Maybe, just maybe, they won’t go RB early

We’ve talked a lot about the fixing the running game. And rightly so. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have stated, clearly, it’s a priority this off-season.

Carroll’s brand of football requires a strong running game. It connects everything together. And the last two years haven’t been good enough. Especially 2017. No rushing touchdowns inside the red zone and only one by a (sort of) running back overall isn’t going to cut it.

So whatever happens in the draft, this is the focal point. Whether it’s with new, young personnel added in two weeks or with the existing group. They simply have to get this running game back on track.

I also think we were right to focus on the prospects that would improve this area of the team. Whether that was a lengthy analysis of the running backs or a study of the interior offensive linemen available. Both were needs going into the off-season. Both positions are particularly strong in the top-50.

If they don’t focus on the running game early, it could be a mistake. Could be. If they continue to struggle to run the ball in 2018, there won’t really be an excuse. This draft class is tailor made for a team looking to give their running game a shot in the arm.

Plenty of people wondered why Seattle didn’t seriously look at Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara last year. Imagine the prospect of 6-8 running backs next season having an impact and the Seahawks not owning any of them? It’ll be galling if it coincides with further injuries to Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise.

That said…

When people have suggested in the comments section that the Seahawks might ‘wait’ on a running back, I’ve often dismissed it. I think, with hindsight, that was unfair.

So today I wanted to consider some of the reasons why they might do something different…

1. Where can you get your guys?

To me as an outsider, it looks like the Seahawks have done a good job over the years identifying ‘their guys’ and where they can get them. Whether that’s having the patience to wait on Russell Wilson in round three, trading down to get Paul Richardson, Germain Ifedi and Malik McDowell or knowing when the cornerback ‘cliff’ was last year so they could still land Shaquill Griffin in the late third round.

You might question the players they targeted. You can’t really argue that they did a masterful job moving around just enough to get their guys.

Of course, it’s also possible they were too cute a couple of times. They’ve admitted as much in the past. Tom Cable admitted they had their eye on another player in 2014 before taking Justin Britt. However, in this instance they didn’t trade down and miss out. They simply took Britt with their native pick.

After studying this running back class it’s possible their ‘guy’ at the position isn’t one of the top six projected to go in the top-50. And while they know they need to fix the run and know they need to add another running back — their ‘guy’ might not be a second round pick.

If that’s the case, they’ll likely work the board to make sure they get their guy in the spot they think he should go.

2. Is Kalen Ballage deemed better value?

Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice are all going to be early picks. They could all go in the top-50. We’re talking about a highly talented bunch.

That said, they all have their own little issues. Jones II is undersized and despite his clear and obvious star potential (and fantastic tape) he’s not had a good draft process (injury, reports of bad meetings). Johnson is an upright runner and dropped as low as 206lbs at his pro-day. With Guice it’s character concerns and maturity. Michel has never been a #1 and fumbles too much. Chubb is solid but is he quite the sensational talent we saw pre-knee injury?

Kalen Ballage also has his issues. He underachieved in college and never separated from the rest of the backs at Arizona State.

It might be the wrong approach to take (especially considering the other players produced so much more than Ballage) — but perhaps they feel like any back they take is going to need some work?

Ballage fits their physical preference perfectly. He’s an explosive tester who performed well in the vertical and broad jump. He’s 6-1 and 228lbs. That’s their type of back. He’s also shown some aggression as a runner, albeit not always consistently.

The private workout involving Ballage, Christian Kirk and Kyle Allen was extremely revealing. I don’t recall a time when both Pete Carroll and John Schneider attended such a workout. It might’ve happened many times, we just didn’t hear about it. But it did hint that they’re seriously considering adding all three players.

3. Individual talent vs positional depth

It’s possible the Seahawks have looked closely at this group and have come to the following conclusion:

‘We can get a running back we like in a later round but we can’t get a receiver/pass rusher/defensive back/tight end’

Perhaps they believe the drop off from the top 6-8 backs to Kalen Ballage isn’t as significant as the drop off from Christian Kirk to the other receivers or Isaiah Oliver to the other corners?

With so many needs to fill, identifying where you can get value at numerous positions is as important as ever.

One way to look at it is this. While the early round depth at running back is stronger than any other position there are individual players of a similar level.

For example, Austin Corbett is a fantastic talent. One of my personal top five favourites in this draft class. Is he a lesser player than the top running backs? No.

I’ve spent some time studying Christian Kirk and Isaiah Oliver since Seattle’s apparent interest became known. The receivers and cornerbacks collectively in round two don’t match the depth at running back. Are these two players on a level par if not better than some of the runners? You can definitely make that case.

Knowing where the cliffs are, identifying the range where the well runs dry — it’s vital for any team. If they end up drafting Ballage as their ‘key’ addition at running back — it might not be a review of the top runners as much as it’s a review of some of the other weaker positions in this draft.

4. Compiling alternatives

There’s a correlation between the players Seattle has met with/worked out. Many of them are similar in terms of position or physicality, yet are expected to go at opposite ends of the draft.

Justin Reid >>> Natrell Jamerson
Isaiah Oliver >>> Holton Hill
Ronald Jones II >>> Chase Edmonds/Ito Smith
Maurice Hurst >>> Poona Ford
Austin Corbett >>> Cole Madison
Kemoko Turay/Josh Sweat >>> Dorance Armstrong
Andrew Brown >>> Breeland Speaks

These could be some of the names to focus on as an ‘either or’ scenario. For example, Holton Hill could easily be the hedge for Isaiah Oliver. Get one or the other.

There aren’t any obvious comparisons for Ronnie Harrison, Christian Kirk or Dallas Goedert but that could just be a case of an unconfirmed meeting/workout/visit or they purposely want to keep interest in certain players quiet.

It could also mean if they really like those particular players, there isn’t a viable alternative available later (thus increasing the pressure to take said player early).

The Seahawks are expected to trade down from #18 into a range where the likes of the names on the left are going to be available (#25-50). It’s interesting that only one name, Ronald Jones II, is a running back. He remains a very viable option for the Seahawks. But the names above could indicate they’re going to focus on other positions (defensive back, D-line etc) early — possibly with the intention to draft Ballage in rounds 3-4 and another back on day three.

5. The ramifications of an Earl Thomas trade

There’s increasing chatter that Dez Bryant’s exit in Dallas is a precursor to a trade for Earl Thomas:

For some time now there’s been almost an inevitable feel to this. Eventually someone, probably Dallas, would make an acceptable offer. Now they have less than two weeks to make it happen — but cutting Dez Bryant at least creates the cap room to make it viable.

Mike Fisher says the #50 pick could/should be offered. It’s not the kind of haul Seattle would’ve hoped for but the trade market for Thomas is decidedly lukewarm. He turns 29 on May 7th and wants a big new contract.

Whether you agree with it or not, it’s impossible not to acknowledge that the Seahawks appear ready to deal Thomas. And if that’s the case, getting what you can now — a second round pick in a year when the second round is loaded with talent — wouldn’t be a terrible return.

It wouldn’t be a satisfying conclusion to Thomas’ career in Seattle. But neither was the end for Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and, eventually, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.

Leaving that aside for now, lets briefly look at what a trade could mean.

The Seahawks are rumoured to be willing to trade the #18 pick to Cleveland. This would, presumably, see them net the #33 and #64 pick in return.

If they had #33, #50 and #64 in this draft class — that would be a really positive thing.

The second round is golden this year. It’ll be the round of the draft. The names that go in the second frame are going to be tantalising.

Pick three from:

Isaiah Oliver
Ronald Jones II
Christian Kirk
Austin Corbett
Josh Sweat
Justin Reid
Maurice Hurst
Andrew Brown
Kemoko Turay
Dallas Goedert

Feel free to add your own suggestions too. These are just some of the names connected to Seattle.

Despite the need to fix the running game, if the Seahawks came away with a second round haul that consisted of: Isaiah Oliver, Christian Kirk and Ian Thomas — you can’t really question the talent they’ll be adding. You can question the decision to address these specific positions — but the players themselves are very good.

And when you’re in the midst of a roster re-tool — adding talent at multiple positions isn’t illogical.

You might be able to land three players with the same grade as the guy going at #25.

So after weeks of saying fixing the run will be the early draft focus — here’s me now saying maybe we need to keep an open mind. And actually, getting three of the best value prospects available in round two might be the best way to benefit from this draft class. That could still mean a running back and a tight end early — it just might not. I need to acknowledge that.

If you missed our interview with Tony Pauline from Draft Analyst this week, make sure to check it out below…

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  1. Trevor

    Another great writeup Rob and I think if the goal as Tony Pauline mentioned is for the Hawks to have 10 picks then the scenario you have outlined above seems quite plausible.

    Sign me up for Rojo, Sweat and Oliver please.

    But any 3 from the list above would be quality additions.

