Month: April 2017 (Page 1 of 4)

10 names to watch for the 2018 NFL draft

Firstly, don’t forget to check out our review of Seattle’s 2017 draft class from yesterday. It’s a detailed look at not just the players drafted but also the thought process on what should be considered a positive class overall.

I’m starting to get into the 2017 group and will have some notes in the coming days. In the meantime, I put this together a couple of weeks ago.

Ten names for 2018…

Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
If they can both stay healthy, the 2018 draft could be dominated by two really exciting running backs. It’s hard to separate the two names at the top of this list. If you want to know how Penn State suddenly returned to relevance in 2016, look no further than Saquon Barkley. He’s a genuine X-factor at running back with freakish power and athleticism. He can do a 600lbs squad and reportedly managed a 4.38 forty on campus to go along with a 4.00 short shuttle, a 10-1 broad jump and a 380lbs bench. Stud.

Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
Guice is a fantastic talent capable of being a Heisman candidate if LSU can cobble together a passing game and remain relevant deep into the season. He’s incredibly sudden and explosive with enough size (5-11, 212lbs) to get the hard yards. He plays with a Thomas Rawls level of intensity. His performances against Texas A&M and Arkansas when Leonard Fournette was injured were incredible. Guice is must-watch TV. He ran a 4.38 forty on campus two years ago at a heavier 219lbs. You see that breakaway speed on tape along with incredible cut-back and change of direction ability and he can stop on a dime and accelerate unlike virtually any other running back in college football. He is incredible.

Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
With so many Huskies turning pro this year, it was a bit of a surprise that Vea didn’t join them. There’s every chance he would’ve been a top-15 pick. Players like Vea are rare. Not only does he have the size and length to control the LOS and anchor as a nose tackle — he also has plus athleticism at 6-5 and 332lbs to impact plays in the backfield. He had five sacks last season. Reports suggested he was informed by NFL sources to get in peak shape and enter the 2018 draft. If he achieves this, a top-10 grade is entirely possible for a player who could be the next Haloti Ngata.

Bradley Chubb (EDGE, NC State)
It was a major surprise when Chubb announced he wouldn’t be turning pro this year. Last season he recorded 21.5 TFL’s and 10 sacks and there’s a very good chance he would’ve been a first round pick. He’s a high-intensity pass rusher with a great personality. He’s the cousin of Georgia running back Nick Chubb. If he can match Nick’s SPARQ-destroying performance before his knee injury, he could land in the top-10 next year. At 6-4 and 275lbs he’s versatile can rush inside or out. His standout performance might’ve been the ‘Hurricane Bowl’ against Notre Dame last year. He dealt with the conditions better than anyone.

Arden Key (EDGE, LSU)
In high school Key was already benching 245lbs and squatting 410lbs. He has gradually become a major impact player for LSU, setting a school record for sacks in 2016 with 12, accumulating 14.5 TFL’s. Recent reports had Key stepping away from the program for ‘personal reasons’ but he recently confirmed he wouldn’t be sitting out the season. Teams will be looking into the situation as he prepares to turn pro in the next year — but there’s no doubting his potential at 6-6 and 238lbs with room to grow. He’s similar to Leonard Floyd (top-10 pick a year ago) but could stand to add extra weight.

Trey Adams (T, Washington)
Big, long and athletic — Trey Adams is one of the few emerging left tackles with a big opportunity to forge a successful pro-career. He plays in a good offense to judge his potential and he’s big — listed at 6-8 and 309lbs but more likely in the 6-6 range (where you want him to be). He moves well on his feet for his size and shows the ability to get into position, set and finish blocks. He plays with toughness and enjoys run blocking. If there were more players like Adams in college football, the NFL would feel a lot happier.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)
With so many studs on the Alabama defense it’s difficult to stand out sometimes. Fitzpatrick managed it multiple times in 2016. He had six interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), five TFL’s, seven PBU’s and a forced fumble. He ran a 4.05 short shuttle at the 2013 SPARQ combine while jumping a 37.5 inch vertical. He’s an intelligent, savvy ballhawk who could be a major leader and component of Alabama’s defense next season with so many big names departing for the NFL this year.

Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
The same thing happens every year. We pour over the quarterbacks in a draft class and declare next years crop to be better. Darnold is the latest example of a prospect being vaulted into the spotlight a little prematurely. He’s a converted linebacker and hasn’t even been a college starter for a full season. At times his play is majestic and he clearly has an innate, natural flair for the position. He extends plays, he has the arm strength and accuracy. There is so much to like. He also has some erraticism to his play and there are ‘Jake Locker moments’. He has a ton of potential but he’ll be under a lot of pressure to live up to the hype this year.

Connor Williams (T, Texas)
A former High School teammate of Solomon Thomas, Williams has really blossomed from a three-star recruit to a genuine NFL prospect. Measurables will be key for Williams. He isn’t big — listed at 6-6 and 288lbs last season. He needs to get into that 305lbs range and he doesn’t look incredibly long in the arms. He’s a very willing run blocker with natural bend and foot speed. There’s a major edge to his play, built off an intriguing backstory. He and Trey Adams have much higher ceilings than the more often discussed Mike McGlinchey at Notre Dame.

Derrick Nnadi (DT, Florida State)
He’s only really scratching the surface of what he’s capable of. In 2016 he emerged as a highly impactful, mostly two-down defender. He had 10.5 TFL’s and six sacks. He and Demarcus Walker lived in the backfield and played off each other. Nnadi has the power to handle the run and the quickness, power and an effective swim/rip to break into the backfield. He’s 6-1 and 312lbs so perfectly sized to act as a disruptive interior presence.

Draft review: Seahawks focus on toughness, trenches

Build up the trenches.

That seemed to be the focus for the Seahawks not just in this draft — but over the last few years in general.

Look at the high picks they’ve spent on the O-line and D-line since 2014:

2014 — Justin Britt (R2), Cassius Marsh (R4)
2015 — Frank Clark (R2), Terry Poole (R4), Mark Glowinski (R4)
2016 — Germain Ifedi (R1), Jarran Reed (R2), Rees Odhiambo (R3)
2017 — Malik McDowell (R1), Ethan Pocic (R2), Naz Jones (R3)

You can also include Quinton Jefferson considering he cost a fifth rounder in 2016 and a fourth rounder this year.

Not all of these picks have worked out or will work out — but this looks like a concerted effort to make the O-line and D-line groups as deep and as competitive as possible.

That’s no bad thing.

Fans often look back at the 2013 roster and pine for that level of play to return. The Super Bowl winning team had a deep rotation on the D-line and a competent, physical (if unheralded) O-line.

In recent years Seattle’s O-line play has regressed as the unit got younger and their D-line depth ceded to divisional rivals Arizona and Los Angeles.

Perhaps it was time to change that?

The game against the Cardinals in week 16 possibly played a part in determining Seattle’s plan in this draft. Not only was it a great example of how impactful a great defensive line can be, it also highlighted Seattle’s inability to handle the challenge. They lost in the trenches on both sides of the ball in that game. As a consequence Seattle surrendered a bye week in the playoffs and a home divisional round game.

Seattle’s 2017 draft class

Round 2 | No. 35 overall — Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
Round 2 | No. 58 overall — Ethan Pocic (OL, LSU)
Round 3 | No. 90 overall — Shaq Griffin (CB, UCF)
Round 3 | No. 95 overall — Delano Hill (S, Michigan)
Round 3 | No. 102 overall — Nazair Jones (DT, North Carolina)
Round 3 | No. 106 overall — Amara Darboh (WR, Michigan)
Round 4 | No. 111 overall — Tedric Thompson (S, Colorado)
Round 6 | No. 187 overall — Michael Tyson (S, Cincinnati)
Round 6 | No. 210 overall — Justin Senior (T, Mississippi State)
Round 7 | No. 226 overall — David Moore (WR, East Central)
Round 7 | No. 249 overall — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

Reflections on the draft

— It’s possible to get caught up in the strength of a class sometimes. We were perhaps guilty of that with the DB’s available. It’s worth remembering what we were saying immediately after the playoff defeat to Atlanta. Here’s the piece I wrote right at the start of the off-season. What were we talking about?

“Bigger, faster, stronger has to return”

“They’ll have four picks between rounds 1-3. That should be enough to add a defensive lineman or EDGE, two defensive backs (CB, S) and a running back”

“Key veteran additions: Calais Campbell (or another interior D-liner) Veteran tackle (via trade or free agency)”

The Seahawks certainly got bigger, faster and stronger. They added two D-liner’s and two defensive backs in the first three rounds. They added a veteran tackle (Joeckel) and a running back (Lacy). And while they didn’t get Calais Campbell, Pete Carroll and John Schneider both referenced him when discussing Malik McDowell.

This class might not be what fans were expecting a few days ago — but it’s the type of class a lot of fans were asking for in January.

