Monday musings: Gabbert, Luck, Seahawks and more

I want to talk through the draft ramifications following Seattle’s qualification for the post-season which I’ll come on to later.

Firstly – the big news today is that Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri) has announced his intention to declare for the 2011 NFL draft. It became apparent in the last two weeks that Gabbert was leaning towards entering the draft, alongside fellow Missouri prospect Aldon Smith (himself a solid second -round defensive end prospect).

Coach Gary Pinkel is on the record for saying he thinks his players should enter the draft if they have a chance to go early. Gabbert has been told by scouts, coaches and the draft committee that he will be a high first round pick in April.

With exceptional character, physical qualities and mobility – Gabbert has the potential to be a top-end NFL quarterback. His accuracy is good although he remains a risk taker (which occasionally has led to costly errors). He will enter the league facing the same challenge that most rookies face – learning a more complex playbook, making difficult reads and not using as many scripted plays. That’s just part of the learning process.

For more on Gabbert’s recent performance in the Insight Bowl click here.

Even if the Seahawks had lost yesterday and picked #8 overall, I’m not convinced they would’ve had a shot at Gabbert. This is a quarterback league and there are a cluster of teams at the top of round with a big hole at the position. We could easily see the Missouri prospect in the NFC West next year with Arizona (#5) or San Francisco (#7). There’s no reason why he couldn’t also land in Cincinnati (#3), Buffalo (#4) or even Cleveland (#6). I’ve never been a fan of Colt McCoy’s pro-prospects.

Expect Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford) to make a similar decision very soon. He will compete in the Orange Bowl tonight against Virginia Tech and I suspect the Cardinal will win comfortably.

It will almost certainly be coach Jim Harbaugh’s last game – with an offer on the table to coach in the NFL (San Francisco) and a similar deal soon to be offered by his alma mater (Michigan).

Luck is leaning towards the draft anyway because he knows he will almost certainly be the #1 overall pick. It’s very difficult to turn down a potential $50m bounty whatever your intentions may have been in the past. If Harbaugh leaves, it will confirm his decision if he hasn’t made his mind up already.

Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) is an absolute certainty to declare which will mean three highly rated quarterbacks who could leave the board early.

A run on QB’s early seems likely to me. There are too many teams amongst the top ten picks for these talented prospects to hang around.

With all due respect to the Patrick Peterson’s and Nick Fairley’s out there – a team with a big need at quarterback is not going to pass on Luck, Newton or Gabbert to take a cornerback or defensive tackle. It wouldn’t happen in Seattle and it won’t happen elsewhere.

Here’s the confirmed top ten for the 2011 draft and each team’s likelihood they’ll take a quarterback:

#1 Carolina– Despite investment in Jimmy Clausen, a new coaching staff should not pass on Andrew Luck or Cam Newton. Both are vastly superior quarterbacks to Clausen. A no brainer.

#2 Denver– This team will also have a new coach soon and that man may not have Josh McDaniels’ faith in Tim Tebow. I wouldn’t rule out a quarterback pick here – but the Broncos are more likely to stick by Tebow for another year than Carolina with Clausen.

#3 Cincinnati – If Carson Palmer stays or go’s, this team should draft a quarterback for the long term.

#4 Buffalo– Chain Gailey says Ryan Fitzpatrick is his guy for 2011. I’ve no reason not to believe that, although you can’t rule out Buffalo drafting a QB. A.J. Green (WR, Georgia) looks likely here.

#5 Arizona – If they don’t bring in an obvious starter before the draft – this pick will be spent on a QB. Simple as that.

#6 Cleveland– I wouldn’t commit to Colt McCoy. Another team I wouldn’t rule out, but would Holmgren take a QB this early?

#7 San Francisco – See Arizona.

#8 Tennessee – If Jeff Fisher leaves, Vince Young is safe as houses. If the team stand by Fisher, who knows what happens?

#9 Dallas– Perhaps the only team we can definitely rule out. Tony Romo is the safe starter.

#10 Washington– Almost certainly will draft a quarterback after benching Donovan McNabb.

