Thoughts on Alabama vs Texas A&M

A.J. McCarron would be a good Christian Ponder replacement

Mike Evans, future Seahawk?

I’m pretty sure Pete Carroll watched this game. Probably while playing acoustic guitar on a baseball bat.

If he was watching, then he was probably drooling over Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans.

Carroll loves big receivers. This team has been searching for a reliable big man since day one. It started with the courting of Brandon Marshall, developed into the Mike Williams project, became the Kris Durham experiment and after flirting with Braylon Edwards, Stephen Williams gets his shot.

Seattle lacks a great possession target with size who can be a difference maker in the red zone. We saw in the Pro Bowl this year how attractive that kind of receiver can be for Russell Wilson (courtesy of Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald).

But it’s not just about red zone targets. Carroll likes a guy who can win jumps balls and make plays downfield.

Mike Evans put on a master class tonight.

Time after time Johnny Manziel tossed floaty passes in the general direction of Evans. And pretty much every time he jumped into the air in tight coverage and made a play. His final stat line was an eye-popping seven grabs for 279 yards.

Evans also flashed his athleticism in a 95-yard catch and run for a touchdown (although Alabama’s defensive call on that play was astonishing).

Sure hands. Great body control. High pointing the football. This was a superb performance, defining what teams are looking for in a big receiver.

I half expect Pete and John to be talking about this guy right now.

Evans is 6-5 and 225lbs with a basketball background. If he plays many more games like this he won’t be available to Seattle in the back end of round one. In three games this year he already has 518 yards and three touchdowns.

He has to be a firm focus on our Seahawks radar the rest of the way.

Quarterback talking points

Johnny Manziel is great fun. Things happen when he’s on the field.

There were times today, particularly when A&M jumped to a 14-0 lead, that you imagined him in the NFL pulling off all these magic tricks.

Unfortunately, there were also some things that made you counter that enthusiasm.

The two interceptions he threw were a portrait of his limitations. He’s essentially a gun slinging play maker without the big arm. He’s a chancer. That can be great when it comes off. But in the NFL, Mike Evans isn’t going to make you look this good nearly every time you throw a 50-50 jump ball.

The two picks were ill-advised throws into tight windows. Poor decision making first off, and he hasn’t got the arm strength to really arrow the ball into a tight window on the intermediate level. He can chuck it high downfield and throw a catchable ball. But in the NFL you have to be able to make throws over the middle into tight spots, anticipating a route and guiding your receiver. You also need to be able to throw a big downfield ball on play action (eg Russell Wilson vs New England) with perfect velocity.

I’m not convinced Manziel can do either of those things. A lot of throws have to be to open guys or it’s a 50-50 dice roll.

He’s a hell of a playmaker and I wouldn’t bet against him having some kind of NFL future. But it’ll always be feast or famine. It has to be with him. You can’t put a lid on the playmaking, so you have to accept the consequences. He’s like a gambler playing with someone else’s money. It’s both exciting and potentially infuriating.

A.J. McCarron on the other hand is a consistent, intelligent passer without much wow-factor.

I think he’s better than a lot of people give him credit for. You can see tangible physical improvements over the last two years and he has the frame to keep getting stronger. He’s in control, he’s assured. He has a terrific supporting cast but knows how to get the best out of them.

Most importantly he makes good decisions. He has a great feel for pressure and knows when to live another down. He’s not a hopeless athlete and can buy time with his legs. For the most part he’s pretty accurate and he shows good touch.

It’s just whether, like Manziel, he can fit those passes into tight windows with an average arm and launch the ball downfield on the home run throw. Again, I’m sceptical.

If Andy Dalton is worth a high second round pick, I think McCarron could be too. Put him on a team that isn’t in total rebuild mode and has at least one solid target and he can make you competitive. I think he’d be ideal for a team like Minnesota, who probably don’t want to burn another first round pick replacing flop Christian Ponder.

Give McCarron Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson — plus a decent offensive line — and he’ll get the ball out quickly to the playmakers and make you competitive. Put him on Oakland’s current roster and it’ll be messy.

But I guess that goes for most quarterbacks entering the league.

Maybe good teams get penalised?

We’ve talked a lot about how often Seattle is flagged and how much of an issue it’s been. Well, Alabama had 12 penalties for 104 yards today — much more than A&M. In the NFL, the best teams generally get penalised more too.

Is it more than a coincidence? Perhaps.

Stuff like this kind of makes me feel better about how many times the Seahawks get flagged. Although the game finished 49-42, you always felt Alabama were in control despite the penalties.

Other notes

– It was a better day today for Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. It’s going to be another stellar year for offensive tackles in 2014.

