Monday thoughts: LEO, Commings, BCS, Escobar & Ertz

A serious knee injury for Chris Clemons is cause for concern

Is LEO now a bigger priority?

Chris Clemons’ injury last night has started a discussion about the teams future at the LEO. In the short term, it’s pretty easy to wonder whether Ray Edwards gets another look. He recently worked out for the Seahawks and would debut against the team that cut him a few weeks ago. It’s a storyline waiting to be written. You could also argue there’s a reason why such a big-name pass rusher remains a free agent. And his time in Atlanta was a major disappointment. Danny Kelly at Field Gulls has also touted Aaron Maybin as a possible target. Whoever comes in, it’s only fair that Bruce Irvin gets his chance to start against Atlanta.

What about the long term?

Players are recovering from ACL injuries quicker these days due to advancements in science (stem cell therapy etc). Adrian Peterson is a great example of this, having recovered from such an injury to have arguably the best ever season by a NFL running back. It’s not unrealistic to think this setback will take 6-7 months of recovery, but there’s no reason why Clemons can’t feature in 2013 even if he starts the year on the PUP list.

Some people have questioned whether this injury makes the LEO more of a priority. After all, the teams pass rush hasn’t been too productive in recent weeks. Didn’t they just draft Irvin to be the heir apparent though? He was described as the ‘ideal LEO’ by Pete Carroll upon his arrival in Seattle. If he’s not ready to start in the year he turns 26, when is he going to be ready? I suspect Irvin will get his chance if Clemons can’t go. Even so, they’d still need another pass rusher.

I don’t think this will end up being a high draft priority in April. There aren’t many LEO options in the first two rounds that make a lot of sense. Barkevious Mingo could fit the bill if he runs a good ten-yard split at the combine. Outside of that, I’m not sure who warrants a late first round pick? Alex Okafor is listed at 260lbs at the moment but looks bigger on tape and isn’t quite as lean as Irvin or Clemons. He seems more suited to the Jason Jones role, but he’s one to keep an eye on.

There are some later round options. It’ll be interesting to see if Sam Montgomery falls due to character concerns. He would certainly fit the bill. Joe Kruger at Utah has declared for the draft. It’s a shame Travis Long and Quanterus Smith both got hurt at the end of the year. Michael Buchanan and Devin Taylor are also worthy of late round consideration.

Free agency could also come into play. Osi Umenyiora is a free agent and has been linked to the Seahawks in the past. He’s 32 this year and has lost some of his explosive athleticism, but he’s still an ideal fit physically and could be used as a nice veteran stop gap while Clemons is out. He probably won’t command a big contract due to his age and the Seahawks could get some value here, just as they did with an ageing Raheem Brock.

Although this is a team being built through the draft, some crafty veteran additions have certainly helped. Getting guys like Umenyiora (LEO) and Randy Starks (three-technique) on shorter term, incentive-laden deals would put the Seahawks in a strong position going into the draft and give the pass rush a much needed boost for 2013.

But yeah, we’re still a long way away from seriously talking about free agent additions.

Sanders Commings tape vs Alabama

The Georgia defense has a lot of big-name talent, but also some really underrated players. There could be as many as 7-8 players from the 2012 group that go on to become NFL starters. Sanders Commings is one of those players capable of making it in the pro’s.

I’d seen Commings a few times and been impressed, but it was his performance against Alabama in the SEC championship game that really caught the eye. He’s not a terribly fast corner with 4.55 speed. He’s a bigger guy at 6-0 and 218lbs and that helped against Nick Saban’s physical receivers. He had almost a flawless game, capping it with a vital interception. The speed issue is going to put off some teams, but his size and aggressive nature makes him a possible candidate for the Seahawks. I’ve included the tape against Alabama below and I particularly liked the way he shadowed receivers running underneath or across the middle. Finding more competition for the slot coverage role is an option this year. Commings could be another one of Pete Carroll’s value picks at corner.

Speaking of Alabama…

Tonight it’s the BCS National Championship game between the Crimson Tide and Notre Dame. There’s a number of players to keep an eye on in this one.

First of all, check on Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt the two big-time defensive line prospects for the Irish. Nix is a nose tackle with some pass rushing ability, while Tuitt has been a terror off the edge all year recording 12 sacks. In many ways they are the real stars of the Notre Dame defense, although Manti Te’o gets almost all the publicity. Nix and Tuitt could both be top-15 picks in 2014.

In terms of this years draft, there’s a ton of big-name talent. Te’o will undoubtedly have a strong game, but watch tight end Tyler Eifert for Notre Dame. I think he’s a little overrated. He’s not quite a spectacular pass catcher while his blocking has been suspect at times. He’ll need to have a big game if the Irish are going to trouble Alabama’s brilliant defense. Receiver-turned-runner Theo Riddick is also worth monitoring – he’s been a big playmaker this season.

Alabama has a host of NFL talent. Dee Milliner is a complete cornerback prospect. The offensive line is full of stars, including Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker. Running back Ed Lacy is still pondering whether to declare for the 2013 draft, but he’s shown enough this year to warrant day two consideration. I like Quinton Dial the defensive lineman, while it’s also another chance to watch Jesse Williams. Michael Williams the tight end has also made big strides this year.

Personally I think Alabama will win this game fairly comfortably. Their defense will likely dominate and they should be able to run the ball and get Amari Cooper involved in the passing game. For what it’s worth, Cooper has the look of a future NFL star. He’s a true freshman so won’t be eligible until 2015, but he’s ridiculously polished for a player basically just starting out.

Gavin Escobar and Zach Ertz going pro

San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar has declared for the NFL draft. He had 543 yards and six touchdowns in 2012. Escobar’s 6-6, 255lbs and a pure pass-catcher. He had limited blocking duties in college, but showed a knack of getting downfield and making plays. He’s the kind of player the league salivates over in the era of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.

I expect he’ll be a second or third round pick, but his upside is certainly intriguing. I’m a bigger fan of Anthony McCoy than most and I’m not sure Escobar would offer much more as the #2 TE. Despite last night’s dropped pass, McCoy has been a much improved player overall this season. However, Escobar is one to check on at the combine. He could be a big riser this off-season.

