Identifying players with difference making skills

The NFL brings out a top-100 players list every year. If you take the top-30 from 2023 and look at where they were drafted, not including the one player who went undrafted, the average pick range of the NFL’s elite was #40 overall.

Only 16 players were first rounders and eight were top-10 picks. It goes to show that you don’t need to be picking early to find elite quality. You just need to identify who the hidden gems are.

Two of the top-30 were George Kittle and Fred Warner, a pair of players we talked about a fair bit on this blog. Kittle’s combination of blocking ability, extreme athleticism and body control jumped out on tape. Then he ran a 4.51 at 247lbs and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical at the combine. His stock suffered playing for Iowa’s impotent offense, where he had only 737 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in four seasons. He still had no business lasting to round five and yet there he was, gift-wrapped for the Niners.

Warner was slightly undersized but the tape was good, he ran a 4.28 short shuttle (a key indicator for linebackers) and he was explosive (38.5 inch vertical). He was taken in round three and joined Kittle in becoming a mainstay core player for San Francisco.

Maxx Crosby has become one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in his generation. He had no business lasting to round four after running an obscene 4.13 short shuttle at 255lbs, to go with a 36 inch vertical. He had the tools to be great.

Aaron Donald was the best player in the 2014 draft. That isn’t hindsight, we said as much at the time. For the price of being a bit on the smaller side he lasted to #13 so he could terrorise the NFC West for years. He ran a 1.63 split at 285lbs, a 4.39 short shuttle and a 4.68 forty.

How did Travis Kelce last to round three when he ran a 4.61 at 255lbs and a 4.42 short shuttle? Was it the one year of production?

Tyreek Hill had major character flags and was lucky to be drafted at all, let alone in round five. Yet a 4.29 forty, 6.53 three-cone and a 40.5 inch vertical hinted at what he was capable of.

Sometimes it really is just as simple as trying to find the players with the special physical qualities matching to good enough examples on tape. There are busts too — just look at Christine Michael and Malik McDowell for picks that didn’t work out for Seattle. Yet if you want special you’ve got to look for it.

The Seahawks focused a lot on character in the last two drafts and it’s important to do that to avoid a repeat of the Michael and McDowell snafu’s. Yet for the team to take the next step, they’re also going to need to find some blue-chip studs beyond just the first round.

I want to write about three players who seem to have a special quality to them but before getting into the trio, there are others to mention.

There’s no denying Michael Penix Jr’s arm is special. It just is and for that reason, he could have more appeal with certain teams than some are currently projecting. Rome Odunze may get perfect grades from some teams at his position for his combination of speed, body control, ball-tracking, hands and A+ character. Brock Bowers is a sensational player and a top-10 lock, as is Marvin Harrison Jr.

Blog favourite Malik Mustapha has a rare combination of speed, reactions, intensity and physicality. He reminds me of Budda Baker. Payton Wilson has a ‘hair on fire’ approach and while there are legit concerns about his injury history, there’s a lot to be said for the way he impacts football games. Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy is expected to test brilliantly and I’m intrigued to see how fast Troy Franklin runs. There are a host of good receivers in this draft and testing will be fascinating to see how they compare.

After the combine we’ll be able to pick out certain players with the high ceilings who could be destined to join the list of ‘players who went later than they should’. Yet the combine schedule is again designed around primetime TV coverage, almost certainly meaning, once again, hardly any players will do the agility testing.

Thanks, NFL.

Here are three players with the physical potential and matching tape, who could end up being drafted way below their talent level.

Cade Stover (TE, Ohio State)

I felt like I had an angle on Stover from last season so didn’t focus on him too much in 2023, so went back for a re-watch over the last few days. It’s time to take him very seriously as a player who could be the next dynamic move-tight end in the mould of Sam LaPorta.

Stover is going to test far better than anyone imagines at the combine. You can see it on tape. I think because he switched from the linebacker position, people have underestimated him. He’s a top level athlete.

For his size (6-4, 251lbs) he’s very difficult to cover and has a natural feel for where to settle into soft areas in coverage. He’s a very dynamic route runner who can separate in his break to create easy opportunities for the quarterback to get the ball out. He competes for the ball in the air and aces many contested catch opportunities. He is an expert at catching the ball away from his body, making difficult grabs look easy, and he has excellent catching technique — cupping his hands to the ball. Stover has rare run-after-the-catch ability and he’ll be a player who — if he succeeds — will be a feature weapon you need to game-plan for every week. He creates havoc as a receiver and that’s what you want from a modern tight end.

I’m convinced that after the combine his stock will propel into round two. If he’s taken any later than that, it could be a bargain. Modern NFL teams tend to need a dynamic pass-catching tight-end to succeed. It’s the cheat code for the league. After watching him again recently, I’d say he’s someone I would seriously want to come out of this draft with. He has the potential to play way beyond his draft range and, whisper it quietly, there is some Kelce to his game.

I’m not sure how the Seahawks will view the tight end position. Washington didn’t feature it that much under Ryan Grubb, utilising Jack Westover in mostly an impact role. That might’ve been down to personnel (Penix Jr’s arm, three great receivers) but I think for the Seahawks to truly threaten the better teams, they need a dynamic receiving tight end and they need a plan to use him properly.

T’Vondre Sweat (DT, Texas)

Sometimes you’ve got to just zone out the bad reps and focus on the good ones. When watching the Senior Bowl workouts live, Sweat’s 1v1’s were a mixed bag of extremes. I went back and studied the 1v1’s last week and noted I was less impressed than initially thought with Jackson Powers-Johnson. Yesterday, I sang the praises of Sweat because on reflection, he was absolutely sensational at times. I’m trying to lean more on the philosophy of Ron Wolf to focus on what a player can be.

