Further thoughts on Seattle’s 2013 draft

I was going to write a post for the Seahawks draft in a similar style to the other NFC West draft writeups, but I didn’t get far in before I started to realize that it read like a re-run.  So instead, I’m just going to throw up a few quick additional thoughts that I didn’t express in my immediate post draft reaction.

Spencer Ware is a player I really want to see make it here long term

I don’t know if Spencer Ware is going to make our roster, but I really hope he does.  The more I researched him after the draft the more impressed I became.  Ware has speed that I’d compare to Justin Forsett, but more than makes up for it with Marshawn Lynch type agility and outstanding resilience/balance on contact.  If Seattle has ever drafted someone worthy of a Marshawn Lynch comp, it’s Spencer Ware.  For one game at least, Matt Waldman once opined that Spencer Ware was a better back than his then teammate Stevan Ridley.  Stevan Ridley, the guy who just rushed for 1200+ yards in New England last year.

Ware probably won’t make the team as a traditional running back, but can you imagine if he became a quality fullback with that kind of versatility as a pass catcher and runner?  It’s a lot of fun to think about.  Especially in Seattle’s offense where the fullback is a versatile position and is a major part of the offensive game plan, even in the passing game.

I hope Seattle doesn’t rule out Ware as a runner, either.  If given a chance to carry the football, I could see him as being a slower yet more elusive version of Chris Ivory.

Seattle didn’t draft a kicker

For the second straight offseason, the Seahawks let Steven Hauschka twist in the wind during free agency before eventually signing him to a cheap one year deal.  The Seahawks waited so long that I began to wonder if the draft might have been “plan A” for the kicker position.  In a surprise move, Seattle signed Hauschka back just a few days before the draft, then didn’t even bother adding another kicker from the draft process.

Steven Hauschka has done a terrific job with the Seahawks.  Under fifty yards he was perfect last season:  23 for 23.  From fifty plus he was 1 for 4.  The NFL average for fifty plus is around 50%.  If Hauschka makes just one more long kick he’s at the NFL average.  You don’t have to be a statistician to know that 4 attempts is a small sample size and shouldn’t be taken all that seriously.  Tim Tebow completed 75% of his passes last season in just 8 pass attempts.  See what I mean?

Josh Brown regularly nailed 50+ yard attempts while struggling for distance on kickoffs.  Hauschka has plenty of leg on his kickoffs so I don’t think there are any physical limitations in play.  Remember too that Pete Carroll once trusted Hauschka with a 61 yard attempt to decide a game.  He failed miserably, but Pete wouldn’t have made that choice if he didn’t at least think Hauschka had a strong leg.

Some have pointed out that Seattle had a very high number of punts inside the opponent’s 40 yard line last season.  That and Hauschka’s very low number of 50 yard attempts does seem to hint at a lack of confidence, doesn’t it?  Seattle arguably lost a game last season (at Rams) because of the difference in kicker range, and that game would have been the difference between a wildcard and a bye.  Amazing how little things add up, isn’t it?

Those concerns are fully valid, though I think it has more to do with Pete Carroll’s new found conservative approach to decision making.  “Big Balls Pete” has been burned more than a few times, and every time it happens he becomes more and more hesitant to take chances.  Statisticians frequently point out that going for 4th downs is actually a very smart thing, and I can’t imagine that opting for a punt at the 35 yard line is ever optimal as a long term approach.

Pete Carroll’s position is as secure as it gets in the NFL right now- I think it’s time he put his fears behind him and brought “Big Balls Pete” back.  Ironically, it’s that overly conservative trait that has helped Hauschka remain in Seattle.  Going 23-23 from under fifty goes a long way for a coach that progressively seems to be more and more risk averse.

The Seahawks are a great team with high expectations, and in my opinion Steven Hauschka deserves to be our kicker.  Given his phenomenal short range accuracy, distance on kickoffs, and small sample size on long kicks, I see plenty of evidence that suggest he could be a good kicker from longer range in the future, should the team put more trust in him.  Seattle needs to punt less from inside the forty, but I think that’s a lot more on Pete’s shoulders than Hauschka’s.

No quarterback was drafted and no quarterback was added from the post-draft process

Nothing shocked me more than hearing John Schneider casually mention during a post-draft press conference that the team had decided to not draft any quarterback this year, and that decision was made before the draft took place.  That’s pretty crazy when you consider Seattle’s current backup situation and the kind of value that fell into day three (and undrafted free agency) for the position.  Now we know why Seattle kept passing on Matt Scott and others.

For a guy that came from Green Bay, where they preach drafting a quarterback every year, John Schneider has been anything but.  Sure, he’s stocked up on quarterbacks, but nearly all of them came from trade or free agency.  The only quarterback to actually be drafted during this regime is Russell Wilson.

So I guess the next question is “why?”  The most logical answer is that they really like their current group of young veteran backups.

Brady Quinn has been a terrible NFL quarterback, but he’s also a former 1st round pick and isn’t without talent.  Seattle briefly brought in former 1st round pick JP Losman in 2010 who was a similar story.  They courted former first round pick Matt Leinart and allegedly had discussions behind closed doors regarding former 1st round pick Tim Tebow.  They went hard after Chad Henne last year.  Henne just missed being a first rounder.  So I think in Seattle’s mind, they are always looking for quarterbacks with talent, even if they were miserable washouts elsewhere.  I imagine that Blaine Gabbert’s agent will probably get a call from Seattle in the next few years.

While I hate missing out on Matt Scott, I also appreciate that he is a highly injury prone player who played at just 210 pounds.  He’d be a big risk for injury every time Seattle ran a read option play.  Jerrod Johnson offers a similar package of mobility and arm talent in a body that’s 40 (!) pounds heavier.  Johnson had a terrific junior season before crapping the bed in his final year at Texas A&M.  And though he only threw 21 passes last preseason, those 21 passes added up for a preseason YPA of 11.2 and a preseason passer rating of 136.2.  His lowest passer rating in any of those appearances was 118.8.  This was a small sample size compounded by preseason competition, but it’s not nothing.