  2. Rob Staton

    I’ve also just landed in Orlando and will be here during the draft. My first aim is to find something with UCF on it. Last time I was here in 2008 I bought a UCF T-shirt. I’m going to do the same thing this time to mark the absolute joy I took watching them play against Auburn and Memphis at the end of the season.

    • Kenny Sloth


    • Kenny Sloth

      Has Rob finally found a cfb team?

      • Rob Staton

        No, no. Won’t pick a college team. Prefer it this way 🙂

    • Darryn Trainor

      Hey Rob, I will be in Orlando as well during the draft, I am over with my family for the World Cheerleading Championships. Depending on our schedules, we could possible meet up for the draft. Thanks again for all of your hard work providing all of us some valuable knowledge.

      • Rob Staton

        Hi Darryn, might be able to meet during the day but could be difficult for the draft as I’m with the kids. Give me a shout nearer the time 👍🏻

        • Darryn Trainor

          Sounds good!

          • Seatown

            You guys should check out the Central Florida 12s. They will be probably holding a draft party. They have a website and a FB page.

    • Lewis

      Welcome to the States! As a native Floridian, sorry it had to be there.

      • Rob Staton

        Hey, I love Florida (all of it). Happy to be here!

  3. FuzzyLogic

    IF we get the 50th pick for Earl AND trade with Cleveland for the #33 pick(Unlikely both happen) I believe our first pick should be Rojo or Chubb. Then we can trade back up from round 4 and pick up Ballage. This makes the most sense to me. Picking up Kirk at #50 would be incredible too.

    • Kenny Sloth

      We drafted two backs with similar profiles back when we had Beast at the height of his powers

      Michel and Turbin totally remind me of Chubb and Ballage, physically.

      • 503Hawk

        That’s not a very reassuring comparison for me.

        • Kenny Sloth

          It’s not supposed to be.

  4. drewdawg11

    Yeah, that makes sense as well. I stillthink they can get more from Dallas, even if it’s a pick next year as well. The thing is, if they do acquire those specific picks, they Probably have to get their back no later than 33. At 50, there is a lot of risk there. I’ve been a proponent several of these guys for a long time, (Jones, Chubb, Oliver), but I don’t know how they can pass on a chance to get an impact back and a major upgrade on the line. I feel that Oliver is top 40 at worst. If you take him you lose out on Jones and probably Chubb. I also wonder how far Billy Price falls after his injury. He’s still an option, I believe. I will say this. If the 50th pick in the draft is the best you can get for Earl, I would hold onto him. He’s too valuable.

    • Alex Higgins

      Would you change your mind if you knew the Hawks would go 8-8 this year even with ET? That’s where I think they’ll be in a tough NFC West and overall NFC. Certainly not SB contender. So why not load up on young talent and maximize your return on ET?

      • Sean-O

        Great perspective Alex Higgins!

        With SEA minus picks in the 2nd & 3rd in the up coming draft along with SEA not likely to want to give ET3 a third contract, this time is likely now to move him.

        We all love ET3 & are forever grateful but with some of the cupboards pretty bare at some spots, this team really needs young, talent infusion.

        • drewdawg11

          The simple answer is that he’s a better player than the potential player that we get at 60, and it would have to be a sweeter deal for me to send off a future HOF player. Let’s be frank here. John has a tendency to get bent over on trades. Usually he’s giving up too much and receiving too little. The market isn’t super hot for safeties right now. I would rather get another potential pro bowl caliber season from Earl than take a shot at a rookie second round pick. There’s zero guarantee that player even pans out. I think to give away this player for a mid-late second round pick seems like trading him just to clear cap space. John Schneider’s mismanagement of the draft picks from this past year seems to be dictating a lot of moves for this coming year and beyond. Like I said, don’t give the guy away. I’ve been ok with trading him for a first. If nobody wants to give up a first, I want more than a mediocre second.

          • peter

            THis is kind of rough but PC and JS mismanaging picks has been a problem for a while. And last year a great strength of any organization is realizing where you are and where you are going.

            Even while the trades were happening I couldn’t believe that Seattle honestly felt two things:

            That there was no one in this draft worth a second and third round pick. Which is terrible because thats where seeming all the talent is.

            And more importantly to think that they were one DT away from the superbowl. I get feeling a certain way about your organization but sometimes you need to see it for what it is. Seattle had been piece mealing production for a bout two seasons and the defense though very very good wasn’t one DT away from greatness.

          • AlaskaHawk

            They have had some successes early on in draft picks and moves. But lately it has been as drewdawg said. Lets hope the new offensive coaches can make something out of the offensive line and plays.

    • Ducey Q

      I agree…Earl is worth 19 at the very least, not a #50…keep him and Franchise him if he balls out in his in the final year of his contract. I think Seattle would’ve used this strategy if Sherman wouldn’t have gotten injured…Seattle, technically has Earls rights until he’s 33…keep him and franchise him if an agreement can’t be reached…that leverage is what I hope Seattle is using in negotiations…Earl hitting the market at 33 is a lot different then him negotiating a new contract now. I will be pissed if Seattle trades him for anything less than a 1st rd pick…Seattle has proven they can find gems at RB in late rounds…Rawls,Ware, Collins, Pope, and #32, the new Terrell Davis…don’t see them going RB early.., great article here articulating this…ironically I could see them going Ridley at WR or Landry at DE if they fall..otherwise they trade the 4th or 5th they grab the other twin Griffin to replace Chancellor at SS..can’t wait for the draft.

      • Rob Staton

        29 year old safety’s are not worth top 20 picks I’m afraid.

        And this doesn’t seem to be about any kind of contract leverage. It’s about Seattle seemingly being ready to move Earl. Whether that’s this year or next.

  5. drewdawg11

    Also, I want no part of Ballage and I don’t get the sudden love for the guy. He’s an underachiever. He doesn’t have the internal drive to succeed at a high level in college. He can’t be expected to be anything more than a backup at the next level. I’d rather have Penny, and you might be able to trade up into the third and get him.

    • Sean-O

      I kind of felt that same way just because having seen him play over the years in the Pac 12 he never really stood out. I’m coming around just because like the article states above, the difference between him & the top six or seven RB’s could be smaller compared to other positions.

      I know some aren’t big fans of the combine (Underwear Olympics) but he looked pretty impressive in his drills.

      • Sean-O

        Not a fan of the music in the video but here’s some highlights of Ballage.

        • Thy Hawk is Howling

          I listened to the music until the Vocals came on. It was a good beat for 4 seconds.

          With Ballage you just never no? In the Pros he won’t have as many College girls around him which should help him focus more. Also with different training he could grow considerable at being a Footballer.

          • Mark Souza

            I think it’s just that much worse when the underwear olympics indicate you have more tools and physical ability than most and yet it doesn’t show on the field. He’s be a “NO” for me. I’m looking for backs who are already running through walls and looking for the next wall to destroy.

      • Hawktalker#1

        Also not a Ballage fan. I hope we go another direction at RB.

        • peter

          Agreed. ALmost any other direction would work for me.

        • D-OZ

          I have always like Ballage ever since we talked about him a couple years ago. Never noticed what a good blocker he is. He has always been a thorn in the Huskies side. I think the way ASU used him was always a little off. Noticed he made some nice block’s on one of the better LB’s in the country. USC’s Cameron Smith.
          It’s a very odd to me why Marcell Frazier is getting no love in this draft process.

          • peter

            Ill say this to be less negative. Ballage paired with a Jones II or a chubb then I’m all in. Ballage and the HOPE that whatever seattle called a running game last year is going to be magically great is kind of scary.

            I’m a little down on constantly waiting for players to “put it all together.” Prosise is a great example. I almost wonder if he really even wants to play. ET/Graham (say what we will about graham) they come back from terrible injuries to play. Chubb obviously, and Sweat with a wonky knee brace.

            But Prosise its just a list of injuries that may be significant but who really knows at this point.

            Going back to the running backs that whole department needs help in the worst way.

            • Dave

              How many pro bowl, all pro and hall of fame RBs have had lackluster careers in college? If Ballage and a late round RB like Edmunds or Ito Smith are the Seahawks answer to fixing the running game, I’m going to be pissed. We need a pair like Jones II and Nall or Chubb and Edmunds. Talk is cheap. Fix the running game. The mentality and toughness of a thousand yard rusher are different than someone who gets 500-700 yards a season.

    • Clayton Russell

      Agreed, sometimes I think Seattle trys getting to cute with trading down so much that other teams, just jump in front of them and select the player they really wanted. Now they will never admit to it but personally I world be super disappointed if after a trade down and Nick Chubb is still on the board someone jumps in front of Seattle and takes him. Seattle them doesn’t target a rb with the pick and we end up with a poor man’s Čhubb in Ballard later in the draft.

  6. RWIII

    If somehow the Hawks (and I have my doubts ) can obtain
    3 picks in the 2nd round that in itself would be a steal. From what I am reading the 2nd round is where the action (value) is.

