Seahawks should be ready if these five fall

Aldon Smith is a top-20 talent, but will he stick around for the Seahawks?

Brady Quinn, Aaron Rodgers, Dez Bryant, Michael Oher, Jimmy Clausen, Taylor Mays, DeSean Jackson…

Just a selection of high profile prospects that suffered a draft-day fall. There’s varying degree’s of success obviously, but it includes some success stories.

There are different reasons for explaining why a player’s stock has dropped. Quinn and Clausen were simply limited quarterback prospects. Character concerns hampered Oher and Jackson while Rodgers fell largely due to a lack of need. Mays’ had the physical and athletic potential but it wasn’t enough to make up for a lack of pure technique. Bryant sat out nearly an entire season before entering the draft and had a bit of a car-crash off season.

It stands to reason that another player is going to sink this year, we just don’t know who it’s going to be.

Let’s look at five different prospects who may not necessarily last until the #25 pick, but could be around long enough to interest the Seahawks.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying these players will fall, especially not to the #25 pick. I’m simply not ruling it out.

Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)

Big things were expected of Smith after an eleven-sack debut as a red-shirt freshman. A fractured fibula hampered his sophomore campaign and after missing some game time, he never quite got back to full speed in 2010. He was a non-factor in the Insight Bowl defeat to Iowa and probably wouldn’t have rushed back quite as quickly in the NFL. There was no sign of any lingering issues at the combine as he worked out fully – clocking in the mid 4.7’s at the combine. Many project a move to 3-4 OLB at 6-4 and around 260lbs, but for me he’ll always be at his best in a four man front.

There are teams in front of Seattle (Tampa Bay, New Orleans) who should prevent a full blown drop if he makes it out of the teens, but he’s a prospect without a defined stock at the moment. It wouldn’t really be a surprise if he went in the top-10/15 picks, but a fall into the 20’s also wouldn’t be a turn up for the books.

Verdict: Smith has the quickness and size to play the LEO and he’s no slouch against the run. Is he absolutely 100% after the injury? His floor may be Tampa Bay at #20 but he’d warrant serious consideration if he fell any lower.

Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)

Smith has the perfect combination of height (6-2), size (205lbs) and speed (4.38 forty yard dash) and even benched 225lbs an impressive 23 times (in comparison, Patrick Peterson managed 15 reps). He flew under the radar for most of his career at Colorado and only really drew attention after Scouts Inc pushed him up as high as #10 on their overall rankings. There’s no question in my mind that he’s a top-10 talent on the field and he could be the complete package physically with the technique to have an instant impact in the NFL.

During the combine the media focused largely on off-the-field issues dating back to 2007 when Smith failed a drugs test. Further concerns were raised about his attitude by the Denver Post and a largely harmless remark about having better ball skills than Nnamdi Asomugha was blown out of proportion. It remains to be seen how all of this will impact Smith’s stock, but a drop down the board isn’t out of the question.

Verdict: Smith is too talented to sink in a big way, but it wouldn’t be a total shocker if he lasted until the 19-26 range. He’d fill a need in Seattle and has the size/speed combo the team wants at cornerback.

Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)

Mallett may be the best quarterback in this class. A bad press hasn’t helped his stock much this off season and too many people have side-stepped the fact that this guy can play. Personally I felt the combine did him the world of good – he performed well on the field and reportedly interviewed well with teams. His technique isn’t flawless and certainly he’ll have work to do but he’s the most prepared to start early from this class. Mallett also made huge strides during the 2010 season improving his completion percentage and accuracy, not to mention playing a leading role in getting his team to a first ever BCS Bowl game.

Quarterbacks are scrutinised more than any other position and with just reason. Talk of alleged drug use and other less than glowing reviews of his character are a big concern and it’s something teams will have to judge based on the time they’re able to spend with Mallett. Even so, it’s wrong to automatically assume the worst like many have done.

Verdict: At the moment I can’t see Mallett getting past Jacksonville at #16. A lot of other people have him in round two or even round three. The Seahawks would have to think long and hard about drafting him at #25 if the opportunity presents itself.