And he’s only a year older than Josh Portis.  Imagine how we’d react if Josh Portis had  been that impressive last preseason.

Johnson gives a surprisingly good interview as well.  He may not have a ton of future trade potential, but I don’t see why he couldn’t be at least another T-Jack.

That leaves us with Josh Portis, who kind of got railroaded by a quarterback competition last year that left him almost no reps and threw him into a Raiders game with nowhere near adequate preparation.  I think the staff took the lesson of last preseason to heart and decided that four preseason quarterbacks is enough.  That might have been a factor in the decision to not draft a quarterback as well.

Other thoughts

I get that Seattle wants to get Jesse Williams on the field this season, but giving him the Alan Branch role is not going to end well and given Pete’s willingness to adapt I suspect it will only be temporary.  Jesse Williams is a fantastic run defender but has short arms and showed essentially zero pass rush ability in college.  He’s a pure nose tackle, and should be used as such.  That said, he has the tools to replace Red Bryant as the run defense 5-tech specialist, and quite honestly I think that’s the politically incorrect reason that they actually drafted him for.  Going out and announcing such right now in the open would be bad for relations with Red Bryant and given his leadership role on the defense it could cause locker room divisions.

So I get it.  Williams will “officially” be our 3-tech until some future undetermined time that Seattle opts for a new direction with Red Bryant.  Seattle has done a good job keeping these intentions (real or not) away from the noses of the press.  Even still, I hope Williams only sees action at the 3-tech when it’s very likely to be a running play by the opponent, because those are the only plays you’ll want to see him out there barring a revelation from Dan Quinn.

Chris Harper is the one pick I just can’t get excited about.  In a way, he’s a little like Landry Jones the receiver.  Both are guys with the kind of size and physical talent to be high picks, but both have games that are so bad you wouldn’t be blamed for taking them completely off your draft board.  Chris Harper’s performance against Baylor was almost unwatchable, and it’s not like his struggles were isolated to just that one game.  He gives up on plays, stabs at the ball with poor catching technique, frequently looks clueless when the ball is in the air, fumbles often, and struggles to separate.  When I scouted him over three games the negatives overwhelmed the positives.

That said, the Seahawks know perfectly well what Harper’s issues are and they drafted him anyway.  When most other front offices do this, I’d unflinchingly call it a mistake, but when Seattle does it they always do so with a specific plan in mind for how they will address that player’s weaknesses and problems while getting the most out of his unique strengths.  Maybe their plan fails and Harper ends up a miserable bust, but you can’t say that Seattle made this pick on the seat of their pants or without knowing what they were doing.

Harper is pretty unique.  He’ll be one of the NFL’s heaviest receivers on day one, and of that list of heavy receivers, not many stand 6’1″ or less.  That bulk will help Harper defeat press attempts better than most, and given the direction the league is going, we’ll probably see a majority of teams running press coverage within a few years.  Harper wouldn’t have been my choice, but if you just wanted a guy that can beat press, Harper was the best there was in this draft class.

I really hope Tharold Simon can stay focused and motivated here in Seattle.  He wasn’t perfect at LSU by any means, but when he looked good he looked very good, and like Richard Sherman he’s got a bit of a “cocky” streak in his personality that makes him fun to watch.  John Schneider clarified that he traded up for Simon, not Williams.  Clearly, he was a player they felt they needed to get.

Last thought.  After the 2012 draft John Schneider talked about how the two players he felt he had to walk out of there with were Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson.  Recently John invoked that anecdote when discussing 5th round tight end Luke Willson, saying that Willson was the one player this year that they felt they needed to leave the draft with.  It’s not every day you hear that kind of talk for a guy that was selected 158th overall and was the backup tight end for Rice.

But you don’t find 251 pound tight ends that run a 4.51 forty every day.  Those numbers are almost identical to Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham.  And when you do find specimens like that, they usually have almost no experience or skated by on athleticism instead of intelligence.   Willson was a 3 year player at the position with some production before 2012, and he gives such a professional interview that you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a coach.

Similar to Chris Harper, Luke Willson may not be an all-world player on film, but for just one unique purpose he’s tough to beat.  Tight ends that run a 4.51 are really tough to defend and will likely force defenses to run more nickle packages.  Expect Willson to lead the team in yards per catch, because when he does get targeted, it will usually be on a deep route while being covered by a linebacker.  If Wilson finished with more than 20 catches next year, I’d be surprised.  But those catches could easily add up to 300 yards and could force defenses to make adjustments when he’s on the field.  Even if he’s not targeted, should his presence force the defense to use a nickle package or take a safety out of the box, that means Willson is adding value to Seattle’s running game.

That ability to stretch a defense matters even more with Percy Harvin on board.  Harvin’s bread and butter in the bubble screen.  Considering how much of Seattle’s offense is built around short yardage plays, it’s easy to see why such a high premium was placed on a player that can stretch the field from an area that the previous version of the team could not threaten deep from.


  1. Rob Staton

    I don’t often disagree with Kip but I do firmly believe they like Red Bryant as much as they say… and Williams at the three technique would be consistent with what they’ve done so far. Colin Cole and Alan Branch started there previously and also offered precious little pass rush on first or second down.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Red Bryant’s salary ($7 million annual average) is a problem and so is his ability to stay healthy. He’s got a $3 million roster bonus next year, which is basically a contract equivalent of a checkpoint. We already know that Seattle plans their budgets 3 years in advance, so it’s very likely they already have a good idea of who’s going to get the axe over the next few seasons. Red Bryant is the most obvious candidate on the entire team.