  7. Josh Emmett

    Lots of possibilities! I appreciate your wide scope here dude. I have felt that there are so many options this year. I would like to bring up that they do have 8 picks. Most teams have 7. There has been much talk of a lack of picks and the hawks have proven they want their guys. They don’t care if it’s in the first round like Bruce Irvin or the 7th round like Chris Carson. I know the first round is sexy and the sweet spot in the second round is sexy for RB’s but they are going to do their thing. Dismissing your offensive coaching staff after a winning season is quite the statement. I think that how everyone has been clamoring for bevel and cable’s jobs for the last couple of years this huge change gets a little overlooked. Stock the cupboards with BAMF’s please! Less then 2 weeks now!

    • Kenny Sloth

      Pauline told Rob that we want at least 10 picks

      • Josh Emmett

        I think the biggest part of this blog that does need debate is the way we parse what people say(John Schneider, Pete Carroll, even Pauline). A lot of the time from the limited info everyone here gathers lots of assumptions are made. Assumptions are ok and good for debate but this year like last year a majority of people feel that to be succeful in the draft they need to attack the sweet spot. The hawks didn’t take that approach last year and it worked out great with acquiring Griffin in the 3rd round as opposed to king and Obi in the ‘sweet spot’. Will they do the same thing this year? I have no idea. We all have no idea and that’s why the hawks draft blog is the most entertaining in the league because it’s hard to get a handle on what they are going to do. Very excited for this draft!

    • Hawktalker#1

      Early isn’t just sexy, that’s typically where the better players are . . . Trading down to get 20 7th rounders doesn’t really get you 20 lottery picks instead of your previous 8.

      • Josh Emmett

        Where the better players are? Well the whole legion of boom came from the later rounds. Except Earl. So there’s that. It’s a coin flip even with first rounders.

  8. Coleslaw

    If we got Isaiah Oliver, Christian Kirk and Tim Settle I’d be pumped. Jessie Bates would be a guy I could then see them trade up to secure. Grab a couple RBs, a LB or 2, and a TE and call it a weekend.

    • Coleslaw

      33. Isaiah Oliver
      50. Christian Kirk
      64. Tim Settle
      95. Jessie Bates III
      146. Kalen Ballage
      156. Dalton Schultz
      168. Leon Jacobs
      171. Shaquem Griffin
      226. Ito Smith
      248. Simeon Thomas

      Trade Earl to Dallas for 50 and 171. I’d love this draft.

      • Coleslaw

        Oh yeah. And trade 120 and 141 for 95 or something like that and get Bates

      • Coleslaw

        Could also take one of Jacobs/Griffin out for Chase Edmonds or John Kelly.

      • Hawktakler#1

        With all the Quem hype, I don’t seen any way he gets out of the fourth round, and I have seen several of us even pick him in the 3rd.

      • Kenny Sloth

        I wouldn’t take Leon Jacobs ovet Quem if he had three hands

        • peter

          Line of the draft season! Good one kenny!

  9. C-Dog

    Fantastic write up, Rob.

    One thing that I’m starting to find interesting about these visits and workouts is looking at it in the context that the team is facing contract years with Tyler Lockett and Frank Clark. They need to add a WR and Kirk fits the Air Coryell. Looking at the DL, as much as I would love to see a BJ Hill type added, it feels like they could be set at DT fairly well, but depth behind Clark and Jordan is almost terrifying. I think they really need more edge talent. Drafting a Kirk and Turay early covers needs and adds some assurances if they reach deals with Clark and Tyler.

    RoJo, Kirk, Turay would definitely be an exciting haul, IMO, but Kirk, Goedert, Turay and then later Ballage would also be pretty exciting.

  10. GerryG


    Fantastic piece. It is exceptionally rare in 2018 to hear a writer admit possible fallibility. So refreshing to hear takes that consider so many different possibilities.

    I can’t argue the logic. Honestly I could see drafting 3 DL early on. Acquire talent. (I still want Jones)

  11. RWIII

    BTW: Everyone has Cleveland trading two 2nd round picks to move up to grab our 18th pick in the draft. Can someone please tell me who this player is that the Browns have to have at 18. Everyone is projecting Cleveland to trade two 2nd round picks and move up and grab our 18th pick in the draft. It looks great for the Seahawks to move down and snag two 2nd rounders. I don’t see why Cleveland would trade two 2nd picks to move up to 18.

    • Trevor

      There are only two first round OT in this draft class (Mcglinchey and Miller). The Browns need an OT badly after the Joe Thomas retirement.

      Those guys will be gone by pick #33 so if they want one of them they either have to trade back from #4 and aquire two first round picks from say Buffalo. Or trade up in front of teams like NE who also have a need at OT.

      Dorsey and JS know each other well so they make logical trade partners as well.

      • House

        My money is on Kolten Miller. NE picks in the 20s and after losing Solder, CLE leaps them to get Miller. I think McGlinchey will probably be fine a few picks before 18. After those guys, you got Orlando Brown. Big drop off in my opinion

        • Mark Souza

          McGlinchey I can see as a true first round tackle. I don’t get the hype over Miller. Nothing in his game performance warrants it. Yes, he put up freakish numbers at the combine, but combine numbers won’t stop an NFL DE, or pick up a blitz. Yes, this draft is a wasteland for tackles, but that’s no excuse for moving this guy up to Rd 1.

  12. Nick

    This post showed maturity, Rob. After we focused so heavily on the early DBs in last year’s draft, you mentioned wanting to be a more self-conscious analyst. And this post shows that you’ve learned from that experience—as we all have, honestly.

    I’m genuinely excited about getting an early round pass-catching threat. Either TE or WR—I’m not too bothered, the lines between the positions are becoming less and less apparent.

    I’ve been thinking about where they’re coming from with their interest in Christian Kirk. And it hit me, if Doug Baldwin goes down this year, are we really going to trust Lockett as a WR1 with DJ Moore, Amara Darboh, and Tanner McEvoy? That’s not a great group—especially when you consider the calibre of CBs in our division.

    It seems clear that Kirk is a hedge for Lockett, as many have mentioned. The market for Lockett next year could be much higher than they’re willing to match. Totally understandable. If there’s one WR to work on another contact with…it’s Dougie B. He’s the type of receiver that can play well into his mid 30s. And his connection with Russ is genuinely one of the best in the NFL.

    Moreover, Kirk’s tape screams Seahawks. It’s like a mini-Golden Tate. Supposedly in the draft community he’s known by some scouts as “Baby Odell Beckham”. Now look, of course he’s not there yet…but he’s the type of WR who could blow up in the league. And if you know that you can get a very high floor prospect like this in the middle of round 2? You take that.

    • Sea Mode

      Why “mini-Tate”…? 🙂

      Tate: 5102, 199, 30 1/2 arm, 9 1/4 hand, 4.42 40yd, 10’0″ broad, 35.0 vert, 7.12 3C, 4.34 SS, 17 bench
      Kirk: 5103, 201, 30 3/8 arm, 9 7/8 hand, 4.45 40yd, 09’7″ broad, 35.5 vert, 7.09 3C, 4.45 SS, 20 bench

      • CharlieTheUnicorn

        It is scary how similar they are….. Tate was #60 pick I think. So back end of the 2nd round.

      • peter

        Man Seattle could use someone like Kirk in the worst way.

        • hawkdawg

          I don’t get this, actually. We have one of the best slot receivers in the game in Baldwin, at the height of his powers. Injury hedge, building for the future? Sure. But for next year, forcing Doug outside (although he would do well there) to accommodate a rookie slot guy may not be a net gain…

  13. Jason

    Who could ballege be a hedge for? Other than Jones what top rb’s have they looked at?

    • C-Dog

      I think it’s possible that there is a player they covet that they haven’t outwardly shown interest in. I think one possible candidate could be Nick Chubb.

      • Sea Mode

        Absolutely. No reason for them to reveal their interest in Chubb as you know exactly what you are getting.

        • D-OZ


  14. cha

    Thanks for that dose of humility Rob. It makes the blog better and encourages more open and respectful input.

    I think you said something in your wrap up of last year’s draft about all of us getting tunnel visioned about that great CB class and putting too much emphasis on forecasting the Hawks to get one of the top CBs available. So it’s nice to self-check now in regards to the RB class this year.

    I don’t disagree that a top runner would be a great addition, but I’m not going to be disappointed if they go in another direction.

  15. Jlkresse7

    Hey Rob,
    Thanks for writing this piece, I think people had forgotten that jc/pc have a history of finding their guy and sticking to the game plan. If the running back they like is projected to go in the fourth/fifth then there is no need to try and reach for them in the second. I was interested in your opinion on Jaylen Samuels from nc state. He’s listed as a tight end, But I feel he is better suited to play running back.

