Tuesday’s draft mailbag

Is this man potentially a year-one starter?

There’s a lot of unanswered questions in the comments section so rather than go through all the individual articles I’ve just listed the questions and answers here in a mailbag session. Feel free to build off the discussion here or ask any further questions.

Kevin Mullen asked, “Is RG3 game one ready? Obviously Luck and Barkley are but not too sure about Griffin. That would mean another half season of TJack then to Griffin3, possibly another top10 pick in 2013, yikes!”

To be blunt, Robert Griffin III is not game one ready. There’s a lot to like about his play, but there’s also a lot of technical flaws he has to repair. For example, his footwork is a major concern. He’s still dancing in the pocket and taking 2-3 unnecessary steps on a pure drop back. It means he has to re-set to release, and it’s just wasting time back there. He needs to find a way to snap, make a 3-5 step drop and release in one fluid motion. This will be particularly difficult for Griffin because I sense it’s a habit that’ll be tough to shake. Considering he’ll also need to learn the basics of a pro-offense and drop backs/reads anyway, you don’t want the guy starting quickly in the NFL. It’s not impossible though – Joe Flacco had similar problems with his footwork and drop backs coming out of Delaware and thanks to some excellent coaching in Baltimore he enjoyed a productive rookie season and started immediately.

I actually think the Seahawks fanbase – if not the media – would tolerate another difficult season in 2012 (and the subsequent high pick) as long as the team makes a long term commitment to the quarterback position. If Jackson or whoever is starting next year with a rookie basically on a red-shirt year, that’s acceptable. What people tend to complain about – and rightly so – is when a team is perceived to be coasting at such an important position. Using stop-gaps and re-treads is fine and so far the Seahawks haven’t passed on any ‘can’t miss’ talents, but eventually they need to take a shot on a player. If the Seahawks wait much longer to draft a quarterback, people are going to start asking questions of the Carroll and Schneider regime. It really is as simple as this – barring several high-profile decisions to stay in college, the Seahawks cannot get out of the 2012 draft without a quarterback.

Rugby Lock asked, “What about Flynn at GB? How expensive would that be?”

Matt Flynn is not the answer for Seattle. Yes – the Seahawks previously found a franchise quarterback trading for a former late round pick from Green Bay. However, Flynn went in round seven for a reason and the Seahawks won’t be introducing that player to an offensive guru like Mike Holmgren when he gets here. Neither will he be protected by two of the finest offensive lineman to ever grace the NFL and neither will he be supported by a NFL MVP at running back. That was a perfect storm for Hasselbeck and combined with his talent, coaching and football IQ – it worked. This is a very different situation in Seattle and a very different NFL.

You need a great quarterback to prosper in this league. Matt Flynn is a physically limited back-up who can spell Aaron Rodgers in a crisis, but he’s a million miles away from starting. Flynn’s reputation is based around one game against the Patriots, but what did we truly learn from that one game? People pair him with Seattle because of John Schneider, but we have no idea what Schneider’s actual view is on the player. Flynn should stay in Green Bay doing what he does best – working as the back-up to the league’s current top quarterback. Seattle needs to be aggressive in the draft to find their Aaron Rodgers, not get cute and sign his understudy.

Reuben asked, “Rob, I don’t know if anyone has talked about this yet, but isn’t it a 4 year contract from rookies under the new wage scale? If so, that would make Luck and Manning have the same amount of years on their contracts if Indy drafts first. I just can’t imagine the Colts having two qb’s under contract for $130 million without one getting a chance to play regularly. If Indy has the first pick I think they have to either cut Peyton or trade the pick away. What are your thoughts?”

I tend to agree, Reuben. This isn’t a cut and dried situation like many people seem to think. It’s illogical for the Colts to pick Andrew Luck and keep Manning, something has to give there. Manning will be owed $26m in guarantees before the draft, so if he’s still on the roster by April you have to believe Indianapolis are going to expect him to start for the foreseeable future. I just can’t picture a situation where not only are the Colts paying $130m for two quarterbacks the next four years, but they’re also facing constant quarterback questions with the most high profile college quarterback since John Elway riding the bench.