      Colin Cole was actually a nose tackle and Mebane played the 3-tech. That experiment ended after Carroll’s first season. Pete Carroll even said himself that he didn’t know about Mebane’s history as a terrific 1-tech and when he did find out, he moved Mebane back and ditched Cole.

      Alan Branch wasn’t a pass rushing force but he did have 5 sacks over two seasons compared to 1.5 sacks for Williams during that same time frame. If adding interior pass rush was a priority this was not the way to address it. If Seattle wants to maintain a healthy base rush, they need to limit Williams to a pure run defense role and keep those reps highly controlled, something they didn’t do for Branch and Cole and the results were the reason Seattle identified pass rush as a top priority two straight offseasons.

      • maxnote

        Remember, this is the same front office that signed him to that $7 million contract. I think they hope his dip in performance last year was due to his plantar fasciitis. Remember, this guy is essentially playing the position of a traditional 3-4 DE, so he’s never going to get a lot of sacks.

        I don’t entirely understand why our 3-tech is a guy that can’t rush the passer, but it seems like Pete’s philosophy is to have a guy there that can primarily shut down the run. Jesse Williams seems to be that kind of guy, and while he will get a chance to compete at the 5-tech, I think the most likely scenario involves him starting at the 3-tech on first and second downs.

        • Kip Earlywine

          I think the Seahawks view Bryant as an essential part of the defense. Remember, they actually got bid up substantially on Bryant by the Patriots, but matched the money anyway. Those aren’t the actions of a front office hoping to keep a good player at a reasonable price, they are the actions of a front office that can’t afford to lose a player.

          That said, as someone with the same foot condition I can tell you that it isn’t just going to go away, and Bryant was terrible last season because of that injury, as you’d expect him to be given his size. Bryant was injury prone before this latest issue too. Bryant currently owns the largest total contract on Seattle’s defense, and Jesse Williams has a very similar, if not superior, skillset.

          Pete definitely values stopping the run. But I would have thought he’d have learned by now that you can’t create pressure with just one pass rusher on 1st and 2nd downs, which is basically what he did last season. Given that Avril needs interior pressure to get sacks, a lineup of Bryant-Williams-Mebane-Avril could get ugly if the opponent decides to pass, and a little more than half the time, they will.

          • Colin

            “But I would have thought he’d have learned by now that you can’t create pressure with just one pass rusher on 1st and 2nd downs, which is basically what he did last season”

            Such beautiful words. I’m not a huge fan of the scheme for that reason- if you throw on early downs, you are going to make completions, and if Red isn’t healthy, you’re just wasting your time with style of defense.

          • Belgaron

            ‘Hawks are willing to go big on their own guys when they work hard, showing great leadership, and are great presences in the locker room. Red is one of the defining characters on defense so they made sure to keep him. He has shown to be worth it when he’s not fighting those foot injuries. They paid well for both Red and Kam for the intangibles and the effects they have on keeping the other guys driving to work as hard.

          • A. Simmons

            Be nice if either Kip or Rob could do a write up on how Carroll used Cushing and Matthews at USC. It sounds like Avril and Irvin are going to be used in a similar capacity in Seattle. Sounds like Avril will be playing more OLB while still rushing the passer. The way Pete talks about it this will be more like he wanted to do when he arrived, but couldn’t because of personnel. How does that work exactly? Will the Leo DE drop into coverage when the OLB rushes? And vice versa? Love to know how that is going to work out.

            • Chris

              I second that emotion. I’ve been curious about the Cushing-Matthews thing as well.

            • Kip Earlywine

              I’m not saying I’m going to do it- I’m very busy right now- but I just wanted to say that this was a fantastic idea for an article.

    • Other Ben

      I don’t think Cole ever started at the 3-tech. In 2010, he was the starter at the 1-tech while Mebane played 3-tech. Mebane was moved back 1-tech in 2011 (probably because he wasn’t able to produce the kind of pass-rush that they hoped to get from the 3-tech position).

      • Other Ben

        But I largely agree with the point that we haven’t looked for a lot of pass-rush from the starting 3-tech in the last 2 years while Branch had the position.

    • A. Simmons

      Glad I’m not the only one that noticed. Pete is talking about using Williams on first and second down. They’re well aware of his deficiencies at rushing the passer. Pete’s focus is on stopping the run to set up third and long. Williams playing three tech is consistent with that philosophy.

  2. Will T.

    Just curious Kip. How much of the problems you have with Harper do you see being because of his lack of experience at the position? You mention poor catching technique and issues tracking the ball. Seeing as how he was recruited to college as a QB and has only played receiver for the past couple of years, don’t you think some of his weaknesses will go away as he continues to play the position with an NFL coaching staff?

    • dave crockett

      I was thinking the same thing. I’d speculate that Seattle plans to use Harper the way they used BMW. That is to say, on hook routes, curls and go routes. Theoretically, Harper should also be a red zone threat.

      I’d bet my bottom dollar that they also value Harper’s blocking, particularly for the bubble screen and smoke screen game they like so much. Harper blocked a LOT at K-State.

    • Chris

      Nah, man. His hands are classy. He has some of the classiest hands around.

      • pqlqi

        He was misquoted. Carroll said his hands are glassy, you know, a nice manicure with nails polished up to a high glass like sheen. Sheesh

  3. Clayton

    Just wanted to get your thoughts on Tony McDaniel. Seattle signed him to a fairly cheap contract, so I’m wondering… is he the defensive tackle version of Barrett Ruud in case Bobby Wagner failed last year, or does Seattle have plans for him? Both Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill do not have McDaniels’ size at 6’7″.

    • Kip Earlywine

      I wish I could answer that. All I know about McDaniel is that PFF likes him as a pass rusher. McDaniel was stuck behind two pretty good DTs in Miami so it’s possible he could be a hidden gem. He’s definitely on the short list of players to closely monitor in August, I think.

