Monday, August 14, 2017

Rolling in the Depth-- Seahawks 48 @ Chargers 17

The Seahawks didn't enter this offseason looking to rebuild or make any drastic changes.  The championship window remains wide open, but the team needed to replenish their depth.  It appears as though Seattle did just that.

Seattle has had it's core group in tact for a handful of seasons now.  We've known for years now who to expect starting opening day at positions like quarterback, defensive end, cornerback, safety, etc. The issue the past couple seasons has been the depth behind those guys as the season drags on.

Injuries, big and small, hamper the team's efficiency down the stretch-- but even more important is
the need to look multiple seasons down the road.  There will come a time when hard decisions need to be made on contract extensions and the Seahawks need to make sure they are grooming young talent to push for those positions.

In Sunday night's preseason opener-- it certainly looked like the Seahawks have their deepest roster since the Championship season.

In all honesty, I have been concerned about the apparent lack of competition over the last couple of seasons. Much of the starting offense and defensive lineups were established just a few seasons in to the Pete Carroll era by hitting big on young, gifted and often inexpensive players in the draft and free agency. Maintaining competent depth behind those starters gets increasingly difficult with each season as more second contracts are established.

One area that was specifically concerning to me was our kicker.  Hauschka had been so reliable for so many years, but it was evident that the Seahawks would have difficulty retaining him under the salary cap.  I think many of us expected him to leave once the season was over.  With as many picks as the Seahawks had, I thought they could have easily 'wasted' one on a kicker and brought in a few veterans to inspire competition.

Instead, it appeared to me as though they handed the job to Blair Walsh-- most immediately recognized by Seahawks fans as the guy that missed a chip-shot field goal that sent the Seahawks to the Divisional playoff game in 2016.

Walsh has had a pretty successful career before that missed kick.  He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler his rookie season in 2012.  However, after missing that potentially game-winning kick, he skidded into a slump.  He had a rough season last year, where he missed 4 PATs and saw a decrease in field goal percentage and was released by the Vikings.

Still-- I wasn't against bringing him in.  I just wanted him to 'earn' the job through open competition.

When I saw that the Buccaneers released Roberto Aguayo, another kicker with past success that is struggling with the mental side of his job, I mentioned on twitter that I'd like to see the Seahawks bring him in and kick the tires.

Suffice to say, I caught some backlash.

Walsh performed excellently last night and looked every bit the part. Obviously, I hope that carries throughout the season-- I would've taken no joy in seeing him struggle. That would've only stood to amplify my concerns.

From what we saw last night, there will indeed be some difficult roster decisions looming over the next few weeks.  Two areas that seemed thinnest just a season ago-- running backs and receivers-- now seem brimming with talented, young players that could start on any NFL roster.

Kasen Williams took the same path as Jermaine Kearse.  Local UW standout on a bad team goes undrafted but fights his way onto the Seahawks roster.  Williams largely earned his keep on special teams and the practice squad previously and every indication was that the drafted wideouts from the previous two draft classes would push him out the door.  Kasen put on a clinic last night, pulling down 4 receptions for 119 yards, just missing out on a couple of touchdowns.

I was really intrigued by David Moore, a 7th round selection from this past draft.  He's built like future Hall-of-Famer, Steve Smith.  Kenny Lawler looked much more pro-ready, having bulked up from his rookie season. Paul Richardson showed that he's going to be a huge playmaking threat, if he's able to stay healthy.

The Seahawks coaching staff would've killed to have this group of running backs available to them last season. It seems evident that Rawls and Lacy are going to be the staples of this group, but how it shakes out behind them is anyone's guess.

Chris Carson, another late pick, looks like this season's Thomas Rawls.  Mike Davis might have been our starting running back if we'd had him last year-- now, however, he might not even make the final roster. We've seen CJ Prosise do incredible things last year when healthy.  Well, he's healthy, so we better make some room for him.

The defense restocked the cupboards, too. There seems to finally be legitimate competition for the linebacker spot not occupied by Wagner and Wright.  The young cornerbacks will eventually find their footing and we seem to have a contingency plan behind Kam and Earl for once. I would've liked to see more pass rush, but hopefully that will come in time. Four turnovers is plenty to get excited about.

By far, the most satisfying takeaway from last night's game was the performance of our offensive line.  Pass protection was good for Wilson, Boykin and Davis.  Run lanes were there for the taking.  It wasn't just the presumed starters-- we might actually have some reliable depth on the line this season!

I know it's just preseason, but football is back!  The Seahawks are looking ready to contend and we're only a few short weeks away from meaningful football.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Buying a Jersey for Life

I'd like to consider myself an expert when it comes to buying jerseys. I've been wearing jerseys since
I was 7 years old. While they are no longer a part of my everyday wardrobe-- I still wear a jersey on game day, all these years later.