— The Seahawks didn’t really do anything different at cornerback this year. Walter Thurmond was the #111 pick in 2010. Shaq Griffin was the #90 pick. From now on we’ll say the earliest they’ve drafted a corner is the late third instead of the early fourth round. It’s not exactly a sea change. Seattle has a way of doing things at cornerback. They find their ‘types’ and draft to develop.

— 32-inch arms is officially more important than 77.5 inch wingspan. Shaq Griffin has 32 3/8 arms (above average for a CB) but only a 74 3/4 inch wingspan (below average for a CB). Griffin is the first corner drafted by Seattle with a sub-77.5 inch wingspan. Pete Carroll stated firmly they view Griffin as an outside cornerback. This is something to consider in future drafts.

— A year ago John Schneider mentioned a desire to become the bully again. They didn’t get there in 2016. This draft class feels like another attempt to achieve that goal. Whether it’s spending two early picks on linemen, drafting a corner who excels in run support or going back to the D-line in round three — Seattle clearly wanted to add even more physicality to this group.

A couple of weeks ago we discussed how SPARQ is a bit of a red herring for the Seahawks and the draft. It’s regularly assumed they go with the ‘best athletes’ early and often. This draft class is further evidence that this isn’t really the case. For example, Ethan Pocic is the 76th most athletic O-liner in the class and only in the 27th percentile of pro-linemen. However, he was a top-10 TEF scorer (explosive qualities & intelligence >>> overall athleticism on the O-line). Malik McDowell ranked at #16 for defensive linemen in terms of SPARQ and is only in the 48th percentile. Delano Hill is only the 52nd ranked safety in SPARQ and is in the 32nd percentile. Tedric Thompson is in the 12th percentile and was the 95th ranked SPARQ safety. It’s not that the Seahawks don’t draft really good all-round athletes any more (see: Shaq Griffin and Amara Darboh) but this class reaffirms that they focus on unique qualities and position-specific traits.

— The Seahawks regularly refer to self-scouting and I like to do a bit of that with the blog too. We talked about a lot of different players this year. I didn’t, however, spend enough time on some of the players they drafted on day two. So that’s on me. A year ago I failed to recognise the potential of Nick Vannett landing in Seattle. This year I should’ve paid more attention to Ethan Pocic and Naz Jones in particular. My promise to this community is to keep learning lessons from every draft class to try and make the coverage interesting and resourceful.

— I have since had a chance to quickly look at some of Ethan Pocic’s tape. While the 2016 game against Alabama isn’t a particularly great O-line performance for LSU overall, Pocic certainly didn’t have a bad game. There were multiple occasions where he played beyond the whistle, blocking down and showing a nasty streak. LSU’s handful of good runs in the game came running behind Pocic at center. He wasn’t manhandled like you might expect given the poor offensive production — in fact he most definitely held his own. This was a positive performance against the best D-line rotation in college football. It’ll be intriguing to watch more of him over the next few days. According to PFF, Pocic hasn’t given up a sack or a QB hit since 11/7/2015 (16 consecutive games).

— The key to the Pocic signing appears to be versatility. Carroll noted that in the press conference following the conclusion of round three. In 2017 he can compete at both guard spots and right tackle. Let’s not underestimate how difficult it might be to re-sign Justin Britt next year though. If he commands a salary of $8-9m — the market rate for even average offensive linemen these days — the Seahawks might decide that’s too rich given their limited cap space. They chose not to pay the likes of J.R. Sweezy, James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini $5-6m a year. Ideally they’d probably like to keep Britt but it’s not a bad idea to have a contingency plan if the price is too high (and in the process avoid needing to start a rookie in 2018 if Britt does move on).

— Future and current cap savings could be a strong consideration with this draft class. Aside from Pocic/Britt — Amara Darboh potentially makes Jermaine Kearse expendable next year when they can save $5m by cutting Kearse. They’d save $6m by cutting Jeremy Lane in a year, so adding Shaq Griffin was vital. The Naz Jones signing possibly eliminates the need to re-sign Tony McDaniel or look at other veteran defensive linemen. Even Delano Hill is a possible hedge for Bradley McDougald considering he only signed a one-year contract. This could be a concerted effort to provide competition in the middle class of this roster (much needed) and make vital cap savings in the future.

— Pete Carroll and John Schneider spelled it out yesterday — they’ve been chasing a dynamic interior rusher for some time. These players are few and far between and it’s why Calais Campbell is earning $15m a year in Jacksonville. The Seahawks might be taking a small gamble on Malik McDowell considering some of the concerns about his attitude and effort (detailed here). The upside potential, however, is you get a player the rest of the league covets. There aren’t many 6-6, 295lbs defensive linemen with McDowell’s length, quickness, athleticism and power. It can be argued, quite comprehensively, that nothing will upgrade this defense more than a dynamic interior rusher. And suddenly the Seahawks have a group up front that includes Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Athyba Rubin and Malik McDowell. If people want the 2013 defense to return — it’s worth remembering how important the D-line rotation was to the Super Bowl winning roster.

— ‘Hey Malik it’s John… don’t forget our conversation, OK?‘. Those were the words of John Schneider to Malik McDowell as Seattle made the pick. If you’re as nosey as I am, you’d really love to know what was said in that conversation!

— McDowell’s pass rush repertoire needs enhancing first and foremost. He relies on a club/swipe to attack the edge and a stunt/swim working inside. Both moves can be effective but if you’re predictable, pro O-liners will work out a counter. There’s evidence of him bull-rushing a double team into the backfield and even using a one-armed bull-rush to penetrate. He just didn’t use these kind of moves all that often. This could be the #1 thing to emphasise and promote as a rookie. If he can develop a consistently effective bull-rush, considering how powerful and long he is, he could be an impact player even in year one. It’ll also help McDowell to play within himself and more in control. He showed time and time again he can get into the backfield at MSU but he didn’t have many splash plays because he’d put his head down and charge. He doesn’t need tons of sacks — if he can move the QB and unsettle him, he can still have a big impact. A good interior bull-rush to combine with his go-to moves would be a nice start. When he lines up at DE it’d be nice to see him develop a nice inside-counter.

— We talked about this quite a lot before the draft — Seattle made free agent moves at linebacker, the secondary and on the O-line. The one area they didn’t address? Interior D-line. It seems like free agency set them up to go with McDowell.

— It appears the short shuttle is important for defensive linemen in Seattle. Malik McDowell ran an excellent 4.53 and Naz Jones a 4.63. In comparison, Jonathan Allen ran a 4.50, Tim Williams a 4.57 and Takk McKinley a 4.62. Seattle drafted Jordan Hill in 2013 after he ran a 4.51 and Jaye Howard in 2012 after he ran a 4.47. Quinton Jefferson ran a 4.37. There’s enough evidence here to suggest short area quickness is important for the Seahawks when it comes to interior D-liners.

— Delano Hill had the fifth fastest forty time by a safety at the combine. Considering he weighed 20lbs more than Budda Baker, he ran a very similar forty time (Baker 4.45, Hill 4.47). Hill’s time also compared favourably to Obi Melifonwu (4.40) and Josh Jones (4.41). All three are ‘bigger’ safety’s capable of playing in the box or as a Buffalo.

— Shaq Griffin basically had a complete workout at the combine. Aside from ticking the size/length boxes for Seattle he also had a 38.5 inch vertical, an 11-0 broad jump, a 4.14 in the short shuttle and a 4.38 forty yard dash. His physical profile is top notch — now it’s just a case of coaching him up to make the most of these physical skills.

— We’ll really study and analyse the third round picks over the next few days but here are some notes by others on the players drafted by Seattle:

Eric Galko says Naz Jones is a ‘perfect fit’ in Seattle

E.J. Snyder graded Delano Hill in round three, stating: ‘Despite all the other talent in the Wolverine’s secondary Delano was often the straw that stirred their drink’

Tony Pauline was a big fan of Seattle’s decision to select Shaq Griffin

Ethan Young highlights Amara Darboh’s route running savviness

— Tedric Thompson is a very talented safety and a great value pick in round four. He led the NCAA in passes defended last season (23) and recorded seven interceptions and 16 PBU’s. He averaged 1.64 passes defended a game, which is a terrific number even for a defensive back. He really jumped off the screen when watching Colorado in 2016. He’s a rangy, playmaking free safety who will provide special teams value and needed depth behind Earl Thomas.

Here’s what I wrote about Thompson in a piece earlier this year:

Give him a lane to the ball carrier and he’ll get there. Throw it deep? You’re taking a chance against this type of speed. On the mid-range throws he’ll break on the ball and make a play with instinct and athleticism. It’s very difficult to fit throws into small windows at the second level with Thompson lurking. His field awareness is also good, putting him in a position to make plays and deceive quarterbacks.