      • Belgaron

        They have to load up with some depth especially when injuries like Scruggs are always an unfortunate possibility. They hope to have a good problem in having a guy good enough to be tradable if they have too many for final cuts. There will be teams looking and ‘Hawks don’t mind adding more 5th round picks (or even 7th rounders for that matter now that UDFAs are afraid to come to Seattle).

  4. Ely

    Bryce Harper would have been awesome if we were talking about a Mariners draft pick but unfourtunately On Chris Harper I have to agree with you Kip. I just didn’t see it watching his game tape. Although I am hoping to be surprised there but how much can you attribute to poor QB play? Granted Klien was awful and the upgrade with Wilson will be significant but I just didn’t see the gamer in Harper. Quiting on plays and giving up on balls that were eventually intercepted is inexcusable to me. I get the idea that he is raw and a 240lb reciever gives the Hawks a type of reciever they don’t currently have. Here is hoping Pete can work his magic with a piece of clay that has some serious potential. How much more awesome would it be to have Swope instead though?

    • Kip Earlywine

      Klein was awful and there were some plays where I felt he put Harper in a no-win situation. That doesn’t mean I’m going to overlook the fact that Harper wasn’t fighting for the ball on those sloppy passes, though. Even Russell Wilson has throws where he needs help from his receivers.

      Everything that’s wrong with Harper is fixable, it’s just that there is a lot to fix. Golden Tate was a similar case not too long ago. I think as much as anything, that pick was a testament to Pete Carroll’s confidence in Kippy Brown.

      • Belgaron

        They ranked Tate as a 1st round talent, I think they expected him to “arrive” a little earlier than he did but it has definitely worked out.

      • Eran Ungar

        As a volleyball coach i can tell you that once a setter is inaccurate in his ball placing it will effect all spikers in the way they commit to their spikes and cause them to play poorly even when the ball is set perfectly.

        Harper was a convert from QB without the “years on the job” playing for a run first the run second team with a very poor QB to add. That type of dynamic day in and day out…in practice and in games will have an effect of a WR.

        The question for our FO is not what he did in that system but what traits does he bring to be utilized in a new system. From what i hear after the rookie weekend – He hands seem to have miraculously improved and his physical attributes show on the field.

        And in the true JSPC attitude – We are drafting WRs to play for Russel Wilson. Does he always run after totally and horrendously thrown balls is not high on his anticipated task list. Can he use his big body to place himself in a position to be thrown at and can he make the contested catch when it does are high on that list. It seems that he can.

        Isn’t it great that what you see about him was clear for all to see for all and he was available late when they wanted him ?

        Like i said before – If JSPC drafted my 80 year old mother to play DT she will probably show a mean and nasty attitude we never knew she had, an amazing bull rush and would play 2 gap with ease.

        • Robert

          Good Post. PC gave Him Rave Reviews. I AmExcited About His Upside As A Big Bodied High Pointer, Kinda Like Boldon. With RW’s AccuracyAndMobility, He WillBe OpenOn Nearly Every Play, A GreatPossession WR!

          • Robert

            Sorry…My SMART phone Makes Me Look Illiterate…

            • shams

              Nope, just in love with title case. 🙂

    • dave crockett

      On Swope: the scuttlebutt seems to be that he has concussion issues. Having watched a good many aTm games, that does not surprise me at all. Swope gives you a lot to like, but one major minus is that for all his athleticism he is surprisingly not elusive. He took a great many full-on shots in college, an uncommon amount for a WR. Sure, he sticks his nose into a lot of places but you’d expect more wiggle from a guy who is so quick, has deep speed, and is so precise with his routes.

      • Kip Earlywine

        He dished out a lot of hard hits too. I think the concerns probably went even deeper than just health worries. Sometimes players just aren’t as good when they can’t be physical anymore. A big part of Swope’s game was his physicality, and if asked to dial it down for his health he may not be the same guy anymore. From that type of perspective, I can understand the reason why he dropped the way he did.

        • JW

          yes, both the cumulative effects of the concussions and the need to dial it down likely played a big role in his drop.

  5. The Ancient Mariner

    I think Chris Harper is more likely the WR version of Greg Scruggs — another guy with great measurables whose play at Louisville left him on the board in the 7th round (despite the fact, if memory serves, that he was a team captain).

    • Belgaron

      Harper was a 1st year receiver on a running team with a lowsy quarterback, ‘Hawks may have grabbed a hidden talent. He has a lot more upside than Scruggs.

      • The Ancient Mariner

        From your response, one would think you consider a comparison to Scruggs dismissive. I like Scruggs — I think he has a long and productive career ahead of him if his ACL heals right (and he can keep his knees healthy going forward).

        • Belgaron

          With big young guys, there is always a chance they could come into camp in career shape, learn a few more techniques and take a huge step up. I think Scruggs is a great prospect and it would not surprise me if any of the guys this front office brings in is able to do just that, especially with some premiere d-line coaching talent joining the team this year.

          In terms of raw potential and talent, I like Harper better on paper. I think he could be a monster blocker in the run game, beating people up and wearing down defenders. He seems to have great skills for ‘hail marys’ and red zone catches where its about strength, leaping ability and talent. If he is able to learn how to use his athleticism to create separation and really learn the nuance of being a receiver, he could be one of the primary starting outside guys for years to come. He still has a lot to learn to get there but the potential is there to be truly dominant in this league, especially with Russell throwing him the ball. If Russell is as special as we all believe he will be, he will make every receiver they bring in look that much better.

  6. Colin

    If Red Bryant isn’t healthy, he has to go and it’s as simple as that. You cannot justify paying him almost $10 million if he can’t be the force he was in 2011. He just doesn’t bring enough to the table to warrant that cap hit.

