Monday draft thoughts: Mizzou’s D-line impressive & it’s not just Ray/Golden

Missouri is a production line for defensive talent. A couple of years ago they gave the NFL Sheldon Richardson. Last year it was Michael Sam and Kony Ealy (wasn’t a fan of either, but still). Now it’s Shane Ray and Markus Golden. But it doesn’t stop there.

Senior defensive tackle Lucas Vincent had a big day against Tennessee on Saturday — and so did redshirt sophomore Harold Brantley. Vincent is listed at 305lbs but looks a little bigger and played the nose. He was consistently breaking into the backfield, playing stout against the run and stood out just as much as the big name edge rushers. It’s worth noting the youth and experience of Tennessee’s O-line, but this was still an impressive performance. If the Seahawks are looking for depth on the D-line, Vincent is one to monitor.

I’m not convinced Brantley will declare (it’s unlikely) — but he has a ton of momentum and could easily be a rapid riser. He’s got 4.5 sacks in his last seven games working inside. Brantley had a slow start to the year but it’s not a major surprise — he dropped to 275lbs during the off-season after suffering an illness. He’s back at the 290lbs range and he’s a fantastic interior pass rush prospect and a natural three-technique. He’s a little fleshy and could stand to tone up (and add core strength in the process) — but he’s young and has time. He took over the Tennessee game and acted as a real tone setter and compliment to Golden/Ray. Selfishly I hope he turns pro (wouldn’t be the first RS Soph to do so) because the potential here is through the roof.

I still think Golden will ultimately be a better pro than Ray — but it’s close. After suffering with a hamstring issue earlier in the year, he’s back to 100% and back to his best. This was a relentless performance flashing everything you want to see from a prospective NFL pass rusher. He has the speed and athleticism to round the edge, he can disengage a block and fight to the QB. He has the strength to develop a bull rush over time and he’s comfortable stunting inside. He’s not a one-dimensional speed rusher and he just looks the part.

In this game he had two sacks, a fumble recovery and six total tackles. He’s a monster — it’s staggering he doesn’t get more national attention. I’m going to keep bringing this up because it’s the best endorsement you can give the guy. I watched six Tennessee games last year to look at first round offensive tackle Ju’Wuan James. He had a brilliant 2013 season and deserved to go in the top-32 for sure. Only one player gave him a hard time. One player — and this is an offensive tackle playing in the loaded SEC. Markus Golden is that man. Remember this during the 2015 draft process. Golden is a top, top player.

You’ve also got to love his business like approach:

Ray has better production (13.5 sacks for the year) and gets a better press. The broadcast crew during this game were touting him as a top-five pick. There’s every chance he’ll perform well enough at the combine to go early and any team needing a pass rusher will get a good one if they select Shane Ray. I think he’s a little more reliant on get-off and speed — although he stunts inside just as well as Golden and he’s shown he can mix it up with his hands to get off a block. He doesn’t have the same natural length or size — he might be more of a liability against the run at the next level. Ray is a more explosive pass rusher, Golden is perhaps a more complete overall defensive talent. Both should go in the first round.

If you get a chance to watch Mizzou’s D-line performance against the Vols — take it. This is a unit filled with talent. The Seahawks could do a lot worse than tap into the production line as they strive for greater defensive depth moving forward. Whether they attack a loaded draft for pass rushers will depend on their ability to spend in free agency. With players like Jabaal Sheard possibly hitting the market — not to mention a cluster of other big names — it might be a need they can address with a couple of veteran additions. If not — they’ll have options in April. If you get time check out Kentucky’s Bud Dupree — another good fit for Seattle and a player we’ve talked about a few times this year.

Tony Pauline on Jaelen Strong

One of the more overrated 2015 prospects could be Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong. I’ve never been a big fan — he played soft last year and didn’t look like a dominating size/speed combo. Many reports complimented his improved performances this year — but having watched ASU three times now he just looks like the same player. I’ve never felt compelled to put him in the first round discussion — so it’s reassuring to see this from Tony Pauline today:

Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong receives a lot of attention on the outside as the junior is in the midst of a career campaign. Speak to scouts and you’ll get a different point of view. Many are concerned with his lack of speed, quickness and the struggle he’ll have separating at the next level. Several area scouts have stamped Strong as a third rounder based off the film and many grade Dres Anderson of Utah as a better receiver prospect for the next level.

Sadly, there’s just not a lot to get excited about with this group of receivers. 2014 produced an incredible crop — from early picks like Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr all the way to the end of the second round with Jarvis Landry and even in the fourth with Martavis Bryant. Next year players might get overdrafted, because the depth and quality just isn’t there. At a time when Seattle is crying out for a difference maker at WR or TE — the draft might not provide a solution.

