Saturday draft notes

Mel Kiper talked up Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson, and with good reason. Saturday’s game against Georgia was the first time I’d seen him — and he’s a big time talent. Like this class needed any more top tier tackles. Whether or not he declares as a redshirt sophomore remains to be seen, especially with Auburn’s stock trending upwards again. But if he’s assured of a top-ten grade, he’ll face a tough decision.

Robinson is the complete package. He was flawless in pass protection, was light on his feet for a big guy, he was opening up big holes in the running game. I want to see more, but his combination of skills, power and athleticism could put him top of the tackle class. Every now and again Kiper finds a real gem. He was the first guy to talk about Jason Pierre-Paul back in the day. Credit to him for putting Robinson’s name into the public domain.

Marqise Lee still looks like a superstar in the making. Sure, he’s not had the year he was hoping for. Yet against Stanford — while clearly not 100% — he put in a game-winning performance. Early on he made two incredible toe-tapping receptions on the right sideline — one to make a two point conversion. And despite having to constantly limp on and off the field, he dragged himself out there to make the crucial 4th down catch that led to USC’s winning field goal.

Tonight he showed he’s not just technically gifted — he’s also a warrior. And while we can linger on the fact he’s undersized and not an elite runner, whoever gets him next year is going to feel very satisfied. If you can find a receiver who loves the game, is technically sound and has a sparky, competitive personality — size doesn’t matter quite as much. He ended the night with six catches for 83 yards. For me Lee and Sammy Watkins remain the top two receivers eligible for 2014, with Odell Beckham Jr in third spot ahead of Mike Evans.

Lee and Watkins could still very easily be top 10-15 picks.

I came into the USC-Stanford game wondering what Trent Murphy is — and after another viewing kind of found the answer. A pretty basic athlete who doesn’t look like a top NFL prospect. Nice production, but it’s hard to imagine it transferring to the next level. As for Shayne Skov — I just don’t see a Seahawks linebacker there. He does well blitzing and he’s tough as nails. But Seattle’s penchant for speed and the fact they already have a talented middle linebacker limits the chances he ends up in the PNW.

David Yankey is growing on me though — I think he’s better than David DeCastro (who was overrated). He was moving people off the line without pulling, he opened up some nice lanes. On his last two performances I’m starting to warm to the idea he’s a possible first round talent. Stanford linemen still scare me, however.

Plays like this make me want to buy into Eric Ebron as a first round possibility. There aren’t many tight ends that can run a slant and take it up the middle for 58 yards while running away from defensive backs. That’s some athleticism there at 6-4, 245lbs. He did hurt his right shoulder in the game but returned after a moment on the sidelines. He ended with three catches for 73 yards in a 34-27 win for UNC over Pittsburgh.

Brandon Coleman’s stop-start season continued. A couple of weeks after failing to register a catch, he’s since got back into a groove. Rutgers were blown away by Cincinnati, but Coleman still made an impact — including this red zone touchdown. I’m not too concerned about stats because his upside is so high and his quarterback so poor. If only he’d just high point the football. That’s going to cost him. Shame. He recorded six catches for 77 yards and the score.

Two quarterbacks who might go earlier than people think next year — Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) and Tom Savage (Pittsburgh). Thomas has mostly struggled for two years, but has actually put together some consistent form in the last couple of weeks. His size, arm strength and running ability will appeal to some teams. The bad tape will probably stop him going in the first round or two, but don’t be surprised if he lands in round three. Savage looked like a future pro when he started at Rutgers, and now with Pitt he’s put together a decent year. He’s worth stashing as a developmental prospect with upside.

Jace Amaro appeared to lose consciousness after a big hit in Texas Tech’s defeat to Baylor. He gets twelve days to recover before a big game against Texas. He managed two scores against the Bears and four catches for 55 yards.

Jadeveon Clowney’s foot injury flared up again in a victory over Florida. At one point he left the field in some pain. He’s going to need surgery in the off-season — which could jeopardise his ability to dominate at the combine. He has just two sacks this year. I still think he’ll be the number one pick, especially if he’s healthy for Indy. As much as I like Teddy Bridgewater — the hype has gone way over the top. Ditto Marcus Mariota. Neither is a franchise saviour for a team like Jacksonville. And there’s enough depth at the position to grab Clowney at #1 and go after a Derek Carr later on.


  1. Dan

    The draft seems to be taking shape.
    From what I can tell: lots of top-10 tackles, 4 elite WRs, and over-hyped QBs that are sure to be drafted earlier than they should be.
    The late round of the 1st is looking better than last year.

    • Dan

      later picks in the 1st**
      And I’ve watched some tape on Eric Ebron. He’s the top TE prospect on CBSsports and they’ve got him mocked to the Hawks at 31.. But do we really need another athletic TE a year after drafting Willson? I understand Willson was a 5th rounder and Ebron looks legit, but depending on what we do with Miller, I view a blocking TE a lot higher on the board than another H back.
      How’s Ebron’s blocking Rob?

      • Rob Staton

        Ebron’s blocking is hit and miss — he’s more of a receiver.