Zach Ertz is a terrific prospect. Stanford’s #1 receiving target this year, he lines up all over the field and makes plays. He’s 6-6 and 252lbs. I think he could be a top-20 pick. He had 898 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Aside from an honest, hard working personality – he’s also close to a complete tight end. Although he’s maybe not quite the explosive athlete that Graham is or the physical freak of Gronkowski, Ertz is similar to Zach Miller. We saw last night what an effective force Miller can be when featured prominently – and it’s not really Miller’s fault that his role has been switched since moving to Seattle. In Oakland, he was the #1 receiving option. When they took the training wheels off Russell Wilson, it seemed to take some of the heavy blocking responsibility away from Miller. And for the last few weeks, he’s been one of the more productive players in the offense.

Without the truly dynamic receivers at the top of the first round that we’ve seen in previous years, Ertz could get early looks. He’d be a nice, safe target for a quarterback like Ryan Tannehill or Sam Bradford. I suspect he received a decent review from the draft committee given he was undecided on whether to turn pro prior to the bowl game.

Is he an option for the Seahawks? It might fly in the face of what I said earlier about Escobar/McCoy, but I think Ertz could prove to be the exception. I have a feeling Seattle would love to run more 2TE sets with two similar, consistent tight ends on either side of the offensive line. Stanford run a lot of these power sets, relying on Ertz and Levine Toilolo as receivers (surprisingly, Toilolo also announced his intention to declare today). It enables them to give run looks on any down, utilise play action to maximum effect and suck in the linebackers. It was an effective enough tactic to win a Rose Bowl this season.

Ertz is a better blocker than most people give him credit for. The Seahawks were said to be very interested in Coby Fleener’s pro-day at Stanford last year, and Ertz is arguably the better player. Technically he could also be used in the slot and out wide – we’ve seen it in college and he’s been good enough to make plays. The New England Patriots have boasted an effective offense featuring two tight ends. Why not Seattle? I’d be almost surprised if he wasn’t on the teams radar in the first round.


  1. MJ

    Great stuff Rob!

    Commings: Couldn’t agree more. The first time I saw him play, instantly thought of Browner type of CB. He’s one player I will be shocked if he’s not on SEA next year.

    ND: Agree about Tuitt and Nix. Both would fit well in SEA but will be top 10 picks IMO. Te’o is a fine player, who is being greatly overrated at the moment. His season, outside of a bevy of fluke INTs off tipped passes has been unremarkable. W/out the hype, I think he’s a 25-40 talent.

    Escobar & Eiffert: Quite frankly, Eiffert will be a huge disappointment in the NFL. He can’t block, at all and provides little explosiveness in the passing game. I’m not terribly sure how he’s viewed as a 1st round talent at this point. Escobar will go a round later than Eiffert and be a significantly better NFL player. Escobar is noticeably more explosive IMO and provides sincere effort in the blocking game. Love Escobar and think he has a really bright future.

    Regarding the OL: Hawk fans really need to get over this idea that we need to spend more high round picks on OL. OL play is down over the years and will continue to be second fiddle. All of the explosive big man talent is going on the D side of the ball. At this point, the Hawks have an extremely strong Run Blocking unit (which is what this team is based off) and an average Pass Blocking unit. If we want to have strong in both, then you will need to do RGIII trades to get into the top 5, because you are going to find Anthony Munoz in late R1. It’s totally impractical to expect so many high picks on the OL and expect the rest of the roster to be ok. The OL clearly has some upgradeable parts, but it’s not dire. The OL will only get better playing longer together and learning RW’s tendancies.

    Regarding WR: I am firmly in the camp of we need to spend a higher pick on a pass catcher. Yesterday, again, highlighted the fact that this WR corps is very average. RW bought significant time to have nobody get open or gain any separation. I like our WR corps, but it needs another separator. Whether that’s a bonafide Joker TE or a perimeter guy, we need more/better weapons for our Franchise QB.

    Sorry for the novel! Just some thoughts from this weekend and regarding your article. Best site on the web IMO!

    • MJ

      *Not going to find Anthony Munoz in late R1. Apologies.

    • SunPathPaul

      I agree MJ!
      I think that the Seattle Seahawk’s Vision of its offense needs to expand. We are a great running team with Lynch, but as we put Russell Wilson in motion he becomes DEADLY!!! If he has another BIG TE that can catch to join Zach Miller, and one Explosively FAST WR or SKILLED TECHNICIAN WR, then we can reap the 30 point a game benefit! Our Defense will be there next year regardless, let’s open up the offense to reassure our ability to WIN the division and get HOME FIELD advantage!

      Round 1: Either WR Brandon Coleman or TE Zach Ertz or WR DeAndre Hopkins
      Round 2: WR Tavon Austin, WR Markus Wheaton, WR Justin Hunter, TE Gavin Escobar

      I think, depending on what happens in the first round and is available, that TE Zach Ertz almost kills 2 birds with one stone. He can catch as a TE/Slot Receiver/WR, and block for the running option game.

      If he is gone, then the best WR available is wicked good for us… Coleman has declared yet, and Hopkins would be a rock IMO when combined with RW and his work ethic.

      If Coleman is available and PC/JS see him at the combine and want him, then they should trade up for him if needed. Then take a TE with our second pick… Escobar, Fauria, Reed…

      Again I want to also create the idea of getting the Seahawks eyes open for Nick Toon. He played his senior year with RW at Wisconsin and had like 64 rec for 926 yards and 10 TD’s. He was a 4th round pick last year, but got hurt and was on IR ALL YEAR. Thus IF, and ONLY IF, RW wanted him then we should consider checking him out and trading for him. New Orleans needs draft picks this year… Just an Idea…

    • meat

      I totally agree with the WR and playmaker upgrades. I am not totally down on the current group, but like you mentioned one more real playmaker improves the offense so much! I did see Rice get open a few times and Russell just did not see him, I think. There were more of those plays than usual yesterday and the heavy blitzing probably did not help Russ go through the progressions, or see. There was some separation, albeit a big gamer would improve the offense alot.