Robert Quinn (DE, UNC)

Many expected Quinn to light up the combine, but it didn’t really happen. A time in the early 4.7’s wasn’t bad, but neither was it perhaps as quick as some were expecting. The big problem I have when watching tape is Quinn appears to be a bit of a one-trick pony. He consistently beat college offensive tackles off the edge and he plays with a bite. However, there’s not much of a repertoire and he seems averse to cutting inside. Add in the fact that he missed all of the 2010 season through suspension and a drop seems at least possible. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour in high school that almost ended his football career. It had no impact on his game in college, but you do wonder if teams will show any caution with the benign tumour still in his skull.

Quinn is clearly a talented football player and he’s only 20-years-old so there’s room to grow. There are enough teams to create a logical floor in the 10-20 range, but there are things working against him that could mean a greater slip into the 20’s. It seems unlikely, yet not impossible.

Verdict: I’m not saying he will fall badly but I think too many people assume he’s safe as a top-12 pick. It’d be no gamble at #25 and a possible steal if the Seahawks are looking for a defining pass rusher at the LEO position.

Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn)

I’m not suggesting Fairley will drop to #25 but I think there’s every chance he’ll go a bit later than some people think. Rob Rang quotes an interesting source today: “Everyone is coming down hard on the quarterback (Newton), but [Fairley] is the one to worry about.” He was a beast at times in 2010 and I could easily see him going fourth overall to Cincinnati, yet I could just as easily see them draft a different position (Quarterback?). You could say the same for Cleveland and Tennessee – two other teams with a logical need at defensive tackle, but may be focusing their attentions elsewhere. It’s likely someone will pull the trigger eventually but in my last mock that team was St. Louis at #14.

Let’s say a CBA is agreed before the draft and Brandon Mebane is no longer part of the Seahawks roster. Does defensive tackle become a big need if it isn’t already? If Fairley drops into a position where you can trade up and get one of the more talented players in the draft, does that become a serious option? There are several teams running a 3-4 defense in the teens who could entertain switching picks.

Verdict: He could live up to the top five billing but I graded him in the 10-15 range during the season and his stock may rest in that area come April.


  1. Mike

    I really think JJ Watt is going to be a fine NFL DE. What are your thoughts on Watt ? Are you figuring there is no way he drops to #25, or is he regarded more as a 3-4 DE and thus not a fit for the Hawks ?

    • Rob

      I’d say a bit of both Mike. He’s alongside Cameron Jordan as the best 3-4 DE in this class and I think both guys will be long gone by #25. Some people think Watt could go in the top ten, Mike Mayock rates him very highly and Ourlads had him even going third overall in their first mock draft this week. That’s too high for me, but certainly his stock is on the rise. I don’t see how he gets past New England or San Diego.

      At the same time, I don’t see a logical scheme fit in Seattle. He isn’t the quick guy for the LEO and he’s a more orthodox five technique than the Seahawks used in 2010.

  2. Mike

    I was just thinking I would appreciate hearing from an expert to help better explain the details of Defensive Line play in NFL. I often hear on NFL Network and often read in Draft related articles about 3-technique, 5-technique, etc… D-Linemen. For example, I have read JJ Watt is a 5-technique DE. I wonder if you might break it down so us amateur drafties can understand it better ? THANKS!

    • Rob

      Basically the number stands for how the defender lines up against the opposing Linemen – inside shoulder, outside shoulder, heads up. A 3-technique means someone who lines up on the outside shoulder of the opposing Guard. A 5-technique will be someone who lines up outside the opposing tackle. This image should help:

      3-tech needs to shoot the gap between the OG and OT and attack the area they are responsible for. You’re really looking at a faster, smaller lineman in this role (290-300lbs). The 5-tech was originally designed to grab multiple blockers and hold their ground to justify having the extra linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Now it’s more attacking than that and the higher picks at the position offer more pass rushing quality.