I’ve mixed thoughts on Louisville’s Devante Parker. He gives off a bit of a diva vibe during interviews — but has no off-field red flags to speak of. He’s only 6-2/6-3 and 207lbs — he plays bigger than he actually is. He has a tendency to lose focus and make mistakes. He’s had some drops. And yet he’s had big games against good teams (and more importantly, good cornerbacks). ESPN’s Scouts Inc currently rates him as the #9 overall prospect. Maybe the best thing working in his favor is a competitive streak all good receivers need to have. He doesn’t suffer through a lack of belief. He’ll get after opponents. Nice guys generally can’t play receiver — not unless they’re built like Larry Fitzgerald. Parker has a shot — but at what point? Early first? Late first? Second round?

Amari Cooper should be the first receiver taken for his natural catching ability, surprising speed and playmaking potential. This is what he’s capable of:

After that, we could easily see Devin Funchess over-drafted purely based on his size/speed. He’s the closest thing to Seattle’s need for an athletic big man (6-5, 235lbs) — but there’s something so underwhelming about his play on the field. As fluid as he is running over the middle and exploiting a mismatch with a linebacker in coverage, he just doesn’t make that many great plays. He drops too many passes. He looks more like the next Jermaine Gresham than the next Jimmy Graham. The counterpoint to this is Michigan’s passing game has been horrendous for years.

And that leaves Kevin White as the remaining likely first round wide out at this early stage. He’s in the 6-2 range and 211lbs so he’s not huge. He’s had a terrific year even if the production has tailed off in recent weeks. He’s competitive, he high points the ball tremendously. He’s been something of an emotional leader for West Virginia this year. I like him. He could be a Sidney Rice type player for this offense. But you just can’t help but think there will be better value at other positions in round one. 2015 doesn’t look like the draft to go after a receiver unless someone like Cooper falls into your lap or you truly believe in a White/Parker/Funchess. There are just too many good pass rushers, offensive linemen and yes — running backs — to go down this route (particularly if we really are witnessing the final few weeks of the Marshawn Lynch era).

Favorite 16 players watched so far this year

1. Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
2. La’el Collins (G, LSU)
3. Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
4. Bud Dupree (DE, Kentucky)
5. T.J. Cummings (T, Pittsburgh)
6. Randy Gregory (DE, Nebraska)
7. Shaq Thompson (LB, Washington)
8. Markus Golden (DE, Missouri)
9. Shane Ray (DE, Missouri)
10. Tevin Coleman (RB, Indiana)
11. Andrus Peat (T, Stanford)
12. Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
13. Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
14. Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson)
15. Dante Fowler Jr (DE, Florida)
16. Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)

Five big names that have underwhelmed

1. Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
2. Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
3. Brandon Scherff (T, Iowa)
4. Leonard Floyd (DE, Georgia)
5. Connor Cook (QB, Michigan State)


  1. peter


    excellent thoughts about mizzou as a defense factory. The Wr group this year is so poor I worry about over drafting especially a guy like Funchess. I’m belaboring a point I made a while back but he just gives up on too many games when the going gets tough so to speak.

    I’m a huge fan of Golden and Nate Orchard and they both share a similar trait…excellent coaching.

    sir, I’ve been watching a ton of cut UPS of TCU’s Chucky Hunter and was wondering if you’ve gat any thoughts on him. I’m personally developing a man crush. To me he’s like a faster, stronger, more developed Clinton McDonald.

    frankly I hope the Seahawks DE in round one and DL after Banes injury in Round Two. Sucks for fantasy value but in real value I love a punishing defense. That and I really can’t see past Kevin White for any early value at WR, everyone else makes me say “yeah…but,” and Tevin Coleman I think could be had in the third if they need to go that direction or davantae booker with a fourth

  2. peter

    Brutal with the phone

  3. AlaskaHawk

    Check out Virginia wide receiver Canaan Severin. He made a great one handed catch against Miami. Not sure what year he is.

    • AlaskaHawk

      oKay so I found that he is a Junior at Virginia, 6’2″ tall and 225 pounds. He has 38 receptions for 496 yards and 5 TDs. Last few games he has been getting 4-5 receptions for 55 yards, 14 yards per catch. Not sure if he will declare this year, but he looks like a solid #2 receiver to me. I was impressed by his prerformance in the Miami game.

  4. CC

    Lose a Golden – gain a Golden??? But let’s see if Jordan Hill can keep progressing. He had a few good plays Sunday – this is his opportunity to prove himself. We need depth of course, so I really would like to see a DT in the first round.

    WR is a tough spot – but teams have been successful getting guys in the lower rounds, but it doesn’t seem to be Seattle’s strong suit.