Jim Nagy was tweeting about Sweat today highlighting the same positives. You’re watching a man who is about 360lbs swimming into the backfield with a great arm/over move. He flies by the blocker like he’s a 300lbs dynamic three-technique. Then on other reps, he’s getting into the chest of an interior lineman and launching them into the backfield. You just don’t see this. It looked like a forklift truck was being given a rep, not a bloke from Texas. His ability to mix power and speed to this extent, at his size, is rare.

When you watch stuff like that you think, how good can this guy be? This isn’t normal.

Then you look at the stats I highlighted yesterday. Sweat’s run defense grade was 92.0 in 2023 -— #1 among interior defensive linemen. His 12.8% stop percentage (number of times he was responsible for personally stopping the run play) ranked 2nd behind UCF’s Lee Hunter. His pass rush grade was an 85.3 —- seventh best among all interior defensive linemen. His pass rush win percentage (15.3%) ranked sixth best, he had the second most batted passes at the LOS (6) and he ranked 11th for QB hurries (26). In true pass-sets, his win percentage increased to 24.5% (ranked fifth).

This is outstanding production, hinting at a complete player who can uniquely produce in any situation. There aren’t many exceptional nose tackle types in the league — Dexter Lawrence and Vita Vea probably set the standard, with a handful of good players below them. Is Sweat gifted enough to believe he can be a Lawrence or Vea? And is the positional value there for a big body in the middle, especially when teams seem more eager than ever to attack the perimeter?

It could present an opportunity where Sweat lasts longer than he should. Not to mention the weight issue. He didn’t weigh-in at the Senior Bowl, amid talk that he could be anywhere between 350-380lbs. We’ll see if weighs at the combine. There may be some concern about how he manages the weight and I’ve said for a while, he could probably be even better by losing 20lbs.

What we do know is Seattle’s run defense has stunk for years and Baltimore’s was hardly spectacular under Mike Macdonald. Could someone like Sweat fix the issue?

Chop Robinson (DE, Penn State)

For me he’s the premier edge rusher in the class. His get-off is jaw-dropping. His ability to put the tackle on the back-foot immediately then bend-and-straighten like he’s in the Matrix is stunning. I’m not worried about making this comparison — it’s Micah Parsons’ esque what he does rushing the edge.

Robinson can also stunt inside, battle with his hands, press a blocker in the chest to bull-rush and he delivers consistent effort to work to the quarterback. Nobody else comes close to his talent potential and he has the ability to be truly special at the next level. Power, speed, balance, agility, bend, quickness. It’s all there.

So why isn’t he in the top-10 of every mock draft, often lasting deep into round one? It has to be his lack of production — eight sacks in his last two seasons. Yet it’s deceptive — he had 26 pressures in 10 games in 2023, plus 18 hurries. His sensational get-off and threat to bend the arc troubled quarterbacks consistently when he was on the field. He will impact games and it won’t be a surprise if, eventually, the pressures turn into sacks and he turns into one of the league’s best.

A good combine — where he’s expected to run in the 4.4’s at 255lbs, while adding a 4.2 short shuttle and a 10-7 broad jump, could push his stock into a more deserving range within the media. If it doesn’t happen, he could be a steal outside of the top-10. Robinson is a great prospect who deserves far more attention than he’s getting.

I’ll do a bigger breakdown during our annual combine coverage as more players with special qualities emerge. I think these are three certainly to keep an eye on. The Seahawks have drafted very well the last two years but they need to find stars and difference makers to close the gap to the other top teams.


  1. Sultan

    Fun fact, I got trucked multiple times a game in high school by Cade Stover. His team was our rival, and they beat the crap out of us every time with Cade. He played every position, on offense and defense. He even played QB in his junior year if memory serves.

    • Rob Staton

      Awesome story — not the being trucked part, obviously, but the fact you played against him

      He’s being highly underrated. Now a R2 on my board

      • Sultan

        We all weren’t surprised when we were told Ohio State had scouts at his games. I just never pictured him to play TE after he played basically every position on the team. But I guess that’s what you can do if you’re a future NFL player

        • Roy Batty

          It shows what kind of football IQ you have if you’ve played QB, at some point in your career. Kenny Easley, Mike Rob, Kam. All highly intelligent players.

    • Palatypus

      Nominated for the post of the year Sultan.

    • DriveByPoster

      Ha! That’s a fun little anecdote, Sultan.

      Weirdly, I seem to pick up Stover whenever I do a mock. Not because I particularly set out to get him but he seems to be in just the right spot in the draft order for the Seahawks to pick him up.

  2. Charlie Wilson

    They legitimately could start a front of C. Robinson, Williams, Sweat, Jones, Nwosu next season. That, along with two young linebackers… one from FA (Al Shaair, Luvu, Jewell? and one from the draft with a third-round pick)… would be incredibly exciting. I have more of Robinson to watch, but he genuinely shows flashes of Von Miller-like plays. Cheers Rob.

    • Ben Fort Worth

      Can we make this happen?! Verse, Chop, and JPJ are all worth sticking at 16 for. Beef up the trenches!

      • Rob Staton

        I don’t agree JPJ is worth the #16 pick

        • Ben Fort Worth

          That’s fair. You’d prefer to get him later, but if he’s on the board at 16, I’m taking him. I do think you’re trade idea with Green Bay is sound. It almost makes too much sense.

          • Rob Staton

            I think it’d be a major reach to take Powers-Johnson at #16. He just isn’t that good

            • Brodie

              I think #16 is too high also, but that is for any C. That said, he allowed 0 sacks, and 1 pressure on 829 snaps while winning the Rimmington award for best center in the country.

              There isn’t much else he could do. He looked good in the Senior Bowl, has Guard experience and will test well. I get why people are enamored.

