Archive for March, 2022

Trying to work out Nik Bonitto & acquiring more stock

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Nik Bonitto had impressive production for the Sooners

I’ve been struggling to get an angle on Nik Bonitto.

Oklahoma’s scheme didn’t seem to suit any of their best defensive linemen. Which is weird. Their slanting defense didn’t allow Bonitto, Perrion Winfrey or Isaiah Thomas to reach their potential. Winfrey’s tape, in particular, is quite frustrating.

Then there’s the way Bonitto rushes. He starts off in a really wide position and often doesn’t engage the offensive tackle. The objective seems to be — can he run around the block before the quarterback gets the ball out?

It felt like I was watching an unusually positioned blitzing linebacker most of the time, rather than an EDGE. You can’t help but wonder when opponents at the next level get their hands on him, is he going to be able to disengage, bull rush or use speed-to-power? Especially with shorter arms.

Things became even muddier at the combine when Bonitto was asked, for some reason, to work out with the defensive tackles. Thomas Booker, who is 301lbs, worked with the edge rushers. Why didn’t they swap? It prevented an apples-to-apples comparison between Bonitto and his peers.

Typically it’s difficult to assess these short-armed, slightly smaller pass rusher types. Most of the leading sackers in the NFL fit a certain profile — and this isn’t really it. There are outliers, such as Haason Reddick or Markus Golden. Working out who the outliers will be is almost impossible.

Yet the production can’t be sniffed at.

Here’s a list of pass rushers in this draft along with their pass-rush win rates:

Kingsley Enagbare: 40%
Aidan Hutchinson: 33%
Nik Bonitto: 33%
Arnold Ebiketie: 32%
Kayvon Thibodeaux: 30%
George Karlaftis: 29%
Drake Jackson 27%
Boye Mafe: 25%
David Ojabo: 23%
Jermaine Johnson II: 17%
Travon Walker: 11%

According to PFF, Bonitto is among the best graded college pass rushers since 2011:

Chase young 95.4
Myles Garrett 94.4
Nik Bonitto 94
Nick Bosa 93.6
Joey Bosa 93.6

Here’s his pressure rate on third downs compared to Aidan Hutchinson’s:

Nik Bonitto – 28.4%
Aidan Hutchinson – 22.9%

He’s also recorded 93 pressures since 2020 — most in the Big-12.

Physically there are some impressive numbers too. He ran a 1.59 10-yard split at 248lbs. Yes he’s a smaller pass rusher but anything in the 1.5’s is impressive. He ran a 4.23 short shuttle and a 7.04 three cone. His forty was a 4.54. He’s also explosive — jumping a 35.5 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad jump.

Presumably this would carry some appeal to the Seahawks — even if he doesn’t have ideal length (32.5 inch arms).

It was interesting to hear Pete Carroll discuss the defensive scheme this week. While he claimed not much was changing, he also admitted they’re looking at different types of pass rusher — more akin to the 3-4 OLB types.

Bonitto wouldn’t fit the Seahawks’ scheme of the past. Of the present? Maybe he would. He’s a hybrid pass rusher who can drop, settle and chase to the ball. You can easily imagine him playing linebacker at a pinch if needed. This is the type of player they’re seemingly open to.

He also shares similar traits to Alton Robinson, who also had 32.5 inch arms. Robinson jumped virtually the same vertical and broad jump, had a 4.32 short shuttle and a 7.32 three cone. He was 16lbs heavier though.

I can’t decide where to place him. Is he a one-trick pony pass rusher who needs a wide start to run around tackles? Or can he develop a repertoire and provide consistent pressure? Is he good enough in coverage to offer great versatility so you can overlook a lack of length and size? Can he be an impactful designated pass rusher or a player who you can creatively drop or blitz to pressure from different areas and keep opponents guessing?

That last sentence sums up what I think is the benefit of the 3-4. Who’s coming after you? Bonitto? Jamal Adams? Is it a four man rush and everyone else drops? It’s harder to read and I can imagine Bonitto working well in that system because he is so versatile.

But I still don’t know where his value lies if he’s predominantly a rotational rusher. It feels like it wouldn’t be a shock if he went in the first half of round two, or fell deep into the third.

He could be someone the Seahawks look at because the pass rush production is good and if #9 doesn’t produce a great EDGE — and if they miss out on the second tier of rushers too — Bonitto could be a nice consolation prize to add some rushing depth.

A thought on acquiring more stock

Sometimes, you just start to feel like something is trending a certain way.

The use of the word ‘intent’ to describe keeping D.K. Metcalf. The lack of total denial that he isn’t going anywhere. The likes of Jake Heaps and Brock Huard admitting on 710 that they’re hearing a trade could happen.

Things can change quickly, of course. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility they strike a deal and this subject quickly disappears.

There’s momentum building, though. And it’s going one way.

It was interesting to hear Heaps discuss what it might take to land Metcalf.

In yesterday’s ‘four downs’ segment (which for me is a daily must-listen), Heaps suggested it would take the Jets dealing #10 and a second round pick to land Metcalf.

He felt that would be acceptable for both parties.

Working out fair value is difficult. Devante Adams and Tyreek Hill didn’t bring in that level of draft value. Yet neither player is 24-years-old. Neither player started their careers as well as Metcalf. Neither is 6-4, 230lbs and running a 4.3.

Metcalf today isn’t as good as either receiver. Yet it’s possible, in the right situation, he could be within a year or two.

Before all this trade talk heated up I thought #35 and #38 would be fair value. That’s what New York offered for Hill, plus a third rounder. Managing to get #10 and one of #35 or #38 would, for me, be a tantalising haul. It would be a totally justifiable move by the Seahawks.

It might be why they’re leaving the door open. It’s possible the Seahawks and the Jets are both open to that type of deal, they just need to go through a bit of a staring contest first — to see if either will cede a little bit of ground.

So why would it make sense for the Seahawks?

Firstly, they could use the #9 pick on a top defensive player — whether that’s one of the pass rushers or Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley. Then they could use #10 to trade down into the teens — acquiring more stock.

From there, they could bolster their offensive line by selecting Zion Johnson (who increasingly I think they will see great potential in).

Let’s say they get #38 from the Jets. They would then have #38, #40 and #41 in round two. If they trade down from #10, the chances are they would also have a pair of third round picks.

This would enable them to draft another offensive lineman — such as Tyler Linderbaum or Abraham Lucas. They would be in position to draft a great linebacker, such as Channing Tindall, Quay Walker or Leo Chenal. They could add Nik Bonitto to bolster their pass rush (possibly after trading down from #41) or they could use the great depth at receiver to replace Metcalf.

Then in round three you could draft a running back — such as Dameon Pierce or Zamir White — and perhaps another offensive lineman, like Wisconsin’s Logan Bruss. You’d also have the wiggle-room to draft a quarterback early if you wanted to.

Yes — you have to turn this collection of exciting young players into a group of starting caliber players. But you’re using your resources to build the kind of team you want to be. One built through strong, fast defense and a reinforced offensive line — with a strong running game.

It’s rosterbation, sure. It’s still fun to look at the options available.

The NFL is changing. There’s a real mix of teams being aggressive to throw picks around to acquire talent. There are other teams trying to build through the draft and perhaps take a more collegiate approach with increased churn.

The moment the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson, they became a team that was going to need to be rebuilt through the draft.

This is a foundational class as I’ve been saying for months. This is the deepest, most intriguing draft I’ve covered in 14 years of doing this blog.

There is a rare opportunity to put together a vibrant, young, new, quality core.

If they extend D.K. Metcalf’s contract and go down that road instead, there’ll be no complaints from me. I like Metcalf a lot. I have no big interest in seeing him play for the Jets or Packers instead.

But I can see why the Seahawks might consider moving him for the right price. And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here. I think this is going to come down to whether a team simply offers Seattle what they want before the draft.

So now we wait.

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Wednesday draft notes: Insider info & Matt Corral

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Matt Corral’s mechanics were highly impressive at Ole Miss’ pro-day

Insider info from the best

If you’re not following the work of Tony Pauline, you’re making a huge mistake. He is without a shadow of a doubt the #1 draft insider in the business — providing information from his proven sources nobody else can match.

Here’s a run down of what he said yesterday but go and check out the full video here.

— He’s hearing Seattle’s preference is to trade down from the #9 pick to acquire more stock to aid their rebuild. He noted that trading a receiver (D.K. Metcalf) could do the same job of generating draft capital.

— Tyler Linderbaum is falling due to his size and complete lack of testing (even the bench press) during the pre-draft process. Tony believes it’s very possible he drops out of round one (something I projected in my mock two days ago).

— It’s 50/50 whether Travon Walker goes #1 overall and he will be taken in the top two picks. I am not a draft insider but someone I trust, who would know, told me recently that Walker was a top-five lock, a great kid and a home-run chance. There’s a reason why I haven’t been talking about him at all for the #9 pick.

— Tony doesn’t expect the Jets to trade for Metcalf. He thinks they’ll try to trade down from #10 then draft a receiver, such as Garrett Wilson.

— The mystery over Derek Stingley Jr’s stock — due to injury, inconsistent play and no testing could push him into the middle of the first round instead of the top-10. LSU’s pro-day is next week.

Here are my takeaways…

— I’m starting to wonder if the Seahawks are adjusting their plans. I suspect, originally, they may have thought a top pass rusher would be there at #9. That may still be the case, we’ll see. Yet with the likes of Travon Walker and Jermaine Johnson elevating their stock — it might be more difficult. Carroll and co haven’t been talking recently about adding ‘game-wreckers’, when at the start of the off-season the message of improving the pass-rush was consistently repeated. Then they spent $9.5m on Uchenna Nwosu — a significant ‘hedge’.

— They might prefer to drop into the teens where several options could be available. It’s also possible they might take a broader approach to the rebuild, especially if they have more picks. That’s why I think someone like Zion Johnson could be in play. He ticks every physical box they look for. Guard isn’t a huge need or a premium position but they might pivot to ‘just getting good players’. Carroll casually tossing out that Phil Haynes is competing with Gabe Jackson also felt like a big hint that they’re moving on from Jackson sooner rather than later.

— Who might want to trade up? Tony has previously reported the Chargers are smitten with Jordan Davis. It’s difficult to predict who else in the teens would want the #9 pick, essentially leapfrogging the Jets. The other problem with the Chargers is they’d only be able to offer #79 and #123 — and that would mean they pick only once in the first four rounds of a good draft. So a deal could be complicated to negotiate with LA specifically.

— In recent years there has been activity near the #9 pick. A year ago the Eagles traded the #84 pick just to go from #12 to #10. The Bears gave up a future first, a fourth and a fifth rounder to go from #20 to #11. In 2019 the Steelers gave the Broncos the #52 pick and a future third rounder to go from #20 to #10. And in 2018 the Cardinals moved from #15 to #10 by giving the Raiders a third and fifth rounder. So there’s precedent for trade talks, which should help if they do want to strike a deal.

— Yesterday I noted how Pete Carroll’s comments felt like a tell on possible interest in Tyler Linderbaum. He spoke directly about switching to a shorter center and discussed Austin Blythe’s wrestling background. Linderbaum has almost identical size to Blythe and was a brilliant wrestler in High School. Someone on Twitter pointed out to me that Blythe was also used as a hedge by Kansas City a year ago before they took Creed Humphrey. If Linderbaum does drop into round two, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks pounce. I’ve always felt he was a #25-40 type player but plenty of others disagree. It’s possible the Seahawks see him as a potential cornerstone.