– C.J. Mosley was barely noticeable today. Not because he had a bad game, for whatever reason the ball kind of just avoided him somehow.

– I’d hate to be an Alabama defensive back in meetings this week. Nick Saban’s hair looked angry today. And when Nick’s hair is all over the place, you’re in trouble.

– On a side note, I watched the game with my dad and at one point he questioned whether Saban wears a rug. I found that amusing.


  1. Colin

    Without those jump ball catches, A&M loses by 21. Manziel did what he sort of does, which is run around aimlessly and fling the football around. I’m not sure how he projects if he doesn’t ever find some sort of rythm as a passer- he’s essentially Tim Tebow (ON the field anyways) with lesser size and a tad more accuracy.

    Now that I read that last sentence, I don’t know whether that’s an insult or a compliment. Manziel could use a little Tebow guidance.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Imagine if he sat behind Peyton Manning for a year. I generally don’t believe in the aid sitting gives you, but in this case it may be much different. Manning’s been promised a front office job by Denver, I think. So make Manziel your late first or early second pick, have him sit one year before Manning retires.

      Unleash him with Manning’s fingerprints and it could be a deadly thing.

      Playing time means a lot, but Manziel doesn’t currently show the fundamentals to warrant free growth in his rookie year. Seems like a redshirt project if he comes out this year.

      I know that sounds kind of silly to redshirt a guy that won the Heisman as a Freshman, but I really don’t see him succeeding as a passer if he’s just turned loose. I think he needs someone to teach him how to take calculated risks.

      Just thinking outloud here. Don’t bite a brother’s head off if you disagree/

      • Rob Staton

        Peyton is so committed to himself he’d never take on a project like that. It’s why Indy struggled to develop any kind of backup for PM. He takes all the snaps, spends all his time working to be excellent. Manziel’s personality would also bounce right off Manning, they are polar opposites. For me the teams that consider Manziel are those that are prepared to tailor an offense around him. One team and coach was willing to do it for Tim Tebow. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s a similar team or coach out there that believes he can do it for Manziel. But Tebow was the ultimate hard worker in college. Manziel doesn’t have the same intangible factor.

      • Colin

        “Mannings been promised a front office job by Denver, I think.”

        I doubt Manning is going to retire and immediately go work in a front office. Maybe at some point down the road he would, but I don’t buy that he’s “been promised” a job. We don’t even know if Elway/Bowlen will still be there when Manning does decide to pursue that kind of work.

        I think Manziel, if he does declare in 2014- has talked himself out of the first two rounds. Not only is he a liability off the field, he doesn’t inspire much confidence on it as ‘the guy’. As Rob said, he’ll make plays but you have to accept he’s going to make mistakes- and whether or not his upside outweighs those mistakes has to be determined.

        • Rob Staton

          I believe Manning was promised an executive job by the Titans. Essentially he was offered the chance to be Elway in Tennessee when he retires. But he turned that down to try and win another ring with a superior team in Denver. In Denver, it’s hard to see how he’d fit into their front office.

          • Kenny Sloth

            Oh, I guess I just had that mixed up. It was a few years ago. Remember when Peyton didn’t get on our plane? Lol

  2. James

    A WR showdown between Bama’s Amari Cooper and Evans would have been great fun, but Cooper is dealing with some sort of leg or ankle injury that Saban hasn’t really disclosed. Cooper has a limp and is a full step slower than last season at the moment. When he gets well, he will put on a show.

  3. SunPathPaul

    Manziel’s first error was shortly after his amazing throw up play. His ego stepped in and told him, heh-All I need to do is just chunk it! NOT so little Manziel… Although I was cheering for them, his immaturity and blind belief cost them the game… Not to mention how porous the a&m defense was… McCarron looked good…solid…Like if Jacksonville with Shorts, Lewis, Robinson and a new drafted weapon next year, could actually HAVE an offense that works! lol

    Turned off in the 3rd Q… surprised it ended 49-42…wow

    • SunPathPaul

      …and as far as Mike Evans- Dude… I would Love to see him with Seattle!!!!

  4. Miles

    Rob, I really like how you describe Manziel. “He’s a hell of a playmaker and I wouldn’t bet against him having some kind of NFL future. But it’ll always be feast or famine. It has to be with him. You can’t put a lid on the playmaking, so you have to accept the consequences.”

    Perfectly stated.

    I also want to point out a random player I’ve been salivating over lately. His name is Michael Campanaro and he’s a receiver from Wake Forest. He’s 5’10” and 195 pounds and this will be the second year he’s been the main pass-catcher at Wake. Today in his game against Louisiana-Monroe, he caught 16 passes for 177 yards. The whole offense revolves around this guy.

