Month: March 2017 (Page 1 of 4)

Some draft thoughts for Friday…

— This could be the most unpredictable draft in a long time. The players going at #8-10 might have a similar grade as the players going in the 20’s. You’ll get a prospect at #15 arguably with a similar grade to the player at #40. Relatively minor aspects will act as tie-breakers. Names largely associated with round two could easily go a lot earlier than people expect.

— A good example is Evan Engram. He ran the same forty time (4.42) as Adoree’ Jackson despite weighing 48lbs heavier. He’s a reliable catcher with a great attitude. He’s explosive, a willing blocker and a better athlete than Jordan Reed. Players like this don’t often get out of the first round. He’s tipped to go in the 30’s but it shouldn’t be a surprise if a team like Tennessee decides to make him a top-20 pick.

— Where the first cornerback falls could be important. If it’s at #5 to Tennessee, we might see an early rush on the position. This could impact the Seahawks because if they don’t take one with their first pick, the really good options might be gone by #58. Alternatively, the overall depth at corner could mean teams wait until round two — leaving the Seahawks with a chance to draft one of the top five at the position.

— The order in which the cornerbacks leave the board is also open to debate. Marshon Lattimore is expected to go first but it could easily be Marlon Humphrey. Kevin King is understandably moving up but so is Gareon Conley. A team could become enamoured with Adoree’ Jackson’s playmaking qualities. And the likes of Tre’Davious White, Quincy Wilson and Cordrea Tankersley are good enough to go earlier than a lot of people are projecting.

— Obi Melifonwu, when asked recently who he’s based his game on, said confidently he is unique and that there isn’t anyone like him. When you think about it, he’s right. Physically there isn’t anyone like him.

— The second round will be a fun one for Seahawks fans. Having added O-liners and linebackers in free agency, there’s a degree of flexibility for Seattle (assuming they draft a needed defensive back in round one). It’s entirely possible they’ll address a stated need (DB, OL, LB) at #58. Yet the options at receiver and tight end could be equally enticing.

— The depth at tight end possibly pushes that position into round three or even day three for Seattle. Yet if they wanted to add a receiver, it’s not improbable they could be looking at one of Zay Jones, Chris Godwin or JuJu Smith-Schuster being there at #58. It’s not Seattle’s greatest need and it’s entirely possible they don’t go in that direction. Yet it could be a situation where — if the top DB’s, LB’s and OL’s are off the board at #58 — they see some long term value.

— I didn’t include a D-line pick in my seven-round mock draft because it’s hard to find a likely target. This class is rich in bigger, athletic nose tackles that will be available on day three. It’s light on interior pass rushers and top heavy on EDGE rushers.

— For example, DeMarcus Walker at Florida State has received good reviews for his pro-day performance. Yet his workout, including a 31.5 inch vertical, 9-7 broad and 21 reps on the bench, only provided a 2.96 TEF score. It’s not terrible but there were over 30 players at the combine that tested over 3.00.

— That’s not to say there aren’t D-liners they will like. It’s generally an explosive group. Dalvin Tomlinson at Alabama would possibly be a fit — but is another Jarran Reed type likely in the first two rounds? Are you willing to snub the DB’s, LB’s, TE’s, WR’s and other rich positions to take a Carlos Watkins or Eddie Vanderdoes before the end of day two? Will the likes of T.J. Watt, Tyus Bowser and Jordan Willis go too early? And at what point are you comfortable considering a player like Tarell Basham or Daeshon Hall?

— Sometimes you just feel momentum really building with a prospect and they end up going a lot earlier than people originally thought. That could easily happen to Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech.

— It’s really unlikely the Seahawks trade Richard Sherman. If they did, however, here’s something to remember. Pete Carroll isn’t just Seattle’s Head Coach and VP of football operations. He’s the best secondary coach in the NFL. And if they had to plug a rookie or two into the line-up in 2017, they’d probably be ‘just fine’ (as Carroll might say). It’ll probably be a moot point though because even if teams are interested in Sherman, the strong cornerback draft impacts value and the Seahawks aren’t going to give him away.

— Keep an eye on Texas Tech FB/TE Tyler Scalzi. John Schneider was at the Texas Tech pro-day today where Scalzi recorded a 36 inch vertical, a 10-6 broad and managed 37 reps on the bench. He also ran a 4.69. Impressive. He was part of his High School wrestling team for all four years. He was also a walk-on at Texas Tech. He has the grit and the profile.

— Whoever Seattle takes with their first pick, they’ll be a really dynamic and unique athlete in some shape or form. That’s why the likes of Kevin King, Obi Melifonwu and Adoree’ Jackson make sense (as do a handful of others). The Seahawks shoot for greatness, backing the coaches to bring it out. This is still the staff that turned one of the NFL’s worst rosters in 2010 into one of the best in the space of two years — without lots of top-10 picks. Their formula does work. There are just more teams trying to copy them these days, taking away some of the options.

— Greater depth and competition, plus a playmaker or two, might not sound overly exciting to fans. It’s important to remember how close this team has come to being in the NFC Championship the last two years despite a laundry list of issues, injuries, distractions and drama. This is the draft class to achieve greater depth. It’s loaded in rounds 1-3, where the Seahawks have five picks. And while they might not hit five home runs, they should be able to find competitors and contributors — plus a sparky playmaker at the top.