    • Norm M

      I won’t disagree with you that we should get a WR with the first pick of this draft. The talent should be there to warrant a high pick where at DL it might be pretty well picked through. But… Yesterday’s game did not highlight our average wide receivers. There were several missed opportunities by RW that could have led to big gains, one being wide open Rice where he (RW) chose to run (for a nice gain) but missed a sure touchdown. Our “average” wide receivers caught a few passes that just as easily could have been interceptions. Baldwin played great defense on a sure interception in the end zone. That being said, we do need depth at the receiver position whether it is a tight end or a wideout. I would be ecstatic if Hopkins is availible at the 32nd pick.

      • AlaskaHawk

        I agree we need a couple more receiver targets for RW. However Rice has been wasted the last couple games and noe he is getting frustrated. RW needs to make an effort to get tje ball to him. But that brings up another point that RWa long ball has been off the last two games resulting in either over throwing or throwing high and short with a jump ball.

        I do think we need to keep drafting both offensive and defensive linemen. When your best new started is a converted 7th round DT that tells me something. No one is saying first few rounds. Reserve that for playmakers. Arguably the linebacking position has the most tackles on the team, and we are still weak against the run (witness Redskins first two touchdowns).

        Not sure what to say about LEO except I would like to see them draft someone with greater aiE and speed. Let’s hope Irvin improves quickly- he is showing more fight last game.

        • MEat

          I noticed the throws downfield were overthrown and a tad concerning seeing Rice get frustrated on what would be HUGE gains if he was thrown to, or noticed. Not sure if what is going on, perhaps not seeing him downfield?

          • MJ

            In fairness to RW, that Rice play resulted in a 30 yard run. Yes, it was a missed opportunity, but with RW, I trust that he saw a for sure positive gain over a downfield gamble. Eye of the beholder I guess.

  2. Ely

    It’s too bad the BYU guy didn’t declare, Kyle Van Noy I think his name is? Maybe an option next year if Bruce doesn’t pan out. I still believe Bruce will be just fine and will come out wanting to make a statement against Atlanta. It seems like Red Bryant was getting pushed around against the Skins. I’m not sure if his foot is bothering him or he is just showing his age but good value at his position would be great to attain if somehow the team lets Branch walk. Branch seemed to have a statement game, it was by far the most impressed I’ve been by him all season.

  3. Attyla the Hawk

    Can’t wait to see J. Williams in action.

  4. stuart

    The injury to Chris Clemens has not been announced how bad it is but I am prepared for the worst, done for the season. I have faith his teamates will step up and Bruce will go off. The intriqing thing about this news is that now we are having conversations about “Leo” as a possible need going into next season.

    Irvin has the stage now to show the public just how good he really can be…GO BRUCE, this is your 15 minutes…(60minutes+ in his case:.)

    • MJ

      I thought Bruce was fantastic yesterday and really looks like he is developing his pass rush skills. His speed/Power/Speed move is pretty cool.

      He seems to speed outside, then power the OT when he opened his hips and speed back inside. Could work really well down the road. OTs have to respect his speed/bend.

    • Michael

      If you truly want to be “prepared for the worst”, you might want to adjust your thinking. If pumkin patch of a playing surface really did a number on Clem’s knee, we could be looking at an 8-12 month recovery, and since he is 31 and relies on speed/mobility it’s pretty much the worst kind of injury for him to try and get back from.

      Simply done for the season would be great news considering the alternative…

  5. Rob Staton

    I’ve updated the article to include thoughts on Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford) turning pro.

  6. John

    If one of the top guard prospects fell to us, I wouldn’t be frustrated if we took on. I’m not a Breno hater now that he’s stopped being stupid with penalties, but I think our guards are weak. For all the hyping and love you give this offensive line, I think Wilson makes them look much better than they actually are. And the more success we have the more likely someone is going to consider Cable for a HC job. I think keeping a healthy and talented line is important. And as a shorter QB, Wilson will always be dependent on that interior line, especially as he gets older and less mobile. DeCastro fell far last year after being touted as one of the best G prospects in years. If ones available I’d like Seattle to take them.

    This also comes back to the fact that I like this team. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin picking BPA. I hear Carroll consistently saying we want to have so much talent its hard for the young guys to get playing time.

    • Rob Staton

      I think suggesting I give the offensive line ‘hype and love’ is going a little over the top. My stance has been pretty consistent from early in the season – they’ve done a good job against most of the league’s elite pass rushers and they’ve provided a platform for one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks. I don’t need to list all the quality DE’s they’ve come up against who had zero impact against Seattle.

      The last two games we’ve faced two heavy blitzing teams. Greg Williams’ son was calling the plays for STL due to his father’s suspension. Didn’t Williams give himself the rather ridiculous nickname of ‘Doctor Blitz’? Likewise Jim Haslett was extremely creative. Most of the issues last night came via the secondary blitz – basically a corner or safety blitzing the edge. They did it all night against Dallas and all night against us. How can a guard be responsible for picking up a blitzing safety lined up off the edge? That’s a running back’s responsibility, or it’s up to the QB to exploit the fact there should be a mismatch at the second level. Likewise St. Louis were so creative. Sweezy struggled in the first half, but the entire line got their act together in the second half and it showed.

      DeCastro was overrated last year, in my view. And that’s why he fell. I think Warmack and Cooper are in a different class completely and won’t have any chance to fall beyond the #25 pick. DeCastro didn’t, and these two are vastly superior. So I think it’s really a moot point anyway. But for the most part a group consisting of McQuistan, Carpenter, Moffitt and Sweezy have done their jobs. Sweezy deserves time to grow – and really so do Moffitt and Carpenter as previously high picks. It really is time to concentrate on more serious issues on the team.

      For what it’s worth, I’d be all over Warmack and Cooper. I just think we have to be realistic. They won’t be available in the 25-32 range. If we were picking 12th overall again this year, it’d be a different story. But this team is different now.

      • SunPathPaul

        Would you value a TE over a WR at our late pick?