              • Rob Staton

                Sure, he’s a decent player. I understand why people like him. But he isn’t a #16 pick or a first rounder for me, short of scary testing numbers. There aren’t many great centers in the league and I think Seahawks fans have gone OTT on Creed Humphrey — who isn’t quite as good as some would have you believe and the entire league, not just Seattle, let him last to the late second

                Only four centers in the NFL had a +80 grade via PFF. Whether we want to admit it or not — it is a position where you generally can find a fit. We talked up Drew Dalman as an option back in the day and he’s one of the four. I think this is why I’d look at someone like Dylan McMahon later on

                • Ben Fort Worth

                  The combine hasn’t even begun yet. I remember back when you said Joe Burrow was a 2nd round pick, and then he had an other-worldy Senior season that vaulted him up to #1. Most draft experts didn’t have Mahomes in their Top 50 until right before the draft.

                  What I saw of JPJ’s tape this season and watching him at the Senior Bowl really impressed me. Daniel Jeremiah has him going at 19 to the Rams, so I know I’m not the only one who is this high on him. You might get to trade back a little bit, to acquire some extra draft cap, but you also risk the expense for losing “your guy”. I have Verse, Chop, and JPJ all ranked in that order, and would be comfortable taking any at 16, because they are the best BPA on my board. Now, if his numbers at the combine aren’t where I think they should be then I’ll re-evaluate at that time. Your value board is different from mine, and I respect that. We’re allowed to have different opinions, and I know how much we appreciate yours. That’s why we love coming here and reading your posts. It’s the best Seahawks content anywhere in the world.

                  • Rob Staton

                    The combine hasn’t even begun yet. I remember back when you said Joe Burrow was a 2nd round pick, and then he had an other-worldy Senior season that vaulted him up to #1. Most draft experts didn’t have Mahomes in their Top 50 until right before the draft.

                    This didn’t happen though. I had Burrow as the clear #1 pick long before the end of the college season. Before the season, like everyone else, he was a marginal NFL player. I didn’t wait until February or March to adjust my opinion. And Burrow had an other worldly season. Are we really going to compare that to me having a very reasonable take that JPJ isn’t a top-20 pick? He just isn’t dude. He’s becoming overrated

                    Daniel Jeremiah has him going at 19 to the Rams, so I know I’m not the only one who is this high on him.

                    Daniel Jeremiah says a lot of things, such as ‘Brock Bowers won’t last to #18 but I kind of fancied pairing him with the Bengals so here we are’

                    • Ben Fort Worth

                      Agree to disagree. And yes I believe that Jeremiah is dead wrong about Bowers. I don’t understand why that guy’s stock is falling. He could potentially be better than any TE in last year’s class, including LaPorta.

                      But when I watch Powers-Johnson I think he is exactly what we should be looking for on our O-line. His size is immediately the first thing I notice about him. He is an absolute mauler! I also love his versatility. He could play Guard as well. I think he was the best OL in Mobile, at least in the first 2 days. What impressed me the most was his hand and foot work when he was recovering. I’ve watched every single snap of his during the regular season and at the Senior Bowl, and I only saw him lose once or maybe twice. If Seattle moved down the board and still was able to draft him, I’d be ecstatic. I just don’t see him lasting very long into the 20’s.

                    • Rob Staton

                      But the point is, he was recovering. He doesn’t shoot his hands inside properly off the snap and he gets his angles wrong. You don’t want your center recovering. That is a bad thing

                      I’d also caution against what you’re constituting a win or loss in reps — because as per usual people were giving him wins when he lost, as they’ve done with other players before

                      There’s just nothing that spectacular here. His size could actually be an issue. He has short arms and a blocky frame, it presents a big target and while I don’t doubt he has the athleticism to recover… again. That’s not what you’re looking for at this position. I’ve asked about this and the key things to look for at this position is shooting hands off the snap and angles — and this is where JPJ needs improvement

                      The thought of taking him at #16, to be really honest, makes me shudder. And they won’t. We’ll see that in a few weeks. He is not a top-20 player and will last longer than current projections suggest

                • Palatypus


              • DougM

                Oregon’s center last year had ridiculous good production. It’s either their scheme or Bo Nix being the QB or both.

                • Mr. Drucker in hooterville

                  @Ben. Good luck proposing any center at #16. It won’t fly. It’s a position that can be addressed later in the draft. #1.16 needs to be a more impactful pick.

  3. Misfit

    You’re going to have to stop articles like this because I’m drifting into draft season obsession already.

    Good breakdown. ‘Winning the edges’ mentality = find special.

    How does Chop Robinson compare with the (now Jet) Edge Will McDonald?

    • Rob Staton

      Robinson’s frame more filled out for sure, McDonald was skinny and light

    • Palatypus

      Misfit, you are already there Danzig.

    • Alex Potts

      I also am feeling a case of Seasonal Obsession 😉

  4. cha

    The rep with Sweat lifting the center off the ground and his legs collapsing under him when he touches down. Good lord.

    • Rob Staton


      • cha

        The LSU teammate running in to pick him up gets me every time. LOL

        • Rob Staton


          • Tacmoe

            Sweat is Greg Clegane the Mountain. GoT props

            • Palatypus

              Actually, Daniel Faalele was bigger than him a couple years ago. I saw it in person as Boye Mafe embarrassed him in 1V1s. T’Vondre Sweat has more of a Cortez Kennedy type of build. Most of his strength comes from his hips. He’s kind of spoony like those instant aliens (just add water) from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

    • Palatypus

      Yeah, I ran into Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus and some Tennessee radio guy who was a big Dallas Cowboys fan (I never got his name) gushing about T’Vondre Sweat next to my MINI Cooper as I left the last practice and talked to them for about 15 minutes while wearing my YouTube Seahawks Draft Blog T-Shirt.