      In Seattle’s scheme it’s more complicated because we’re not talking about the same 5-technique a lot of teams use nowadays and usually you won’t have a 3 and a 5 technique on the same line. Seattle does because they essentially play a one (Nose) and a three technique with just one five technique and a LEO. JJ Watt is the modern style 5-tech who usually lines up alongside a one technique (Nose) and another five technique. He’s stout against the run but offers some pass rush ability. Seattle’s 5-tech needs to be bigger (Bryant was built like a nose tackle) and acts more predominantly vs the run and gives up some room as a pass rusher (although Bryant did a better than expected job there). To compensate you have the smaller, quicker pass rush specialist on the other side (LEO). The 5-tech in Seattle really acts like a slightly more aggressive extra nose tackle which is why a guy like Watt doesn’t really fit.

      • Mike

        thank you Rob! Your info just clicked for me as I read it, nicely done sir. I have come to really enjoy the details of the combine and draft and your website is a favorite that I visit often, as well as on Twitter. I always reccomend it to others.

        • Rob

          Thanks Mike appreciate it.

      • Alex

        this deserves a thumbs up.

  3. Kip

    A few years ago, Alan Branch was considered a top 5 overall prospect only weeks before the draft. However, Branch had a tough couple of weeks leading to the draft and he fell all the way to round 2. Last year the Cardinals switched Branch from a DT to a 3-4 DE, and he’s been a Red Bryant type success story.

    I’m not saying Nick Fairly is likely to fall to #25, but it would hardly be unprecedented.

    • Matt

      Branch is a guy I’d love to see us go after in FA if the Crds haven’t resigned him. Red Bryant clone.

  4. Matt

    1st round: Mallett, Locker, Liuget, Wilkerson, Taylor
    2nd round: Marcus Cannon, Davon House, Tanden Doss
    4th round: Will Rackley, Terrell McClain

    Just a few names who could be available at those spots that I would like to see and I think might fit what PC JS are looking for. I’m becoming more intrigued by Marcus Cannon.

  5. caleb

    Interesting article rob, i think that it is one of the most exciting draft day processes to see a prospect moving so far away from where he was predicted, trying to figure out whos gonna get lucky and take the leap. That being said, i think it would be a big mistake to make the leap to Mallet if he is there. I am no scouting guru, but it seems to me that he is a solid player all around. he has great strength and deadly precision, and i’m not even really concerned about the bad publicity. Afterall, i think that being taught by the likes of PC can make even the wildest of men respect their coach and fear his disappointment. However, his immobility scares me. Seahawks have an issue with o-line strength as it is, but that doesn’t even factor in that quarterbacks increasingly need to become more agile as d players become faster and new blitz packages surfacing force a qb to operate within an imperfect pocket. Mallet is a great college qb, no doubt, i just have questions whether his stellar play within a relatively good pocket can transfer to a situation where he might not have such good protection. As we saw this year with Vick, a moblie qb forces the d to stay in the box, even on pass plays. The seahawks are desperate for quality players, and sure gambles can pay off, but mallet doesn’t seem to be the type of mobil qb Shnied and Pc are interested in, look at CW.

    ps i love jimmy smith, can we maybe get some tape on him, pros and cons?


    • Rob

      Hi Caleb – there’s some Jimmy Smith tape in this article I wrote a few weeks ago so check it out:

      It’s a valid point on Mallett and clearly mobile quarterbacks are en vogue at the moment. Even the guys you don’t associate with that running ability have shown they’re capable of dodging pressure and making plays. What I would say about Mallett is that he’s not a complete statue and he is able to avoid pressure, but more often than not he’s going to need a pocket to work from. I don’t think Seattle’s pass pro was that bad in 2010 with a handful of exceptions. It was probably middle of the pack which isn’t too bad considering all the injuries up front. The run blocking was awful, but pass pro not as much. The key really is to keep building up the line and the running game while preferably sitting the guy in year one, that way you have two off seasons to create a better environment for him to start. I’m not sure whether they have interest in such a scenario, but I think that’d be the best way to play it if they did.

  6. 1sthill

    Rob, of the players you have listed as potential fallers I hoping Mallett is the guy that falls to us this year. It is always exciting see some playmakers fall on draft day that are all of a sudden available for the Seahawks. Steven Jackson, DeSean Jackson, and Calais Campbell are just a few guys that I liked in previous drafts and remember being excited when they were available when we were selecting in the 1st round.