This is kind of what we saw from Earl Thomas at Texas. He had eight picks in his final season in college. While Thompson will find it difficult to match Thomas’ level in the NFL — as a backup worthy of being developed over time, there are worse projects the Seahawks can take on.

— The Seahawks drafted three safety’s and signed Bradley McDougald in free agency. It’s a sign of their need to replenish the depth behind Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. It’s also a hint that they might be willing to play more three-safety formations or really commit to more of a ‘Buffalo’ or 4-2-5 style defense.

— I’m a big fan of the Chris Carson to pick to complete the draft class. The Seahawks have a consistent profile at running back. After the combine we noted the minimal number of RB’s that fit this profile within this class:

The Seahawks have a type (explosive tester, around 5-11 and 220lbs) and the ones best matching it are Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Brian Hill and Chris Carson. Kamara might be a top-45 pick and out of contention but Jones, Hill and Carson could provide day three value and extra competition.

He’s 6-0 and 218lbs, jumped a 37 inch vertical and a 10-10 broad. He was challenged by the coaches at Oklahoma State to run with greater toughness and physicality and he answered the call in 2016. Carson has a chance to compete for a roster spot — which is all you can ask for with a seventh round pick.

Kenny and I conducted a podcast at the conclusion of round seven, reviewing day three and Seattle’s draft in general:

Live Blog: NFL Draft Rounds 4-7

Use this as an open thread. Reaction to come below, plus a podcast later. I’ll also be posting a Seahawks draft review after the seventh round.

Round 2 | No. 35 overall — Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
Round 2 | No. 58 overall — Ethan Pocic (OL, LSU)
Round 3 | No. 90 overall — Shaq Griffin (CB, UCF)
Round 3 | No. 95 overall — Delano Hill (S, Michigan)
Round 3 | No. 102 overall — Nazair Jones (DT, North Carolina)
Round 3 | No. 106 overall — Amara Darboh (WR, Michigan)
Round 4 | No. 111 overall — Tedric Thompson (S, Colorado)
Round 6 | No. 187 overall — Michael Tyson (S, Cincinnati)
Round 6 | No. 210 overall — Justin Senior (T, Mississippi State)
Round 7 | No. 226 overall — David Moore (WR, East Central)
Round 7 | No. 249 overall — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)

Round four — #111 — Tedric Thompson (S, Colorado)
This is a really good pick. Thompson led the country in defended passes in 2016 (23 PD’s). That’s 1.64 passes defended a game. He also had seven interceptions. I wrote about him February. He jumped off the screen whenever you watched Colorado. He’s a true centre-fielder who covers ground quickly and makes plays. He’s a nice insurance for Earl Thomas if he misses any more time in the future. Good character too. Great value here. Thompson was named PFF’s best coverage defender in 2016.

Round six — #187 — Michael Tyson (S, Cincinnati)
So far the Seahawks have drafted three safety’s. He tied for second in the AAC with five interceptions in 2016 and managed 4.5 TFL’s. He ran a 4.56 at the combine and he’s 6-1, 204lbs. Tony Pauline says this about Tyson: “Tyson was a playmaker as well as an opportunistic defensive back who helped put his team in position to win games. He has limitations, but Tyson could surprise at the next level as a traditional strong safety or in a zone system.” The Seahawks might be taking PFA’s at this stage. It would’ve been challenging to convince another safety to sign as an UDFA after drafting Hill and Thompson. It’ll be easier to convince O-liner’s to sign considering they’ve previously given guys opportunities to start (George Fant, Garry Gilliam).

Round six — #210 — Justin Senior (T, Mississippi State)
The Senior Bowl wasn’t an exhibition of O-line play this year. Justin Senior was a good example of that. In the pass rush drills to start the week, it was difficult to watch Senior. Day one was not his friend and he struggled badly. However, he grew into the week and showed some improvement. That’s somewhat encouraging and it shows he can take coaching. He’s not a great athlete (8-2 broad, 5.55 forty) and might end up being some camp competition only. He has the size they’ve tried at tackle in the past.

Round seven — #226 — David Moore (WR, East Central)
Moore is 6-1 and 219lbs (big body) and ran a good looking 4.43. He managed a 36.5 inch vertical and a 10-4 broad. He doesn’t have a bio on so I can’t offer much info. He caught 57 passes for 878 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Moore says the Seahawks showed a lot of interest in him. Seattle, more so than other teams, appear to really trust their regional scouts to find guys off the general radar. His physical profile is very similar to third round pick Amara Darboh.

Round seven — #249 — Chris Carson (RB, Oklahoma State)
I really like this pick to finish. The coaches at Oklahoma State called him out for being soft as a runner. He took it to heart and showed major improvement in his final year in college. It’s well established by now that Seattle has a ‘type’ at running back. Size matters — between 5-10 and 6-0 in height, around 220lbs is the key. They’re not overly concerned with speed but they love explosive traits. Carson had a 37 inch vertical and a 10-10 broad. He’ll add another body to the competition and he has a shot to stick on the roster.

Live Blog: NFL Draft Rounds 2/3

I’ll be posting live analysis on Seattle’s picks. At some point Kenny and I will be doing a reaction podcast so stay tuned. Feel free to use this as an open thread too. I’ve been asked by several members to request you don’t tip picks.

Seattle’s remaining picks

Round 2 | No. 34 overall
Round 2 | No. 58 overall
Round 3 | No. 90 overall
Round 3 | No. 95 overall
Round 3 | No. 102 overall
Round 3 | No. 106 overall
Round 4 | No. 111 overall
Round 6 | No. 187 overall
Round 6 | No. 210 overall
Round 7 | No. 226 overall
Round 7 | No. 249 overall

For a full draft tracker, click here.

Round two

#34 TRADE with the Jacksonville Jaguars
The Seahawks moved down one spot to #35, acquiring a sixth round pick (#187). It’s unclear why Jacksonville felt obliged to make this move. They ended up selecting Cam Robinson (T, Alabama).

#35 Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
The Seahawks have been looking for an inside/out rusher for a long time. They decided to take the chance on McDowell. If he delivers on his potential he can be a monster, combining with Frank Clark to solidify the core of the D-line for the long term. Furthermore, there’s much more depth at cornerback than on the D-line. McDowell is an exciting talent but his personality and character question marks led to this fall in the first place. Seattle’s challenge is to get the best out of him consistently for 16 games. They did meet with him — so they clearly feel comfortable with his character and personality. The upside potential is huge.

There are things to work on. His pass rush repertoire is limited and he tends to play out of control at times. His gap discipline isn’t great and while he often breaks into the backfield, he struggled to register splash plays in certain games. His effort at the end of 2016 is well debated. The fact is — Pete Carroll backs his staff to get the best out of players. And McDowell has the kind of talent they love to get their hands on.

Jason La Canfora says the Seahawks would’ve taken McDowell in round one and had he not been available, they would’ve targeted Kevin King (taken by Green Bay at #33).

I didn’t think the Seahawks would take him because his personality, gap discipline and effort didn’t scream ‘Seattle’. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the pick now it’s happened. This team can coach. They’re taking a shot at greatness with this guy.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of his tape by Brett Kollmann:

#58 Ethan Pocic (OL, LSU)
The Seahawks don’t move up — and this one is a little bit surprising (to anyone who’s followed the blog anyway). Pocic wasn’t on our radar so we slipped up there. I’m not sure he was on anyone’s radar for Seattle in round two. With a number of big name players still on the board, this is an intriguing one. It’ll be good to get into some of his games over the next couple of days.

Firstly, it’ll be interesting to see where they decide to use Pocic. He played center to finish his career at LSU but he’s 6-6 and 310lbs. He’s not the longest O-liner (33 inch arms) or particularly explosive (2.81 TEF). Is he a hedge against Justin Britt being out of contract? Will he play guard or get a shot at tackle? He was reportedly well respected at LSU and praised for his leadership. This is one we missed on big time. It’ll be fun to get into his tape.

For the second year in a row Seattle goes OL-DL with their first two picks. And it’s another high pick on the O-line. Jason La Canfora says the Seahawks believe he can play all along the line including tackle.

#90 Shaq Griffin (CB, UCF)
The Seahawks met with him at the VMAC. He gave up some plays at UCF, there’s no getting away from that. However, he’s tough and physical. The Seahawks will like his attitude and he’s a better athlete than shows up on tape — running a fantastic 4.38 at the combine and a smooth 4.14 short shuttle. He could compete in the slot and at outside cornerback. One thing we learnt from this draft? The Seahawks truly are committed to the 32-inch arm benchmark.

#95 Delano Hill (S, Michigan)
Of all the Michigan players draft so far, Hill stood out on tape the least. He’s a good athlete and he has reasonable size. He also has the 32-inch arms and his wingspan is +77.5 inches too. He ran a 4.47 and had a nice 4.27 short shuttle. Hill could compete at the big nickel, special teams and safety. They needed some depth here.