  5. Ed

    A lot of good FA this year. If we can play our salary cards right, (Odrick/Fairly/Paea/Piere-Paul/Clayborn) can really help quickly to solidify the dline. And VJack/Maclin a few WR that could help.

    But this year, we win this week and have a real chance to get to 12 and host at least 1 game.

    Go Hawks

    • Rob Staton

      Paea would be a fantastic addition, as well as Sheard IMO.

  6. Donald

    As good as Kevin White is, I believe the Hawks already have the same talent with Norwood, they just need to give him more opportunities. Unfortunately the receivers don’t get as many opportunities with a run oriented offense.

    I believe they need someone either very fast or very tall. Drafting another 6-1, 6-2 WR is just duplicating what they already have with Kearse and Norwood, who I like very much by the way and should be a long term player on the team.

    I would like to see Lockett get more playing time and catches, he is tall-ish and fast, and has shown he can catch in traffic.

  7. Alaska Norm

    We’ve tried the smallish fast guys with no luck at all. I keep thinking back to Petes first year and the success Mike Williams had. I can’t help but think a guy like Funchess could find a similar role on this team. I’m all about best player available but at some point you have got to fill a need. It just seems so obvious that a big red zone/third down threat is what we’re lacking. Watching Baldwin run fade routs on third and goal or running into a stacked box is killing me. A big target for RW is something he has never had. I would not be disappointed at all if we took a flyer on Fuchess. Waiting for the perfect WR to fall to the late 20’s is not going to happen. Expecting a big time WR to come to Seattle via FA is not going to happen, not to the land of 3 catches a game. Our only hope is to reach a bit and fill a need.

    • Rob Staton

      That is what intrigues me about Funchess even if he’s an underwhelming watch within Michigan’s offense. Seattle needs a 6-5, 235lbs target who can run.

      • peter

        Is Funchess someone you take a flier on? I could care less about draft value but if were talking fliers I’d rather see Jordan Taylor from Rice. He looks pretty slow in his tape against a&m but earlier tape against UAB shows him a good deal faster.

        or Isaak Blakeny (sp?). I’m probably wrong but every year there are a handful of players that are given a first round grade that I simply don’t get. Funchess to me is that.

        • Rob Staton

          It would depend where Seattle is drafting and who else is available. For example, if they win the Super Bowl again and Funchess is there at #32 with most of the top DE’s gone — I’d certainly consider ‘taking a flier’. If they’re 9-7 and miss out on the post season and pick in the late teens, it’s a different debate. If they cut Marshawn Lynch, it’s a different debate.

          I’m not against taking a chance on a high upside big target — the only natural big target in the 2015 draft. But he is so inconsistent on tape. Part of that is a lousy offense. Part of it’s on him. Seattle can ill-afford another high pick, non-impact receiver on the roster. Personally I’d rather go back and assess Tampa Bay’s interest in trading Vincent Jackson. Get a proven, experienced veteran who can hit the ground running. Get him for a late rounder if possible and re-negotiate his contract.

          • peter

            Excellent points. I actually like funchess, but that tape against Michigan State is horrible with the drops. I wonder also what his best position is, WR or TE…our Te’s have so many blocking responsibilities it seems unlikely he could succeed at that but as a pass catching TE he could be great

  8. Don

    I’d love to pick up Dupree in round 1. He looks like a great edge rusher and has a nose for the ball. I’m a Bruce Irvin fan, but one thing that drives me nuts is that he usually shy away from a tackle. More times than not, he is seen as a player looking over a pile, rather than being in the thick of it. Dupree has a bit more nasty and looks a smidge bigger than Bruce.

  9. MattyB

    Hey Rob, With the Receiving talent lacking in this class and you saying that receivers will be overdrafted, I was wondering where you think Vince Mayle from WSU goes. Being an Alum, I have seen quite a bit of Mayle. Big Bodied and has more speed then you would think but has drops. He leads the nation in catches, 2nd in yards and has 9 TD’s on the year. I am just wondering what you think of him if you have scouted him. Do you think he is just a product of the air raid or has the capability to translate to the NFL?

    • Rob Staton

      I’ve seen one game — vs Utah — and wasn’t overly impressed to be fair. But I try not to judge on one game.

  10. TannerM

    Huh, Coleman ahead of Gordon. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have some trouble believing Gordon will run as effectively in the NFL, and I’m also worried about him holding onto the ball.

  11. redzone086

    ROB, have you checked on Nate Orchard DE from Utah and his draft stock yet? 17.5 sacks 79 tackles for loss on the year. Player WR in high school.

    • Rob Staton

      I have not apart from the UCLA game. I will do tonight seeing as you asked.

      • redzone086


      • redzone086

        What is your opinion of OHIO ST DE Bosa?

