Month: May 2021

Early 2022 watch-list & final thoughts

Jalen Wydermyer is one to watch for 2022

2022 NFL Draft early watch-list

I can’t believe it’s time for this again already…

Derek Stingley (CB, LSU)
For two years he’s been on a pathway to the top-five and could be the highest drafted corner in years. His physical profile is beyond freakish. He had a 142.74 SPARQ score including a 4.30 forty and a 42 inch vertical. He’s well sized at 6-1 and 195lbs. An elite prospect.

Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)
Another former five-star recruit who has been a top-10 projection since the first few weeks of his emergence in college football. He ran a 4.30 short shuttle at SPARQ and he has the size and length teams covet. He had nine sacks in 14 games in 2019 and three more in the awkward covid-impacted 2020 season.

Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)
Nothing he does is orthodox. He’s the ultimate off-script, playmaking quarterback. He’ll scramble around to extend plays, throw from awkward angles, break off huge improbable runs and frustrate opponents. He’s an ultra-dynamic athlete with a good arm, great speed and he’s one to watch in 2021. Transferred from Auburn. Has plenty of technical issues that need serious work though.

Carson Strong (QB, Nevada)
He opted not to turn pro in 2021 and with a somewhat unpredictable quarterback outlook for the draft next year, he has every opportunity to go from a tier two QB prospect to a tier one. Strong has a great arm with solid downfield accuracy and teams will covet his skill-set.

Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
He rushes the passer like an absolute wildman. His father also played for Michigan and he showed great loyalty to them in returning for 2021 after picking up an injury. He’s quick for his size, explosive and a real force getting after the quarterback.

Jalen Wydermyer (TE, Texas A&M)
When watching Kellen Mond, Wydermyer stuck out like a sore thumb. He constantly made plays in the passing game as Mond’s top-target. He’s 6-5 and 265lbs and just looks destined to be a very solid pro-weapon in the future.

Wanya Morris (T, Oklahoma)
A former top recruit, Morris has just transferred from Tennessee to the Sooners. At SPARQ he ran a 4.50 short shuttle at nearly 300lbs. Oklahoma is very capable of slotting him into the line-up and elevating his stock ahead of the 2022 draft.

Haskell Garrett (DT, Ohio State)
A player we talked about a lot before he opted not to turn pro this year. Garrett was shot in the face during the season but returned to play, miraculously. He ran a 4.41 short shuttle at 300lbs, is a 104.64 SPARQ athlete and he’s a dynamic interior rusher with the toughness to win battles vs the run.

Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
An absolute mountain of a man, Davis is 6-6 and 330lbs. He absorbs double teams as a nose tackle but the expectation going into the 2021 draft was that he would put on a testing show. Considered the star performer for Georgia last year on a defense that contained multiple high picks.

Zach Harrison (DE, Ohio State)
A potentially dominant pass rusher, big things are expected of Harrison this year. At SPARQ he ran a 4.62 forty and jumped a 38 inch vertical. His overall score was a 125.82. He’s a big-time prospect if everything clicks.

Sam Howell (QB, North Carolina)
He will be an experienced starter by the end of his third season at UNC. He has shown progress in terms of accuracy and elevating his team. How he copes without the two stud running backs and Dyami Brown will be interesting to watch.

Rasheed Walker (T, Penn State)
Considered by many to be a potential top-20 pick this year, Walker surprised many by returning to Penn State. He’s big, long and capable of playing either tackle spot at the next level.

Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)
I think he looks terrific and the testing numbers hint at a big future. He’s jumped a 42.5 inch vertical and a 10-5 broad. He ran a 3.87 short shuttle and a 6.52 three cone. There’s a lot to work with here.

Obinna Eze (T, TCU)
A talented and athletic left tackle, Eze has transferred from Memphis to TCU for his final year in college football. The upside is big here but he could use a season of consistent football to elevate his stock.

Jake Ferguson (TE, Wisconsin)
It feels like we’ve been talking about Ferguson for years. He really emerged in the passing game in 2020 and with football hopefully returning to normal this year, he could be a big-time weapon.