        Seems Zach Ertz would be the best TE out there, would you take him and leave Hopkins on the board?
        I think you would take Coleman if available no matter what… I would agree…

        I hope a ‘catcher’ is taken in rounds 1 and 2… Maybe we will get lucky and they will trade up in round 2 before the run on WR depletes our choices… (Bundle Flynn and picks to trade up!!!!)

        I would feel AMAZED if we got Ertz as a TE and a WR like Hopkins or Wheaton!

        • Rob Staton

          It’s a difficult question to answer and testament to the quality of pass catchers likely to be available in the late first round. I would find it hard to separate Coleman, Hopkins and Ertz. Three different players but all with their own striking positives. I probably go Coleman for upside, but part of me would be looking back at the other two and just wondering if it was the right call. Ertz and Hopkins are maybe ‘safer’ options. Coleman is the bigger upside talent.

      • Alex

        lol, so true. I’m all for continued investment in the OL from the 3rd round onward IF that player is by and far away the BPA. At this point, I don’t think it is a glaring need. Can it be better? Yeah. At the same time, there are greater needs out there and it’ll be a huge opportunity cost at the expense of those positions (DT, LB, WR) if we simply pick another OL for the heck of it.

        The truth of the matter is that offensive linemen today aren’t as good as they were from the mid 90s-mid 00s. That group of player has moved on. A new generation has come in and has proven to be more one dimensional than the previous generation (e.g. Joe Thomas’ run blocking sucks while Joe Staley’s/James Peter’s pass blocking is average). Having the same expectations on the current lines today as we saw 10 years ago is simply unrealistic.

        Today’s offensive line are seemingly more run oriented or pass blocking oriented. The Seahawks and Niners are clearly more run-oriented while some like the Patriots OL is clearly pass-blocking oriented. There are very, very few lines that are dominant on both aspects. Like the Seahawks, the Niners have a dominant run blocking offensive line, but they’re also average in pass blocking. The closest thing to an NFL OL in the college ranks is probably Alabama’s OL and while they’re far and away the best run blocking unit in the nation, they’re vulnerable to pass rush in pass plays (i.e. of the 49ers and Seahawks mold).

        As for the guard position. I agree, Decastro was WAY hyped by the media last year. He is technically sound at an NFL level, but his raw core strength is average. Frankly, the comparisons thrown to Steve Hutchinson were a bit over the top. Chance Warmack this year is just on a completely different level than Decastro strength wise.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      All good QBs make their guards look better than they are. I’d even maybe go one further that the threshold for being acceptably good at protection is lower with a good QB. Which means beyond that threshold, you are essentially not gaining much, if any, benefit at all.

      Secondarily, the ZBS scheme is notorious for being a system that really takes considerable time to mellow and age. We’ve made investments to that line and really they have yet to mature. This isn’t abnormal or unexpected in this scheme. We have added talent to the OL development conveyor belt and it’s coming along. I expect we’ll add more, but we don’t have to infuse it with top cost talent.

      Even if Carpenter AND Moffitt don’t take, we’re still in acceptable shape. We have an elite running attack. We have an incredibly efficient passing attack. The difference in expected return from a first round pick would make us … ‘eliter’? I don’t necessarily buy that.

      If this season has shown us anything, it should have shown us the value of balance. A balanced offense, with a great defense and special teams. Limiting the weakness across the board. Allowing for the ability to win in multiple facets of the game. A team simply cannot bankrupt other areas of a roster trying to wring a small advantage out of a unit that is producing at a elite level already.

      Would we do better with a great guard? Well define better. We might run a bit better. Have more time to pass the ball. But then we let attrition set in and we have a worse running back. Or more time but no receivers capable of getting open with that new bounty of time. Or say we just do better but we can’t stop anyone because our pass rush remains inept? So we get into shootouts?

      There are aspects of this club that are not performing to the level of our OL. And let’s be honest, this OL is NOT as good as it should be next year. It’s still young. We’re still playing some backups as starters. Moffitt and Carpenter may or may not contribute in the future. But if they don’t the guys we have in there now will be better as they become more experienced. If Moffitt and/or Carpenter can stay healthy, we’ll have a genuine glut of talent at those positions that are already matured or imminently so.

      Adding a first round pick who will take 20+ games to mature seems like a huge waste of resources. The ZBS maximizes productivity from marginal talent by design. It’s a way to get great productivity from meager draft stock. We need to leverage that advantage by design. We need to shed the provincial opinion that we need a HOF side of a line to be acceptable or even great. We are already great. We need to let go of the lingering presumption that we need to replace Hutch. You don’t need a Hutch/Jones to be good on the line.

      As great as he was, Hutch won exactly ONE playoff game in 7 years after leaving us in 2006. Sweezy has that many already. Okung has half as many playoff wins as Jones did for his career.

      • Rob Staton

        We could also look at it like this… all being well the Seahawks from left to center will be starting:

        Left tackle – first round pick
        Left guard – first round pick
        Center – second round pick

        Even when Jones/Hutch played together, there wasn’t that level of high investment in the line. Chris Gray, Tobeck – these guys were plugged in. Sean Locklear cost a third round pick. Seattle’s right guard (Moffitt when he plays) cost a third round pick. There is so much more invested in the line now than 2005… and we’re using a ZBS developed originally by Alex Gibbs. And what was Gibbs’ motto? He could coach a guy off the street to fit into his scheme.

  7. Connor

    I agree Michael Buchanan could be a nice late round option to develop as a leo. Watching him I was surprisingly impressed with his ability to hold up in the run game. At times he looks like a better run defender then pass rusher which I wasn’t expecting considering his long lean frame.

    He also showed he can affect the QB with his length and ability to batt down passes at the line. With some good coaching I think he could develop into a solid pass rusher and athletically he fits the bill for the leo position.

    Great stuff Rob Keep it up!

  8. James

    If John Simon of Ohio State falls to the Seahawks in round two, I could see Pete & John going for him. He is not a 4.4 guy, but is a natural-born pass rusher, and would play very well at the Leo. Round one will probably be a DT or WR, depending on who they can land in free agency.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      Always depends on how they go in round 1. I imagine that DT/WR will go 1 and 2 unless a special talent drops.