  16. Coach

    Did I miss it or has no one asked the question, “Should the Hawks go after Dez?” I’ve heard people say cutting Dez opens up cap space for Earl, but trading Earl would open up room for us as well to sign Dez. He has been one of the best red zone threats in the league the last few years and I just wanted to see what everyone would say?

    Go Hawks!

    • D-OZ

      NO THANKS!!!!!

    • 503Hawk

      At his age, isn’t he just a higer priced, sexier version of Jermain Kearse?

      • peter

        “sexier jermaine kearse……”

        • Mark Souza

          Coach, I think you said it best, “has been.”

    • Mac

      Dez used to be dominant in the red zone. I just don’t think he’s the same guy anymore. He is a decent run blocker though.

  17. Greg Haugsven

    Very noble of you to be more opened minded that they may not go RB early as I was one of the guys who brought it up along with some others. That being said it would be sad to not come out of this draft with a quality runner. I would love having a two headed monster but Im not a huge believer in a RB by committee, so what ever we decide to do I sure hope there is a guy who can get us 225+ carries in 2018.

  18. peter

    Excellent write up sir.

    I like the premise of increasing value across the team which I think ultimately makes teams successful.

    However ballage is a jag. there I said it. Dude had plenty of years to get on track and get it going. He’s a very average runner with spurts of excitement followed by indecisiveness at the line and an inability to make good choices. He’s got so so value catching the ball and his current claim to fame is that he had a great pro day. Not for nothing but everyone should have a great proday.

    if Seattle goes for the big haul minus a running back of there is talent available but they say no to it, I’ll be legitimately bummed. Ian Thomas is a perfect example. He’s got what appears to be a fairly high ceiling but also has a pretty low floor. In that no one has any reference of what he will be consistently. He’s got literally one season to make any opinion at all about him. That’s some rough sledding scouting wise to do. Hope a te grows and pin your running game to our current motley crew.

    the big if of course is that the line stabilizes and somehow the current core plus say ito and John Kelly turn into a three headed attack, then this will all be a great decision. However if the line doesn’t stabilize we will all be talking about replacements for ifedi, fluker, browns future, Britt future…and we will be looking at running backs In a draft with tons of great s line talent.

    • Josh Emmett

      Let me preface this with I’m not advocating Ballage be a priority at all. I think the hawks and patriots take a very similar approach with most positions on the team when evaluating and acquiring talent. Both teams have had dominating running backs. That works. But it is very rare to have an opportunity to acquire a dominating running back. Rather then gambling big on a position in the draft that has a high failure rate with so few elite backs, the hawks and the patriots are taking the money ball approach. Get your hands on a group of running backs that can all do a little something. Both strategies still take a bit of fishing around and coaching up but both options are viablue. If you have 4 running backs that all can do a little something in a diverse scheme it’s juat as good as a bell cow back and easier to come by imo.

      • peter

        thats fair.

        the patriots though also protect tom brady. If he gets to 35 sacks in a season the sky is falling. Seattle lets Wilson (and he contributes as well) regularly get into the 40’s.

        I dont mind a variety of running backs. and you cant control health. but the big difference to the two teams is the patriots run everything through Brady and seattle has said consistently that it wants to run ball and control the clock. hopefully more level oline play will bring the most out of the current running backs.

        • Josh Emmett

          I don’t think everything runs through Brady as much as I think the patriots are very scheme diverse. They can throw short, intermediate, and long when they need to. They can run the ball with power and zone principles with a variety of backs highlighting the situational football they get into. Yes, the pats have the goat. He is amazing. I know that. Russell is right up there with brady in regards to the top performers at the position. Bevel and cable’s scheme has been characterized as “diverse as my high school playbook” by Chris sims of bleacher report. When Aaron Donald and Michal Brockers don’t know every play the hawks are going to run we will see how where the hawks stack up. I got so tired of watching Donald side step a blocker and dominate a play because the hawks offense was so predictable. He doesn’t do that to every team. Donald is good but I think the hawks helped him a bit reach the status he is now by fielding inferior athletes to block a dynamic player in a simple scheme. The hawks have the advantage of not being predictable this year. The coaching and scheme change is a huge advantage for them.

    • Nem Beselek

      I thought Ballage had a very good Senior Bowl, and apparently did well at the combine, but he wasn’t the most productive RB at ASU this year, and by a pretty wide margin. Demario Richard had over a 1000 yards, and Ballage had just 669 yards. Both were less than 100 yards receiving on the year. Ballage is 6’1ish, and Richard is 5’10. We usually draft back RB in the 5’10, 220 lb. range.

      If I had to bet, I’d bet we draft Richard late, as opposed to Ballage early.

  19. peter

    Gotta say what is with everyone praising Rob for his “humility,” and ” maturity? “. I’ve been reading this blog for 9 drafts and Rob has always backed dudes and has also always to my reading noted the error in that prognostication. I feel like rob has always handled the blogs shenanigans with marurity.

    If it seems like he’s pounded for an early running back and not a late one to fix the running game I have to feel it’s because the late running backs are kind of crappy. Will Ronald jones be oroy? Probably not but is he a great talent? Yeah.

    • D-OZ

      Who said he made an error????

      • peter

        It’s not a big deal but it just seems odd from posters to thank rob for his honest reflection that he might be wrong about running back early.

        To me, Rob has always kept an open mind about scenarios while staying true to his beliefs.

        • GerryG

          Sorry for thankin’

          • peter

            no need. no one is wrong to do it. it just read as if robs consistently dismisive to other thoughts is all. or hes full of hubris and arrogance…

    • AlaskaHawk

      He hasn’t admitted that Vita Vea may slip to #18 yet!!!! 🙂

  20. AndrewP

    Rob Staton proves, once again, why he is the best follow on Twitter/Blogosphere. Some dig their heals in, and you are moronic if you try to illustrate why there could possibly be another view of things.

    Seriously, dude, you are the best.

  21. Saxon

    Superb article, Rob. I think point number 3 describes perfectly why some of us prefer to wait on RB. It’s a deep group of backs but not especially deep at DE, WR, OT. We are more likely to find a starting caliber RB with our later picks than a starting caliber player at other positions of need.

    Additionally, the RB position has been devalued in recent years by backfields by committee and specialists. Do you want to spend a high pick on a player that will be on the field half the snaps?

    Finally, as you point out, many of these backs have questions marks. Only Saquon is truly worth a first round pick. Should we trade down I hope we prize positional value over need.

    • D-OZ

      Trade Wilson for Barkley did you say??? 😉

  22. 12th chuck

    I really hope that Earl isn’t traded, especially for a 2nd. What is to stop the next pro bowl/all pro/ future hall of fame potential player dictating when and where he plays next, if and when he is no longer happy playing for the seahawks or Pete Carroll. If he is traded, hope its not Dallas. It almost feels like they are trying to get whatever they can from… Dallas. if no other team is willing to give up more than a second round pick, then keep Earl. Love this recent article, there is no guarantee that Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Sony Michel, or Derrius Guice will fix our run game.the odds are probably better than the other running back talent available, but this is a deep pool to choose from with other needs as well. I am also a little sketchy on the history of previous running backs picked, so mid round pick on a back is the way to go for me.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I wonder if Seahawks would trade him for a future first round (2019) and a third rounder this year??? They get their first, but no real help in this years draft until the third round. Seems equivalent.

      • 12th chuck

        That still meets the rumor of wanting at least a 1st. rounder. would you trade to Dallas though? At first I thought it was him wanting to play for his home team growing up, but now ,50/50 on the deal. I think it sets bad precedent.

  23. JimQ

    I’m not sure that the Seahawks aren’t just doing their due diligence with the players they are “looking at”. At this point in time, they don’t know if they’ll get their desired 1-st and 3-rd for ET, they likely will trade down from 18, but to where? With these unknowns, they have to be ready to cover all of the players they like as well as those that may fall to them. It’s called being prepared & PC/JS do it well.
    I can still see a lot of merit in going RB early, if they are counting on last years RB’s with the hope they can stay healthy, and be Lynch 2.0’s, well, it’ll be a long season. – Rashaad Penney is at least twice the RB that Ballage is, but isn’t even mentioned as a possibility as a Seahawks pick? Must be a small school
    bias or something?

  24. Old but Slow

    Just stumbled onto a video of Dylan Cantrell, WR from Texas Tech. Impressive player, but I have heard little about him so I went to the SPARQ folks, and voila, he is the top WR on the list.

    It is puzzling to me that he isn’t being talked about. A little over 6′ 2, and 226 lbs, and catches the ball, blocks, and is a team captain. And he indeed catches the ball with his hands, behind him, below him and way high above. What is the knock? I don’t get it.

    • D-OZ

      I like Watson from Penn. a lot also….

    • HawksGal

      I agree, I love this kid and he had a great combine, jumped a 10’10 broad jump, 6.56 three cone drill, 38.5″ vertical and ran a 4.59 40, he is all football and Peter Schrager compares him to the next cooper Kupp.
      I don’t know if the Hawks would draft him.