      And this is weird. I mailed a hat from the 75th Anniversary of the Senior Bowl from a place that is 258 Miles from Birmingham, Alabama (the capitol), to a person 90 miles from Birmingham, England. It arrived in Coventry, just outside Birmingham, the home of Black Sabbath, on Black Sabbath Day, February 13. Back in 1970, it was promoted, “Friday the 13th is Black Sabbath day” for the debut album.

      This is incredibly satisfying.

      • Misfit


  5. Sandman

    I’m have preferred the view that we focused the light 2024 resources on the interior lines and try to perk up the physicality. That may not be the best approach given our position. The 16th pick seems like where a top prospect may slide to. If we snagged a top pass rusher, a talented TE and a flyer on a lower tier QB in the first 2 days, we could fill the NT and OG with good value vets (Hankins, Glassnow) for a bridge to 2025. Take a look at the 2025 FA Oline class, it is loaded with studs to save up for.

    • Rob Staton

      I still think the best plan, at the moment, is going to be trading down from #16 and then taking a lot of shots in rounds 2-4

      • Palatypus

        Yes, but New Orleans is going to complicate this because they are desperate. After they make their move, we will have fewer options. We must take action in free agency. That is probably your next great article.

  6. cha

    What has happened with Sedrick Van Pran, Rob? Is his star a little duller now? Or has the draft class risen around him?

    • Rob Staton

      I thought his 2023 tape was underwhelming. Technique not as sharp, angles weren’t great, didn’t shoot hands that quickly

      Still like him but probably destined for middle round range

      • cha

        A poor effort you think?

        • Rob Staton

          Not effort, just a performance regression, things slipped a bit

  7. Julian

    Depending on how JS and MM value JJ McCarthy, I’d love the Seahawks to draft Chop Robinson, even with a small trade up from #16 if that’s what is required.

    I suggest trading Tariq Woolen with Dre’mont Jones to an ambitious team should recuperate a 2nd round pick. For the Seahawks, both players might offer other skills than what MM prioritises.

    I’d much prefer Seattle gain a 2nd round pick this way, rather than trading down too far in the 1st, that will mean spending years hence wishing if only we hadn’t traded down but stuck and picked player x, who’s gone on to have a stellar All Pro NFL career!

    • Rob Staton

      You’ve no chance to get a R2 for Woolen and Jones

      • Palatypus

        I could see us trading Tariq Woolen to New Orleans for Marshon Lattimore with the Saints because the new coach needs to send a message, save money, and clean the house.

        The Saints desperately need cap relief.

    • cha

      Where is this trading Woolen talk coming from?

      • nfendall

        I don’t get it either. He is on a rookie contract, has very good coverage skills, its just a matter of showing the effort and tenacity in tackling and pursuit like he did in year one.

        I would gladly take the chance on MM reinvigorating that aspect and keeping Woolen rather than shipping him off for a draft pick.

        • cha

          He’s literally the embodiment of what Rob talked about in the piece.

          He has “not many human beings can do this” skills in a “not many human beings have this” body frame.

          • Unio

            Does anyone know if Macdonald’s defense plays more press corner or zone?

            • PatrickH

              More zone coverage than man

          • Patrick Toler

            Yeah, it makes no sense to me to trade a player with that much talent at his lowest value.

      • Julian

        Nowhere, but if you want to get a higher draft pick, the team has to be prepared to trade a decent player. His rookie contract makes him more desirable still. Who’d want to trade for expensive rubbish.

        The Seahawks roster has CB’s and MM defense has emphasied CB Safety cross type players, to help disguise coverages. Bryant and Witherspoon are these type of players, Woolen is not.

        My approach, different to Rob’s, is to think #16 is close enough to aim for a Bluechip player and draft capital needs to be aquired through trades.

        • Rob Staton

          But your process is floored because there’s more chance of Sydney Sweeney winning ‘small boobs of the year 2024’ than there is the Seahawks getting a R2 for Woolen and Jones

          • Julian

            Ok a 3rd then or perhaps don’t trade them. But if there’s a chance to get a QB of a higher quality or an Edge rusher with the ceiling of Von Miller or Khalil Mack, you don’t turn down that chance to fill out the roster with mud round talent.

            • Rob Staton

              So you trade them for a third

              Then what? You’d have to give up a future first to move into the top 10. For who? Who is worth that? This is the point

              • Julian

                I think the point I’m trying to make, is that whilst it’s great to hope you can get an All Pro from having more dips in the raffle by trading down, the chances are you’re more likely to find one by trading up.

                Pick 16, whilst not as high as we’ve been used to in the last couple of years, is much a different position than for those teams that make the playoffs and are picking in the 20s. At 16, trading up for a top player really is possible and I’m not talking about up into the Top 10, but being ready to get that player who falls just outside the top 10 and that you feel as a draft room could be really that special. Who knows who it could be, but I think the value is there in trading one of our 3rd round picks to move up into the #11-#14 range to take someone Schneider or MacDonald loves.

                • Brodie

                  I think there are too many holes to trade two starters for the ammo to move up a couple of picks. We can use 1-3 of youth/lower cost/better talent at every position.

                  I think it’s enticing to say – move up for the sure thing. But then you look at the ‘sure things’ from years past and see:

                  Chase Young 1.2 (traded for a 3rd rounder)
                  Jeff Okudah 1.3 (traded for a 5th rounder)
                  Derek Brown 1.7 (stud)
                  Isaiah Simmons 1.8 (traded for 7th rounder)
                  CJ Henderson 1.9 (traded with R3 for Dan Arnold and R5)

                  I picked defensive players in 2020, but you can do it for any year. Some are better examples, some are worse.