      Also, I’d be surprised if they go for a Leo prospect. Irvin was the guy and really him not starting doesn’t indict his ability to play that role. Clemons is still excellent at that position and putting Irvin opposite him made sense. I don’t see it as a failing on Irvin’s part to not be able to supplant Clemons. Clemons earned that position and played at a high level.

    • Barry

      After watching the film on Simon I agree. I’d be surprised if he runs a 4.8, but he brings so much more then speed it wont mater.

      A note on watching Irvin the second half of the ‘Skins game I was please with the production and effort. He has so much ability the more time he gets in the better. There is only so much you can tell a guy before he plays and can see how and where to apply it. I few times he just bull-rushed the tackle into the QB and his sack though it was a coverage sack was at a great time. Very encouraged by what I saw compared to how much time on field he has got.

      Talking about the TEs in this draft I cant see PC and JS going for one. I honestly don’t think McCoy will never be the player we would all like him to be. But Miller the second half of the season (kind of around the time Wilson really broke out, funny huh) really earned his money. Clutch catches and amazing blocking. There isnt a TE in this draft that would come in and beat him out even at his high price tag.

      • SunPathPaul

        It’s not about beating out Miller, but EXPANDING the offense with 2 talented and effective TE’s for our Offense and RW… We run so much that another TE that can block AND catch is double valuable!! IMO

    • Rob Staton

      I expect Simon to be a late first or early second round pick.

      • Barry

        Yeah you where right when ya say you love his play, I just can see him running a bad 40 and falling, which I’m down with because if the hawks took this dude in late Rnd two or three wow, score for us. But like you said could go anywhere from late 1 or early 2. Never hurts to hope though.

  9. Barry

    Also on criticism of the OL, there were many situation where it was Wilson’s responsibility to see the blitzer and call him out. That will come with time as well as the OL improving with more experience for them. But lets face the facts Greg Williams has a job and is well known as a good D coordinator because he can bring the pressure and is damn good at mixing up the looks.

    The great thing to realize is that as frustrating it is that we left points on the board we need to realize that the Hawks once again over this winning streak made adjustments the second half hell even second quarter and controlled the game after that. That’s the sign of a SB caliber coaching staff.

    Also a reason to feel good going into next weeks game because for as strong as a system they run and as sold of talent they have on the O side of the ball Mike Smith and his staffs issue in past post seasons has been not being able to adjust in-game, and that has continued into this year.

  10. Barry

    I’m going to try to find and focus on talented larger D-linemen that we might get rnd 2-5. I’d calculate for cap issues a few younger players that can contribute and learn would bring great value for us if we could run a young comity of DT 3tech guys in and out of our line up. Seeing 3 of those kind of players being drafted by us isn’t a crazy notion if its a need.

  11. Brandon

    Rob, you and a few others seem to lay the responsibility for Seattle’s struggles against blitzes at the feet of Russell Wilson. I would say that’s an incomplete picture.

    I don’t know whether this is because of Bevell or because of PC’s penchant for explosive downfield plays at the expense of a more methodical offense, but Seattle does not seem to have EQUIPPED Wilson to beat the blitz right now. They seem to run relatively few outlet routes. Their best hot-route guys are running backs, both good catchers but neither great route-runners or physically dynamic weapons.

    And Wilson himself is not ideal for seeing hot routes, quite frankly. It’s something his height will limit. Nor is he always willing to settle for hot routes – we’re seeing a lot of Hasselbeck in Wilson right now, looking for the bigger play rather than having the maturity and patience to take the closer option. This isn’t a problem exactly, because he’s a rookie and he’ll develop, but in the meantime he’s still playing on a football field against football players who could rough him up.

    This all puts a lot of responsibility on the O-line to protect Wilson. Between Wilson’s height/growth, Seattle’s playbook bend towards deeper plays, and the lack of WR’s flashing open quickly, there’s little else to bail Wilson out when the blitz does come. The last two teams were heavy-blitzing teams, yes, but as long as Seattle has relatively few options against the blitz, it encourages ANY team to do so.

    Zach Miller did a great job last night, in the “somehow they just keep making spectacular fingertip plays” Seattle way, but he is also slower than ESPN was to get over Brett Favre. He’s a lumberer. And Anthony McCoy, while valuable to the blocking scheme, has reverted to his habits of untimely penalties and drive-killing drops. He’s on a sixth-round contract and would not be breaking the bank if we did draft a Joker TE. If Ertz, Escobar, or Jordan Reed can add some underneath quicks or a close-in security blanket for Wilson, it’d go a long long ways toward protecting Seattle against blitzes that the league now knows they can only partially defend.

    • Rob Staton

      I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion Brandon. Where have I lay the responsibility at Russell Wilson’s door for the struggles with blitzes? Someone was criticising the play of the two guards and I pointed out that last night, a lot of the pressure was coming from a secondary blitz. When a safety is rushing the edge, how on earth is a guard supposed to cope with that? And when it is a safety blitz from the edge there’s really only two people who can deal with it – the running back or the quarterback. That is what I said. I didn’t blame Wilson at all. You cannot expect a tackle or guard to accommodate a safety blitz off the edge. It’s impossible. So either the running back picks it up, or the quarterback notices it and realises he’s going to have less time to get the ball out. That really is the absolute extent to which I’ve gone into this.

      • Brandon

        I’m not sure you read beyond my first paragraph, Rob. Whom is Wilson going to get the ball out to? He is repeatedly, all season, dropping back and finding nobody open. That was the concern I laid out in the following three paragraphs. You did mention that Wilson is responsible for adjusting protections, and that’s true. But when you say we should focus on more pressing issues on the other team, I would argue that protecting the QB ranks amongst the top concerns.

        It doesn’t have to be a guard. A tight end with quicks is a great way to protect a QB, and while Miller is helping do that, he’s also actually looking slower than John Carlson right now. But if Wilson’s height is going to be a problem in finding quick outlets and helping alleviate the need to constantly scramble, then the value of a TE/WR diminishes and safety blitzes may turn out to be Wilson’s achilles heel. Does he have the height and diagnostic skills to beat the blitz that way?

