron (if they even make it that far).

It’s very difficult to judge how quick Williams is. On tape he looks relatively slow — as he’s running away from defensive backs. It’s a contradictory sentence but still sort of makes sense. “He’s very slowly getting away”. (That’s a Simpsons reference by the way, not to be taken seriously if you happen to stumble across this piece during a Google search Maxx).

Look at the first play in the video below:

He runs right down the seam and is thrown the ball at the 35-yard line. He finishes the play, sprinting home despite being chased by two safety’s and a cornerback. Touchdown. The second play he shows good initial quickness to settle into the underneath zone for a nice gain (before dragging a cornerback downfield for extra yardage). The third play is a touchdown on a wheel route down the left side line. He motions from right-to-left and just beats the linebacker who is far too stiff and slow to react to the play call. Having seen Seattle get beat a few times on TE-wheel routes in 2014, this play felt familiar.

So you seem some quickness, the ability to make YAC and get open on the second level. The fourth play in the video he struggles to gain separation and looks labored. He still makes an incredible one-handed catch for a big first down.

At 6-4 and 250lbs — I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran a 4.7 at the combine. I felt going into this week that his forty time would probably determine if he can make it into round one. Looking at the history of first round tight ends in the last ten years, now I’m not so sure. Clearly teams are willing to consider taking slower TE’s in the first frame — if they provide unique qualities. And I think Williams has shown plenty of these. Plus an average forty time doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad athlete. I think this play proves he’s a good athlete, if not a brilliant straight-line runner:

One of the things that made Kevin Norwood stand out last year was his ability to maximize his targets. He didn’t play in a high-volume passing attack. This was the pre-Lane Kiffin Alabama offense. When they did throw, Amari Cooper received most of the attention.

Norwood made several difficult grabs, was adept in the scramble drill and kept making chunk plays for decent yardage. He was consistent, impactful, showed good hands and became a safety net on broken plays. Seattle wants to have the best scrambling offense in the league and that’s why Norwood was so appealing. He also ran a 4.48 and had ten inch hands.

The more I watch Maxx Williams, I think he shares similar traits. Not so much on the broken plays — the passing game is a virtual afterthought at Minnesota and they don’t have the quarterback extending many plays. But when they did throw to Williams at tight end, he just had a knack of making it count. Touchdowns, big plays, third down conversions, difficult leaping grabs, one-handed catches. He doesn’t drop the ball.

Williams led all college tight ends with nine explosive catches (25-plus yards) last season. If you want to believe he’s a possible Seahawks target — the chunk plays, character, consistency, bloodlines and red-zone potential all add up. The only caveat is they took Norwood in the fourth round. Will this combination of skills make up for a lack of game-changing size or speed to warrant a possible three round jump?

I don’t think anyone should judge him for not being a Gronk or Jimmy Graham clone. That’s not what he’s about. Those types of players are so rare. If you’re looking for a guy who can max out his targets, convert a few key third downs, run the seam and show up in the red zone — Williams ticks those boxes. And these are all money situations during a game. He isn’t going to be a 1000-yard monster but he might be a consistent feature, worthy of a few 800-yard seasons pushing 8-10 touchdowns. Throw in above-average blocking skills on a modest CBA-salary and you can see some worth in the latter part of the first round. Especially when you know the depth at the position is so weak in this years class.

I’ve seen comparisons to Olsen (one of the more underrated players in the NFL since he came into the league) and Lane Zierlein went a step further suggesting he compares to Jeremy Shockey. I’m not sure about either comparison personally. He’s a really good player with some physical limitations. I think he can get stronger without losing any speed, adding some extra tone to the upper body. That should make him an even more effective blocker.