                • Rob Staton

                  The article literally shows that only eight of the top-30 players in the NFL were top-10 picks

                  There’s no evidence that trading up is better than more picks

                  • Julian

                    It’s all about where you want to draw the line. Let’s look at the Top 40.

                    In the NFL Top 40 players for 2023

                    16 are players taken in the Top 10 picks of their respective drafts
                    7 = Picks 11 – 20 (no running backs – so all players of high positional value)
                    3 = Picks 21 – 32 (1 running back)
                    5 = 33 – 64 Rd 2 (2 running backs)
                    8 = the next 200 picks and a UDFA – Austin Ekeler.

                    I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure the probability drops by more than half that you’ll find a Top 40 player for every 10 places you drop in the draft. Of the Top 40 players more than half are selected in the top 20 picks. We’ll have to disagree on this one Rob, but I think to drop out of the Top 20 at least, will be a mistake as far as the Seahawks are concerned. We’ve been saying for a long time, what this roster really lacks is Blue Chip players. Take the opportunity whilst it’s there.

                    • Rob Staton

                      The opportunity isn’t there though. You want to trade up to force something, when the majority of the top-30 players in the NFL are not top 10 picks. There’s no data, not even in what you’ve written above extending it to top-40, to suggest the Seahawks have a better chance of finding a star by trading up and putting everything on one high pick vs having several opportunities in multiple rounds to find them

            • Peter

              I like Chop. I like Chop to Seattle. I like Chop possibly at #16 to Seattle.

              I’m not sure a guy with blazing get off I’m quite willing to say has the ceiling of two other players.

              Sometimes I feel like ceiling is a fan way of saying “well we haven’t seen it yet, but just maybe….”

              I loved Richardson’s “ceiling,” but I was fully aware that it would take a few things breaking right for that to happen.

              Mack and Von Miller were monsters in college. Donald as well picked in the early teens. Ceiling is one factor but not the only factor.

          • cha

            there’s more chance of Sydney Sweeney winning ‘small boobs of the year 2024’

            I think we need a specific data point on that probability.

            I volunteer to take up this project. But it will require extensive research.

            See you all in a month.

        • Peter

          Let’s say Chop Robinson is that. I see him all over from eight best player in the draft to pick #22. Aside from him because he has extreme traits, is there other blue chip players at #16?

          Whenever I run mocks on all the sites to get different boards it feels time and again that trading down if possible is the way to do it this draft.

          I get the thought. I mean Salk keeps talking about trading DK. To do what? Get a mid round rookie and hope that they are going to be the second coming of Lockett.

          -Old lockett who is in his way out.
          -A who knows Bobo.
          -JSN in this scenario will need to massively pick up yards per reception.
          -And 40 catches for 600 yards and 4 tds.

          That’s if a third rounder balls out. That’s a pretty lame looking WR room. If lockett retires, good grief.

          This is how I feel about Woolen. No one said word one about his tackling as a rookie. I’m quicker than most on this board to move on from a player. But not one who is a year removed from DROY.

          • Rob Staton

            The only players that’d be worth trading up for within reason are receivers like Odunze

            It makes no sense anyway to basically chuck away this draft and your R1 next year to move up

          • geoff u

            No way they’re trading Woolen now. At the very least, they’re going to give the new coaches a shot at returning him to form. Only if that doesn’t work out will they trade him, which would come after training camp.

          • Brodie

            Salk proposed a 1st and 2nd rounder for DK though. Not a mid round pick.

            Whether you agree with the premise or not, that’s a huge difference in the specifics.

            If it’s Odunze and Zac Zinter for DK, that’s intriguing at the very least.

            As much as Salk loves to play devils advocate, I don’t think he would even attempt to take the side of DK for a 4th rounder

  8. no frickin clue


    Let’s say Chop is on the board at #16 and all the other blue-chippers are gone. But if you take him, you’re waiting another 62 selections to pick again and missing the heart of the draft.

    Would you roll the dice on Chop, or trade down, maybe multiple times, and try to accumulate picks between say 30 and 70?

    • Rob Staton

      I’d consider both

  9. Big Mike

    Sweat makes me well, sweat thinking about a guy who stops the run and can rush the passer based on those grades you posted. Unlocking his desire would obviously be the key.
    I wonder if we would take him at 16 if he fell that far?

    • Rob Staton

      He won’t go in the top-20

      • Denver Hawker

        Curious if you have watched his sugar bowl tape. It’s been a minute, but I recall him mostly a non-factor with Byron Murphy doing more. Maybe the game plan called for less rotations for Sweat given heavy pass offense, and he was shown on the sideline quite a bit. I get good reps are good reps, but I have some concern over his usage and impact as the season closed.

        • Rob Staton

          I thought they were both fairly unimpressive in that game

          • Palatypus

            The best offensive line in college football had three weeks to prepare for him, 1v1s are different.

            And he’s overweight and was gassed at the end of the game.

            • Peter

              The senior bowl reps are weird.

              Sweat basically puts one guy in traction when he breaks his legs and back.

              Then beaux limmer he has no plan for. Sure he walks him back ( I guess) but he has what looks like 80 pounds on a guy where he ( sweat) has the advantage.

              • Palatypus

                It wasn’t just Limmer he looked bad.

      • Palatypus

        This is the over/under. Place your bets.

        • Peter

          20? Over. Easy. Like the eggs.

          • Palatypus

            I feel like Sweat is a target for Demeco Ryan in Houston for some strange reason.

    • Gross MaToast

      Don’t forget his hands.

      Plus, line him up at FB in side the 5 and watch some guys make business decisions when he’s the lead blocker.