And what about Luck in that scenario? He’s read to play in the NFL – so how’s  he going to feel about having to sit indefinitely, becoming a peripheral figure behind a future Hall-of-Famer? Would he force a trade? Of course, Manning’s injury could be serious enough to solve this situation. But I expect Manning to come back, forcing Indy to choose between the man who made that franchise and an unproven yet highly rated rookie. Peyton Manning could be a free agent soon enough and you can just see a team like Washington breaking the bank to sign him. On the other hand, it may offer some ray of hope to a team like Cleveland with two 2012 first rounders who may have ambitions to trade up for Luck. There are questions to be asked and it’s nowhere near as simple as Luck simpy riding the pine for a while as Manning waltzes back into the team.

Ralphy asked, “Rob, where do you stand on Austin Davis now? I was under the impression you thought he was a good second tier guy who might be a round two option. Have you changed your opinion on him? Weren’t the Hawks scouting him? I’m trying to stay excited about at least one second tier guy!”

The Seahawks sent a scout to watch the Southern Miss vs Virginia game, but it’s unclear whether any player in particular was the focus of their attention. My opinion hasn’t changed on Austin Davis – he’s the most under rated quarterback in this class. He’s a player with surprising athletic qualities, he’s improved his arm strength and upper body muscle, he’s accurate and he’s got a great head on his shoulders. Southern Miss are ranked at #25 right now and that’s at least 80% down to Davis. I expect him to be drafted higher than people think and I expect he’ll have a shot to make it at the next level. However, I also think the Seahawks need to be aiming big at the position – meaning the top of round one. Unfortunately the time may have passed to draft and develop an Austin Davis. There are certain situations where turning to Davis may be a viable alternative if other options are blocked, but they have to be aggressive in round one first. Right now Davis is my #4 ranked quarterback behind Luck, Barkley and Griffin III.

Misfit74 asked, “I’m curious where guys like Toon and Sanu grade out in your book? 2nd-3rd rounders? What about Fuller or Floyd?”

I have Mohamed Sanu graded in round one – big, physical receiver with good enough speed to keep a defense honest but more importantly great hands. You can line him up anywhere on the field – maybe even at running back occasionally – and he will make plays. Nick Toon is getting a lot of attention but he’s hit and miss. I have him with a round 2-3 grade, but others have pushed him into round one. He has the NFL bloodline and he can be a sparky playmaker, but he’s patchy. Jeff Fuller has been one of the biggest disappointments this season for me and he’s dropping – he’ll be a steal for someone in the mid rounds considering his potential. Michael Floyd is over rated in my eyes – big body, but not great downfield speed and he’s a body catcher. He runs sloppy routes and isn’t as physically dominating as he should be. I think round two at the most, others have him a lot higher.

Dwight Jones and Justin Blackmon are the top receivers in this class. Jones in particular has the complete package at receiver, he deserves a lot more attention.

Dave asked, “Here’s my question. Suppose Seattle drafts 8th. Luck (Indy), Barkley (Miami) and RGIII (somebody trades up) are off the board. What would YOU do if you were Seattle’s GM? (Honestly curious–not intended as a “gotcha”.) That scenario does not seem implausible. Do you explore the trade/FA market? If so, who are some targets? I agree with you. Seattle has to get a QB. Yet, they’re a lot like major league starting pitching. Everybody needs some, but it’s always in short supply.”

If I was Seattle’s GM, I’d be working a deal to move up and do whatever it takes. Sometimes you have to go after the prize, not sit around and wait for it. This team is a quarterback away from being pretty good, at least more competitive. Without that quarterback it’s 2-6 and drifting. If it takes two first round picks to get Matt Barkley, then it takes two first round picks. If you prefer Griffin, then you go and get Robert Griffin. There’s nobody in free agency that interests me unless Peyton Manning is cut by the Colts and he’s actually healthy enough to start. Seattle has to force the issue, it’s 19 years since this team drafted a quarterback in round one and they’ll be waiting another 19 years if they just sit around hoping for the next big thing to fall to them.

It’s difficult because Washington are in the exact same situation – Mike Shanahan became the Redskins coach the same year as Pete Carroll moved to Seattle. The Seahawks took a left tackle in Carroll’s first draft, the same happened in Washington. The Redskins were hoping to draft Jake Locker last April and when he went to Tennessee, they moved down. Shanahan is losing with John Beck and Rex Grossman, he needs to find a quarterback. Miami also needs to find a quarterback. Denver may still decide they need to find a quarterback. There’s a lot of competition out there, but it’s up to Seattle’s front office to win the day. Tarvaris Jackson can’t be starting for this team on a one year contract in 2012 with no young freshly-drafted player waiting in the wings. It will be unacceptable if the Seahawks don’t come away with a quarterback this April – and the only way that changes is if players like Barkley and Griffin choose to return to USC and Baylor respectively.