— If Travon Walker does go #1, Aidan Hutchsinson will go #2. If Kayvon Thibodeaux also goes early (I think he will) you’re left hoping the Jets, Giants and Falcons don’t take Jermaine Johnson. Increasingly I think that’s wishful thinking. But despite all of this talk today of moving down and looking at guards and centers — I still think the aim will be to rebuild a great defense using this class.

— It’s important to discuss multiple scenarios. For me I’d like nothing better than to come out of this draft with an exceptional pass rusher or corner at #9 and some aggressive, violent speed at linebacker at #40 or #41. You can’t magic up an ideal scenario though. What if someone like Channing Tindall is taken before Seattle’s on the board in round two? What if all of the first tier pass rushers come off the board before you pick, then the same happens with the second tier? You need a Plan B and the Seahawks, like most teams, will have one. They need to avoid a repeat of 2019 though where their first round plans fell apart and they ended up doing a press conference looking like I did after the Euro 2020 final.

— This is why acquiring more picks probably appeals to the Seahawks. I think you can make a case for saying what I’ve noted above (defensive emphasis) makes sense. But if you said the Seahawks came out of this draft with a revamped O-line, including Johnson, Linderbaum and Abraham Lucas — that wouldn’t exactly be a disaster either (although the chances of Seattle drafting three O-liners in the first two days is incredibly unlikely, I’d say). Being able to do a bit of both will require more picks.

— A quick note I forgot to mention yesterday. There’s a lot of ‘hope so’ talk about Chris Carson playing again. The fact it’s still a question, though, to me seems like they’re maybe well aware of the inevitable here and are trying to mask their intentions before the draft. Carroll is also going above and beyond to hail Rashaad Penny (who let’s not forget, is only signed through 2022). When asked if they need to add another runner, Carroll said ‘yes’ firmly. I think Carroll likes this running back class. I’m not sure if we’re talking #40 or #41 here but I think he’s got his eye on someone. After all, they’re clearly going to run the ball a lot in 2022 and beyond.

Jake Heaps makes a lot of sense on D.K. Metcalf

It’s been a big topic on 710 Seattle Sports recently and I think people should pay attention to what Jake is saying. He’s hearing, through the grapevine, that the Seahawks might be willing to trade Metcalf. He also observes astutely why it might happen.

Yes — Pete Carroll has been after a dynamic big target with downfield speed for years. Metcalf is pretty much the ideal in that regard. He’s also a terrific outlet for whoever plays quarterback in 2022 and beyond.

But it all comes down to where you invest your big money and the consequences of investing so much in the receiver position.

For example — if you pay him $25m a year and then don’t feed him the ball, it’s hard to justify the investment.

The truth is — Carroll’s brand of football means a player like Metcalf could easily have a day where he has a stat-line of two catches for 16 yards one week and then eight catches for 105 yards the next.

How would he handle that? Because sure, the money’s good. But it’s going to be good wherever he plays. Legacy, stats, personal goals are a part of football.

There’s a real danger this could become a distracting talking point every week. Troy Aikmen has already been extremely vocal on Metcalf’s lack of targets when he’s covered Seahawks games. After the last 12 months or so, they don’t need any more sagas in Seattle.

So it’s not so much an issue of whether Metcalf is worth $25m or whether the Seahawks can afford it. They can afford it. It’s more about whether it makes sense to go in that direction rather than turn Metcalf into draft assets so you can build up your defense and offensive line and potentially draft a quarterback this year. If you’re rebuilding — using your assets appropriately is important. As much as Metcalf is a quality player, he might be worth less to Seattle than, say, an overhauled O-line and D-line.

On the topic of cost though, let’s also remember that they’re already paying Tyler Lockett $17.25m a year. Is it realistic to be paying two receivers $42.25m a year to play in a system that wants to run the ball, convert third downs and take shots downfield?

Maybe it is? I just think there’s a lot of nuance to this conversation.

With a draft littered with impact receivers, the Seahawks might feel they can get someone who can run downfield and make plays for them. It’s a fast group.

I can see everything being on the table. A trade, a new contract and playing out this season before the franchise tag is used in 12 months.

It does feel, like Jake says, that it’s going to be a month of speculation about what will happen here. Green Bay’s coach and GM this week made it clear they want a proven downfield threat in what felt like an admittance of interest.

The Seahawks have also started couching their language — going from basically saying he’s going nowhere last week to using the ‘intend to keep him’ line over the last couple of days.

As with Russell Wilson I think it’ll come down to whether someone meets Seattle’s asking price. If they do, I think he will be dealt. Possibly for the same kind of deal as Devante Adams. Perhaps for even more. After all, Adams weakened Green Bay’s leverage by insisting he would only go to Las Vegas to play with Derek Carr. The Seahawks are in a stronger position because Metcalf has a year left on a cheap deal, plus the potential of two franchise tags, to frame their conversation with suitors.

If they were to get a first and second rounder this year, for example, that could provide the platform to add to both their offense and defense to relaunch what is a clear rebuild, regardless of what anyone says.

However — I’ll come back to what I said before. I think this could go either way. The Seahawks clearly love Metcalf and he appears to share that feeling.

Notes on Matt Corral

I watched Corrall’s pro-day throwing session earlier. What I said after Malik Willis’ remains true — throwing to receivers with no defense on the field in shorts offers no indication of anything.

However, Corral’s footwork was nearly flawless. He dropped without any heel-kick or wasted motion. There were no unnecessary hitches. He was consistently and naturally planting his feet on the turf and throwing with a solid base. That’s the precursor to throwing with velocity but his snap-quick release adds extra torque. This is why despite being relatively undersized, he has so much power in his arm.

On tape there are moments where he falls away slightly and his accuracy suffers. There are some misses downfield where he overthrows unnecessarily or just missed on what amounted to an extended hand-off.

Despite this, mechanically he is on a different level to the other four ‘big name’ quarterbacks in this draft. As such, he will be in a position to distribute the ball to the right areas and play point guard.

Here’s a reminder of what Scot McCloughan said to me about Corral (the full interview is available here):

“I respect him, first of all with Lane (Kiffin) being his Head Coach which is a pain in the ass just so you know. He throws so much at him it’s not even funny, which is good and bad. But I respect him for his toughness, his competitiveness and his athleticism, his ability to play through some injuries. I respect all of that.”

“But then again, he has not played in anything close to a pro-style system. If I was drafting him I’d say, listen, we’ve got a chance to have a pit-bull type quarterback that is going to be respected for his competitiveness, his overall toughness and the fact he’s a damn good athlete. But it’s going to take him a year or two just to understand how to be in a pro-style system. So if you’re expecting the bang for the buck early you’re not going to get it. If you give him two years you might have something. Maybe not great — but good enough for a chance to go to the playoffs.”

“I think he has the ‘it-factor’ to a point, which makes him in my opinion kind of unique in this years draft. But again he’s not close to being ready to start in the NFL. Not even close.”

“I like Corral. I think he’s got a chance to be a good #2 early in his career with a chance to be a #1 three years into it. But the good thing about him is he’s not going to be taken in the top-10. He’s probably going to be taken between #20-32 where the coaches are in a more secure position. Now you have leverage as a coach to say, listen, we like you but you’re not going to play early. We’re going to develop you into a NFL quarterback.”

This is why I mocked him to Tennessee this week — a team good enough to stash him behind Ryan Tannehill who turns 34 in July.

But I do think the Seahawks will have some interest. They are going to draft a quarterback, I believe, at some stage. It could be Corral with a relatively early pick or it could be someone like Jack Coan or Kaleb Eleby later on.

I think they’ll start taking shots to find the next long-term answer. Of the top group — I think Corral provides the best combination of mechanics, being able to operate an offense (eventually) that Seattle wants to run, athleticism/mobility and he has the arm strength to deliver passes downfield.

Some of what McCloughan said about Corral’s ‘pit-bull’ spirit and competitiveness also will likely appeal to Schneider and Carroll.

If only they had about 10 picks in the first two days to fill needs and acquire players from an incredibly impressive pool of prospects this year.

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Updated horizontal board & Pete Carroll notes

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Before I publish an updated horizontal board, I wanted to share some notes I made after listening to Pete Carroll’s 40-minute press conference today.

Some interesting hints?

Carroll was asked about the center position and he went on to talk about Austin Blythe. What he said was interesting for a few of reasons.

He mentioned they’d not had a lot of success with taller players (6-5) and they were going to try something different. Blythe is 6-2 1/8. He also raised Blythe’s wrestling background, unprompted, and spoke about its importance.

Maybe this is just me doing the whole 2+2=5 thing, especially after yesterday’s mock. I couldn’t help but think, though, that Tyler Linderbaum was an exceptional wrestler in High School. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a video online of him beating another former Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs in a contest. Wirfs had a significant size advantage.

Linderbaum is also the exact same height at Blythe — 6-2 1/8. While a lot has been made of Linderbaum’s arm length (31 1/8 inches) he actually has longer arms than Blythe (30 1/4).

It might be nothing but it’s plausible Blythe is a hedge for Linderbaum, who I think will be available later than many people assume due to his scheme-specific size and lack of testing.

The other thing I picked up on was when he discussed Blythe’s experience and how it will help given he’ll be playing with a new quarterback and guard. Carroll checked himself, adding the word ‘maybe’. He then said Phil Haynes would be competing with Gabe Jackson at guard.

Again, I fully accept I could be reading too much into this. But it made me wonder whether a viable scenario in Carroll’s mind, that he maybe let slip here, is the strong possibility of a young QB and guard joining the team — and maybe starting quickly.

Increasingly I’ve wondered if they would be seriously interested in Zion Johnson. He has everything they look for — a superb frame, incredible explosive traits, great agility, long arms and intelligence. If they end up with a pick in the teens, either because they’ve moved down or dealt D.K. Metcalf, Johnson could be selected.

It’s not the biggest need in the world but I can imagine them thinking — great player, potential cornerstone.

It also raises the prospect of the team possibly finding a way back into the late first to draft a quarterback, or taking one in round two.

I don’t think that picture with the Kiffin’s, Carroll and Matt Corral was some sort of elaborate smokescreen. I think Carroll’s doing his homework. And we know Lane Kiffin, despite coaching Corral hard, absolutely loves his quarterback. Carroll trusts Kiffin — and selected Alex McGough from his program.

I wouldn’t rule out a move back into the late first. The Seahawks might take their shots at the position. They did so with Charlie Whitehurst and Matt Flynn. I can well imagine them drafting one every year until they find an answer.

I’d prefer they just wait until 2023 and build up their roster — but they could still take one next year, even if they pull this move.

When asked if they’d want to add another quarterback, even if they re-sign Geno Smith, Carroll answered with a firm ‘yes’.

A warning for Geno Smith

A polite but noteworthy warning. Carroll made it clear that he wants Smith back in Seattle, competing to start. It’s also clear he thinks his familiarity with the system and team possibly makes him the front-runner to start in 2022.

As with Tarvaris Jackson in 2011, if nothing else it appears Carroll is very keen to have someone with experience and history in Seattle on the roster.

He warned Smith not to miss this opportunity, which to me makes it sound like the player is holding out for more money and is maybe using the situation to try and milk a few extra dollars.

The thing is though, Geno Smith hasn’t proven worthy of more on the field. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI this off-season. Nobody else will give him a pathway to start.

Holding out is a great way to ensure you end up unemployed. He’d be best served to sign whatever deal he’s being offered quickly.

Updated horizontal board

Click the image to enlarge. Gold players are prospects who impressed me with their physical qualities (testing, style of play and/or attitude).

I will continue to update and adjust the board over the next month.

