Friday draft notes: Team needs & draft depth

I wanted to add a few draft notes before the weekend, so here we go…

Team needs

Here’s the list of players who are set to be free agents at the end of the season:

Unrestricted free agents

Luke Willson
Steven Hauschka
Bradley Sowell
Kelcie McCray
Christine Michael
Brandon Williams
Tony McDaniel
C.J. Spiller

Restricted free agents

Garry Gilliam
Deshawn Shead
Brock Coyle
Neiko Thorpe
Dewey McDonald
Steven Terrell

The Seahawks will likely keep Gilliam and Shead considering the low price for installing a tender. All of the unrestricted group are retainable depending on Seattle’s interest in keeping them around.

It puts the team in quite an attractive position next off-season. According to Spotrac they’ll have around $18.5m in free cap space. That can be used to reward existing players with a new contract (eg Michael Bennett and/or Kam Chancellor) or to make new additions via free agency or trade.

It also means they can be quite open in the draft. Unless a major glaring need emerges over the next few weeks, they can afford to make a ‘luxury’ pick (if you want to call it that). By that I mean an extra pass rusher to add to the rotation (not necessarily a starter), an extra weapon for the offense (WR, TE, RB) or a linebacker hybrid (won’t always be on the field and could be a LB/S or a LB/LEO).

A case can certainly be made for continuing to invest in the offensive line and nobody would argue if, like the Cowboys, they simply keep spending their high picks on the O-line. However, it’s worth noting:

a.) This is looking like a really weak class at offensive tackle

b.) The interior O-line looks set

c.) They just spent a third round pick on Rees Odhiambo who figures into their long term planning plus they appear to be enamoured with the potential of George Fant

None of this prevents them from spending a high pick on an offensive tackle — but look at the thin options. Cam Robinson has character red flags and Mike McGlinchey recently revealed he intends to stay at Notre Dame in 2017.

If you’re pinning your hopes on another high pick for the O-line next Spring, you might want to hope other players emerge in the second half of the college football season.

Strengths of the draft at the moment

This is potentially a tremendous class for defensive backs — a sublime class. The group of safety’s are headlined by the likes of Jabrill Peppers, Malik Hooker, Justin Evans, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. All could end up with top-20 grades with Budda Baker also in the equation. My personal favourite is Ohio State’s Hooker. His range and playmaking ability is reminiscent of Earl Thomas at Texas. That’s no over-exaggeration.

In the modern NFL teams are desperately looking for deep cover safety’s that can do what Thomas does in Seattle and Hooker could easily land in the top-10 as a consequence. Teams are also looking for players that can operate in a similar role to Deone Bucannon and Peppers and Maye look like potential candidates for that. Adams and Evans (plus Washington’s Baker) look like more traditional safety’s.

At cornerback there’s also a cluster of potential first round picks. Tennessee’s Cam Sutton is a tremendous talent while Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey has everything — size, speed, length, physicality. The two Florida cornerbacks could go early (Tabor & Wilson) while Clemson’s Cordea Tankersley, Virginia Tech’s Brandon Facyson, LSU’s Tre’Davious White and Washington’s Sidney Jones are all really good prospects.

It’s also shaping up to be a very intriguing class for front seven players on defense. At the top end you’ve got the likes of Myles Garrett and Tim Williams. Carl Lawson and Derek Barnett are two other EDGE types who could go early while Illinois’ Dawuane Smoot plays like he’s shot out of a cannon and Michigan’s Taco Charlton doesn’t just have a great name — he also plays with great quickness at DE or OLB.

There are DE/DT types in Jonathan Allen, Malik McDowell, Demarcus Walker and Caleb Brantley. If you want a nose tackle, Greg Gaines at Washington is just explosive and might declare if his stock continues to rise as a redshirt sophomore and Lowell Lotulelei isn’t the same pass rusher as his brother Star but he’s tough to move and soaks up double teams.

Linebacker will also provide some options — including Alabama’s Reuben Foster, Florida duo Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis, Washington’s Akeem Victor and Iowa’s Josey Jewell.

These are just the names at the top of the board too. There’s likely to be depth deep down the line, including guys like Ole Miss LB/DE Marquis Haynes and Texas A&M DE/DT Daeshon Hall.