Seahawks seven round mock draft breakdown

If you missed it yesterday, I wrote a seven round Seahawks mock draft for Field Gulls. You’ll find a link in the tweet above.

I wanted to run through some of the thought process on here today so check it out, let me know what you think and then read on…

Breaking down the seven round mock

Increasingly it feels like it’s coming down to two options with Seattle’s first pick:

1. Take one of the few highly rated offensive linemen available

2. Draft a defensive back

Offensive linemen

Who’s in contention?

Garett Bolles and Forrest Lamp. The two likely first round talents who beat TEF (explained here if you’re unaware) and could usurp the defensive backs at #26.

Bolles is a tenacious, fierce and athletic blocker well suited to Seattle’s ZBS and their desire to be physical in the running game. He’d be an immediate starter at tackle.

Lamp was the most explosive O-liner at the combine and will likely move inside to play guard or center. He could start at guard and provide insurance at center if the Seahawks are unable to sign Justin Britt to a new contract.

How likely are they to be available?

Not likely.

Lamp is being tipped to go in the top-20 by Daniel Jeremiah and Tony Pauline estimates a place in the 20’s. With such a dearth of explosive, talented offensive linemen in the league, someone will likely take him before #26.

Bolles was the best left tackle in college football in 2016 and should go in the top-15. His absolute floor is likely Denver at #20.

Anyone else?

Would Cam Robinson and Ryan Ramcyzk be considered? Possibly. Robinson’s combine and lack of explosion would make him something of a recent anomaly. Ramcyzk’s torn labrum injury and on-off-on football career might be a tie-breaker.

Defensive backs

Who’s in contention?

It really depends what the Seahawks want to prioritise.

How badly do they want an outside cornerback? There are some really good, long, athletic corner’s in this draft. Deshawn Shead’s injury has left a big void that’ll need to be filled.

However, the Seahawks teach a technique that is difficult to master. The only rookie corner to start in the Carroll era is Richard Sherman and that was only due to an injury to Marcus Trufant. Will they want immediate impact with their top pick or are they playing the long game?

Do they want to upgrade the slot? Pete Carroll was lukewarm when discussing Jeremy Lane’s 2016 performance. Lane was virtually a full time starter last season, playing 71% of the defensive snaps. Drafting a dynamic slot corner could also allow the Seahawks to shift Lane to compete outside as one of their more experienced performers.

They could also look to add a ‘Buffalo’ or ‘big nickel’. The position is explained in more detail here. It’s commonplace for teams to use an extra safety instead of a nickel corner or SAM these days, affording superior match-ups against tight ends while not giving up as much in the running game.

Pete Carroll yesterday noted that recent signing Bradley McDougald could act as a ‘big nickel’ in Seattle.

Outside cornerbacks

Marlon Humphrey, Kevin King and Gareon Conley are all athletic enough and talented enough to go in the top-20. If there’s an early rush on cornerbacks, it’s likely none of the three will be there for Seattle. If teams wait on the position knowing there will be depth in round two, it’s possible at least one of the three will make it to #26.

Obi Melifonwu could be viewed as an outside cornerback project given his physical profile, speed and short area agility. It’s also possible Quincy Wilson and Cordrea Tankersley could be considered but they are more frequently projected to round two at this stage.

Slot cornerbacks

Is 32 inch arms still important? Is height and length still crucial? Or are they looking for a twitched up, sudden athlete capable of being a playmaker (irrespective of size/length)?

Adoree’ Jackson leaps off the screen as a possible Pete Carroll pick. Not only does he express natural, sudden athleticism (former 5-star recruit) — he also had fantastic production in 2016 (16 passes defended was among the best in the country, five interceptions and 11 PBU’s). He has has a bright, sparky personality and was a team captain at USC. You can imagine the Seahawks having a package of offensive plays for Jackson and he legitimately has the potential to be one of the very best all-time kick returners in the NFL.

He’s Percy Harvin on defense. A true threat to score any time the ball’s in his hands.

Alternatively Chidobe Awuzie and Budda Baker are physical and athletic. They’re not as twitched up as Jackson but they’re capable of making plays beyond the LOS. Fabian Moreau was another possibility but appears less likely considering his recent torn pec injury.

Buffalo/big nickel

Melifonwu is a possibility here as well as outside corner. He’s similar in weight to Deion Jones in Atlanta but longer and a better athlete. His sure-tackling, willingness to deliver the occasional jarring hit and coverage skills make him a strong candidate for this role, even if he ends up outside or at strong safety for the long haul.

Texas A&M’s Justin Evans is 6-0 and 200lbs, incredibly explosive and would’ve had a sensational combine but for a late injury. His tackling is a bit boom or bust (literally) but his cover skills as a dynamic slot with hitting capability keeps him on the radar. He performed well at his pro-day today:

Why are other positions unlikely at #26?

The Seahawks have consistently attacked their stated needs early in the draft. Carroll listed cornerback, linebacker and O-line as the priority positions at his end of season press conference.

Having signed several free agent linebackers and considering the likelihood Seattle retains a 4-2-5 type of formation, they’re probably looking for young depth for the MIKE and WILL and not necessarily an every down starter (unless a player like Haason Reddick somehow lasts until #26).

