Archive for January, 2021

Curtis Allen’s off-season positional reviews: TE

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

This is the fourth part of a guest-post series written by Curtis Allen

#4 Tight Ends

Roster Notes

Players under contract for 2021: Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson

Players under contract for 2022: Colby Parkinson

Restricted Free Agents: none

Unrestricted Free Agents: Greg Olsen, Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson, Stephen Sullivan

Exclusive Rights Free Agents: none

Practice Squad/Futures Candidates: Tyler Mabry

Salary Cap Notes

2021 Cap Commitment: $2.7 million (1.51% of $178m cap)

Available Free Agents

2020 Season Overview

What truly forgettable season for the tight end group.

The Seahawks employed a strong emphasis on the position group in the offseason.
They committed $10.25m –- almost 20% of their available cap room — to the position before the league year even started on Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister.
They had Will Dissly coming off another serious injury and earning raves for his rehab commitment, drafted Colby Parkinson and traded up for Steven Sullivan in April.

They then brought Luke Willson onto the roster for eight games at a prorated $1m number.

What were the results of their investment?

You should stop reading now if you are looking for good news.

Greg Olsen had the least productive season of his career. One touchdown catch and 16 first downs in 11 games. The pick-six that bounced off his hands in Week two was indicative of his entire season.

Jacob Hollister was practically unused. In 12 of his 16 games he had three or less targets.

Will Dissly produced worse receiving numbers in 16 games this year than he did in 5.5 games in 2019.

Luke Willson recorded ten offensive snaps — at least three of which were victory formation kneel downs. Yet he was frequently active on game day, occasionally preventing players who desperately needed NFL snaps to develop (Alton Robinson in particular).

Colby Parkinson was injured and blocked on the roster by the depth above him. His only meaningful reps were in garbage time in the Jets game blowout.

Steven Sullivan’s only active reps were on defense. Apparently, he was a great pass rusher in high school.

Where did the position group rank among NFL teams in terms of production?

Targets – 20th
Receptions – 20th
Receiving Yards – 22nd
Touchdowns – 21st
First Downs – 20th

Sensing a pattern here? Only 10-12 NFL teams got less production from their tight ends in 2020.

But in terms of cap dollars spent in 2020 on the position group? The Seahawks were eighth.

That’s right. Only seven teams in the NFL spent more than the Seahawks. Those are your teams paying Gronk, Weller, Ertz, Kelce, etc and making the tight end position a centerpiece of their offense.

$10 million dollars spent. That’s a Calais Campbell or a Jack Conklin.

Was this just a one-year anomaly? Were the coaching staff and Russell so focused on getting Metcalf and Lockett their targets they could not find touches for the group they had invested so much in?

Did everyone in the TE group just collectively have a terrible year?

Was the Olsen signing just a sop to Russell Wilson? And if so, was the $7m worth it?

How could it possibly be that this offense so frequently sputtered? Maybe because they were calling long-developing deep passes to David Moore on third and four and Russell Wilson was running for his life instead of targeting their first down makers?

With four active tight ends on most game days, why didn’t the staff employ some serious creativity in short yardage situations and have a multiplicity of ready options to bleed the clock, relieve a staggering defense or just plain put the game on ice? Was this a blind spot for Brian Schottenheimer?

Russell Wilson had a career-high 68.8 completion percentage. What could it have been if he had targeted the tight ends more?

Why couldn’t they blow defenses off the ball in the run game with 4 active tight ends? The answer to that of course is Willson, Hollister and even Olsen are nobody’s idea of road graders. So then, why collect 3 players with similar skill sets for a narrower-use position like tight end?

Were they so reactionary to their thin depth last year they zealously stocked their roster without considering what they would actually do with these players? Was Luke Willson’s ‘special spirit’ really so valuable during the no-fans COVID year they had to keep him on the active roster and never actually play him in games? They couldn’t have just signed him to the practice squad and had him deejay Techno Thursdays, while using his game day spot on players who could have contributed?

The Seahawks suffered a terrible amount of offensive confusion in 2020 despite their overall numbers. Nowhere was that confusion more readily evident than in the tight end group.

Offseason Questions to Address

1. So what do the Seahawks do now?

Do they get the band back together and bring Hollister back? What would motivate either side to do that?

What would it cost? Have the Seahawks set Hollister’s contract expectations at a $3m number with their tender?

Another season of collecting expensive players who are better pass catchers than blockers and then not throwing them passes is just as ridiculous as it sounds.

So what is the plan? Are Pete Carroll’s words about re-committing to the running game a signal that they will lean towards pursuing tight ends with better blocking skills?

Or will they be just as active pursuing pass catchers as they were last year? Can they solve their offensive woes with some off-season analysis and proper planning for 2021?

2. Is Will Dissly ever going to be the player we had hoped?

A season ending injury in 2018.

A season ending injury in 2019.

A dreary season in 2020.

It is very possible that his body needed 2020 to recover and he needed a season of practice and play to regain his trust in his legs after all those injuries.

He frequently was a key target for Russell in 2019 and they had some great trust and chemistry. Russell could throw a ball to Dissly when he was not widely separated from his defender and Dissly would come down with it.

Did having Greg Olsen on the roster disrupt that relationship? Or was Russell too enamoured with Metcalf? Or has Dissly lost a step and could not get into his breaks quickly enough to keep up with the rhythm and timing of the offense?

He is clearly the top option currently on the roster going into the offseason. A return to form and another full season in 2021 would be a huge step in the right direction and help the Seahawks maximize efficiency.

It would also be in his best financial interests. Dissly is a free agent in 2022.
He may never be a top end player but based on his ability and his play before those horrific injuries, he should be able to provide something far more impactful than he did in 2020.

It would appear he will have to find the same dedication he displayed in rehab and apply it to regaining some speed and his route-running ability this offseason.

3. What do they have in Parkinson? Do they bring Sullivan back?

Parkinson did not get much game action in 2020.

Sullivan got no tight end snaps, ended the season on the practice squad and is currently a free agent.

Pete Carroll has raved about both players.

Parkinson has gotten a lot of commendation for his blocking as well as his route running abilities. He had a couple nice catches in the Jets game and ran a seam route where he was wide open but not seen by the QB.

He seems on track to take the #2 tight end spot next year but currently he is not a known quantity. At the very least, he should have a role as a red zone box-out safety with his height, length and ball skills. One of those players that when he comes into the game, the defense knows he will be targeted but they still cannot stop him.

Sullivan has been modelled as a physical and testing ideal and a motivated player with an inspiring backstory. He had a strange journey in 2020. He was likely going to go undrafted but the Seahawks traded to snag him in the seventh round, signed him to a standard rookie 4-year deal and then cut and resigned him to the practice squad. Then they used him as an emergency pass rusher. Good night!

Sullivan is much closer to a project player than a useful piece you can plan on. We do not know the degree to which he stopped working as a tight end during the season and focused on being a pass rusher. Let’s hope that strange experiment hasn’t stunted his development.

Bsed on Carroll’s raves, they will try to bring him back in 2021. It is probably safe to assume he’ll be fighting for the 4th tight end spot in 2021 and may be a cut depending on roster construction.

Can these two players step onto the roster and give the team 15-20 quality snaps a game between them next year? The Seahawks are in a very tight cap situation. It would be a massive win for these two to join Will Dissly as their primary tight end group in 2021.

Rob’s Potential Draft Targets

Kyle Pitts is obviously going to go very early. I think Pat Freiermuth is a highly talented player who justifies the ‘baby Gronk’ moniker. He’s so fluid for his size, he contorts his body to make difficult catches and he has massive potential.

After that there are a couple of standout options. Brevin Jordan is a dynamic athlete and in the right offense has the potential to be highly productive. Kenny Yeboah is a big slot who does a great job creating a mismatch in the passing game.

A wild card option could be Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble. He’s not much of a pass-catcher but he’s a tremendous run blocker. They could add him simply to be a dynamic full back. At SPARQ he ran a 4.20 short shuttle and jumped a 36 inch vertical.

Tre McKitty also might be a name to watch. He earned positive reviews for a consistent week at the Senior Bowl for his catching and blocking. While he’s not the fastest in terms of straight line speed, he ran a 4.13 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 35 inch vertical.

It’s not a deep group though. The Seahawks need someone who can convert some third downs and a quality tight end should be a better option than we’ve seen in the Carroll era so far.

With so few picks I think they’d be better off signing Gerald Everett instead in free agency. The Seahawks place a lot of faith in agility at tight end. He ran a 4.33 short shuttle and a 6.99 three cone — both fantastic times. Plus he is familiar with Shane Waldron and the Rams offense and he plays with fire and a great attitude.

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Senior Bowl 2021 practise notes

Friday, January 29th, 2021

I’ve been able to watch a large portion of the Wednesday and Thursday practise sessions on ESPNU, plus some of Tuesday’s broadcast. However — and here’s the disclaimer — I have not had an opportunity to study every player in full. Most of my attention was focused on the offensive linemen.

The Senior Bowl will post complete practise footage at some point next week and this will include all reps. A year ago, my perspective on several players changed after watching these videos. I may well revise some of these thoughts down the line but these were my initial impressions…

Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)

I was a little bit underwhelmed by Leatherwood. I thought we’d see more attitude and intensity. He was angry and aggressive at Rivals in High School, drew plenty of cheers for the way he performed and looked like the definitive BAMF. Here, he looked a lot more reserved and somewhat played within himself during the 1v1 reps.

He said he was only coming to Mobile to play left tackle but unfortunately, he looked like he might be better kicking inside to guard. His feet were sluggish at times. He lost a speed/power rep to Williams Bradley-King. He was jolted into the backfield with a chest punch and while he recovered after initially losing balance, he lost the rep.

By Thursday he’d rounded into sharper form but he was beaten on his last 1v1 opportunity against a speed rush and there lies the issue. He has the size and the frame to be a good NFL lineman. Yet he’s limited athletically and his foot-speed and agility could mean his future is at guard. I came away questioning whether he deserves to be a first round pick.

Deonte Brown (G, Alabama)

Brown came into the week as one of the more overrated players in the draft. When he weighed in at 364lbs, people saw that as a positive. Twitter was buzzing. There should’ve been the opposite reaction.

He’s simply too big. This was a lumbering performance from Brown. His footwork was non-existent. Whenever he’s attacked from an angle instead of square-on he struggles. Even Marvin Wilson easily beat him on a B gap pressure. I was surprised how he struggled to anchor for his size at times.

By Wednesday and Thursday you could tell he was starting to question himself. His body language was abysmal. After reps he would lollop around, head down. The coaches were trying to get him going again but he knew it wasn’t going well and he was getting frustrated. His effort started to suffer.

