The defensive linemen shone during the week but in the game it was a different story. There was minimal impact from the likes of Keeanu Benton and co. Instead, the O-liners blocked well and made an impression.
I really like Ole Miss’ Nick Broeker as a zone blocking guard. He has tackle experience so fits the bill for the Rams’/Seahawks’ blocking scheme. He had a so-so week of practise but in the game he stood out as one of the top performers.
Broeker combined brilliantly with Nick Saldiveri — who kicked inside to center. On their first snap together they teamed up to double-team Benton. They consistently worked together to shut down pressures, pass-off blocks and made for an excellent interior duo.
Broeker’s second snap showed off why I like him so much. He moved up to the second level, identified a linebacker to block and absolutely hammered him —- springing a huge running lane for Chris Rodriguez to break off a big gain.
On his third snap he had a 1v1 win against Benton, again creating a running lane for the back to squirt through. Before half-time the NFL Network replayed a Karl Brooks sack conceded on the left side of the line. On the right, Nick Broeker easily handled Benton initially then passed off to seal a stunting K.J. Henry. He also had a good block on Jerrod Clark on the drive.
On tape I was really impressed with Broeker and there’s something to work with here. He showed he can handle power in this game and his movement and agility skills were well highlighted at Ole Miss. He only has 32 1/4 inch arms and that might be an issue for the Seahawks. Nevertheless, I think he’s someone who can provide mid-round value as an interior lineman and I’m eager to see how he tests (and whether he can find another inch of arm length at the combine).
Cody Mauch lined up at guard and right tackle during the game but he also took some snaps at center and looked terrific. He pulled and blocked Cameron Young on a drive before half-time. He was in control and looked so comfortable at center. The smaller stature works for him there and allows Mauch to be his aggressive best. He also leverages well and was able to seamlessly switch from snapping to blocking. This looks like his position and frankly, on the back of what he showed here, he might have a serious future at center.
McClendon Curtis had a really nice play early in the game at right guard to open a running lane for Evan Hull. He also had a dominant block on the goal-line for the first touchdown of the game before half-time. Curtis had a good week and has excellent size and length (6-5, 331lbs, 35 inch arms). He’s not a tackle though. They put him at right tackle in the second half and he gave up an easy sack to Ali Gaye. Keep him inside. He has tackle size but he excels at guard.
Watching Darnell Wright get on the move on a crack toss and locate second level blocks had me dreaming about taking him as a zone guard. I think he has the mobility to do it. It’s going to be interesting to see what Seattle does at right guard. The Rams’ scheme uses lighter converted tackles at guard and they’ve had a lot of success over the years. Yet Seattle had Damien Lewis (327lbs) at left guard and Phil Haynes (322lbs) or Gabe Jackson (335lbs) at right guard. Are they just holdovers from the Mike Solari years? Will they adjust and transition? Or do they still want size at guard?
Wright is 6-5 and 342lbs.
It’d almost be a bit of a waste to kick him inside, given how well he plays the edge. But if the Seahawks are seriously on a ‘BPA’ journey after last year’s draft, then Wright would be in the mix at #20.
On a more negative note, this happened to O’Cyrus Torrence (you need to look at the second video):
We can work with this pic.twitter.com/4k74gyZDkL
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) February 4, 2023
That’s Ivan Pace, all 230lbs of him, dumping O’Cyrus Torrence on his backside.
The funniest thing is Torrence actually tackles the ball carrier too as he goes over.
It’s a nice moment for Pace I suppose. I think it’s more a case of this being another example of Torrence being a bit overrated. All this talk of round one has always felt a bit off for a standard guard who played all of the 2022 season with a sloppy frame. I wouldn’t expect him to test well. If that proves true, he’ll be like a lot of guards who enter the league. I’ve been grading him in the middle rounds for some time.
In the 1v1’s he got pushed backwards too often. Now there’s this play. How’s he going to handle the monsters in the NFL? He’s big and can be tricky to get around but I’m not convinced he can anchor and drive off blocks to warrant the major hype he’s getting.
On the first play of the game, Aubry Miller absolutely hammered the ball carrier after a long run. He has played with fire and intensity all week. He set the edge well against the run a couple of times. As a day three pick with at least some special teams value, he caught my eye.
Stanford receiver Michael Wilson had a good week of practise and that continued today. He gets open very easily and he’s sudden and fluid with his routes. He does fight the ball as a catcher sometimes but he’s often open so it’s not as much of a problem as it could be. He pivots to change direction wonderfully. He had a really nice grab on a wayward Jake Haener pass in the fourth quarterback — extending his arms to catch away from his body at full stretch. He scored a touchdown on a duck thrown by Haener. Wilson was the only person who adjusted to the ball which was lobbed up for grabs towards the end zone.
Evan Hull the running back from Northwestern showed good patience on a long run to start the game, then ran through contact for a second big gain on the same drive. He’s well sized, powerful and showed good awareness to make the most of a couple of runs. He has the size Seattle likes.
Fellow running back Chris Rodriguez made a great play on 3rd and 2 —- catching a ball under pressure over the middle then bouncing off a tackle to get extra yardage. He’s a physical player who consistently drives through contact.
Byron Young (Tennessee) forced a bad throw by Malik Cunningham with a good pressure on Blake Freeland, leading to a pick-six for Anthony Johnson. Freeland also gave up a sack later on to Isaiah Land.
Illinois safety Sydney Brown plays downfield nicely. He’s quick and flies to the ball. He made a great TFL late in the game, reading the play and attacking the ball-carrier.
Some key performers from the week seemingly didn’t play in the game including Keion White, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Tank Dell and Will McDonald. I didn’t see Rashee Rice or Isaiah Foskey either. In particular, I think Foskey needed to play and perform after a disappointing week.
If you missed my Senior Bowl recap video earlier, check it out here:
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