This would tend to suggest it’s a defensive draft — but aside from the lack of resources on the O-line there’s also some really nice depth at running back, receiver and tight end.

Thoughts on the running back position

If the team picking first overall selected Leonard Fournette — I don’t think anyone should complain. He is that good. In fact he’s been so good for so long it almost feels like people are trying to fight it now and find reasons to knock him (a slight ankle injury being the latest example).

Fournette is special. You just don’t see many human beings with his combination of size and explosive athleticism. He is virtually the perfect running back. Plus he has the character and maturity to be an instant face of the franchise and a leader. Teams will have nightmares game-planning to stop him. He is the Julio Jones or J.J. Watt of running backs.

I suspect, at the moment, that there are only two other backs with first round potential — Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey.

Cook’s burst is exceptional and he takes advantage of the smallest crease to make big gains. He won’t be a tone-setting, physical up-the-gut runner but he can be a chunk-play specialist similar to Jamaal Charles.

McCaffrey gives off the vibe of a football junky — a guy who just loves the game. He’s a sudden running back with great patience in the backfield. He will make people miss and does a good job turning probable short gains into big chunks of yardage. Both Cook and McCaffrey are a threat catching the ball but need to work on their pass protection to become complete RB’s.

Personally I think Oregon’s Royce Freeman is a little overrated. He has a nice collection of skills but I’m always slightly wary of finesse bigger backs. He’s 5-11 and 230lbs but he’s not a pounder and not always a great short-yardage back. He’s best working in space but at the next level does he have the speed and quickness to be as effective?

If we’re talking bigger backs I prefer Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine. He can be reckless with his body and he’s been banged up — but he shows tremendous power and balance with a 5-11 234lbs frame. He’s quick for that size too and can make big gains. He doesn’t shy away from contact would be a nice addition to a stable of backs lacking some genuine bulk.

We’ve talked about his team mate Joe Mixon — an exceptional athlete (possibly the most explosive back not called Leonard Fournette) but with major character flags.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara isn’t a big RB but he’s an absolute warrior — as we saw in the Texas A&M game last weekend. Whoever gets this guy is going to struggle to keep him off the field. NC State’s Matt Dayes is similarly underrated with a smaller, compact, squatty frame with a low centre of gravity and the ability to eat up space quickly and win 1v1 contests with leverage. He’ll fight for extra yards, makes really nice cuts at the second level and he could be a mid-round gem.

I spent some time watching BYU’s Jamaal Williams today. He’s a really busy running back — keeps his feet moving and finds improbable ways to escape from a packed box to break off runs. He’s a decent athlete but not an outstanding, sudden runner. He’s been at BYU since 2012 and has suffered some injuries. As a day three value pick he could be worth monitoring. Nice personality.

And then there’s Nick Chubb (the last I will talk about here, but not the last one in a deep class overall). He’s bounced back well from a horrific knee injury a year ago and he’s the heart and soul of the Georgia offense. He still plays with great physicality and while maybe the burst isn’t completely back to 100% — he looks like a Frank Gore type for the next level. Gore was a mid-round pick after also suffering a big injury in college. Chubb might have the same fate and ultimately the same success.

Tomorrows schedule

I only have access to three games over the weekend — NC State @ Clemson (watch Matt Dayes), Ohio State @ Wisconsin (watch Malik Hooker) and Alabama @ Tennessee (watch the long list of ‘Bama prospects and Alvin Kamara). For some reason they’re not showing the Alabama/Tennessee game until Sunday. There will be an open thread as usual to discuss what you’re watching.


  1. Volume12

    Great piece Rob. Love these.

    On a side note, hoping Bam Bam is good to go on Sunday. Sounds like Clark probably is.

    • East Side Stevie

      Who would you rather have an a injury linger on throughout the season? In my opinion I would rather it be bam bam than clark. I would hate to see clark struggle with injury every week and hamstrings can be bad about not going away. In other words I am more comfortble letting frank sit this week as a precaution because if he plays then theres a chance that the next four or five games he is on the injury list every week and we are constantly biting our finger nails worrying about him. If he plays its not like its going to get any better it will be the same thing every week. Bam Bam has been in the league a lot longer so he is use to playing hurt and I can live with him being hurt for four or five games because how young and how much depth we have in our DB’s especially when we have some DB’s that can play Corner and safety, that gives us a lot of flexibility there. Flexibillity that our D Line doesnt have. Our D line isnt old but its a lot older than our depth in the secondary those older guys break down a lot easier so sitting clark makes more sense than sitting Bam Bam because his style of play probably contributes to injury but I doubt we will sit both we may not even sit either of them.