Is a SAM linebacker out of the question? Possibly, yes. Especially considering what John Schneider said at the owner’s meeting this week:

“When you look at the SAM linebacker position, it’s really hard to say you’re going to take a huge risk on somebody or step out on a limb for somebody because the reps are… it’s 15 to 17… or something like that, is the average. So that’s why you see that position in our defense, it’s just a nickel league now.”

T.J. Watt and Tyus Bower still have some versatility and value but might not be a high priority considering Schneider’s words above.

Receiver and tight end could be possible targets in rounds 2-3 depending on who’s available. It seems unlikely Seattle would go down that road with their first pick.

It’s also a severely weak draft for interior defensive linemen with barely any good options. The value is at nose tackle on day three.

What about round two?

John Schneider highlighted the strength of the draft was DB’s and TE’s. Either could be in play here.

For example, if the Seahawks take a dynamic slot corner first will they go back for an outside corner at #58? What safety/big nickel options remain available?

Cordrea Tankersley and Quincy Wilson could be very intriguing if they last deep into the second frame. Shaq Griffin is another possibility. Ahkello Witherspoon has the talent to warrant going in this range but his tackling form is off-putting.

Tight end options could include Evan Engram and Bucky Hodges but it’s unlikely Engram will last beyond the top-40. Zay Jones has the type of attitude and athleticism they’ve liked at receiver in the past and could be someone to monitor. Chris Godwin is another receiver option.

While it’s unlikely Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt last to Seattle’s pick in round two, if the Seahawks make a similar move to last year (trade down in round one, trade up in round two) they could be on the radar. Ditto Zach Cunningham.

And the offensive line has to remain a possibility. Keep an eye on Nico Siragusa, Isaac Asiata and Taylor Moton.

With three picks in round three, who could be on the radar?

This could be the range where the Seahawks start thinking linebacker if they didn’t take one with their first two picks. Vince Biegel, Alex Anzalone, Duke Riley, Ben Gedeon, Elijah Lee and Jordan Evans tested well enough in terms of short area agility (the importance of which is explained here) to be possible candidates for Seattle.

This could be where they take a tight end, especially with Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson out of contract in 2018. Iowa’s George Kittle has the explosive traits, blocking skills and overall athleticism to be on their radar. Jake Butt could be a ‘redshirt’ candidate while Gerald Everett and Jonnu Smith could also be options.

It’ll be interesting to see which offensive linemen remain available. Does Asiata, for example, make it to the late third round? And would they consider someone like Adam Bisnowaty given the comparisons to Ricky Wagner and his wrestling background?

This could be a good range for receivers including Jehu Chesson, Malachi Dupre, Taywan Taylor, Quincy Adeboyejo, Robert Davis or Josh Reynolds.

If they haven’t added any depth at safety by this point, Washington State’s Shalom Luani continues to look like an appealing option. This could also be the range where Rasul Douglas, Rayshawn Jenkins, Shaq Griffin, Montae Nicholson and Marquez White are considered.

What about day three?

The Seahawks currently only have picks in rounds six and seven, so a trade down at some point appears likely to bridge the gap between rounds three and six.

Keep an eye on the players Seattle invites to the VMAC, especially the high upside athletes. The Seahawks sometimes use the late rounds to get a step ahead in the UDFA market, backing themselves to recruit well when the draft is over. So positional preference comes in to play here.

For example, they’d already drafted two running backs a year ago when they took Zac Brooks in round seven. Perhaps fearing they wouldn’t be able to convince him to sign as a free agent, they took him in round seven.

Takeaways from Pete Carroll & John Schneider

John Schneider and Pete Carroll both spoke at the owners meetings this week. Here are some of the headlines (courtesy of Twitter) and some takeaways:

The Seahawks need somebody to step up and start at outside corner this year. Given the complexity of Seattle’s scheme, it’ll be difficult for a rookie to start in week one. Pierre Desir, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Lane or another will likely get a chance to start in week one. Even if the situation changes as the season progresses.

Schneider did little to pour cold water on a possible trade, with Carroll being more forward in admitting he didn’t think anything was likely.

That said, there was no categorical ‘we are not trading’ Richard Sherman. That was Hue Jackson’s statement amid the Joe Thomas rumours before the last trade deadline.

It’s unclear how serious Seattle is about trading Richard Sherman. This wasn’t a ‘come and get it’ plea. Yet neither Carroll or Schneider stopped the rumours dead in their tracks.

If they did want to move him, the problem is this isn’t a seller’s market. With such a rich draft in cornerbacks, the motivation to give up a first round pick plus for a 29-year-old corner, however good he is, really isn’t there.

So while there might be interest in Sherman and a willingness to deal him, working out a deal that works for all parties just seems highly unlikely.

Here’s Carroll’s quotes in full on the situation:

“You either are competing or you are not… so we have always had to be open to every suggestion that comes along. There have been some teams that have called and so we have talked about it but he is extremely important to our football team. I don’t see anything happening at all. I don’t see anything happening with any of our players. It has been talked about. He is a great player and he can impact a team. I can see why people would be interested in him.”

The big question is — if no trade is forthcoming, how is the relationship between Sherman and the team and is there any danger this becomes a further distraction?

This is encouraging. And while Chancellor might ultimately be too pricey given the current safety market — at least this indicates a desire to get something done and make sure Seattle’s heart and soul in the locker room remains a crucial part of this team for years to come.