The other thing he has going for him of course is the NFL bloodlines. Both his father and grandfather played in the NFL. You better believe teams pay attention to stuff like that. Williams’ mother was also an excellent athlete. He speaks like a player who spent a childhood growing up in a NFL locker room. He’s admitted in interviews he’s tight with Michael Strahan because of the years he spent following his dad’s career with the Giants. He’s not going to be intimidated by ‘the rookie experience’ and will know what to expect. He speaks with eloquence and confidence — plus a passion for the game:

Speed won’t be the deciding factor for Williams. There are so many other strings to his bow. The clutch-catching, the explosive plays, the athleticism shown during that touchdown against Missouri, the consistency and good hands, the character and the bloodlines. It all adds up. All of these traits are easily transferable to the next level. I’m more interested in his vert and broad jump (explosion), hand size and arm length (catching radius).

He won’t be the flashiest player drafted. He won’t have an exciting SPARQ rating. He won’t be the Gronk. But there is so much to like about his overall game. He’s a second round player at the very worst and he has every chance to go in round one — even if he runs an average forty time. I’m not convinced he’ll be Seattle’s pick at #31, but I could see someone else taking him in that kind of range (top-40).

And speaking of tight ends — get ready for Devin Funchess to have a big week in Indianapolis…

Thought I didn't have it. I guess I still do @carislevert @dw10_

A video posted by Devin Funchess (@dfunch) on

William & Mary’s Tre McBride definitely one to watch

Friday, February 13th, 2015

So far the 2015 class of receivers have carried a similar theme. Outside of the top three (with Amari Cooper looking like the most natural wide out to enter the league since A.J. Green), nearly every prospect has a pretty obvious flaw. Here are some examples:

— Jaelen Strong is a terrific high-point catcher who frequently takes the ball away from a defender. He could have an eye-catching vertical at the combine (basketball roots in his family) but a lack of suddenness going into breaks (and urgency), the inability to separate and the relative dependence on circus catches to make plays is problematic.

— Sammie Coates and Breshad Perriman are both incredible physical talents. Coates is ripped and has the look of a leaner T.O. Perriman is big, bulked up and explosive. They flash first round athleticism and late round hands. You can’t trust either player. Sure, they’ll make difficult grabs look easy, get you a few chunk plays. And then they’ll kill a drive with a really lousy drop.

— Dorial Green-Beckham has everything you’d want in a #1 receiver — size, length, hands, speed and he’s a YAC-threat. If Cooper is the most natural receiver since Green, DGB has the highest ceiling since Julio Jones. He should be a top-15 pick. But he probably won’t be because the off-field concerns are legit and serious.

— Devin Smith, Phillip Dorsett, Nelson Agholor and Tyler Lockett all make plays. Smith and Dorsett are incredible athletes capable of making catches downfield. Agholor is just a really competitive, athletic player and Mr. Consistency for USC. Lockett had a terrific Senior Bowl and will be a nice option for someone. Yet all four players are small and could be one-dimensional (Smith/Dorsett downfield receivers, Agholor/Lockett slot receivers).

Whoever you choose you’re going to be taking a preference. A team that needs a good possession receiver who can make plays in the red zone might be able to look beyond Jaelen Strong’s lack of suddenness. If you lack explosion on the outside and are willing to gamble on upside, Coates and Perriman will be attractive. If you do your homework and feel comfortable rolling the dice on DGB — the upside potential is huge (but so is the possible downside).

It was refreshing to finally find a prospect who is quite rounded.

Tre McBride at William & Mary is a fun player to watch. He’s not enormous at 6-2 and around 205-210lbs. It’s about the same size as Sammie Coates. He does appear to have good length (long arms) and he looks big on the field. Aside from length he is supposedly capable of running a sub 4.4-forty. I’m not sure about that, but if he can time in the 4.4’s it’s good enough.

Hands? Very good and consistent. He’ll make several circus grabs and will fight for the ball and pluck it out of the air. He seems to have similar body control to Strong — locating the ball, gaining position and timing his jump to beat the defender.