        • Rob Staton

          I still don’t get your point Brandon. Whether he has anyone to throw to or not isn’t the issue I’m arguing here. I haven’t disputed that they could do a better job with the scheme making sure Wilson has some quicker strikes or at least greater options to adjust at the line if he senses the blitz. Someone wanted to question the play of the guards last night and I countered by, quite rightly, pointing out that a lot of the issues came on a particular safety or corner blitz that the guards had absolutely zero impact on because they were coming off the edge. And when that happens only two players can prevent that causing a sack – running back and quarterback. Not guard. That is the only thing I’ve done here – defend the play of the guards. Not criticise Wilson in any way.

  12. Jim Q

    JS/PC seem tp place a lot of value on defensive “lenght”, of that type of player, Margus Hunt, DE, 6-7, 280, 4.74/40, SMU, reportedly has an 82″ wingspan and is generally regarded as the number 1 athletic “freak” in the upcoming draft. He’s blocked something like 17 kicks and has also done some decent work at DE even though he played his first game in like 2009. It looks like he could still be available in round 3 or 4 maybe? They say, his ceiling is through the roof, with the right coaching…..LEO ????

    • Rob Staton

      Possibly. Length is key. It’ll be interesting to see his ten yard split – another key feature.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      He’s not a Leo by any measure. He is an athletic freak, but in a different way. He is incredibly strong but not incredibly fast. He has good quickness, but he frequently loses leverage. At the college level, his sheer strength can still allow him to set an edge.

      His height works against him here in this case. However, he does have an innate ability to just slither through cracks and the brute strength to force through just a small opening. If he were to overcome his leverage consistency, he would in my mind be an ideal 3 — especially if he’s tasked with attacking a single gap.

      He would however have to learn some tricks. First and foremost, I’ll contrast him to Jesse Williams. These two couldn’t be more different in their skill set.

      1. Hunt has a difficult time disengaging from blockers to make plays. Jesse Williams is elite at this point. This factors in later.

      2. Both players are incredibly strong but Williams is freak strong. His warm up weight would have easily topped Poe’s combine best last year. He will come into the league as one of the top 2 or three players in this regard.

      3. Hands. Williams displays outstanding hands. When he strikes an opponent, it visibly looks like he’s clubbing them like a baby seal. Heavy and powerful. His heavy hands and unnatural strength allows him to create separation and make plays in the gaps. Williams also is outstanding at getting his hands up in the air to bat passes down. You watch on tape, and 8 times out of 10 he’s able to get his hands up.

      Hunt however, despite his incredible length, rarely ever gets his hands up. So while he has great measurables, he doesn’t leverage them the way you normally think one would. Obviously, this is something that is correctable. Since he’s played at the end position, it’s possible he’s not asked to do this much. If it sounds a bit like Ruskell saying Curry could rush the passer but wasn’t asked to in college, it’s because it sounds exactly like that. Of course, Curry was picked at #4. Hunt will go in the 50s+. That’s where you take upside guys like that.

      4. Speed. Hunt can display excellent speed and drive for a man his size. And on occasion, he can simply blow up a tackle like a 300 pound guy should a RB. It’s these explosive moments that cause draftniks to drool when thinking of him in their teams’ home colors. When he gets a tackle moving laterally, he can attack either inside or outside equally well.

      Hunt probably won’t last until the 3rd. Some team will probably take him late in the second. He’s a development guy who if he adds a few wrinkles could be special. A team that has few needs will take the long bet on his potential.

      Hunt intrigues me. And I’ve hoped we might pick him and develop him since last year. What worries me, is that he had leverage issues last year, and this year — he’s had leverage issues. In fact, this year really almost looks almost indistinguishable from last year. I would have expected improvement in some areas. Contrast to Williams, who coming out of JUCO in 2010, played high and erect. By the end of 2011, he was elite at securing leverage. At 6’4″, if you look at 20 plays, you will see Williams has leverage on all 20 of them. Dude’s hat is always under the chin of his opponent. Always.

      Williams started at the Bryant end position, sliding to 3 tech on passing downs. Then this year after Chapman left for the pros, bulked up and became a 1/NT due to team need. In 18 months, he’s played every position Seattle has except Leo. He has demonstrated an incredibly high level of development and applied new skills quickly.

      These are two guys that will probably be separated by 30 picks thereabouts. I’m not going to lie, I’d still love to have both of them. Williams has already shown, that he can develop quickly and I don’t have much doubt he could trim down and play the 3 and learn rush techniques. Given how quickly he’s developed and removed the rough edges of his game already.

      Hunt is a guy who to me screams as a nearly perfect complement to Irvin’s Leo. A guy who can platoon with Bryant on passing downs, providing rush from that end, while not sacrificing the run totally. And pairing him with Bryant on special teams would be amazing to see. Two guys with just freak natural affinity for blocking kicks.

      Should Hunt actually develop into a 3 tech (which is the ideal scenario), Williams now gives you almost the ultimate redundancy. He is a guy who could seamlessly replace Mebane or Bryant. Two positions that we are essentially one deep and two positions that are critical for our success. On our defense currently, Mebane, Bryant and Thomas are irreplaceable. It’s not conceivable that all three won’t escape injury year after year.

  13. David

    Hey Rob quick question

    I was curious as to what youd consider Justin smith of the niners is he a passrusher? or just a big body run stopper? or is it the threat of justin smiths pass rush ability that makes more O-lineman have to block while leaving a hole on the other side?

    Because of him i believe Aldon Smith gets most of his sacks through stunts (i believe thats what they’re called)

    could you see us getting just a big body DT and having him take on blocks while Irvin (maybe Clemons) run around the other side for the sack? or is that completely out of their (the Seahawks) Defensive Philosophy?

    hope thats not confusing

    I was thinking of just a big bodies DT who can take on more then one block while we have our speedy Irvin flash through for the sack. thank you for your time and patience when reading this.