This is the first time (I think) that Carroll has referenced the ‘big nickel’ position and Seattle’s preference to play in nickel (adjusting with the rest of the league).

We talked about the big nickel or ‘Buffalo’ position in more detail here.

Carroll’s words highlight the distinct possibility of the Seahawks taking a specialist nickel corner with their first pick (e.g. Adoree’ Jackson, Budda Baker) or a ‘Buffalo’ (Justin Evans, Obi Melifonwu).

This was a stated off-season priority for the Seahawks (improving linebacker depth). Carroll also re-stated they will seek to get younger at the position too, opening up a probable pick or two at the position in the draft.

Round three could be a target area with Vince Biegel, Alex Anzalone, Duke Riley, Elijah Lee, Ben Gedeon and Jordan Evans possible options.

Carroll asserted Luke Joeckel could start at left tackle, affording George Fant a chance to sit and learn. He also discussed the possibility of Germain Ifedi moving back to right tackle.

This is interesting because it opens up the possibility of an early pick on the O-line. If Forrest Lamp lasts to #26, he could come in and play left or right guard. Taylor Moton, Isaac Asiata and Nico Siragusa could be options in rounds two or three.

With Odhiambo and Glowinski likely competing at left guard and Aboushi on the right side, there’s ample room for an early pick on the offensive line.


Today is the Texas A&M pro-day so we’ll see if Justin Evans works out. He didn’t perform at the combine due to a late injury.

If you missed this weeks new podcast discussing a wide range of Seahawks and draft topics, you can listen here:

Jarrad Davis pro-day results

Davis’ broad jump and vertical would’ve ranked #1 at the combine:

Vertical jump (top five)

Jarrad Davis — 38.5
Tyus Bowser — 37.5
Blair Brown — 37
T.J. Watt — 37
Zach Cunningham — 35

Broad jump

Jarrad Davis — 10-8
T.J. Watt — 10-8
Tyus Bowser — 10-7
Matt Milano — 10-6
Zach Cunningham — 10-5

Davis also ran a 4.56 forty.

He has the character and intensity, the good tape and at his pro-day he’s proving to be a highly explosive athlete. It seems very likely someone will take him in the first round. The Raiders at #24 might be his floor.

Tony Pauline’s two-round mock draft

You’re probably well aware of Tony Pauline’s ‘Draft Analyst’ website — but if not you’re missing out. Tony’s the best draft insider in the business with a proven track record on Seahawks-specific info.

Today he published a two round mock draft (click here to see it). Two of the big headline picks are Kevin King going at #14 to Philadelphia and Budda Baker going at #17 to Washington.

Although both projections are different, they also make a ton of sense.

King is a unique athlete. Cornerbacks with his physical profile are rare. He has the height and length of a bigger corner (6-3, 200lbs, 32 inch arms) but the long speed and short-area agility of a smaller slot CB.

It means he can be challenged to handle any position at the next level. His agility testing (highlighted by an incredible 3.89 short shuttle) show he can realistically cover the slot against any type of target. His 4.43 forty and size means he can run against a #1 (whatever the size or style), cover dynamic TE’s and be physical in the run game.

He flew under the radar partly because he was seen as the other guy playing across from Sidney Jones. King is a freakish athlete with a rare profile. His performances were always underrated and he has the character and work ethic (and tape study dedication) to compliment what he is physically.

It’s entirely possible he’ll go in the top-20.

Budda Baker meanwhile is just a stud. Size might work against him but it hasn’t been a problem for Earl Thomas. And while Baker will struggle to match Thomas’ sensational career, teams will be enamoured by his intensity, physicality and versatility.

What about Seattle’s picks?

#26 — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Analysis: Adoree’ Jackson is a consideration here as would be any highly rated offensive lineman who slips to 26. Conley is big, athletic and plays smart football and perfectly fits the Seahawks mold.

It’s interesting that Tony notes Adoree’ Jackson is a consideration. We’ve talked a lot recently about Jackson as a potential Seahawk.

Yes, Jackson is undersized. However, he’s also exactly the type of dynamic, natural athlete Pete Carroll loves to draft in round one.

He’s a former 5-star, #6 overall recruit with natural suddenness and athleticism. He’s Percy Harvin without the hassle and he plays defense.

The Seahawks are exactly the type of team to see value in Jackson’s special teams impact (especially with Tyler Lockett returning from a broken leg). They’re the kind of team that will have an ‘Adoree’ Jackson package’ in the offensive playbook. He can handle 70% of the snaps on defense in the slot.

Furthermore you’d be getting an immediate impact player. He’s a day one starter in the slot and on special teams. The Seahawks have been loathe in the past to start outside corners early due to the complex technique they teach. A rookie drafted to play outside corner might not get on the field in week one.

Pauline linking him as a possibility to Seattle adds some validity to the assertion he could be an option. If the likes of Kevin King aren’t available at #26 (plus one or two others) — Jackson could be a player they seriously consider.

Conley, the actual pick at #26 in Tony’s mock, is also a fine possibility. He has the length and athleticism they like. Technique wise he’d have a lot to learn to play in Seattle’s system. Too often in college he handed a free release to the receiver and relied on athleticism to stick. At the next level he’ll be beaten like a drum unless he learns how to jam and use his hands to guide and feel the route, knowing when the receiver’s going to break.