#102 Nazair Jones (DT, North Carolina)
His 24.5 inch vertical was a little off-putting but he ran a 4.63 short shuttle at 6-5 and 305lbs which is pretty much in Seattle’s previous range. Jones has 35 inch arms and he’s tough. He’s not going to be much of a pass rusher but this is looking like a meat and potatoes type of draft class for Seattle. They likely see him as a younger, cheaper version of Tony McDaniel.

#106 Amara Darboh (WR, Michigan)
The two Michigan receivers were very similar in terms of value. Jehu Chesson was the big name a year ago but he didn’t have the breakout year everyone expected. Darboh instead wrestled away a lot of his targets and had a more consistent and productive season. He’ll likely push Jermaine Kearse and compete on special teams initially.

Overall thoughts on day two

This isn’t a sexy draft class filled with big names (or amazing athletes for that matter). This seems to be about toughness, attitude and physicality. Instead of reloading the LOB the Seahawks are seemingly trying to get bigger and more physical in certain areas, while creating cost-savings down the line. If Jones replaces McDaniel this year, Darboh could make Kearse expendable in a year and Pocic could even push Justin Britt into free agency if he asks for too much money.

This is a group that might not form a new core down the line but they’ll compete and contribute. In McDowell they have a potential star if he develops as intended. The rest of the class appears to be about solidity.

They’ll pick five more times tomorrow with picks in round four (x1), six (x2) and seven (x2). There are lots of big names still available including Dorian Johnson, Isaac Asiata, Samaje Perine, Chad Hansen, Bucky Hodges, Jake Butt, George Kittle, Carlos Watkins, Vince Biegel, Carl Lawson, Anthony Walker Jr and Desmond King.

Day two of the draft primer — Seattle set to pick at #34

This could be pretty straight forward.

How much time did we spend discussing Obi Melifonwu and Kevin King?

Highly athletic players enter the league every year — but hardly any combine size, length, quickness and explosion like Melifonwu and King.

In terms of pure upside and ceiling, both players are off the charts.

Let’s recap why they stand out so much.

Since 2010, only four CB’s have run a sub-4.00 short shuttle and measured with 32 inch arms (Seattle’s apparent cut-off):

2017 — Kevin King (3.89)
2016 — DeAndre Elliott (3.94)
2015 — Byron Jones (3.94), Tye Smith (3.96)
2010-2014 — No qualifiers

The Seahawks drafted Tye Smith and signed DeAndre Elliott as an undrafted free agent. They might’ve taken Byron Jones had they not traded their 2015 first rounder to New Orleans for Jimmy Graham.

Look at how King compares to the rest of the defensive back class in the short shuttle:

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

The fact King is able to express this level of short area quickness at 6-3 and 200lbs is quite unnatural. Then you throw in a 39.5 inch vertical, a special 6.56 three-cone and a 4.43 forty yard dash and he’s pretty much the ideal ball of clay to mould at the cornerback position.

Furthermore, before the draft we highlighted the issue of wingspan within this class. The Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback in the Carroll era with a sub-77.5 inch wingspan. Despite all the hype around this group, only six cornerbacks had the kind of length Seattle has tended to favour:

Kevin King — 32 (arms) 77 7/8 (wingspan)
Ahkello Witherspoon — 33 (arms) 79 3/8 (wingspan)
Marquez White — 32 1/8 (arms) 77 3/8 (wingspan)
Treston Decoud — 33 (arms) 77 1/4 (wingspan)
Brian Allen — 34 (arms) 78.5 (wingspan)
Michael Davis — 32 1/4 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)

The Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round since 2010. If they were ever going to buck this trend, it’d need to be for a very special athletic profile.

That is what King possesses.

Obi Melifonwu could also be considered in the same way. Some teams will think about trying him at cornerback. And if you view him as a corner, his numbers also match-up to Seattle’s apparent desires:

Height: 6-4
Weight: 224
Arms: 32.5
Wingspan: 79 1/4
Forty: 4.40
Vertical: 44
Broad: 11-9
Short shuttle: 4.09
Three-cone: 7.05

He has the arm length and wingspan, the explosive broad jump, the fantastic forty yard dash and the short-area quickness.

And who can forget Carroll and Schneider’s reaction to his forty yard dash at the combine:

They could try him at corner, at big nickel, as a hedge for the future at strong safety.

Is he a fit for the Seahawks’ mentality on defense? According to PFF, he finished 2016 ninth in run-stop percentage and 17th in tackling efficiency among safety’s.

John Schneider said they didn’t lose anyone they wanted moving from #26 to #34.

This all could be very predictable for the Seahawks today.

That said, while there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they will look very closely at King or Melifonwu, there are other names to monitor too.

You’ll notice how high Quincy Wilson is on the list of those short shuttle times above. He doesn’t have the wingspan or the broad jump they’ve typically drafted before — but there’s something about his style of play and attitude that says ‘Seahawks’. He might also be in a better position than King and Melifonwu to have a relatively quick impact in 2016.

It’s very easy to imagine the Seahawks liking Wilson a lot.

Jourdan Lewis isn’t big but his tape is really good and he’s gritty working in the slot. Chidobe Awuzie is still available — a player with tremendous versatility to play the slot and drop back into a cover-2. Budda Baker can act in a similar role.

There are so many good defensive back options available — they might be tempted to move down again.

Two big name offensive linemen in Forrest Lamp and Cam Robinson remain on the board. It’ll be interesting to see where they’re drafted today. Not that long ago Daniel Jeremiah was tipping both to go in the top-20. Are they falling for legit reasons or will the Seahawks see an opportunity to get some value here? For me both players are in the 30-45 range in terms of talent in this class and I highlighted that in my big board. Lamp is the most explosive O-liner in the draft according to TEF.

We’re also at the point now where value comes in to play. Marcus Maye, Zay Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dalvin Cook and others could be attractive.

The D-line also provides plenty of possible options including Malik McDowell, Demarcus Walker, Tyus Bowser, Daeshon Hall, Chris Wormley and Tim Williams.

We’ll see whether Seattle’s priority is to go for value, to replenish the Legion of Boom, add to the pass rush or find another O-liner.

And with four picks in round three, plus an early fourth rounder acquired from San Francisco, it seems increasingly likely they will move back into the top-50 to get another one of the names above — making for a high-value, very productive start to the draft for the Seahawks.

Green Bay will impact things at #33. They too are very much in the market for cornerbacks.

It’s been said many times over the last few weeks — the grades at pick #22-30 are going to be very similar to the grades at pick #40. If you want value in this draft, you want to be picking where the Seahawks are today with the ammunition to move up and be aggressive.

This should be a lot of fun.

Seattle’s remaining picks

Round 2 | No. 34 overall
Round 2 | No. 58 overall
Round 3 | No. 90 overall
Round 3 | No. 95 overall
Round 3 | No. 102 overall
Round 3 | No. 106 overall
Round 4 | No. 111 overall
Round 6 | No. 210 overall
Round 7 | No. 226 overall
Round 7 | No. 249 overall

Instant reaction: Seahawks trade out of round one

The Seattle Seahawks did what many people expected. They traded down — and eventually out of the first round.

Pete Carroll referred to it as an “exquisite example” of the draft going exactly as they expected.

By moving down from #26 to #34 involving separate trades with the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks acquired three more picks:

Round 3 — #95 — Atlanta
Round 4 — #111 — San Francisco
Round 7 — #249 — Atlanta

It means the Seahawks will now pick five times between #90-111. Either they love that range in this class, or they’re preparing to be aggressive on Friday.

They have the following haul: 2,2,3,3,3,3,4,6,7,7

So who’s left on the board?

These were the seven names highlighted as possible targets before round one:

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
T.J. Watt (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin)
Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

Three names remain and all could be potential picks at #34. It’s time to top-up the list and add a few more options.

For more on Melifonwu click here

For more on Awuzie click here

For more on King click here

Who is left from the big board?

Aside from the three names above, Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida) is the only third tier player remaining. From tier four — Forrest Lamp, Tyus Bowser and Budda Baker remain.

Theoretically they could all be options too.

Wilson is very intriguing. His physical profile is a mixture of pro’s and con’s. He has good size (6-1, 211lbs), he has 32 1/4 inch arms and he ran a superb 4.02 short shuttle. It’s that short area quickness, combined with his size, that really strikes you on tape.

On the other hand he jumped a disappointing vertical (32 inches) and broad jump (9-10), his wingspan (75 5/8) is distinctly average and his forty (4.54) is only OK. It’s quite weird that he’s a combination of exceptional (short shuttle) and mediocre (broad/vertical).

Even so, on the field he’s all attitude and confidence and quality coverage. You’ll see him gain position and force the receiver to the sideline, narrowing the strike zone. You’ll see him box out to make a play. He has the size to be good in run support and he talks like he belongs.