He can’t move properly at this size and he needs to shift some weight. He currently weighs 30lbs more than DJ Fluker did at his combine. Brown only has 32 3/8 inch arms and that’s problematic too. He has all the worst characteristics of Fluker and none of the redeeming features such as insane length. Frankly, there are too many superior options at guard to covet Brown in this draft.

Marlon Tuipulotu (DT, USC)

He looked really good on day one. Tuipulotu flashed quickness and an effective swim move. He had good hand placement on a rep against Deonte Brown and drove him deep into the backfield.

As the week went on though, he became more of a mixed bag. On day two there were times where he was easily blocked and couldn’t disengage. He was pushing the pocket but caught in a tangle and didn’t have a free arm. His lack of arm length creates issues because he can’t press and stay clean. He had rough reps against ECU’s D’Ante Smith and Grambling State’s David Moore. When you get into his frame he can’t disconnect.

Trey Smith (G, Tennessee)

In terms of pure aesthetics, Smith looks like a first round pick. If you wanted to draw a picture of an ideal NFL guard, he would be it. Stood next to the other linemen during reps he stuck out like a sore thumb. This is what teams are looking for when it comes to physical appearance. However, this was a much more mixed week than I think the broadcasters were suggesting.

On day two he got beat on a counter by an undersized edge rusher who took a rep inside. Wyatt Hubert is 6-2, 265, with 30 inch arms and a 77 wingspan. Smith did well initially to engage but the defender threw him off balance using his left arm, then switched inside.

This is concerning. He should be overwhelming guys like that, not being tossed aside. He did overwhelm Hubert on the second rep but the damage was done. The thought was already placed in my mind — ‘if this is what happens against a short-armed edge, what happens against Aaron Donald?’

Smith also lost fairly easily to Carlos Basham on another rep, lunging and reaching for Basham’s frame. He easily swam away and burst into the backfield. Smith looked like a man without a plan. He just went after his opponent who was two moves ahead on the board.

He did well against Chauncey Golston and Cam Sample, overwhelming both. But against the bigger, athletic guys he struggled. In a two minute drill session on day three he got beat again because his hands were nowhere. No punch. No engagement. He’s flailing his arms and he’s just so easy to swim against. At times it wasn’t good at all but on the TV, Louis Riddick declared he’d ‘pitched a shutout’.

You can get into his pads too and drive him back. On other occasions though, he looked like the best guard in Mobile. The athleticism is clearly there and he can move his feet well. When he connects and lands with his hands, he finishes. He blocked to the ground and played to the whistle on numerous occasions.

He has the frame and teams are going to be extremely tempted to get him in and sort out the problems. He has the upside. I’m just not sure I’d want to be the one taking the chance unless he drops to the middle rounds — especially with his history of health problems.

Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)

He missed practise on Wednesday and Thursday with an injury unfortunately. On day one he showed his feet and hands work together. His footwork and athleticism are better than some people make out. He’s incredibly strong. He’s enormous but carrying minimal bad weight. There’s a lot to work with here. If you want someone to go into battle with, Cleveland is that type of guy. We didn’t get a chance to see it here but against Auburn, I saw their defensive linemen ready to surrender. They were giving up against him. Too strong. Too powerful. I want some of that.

Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)

This wasn’t the week I necessarily expected from Banks. The most impressive thing he did was reach up to the second level in 11v11 drills on Wednesday and Thursday. He had some superb blocks working up to the linebackers. With his size, it’s not easy to operate in space like that. That’s a big positive and speaks to his upside.

However, I thought we’d see a bit more dominance square up. He gave up a pressure against Levi Onwuzurike on day one. Onwuzurike crossed his face and Banks lurched in a weak attempt at a block. He had trouble shifting his weight back to the right having set. It’s something to consider because although he anchors well — at that size you’ll give up pressures without better footwork and the ability to transfer your weight quickly.

Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)

Initially he looked like a class act. His knee bend and control was impressive. He has strong hands that are connected to his feet. Yet as time went on some concerns emerged.

He needs to get his hands in the right spot off the snap. Too often he places his hands to the outside of the frame then fights to reposition inside.

Humphrey lost a rep to an Ohio State pass rusher by not landing with his hands initially, allowing the defender to keep his frame clean and wriggle through to the quarterback. It’s hard to win when your hand placement isn’t good.

He also had a terrible rep against Ta’Quon Graham where he basically just reached out his right arm to try and engage but there was no strength to the punch. He just extended his arm. Graham swiped it away and swam into the backfield.

He easily dealt with Patrick Jones two reps later — but who didn’t handle Patrick Jones? Humphrey’s short arms might knock him out of contention for Seattle and he needs to work out a better way to connect with his hands. Even so, he does a lot well and he’ll be a really solid top-50 pick.

Spencer Brown (T, Northern Iowa)

Unfortunately his footwork was all wrong. He points his outside leg and leaves open the inside counter. He needs a lot of work there. He also has a massive, 6-8 frame and it creates a huge target to punch and knock him off balance. Brown has athletic potential but he’s a major project on this evidence.

D’Ante Smith (T, East Carolina)

I thought he showed a ton of potential. He handled the big names (Basham, Roche). His footwork is light, he uses his length (35 1/4 inch arms, 85 inch wingspan) to extend to keep his frame clean but he retains balance and doesn’t overextend. He smothered Roche on a bull rush and recovered well when he didn’t win initially.

He was fun to watch and he displayed a physical edge. He’s 6-5 and 294lbs so clearly he could benefit from adding weight. Smith could be a nice developmental tackle or guard option. He didn’t practise on day three due to injury.

Quinn Meinerz (C, UWW)

Arguably the star of Mobile this year. He’s 6-3 and 320lbs with an 82 inch wingspan and 33 inch arms. He has 10 2/8 inch hands. He’s immensely strong and powerful. This was a ‘wow’ performance that could elevate him into the second round. Yes — he’s an option for the Seahawks.

For starters, those measurables are exactly what they look for. We also know they want explosive traits on the O-line. Well, this suggests to me that he would’ve delivered a really good vertical at the combine:

Meinerz really got after opponents. His technique at times was non-existent but he was still finding a way to win. He absolutely destroyed a couple of defenders, one of which was Levi Onwuzurike, in the running portion of an 11v11 drill.

When he’s jolted off balance he seems to straighten his back, bench press and recover. He contorts his body and just shows so much power and control. He lined up at guard and beasted Patrick Jones (again, who didn’t?) — dumping him right on his arse.

He has great feet with an easy slide, he connects and finishes. It wasn’t a perfect display and he lost a couple of reps to Onwuzurike, who used an effective swim/rip. Meinerz was left hanging on a bit. On another rep Onwuzurike threw him off after engaging contact. Still, this was against one of the top D-liners in the draft class.

Overall Meinerz combines a compact frame with power and good feet. He could slot in at center or guard but just look at his body. He was born to be a center. We know the Seahawks put a lot of faith in the Senior Bowl. A lot of their draft picks are players who performed well in Mobile. Meinerz is one to watch. He’s similar to Ali Marpet who was also a small-school guy who dominated at the Senior Bowl. He had great length, athleticism and he was explosive. Marpet was the #61 pick in 2015. It’s very possible Meinerz could be the guy at #56 (if he lasts that long).

David Moore (G, David Moore)

He showed good hand placement and is very strong. He made it difficult for defenders to disengage and brought some genuine intensity to the drills. He had a good week and there’s a lot of potential here. He only has 32 5/8 inch arms though.

Patrick Jones (DE, Pittsburgh)

Having talked him up all year, this was a total shocker. Jones was painfully disappointing. He had no pop, no quickness. He struggled in 1v1’s every day. He just offered nothing. It was one of the most underwhelming Senior Bowl performances I can recall.

At times, it was embarrassing to be brutally honest. He was on the turf constantly. He never showed any quickness to find the edge and win with speed. Whenever he engaged the tackle he’d usually be dumped on his backside. There was no strength in his hands and his lack of length (32 inch arms) showed up with opponents regularly getting into his frame. He offered no effective counter.

I had him in round one but I’m left wondering if he’s even a top-75 prospect based on this evidence.

Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State)

He was so inconsistent. He’s very busy when he engages but takes an age to counter or disengage. He had a hilarious moment where he clubbed one of the coaches acting as the QB in 1v1’s and cracked him straight in the balls. The coach went down.

His conditioning concerns linger. He looked absolutely shot in his final rep of 1v1’s against David Moore.

If this was an opportunity to repair his plummeting stock I don’t think he took it. Much like Alex Leatherwood, he didn’t flash the same intensity and sheer quality that he showed at Rivals as a younger player.

D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Western Michigan)

He was getting in and out of his breaks easily. He’s fluid, sudden and physical. Eskridge has a thick yet diminutive frame. He extends his hands and reaches out to pluck the football. You can’t give him a free release. Several corners couldn’t cover him and he beat Ambry Thomas. I thought he looked like the receiver with the most upside in Mobile and I think he’s a top-45 lock.

Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)

He knows how to create subtle separation in tight coverage and he was able to win easily in some reps too. Yet he lacked concentration when catching and had three drops on Wednesday. He gets a lot of hype in the media and he’s a good player. I’m just not sure he’s quite the can’t-miss prospect some are making out.

Nico Collins (WR, Michigan)

Just a natural receiver. He has great body control. He can high point on fades and box out in the red zone. He finds ways to make the catch when covered and consistently wins contested catches. Collins also has good hands and he runs silky routes. He just lacks a second gear and isn’t that fast. That could be a problem at the next level.

Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)

Fantastic performance that will have teams thoroughly reassured. He looked at home on the field — in total command and very relaxed. He passed with accuracy and touch across the middle. Everything looked crisp. Some issues were also present too. He can’t drive the ball into tight windows in the red zone and he lacks the arm strength to threaten deep. That said, he could easily have a Matt Hasselbeck type career in the right system.

Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)

Unlike Jones, Mond had no trouble in the red zone or driving the ball downfield. He had great sharpness to his throws. They were direct and to the target quickly. He has the big arm and he flicks his wrist to generate velocity with a quick release. His red zone work was excellent. He led a superb two-minute drill for a touchdown and two-point conversion on Thursday. As a second or third round pick to draft and develop, he’s a great option for a team with an ageing QB.

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Why the Seahawks should trade Jamal Adams

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Simply put — Jamal Adams is not worth $18-20m a year

Jamal Adams is a really good player.

When healthy, he can be truly dynamic. Clearly he has a passion for the game. He’s a downfield attacking force.

But the Seahawks should seriously consider trading him and I’m going to explain why.

Try and be open minded even if you disagree.

There’s nothing in the bank

Here’s the reality for the Seahawks this off-season.

Their starting running back, cornerback, center, tight end and SAM linebacker are all out of contract.

A number of other players, including their second best defensive end, their second best tight end, their second best running back, the starting left guard and their number three receiver are also set to reach free agency.