    Spencer Ware is going to have to beat out Mike Rob to snag a spot on this team, and that includes being a big time special teams contributor so he has an uphill battle… but man is he exciting to watch.

    • Belgaron

      They’ve never been shy to move on from guys that can’t compete any longer (Tatupu), they don’t keep guys that have lost a step for any other reasons unless they are really the best option they feel they have at the time (Winfield, Milloy, Trufant). If they feel Red can heal up, they’ll give him the chance to do so.

  7. Belgaron

    On the QB front, they seem to churn based on incremental improvement. I think they felt they enhanced the QB room every year of this front office’s tenure, at least on paper. They have a long term plan of being able to restock and build through the draft so at some point, they will be more likely to draft guys. Also, I just don’t think they liked the talent pool at QB this year and may really like Johnson’s potential to be traded for a good pick at some point, at least better than the draft prospects.

  8. Jeff

    I have to respectfully disagree with Kip regarding Harper.

    I will admit that I am a K-State fan in addition to being a Seahawks fan. But I am a fan, not a homer. I like to think I view Wildcat players realistically. For example, even at the height of Collin Klein’s Heisman hype, I maintained that he would be lucky to be anything more than a journeyman 3rd stringer. And that the league’s sudden affection for his bread and butter – the read option – was probably a lucky break for his career. As a person and leader, Collin Klein is unmatched. As a quarterback, not so much.

    Having said that, I’ve been hoping since midway through last season that the Seahawks would draft Harper. I see in Harper a faster Anquan Boldin. Three things to keep in mind regarding Harper:

    1. He has only played receiver for two full seasons. As far as position technique, he’s still fairly raw. And that is exacerbated by:

    2. He played in a run first (and second, and sometimes third) offense. Collin Klein was the beginning and end of that offense. He was TAUGHT to “give up” on pass plays because as soon as Klein decided to bail from the pocket, K-State receivers were supposed to become blockers. Harper never learned to extend plays because Klein was rarely asked to go through lengthy progressions, and didn’t look to extend plays as a passer. And all of that brings me to:

    3. You’d be hard pressed to find many better blocking receivers than Harper. And for a self-acknowledged “power run team”, that is a valuable skill.

    None of that should take away from Harper’s physical receiving skills. He highpoints the ball. He knows how to shield defenders like the proverbial power forward. And he does not go down easily after the catch.

    I hope my K-State bias isn’t blinding me, but I was surprised most to read Kip’s comment that Harper “stabs” at the ball. One of the things I like most about him is that he is usually a hands-catcher, and that he “snatches” the ball out of the air away from his body. I’ll admit that I never really paid specific attention to that facet of his game, but that’s the impression I’ve formed in my mind after watching him the last couple seasons.

    I think (hope) you’re in for a pleasant surprise with Harper.

    • Aaron

      Great counterpoints.

      I love how Pete said he has “really classy hands.”

    • Robert

      Classic Example Of How We Find Great Value In The Middle And Late Rounds, AlthoughTheVerdict Is Still Out On This YearsClass. This Kid Has Huge Potential And Good Reasons Why He Lacked Congruent Production

    • dave crockett

      As a Mizzou guy who was glad to get away from Bill Snyder, I endorse this message. That sounds like what I recall of the K-State offense.

      I went into this draft liking DeAndre Hopkins early and Quinton Patton 3rd round or later. Patton is perfectly polished right now, and in the right scheme could step onto an NFL team and get 700-1200 yards as a rookie easy. He is so QB-friendly.

      Harper is a different animal. I’d say Harper’s upside is Bolden but he’s likely to be a more consistent version of Big Mike Williams. He’s not going to catch a lot of balls but likely to pull in a high proportion of targets. He’s a chain mover. I agree with Jeff here–I think Seattle really values his blocking in the run game.

    • Kip Earlywine

      RE: Stabs at the ball. He doesn’t do it on every play, but I did notice a several occasions where he starts his catching action too late and is still extending his hands and arms when the ball arrives. The result is a clumsily caught football with only a shred of ball security. Because Harper is draped over by DBs on nearly every catch, it’s a big deal because those catches just get swatted out almost every time. It’s fixable, but it was a problem on tape that needs to be worked on.

      Basically, that’s my summary on Harper. He has a ton of issues, but they are all fixable and some of that comes down to lack of experience and coaching. There were other receivers with similar physical ability that were far more polished, though none of them had the body mass index that Harper does. I think Seattle really valued BMI for the receiver they were targeting which is why they rated Harper so highly in a crowded WR group.

      • Dav

        Kip, although I agree that Harper does have some trouble with creating separation and needs improvement in route running, when I first read your review of Harper’s catching ability I thought that it was the total opposite of what I remembered on tape. Virtually all the games I’ve seen (and the tape available online now) show that Harper has strong hands and catches the ball very well away from his body. After reading your comments, I decided to check some other sources to see if I was missing something. Unfortunately Kip, you are in a supreme minority here. In fact, I couldn’t find a single analyst, coach, or scout quoted who echoes your views.

        Pete Carroll on highlights of rookie minicamp: “Chris caught to ball beautifully. He really has great hands.”
        From Derek Stephens at Field Gulls: “He tracks the deep ball well, possesses strong hands and good coordination, and exhibits good body control and timing with going up for the jump ball. An underrated pass-catcher who could surprise and play a significant role his first year”
        Rob Rang at CBS: “A coordinated athlete with above-average body control and focus. Tracks the ball beautifully and brings it in at his highest point.”
        Chris Harper himself when asked what he brings to the team: “physicality, my physicality and my hands.”
        NFL Network: “He also possesses a very strong set of hands that he uses to out-muscle smaller defensive backs. Very adept at catching the ball off of his frame.”
        National Football Post: “When the ball is in the air, he shows the ability to consistently high point and adjust to the ball in the air, as well as secure catches while absorbing big hits. He displays outstanding hands, as he naturally and quietly plucks every ball without letting it get into his body.”
        Russ Lande from the Senior Bowl: “Possessing soft hands, uncommon body control and concentration, Harper caught nearly every ball thrown his way and consistently made tough contested catches.”
        Seahawks Director of Pro Personnel Trent Kirchner: “That’s one of the things that stood out about him. He’s 6 ft tall but he does a great job of going up and high pointing the ball.”

