There’s been a bit of time since the combine and I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about a collection of players who either stood out or could be on Seattle’s radar.
Antoine Winfield Jr (S, Minnesota)
There are reportedly some injury concerns with Winfield but everything else screams high draft pick. He ran a 4.45 and jumped a 36 inch vertical. His field drills were among the best by any prospect in Indianapolis:
He had seven interceptions in 2019. I’m not sure the Seahawks will look for a player like this after acquiring Quandre Diggs. However, they’ve placed a high value on production as we saw when they drafted Tedric Thompson despite his moderate physical profile. He’s a superb player with a great attitude and NFL bloodlines and could easily sneak into the first frame or top-45.
Josh Metellus (S, Michigan)
The safety group ended the combine with a flourish. Metellus looked extremely comfortable in backpedal, transition and locating the football:
He was handpicked by John Harbaugh to be one of Michigan’s 2019 captains. He plays with the kind of attitude and personality Seattle tends to like with great tackling consistency and a fierceness in run support. The Seahawks already have a lot of safeties on their roster so we’ll see how keen they are to add more. Metellus just looks like a dude, he moved well at the combine and could be a day three find.
Nick Harris (C, Washington)
Harris had an excellent field drill performance at the combine. Shaun O’Hara and Joe Thomas loved his workout, in particular his mirror drill:
A lot of people picked up on Harris’ struggles at the Senior Bowl in 1v1 drills. Yet when we spoke to Jim Nagy on the podcast, he noted the test is weighted in favour of the defensive linemen. Harris played well during the game and in scrimmages. He has the attitude Seattle likes, the personality that will fit in their culture. He’s athletic and tenacious. Don’t be surprised if the Seahawks like him a lot more than the media and isolate a part of the draft where they’ll target him.
Shane Lemieux (G, Oregon)
Nothing stood out about Lemieux’s testing. His vertical and broad were unspectacular. His three cone and short shuttle were poor. He has short arms (32 1/4). However — I loved his tape. He’s physical, gets after defensive linemen and really takes it to an opponent. He energised the rest of Oregon’s O-line with some highlight-reel blocks, including hip-tossing an Auburn lineman early in the season opener. During field drills I thought he looked fluid, loose and he moved really well — which was surprising considering his agility testing was so off:
He ticks a lot of boxes for Seattle — leadership, run blocking, intelligence. It’ll just be a case of how much they can look beyond a non-ideal physical profile but he looks like a high value mid-round pick.
Cam Akers (RB, Florida State)
Akers had a ‘wow’ workout at the combine. He just looked so quick and sudden. His feet are incredible. They had a new footwork drill where the players had to step in and out of some pads at speed. Akers looked like he was performing ‘riverdance’:
His change of direction and explosion is obvious. He’s right in Seattle’s wheelhouse at 5-10 and 217lbs plus a 35.5 inch vertical. I think he’s going to go earlier than people recognise. The Seahawks need to add a runner and they probably need a runner like this to compliment Chris Carson. Don’t fall off your chair if they take Akers at the back end of round two.
Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
The forty yard dash for tight ends is massively overrated. Here are some times to consider:
Rob Gronkowski — 4.68
Hunter Henry — 4.66
T.J. Hockenson — 4.70
Zach Ertz — 4.76
Travis Kelce — 4.61
Will Dissly — 4.87
Jordan Reed — 4.72
Hunter Bryant ran a 4.74 and a lot of people gave up on him there and then. I hope the NFL feels the same way because he has Jordan Reed level potential as a move tight end. There is one test that consistently correlates with quality tight end play and that’s the three cone. We’ve already identified the time Seattle focuses on. They’ve only added tight ends who run faster than a 7.10. Here’s the list above and their three cone times:
Rob Gronkowski — 7.18
Hunter Henry — 7.16
T.J. Hockenson — 7.02
Zach Ertz — 7.08
Travis Kelce — 7.09
Will Dissly — 7.08
Jordan Reed — DNP
Hunter Bryant ran an excellent 7.08. That’s why he’s capable of being an excellent tight end at the next level. That’s why he’s likely to be on Seattle’s radar. In comparison, Cole Kmet ran a 7.44 three cone. They traded for Jacob Hollister a year ago to try and add a move-TE compliment to join Ed Dickson and Will Dissly. They could target Bryant in round two to pair with Greg Olsen and Dissly in 2020.