    He’ll get a lot of comparisons to Wes Welker by people who really like white guys that play receiver. But I would say he could be this year’s Ryan Swope (in terms of a prospect, not an NFL career). He does a good job of identifying soft spots in zones, it seems.

    He makes a lot of catches and could move up draft boards come April. He could also play a Golden Tate-type role in our offense, if we’ll have room for more receivers next year.

    I was wondering if you’ve gotten a chance to look at him, and if so, thoughts? But he is a rather obscure player, and we’re really in the feeling-out process, so I may be pretty alone making observations on the guy at this point when it comes to an NFL transition.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Found out about him a few weeks ago. Just youtube scouring footage.

      Probably couldn’t play Tate role. Not very good after the catch. Not very good at controlling the redline or winning 1v1.

      Likely not much of a Seahawks target. Would play the Baldwin spot the best, probably. “good at finding soft spots in the zone”

      • Miles

        Maybe not the Tate role specifically. But it’d be cool to try him at the slot. In this offense, if he were to make our team, he’d be more of a rotational player.

        • Kenny Sloth

          Right, but we have an excess of slot players. Harvin, Baldwin, and Kearse (is Kearse playing in the slot? Not sure if that’s his primary position.) We are probably looking at those 6’2> players. That guy from Rice….. Jordan something. It’s too late ahaha. I dig his shit.

          Really looking forward to more from Jace Amaro. I’ve been hearing some complaints about Lyerla recently, so I want to see how he does this year.

          • Miles

            Do you think the 2014 draft for wide receivers will resemble the 2012 draft for quarterbacks? Ie., many of the receivers taken will end up having productive rookie seasons? If you look at it, there’s a lot of talented receivers in this draft; Sammy Watkins, Brandon Coleman and Mike Evans among the elite. But that’s not mentioning guys deeper in the draft like Kasen Williams who seems to have the tools, and could be a factor if he declares this year. Even the late-round guys like Capanaro offer some promise.

            Just like Wilson, RGIII, Luck and Tannehill, I think this draft is going to produce a bevy of talent.. The timing for the Seahawks to want a big, tall, fast receiver couldn’t be any better.

            • Kenny Sloth

              No. Not in their first year. It typically takes a while for receivers to adjust to the nfl. And I haven’t seen a single AJ Green this year.

              • Kenny Sloth

                Coleman’s close. Matthews is too. It’s a hard position to project, because they run a lot of simple routes in college, one has trouble telling how they’ll do with the rest of the tree at the next level.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for the heads up Miles – I’ll add him to my list of players to get a look at.

      • Miles

        Cool. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about him.

  5. Michael

    Does anyone else think Kevin Sumlin looks quite a bit like an older Kevin Hart?

  6. Kenny Sloth

    Oregon shredded Tennessee 59-10

    Mariota showed some deficiencies I wasn’t seeing last year. Wasn’t throwing receivers open, but fakes really well, His receivers dropped a ton in the first quarter.

    Lyerla out with some kind of Stomach Flu? That’s the very gray story, I guess. His backup had a great day. Johnny (?) Mundt is a true freshman, I think. Looks like a potential Y in the future. One to possibly watch for.

    Josh Huff is a sleeper this year. Probably a fourth rounder to someplace like Jacksonville. Would look like a savage for the Saints. Has some off-field red flags. Seems like the kind of player doesn’t really seem to want, but always gets. 5’10 180

    ILB Ten. A.J. Johnson’s lack of speed showed up constantly. He’s what I thought Luke Kuechly was before the combine. He’s the “funnel guy”. Leeching off of Daniel McCullers.

    McCullers had a good game. Drove Hroniss Grasu (O’s veteran center. Generally very good, but oddly wound up single blocking McCullers a lot.) back quite a bit, but didn’t really hold his ground when double teamed. Not sold yet. I’ll go back to the film on this guy.

    Taylor Hart of Oregon really stood out. Had 8 sacks a year ago and was the first guy in the backfield. Could be a decent 5 for Seattle. Have yet to watch tape of him specifically. No idea of the measurables.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Eh. Hart Might fit at 3. Could run in the high 4.7s at 295. That is obviously the optimistic light. He certainly is the lightest looking 295 listed I’ve ever seen. 4.8 wouldn’t be too shocking, but he certainly doesn’t look like he weighs even as much as Will Sutton. although he’s 6’6 whereas Sutton was reportedly 275 at 6’1.
      Seattle has seemed to favor height at 3tech thus far. If he tests well, don’t be surprised if the Hawks take a chance on him in the fourth.