Jeremy Ruckert (TE, Ohio State)
A player expected to take on an expanded role in 2021 with the athletic profile to really develop this year. He has the size and at SPARQ he ran a 4.40 short shuttle, jumped a 35 inch vertical and had the highest overall score at his position (114.27).

Reflecting on the 2021 draft coverage

I always like to think back on what I got wrong during this process, while reflecting on areas we did a good job.

What I got wrong

— I fully expected Seattle to trade down. Right before the draft, Rob Rang had suggested to the Seattle media that the Seahawks could/would be fearful of trading down at #56 due to the Rams being at #57. I never admitted this on the blog but I dismissed it in my own head, thinking there’s no way they’d only pick three times. In the end, Rang was absolutely right. That appeared to be exactly their mindset and with some justification. Even if the Rams always intended to select Tutu Atwell, they were clearly looking for the same type of player as the Seahawks.

— I over-estimated Quinn Meinerz, perhaps reading too much into Ali Marpet’s rise a few years ago. Someone had passed on information to me that teams ranked Meinerz a little lower than I did but I stuck to my guns that he’d be a top-50 lock. In the end, he went far later.

— I think Minnesota is a great spot for Kellen Mond and it won’t be a surprise if he steals Kirk Cousins’ job within the next couple of years. However, I thought he would go in round two and he lasted to the third. I need to circle back on whether the NFL whiffed and he’ll be the next Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson, or whether I missed on my projection. Certainly it’ll be interesting to compare Mond and Davis Mills to Kyle Trask. I liked Mond/Mills a lot more, yet Trask went earlier.

What I was happy with

— Overall I was happy with the way my horizontal board was constructed. I limited it to about 180 players and all but a handful at the end were taken. Most players were selected in the range I thought they might be. Along with another top-10 placing in the Huddle Report scoring — and a now two-year average which is joint first overall — I feel like the tape study and projection for this class was sound.

— Some examples of this include having Payton Turner in an isolated four-player bracket with Jason Oweh, Kwity Paye and Joe Tryon. All four went in the same range. I feel like we were ahead of the game on Zach Wilson, on having Jaycee Horn ahead of Patrick Surtain and other projections that occurred in round one.

— Perhaps most pleasing though was the way the positional traits we’ve consistently identified and discussed on here show up in team decision making across the NFL. All of the tight ends we identified went off the board earlier than most expected — John Bates, Tre McKitty, Noah Gray, Zach Davidson and Luke Farrell. We’ve written about why. Tommy Doyle, Dan Moore and Landon Young went earlier than expected, we identified why. There was another mad rush for the leading TEF-testers. We all know why. So although we most certainly don’t get everything write — I think the process of how we project players is reasonable.

The Seahawks got who they wanted

Jim Nagy revealed the following earlier today:

“John Schneider told us on Thursday afternoon that Dee Eskridge and (Tre) Brown were the two players he hoped fell to Hawks. Brown’s elite speed & good finishing skills will allow him to compete for a starting role as rookie.”

We can certainly debate the merits on whether the Seahawks were right to put themselves in a position to only pick three times this year. Regardless, it’s always better when they get who they want.

I think we’re all scarred by that press conference after the first round in 2019 when — armed with two first round picks — things clearly didn’t go according to plan. The consequences have been felt too.

That’s not to say them getting who they want will lead to them making the right call (see: Rashaad Penny over Nick Chubb). Yet at least we can judge Plan A going forward, rather than trying to judge a damage limitation exercise.

Certainly there are things to like about the three players they drafted, as noted yesterday. It’s a nice trio and it’ll be interesting to see how their careers develop.

What happens next?

Having watched Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s post-draft press conference I think it’s fair to say that Richard Sherman is unlikely to be rejoining the Seahawks. It appeared to be an exercise in polite dismissal of a topic that was brought up somewhat randomly after the Seahawks have just signed Pierre Desir and drafted Tre Brown.