  9. Kenny Sloth

    I agree with everything, Kip. I think I believe i Harper’s upside more

  10. PatrickH

    I read the following in Farnsworth’s article over at Seahawks.com, which might be relevant to the discussion involving Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill.

    Quote – “Like the 6-1, 311-pound Mebane, Hill is the shorter (6-1) and lighter (303 pounds) of the two. Like the 6-4, 323-pound Bryant, Williams is the taller (6-3) and heavier (326) of this year’s tackle tandem. But, also like Mebane, Hill has more “sand” – meaning he’s thicker through the hips, thighs and legs – which makes him better suited to playing the nose tackle spot. And, like Bryant, much of Williams’ bulk is in his upper body, giving him the length and upper-body strength to play the three-technique tackle position as well as the five-technique end spot”
    ” … Hill and Williams possess the versatility that first-year defensive coordinator Dan Quinn looks for in his linemen.”
    “We’re going to play them at a couple of different spots and see who can play end, who can play tackle, who can play nose,” Quinn said over the weekend. “They’ll fill various roles for us. I just want guys to know two or three jobs. That way when it’s time to do that, there’s not that, ‘Well, I haven’t done that before.’ That adds not only value to you as a player, but really increases competition across the board.”

    • PatrickH


      You had an article before the draft about the profile of the typical 3-tech player (tall, ~320 lb) that PC and JS were looking for, and then after the draft you thought the pattern was broken because Jordan Hill didn’t seem to fit that profile. Well, Farnsworth’s article suggests that the pattern wasn’t broken after all – there’s a hint that Hill was drafted to be a 1-tech player. Jesse Williams’ body type also seemed to fit the 3-tech profile that PC and JS were looking for.

      • Rob Staton

        It seems that way. But I don’t see why you draft Jordan Hill in round three to backup Brandon Mebane. So we’ll see what happens. The typical 3-tech by the way is the size of Hill. It’s the fact Seattle has gone for size in the three previous years under PC.

        • dave crockett

          Hill said he played a lot of 1-tech in college. My guess is they’ll groom him at a familiar position before putting more on his plate.

          • Kip Earlywine

            The Seahawks treat the preseason a lot like the way pitchers treat spring training. They use that low-pressure time to try new things out and see if they can learn new things about their inventory.

            So I think some of the talk about Williams at 3-tech and Hill at the 1-tech is kind of in that vein. Hill was a 3rd round pick and by JS’s own admission was a bit of an urgent one- that he filled (paraphrasing) “the last remaining need” in the draft. Was a backup for Mebane a “need”? I don’t think so. It was an Alan Branch type 3-tech.

            But like you said, PC/JS like to put players in their comfort zones at the start. You saw that with Irvin last year, they kept him away from the LEO role until they absolutely had no choice. It makes sense that they might start Hill in a 1-tech type role and Williams in a versatile role centered around the 3-tech, since those are the roles they played in college.

            I think in time, Hill will be a 3-tech and Williams will be a Red Bryant type 5-tech or perhaps a 1-tech. I think that’s clearly where their talent matches the roles on this team long term.

            • Attyla the Hawk

              I concur. That’s how I saw both of these guys back in Dec/Jan and I’ve not seen any reason to think that won’t be the case. It’s worth noting too, that if Hill is meant to play the 3 tech Branch role, then he’s going to have to show stoutness against the run. Playing him initially at the 1 will certainly give a full accounting of his ability to hold up in that regard.

        • pqlqi

          it might be fair to say that the FO addressed 3 tech in FA with McDaniel signing and Bennett signing
          but that the FO saw what happened to the defense when they didn’t have an adequate backup plan for Bryant, and then projected to what that would mean if they didn’t have a plan at 1 tech.

          This draft was about saying “we are dead if we don’t have backups to our most important positions”, Lynch, Bryant, Mebane, and drafting their future replacements. You don’t draft your starters replacements the year after you desperately need them, you draft them a year before you have the need.

          To me it makes sense that Bryant and Mebane have the 5 and 1 locked down, but if Bryant is injured during the year, you have a player who can back him up. If Bryant never regains 2010/11 form, then you have his replacement. In the meantime, there is uncertainty at the 3 tech starter, and honestly, Williams or Hill can play there – if you put Mebane and Hill at 1 and 3, you could really confuse the OL in terms of run blocking and pass blocking responsibilities, you could do interior line shifts without players switching sides and flop from over to under at a moments notice. Hill probably makes a better pass down 3 tech than Williams with his ability to penetrate.

          Ideally, Hill can play 3 tech and 1 tech, and Williams can play 3 tech and 5 tech, in a pinch. Add in Bennett who can play end or tackle, and McDaniel who seems to fit the mold at 3 tech or 5 tech, and you can reduce the wear and tear on the starters and be patient in the development of Williams if necessary.

          Half or more of the players drafted by this team are not drafted specifically for year 1, but for what they will be after year 2 or year 3, when the coaches have been able to turn elite athletes who are raw football players into elite athletes that excel at their role in the scheme.

          There’s not a single player in this draft who needs to see the field this year. Seems like the right way to look at the draft is to imagine what this FO could do with the raw talent and a blackboard.

  11. Eran Ungar

    I read about the “poor” pocket pressure on our 1st down with Williams as a 3 tech. I assume that is correct.