Hakeem Adeniji (G, Kansas)
During the Senior Bowl I spoke a few times about how impressive Adeniji looked. Then at the combine he was second only to Tristan Wirfs in TEF, showing to be a truly explosive lineman with major upside. The Seahawks love linemen that have played multiple positions. Adeniji has experience at tackle and guard and he’s taken snaps in practise. He’s been extremely durable in his career, he has 34 inch arms, he’s in terrific shape with minimal bad weight. He’s the type of player you bring in and let him get after it. He could be an option in the third or fourth round.
Kyle Dugger (S, Lenoir-Rhyne)
There was a moment where Dugger threatened to gatecrash the first round. He touted the possibility of a 4.3 forty but only delivered a 4.49. He still jumped a 42 inch vertical and an 11-2 broad.
He’s not the most fluid mover. There’s a little bit of stiffness as he changes direction. Dugger is such an alpha though and he has major special teams value. He could be developed to play linebacker or safety. He’s shown tremendous grit to succeed at a small school and even get to the combine. He’s exactly the type of character they love to bring in. His combine testing, however, suggests he needs some work and adjustment. That could temper his stock, making him a more realistic target later than he was recently being projected.
Willie Gay Jr (LB, Mississippi State)
We’ve been talking about Gay Jr since mid-way through the 2018 season. He flashed so many times when studying Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat. His 2019 season was a waste for various reasons that’ll need investigating. When he’s actually on the field though — for me he’s a first round talent:
He’s sensational in coverage, he constantly flies around and makes plays. We know the Seahawks target linebackers who either run a sub-4.1 short shuttle or test through the roof overall. Gay Jr is a 149 SPARQ athlete. If he falls due to the 2019 issues, he could provide a mid-round steal. I sense his stock will rise in draft rooms after the combine though.
Jeremy Chinn (S, Southern Illinois)
A year ago Jim Nagy referred to Marquise Blair as a Seahawks type of player when he was discussing the 2019 Senior Bowl. This year, he compared Chinn to Kam Chancellor in terms of physique. You don’t see Bam Bam on tape at all — but Chinn is 6-3, 221lbs and looks an imposing figure. I thought he moved very well for his size during field drills:
He ran a superb 4.45 and jumped a 41 inch vertical plus an 11-6 broad. Nagy has since suggested he could go in round two. That might be a bit rich for the Seahawks but he’s another guy who just looks the part, has tested like a pro and he’s someone coaches will love to try and develop.
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
There’s very little to say about Taylor that’s new but I had to bring him up again. He has everything the Seahawks look for in terms of size and explosive testing. He’s a terrific character. He says he wants to play for the Seahawks. I think they’d love to have him — but after running a 4.39 it’s hard to see him getting out of round one.
Jabari Zuniga (DE, Florida)
A year ago we were mocking Zuniga at the end of round one to Seattle. Then he chose to return to Florida rather than declare for the draft. His 2019 season was plagued by an ankle injury. That said — he’s basically the only dynamic EDGE who tested at the combine. He ran a 1.61 10-yard split which is good at 264lbs.
He’s explosive and has baseball mitts for hands. He looks the part of a classic defensive end. Every now and again a good pass rusher lasts into round three and everyone wonders how it happened three or four years down the line. That could be Zuniga in this draft. He didn’t have a great Senior Bowl though.
Jonathan Greenard (DE, Florida)
He was a fun player to watch in 2019. There are concerns about a wrist injury. It was also well reported prior to the combine that he wasn’t going to run a great forty (he ran a 4.87). Even so — he had some really good agility testing at 263lbs with a 7.13 three cone and a 4.34 short shuttle. Seattle places great value in those tests. Greenard’s short shuttle is in the same ballpark as Rasheem Green and Sam Hubbard — two players they seemingly liked in 2018. He also has vines for arms (35 inches) and has outstanding character and tenacity. He’s an alpha. He was the emotional leader for Florida. Depending on how you view the injury he could either be a second rounder or a mid-round option who gives you a really good chance to get a quality contributor at a good price.
Matt Peart (T, Connecticut)
I’ve seen the tape and it’s not great. There’s a lot of things he needs to work on. However, the coaches speak very highly of him during interviews. He has experience at right tackle. He’s 6-7, 318lbs and has nearly 37 inch arms. He ran a great 5.06 forty and he scored a 3.08 in TEF. There are traits to work with here as a day three project. If nothing else, he could be a nice swing-tackle option replacing George Fant if he departs.
Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
I was banging the drum for Ruiz throughout the 2019 season and he delivered a tremendous performance at the combine. He’s perfectly sized to play center with extreme explosive traits (3.25 TEF score). He has the +33 inch arms, he ran a 5.08 forty. He looked highly athletic during field drills:
We know the Seahawks like Michigan players. He lost his father at a young age and has had to battle for a NFL career. I can’t believe he gets out of the top-25 in round one. If he does, just draft him.
Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
To me he just screams prototype Seahawks right tackle. He’s massive (6-6, 350lbs) but none of it is bad weight. He looks like a new Terminator, sent back in time to blow up the left side of a defensive line. He finished second only to Tristan Wirfs in weighted TEF — meaning he’s basically the second best combination of size and traits on the O-line in this draft class.
He dominates in the run game and along with Andrew Thomas, helped create the best pair of blind-side pass protectors in college football. The Seahawks will be lucky if he gets to #27.
Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
There are so many receivers we could talk about but I feel like we’ve covered the class a lot. I want to re-focus on Reagor. His 4.47 was slower than expected but it’s still in Seattle’s 4.4-or-faster range. It’s his explosive testing that makes the difference for me. His ability to go up and get the football is so evident on tape and his 42 inch vertical totally matches what you see in games. He’s that downfield, chunk play threat Seattle loves and he could be an option at #27 if he lasts that long.
Curtis Weaver (DE, Boise State)
I’ve already written about Weaver in more detail this week so I won’t go over old ground too much. He might not look like a prototype rusher and certainly his lack of length could be a turn-off for Seattle. However — his short shuttle (4.27) at his size (265lbs) is comparable to some of the top pass rushers in the league and his pressure percentage and pass rush win percentage are among the best in the draft. The Seahawks need pure pass rushers and that’s what Weaver is — albeit in unconventional packaging. I think he’s a possible second or third round pick.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, LSU)
A word of caution — there won’t be a single article between now and April where I don’t take any sniff of an opportunity to write about CEH. Forget the 4.60 forty. He jumped a 39.5 inch vertical and that matters a lot more. He’s a highly explosive, incredibly physical, team-energising runner. The kind Seattle loves in terms of playing style. He’s not their typical type given his lack of size but I can’t remember seeing a more natural route-runner at running back.
The Seahawks need someone who can move the chains and score points. That’s Edwards-Helaire. Whoever gets him will land an absolute gem. For me he’s a top-40 lock but if he lasts beyond that you’re getting a steal.
Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
We’ve talked about Seattle’s long search for their own version of Calais Campbell. It’s still on-going. Davis tested in a very similar way to Campbell at the combine and his ability to stack blockers, play with great leverage despite his size and flash athleticism is freaky and warrants attention. I thought his field work was excellent too. Look how he turned the corner on the final bag below (and remember he’s 6-6 and 311lbs):
A lot of players on this list are ‘grown men’ types. Davis is a physically intimidating presence. The Seahawks have lacked some of that on their D-line since Michael Bennett’s departure and the days of Tony McDaniel eating up the interior. Jarran Reed provides an edge but he missed a chunk of the 2019 season. Davis alongside Reed in 2020 would be a nice look (or Calais Campbell, if the Jags are feeling generous).
There are a lot more players I could add to this list. Austin Jackson is the type of explosive, athletic offensive lineman they like to develop. I think he’s going to go in the top-20. Matt Hennessy and John Simpson both had great combines. Damien Lewis had an explosive workout before getting hurt during drills. There are a whole bunch of receivers we could discuss — including Denzel Mims, K.J. Hamler, Bryan Edwards (who could provide real value and looks like a Seahawk) and Justin Jefferson. Rashard Lawrence played with fire at LSU. And Julian Okwara will be one to monitor when he eventually has his pro-day.
This was simply a collection of players I wanted to talk about today that either enhanced their stock or could be on Seattle’s radar.
There are a several alpha types on the list. That could be a focus for the Seahawks this year. John Schneider famously said a few years ago they want to go back to being the bully. They never truly got back to that. There could be a chance this year.
Elsewhere today, it was confirmed the Seahawks have received comp picks in rounds three, four and six. Meanwhile, they’ve also promoted Dave Canales to passing game coordinator and appointed Austin Davis as quarterbacks coach (per Albert Breer). I interviewed Davis nine years ago when he was at Southern Miss. It’s great to see him enjoy a NFL career both as a player and now as a coach in Seattle.
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