A few weeks ago I posted a horizontal board, breaking down where I personally think players deserve to be graded.
Today I’m posting an update. I’m not sure this will change between now and the end of the month. I’ve studied all of the players and watched more games than in any previous draft class in order to compile this. I’ve also poured over pro-day results and in some cases interviewed players to best assess how this should be structured.
The board is below, followed by some thoughts on the process and notes on individual players. Click the image to enlarge:
Differentiating between grades
I’ve given out 15 first round grades. Quite simply, this is the group of players that in any given year I would feel comfortable projecting in round one. They are not flawless players — far from it. But they have the best chance, in my opinion of succeeding. They have the top traits, the higher ceiling. Some will have legit star potential (Trevor Lawrence, Ja’Marr Chase), others can be projected to be good starters.
The second round grades are given to players who have high upside traits but perhaps lack some of the certainty of the top group. These are players who have displayed physical talent that warrants an early selection. However, they also have either technical flaws or inconsistencies within their game preventing them earning a place in the top group. They may lack experience or play a position of lesser value.
It’s important to note that I would be comfortable drafting players graded in round two within the first frame. This is the dilemma teams face every year. You never get 32 first round graded players. When the top names leave the board, you’re always having to compromise. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable drafting a player with a second round grade in the first. That’s just the process, every year.
The following players are at the top of my round two section (in no particular order): Quinn Meinerz, Jayson Oweh, Teven Jenkins, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Rashawn Slater, the top three running backs, all of the quarterbacks and Dyami Brown.
I have 57 players graded in the first two rounds. Not all of these players will actually be selected in rounds 1-2.
The round three grades are a real mix. It’s a combination of a few things. Extreme physical talent that requires a position change (from tackle to guard or center for example). Players with enticing physical traits but greater question marks in terms of performance, fit or consistency. Players who are ‘solid’ but you question whether they are ‘special’. Good performers in college with physical limitations. Players who slightly underperformed at pro-day. This is also a range where players who were once expected to be first or second round picks have settled into — either due to injury or because they haven’t played or tested.
Round four is also an eclectic mix. In some cases it’s players who underperformed at pro-day and therefore have been dropped a round or two. There are raw players with exciting physical traits who may need a longer time to develop. There are productive, established names within college football who arguably have a lower ceiling. There are role players.
This is admittedly quite a vulgar attempt to record something that is marginally similar to how it’s done in the pro’s — albeit without most of the fine detail, complexity and expertise.
This is how I view the class. If nothing else, it helps us shape opinion as to where players might go, who could deliver value and who might be available to the Seahawks.
Dyami Brown (WR, North Carolina)
I have Brown ranked as the fifth best receiver in the draft. He’s incredibly sudden and adept at creating downfield separation to deliver explosive plays. Like most of the top receivers in his size range, Brown knows how to create subtle separation and his acceleration is attractive. He’s not the most reliable catcher but for me he warrants a placing in the early second round. His game is geared towards two things — vertical passing and shorter-range separation to move the chains. Those two things happen to be the most important aspects for his position.
Buddy Johnson (LB, Texas A&M)
This was one big pleasant surprise. Johnson is intense, athletic and built like a machine. He’s the modern day NFL linebacker and while he lacks elite size (6-0, 229lbs) he makes up for it with explosive traits, agility and power. He’s very capable of dropping in space, shifting through the gears to read/react and he can get involved at the line when needed. Watching highlights of his pro-day, he was roared on by his team mates and clearly is very popular. He ran an incredible 4.03 short shuttle which teams will pay attention to. That’s a key test for linebackers. He added a 38.5 inch vertical, a 10-8 broad and a 4.57 forty. He also has 10-inch hands. He is one to watch for sure and could be a steal for someone.
Bobby Brown (DT, Texas A&M)
His tape was by no means consistent but there were enough ‘wow’ moments to put him in round two. His combination of sheer power, agility and length leapt off the screen with flashes of genuine brilliance on tape. He can do everything — control and stack versus the run, swim into the backfield, pursue in space, bull-rush into the backfield. His profile is stunning — 6-4, 321lbs, 35 inch arms, 85.5 inch wingspan, 10.5 inch hands, 4.98 forty, 33 inch vertical, 9-5 broad jump, 4.63 short shuttle. Get him in the building because he has major potential.
Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)
I have no issue placing Mond as the #3 quarterback in this class. There are two areas he needs to work on. His footwork on the drop isn’t ideal — he heel-clicks, he takes weird steps and it can and will impact his accuracy. He’s also too robotic for someone so athletic. If he frees himself up he could be a magician. Even so — his whipped release is top notch. He has that ‘flick of the wrist’ velocity which is so attractive. His ability to throw in the pocket with pressure in his face is top level. He greatly improved his consistency and elevated his game during a four-year SEC career. His Senior Bowl week was electric. Some of the throws he delivered in the last two years of his Texas A&M career were ‘wow’ moments. I think he has special qualities and it’s unclear why he’s so underrated by the media.
Kendrick Green (G/C, Illinois)
His lack of great length can cause an issue, with defenders able to evade him and keep their frame clean. However, he’s a truly explosive blocker with superb testing numbers and a physical profile comparable to Quinn Meinerz. As a run blocker he’s impressive and if he shifts inside to center, the lack of length will be less of an issue. He’s a big-time finisher who often finds someone to hammer right before the whistle. You’ll often see him get into a bit of ‘afters’ and he plays with an edge. For any team coveting Quinn Meinerz and missing out, Green could be the consolation prize.
Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
I’m not sure what to make of Bateman. I thought he really excelled in 2019 and there were games where throwing his way meant an automatic conversion. Yet in 2020, you’re just left wondering if he’s ‘special’. You want to see a bit more. I will say this though — teams like the Seahawks, who struggled badly on third downs in 2020, might see some appeal. He is a chain-mover from the slot and he has enough to play outside. Although he’s 25lbs lighter than David Moore, they had almost identical testing numbers:
36.5 inch vertical
36 inch vertical
Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
I’ve long thought Barmore was overrated by the media. He’s simply been too inconsistent and the way he won at Alabama is not entirely translatable. Physically he is nothing special — running a sluggish 7.81 three cone and a 4.75 short shuttle at 310lbs. He didn’t do any explosive testing and his frame is a little top heavy — so it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be able to anchor. I wouldn’t take him until round three and I think he’ll last longer than many are projecting.
Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
I’ll look beyond his tardiness in missing our interview (despite him actively arranging a specific time/day), requesting to re-arrange then going cold. The fact is running a 4.49 short shuttle at 296lbs is not to be ignored. That’s a fantastic time at a vital position for interior defensive linemen. On top of that, he put up 40 reps on the bench, ran a 4.97 and jumped a 32 inch vertical. Having 32 inch arms likely takes him out of contention for Seattle but he has an outstanding physical profile otherwise.
Brevin Jordan (TE, Miami)
This was one of the big disappointments of the off-season. At SPARQ, weighing 250lbs, he ran a 4.21 short shuttle. At pro-day, weighing 247lbs, he ran a 4.62. He has sub-33 inch arms, a sub-80 inch wingspan, he only jumped a 30-inch vertical. This is not the profile a top-level NFL tight end. I’m being generous putting him in round four. It’s no wonder the Seahawks were active in signing Gerald Everett. There are hardly any options in this draft.
Robert Rochell (CB, Central Arkansas)
I studied his Senior Bowl reps and let’s be clear — there is a lot of work to be done. He was tentative, unsure of himself and almost looked a little intimidated going up against Kadarius Toney. He needs major technical work. Yet on tape there were few concerns — he looked explosive, long and very capable. His physical profile is outstanding — a 4.38 forty, a 3.98 short shuttle, +32 inch arms, a 41 inch vertical, an 11-8 broad. Teams will fancy their chances of turning him into something.
Anthony Schwartz (WR, Auburn)
I don’t know how the Seahawks intend to play offense this year. They’ve brought in Shane Waldron from the Sean McVay coaching tree. They’ve retained Mike Solari, whose blocking scheme is very different to McVay’s (and they added a Solari guard in Gabe Jackson). We also have Pete Carroll undoubtedly offering his input. If they want to run a lot of misdirection ala McVay with receivers in motion, running across the formation and generally seeking mismatch opportunities — that is how Schwartz was used at Auburn. He also ran a 4.26 forty. Unlike Rondale Moore, who also operated quite a lot in and around the LOS, Schwartz is more adept as a field stretching force (although he lacks Moore’s explosive power and change-of-direction). He could tick a couple of boxes — a downfield threat for Carroll and a motion-man for Waldron. Schwartz definitely suffered with poor quarterback play at Auburn. In the right offense, there’s something to work with.
Thoughts regarding the Seahawks
Although I don’t rate Ethan Pocic, I think it was the right thing to bring him back as a cheap draft hedge. It’s clear the center options in this class are both incredibly enticing yet limited.
I suspect the ideal scenario is someone like Quinn Meinerz, who ticks every box for the Seahawks, will last to #56. However — I think the entire NFL has been caught up in Meinerz-mania and there’s simply no justifiable reason for him to last into the late second round.
I fear that’ll also be the case for Creed Humphrey, another explosive athlete. Josh Myers and Landon Dickerson didn’t test due to injury.
If the centers are gone there could be potential ‘tackle of the future’ candidates — or at least guard/tackle converts. D’Ante Smith has the length they want at tackle, as has Alex Leatherwood and Spencer Brown. The likes of Dillon Radunz, Liam Eichenburg and Sam Cosmi lack outstanding length but all were explosive testers.
Kendrick Green and Brady Christensen could be candidates to convert to center.
Let’s also not completely rule out Damien Lewis moving to centre, affording the Seahawks to draft a guard. That could bring Ben Cleveland and Trey Smith into play. Personally, I love the thought of Cleveland still being an option. The Seahawks don’t have enough size, attitude and raw physicality in the trenches. He would deliver that — even if I’m not a fan of bumping Lewis inside unnecessarily.
If they move off the offensive line there are several receivers who ran in the 4.4’s (Seattle’s threshold at the position). Some players such as Nico Collins simply don’t have the initial burst and suddenness the Seahawks require. Increasingly I wonder if they would consider Tylan Wallace. He lacks some of the shiftiness and raw speed they love but he did run in the 4.4’s and he’s a contested catch specialist — with the most (43) in the FBS over the last three years.
Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Dee Eskridge, Cade Johnson, Shi Smith and Anthony Schwartz all have the testing speed. Johnson did a particularly good job getting open at the Senior Bowl and shares some of Tyler Lockett’s traits. Schwartz is a track-star while Moore is one of the best overall athletes in the draft. Eskridge has raw playmaking quality and Shi Smith brings attitude and consistency.
I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to add to the D-line given the numerous moves they’ve made already. Neither would I expect them to draft yet another linebacker. However, they have shown a sweet tooth for any linebacker running an amazing short shuttle. Buddy Johnson’s 4.03 is right in the ‘irresistible’ bracket in terms of the Seahawks specifically. If they hadn’t taken Jordyn Brooks a year ago we would be talking about him a lot more today.
There are plenty of long, athletic cornerbacks in this draft. The two to keep an eye on might be Benjamin St. Juste and Israel Mukuamu if either is available on day three.
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