Although some will disagree, I’m looking at that list and seeing nine potential teams who might be open to drafting a quarterback. There are two teams (Arizona and San Francisco) who almost certainly will do without signing or trading for a quarterback before the draft. Others are perhaps more dubious (Denver, Buffalo, Cleveland and Tennessee) but neither can they be completely ruled out at this early stage.

So what does it mean for the Seahawks if they have hopes of drafting a quarterback?

There was a chance at #8 overall that one of the top three QB’s slipped through the cracks. With the team picking 21st overall, it’s virtually impossible.

Also – because the team traded it’s 2011 third round pick for Charlie Whitehurst, they have marginal stock to offer teams in a potential trade up the board. Seattle’s first round pick is worth 800 points and the second rounder 370. If you combine those picks together, it would be worth slightly more than the 13th overall pick (1150 points) which is now owned by Detroit.

Four quarterbacks will definitely be drafted in round one, possibly five. The two not mentioned so far are Jake Locker (Washington) and Ryan Mallett (Arkansas).

Despite my own misgivings on Locker, I still believe he will be strongly coveted by at least two teams in round one – including Seattle. So much so in fact, I could imagine if the Seahawks were locked into the top-five that they may have ignored all other options to draft him.

I cannot see the Huskies QB getting past Washington at #10 overall. Mike Shanahan loves Locker and will draft him to be the next Redskins quarterback.

If the Seahawks admire Locker as much as I suspect, they would have to trade with Tennessee (#8) or Dallas (#9) to have the opportunity to get him. The eighth overall pick is worth 1400 points in the trade chart and the ninth overall pick is worth 1350 points.

We already know Seattle’s two first round picks total 1170 points. The Seahawks also own the second pick in round four – acquired from New England for Deion Branch. That selection is worth a further 108 points. They may also gain the 28th pick in round four in the Josh Wilson trade if the deal is upgraded depending on certain criteria. If not – they will get the 27th pick in round five from Baltimore. The complete terms of the Wilson trade are not known to the public.

Even if the Seahawks include two fourth round picks in the package, they wouldn’t have enough points (1326) to completely match the worth of the 9th overall pick. In the process, Seattle would also be trading virtually it’s entire draft for one prospect despite having a roster weak in quality and overall depth.

However – a precedent has been set to get around what is becoming a generally outdated trade chart formula.

In 2008 Jacksonville traded a cumulative package worth 1127 points to Baltimore so they could move from #26 overall to #8 overall to draft Derrick Harvey. The deal included two third round picks and a fourth rounder. Seattle’s first and second round picks are worth 43 more points than the package Jacksonville put together.

The following year, Cleveland moved from the #5 overall pick (1700 points) down to #17 (950 points) after a trade with the New York Jets. The deal also included a second rounder (52nd overall, 280 points) and three New York players (Brett Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman and Abram Elam). Eric Mangini had just been appointed the Browns’ Head Coach after leaving New York and substituted points value for players he was familiar with.

In both cases (Baltimore and Cleveland) there was a real determination from the two teams to move down the board. The Ravens were aggressive in 2008, moving down and then back up to select Joe Flacco with the #17 pick. Cleveland moved down two more times in 2009 before taking center Alex Mack with the 21st overall pick.

Would Tennesse or Dallas be willing to make such moves? Both are teams who underachieved this year. Both teams may have new Head Coaches going into the draft.

Drafting in the top ten (particularly for Dallas) could be seen as a rare bonus. I just have a feeling Dallas in particular will fall for a guy like Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado) who really needs to be discussed as a legitimate top-10 pick. Even so, this could be viewed as a chance to gain more picks if the right deal is on the table.

The Seahawks could move up the board, if they so wished, using possibly just their first two picks this year. That stands if they want a quarterback or anyone else for that matter.

Indeed if it really is a race between Seattle and Washington for Locker, the Seahawks may be in a preferable position. There’s little Washington can do, for example, if the Seahawks agree an on-the-clock trade.

If the team stays put at #21 there is still a chance Ryan Mallett falls into that range. Despite immense on-field talent I still have reservations about how he will grade following team meetings and work outs. He isn’t an ideal scheme fit for Jeremy Bates’ offense either, although this may be overplayed.