Look what he did to West Virginia in 2013:

You need to work on his routes but that’s not surprising. He should do more with the double move on the first grab in the video above but that’s teachable. He’s competitive and sparky — he’ll celebrate after a big play. Look at 0:39 in the highlight video at the top of the piece and notice the red zone catch where he tees the ball up using his foot like a soccer player. You’ve got to love that level of improvisation to score a touchdown. Talk about doing whatever it takes.

I’ve seen three games and he’s made two bad plays in the lot — two late drops against Richmond that spoiled an otherwise terrific game. I’m still searching for other negative plays.

It’s very difficult to find a prospect with this level of control and timing. It’s why Strong remains somewhat appealing despite his lack of wheels. Throw in what looks like a good wingspan and you’re talking about a big catch-radius. It’s not just about competing for the ball either — he’ll settle into a zone and fight for extra yardage. He can improve as a run blocker but you see the willingness to do it and the want to get involved. In one play he knocked a guy on his backside. He also returned kicks for W&M (2013 CAA Special Teams player of the year).

He made an impression in the Shrine week with Chris Kouffman observing:

“One could easily argue that McBride not only looked like the most talented receiver during week, but also the most polished. That is an amazing accolade for an FCS player. His speed and precise footwork were noteworthy. He showed the most consistency in separating from man coverage and catching the ball.”

The scary thing is — you’d expect he can get better. He’s said to have tremendous speed (we’ll find out at the combine) — let’s see even more explosion on those breaks especially on shorter routes to create openings. Let’s see him beat a guy consistently deep to take the top off a defense. He’s willing to work over the middle and take hits — at the very worst he can work in the slot or the seam. Based on what I’ve seen I think he can blossom into a more rounded receiver and line up anywhere. It just might take a year to get him there.

And the final point is the character. There’s a lot of unimpressive interview footage out there involving this class of receivers. Strong is quite surly. Perriman is a bit of a goofball. Devin Smith is hit and miss. McBride is well spoken, polite and offers thoughtful answers. Take a look:

I hope he tests well enough to be in contention for the Seahawks. He seems like the kind of guy you can work with. I’ll wait until after the combine to make a projection on where he might go, but he has the athletic/character qualities to warrant some attention and development. With a lot of the receivers in this class you’ll end up having to live with a trait you don’t like (lack of speed, drops, character concerns). McBride at least gives you a more rounded starting point. There are other wide outs with bigger upside in this draft. He’s not going to be an early pick. But he has a shot to make it and he’d be a nice project for a team needing a receiver.

Breshad Perriman: Athletic, but can you trust him?

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Breshad Perriman is getting a good press this week — but can you trust his hands?

The current flavor of the month prospect is UCF’s Breshad Perriman. Mel Kiper had him going 15th overall to the 49ers in his latest mock draft, stating:

One of the bigger sleepers in the 2015 draft class at this point, Perriman is a player I’ve grown to really like as I’ve spent more time going through his tape. At one time I had him as a likely second-round pick, but now I see him as a close call in terms of overall ability next to the top few wide receivers in this class. He’s got size, and strength, and is going to run really fast at the combine and be a guy who can both stretch defenses vertically and also make plays over the middle and in traffic. He’s also got great bloodlines, as I scouted his father (Brett) when he played for Miami.

Today Gil Brandt tweeted his interest in Perriman, suggesting he could be a first round pick. Greg Cosell went a step further, comparing his “size and movement” to Julio Jones.

Here’s the issue with Perriman — and it’s a big one. Drops. At the end of the day, you can have all the size and speed in the world. If you’re not a reliable hands catcher, how high are you going to go in the draft? I mean, you better have some pretty serious athletic qualities to make up for the number of drops Perriman had in college. According to Steve Palazzolo he had seven drops from 54 catchable passes in 2014 — a drop percentage of nearly 13%. That’s just too high. Palazzolo clarified they don’t count drops on bad throws — these are basic passes that should’ve been hauled in.

As Lance Zierlein puts it, “His drops will drive teams crazy.”

