Post-Super Bowl draft notes

1. Can the Seahawks find a Deion Jones?

He’s listed as the MIKE on Atlanta’s depth chart — but Jones’ versatility, speed and range were on full show in the Super Bowl. Can the Seahawks add another player with this type of skill set?

Haason Reddick and Zach Cunningham appear capable of playing all three linebacker positions. Jarrad Davis might be another. All three are in the 230-240lbs range.

A wildcard suggestion could be Obi Melifonwu. Jones is only listed at 6-1 and 222lbs. Melifonwu at the Senior Bowl was 6-4 and 219lbs. He also has Jones’ range and extreme athleticism.

That’s not to say Melifonwu would likely become a full time linebacker. It is, however, another string to his bow as a hybrid. If you can leave him on the field believing he can cover a TE, play contain, defend the run and occasionally blitz from the SAM you can build a stronger case for taking him at #26.

That’s on top of his potential ability to be a chess-piece in the secondary, offer depth at safety and maybe over time develop into an outside corner.

2. What do we need to consider when projecting a SAM?

The Seahawks run a 4-3 under and previously used Bruce Irvin as the SAM linebacker. This year, Mike Morgan had a varied week-to-week role at the position, with Cassius Marsh also seeing some snaps.

It’d be interesting to definitively know Seattle’s approach to the position — specifically the importance of the SAM to be able to rush the passer.

Danny Kelly wrote about Carroll’s 4-3 under in 2011, noting this about the SAM:

It’s the same basic alignment but as you can see, the SAM linebacker comes up closer to the line to play hard contain and the weakside LEO is pushed out a bit, maybe a yard off of the weakside tackle. The LEO’s main job is to control the C gap while rushing the passer like a wild banshee and the SAM plays contain against the TE, runs in pass coverage with him, or rushes the passer in some situations.

This suggests that a varied skill-set is possible, it doesn’t have to be essentially a 3-4 OLB (even if that’s the preference). A high degree of athleticism, some length and at least the potential to rush the passer is possibly required though — unless you rotate.

In 2013 the Seahawks rotated Malcolm Smith with Bruce Irvin. I don’t have playoff snap counts but here’s Smith vs Irvin at the end of the 2013 regular season:

Game 13 @ San Francisco
Smith — 79.4%
Irvin — 66.2%

Game 14 @ New York Giants
Smith — 74.5%
Irvin — 65.5%

Game 15 vs Arizona
Smith — 92%
Irvin — 70.7%

Game 16 vs St. Louis
Smith — 92.5%
Irvin — 66%

You can see how Smith’s role grew as the season concluded, culminating in him winning the Super Bowl MVP.

Smith was better in coverage and it showed with the plays he was able to make (four picks at the end of the 2013 season, two touchdowns). He was a 4.51 runner at the 2011 USC pro-day. Mike Morgan, the non-pass rushing linebacker in 2016, ran a 4.47 at his pro-day.

It seems possible they could draft a SAM with extreme speed, coverage ability and instincts and rotate in Cassius Marsh or another player. If they were willing to play Malcolm Smith for +90% of the snaps, they might be willing to use a high pick in that kind of role too.

Haason Reddick would be an obvious solution because of his incredible speed and range, his ability to rush the passer and probably run in the 4.4’s.

Zach Cunningham isn’t the pass rusher Reddick is — but he has the speed, length, range and run defending skills to be a starter.

Jarrad Davis is probably better suited to playing the MIKE or WILL — but he reportedly can run in the mid 4.5’s and might be the type of player who is too good to pass if he’s there.

(Carolina uses Shaq Thompson as a SAM in their 4-3, Davis has been compared to Thompson).

It’s worth keeping Houston’s Tyus Bowser in your thoughts too as we’ve been discussing a lot recently. He’s not the finished article but his ceiling is incredible to do a bit of everything — cover, play the run, rush the passer.

The first round isn’t out of the question for Bowser. We know the Seahawks love twitchy athletes. He’ll likely make a statement at the combine. Plus one other thing to consider is production. Bowser only played in eight games in 2016. If you projected his stats over 13 games he was on for 22.5 TFL’s and 15.5 sacks.

3. What can we learn from Atlanta’s D-line?

Here’s the make-up of Atlanta’s defensive front and their cap hit APY:

Tyson Jackson — $5m
Brooks Reed — $4.4m
Jonathan Babineaux — $3m
Adrian Clayborn — $4.25m
Ra’Shede Hageman (rookie contract) — $1.3m
Grady Jarrett (rookie contract) — $631k
Courtney Upshaw — $1.25m
Dwight Feeney — $1m

The cumulative total salary for this group is just over $20m. It’s a cost-effective, experienced group mostly brought together through free agency but aided by a couple of hits in the draft.

The Seahawks have, for the most part, followed a similar path. If Ra’Shede Hageman has worked for Atlanta, Frank Clark is better. Jarrett only had one sack as a rookie in 2015 and three in 2016 — so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility Jarran Reed can develop into a similar impact player.

Seattle has had success in free agency, adding Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Athyba Rubin and Tony McDaniel control their gaps and really, that’s their job.

The big difference between the two really is depth. The Seahawks rely on Bennett and Avril to play a large number of snaps. Bennett, when healthy, rarely plays less than 90% of the snaps. Avril played 77% in 2016 with Frank Clark at 63%.