      Rob, amazing article! I love checking in here daily to read up on your latest takes, outstanding work.

      I also believe we don’t draft a RB in the first few rounds, that being said considering Carroll has been quoted many times as stating RB is a priority, we’ve looked at very few of them leaving me to question why. Perhaps they’ve already marked their guy.

      I see us trading back into the second several times, where we could easily nab Oliver, this guy is crazy good and ready to start in 2018; I think we wait on CB and target Holton Hill or Isaac Yiadom so my money’s on dropping back several times.

      First Pick Austin Corbett

      Second pick Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

      Third Ian Thomas or Eq. St. Brown

      Fourth Shaq Griffen

      Early Fifth is where we’ll target our back, John Kelly, Nyheim Hines, potentially a full back too later on. I feel Pete is happy with our bigger backs Mike Davis and Chris Carson, he will look to draft a solid but shifty smaller but dependable multi tool type.

      Natrell Jamerson for safety some where in the 5th.

      My two cents worth.

  25. Pedestrian

    Rob, have you seen/heard of Darius Phillips CB from Western Michigan? Absolutely looks the part, though I question his run support.

  26. Awsi Dooger

    * The Ballage types very seldom pan out

    * From the list I would take Christian Kirk and Dallas Goedert without hesitation, then probably debate between Hurst and Brown. Probably Hurst

    * The second round after pick 40 is almost always overhyped. No reason for that to be different this year. Adjustments are designed to fail

    * Rashaan Evans is an extremely undervalued player and will be a bargain for somebody

    * Jessie Bates needs a league without actual tacking, hitting or defense. Take a 2-star player who soars up the hype train late in the process and you are violating so many fundamental aspects of the process and common sense you deserve to be ruthlessly burned

    • McZ

      In 2017, the players around 40 turned out to be great value, but they are normally guys either drafted with a “wanna have”-factor, or R1 talent not making it. Zay Jones, Marcus Maye, Budda Baker, Everett… All a little bit early for my taste. Dalvin Cook IMO was a clear R1 RB, he was one of the steals of the draft.

      So, you have to make sure, it is top talent you draft. If Hayden Hurst is the guy you take at 40, then it is well done. If it is RoJo, Michel or Guice, it is well done. If it is Nick Chubb, you’ll overpay a bit, because to me he is a late R2, early R3 talent.

      If you are required to choose between Austin Corbett around 40 and Braden Smith at 80, you take Smith.

      It’s all about relative value, and tactics.

      • mishima

        Off-topic / related:

        No need for M. Hurst when you have N. Jones playing that role: 3rd down interior disrupter.

        • C-Dog

          Carroll talked about the DT rotation with John Clayton a few weeks ago, and when asked about Naz, he indicated that they see a special role for him, it sounded like Shamar Steven early down 3T, and Naz more pass rushing DT. I think they want to limit reps and get back to a deeper rotation. Reed might be the dude who gets the most snaps.

          • mishima

            Agree. Return to form: gap discipline / stop ther run / deep and versatile DL rotation. Need some more talent on the edges.

    • D-OZ

      Just watched a bunch of tape on Bates. He is not over-hyped, He is the real deal. I watched Virginia,BC, Texas A&M,Florida, Oklahoma and UT. He made play’s in all of those game’s while some were game changing. He is also a kick returner… He is sneaky smart. Definitely won’t get beyond rd.2. There is a reason he peaks team’s interest.

  27. ChrisClem

    What are your thoughts on John Kelly, Rob? He might be a little under sized for his running style, but that kid looks tough as nails. Couldn’t he be a day threw option?

    • Rob Staton

      I like his running style, pass pro and pass catching ability. I’m wary that he hasn’t been a consistent or reliable feature in college.

      I think as a R4 type complimenting more of a feature runner he will be perfect for that role.

      • ChrisClem

        I really like him too, and I think there is more to him than his college career shows. To me Carson/Kelly could be the next Ingram/Kamara. With Davis as a back up and Prosise (or McKissic) as a change of pace back, I might be good with that backfield. Add a fullback like Khalid Hill and a blocking TE like Smythe, both in the later rounds, and we might see a completely different running game this year.

        That being said, my first choice would be drafting Nick Chubb.

        • Rob Staton

          For that comparison to come to fruition Carson will need to stay healthy. Something he hasn’t been able to do at any point in his career so far. Not sure on Kelly and Kamara as a comp. I saw Kelly compared to Ahmad Bradshaw recently and I can see that.

          • D-OZ

            I agree to that comp.

            • Greg Haugsven

              John Kelley could be a Marion Barber type. A late game finisher who can punish.

      • D-OZ

        Just got done watching tape on Kelly. I was not on the Kelly bandwagon as I liked other Late round RB’s that I had researched. I like Scott from Mich.St. Better than Balladge. I am 100% sure PC/JS are doing their due diligence and to some extent creating a divergence. In the latter rounds do you really think they want teams to know who they are targeting. unlikely.
        OK, Back to Kelly; What impressed me most is when I watched the Florida game.He trucked Gardner big time. He has Moxie +

        • Rob Staton

          Yep — he played very well against Florida. It’s the worst performance I’ve seen from Gardner too.

          He also looked excellent against Georgia Tech. Sadly, apart from that, there’s not much else.

  28. schuemansky

    Great article, Rob. Cannot agree more with the comments above about your willingness to second guess your beliefs. One cannot understate the importance of that for this blog I think.

    Alos IMO the Seahawks’ strategy as you’ve said is to always have fallback options in case their 1st or 2nd choices for a certain position are gone in case players they like but were not necessarily big needs become great value. For example, a majority of the blog thinks tht we won’t go after OL early, but what if Corbett, Ragnow or Smith fall to 2/32?
    Another thing is Shaqueem Griffin. If PCJS really, really want him, where do they feel safe to get him? Maybe mid 3rd?
    My thought is that they will trade back with Cleveland, getting 33,64 and their R5 pick, from Dallas they get 50 and their native R4 pick. And then they trade back again with let’s say the Bengals for 45 and 77 giving up our late R5 pick.
    So we get started having 45, 50,64,77, two R4 picks, 4 R5 picks and 2 R7 picks.
    With the first three picks we could address WR, TE, DE, RB, OL, CB and LB in a BPA for Seahawks manner.
    At 77 we take Griffin.
    In R4 and 5 we get the fallback options for the positions not covered in R2.
    And by the way, Old but Slow, I really like Cantrell as well. Would be a steal in R5.

  29. Millhouse-serbia

    Isaiah Oliver and Rasheem Green draft for me. Rob , what’s Rasheem range? Do you.think he will be available around 50th pick?

    • Rob Staton

      Green is hard to project. Based on potential he could go R1. But we often see pass rushers like him go in R3. So there could be some real value there.

      • Kenny Sloth

        In that same line of thought, do you see them targeting a 5tech in these early rounds to replace MikeB?

        • Rob Staton

          Possibly. Their interest in Andrew Brown is intriguing. In five years I can see him having developed into one of the better five techs in the league. He has that potential.

          But visiting with Breeland Speaks shows they also have a hedge option there. Speaks has a ton of potential too but is more of a R3-4.

          • Kenny Sloth

            Do you see Green as a fit for that position for us?

            I wonder if we can’t extrapolate visits to players teammates

            Remember how we were so concerned with Vance McDonald or Hal Vaitai, when the future seahawks were sitting elsewhere on those rosters

            Obviously we can assume that if seattle personnel were at a certain pro day, they had to have seen other players there.

            • Rob Staton

              I definitely see Green as a fit.

          • D-OZ

            Do you think they are going to spend an early round pick on a mistake. I Think Folu could fit that bill in the 5th.

  30. peter

    as we get closer to the drat I thought I’d start posting a list of players I WANT Seattle to target. Rob has done great work over the years breaking down the physical attributes like no other but within that Seattle still does some odd choices. So for these lists I’m ranking the players that I would like to see seattle draft. Here goes:

    Runningback: still the worst overall position group simply because Duane Brown at LT > than any running back. Many posters have made cogent arguments as to why Seattle wont draft early topped off by Rob’s great article. For me I’m going to be more bummed if the team passes on either of two..

    1. Ronald Jones II….unorthodox in that he doesnt fit current type. However he has been a great back consistently and can run with power or finesse and gets to speed like no other. Might be the best back in the class based on tape.

    2. Nick Chubb….Bias on my part but I have liked Chubb since he came in for Gurley and hammered the SEC. Next to Barkeley he is made from the PC lab for running back. As explosive as super project Christine Michael but might be the most “all ball,” draftable player this year…..edit: after Shaquem Griffin.

    3. Royce Freeman….ultra dark horse. probably not on Seattle’s radar. Not quite as explosive as others though I keep hearing talk of Ballage’s testing and Freeman and he had more or less the same results though freeman is heavier. Super productive running back. Great vision. Excellent feet.