Poona Ford, one of their top performers this season, is a restricted free agent and will likely receive a second round tender.

Only 47 players are contracted for 2021 including a whole bunch of fringe ‘futures contract’ players.

According to Over the Cap they currently possess $142,229 in effective cap space.

In the draft they have three or four picks. The fourth depends on whether or not they still owe the Jets a seventh rounder for Perry Nickerson. They only have one pick in the first three rounds.

You can’t operate with these resources.

They’re going to have to do something.

Extending contracts is one solution. Restructuring is another.

Giving Carlos Dunlap an extension to lower his 2021 cap hit is tricky. How many extra years do you want to commit to a soon-to-be 32-year-old? Assuming they’re not about to offer him a four-year deal, the more you lower his $14.1m cap hit, the bigger the problem you’ll face down the road.

Tyler Lockett is 29 this year and looking at the dreaded ‘third contract’. A three-year extension is reasonable but Lockett would surely expect a pay increase. He’s currently on $10.25m a year. Cooper Kupp earns $15.75m and Robert Woods $16.25m. He’s well within his rights to be in that range.

You can lower his cap hit this year potentially but at what cost in the future if his yearly average rises by $5-6m?

You don’t want to get into the habit of committing big money and extra years to ageing players.

Yet if you restructure other contracts instead you also create problems down the line. You’re lending on the credit card.

Admittedly they’re going to have to do a bit of this. They have no choice.

It shouldn’t be the only move though.

Seahawks fans love to mock Seattle’s recent record in the first round and use it to justify getting rid of their picks in the Adams trade. Here’s the truth. First round picks are your greatest resource. They are the gateway to acquiring cheap talent with great club control.

The fact that Seattle took Malik McDowell over T.J. Watt, Rashaad Penny over Nick Chubb or L.J. Collier over Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown or D.K. Metcalf isn’t an argument for not having first round picks. It’s an argument for using them better.

The Seahawks only have three assets with a first round value. Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Jamal Adams.

I’m not sure anyone else would even net a second rounder.

Trading Adams creates $9m in cap space for 2021. It frees up about $18-20m in salary from 2022 onwards. It gets you back into the first round where you can fill out your draft board, build-up your roster and plug the numerous holes that exist.

No safety is worth $18-20m a year

We’ve seen what happens in these situations.

The Texans and Laremy Tunsil. The Rams and Jalen Ramsey.

When you trade multiple high picks for a player and don’t have a new contract ready to go, you cede all leverage when talks eventually begin.

Tunsil agreed a deal worth $22m a year. That was $6m more expensive than the next highest paid left tackle on $16m. The Texans either had to cave to Tunsil’s demands or risk losing a player they’d spent a fortune on in draft picks.

Ramsey signed a record contract for a cornerback worth $20m a year in LA. The previous highest paid corner was Darius Slay on $16.8m a year in Philadelphia. Again, the Rams had little choice but to accept Ramsey’s demands.

The current highest paid safety in the league is Budda Baker ($14.75m a year). Adams will expect, not unfairly, to smash that number.

He’s well within his rights to ask to match Ramsey’s $20m a year. He will argue he’s more than a safety. He’ll probably say he’s a playmaker. He broke the record for sacks by a defensive back, after all.

If $20m is the starting point in talks, what do you do if you’re the Seahawks? You might be able to get him down to $18m a year. Anything less seems unrealistic.

The team has no leverage.

If you don’t agree to a deal, what happens? It’s pie in the sky to think he will happily play for $9m this year on the fifth year of his rookie contract.

A holdout would be likely.

You can’t afford to go down that road. So the question is simple. Do you want to pay him in the $18-20m a year range or not?

I don’t think he’s worth that kind of money. Especially when you consider how much cumulative resource he will have taken up. Not only did he cost three draft picks (three cost-effective players) he’s also costing you the chance to add others in free agency.

Is Jamal Adams really worth five or six players on this roster?

Things can change quickly

Here’s a quote from Pete Carroll at the 2019 combine:

“Frankie will be with us, yeah… Frankie just turned 25. He’s still a very young football player. Made a huge step this year in terms of leadership, growth and maturity. It was so obvious. I was really proud of seeing that develop for Frank. He played great, too. Frank, he’s a very valuable football player.”

He was speaking about Frank Clark. Carroll made it clear. Clark “is a Seahawk” — another quote used.

The plan, at least initially, wasn’t to trade away their best pass rusher. A 25-year-old hitting his prime. A draft success story.

Things changed when Demarcus Lawrence signed his mega-deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Suddenly, the stakes were higher. Clark’s price rose and the Seahawks didn’t see value any more.

They couldn’t agree terms and eventually traded Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Seahawks may well intend to extend Jamal Adams’ contract this off-season. However, for the reasons listed above, it could be very expensive.

If he wants more than they’re willing to pay — the precedent is set. They’ll probably move him, just as they did with Clark.

That’s the right approach to take. Set a limit and stick to it.

At the absolute most Seattle’s limit should be fractionally higher than Budda Baker’s record setting contract. It’s just hard to imagine Jamal Adams accepting that.

The Seahawks have pooled their resources in the wrong areas

We all know what the Seahawks want to be. They tell us often enough.

So it’s strange how they’ve gone about constructing their roster.

Duane Brown aside, the offensive line has been built with cheap short-term contracts, rookies and projects.

They place great importance on the running game — but have struggled to truly ever replace Marshawn Lynch with a consistently good (and healthy) running back.

The Seahawks talk like they want to be a trenches team — yet the way they tried to fix the pass rush a year ago was confusing.

Instead they went into the 2020 season spending $25m of cap space on two veteran linebackers, having also used their top pick in the draft on a third linebacker. That was after trading up in the 2019 draft to select another linebacker in round three.

They spent a kings ransom to acquire Jamal Adams, a safety. That’s despite also trading for Quandre Diggs and his existing contract in Detroit and using a second round pick on Marquise Blair, while also paying to retain Bradley McDougald until the Adams deal.

They spent over $10m on two pass-catching tight ends in Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister and then didn’t really feature either player in the passing game.

If you want to be the kind of team who turns up and punches the opponent in the nose — don’t you have to focus on the trenches?

Look at the way the Giants and Rams kicked Seattle’s arse. They did it on both sides of the line. It covered up for the fact that neither team had an ideal quarterback situation.

Isn’t it time to redress the balance a bit?

Instead of paying big money to Jamal Adams for the next few years, wouldn’t that money be better off going to Brandon Scherff? He was PFF’s #4 ranked guard this year (86.3) behind only Zack Martin, Quenton Nelson and Wyatt Teller.

If you want to seriously take on Aaron Donald two or three times a season — wouldn’t spending big on the interior line be a better use of resources?

Even if you don’t want to pay the likely $15m a year for Scherff — what about using it to make a move for Leonard Williams in free agency? He destroyed the Seahawks. He had 11.5 sacks in 2020. He could be your answer to Donald.

You could still improve your offensive line in the draft. You could tap into an exceptional looking interior O-line class.

Look at the scenarios and tell me which is better for this team? And be honest.

Jamal Adams and the #56 pick this year?

Or having a full quota of draft picks in 2021, perhaps some replenished stock in 2022, plus significant funds to use in free agency both this year and next.

And more importantly — a chance to get better in the trenches.

The pathway to future success is arguably more likely to be paved in the form of a great offensive and defensive line combo than splashy moves at safety.

Shouldn’t they be spending their money and picks up front?

Are you that worse off for taking a chance on Keanu Neal — a free agent projected to earn $5m a year according to PFF — or even starting Marquise Blair at safety? While having the extra money and picks to quickly improve your two lines?

Is he even a good fit in Seattle?

The 2020 season was a weird one for Adams. He was dealt to a new team who play a totally different scheme. He had to make the move during a global pandemic. He suffered a string of injuries during the season.

That said, I still question whether he is a great fit for this defensive scheme.

The Seahawks blitzed 33.5% of the time this season. That was a significant increase from 26.9% in 2019 and 18.4% in 2018.

The fact is — when Seattle had Frank Clark they felt much more comfortable rushing with four and blitzed almost half as much as they did in 2020. The results were slightly worse this year despite being far more aggressive:

Blitz percentage — 18.4%
Sack percentage — 7.3%

Blitz percentage — 33.5%
Sack percentage — 6.4%

I think they felt obliged to blitz a lot. Firstly — to cover for the fact the front four pressure simply wasn’t good enough until Carlos Dunlap’s arrival. Secondly — to justify Adams’ presence.

The Seahawks slowed things down in the last two or three games. In his first six games with the team he blitzed 63 times. His average of 10.5 blitzes per game was by far the most in the league.

His end of season rate was still high. He ended up blitzing 98 times in 12 games.

So while many people bring up his sack numbers to justify the trade, this is the reality:

— He blitzed 8.2 times per game

— He registered 0.8 sacks per game

As Hugh Millen explains in the video below, the Seahawks were scheming ways to create free runs to the quarterback — often using Bobby Wagner as a decoy:

Almost one sack per game sounds really good without context. The reality is different. You are taking someone out of coverage and manufacturing a situation where they can freely rush the passer, usually without resistance.

When a defensive end wins off the edge against a tackle — that’s a 1v1 victory. When a safety blitzes — the quarterback is going to have an opportunity to capitalise.

It’s a risk. Some schemes thrive on that risk/reward. The Seahawks have never been one of those teams. They’ve always sought a four-man rush enabling their players to stick to their jobs, execute and fly to the ball at the second level.

The fact is — seven out of eight times Jamal Adams is vacating the secondary and not getting home. What happens on those plays?

I would argue in a 3-4 scheme, which Adams played in as a Jet, it’s easier to be creative. You feature four linebackers for a start. Your two edge players have to be able to drop in coverage. Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams can show pressure from different looks. They constantly keep you guessing. They’ll show a blitzing ILB then have them back out at the last minute, only for the safety to come screaming downfield. You might bring a linebacker and the safety and have your two OLB’s drop.

There are so many combinations.

The scheme is designed to create confusion. You never know where the pressure is coming from.

In Seattle, they often telegraphed Adams’ pressure. Anyone watching could see when he was up at the line of scrimmage, he was likely going to blitz.

It’s not as easy for Carlos Dunlap or Benson Mayowa or LJ Collier to drop into coverage. They are not 3-4 OLB’s. This is not a scheme where pressure could be coming from anywhere at any time.

Adams’ PFF grade (64.2) ranked 45th among qualifying safety’s. His coverage grade was a concerning 53.1.

I don’t think this is indicative of a bad player. I suspect it’s indicative of a poor scheme fit.

Aren’t they essentially stuck with him now though?

Not at all.

Brandin Cooks has changed teams three times. The total outlay spent on him is three first round picks and a second round pick.

Certain players retain value.

Jamal Adams is only 25. He’s approaching his second contract.