If you missed yesterday’s live mock draft check it out here:

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New two-round mock draft: 28th March

Monday, March 28th, 2022

I’ve published the full mock in writing below but I also discussed it on a new live stream today. Check it out…

Before getting into my latest mock, a few notes…

General thoughts

— I think we’ll see an early run on pass rushers which isn’t good news for the Seahawks — and I think they anticipated this, which is why they signed Uchenna Nwosu for $9.5m a year.

— The Giants have basically put the #7 pick up for sale and are making it known through the media they’d like to swap it for a 2023 first. I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, the 2023 quarterback class. The more stock you have next year the better positioned you’ll be. Secondly, there’s not an obvious player to put at #7. The fact they’re making it public suggests there’s little interest. They’re trying to generate a market.

— Falcons GM Terry Fontenot talked a lot a year ago about taking the best player available. He backed that up by passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to select Kyle Pitts. I doubt he’s going to do the opposite this year at #8. The Falcons, like the Seahawks, know this is a process. I think they’ll take the best player on their board in round one.

— A lot of mock drafts are starting to load their top-10’s with quarterbacks. I don’t see it happening at all. I’ll keep coming back to my conversation with Scot McCloughan. He felt three QB’s would go in round one and all three would carry third round grades. He thought all three were more likely to go in the second half of the first frame. It’s something to keep in mind.

Seahawks thoughts

— For me it seems increasingly clear the Seahawks are going to use this draft to build a foundation by upgrading their defense. You just have to listen to what they’re saying and look at their actions. From the major coaching changes defensively, to the scheme adjustments, to the admittance of being ‘arrogant’ on defense. I think Carroll is determined to create another great defense as a priority. That will be the framework of this reset. His recent comment about their 2023 stock likely impacting their decision making this year was also a big clue. Like many teams, I suspect they’ve got their eye on the 2023 quarterbacks.

— The four names I think they’ll focus on at #9 are Jermaine Johnson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Derek Stingley Jr and Sauce Gardner. I think there’s a good chance at least one of these players will be available and just as they did in 2010, the Seahawks will stay where they are and add talent.

— In the unlikely event that all four are gone, I think that’s when they’d look to move down into the teens (but only then). That would bring the likes of Zion Johnson, Boye Mafe, Trevor Penning, the four talented defensive tackles and some of the other pass rushers into play.

— I have had a slight fear that they might be so committed to taking an edge rusher that they’ll trade down from #9 if the top four leave the board quickly. It’s only a slight fear though, because the likes of Boye Mafe are excellent players. I’d just prefer to avoid forcing any position in this draft. With so many needs, a ‘best player available’ approach is required.

— That said, the pass rush options after the first round will probably dry up. I would expect and anticipate a day one rush at the position. However, they paid a lot of money (for the Seahawks) to add Uchenna Nwosu as a hedge. I think that was deliberate, anticipates what might happen and takes the pressure off a bit. Now, if the board falls a certain way, they can probably afford to take a developmental rusher in rounds 3/4 if, as expected, the drop-off at DE/OLB is sudden and abrupt after the first round. They’ve covered themselves sufficiently here.

— I think the Seahawks face a very difficult decision with D.K. Metcalf and whatever they decide to do will be criticised. I think the best thing fans can do is acknowledge there’s a strong case to sign him and trade him and not be too melodramatic when the decision comes.

The argument for extending him is that he’s a potential in-house building block who appears happy and settled in Seattle. His presence will help whoever the starting quarterback is this year and in the future. They have the cap space to retain him comfortably. He’s a very popular player with fans and there would be negative PR if they deal him so soon after parting ways with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.

On the other hand, this is a ridiculous draft in terms of the options available. There’s a greater than usual chance of adding a player (or players) who can provide impact and quality at a cost-effective price. It’s also a loaded receiver draft. Someone extremely respectable told me recently there could be up to 30 receivers drafted this year who can contribute in year one.

There was also a long stretch last season where Metcalf simply wasn’t targeted in games. While Pete Carroll clearly loves a big receiver who can make plays downfield — at what point does the price tag ($22-25m) become too much for someone they likely won’t feed the ball, like other teams are prepared to do?

People tend to be quite emotional when discussing a topic like this but the Seahawks’ front office wouldn’t be doing the job properly if they didn’t consider being able to add a receiver and another player who can contribute quickly, for a fraction of the cost of retaining Metcalf.

This is a foundational draft and a GM facing a major restructure will likely want to pick as often as possible to add building blocks.

I suspect we’re still a couple of weeks away from things heating up. As we saw with the Frank Clark trade — that happened days before the draft started. Ideally you’d find a resolution sooner and perhaps the recent blast of trades and new deals will spur action? Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown also being in the same boat, however, might delay things as all three wait for the next domino to fall.

Onto the mock — I’ll provide notes after each round and analysis on every Seahawks pick at the end.

First round

#1 Jacksonville — Travon Walker (DE, Georgia)
#2 Detroit — Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
#3 Houston — Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)
#4 New York Jets — Jermaine Johnson (DE, Florida State)
#5 New York Giants — Evan Neal (G, Alabama)
#6 Carolina — Ikem Ekonwu (G, NC State)
#7 New York Giants — Sauce Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)
#8 Atlanta — Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)
#9 Seattle — Derek Stingley Jr (CB, LSU)
#10 New York Jets — Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)
#11 Washington — Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)
#12 Minnesota — Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
#13 Houston — Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington)
#14 Baltimore — Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
#15 Philadelphia — Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia)
#16 Philadelphia — Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama)
#17 LA Chargers — Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)
#18 New Orleans — Charles Cross (T, Miss. State)
#19 Philadelphia — Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
#20 Pittsburgh — Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)
#21 New England — Drake London (WR, USC)
#22 Green Bay — Perrion Winfrey (DT, Oklahoma)
#23 Arizona — Arnold Ebiketie (DE, Penn State)
#24 Dallas — Sam Williams (DE, Ole Miss)
#25 Buffalo — Quay Walker (LB, Georgia)
#26 Tennessee — Matt Corral (QB, Ole Miss)
#27 Tampa Bay — George Karlaftis (DE, Purdue)
#28 Green Bay — Abraham Lucas (T, Washington State)
#29 Kansas City — Travis Jones (DT, Connecticut)
#30 Kansas City — David Ojabo (DE, Michigan)
#31 Cincinnati — Kaiir Elam (CB, Florida)
#32 Detroit — Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh)

— Tony Pauline reported last week that it’s possible Travon Walker could be an option at #1 overall. You might scoff at it but let’s remember a few things here. Walker has an outstanding physical profile and his production at Georgia was impacted by opponents struggling to stay on the field against them, plus the way he was used as a movable chess piece. With no clear-cut #1 pick this year, teams will weigh up preferences, scheme-fit and upside. Walker has arguably more upside than any other player in this draft.

— Could we really see nine pass rushers leave the board in round one? Yes, is the answer. A good source mentioned to me recently that some teams have nine graded in round one alone. An early rush will create a ‘fear of missing out’ situation. Plus a lot of teams simply need an ‘EDGE’. If you do miss out early, you’ll be relying on upside and projection in the middle rounds. From a Seahawks perspective, this is why I think the Nwosu signing was a wise move.

— The first round reflects my conversation with Scot McCloughan where he discussed the prospect of three QB’s going in the second-half of round one. In this projection, none of the three would have pressure to start immediately — which is important because as McCloughan noted, all three need time and development.

Second round

#33 Jacksonville — Greg Dulcich (TE, UCLA)
#34 Detroit — Christian Watson (WR, North Dakota State)
#35 New York Jets — Lewis Cine (S, Georgia)
#36 New York Giants — Cam Jurgens (C, Nebraska)
#37 Houston — Kevin Austin Jr (WR, Notre Dame)
#38 New York Jets — Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas)
#39 Chicago — Tyler Smith (T, Tulsa)
#40 Seattle — Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
#41 Seattle — Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)

#42 Indianapolis — Demarri Mathis (CB, Pittsburgh)
#43 Atlanta — Breece Hall (RB, Iowa State)
#44 Cleveland — Leo Chenal (LB, Wisconsin)
#45 Baltimore — Cole Strange (C, Chattanooga)
#46 Minnesota — Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)
#47 Washington — Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah)
#48 Chicago — Jahan Dotson (WR, Penn State)
#49 New Orleans — Kenneth Walker (RB, Michigan State)
#50 Kansas City — Tariq Woolen (CB, UTSA)
#51 Philadelphia — Christian Harris (LB, Alabama)
#52 Pittsburgh — Nick Cross (S, Maryland)
#53 Green Bay — Trey McBride (TE, Colorado State)
#54 New England — Bernhard Raimann (G, Central Michigan)
#55 Arizona — Roger McCreary (CB, Auburn)
#56 Dallas — Logan Hall (DT, Houston)
#57 Buffalo — Andrew Booth (CB, Clemson)
#58 Atlanta — Desmond Ridder (QB, Cincinnati)
#59 Green Bay — Jalen Tolbert (WR, South Alabama)
#60 Tampa Bay — Bryan Cook (S, Cincinnati)
#61 San Francisco — Jalyn Armour-Davis (CB, Alabama)
#62 Kansas City — Jaquan Brisker (S, Penn State)
#63 Cincinnati — Joshua Paschal (DE, Kentucky)
#64 Denver — Nik Bonitto (DE, Oklahoma)

— One thing to consider here, because I can already feel the comments section heating up, is how the league has approached the center position. Even someone with good tape and extreme explosive qualities like Creed Humphrey lasted to pick #63 a year ago. Landon Dickerson, another highly rated player albeit carrying an injury, was the #37 pick. Josh Myers lasted to #62 and Kendrick Green and Quinn Meinerz were still there in round three. It’s a position we tend to think we’ll be drafted earlier than it ever is. Let’s acknowledge that first and foremost.

— I might have Cam Jurgens too high in this mock, despite my enthusiasm for his play. But here’s the thing — he’s pretty much the complete prospect. He’s ideally sized (6-3, 303lbs), has good length (33.5 inch arms), he ran a 4.92 forty, he’s highly explosive (3.34 TEF, 102.5 weighted TEF) and at his pro-day he even ran a 4.49 short shuttle and a 7.19 three cone. Plus he plays with a great physical intensity and his tape is better than people recognise. There are no physical flaws. Why wouldn’t he be the first center off the board? Compare this to Tyler Linderbaum who is currently injured and therefore hasn’t done any testing, he’s 296lbs and has 31 1/8 inch arms. So he’s undersized with short arms and nobody knows his true physical profile. A lot of people thought Teven Jenkins and Christian Barmore were high picks a year ago and they lasted to #38 and #39. Who really expected D.K. Metcalf to last as long as he did? Just saying.

— My second round has a mix of players I think are underrated and overrated. In the underrated group — Kevin Austin Jr, Cam Jurgens, Demarri Mathis, Leo Chenal, Cole Strange, Nick Cross, Bryan Cook and Jalyn Armour-Davis. In the overrated group — Devin Lloyd, Andrew Booth and Nakobe Dean. Lloyd had great production at Utah but just doesn’t have any special physical traits. Booth is reportedly a 4.6 runner and Dean is 5-11 and 229lbs. He hasn’t tested due to injury. He’ll need a spectacular showing to make up for his lack of size. I have him in round three currently.

What they Seahawks might consider in round three

Here are the next few picks, taking us to Seattle’s selection at #72:

#65 Jacksonville — Zach Tom (C, Wake Forest)
#66 Detroit — Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia)
#67 New York Giants — Drake Jackson (DE, USC)
#68 Houston — Kenyon Green (G, Texas A&M)
#69 New York Jets — Troy Andersen (LB, Montana State)
#70 Jacksonville — Cam Taylor-Britt (CB, Nebraska)
#71 Chicago — Wan’Dale Robinson (WR, Kentucky)

The first thing to consider is they haven’t taken a pass rusher. When you get to round three, this is when the developmental options start to become appealing.