  1. Jay

    I’m really big on good corners because I envy how some teams can cover our receivers so well and make stops on 3rd downs while we can’t seem to stop them on 3rd. I wanna know your thoughts on who the top 5 corners are in this draft and why you think so.

    • Alex

      Rob can answer it in more detail and I believe he even had a post on the 2012 cornerbacks class about a month ago.

      I’ve been hearing Morris Claiborne (LSU), Dre Kirkpatrick (Bama), Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska), and Janoris Jenkins (former Florida Gator) as 1st round options. If I remember correctly, this class doesn’t have any great giant 6 foot+, 4.3, cover corners like the 2011 class (Patrick Peterson and Jimmy Smith) or Joe Haden in the 2010 class (someone who I was REALLY high on), but it does have good depth.

    • Rob

      My top five would be:

      1. Janoris Jenkins
      2. Morris Claiborne
      3. Jayron Hosley
      4. Brandon Boykin
      5. Dre Kirkpatrick

      It’s not a great group, but there is some depth. Jenkins has elite potential but can’t stay out of trouble, which is a concern. Claiborne is 6-0 and about 180lbs but he plays with a physical approach and his coverage skills this year have really developed – he’s looking like a NFL player in 2011. Hosley is a playmaker who will get burned every now and again being aggressive but he also makes a lot of plays – he’s 5-10 and about 175lbs. Boykin likewise lacks size but he’s a playmaker in coverage and he’s having a great season, but he’s not the kind of tall, physical corner this team is looking for. Kirkpatrick is at 6-2 and 190lbs and he’s very good in run support, but I need to see more from him to buy into the hype. He gets beat off the line too much for my liking and for a guy with size he doesn’t do a good enough job disrupting routes off the snap.

      • Jay

        I’m really hoping that the off-field issues drop Jenkins down to the 2nd round so Hawks would pick them up. But they did pass on Jimmy Smith in the draft this year. What are the probabilities that the Hawks go for Jenkins or any corner for the matter in the 2nd?

        • Alex

          I would love Jenkins in the 2nd round. As much as I dislike the Tampa 2 defense, it’s the defense we’re running. And with this defense, there is more of an emphasis on coverage corners rather than press corners. Incidentally, Jenkins is not only the best coverage corner in this draft, but also the best in last few drafts as well.

          • Jay

            Hopefully now that a lot of the new guys have stepped up and become leaders on this team, the FO would be more inclined to look into drafting someone that has off the field issues. I also think someone like Hargrove who use to have off field issues can keep Janoris Jenkins in check.

  2. David

    Now i was wondering, do you think with the hawks signing Butler off the PUP means that they can/will trade Tate, i dont think Butler is better or anything or if he will be on the team next year but Tate really hasnt been around that much since the emergence of Baldwin.

    I was thinking Tate and a couple picks to move up, do you think that could be a viable option when draft time comes?

    • David

      and for some reason i was thinking (lets say we get the 3rd pick and we take matt barkley) you think its possible to trade into the 1st round again and try to get another good pick like a Trent Richardson.. prolly “rosterbation” but its just a thought. i know this is the Mail bag and you’re answering the Questions from other blogs so i apologize.

      • Charlie

        if we were able to come out of the draft with Barkley/griffen AND Richardson, and thats the only players we drafted in the entire draft, i would be ecstatic. There are always hot runningback prospects, so if we traded up for richardson, we’d probably lose a first rounder next year, which we could then use on RB like Marcus lattimore or Michael Dyer.

        • David

          I wouldnt mind Richardson or Polk honestly.

          if we can get a good solid QB, it be either Luck or Barkley or Griffin then polk in the second then a good pass rushing DE in the 3rd or a CB in the 3rd thatd be cool.

          isnt there supposed to be alot of DE’s in FA next year like Mario Williams or is he considered an OLB in the Texans D.

    • Rob

      Tate’s trade value is zero at the moment – I doubt he’d fetch even a 7th rounder. The chances are, unfortunately, he’ll be cut soon and it’ll go down as a bad pick.