He’s another player you can imagine fitting into Seattle’s locker room. You can also imagine him playing outside corner in this defense. Yet there are some other things to consider:

— Seattle hasn’t drafted an outside cornerback with a sub-77.5 inch wingspan
— Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback with such a mediocre broad jump
— Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback period before round four

Forrest Lamp was clearly the most explosive offensive lineman at the combine. He could be used at guard or as a hedge against Justin Britt at center. It’s not that long ago that Lamp was being touted as a top-20 pick. A few days ago he was seen as a likely target for Miami at #22. He remains on the board.

Personally I graded Lamp in tier four for a reason. He doesn’t have the length to play tackle without being an anomaly. The Seahawks might be loathe to draft another early-round guard too. Yet he fits what they’ve looked for in terms of explosive athletes so he has to be on the radar now.

Tyus Bowser has a very similar physical profile to T.J. Watt and both players compare physically to Khalil Mack. Budda Baker is really good but his size somewhat limits his role in the NFL. Is he a free safety only? Can he handle the slot full-time?

We’re also into a region now where the Seahawks can look for value if they wish. If they think they can fill needs at CB, DL, S and OL later — they might be inclined to consider a Zay Jones or JuJu Smith-Schuster here.

They also visited with Tim Williams, Malik McDowell, Daeshon Hall, Jourdan Lewis and Ahkello Witherspoon.

Jordan Willis, Zach Cunningham, Marcus Maye, Demarcus Walker and Chris Wormley also remain on the board.

Cam Robinson remains available too. I purposely didn’t include him in my top-35 big board. For me he’s always been a little overrated. He was not an explosive tester at the combine but he does have ample size and length. It wouldn’t be an improbable pick for Seattle. He could be their guy. Yet there are arguably better players available on the board — and he lasted this long for a reason.

Jourdan Lewis is a very interesting name. Arguably he’s the most competitive slot corner in college football, Lewis is tenacity defined. We discussed him in more detail here.

Whoever the Seahawks were targeting at #26 is still available:

Now it’s just about waiting to see who they pull the trigger on.

Melifonwu, Awuzie and King all seem very realistic fits. Had the Seahawks drafted one of the three at #26, a lot of fans would’ve been happy. If they move down and get extra picks before taking them, those same fans should be ecstatic.

As you can see above, however, there are still plenty of good options remaining. If they want a dynamic defensive lineman, they can do it with Williams, Willis, McDowell, Walker or Wormley. If they want to go DB, there’s Melifonwu, Awuzie, Wilson, Lewis, Baker and others. If they want to go O-line they can take Lamp or Robinson. There are good receivers and running backs on the board.

Plus there’s every chance they’ll trade up from #58 to pick twice in the top-50 — something we talked about and anticipated a lot before round one.

Updated Seahawks watch list:

Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Jourdan Lewis (CB, Michigan)
Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
Zay Jones (WR, East Carolina)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)

Live Blog: NFL Draft Round 1

I’ll post pick-by-pick analysis below. Feel free to use this as an open thread.

As soon as the Seahawks make their pick (or trade out of round one) we’ll broadcast a live podcast. I’ll replace the NFL Draft logo above with the audio embed.

I’ve been asked to request people do not tip picks in the comments section.

Here’s our round one big board:

#1 Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
The right pick. If it doesn’t work for Garrett it won’t be due to a lack of talent. The key is for Greg Williams to make him great. And in fairness, he’s had success with D-liners in the past. How explosive is Garrett? His TEF score is 4.21. That’s vastly superior to J.J. Watt (3.82), Aaron Donald (3.53), Mario Williams (3.97), Jadeveon Clowney (3.50) and Khalil Mack (3.81).

#2 TRADE Chicago Bears (via SF) — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
The Bears gave up their third rounder, fourth rounder and a 2018 third rounder to swap picks with the Niners. Clearly, someone else was moving to #2 to get Trubisky and the Bears stepped up to the plate. They signed Mike Glennon in free agency. It’s a stunner. Trubisky showed a lot of potential at North Carolina. I’d argue he’s better than Goff a year ago.

#3 San Francisco 49ers — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
Myles Garrett is really explosive. Solomon Thomas is only a notch behind. His TEF score is 3.83 — almost identical to J.J. Watt. He often gets compared to Aaron Donald but he’s more of an inside/out player. His bowl game performance against North Carolina is one of the best individual performances you’ll ever see. He’s a beast — and he’ll be facing the Seahawks twice a year.

#4 Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
He’s an absolute beast. The Seahawks showed how valuable a running back can be with Marshawn Lynch. A great back can define an organisation. Fournette runs through people and sets the tone. As soon as he stepped on the field at LSU he looked like he was destined to go in the top-five. Let’s see if Jacksonville trades back into round one later for a quarterback.

#5 Tennessee Titans — Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
This is the pick the Rams traded to select Jared Goff a year ago. If you watch Davis’ highlight reel it’s impressive. The issues I had — and the reasons I had him going a lot later — were occasional concentration drops and no workout numbers. He has great character, he’s a proficient route-runner. Some people love him. I prefer O.J. Howard. They probably wanted to move down and take Davis — but the offer wasn’t there with Trubisky off the board.

#6 New York Jets — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
He’s considered a great leader. The Jets need some character in their locker room. This is a roster almost building from scratch so adding a strong defensive voice makes sense. That said, you don’t see too many plays on tape. He isn’t a ferocious tackler and he’s not as rangy as Malik Hooker. He’s more solid than spectacular. They drafted him for attitude. New York’s biggest need was probably in the locker room anyway.

#7 Los Angeles Chargers — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
I seriously underestimated the stock of Davis and Williams. Big mistake. Ian Rapoport tipped the pick on the NFL Network. I thought they weren’t doing that any more? If they want to win with Philip Rivers, they needed to get him more help. Williams isn’t a separation guy but he high points the ball and competes.

#8 Carolina Panthers — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
The Panthers play almost exclusively in the shotgun. McCaffrey can line up next to Cam Newton and be a major X-factor. He can split out wide, move to the slot, run up the middle, win with suddenness and strength. He’ll have an impact on special teams. His character is flawless. He’s a modern day playmaker.

#9 Cincinnati Bengals — John Ross (WR, Washington)
A few weeks ago I had Ross in the top-10 (to Carolina). Note to self — don’t get swayed by media hype over injuries. He is exceptional. Forget the 4.22 speed and watch him get open quickly in his routes. That’s where he wins. Separation is the key for any receiver and Ross is elite in that regard. He gets comped to DeSean Jackson. He gets open like Antonio Brown.

#10 TRADE KC Chiefs (via BUF) — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
The Chiefs traded their 2018 first round pick and their third rounder (#91) to move into the top-10. For all the negativity about this quarterback class, we’re going to see two teams trade up to select two of them. Mahomes is a playmaker. Great arm, very creative. Improvises well (an underrated asset). He needs time to learn an offense — he’ll get that in Kansas City.

#11 New Orleans Saints — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
The interesting thing at this stage is — Jonathan Allen is still out there. Keep an eye on that. Marshon Lattimore is incredibly athletic. According to reports there are concerns about hamstring injuries. This likely spells the end of their interest in Malcolm Butler. Lots of good defensive players are still on the board after, stunningly, two quarterbacks and three receivers were taken in the top-10.

#12 TRADE Houston Texans (via CLE) — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
The Texans traded their 2018 first rounder to move from #25 to #12, mimicking the Chiefs’ move. For the second year in a row, teams are spending future picks to get at the QB class. Remember, Houston already gave Cleveland their 2018 second rounder to move Brock Osweiler on. So Deshaun Watson cost them two first rounders and a second rounder, essentially. He’s a playmaker and can help this team in a big way very quickly. It’s a good job considering the price tag.

#13 Arizona Cardinals — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
Right at the end of 2016, I had Reddick going to the Seahawks in the late first round. Before that, we talked about him as a possible second round option for Seattle. That shows how far his stock shifted after the Senior Bowl and combine. Reddick is a complete stud and this is a fantastic pick for the Cardinals. He can play inside, rush the EDGE. For a blitz-happy defense he’s ideal. He’s tough.

#14 Philadelphia Eagles — Derek Barnett (EDGE, Tennessee)
Tony Pauline told us there would be a rush on EDGE rushers in the teens. This could be the start. Barnett has short arms and he didn’t test particularly well at the combine. He was, however, incredibly productive at Tennessee. He plays with intensity and took over games against Georgia and Florida in 2016. They cut Connor Barwin and needed an EDGE. They clearly believe in the depth at corner later on.

#15 Indianapolis Colts — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
This is great value. Nobody has come closer to looking like Earl Thomas since 2010. He goes in a similar range to Thomas too. His closing speed and knack for playmaking is exceptional. He had numerous interceptions in his final year in college, just like Earl. Getting Hooker in the mid-first is great value.