Drake Jackson is off the board but Dominique Robinson, DeAngelo Malone, Amaré Barno, Christopher Allen and Jeffrey Gunter all have the lean frame with great length and quickness that Seattle likes.

I don’t want to make a habit of mentioning his name until there’s an update on his legal case but look, there’s also no point pretending he wouldn’t be an option.

Adam Anderson.

He is 6-4 and 240lbs with 35.5 inch arms. He ran a 4.57 forty, a 4.28 short shuttle and a 7.06 three cone. He jumped a 39 inch vertical and a 11-1 broad.

On tape, purely from a football perspective, he is the absolute definition of what Seattle needs. He’s a sensational edge rusher who is so quick off the snap he forces offensive tackles out of position almost immediately, affording the ideal opportunity to counter with speed-to-power, an inside counter using a swim or by simply using his balance to bend and straighten to the QB.

The Seahawks drafted Frank Clark when his case was dropped. They seriously considered signing Antonio Brown. They seemingly pursued Deshaun Watson. If Anderson’s case is dropped before the draft, I can’t say I’d be surprised if they drafted him in round two — let alone in round three. We’ll see what happens.

Alternative options at #72 include running back. I think they need more because you simply can’t trust Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson to stay healthy. Dameon Pierce is very much a ‘Seahawks style’ runner. I also think Zamir White in this range makes sense — yet the depth at the position could tempt them to wait until later.

Best player available at #72 might be a receiver. They might see particular value at this spot — even if D.K. Metcalf signs an extension. I also think they might try to further bolster their offensive line (which is ultimately the pick I went with).

Seahawks seven round projection plus notes

#9 — Derek Stingley Jr (CB, LSU)
I get the sense the top pass rushers will be gone and the Seahawks will see a rare opportunity to draft an exceptional corner. Both Stingley Jr and Sauce Gardner make a lot of sense with this pick. I can imagine Carroll being very excited to work with a player with Stingley’s potential as a former #1 overall recruit and they might see this as a ‘can’t miss’ opportunity, much like they did with Earl Thomas in 2010. Carroll is also well connected to Ed Orgeron and might want to justify Sean Desai’s faith in joining the team by providing him with a player once considered to be destined for greatness. I know the Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback this early before but a couple of things to remember. Firstly, they’ve rarely been in a position like this to draft a fantastic cornerback early in round one. Secondly, the shift to more 3-4 concepts and man coverage will place greater pressure on the cornerbacks to stick in coverage, rather than just play everything in front.

#40 — Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
Fans of other teams and casual draft observers who’ve been fed talk of Linderbaum being a top-10 pick will shout at me for this. However, I’ve been very consistent with my projection on Linderbaum, dating all the way back to last summer. He’s an undersized, short-armed center who won’t appeal to certain schemes. Not only that, he’s not done any testing due to injury. A fall out of the first round isn’t improbable. After all, the likes of Daniel Jeremiah are only projecting him as the 30th best player in the class. I previously had him going to the Dolphins at #29 but they traded away their top pick. The Seahawks just signed Austin Blythe who is 298lbs and has 30 1/4 inch arms. He basically has the exact same body type as Linderbaum. Therefore, I think there’s a strong chance the Seahawks will be one of the teams very interested in him — because their new scheme calls for this type of center. Potential other suitors who run the same kind of blocking scheme — LA, San Francisco, Miami — are not in range. The Jets are paying Connor McGovern $10m this year. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks tried to jump back into the late first to make sure they get Linderbaum.

#41 — Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)
We’ve been able to identify what the Seahawks like at linebacker after 12 years of the Carroll/Schneider era. It’s basically remarkable athletes with unique traits and/or players who run a fantastic short shuttle. Tindall ticks both boxes — he ran a 4.05 shuttle at pro-day, having previously run a 4.47 forty at the combine and jumped a 42 inch vertical. He flies to the ball like a missile and will provide early special teams dynamism if they want to bring him along slowly — as they did with Jordyn Brooks. He’s the ideal replacement for Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks should try to add at least one of the Georgia defenders in this draft.

#72 — Logan Bruss (T/G, Wisconsin)
As the Seahawks adapt to a blocking scheme more similar to what the Rams use, they appear destined to try and mimic their types of blockers. They’ve already added former Rams starting center Austin Blythe. LA’s starting guards last year were both converted tackles. Bruss played tackle at Wisconsin but also projects well at guard. He ticks a couple of boxes because his agility testing (4.55 short shuttle) works for the scheme but his explosive testing (3.08 TEF) matches what Seattle has traditionally looked for. Bruss could start at right tackle in year one but if not, he could slot in and compete at guard. He’s a good fit for the type of lineman they’re after.

#109 — DeAngelo Malone (DE, Western Kentucky)
He hasn’t done any testing yet and we’ll need to see those results first. However, Malone put on a show at the Senior Bowl despite being undersized at about 235lbs. He wasn’t overwhelmed by bigger blockers and had a number of good wins when engaging contact. He was 243lbs at the combine but chose not to run or test. As a somewhat raw super-senior with age working against him, he might last on the board longer than you’d typically expect. However — having missed out on the pass rushers early — the Seahawks could do a lot worse than adding Malone here and adding him to the rotation.

#152 — Jack Coan (QB, Notre Dame)
I think rounds 4-5 is where you consider drafting someone like Coan or Kaleb Eleby, to throw into the competition. So why Coan? He’s shown evidence of going through progressions, he has a strong throwing base, his arm strength is decent enough and the way he dragged Notre Dame to victory against Virginia Tech sticks in your memory. Give him a chance to compete for a job.

#153 — Percy Butler (S, Louisiana)
He’s taking an official visit to Seattle and it’s no surprise. Butler is a brilliant special teams gunner and I can imagine them making sure they get him by selecting him in round five.

#230 — Zonovan Knight (RB, NC State)
There are two things I really like about Knight. Firstly — his ability to drive through contact and finish runs (thus, he has the nickname ‘Bam’). Secondly — the quick-feet he showed at the combine skipping over the bags had to pretty much be seen to be believed. He could be a big sleeper in this draft class. His explosive testing could be better but this late in the day, maybe they’d take a chance?

Closing thoughts

A useful exercise here would be to take this projection and consider what else you’d have if you traded D.K. Metcalf. For example, let’s say the Eagles gave you #16 and a third rounder. You could add Zion Johnson or Boye Mafe, plus a third rounder such as possibly Dameon Pierce or a receiver. But you subtract Metcalf. Or you could imagine taking #35 and #38 from the Jets and potentially moving back into the first — or staying put and simply adding two more players from the top-50. Again though, you subtract Metcalf.

If you’re torn on what the best decision is (like me) it’s an interesting experiment.

As I was writing this mock I also felt like I wanted at least one more pick in the middle rounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks traded down from #41 to make that a reality. It all depends who’s available, though. In this projection I think they’d stay put — but if the two players I had them picking were off the board (which isn’t improbable) I think there are serious trade-down options in round two. More so than at #9, I’d say.

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Addressing the ‘worst case scenario’ question

Sunday, March 27th, 2022

A few people have asked about this and after a further tweet today, I thought I’d address it in a quick article…

The chances of this happening, in my opinion, are extremely remote. It would likely require the top two cornerbacks going very early — but I don’t see the Giants, for example, taking Derek Stingley over a pass rusher.

I actually think it’s more likely both Stingley and Sauce Gardner are there at #9. The Giants potentially trading James Bradbury pre-draft might change that. I’m going to publish a mock draft tomorrow that runs through a scenario that will flesh out why a ‘worst case scenario’ such as the one above isn’t very likely.

If it did happen, here’s what I think the options are…

Personally, I would consider pivoting to the Georgia duo of Devonte Wyatt and Jordan Davis. The Seahawks have added bodies to their defensive front but the key should be to add difference making talent. The pair have Geno Atkins and Haloti Ngata-level potential.

The only offensive tackle they’d probably consider is Trevor Penning. He has the size, mentality and explosive traits they like. I’ve written a few times why I’d rather not go in this direction (I don’t think he or Charles Cross are worth a top-10 pick) but it would be an option to them.

They could also trade down. I’ll run down a few potential targets in that scenario in a moment.

I do think, however, that some Seahawks fans at the moment are too eager to look for a looming crisis.

I understand why. I’ve been a vocal critic of Pete Carroll and John Schneider over the last two years and unquestionably they botched the reset from 2018-onwards.

However, I also think this situation suits them better. I don’t think they were ever comfortable building around an expensive franchise quarterback. Neither was Russell Wilson comfortable being forced to work within a structure he had little faith in.

It created a dynamic where the team was pulling in different directions — with three individuals having their own vision for the future and all three trying to keep things together.

Now, it’s a clean break. I think Carroll and Schneider are better builders than maintainers. The only evidence I have to back that up is what happened between 2010 and 2013 — but it’s a pretty good example.

I’m going to let this play out, enjoy the draft, not worry too much about what may or may not happen and just go with the flow. This next month, in anticipation of a crucial draft, might be the most fun you get out of the Seahawks in 2022 (well, unless they beat the Niners twice again).

There’s plenty of time to critique and judge what they decide to do. If they get this wrong, having traded Wilson away, you won’t need a draft blog to drum up critical analysis of the Seattle braintrust. They know they need to get this right.

For now, let’s talk about possibilities, not issues that aren’t here yet.

So who would they look at if they did move down?

I suppose you could extend this out to who they’ll look at if they acquire extra stock. It’s at least plausible, I suppose, Philadelphia might be a team that enters any D.K. Metcalf chatter if the Seahawks decide they don’t want to pay $22-25m for a receiver. That would mean an extra first in the late teens.

The names already mentioned above would be in the equation if they were still available.

I think the Seahawks would give strong consideration to someone like Zion Johnson. I thought his Senior Bowl performance was overrated but the simple fact is he ticks all the boxes for Seattle. He has great size and length (34 inch arms). He’s one of the most explosive testers in the last decade of the combine — scoring a 3.33 in TEF and 103.4 in weighted TEF. If they want quickness and agility in their new blocking scheme — he also ran a 4.46 short shuttle at 312lbs.

A player with Johnson’s profile gets drafted early. Don’t be surprised if he goes in the teens. I think New England at #21 will be his floor.

If the Seahawks find themselves picking in that range, they might decide to take a chance on his physical talent and upside. Then they could try him at guard or center.

It’s not a huge need but it’s a pick that fits based on their trends. They had a presence at Boston College’s pro-day and I think they’ll be extremely high on Johnson, possibly considering him one of the top prospects in the draft.

There are numerous pass rushers they could consider. I suspect two likely options would be Arnold Ebiketie and Sam Williams because they have the length and traits they covet. I am a huge Boye Mafe fan but he did measure with sub-33 inch arms. It’s a shame because there’s a lot to like with Mafe and he could remain on their radar.

Depending on how far they trade back, Abraham Lucas could be another possibility. I also think Trent McDuffie could have some appeal.

The more I think about it — if they ended up with a pick in the teens, I think Johnson and Mafe might be the two names to focus on (if arm length isn’t seen as an issue with Mafe).

It’s all a moot point though and a discussion we can return to if Metcalf is dealt. I think the options at #9 will be enticing. Either one of the pass rushers will last to #9 (Jermaine Johnson is the most likely) or they will be able to pivot to a great cornerback.

Check out my article yesterday on the cornerback position for more. What I would say is don’t underestimate Carroll’s interest in players who were once top recruits.

It’s something he’s made reference to many times. Even when they added Jacob Eason he spoke about how highly he was recruited. Talent is talent.