      • Palatypus

        Or actually running the ball like the Bears did to the Patriots with William “The Refrigerator” Perry for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

    • KSB

      I’d like to see Sweat on this team too.

      If motivated, it sounds like he could be one of those guys who makes you wonder. Why wasn’t he picked way earlier.

      I’d really like to have a big run stuffer on the DL. Especially after the way the Steelers took it to us. Plus some pass rush as well😀

      I’m willing to roll the dice. Especially with McDonald there to develop him.

      • Peter

        Not sure Sweat is the run stuffer people are hoping for. I think he could be very special. I also urge a touch of caution however

        Last year he played 56% of defensive snaps. Of those only 40% were run snaps. He brings an unreal needs to be seen to be believed level sometimes. I wonder if you are getting a very limited player to be used as a weapon and not as a cornerstone every down player.

        One of my favorite players in the draft for round three played 74% of snaps at Alabama. Now it’s easy to say one did more with less. I mean I heard it all last season with Carter. Though, if you had an all the time dominant force why are you playing them less than 60% of the time?

        I get doing more with less is considered a good thing. However the difference from Sweat to Eboigbe ( the player I covet in rnd 3 or 4) is 154 snaps. Or another way Eboigbe played 4.25 more games last year by snap count than Sweat with better counting stats and very similar hurries, stops, etc.

        • Palatypus

          You nailed it.

        • Sea Mode

          Thank you. Was exactly the question I was going to post, asking about how many snaps Sweat played. High impact certified athletic freak for sure, but for what percentage of the game do you get that? Has to be taken into account.

          Will take a better look at your guy Eboigbe.

          • Peter

            Currently I think he’s a later guy. I’m not suggesting Eboigbe is going to “wow” anyone.

            Rob’s got me on this meat and potatoes JAG where I’m trying to find players third round area that I think can be highly effective every down players. With the hopeful resigning of Williams and Reed again both getting or being older I’m trying yo find guys I think in two years could really be blocks for the team.

            Two things I really like on Eboigbe: his power to push blockers right into the qb. And a pretty great ability to release from blockers to get the ball carrier at or before the line of scrimmage. See: run defense.

  10. Unio

    “The NFL brings out a top-100 players list every year. If you take the top-30 from 2023 and look at where they were drafted, not including the one player who went undrafted, the average pick range of the NFL’s elite was #40 overall.

    Only 16 players were first rounders and eight were top-10 picks.”

    Is that 16 players from the top-100 or top-30? Ditto question for the 8 first round pick?

    • Rob Staton


  11. Red

    Random note, but some of these mock draft simulators might tune in to the SDB… mustapha and zinter kept falling in the 5 round until about a week ago… now i struggle to get them both within the second and third rounds.

    No more posts Rob, giving too much good intel away!

    Again thanks for sports skeeda, best sim yet.

  12. Brodie

    Rob, do you think you have a feel for where TJ Tampa and Edgerrin Cooper might go?

    Playing around with the sims, they’re top of the 2nd to late in the 3rd. Can usually get them with the 76/78 picks on Sportskeeda, but they’re both long gone in PFT.

    • Rob Staton

      I think Tampa will be R2

      Cooper could go anywhere really, not bothering at the Shrine won’t help him

      • Brodie

        Thanks. I hadn’t heard about Cooper not doing anything at the Shrine.

        That was a bit of an issue with the Senior Bowl as well, at least regarding the game itself.

  13. Alex Potts

    I did some finagling of of the hyperlink and was able to find the launch page for Lance Zierlein’s prospect grades 😉

    Here ya go!

    • cha

      Excel master AND internet sleuth. You’re the total package Alex!

  14. Peter

    Not sure I’d stick and pick on Chop Robinson. I think w/o additional testing Seattle should consider him after a trade down.

    Didn’t stick with me about the total counting stats and Rob presented some great underlying stats. So I couldn’t help myself and looked at all the listed DE’s and OLB’s over the last six years in the first round.

    And then as I counted and counted I came across an outlier. Odafe Oweh. Who had a blistering combine with an incredible size. And was drafted by of all teams the Ravens. At the end of first round. Why?, Walter, draft scout all pointed to the limited production. I like the player quite a bit I currently think #16 is too high.

    • Peter

      Something to consider. Robinson missed a few games. No big deal.


      While creating chaos he also played 300 odd snaps.

      Trice per example not as dynamic was on the field 871x.

      I’m mostly just trying to figure out the Why of robinson.

  15. Charlie TheUnicorn2187

    I lean Sweat as well, due to ability to get him is much greater and he is a mammoth human being (6’4″ 346 lbs) who could play and anchor a DL without question. If only Seattle could pair up Newton (1st rnd) and Sweat… hell of a duo.

    • Peter

      Can he anchor and play 70+% of snaps? Or will he be in a different role at around 50%.

      He’s awesome but the weight which we don’t know is a real concern for his stamina over 17+ games.

  16. PatrickH

    How did Chop Robinson perform against the run? I wonder due to the lesson of Daryl Taylor losing his starting job to Boye Mafe because of DT’s inability to set the edge and defend the run.

    • PatrickH

      Actually losing the job to Bruce Irvin and some other free agents. Then Boye Mafe got the starting job the following year.

  17. UkAlex6674

    Always been a big Stover fan boy.

    Him and Cole Bishop/MekhiWingo/Cedric Gray are always taken in my mock drafts.

    At the moment and this is subject to team roster moves/trades before the draft I’d like (no priority of order) the team to draft C/LB/S/TE/G/DT.

  18. 916miked

    Rob when you get a chance can you compare T’Vondre Sweat’s game to Mazi Smith’s . Thanks

    • Rob Staton

      Smith more compact in his frame, carried the weight a lot better. Would say Sweat more powerful and has a better pass rush repertoire. Surprised Smith struggled as much as he did as a rookie

      • 916miked

        Thanks for the quick response and appreciate all your hard work .