        CBS’ projections for Seattle have been a little iffy for a while (IMO) — probably since Ruskell left.

      • KyleT

        Willson may be an athletic TE, but he can be Millers eventual replacement as a blocking TE. Also he doesn’t quite fit the hybrid TE/WR type that is not only fast but runs sharp crisp routes. I think we either target a bigger possession WR or a TE/WR hybrid like Ebron, Amaro, etc in the first 3 rounds.

        I would not be surprised at all if we grabbed Coleman if he dropped into Day 2, or even picked Ebron/Amaro at the end of the 1st depending on what else happens in that round regarding O/D-lineman

        • Rob Staton

          I think there are a lot of factors at play that make a tight end an unlikely option…

          1. I suspect they will look into re-signing Anthony McCoy. He is a project Pete Carroll has been working on for some time — starting at USC. Last year he was starting to look legit. So one injury for me isn’t likely to end that project once and for all. He could be signed to a vet minimum I suspect — and then you get three TE’s on the roster.

          2. If they don’t go down that road, they might look at another Carroll protege — Fred Davis. Who will also be cheap.

          3. Any TE the Seahawks are going to draft in R1 probably has to tick one of two boxes. They either have to be a sensational athlete — like other world athlete. Therefore being a big time difference maker and mismatch. I think we have to expect a 4.5 type runner for a starter at the slowest. Ebron can run, but is he that fast? Not sure. Amaro isn’t IMO from what I’ve seen. Alternatively I think they have to be a brilliant blocker and effective pass catcher like Zach Miller. I think ASJ flirts with that role, but perhaps isn’t quite the consistency machine catching the ball that Miller is — and is he quite as good a blocker? Again, not sure.

          (I will add — the one thing Amaro does better than maybe any TE I’ve scouted previously is block downfield)

          All things considered I’m not sure there’s a player who fits, at least not to the point they’d feel they needed to take a guy in R1.

          • KyleT

            These are all good points

        • CC

          Willson’s blocking has been much better as the season goes along. Davis hasn’t been horrible either. McCoy, if healthy likely is back on the team. I don’t see TE as a big need – some O lineman and maybe another D lineman or two in case we have to make a change with either Mebane or Bryant.

  2. KyleT

    Cool write up and thanks for the post Saturday draft thoughts. I have been thinking about our linebacker situation and next years draft. Last year we had much focus on a WILL linebacker because of Hill not returning for the team. This year with sliding KJ to WILL and using Irvin at SAM it hasn’t came up. I think it should be back in focus for a mid round discussion. Here’s why.

    Of all the position groups on our team we have probably had the most non injury struggles at LB. specifically Wagner and Wright. Additionally both Wright and Smith are FA after the 2014 season. I think we draft a guy this coming year that can see some time playing ST and potentially be our starter at WILL going into 2015.

    I have hesitated to look to deeply at this because I know the hawks seem to have very narrow criteria based on combine #’s. so part of me just says wait until the combine, and look at the list of mid round prospects with seahawk LB speed, length or some combination of the two.

    I am curious however if any prospect had stood out to you or any of the other readers here as a potential seahawks LB.

    • Rob Staton

      Nobody’s stood out to me as of yet in fairness — and it’s probably the best thing to do (waiting for the combine). However, I’m also a big fan of the depth we have at LB and I really like the underrated Malcolm Smith.

      • KyleT

        Actually I like Smith too. He has done great on blitzes and against the run. He has been exposed a few times in coverage or he would probably have the starting job over Wright. I don’t know that either gets a second contract in 2015 though and the only LB’s on the roster for WILL would be Toomer going into 2015.

        I think in general we are trying to draft a year ahead of starting need at least.

        • AlaskaHawk

          I like our LBs but we have been gashed by long runs where LBs were blocked out of the play or just out of position. I wonder what a top middle LB could do for the team. They have to stop the run, spy on the QB, drop into pass coverage and blitz. That may be the most versatile position on defense along with safety. Perhaps we should try out a bigger LB for versatility against the running teams.

  3. CC

    The more I watch the Alabama teams, the more I think generally to stay away. They seem to be beaten up by the time they make it to the pros. Stanford lineman – same thing. Those guys seem to wear down. Some of the spread offense lineman may need tweaking (not twerking…) but the blocking time is so short, I think it helps their shelf life. Carpenter is such a big question for me – I am not a fan.

  4. SunPathPaul

    I’m not an expert or even a well informed drafter, but whoever takes Johnny Manziel should also draft Mike Evans and watch their team sell a lot of tickets/merch, and get way better.

    If the Jags had Manziel and Evans, plus whoever they draft, I think they would get better faster than most!

    I’m probably crazy, but hey ho- Let’s go!

  5. House

    I have looked at a bunch of mocks over the past week (I know it’s a bit early) and Cyril Richardson (OL, Baylor) keeps coming up. After watching several videos on him today, he’d look amazing at either G spot. Thoughts on him?

    • Rob Staton

      Mixed feelings. Doesn’t jump off the screen. Baylor offensive linemen have struggled in the pro’s. I don’t think guard is the big need – Breno is a free agent and might be tough to re-sign.

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