Haason Reddick — top-20 talent
Nobody has had a better Senior Bowl.
Here are a couple of highlights from today’s drills:
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) January 26, 2017
When we mocked him to Seattle in round one in December, there was a mixed reaction. Today, it seems pretty unlikely he’ll even last until the #26 pick.
Play recognition, quickness to close on the ball-carrier, cover skills, the ability to play the edge and rush the passer. He’s highly impressive.
He has similar size to Ryan Shazier with the athleticism to match. Shazier was the #15 pick in 2014. That’s starting to feel possible for Reddick.
At the end of the 11v11 drills he was interviewed by the NFL Network. He spoke really well. Teams are going to love his physical profile, incredible production, character and versatility and stamp him firmly in the first round.
It’s safe to say, the Seahawks will be lucky to get him.
“You can already tell the linebacker has the “it” factor. He was dominant in pass-rushing drills both blitzing as a stand-up linebacker and coming out of a three-point stance. In several instances he beat opponents so badly Reddick got a rise from scouts in attendance.”
I had several scouting friends of mine asking me if I had seen Reddick. I had and loved what I saw. At 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, he rushed the quarterback, where he’s comfortable, and showed he could play in coverage, both in man and zone. And in team drills he was everywhere. For a guy most consider a “tweener” he made a big statement on Wednesday. He’s an ultra-versatile player.
Top-20 pick? Looks that way.
Obi Melifonwu at cornerback?
At the end of day two Daniel Jeremiah and Mike Mayock picked their two best performers. Mayock unsurprisingly went with Haason Reddick. Jeremiah picked Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu.
He’s an intriguing player. If you missed the piece we did on him in November, check it out.
Melifonwu measured at 6-4 and 219lbs in Mobile with 32 5/8 inch arms. He’s expected to have an insane workout at the combine, with many touting a 40-inch vertical and a possible 4.4 forty.
Considering his size, length and athletic profile, would the Seahawks be interested? And if so, how would they use him?
It’d be very easy to single him out as a strong safety prospect given his size. Can he convert to cornerback like another UConn athlete Byron Jones? Possibly. Like Jones he doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly an outside corner. He can be moved around as Mayock notes:
He’s a matchup chess piece with movement skills. If Greg Olsen comes to town, you say, “That’s your guy.” The next week a wide receiver like Mike Evans comes to town, you say, “Go get him.”
The Seahawks tried this type of role with Brandon Browner in pre-season. Generally they handled tight ends a lot better in 2016 — but adding a player capable of playing in the slot, outside or backing up the two safety’s might be intriguing.
Plus he has the complete physical profile they look for. He’s big and lean with ideal length. He’s a superb athlete. He has the +32-inch arms. He’s the type of athlete they’ve drafted in the first round previously.
If the likes of Reddick, Garett Bolles, Ryan Ramczyk and Zach Cunningham are off the board — it could be an option at #26.
That said, he’s going to need to show he has the loose hips and short-area quickness required to play cornerback. Not everybody watching today’s practise was overly impressed with Melifonwu:
Obi Melifonwu/DB/Connecticut looks stiff flipping his hips and changing direction, struggling to track and catch deep balls #SeniorBowl
— Draft Analyst (@DraftAnalyst1) January 26, 2017
Keep an eye on his three-cone and short-shuttle times at the combine.
Here he is in coverage:
— Footballzone (@UReady4Football) January 25, 2017
The idea of Melfionwu being a defensive chess piece is exciting — but it’s also a project and a gamble. Byron Jones worked for Dallas but there’s no guarantee lightning will strike twice.
And while Haason Reddick looks like a relatively straight forward plug-in-and-play linebacker with impact potential — Melifonwu’s success would depend on his ability to forge a role creating a high ceiling, low floor situation.
Rasul Douglas had a good day today
Aside from Melifonwu, there’s really only West Virginia’s Rasul Douglas and Florida State’s Marquez White that fit Seattle’s cornerback profile. It was good to see Douglas having a good outing in the 11v11’s:
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) January 26, 2017
Douglas was a playmaker in 2016 with eight picks. The Seahawks need to force more turnovers next season and he could easily be on their radar. Keep an eye on him at the combine among a loaded group of underclassmen.
North team gravitates to Dan Feeney
A quick note about the end of the North practise today. Chicago coach John Fox called the players into the huddle and read out the schedule for tomorrow. After he’d finished he called out Dan Feeney (G, Indiana) specifically to end the meeting.
Little things like this are worth paying attention to. Leadership is important and the players reacted positively to Fox’s announcement. Feeney is all business. He’s not a flashy player but he’s destined to be an extremely competent right guard for someone at the next level.
South practise notes
A number of injuries on the south roster hampered today’s practise, with a collection of late arrivals filling in.
Eddie Vanderdoes continues to impress. I wasn’t a big fan during his time at UCLA. He always looked out of shape, badly conditioned and he struggled to live up to his previous recruiting hype. He looks a bit lighter in Mobile and could stand to lose another 10-15lbs.
He jumps between out of control and really refined and quick. It’s boom or bust but you can live with that. At least he’s showing a flash. When he’s on it he has a devastating get-off, shoots the gap and he can penetrate. Other times he’ll end up with his face in the dirt. Coach him to be more controlled and in a year or two he could be a nice rotational piece to a D-line.
Alabama’s Dalvin Tomlinson looked good again in the OL vs DL drills. He had his way with recent call-up Eric Smith from Virginia.
LSU linebacker Duke Riley flashed some nice closing speed and recognition in the 11v11’s. It’ll be interesting to go back and watch more of his tape. Cal quarterback David Webb also showed a really nice touch and accuracy. He’ll be a nice project for somebody.
The alternative to Haason Reddick
I spent a bit of time going back to focus on Houston linebacker Tyus Bowser after the second practise concluded. If Haason Reddick is off the board before Seattle’s pick, Bowser might be a nice consolation prize.
He’s better in space/coverage than I expected after watching a game tape. He didn’t necessarily show that in Mobile during drills — but there’s something to work with.
We saw the damage he could do as a pass rusher on Wednesday, demolishing Antonio Garcia with a superb bend. It was like watching the Matrix the way he dipped, retained balance and finished. His get-off and explosion were top notch.
He’s in tremendous shape and looks like a great athlete. He’s slightly bigger than Reddick at 6-2 1/2, 244lbs and with 33-inch arms. That’s Bruce Irvin-type size and the expectation is he’ll have a great combine.
We’ll see how much his stock grows in Indy but don’t be shocked if he’s firmly in the second round range at least. He’s nowhere near as polished as Reddick — but that’s no surprise. Physically they might have similar ceilings.
If you’re wondering why Pete Carroll noted ‘linebacker’ among Seattle’s needs and desires in his recent press conference — here’s why: Haason Reddick, Tyus Bowser, Zach Cunningham are three reasons. There a quite a few others too. This is a good looking class of linebackers and worth tapping into.