    I also read that he is replacing Branch at that point. Not the greatest pass rusher himself.

    What will happen when teams pass more on the 1st round ?

    I assume that it will be as bad for us as it was last year with injured Red, Mebane and Branch out there.

    And just how bad was that ?

    Memory tip – We were all worried about the poor 3rd and long stats last year. You don’t get a lot of those after a poor 1st down performance. We were actually good on those 1st downs. Very good. Very very good.

    So, if teams will want to challenge our poor secondary constantly on 1st down i’m sure changes will be made but until then – YES…3 big run stuffers on 1st down is the way the best defense will continue to play.

    We have the talent to create whatever we want on that line….from the “whales” line (Red, Mebane and Williams) to the QB eating “sharks” line of Avril, Hill, Bennet and Irvine. I think we’ll see a lot of personal flexibility on that line depending on team, down & distance, scoreboard etc. but the default 1st. base will be size against the run till someone forces us otherwise.

    As for the Williams/Red issue – cap needs aside, Red played last year injured and poorly because even in that state and shape he was still the best we had on that position. Having a possible worthy backup if that happens is called smart.

    • Kip Earlywine

      I’ve been wondering similar things recently. For as bad as Seattle’s pass rush was last year, they still finished #1 in scoring defense. Maybe it’s because all those big bodies up front free up our fast back seven?

    • bjammin

      Eran just made a whole hell of a lot of sense. Well said. Well put. I agree.

  12. rrrhawkout

    That tidbit on Schneider wanting Willson bad was really interesting, especially for those who thought the 49ers moved ahead of us to draft the other Rice TE who was our first choice.

    That said, it makes you wonder if there was another player that Schneider didn’t want to leave the draft without that he didn’t get. Was he the only guy in the draft who was indispensable to us?

    • bjammin

      Great question.

  13. James

    The Seahawks have done a good job of deflecting discussion away from the future of their high-priced veterans. It can be really corrosive to have questions asked every day about whether key players will be let go next year or the next. That said, you don’t need a calculator, and you don’t even need a pencil with an eraser, only a stub and a piece of paper, to crunch the numbers and know for certain that Rice, Miller, Lynch, Real Rob, Mebane and Bryant will need to be let go some time over the next couple of years in order to re-sign guys like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, et al. Much of this draft class: Michael, Hill, Harper, Williams and Ware, were brought aboard to replace those veterans.

    The next issue, as Kip raises, is: were these new draftees the right guys for the job. If this was Mike Holmgren or Tim Ruskell (in whom we learned not to trust) were could rightly question the draft. However, the fascinating thing about a PCJS draft is that, as much as we love to play armchair GM, we basically have to say, wow – they must know something I don’t know.

    For example, the Seahawks could have drafted Arthur Brown in R2 instead of Christine Michael. Brown is a guy that Pete Carroll once said was the best LB he had seen in 7 hears and he would have plugged right into the Will LB slot. But PCJS see a future star in Michael, so we will wait with anticipation to see him explode. When Jordan Hill was selected, the Seahawks could have picked Brandon Williams or Akeen Spence…do PCJS see another Geno Atkins in Hill? When Chris Harper was selected, the Seahawks could have gone with Quinton Patton (a player I really liked), or gone with my man-crush John Simon, so we can anticipate that Harper has something special, that his 6’1″ frame, though short for the split end (that 6’5″ guy proving to be elusive), will be able to outmuscle CBs down the field. He might also prove to be a sturdy punt returner? Jesse Williams was more of a no-brainer in R5, but PCJS chose him over Montori Hughes, Quinton Dial and Josh Boyd, so they must think his knee is fine, for he certainly played at an elite level at Alabama. …I love this team!

    • Kip Earlywine

      Good points regarding who Seattle passed over to draft the guys they did. I would have personally graded Stefan Charles over Hill- WAY better of an athlete. Seattle chose Hill and later said that no other remaining DT was even close to the same grade (a list that also included Brandon Williams).

      • Jason

        It’s also possible that they screwed up. Over the last couple drafts, the FO has done a really good job of finding contributors through every round. I wouldn’t trust my judgement over their’s, but they still could miss on a lot of these players.

        • SeaMeat

          Only a couple years time will tell if they were genious with some of the picks or errored. Not picking Patton or John Simon really bummed me out. Especially when they were available and Harper was picked instead. I really like Patton and the fact the Niners snagged him is a bummer. Only time will tell, but I hope that pick ends up being genious!

          Go Hawks.

          • Attyla the Hawk

            I’m not sure if I’m worried about the 9ers taking Patton or not. Their track record at drafting WRs is pretty shoddy. Particularly if they aren’t a top 10 overall selection.

  14. mister bunny

    Love the insights on Willson’s impact on the running game and creating space for Harvin even if he’s not directly involved in a lot of the action. I hope this is the case, but it seems that he’ll need to prove the threat with 2 or 3 early season TDs up the seam in order to actually cause DC to sacrifice that much for him.

  15. j

    Tried to put on my Seahawk homer glasses and come up with a justification for the Harper pick.
    I consider it to be similar to the Jenkins pick by SF last year. We aren’t looking for someone to come in and start right away. If we were, I think we might have gone in another direction.

    What we were looking for was a WR to come in, develop his skills and possibly replace Golden Tate, if he wants too much money. Of all the WR in this draft, I think Harper does the best at emulating Tate’s physicality.

    Was Harper the best WR available right now – probably not. But he has the physical tools to be a monster, and after a season of potential improvement – well, PCJS could have seen him as the best available WR next year – sort of like a red-shirt season. Now, this strategy could backfire, but (a) Tate may resign, (b) there’s always next years draft, and (c) it was only a 4th rounder.

    Still not that great of a fan of the pick, but defensible IMO.