I also keep seeing things like this tweet from Wes Bunting at the National Football Post:

I talked with a number of NFL sources who wouldn’t touch Ryan Mallett with a ten foot pool* (SIC)

It isn’t all about quarterbacks for Seattle – although I maintain it’s the team’s greatest need and will be until the position is addressed for the long term. Over the next few days it’s only fair we review alternative options if the Seahawks are now out of position to draft a QB.

If you want some non-quarterback options as a teaser – let me give you some names:

Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) – not an elite down-field threat but an under rated andfluid route runner withbig play potential. Even with Mike Williams’ extension – the Seahawks need more playmakers on offense.

Julio Jones (WR, Alabama) – unlikely to make it to #21 due to his incredible potential, but for every big fan of his (include me amongst them) there are sceptics. Receivers tend to fall on draft day. Could be a steal.

Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon State) – under sized for his position but incredibly strong and solid versus the run – has flashed ability as a pass rusher this year. Would play nose tackle in Seattle’s scheme.

Cameron Jordan (DE, California) – could shoot up the boards and even crack the top-15. Possible 5-technique option who can move inside as well.

Brandon Harris (CB, Miami) – excellent open-field tackler but a bit inconsistent in coverage this year. Had top-15 potential but missed the chance to go that early.

Mike Pouncey (OG/C, Florida) – I’m loathe to suggest the interior line this early but people keep asking about options there. Value isn’t good enough considering team needs elsewhere. Pouncey is really the only suggestion I can make this early.


  1. T-Town

    Im stoked with the Mike Williams extension. I figured it was going to happen but its always good to have it set in stone and know for sure. Now I just hope BMW keeps pushing himself and doesnt get complacent and stays healthy!

    I have a hard time believing the Hawks will spend a 1st rounder on a WR after resigning BMW and drafting Tate last year. I expect Tate to blossom over the offseason and to have a breakout year next year as our WRF. Jones maybe. Blackmon I doubt. The X-factor to me is if we will resign Ben Obomanu or not. What do you think? Will the Hawks resign Obo or will he hit the FA market?

    What about OG/C’s like Stefen Wisniewski, Jake Kirkpatrick, Jason Pinkston, Marcus Cannon and Rodney Hudson? Why Pouncey over these for the Hawks? Is it just a better scheme fit or personal preference?

    • Matt

      I hate to be a pessimist, but I would be pretty shocked if Golden Tate ever does much in the NFL. Hated the pick when it happened and looks worse now. He’s built like a RB and doesn’t play fast. Sure his 40 time at the combine was 4.43, but I never saw that speed on the field. Just looks so unnatural as a WR. He’s not even clause to Carolina Steve Smith, who is explosive, agile, and long despite being short. Tate is not very sudden and has short arms. Being a terrible route runner doesn’t help either.

      • T-Town

        Guess we will have to agree to disagree on Tate. In the limited reps Tate had I believe he was the opposite of everything you just described. He showed plenty of agility, speed, and explosiveness. Hasselbeck couldnt get him the ball more often than Tate couldnt make the catch.

        Route running however I agree with. But I think he will make major strides to improving that. I chalk up the route running to being a rookie.

        • Matt

          He does break tackles like a madman. I think he can be very successful being a gadget type player. I just can’t see a consistent 1 or 2 WR with him. It just looks like he is going to have an extremely tough time getting separation.

          I do hope he proves me wrong though.

          • Rob

            Tate benefitted a lot from Notre Dame’s easy system. It was nearly always high percentage, short range throws. They got the ball to Tate on slants, screens and swings. In the open field – he can be dangerous. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a complete WR though. The Seahawks haven’t done a good enough job defining a role for Tate as a short range guy to work in space and try to get YAC. That may be all he ever amounts to.

    • Rob

      Williams has proven to be a good possession receiver in Seattle. Tate worries me a lot – and I voiced concerns pre-draft not just with hind-sight. The Seahawks don’t have enough X-factor players on offense right now to really trouble enough teams. I think as a fanbase we over rate what we have there and concentrate too much on the offensive line. There’s not enough speed/size on Seattle’s offense. Put Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles on the Seahawks roster and I think you’d see a major improvement whoever lines up on the offensive line. If Dez Bryant was in this class picking #21 would be much more fun.