I can well imagine Carroll looking at a former #1 recruit in the country in Derek Stingley and thinking — ‘I want to help him achieve greatness’.

I think he’ll feel the same about Kayvon Thibodeaux for similar reasons.

I suspect the Seahawks are going to shoot for the stars with their top pick and if an opportunity falls to them — just as it did in 2010 with Earl Thomas — they won’t hesitate to make the call.

They didn’t trade down that year, when they were starting their build, because they knew what they’d be passing up at #6 and #14.

They added quality.

I think that will be the aim again this year.

And if you want to generate some buzz and excitement for your team in 2022 — the prospect of Derek Stingley Jr facing off against D.K. Metcalf in training camp is pure box-office.

A quick note to finish — PFN are reporting that Percy Butler will take an official-30 visit to Seattle. It’s the second confirmed official visit, along with Sauce Gardner.

Butler is a player I’ve mocked to the Seahawks in the later rounds. He’s a fearless special teams gunner. Keep him on your radar as an option. We know they put a lot of emphasis on special teams.

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Cornerback at #9? It might be the Seahawks’ best option

Saturday, March 26th, 2022

Derek Stingley is an exceptional talent

What the Seahawks do at cornerback is an interesting talking point.

For years they’ve preferred to wait until day three of the draft to get ‘their guys’. There was a lot of early success doing this but more recently, they’ve struggled to add starting talent. Hopefully Tre Brown is going to be a welcome return to form, if he recovers fully from injury.

Speaking to Coach Jim Leavitt recently (listen to the interview here) he highlighted the importance of talent at cornerback within the 3-4 scheme. If Seattle wants to be aggressive against the pass and the run by playing seven in the box most of the time, it’ll put a degree of stress on the secondary.

Leavitt said it was crucial to have good safety play and the Seahawks have invested significantly at the position. The corners also need to be able to stick in man and can be somewhat isolated.

If the Seahawks head in this direction schematically, the old adage of ‘not getting beat over the top’ won’t be enough.

It makes you wonder whether they’ll place a greater premium on the position.

Part of the projection process is working out what is actually available. I know a lot of people think the Seahawks are going to take a left tackle or quarterback at #9. The options are simply not very good. It’d be a huge reach for any of the QB’s and players like Charles Cross (often paired with Seattle) are just overrated. He doesn’t have the size, athleticism or explosive traits the Seahawks have sought.

I feel pretty comfortable based on my own draft work and consulting others who have far more experience than I do, that the top of the board is going to be focused on pass rushers. Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jermaine Johnson will go quickly.

Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu will also both be drafted early (probably to play guard).

Then there are two cornerbacks — Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley. Some think Stingley will last into the teens after a difficult last two years with injury and some underwhelming tape as LSU collapsed as a team.

We should remember we’re only two years removed from Stingley looking like the future at cornerback in the NFL. He’s got a pro-day in April where he’ll likely match his SPARQ performance of a 4.30 forty and a 42 inch vertical.

Here he is covering Ja’Marr Chase in practise at LSU:

According to PFF, here are the top-graded seasons by a LSU defender since 2014:

Derek Stingley (2019) – 91.7
Jamal Adams (2016) – 91.4
Tre’Davious White (2016) – 90.2
Devin White (2018) – 90.0

If the Titans are willing to take Caleb Farley at #22 overall a year ago with all of his significant injury question marks — I doubt Stingley is going to last as long as some are saying. Cornerback is a position of supreme need and priority. Multiple teams are desperate at corner — the lack of talent is fairly close to the dearth of good left tackles available.

Six cornerbacks went in the top-33 picks last year for a reason.

I’m also unsure why everyone is suddenly so low on Stingley. His tape in 2020 and 2021 is described as ‘good not great’ in his profile. I would’ve thought a player with two years of good tape on a miserable team, plus a year of elite tape on a great team, would deserve the benefit of the doubt?

Nobody talks about Aidan Hutchinson’s injury issues at Michigan. Yet for Stingley, it seems enough to kick him down the board.

It’s one of the more confusing ‘draft media’ quibbles this year.

If the Seahawks wanted a player with the talent-level to shut down elite receivers on an island, allowing their front seven to fly to the ball, he would be an outstanding option.

Provided he stays healthy, which is no guarantee with any player, I think there’s a reasonable chance he will be a Stephon Gilmore-level talent — with a shot to be even better.

Micah Parsons fell to pick #12 a year ago due to character concerns and emerged as a star in his rookie season. It won’t be a surprise if something similar happens with Stingley.

He also has strong NFL bloodlines:

I think Stingley is CB1 in this class. A lot of others think Sauce Gardner is the best player at any position but I don’t agree.

I think there’s still a lot to like with Gardner. He has 4.4 speed, great length, he mixes confidence and cockiness in the right kind of way. He flashes star quality but with a degree of self-made-man awareness. Fans will like him, as will coaches. He has swagger and you could imagine him being a central part of a defensive rebuild.

His body-type has been described as ‘classic Seahawks’. That’s true — although he is very skinny and he genuinely looks like the ‘praying mantis’ his team mates refer to him as. There are some technique issues that might get shown up a little more against the top receivers. He’s grabby too — and lacks the natural suddenness of Stingley.

Even so — he will almost certainly go in the top-12 and could be a top-five selection in a class lacking clear and obvious blue-chippers.

Gardner is set for an official visit to the Seahawks (among others). These visits have been indicative of serious interest in the past.

All of the ‘met at the combine’ stuff isn’t worth paying attention to. Everyone meets with everyone there. The players you bring into your building to see if they fit in — those are the meetings to raise an eyebrow at.

It suggests the Seahawks are well on top of what could happen at #9.

Regulars to this blog know I want a great pass rusher. That’s Plan A. If one of Johnson or Thibodeaux lasted to the Seahawks, he should be the pick.

Increasingly though, I think it’s likely they’ll be gone. It’s going to take the Panthers and Falcons making obscene quarterback picks at #6 or #8 — or people preferring Gardner or Stingley over the pass rushers — to make it a reality.

I know what some will say. The quarterbacks always go early.

Let’s not forget that in 2013, the first QB to leave the board was E.J. Manuel at #16. I’d compare the 2022 class of QB’s to the 2013 class. It’s not good, despite all of the recent hype generated by throwing sessions in shorts at the combine and pro-day circuit.

As Scot McCloughan told us last week — three quarterbacks will go in round one and all three deserve third round grades.

The mid-teens or early 20’s area is where I would expect the quarterbacks to start coming off the board.

Keep this in mind — the superior 2023 quarterback class will 100% have an impact. Pete Carroll hinted at it last week, saying their huge amount of stock next year will influence their decision making in this draft. The Giants are trying to sell #5 or #7 for a first next year — probably to position themselves for a QB.

Certain teams such as Pittsburgh will be minded to find a QB for the future now. They’re not planning to be bad in 2022 and they don’t have extra draft stock in 2023. Teams embracing a longer build will definitely be thinking of the options next year.

Scott Fitterer knows Matt Rhule is not for long in Carolina. A desperate QB pick at #6 (their only pick in the first three rounds) is unlikely. The Falcons are embracing a rebuild after whiffing on Deshaun Watson. They might take a shot on a quarterback on day two — but #8? Remember — their new GM is big on ‘best player available’. It’s how he justified taking Kyle Pitts a year ago instead of a quarterback.

If the pass rushers are gone at #9 — it makes absolute sense to look at Gardner or Stingley. In that position, they’ll give you the best chance to come out of this draft with a stud player. And that’s what Seattle needs.

It really is as simple as this — they need a foundational building block. If the pass rush option isn’t there, the best way to find one in this specific draft class is to look at cornerback.

You could also perhaps include Devante Wyatt and Jordan Davis, purely because of their outstanding physical profiles. Yet the Seahawks have loaded up their defensive front already.

Another ‘tell’ in terms of their possible plan could be how they’ve approached free agency.

D.J. Reed called Seattle’s contract offer ‘insulting’ then signed a deal worth $11m a year with the Jets. The #9 pick a year ago, Patrick Surtain, signed a deal worth just $5.2m a year.

Are the Seahawks anticipating taking a corner at #9? And thus, did they offer Reed a comparable contract to the #9 pick? It’s half as much as the deal he got in New York, which would explain Reed’s disdain for the offer. It’s possible the team already had a good feeling they’d be drafting a cornerback early — and the price that comes with that — so they felt little need to go any higher for Reed.

Not only that — their ‘hedge’ signing at pass rusher (Uchenna Nwosu) is costing $9.5m a year for two years. Their hedge at cornerback (Artie Burns) signed a $2m contract for one season.

Little things like that can help you piece together the puzzle.

And while they haven’t signed anyone — hedge or otherwise — at offensive tackle, Carroll revealed his urgency to address that area when he spoke to KJR last week. They do have some money to play with in free agency and are likely working to resolve this as a priority before the draft — with the likes of Duane Brown, Eric Fisher, Darryl Williams and Brandon Shell possibly on the radar.

It does feel like everything is being geared towards creating a new defense. The coaching changes, the scheme tweaks. Now the only thing left is the personnel. Jake Heaps revealed on 710 Seattle Sports that Sean Desai had been convinced to come to the Seahawks on the proviso that key personnel additions were coming. It’s hard to imagine Seattle had Nwosu, Quinton Jefferson and Shelby Harris as their sales pitch.

Giving Desai a fantastic corner prospect to manage in the secondary would make sense and justify his faith in joining the team. Stingley was once seen as the fabled ‘generational talent’. Gardner is an emerging talent. Again — if the top pass rushers are gone, they likely give you the best chance to draft a future all-pro.

The wildcard option might be Trent McDuffie. He’s Lance Zierlein’s #7 overall prospect and generally is being mocked in the mid-first round. I think he’s a terrific player but the type you almost want playing up and around the line — using his outstanding quickness and instincts as a dynamic nickel or hybrid DB. He can play outside but I like the idea of him more as a read/react type. McDuffie also has tremendous character and he’ll be a safe pick. I’m just not sure he’ll be an all-pro outside corner within four years.

What would it mean for the pass rush if they take a corner at #9? That’s a difficult one to work out. There’s certainly enough depth that someone appealing might be there at #40. It’s also possible we’ll see a huge rush on the position in round one — with as many as nine coming off the board before Seattle’s second round picks.

I’ve been assuming Sam Williams might be there at #40 and #41. After an impressive combine and pro-day, it seems like there’s sufficient buzz for him in round one. He’s being heavily connected to Dallas at #24.

It’s also possible teams are just doing a lot of homework on a player who missed time at Ole Miss due to a charge of sexual battery. The charge was eventually dropped but teams will investigate this thoroughly.

Strictly from a football perspective, he has a lot of what Seattle needs. He’s long, athletic, a tremendous pass rusher, he’s quick and explosive. But he might not be an option — either due to character flags or being off the board.

Another player teams will be investigating closely is Adam Anderson. He was suspended by Georgia after voluntarily handing himself into the police following an accusation of rape.

Anderson has denied the allegation. This article from ESPN details what Anderson is accused of. Let me make it clear — I don’t want anyone ‘debating’ the accusation in the comments section. This is a sensitive subject and should be handled appropriately.

Anderson’s attorney has filed a motion for the case to be dismissed. In February the court granted a motion modifying the conditions of Anderson’s bond that allowed him to return to the Athens area for a workout in front of NFL scouts. This took place last week. He was previously barred from appearing in Athens and Oconee County except for legal and academic matters.

At his workout, which was watched by 17 teams, he ran a forty in the 4.5’s and jumped a 39 inch vertical and an 11-1 broad.

The outcome of the case will determine what happens next. If it’s dropped, as his attorney has requested, then teams will do their own internal investigations and decide whether they are comfortable drafting him.