He’s a good enough player that if the Seahawks decided to shop him, there would be takers.

Any of the Belichick-tree coaches would probably love him. Their scheme thrives on hybrid, aggressive safeties.

The Miami Dolphins have two first round picks this year — #3 and #18. If they believe in Tua Tagovailoa (which admittedly is debatable) — then they just need to keep adding talent.

They also have plenty of cap space.

Would they deal #18, knowing they also have the luxury of owning Houston’s pick in the top-five? They might even throw in another pick this year or next.

Sure — it’s a discount on what you paid the Jets. So be it. You use #18 to move down, accumulate picks and tap into this great O-line class. You use the money you saved to further improve in the trenches. You follow through on your commitment to your chosen identity.

New England, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, the Giants. They’re all potential suitors. Cleveland needs a playmaker at the second level.

Increasingly I think the Adams trade was a highly aggressive, win-now move. An opportunity to see if he could come in and deliver the kind of major impact they’d been unable to acquire in free agency or the draft. The main motivation was to chase a title in 2020.

I suspect they knew they were investing in someone with retainable value and all options would remain on the table in the off-season.

The Seahawks have to make a big decision. They need to be honest with themselves.

There’s no room for pride. Equally, nobody should be too critical when a team takes a shot and misses. It’s OK to be both aggressive and then contemplative.

What the Seahawks don’t need right now is misplaced belief that Adams is in the same bracket as Aaron Donald when it comes to impact. Paying him like he is, after spending what they have in picks, would be doubling down on a misuse of resources.

If you want to be the kind of team the Seahawks want to be, you need to look to the first flush of the Carroll era for inspiration.

Between 2010 and 2012 Seattle used their top pick in the draft on an offensive or defensive lineman. They acquired Marshawn Lynch. They had the most expensive O-line in the league in 2013 when they won the Super Bowl.

They also had a cheap, young and aggressive defense.

You are paying $35m a year for a quarterback now. He is the heart of the team and will determine your ultimate success and failure. Give him a top-10 offensive line, an excellent running game and some weapons as a priority.

Invest in a good pass rush and find young, fast and aggressive players to feature at the second level.

Find a safety elsewhere. Either sign Keanu Neal or Malik Hooker or trust in Marquise Blair and/or Ugo Amadi.

It’s time to spend their resources on the trenches.

And that means, it’s time to think about trading Jamal Adams.

If you missed our podcast reacting to the hiring of Shane Waldren, check it out here:

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Reaction: Seahawks set to hire Shane Waldron

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

The Seahawks deserve a lot of praise for hiring Shane Waldron as their new offensive coordinator.

As they were busy interviewing the likes or Kirby Wilson and Anthony Lynn — with the constant threat of an internal hire looming — it was easy to fear the worst.

The appointment of a new offensive coordinator was going to be critical. Hire the wrong guy and the damage in the relationship between team and quarterback could’ve been irreparable.

With respect to Las Vegas’ running back coach — with no history of play-calling, no offensive coordinator interview in seven years and prior spells with Carroll in New England and USC — that wasn’t the kind of hire that was going to satisfy Russell Wilson.

It had to be someone that could connect everyone.

Wilson needs to believe the next coach can get him to where he wants to go in terms of legacy. He turns 33 this year. He might say he wants to play until he’s 45. In reality, he’ll be lucky to reach 39. Philip Rivers has just retired at that age. This sounds strange — but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we’ve already witnessed most of Wilson’s career.

He doesn’t want to have any regrets. Either in terms of personal achievement, statistics or winning.

It had to be someone Pete Carroll was going to let get on with the job. No Head Coach is going to cede 100% control to any coordinator. They’re always going to have input. There’s a difference though between discussing a plan days before a game and interfering on a crucial 4th and 1 call, leading to a delay of game.

It was easy to picture a scenario where Carroll was too hands on if this appointment wasn’t right.

So why does Shane Waldron potentially serve both of these needs?

Firstly, he’s from the Sean McVay tree. The LA Rams coach has proven himself to be one of the great minds in the NFL. He’s also surrounded himself with a growing list of exceptional coaches.

Matt LaFleur was his offensive coordinator in 2017. Sure, he might’ve had a rough day on Sunday in the NFC Championship game. Yet his arrival in Green Bay has lifted Aaron Rodgers to within a game of the Super Bowl and delivered another MVP.

Wade Phillips was McVay’s chosen defensive coordinator when he started with the Rams. It was an inspired choice. A young 31-year-old Head Coach needed an experienced partner on the sidelines. It was a home-run selection, helping the Rams reach the Super Bowl.

When it was time for Phillips to move on, McVay hand-picked Brandon Staley. He went on to produce the NFL’s top defense in 2020. After one year, he was offered arguably the most appealing Head Coaching gig available in Justin Herbert’s Chargers.

McVay is vibrant and intelligent and seems to surround himself with the right kind of people.

On top of that — he’s one of the NFL’s great schemers. One of the big complaints in Seattle is how predictable the offense is. It’s a fair concern. In the Carroll era they’ve often relied too much on star players — Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldin, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett — and not on game planning.

There’s no guarantee that Waldron is going to cook up solutions simply because he was attached to McVay for four seasons. It’s worth a shot though, isn’t it?

Furthermore, the McVay offense is predicated on getting the quarterback on the move and running the ball with great regularity. This should excite both Wilson and Carroll.

It’s also hard to imagine the Seahawks have just plucked an up-and-comer from a divisional rival without making this job as attractive as possible. Is Waldron really going to leave the comfort of McVay’s bosom to come and be told what to do by Carroll?

Or is he coming to Seattle thinking this is an opportunity to have a significant say in how the offense operates? Does he sense an opportunity to be Carroll’s heir apparent? Does he envisage a similar path to LaFleur? He left a similar job in LA to go and call plays in Tennessee and a year later was named Head Coach in Green Bay.

Presumably the Seahawks have had to sell this opportunity to him. It’s a division rival, after all. It hurts the Rams. In terms of intel, in terms of being less predictable, in terms of yet another member of staff leaving LA.

I’m guessing Waldron might’ve been a little sheepish calling McVay to give him the news. For these reasons, the move appears to be something of a coup.

And if you’re wondering what McVay thinks of his now former passing game coordinator, this is reassuring:

For me, this was a better appointment than Buffalo’s Ken Dorsey (for example). Neither individual has play-calling experience. Yet LA’s success is predicated on scheming. Jared Goff is not an exceptional quarterback. In Buffalo, a lot of their success this year is based on the physical brilliance of Josh Allen.

While Dorsey deserves credit for enabling Allen to reach a new level, the Seahawks don’t need a person to develop a young quarterback. They need someone who can cook up game-specific plans and avoid being too predictable. They need someone from one of the most creative, open-minded systems in the league.

It’s fine to have some reservations too. Is Carroll truly capable of getting out of the way? Waldron has never called plays, so there’s a bit of an unknown there. Had the Seahawks appointed someone experienced like Doug Pederson, there’d be no such concern.

Is it in any way telling that Staley didn’t try to lure Waldron to the Chargers? He made an approach for offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, which was rejected. He then appointed Joe Lombardi. Waldron’s name was never connected to the opening.

There’s also Zac Taylor, McVay’s former quarterbacks coach, who hasn’t had the best spell since replacing Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. Not every apple on the tree has been ripe. Taylor, for what it’s worth, beat Waldron to the Bengals gig (both were interviewed).

Even so, this is an appointment that enables the Seahawks to begin a crucial off-season with some momentum. It’s an appointment fans can invest some faith in and presumably it’s someone that can connect Head Coach and quarterback.

The focus can now turn to roster construction. What changes need to be made to enable the new offense to thrive? Do they have to completely change up their blocking scheme and the O-line personnel? Frankly I think that’d be a shame given one of the strengths of the 2021 draft is big interior linemen. You don’t need to have smaller, quicker linemen to run a lot of play action and misdirection.

The bigger issue is creating resource. With only $142,229 in effective cap space and with only three or four draft picks — they’ve got some work to do.

The starting center, cornerback, running back, left guard, SAM linebacker and tight end are all free agents. They have numerous players on expiring one-year deals. Players such as Poona Ford are restricted free agents.

Something’s going to have to give in the next few days. I’ll have an article on what I think they should do next on the blog this week.

Robbie and I will be recording a new podcast on Wednesday discussing the Waldron hire.

If you missed my appearance on the Les Levine show in Cleveland talking about the draft and the Senior Bowl, check it out below. My bit starts at 36:27…

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Talking draft on

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

This week I was invited onto the Les Levine show in Cleveland to talk about the draft and the Senior Bowl. We cover a lot of ground. My bit starts at 36:27…

Key Senior Bowl measurements

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

If you missed my watch-list for the Senior Bowl yesterday, click here.

Below are some of the key measurements from today in Mobile.

The Seahawks generally avoid linemen who don’t have +33 inch arms:

Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 338
Wingspan: 82
Arms: 33 1/8
Hands: 10 1/8

Spencer Brown (T, Northern Iowa)
Height: 6-8
Weight: 314
Wingspan: 82 3/8
Arms: 34
Hands: 10 3/8

Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 312
Wingspan: 79 4/8
Arms: 31 6/8
Hands: 9 5/8

Deonte Brown (G, Alabama)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 364
Wingspan: 80 6/8
Arms: 32 3/8
Hands: 9 1/8

Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 354
Wingspan: 79 1/8
Arms: 33
Hands: 9 6/8

Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 326
Wingspan: 81
Arms: 32 4/8
Hands: 10 3/8

Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 312
Wingspan: 85 3/8
Arms: 34 3/8
Hands: 9 4/8

Trey Smith (G, Tennessee)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 331
Wingspan: 83 1/8
Arms: 33 6/8
Hands: 10

If Baron Browning doesn’t go in round one with this physical profile and the extreme athleticism we know he has, it’ll be a surprise:

Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 241
Wingspan: 81
Arms: 33
Hands: 10

Three defensive linemen who are expected to go early measured with sub-33 inch arms, which isn’t great news:

Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 290
Wingspan: 80 1/8
Arms: 32 4/8
Hands: 10 2/8

Patrick Jones II (DE, Pittsburgh)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 264
Wingspan: 79 5/8
Arms: 32
Hands: 10

Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 281
Wingspan: 81 1/8
Arms: 32 4/8
Hands: 9 1/8

Here’s one player I will definitely be going back to look at…

Janarius Robinson (DE, Florida State)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 266
Wingspan: 87
Arms: 35 6/8
Hands: 11

Robinson also ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ.