Alternatively, Cassius Marsh played just 36% of the defensive snaps. Having a couple more players capable of rotating in and out effectively could be the key to progress in 2017.

Quinton Jefferson might be able to help there after a short-lived rookie season. And while the clamour is to get a big name free agent to take this team over the top, it might not be realistic nor necessarily the best method.

If they paid an outsider like Calais Campbell $12-14m APY (for example) — how will that be received by the rest of the roster? Only two players (Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman) are due to earn more than $11m in 2017.

It might not be the flashy, attractive approach — but increasing the quality of D-line depth might be the way they go.

Dallas’ Terrell McClain could be a relatively cost-effective rotational piece. Jabaal Sheard looks set to leave New England. Can the Kansas City Chiefs afford to keep Dontari Poe? Jacksonville’s Abry Jones is an intriguing free agent-to-be and so is Philadelphia’s Bennie Logan, Baltimore’s Brandon Williams, Denver’s Sly Williams, Carolina’s Mario Addison and Tennessee’s Karl Klug.

Some of these names will get big money because that’s the nature of free agency at the moment. There also stands to be some value in the second wave — and that’s where the Seahawks have had success in the past.

There are also potential cap casualties to add to the pool. Atlanta might release Tyson Jackson to save around $4m, Sharrif Floyd could be cut to save $6.75m in Minnesota and the Jags may wish to trim the fat on their D-line by parting ways with Jared Odrick to save $8.5m.

Connor Barwin could be one to monitor too. He isn’t considered a great fit in Philly’s defense and can save the Eagles $7.75m if he’s traded or cut. It’s easy to forget Barwin is only 30 and ran a 4.47 at his combine. He’d be a nice, veteran rotation piece for the Seahawks.

4. Will the Seahawks do what Atlanta did in the 2016 draft?

The Falcons selected Keanu Neal (safety) in round one and Deion Jones (linebacker) in round two.

The positions might switch in terms of order drafted — but it feels like a safe projection for the Seahawks at this early stage.

It could be one of Obi Melifonwu, Kevin King, Rasul Douglas or Budda Baker to fill the DB need and one of Haason Reddick, Zach Cunningham, Jarrad Davis or Tyus Bowser at linebacker.


  1. C-Dog

    Fantastic right up, Rob!

    Nice points to be had on the DL, and depth being the overall key. Dan Quinn put together a nice variety of players through FA and the draft. Really like Seattle to continue on that path this year as well.

    Very intrigued with how they address SAM, and Melifonwu certainly seems like a player Carroll would be intrigued with. We know they have looked at transitioning big safeties to LB in Pinkins and McDonald (although they seem to see McDonald as a WILL). I think you hit it on the nail that they really want that athlete to be versatile beyond simply setting an edge. I kinda felt the vibe from Carroll that they might be giving up on Marsh there. It will be interesting to see.

    Kinda crazy thought: You wrote a number of weeks ago in detail again about the 3 tech position, bringing up Henry Melton’s measurables, height/weight, and work out performance, and it’s struck me how similar they are to what Frank Clark was coming out. They’ve continued to flirt with Clark rushing inside even though he slimmed down. Considering that it is relatively easier to find edge rushers than inside ones, would it be crazy for them to consider having him add back that weight and then some and mold him more towards the 3 tech position, a la Melton, Pernell McPhee?

    It is interesting that they hired former long time Bears DL coach Clint Hurtt without subtracting any of their current DL coaches. It makes me think they could have a specific plan in mind. Could simply be Reed and Jefferson though, I suppose.

    • Rob Staton

      I think Frank Clark has shown, with his 10-sack season, that his 2016 role is one that really suites him. I wouldn’t want to change it too much personally.


      I love the weight he’s playing at now. Really shows off his speed-to-power conversion.

  2. Sea Mode

    I think we should add OLB Carroll “Wild Man” Phillips to the list as well. Guy has the backstory and plays with his hair on fire. Will have to check out any off-field/personality issues, of course. (Hawks already reportedly met with him)

    • Rob Staton

      There are a lot of other LB possibilities later on, could definitely add more names — just focused on R1-2 here.

  3. JC

    So what does everyone think about the Seahawks taking a crack at the Justin Gilbert career rehabilitation project?

    • Ty the Guy

      Scoop him up on the cheap. Any former 1st rounder deserves another crack, especially with our coaching abilities at DB.

    • TatupuTime

      Joe Thomas tweeted (about Gilbert getting cut) that that’s what happens when you don’t love the game. That doesn’t sound like a Seahawks, despite Gilbert’s crazy athleticism.

    • NathanM

      Has the length (33″+ arms), and ball skills they covet but I doubt his lackadaisical attitude would be attractive to this team. After washing out with two teams, gotta ask how much he really cares about being a professional football player.

    • STTBM

      My two cents: Dude is a bum. Doesnt care, doesnt work hard, isnt going to be a good player. Definitely not Seahawks material, despite his arm length and athleticism.

      • HI Hawk

        With a 90-man roster, I might sign him and ask Sherm to get in contact with him. If he takes advantage of Sherm’s knowledge, give him a shot during the rookie mini-camp to show what he can do. If he uses the time between now and then to resurrect his love for the game by working with the best DB factory going, then we could have a BMW type reclamation project on our hands. Otherwise, you cut him – no harm, no foul.

  4. Ty the Guy

    Melifonwu’s versatility is fascinating. If he lives up to his billing as an athletic, hard-working football player is real, then I for one would be thrilled to have him in lime green and blue.

    Interested to hear your thoughts on a possible trade up to #18 with Tennessee, if Garrett Bolles drops that far. I’d say the Broncos at #20 are going OL for sure. So if available to we send our 1st and 3rd over?

    • Rob Staton

      I’d be interested because I really like Bolles — but suspect he will go top-10.

      • CharlieTheUnicorn

        He is rising on a high tide. I agree, he will be too high for Seattle to draft.

    • Sea Mode

      To move up that far in the middle of Rd.1 would almost certainly require our Rd. 2 pick I think.

      Maybe they would be interested in that case since they don’t have a Rd. 2 pick:
      Round 1 pick #5
      Round 1 pick #18
      Round 3 pick #69
      Round 3 pick #82
      Round 4 pick #122
      Round 5 pick #163
      Round 7 pick #241

      But it would be a tough pill to swallow for Seattle not picking again until late Rd. 3, even if we did get Bolles.

      • BobbyK

        This team doesn’t have the depth it used to. I don’t think we can be trading our first two picks for a higher pick in the first round.

        I’d rather have any two of Davis, King, Baker, Watt, etc. than singularly Bolles. I think we’re better for 2017 by copying Atlanta with their first two picks last year (DB/LB) as opposed to not getting a DB and LB and getting a rookie tackle. I like Bolles, too. But the line is so young and they may do something in free agency like adding Kalil or trade. I don’t know, but that defense needs help in the back especially and it’s not going to get it if our first defender isn’t picked until late in the third.

        • Ty the Guy

          I hear you guys on the value of draft picks. If we could find a way to hold onto our 2nd round pick, I’d make the deal in a heartbeat to get, IMO, the best tackle prospect in this draft. The only OT I felt this way about (yes I’m falling for him) was Jack Conklin a year ago and he turned out great for Tennessee.

          Fournette is the only other player that I’d consider a trade up for, but Bolles seems like a much more realistic target.

          But the caliber of defensive players at the end of round one is amazing. Honestly, I think there will be several players that will fit with the Hawks. Not sure how PCJS are going to choose.Like Rob, I really like the LBs, but the DBs and DEs look just as good.

        • STTBM

          I think a solid T–even just one–would make a huge difference in Seattle’s offense, and indirectly, help the D as well. I cant see Fant making a huge jump from worst LT in the NFL to average over the short offseason and one more training camp/preseason.

          However, we need another fine DB (or two) and a fast backer who can hit. Badly. And this Draft seems loaded in the first couple rounds at those positions, so I would be a bit freaked out if Seattle traded up for Bolles.

          I dont see them doing a trade up that far–Bolles is perhaps the best T prospect in the Draft, he isnt going to fall past pick 12, and Seattle cant afford such a huge trade up.

          Just crossing my fingers that Seattle finds two legit studs with their first two picks.

          • Ty the Guy

            I agree that a legit OT would have the greatest impact on this team as a whole. You protect your franchise QB, improve the running game, and by doing both of those you will allow the defense to stay off the field. But it is looking more and more like Bolles will be out of reach and I’d rather take the 2nd or 3rd LB/DB than a 2nd round OT.

            • AlaskaHawk

              Yes – Seahawks will have a lot of cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers to look at #26. Can’t fight the tide (unless your Clemson – ha ha ha)

            • STTBM

              If we want a solid T, we’re gonna have to get one in FA, and pay $ for one too. No more Jamarcus Webbs/Bradley Sowells, no more trash-heap cheap “finds”. Just find a couple solid guys and pay what it takes; Im not saying spend 10 million on an average guy, but 5-7 million is probably well worth it to this team–Wilson is getting killed and our run game was a joke most of the season.


      *action* green. Lights, camera…

  5. AndrewP

    I’d love to leave Day Two with a combo of guys listed above (Rounds below), thus checking the following boxes:

    – More size/skill at CB (King, Douglas)
    – A player who adds versatility throughout the back 7 on his own [Baker/Melifonwu (1-2) Luani (3)]
    – A player who adds versatility throughout the front 7 on his own [Reddick/Cunningham (1), Bowser (2-3)]

    Watching ATL, I couldn’t help but notice how fast the team was and how much they flowed to (bordering on attacking) the ball, doing all of the above at each level of the D. Also, their aggression/physical nature was impressive. Sure, it cost them a couple of holding/PI calls, but if their offense doesn’t collapse in epic fashion they would have won the SB despite it. Wherever the ball was, ATL was around it, and quickly. Only at the end of the game when they’d been on the field for the equivalent of 1.5 games did they start to slow down.

    That’s how the Hawks played in ’12-’14, seasons where they were arguably the best team in the NFL by the end of each season. If last offseason was about being bullies again, I want this offseason being about becoming fast, angry and hungry again. Sure, they need the core to take this and run with it, but I also think it will take an infusion of new blood to help the process as well.

    • Rob Staton

      It’s a good point about flying to the ball.

      And it’s something Reddick, Cunningham and Davis in particular do very well.

    • Greg Haugsven

      You could really see the speed Atlanta had in that game. They just got gassed. The Patriots ran 88 plays to Atlanta 41. That’s rough.

      • CharlieTheUnicorn

        The Defense played fine. The play calling for their 2nd half drives was more than a little curious. What happened to play action passes, swing passes and jet sweeps? The play calling got predictable…. and if Edleman had not made that late 4th qtr unbelievable catch… might have still won the game.

      • Hawk Eye

        i only want 3 things from any D player they draft
        speed and more speed.
        you can’t teach it and it can make up for mistakes quickly

    • AlaskaHawk

      I’ve noticed that when the seahawks are in zone coverage there is usually a good 5 yard space around the receiver catching the ball underneath. When they are man to man the coverage is better but often still isn’t very tight. The Seahawks really need to find a way to tighten coverage. I don’t think it is all players ability , some of it is game planning.

      • Ed

        Yep, they used to be more physical with Sherm and Max. Rough up WR at the line. Like when the Hawks won the SB. Since the SB, they play real soft. Hope PC makes a change back to the physical nature of the Legion of Boom instead of the current Legion of Bloom

        • BobbyK

          Some of that is NFL rules are making it tougher on our CBs, too. You saw how many holding calls the Falcons DBs got last night. That being said, some of the reason for the cushion is that our CBs (aside from Sherm) simply are not good and they need to give room or they’ll get beat deep. That’s a huge reason for Carroll saying they need to shore up the secondary. He knows our CBs are bad.

          • pmoney

            Shead was fine for most of the season as far as I could tell. The bigger issue for him is how he’s going to recover from his knee injury. Lane was legit bad.

            • AlaskaHawk

              Lane wasn’t good enough. Shead was fine but with his injury they need to restock. Seahawks picking two cornerback/safety is a good idea. And a linebacker and another DT. so that’s four picks to defense.

              Too bad there won’t be any great offensive linemen to scoop up. They will just have to train them up.

  6. Nick

    It could be a blessing in disguise having Reddick and Cunningham shoot up the draft board. I really didn’t expect Jarrad Davis to be there for us later in the first round. But to me, he is exactly what Seattle needs: a tone-setter. Someone who intimidates people.

    Watching his tape, you can see the similarities with Keanu Neal. They both fly to the ball and when they get near their target they explode. Even though he may be more of an ILB, I think passing up on someone with his talent and aggression would be tough.

    Could you imagine having Bobby, KJ and Jarrad doing work for us? That is a ferocious front seven that, paired with an improved secondary, will almost certainly lead to more turnovers.

    • HI Hawk

      Yeah, Jarrad Davis is very exciting. Some injury history to get information on, but if he checks out physically – he could be an excellent force player at SLB with the ability to fill in at the other two spots as well.

  7. Jorel

    OH MY GOD THAT LAST PARAGRAPH HAS ME SALIVATING. Any two of those guys would vastly, I mean vastly improve our already wonderful defense.

  8. CharlieTheUnicorn

    SB51 taught us an important lesson. You must be able to rush the ball and play ball control offense…. because no matter how good your defense was (ATL had a fine defense) they will get gassed and won’t be able to finish / close out the football game.

    With this prism, should we be talking up some OT and RB prospects for the 1st 2 rounds more?
    I personally see round 1 Obi Melifonwu and round 2 (LB to be named later), but just for funs perhaps the offense needs more love to protect the defense.

    • Nick

      Great points, but last year’s draft we almost exclusively focused on the offense. As a result, I’m expecting us to go pretty D-heavy in this draft—especially when you consider that the best talent seems to fall on the defensive side.

    • Trevor

      I think they need to address OL in free agency. We have enough young developmental OL IMO. Bolles, Feeney and Ryan R are the only 3 I would want them to take his draft to be honest.

      • Nick

        I agree, and I’d be very surprised if any make it past 20.

        • Ty the Guy

          Andre Whitworth anyone?

          Yes, he is 35. But last year he proved he still had plenty left in the tank. Plus he is a high character guy that will only benefit the young guys.

          • Volume12

            He’s a band-aid. David Diehl said dude could hardly even practice because his body is breaking down.

            You want Andrew Whitworth, Vandy’s OT Will Holden is pretty damn c!ose to what Whitworth was coming out.

            • Trevor

              I agree Vol but a 1 year band aid to give Fant another year to develop might not be a bad idea.

  9. Sea Mode

    Quick parenthesis from the LB discussion just to say that WR Taywan Taylor is going to blow up the combine.

    Reportedly put up 11’5″ broad, 39.5 vert, and 4.33 40yd in Spring 2016. Good receiver too. Should be a riser.

    • Trevor

      He is going to be steal for someone. He and Zay Jones are small school guys who could easily be 2nd round players.

  10. Ishmael

    I’ve brought him up before, and seen a couple of others mention him too, what if we sign Ty Nsheke to come in and play tackle? He’s a FA who only played six games last year, but looked really good doing it. He’s 30 or 31, but he’d be an immediate and comfortable upgrade over either Fant or Gilliam.

    Get that locked down, then suddenly the draft opens up to really go after defensive players. Although that said, I think my biggest takeaway from yesterday is that you need to be able to control the ball. Doesn’t matter how good your defence is, if they’re out on the park for 35+ minutes you’re almost always going to lose.

    • Hawk Eye

      i like that, but of course it all depends on the salary he will get. But he should be priced mid range, and he would help the o line a lot. The o line does not need more youth, and I doubt they go after Zeitler or Wagner or Whitworth. So a journeyman vet who can play 2 years while the kids grow up is a plan.
      Use the draft to spice up the D!

    • Wall Up

      Agreed. This just may be a viable option. He’s a RFA. A possible sign and trade possibility between old buddies.

  11. Nathan

    Speaking of post super bowl draft talk?

    How scary are the patriots looking coming into this draft?

    They have Garropolo and Gronk as trade bait, and already have an extra 3rd for Collins.

    • All I see is 12s

      Gronk is trade bate?

      • BobbyK

        If he is, nobody is going to trade a lot for a guy with his injury history. Two back surgeries? No thanks.

    • Nathan

      It wouldn’t surprise me, they’ve shown they can win without him now.

      • BobbyK

        It wouldn’t surprise me either. I’m simply saying they aren’t going to get a 1st or 2nd round pick for a guy with a big salary and a couple of back surgeries on his resume.

    • Naks

      And a ton of cap room

    • Sea Mode

      Wonder if they will pay Dion Lewis in 2018 or, considering his injury history, roll with James White and maybe draft McCaffrey.

      Coincidence or not, they have never lost a game in which Lewis has played.

  12. C-Dog

    The more I sit with it, I really do love the coup of being able to land players like Douglas and Melifonwu within the first two picks. Since I’m stuck perceiving corner as the biggest need, I’m willing to go Douglas first, but this could also be flipped. For now lets say Douglas is the safe fill for the biggest need, and Melifonwu is still available because teams aren’t seeing the complete enough player to take him top 50.

    26: R1P26

    58: R2P26

    90: R3P26

    105: R3P41

    184: R5P39

    211: R6P26

    229: R7P8

    John Boyle has a nice little article on the Seahawks webpage today about the offseason concerns at corner. He mentioned that the 11 INTS the team had this year are the fewest in the Pete Carroll era. Probably reinforces pretty strongly why Carroll called it an area of concern. Douglas has the size they covet plus the production. Factor in his desire for more impact at LB, I think Rob makes an interesting case comparing Melifonwu to Deion Jones, or the coverage of Malcolm Smith, for that matter. I think it is very possible Seattle might try the two pronged approach again at SAM having a conventional EDGE player and a cover guy. They spoke with Carroll Phillips, who has a bit of the Bruce Irvin mold to him. Maybe Melifonwu is the coverage guy, and Phillips is the edge player.

    For giggles, I’ll have them snapping up Dalvin Tomlinson if he’s still on board at 90 to pair up with his buddy Jarran Reed. Maybe not the big time pass rush threat, but also like Reed, could have a bit of a ceiling to develop there.

    The rest of the draft goes to helping the run game with Elijah Hood, swing tackle Levon Myers, and a play making fullback in Freddie Stevenson.

    They use FA to address OL, and more inside pass rush.

  13. WALL UP

    It’s good that you mentioned the role of the SAM position. Many had the view of Irvin fulfilling that role seamlessly. That was not always the case. His preference was to rush the passer, rather than setting the edge, dropping in coverage & occasionally rushing the passer.

    So, it affected his performance, and ultimately swayed their decision to decline his option of the last year of his rookie contract. There evaluation had financial ramification as well, but what that position entailed was someone that they felt an intelligent Morgan, or another, could perform well enough.

    Irvin’s speed was an asset & his size (6-3 245). His decision making was not always the best. Instincts & awareness could have been better for that position. Thus, Irvin is in Oakland & Morgan (6-3 230) has not necessarily lit it up.

    What these two have are characteristic of what they view is needed for an OLB, someone with speed, size & instincts. Malcolm Smith (6-0 230) played WILL and was not a starter. Kevin Pierre-Louis (6-0 236) also WILL. As you mentioned Eric Pinkins (6-3 230) was looked at for a SAM. KJ (6-4 246) plays both positions.

    These examples, along with Irvin’s & Morgan’s, give physical measurables that they have sought for in both positions. Having a 32″ arm length for a CB is incumbent upon being drafted. So, it is safe to say there are similar parameters needed for the WILL & SAM positions.

    From this, we see that their preference for SAM is someone 6-3 to 6-4 230-245. For WILL, 6-0 to 6-4 230-246. These measures may determine the player they select for the position of need at OLB.

    So, if Haason Reddick (6-1 237) is drafted, the position that he would more than likely play is at WILL, not SAM. Then KJ would have to move to SAM. There preference is to keep KJ at that position, rather than moving him. As much as many love to see him as a Hawk, this just may not occur, based upon their measurables and their needs, unless they do decide to move KJ.

    If Cunningham (6-4 230) is available, he checks all the boxes for their SAM position. If necessary, he could play WILL or MLB as well. Many say that he can’t rush the passer. This clip shows otherwise.

    There are others, yes, perhaps in trading dn. More than likely, both may not be available

    • Nick

      Love your analysis Wall. You speak glowingly about Reddick and Cunningham (which is totally justified!). Do you also like Jarrad Davis? His tape is very impressive.

    • Rob Staton

      I don’t agree that Reddick would certainly be a WILL. He had 10.5 sacks and 22.5 TFL’s in 2016 and needs to play EDGE on third downs. His game is tailor made for the SAM IMO. I think judging him by his height in this instance would be an error.

      • Wall Up

        The majority of tape on Reddick has him rushing from the edge on passing scenarios. That will be held by either Clark or Avril with Bennett sliding inside. As you know, they may flop with Clark dropping in coverage and a blitz from SAM. This is done occasionally.

        Reddick (6-1 236) will be swallowed up on run plays if on the edge. The same thing would occur if positioned @ SAM with the responsibility to set that edge. A lot of his play is around linemen, not thru them. His length limits his ability to shed those pulling guards headed his way, with only Clark on the line in front of him.

        It appears that Clark may start as the LEO. If so, they would need someone strong against the run behind him @ SAM. C-Ham’s a BAD man. He takes on linemen and sheds them in pursuit of the the ball carrier. He does blitz when needed, which is what it appears THEY are looking for @ SAM.

        The measurables are only a reflection of what they’ve done in the past, and what’s behind all rush ends. If not, they’d be run on, all day long. Jarred Davis is more of an ILB in a 3-4, but he is a possibility. I would trade down though for him.

        • Ed

          Clark and Bennett on the inside with Avril and Reddick on the outside. Would be a great Nascar package

        • Cameron

          Methinks you are oversimplifying linebacker responsibilities a bit here. The WILL and SAM are somewhat interchangeable. Certainly KJ Wright is capable of playing SAM.

          Deion Jones looked pretty good playing MIKE for Atlanta and he’s listed at 220 lbs. Certainly 237 is big enough to play SAM if you take Haason Reddick.

          • WALL UP

            Look who is front of Jones, Jarrett and Babineau. They keep him clean to shoot thru gaps. That’s not the same on the edge.

            • Volume12

              Who do you think Atlanta is trying to emulate? DQ thought he had Seattle South yesterday and boy was he wrong.

              And Bruce Irvin couldn’t set the edge?

              • Ishmael

                Irvin is a very unusual player, there are maybe a handful of players in the game with his skillset. Underrated loss this season IMO.

              • Wall Up

                I was referring to the 1st year playing @ DE. You recall he did beef up a to meet demand for setting the edge from the Leo spot. Clem was their model for Leo. He did both well.

                I realize your preference is for Reddick, rather than C-Ham. That’s understood. I differ in that respect. In passing downs, he will get after the QB. But, Clark and Avril are poised to fill that for the next few years.

                It’s great to share our opinions. Ultimately, JS & PC will decide if the opportunity presents itself. Judging from the patterns of the past, I’m leaning towards C-Ham.

        • Sea Mode

          The whole point with Reddick though is that he is also fast enough to drop into coverage. That is a MUST with today’s pass-catching RB’s and joker TE’s. Still not convinced I see the same speed and fluidity in open field from Cunningham. With his length and quickness, he will be great at covering the short middle and the flat, but not sure quite yet about trailing a move TE or RB down the field.

          What I really don’t get is how you knock Reddick for his height as far as holding up vs. run. Reddick is 7lbs heavier, but in a 3in. shorter frame. That’s a lot more stocky build and lower pad level to take on defenders. Cunningham is longer, yes, but a lot thinner.

          The article and GIFs here explain that, while he can at times be pushed around vs. the run, he has size similar to a lot of other good run defenders. And most importantly, once again, we are looking specifically for a guy who can cover too.

    • EranUngar

      When you look at Cunningham’s tape you see him tackling with a wrap & twist exclusively. He never puts his shoulder into the player. He is not a hitter. Bringing down NFL players will be much harder if you don’t get your body into it.

  14. HawkFan907

    Our first two picks need to be defense. It hurt to see us struggle at the end of the year without Earl. If we come away with two of the following (Reddick, Cunningham, Bowser, King, Melifonwu, Davis, or Baker) then I will be pleased. Two athletic playmakers on D are needed. Then if we switch to O and grab some bullies (Isaac Asiata, Jamaal Williams, Bisnowaty, Damien Mama, De’Veon Smith etc.) I feel like it will be a perfect draft. I miss the days we left teams battered and bruised on both O and D.

  15. BobbyK

    I wonder if the Seahawks go after Riley Reiff at all? He’s a veteran. Better than Gilliam at RT. Would be LT insurance for Fant. He’s not going to break the bank like Zeitler (although he won’t be cheap with so many teams needing/wanting decent offensive tackles).

    Carroll seems to like Fant at LT moving forward to there’s no need to speculate on that position. If they are going to keep Glowinski, Britt, and Ifedi as is – the only real area to improve in terms of talent is RT. Ifedi might be better served playing between two veterans. Although Gilliam has played three years now, he hasn’t been a tackle for a long time.

    • Hawkfaninmt

      Reid is the OL guy I want… keeps Ifedi growing at RG, and consistency at 4/5ths of the line…

  16. Mitch

    Hi Rob, thanks again for the great reads.

    What’s your thoughts on Duke Riley and or Kendall Beckwith from LSU as a possible option? Both have been coached really well and although undersized fly to the ball and always seem to be around it?

    • Rob Staton

      I thought Riley was a bit tentative on tape. There is potential there, will be watching his combine for sure. Beckwith tore his ACL at the end of November and might be a day three pick now sadly.

  17. Cameron

    Prior to the 2016 NFL draft Pete Carroll lost Bruce Irvin and Brandon Mebane in free agency. He chose to replace Mebane. We moved up in the 2nd round to take Jarran Reed and Deion Jones would go three picks later to Atlanta.

    Obviously the linebacker depth last draft was nothing special, whereas the DL class was very deep. It makes me wonder just how important the SAM position is to Pete, particularly if we are talking about a non pass rushing one.

    Whereas virtually every other solid player on defense was signed to an extension, Bruce Irvin was allowed to walk. Malcolm Smith left for veritable tables scraps and could easily have been retained. Let’s also not forget that Bruce Irvin was drafted to play DE, and in fact didn’t switch to Sam until after his first season if I recall. Malcolm Smith was drafted in the 7th round, Mike Morgan was an UDFA. (Wow in researching Smith I realized he’s a free agent and played last season for 2.75 million. Hmmm… anyways I digress.)

    I’m not completely against the idea of taking a pure SAM in the first couple of rounds, I just don’t find it terribly likely. If you liked Malcolm Smith it appears he can be had for fairly cheap. Given our team needs (and I do feel we need to grab an OT at some point) and the fact that Pete has found productive SAMs deeper in the draft I’m a bit skeptical.

    • Cameron

      By the way Malcolm Smith is still only 27 years old.

    • Wall Up

      OT my occur from an UFA in Washington and the draft. If they do trade dn Garcia could be a possibility.

      • Wall Up


    • STTBM

      Perhaps it would have been wiser to take Jones and add a DT later, but Reed was a guy they had a first round grade on, and his position was considered a greater immediate need. Also, Reed should be the DT we can build around, even if he never develops much pass rush (and I think he can)–a Mebane type.

      Remember, Mebane barely played the first half of his rookie year, he only came on in game Seven and Eight. Reed, while having some trouble at times, was generally solid at the point of attack, and played pretty well the whole season. If he makes a jump next year, as he should, he will be a heck of a player for a long time.

      Still a bit wistful about what might have been with Jones though…

  18. LeoSharp

    The Seahawks need better coverage linebackers. Statistically Wagner and Wright are nothing special in coverage but they are both effective blitzers. Any additions need to be great in coverage and probably a minimum of 4.5 spee or insane instincts to help take away the underneath throws. I also see the possibility of K.J. playing SAM in base but WILL in nickel as a way to get the best linebackers on the field.

    • WALL UP

      KJ plays best @ WILL. The combine should be telling.

      • LeoSharp

        When K.J played SAM he was not very experienced. He’s very good at setting the edge and making plays in the backfield and has grown as a pass rusher. The majority of the time he’d still be playing WILL so I don’t see it as an absolute right off if they can’t find the ideal SAM backer. Plus it adds some more variation to the underneath coverage if they can all rotate at a moment’s notice.
        I doubt the sort of elite athlete who has the ideal skillet would ever be available in the later half of round 1 so you’ll have to make do with rounds 2-7 and develop them like every other linebacker drafted by the Seahawks.

  19. Donald

    Okay I have seen enough of Zack Cunningham, and the Hawks need to throw in their #90 pick (140 pts in the draft trade chart) and trade with Den at 20 and get him. It is worth it!

    Then trade their 2nd rd pick pick plus something to move up and take the best corner or safety (Melifonwu, Davis, or Baker).

    • HI Hawk

      The best safety in this draft is Eddie Jackson, I think his injury should keep him available into the 3rd round. He would be my focus, and then I’d look at Jarrad Davis as my second biggest priority.

      • HI Hawk

        Figure out Davis’ value and make it happen knowing you’re getting a steal in Rd 3 with Jackson.

  20. House

    I posted in yesterday’s mock draft/Super Bowl thread that King and Davis would be my 2 picks. I am very curious to see how Obi tests. Great write up as always Rob!!!

  21. EranUngar

    Two top picks dedicated to the defense is just what the doctor ordered. Fast & physical at DB (Melifonwu, Kevin King, Douglas or Baker) would make me very happy.

    The LB pick is more challenging. IMO, to justify a first round pick, it has to be a 3 down player that can set the edge against the run, play cover and RUSH THE PASSER. As mentioned above, the snap counts for Avril & Bennett (30 and 31 y.o.) is too high and you can see the effects on the field. If we invest a top pick for a position group that is manned by 2 pro bowlers already, it has to be a player that can keep the base D longer and not be a liability no matter what type of play (rushing or passing) enfolds.

    I both love and hate Cunnigham’s tape. He does everything right but ALL his tackles are wrap and twist. He never puts his shoulder into the player and uses his hands to bring them down. This may just be a technical issue that could be repaired by couching or it could be a fault that will be exposed by the more physical NFL players he will need to face. His pass rushing skills are unknown.

    Riddick is everything we want but may prove a liability setting the edge against the run due to size and length.

    I am actually gravitating towards Davis or Bowser in the 2nd round. Not as NFL ready as Riddick/Cunnigham but may be the perfect for the job later on.

    • Volume12

      Cunningham has nice length, good fluidity, runs like a deer. I think he’ll be strictly a coverage ‘backer.

      Looks like the skinniest 230 lbs I’ve ever seen. Weird body. Rail thin up top, nice bubble, and then chicken legs. WILL or MLB. Not a guy you’d want up at the LOS. I don’t see this guy taking on blocks at all. I think he’ll get bodied by the more physical teams. Eyes move faster than his feet. Seems to avoid contact.

      Give me UNLV’s Tau Lotulelei over this guy all day.

      • Volume12

        *said that backwards. Feet move faster than his eyes.

      • Ishmael

        Yep, totally agree. Looks like he’d need to be kept clean in a big way. The length is great, love the closing speed, really love it, but he looks rail thin.

        On the tackling, I like that he gets himself in good positions. Tracks the hips and wraps, doesn’t just launch himself like an idiot. Don’t like that he never bodies the guy, have to get your shoulder in there sometimes. Doesn’t look like he loves the physical side of the game, can’t imagine him really battling it out in the trenches, and I don’t really see the Hawks loving him for that reason.

        The TFLs and sacks I’ve seen from him are mainly from coming through the line totally clean. He’s got fantastic speed which helps, but I just don’t see it happening at the next level.

        Plenty of people love him, so if there’s stuff I’m missing I’d love for one of you guys to point it out. I can see him being a really good fit for a team like Miami who need a playmaking linebacker and have the DL to keep him clean, but I don’t really see it for the Hawks.

        • peter

          He does have good form when tackling. Except when he goes high and doesn’t appear to have the strength to bring players down. I do like that he’s not a “launcher,” so to speak.

      • peter

        I like the honest Cunningham take. When he first got mentioned here I watched five of his videos. Then again.

        I love the length but I honestly never quite saw “it.” It seemed to me he needed help tackling, took high tackles (which you had mentioned before,) was outshined honestly by a sub 6 foot Safety for Vandy in multiple games. And at one point I found myself wondering why the DT Butler looked so good against Florida and not anywhere else.

        I’m not opposed to him as a player but I do wonder if he would get swallowed up at the LOS at the next level. I know this is just me but I was a try hard athlete who made my bones in HS always hustling. One thing I can not stand watching games is when a player trots out their final steps towards a scrum. You never know how that will play out and I like to see players finish out. It felt to me that was my takeaway multiple times watching his tape. *Splash play like a strip sack (awesome) then some medium speed jogs to the action.

        • Volume12

          Pile sniffer.

  22. Naks

    Good write up. All those guys and positions are definitely possibilities. I still think if we take a db in round 1 he will need to be either a great special teams player or returner. It will be really hard for any young corner to get on the field because of scheme and footwork alone. At least a versatile safety has sub packages like kam did his rookie year. I loved the bandit look.

    We need players that can get on the field right away and contribute instead of “red shirting” a rookie corner. If we can get a corner that returns kicks then we don’t need to go out and get a return specialist only type player. We essential lost tyvis Powell because no one else could return punts/kicks.

  23. STTBM

    Excellent writeup, Rob! I really like Melifonwu, but am not sure how he would fit in Seattle. As big as he is, he’s nowhere near the hitter Kam Chancellor is, though he appears better in coverage. Nothing wrong with a big dude who can run playing SS, especially since he’s willing and able to “sort through the trash” in run support and nail the ballcarrier behind the line. Melifonwu also lacks that elite top-end speed of Earl Thomas, so he’s not a perfect fit to learn behind Thomas at FS.

    I dont care though; he can cover, he has great technique and instincts in run support, and even if he doesnt hit like a freight train he’s a willing, able, and technically sound tackler, at least from what I have seen. I like this kid. Wouldnt bother me to see Seattle take him, whether they trade down into the top of the second or just pick him at 26.

    Reddick would be awesome, but I cant see him falling to 26–after guys like Shazier, the NFL is pouncing on speed guys with pass rush ability. He’s better than Irvin was, for instance–a lot more polished, especially at pass rushing.

    The good thing about guys like Bolles and Reddick going early is someone–or several someones–will fall to Seattle. That means either we take a really nice player at 26, or trade down because someone else wants someone that fell, and then we get a couple guys like Melifonwu, Baker, King, Davis/Cunningham/Bowser…

    Either way, as long as that clown Goodell doesnt steal a second or third from Seattle, we’re gonna end up with a couple really nice players with our first two picks, hopefully a DB and a backer who can pass rush and cover, and those guys should play right away. This looks like a really nice top of the Draft for Seattle…


    Ok, I’m starting to like Obi from that highlight reel. Still, is it realistic to put so much on his plate? LB, S, CB… we might risk having a jack-of-all-trades/master of none.

    It might be realistic to have him at LB in base with the versatility to follow a receiver/move TE around the formation on passing downs. Now that would be a great trump card, you’d never have to take him off the field and up-tempo offense would lose an advantage since we wouldn’t have to substitute.

    However, Deon Jones isn’t responsible for setting the edge, or rushing the passer as far as I know… Obi may not have the right stuff for that job. He could get run over.


    • Rob Staton

      Jones plays the MIKE in Atlanta so he doesn’t set the edge or rush. I don’t think you’d ask Obi to do it either. He wouldn’t be a full time LB. But if you put him on the field in nickel and want him to play as a LB for a specific look he might able to do it in certain scenarios. That’s really the situation here. It’s finding ways to use him and where can his traits impact a game.

  25. New Guy

    OK, a bit OT, but what about Tyrod Taylor for Seahawk backup QB on a one year ‘prove it’ contract?

    I’m sure he’d want a starting job somewhere, but how realistic is that this upcoming year? It might be a good home for him for a year or so hoping to get up again to the level where he thinks he belongs.

    Stylistically we would be in good shape with him at the 2-spot. We could probably endure a small number of games with Russell out. It could save a season. We’re in a tight cycle right now where Superbowls are still possible for the next short while. We can’t afford to waste this opportunity.


    • Ishmael

      Taylor is better than half the QBs in the league. Jacksonville should take him, then draft Fournette. Would be a huge, huge, upgrade over that potato Bortles.

      If not them then the Browns should, and then spend their first two picks on Garrett and Hooker/Jones.

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