You can have all the recovery speed in the world but in the NFL you’re going to need to get an angle on the route more often than not. That means contact.

Still, it’s highly possible the Seahawks will take one of these long, athletic outside cornerbacks even if they don’t start immediately or experience some growing pains as a rookie.

In round two, Pauline has the Seahawks drafting Charles Harris.

This feels quite low for a player who has received a lot of first round buzz. He handled the position drills at the combine as well as anyone. It’s entirely possible he goes in round one and Detroit at #21 is a popular destination in mock drafts.

I’m not sure he’s a SAM/LEO given he didn’t run an elite 10-yard split and his agility testing wasn’t in the Bruce Irvin range. Neither was he a Frank Clark dynamo at the combine. Still, he’s a talented player with a lot of potential.

Would the Seahawks draft back-to-back cornerbacks?

Just a quick thought for the weekend…

By signing two offensive linemen and three linebackers in free agency, the Seahawks have bought an opportunity to tap into the strength of the draft class.

The defensive backs.

It’s still entirely possible they could draft an O-liner or linebacker in the first two rounds. Yet with such a strong group of safety’s and cornerbacks available, they’ve set themselves up to tap into the talent pool.

Could they consider drafting a slot corner and an outside corner with their first two picks?

After all, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright require help and competition not replacements. The O-line has a question mark at tackle but they do have competition.

There’s quite a void at outside corner across from Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll was lukewarm when discussing Jeremy Lane’s play in 2016.

Lane played 71% of the defensive snaps last year and was essentially a full time starter. He’s also a possible cap casualty in 2018 (they’d save nearly $5m by cutting him).

It’s entirely possible they draft a ‘big nickel’ to man that spot in the future but a dynamic slot corner could also be a consideration. Especially with the players available.

For example, we’ve talked a lot about Adoree’ Jackson recently. The more I watched him, the more he felt like a prospective Seahawk. Yesterday I suggested he was Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

I’ll say it again…

He’s Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

He has grit. On three occasions I watched him chase down lost causes to make a TD-saving tackle. He’s an incredible athlete and a former 5-star recruit. He didn’t destroy the combine but neither did Harvin. He has the type of natural athleticism that doesn’t necessarily translate to the combine but you watch the games and you see his ability to change direction quickly, to run away from people, to get to 0-60 effortlessly.

He’s sudden. The Seahawks like sudden.

He’s tremendously productive and a playmaker. Five interceptions, 16 passes defended, 11 PBU’s, four return touchdowns and a receiving score in 2016.

He was a team captain at USC.

Jackson might be too small for the Seahawks. Yet he’ll go in round one to somebody, likely as a dynamic slot corner and kick returner. Why not Seattle?

He’d be a 70-80% snap performer on defense and your day one starter as a return man. Don’t underestimate that aspect of his game with Tyler Lockett recovering from a broken leg.

The more you watch him, the clearer it is he’s one of the best players in a great defensive draft.

Upgrading Lane might be one of their priorities. And considering the depth of the class, they could also draft an outside corner in round two.

I wrote about Cordrea Tankersley a few days ago as a possible target. He has a lot of the tools the Seahawks like and a very similar playing style to Byron Maxwell.

Unlike Gareon Conley he’ll jam and use his hands to control the route and get a feel for what the receiver’s going to do. This is a big problem for Conley. He offers free release after free release. At the next level he’ll have to learn how to use his hands, anticipate and re-route. Tankersley’s already there.

He also does a good job baiting quarterbacks into mistakes, gaining position and being the kind of opportunist Seattle likes. He’s a reasonable tackler in run support. He was productive too with 16 PBU’s in 2016, the same number as Kevin King (who got a lot of targets as teams avoided Sidney Jones) and only one less than Adoree’ Jackson and Tre’Davious White. He had four interceptions — as many as Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley.

He’s also a 4.40 runner with ideal height and length (6-1, 32 inch arms).

Jackson and Tankersley would compete to start immediately and could give the LOB a significant boost, providing a solution to Seattle’s flagging turnover numbers.

Keep an eye on Shaq Griffin as an alternative too, especially if they decide to take a safety like Obi Melifonwu at #26.

Friday notes: Seahawks ‘think highly’ of Forrest Lamp

Forrest Lamp on Seattle’s radar

According to Tony Pauline, the Seahawks are showing interest in Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp:

“The more I speak with people, the more it seems to be a forgone conclusion Lamp ends up in the bottom half of Round 1. The versatility to play either guard position along with center or left tackle in a pinch has teams salivating. When compared to the other highly rated offensive linemen, Lamp is viewed as the safest and surest of the bunch.”

Lamp was the best TEF tester at the combine, scoring a 3.23. He’s also incredibly versatile and could play tackle, guard or even center long term for the Seahawks. After all, Just Britt is in a contract year and could be an expensive re-sign. Lamp’s ability to play guard or tackle this year and maybe move inside to center if they can’t get a deal done with Britt could provide vital insurance.

There’s a realistic chance Lamp won’t make it to pick #26. As TEF shows, he was clearly the most explosive O-liner at the combine. He has good tape against Alabama (see above). Last week Daniel Jeremiah asserted he’d be a top-20 pick.