      • Volume12

        I actually think the depth on the D-line is better than the secondary.

        Marsh can be a good replacement for Clark. And McCray’s a good backup too, but he doesn’t bring that versatility and intimidation factor that Chancellor does. Other than McCray, who’s our backups that would be ready? Especially at CB.

        I’d be more worried over a groin injury than a hammy, but that’s just me.

        However, I get where your coming from.

        • East Side Stevie

          I will admit that I over shot the idea of our secondary having depth just because we have names on the roster that play secondary but come to think of it those players have little to know experience so that doesn’t technically count as depth. But within three years if the young guys develop like Sherman and chancellor and lane and shead developed its going to be scary good isn’t it. On another note what position do you think is thinner at the moment our D line or Secondary and I am basing the term thinner in terms of 2017 draft needs because after all I am more interested in knowing what positions we need to draft in 2017

  2. East Side Stevie

    I hope Josey Jewell falls to us in the second. I say this because a lot of people will over look Iowa and wont want to take anyone from Iowa in the first round, but as for the second or third round I think Josey Jewell and Desmond King could go in either of these rounds. I like both King and Jewell but I do not think Seattle will like Desmonds size he is a smaller corner but he is a baller.

  3. Volume12

    Isn’t LB Mike Morgan an UFA too?

    Rob, what are your thoughts on A&M S Armani Watts, and the 2 Ohio St CB’s Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore?

    • lil'stink

      Speaking of MikeMo, it looks like KPL will start in his place this weekend. While base down SAM isn’t likely to see a ton of snaps against ATL, it will be interesting to see how he does.

  4. JT

    If Michael continues to stay healthy and play at a high level, he could easily take the money and run in the off-season. In that case the Hawks will almost certainly hit RB again in the 2017 draft, with the only other promising RB’s on the roster being the incredibly injure-prone & young duo of Rawls & Prosise. It’s impossible to tell with any certainty at this point, but RB could be a position they draft early next draft.

  5. Volume12

    I really like Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle. Was reading something the other day that said scouts love being around this guy.

    • East Side Stevie

      I just haven’t bought into us drafting another tight end. I know Rob mocked Evan Ingram to us in the first round and I like Engram I think he is a first round talent but I don’t want us to take a Tight End in the first, or maybe even in the entire draft if Im being brutally honest, because we will have less draft picks this year then we have had since maybe 2009 Im not sure about the past drafts to much but any way. Im not the expert Rob is I just don’t see the need and you could argue just adding an offensive weapon in general is the way to go in the 1st round and some might think Engram fills that void and I think that’s what Rob was thinking when he mocked Engram to us but I would argue that if we are going to add an offensive weaopon in the 1st round it needs to be a Running Back. Don’t get me wrong here Vol, I like sprinkle in fact I like the whole Arkansas football team not in a sense that I think they are loaded with draft prospects but as an actual fan level I like them, a lot of kids in my area that are a couple years older than me at my school go off to Arkansas after they graduate its becoming the place to be in College at my school which is cool. But I would rather us draft offensive line, Defense in general and running back. I think its very possible we re sign Wilson and Williams because if Graham is back like we think he is then we aren’t going to even be playing that many tight ends other then Grahams back up. If we don’t resign Williams or Wilson then Tight End would become a need though.

  6. Greg Haugsven

    What’s people’s thoughts on Ifedi sliding out to RT next year and Odiambo starting at RG? Flying up from Sacramento to watch the game Sunday, very excited.

    • Kenny Sloth

      I prefer to keep him at Guard if possible. He played it in high school. It’s his best fit. Unless we’re trying him at LT I want him to stay where he is and become an all-time great.

      Best case scenario.

      But obviously the coaches value his versatility and will undoubtedly try him at RT if not LT depending on how things shake out. He really is that athletic

    • cha

      I have faith Ifedi could do it, but if the Hawks feel as good with Glow-Britt-Ifedi in the interior as they appear to, that might a consideration to leave Ifedi at RG and build some continuity.