A year ago another big, athletic receiver was getting similar attention. Cody Latimer didn’t work out at the combine due to injury — but at his pro-day he recorded a 39-inch vertical jump, a sub-4.4 forty, he benched 23 reps and looked the part at 6-3 and 215lbs. Physically he was quite the talent. Then you throw on the tape and he had excellent, secure hands — he could high point the football and he showed dedication as a blocker and special teams contributor.

Getting behind Latimer was easy and although he eventually settled into a second round slot (drafted by Denver) — the growing hype was understandable. Perriman might have similar physical tools but he’s nothing like the reliable pass-catcher Latimer proved to be in college. For that reason it’s hard to invest too much stock in a high first round grade.

The receiver position is more important than ever with teams throwing a ton and building around the passing game. For that reason I can see Perriman going earlier than Latimer — who had the misfortune of declaring in a freakishly loaded year at the position. If there’s an early rush (Cooper, White, Parker) — teams might start reaching. Let’s say all three are gone before Kansas City is on the clock at #18. Can they afford to wait until round two, praying a receiver is there that they like? Possibly not. A small reach in the first round can be forgiven. I’m not sure missing out altogether will be in KC. What about San Francisco at #15? You have Cleveland at #19 (receiver is a BIG need for the Browns), Carolina at #25 (still need more), Seattle at #31 and New England at #32. So you can imagine a situation where someone like Perriman gets vaulted up the board.

The two videos below are both positive examples of his game. There are two drops combined, but also some pretty eye-catching grabs where he shows good catching technique. The quarterback situation post-Blake Bortles wasn’t great at UCF and you see a real lack of accuracy at times — throws behind or just off target. That’s no excuse for the big missed opportunity against ECU (1:43 in the second video), where he just straight drops a perfect throw and takes a touchdown off the board.

Ultimately I think Perriman will be a second or third round pick. It won’t be a shock if he goes earlier, but it’s hard to bang the table for him in Seattle unless you convince yourself he can get over the drops and make big improvements in that area.


Mike Mayock revealed his first set of positional rankings this week. His top five at receiver reads: White, Cooper, Parker, Green-Beckham and Funchess.

Thoughts on Devin Funchess, Mel Kiper’s latest mock & more

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Devin Funchess — the best big man in the draft, but is he gritty enough for Seattle?

Devin Funchess is a tough player to work out. He has great size and knows how to get open. At times he flashes good catching technique and he can box off defenders to make plays downfield and in the red zone. But there’s just something about him that makes you want to hold back.

If there’s one thing the Seahawks would probably like to add to this offense, it’s a hulking tight end/receiver mismatch that can work the seam, provide a safety net and just win with sheer size/speed. That rare player who draws a linebacker in coverage and just dominates (see: Gronk vs K.J. Wright).

It’s so difficult to judge these types of prospect. The Detroit Lions chose Eric Ebron with the #10 pick a year ago ahead of Odell Beckham Jr. Think about that for a moment. Detroit could have Megatron, Golden Tate and ODB. Instead they get Ebron — an athletic, mobile (and ultimately disappointing) tight end. Hey, he’s only a rookie. Time is on his side. But so far he looks like the next Jermaine Gresham or Brandon Pettigrew. Flashes in college but isn’t so special at the next level. The recent history of big WR/TE types taken in the first round is pretty sketchy.

Rob Gronkowski was a second rounder mainly due to injury problems (back). Look where Jimmy Graham, Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas were taken. Or Antonio Gates for that matter. You almost need to search for the diamond in the rough. I think Seattle accepted that when they took Luke Willson in 2013. Look for the size, speed and potential — not so much the tape or production. That’s not to say the next big WR/TE drafted in the first round can’t succeed. That’s why you keep searching.

So you look at Funchess and you need to decide whether you can live with the flaws and accentuate the positives. Some teams will be all over the opportunity to work with a prospect with this skill set, others will feel very differently.