      Julio Jones is the kind of player the offense needs. I think he may be too good to last until #21. Blackmon isn’t the size/speed guy but he’s so crisp and fluid just not explosive.

      Of the list you published on OG’s, I’m only really a big fan of Hudson. Cannon and Pinkston I don’t rate highly. Kirkpatrick is just a guy and Wisniewski is a bit over rated for me. Pouncey is more rounded prospect – perfect size/strength/mobility combo. Pedigree is there due to success of his twin brother. I wouldn’t draft him in round one for Seattle though.

      • Steve

        I’m pretty convinced that the team will sign Vincent Jackson in free agency. After showing all that interest in VJax and Marshall last year, I’d be surprised if they didn’t snap him up now there’s no trades attached. Hard to imagine they’d draft any receivers if that happened.

        • Rob

          There’s a lot of talk that after everything – San Diego will franchise Jackson. Apparently his late season flourish sparked some interest. There’s nothing to stop them franchising and then trading him. If he hits the free agent market, expect interest from Seattle.

  2. ChavaC

    Where does Baldwin from Pitt rate?

    • Matt

      I love Baldwin, but he’s too similar to BMW. I bet he’s a 25 – 50 guy.

    • Rob

      Late first, early second round.

  3. Dave

    Would it be too early for marvin austin?

    • Rob

      I gave him a third round grade before missing the entire year through suspension. Falling badly.

  4. Patrick

    At #21, I love the idea of Julio Jones. It would be a tremendous steal and pairing him with BMW (and Tate in the slot) would help our QB not just next year but for the next few years. Wow, the thought of that combo just gets me very excited!

    Unfortunetly, I hate the thought of us missing out on a QB. I really like Mallett and would take him in a heartbeat at #21, but his mobility just doesn’t fit. I’d like it to, but it just doesn’t.

    Now, just for the sake of random theories, any chance you could see us offer a couple of Homlgren guys to trade up with Cleveland? Hasselbeck, Trufant, Locklear, Tatupu? Adding with our 1st and who knows, it definitely seems like a stretch but at #6 there doesn’t seem anyone that jumps out as a perfect fit for Cleveland.

    • T-Town

      Hasselbeck and Locklear will be FA so we couldnt use them as trade bait.

      Personally I would be ok with trading Tatupu and then drafting Casey Mathews in the 4th but that is just wishful thinking.

      Cleveland will be gunning for Aj Green anyways IMO. They wont want to trade down with us.

      • Matt

        I don’t think Hass, Locklear, or Trufant would have any trade value. Hass and Lock have been consistently bad for several years now and I think Trufant is officially on the downhill slide. #2 CB now…at best.

        My hope is that we throw the world at Jonathon Joseph this offseason.

    • Rob

      I can’t see Holmgren trading for those guys. Seattle have barely any tradeable assets.

  5. Sea-Town


    What are the chances the Hawks package that # 1 to the Eagles for Kevin Kolb?

    • Rob

      Unlikely just because I really believe Kolb’s reputation goes before him. What has he actually proven to warrant that investment? He threw three picks against Dallas on Sunday and one touchdown. I can’t see anyone paying a first round pick for Kolb.

  6. charlie

    I know you don’t predict trades in your mocks, but what would you think about trading back and accumulating some picks if there qb isnt there? i loved what baltimore did in getting extra picks to get terrence cody and sergio kindle. so i guess another question is how good is this class talent wise? it was pretty widely known that last years class was pretty talented, and alot of rookies have had very successful seasons; mike williams tb, suh, bradford, mccourty, joe haden, earl thomas, eric berry, carlos dunlap, etc etc. so how does this class stack up?

    • Rob

      It’s top heavy. Last year there was Bradford, Suh and McCoy, then not much between the #4 pick and the late 20’s. The depth was deep.

      This year I think the prospects in the top ten are a lot better than those in the 20’s. You will notice a difference in the teens and the depth is weak. I’m not sure trading down any further will be of that much benefit. Baltimore can afford to move down and take chances on Cody and Kindle (and Kindle might be done already while Cody has a lot to prove). Seattle should only trade down if the guy they will take at #21 will be there later but there’s never any guarantee over that.