My first Seahawks jersey was Steve Largent's #80. Obviously, this was something that was purchased for me by one of my parents or grandparents, but it certainly would've been my first choice even then.  To this day, Largent's throwback is still a great choice for any fan to wear on Sundays.

The first jersey I purchased for myself was Matt Hasselbeck.  I loved #8 and that jersey lasted me through the better part of a decade.  Like Matthew himself, this jersey is retired from my rotation. Both the Seahawks and myself got a terrific return on our investment.

When Hasselbeck left, I knew it was time for a new jersey. There are a lot of variables to consider when picking out a jersey. I wanted one that would last me, at a minimum, 5 seasons.  After all, anyone who has purchased a replica jersey can attest to how expensive these things can be.

Here are some tips to help you get the most bang for your buck with your Sunday apparel:

1.)  Pick a player that's going to be in the team's plans for the immediate future.

Longevity is difficult to predict in today's NFL.  With the average career lasting only about 3 seasons and free agency constantly shaking things up, it can be quite challenging.

Generally, quarterbacks are an easy choice.  Most teams in the NFL have a quarterback who is either in the developmental process, is an established veteran, or is otherwise under (a manageable) contract for the foreseeable future.

I got my Hasselbeck jersey in his second year as a starter.  I got my Russell Wilson jersey after his 3rd preseason game.  In both instances, I felt comfortable that the team was sold on the player being 'the guy' for a while. Fortunately, I was correct in both instances.

Conversely, don't buy a jersey of an aging veteran free agent that was brought in to 'win now'.  At every Seahawks game, you'll find a few suckers with a Jerry Rice or Percy Harvin jersey.  While it was exciting having those players at the time-- everyone knew there was a good chance they wouldn't last long.  

2.) Position Matters

Career averages can be drastically different from position to position. Couple that with the fact that team/player loyalty is at an all-time low, you'll find that there are a lot of variables at play. For example, Tom Brady just celebrated his 40th birthday and has has eluded in the past that his plans are to play well into his 40s. Meanwhile, he's probably had 20 different running backs start in his backfield.

The average career for a Running Back is roughly 2.5 seasons. Wideouts and Cornerbacks are closer to 3 seasons, but not by much.  So, outside of Kickers and Punters, Quarterbacks are typically the safest bet.

3.) Rookies are a slippery slope!

One way a rookie jersey is a safe bet is because they're immediately signed to an average contract of about 4 years, so it buys you some time.  NFL contracts aren't guaranteed, but organizations are typically more patient with rookies.  

Still, you should proceed with caution before buying your rookie jersey.  It's always a gamble seeing if these young men can mentally and physically pick up the game at its highest level.  Many 12s excitedly purchased Aaron Curry's jersey when the Seahawks selected him with the 4th overall pick in 2009.  I can't say as I blame them.  Top five picks are among the safest bets among rookies.  Still, Curry quickly flamed out and fans were forced to get replacements or suffer the embarrassment of wearing the jersey of a major bust.

4.) You can always play it safe

Look, jerseys are a luxury-- being a die-hard fan doesn't require a uniform.  If you want to play it safe, that's totally understandable.  Seahawks fans have a privilege that other teams do not.  We have our own jersey.

In tribute to their fans, the Seahawks organization retired the number 12 in 1984.  The gesture was to show that the fans impact was as important as the other 11 men on the field, so no one will ever wear that number for this team again.  That means it can never go out of style.

Additionally, the Seahawks now have 4 players in the Hall of Fame which you can wear as a throwback.  Plus, it's always cool to see someone with a less memorable throwback like Joe Nash, Eugene Robinson or Dave Kreig.

Then again, if all you can get your mitts on is a Darrell Jackson jersey you scored at a thrift shop or a Shaun Alexander jersey you picked up at a garage sale-- that's cool, too.  Your fandom shouldn't be measured by how much you've spent on merchandise. Just root for your team, win or lose.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Open Minds Change: I used to hate Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick's story is fascinating.  He's been polarizing ever since the 49ers selected him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season in the backup role before winning the starting job the following season. In his first season as a starter, he lead his team to a Super Bowl.

Five years later, the guy is unemployed.

There were no significant injuries, no incidents of substance abuse, no run-ins with the law or domestic abuse allegations.  Quite frankly, there wasn't even any decline in ability that might have lead to this former NFC Champion Quarterback finding himself between jobs. The only reason Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster today is that he spoke out on inequality in America.

Before I go any further, I have to admit-- I used to hate Colin Kaepernick.

In fact, I enjoyed hating him.  Not just because he was the starting quarterback of my favorite team's greatest rival.  I hated everything about him.

From the shit-eating grin he flaunted with every play that resulted in positive yards to the corny Instagram pictures of his shoe collection, sports cars, and celebrities.  He was the perfect villain for Seahawks fans.  Russell Wilson was Charlie Church who spent his free time visiting sick children in the hospital-- the Batman to Kaepernick's Joker.

Another reason I hated him-- he was pretty good.