K.J. Wright is a different story. With no significant addition at linebacker I think they are pinning their hopes on something getting done there. My prediction is that will likely be their only significant move between now and camp.

As I said yesterday, I don’t think the roster as it stands will be good enough to take the kind of step forward required to be a serious contender and it feels like the status-quo has merely been retained.

I think the big hope for Seahawks fans has to be that Shane Waldron can elevate the offense to new levels. He has been given two additional weapons in Gerald Everett and D’Wayne Eskridge. I wouldn’t bet against Tamorrion Terry and Cade Johnson getting into the mix either.

If he can create a consistently dynamic unit capable of playing a season of good offensive football and avoiding the peaks and troughs we’ve seen in prior years, that’s their best shot at being a serious threat in 2021.

I’m just not convinced the Seahawks have the chops to get after it in the trenches when the big games arrive. That was the question mark coming into this off-season for me and it still remains.

Everyone knows my opinion on the Jamal Adams trade by now so I won’t repeat it here. I will reiterate though that I think the Seahawks have spent far too much on the linebacker and safety positions and the key to future success will be shifting resource and adding major talent to the O-line and D-line.

If you take the 2021 draft in isolation and simply judge what they did over the last two days, it was a positive. I think their UDFA additions are very interesting too. I already mentioned the pair of receivers but a quick glance at B.J. Emmons in particular has me wondering if he has a legit chance to make it stick.

A final message to the community

The last year has been a strange experience writing Seahawks Draft Blog, which I started in 2008.

For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m a journalist and sports editor for the BBC. I write this blog in my spare time as a hobby.

Increasingly I’ve been working this website like a full-time operation. I spend nearly all of my free time watching games, writing long-form articles and recording podcasts. I do it because I enjoy it.

I have also said from day one I’ll be honest and forthright with my views. For the vast majority of the Carroll era, there’s been little to complain about.

However, I do think in recent years there have been some troubling trends and decisions — on and off the field — that need to be challenged.

In some cases these issues are not one-article investigations and then move on to a fluff-piece about the linebacker depth. They’ve demanded conversations stretching over numerous weeks and months.

I’ve been really surprised at how people have reacted to this.

The abuse I’ve received for having strong views on the Jamal Adams trade, the direction of the franchise and Russell Wilson’s future has been an eye opener.

This isn’t foreign to me. This is par for the course in my day job. A few years ago someone sent me a tweet which was a picture of a notepad saying ‘Kill List’ at the top. The list included ‘Rob Staton’ and ‘Rob Staton’s family’.

This was all presumably because I’d said something disagreeable on my radio show.

At the BBC I’ve finished shows I thought went really well, only to have streams of abuse waiting for me on Twitter. Quite early in my broadcasting career I had to deal with this being part of my working life. I can handle it.

With this blog it’s different though. I’m not employed to do this. It’s a hobby, albeit one that has developed into something more significant.

So when I get sent a message like this in the comments section…

Hey rob. Your stupid is amazing. Don’t let your daughter to turn out same way otherwise she will become a prostitute. Even if you are stupid its not too late for your daughter.

… I have to pause and wonder what I’m doing here. My daughter is four-years-old. I only ever think of her as a happy, amazing, joyful little human. She constantly makes me smile.

Yet suddenly, this individual planted this awful post into my head. And it was seared on my brain.

In the last 12 months I’ve had people threatening to hack my Twitter account. One guy spent several months emailing me abuse. I wouldn’t reply but it never stopped. I’ve spent an obscene amount of time moderating the comments, which often leads to further blowback when people accuse that of appearing heavy-handed.

What does the future hold? I’ll take a break, reassess, see what’s out there. I’ll let you know.

In the meantime I’m going to continue doing YouTube videos on my channel. I think it’s a fantastic platform and I want to build on what we’ve started there, so subscribe if you can and stay tuned.

I’d like to thank those in the Seattle media who have invited me onto their radio shows and podcasts in recent weeks. I’m always available, just drop me a line.