Here’s his FSU team mate:

Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 319
Wingspan: 82
Arms: 33
Hands: 10 1/8

Sadly, Ambry Thomas doesn’t have 32 inch arms:

Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan)
Height: 5-11
Weight: 189
Wingspan: 76 4/8
Arms: 31 1/8
Hands: 8 4/8

Here are some of the skill players we identified:

D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Western Michigan)
Height: 5-9
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 74 1/8
Arms: 30 1/8
Hands: 9

Trey Sermon (RB, Ohio State)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 213
Wingspan: 79
Arms: 32
Hands: 9 4/8

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, Oklahoma)
Height: 5-11
Weight: 227
Wingspan: 75
Arms: 30
Hands: 9

Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 247
Wingspan: 80 6/8
Arms: 33 2/8
Hands: 9 3/8

Kylin Hill (RB, Mississippi State)
Height: 5-10
Weight: 214
Wingspan: 73
Arms: 30 4/8
Hands: 9 5/8

Kadarius Tony (WR, Florida)
Height: 5-11
Weight: 189
Wingspan: 74 4/8
Arms: 30 4/8
Hands: 9 4/8

To finish, look at this monster:

Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 230
Wingspan: 81
Arms: 33 3/8
Hands: 10

That is a simply incredible physical profile.

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Senior Bowl Seahawks player watch-list

Monday, January 25th, 2021

Before getting into the list, if you missed my interview with Jim Nagy please check it out at the bottom of the page. Also, over the weekend I was invited onto a UK-based Seahawks podcast. Click here to listen to it. We get into a lot — from how I started following the Seahawks, the creation of this blog, the current state of the team and you’ll be amazed at my ability to predict the AFC and NFC Championship games…

Keep an eye out on too where I recently recorded a broadcast discussing a number of draft subjects. I’m always available for podcasts, radio/TV appearances or guest articles. Just send me an email to

Senior Bowl player watch list

These are some of the players I’ll be keeping an eye on in Mobile. Players on the National team (coached by Miami) have a red ‘N’ next to their name. Players on the American team (coached by Carolina) have a blue ‘A” next to their name.

D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Wester Michigan) N
I was blown away watching him for the first time last week. He’s twitchy and has incredible acceleration. If he can consistently flash the ability to separate in drills and show good hands, he could fly up boards. The Senior Bowl has been a great stage for receivers in recent years. Eskridge is so sudden and diminutive — it’s easy to think Tyreek Hill as a comp.

Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia) A
He’s a mountain of a man (6-6, 335lbs) and you won’t find a stronger player in college football. The Georgia staff had to stop him at 45 reps at 225 on the bench press to prevent injury. There’s a good chance he would’ve beaten the combine record of 49. He’s also a better athlete than people give him credit for — running a 5.11 forty at SPARQ and registering an overall score of 97.32. He’s a former four-star recruit. If you want someone to maul blockers up front and set the tone, Cleveland’s your man.

Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan) N
I think the two most talented cornerbacks in this draft are Thomas and Elijah Molden. Both are outstanding short-area athletes. Thomas ran a 3.90 short shuttle at SPARQ, then added a 4.43 forty and a 36 inch vertical. He’s not the biggest corner (6-0, 185lbs) but he competes for the ball and he tackles well too. He can stick in coverage. This is a great opportunity for the Michigan corner.

Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington) N
Jim Nagy is a big believer in Onwuzurike and believes he’ll land in the first round. I went back and watched the tape this week and there are a lot of things to like. He shows great quickness and agility at 6-3 and 293lbs to slip blocks and create interior pressure. He can use his hands to bench in order to keep his frame clean then read/react. When the ball is dumped off he’ll often hurry across the line and chase down the ballcarrier. The OL vs DL drills are box office in Mobile. He’ll be facing some top interior linemen. If he impresses, he’ll be one of the stars of the week.

Deonte Brown (G, Alabama) A
I’m not as sold on Brown as others. He’s an enormous blocker but quite squatty. When he squares up straight-on he can overpower defenders. Even when he’s asked to pull — if the target is right in front of him, he’ll dump a pass rusher on his backside. Yet when he has to move his feet to handle a quicker interior rusher his footwork is sluggish at best. Blocking from different angles is hard and he’s not much use at the second level. The 1v1 drills are set-up for quick defensive linemen to succeed so let’s see if I’m being too hard on a highly rated blocker.

Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame) N
I’m a huge fan of Aaron Banks. He’s 6-6 and 340lbs and Seattle’s type of guard. He’s physical and finishes his blocks. He has good mobility for his size and that showed when he had to fill-in at left tackle in one game this season. He drives open running lanes with power but he can settle down in pass-pro and engulf defenders.

Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma) N
He plays with a nasty streak and he does so much so well. His combo-blocking is really impressive. He reaches up to the second level with ease and shows great athleticism to latch onto blocks in space. He scored 94.17 at SPARQ in 2017. To go with his technique and athleticism is a real edge to his play. He’s also well sized and could be a long term starter at the next level.

Patrick Jones II (EDGE, Pittsburgh) N
A player well suited to the LEO, Jones took his game to a new level in 2020. He registered 13 TFL’s and nine sacks in 11 games. Pittsburgh had an inconsistent season but Jones visibly took on a leadership role. He plays with a good motor, can bend and straighten when rushing with speed but he’s useful with his hands too. Pitt had him drop and play in space sometimes to showcase his athleticism. He could have a big week in the pass rushing drills. Keep an eye out for his team mate Rashad Weaver too.

Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State) N
A great short shuttle, explosive testing and a great forty usually mean a high quality linebacker in the modern NFL. Browning ran a 4.18 short shuttle at SPARQ, a 4.56 forty and then jumped a 37 inch vertical. He moves around the field with ease. The Seahawks are not going to take a linebacker early again but on a personal level I can’t wait to see how Browning competes.

Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama) A
Tony Pauline thinks he’s a top-20 pick but Todd McShay has him graded in round three. Leatherwood isn’t an amazing athlete but he is a BAMF. His physical appearance and the way he carries himself remind me of Duane Brown. At the very least he can be an exceptional guard. I think he will shine at tackle during drills, elevating his stock. He was superb in the Rivals 1v1’s in High School. Strong, tough and doesn’t give an inch.

Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M) A
The Senior Bowl is often a king maker at quarterback and it’ll be interesting to see which of the group emerges. My money’s on Mond. He was a lot more consistent in 2020. He has a rocket arm and can drive the ball into tight spots. He played well against both Clemson and Alabama in his career. He reminds me of a less mobile but perhaps more accurate Colin Kaepernick.

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, Oklahoma) N
I’m not sure what to make of Stevenson and I’m hoping the Senior Bowl provides some answers. He’s 6-0 and 246lbs but is really light on his feet. At SPARQ he ran a 4.30 short shuttle and it shows. His ability to pivot and change direction at his size is impressive. I’m just not sure if he’s explosive enough for Seattle. Why was he only ever a bit-part player at Oklahoma too?

Nico Collins (WR, Michigan) N
Collins does so much well. His body control to contort and adjust to the football is strong. He reads the ball well in the air. He makes contested catches. In the NFL though you’ve got to be able to separate. I’m not sure how fast he is and without a combine, we’re relying on seeing him create separation in drills to allay some fears.

Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State) A
A sensational athlete who wowed at Rivals and SPARQ in High School, Wilson’s college career was a bit underwhelming. At 6-4 and 332lbs he clocked a 4.56 short shuttle which is insane. He also ran a 5.17. Yet his conditioning is a concern and there are some really ugly snaps on tape where he looks like a random dude has taken the field and needs to catch his breath. His upside is through the roof but he needs to impress.

Trey Smith (G, Tennessee) A
Smith has been hyped as a high pick for years, after receiving incredible recruiting buzz when he picked Tennessee. I don’t think he ever lived up to expectations and it concerns me a little bit that he spent considerable time last year ‘liking’ a lot of negative comments on twitter. He’s had health issues too. This is an opportunity to shine among an impressive group of interior linemen.

Kylin Hill (RB, Mississippi State) A
At 5-11 and 210lbs he’s just about in Seattle’s wheelhouse for size. He jumped a 38 inch vertical at SPARQ so he’s explosive and that’s what they look for. A 4.30 short shuttle also shows he can change direction well. His college career ended in a fallout with Mike Leach so we barely saw him in 2020. Let’s see if he can impress here and use his fresh legs to run hard in the game on Saturday.

Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida) A
Draft media has already anointed Toney a first round pick. Yet it’s worth remembering he ran a 4.69 forty at SPARQ. I obviously think he plays quicker than that but is he the kind of 4.3/4.4 runner some seem to think he is? Quick separation, nuanced routes and suddenness will help him in Mobile. He can leap up and get the ball — he’s jumped a 41.5 inch vertical.

Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss) N
He’s 6-5 and 240lbs and so fluid working in space. He’s a natural working downfield or attacking the seam. There’s very little wasted movement and he’s a matchup nightmare for linebackers or safeties. Even against Alabama’s loaded defense he managed seven catches for 181 yards and two scores. He can make a defender miss to gain major YAC. Ole Miss lined him up in the slot, they had him working across the formation, he’ll run sweeps, he’ll take a wheel-route or he can just run downfield or settle as a check-down option.

Spencer Brown (T, Northern Iowa) N
Enormous right tackle listed at 6-8 and 320lbs. Brown is a remarkable athlete and has developed at Northern Iowa, adding weight and turning himself into a legit NFL prospect. Tony Pauline believes he can move into the second round conversation with a good Senior Bowl. I think his high-cut frame create issues with leverage so we’ll see how he gets on.

Chazz Surratt (LB, North Carolina) N
Quarterback-turned-linebacker — Surratt is one of the more fascinating players in this draft class. It would’ve been interesting to see how he tested at the combine. You can see on tape that he’s still a bit raw and finding his feet but he pursues well to the ball, he’s very agile and he’s been productive.

Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest) A
One of the big names set to compete in Mobile. Basham is an athletic freak who has been timed in the 4.21 range in the short shuttle at 280lbs. He’s also jumped a 36 inch vertical. There’s a lot of average tape though, mixed in with some stunning highlight-reel moments.

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An interview with Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

With the Senior Bowl kicking off this week, I spoke to Jim Nagy about some of the players who might be on Seattle’s radar. He also offered some interesting names to watch. This is definitely worth your time so check it out above.

With the Seahawks needing to bolster their offensive line this year, the 2021 class appears to be loaded with options. It’s just a shame they have such limited draft capital to take advantage. I still think they need to be honest about the construction of this team and consider whether they’ve pooled their resources in the wrong areas. If not, it’s better to embrace it now and move on rather than compound the situation.

It certainly appears the 2021 draft could set up your O-line for years to come. The thought of having your pick of a deep group of highly talented and physical interior linemen — or making sure you get Javonte Williams — is appealing.

So much resource has been used on the linebacker and safety positions. Is it time to reverse that? Isn’t it time to ‘make the O-line great again’?

Big thanks to Jim for his time once again this year.