Yet the reported interest in Lamp suggests the Seahawks are still open to considering further additions to the O-line. They’ve added two veterans in free agency (Luke Joeckel, Oday Aboushi). If Lamp or Garett Bolles falls into range (arguably unlikely in both cases) they could be on Seattle’s radar.

Friday notes…

— Pete Carroll stated cornerback, linebacker and the O-line were Seattle’s ‘priority’ needs this off-season. So far in free agency they’ve added three linebackers, two offensive linemen and zero cornerbacks. This is a defensive back draft and the Seahawks appear ready to fill their boots.

— Adoree’ Jackson could go in the top-20. Tennessee at #18 could be a legit possibility. He’s a genuine X-factor capable of scoring multiple touchdowns as a return man, his cover skills are much improved and he’s a warrior. Was there a more productive player in CFB in 2016? Five interceptions, 16 passes defended, 11 PBU’s, four return touchdowns and a receiving score. He’s the type of player (5-star recruit, stunning athlete, gritty) that Pete Carroll loves. If he lasts until #26 — he might be a target. He is Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

Tony Pauline re-asserted Garett Bolles’ stock following the Utah pro-day: “Most I spoke with say definitely top-20 while some feel top-12 is a possibility.” It’s a nice thought to imagine Bolles lasting until pick #26 — and it’s not impossible — but it still seems unlikely at this stage.

— If the San Francisco 49ers are just accumulating talent this year until they can acquire Kirk Cousins in 2018, they should consider taking Leonard Fournette at #2. The Niners don’t have any real stars. Fournette might be wasted in 2017 but over the long term, he can be the identity of that offense.

— Gareon Conley is getting a lot of praise at the moment and it’s justified. However, one thing stands out watching him that needs rectifying. Hand use. He barely lays a finger on a receiver. No jam to re-route, no feel for the development of the route. He gave up free release after free release at Ohio State. With so many cornerbacks likely to be given similar grades it could be a tie breaker.

— As we’ve discussed a lot, T.J. Watt has supreme agility and explosive physical traits. He’s a rare physical specimen. He still needs time to develop. He doesn’t have an effective counter when rushing the edge and struggles to disengage when the initial burst doesn’t succeed. He only started for one year at Wisconsin. It might take a year or two to deliver on his potential. And for that reason he might last into the mid-second round. He has a ton of potential though.

— A lot gets said about Jabrill Peppers’ lack of production. Is it a false narrative? Peppers had 15 TFL’s playing out of position at linebacker. Myles Garrett, the likely #1 pick in the draft, also had 15 TFL’s in 2016. Peppers had only one interception — the same number as linebackers Haason Reddick and Ryan Anderson. Reuben Foster, Jarrad Davis and Zach Cunningham failed to register a single pick. Safety Jamal Adams only had one interception. Budda Baker only had two. The ‘statistics’ argument against Peppers is significantly overplayed.

Mel Kiper’s mock & does arm length matter at slot corner?

No Garett Bolles in round one?

In his latest projection yesterday, Mel Kiper didn’t include Utah’s Garett Bolles in the first round.

Kiper has been one of the few national pundits pushing the possibility of Bolles going in the top-20. In his first 2017 mock draft he paired Bolles with Denver at #20. He also touted the Bills at #10 as a possible option.

This week, he isn’t even in round one.

Instead Ryan Ramcyzk is the first offensive tackle to leave the board at #16 to Baltimore. The other two offensive tackles taken are Forrest Lamp (#22 to Miami) and Cam Robinson (#25 to Houston).

It follows a suggestion earlier in the week by Daniel Jeremiah that Lamp would be the first O-liner taken (in the top-20 no less) and Cam Robinson the first offensive tackle.

It’s possible Kiper has received some information about Bolles’ stock. In this weeks ‘First Draft’ podcast he stated Lamp, Robinson and Ramcyzk “won’t be there” at #26 and if any of the group falls it’ll be Bolles. Kiper referred to him as a ‘boom or bust’ prospect.

Here’s the thing though — if players like Reddick, King and Melifonwu are rising up boards, some of the presumed top-25 will be replaced. This is a draft class where even the worst case scenario will be attractive.

In my next mock I was planning to address some of the media sentiment this week by putting Forrest Lamp at #15 and Cam Robinson at #16. Bolles was set at #10.

Let’s imagine the Bills go in a different direction.

After Indianapolis and Baltimore, there are a collection of teams more likely to go defense than O-line: Washington, Tennessee, Tampa Bay. Denver could take an O-liner but then it’s back to defense — Detroit and Miami.

It’s eminently possible that instead of Jarrad Davis, Charles Harris, Jabrill Peppers and Budda Baker — the likes of Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu could go in the top-22.

If Bolles gets beyond Denver, he comes into play for Seattle. It’s possible they’ll go defense even if he’s available at #26. Yet his extreme tenacity, athleticism and grit could help turn Seattle’s O-line into a strength over the next 3-4 years.

Does arm length matter in the slot?

If Bolles, Reddick, Melifonwu and King are off the board, would the Seahawks consider drafting a specialist slot cornerback?

And if so, does arm length still matter?

Jeremy Lane played 71% of the snaps in 2016. Generally across the league, slot corners are playing around 70% of snaps. Increasingly teams are fielding an extra corner or safety and playing nickel in base.