    4. John Kelly. Tennessee is/was a mess and under Butch Jones and couldnt figure out how to use their players. see: Kamara, Alvin. John Kelly has a bit of that plug and play vibe to him in that he may not provide a spark but can give you solid results both on the ground and in the air. Put on good weight. Looks to lay the shoulder as much as go outside. Kind of a player Seattle already has but if he can stay healthy,?, then maybe that;s all Seattle needs.

    5. Ito Smith….total ball of energy. Plays with enthusiasm. From the little I’ve seen he’s a willing blocker, very shifty, gets up to speed quickly and works back to help out his qb on broken plays. I rate him just a bit higher than other blog favorite Chase Edmuds (who I like) simply because Edmunds played in a super low conference so its hard for me to get a handle on how he will play at the next level.

    6. Ryan Nall….I literally dont know if he provides any special teams value but you get the sense from Nall that he would do anything to play. You also get the sense that he would work his butt off to stay on a roster. Though he has never played it I wonder how he would be as a fullback he was recruited as a TE so you assume he can catch and block and when he runs he’s very good setting up his blocks so you would hope he understands the concept. Full disclosure I live in Eugene and work in Corvallis (oddly from Seattle and finally like the huskies now that I dont live anywhere near there) love both UO and OSU and tend to like players from both programs.

    That’s it. Those are the 6 running backs I like. There are a ton of interesting options but I dont really rate any. Schottenheimer has been on the staff of a teams that have taken smaller backs early so you almost have to figure a smaller back will be taken. Pete Carrol’s dream back is basically Samaje Perine with explosion so who knows how this unfolds.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Yeah, I think Rob’s overlooking Freeman a ton. He has all year. Freeman was in high school while Pete was down there at SC. Royce has always been an explosive 5* recruit. Seems like exactly the type we’ve been looking at.

      Everybody has issues if his worst problem is that he isn’t trying to lower his helmet on a dude…. Guess what… Not everyone is Thomas Rawls

      I think Rob is overlooking him.because of what he can’t do as opposed to what he can.

      • Kenny Sloth

        Draft Guice and John Kelly if you want battering rams

      • peter

        A few things I wonder if everyone is overlooking him as Oregon has trended a bit downward? I mean sometimes I look at his stats and think how is no one, not us, not the national media talking about a guy that productive years? You know I got to get sarcastic: Kalen Ballage with a good pro day? seriously? in 4 years he had 1984 yards and 27 TD’s. Last year alone Freeman had 1475 yards and 16 tds.

        It really wasn’t all that long ago that Royce Freeman and the heisman were attached as a concept.

        It’s probably more exciting having a player run right into a line men and get up and scream at a defender to the tune of a 15 yard penalty than have a silky smooth player just pick up yard after yard and TD after TD.

        JOkes aside though nice info about him being in Pete’s world in high school. If we know anything about PC is he loves to go back in time for players.

        • Kenny Sloth

          TO BE CLEAR

          I can’t find anything about Royce being recruited by Pete in HS

          He was recruited by USC and offered a scholarship in 2013.

          Hard to believe he wasn’t on Pete’s radar

          • peter

            no I get you.

        • Dave

          I’m a big PAC-12 fan. I watched an Oregon game and thought Royce Freeman would look great in a Seahawks uniform. Granted I watch more Oregon games than ASU games, I never felt that way about Ballage. Freeman is a smooth runner with great instincts like Shaun Alexander. I love physical RBs, but Alexander was exciting to watch too.

      • Nick

        I think this is a really fair criticism. Royce, like Ballage, has some runs where he’s super powerful and loves contact. If they believe they can get him to lower his head more, he would provide great value in late round 2, early round 3.

        • Kenny Sloth

          I think Rob makes the perfect point in this piece about our team knowing the shelves of talent and where their guys will go.

          Either they want one of those guys before 45 or they feel they can wait to take someone else that they love. Thats just something we can’t really project.

          But yeah. Not sure why so many people are ignoring his what 60 total touchdowns in a power 5 conference behind one of the most dramatically fluctuating programs in cfb over 4 years

          • peter

            great point he still produced after mariota when the team went haywire. And unlike some backs from wisconsin/arkansas/and a few others Oregon isnt exactly world beating with it’s oline talent. They arent the best but they certainly are not “making the running game.”

            • Kenny Sloth

              Put the team on his back. Consumate leader.

              Bounce back from a couple injuries to lead his team.

              Oregon’s OL actually is pretty underrated too. If Tyrell Crosby was in shape he’d be in that solid second round range too.

              I just saw a gif of Crosby blocking one dude into another dude so hard they take out a third dude.

              • peter

                I meant to say “not the worst,” and they aren’t the worst. They send about a player a year to the pros which is pretty good.

                But some teams you just see the scheme and it’s all beef on the line moving the rock.

              • SheHawk

                Says a lot that as a husky I hated playing v. that guy.

                There is a running QB and RB combo in one of the AZ school that just Lit up the Cougs last year Who are they Was one Ballage???

                QB: I say we go with a JAG this year as back up and go get that running QB from AZ OR the Utah Utes have an awesome young QB… who also was scary against the Cougs as well. He may be a freshman though so we’ll have a long time to wait for him. Utes remain one of the best OL in Pac 12. Good talent coming up next draft from Utes

                • peter

                  The utes are my favorite team in the pac 12. Kyle wittingham seems to be having a good time coaching and on the day they get a qb to be consistent and not injured they are going to be a great team.

                  Good OL scheme, good defensive scheme. Gets a lot from his players.

      • Rob Staton

        I just don’t think his running style is a fit here.

        I’ve been quite consistent that I see Freeman as a second rounder and included him in all of my top-50 lists.

        But his running style doesn’t seem to click with what they like. Even with Kalen Ballage, you see some of what they’ve looked for in the past. Freeman is pretty finesse.

        • Kenny Sloth

          I think he flashes enough physicality, but I will not hide my bias.

          I’m the kind of fan that will get behind whomever they take. If they believe in Bo Scarbrough then I believe in Bo Scarbrough. Ditto Rolls Royce. I mean shoot it could be Penny. All of these guys have coachable deficiencies holding them back imo and if Pete is backing his new coaches maybe he goes that direction.

          What would be interesting is the idea that they could want a complete player at the position to take the coaching variable out of it. This would certainly lend itself to taking someone like Kerryon Royce or Nick as I think those backs are the more pro ready minds at the position.

          • C-Dog

            These are almost all my thoughts on the matter. It’s why I’m intentionally trying not to play favorites. It appears a fantastic year to take a back. Outside of Barkley, you can pick at each back’s blemishes.

            Additionally to his deamor concerns, I’m seeing chatter that RoJo’s pass pro abilities are also concerning, maybe why Pauline sees him more as a role player than Rob. Chubb has always screamed Pete Carroll back to me, but there seems be thoughts out there that he is somehow destined to be an average starter despite his explosive traits. Kerryon’s upright style merits some concern. I’ve always like Freeman, but I can also acknowledge that he’s left tough yards on the field. Hey, if by chance Seattle is high on Ballage’s overall potential, and they want to scoop up Kirk, Goedert and maybe a top pass rusher, I say go for it.

            I like the draft better when I don’t get too emotionally attached.

        • Elmer

          Would love to glimpse the Hawks’ draft board. Maybe prospects are ranked not strictly by position of need but by the amount of upgrade they see over anyone currently on the roster.

          Maybe they go someone like Kirk first if they think that a better passing game will help free up the running game. These guys have shown the ability to outsmart themselves in the past. I hope that they get an exceptional downhill RB with their first choice and don’t play it cute.

          • Sea Mode

            They always grade against their own roster. JS has said this before.

      • Mac

        Rolls Royce is one of two dark horse candidates to me. Are him and Nick Chubb the same players they were in their sophomore season. That’s the question I have

  31. calgaryhawk

    Thanks Rob for looking at the other side of the coin. A good write up on team options that needed to be looked at. One thing you didn’t mention (though I know you realize it), John and Pete have always maintained that this is a defense first team. This defense is coming into a transition year and as Schneider has stated “trust the process”. I think each year this team tries to go into the draft with at least some depth at all positions and thus all the “no name” signings before the draft. This approach allows them to pick by talent not need with their first few picks. Some times talent evaluation and need align ( Ifedi).
    I may be wrong but I feel there is more talent on the offense side of the ball than defense in this years draft. I’m not saying there isn’t talent on both sides, I just feel there is more depth available on offense this year. I have felt from the beginning that whether the first or second round, Seattle would pick a defense player first unless someone very good on offense should happen to drop to them. That said, I would not be shocked if Seattle drafted 2 running backs. Someone like Ballage, Freeman or Scarborough, big, strong get out of my way or I will hurt you type of runner and someone like Ito Smith that is above average catching the ball out of the backfield.