    • Rob Staton

      He started as a 4-3 end in Cincy and an effective one at that. There were a few eyebrows raised when San Fran (a 3-4 team) gave him a big contract. He then worked as a five technique initially and did OK – he’s just such an intense player who brings it on every down. Strong as an ox, speed. But you are completely right that since Harbaugh came on the scene he spends most of his time working to provide Aldon Smith with sacks. He holds like crazy, and when he’s not holding he’s doing an effective job rushing the passer. We saw what impact it had on Aldon Smith vs Seattle and Arizona without JS on the field.

      Seattle needs a three technique who won’t necessarily hold for the LEO or work on stunts, but in the 4-3 under the three lines up right next to the LEO. If he can penetrate inside it’ll force the LEO into a great 1vs1 matchup and then that’s when you get the most benefit out of the speed. And there’s no reason why you can’t line the three just slightly off center on a certain look (eg – second and long) and work the stunt or double up on the tackle. Depends how quick the DT is. Sheldon Richardson could do it.

      The issue we have at the moment is we are using just a big bodied guy to take up blocks – in fact we’re using three of them (Bryant, Mebane, Branch). It forces all the responsibility on the LEO to get home. That is just too difficult. And without changing scheme away from the 4-3 under (which they won’t do) the only place you can upgrade the pass rush realistically is by taking a more natural three technique.

      • Ralphy

        Just a reminder that Mel Kiper came unglued when Cincy drafted him. Another of his many misses.

  14. stuart

    No expert here but it seems when Russell Wilson drops back to pass, to often he holds the ball too long. You can see he is going through all his reads but I content that our WR’s are not getting sufficient seperation. When McCoy has come in on two TE sets he has come up huge many times but he also does bone heading things and worse of all, he drops passes killng drives. As much as I like McCoy, I fear he will be just a 3rd string tight end and never be more. Please prove me wrong McCoy, redeem yourself.

    Like a broken record I want to draft TE Ertz in the 1st round. NOT to replace Miller but to enhance our attacak and give RW the BIG target he deserves. As we see in the playoffs, it’s all about moving the chains. It’s a plus for the running game for sure. The real question needs to be addressed to Russell Wilson early this off season. Russell whowould you rather have, TE Ertz or a WR Hopkins? If he says both, make it happen!

    • Rob Staton

      In fairness to McCoy, he’s really limited the drops this year. It’s just Sunday’s drop was a big one and remains fresh in the mind. But I’m on board with the suggestion of adding Ertz. And with regard to receivers not getting open – which is very true at times – that might strengthen the argument to target Hopkins. Such a crisp route runner and he finds ways to get open.

      • MEat

        What has been frustrating the past couple weeks is the mix of great playcalling to just horrible and then add WR not getting open, or when they are wide open they are not noticed by RW or are overthrown. I hope the offense clicks this week. It is necessary to have one huge playmaker added to the roster WR or TE. If a TE like Ertz is snagged three TE sets would be great to see.

        • Rob Staton

          The offense has really mixed between inept and brilliant the last two games. I fear it may need to be on an Arizona/Buffalo/San Francisco level to win this week.

          • meat

            I agree. The offense will have to move the chains and excute brilliant play calling this week. The beginning of Skins game Lynch did not touch the ball during the first two drives, if I recall correctly. I also am concerned in the lack of wrinkles in some of play calling and should be easy reads for the LB’s after watching tape the last few games. The inept bonehead calls is what made me crazy the first half of the season.

            Pete was running Bevell down what appeared to be a complaint about the choice in playcalling in the first qtr. I am praying we see the same level of the likes of the Buffalo and San Fran game.

    • SunPathPaul

      I agree Completely Stuart! Get Ertz AND Hopkins!!! Trade up, use Flynn and our 2 extra picks and make it work!!! A Big catching TE and Student WR, and we have a dynasty!!! (If Bevell or the new OC lets it be!)

  15. stuart

    Full 7-round mock draft from Field Gulls for our Seahwaks, enjoy!

    • Michael

      great article! I so badly want Sutton. (though I think you could trade down/up into early-mid R2 to grab him)

  16. Madmark

    We need that tech 3 to make the LEO spot better although i like to say Alan Branch had did a hell of a game after the 1st 2 Redskin possessions. If Bruce Iring steps up this year to take clemons place it could be changing of the guard and clemons when healthy comes back healthy could be backup.
    I think the Seahawks resign Alan Branch and get another tech 3 free agency like rob says. I understand free agency because we want the nu 1 defense and there almost there.
    Leo is a special position on this defense and i think Pete was thinking future when he drafted him even thou he had Clemons pickup from the start. This is a program and it should at the end of the season when brandon Browner was gone for 4 games and Jemery Lane took over for a couple of games . That is something this team has thsat it didnt in 2010, DEPTH.
    1st rd WR, 2nd WILL linebacker after that BPA. 3 tech spot most important at this time.

    • Rob Staton

      Branch had his best game of the season against the Redskins. He was superb.

      • meat

        He was excellent! I hope he keeps that level up for this week.

  17. Belgaron

    I’m not so sure adding a high upside Leo understudy wasn’t already a priority. They paid a huge premium last year in money to redo Clemons deal and 1st round pick for Irvin, they definitely want to find some “next guys” because of the chance of injury, the importance of the position in their defensive scheme, and the continuous need for a more consistent pass rush threat.

    • Michael

      I really want Bruce to have a good game against ATL. Assuming he is at least an adequate fill in for Clem, how huge will that “reach” have benefitted the Seahawks this year? If Irvin weren’t on this team who would be playing the LEO this weekend? Our 7th rounder Greg Scruggs? Ray Edwards, Aaron Maybin, or some other discarded player?

      I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Pete Carroll is the coach of the year (though he won’t win) and John Schneider is the exec of the year (and damn well better win… seriously who else is even close?) If having Irvin is one of the reasons we end up playing for the NFC championship, I think Mel Kiper should have to shave off his hair helmet as a demonstration of his humility before the almighty Seahawks FO.