      Ohyeah. The tape. Meh. He seems to hold the POA well, but appears to have some leverage problems. Great, consistent penetrating force when he pins his ears back. Sometimes it looks like he’s sitting back on his haunches waiting for the OL to initiate contact. When he gets a full head of steam, he can beat you in a number of ways. Decent arm use and hand placement. Doesn’t finish well. Can get a push if need be. Doesn’t hold the double team well.

      If he ends up at 4.8, 295, 6’6, the Hawks would almost certainly be interested. I believe Carroll coached against him once, maybe twice.

      Heard reports that Sutton is up to 305 this season. Anybody got anything on that?

      • Kyle

        I was at that game and watched both McCullers and hart specifically. Hart would flash at times but otherwise just disappear. Whereas McCullers was making noise on nearly every play. If it was a pass he was driving his guy into the pocket. If it was a run he was shedding his block and either making the tackl or forcing the run outside. As good as ORE played they had almost no inside run game. He is listed at 6’6 351 so I was expecting a tubbo, but he looked like he carried it very well or he may be playing at a lower weight. Either way I came away impressed.

        • Kenny Sloth

          He’s probably not all of that weight. He’s weird for me, because he doesn’t really two gap well at all. Like I said. He would demolish hroniss grasu, but get handled by two guys. Of course he’s going to crush someone he’s got fifty lbs on.

          • Kyle

            Right but that still qualifies him to start at 3-tech on our line since we generally don’t expect that guy to anchor against a dbl team. But if he can push a guard into the backfield every play that would be a big deal

            • Kenny Sloth

              Hey, whoa, man, you’re right! I was doing the stupid thing and putting him into a category. I wasn’t being objective. Tried to box him in as a NT. Thanks a lot. I’ll take another look at him with a 3tech lens.

  7. Kenny Sloth

    Jalen Saunders from Oklahoma = Golden Tate?

    Storm Woods is my top RB prospect for the 2015 draft. Closest thing to Lynch I think I’ve ever seen. Can you say “Laterally Explosive”?

    • Darik

      As someone who regularly watches Oregon State games, I don’t think Storm Woods has a game that translates in the same way as Lynch. He is a lot lighter and not nearly as strong. He is pretty quick laterally, but he doesn’t make as many guys miss as you’d like from a guy like him. That combined with the fact that he does not break a lot of tackles makes it hard for me to see him translating. He doesn’t break many long runs. The one thing that I would say he is on a pretty high level is his receiving out of the backfield. He has great hands and runs routes relatively well. He could end up a solid 3rd down back, but I don’t see him carrying the load anywhere in the NFL.

      Two guys that I like more from Oregon State that get less publicity are receivers Brandin Cooks and Richard Mullaney. Cooks is on the small side(listed at 5’10”, 185), but is lighting fast(clocked in the high 4.3’s in spring training) and is a phenomenal route runner, has really good hands, and is super quick in and out of his breaks. He’s their best offensive weapon.

      Mullaney is a Sophomore so won’t be eligible the draft this year, but he is bigger(6’3, around 200 pounds) and is probably their most reliable receiver. He has a great vertical and supposedly has far and away the best hands on the team. If you check out the game from last night against Utah, it’s easy to see value in him especially as a future mid-late round guy. Both of these receivers are generally underrated and I’d love to see either one in a Seahawks uniform.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      I didn’t get to watch all the games I wanted to see, but the 2 RBs who impressed me most yesterday were Melvin Gordon WISC and Daniel Lasco CAL.

      Gordon ran for 193 yds on 15 carries (12.9 ave) with 2 TDs, although I caution it was against a so-so ASU defense. Rather what impressed me was Gordon’s breakaway speed. His cuts aren’t so sharp as they are anticipatory (but it works either way), and he uses his blockers nicely, especially setting up the TE or WR for a downfield block. I was surprised by his speed: once he turned the corner, he kicked into an extra gear and flat ran away from ASU’s LBs and secondary.

      Lasco’s stats aren’t as impressive – 64 yds on 10 carries (6.5 ave) 1TD, but keep in mind Cal threw as much as they ran in this game, and Lasco’s yards came against the 4th ranked team in the country. A very shifty runner who plays with a high level effort. Rarely taken down at initial contact, showed nice second effort, often sprang free from what looked like a sure tackle and picked up multiple extra yards/1st downs.

  8. Kenny Sloth Mike Evans vs. 6 teams.

    Can Tend to body catch. Not the strongest hands. Can allow the ball to get ripped out in the air. Doesn’t snatch the ball out of the air. Excellent tiptoes. Sneaky after the catch. Good jukes. Fights for yardage.
    Absolutely thrashed Tharold Simon.