#16 Baltimore Ravens — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
Will this lead to a rush on cornerbacks now? Humphrey is really good. You always hear about the thing he doesn’t do well (ball tracking). You don’t hear enough about his athleticism, physicality and coverage skills. This is a good value pick. Jonathan Allen continues to fall, so does O.J. Howard (somewhat surprisingly).

#17 Washington — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Allen comes off the board. He’s not a twitchy athlete. He’s strong and savvy. He knows how to shake off a block and make plays. He’ll have to deal without Tim Williams by his side at the next level and a heavy rotation of 5-star D-liners. He has a great attitude and will provide leadership. The shoulder arthritis was clearly a concern for some teams.

#18 Tennessee — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
He’s a top-20 pick in any class for me. A special kick returner. He could be the best in the league right away. Terrific character and a team captain at USC. He had five picks in 2016 and defended 16 passes — tied for 11th in the country with Tre’Davious White. He’s a threat to score any time he’s around the ball. He’s the first player off the board from my list of seven names for the Seahawks.

#19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
It’s incredible really that Howard lasted this long. He’s a terrific blocker, was seriously under-utilised by Lane Kiffin and had a sensational combine. He has the opportunity to be Greg Olsen-good as a floor. There are no character issues or known injury qualms. Is it a positional thing? The Buccs’ offense continues to get better and better.

#20 Denver Broncos — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
There goes Bolles. He didn’t last to the Seahawks — and Seattle didn’t move up to leapfrog the Broncos as some reports had speculated they might. It’s a terrific pick. He’s intense and athletic. He’ll be tremendous in the run game and he has the potential to be an excellent pass blocker too. This is great value for Denver. Two down from the list of prospective Seahawks. Bolles was the first O-liner taken. Another lesson today — when a clued-in beat-reporter like Mike Klis tweets about a player weeks before the draft, take note.

#21 Detroit Lions — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
Jarrad Davis is a beast. His closing speed is incredible. He’s all-football, all-day. He’s plenty athletic. He’ll play through the pain. He’ll lead your defense. He can be a Patrick Willis type of player for Detroit. He was highly underrated by the media in the lead up to the draft. He could end up being one of the best players in this class.

#22 Miami Dolphins — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
If you’re hoping for Forrest Lamp in Seattle, this might be the spot he needed to get by to last until #26. The Dolphins spent a lot of time focusing on defensive talent in the build-up to the draft. Harris looked terrific during drills at the combine and had a good pro-day. He has a lot of potential but might not reach his peak for a year or two.

#23 New York Giants — Evan Engram (TE, Ole Miss)
In my penultimate mock draft, I put Engram here. In my final mock draft, I talked myself out of it. Engram was the first player we talked about extensively back in September. He’s a modern day weapon. He runs a 4.42 at about 235lbs. He’s a dynamic mismatch weapon who can line up anywhere. His speed likely put him ahead of Njoku. He’s more of a finished product.

#24 Oakland Raiders — Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Conley does go in the first round after all. The NFL Network says he took a polygraph test to try and prove his innocence before the draft. It’s a difficult situation to get into so I’m going to avoid it. Here’s a link for some details on the situation. Conley is highly athletic and has great instinct and feel for the position. He needs to work on his hand-use though. He offered too many free-releases at Ohio State and needs to jam and disrupt routes.

#25 Cleveland Browns — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
The Browns traded down from pick #12 to select here and they get a stud. This is more like it for the Browns. Get two impact defenders. Build up that unit. Peppers will add character and personality to this team. They needed a strong safety. Nobody will be mocking Cleveland after this first day of the draft. The Seahawks are on the clock.

#26 TRADE Atlanta Falcons (via SEA)– Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
The Seahawks traded from #26 to #31 with the Falcons, just as Tony Pauline reported on Tuesday. That’s why Tony is the #1 draft insider. The Falcons wanted a pass rusher and move up for McKinley. His motor and intensity is superb, he ran a 1.60 10-yard split. In a year or two he could be Demarcus Ware. That’s his ceiling. He’s a great story, the definition of grit. McKinley entered the stage with a large picture of his late Grandmother. It was a great moment. He was pumped on the stage. What emotion! How can you not root for this man? Love it. He dropped a F-bomb it was so intense. He was shouting ‘get to the quarterback’ on the stage.

The deal gets the Seahawks a third and a seventh rounder. They now own four third round picks. Plenty of ammunition to move up from #58 tomorrow as we’ve discussed.

#27 Buffalo Bills — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
You don’t wear the #18 jersey at LSU for two straight years unless you command the respect of everyone on that team. He’s not the biggest or the quickest cornerback but he tied Adoree’ Jackson for passes defended (16) in 2016. That was the 11th most in the country. Buffalo needed to replace Stephon Gilmore. White has some special teams value too.

#28 Dallas Cowboys — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
When he was used as a pure EDGE in 2016 he really shone. He looked really good against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He has the length and size you like and he’s explosive enough. He’s not the twitchiest or the quickest but he’s big enough to set an edge and let you utilise a four-man rush.

#29 TRADE Cleveland Browns (via GB) — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
The Browns gave up a fourth rounder to move from #33 to #29. It makes Seattle’s deal with Atlanta look even sweeter considering the meagre return Green Bay received here. The Browns continue to have a smart draft. Njoku has a lot of potential. They’re building for down the road. This is a class that can set them up for a while. Garrett, Peppers and Njoku is a haul.

#30 Pittsburgh Steelers — T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
The NFL made a dogs dinner of the late first round this year. Too many adverts created a backlog of picks, leading to inevitable leaks and a stodgy end to a really entertaining first round. Another name from the watch-list departs. T.J. Watt goes to the Steelers. Watt in Pittsburgh is a great fit. His personality is perfect for them. It’s a great pick in terms of scheme fit. He has special short-area quickness and a Khalil Mack-esque physical profile.

#31 TRADE San Francisco 49ers (via SEA) — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
The Seahawks will not pick tonight. They have traded the #31 pick to the Niners for a fourth rounder (#111). Seattle picks five times now between #90-111. Either they love that range in this class or we’ll see a lot of moving around tomorrow. The Niners select Reuben Foster to go with Solomon Thomas. It’s worth a shot here for San Francisco. Solomon Thomas & Reuben Foster is a nice way for this team to start a rebuild. There are plenty of options remaining for Seattle at #34.

#32 New Orleans Saints — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
The O-liners lasted longer than expected today. Free agency should’ve been a big hint about how this was going to go down. Ramcyzk is hurt so his drop is understandable. The big question is now — why did Lamp and Robinson fall? Is it just length with Lamp? There was talk for a long time about Robinson falling. Still, they’re both there and that was relatively unexpected. There’s some nice defensive talent left on the board too.

Draft day notes: Big board & possible targets

The picture above is my top-35 board for the first round. Click on the image to make it bigger. Thanks to Sea Mode for creating the graphic.

Here are some quick thoughts before the first round begins…

There’s a bit of talk about the Seahawks trading up. The speculation seems to be based around Seattle and Denver potentially competing for offensive linemen. It’s possible for sure. Don’t be surprised, however, if they move up for someone like Jonathan Allen as we discussed a few days ago. Jason La Canfora has him dropping to #17 in his mock today. That’s the kind of range where they might be able to move up and get him for a fair price.

— It was interesting that Mel Kiper suddenly moved Demarcus Walker up to #31 on his final big board. Mike Mayock moved him from ‘not ranked’ to the #2 interior pass rusher in his final rankings list. He’s the forgotten man of the draft after a fantastic 2016 season. He’s someone to keep an eye on today or tomorrow.

— My opinion hasn’t really changed on who I think are the most likely targets for Seattle. Adoree’ Jackson, T.J. Watt, Chidobe Awuzie, Obi Melifonwu, Takk McKinley, Garett Bolles and Kevin King are the names I listed. The other three big-name O-liners, Quincy Wilson and Tyus Bowser could also be options.

— A year ago the Seahawks drafted two of the toughest players in the draft in Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed. Both players played with an edge. John Schneider made reference to ‘being the bully’ again, something Seattle never really achieved in 2016. This might influence what they do in the first few rounds. Tough, athletic, physical tone-setters with gritty personalities could be the key.