    • JamesP

      Not just because of the importance of the position, but because of the uniqueness. If Bryant goes down (for example) you can switch Branch over, or play Scruggs. If Branch gets injured you’ve got Scruggs, Howard, McDonald. LEO is different. If Clemons is out, we are literally 1 deep at that position, and that’s huge. Definitely think a mid-rounder would help provide some depth at such a pivotal position.

  18. Belgaron

    I think that now that they are definitely picking towards the end of each round, they will probably look to sign at least one moderate to high end free agent to offset the lack of a higher pick. They tend to aggressively renegotiate bad salary contracts and this will give them the flexibility to target one of their “guys” in the FA market. Also, if either or both of the OC/DCs leave for head coaching gigs, their replacements will likely have “guys” that they’d like to add to the mix unless their successors come from within the current staff.

  19. AndyMuhs

    I love Brandon Coleman, Zach Ertz and most of all Deandre Hopkins. But in all reality watching the Seahawks it’s blatantly obvious that we need the second coming of Darnell Dockett. We need an interior push with consistency. Me and and Branch are great against the run but hoe about someone that commands double teams every snap their in. It would make life so much easier for Clem and Irv. We seriously might have one of the best D’s of all time at that point. Schneider and Carroll have earned all our trust and they know how to find a Tight End and deep threat reciever somewhere in rounds 2 – 7. I want Warren Sapp right meow. Rob, best damn Seahawks site and you and Kip are so refreshing because you guys know what the hell your talking about. Keep it up. Go Hawks, time to burn the dirty birds

    • Michael

      Excuse me, are you saying meow? Do you by chance enjoy jumpin’ around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree?

      • AndyMuhs

        One of my favorite pastimes Michael. Go Hawks

  20. Jeff

    The numbers from the second half of the year indicate that rush defense is Seattle’s greatest weakness.

  21. Ralphy

    How badly did last nights game hurt Manti Teo’s draft stock? Rob Rang thinks it pushed him down to the end of the first round.

    • Rob Staton

      Rob Rang also tweeted just before kick off that everyone would be surprised by how close the game would be and that Notre Dame’s offensive and defensive lines were SEC quality.

      • MJ

        Not to piss on Rang, but frankly I don’t think he’s very good. His mock draft picks for Seattle are really odd too. I think he made his money off knowing Ruskell’s regime like no other.

        And not to pile on Te’o, but really shocked people had him as a top 10 pick. Take away a bunch of flukey INTs off tips and you see a really nice MLB who has some limitations to his game. A slightly better Maualuga IMO.

        • Rob Staton

          I don’t want to bash on Rang – or any draft pundit really. But I stopped reading his stuff a year ago and I don’t feel any worse off. That Notre Dame prediction was a big eye opener.

          • MJ

            Likewise…not sure how anybody didn’t see a clear Bama win on the horizon. ND played a pretty meh schedule and really failed to dominate outside of a few games.

            Quite frankly, that first drive shouldn’t have surprised anybody. You have an NFL quality OL with 2 dynamic RBs, and a QB who can make throws, with a really legit downfield WR (Cooper). Writing was on the wall IMO.

  22. stuart

    Imagine your were a highly recruited QB and you chose to play at Alabama. Now imagine that by your Sophomore year you are the starting QB and you lead your team to the national championship and win as just a sophomore.

    Now imagine that somehow this exact same thing happended in your junior year, a 2nd consectutive national championship! Oh, throw in the fact that your girlfriend is the hottest lady in the state, Miss Alabama. Your team will be loaded again next year and you are the odd’s on favorite to win yet another national championship.

    You are destined for greatness. What current or former NFL QB has won threee national titles? NONE. You very well may the top selection in next years NFL draft, congratulations A.J. McCarin. You are the man!

  23. MJ

    I have been extremely high on the guy all year (posted rather obsessively), but Eddie Lacy really shined last night. If he’s available in R2, I’d love to see us pick him up to be Lynch’s successor. My fear with Lynch is that we see a drastic/sudden decline in his play. I think we are safe for another year, but his style is so unique and hard to find, that I think it would be a good idea to find a similar player, phase him in, and see if we can extend Lynch’s “life.”

    I really like Turbin, but he looks the part, doesn’t run the part. I think Turbin is a really good change of pace, 3rd down back, but I don’t see him breaking any tackles unless he has a running start to charge over a DB. Lacy was throwing LBers all day and has the agility to make people miss in tight spaces.

    This is not reactionary to a single game by Lacy, but I’ve loved his style and he does remind me of Lynch. Could be a head scratching pick right now, that looks genius down the road. We know how important the power run game is for this team. Would hate to see us trying to manufacture Lynch’s style without a Lynch type of player. Just a thought.

    • Rob Staton

      Lacy would be immense in this offense.

      • MJ

        Do you think he would be considered an option? IMO he could be BPA and we could afford a pick like this.

        And do you see the same thing I see with Turbin? Whenever he is in the game, it’s completely different. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t pop off some nice runs, but it’s just not the same tone setting style.

        • Rob Staton

          I hope they consider him. They may feel like they’re are greater needs but it depends who is on the board. Turbin was only a round four pick so it isn’t like they made a huge commitment there. From what I remember last year – we were told a RB was a priority early in the draft. The way it played out they obviously went a little later but wanted a bigger back so that the intensity from Lynch never let up. They weren’t looking for a third down back. Turbin was big and fast, but he is nothing like Lynch. And as you rightly note – it’s very different when he’s in the game. I’m led to believe the teams main motivation for going RB early was to try and manage Lynch’s carries, yet he ended up having just as many if not more than previously. So I think that’s telling and maybe they weren’t entirely confident spelling him with Turbin as much as they’d hoped?

          Lacy doesn’t have some of the cut-back ability of Lynch and he’s more north-south with a spin move. But man that’s a physical guy who’ll beat you up. He’s a bit like Frank Gore. And I think if he’s there in round two you almost have to consider him. Imagine the look on the faces of a defense when Lacy spells Lynch? I think you almost have to take him in R2. But I suspect many, many other teams will have the same idea. I doubt he lasts.

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