Tua Tagovailoa is turning pro
According to reports he had a big medical check recently. Now it’s been revealed it was good news. Thus, he’s opted to head for the NFL.
It still doesn’t clear up how teams will view his situation. Just because he’s turning pro doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in for the top-five. If the medical checks show a significant risk, he could last.
Equally there are three teams in the top-10 who will seriously consider drafting him. Miami, the Chargers and Carolina all need a long-term plan at quarterback.
This could also be good news for Detroit and the New York Giants. If either team wants to move down, they’d be well placed ahead of the Miami/LA/Carolina cluster. Not only could teams seek to jump ahead of the trio, there could be a healthy battle between the teams to get up to #3 (or even #2) to secure their guy.
Other Alabama players make their call
DeVonta Smith has opted to stay in school. He’s an electric, superb talent and could be a top prospect in the 2021 draft. Henry Ruggs and Jedrick Wills are heading for the NFL but Alex Leatherwood is staying at Alabama. Xavier McKinney is turning pro.
If Ruggs runs a 4.2 as some have suggested he will be a high pick. He’s too talented and productive to not be a high pick if he has that kind of speed. A lot of people really like Wills. McKinney to me is as overrated as Deionte Thompson was a year ago. Read most of the January mock drafts from 2019 and Thompson was being touted as a first round pick. He was a mile off that and ended up in the fifth round.
Mississippi State linebacker is one to watch
During the 2018 season we talked a lot about Willie Gay Jr. Every week he seemed to be making big plays.
His 2019 season was a bit of a write-off. He was hurt and had to endure a suspension for breaking team rules. The Bulldogs had a mess of a year and fired their coach.
However, this is a player with a real knack for forcing turnovers and impacting games. He ran a 4.53 at SPARQ and a superb 4.26 short shuttle. We know the Seahawks like linebackers who run well in the short shuttle. He also managed a highly explosive 39 inch vertical and an overall SPARQ score of 128.22.
He might repair his stock at the combine. Either way, he has the talent and would be a good investment for someone. He has a lot of potential.
A quick thought on free agency
Something dawned on me over the weekend. It’s not an exact science but you can tell a lot from the way fans react to a players’ departure.
For example, the Lions fans were incandescent when Quandre Diggs was traded. He’s had a massive impact in Seattle and already looks like a cornerstone defender for the next few years.
Texans fans equally were stunned by the Jadeveon Clowney trade. There weren’t too many tears shed when Ziggy Ansah left Detroit, or when Cary Williams left Philadelphia, or when Eddie Lacy left Green Bay (you get the picture).
That’s not to say you can’t turn water into wine with certain players. The league has always had players who didn’t fit in one team/scheme but flourished elsewhere.
Yet if Seahawks followers want to learn about prospective targets, it might be worth taking notice of what other fans say.
For example, I had a look at what Bills fans were saying after their loss in Houston. They were listing their key free agents. Top of the list was defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.
I didn’t even realise Phillips was a free agent in waiting. I wrote about him a lot ahead of the 2015 draft, suggesting he could/should be a first rounder.
People love to talk about the ‘rare nose tackle’ — well here he is. Like most big guys he isn’t impacting every play, but all of the 3-4 teams are going to show interest. They have to. He’s capable of drawing a double team, he flashes a nice swim move and he can work through traffic to get into the backfield. He makes splash plays and can impact the quarterback. You just don’t see many players with this combination of length, agility and bulk. Phillips is an exciting player who could easily be a combine star who ends up flying up the boards.
He lasted deep into round two before being drafted by Miami. It didn’t work out with the Dolphins, he was cut, and was claimed on waivers by the Bills in 2018.
Since then he’s been terrific.
Phillips was near-dominant in his first full season in Buffalo, notching a career-high 9.5 sacks while also setting a career-high in tackles (31). Despite playing on a defensive line that features heavy rotation, he took over as the team’s starting three-technique in Week 9, a testament to the progress he made throughout his fifth professional season.
Given his production, Phillips is likely in for a payday this offseason, whether that be from the Bills or another franchise. An annual salary of roughly $10 million is the number that’s being thrown around for the 27-year-old, and while it’s possible that he won’t ever match his 2019 production again, he’s also not a player whose impact could be replicated with a random free agent signing.
Phillips is a disruptive pass rusher and is reliable against the run. He also brings energy to Buffalo’s front-seven, and though he accomplishes the role in a different way, one could argue that he’s replaced Kyle Williams as the heart and soul of the Bills’ defensive line.
Buffalo would be wise to retain Phillips’ services, with a three- or four-year, front-loaded contract appearing to be its best option. By giving Phillips significant money when they have significant cap space, the Bills would retain a key contributor while also keeping some money available for a few years down the road, when players like Edmunds, Allen, and Dion Dawkins will need new contracts.
The Seahawks need someone who can make plays consistently from the interior. If he’s truly in the $10m range, that’s a price worth considering. He’s 6-6 and 340lbs with 34.5 inch arms. That’s the kind of size and length Seattle likes.
He’s only 27 so there’s time on his side. The market for defensive tackles is hard to read. Some get paid big money, others struggle. Who knows how much Phillips and Jarran Reed will command? If they were somehow able to sign Phillips and re-sign Reed and Jadeveon Clowney, wouldn’t that be a good investment? They’d still need a speed rusher but this isn’t going to be a one-man fix. The line needs rebuilding with proven talent wherever possible. Yes — there might need to be one or two prove-it type deals thrown in too. They might need to find someone in the draft. First and foremost though this line needs an injection of talent.
Phillips is a name to watch if he reaches free agency.
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