I have no idea whether the Seahawks would have any interest here, regardless of the outcome of the request. I also don’t want to go too far into the long grass on this one until there’s actual news on the case.

I’ll simply note that Anderson was considered a high first round prospect before this legal matter and if the case is dropped and he commences his NFL career, there’s a chance he will receive a lot of attention.

As an 3-4 OLB prospect he has everything — length, quickness and explosive qualities. He’s only around 240lbs but he uses great hands and power to jolt far bigger offensive linemen. I can’t recall a pass rusher with a first-step burst that has O-liners so frequently out of position like Anderson shows. Tackles turn their bodies parallel to the goalposts so often to cover the edge, leaving also sorts of speed-to-power and inside counters open.

He’s also brilliant working in space, he can drop then read/react as well as most middle linebackers and he just has a natural athleticism to him.

Remarkably he’s also a tremendous special teams gunner.

This is as much as I’m going to talk about Anderson until there’s new information on his case.

I’m not sure how the Seahawks would view Joshua Paschal. He’s a potential heart-and-soul leader with extremely explosive, powerful traits. He’s a menace vs the run and a TFL collector. He also lacks twitch and speed off the edge to rush the passer and that could be an issue for a team desperate to add dynamic rush ability. They’ve said they need another Darrell Taylor and that’s not really Paschal.

Drake Jackson is an intriguing prospect with a lot of question marks. He’s someone teams are going to spend a fair bit of time figuring out. His weight has gone up and down. He’s now 270lbs, up from 255lbs, but he claims he’s in terrific shape. He doesn’t look like the long, lean pass rusher the Seahawks are typically looking for — but there are positives. He ran a 4.28 short shuttle which is great for his size. He managed a 10-7 broad jump at his combine.

His tape has flashes but also a lot of middling play. Even so, he could be someone they look at.

They might pivot to a group that includes Dominique Robinson, DeAngelo Malone and Amaré Barno. The trio are all very athletic but are more developmental types. They all combine length and speed with a lean frame — they look like Seahawks’ pass rushers but are perhaps unlikely to have an impact in year one.

Jeffrey Gunter at Coastal Carolina is another name to watch. I’m really struggling to get an angle on Nik Bonitto at Oklahoma. I can’t tell whether his physical profile warrants intrigue or whether his tape suggests a day-three type.

It all further highlights why the best thing for the Seahawks is to get a pass rusher at #9 and then address cornerback later. It just might not be possible.

I watched Pittsburgh corner Damarri Mathis last night, after the buzz surrounding his pro-day performance. He is a fantastic player, worthy of a second round grade.

He’s 5-11 and 196lbs but packs a real punch as a hitter. He’s very prepared to level someone given an opportunity and tackling is a strong point. He has 32 inch arms so ticks that box.

He ran a 4.39 at the combine and then added a 43.5 inch vertical at his pro-day. That level of athleticism will allow him to stick with the best athletes at the next level and while he requires some technical refinement (like most players) he has the make-up of a terrific pro-corner. He flies to close space in zone with extreme acceleration. Mathis can stick downfield and his recovery speed/reactions are a strong point.

I’m not sure it’d be too rich to take him at #40 or #41 — provided you were able to get a pass rusher at #9.

There are plenty of hidden gems at corner — from MJ Emerson to Montraric Brown to Jalyn Armour-Davis to Cam Taylor-Britt and so on. There’s a long, long list of names — as there are at several positions. I’ll be posting an updated horizontal board soon.

It’s a treat for the Seahawks to have as many picks as they do this year. It’s why, as much as they clearly appreciate D.K. Metcalf, they have to keep their options open about his future.

For example, with the Jets so interested in adding a top receiver, there might be an opportunity to swap #9 for #4 — while acquiring extra stock on day two. That would guarantee you a pass rusher.

Either way they shouldn’t force things at #9 — trading down for example to find an appropriate range to take a Sam Williams based on need. They need talent, first and foremost. Not chasing holes on the roster.

At #9 — that might mean taking a cornerback. Even if ideally you want that pass rusher first, creating an opportunity to draft a defensive back later.

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The future of D.K. Metcalf in Seattle

Friday, March 25th, 2022

D.K. Metcalf will likely be paid by someone this off-season

This is a guest post from Curtis Allen. I have uploaded a new podcast discussing the same subject which can be found at the bottom of the article, available on YouTube, Spotify and Apple

The Seahawks’ tumultuous offseason continues.  After making two of the biggest, hardest decisions in franchise history on Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, they have one more major decision coming up very soon.  

What to do with D.K. Metcalf?

The time to consider this is rapidly approaching.

As Rob recently pointed out, the days between the initial burst of free agency activity and the draft is an ideal spot for the Seahawks to explore their options. They need to do their research, make serious contact with Metcalf’s team to gauge their feelings on an extension, study the players available at wide receiver in the draft and drop a line in the water to get a feel for what kind of return they could expect in trade for a player of his caliber.

There is also another motivating factor — Metcalf will likely require a new contract before getting seriously involved in off-season activities. The Seahawks need only look to last year’s Jamal Adams hold-in to see how dragging their feet on an extension impacted the team’s output on the field.

Adams was far from effective last year. After the season was over the team admitted that he was not as prepared as he could have been due to not taking part in those offseason practices and camp. They cannot afford a repeat of that cycle.

If they get past the draft and then decide to trade Metcalf, the capital they get in return will not benefit the team until 2023. Not being able to immediately develop and showcase the draft haul they get in return would cause another big hit to the fans’ goodwill in 2022, particularly after the other moves that drained the squad of fan favorites.

The talent deficiency on the roster might be too much to be salved over by ‘just wait until next season.’ The current management team would really be under the gun to make rapid improvement in 2023.

So, with all that in mind, it is best to get cracking on whether they can agree on an extension or get serious about a trade right now.

Let’s take a walk through what factors the team will have to consider when making this big decision.

Setting up the framework of an extension

Contemplating a Metcalf extension is going to take some serious thought.  

The recent contracts that have been negotiated at the top of the wide receiver market make this a very difficult proposition to consider for fans who are interested in the future of this team. The numbers have been eye-popping and there is no doubt that a contract for Metcalf would have a similar effect on the fanbase and the NFL in general.

When you add in the Seahawks’ typical lack of creativity with the way they structure their contracts, combined with their current needs all over the roster, it would appear from a high-level viewpoint to be a real challenge to both getting a deal done and having it benefit the team without crippling their ability to make other critical roster moves.

However, there exists a path forward where the Seahawks keep Metcalf and still have the ability to add talent to their roster as they need.

Let me take you to the ledge on this and then walk you back a little.  Stay with me.

The first step is discerning what the top of the wide receiver market is. 

We see that Davante Adams just busted the market with an incredible 5-year $140 million deal with Las Vegas. $28 million per season is now the top number for average annual value then and we should proceed as though that is the case in a Metcalf negotiation, yes?  


In fact, it is a sort of phoney number at the moment.

The last two years of Adams’ contract have been structured to essentially be void years. Those two years alone contribute a gigantic $80 million to the overall number. They are an astounding contract inflation. Without those years, the contract is in actuality a 3-year contract that averages $22.5 million in money. That is the amount Adams can actually count on from Las Vegas.

What about DeAndre Hopkins’ $27.5 million average? He got two years for 2023 and 2024 at $54.25 million tacked on to the end of his deal in 2020 that feature zero guarantees. Hopkins can void a year by meeting performance incentives and the Cardinals can cut him loose without any guaranteed salary to pay, so it is almost a ‘mutual void year’ type situation. 

Put another way, the Cardinals have an out just as they start feeling the pain from Kyler Murray’s first big extension.

Tyreek Hill’s new mega-contract? Let’s let the dust settle and the real terms come to light before we get too excited. The early word is nearly always worse than the deal truly is.

For those reasons, it is worth considering those gigantic AAV contract numbers as outliers and not necessarily the new standard, particularly when considering a possible Metcalf contract. They have end-of-contract seasons that are non-guaranteed and balloon the overall AAV into the stratosphere and the likelihood those two players will actually be paid according to those numbers at the end is extremely low.

Who do we look at then to get a feel for Metcalf’s market value? It might be more beneficial to look at wide receivers that were very successful on their rookie contract and recently signed healthy extensions.


#1 — They have an age/skill profile that indicates their play is still ascending, as does Metcalf

#2 — A second contract gives us a reasonable gauge for how other NFL teams view the position

#3 — Those contracts rarely have all those special creative provisions like the Adams and Hopkins deals and it makes for a more apples-to-apples look since the Seahawks do not often get that creative in their contract structuring

#4 — Most importantly, there is a far higher likelihood the player will get all the way through the contract and earn another good one. So the years on the end of the deal are far more likely to be ‘real’

For consideration, we have three such deals signed very recently:

— D.J. Moore of the Panthers just signed a 3-year, $61.9 million contract with $41.6 million guaranteed 

— Mike Williams of the Charges just signed a 3-year $60 million contract with $40 million guaranteed 

— Chris Godwin of the Buccaneers just signed a 3-year $60 million contract with $40 million guaranteed 

So there we have our framework. Three contracts for young star wide receivers. They all average around $20 million per season with about 2/3 of the contract guaranteed.

There is our base.

What a possible extension could look like

Working off of those numbers, I believe that if the Seahawks wanted to extend Metcalf, they would be justified in signing him to the following contract:

4 years, $100 million, with $60 million guaranteed and a $24 million signing bonus

That obviously works out to an AAV of $25 million per season.

That is essentially a 25% bump over those three contracts we just talked about. How did I get there?

Several reasons…

First off, all three of those players are being extended off of either a franchise-tag year, or the 5th-year first round option. They have already made (or are scheduled to make in 2022) more money in one season than Metcalf will make on his entire rookie contract. This is Metcalf’s first bite at the apple and he will (deservedly) consider that his contract should reflect that as part of the overall package.

Second, Metcalf is an extraordinary talent that has produced in three seasons what those players have done in four or five:

— Metcalf has 29 touchdowns in three seasons

— Godwin has 29 in five seasons

— Williams has 26 in four seasons and change

— Moore has 14 in four seasons

Yes, being a wide receiver is not solely about touchdowns. Yet Metcalf’s productivity in this area runs laps around these newly wealthy players – even while dealing with a limited route-tree rookie year and the combination of a nagging foot injury and playing for stretches without top quarterback play last season.

Third, this acknowledges some things for Metcalf and the team. It shows they are committed to their drafted players and rebuilding a contending team in Seattle. A healthy contract that pays him more can grease the skids of not being on a top team this year or next. It also is a not-so-subtle nod that even though those Adams and Hopkins contracts are artificially inflated for PR purposes, the Seahawks meet Metcalf in the middle between what those guys ‘supposedly’ got and what the other young stars actually got.

Fourth, it buys Metcalf out of a no-trade clause.  This is important, as you’ll see in a moment.

Fifth, I’m embarrassingly bad at guessing what players will get on a contract. I personally think a $22-23m AAV contract would be fair and get the job done but I am tacking on a 10% fudge factor to cover the contingency that maybe I am not a professional-grade contract prognosticator.

So — a 4-year contract for $100 million.  

A nine-figure contract. For a wide receiver.  

It is admittedly hard to absorb but that is where we are these days.

However, if you have ever heard me drone on about the salary cap, you probably know what is coming next. It’s not about the total dollars or years so much as it is how it is structured and how badly it restricts the team from getting out of it. Flexibility to make further roster moves is a critical ingredient for teams, particularly ones like the Seahawks, who do not ‘pull out all the stops’ and go shopping on the company credit card very often.