        • Rob Staton

          Fantastic prospect. Will be big time in the 2016 draft.

  12. Phil

    Rob – Searching through the Div. I WRs who are 6’3″ or taller, I came across Tony Lippett of Michigan St. I don’t really follow the Big 10 or whatever they call themselves now, but his highlight video looks impressive.

    Digging a little deeper, seems he caught 11 passes against Oregon this year. And, he’s actually played at CB, too.

    Surprised I’m not hearing more about him.

    • Rob Staton

      I like Lippett, but I think he’s nearer 6-2 and very lean. Around 180lbs. Not physical — more elusive. Similar to what they already have.

  13. Scott

    What are your thoughts on Deandre Smelter? Looks like he could be another underused Ga Tech guy like Thomas?

    • Rob Staton

      He’s thick rather than tall — I know he’s listed at 6-3 but he looks a bit shorter. Big in the lower body, almost like a running back. Not a burner by any stretch, almost looks like he’s running in quicksand at times. Catching technique leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike Thomas and Stephen Hill — doesn’t look like an outrageous athlete suffering through the triple option offense. He’s actually a good fit — blocks the run on the perimeter. Makes the odd play. But I’m not sure he’s the answer for Seattle.

  14. Ed

    1st Alvin Dupree
    2nd Malcom Brown

    VJack (1/2 year deal)
    Paea (3 year deal)
    Pierre-Paul (1 year make or break deal)

    Gives us help on the dline that can put our D on top again. Probably lose K. Williams/Avril and extend Irvin

    • Rob Staton

      I’m not a big fan swapping JPP for Avril. JPP just looks dialed out these days. I’d rather have a look at Jabaal Sheard or Justin Houston (Houston would be more expensive). I like the idea of Paea though.

      • Ed

        I agree, but don’t you think JPP will cost less? He is having a down year, has lots of talent and maybe a 1 year deal will make him ball out.

        • Rob Staton

          Possibly — but this is his contract year right now and he’s not exactly setting the world alight.

    • CojackTX

      I’m not sure Malcom Brown will last until the 2nd round. You should check him out, Rob. I think he’s capable of playing the 1 and 3 technique with equal effectiveness.

      • Hay stacker509

        If we’re looking at potential 1 and 3 techs, I’m telling you watch his highlights and game tape…
        Xavier Cooper out of WSU 6’4 298lbs
        He’s constantly in the back field and stopping the run while being double teamed. He reminds me of watching Mebane at Texas, just taller!

  15. Jason

    In years past I was excited about the potential of Kasen Williams and after the injury last year he doesn’t appear to be the same, but would it be worth looking at him as a 7th round or undrafted player?

    6’3 220lbs. He had the potential once upon a time. Maybe just needs time for the leg to heal completely.

    • John_s

      He has nice ball skills but I’ve never been impressed with his speed, quickness or acceleration. IMO it’s in his best interest to add 15-20lbs and be an hback/move TE where he will be lined up with LB’s and Safeties.

  16. Kenny Sloth

    Rob, I’ve been looking at Bryce petty again lately and was really impressed with his poise. What do you think of him? Nick foles-y, maybe.

    • Rob Staton

      I didn’t like Nick Foles at Arizona personally. Petty looks decent at times and mediocre at others. Offense helps him. I wouldn’t spend a high pick.

  17. Volume 12

    Hey Rob, long time reader and first time poster here. Love the site and what u do. Just wanted to finally add my 2 cents and chime in here, but I totally agree with cojacktx and think that dt Malcolm brown should be the hawks first pick. He’s totally unique, plays with a chip on his shoulder, is an interesting guy(seems like he’d fit right in), and I think he’s somewhat a mix of Big Red(can set the edge), Bane(can play 1 tech and stuff the run), and McDonald(be our coveted interior pass rusher). Plus last year we all know they wanted Easley at dt in the first and two years ago were interested in Datone Jones even if he is disappointing so far.

    • Rob Staton

      I know he got rave reviews vs Oklahoma but I’ve not say down and looked at Brown. I’ll get at it.

      • CojackTX

        Rob, also check out his film from the BYU and Oklahoma State games if you have a chance.

        • Rob Staton

          I’ve got the BYU game saved at home. I will watch it tonight.

  18. dickboy

    GREEN BECKAM gona go pro and gona be best receiver of this class and this class is good unlike u sayin

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for a fascinating insight.

  19. Adam S

    Hey Rob

    would the Hawks take a flyer on Beckham-Green? And do you think they could cut VJax’s salary in half if he agrees to a one or two year deal to play on a team with a great run game and DangeRuss?

    • Rob Staton

      Wrote a piece on Green-Beckham last night. Expect to see it up in the next few days.

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