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Updated mock draft (pre-Senior Bowl): 22nd January

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Georgia’s Ben Cleveland is a mauling, physical blocker

In previous mock drafts I tried to balance out my own projections and expectations with more of a national consensus.

For the last two weeks I’ve spent a lot of time revising players I’ve already watched. This mock draft is a reflection of that. I’m not going to pay much attention to the consensus from now on. I think this is going to be a divisive draft class with a wide range of differing opinions.

Here are a few thoughts…

— Apart from Trevor Lawrence, this is a quarterback class filled with risk. Teams will undoubtedly talk themselves into certain players. It always happens. But there’s a distinct lack of year-to-year production. Some players have the physical talent but lack the consistency. Others can’t drive the ball downfield when top receivers create easy separation. I’d be cautious about pitching my franchise to these QB’s. I do think Stanford’s Davis Mills will go earlier than people think, however.

— I’ve been a big fan of Shaun Wade for a while but it’s time to admit he struggled this season and hasn’t shown an ability to warrant first round potential as a starting outside corner. I think a team could take a shot on him in the late first but many will see him merely as a slot corner. Neither do I think Patrick Surtain had a great year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaycee Horn, Elijah Molden and Ambry Thomas end up going earlier than Wade, Surtain and Caleb Farley.

— In this strange, Covid-impacted year I think teams will play it safe. I’m not sure anyone is going to be busting a gut to trade up — unless it’s for one of the top receivers or Penei Sewell. I also think the Jets and Dolphins — if they are minded to make a quarterback change — will be more inclined to trade their high picks for a veteran than simply move off Sam Darnold and Tua Tagovailoa for Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. I’m not sure that’s a forward step.

I’ve listed the two-round mock below, then provided explanations for each pick in a separate section after. I talk more about Seattle’s pick at the end.

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
#2 New York Jets — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
#3 Miami (v/HOU) — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
#4 Atlanta — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#5 Cincinnati — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
#6 Philadelphia — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
#7 Detroit — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
#8 Carolina — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
#9 Denver — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
#10 Dallas — Walker Little (T, Stanford)
#11 New York Giants — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
#12 San Francisco — Rasheed Walker (T, Penn State)
#13 LA Chargers — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
#14 Minnesota — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
#15 New England — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
#16 Arizona — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
#17 Las Vegas — Patrick Jones (DE, Pittsburgh)
#18 Miami — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
#19 Washington — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
#20 Chicago — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
#21 Indianapolis — Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Dayo Odeyingbo (DE, Vanderbilt)
#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
#26 Cleveland — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
#27 Tampa Bay — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
#28 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
#29 New Orleans — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
#30 Buffalo — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
#31 Green Bay — Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan)
#32 Kansas City — Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
#34 New York Jets — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
#35 Atlanta — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#36 Miami (v/HOU) — Talanoa Hufanga (S, USC)
#37 Philadelphia — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
#38 Cincinnati — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
#39 Carolina — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
#40 Denver — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
#41 Detroit — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
#42 New York Giants — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
#43 San Francisco — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
#44 Dallas — Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
#46 New England — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
#47 LA Chargers — Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
#48 Las Vegas — Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
#49 Arizona — Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
#50 Miami — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
#51 Washington — Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)
#52 Chicago — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
#53 Tennessee — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
#54 Indianapolis — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
#55 Pittsburgh — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
#56 Seattle — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
#57 LA Rams — Joseph Ossai (LB, Texas)
#58 Tampa Bay — Jay Tufele (DT, USC)
#59 Baltimore — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
#60 Cleveland — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
#61 New Orleans — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
#62 Buffalo — Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
#63 Green Bay — Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC)
#64 Kansas City — Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)

The picks explained…

#1 Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
Urban Meyer felt comfortable taking this job because he knew the opportunity that comes with being the man who gets to coach Trevor Lawrence.

#2 New York Jets — Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)

I think the Jets will shop this pick but in the end they might just take the best player available.

#3 Miami (v/HOU) — Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
It’s easy to forget just how good Chase was in 2019. DeVonta Smith is terrific but Chase has the extra size teams covet in a #1 wide out.

#4 Atlanta — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

New GM Terry Fontenot says they’ll take the best player. In that situation, it’s probably DeVonta Smith.

#5 Cincinnati — Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)

They’d prefer one of Sewell, Chase or Smith but the Bengals never move up and they’re left to take the best remaining player.

#6 Philadelphia — Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
Moore is explosive, fast and you can build a passing game around him. He ran a 4.33 forty, a 4.01 short shuttle and jumped a 43 inch vertical at SPARQ.

#7 Detroit — Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
I really like Wilson. I’m just not sure anyone is going to trade up or move off a previous high QB pick for him.

#8 Carolina — Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
As with Wilson, Fields clearly has talent. But is he quite good enough to say ‘we must have this man to lead our franchise’?

#9 Denver — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)

Highly explosive and dynamic — a true first round talent. He can jump a 39-inch vertical and a 10-3 broad jump.

#10 Dallas — Walker Little (T, Stanford)

Perfectly sized, great agility and a very capable tackle prospect who will go earlier than people think. Had the best SPARQ score among O-liners in 2017 (107.25).

#11 New York Giants — Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

This is a pure value pick and I’m not sure anyone in New York is particularly tied to Evan Engram. Pitts dominated in 2020.

#12 San Francisco — Rasheed Walker (T, Penn State)

Walker showed power and agility this season and if the Niners lose Trent Williams they’re going to need a replacement.

#13 LA Chargers — Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
Incredibly gifted interior lineman with a top pedigree. He dominated against Clemson alongside Josh Myers.

#14 Minnesota — Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)

A TFL machine in 2020 (13.5). Nixon creates havoc from the interior and has the size to play every down and distance.

#15 New England — Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)

He’s recovering from an injury but there’s no doubting the speed or the talent.

#16 Arizona — Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
The Bowl game against Cincinnati was a statement performance. It was Ojulari saying ‘I belong at the top of your pass rushing boards’.

#17 Las Vegas — Patrick Jones (DE, Pittsburgh)

Dynamic edge rusher with superb quickness and leadership skills. Mayock and Gruden should love him.

#18 Miami — Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
Gliding and cultured runner who somehow combines power and finesse. Very talented and productive. Ran a 4.16 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#19 Washington — Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
If you want to monitor a potential big riser at quarterback — remember the name Davis Mills. NFL teams are going to love his skill set.

#20 Chicago — Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
He looks like a Greek God of a cornerback. Incredibly put together. Dominated Auburn’s Seth Williams.

#21 Indianapolis — Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
BAMF in the Duane Brown mould. Tough, physical and what he lacks in elite athletic traits he makes up for with badassery.

#22 Tennessee — Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
He only ran a 5.03 forty at SPARQ but when you put on the tape he jumps off the screen. He looks like a first rounder.

#23 New York Jets (v/SEA) — Dayo Odeyingbo (DE, Vanderbilt)
Robert Salah gets his answer to Arik Armstead. Odeyingbo is 6-6 and 275lbs with 36 inch arms and can play inside/out.

#24 Pittsburgh — Javonte Williams (RB, North Carolina)
He had a record 0.48 broken tackles per rush attempt in 2020, registered 7.0 YPC and 4.59 yards-after-contact per carry. He’s exceptional.

#25 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
He’s had a few lapses in 2020 but the talent and size will intrigue many teams. Only ran a 4.57 at SPARQ, though.

#26 Cleveland — Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)

Highly athletic pass rusher who if he tests well, could go much earlier than this. Looks quick and explosive on tape.

#27 Tampa Bay — Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
Has the size and the length but he was really raw in Miami and sitting out 2020 hasn’t helped his stock.

#28 Baltimore — Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
Incredibly consistent, tough and very athletic center with a long career ahead of him. He ran a 4.49 short shuttle at 310lbs.

#29 New Orleans — Baron Browning (LB, Ohio State)
Wow-athlete at linebacker with tremendous character and intensity. Ran a 4.18 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#30 Buffalo — Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
Strong for his size and capable of going up to get the football — Moore is an ideal slot receiver who could make Buffalo’s passing game unstoppable.

#31 Green Bay — Ambry Thomas (CB, Michigan)
Very competitive corner who loves to mix it up and has shown impressive ball skills. Ran a sensational 3.90 short shuttle at SPARQ, adding a 4.43 forty and a 36 inch vertical.

#32 Kansas City — Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)
Mean, nasty, quick edge rusher who is only scratching the surface of his potential. Could go earlier.

#33 Jacksonville — Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
It’s not overstating it to say that at times he looks like Gronk. Superb body control and size.

#34 New York Jets — Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
I think he had a ‘meh’ 2020 season but his profile is incredible. Jumped a 37 inch vertical at SPARQ and ran a 4.43.

#35 Atlanta — Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
Farley is talented but lacks consistency. Testing will be key. He was only a three-star recruit.

#36 Miami (v/HOU) — Talanoa Hufanga (S, USC)
He’s exactly the kind of downhill, attack-dog safety the Belichick-tree coaches are going to love. Ran a 4.24 short shuttle at SPARQ.

#37 Philadelphia — Elijah Molden (CB, Washington)
Outstanding player who will only last this long based on his size and straight-line speed. Ran a 3.93 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 37 inch vertical.

#38 Cincinnati — Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)

Overrated as a tackle but could easily slip inside and be a terrific player.

#39 Carolina — Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)

Massive, highly athletic prospect who will shock people when he runs and does the agility testing. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle (!!!) at SPARQ.

#40 Denver — Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
Rising offensive lineman but might be limited if teams view him purely as a right tackle.

#41 Detroit — Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
He’s a big favourite in the media but here’s something to consider — he ran a 4.69 at SPARQ at 177lbs. Was it just a bad run? That’s what he has to prove at the Senior Bowl. He did jump a 41 inch vertical.

#42 New York Giants — Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
Strictly a right tackle but could move inside to guard.

#43 San Francisco — Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
Registered a SPARQ score of 94.17 in 2017 and plays with a real edge. Combo-blocking is strong and he gets to the second level well.

#44 Dallas — Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
A dynamic athlete and playmaker who has a shot to be really good at the next level. Ran a 4.27 short shuttle at SPARQ, adding a 36 inch vertical.

#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
He might have to settle for a permanent role in the slot but Wade has talent and someone has to try and develop him. Five-star recruit.

#46 New England — Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

I’m just not sold on Lance. There are things to like but also minimal games, minimal opportunities and I couldn’t spend a first rounder on him.

#47 LA Chargers — Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)

When he flashes he really flashes. There’s also some average games on tape. No combine doesn’t help him because he’s a good athlete.

#48 Las Vegas — Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
Pass-rushing three-technique who lacks size but knows how to create opportunities from the interior.

#49 Arizona — Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
An absolute monster at left guard. Big, physical and plows people at the LOS.

#50 Miami — Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Personally, I think he’s a flash in the pan. Turned it on at the last moment at the end of the season but where’s the consistency?