    • Trevor

      They have shown more interest in smaller RB like Smith and Edmunds this year. Maybe it is something the new OC would like on the roster but I though they have Mckissic for that role.

  32. SheHawk

    Thanks Rob. I’ve been hoping you’d write something like this! My intuition hasn’t been feeling Rojo. Like Chubb but this year’s draft Hawks in an entirely different scenario. With so many needs and overhauled coaching staff, its going to be all about casting a wide net and taking BPA within position groups of need – and there are many. LOVE the early round – later round pairings. That analysis will help me stay calm watching the draft ( + yoga breathing helps).

    VMAC and meetings are best insights now. While there could be a “Pocic-like” surprise – a player they don’t meet with and keep under the radar. The meetings are great insights. We have to be open minded and trust this is where JSPC show how much better a FO combination they are then others.

    My only MUST HAVE player is Griffin. He “completes us” ala Jerry MaQuire. If we’re going to have the 8-8 season some pundits predict – at least we 12s will have great moments watching the brother Griffin! He is everything PC stands for. Personifies grit. Just hope we get him. LOB II will be ” powered by twin turbos” and Hawks will be back in SB sooner than everyone thinks!!

    • peter

      However if they pass on CHubb/Jones in the 50 range that may feel to me like passing on BPA.

      I like the potential of Ian Thomas at TE but per Rob’s scenario is a TE with one year of production a better use of capital than a good/maybe great running back? Is picking Ian Thomas and forgoing better running backs to pick Ballage an overall improvement of the roster or more of a lateral move? Now the TE room ‘might’ be better but has the running game for a ball control offense improved?

  33. SheHawk

    Agree if BPA is a RB take them — I think we need to load up on offensive weapons early but if we trade ET3 we may take a very talented DB ( Oliver?) and I for one wouldnt be said to have a 4 rd running back plus a strong young secondary

  34. Pugs1

    I’m buying that the Seahawks are extremely high on Christian Kirk and Kallen Ballage. Losing Graham and Richardson leaves the Seahawks light on offensive weapons. Kirk is a playmaker and could be huge in Schottenhiemer’s offense. It’s also interesting that Pete was at that workout with Ballage. Kallen checks all the boxes but everyone is saying he needs a fire lit under him. Remember last year how Pete talked about Carson as one of his guys. Remember how Pete was talking to Carson on the phone about how he needed to run when he got to Seattle. This workout could have been the final test for Pete to sign off on Ballage and I don’t doubt Pete’s ability to light that fire.

    • peter

      I guess I dont understand why a player would need a fire lit for them…..

      When guys like Poona ford set out to make their own way. Or players like Shaquem almost literally didnt play at all because the coaches wanted Shaquill and still made all conference and destroyed Auburn on his last game.

      Or even Royce freeman going back to him still played on a horrible Oregon team and played like the games mattered.

      Or my man Chubb who almost had his career taken away from him.

      Im not as far down on Ballage as it seems. I’m a little burnt on seattle thinking it can get the most out of players that others couldn’t. I’m not being facetious here: Relative to draft slotting when is the last time Seattle got more out of a player than they did prior to being in Seattle? From a light a fire stance. Marshawn Lynch may be the only time. Harvin, Michael, Mcdowell none of those guys.

      Carson was a 7th rounder and ballage is a fourth rounder (projected) thats the big difference for me. if Ballage was a 6th or 7th rounder then id be stoked on it.

      • mishima

        My main criticism of PC: Ego/Hubris.

        Let’s just draft proven talent, not untapped potential. More talent / less magical thinking.

  35. Millhouse-serbia

    #USC Ronald Jones has Graham’s worst pass-protection execution rate in last 3 years. As always, great listen with Graham & @FG_Dolan.

  36. Horacio Fernandez

    #USC Ronald Jones has Graham’s worst pass-protection execution rate in last 3 years. As always, great listen with Graham & @FG_Dolan.

    From @evansilva

    • Rob Staton

      The majority of running backs struggle in this area.

      Very few are as dynamic, aggressive and talented as Jones II.

      • McZ

        Adam Rank at proposes the Giants to draft Quenton Nelson R1, and RoJo early R2 to “turn around” the organization. That tells a lot.

      • Horacio Fernandez

        Agree on Jones, dynamic. Love the explosiveness and the willingness to go between the tackles.

  37. nichansen01

    Rob, when you’re watching Jones, remember that the pac 12 is one of the worst P5 conferences defensively, possibly even worse than the big 12 this year.

    • nichansen01

      I like Jones but he’s more of a poor mans Alvin Kamara than a Jamaal Charles.

  38. James

    Rob, your analysis is correct (as usual). Given the renewed commitment to the running game, and the strength of the draft being at RB and OG, it was logical to assume that is where the Seahawks would go with their top pick. However, deeper analysis shows that there are greater roster needs elsewhere. More than anything else, this team needs to get younger and faster on defense, and to immediately implement this transition, especially with the LoB in ruins after the Carnage Bowl in Arizona (not to mention the potential trade of Earl).

    The primary need at the top of the draft is for another DE/Leo, a CB, a WR, and a TE who can open the middle and underneath of the field. I would have added a K, before Janikowski was signed, for sub-par performance there mean the difference between 11-5 and 8-8.

    If Pete and John remain convinced (and probably rightly so) that they can find a Shaq Griffin level of CB in the mid-rounds, then that leaves WR, TE or DE/Leo. I believe that RB is not a good value in the top 50 picks, given we already have two good ones on the roster, and a comparable talent can again be found in the middle rounds, as insurance against all-too-common injuries at that position. On the OL, I believe the Seahawks think they are set for this year, with Brown, Pocic, Britt, Fluker, Ifedi, Fant, Roos, Odhiambo and Battle… so no way they waste their top pick on a backup OG. Solari will be given a chance to fix all of Cable’s incomprehensible errors.

    You can’t project for a player like Derwin James falling to #18, so my best guess is DE/Leo or TE.

    • McZ

      So, who is the starting LG? Who will be the player inherting LT, once Brown is gone or degrades further?

      Two names spring to mind:
      Braden Smith, G, Auburn, a virtual clone of Austin Corbett with more experience on high level running game
      Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU, at this stage of his career a very solid LT, that can learn his bit behind Brown, and make this OL champion grade 2019 or 2020.

      Both of them could go R2, which doesn’t reflect their value at this stage, but the desperation of the league for OL talent.

      This means, RB will be the first pick around #35-45. Then OL, with one pick or both. In the downtrade process, we should have acquired another R3 pick, this should be Shaqueem Griffin.

      My preferred DE is Jeff Holland, also Auburn, in R4.
      Then TE, Mark Andrews, beside Hayden Hurst the only full package, that still needs to learn a bit about blocking. He may fall mid/late R4, maybe even R5. But having Will Dissly would also be just fine.
      In R5-7, we have enough ammo to get a WR (Auden Tate, Trey Quinn, Marcel Ateman), a second (John Kelly, Kalen Ballage), a S (Siran Neal), a CB (Levi Wallace, Quentin Meeks or one of a couple of other guys), a QB (Kyle Allen) and maybe a DT. A P can be acquired in UDFA, Joe Zema being my Aussie of choice.

      K is solved, I guess. Myers has a lot to learn from Janikowski, he should cherish this chance.

      • Rob Staton

        “So, who is the starting LG? Who will be the player inherting LT, once Brown is gone or degrades further?”

        Pocic at left guard, finding a long term successor to Duane Brown isn’t a 2018 problem. And the long term successor could be George Fant.

        • McZ

          Really, the Hawks are one pick short on fielding a decent OL, and a further pick away to ensure, that it stays as such for 3-4 years, so the Seahawks are championship grade in 2020 or 2021.

          They could also resign Joeckel, but not for that much money.

          Plus, I don’t get, why they should continue with Cables misallocation of talent. Pocic should really move to RT, Ifedi inside. The LG spot is open to competition, with a short time patch, but really no competitor.

          Fant will or will not come back from injury. He played 10 games in 2016, not even a full season. If you say, we cannot depend on Chris Carson, this is obviously equally true or possible for George Fant.

          • McZ

            Or, put another way, according to PFF:
            – Duane Brown is 33 in fall, his play degraded quite a bit
            – LG spot is vacated, bot starters on FA, Fluker can do only one trick
            – Justin Britt is above average at C, yet played his worst season (and btw, was drafted in R2, despite being projected R6)
            – Ethan Pocic is #80 out of 85 OG
            – Germain Ifedi is #61 out of 70 OT

            So, we can hope, that the last two have breakout seasons, that Britt and Brown recover some of their lost track. We can even hope, that Fluker stops being Fluker, or on a grand Fant reunion.

            But, hope is not a strategy, the OL still lacks talent, depth, quality. The task facing Solari is much steeper, as not 12s like to admit.