    • Brodie

      Javon Baker over Rome Odunze?

      Morgan over Alt and Guyton?

      Feels like this board was for clicks

      • Peter

        I don’t mind the thoughts as a snap shot. As rankings I was pretty confused.

      • Trevor

        No Odunze or Verse was a bit telling.

  19. TatupuTime

    Great. We’re getting to the part of the offseason where Rob makes me fall in love with a bunch of players that I irrationally get upset with when the Seahawks pass on them. So many blog favourites that went on to do well in the NFL.

    Kittle was definitely one that I remember being super frustrated with (to be fair a lot of fan bases where).

    But I don’t think I’ve ever been as frustrated as TJ Watt sitting there gift wrapped for the Seahawks only for them to take Malik McDowell instead. I was so convinced that TJ Watt was going to translate to the NFL.

    • Peter


      I’ve comforted myself over the years on the battles about that pick and let my frustration be consumed by rage that they opted to draft a complete goofus in McDowell instead of Buddha baker who was two bus stops away from lumen….and then in the same draft select THREE safeties who were all project/busts.

      I actually wonder sometimes if Paul hadn’t of passed away if both Pete and John would not have been sent packing with the results of ’17,’18,’19,’20 drafts: 1 wr. 1 punter. 1 do very little TE. 1 guard they miscoached. 1 and an injury retired RB.

  20. Simon McInnes

    Re. Travis Kelce lasting so long in the draft. He has more than once come over as a bit of a t*t when things are not going well. Maybe that came over in his pre-draft interviews (although still might have expected one team to take a chance earlier)

  21. LouCityHawk

    My first reaction to this was ‘no way’. Chop is a top ten player, Swear is borderline first and Stover will be gone in the third and with all our needs can we splurge on a TE in the early 3rd?

    Plus I’ve seen all of these players in person, watched Chop’s impossible first step (faster than Avril for those who saw him), Sweat’s dominance, and Stover playing that dagger type roll.

    Then I dug a bit deeper and looked at some aggregation sites.

    Chop bizarrely falls to #25. I’d lose my mind if he were available at 16 and the team traded back, memories of Sweat…. How good is Chop? The last pass rush prospect as good as him is Micah Parsons, no exaggeration. He could set the edge, anchor against the run, and tackle better, but he is no Darrell Taylor, in fact his skills against the run are good enough that he could be a three down player right away. I’ll believe Chip falling out of the top ten when I see it, he has a rare skill – field tilter? You bet.

    Sweat is so tough. I feel his talent is borderline first. My son and his friends like to call him a Kaiju, and they aren’t wrong when he is at his best. Conditioning and shedding some weight and Sweat probably is a pick for the first round. He reminded me of Sam Adams, a favorite of mine but pre-Holmgren so a lot of folks don’t remember him. Guess what? Sweat is divisive on the aggregate going as high as late first and as low as low 3rd and a spray in between. Works out to a late 2nd.

    The thought of Chop and Sweat on the same DLine should stir your loins. Those two players command double teams. And once you start having 4 players block 2 a lot of things open up.

    Stover requires some projection for me, I don’t quite see LaPorta, who I kept pitching for the pick that went for JSN, but a very solid player that falls somewhere between Kittle and Kelce (upside). He is clearly still learning his position. The aggregator puts him solidly at the back end of R3 – which is great value.

    Schneider would get gambler of the year from me if he moved back and still got Chop, but my bet is the memory of Montez Sweat lingers, and if Chop is there at 16, they stick and pick.

    This is why I think there are likely to be some other moves to try and recoup that lost 2nd round pick (even if that means getting a 3rd). Moving into the back half of the second to obtain Sweat would have shades of DK. Then grabbing Stover to pair with a QB picked at the top of the 3rd? Still a lot of work to do, but that would start to look pretty formidable.

    • Rob Staton

      I wouldn’t be saying they’ll stick and pick for any player at this stage. It’s too early. And there’s still every chance they are approaching this as a QB centric draft

      • LouCityHawk

        Emotionally, there are some players I’d kick rocks if they passed on at 16 by trading back: Bowers, Chop, Daniels….

        The thought of a QB centric draft concerns me, because of their position they are not drawing from the top, or rather not in a position to be sure they are getting their top prospect.

    • Peter

      Oddly I’ve been thinking Chop at #25 for Seattle for some time.

      In this I still think Penix but in the second round.

      It’s fun to do mocks where you get a bakers dozen picks but that’s very unlikely.

      • LouCityHawk

        Chop lasting to #25 would be one of those things they talk about for years. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was taken before Verse, his pass rush is that good.

        Penix in the 2nd feels right, and I think that is most likely.

        Philip Daniels wore #93, but maybe Sweat would switch to #98 so I could have those vibes again.

  22. Palatypus

    I noticed that the NFL Network has Puca Nacua doing the promos for the combine. The tagline is something like “Make them take notice.”

    Looking at the Zebra metrics from the Senior Bowl last year is interesting. Amongst all wide receivers in 2023, Puca was…

    Last in speed. 18.08
    Last in acceleration. 3.56
    Last in deceleration. -4.73
    Last in explosive efforts. 17
    Last in distance traveled. 3,739

    Was he injured?

    • Brodie

      I doubt he’d play injured. I think maybe he’s like a knuckle-ball pitcher in baseball.

      Slow with surprising movement.

      They showed Cooper Kupp and Puka in camp running the same agility drill back to back and Kupp was miles faster. Puka looked like a tight end running the drill.

      • Palatypus

        Chris Mullen had what they caled “The mummy move.”