      • charlie

        yeah, kindle was a freak accident though, but yes i see your point. so if a qb isn’t there then, how do you suggest we act? would you take mark ingram if hes available? rb’s are a dime a doze, but you seem pretty high on ingram, does he flash AP type abilities? because frankly i think we would be better off getting a rb with one of our 4th rounders, and see what happens, while we focus on cb in the first round and interior line in the second. what do you think about jake kirkpatrick?

        • Rob

          Kindle was also arrested for being drunk behind the wheel recently. It’s not his first off-the-field problem. Baltimore have probably had enough of him already.

          I like Ingram a lot but I don’t think he’s an option for Seattle. Pete Carroll won’t draft running backs in round one and the Seahawks really need to invest more in the passing game (QB, WR) to have any chance of running the ball succesfully. Kirkpatrick is just a guy for me – nothing special. I think one of the picks has to be spent on an offensive playmaker – whether it’s QB or WR. The offense needs more.

          • charlie

            thanks rob, one final question, why do most other mocks think the seahawks need huge help at the pass rusher position? the seahawks finished 13th in the league for total sacks, and had two DE’s combine for 20 sacks (more than half our total of 37) on the season 11 for clemons and 9 or 9.5 for brock? i like von miller at the leo spot but i dont think hes the bpa or a position of need at 21 in the first round

            • Rob

              I think it’s just an assumption really. As you say – Clemons and Brock have had a very good year. The LEO position is schemed so that it will always create production. Of much greater importance is the 5-technique position and the two interior DT’s.

              Regarding Von Miller, I can’t see him projecting as a LEO. I look at him as a 4-3 OLB convert. I’m not even sure he can work as a 3-4 OLB. He’s not going to be an option for Seattle in round one.

  7. Ryan

    Someone earlier mentioned that we shouldn’t be bummed about having #21, because quality teams like Pittsburgh, New England, and Indy seem to find quality players that low every year, and they do pretty well.

    That’s Pittsburgh, with a clutch, 1st-round franchise quarterback
    And New England, with one of the best QBs of all-time
    And Indianapolis, with one of the best QBs of all-time

    Not a coincidence I think. Yet another indication that having a great QB should be at the top of any Hawk fan’s wish list.

    • Matt

      Amen. Haha it’s funny how people tend to leave out the whole QB part of that equation.

    • Blake

      Ya that was me and I knew someone would bring that up so I did some research. It is a valid argument. After research, I have found that the team’s winning is due to the QBs, but not the individual play of the player. I also had Baltimore in that section. Green Bay should have been included as Ted Thompson is perenially one of the top talent evaluators around (and a JS mentor). Bal: Michael Oher, Ed Reed, Ben Grubbs, Joe Flacco (18). Ind: Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Marvin Harrison (19). NE: Vince Wilfork, Logan Manking, Brandon Meriweather, Devin McCourty. GB: Nick Barnett, Clay Mathews, Bryan Bulaga, Aaron Rodgers. PIT: Troy Polamalu (16), Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes, Rashard Mendenhall, and Maurkice Pouncey. These guys are obviously studs, with at least 3 hall of famers in this group. Tons of other studs fall into the 20s including the last defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali, Johnathan Joseph, Davin Joseph, Nick Mangold, Antonio Cromartie (19), Jon Beason, Leon Hall (18), Aqib Talib, Chris Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Alex Mack, Percy Harvin, Vontae Davis, Jeremy Maclin and Dez Bryant. Its not like I’m listing mediocre players either as 35 of these 40 players are past/present/projected pro bowlers IMO. The unarguable point is that there is a hell of a lot of talent in the end of the first round, usually 3+ studs each year. Not a lot of QBs, but a lot of great players nonetheless. If we can properly evaluate talent, we can draft a great player in round 1, not to mention the following 6 rounds and the rookie waiver process. Draft position is not nearly as important as talent evaluation.

      • Blake

        If anything, one could attribute the success of these players to the developers, not quarterbacks. Coaches and overall winning situations get the best out a player. On the other hand, each of these teams have endured a coaching change in the last few years with the exception of NE.