So, how does this deal look on the Seahawks’ salary cap? And is it really workable to spend this much on a wide receiver?

Deal structure

A couple notes before we dig in. I used some standard contract principles the Seahawks prefer. A four-year contract, with as much guaranteed salary as soon as possible. It allows them options and flexibility later in the deal.

Also I used whole numbers and avoided any option or roster bonuses, or other contract incentives. I wanted a clean-looking cap discussion that was within reason and didn’t require a slide rule, a law degree or a 5000 line spreadsheet to illuminate the impact.  So keep in mind, this is not precisely what a Metcalf contract would look like.

I also adjusted his 2022 season – the last year of his rookie deal – to account for the bonus proration and took some cap hit in 2022 as the Seahawks likely would. The Seahawks currently have Metcalf slated for a cap hit of $4.324 million on his rookie deal. I added a year’s bonus proration and converted $2 million of his salary to a bonus and spread it out over the life of the contract – a standard practice – and the result is a cap hit of $7.524 million, an increase on their 2022 cap of $3.2 million.

Have a look:

As you can see, there is a typical setup to the contract. The cap hits grow slowly over the years then get big at the end and the guaranteed salary peaks and then diminishes just as quickly. The Seahawks have a lot of options available to them in the last two seasons.

Before we get into that, if you are trying to weigh whether you think the Seahawks would make such a big investment in Metcalf, have a look at the cap hits for the first three seasons in isolation. Those are the most important in this deal. The guaranteed money and the money left on the bonus proration makes it painful to cut or trade Metcalf before 2024, so you are absolutely committing to Metcalf for three seasons if he signs this deal. That is the tradeoff for having flexibility later.

Three seasons at $43.92m (or an AAV of $14.64m) plus a $10.4m dead cap hit in 2025 if you want to escape the contract. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with those cap numbers for a receiver of Metcalf’s age, physical profile and projected on-field impact for this team.

There is room to carry a Metcalf contract on the Seahawks’ salary cap and not be too crippled. It does overlap with Tyler Lockett’s recent extension.  However, note that when Metcalf’s cap number starts getting serious, the Seahawks have structured Lockett’s contract so that there is no guaranteed salary. They have a lot of flexibility.  They can cut him, trade him, or negotiate him down if they feel they need to.

As well, ask yourself, who on the current roster is destined for a big-money extension in the coming years? Who else should the Seahawks be saving their cap for? Jamal Adams probably will not make it to the end of his current contract. Darrell Taylor will not be an unrestricted free agent until 2025. Jordyn Brooks is also under team control until 2025 as well.

There is room to give Metcalf a very big contract.

Keep in mind too, that the Seahawks will not have a franchise QB-level salary to pay in those years.  

Look at the Chargers.  They currently have two $20 million AAV wide receivers, Joey Bosa at $27 million, Corey Linsley at $12.5 million, just traded for Khalil Mack and added J.C. Jackson at $16.5 million. How? Because they have Justin Herbert on a rookie contract (and have drafted well).

If the Seahawks get their young quarterback, a Metcalf contract absolutely will not prohibit them from building around him.

However, if you are like me and you cannot keep your eyes off the $60.4 million in 2025 and 2026 combined cap hits, here is where paying some extra cash into the deal in exchange for not having a no-trade clause really helps the team.

After 2024 this contract gives the team options that are very workable.

The team could trade Metcalf after the 2024 season and gain $15.3 million of cap room back. They will have to pick up the final two years of bonus proration though, for a dead cap hit of $10.4 million.  

Metcalf would be coming off his age 27 season and still have major trade value (assuming his production has continued its steep ascent, which, if you’re signing him to this big of a contract, you are). 


Julio Jones’ 28-30 age years are as arguably as good as his 25-27 age years.

Stefon Diggs has just had his two best career years to date at age 27 and 28. Same with Davante Adams, and the Packers just fetched a current-year first and second round pick for him in trade at age 30. 

It is very possible that Metcalf’s career could not yet have reached its peak by the time the window opens to trade him.

So consider this – the Seahawks could get a premium of draft capital for Metcalf in trade right now. Or they could pay him a pretty modest salary for three seasons and get perhaps the same premium in draft capital in 2025 and save $15.3 million on the cap. 

This is not a situation where once you give a top player a big, big contract, you hope he makes it to the end of the deal. Metcalf could still have his best years ahead of him in 2025 and it is conceivable that the trade haul could be just as impressive as it would be this year.

What about the $10.4m dead cap hit for trading him in 2025? It sounds like a chunk but think of that number in 2025 cap dollars. The new TV deals will be in full swing.  Gambling revenue will be coming online by then. The Seahawks could accept that dead cap hit and not bat an eyelash.

What about keeping Metcalf for 2025 and 2026? Two years at $60.4m sounds painful. Again, the structure helps you there. There is very little guaranteed money. The Seahawks could do any number of things. Restructure it to get some cap relief. Extend him and lower the cap hit. Keep him for 2025 and then trade him at age 29 and reap a massive $29.5 million in cap room in 2026.

The team has all kinds of options to pay Metcalf a very handsome amount and make it workable for them.

Admittedly, projecting Metcalf’s future production carries a degree of risk. Is he currently the equal of an Adams or a Diggs? No, not yet. Metcalf has to continue to play well. He needs to keep his level of commitment up after cashing his first massive check. But it is all well within the realm of possibility.

If you would like to take a crack at projecting a Metcalf extension, you might enjoy OTC’s Cap Constructor tool. Play around with it and see what you would like to do on an extension and let us know what you came up with in the comments and how you think it might work.

If the thought of paying a wide receiver that kind of money with the current roster needs the Seahawks have turns your stomach, I understand completely. This piece wasn’t intended to necessarily pick a side in this debate, just to illuminate what I think a contract extension might look like and demonstrate that it is a reasonable proposition if both sides can see the benefits. 

Many seem to be opposed to a Metcalf extension based on the Davante Adams mega-contract and the idea that it would literally cost $28 million against the cap every single year and thus would crush any cap flexibility going forward. Those factors are not as real and as big as you think.

Even if you are fine with the contract as I drew it up, Metcalf and his team may feel that a deal like that is not enough. They may balk at it and try to surpass the Davante Adams contract. We just do not know how it will work out. But it does need to be addressed very, very soon.

Trade options

The Seahawks should be in a strong negotiating position when considering trading Metcalf, should it come to that. With Pete Carroll’s recent comments about Metcalf though, it is fair to say the Seahawks are heavily invested in keeping him on the roster with an extension.

However, we need to have a look at what the trade market would be like for Metcalf.

The NFL’s thirst for wide receivers seems unquenchable and Metcalf is the kind of player you do not wonder ‘who would be interested?’ Rather, he is the type you ask ‘who wouldn’t be interested?’

It is well known that the Packers would probably be in the market. They have the draft capital after trading Adams and apparently they have the cash and cap room, if reports are to be believed that they offered Adams more money than Las Vegas did. They nervously waited all offseason for Aaron Rodgers to make up his mind and now that he has decided to come back, they might as well go all in and get him a weapon (given they’ve also lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling).

The Jets badly need a top receiver to grow up with Zach Wilson. They acknowledged this when they tried to acquire Tyreek Hill.  They have multiple picks available to them. 

Ditto with the Giants and Daniel Jones. Imagine Brian Dabol’s offense if they get the top offensive lineman in the draft, Saquon Barkley got healthy and then they added Metcalf.

The Chiefs just subtracted Tyreek Hill, have a ton of draft stock. While they added JuJu Smith-Schuster, they just need to look at what their division rivals have done this offseason to get interested in Metcalf.

Would the Lions come calling, looking for Calvin Johnson’s natural successor?

The Bears just had Allen Robinson walk. Darnell Mooney is their best weapon. Justin Fields needs help running the offense. Don’t tell me Chicago fans wouldn’t embrace a giant, muscular game-changer like Metcalf. A creative package with their two second-round picks this year and some future picks could work.

I could go on and on.

A player like Metcalf could spark a bidding war. Again, the Packers landed a current-year first and second round pick for 30-year-old Davante Adams and the Raiders happily made him very, very wealthy.

Tyreek Hill at age 28 just returned an even bigger package in trade.  

Reminder — Metcalf is 24, and will be 25 in December. If teams consider his immense potential to break games wide open and expand their offense in dramatic ways, how much would they give to get as many as five peak years of him under club control? With a current rookie year cap hit of only $3.986 million?  

A Jamal Adams-type haul does not seem too farfetched.

The Seahawks could do so many things with a windfall of draft picks.

Pick a wide receiver high in the draft and cross your fingers that he is the Justin Jefferson you get for trading your Stefon Diggs away.

Build a defense that will dominate the division for the next 5 years. Draft the entire Georgia Bulldog defense, why not?

How about enjoying the cozy warm feeling of having so many picks on the board you can just let the draft come to you? Lay in wait for talented players that slip and then go get them at your whim.

Or trade down a couple times and take two quarterbacks.

The options are endless and tantalizing.

The opportunity to vastly improve this team, whether by extending Metcalf or trading him, is a fun exercise to think about.

But the options are wide open.  The best thing you can take away from this piece is this:  signing Metcalf to a big contract extension does not close off those options forever.

Podcast appearance on Seaside Joe

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Later today I’ll be posting a new guest post from Curtis Allen on the D.K. Metcalf situation, plus publishing a new podcast with thoughts on the matter. Firstly though, yesterday I spent a couple of hours with my old podcasting partner Kenneth Arthur talking about the Seahawks and the draft.

Check it out here:

An interview with 3-4 expert Coach Jim Leavitt

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

With the Seahawks set to adopt 3-4 ideology, if not embrace a full-scale switch to the scheme, I wanted to speak to someone about the types of players required at each position. If Seattle is making a significant change (and it appears they are) what areas will they try to prioritise in the draft?

Jim Leavitt was the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers between 2011-14, when Vic Fangio was the defensive coordinator. When I contacted him, he sent me the following text: “Nobody knows the 3-4 better than me“. The perfect interview subject.

Listen to our conversation below and afterwards, I share some thoughts on what it might mean for the Seahawks in the 2022 draft.

You can listen via YouTube, Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Please subscribe, like the video on YouTube and leave a review on Apple if you have time. It really helps the new pod.

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Pete Carroll’s interview was interesting & revealing

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Pete Carroll said the right things on KJR

A reassuring listen

Pete Carroll’s comments on KJR yesterday were revealing, positive and worth paying attention to.

Here’s a brief summary:

— Carroll called offensive tackle ‘a spot of real concern’. To me his comments contained a sense of urgency, like he knew they had to get something sorted quickly. That’s understandable given both spots need filling. My interpretation is I think they’re going to make some moves pre-draft. I think he wants to fix this with signings. That could mean Duane Brown, Eric Fisher and/or Daryl Williams.

— When asked what other areas they needed to address he said he felt it was important that they continue to work on the pass rush (“and the coverage part of it”). He then made reference to the staff additions. Remember — Jake Heaps said on 710 Seattle Sports that Sean Desai had been persuaded to come to Seattle in part because they would make personnel improvements. So far, they have not. Carroll directly referred to Uchenna Nwosu as someone who can work in the rotation. That was telling to me — because Nwosu’s role was described in a fairly modest way. He finished his answer on improvements by stating, clearly, he wanted ‘the whole thing’ (pass rush) upscaled and upgraded and that it will be a ‘point of focus’.

— Carroll spoke about having a whole bunch of picks in 2023 and how that could impact what they do this year. I took that to mean they know this isn’t a great quarterback class. They know next year looks a lot better. They have the ammunition to be pro-active in 12 months and not feel like they need to force things this year.