      • DougM

        I looked up both Puka and Cooper’s combine results. Very interesting.


        You can see how Cooper excells in the short area but in the second 10 yards Puca makes up over a second.
        He also had an exceptional completion % of 77%, if I remember correctly, in college.

    • geoff u

      That is wild. The rare case of someone who is just plain great at football.

    • Brodie

      There was a post I found on Twitter ranking WR groups 40 yard dash times weighted by routes run (ie. Bobo’s time impacts the score less than DK’s)

      Hawks were first. Others in the top 5 were Miami, Washington, NYJ and the Bears

      At the bottom was NYG along with LV, 49ers, Rams & Chargers

      JSN wasn’t fast, and Bobo (UDFA: I know) was downright slow. I wonder if JS thinks 40 time is a poor metric to weight so heavily as it seems we did in the past (4.4 threshold).

    • Gritty Hawk

      That’s a very funny and odd marketing campaign, considering he probably would have been better off NOT being noticed with that performance lol.

  23. cha

    Seahawks add Justin Hinds to the staff as DL coach

    Hinds spent the last two seasons as an assistant defensive line coach with the Bears. He was the defensive coordinator at Western Carolina and the defensive line coach at Central Michigan before making the move to the professional ranks in Chicago.

  24. John Caudill

    Two players that could be a good fit due to their “special” tools and talents are
    DT Darius Robinson of Missouri and CB Cam Hart of Norte Dame. Both will perform well at Combine and as a result will shoot up boards.

    • Rob Staton

      I’m not sure Robinson will test that well but he shot up boards after Mobile

    • Sea Mode

      Hart is a solid player with ideal CB size and length. Seems high floor, low ceiling to me as of now. Will be curious how he tests to see if there is more upside than I first thought.

  25. Film12Hawk

    Just now on Instagram stories the team just shared a wallpaper of Drew Lock.

    There’s obviously something going on.

    • cha

      LOL what does “You Just Got Schooled” mean?

      It looks like Lock in the SF away game after throwing that backshoulder dart TD to DK.

      • Film12Hawk

        “Schooled” on how to read between the lines perhaps. Haha

        It does indeed.

  26. MMjohns195

    Rob, what are your thoughts on Cole Bishop – S out of utah? Seems like a player, and might be available in the 3/4th round. If they end up letting Jamal and Quandre go they’re going to be using guys like Jerrick Reed and Coby in that role.

    • Rob Staton

      He’s OK. Didn’t really jump out like some other players

    • UkAlex6674

      I like Bishop. More round 4/5 for me grade wise though.

      But there are a good few safeties to be had between 3-5.

      Don’t forget we have Jordan Love on board still.

      • Rob Staton


  27. RainInSpain

    I watched Chop and noticed he disappeared against the run in the game I watched. I’m not a tape junkie and don’t have much to compare, so I’d appreciate your thoughts on that for him.

    Sweat looks fun to watch just based on that one. I’ll need to check out his tape a little more.

    What I’m really interested in is who looks like Witherspoon. A guy who played his position well, doesn’t have ideal size, but hits bigger than you’d expect and understands the game. That could be someone you already mentioned, but that type of player seems like they’d go well in this type of article.

  28. Rob4q

    Curious how re-signing Leonard Williams could affect the DL players they may look at early? If Williams is re-signed along with Reed, Jones and Myles Adams are all retained, would the Seahawks eliminate certain player types? And if Mike Morris is in the plans for the future, that’s almost like getting another rookie this year. Cam young playing more snaps this year could also factor in. If Williams isn’t signed, I can see this being a very high priority in the draft…

    At EDGE/OLB they have Mafe, Nwoso, Hall and Onujiogu but do wonder if Taylor will be re-signed. Adding a player like Chop Robinson to this group would be awesome!

    Seems like we will have a really clear picture of the defensive needs for the draft once we get through the FA period.

    Thanks again for the excellent content Rob (and Cha!)!!!

    • Peter

      Who knows about type at this point or free agency.

      But need. DT is a need and this is a great draft for it.

      Williams and Reed…old

      Adams, young, Morris, jones…would be cool if any of them turned into anything.

      When you have as a bad of a defense as we just had I can’t see how it’s not a top priority.

    • cha

      Curious how re-signing Leonard Williams could affect the DL players they may look at early? If Williams is re-signed along with Reed, Jones and Myles Adams are all retained, would the Seahawks eliminate certain player types?

      I really hope not. Reed and Myles aren’t guar to be around long.

      Take BPA and everything will work out fine.

  29. cha

    Rams just cut Brian Allen loose. Played only 12 of 34 reg season games last two years and has a bad injury history.

    But he’s 29 and did start all the games of the Rams SB win season.

    Might be a nice buy-low try to prop up Olu/Draft Pick.

    • Big Mike

      Looks like what they’ve preferred as far as measurables are concerned. Rob mentioned it as a factor.

      • Big Mike

        PS, won’t be 29 until October

  30. Huggie Hawks

    Corbin Smith just pointed out that the hawks hired Zak Hill as Offensive assistant / quality control… who coached Jayden Daniels Az St… make it so!

    • Rob Staton

      Did he add ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT GENO!!!’

      • cha

        He didn’t write back, so…

        • Big Mike

          You both win the internet today.

  31. Sea Mode

    Interesting. So, like the Combine but where players actually do the testing…? 🤞

    Tony Pauline
    ·Feb 20

    No pro days in the Big 12 this year rather the conference will have its own mini-combine

    • Rob Staton

      Very interesting

  32. Sea Mode

    Collecting coaches from all over the place.

    Adam Schefter

    Seahawks are hiring Jets offensive assistant Mack Brown as their tight ends coach. Brown had spent the past five seasons in New York.

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