#51 Washington — Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)

Holland is a decent player but how special is he?

#52 Chicago — Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
Had an amazing supporting cast at Alabama and got the ball to them. Physical limitations could show up at the next level.

#53 Tennessee — Alijah Vera-Tucker (G, USC)
He has experience at left tackle but a move inside to guard seems likely. Mobile and works well in space. Not sure he has the kick-slide to stick at tackle.

#54 Indianapolis — Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)

Jim Nagy says he has first round talent. The Senior Bowl is going to be huge for his stock.

#55 Pittsburgh — Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Bateman was prolific in 2019 but in the few games he played in 2020 he just looked off. He did the right thing pulling himself out.

#56 Seattle — Ben Cleveland (G, Georgia)
Extremely strong, run-blocking specialist with more athleticism than people realise. Moves people off the LOS.

#57 LA Rams — Joseph Ossai (LB, Texas)
Could replace Leonard Floyd as a rush hybrid who can deliver pressure but also drop if needed.

#58 Tampa Bay — Jay Tufele (DT, USC)

Big, physical interior presence. Shows enough quickness to offer some pass-rushing help. Ran a 5.04 forty at SPARQ.

#59 Baltimore — Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)

He’s their type of receiver — competitive, works to get open and he makes plays. I’m not sure he’ll run a great forty though.

#60 Cleveland — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
He had an underwhelming season after returning from a knee injury. Cleveland likes to take chances on falling big names from the SEC.

#61 New Orleans — Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
Tough, tenacious, stout and will clog up lanes at defensive tackle and every now and again he’ll make a play as a pass rusher.

#62 Buffalo — Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
Technically sound and really tough but he ran a 4.80 forty at SPARQ and that limits his range.

#63 Green Bay — Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC)
He has natural skills to get open and can do a bit of everything. His forty time will define how high he goes. He must improve on a 4.67 at SPARQ.

#64 Kansas City — Tutu Atwell (WR, Louisville)
Smaller receiver with electric skills. Can be used in many different ways. Will need to run well at his size.

Missed the cut

Landon Dickerson (C, Alabama)
Terrific player who was loved at Alabama. However, a long history of injuries will concern teams. Otherwise, he’s a top-40 talent.

Paris Ford (S, Pittsburgh)
Extremely talented and well recruited. A playmaker on his day. But what happened in 2020?

Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
There’s no doubting his talent and he was a former big-time recruit. However, his history with concussions needs checking.

Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
Mond was a lot more consistent in 2020 and has a rocket arm. At times looks like a less mobile version of Colin Kaepernick.

Milton Williams (DE/DT, LA Tech)
Really athletic and dynamic with great character. However, losing the combine takes away a great chance to impress.

Terrance Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
One of the few shining lights from LSU’s poor 2020 season. Again, I think he needed the combine really to get ahead of some of the other receivers.

Sam Cosmi (T, Texas)
Is he a tackle? Is he capable of improving his strength? At the moment he’s a big project.

Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
Dynamic tight end who can be a mismatch weapon. He ran a 4.21 short shuttle at SPARQ.

Monty Rice (LB, Georgia)
Tough and a player with starting potential but lacks the great athletic profile of some of the other linebackers in this class.

Javian Hawkins (RB, Louisville)
Smaller running back but dynamite as a ball carrier. Ran a 4.36 at SPARQ and jumped a 41 inch vertical. It shows on tape.

Trey Smith (G, Tennessee)
The health concerns aside, I think Smith has always been a bit overrated based on the recruiting hype he received.

Kyle Trask (QB, Florida)
Mediocre physical profile and on tape he doesn’t always see the field like you’d hope. Had a poor end to the season.

Nico Collins (WR, Michigan)
Makes difficult grabs and his highlights tape is fun to watch. However — does he have the speed to separate?

Jackson Carman (T, Clemson)
A player who is highly regarded by some but I need to watch more.

Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
Had a terrific season. Alabama couldn’t control him. Pure ‘big slot’ type who can be matched up to cause problems.

Seth Williams (WR, Auburn)
At times he looks fantastic. The way he mailed in the end of the season though left a sour taste. Lost his battle against Jaycee Horn.

Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
There’s no doubting his physical upside but his tape is just bang average.

Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
I really liked watching him on tape and there’s something to work with here.

Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State)
Incredible athlete at his size but conditioning is a concern. He needs a good Senior Bowl.

D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Western Michigan)
I watched him for the first time last night and couldn’t quite believe what I was watching. He’s electric. He’s one to watch at the Senior Bowl.

Thoughts on the Seahawks pick

Based on what Pete Carroll had to say at the end of the season I would suggest the early odds are on Seattle using their top pick on a left guard or a running back.

North Carolina’s Javonte Williams is no longer available. I’ve moved him into round one and a top-40 placing is possible.

Here’s why…

— Had a record 0.48 broken tackles per rush attempt in 2020

— Registered 7.0 YPC and 4.59 yards-after-contact per carry

— Recorded the highest rushing grade of the PFF CFB era (95.9)

— Led all backs in the percentage of runs that picked up a gain of 10 or more yards (26.8%)

— 2,000 yards rushing over the last two years despite carrying the football only 322 times

His ability to run through contact, retain balance and finish make him one of the most intriguing players in this draft.

The top rated guards are gone so I’m bringing a new name to the table.

Georgia’s Ben Cleveland isn’t rated particularly highly by many. There’s something of a consensus that he might be a day three pick. However, the Seahawks don’t tend to follow conventional thinking.

He lined up at right guard for Georgia and would need to shift over to the left side in Seattle. However — he does have a lot of the characteristics they look for.

Since Mike Solari’s return, they’ve often sought massive size at left guard. Cleveland is 6-6 and 335lbs. Reportedly the Bulldogs athletic staff have to stop him at 45 bench press reps at 225lbs. The combine record is 49 and if it was taking place this year, he might have had a shot at breaking it.

The chances are his TEF score would be significant due to his benching but he also has surprising athleticism. He ran a 5.11 forty at SPARQ which is good for his size. His overall SPARQ score is a decent 97.32. He’s a former four-star recruit.

He plants the anchor well for a tall blocker. There were often times on tape in pass-pro where he locked into his blocks and didn’t cede any ground. According to PFF, he hasn’t given up a sack since 2017.

I didn’t see any obvious issues with leverage. Some players try to get low on him but he does a really good job in terms of hand placement to counter and he’s so strong he stalls most attacks. He’d often stand-up bull-rush attempts and when he locks on he can twist defenders to create lanes. You see defenders get quite frustrated playing against him because he’s just too big and strong.

In the running game he thrives when blocking straight-up, driving defenders off the ball and smothering. There’s evidence of combo-blocking. He’ll judo-toss defensive linemen to the turf when given a chance. Frequently defenders lose balance trying to engage him with power. They’re overmatched and almost try too hard, making it easy to work them out of position.

I’ve seen it said that you don’t want him on move but I think this is overstated. He was asked to pull in 2020 and he did it fairly well.

One snap against Auburn stood out to me. There were three interior rushers with the nose standing over the center. Georgia had the center reach to the second level right off the snap, meaning Cleveland had to get out to the nose from a difficult angle. He had to run across the line and connect with the defender on his left shoulder, so immediately he doesn’t have a proper connection or any leverage. Yet he made the move so seamlessly, worked his way in front of the nose and by the time the ball was handed off — he was positioned directly in front of the defender and able to gain leverage and pad-level. The running back ran right behind Cleveland’s block for a first down conversion on 2nd and 5.

There were certainly no issues with his movement there.

So sure — he’s at his best in a phone-booth as a mauler. Yet he’s not a lummox who can’t move his feet.

Teams might question his ability to pick up new schemes. He was academically ineligible for the Sugar Bowl a year ago and he admitted during an interview this season that he wishes he’d taken school more seriously (it took him five years to get a degree). How much of it is a learning issue and how much of it is an ‘only interested in football’ mentality? It took him a long time to nail down a permanent starting job at Georgia.

Cleveland is attending the Senior Bowl and it’ll be very interesting to see how he gets on in the 1v1 drills. These situations are made for pass rushers to excel — so if he can handle some of the quicker interior defenders and flash better than expected footwork, his stock could start to rise.

He clearly plays with a real edge and we’ve seen the Seahawks fall for players who impress with their attitude during the week in Mobile.

In fairness though, he looks like the type of player they need at left guard. He was a really pleasant surprise when I watched three of his games this week. And if they don’t have the finances to go after a big name veteran — you could do a lot worse than take a shot on him in the draft.

There’s a chance he might be available later on and perhaps the Seahawks could go in a different direction at #56 and select Cleveland in a different round? At this stage I’m just trying to bring different names to the table. Seattle generally identifies ‘their guys’ and goes after them. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility Cleveland ends up being one of their top targets.

With only $142,229 in effective cap space for 2021, according to Over the Cap, it’s really difficult to figure out exactly how the Seahawks plan to address several key needs this off-season. The direction they go in at #56 will likely depend on what they can’t get done in free agency.

Currently, they have barely any cap space and hardly any picks.

If you missed it please check out my interview with Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo:

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Curtis Allen’s off-season positional reviews: WR

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

This is the third part of a guest-post series written by Curtis Allen

#3 Wide Receivers

Roster Notes

Players under contract for 2021: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Freddie Swain

Players under contract for 2022: DK Metcalf, Freddie Swain

Restricted Free Agents: none

Unrestricted Free Agents: David Moore, Philip Dorsett, Josh Gordon (suspended)

Exclusive Rights Free Agents: none

Players signed to Futures Contracts: John Ursua, Will Fuller, Cody Thompson, Penny Hart

Salary Cap Notes

2021 Cap Commitment: $14.6 million (8.30% of $178m cap)

Tyler Lockett has $12.7m of his 2021 salary non-guaranteed

Available free agents

2020 Season Overview

As a whole it was a terrific year for the position group. Russell Wilson set career highs working with his wide receivers.

Two significant franchise records were set this year – Tyler Lockett with 100 catches and D.K. Metcalf with 1,303 receiving yards. It is an impressive achievement that the marks were set by two different players in the same season.

Metcalf took a huge step forward in year two. He increased every measurable receiving statistic dramatically. That was due not just to his skill but his hard work to expand his route tree and become a weapon of broader use in the offense. His career trajectory numbers-wise after only two seasons is tracking with the best to play the game.

Lockett sandwiched several everyday-effective performances with some outstanding games again in 2020. The games where he was the focal point of the offense were really a sight to see. His 15-catch, 200-yard, three-touchdown game in Arizona stands with the best performances of the season in the NFL.

David Moore set career highs for catches and touchdowns. His pylon-kicking body control touchdown catch against the Patriots defied the laws of science. He also had fantastic downfield catches against the Rams and Washington.

Freddie Swain established himself as an available option as a rookie and gave the Seahawks flexibility in the offense.