Here’s what Bob McGinn’s anonymous sources within the league said about him:

“He’s not unlike Jared Cook, who’s with the Rams,” one scout said. “Pretty talented kid. Will he be your split-out tight end-H-back or a bigger wideout? I lean more toward the mismatch at tight end. He’s going to be kind of a hybrid player.”

Here’s what I think teams will like:

He shows good footwork and quickness for a big target and finds ways to get open. Considering he’s listed at 6-5 and 230lbs, this is impressive. Fast forward to 0:41 in the video below:

Look at the replay from this touchdown play. That is just a perfectly executed double move — selling the safety with a wonderful head-nod to the right before cutting inside. He’s wide open in the end zone. Quick feet, understanding how to sell a fake. This is textbook coaching and execution. Having watched four 2014 games now, this isn’t the only example of Funchess using his head to sell a fake. He has ways to get open and doesn’t rely on speed.

Here he is battling possible first round pick Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State) (all Vine’s in this thread courtesy of @JoeGoodberry — a recommended follow).

He doesn’t make the catch in the end, but look how he works to get open against a top-cornerback prospect. He darts to the outside before cutting inside. It’s not elite suddenness by any stretch, but he knows how to set the defender one way before working to the left. He’s fighting there and it’s a great effort. It’s a poor throw by the quarterback, but he still lays out to try and make the grab.

For the most part he high-points the football nicely and plucks it out of the air. He does flash solid catching technique (cupping the hands together, snagging it). He has the size to box off a defender and gain position — and it’s hard to overthrow him. Take a look:

There’s a further example in the video below at 0:33:

Watching the replays from the play in the video above, there’s never any doubt this was going to be a catch despite the 50-50 element of the deep throw. The cornerback can’t get around his big frame to play the ball. It’s exactly what Seattle has lacked for so long — a receiver or tight end who just wins through sheer size. Throw it up and go let him make a play. All Funchess has to do here is run the route, locate the football and the rest is history. He has position, he boxes off the defender. He makes it look easy.

He has a big catching radius due to his height and length. Russell Wilson has had issues with overthrows — it might just be part of an overly-conservative offense that preaches ball control and turnover differential. With Funchess you can deliberately overthrow and he’ll still go up and make a play.

Need someone to run the seam and make a difficult catch? He can do that too. Fast forward to 3:39 in the video below:

Despite the presence of four defenders, Funchess finds the soft spot. It’s another bad throw behind the receiver — but he still makes a tough catch under pressure. You can line him up anywhere — as a tight end, in the slot, out wide. You’d want to get him working against linebackers if possible but he can also work over nickel corners. In the red zone he can be effective too and he even showed some potential on screens and quick hitters. He’s not a big YAC guy obviously, but he can get you five yards on a shooter to the outside.

So what about the things that aren’t so appealing?

His whole career at Michigan just felt so underwhelming. Granted, he always played in a disappointing passing offense. The Wolverines were truly awful in 2014 and as the offense imploded, Funchess disappeared. You look at a player like Kelvin Benjamin and despite some of the mental lapses and bad drops at Florida State — he still had some beastly performances and big production. Would Funchess put up the big stats with Jameis Winston throwing the darts? Maybe. But he never took over a game like Benjamin at FSU and never played with the same level of intensity.

He’s very much a build-up speed receiver. When he gets moving he can accelerate and kick up a gear — but while his short-area quickness and footwork is impressive, he’s not quick to get into his breaks and he won’t separate on a go or post route.

Can he act as a conventional tight end? Perhaps most worrying for the Seahawks is he’s a terrible in-line blocker and shows little interest in the open-field to finish a block. You want to see more attitude here. You want him to line up at tight end because this is where he’ll really hurt teams — working the mismatch at the second level and down the seam. If he can’t execute the blocking duties can you even consider him at TE? You can take some of the pressure off by playing him in the slot (a lot of move-TE’s line up in the slot these days) — but he doesn’t have the short area quickness to stay there full time.