My personal thanks goes to Curtis Allen and Robbie Williams who have been a source of great help. Sea Mode, you know how much I appreciate your help too. There are many others, including those who simply tell a friend to check out SDB, who I also need to thank.

Your positive feedback is a constant source of energy for me. Thank you all.

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Closing thoughts at the end of the 2021 draft

Before getting into the piece, check out our new post-draft stream…

The Seahawks came in with three picks and they added three players.

I think there are two ways of looking at what happened over the last three days.

Firstly, you can make a strong case for the new additions.

D’Wayne Eskridge shares similar traits to Tyreek Hill. He’ll provide another explosive, downfield threat in the vertical passing game. He’s adept at competing for the ball in the air, creating sudden separation to help move the chains and he has a knack for making the improbable possible. Seattle needs to be better on third downs and he can help them achieve that. As a kick returner he’s dynamite. The Seahawks badly needed an exciting WR3 and he’s a X-factor talent who was underrated throughout this process. Along with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Gerald Everett — the passing game is going to take some stopping in 2022.

Tre Brown is a special teams demon. Every year Seahawks fans underestimate the value of special teams. How many times were people surprised to see Neiko Thorpe and Nick Bellore make the roster? Brown can immediately help fill the void left by Thorpe. He was the top gunner available in this class. He’s very experienced in man-coverage. If you’re going to blitz 30-35% of the time, you need people who can cover in man. He also excelled at the Senior Bowl and was the only cornerback to make an interception in the 1v1’s (he had two) and he led his position group with five incompletions.

Stone Forsythe was considered by many to be a day two pick. He excels in pass protection, he plays with an edge and he looks the part with a 6-8, 307lbs frame and 34 1/2 inch arms. His short shuttle (4.63) is promising. I suspect he fell due to a lack of explosive traits and he’ll need to manage leverage at his height. Even so, it’s not often you get a chance to draft a potential starter at tackle in the sixth round. This is a complete shot to nothing, an investment in a player with potential at a vital position with no consequences if it doesn’t work out.

As a trio, it looks good.

Yet it’s also been a difficult experience to see so many other good players come and go with the Seahawks on the outside looking in.

The draft process was impacted by Covid and many people will make the case that Jamal Adams is worth more than a collection of unproven rookies.

The key to success though is to build through the draft.

Next year the Seahawks don’t have that much money to spend and both starting tackles, their starting cornerbacks, free safety, tight end and center are all out of contract.

D.K. Metcalf will expect talks on a new deal in 12 months and a Jamal Adams extension will be expensive and eat into your available cap space.

There were opportunities in this draft to really enhance your roster on the cheap at numerous positions and help build new foundations. Several teams have done this and it was a deep class, with terrific value stretching deep into round five.

I remain unconvinced that Adams was worth the draft outlay, the record-breaking contract he’s likely to receive or that he’s a natural fit in Seattle — with the Seahawks able to mesh a scheme with his talents that enable both player and defense to thrive.

This all leads to mixed emotions. There’s an appreciation for the three guys they added and some disappointment at what looks like a possible missed opportunity due to a lack of picks.

After all — this was the most explosive O-line class in years and they didn’t tap into it until round six.

Clearly they’re going to try and manipulate their lack of resource into a positive in undrafted free agency. We’ll see if they can pull that off.

There’s also work to be done in the veteran market. You would hope further talks with K.J. Wright are forthcoming. I think they need to throw another running back into the mix.

I also think it’s questionable whether they’ve done enough to manage the loss of Jarran Reed. Yes he was overpaid but he produced 17 sacks in 2018 and 2020 combined. That’s not to be sniffed at. And is Ethan Pocic really deserving of a mostly unchallenged run at the center position?

I don’t think the off-season moves — or any future moves that are forthcoming — have pushed this team dramatically closer to being a serious contender.

That’s a consequence of bad drafting from 2017-20 rather than anything done in 2021, however.

The hope has to be that Shane Waldron can be the difference — taking the offense to a new level which in turn elevates the team.