    A lot of mock drafts have the Dolphins taking RB Mark Ingram which I would hate if I were a Dolphins fan. They have had two stud RB’s (Ricky Williams & Ronnie Brown, both top-10 1st round guys) the last few years and the Dolphins have not made a deep push in the playoffs; they had one post-season game with Brown & Williams and it was a loss in a 2008 wild card game. While Ingram would be great value at #15 in the 1st round I think replacing Williams/Brown with Ingram is a lateral move for the Dolphins (kind of like the Seahawks replacing Julian Peterson with Aaron Curry). The Dolphins have a stud LT (Jake Long) two stud WR’s (Brandon Marshall & Davone Bess) and I think Mallett could be a great pick for them at #15 in the 1st round. I have not seen Mallett mocked this high but to me Mallett makes a lot of sense for the Dolphins.

    • Rob

      It’s definitely an option and something I’ve mocked in the past. I just wonder if, given Miami’s coaching mess during the off season, if they’re going to make that investment now. It’s certainly possible though, it’s just whether or not they’ve fully given up on Henne.

  7. Matt

    Brock and Salk talking about “all of Hass’ options” outside of Seattle as well as talking up Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder as franchise QBs….

    Thank God we got you Rob.

    • Meat

      Ditto.. I cannot believe Ponder and Dalton are getting discussed as options for Seattle.. Ugh.. I am hot on Mallet, then Locker for QB.. Kiper made a comment that suggested Locker will be available for Seattle in the 2nd round..which is just loco.. no way he is available in the 2nd round.. If one of the QBs are avail at 25-they need to grab, that and of course one of the elite DB’s. I am really impressed by Julio Jones at the combine.. Too bad he will not make it past St.L..which is a bummer.. I hate to see Seattle’s current Secondary against Julio—-man… I can see the TD’s now.. 🙁

      • ChavaC

        You mean the TDs that ET runs back? (;

  8. Don

    The more I read about the character concerns of Mallett, the more I think of another highly rated QB with the same concerns named Ryan Leaf. We all know what a wasted pick (career) that was. Are there any similarities between the two QBs? Will history repeat itself?

    • Rob

      I think it’s a different situation. Leaf’s issues were/are certainly different to what Mallett has been linked to. I’m not saying Mallett won’t be a bust, but he isn’t going to go as high as Leaf and it’s not a comparison I’d make personally.

    • Matt

      Despite what the media has been spouting, every interview I have seen of Mallett makes me think he is a likable guy. I still can’t get over the non “melt down” he had. That was blown out of proportion.

  9. LantermanC

    The last time Jacksonville drafted a tall white uber talented college QB from Arkansas with a drug problem it came back to bite them in the butt. Does this take Mallet off the table for JAX or will this have no effect (if only for saving face from a bad fan reaction if Mallet has the same problems)?

    • Rob

      I think we need to stress that it’s not defined as to whether Mallett has a drug ‘problem’. There are rumours out there but nothing has ever been specifically listed and clearly there’s a difference between a ‘problem’ and an isolated incident or incidents. I suspect Jacksonville won’t let the past dictate any future decisions because in all fairness, Mallett isn’t directly linked by anything other than school or position.

  10. Don

    Would it make sense to draft for positions other than QB this year, such as offensive and defensive line, and next year draft a QB. Since the Seahawks gave up a lot to get Whitehurst, give him another year to learn the system before giving up on him. Besides Luck, will there be more QB prospects with better potential than the 4 main ones mentioned this year. Terrelle Pryor of Ohio St would look good in a Seahawks uniform.

    • Don

      Matt Barkley of USC would be a perfect fit for Seattle as well. Seattle would have to have a top 5 draft choice to get him, or trade up to get him.

      • Rob

        For me, they can’t keep waiting for the perfect QB. Luck will be the first overall pick one way or another, while I suspect Barkley won’t declare and will complete his senior season when USC will be able to compete in Bowls again. After those two, it’s looking like a painfully weak class at this stage. There won’t be the depth and certainly not four guys with R1 potential. I’ll be surprised if Pryor ever becomes a NFL starter.

© 2024 Seahawks Draft Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