    There are so many things to absolutely hate about Manziel’s game. Pats the ball, crow hops, low release point. Inconsistent release point, looping windup. Doesn’t lead receivers. Doesn’t deliver a very good ‘go up and get it’ ball.

    • Rob Staton

      We have to allow for Evans making improvements with a year of extra experience and in fairness those six games where 2012 games. He high point the ball very well on Saturday. The test now is to see if he can repeat that over the year.

  9. Kenny Sloth

    Anthony Johnson DT LSU is probably the least technically sound of the top tier of the DT group. Could probably excel at 5 tech in a 1 gap 34 like Houston.

    Craig Loston FS LSU> Eric Reid. Plays the single high well. Aggressive, instinctual. Perfect fit for Seattle’s ET spot. #1 FS so far.

    Tre Boston UNC is meh. Med. speed. Med. instincts. Could be good depth. Not much of a starter.

    CJ Barnett S Ohio State same.

    Early analysis says that Dion Bailey LB USC is the young money truth. Hits hard. Fast, instinctive, aggressive. Could be our answer at Will.

    Yawin Smallwood is a decent ILB for UCONN. Thumper. Clever in coverage. Takes on blocks well. Looks destined for a 43 inside run eater role. Detroit? Not slow going forward, but no lateral agility to speak of. Reminds me of Ray Lewis.

    Greg Blair of Cinci is a similar story. Better laterally, but not as good at taking on blocks. Also is his lesser in coverage I’d say.

    Jerome Smith looks huge. Syracuse RB. Great speed. Awesome vision. Has great blocking at cuse, though. Don’t see him put the ball on the ground. Reminds me of Turbin. Looks giant, but not a sledgehammer as people often refer to Smith. Not a lower the shoulder kind of guy. Potential for it, though.

    Adrian Hubbard OLB Bama definitely just does not do it for me. Oddly enough, he’s pretty darn good in coverage.

    Kareem Martin DE UNC could be one to watch as a LEO. Looks the part, but plays pretty poorly.

    Chaz Sutton SCAR DE will probably be severely overdrafted because he blows up the combine. Shitty 10 yard split on his great 40.

  10. Phil

    Forgive me for being off subject, but I just want to give a shout out for the job that Jim Mora is doing at UCLA. After flaming out as the Seahawks coach, he’s gone on to return the UCLA football team to being a force to be reckoned with. I’m particularly impressed with the ability UCLA has to making half-time adjustments (maybe this is a tribute more to their offensive and defensive coordinators than to Mora). Their 3rd Qtr. against Nebraska with 92,000 Cornhusker fans in the stadium was a thing of beauty — 236 yds. of offense and 28 pts., eventually turning a 21-3 deficit to a 41-21 victory. A great tribute to Nick Pasquale, a walk-on WR who was tragically killed last week after being struck by a car ….

    • Rob Staton

      Yep he’s doing a tremendous job. I think he’s found his calling in college football.

  11. CHawk Talker Eric

    Nice gritty effort by ASU against Wisconsin last night in Tempe. Badgers have an amazing running game – Melvin Gordon has impressive agility and speed. But ASU found a way to come away with a win.

    Watched it mainly to scout Sutton, who did flash on plays. But I could hardly recognize him. He must have put on 30 lbs this offseason, and I’m not talking muscle!

    • Rob Staton

      Not good news for Sutton if he’s putting on bad weight to compensate for a lack of size.

      • CHawk Talker Eric

        I can’t be sure it’s all bad weight. Despite the obvious bulk, he was pretty quick off the snap and a high motor. It was nearly 100 degrees at game time, and he was going against one of the best O lines in the FBS. He didn’t go 100% on all snaps, but he did play with strong emotion, warriro style, exactly what you want from a DT.

        I didn’t see enough to convince me he’s the real deal, but I saw enough to keep me watching him.

        • CHawk Talker Eric

          * warrior

    • Kenny Sloth

      Alright fat boy. Now it’s time for you to drop to the middle rounds and get picked up by the seahawks and their conditioning program.

  12. Kenny Sloth

    If this site were a person they would get restraining order against me.

  13. Jeff M.

    One thing I’ve been impressed with from Evans that you don’t always see in a big wideout is a pretty good feel for finding/settling down in the soft spots in zone coverage and showing his numbers to the QB. I think that’ll be particularly important because I think he’s ultimately a flex TE in the NFL rather than the split end role aTm uses him in, so he needs to be effective on slants, flats, little whip/option routes, etc. (like Jimmy Graham runs from the slot) and able to wall defenders off with his frame on those.

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