He lurches between circus-catcher and frustrating dropper. The stat sheet shows 20 drops in three seasons. He will make plenty of head-scratching decisions. There are also times where his effort, not just in blocking, is really sloppy.

Look at the interception at 4:03 below:

What is he doing here? It’s a half-baked attempt at a one-handed catch that ends up costing his team a turnover. It’s this kind of maddening play that turns you off Funchess. You know he’s capable of so much more — so what’s going through his mind as that ball leaves the quarterbacks hand?

There aren’t many human beings that can do what Devin Funchess can do and in many ways the positives outweigh the negatives. I can see why he gets a lot of first round attention and if the Seahawks want a big target who can make chunk plays and win over the middle — this is an option. But there are so many frustrating aspects to his game too. Will he be quite as effective downfield against faster DB’s? Will he dominate smaller opponents and continue to make tough grabs? Can he be a next-level dynamo in a way he never was in college — instead of another underwhelming move-TE like Jermaine Gresham (a superior athlete)? Does he have the potential to dominate like a Gronk or Graham and take over games — or is he going to be a 5-week-a-season wonder? McGinn’s scout says Jared Cook. Another player who promises so much but flatters to deceive.

His ability to get open with head movement and effort keeps me intrigued — even though I’m not convinced the Seahawks will think about drafting him early. The combine will be big for Funchess. If he shows difference making physical traits even if the forty isn’t great — he could be a big riser. But the only real reason I think Seattle would consider him is the size factor. If they can’t land a veteran receiver and if they don’t acquire a big move-TE like Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas or Jermaine Gresham — Funchess can fill that role. There is a ‘Big Mike Williams’ vibe to his game. But the lack of blocking talent, the question marks about his ability to line up consistently at tight end and the boom-or-bust nature of his play might be a turn-off for a team that loves suddenness and grit.

Elsewhere today…

Mel Kiper has put together a new mock draft, with the Seahawks taking Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett at #31.

Kiper: “Dorsett would offer Seattle something they simply don’t have on the roster right now, which is a player who can consistently create space with quickness in the passing game. The Seahawks are simply far too reliant on Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays and allow wide receivers time to get open, and Dorsett is a Porsche in terms of acceleration and the ability to start fast and stop quickly.”

There are seven first round receivers in Kiper’s mock including Breshad Perriman (UCF) at #15 to San Francisco. Depending on what happens in free agency, the Seahawks might feel obliged to reach a little bit on a wide-out at #31 (especially if they see five already off the board when they’re on the clock). We saw it with Justin Britt a year ago — are you prepared to miss out altogether if you wait until #63 and nine or ten receivers are gone? That’s why it’s important to consider other projections. Whether you think seven first round wide outs is likely or not, Kiper has brought an interesting talking point to the discussion.

I like Dorsett — he has genuine speed and suddenness and should run the best forty time at the combine. He uses a second gear to separate and he can beat you downfield. Whether the Seahawks are looking for this type of receiver is another question. In Kiper’s projection they would have alternative options in the form of Funchess or Jaelen Strong if they wanted to go big. If they were willing to wait on a receiver, Eli Harold and Todd Gurley are both available.

Charles Davis has also published his first mock draft on He has the Seahawks taking Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. He’s a beast — the nearest thing to Dontari Poe in the last couple of years. For that reason I expect he’ll go early, assuming he passes the medical checks (he’s had back problems — a concern).

Lance Zierlein has put together a list of the fastest players expected to impress at the combine. SDB favorite Jalen Collins is named here. A source is quoted as saying he could run a 4.4. If that happens — he should be a top-20 pick. The guy has so much potential.

In the next few days I plan to do a piece on USC’s Nelson Agholor. In many ways he is Seahawky. Plays above his size, good catching technique, knows how to separate, some initial suddenness, established punt returner, good character. He’s not a big target by any means, but among the receiver options Seattle might consider early — he’s worth monitoring. And he can dunk: