Rose Bowl thoughts: Watt, Carimi and Dalton

TCU defeated Wisconsin 21-19 at the Rose Bowl

I’ve just finished watching an entertaining Rose Bowl between TCU and Wisconsin.

Neither team is filled with top-end pro talent, but there were one or two prospects I’d like to share some opinions on.

The best pro-prospect in the game was easily, in my opinion, J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin). He’s the kind of guy that makes me wish the Seahawks ran a complete 3-4 scheme with more orthodox five techniques.

At 6-6 and 292lbs, Watt is far too big and nowhere near athletic enough to play LEO rush end in Seattle’s scheme. He also gives up 30lbs on Red Bryant – who defined the 5-tech position this season and became the team’s defensive MVP in the process.

If the Seahawks are going to give up size at the 5-tech (or at least install a greater rotation), you really need to look at someone like Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson). He can work at 285-290lbs and play strong against the run, while offering a greater pass-rush threat than Bryant.

Watt isn’t a dynamic enough pass-rusher to compensate on the size. Really it’s hard to find a home for him in Seattle, but 3-4 teams like San Diego, Green Bay, New York, Baltimore and maybe even Washington could show real interest in the talented junior.

Basically, he makes plays. Unlike a lot of playmakers, he does it through sheer power andeffort rather than elite quicks. I think he can translate that to the NFL. In 2010 (his second year starting) he had seven sacks, three blocked kicks and an interception.

Against TCU he was all over the field, tipping passes at the line and creating havoc for the Horned Frogs’ left tackle Marcus Cannon. He flashed an excellent spin move at one stage, provoking Cannon into a blatant hold which drew a flag. Watt also showed an effective swim and rip and while he’ll never be a great speed rusher, he certainly showed enough power to compensate.

The athletic restrictions were witnessed on a couple of read options. However, he also made one of his best plays of the day when he stuck with QB Andy Dalton and had the leg speed to switch to the running back after the pitch – wrapping up a smart tackle.

The 5-technique position has taken on new value in the NFL since Tyson Jackson went 3rd overall to Kansas City in 2009. Bowers at Clemson will almost certainly be drafted for the same role, more than likely by Denver if they select 2nd overall. Solid teams like Green Bay and Baltimore are always willing to invest in good lineman – but San Diego (who will be picking in the teens) remain a possibility too.

Watt could be a riser by the time we’re at the combine and may shoot up a lot of boards.

Of course he’ll have to declare first and a reminder here that the deadline for prospects to enter the draft falls on January 15th. I believe Watt will declare and it’ll be the correct decision.

One prospect I’m not so fond of is Gabe Carimi (OT Wisconsin).

Without wanting to sound like I’m lecturing anyone here – right tackles are essentially guys who aren’t athletic enough to play on the blind side. They’re not a rare species in drafts or in the NFL.

While Carimiplays left tackle for Wisconsin, he lacks the lateral mobility or athleticism to play that role at the next level. He’s very much considered a RT prospect in the pro’s.

Prospects like Carimi (strong. poor leverage and leg bend, better withTE support) can be foundoutside of round one every year. Because I rank Carimi as a limited athlete anda pure RT – I graded him in the late second, early third round.

I can see why he might find a home at the endof round one on a roster that is filled with talent. In my last mock I paired him with Philadelphia. Andy Reid is due to draft a lineman and they have a star studded roster that is capable of winning a title – maybe even this year. If they liked Carimi more than any other prospect – and I’m not entirely convinced they would with a big need at corner – they may be able to justify a luxury like that considering how often they run with Vick, McCoy, the full back or end arounds.

But I see Carimi mocked amongst the top-15 picks to teams with much greater needs and nowhere near Philly’s talent – and I have to shake my head.

In Rob Rang’s latest mock (published 12/21) he had Carimi going to the Seahawks. You can see the mock draft here.

I think this is very unlikely. I would be extremely surprised if Seattle made that pick.

Joseph Barksdale, James Carpenter, Demarcus Love, Ben Ijalana andMatt Reynolds. There’s five prospects who can fill a hole (if needed) at right tackle for Seattle. None will cost a first round pick. They may not be as polished or accomplished as Carimi. Do they necessarily need to be?

There will be plenty of options for Seattle at right tackle if they don’t renew Sean Locklear’s contract. I wouldn’t sleep on Ray Willis maybe getting a shot if he can return from injury. There will be other tackles available on the free market that can do what the team needs better than Locklear.

For a team with so many holes, not least at quarterback and receiver on offense andboth the defensive line and cornerbackon defense, this team cannot justify spending a first round pick on a right tackle. It is not a position that needs such investment.

Carimiwas his usually solid self in the Rose Bowl but nowhere near good enough to play blind side in the NFL, which limits his stock. Don’t buy into the hype and please temper expectations for the Wisconsin tackle next April. I wouldn’t be suprisedif he was aroundfor Seattle in round two if they so desired – even then there will probably be better options.

I had a couple of tweets asking about Andy Dalton (QB, TCU) and his stock. He’ll attend the Senior Mobile in Mobile later this month and will be part of the 2011 draft.

He’s a better prospect than Kellen Moore at Boise State – but then I don’t think Moore will even be drafted when he enters the 2012 event. Dalton has a decent shot at getting drafted in a few months time, but only as a round six or seven project.

For starters, he has better size than Moore (6-2, 220lbs). The arm is better but still largely average. In particular his deep ball lacks strength or accuracy and has led to problems in the past.

In this game Dalton was as good as he’s ever been against a solid Badgers defense. He limited the mistakes and passed for 219 yards and a score from 15/23 throwing.

He’s a mobile guy which helps, but won’t be a factor as a runner at the next level. He had passes tipped or batted down in this game which caused some concern, just by the regularity with which it happened.

But my main concern with Dalton is on-field resilience. In the past he’s let one mistake become two or three. He doesn’t handle pressure well and let’s his head drop too quickly. He’s not had too many problems managing a weak TCU schedule, but I think he’d actually benefit more in terms of a career if he’d learnt to lose. With the Frogs, every little mistake gets to him. He has to be perfect – like the TCU win record.

Considering he isn’t a brilliant physical talent, the mental make-up has to be top notch. So does the accuracy – which can be patchy too with Dalton.

He can be a project for someone in the late rounds. Unfortunately, that time has passed for Seattle and any quarterback drafted next April has to be more than a late-round flier.

Happy New Year to everyone and all the best for 2011.


  1. Matt Q.

    If the sehawks pick at 21, what is going to happen about the whole drafting a QB? Luck, Newton, Locker, Gabbert, possibly mallett (i dont think the hawks would take him if he is around) will be off the board. Are we ever going to get a chance to draft a top QB?

    • Rob

      I think it’s extremely unlikely at #21 without trading up. That’ll be hard to do without a third rounder. I’m not sure the team would be prepared to cough up a second rounder, maybe they would? Even then that can only get you so far. They might need to trade up 10 spots. It really depends on a teams determination to move down. I’d actually feel a lot better about picking at #21 if Luck, Gabbert and Newton didn’t declare – or at least Luck and Gabbert. Then you can accept it would’ve been a tough sell anyway at pick #7-10. If we’re looking at a draft involving Luck, Newton, Gabbert, Mallett and Locker – I’m not sure you could pick a worse year to draft at #21 after two years in the top ten.

  2. T-Town

    I have been having this problem all week.

    As a Hawks fan I want them to win and take the division. I would absolutely love to see another Seahawks game. While unlikely you never know if they could pull out a win or two into the playoffs as well. Any given sunday and whatnot.

    But on the other hand I am a big draft enthusiast. I am fully aware of what the Hawks will lose a chance at in the 2011 draft if they do win tommorow and drop down to 21+.

    I really cannot decide if it is a win-win situation or a lose-lose if you know what I mean.

    I also wont be thrilled for the Hawks to be the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. Thats not exactly something to brag about.

    Anyways on topic I liked everything you had to say about Carimi. Do you think he would be an upgrade to Locklear at RT?

    I am not all that impressed with Dalton and I dont see him being more than a backup in the NFL. I could see him getting picked in the 5th-7th rounds and getting cut.

    One guy you didnt mention which I like is John Moffitt. All-American OG with great size 6-5, 325 who has been a roadgrater for that Wisky OL. Currently rated as the #6 OG by CBSSports. Projected as a late 3rd to 4th rounder which means he could easily be picked up by the Hawks if they wanted to in early round 4 with the pick from Denver. Whats your take on him?

    • Rob

      Hi T-Town,

      Mofitt is just a guy in my opinion, the type you often find in that mid/late round range at guard. Certainly don’t rate him on a par with Hudson or Pouncey. He’d have some value later on though and I think that’s the area Seattle can look to bring in some o-liners.

      Carimi probably would be an upgrade for Locklear (who’s had a poor year), but I wouldn’t touch him in round one and I still think there will be better prospects at premium positions in round two. I can’t see him landing in Seattle and it wouldn’t bother me either. I think he’s over rated considering his limitations.

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