I wanted to list some names to watch at each likely target position over the first three rounds. This is based on draft trends and possible fit. I haven’t included unrealistic targets:

Outside cornerback — Kevin King (Washington), Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado), Quincy Wilson (Florida), Michael Davis (BYU), Brian Allen (Utah)

Slot/big nickel — Jourdan Lewis (Michigan), Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado), Adoree’ Jackson (USC), Brandon Wilson (Houston), Fabian Moreau (UCLA), Budda Baker (Washington)

Safety — Rayshawn Jenkins (Miami), Shalom Luani (Washington State), Obi Melifonwu (Connecticut), Marcus Maye (Florida), Monte Nicholson (Michigan State)

EDGE — Takk McKinley (UCLA), Tim Williams (Alabama), Taco Charlton (Michigan), T.J. Watt (Wisconsin), Tyus Bowser (Houston), Carroll Phillips (Illinois), Jordan Willis (Kansas State), Daeshon Hall (Texas A&M), Derek Rivers (Youngstown State)

Interior D-line or Inside/Out rusher — Jonathan Allen (Alabama), Malik McDowell (Michigan State), Carlos Watkins (Clemson), Chris Wormley (Michigan), Larry Ogunjobi (North Carolina Charlotte), Demarcus Walker (Florida State), Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama), Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA), Noble Nwachukwu (West Virginia), Jeremiah Ledbetter (Arkansas)

Linebacker — Ben Gedeon (Michigan), Vince Biegel (Wisconsin), Duke Riley (LSU), Alex Anzalone (Florida), Anthony Walker Jr. (Northwestern), Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt), Elijah Lee (Kansas State), Jordan Evans (Oklahoma), Dylan Cole (Missouri State)

O-line — Garett Bolles (Utah), Forrest Lamp (Western Michigan), Ryan Ramcyzk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama), Nico Siragusa (San Diego State), Taylor Moton (Western Michigan), Isaac Asiata (Utah)

Receiver — JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC), Curtis Samuel (Ohio State), Zay Jones (East Carolina), Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky), Chris Godwin (Penn State), Amara Darboh (Michigan), Jehu Chesson (Michigan), Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), Malachi Dupre (LSU)

Tight end — Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech), George Kittle (Iowa), Jake Butt (Michigan), Adam Shaheen (Ashland)

Tonight I’ll be live blogging the first round with an accompanying open thread. As soon as Seattle makes their pick (or trades out of round one) Kenny and I will be doing a live instant reaction podcast.

Final 2017 NFL mock draft

This is the mock draft I’ll be sending to the Huddle Report for scoring:

#1 Cleveland — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
#2 San Francisco — Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
#3 Chicago — Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
#4 Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
#5 Tennessee — O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
#6 New York Jets — Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
#7 LA Chargers — Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
#8 Carolina — Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
#9 Cincinnati — Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
#10 Buffalo — Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)
#11 New Orleans — Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
#12 Cleveland — Mitchell Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
#13 Arizona — Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
#14 Philadelphia (via Min) — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
#15 Indianapolis — Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)
#16 Baltimore — Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
#17 Washington — Derek Barnett (EDGE, Tennessee)
#18 Tennessee — Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — Taco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)
#20 Denver — Ryan Ramcyzk (T, Wisconsin)
#21 Detroit — Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
#22 Miami — Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)
#23 New York Giants — David Njoku (TE, Miami)
#24 Oakland — Kevin King (CB, Washington)
#25 Houston — Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
#26 Seattle — Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
#27 Kansas City — Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
#28 Dallas — Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
#29 Green Bay — Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
#30 Pittsburgh — Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
#31 Atlanta — Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
#32 New Orleans — T.J. Watt (EDGE, Wisconsin)

Why no Gareon Conley?

The recent reports about Conley are troubling and there’s no obvious way of clarifying the situation before Thursday. Conley has now opted not to attend the draft.

Thoughts on the Seahawks

Yesterday I listed the following players as possible targets (in no particular order):

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
T.J. Watt (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin)
Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

In the mock above, only Watt, Awuzie, McKinley and Bolles were available at #26.

Jackson is one of the most underrated players in the class, King will likely get a boost if Conley falls (the same could happen to Awuzie) and Melifonwu could surprise a few people due to his unique physical skill set and versatility.

I went with Bolles for a few reasons. One was Tony Pauline’s report yesterday. Another was Bolles’ incredible backstory and the ‘Seahawky’ nature of his character. It’s unusual to be able to land an offensive lineman as athletic and talented as Bolles in the late first round so this could be a unique opportunity. He scored a 3.00 in TEF. The Seahawks have also consistently shown a willingness to spend first round picks on the O-line.

The big reason I made the choice, however, is down to the fact it suddenly seems possible. We spent many weeks during the college season talking about Bolles. He was one of the first prospects we touted as a possible Seahawk. I remember killing time before Monday Night Football against Buffalo writing this piece about why he’s such a terrific prospect.

On November 4th in one of my early mock drafts I had him going to Seattle in round one.

And throughout all of this, there was always that feeling he wouldn’t be available. That he’d rise into top-20 contention and be out of reach. For a long time that seemed to be what was going to happen.

Tony Pauline’s report and his comments during our recent interview suddenly brought Bolles into range again. And while it’s very tempting to concoct a situation that has Seattle drafting Kevin King, Adoree’ Jackson or Obi Melifonwu in round one — and that could be what happens in the end — I feel compelled to stick with the name that had us all talking in the early stages of this process.

Garett Bolles is the player I’m pairing with the Seahawks in round one.

Why not a pass rusher or cornerback?

A lot of the better options are off the board. Tony told us on Monday he’s hearing there’ll be a run on EDGE rushers in the late teens. Takk McKinley is a legitimate option but he might have to start the season on the PUP list.

At cornerback, unless you’re willing to be the team to roll the dice on Conley’s situation or take someone like Quincy Wilson — a lot of the really attractive options were off the board.

Furthermore, there is some relative depth at EDGE and cornerback. They should be able to fill those needs with the four picks they have on day two. Once the top offensive tackles are off the board — that’s your lot.

What would it mean for rounds 2-3?

If they trade down from #26 and acquire another pick, such as a fourth rounder, they could repeat what they did last year and trade up in round two.

If Quincy Wilson lingers into the 40’s — keep an eye on him. His short area quickness, safety size at cornerback and confident personality could be a good fit in Seattle. We also know they met with Tim Williams and Malik McDowell, so pass rush could be an option here too.

If they stay at #58 is Jourdan Lewis an option? Or Fabian Moreau?

Zay Jones has been touted as a target so it’s possible they’d also consider someone like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Chris Godwin. If they go O-line with their first pick though, the odds would be stacked against back-to-back offensive picks.

There could be some wildcards too such as Marcus Maye or Justin Evans.

As for the third round, this might be an opportunity to bring in some safety depth (is it too early for Shalom Luani?). Vince Biegel ran a quick enough short shuttle at his pro-day to be intriguing. Would they bring in the other big-name Utah O-liner Isaac Asiata? Maybe.

Mike Mayock ranked Teez Tabor and Ahkello Witherspoon at #83 and #84 respectively in his top-100 rankings. Would the Seahawks go up and get one of them?

The forgotten man of the draft class, Demarcus Walker, could also be someone they look at. Defensive tackles like Carlos Watkins and Larry Ogunjobi could also be targeted.


There are two podcasts to check out today. I joined the Seahawkers Podcast for a pre-draft hit. The piece begins at 19:35. Click here to listen.

Kenny and I also recorded our final 3000 NFL Mock Draft podcast before the draft last night. You can listen along here:

So what about tomorrow? I’ll be publishing a new first round ‘big board’ and a seven-round Seahawks mock. I’ll be doing live pick-by-pick analysis on the blog and we’ll have an open thread. As soon as the Seahawks make their pick (or don’t if they trade down) Kenny and I will be doing an instant reaction podcast. If you have any other requests, let me know.

I’d also like to thank the community for another great draft season. I’m constantly amazed by the civility in the comments section. It’s so unlike the internet for a bunch of people to get along, disagree from time to time but not go over the top. I’ve been doing this blog since 2008 and it’s become a big part of my life. And while I’m looking forward to re-introducing myself to my wife, three-year-old son and three-month-old daughter in the coming weeks — rest assured I’m already looking forward to doing it all again from August. That’s all because of the great community here.

Thank you for everything.

Seahawks draft primer — looking ahead to Thursday

John Schneider is preparing for his eighth draft as Seahawks GM

How difficult is it to project this draft class?

It’s harder than last year. In 2016 the Seahawks set themselves up to go offensive line with their first pick. It was a good O-line class. There was a player in Germain Ifedi who was big, athletic and explosive. He had an edge to his play. It made a lot of sense for Seattle.

This year there are more options and scenarios.

What do we know?

— Pete Carroll started the off-season listing cornerback, linebacker and O-line as ‘priority needs’

— The Seahawks signed a cluster of linebackers in free agency and added two veteran offensive linemen

— They also brought in a new running back (Eddie Lacy) and a safety (Bradley McDougald) before taking on cheap reclamation project Dion Jordan

— At the owners meeting, Carroll suggested cornerback and pass rush remained needs — but also reiterated a desire to add youth to the linebacker spot

— They’ve visited with a number of defensive backs and pass rushers pre-draft including Obi Melifonwu, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tim Williams, Malik McDowell and Jourdan Lewis

So what positions will they focus on?