If the Seahawks wanted an upgrade for Lane (possibly with the intention of moving him outside as one of the few experienced CB’s on the roster) they’d be presented with a decent list of options:

Budda Baker
Adoree’ Jackson
Chidobe Awuzie
Fabian Moreau
Howard Wilson

These five do not pass the arm length test (Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms since Pete Carroll took over).

They are, however, all very athletic.

— Budda Baker ran a 4.45 forty, had the fourth fastest three cone by a safety (6.76) and the fastest short shuttle (4.08). His shuttle time is comparable to Earl Thomas’ (4.05) plus short area quickness and change of direction skills are so important in the slot.

— Adoree’ Jackson is a sensational athlete and the most explosive kick/punt returner to enter the league in a long time. He ran a 4.42 at the combine but didn’t do any agility testing as he wasn’t 100% recovered from an ankle injury. He ran a three cone at his pro-day yesterday, timed at a reported 6.49. If accurate, that would’ve been the fastest three cone at the combine.

— Chidobe Awuzie ran a 4.43, jumped 11-0 in the broad and ran a 4.14 short shuttle. That’s the exact same shuttle time as current Seahawks starting slot corner Jeremy Lane. He ranked in the top-ten in both the shuttle and three cone and has experience working in the slot. Awuzie’s also capable of making plays in the backfield (four sacks, six TFL’s in 2016).

— Fabian Moreau’s tape is hit and miss. In USC’s game against UCLA he made a beautiful interception but also gave up a deep throw working against JuJu Smith-Schuster and a far-too-easy inside slant for a touchdown. Yet his combine was remarkable — 4.35 forty, 38 inch vertical, 11-4 broad, 4.12 short shuttle. In terms of upside he’s off the charts.

— Howard Wilson was the only cornerback other than Kevin King to run a sub-4.00 short shuttle. If the Seahawks drafted him, Wilson’s 3.94 shuttle time would be the fastest by any defensive back selected during the Carroll era. His 6.68 three cone was third fastest among CB’s, level with Gareon Conley.

Lane’s arms are 32 1/8 inches long. Here’s the arm length measurements for the five cornerbacks above:

Budda Baker — 30 3/4
Adoree’ Jackson — 31 3/8
Chidobe Awuzie — 30 5/8
Fabian Moreau — 31 3/8
Howard Wilson — 31 3/8

Three of the players (Jackson, Moreau, Wilson) have arms that are less than an inch shorter than Lane’s. Is it that much of a difference working inside?

It might be given the propensity for teams to put a tight end or bigger receiver in the slot these days. Using a safety or ‘Buffalo’ nickel instead guards against mismatches and enables you to retain some strength vs the run.

Yet there are productive smaller DB’s playing in the slot. And the Seahawks love dynamic athletes.

So while history tells us they’re unlikely to draft a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms, if they see the slot as a vital need area and sense an opportunity to get a cornerstone talent, it’s worth not completely ruling it out just yet.

And if other attractive options aren’t there at #26 (Melifonwu, Reddick, Bolles, King) it might be increasingly appealing.

Focus on Adoree’ Jackson

The five names above stand-out for different reasons. Wilson’s quickness, Baker’s agility and tenacity, Moreau’s brilliant physical profile and after watching more of Awuzie yesterday, he could easily go in the top-25. Stud.

Yet there’s just something about Adoree’ Jackson that says ‘Seahawks’.

Here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks ago about Jackson that was never published:

Under Pete Carroll they’ve never drafted a cornerback with sub-32 inch arms. We can’t ignore that and it’s why the combine is a vital tool (drills + measurements).

That said, we also know Seattle is prepared to make an exception. A 5-10 quarterback probably isn’t their ideal and yet here they are with Russell Wilson. It took Wilson, however, to be exceptional in every facet barring height. His athletic profile, leadership, production, backstory, huge hands, creativity, accuracy. So yes they’ll make an exception for the right guy, it’s just the right guy might have to be Mr. Perfect.

Adoree’ Jackson has always been intriguing. He isn’t big but he ticks enough boxes that if he only has 31.5-inch arms (31 3/8 at the combine) they might be willing to make the exception.

Here’s where he excels:

Cover skills

In this area, Jackson’s as good as any corner in this class. He shows the ability to feel coverage and react and flash excellent redirect quickness/recovery speed. He consistently plays the ball and will bait quarterbacks into mistakes. Despite his lack of great size his tackling is more than adequate for the position with sufficient aggression (a problem for some CB’s in this class).

The production validates all of this. He had 5 interceptions in 2016 and 16 PBU’s (tied 11th in the country with LSU’s Tre’Davious White). While many people will recall the way John Ross juked Jackson off his feet in the USC @ Washington game — that’s simply a perfect example of why John Ross is going to be a top-15 pick.

This interception, his second against Washington, is a really ill-advised throw by Jake Browning back across his body. That said — look at the quick reaction by Jackson, the closing speed and the finish:


No issues here. Jackson is well spoken and interesting during interviews. This heart-warming post-game piece with his mother was one of the highlights of the season:

What’s more, we’ve seen tangible proof of progress throughout his college career. This indicates he’s coachable and willing to learn. He turned from a gimmicky return specialist and jack-of-all-trades type playing offense and defense into one of the more accomplished cornerbacks in college football.