And yet… in light of the inconsistent manner of the offense and the disappointing end to the season, it is hard not to think of the catches, first downs and potential touchdowns the Seahawks left on the field this year.

– A brilliant D.K. Metcalf catch and run touchdown to seal the Cardinals game that was called back by an unnecessary blocking penalty

– The group had an awful 19 passes dropped this season

– D.K. Metcalf celebrating too early in the Dallas game on a deep completion, getting stripped and costing the Seahawks a touchdown

Also, the play calling and game planning suffered several inconsistencies that did not maximize the talent in the group:

– Stubbornly avoiding quick passes when facing formidable pass rush teams, resulting in Russell Wilson being sacked 47 times and throwing the ball away in several others

– At times trying too hard to feature David Moore and calling plays that do not suit his skill set, to the exclusion of Lockett and Metcalf or finding rhythm on offense

– Failing to get Metcalf targeted early in games. Just one example — the key division matchup against the Rams in Week 10. In a game in which they desperately needed playmaking, they waited until late in the third quarter to throw the ball to him

– Several third and short plays the Seahawks could not convert, preventing the offense more opportunities to throw to the wide receivers

Offseason Questions to Address

1. How will the wide receivers fit in the offense in 2021?

In Pete Carroll’s end of year press conference he called for running the ball more. That does not necessarily mean the team will not use prime assets like Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.

In fact, it is possible that a reinvestment in the offensive line and running back groups could open up possibilities for the wide receivers not experienced under Brian Schottenheimer in 2020.

A strong running game aided by an improved offensive line will keep drives alive more frequently, which gives the wide receivers more chances for targets.

It would also assure that teams can’t just stick to two deep safety looks all game. There will just be too many players to cover.

But really, the question for the wide receiver group is whether the new offensive coordinator scheme better in game planning as well as in-game adjustments? Can they put together a package of plays that utilizes the wide receivers’ skills and playmaking ability that does not always require a seven-step quarterback drop and three full seconds to develop?

How about adopting what other teams are doing? Running out an unusual package that gets defenses confused and then running five or six different plays out of that package to keep defenses guessing?

The Seahawks had a couple plays of this nature in 2020 but never returned to them. For instance, the Freddie Swain touchdown play against the Patriots. The Seahawks lined up Tyler Lockett in the running back spot and the Patriots were yelling out adjustments at the line. They then sent Lockett on a route and everybody was looking at him. That cleared out the middle for Swain to come across and then scoot down the sideline for his first career touchdown.
How about running that two or three times more during the season? Then throwing a wrinkle into that formation by throwing deep to Metcalf when everyone has bitten on Lockett or Swain?

We constantly heard last offseason that covering Lockett and Metcalf is going to be a huge chore for defenses and will open things up. Why then did the Seahawks struggle so much to find mismatches and open men at times? It never seemed that David Moore or Freddie Swain were able to feast on third or fourth string cornerbacks. The tight ends rarely found zone bubbles in coverage to sit down in, or wide open seams in the middle of the field.

There is no doubt some of that is on Russell Wilson not finding them. But still, an offensive coordinator’s job is to make things simple for his quarterback. We need to be honest. Nothing was simple for Russell Wilson in 2020.

This group is too talented not to give an offensive coordinator all kinds of options to work with in 2021.

2. How much higher can D.K. Metcalf climb?

Metcalf had a fantastic 2020. He graduated from an impressive rookie season to a Pro Bowl second season. He demonstrated improved route-running ability, he only recorded one more drop than 2019 despite an almost 30% increase in targets and reduced his fumbles from three to one.

He accomplished all this despite regularly being matched with the opponents’ top cornerbacks.

His impact and skill set are so blinding it is easy to overlook that he has several issues to work on if he wants to reach the top tier of NFL wide receivers.

Understanding how he can better use his huge frame and wingspan to his advantage in the passing game should be his number one assignment this offseason.

Metcalf at times plays like a small, quick wide receiver in that he utilizes his speed to beat his man. It is very easy to rely on that speed as his primary weapon. After all, he has had so much success with it.

But being able to body out defenders as well as better high pointing of the ball will send his impact on the game into the stratosphere.

Imagine Metcalf being able to box out defenders on quick slants and gaining an easy 7-12 yards anytime he wants. What kind of effect would that have on the defensive backfield? Those slants are good eating for safeties looking to deliver a smack. But do they really want to do that when the receiver is a 6’4” 230lb freight train coming at you? It has been tried.

Many times those players have been knocked to the ground with Metcalf standing over them on the field, looking at them like he had just swatted a fly. Now imagine after a handful of those, sending Metcalf on a slant and go route, streaking past them as they hesitate to consider whether they want to get whacked by him.

Consider what improved high pointing skill can accomplish. Being consistently matched up with a 5’11” cornerback and giving your quarterback the option to throw to you at any time, whether it is along the sideline or in the end zone, knowing Metcalf can jump out of the gym and go get the ball. That would open up all kinds of options in the playbook.

His mental focus needs some work. He had seven drops in 2019 and eight in 2020. No drops in 2021 would be ideal but a reasonable goal would be to cut those drops in half.

He also had several mental mistakes that cost the Seahawks at key times during the season:

– The Dallas game fumble
– A drive-killing procedural penalty against the Rams
– Failing to set a proper pick on a 4th down pass to Tyler Lockett in the Arizona game

– Failing to set the edge on the David Moore jet sweep play at the goal line in Philly

Metcalf needs better focus when called on to complete mundane plays.

Perhaps it is just a natural progression and he will improve? Maturing personally and the game slowing down for him in his third year will likely be beneficial. Yet they need to be addressed and cleaned up this offseason.

Just think on the possibility that Metcalf is able to improve on all these areas this offseason. Even just a little.

Defensive coordinators will not be able to stop him. He will be able to wreck their entire game plan by himself.

Consider what that does for Russell Wilson and his confidence.

Consider what options that opens up for the offensive coordinator.

Would you like a cherry on top? Metcalf will be on his rookie contract for the next two seasons. If he continues to improve his game, the Seahawks will be getting easily ten times the value of the contract they’re paying him.

But it is up to him to put in the work this offseason.

3. Will they look at extending Tyler Lockett?

It’s time.

They extended Lockett in 2018 with a year left on his original deal. He is in the last year of his contract and counts $15m against the cap in 2021. He has provided terrific value, snagging 239 passes for 28 touchdowns in the three seasons since he signed it. He is currently not in the top twenty wide receivers for contract value and that should be rectified.

He will be 29 when the 2021 season starts. He has plenty of good years left and he has proven to be incredibly durable for a player of his size.

Extending him now does more than just reward fine play. It keeps the pairing with D.K. Metcalf intact. It underlines the case to Russell Wilson that he has a really good thing going in Seattle.

If structured right, the Seahawks could gain some sorely needed 2021 salary cap room.

It demonstrates to D.K. Metcalf that this organization rewards outstanding play.

And speaking of Metcalf, a Lockett extension helps the Seahawks set up their roster and cap structure for when Metcalf’s rookie contract expires after 2022. Metcalf should be the clear top receiver on the team at that point and the Seahawks will have Tyler in the last year or two of his contract and it will give them options in deciding how to proceed in the draft this year and next, as well as flexibility when considering paying Metcalf a huge contract.

This makes too much sense for all parties involved for it to not happen.

4. What do they do behind Lockett and Metcalf in 2021?

There is not currently a proven third option behind their two starters at wide receiver.

David Moore is an unrestricted free agent. It will be fascinating to see what his market will be. The Seahawks tendered him at the $2.1m rate last year, kept him on the roster all summer and then on roster cut down day, negotiated his contract down to about half that and kept him on the roster.

His speed, ability to adjust and fight for deep balls and his record of clutch catches would seem to suggest a higher ceiling than he has shown in his Seahawks career. Unfortunately, he has developed a pattern where he typically follows a game with a breathtaking catch with two or three games with very little activity to speak of.

The Seahawks sought to expand his role in the offense with some plays at the line of scrimmage designed to open up looks for him. They did not really take advantage of his strengths and thus did not produce much.

Still, 35 catches for six touchdowns, a player that Russell has implicit trust in and some punt return duties on his plate are well worth $1million. If he finds himself without a large contract offer, he is a great fit in Seattle and needs to be considered.

At this point in his career though, it needs to be asked, is he a true third receiver? It would appear we have experienced the best he has to offer.
He appears to be a perfect fourth receiver. He is frequently used on special teams, he can take some snaps when the other receivers are hurt or need a breather and can catch the defense snoozing on him.

Could a new offensive coordinator get more out of him?

Freddie Swain had a nice rookie season but much about his future role is unknown at this point. It was a good sign that he got used in game action early in the season. Can he step into a bigger role in 2021? The coaching staff seemed very positive about him.

John Ursua was a roster stash throughout 2019 and then came in late in the season and had a couple key catches.

He then failed to beat Swain and Penny Hart to make the roster in 2020 and spent the year on the practice squad. He never once merited a game day activation spot. He has been styled as possible great fit at slot receiver for the Seahawks but just has not been able to get on the field.

Penny Hart was used on special teams and only had one catch in 2020.

Philip Dorsett and Josh Gordon were complete washouts, not seeing a snap of game action.

The rub therefore is, the Seahawks do not have a real third option on the roster right now. There are several free agents available but with their limited resources and the talent stacked ahead of them, the best option might be to try and add a couple inexpensive free agents and hope one of them pops.

It would appear that if the Seahawks fill some other needs before the draft, they would be free to take the best player available. If that is a wide receiver, he will definitely have a role available to him in 2021.

Rob’s Potential Draft Targets

It’s another strong looking receiver class. Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith will go off the board quickly. I expect Rondale Moore will rise when he’s had a pro-day and shown he’s one of the best athletes in America.

Assuming there are no lingering issues with Jaylen Waddle’s ankle injury, he will also be a high pick.

There are several players who could also go in the top-40 but have the potential to last to the Seahawks too. Elijah Moore is a dynamic, strong and sturdy receiver who plays beyond his size. Tutu Atwell is another diminutive pass-catcher but he’s explosive and quick with big-play potential.

The Seahawks seem to prioritise speed at the position and look for players running a 4.4 or faster. It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of Rashod Bateman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tylan Wallace and Nico Collins run — but I suspect all might be 4.5 runners.

Kadarius Toney has talent and could be a mid-round pick. Again, speed will be key. He’s attending the Senior Bowl so might be one to watch. Seth Williams at Auburn lost his matchup with Jaycee Horn and slouched through the end of the season — but he’s better than he showed in his final few games. Terrance Marshall Jr also had a highly productive year in trying circumstances with LSU.

Sage Surratt wins a lot of contested catches but again — whether the Seahawks are interested will come down to how he runs.

For more on the draft please check out my interview with Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo:

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