      • David

        Yah i was thinking about the same thing (him being cut) but he isnt a bad returner when he can catch it, for some reason i have this cringing feeling come over me when he is back there. he didnt do bad in the Pre-season though.

        I wonder if before the season is over they try to play him more often and get some stats under him before the seasons end. if our record is bad and were jus playing for draft position, which is more likely at this point.

  3. David

    I was thinkink a trade of Tate and Picks, maybe even Butler to Indy for their first (for luck if they are there to pick him)

    I personally think the Colts wont pick him and they will trade back with someone for a bunch of picks, even if Manning cant play he can always tutor a younger QB, i personally think they would go for Tannehill, he’s actually improved alot from converting over from a reciever, so theres some potential.

    im thinking they trade back and pick up a Reciever like Blackmon, Jeffery, Jones. they got a nice RB combo of Carter and Brown.

    their Recievers need a solid playmaking punch, and who better to throw to em then Manning (if healthy).

    Manning is a good mentor and has a solid relationship with the Owner so i dont think they pick a QB in the 1st. It was brough up on here before about the contracts too, a 1st rd QB and a Mannings contract would end the same year and i dont think Luck is going to want to sit in the wings if he has to.

    This draft I believe the Hawks will push hard for Luck or Barkley. It all depends on the draft order, but i dont think the Colts will pick Luck and instead will trade back and Pick some offensive weapons while picking up future picks and maybe more.

    • Rob

      I think the Seahawks would be hard pushed to trade either Tate or Butler in any scenario.

      • Ralphy

        If Lynch and Leon Washington are worth late round draft picks then that means two players who don’t play are not worth anything. There is no way that any team would take them to trade out of the top spot.

    • Aaron

      Again, we have to stop thinking in Madden mode.

  4. seanmatt

    So, Rob, in the case of the doomsday scenario where we can’t pick a QB(please play along with the scenario) and Trent Richardson is gone, who do you pick? Do we go O-Line again? Maybe the kid from Stanford to play on the right side while we kick Carpentar to LG? Is there a defensive player that would warrant a high pick? WR? What direction would you go?

    • Rob

      It’s difficult to answer seanmatt, because any answer would be the wrong answer. The Seahawks’ other needs pale into significance compared to the need at quarterback. The prospect of spending another year discussing another group of QB’s is incomprehensible.

      I presume the Seahawks will be picking in the top-ten and I’ve not seen a defensive player worthy of such a grade yet. The one ‘can’t miss’ player on the O-line is Kalil but there’s no way this team can spent a third first round pick (and second top ten) on another tackle. For the purpose of answering your question, I’d probably have to suggest a receiver like Dwight Jones.

      Essentially it boils down to this – find a way to get the QB you want and end that debate once and for all. The Seahawks cannot move forward without a quarterback.

      • darnell

        I’ll play. I think you gotta go Mo Claiborne or try to slide back and go BPA (Decastro, Upshaw)

  5. Colin

    I think Carroll/Schneider have to draft a QB just for job security sake. I don’t think Paul Allen and company are going to tolerate a 3rd consecutive losing season without some form of commitment at QB. Matt Barkley isn’t going to solve all the problems of the Seahawks, but he can sure cover up alot of them.

    • Rob

      And furthermore, I don’t think the fans will tolerate it either. The Seahawks fans are wise enough to understand that so far the opportunities to get a long term investment at quarterback have been limited – the team picking at #25 put them out of contention for the Gabbert’s of last April and despite relative success from Andy Dalton so far – I certainly don’t think anyone should be concerned about passing on him. The previous year was a down year at the position and again options were limited.

      However, this draft will provide an opportunity where there are at least two top-tier quarterbacks, possibly three. With the Seahawks picking in the top ten they have to attack this draft and get one of those players. Being 2-6 this time next year with a QB and being 2-6 without will actually be very different because people will lend their sympathy to the situation of breaking in a rookie QB slowly as the QBOTF. Ignoring the position again will rightly have people asking why in three off-seasons this team hasn’t found a better solution than Tarvaris Jackson. If they don’t get a QB in April, they’ll almost certainly have to start breaking in Josh Portis if the team starts losing again because patience will start to run out. This is a big rebuild, but any rebuild must include a big investment at the most vital of positions.

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