I noted three examples when watching his Draft Breakdown tape where he chased down a runner to prevent a touchdown. On each occasion he failed to give up on an apparent lost cause — making the crucial tackle.


He’s one of the most sudden athletes you’ll see in this draft class. He glides as a runner and shifts through the gears with natural ease. When he gets a head of steam — he just seems to be moving a lot faster than everyone else.

He might be the most dynamic return man to enter the league since Percy Harvin. He had eight return touchdowns at USC, averaging nearly 30-yards a return on kick-offs in 2016.

His third score on a kick return vs Notre Dame, hurdling the last defender, is a thing of beauty:

Also, this is not easy to do:

Jeremy Lane played 71.39% of the defensive snaps in 2016. Only five players played more defensive snaps — Bobby Wagner (99.35%), Richard Sherman (97.59%), K.J. Wright (97.41%), Deshawn Shead (85.09%) and Cliff Avril (77.04%). Michael Bennett would’ve likely made it six without his knee injury.

If Jackson was brought in to assume that role, they’d be getting plenty of bang for their buck. Add on the special teams value (especially with Tyler Lockett recovering from a broken leg) and there’s no reason to think the Seahawks would avoid drafting a nickel early.

Someone will probably take Adoree’ Jackson in the first round. Tony Pauline reported the following recently:

Despite the fact he’s likely to measure under 5-feet/10-inches at the combine most I spoke with say Adoree’ Jackson of USC is a lock first round pick.

They are willing to overlook Jackson’s height as teams have stamped the junior “a difference maker” at cornerback, as a return specialist and even at the receiver position.

There’s no denying the ‘difference maker’ tag and the explosive athletic traits he clearly possesses. He’s a special athlete. The type Pete Carroll has really admired in the past.

The question is — are the Seahawks willing to buck their arm length trend to go after a player like Jackson, knowing he can have an immediate impact as a kick returner and possibly start quickly as a slot corner?

Obi Melifonwu pro-day numbers revealed

Obi Melifonwu ran the agility drills for the first time at UConn’s pro-day today:

Here’s an updated list of defensive back performances in the short shuttle, with Melifonwu’s time included:

Kevin King — 3.89
Quincy Wilson — 4.02
Budda Baker — 4.08
Obi Melifonwu — 4.09
Fabian Moreau — 4.12
Jamal Adams — 4.13
Ahkello Witherspoon — 4.13
Chidobe Awuzie — 4.14
Shaq Griffin — 4.14
Gareon Conley — 4.18
Shalom Luani — 4.21
Rasul Douglas — 4.26
Sidney Jones — 4.28
Cordrea Tankersley — 4.32
Tre’Davious White — 4.32

Melifonwu is 6-4 and 224lbs. His shuttle time is 0.01 seconds slower than Budda Baker’s at 195lbs. It’s quicker than every tested cornerback with +32 inch arms apart from Kevin King and Quincy Wilson. Melifonwu weighs 24lbs more than King and 13lbs more than Wilson.

Here are the short shuttle times for drafted/UDFA DB’s in Seattle:

DeAndre Elliott — 3.94
Tye Smith — 3.96
Earl Thomas — 4.05
Jeremy Lane — 4.14
Jeron Johnson — 4.20
Ryan Murphy — 4.20
Steven Terrell — 4.22
Deshawn Shead — 4.23
Brandon Browner — 4.24
Tyis Powell — 4.25
Winston Guy — 4.29
Richard Sherman — 4.29
Tharold Simon — 4.31
Kam Chancellor — 4.41
Byron Maxwell — 4.49

His three cone time (7.01) actually wouldn’t have cracked the top-15 among defensive backs at the combine, offering a slight contrast. Here’s how Seattle’s previous DB draft picks performed in the three-cone:

Earl Thomas — 6.68
Richard Sherman — 6.72
Deshawn Shead — 6.76
Winston Guy — 6.79
Steven Terrell — 6.84
DeAndre Elliott — 6.93
Jeron Johnson — 6.95
Tye Smith — 6.97
Tharold Simon — 7.01
Jeremy Lane — 7.02
Tyis Powell — 7.03
Ryan Murphy — 7.06
Byron Maxwell — 7.12
Kam Chancellor — 7.36

It’s interesting that Melifonwu has Kam Chancellor’s size and his agility dissects Earl Thomas and Chancellor in terms of three cone testing.

In the 60-yard shuttle, Melifonwu’s 10.69 would’ve set a new record at the combine and easily beat the top three times:

Kevin King — 11.14
Brendan Langley — 11.19
Shalom Luani — 11.22

According to Tony Pauline the Lions met ‘extensively’ with Melifonwu yesterday and will meet with Tampa Bay tomorrow. The Buccaneers own the #19 pick, with Detroit picking at #21. It’s not unrealistic he’ll go in this range.

Pauline also says 40% of teams are viewing Melifonwu as a cornerback. That could include the Seahawks. His tape matches up to the athletic testing. He will visit Seattle before the draft:

Melifonwu is the latest potential target to see his stock gain a tremendous boost. It started with Garett Bolles and Haason Reddick, now Kevin King and Melifonwu appear to be rising quickly.

He could easily be Seattle’s pick at #26. It’s just a case of whether he lasts that long.

Here’s a reminder of how Pete Carroll and John Schneider reacted to his 4.40 forty yard dash at the combine:

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