      • Greg Haugsven

        I agree with the continuity in the middle three, I do belie e in building this thing from the inside out, but then what to do with Odiambo? I don’t think he would move to one of the tackle spots.

  7. icb12

    Watching the BYU game.

    Anybody else see #44 on Mississippi st kneeing players when they are down?
    Got tagged with a targeting that was overturned.. but I’ve seen him knee a guy on the ground at least three times now.

  8. Kenny Sloth

    Vol you’ve gotta check out Andreas Knappe right tackle for UConn. He’s 6’8 320 so he’s got the length and weight we want and he really likes to fight in the trenches. He does well at the second level.

    Needs to improve his punch and pad level and footwork

    Definitely a top one to watch, but I still think we take 6’10 dude from Arkansas

    • EranUngar

      Dan Skipper is indeed one to watch. He should be available on day 2.

      Team needs are not easy to predict at this point of the season. If Kam will miss multiple games this year too and come charging to collect before his final year, we may be tempted to trade him, free 7M and go SS early. If the pass rush looks lame without one of the Clark/Avril/Bennett trio on field, an EDGE may be a top need. The OL is always an issue and we are still without a viable RB solution for 2017.

      Hopefully, it all works as good as we hope deep into the season allowing us a luxury BPA pick in the late first/early 2nd round.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Check out Temples LT Dion Dawkins. Very clean

  9. elliottatk

    We need to resign Hauschka, he’s such a great kicker.

  10. Ukhawk

    Taco Charlton is such a great shout. Top five under-the-radar guy who was out early in the season due to injury and looked great in his first (?) game back vs Rutgers (but it was Rutgers) – see draftbreakdown. Love his length, stoutness vs run and burst once he gets past his man makes me wonder if he can be a 5 or a poor mans Malik McDowell if he bulked up?

    Smoot looked great vs Indiana on tape.

    Still feel Chubb is rare and would be an absolute must have if he did go post-R1. Unlike Cook or McCafferty (even on a recovering knee and lacking top-end burst), he is exceptional running inside & pounding the rock and either to gain the tough 2-3-4 yards the Hawks would value on early downs or to break away for a big gain. To me he is a best combo of Michael & Rawls.

    • Ukhawk

      Correction, Charlton is 6’6′ 272lbs!

  11. Ukhawk

    Correction 2 Smoot vs Nebraska not Indiana

  12. D-OZ

    Love me some Smoot. Underrated so far?

  13. 503Hawk

    After navigating some tough D-lines last four weeks, now it’s our D’s turn. They will really be tested w/ some powerful, dynamic offenses for the better part of the next 9 games. It will be interesting to see how things shake out. Is this D as close to 2013? Injuries will obviously play a large part, but I also wonder about ET & Kam’s play this year. Certainly they both still have years left in their careers, but both seem “off” this year. Conversely, Wagner seems to be having a great start this year. As much as I like Shead I think he will be exposed down the stretch. Love his heart, but seems to trail WRs on deep routes quite often.
    Next year; DT, EDGE, RB, and real developmental QB. Hindsight, but can you imagine if we had spent our R3 comp on Dak?! I wish that PC/JS would have spent more capital on such QBs. What round was Garoppolo taken? He’s going to fetch NE some nice picks.
    Enjoy your weekend of football.

    • ]Ben-Ft. Worth TX

      I had Dak rated #1 on my big board last year over everyone. I’m a hard core LSU fan, and everytime we played Miss St., I’d tell my wife, that kid reminds me of Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor. I wanted him so bad at 3 instead of Rees. So sad he fell to the Cowboys. Now I have the Dallas and Seattle predicted in the NFC Championship game.

  14. Al U

    I think at this stage that if there are no excellent o-linemen to draft that i want the Hawks to prioritize getting our next strong safety. Bearing in mind that Chancellor was a back up to Milloy for his first season, i think i’d like to get an potentially great replacement for Kam asap to step into the starting spot in 2018, if not 2017. As much as I love Kam, I can’t help but think that his best days are behind him and that it would be prudent to make plans for the future at the position.

    • FKA_Mousecop

      Especially with McCray still on the team. I think he’s starting material, and wouldn’t make the mistakes he made on Sunday if he got #1 snaps. With him as a fall back I wouldn’t mind Chancellor leaving from a logical point of view, but he’s been my favorite player since he got here so I’d be quite upset.

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