            • McZ

              …Most 12s…

            • Rob Staton

              Come on, Brown joined the team mid season after a seven week hold out. Everyone used to hammer Cable and now he’s gone.

              You’ve got to give the new staff a chance to work with these guys.

          • Rob Staton

            There’s clearly a big difference between depending on Carson to be a feature running back in 2018 and ‘depending’ on Fant to one day in the next year or two possibly replacing Brown at left tackle.

  39. RWIII

    Rob: Just curious. What are the positions of strength in next year’s (2019) draft. I heard next year the defensive line appears to be a position of strength. No John Schneider and other GMs take this into account when making decisions on this year’s draft.

    • Rob Staton

      DL without doubt

      • McZ

        This will be a hell of a DE class.

  40. madmark

    I have a question for you all. I had been looking at Billy Price the guard from Ohio St. His coach really praised him for his grit and leadership to they point of saying he was best player he ever coached and he was projected to go in the middle of the first round. Now that he torn his pectoral muscle his stock seems to have drop. Would you consider drafting him and if so where would ya think he’d go at.

    • Trevor

      I really like Price and think he will be really solid 10 yr starter + leader. If he is there in the mid to late 2nd he would be an absolute steal IMO. I still think he goes top 50 but you are right there is not much buzz and he seems to be falling.

    • Sean-O

      I believe originally he was on the radar for a lot people when it came to the Hawks drafting a guard early but over the last couple of months (plus signing Fluker) things have really shifted to the defensive side of the ball or a skill position on offense.

      No doubt he’s a good player with a heck of a resume but not sure he’s what the Hawks are looking for with likely they’re fist pick.

    • H

      His arm length is less than ideal, and his best position at the next level is probably center. Thats why ive cooled off on him for Seattle, rather than the injury. That said earlier in the process he was one of my fav prospects, ahead of Wynn and Hernandez. Tough, refined, athletic and very much ‘all football’ if he’s there in the mid second thats a steal.

  41. Lewis

    Great analysis. It sort of matches up with what I’ve been thinking, which is that most of the RBs are going to stay onto the board into the 50s, because there are a bunch of good ones, and other positions may get prioritized early. So, I’m thinking a guy like Kirk doesn’t last to 50, but that you could still pick from most of the RBs at that spot.

    I’m hoping for Kirk then an RB, then maybe a DL.

    Rd 3+
    shaq Griffin
    Holton Hill
    Martez Carter
    Ryan Izzo
    Poona Ford

    That would make me a happy guy, with an OL mixed in there somewhere.

    • RealRhino2

      That’s funny, I was kind of thinking the same, but opposite. I see so little separating all but maybe one or two of the WRs that I could see a real gentle slope, so why take one in the 2nd that you could get in the 4th. For example, Kirk doesn’t look like much to me. I like his added value as a returner, and that’s probably what pushes him up a bit, but it’s hard for me to see him in the 2nd round. 3rd rounder for me, and I’d take Pettis 10 times out of 10 before Kirk.

      But a decent #3 receiver still has value, while a decent #3 RB is essentially worthless (different than a different TYPE of RB; that has value). That’s why I’d push for a good RB earlier than a good WR.

      • Lewis

        That’s just it, I think we can easily get both. Incidentally, I view Kirk as a #2, not a #3. Really like his tenacity. He looks for people to hit, which makes him very seahawky, imo. As others have said he comps well to Tate. Assuming the team likes him, they can get someone like him early in the 2nd rd and still get one of the top tier RBs in the second half of rd 2. That’s sort of the in-between scenario to what Rob was saying, that is, prioritize other rd 2 players first, because the RBs might stick longer (because of the number of options of similar quality).

        Of course, if they really prefer one over the others, then maybe they should just go get them. Or if they really feel somebody like Ballage is almost as good, they wait longer (the scenario Rob presented)

        • RealRhino2

          It depends on what we are looking for, IMO. Greg Cosell uses a handy term when talking about RBs, “foundational” back. What he think he means by it (and what I take to mean by it) is a lead back that is the foundation of your running game, a guy who will be in on all three downs.

          I think there are quite a few backs of a similar talent level, but if you are looking for a foundational back, I don’t think the options will be there in the late 2nd. To me, that’s Barkley, Guice, Chubb, and *maybe* Michel. The fact that Ballage is perhaps almost as good as some other guys does me no good if he’s not a foundational back. Ditto RoJoII if I can’t count on him on 3rd down. If you think we are looking for a foundational back we can rely on, I don’t think we can afford to get cute. OTOH, if they just want a guy to be part of a committee with Carson, I’m fully on board with BPA and grab a RB later. Agree that lots of them have something to offer as late as the 5th round.

  42. Kenny Sloth

    Rob, this USC vs Texas tape is some of my favorite this year.

    I’ve watched it maybe ten different times for a few different players and I notice something different about the guy I’m not watching every time.

    Holton Hill pops a great Darnold pass loose from Deontay Burnett

    Deshon Elliott forces a Ronald Jones fumble at the goalline to force fourth down that Poona Ford dominates.

    Ronald Jones with the great read of a Holton Hill cb blitz and pickuo

    • olsonc

      That was a great game and Texas played really hard.

      • Kenny Sloth

        Breeland Speaks vs Martinas Rankin in their final college game in that egg bowl rivalry

  43. olsonc


    What do you think of Jeff Holland from Auburn. Looking at his highlights, he looks fast and physical and appears to have a little better frame to my eye than Landry or Sweat. I liked his motor and showed murderous intent when chasing ballcarriers. Maybe we could get him on day 2.

    • Rob Staton

      Really liked him in college. Measurements and testing don’t scream ‘Seahawks’ to be honest. But he got to the QB at Auburn and might provide some mid round value.

  44. Rad_man

    Thanks, rob !

    Whatever direction they go, we will all be watching

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think a big fix in their running game happened already with their coaching changes.

    • Josh Emmett

      I second this

  45. Kenny Sloth

    Schalke and Newcastle both won today

    Local boy Yedlin with the assist too

    • H

      I was really rooting for Yedlin to make it at Spurs, would have been nice to have a link betweem my two clubs.
      Harry Kane is a Patriots fan so thats a right off :/

  46. HawksBill

    If they are looking for a value at WR, there may not be a better one this draft than James Washington
    from Oklahoma ST.
    A big play receiver in a running back body with proven production. He looks unbreakable. A trait the Seahawks could use more of. I have seen a few projections as low as day 3

  47. CharlieTheUnicorn

    Harold Landry (DE/OLB, Boston College)

    SOURCES TELL US “He’s just like (Vic) Beasley coming out with the way he comes off the snap. You remember how Beasley struggled early because he had to learn to be a pass rusher and not just a sprinter? I think Landry might be the same early on. When he puts it together, he’ll do what Beasley did.” — NFC team pro personnel director
    NFL COMPARISON Bruce Irvin makes this so easy to predict the pick for Seattle ;D

    • olsonc

      He does look very fast coming off the edge.

    • Rob Staton

      I don’t see Irvin in Landry personally. Bruce was an absolute machine in college. Not only that his athletic testing was off the charts. Best pass rusher in college football during his two big years at WVU (and it wasn’t close) plus elite testing. He played his ass off. Didn’t see that from Landry.

      Here’s Bob McGinn’s sources on Landry:

      Scout #1: “Played more D-end for them but can’t be a D-end up here. Not a physical guy. Doesn’t really play hard.”

      Scout #2: “He needs to win initially for success. Does not fight pressure. Run-around type. Tight in space.”

      Scout #3: “I think he’s a pipedream. But he could be top 50 easy.”

      • RealRhino2

        I don’t think he’s for us, but I also don’t think he’ll get past GB at 14 anyway.

        If their NFL sources are telling them he’s “just like Vic Beasley,” why are they comping him to Bruce Irvin? Just comp him to Vic Beasley.

        • Rob Staton

          I know you’re not arguing he’s like Beasley — but I don’t see that comp either. It’s a bit of a lazy comp. Slightly lighter EDGE, comp them to Bruce or Beasley.

          Vic Beasley was the #8 overall pick for a reason. Massive and consistent college production throughout, incredible complete workout performance — speed, length, physicality. Bruce was the same.

          Harold Landry just isn’t in that ball park.

          I think he’s neat and tidy. He’s fine. Nothing that exciting. Needs to win with speed off the snap or it’s over. Has to do more. I hope Green Bay do take him at #14.

  48. VancouverHawk

    Please don’t rip my heart out JS. Don’t trade Earl

  49. hughmungusfan

    Any thoughts on Bo Scarborough as a second back drafted in later rounds? Seems like we could use a bruiser second option to rotate in. I would be stoked with Oliver, Kirk, Turay if we could get those trades done and get a run blocking tight end like Smythe in later rounds.

  50. House

    C.J. Anderson was just cut. Another vet on the market that could go cheap and/or need to wait for an injury

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