  8. CFraychineaud

    Rob- It seems like if we want a chance at any of the top 5 QB’s slipping we want there to be quality veteran QB’s available in FA for some of those QB needy teams picking up top to go another route other than QB. Wouldn’t it be beneficial then to not resign Hasselbeck to add to the pool of those veteren QBs in FA? I bet Holmgren would be interested (especially if its not for a pick, although we might end up getting compensatory picks for him like we will for burleson this year).

    With McNabb, Orton, Possibly Hasselbeck, possibily Cambell, Bulger, or any other QB’s that might become FA’s (Palmer), it seems like increasing that pool would be in our best interest.

    • Rob

      To be honest, even including Cleveland I can’t see where Hasselbeck fits after this season. I’d probably say the same for Bulger and McNabb. Out of the three – I suspect only McNabb may receive any interest and even then it will be limited. Orton should get some attention and would be a wise pick for a lot of teams who have some weapons (eg Arizona) and need someone to get them the ball. It would help if Cincy cut Carson Palmer – but I think they’re more likely to keep him but still draft a QB for the future.

  9. Blake

    Rob who are 5-10 of your favorites that could be around 21 or 52. Not necessarily who you think Pete will draft, but who YOU like. We all know you love Janoris Jenkins, Rodney Hudson, and Jimmy Smith. Lets hear some different guys. Maybe even a list of guys you think are underrated/value picks.

    • Rob

      I’ll be doing a lot of coverage on this now we know the Seahawks are picking at #21 in both rounds. Stay tuned.

  10. Bjorn

    Hey Rob, any chance the Seahawks look at TCU’s Andy Dalton. What round do you think he’ll go in? From what I hear, he’s going to be the steal of the draft. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Rob

      I think he’ll be a late round pick. He’s had a real tendency in his career to let mistakes get to him – one interception leads to another error shortly after, then another. I’m not sure he’s got the mental capacity to get over it and it could be a real problem at the next level. Although his mobility is a positive for the Seahawks scheme, he has trouble getting the ball deep with velocity or accuracy. Overall he’s neither a greta physical talent or really that accurate. I’m not confident about his pro-prospects unfortunately.

    • Matt

      Tyrod Taylor, to me, would be a much better gamble than Dalton. Dalton just plays in a goofy offense and his passing ability is greatly limited. He can look really good within 7 yards, but anything over that range just looks awful. Passes float with little to no velocity and his accuracy goes out the window.

      People tend to fall in love with small school QBs who put up big numbers not recognizing the talent difference or the fact that most play in a goofy system that allows for very easy completions.

  11. Dave

    Ever considered dong a 2 round mock draft?

    • Rob

      I always develop the mock into a two-round projection but not until after the combine.

  12. plyka

    I think you’re rating Gabbert a little high. From what I’ve read, other analyst think that there is no shot he goes in the top 5. Is there a reason you rate him that highly? Scount inc for instance has Gabbart going at pick #20. They also have the other QBs really low as well.

    I think trading up for the Hawks would be a massive mistake. 2nd round picks are very valuable. You can get absolute studs in the 2nd round. The Hawks should really wait and see who falls to them at 21. It could be one of the QBs, or it could be a CB. I think the 2nd most important position on a team is probably CB and we are bad in that department.

    • Rob

      Todd McShay (who is in charge of Scouts Inc) has Gabbert going 5th overall to Arizona in his mock published this week. I’m not concerned what other analysts think – I can only make my own judgements based on what I see. He’s potentially the complete package – big arm, ideal size, mobility, accuracy. He’s not flawless but he’s going to face the same learning curve most rookies do. I assure you he’ll be an early pick.

    • Blake

      They have Gabbert RATED 20, not going 20. Its significantly different as usually the #1 overall pick is about the 5th rated player because he’s a QB. It trumps any other positions if they are even relatively close in talent. If you can win a super bowl with him, he must be the choice. That was the case with Stafford. All those QBs will be gone earlier than they are rated. McShay has acknowledged that as well as he slated Gabbert as a possibility to be selected by the Cardinals.

      • Rob

        I will also add – that the Scouts Inc ranking at #20 has been so for some time. They used to update those rankings weekly, but haven’t for a while. I suspect he’ll be moving up after his performance in the Insight Bowl and will probably be closer to the top-10 prospects now, if not amongst them.

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