The safe money is on pass rush and depth at cornerback early in the draft. That doesn’t necessarily mean with the first two picks but it’s certainly possible. Tony Pauline’s report on interest in Zay Jones suggests they would be willing to consider a receiver too — but this would likely just push the DB/DL need into round three.

Why is the D-line such a prominent need?

It’s the one area they didn’t really address in free agency. They lost Damontre Moore and John Jenkins while Tony McDaniel remains a free agent. There’s not much depth at defensive tackle.

This suggests it’ll be a big target in the draft, possibly with an inside/out type rusher. The only problem is there aren’t many of those available. They’re much more likely to find an attractive EDGE option at #26.

The Seahawks spent a large amount of time working out athletic nose tackles slated to be day three picks or UDFA’s. It could be their intention to load up on cheap D-liners, creating a heavy competition in camp. They might have a great desire to add a dynamic inside/out style rusher but if that player isn’t available, what are you going to do?

They could still consider a prospect like Carlos Watkins, Demarcus Walker or Larry Ogunjobi in round three (if available). That would allow them to add an interior rusher and focus on cornerback and EDGE (or an offensive position) in the first two rounds.

Could they go O-line in round one?

It depends on the options available and whether any of the ‘big four’ fall into range. There’s a growing expectation that Cam Robinson will be taken in the top-20 with Forret Lamp a frequently predicted target for Miami. Ryan Ramcyzk could go at #20 to Denver or #25 to Houston.

So what about Garett Bolles?

He’s been a blog favourite for a long time, dating back to this piece at the start of November. As time went on it seemed increasingly likely he would go in the top-20.

However, Tony Pauline told us yesterday (you’ll find the audio of the interview at the bottom of this article) Bolles could fall partly due to concerns about his ability to pick up complex blocking schemes.

Today, Tony reports the Seahawks and Falcons are discussing a trade that would see the teams swap first round picks in exchange for a fourth rounder. Atlanta is targeting a pass rusher (reportedly Charles Harris) and the player for Seattle? Bolles:

Once they move back, the Seahawks will then target an offensive lineman. The name given to me is tackle Garett Bolles of Utah. Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable was on the Utes campus this past Sunday meeting with the team’s top offensive line prospects.

Bolles would be a fine choice for the Seahawks, adding athleticism and physicality at left or right tackle. By acquiring a fourth round pick the Seahawks would also have options if they want to move up from #58 for a cornerback or defensive lineman.

Will they trade up in round one for the first time?

Possibly, if the right situation presents itself. It might be more likely than in previous years. Daniel Jeremiah’s final 2017 mock draft highlights the kind of scenario where it could happen. He has Jonathan Allen sliding to #17. We discussed a trade-up scenario involving Allen two days ago. According to this modernised draft trade chart, the Seahawks could move into the mid-teens using two of their third round picks.

It’s a highly speculative situation because so much would need to happen — but if you’re looking for a ‘surprise’ move on Thursday, this could be it.

Either way, they’ll take a pass rusher early right?

The only addition they’ve made to the D-line so far is Dion Jordan — a player who might not even last through camp. And as we highlighted after the combine — this is quietly a highly explosive class of defensive linemen.

Whether it’s an early-round EDGE, moving up for an interior rusher or waiting until rounds 2-3 — it’s highly likely the Seahawks will address this situation.

What type of player could they be looking for?

As we noted recently, it’s a bit of a red herring that the Seahawks focus predominantly on SPARQ. Generally this has been more of a day three or UDFA thing, drafting players with a high ceiling that could provide some late round value if you coach them up.

Their early picks have often been trait-specific:

— On the O-line there’s a strong focus on explosive performers (vertical, broad, bench press) rather than overall athleticism (as emphasised by our TEF study)

— At linebacker there appears to be a focus on short area quickness (short shuttle), general speed and explosive physicality (highlighted here)

— At cornerback we know they like length on the outside as they’ve consistently drafted players with 32 inch arms and a 77.5 inch wingspan (highlighted here)

— At running back they’ve consistently prioritised explosive traits ahead of speed, while drafting for a certain body type (approximately 5-11, 225lbs)

Players with unique qualities and ‘grit’ have often be the target rather than those with an overall athletic profile.

So who might they target if they stay at #26?

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
T.J. Watt (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin)
Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
Kevin King (CB, Washington)
Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

What makes this group ‘special’ or ‘unique’?

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
An Olympic-standard athlete, Jackson has natural athleticism and suddenness. He could be the best kick returner in the league as a rookie. Despite his lack of size, he defended 16 passes in 2016 (tied with Tre’Davious White) and had five interceptions. He is the ultimate playmaker and a threat to score any time he has the ball. He’s Percy Harvin on defense without the drama.

T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
People don’t realise how special T.J. Watt could be. The short shuttle drill is vital for linebackers. Watt’s 4.13 is identical to Jamal Adams’ and Ahkello Witherspoon’s and it’s faster than Gareon Conley’s 4.18. Watt is 252lbs not a 200lbs cornerback. He also ran an elite 1.59 10-yard split. Physically he’s nearly identical to Khalil Mack. It doesn’t mean he’ll be as good as Mack but they share similar traits.

Takk McKinley (EDGE, UCLA)
McKinley’s backstory is the definition of grit. He’s never met his father and his mother walked out when he was a child. He lived with his grandmother who made a living collecting cans and bottles. McKinley slept on the floor of a house filled with kids. When he started at UCLA he was so unfamiliar with the bed in his dorm, he continued to sleep on the floor. He ran a superb 1.60 10-yard split and his potential is off the charts. He’s been compared to DeMarcus Ware.

Obi Melifonwu (S, Connecticut)
The Seahawks might not focus completely on SPARQ but it doesn’t mean they don’t recognise a rare freak of nature when they see one. Has there ever been a player quite like Melifonwu entering the league? The only player who comes close is Byron Jones. Melifonwu is 25lbs heavier and he’s 3-4 inches taller than Jones. He could set a new standard at the ‘big nickel’ position, you could try him at cornerback or strong safety. You won’t find a more unique prospect.

Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)
We know length is important for the Seahawks at outside cornerback. We’ll likely find out in this draft how important it is at the nickel. Awuzie has 30.5 inch arms and a meagre 74 1/8 inch wingspan. So why is he unique? He attacks the LOS beautifully, he’s highly competitive and explosive in coverage and the way he talks about scheming is exceptional for a rookie. Awuzie has enormous potential as nickel defender, capable of manning the slot or dropping into a cover-two at free safety.

Kevin King (CB, Washington)
A truly rare defensive back. King has obscene athleticism for his height and length. He tests as well as any cornerback in recent memory regardless of size. His 4.43 forty, 1.51 10-yard split, 39.5 inch vertical, 3.89 short shuttle and 6.56 three-cone are all off the charts. He’s a film rat too. Coaches are going to love his upside.

Garett Bolles (T, Utah)
He got into trouble as a teenager, he was kicked out by his dad. Bolles had a difficult start in life. He’s since completely turned his life around. On the field he plays with a Kyle Long-style intensity, blocking well beyond the whistle. He’s also highly athletic with the potential to be a great left tackle. Tony Pauline did raise some league-wide concerns, however, about his ability to pick up a complex blocking scheme.

How many of these players are likely to be available?

Many of the national mocks have them falling into range. However, several could be off the board by #26. Adoree’ Jackson is a first round pick in any draft and a genuine X-factor. He could go in the top-20. Garett Bolles could easily go in the top-25. Kevin King has the potential to be a very high pick — especially if Gareon Conley’s stock plummets. Melifonwu and Awuzie could also go a lot earlier than people expect.

McKinley, however, is recovering from shoulder surgery and this could mean he lasts well into range. T.J. Watt, despite his talent, hasn’t been consistently projected any higher than the Packers at #29.

Any other names of note?

Ryan Ramcyzk isn’t spectacular but he’s a solid tackle who could fill a need. Quincy Wilson plays tough and ran a superb short shuttle (suggesting he can play nickel or outside corner). Tyus Bowser has a similar athletic profile to T.J. Watt and we know they met with players like Tim Williams.

Who will likely be off the board that we’ve talked about?

Forrest Lamp, Cam Robinson, Jarrad Davis, Taco Charlton.

Is a trade down inevitable?

There’s a good chance Seattle will seek to trade down from #26 and then potentially move up from #58 to pick twice in the top-50. That’s the tactic they used a year ago.

The scenario reported by Tony Pauline above makes a lot of sense.

There’s a lot of good depth in the #30-50 range and then a drop-off in the late second round. Some of the players mentioned above (Watt, McKinley, Bolles) could be available at the start of the second frame.

Tomorrow I will post a final 2017 mock draft for the Huddle Report.

If you missed yesterday’s interview with Tony Pauline from Draft Analyst, you can listen here:

« Older posts

© 2024 Seahawks Draft Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