— I found this whole interview incredibly reassuring. A sense of urgency to add at tackle, making the pass rush better is the focal point and no reference to adding more at quarterback when talking about immediate needs. As someone who hopes the Seahawks pump their draft resources into the defensive front seven, this interview was music to my ears. It made me think they are going to sign offensive tackles and will prioritise the pass rush with their top picks.

As I’ve said a few times now, my ‘Plan A’ would be one of Jermaine Johnson or Kayvon Thibodeaux at #9. If they’re not available, ‘Plan B’ would be Devonte Wyatt or Derek Stingley Jr. I’m not against Jordan Davis either. At #40 I’d take a linebacker — one of Channing Tindall, Leo Chenal, Quay Walker or Damone Clark ideally.

At #41 I’d like to be in a position to keep your options open. A trade down in that spot feels useful. You might need to target an edge rusher if you weren’t able to land Johnson or Thibodeaux. Yet you’ve got so much value and depth in that range — it’d be a great opportunity to simply take the best player available. What a luxury that extra second is this year.

If the Seahawks can come out of this draft feeling like they have a terrific defensive platform for the future — it will be the perfect start to the rebuild. It would set Carroll up to play the brand of football he wants to play. They can go into the 2023 draft excited and confident that the future at the quarterback position will be readily available.

This was a very encouraging interview, I thought.

The Seahawks are determined to keep D.K. Metcalf

There wasn’t even a hint of doubt. Carroll made it clear — they’re focused on keeping Metcalf and want to sign him to a new contract this year.

In light of Tyreek Hill re-setting the salary market today, there’s little reason for talks not to progress over the next few weeks.

It’s unlikely anyone else is going to re-set the market now. So Metcalf and the Seahawks have to balance out where he fits into a salary hierarchy that has seen the two best players at the position get paid major new money.

I doubt Carroll would’ve talked in the way he did yesterday if he wasn’t willing to pay Metcalf the kind of money the top receivers are getting. So now it comes down to finding common ground. I think they will. This should be fairly straight forward, provided Metcalf is equally motivated to get a deal done.

It’s possible Kansas City and Green Bay make a push for him and that could turn his head. They have the stock to make an attractive offer to the Seahawks.

He would probably need to push for a trade though. I get the sense he likes it in Seattle and might be willing to make his fortune with the team who drafted him.

I do think it’s a situation Seattle needs to address before the draft though. They need to get two offensive tackles signed and then focus on Metcalf.

Either get that extension done — or see what’s out there via trade.

Given the Hill and Davante Adams moves — you’re looking at a first and second round pick if you deal him. I’m not sure you want to trade away a very talented player at a great age when you’ve got money to burn. This will be up to the player and how talks go.

Don’t fall for the hype

Twitter exploded yesterday with people sharing a video of Malik Willis throwing at his pro-day. One throw in particular gained a lot of traction. Willis did the usual trick that quarterbacks like to do these days — running one way, throwing off-balance across your body and launching it downfield. It’s a throw made popular by Zach Wilson and everyone seems to copy it now.

People were reacting to the throw declaring he could/should be the #2 pick to Detroit. Carolina, Atlanta and Seattle were all mentioned too.

The hype train had truly left the station.

Unfortunately, so had everyone’s rational thinking.

Pro-days are the single most overrated event for quarterbacks. They mean absolutely nothing. Willis being able to throw that football in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, with no defense on the field, means nothing.

If you asked Drew Lock to copy that exact same throw tomorrow in Seattle’s practise facility, he’d be able to do it.

You never watch a pro-day and make any kind of serious judgement. At the absolute best it acts as confirmation.

Zach Wilson’s tape at BYU last year was really good. When he excels at his pro-day, it’s just another tick in a box. The Jets liked him before the event, they liked him after.

The same goes for Willis, albeit in reverse.

His issues don’t suddenly go away because he throws that pass or because he was wonderfully charming in his press conference afterwards. I wish him all the very best in his career and hope he goes as high as possible. The truth is though — he too often makes one read and if it isn’t there he bails out of the pocket to run. He refuses to throw over middle. Under pressure he panics and tries to scramble — which is why he absorbed 51 sacks in 2021 alone. He misses wide open receivers due to impatience and letting his eyes drop. His throwing technique (release, ball-pat, non-squared shoulders and inconsistent base) will lead to turnovers.

All yesterday did was confirm he’s a strong-armed player who can sling it.

Please, let’s not fall into the trap of overreacting to any of the pro-days.

I appreciate Willis will probably go in the first round. As I’ve been saying for a while now — the Steelers tend to telegraph who they like. If Mike Tomlin played poker, he’d accidentally hold his cards facing the rest of the table. He basically attached himself to T.J. Watt and Devin Bush at their pro-days. He’s done the same with Willis and took him to dinner on Monday night.

I’m convinced one way or another the Steelers will take him — either at #20 or with a move into the teens.

Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral also have a shot to go in the second half of round one.

I’ll come back to my conversation with Scot McCloughan though. Three quarterbacks will go in round one and all three should go in round three. That was McCloughan’s assessment. I agree with him.

And nothing that happens at a pro-day is going to change that.

I don’t understand the Charles Cross hype

He’s often mocked to Seattle at #9. Some people are talking about him in the top five, for pity’s sake.

We’re talking about a player who is a modest athlete with average size. He’s only 6-4 1/2 in height and 307lbs. His testing was weird — combining a good 9-4 broad jump with a poor 26 inch vertical. His agility testing was not good (4.61 short shuttle, 7.88 three cone). He ran well in the forty (4.95) but not as well as, say, Trevor Penning (4.89).

Penning is also bigger, more explosive and had better shuttle and three cone times.

Nothing about Cross’ physical profile screams ‘top-10 pick’. Neither does anything about his profile indicate he’d be a key target for Seattle.

Technically he doesn’t bend his knees well enough, I think he’s very much a pass-pro mirror specialist and not a complete blocker.

I don’t think he’ll be a top-10 pick, I don’t think he’ll end up in Seattle and I’m confused by the way people are assessing him.

If they end up taking a tackle with their top pick, the more likely answer is Trevor Penning — who at least has a profile they’ve shown to be interested in. In round two — it could be someone like Abraham Lucas (if he lasts) or Tyler Smith.

Some thoughts on the top-10

I’m going to continue to project no quarterbacks go early.

I think the pass rushers and offensive linemen will come off the board very quickly.

I think the top-five is pretty much locked in as Aidan Hutchinson, Ikem Ekwonu, Travon Walker, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal (in no particular order).

Sauce Gardner has enough buzz to consider too but I think he is more likely to go #7 to the Giants.

I think the Chargers are very likely to aggressively move up and target Jordan Davis. Carolina at #6 would be a good trade partner because they have no picks in rounds 2-3 and might be able to move into the teens to target a quarterback. Alternatively, O-line seems likely for the Panthers at #6.

The Giants and Falcons scare me from a Seahawks perspective because both will be in the market for a pass rusher. I hope New York will take Sauce Gardner. I hope Atlanta will either convince themselves to reach for a quarterback, will trade down with a team like the Chargers or will take a much-needed receiver.

I think they’re less likely to take a wide-out at #8 simply because the depth is so strong at the position, they can easily wait until day two.

I’m intrigued to know what Seattle will do if the top edge rushers are gone at #9. That could be a situation where they move down. As mentioned, I’d seriously consider Devonte Wyatt or Derek Stingley Jr at #9. Do they pivot to O-line?

Based on what Carroll said in his interview earlier — pass rush and corner feel like two areas that will be a big target early in the draft.

The two quarterbacks I’d keep an eye on for Seattle

Jack Coan and Kaleb Eleby at the start of day three.

Coan has technical ability that matches or surpasses the names expected to go early. You see him going through reads, playing on time and he was very productive at Notre Dame (with a ‘field-tilting’ win against Virginia Tech). He has some moments where ball-placement is an issue and while he’s a better athlete than some people think — he’s no threat as a dynamic runner. He can extend plays and throw on the run though. I like his arm strength, his base and his ability to go through progressions.

Eleby impressed in 2020 when throwing to Dee Eskridge and that maybe stuck in the mind for Seattle. He never really took a step forward in 2021 but he does a good job throwing off-platform. I think he has better arm talent than some are suggesting and he’s considered a strong leader with untapped potential.

I think either of these two could be thrown into the competition with Drew Lock, Jacob Eason and (eventually) Geno Smith. They might bypass the position in the draft, however, if they bring in Baker Mayfield as competition instead.

Jake Heaps made a great point yesterday. You can’t rush the rebuild, especially at the quarterback position. With Carroll talking about their bounty of picks in 2023, and with good options like Will Levis and Bryce Young set to be available, this is a year to build your foundation and be patient.

I’m increasingly confident they will be.

Some extra thoughts on #41

Again, I want a defensive heavy draft. Either a defensive end or defensive tackle at #9 (although I’m open to Derek Stingley too, as mentioned). A linebacker is a must at #40 because of this class. Then at #41, there are options.

If you take Wyatt or Stingley at #9, I think you target someone like Ole Miss pass rusher Sam Williams to fill your pass rusher need. If you take one of Johnson or Thibodeaux at #9 — it perhaps opens things up a bit. The top defensive tackles will likely all be gone by #41.

The great thing about this draft is it’s so rich in alternatives. If Abraham Lucas is there, he would be an exceptional pick. Ditto Cam Jurgens or Cole Strange. There are a few potential options at cornerback depending on what they’re looking for (but I still think this class is set up to add talent between rounds 4-7 as they’re known to do).

I don’t think a receiver at #41 would be a great investment given you’re supposed to be building foundations — but the likes of Kevin Austin Jr, Christian Watson and maybe even Jameson Williams warrant a conversation.

As much as some would hate it — I think a running back makes sense if you’re looking for non-defensive options. I’m not massively high on Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker in that spot. I also appreciate that they have Jonathan Stewart-level physical profiles. If the Seahawks are serious about their running game, they can’t rely on the often-injured Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson.

Investing in a player with Stewart-level talent, at a cost of $1.5-2.5m a year over four years, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. They have to be able to run the ball properly.

Speaking of Cam Jurgens by the way — a big time blog favourite who was massively underrated in the media for far too long — he jumped a 33.5 inch vertical and a 9-11 broad at his pro-day. Then he ran a 7.19 three cone — the fastest ever by a center (beating Jason Kelce).

He’s now confirmed as a 3.34 TEF tester with a weighted TEF of 102.5.

He also has ideal size and +33 inch arms.

He is going to be an absolute stud.

Could they target Daniel Faalele?

I’m not a huge fan. However, the Seahawks had a visit with Trent Brown who is 6-8 and 380lbs. Faaelele was 6-8 and 384lbs at the combine.

For me he’s too big. There’s no need for him to be 384lbs. On tape he moves surprisingly well and admittedly there are some pass-pro snaps or plays where he moves his feet and you forget he weighs as much as he does. Yet his height and size is a disadvantage because when he loses leverage he’s often dumped on his backside. He struggles with balance and re-setting because he’s so heavy and when you get underneath him it’s like watching a tree being felled.

At the Senior Bowl far smaller defenders like Myjai Sanders sent him to the ground and he had some ugly 1v1 reps because they gained the advantage with pad-level.

The link to Brown suggests, however, they would consider an enormous right tackle. And that’s what Faalele is. If nothing else, I suppose, he’s a wall of a man to get around. With tight end help it could be especially difficult.

I’d like to see him shift 20-30lbs personally and try to become Orlando Brown Jr. There’s no need to be as big as he is.

If you missed it yesterday check out my appearance on 750 ‘The Game’ in Portland — for a healthy dose of draft energy and positivity…

John Canzano BFT Podcast · BFT Interview: Rob Staton

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