This isn’t a great year to pick early
The Jaguars probably partied long into the night when they pinched the #1 pick off the Jets. This might be one of the worst years to pick in the top-10 once Trevor Lawrence goes off the board.
There’s a severely limited pool of ‘legit’ first round prospects this year. Perhaps as few as 8-12.
Lawrence is a star in the making. Penei Sewell and Ja’Marr Chase would be legit top-10 picks in any year. I think Kyle Pitts did enough in 2020 to show he warrants a high grade.
DeVonta Smith will likely have a lot of admirers but a lack of size will lead to some second guessing his true value at the top of the board, especially if there’s a feeling he won’t run a lightning quick forty.
There could also be some size concerns regarding Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah but he’s so fast and explosive I think many will grade him in round one.
There’s a lot of social media speculation about Micah Parsons and possible character flags. We’ll see if there’s anything in that.
Teams will also grade certain players very highly against the consensus. Others, such as Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, will be rated very highly by some and less so by others.
Overall though I think it’s a poor top-end of the draft. It’s perhaps not surprising Detroit snubbed the offer of the #8 pick from Carolina for Matt Stafford in favour of future, later first round picks from the Rams. They might be struggling enough as it is to work out what to do with #8.
The quarterback class is a complete mixed bag where you’ll have to talk yourself into making the pick. That will happen — it always does. Yet as much as I like Zach Wilson there are also moments of concern. Justin Fields lit up Clemson but also has a lot of fairly middling tape.
I’m not convinced either will fly off the board like the mock drafts are suggesting. I had both falling a bit in my last mock and I think that might end up being the consensus.
Then you’ve got Mac Jones — who looked like a class act at the Senior Bowl. His body language, confidence and relaxed state just oozed starting quarterback. He threw with poise, accuracy and touch. Yet he also can’t drive the ball downfield and his lack of zip showed up during red zone drills when he had to throw into tighter windows.
Trey Lance is a one-year starter who struggled in his only 2020 start and I think it’s a big assumption he will go in round one.
I like Davis Mills at Stanford and I’ve been saying for months that I think he’ll go earlier than most are projecting. He has all the tools you look for. Yet he only has a handful of starts in college.
Kellen Mond might be a better option if you’re drafting to develop someone and he’ll be available in rounds 2/3. He has the experience, he’s shown progression and he has a fantastic arm.
On top of this there aren’t any ‘sure things’ on the defensive line. There’s production from some and extreme athleticism with others — but also a lot of ‘could go either way’ types.
The group of cornerbacks carry a whole bunch of speed question marks.
What this draft does have, though, is depth on the O-line and at receiver. We might see several getting pushed up the board as a consequence.
There’s also a thick second and third tier. There might not be many players worthy of a top-10 placing but the player you take at #12 might have a similar grade as the player at #35.
In fact the very start of round two could be a veritable treat for the teams lucky enough to pick in that range.
Two tight ends to monitor
I’m not sure what Seattle’s approach will be at tight end this year. Greg Olsen is moving on. We’ll see about Jacob Hollister.
Reportedly the team really likes Colby Parkinson. When he was drafted we noted he was a victim of K.J. Costello’s Stanford meltdown. Parkinson had been considered by many as a fringe first round candidate until the Cardinal offense collapsed. He ended up in round four.
It would be a huge boost if he could deliver on his potential and become a fourth round starter.
Will Dissly didn’t quite look as sharp in 2020. Whether that was the injuries taking their toll or the Seahawks not wanting to stretch him too far, who knows? It might even be that they simply didn’t have any idea how to get their tight ends properly involved last season, despite the major investment in the position.
Nevertheless, it feels like there’s room in this offense for a dynamic tight end or slot to emerge in 2021.
Seattle has drafted five tight ends under Pete Carroll (if you don’t count Stephen Sullivan who was kind of picked as a player with no real set position):
They also traded for Jimmy Graham and signed Zach Miller and Greg Olsen.
All eight players are linked with a certain characteristic.
It appears the Seahawks view the short shuttle as an important drill:
Luke Willson — 4.29 at pro-day
Will Dissly — 4.40
Nick Vannett — 4.20
Anthony McCoy — 4.57
Colby Parkinson — 4.46
Zach Miller — 4.42
Jimmy Graham — 4.45
Greg Olsen — 4.48
We’ve talked about Gerald Everett as a possible free agent target. He’s familiar with Shane Waldren and has a great attitude but hasn’t delivered on the second round pick LA spent on him four years ago.
I’m not sure the Seahawks would covet a 6-3, 240lbs tight end with 33 inch arms and 8.5 inch hands — but he did run a 4.33 short shuttle and a 6.99 three cone at his combine.
There are two other possible candidates for day three in the draft.
Tre McKitty spent time at Florida State and Georgia in college. His 32 2/8 inch arms might be a problem for Seattle but he has 11 inch hands and it shows when he catches the ball. At the Senior Bowl he stood out with his catching — absorbing the football with his huge mitts including one spectacular one-handed catch. His blocking was also highly regarded.
He’s 6-4 and 247lbs but here’s the interesting part — he ran a 4.13 short shuttle at SPARQ. That’s an incredible time that would certainly catch Seattle’s eye if repeated during the draft process. He also jumped a 35 inch vertical.
Tommy Tremble is another option. He’s always been more of a blocker than a pass catcher for Notre Dame but he ran a 4.20 short shuttle and jumped a 36 inch vertical at SPARQ.
Some are even saying he could end up playing in the Kyle Juszczyk role as a dynamic full back who can be worked into the passing game as a mismatch weapon.
I don’t know whether the Seahawks will be in a position to use one of only three or four picks on a tight end. Yet when you get to day three, you really shouldn’t be looking to fill ‘holes’ in that range.
They need a solution. Over the cap updated their system today and estimated the Seahawks are $2m in the red for 2021 as things stand.
Something’s got to give.
If you missed my interview with Quinn Meinerz yesterday, check it out here…
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