    • seattl

      I’d defend the pick along the same lines as yours, but its not something i have to talk myself into. I didnt know harper before we picked him but i was hoping we’d get a wr with a lot of upside. We’re deep enough at wr this year to take our time with harper and i suspect PCJS picked him with an eye on 2014 and 2015 when tate might be hard to keep and rice has yet to prove he’s a dependable wr1. Maybe he’ll get some time as a rookie in goalline, 3rd downs or blocking on screens but if he gets near his ceiling he’ll give us a lot of flexibility in the years to come and a big talent, and may fill a need that has yet to come, similarly to christine michael. Great draft with all the depth at wr to take a swing at a raw, gifted prospect.

  16. CHawk Talker Eric

    So I’ve been thinking…

    1. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me that PC likes Williams for the 3T position. Big Red may not have much of a pass rush, but he’s proven himself quite capable of covering 2 gaps and handling double teams at 5T. Similarly, Williams has already demonstrated an ability to cover 1 gap (at least) and hold his ground against a double team, something this team’s 3T will have to contend with for sure. Since double team blocks usually come on the strong side, having 2 strong side DLs like Bryant and Williams should make SEA effectively impervious to a strong side double team, thereby forcing an opponent’s RB to shift laterally to the outside, where the speed and physicality of our LBs put us at an advantage.

    2. Maybe I’m alone on this, but Chris Harper reminds me a LOT more of Dwayne Bowe than he does Anquan Boldin. All 3 are similarly sized, big bodied WRs, but only 2 of them (Bowe and Harper) have true WR speed. Sure, Boldin is a bit older and may have lost a step, but even in his salad days he was neither fast and nor did he have the speed to be a vertical threat. Bowe and Harper, on the other hand, are capable of stretching defenses down field. Before the start of this off-season’s FA market, my #1 FA target was Bowe. I’m not saying Harper will end up being as good as Bowe, but the promise is there.

    3. Of all the rookies, I think Luke Willson has the potential to have the greatest impact on the team. I recently read an article quoting Ryan Cantrell, an offensive graduate assistant at Rice, who opined about Willson, “[b]ecause he is such a physical presence with his hand down, you forget how active he can be in the secondary and what an unbelievable mismatch he is in the passing game. He can outrun any linebacker, I’m sorry. And he’s not going to let any linebacker reroute him.”

    • JW

      Your first point takes me back to the discussionon this blog a few months ago about drafting Jenkins for a big DT lineup. Maybe this is along the lines of what PC was thinking, but with a different player at a better value.

  17. kigenzun

    I like the idea of Willson and Harper giving Rice and Tate a breather now and again. It would help keep everybody fresh late in the 4th quarters, and towards the end of a long (hopefully Superbowl!) season.

    If considered (and lined up as) a big WR, Luke Willson himself could be quite a point of attack blocker on the outside(as opposed to Rice). Matched and bookended with Harper on the other (Tate’s) side, & you could bubble screen to Percy Harvin either way all day. Additionally, by isolating Ware on a LB in the opposite direction, and sending Miller straight down the seam 1on 1 with the safety, such diverse elements would give any defense major headaches, and defensive coordinators nightmares.

    For example, relentlessly exhausting CBs by forcing them to chase Rice and Golden all over the field on 1st downs… hammer them with Willson and Harper runblocking bubblescreens on 2nd downs… and then chasing the gazelles all over again on 3rd. Pretty sweet. Rinse & repeat.

  18. Eran Ungar

    Sometimes the simple and obvious answer is the right one…

    A lot of what we write here as well as other draftniks and media experts write is a result of our predictions of what the team needs and what they will look for in the draft. When they draft “otherwise” the draft experts give them a D and we wonder here about the players and their roles.

    Considering the past 3 years – those questions and draft grades are more of an indication about us(and the media experts), our predictions and what we thought should or should not have been done. The D is on us for not seeing what’s out there and/or not understanding what’s needed or wanted. This FO certainly seem to know what they want and they get it time and again.

    Looking back at how this team played on defense last year (Yes, 1st in point scored against) why did we think they would want to change it ? why are we looking for a 3 tech to rush the QB on 1st down when a run stuffer worked so well for us ? why do we think this FO would want to change it ?

    Yes, they wanted more pressure of the QB on passing downs to fix the 3rd and long issues and they have. Bennet and Hill could do that very well. It’s simple. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it. The 1st defense in points is not broken at all. The best team in the NFL in 1st down and 10 needs to do exactly the same again. And they didn’t do it with 11 first round draft picks…they did it with 1.

    As for Harper and Wilson – Again, they have been looking for those guys exactly. They said it over and over again. They were looking for Harper when they brought TO and Edwards. They want a very strong and physical WR. They are a run first team with Harvin, Rice and Tate on board. They are not looking for the guy to take over the offense on his shoulders. They want him reasonably fast to stretch the field, strong and big enough to avoid jamming and win contested catches, good hands to hold the ball and a big blocker to help Harvin/Tate/Lynch on their way to the end zone. In short – they said they wanted a Harper, the strongest most physical Harper was there on the 4th round, they drafted their Harper. They wanted a fast TE to be able to stretch the field, catch a deep pass or 2 and keep the field open for Harvin in the slot. They wanted a Wilson, one was available on the 5th round and they drafted him.

    In hindsight it looks simple.

    It’s a team sport and every team needs the players to match and fit into what it does. Those guys sound like a perfect fit for what we do just as Williams and Hill fit into what we do on D.

    Next year when the regrading of the 2013 draft happens everybody will rave about the diamonds in the rough in late rounds. Pete and John will offer a lame excuse like – “they were the best guys for what we wanted to do at that round” and we’ll enjoy their cunning sneakiness.

    It is really that simple for them. lucky us.

  19. CHawk Talker Eric

    Freakin’ Irvin. He sure put us in a spot at LEO for the first quarter of the season.

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