That could happen and has to be the thing to cling to in 2021. It’s asking a lot of a first-time play caller but other coaches from the Sean McVay tree have enjoyed rapid success elsewhere.

In terms of the rest of the NFC West, I don’t think there was anything too threatening from the other teams.

I talked in detail about the San Francisco 49ers on Friday’s live stream. I think they’ve been given an easy ride by the media for what was a very confusing process of moving up to #3. Neither Mac Jones or Trey Lance, in my opinion, were worth that pick. Yet they gave up their 2022 and 2023 first rounders for the privilege to make the decision between the two. That’s obscene.

I wonder if there was some buyers remorse, given Jones (and maybe Lance) would’ve been available at #12. With hindsight, it felt like a knee-jerk reaction to a frustrating 2020 season and as a Seahawks fan who has studied all of Lance’s college games, I’m not overly concerned with his arrival in the NFC West.

Many Niners fans were celebrating the fact they didn’t give up so much for someone with a dad-bod — but they might want to check out Lance’s tape before getting too excited. Especially his one outing in 2020 — an ugly performance against Central Arkansas.

It certainly feels like the Seahawks usurped the Rams by taking Eskridge, with Tutu Atwell essentially a distant Plan B. The additions of Bobby Brown and Robert Rochell deserve praise but overall LA’s class didn’t feel like a game changer.

As for the Cardinals, I like Zaven Collins but I’m not sure that’s an elevating pick in the top-20. Rondale Moore is a gadget player without Eskridge’s downfield ability. It feels like a so-so group for Arizona.

I thought the Broncos’ new GM George Paton had an outstanding first draft and the Jets made some serious moves to take a big step forward. The Chiefs continued their strong off-season with an impressive class, the Lions set about creating their new culture through the trenches and other teams such as Washington, Baltimore and Pittsburgh made smart moves.

I wouldn’t say any of Seattle’s NFC West foes, however, took a giant leap forward.

UDFA signings

Tom Pelissero is reporting the Seahawks are signing Tamorrion Terry, which would be an excellent addition.

Cade Johnson, who I graded in round three, is also signing. I would highly recommend checking out my interview with him from February:

Other signings include Jared Hocker (OL), Pier-Olivier Lestage (OL), Bryan Mills (CB), B.J. Emmons (RB), Josh Johnson (RB), Connor Wedington (WR/KR), Jon Rhattigan (LB), Jake Curhan (OL) and Greg Eiland (OL).

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Live blog: 2021 NFL draft (Rounds 4-7)

Welcome to the live blog for the 2021 NFL draft. I’ll be giving reaction to every Seahawks pick. Feel free to use this as an open thread but please no tipping picks.

#129 — the Seahawks trade down with Tampa Bay
Seattle gives their fourth round pick to the Buccs for #137 and #217

#137 — Tre Brown (CB, Oklahoma)
I didn’t anticipate the Seahawks taking a 5-9, 185lbs corner with 30 3/8 inch arms. I didn’t have him on my board because really his main plus point was coverage on special teams. I suspect this might be about replacing Neiko Thorpe on special teams. However, he’s experienced in man coverage and he’s competitive. If you want to blitz a lot, you need to be able to cover in man. He had 12 recorded 1v1 snaps against receivers at the Senior Bowl and he was the only corner to make an interception (he had two). Brown also forced five incompletions, most among corners.

#208 — Stone Forsyth (T, Florida)
The Seahawks used #217 and #250 to trade into this spot. I wasn’t a fan of Forsyth in the early rounds — and he was being projected as a day two pick by many — but at this stage in the draft? I’m all in. We’re talking about a tough, physical blocker with great size (6-8, 317lbs) and agility (4.63 short shuttle). He wasn’t an explosive tester but that’s something to work on as a project tackle. The fact is he has the potential to start one day and in the sixth round, you can’t ask for much more than that.

I was live on air with KJR when the Seahawks made their pick. You can find my full segment among their live coverage here (and I’ve tweeted a clip below).

Reaction to the Dee Eskridge pick

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