I never thought of Kaepernick as the ideal franchise quarterback.  I still don't.  I doubled over in Ron Jaworksi suggested that Kaepernick could be the best quarterback ever.  But there was no denying that Kaepernick was a tremendously gifted athlete.
laughter when

Those Seahawks/49ers matchups with Kaepernick under center were some of the best games to watch
for both teams fans.  They would not have been nearly as entertaining if Kaepernick wasn't talented and polarizing.

The 49ers self-destructed after Jim Harbaugh left.  It was no fault of Kaepernick's. If anything, he was the victim.  All of the talent left in free agency, they brought in two coaches that had no business being NFL head coaches, and they drafted poorly.  Soon, the 49ers had fallen to Rams-level obscurity as a rival and we couldn't realistically consider Kaepernick our arch nemesis holding a clipboard for Blaine Gabbert. Kaep had become an afterthought seemingly everywhere in the NFL world.

After a long while out of the spotlight, Colin Kaepernick's name re-emerged into the headlines. Not for anything related to the game of football, but for deciding he would no longer stand for the National Anthem during pregame festivities.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

When I first read that statement, I thought "This isn't the same Colin Kaepernick I have spent the past few seasons hating."

This Colin Kaepernick has woke. It made me think that this guy who went from a high draft selection to the Super Bowl in such a short time, had experienced crushing failure for the first time in his professional career and began to take stock of his life.  Everything good that had happened to him so quickly seemed to vanish just as abruptly as it arrived.  He started focusing on what really mattered in life.

I'll admit-- I was apprehensive at first.

I thought, Alright, this guy has gone from conference champion to second-string, on a bad team, in the blink of an eye and now he's trying to keep his name in the headlines.

There was no way the guy that kissed his bicep after a big play suddenly gives a shit about anyone other than himself.

But, Kaepernick put his money (and time) where his mouth is.

He answered harsh questions about his decision sit/take a knee with respect and professionalism.  He gave out suits to parolees so they can get jobs. He donated $1million of his salary to help his community. He gave the proceeds from his jersey sales and helped bring water to areas of need.

Kaepernick had seemingly changed and grown as a human being. He was starting to win me over, but in the process, he had angered a vocal minority of NFL fans across the nation. My next question was 'Why is he doing this and why is it upsetting so many people?"

I've always been opposed to contrived, pointless rituals.  Like being forced by your mother to apologize to your sibling after a fight-- being forced to express sympathy, gratitude or allegiance under duress always struck me as supremely disingenuous.

Apparently, I'm in the minority with that sentiment.  Many 'fans' to this day are so upset with Kaepernick's refusal to partake in this out-dated display of nationalism, they couldn't be bothered to hear the message of Kaepernick's protest.

Kaepernick, in my opinion, made a great point.  Why would any African American willingly participate in the anthem, which itself has questionable roots? At a particular time where news feeds were flooded with numerous stories of police officers killing unarmed black men, it only makes sense that someone would eventually say "This isn't right. There is a glaring absence of justice taking place in this country."

When I try to put myself in the shoes of Colin Kaepernick or any other African American male living in the united states, it doesn't take long for me to comprehend and sympathize with their plight.  Imagine waking up every day and seeing your news feed awash with videos of people that look like you having their lives taken from them by people who your taxes pay to keep us all safe.

It happens so frequently, it can't be a fluke.  It's clearly a systemic problem that needs to be treated at the source. A national dialog needed to be started-- and Kaepernick's taking a knee did just that.

The opposition turns a deaf ear to Kaepernick's concerns and instead makes the argument entirely focused on patriotism and the troops that bravely defend our country.   That could not be further from the truth.  Anyone with a lick of sense in their head can see that Kaepernick's statement is not intended to disparage our service men and women in anyway-- he's merely using his celebrity to shine light on a glaring issue we have in this country.  That issue is the rampant abuse of power and shoot-first mentality, particularly when dealing with African American men, that takes place every day in this country.

It's an issue that should concern every person that wants to live in a free and civilized society.  Even if you don't experience that sort of prejudice yourself, you should be willing to listen to those that do without making it about yourself.

The term 'snowflake' is thrown out frequently by those on the right to demean those who express any sort of sensitivity toward a particular issue.  Ironically, the same people making these statements are often the same people that claim to be so distraught by Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem, they suggest that they'll stop watching football altogether should he land on their team.

I certainly hope that we live in a society today that will give Kaepernick a second chance.  There is truly no reason for him to not be on a roster outside of the social issues he stands for. We have seen Michael Vick serve prison time for dog fighting and after a long road of redemption, he eventually was given a second chance.

We see players like Arian Peterson bounce back from child abuse charges. We've seen more drug, alcohol, and domestic abuses charges swept under the rug than I have time to list here.  How can someone who simply pointed out the flaws of our broken justice system be treated worse than those who actually caused physical harm to others?

Furthermore, I can point to a handful of players with greater skill deficits and weaker resumes who still draw paychecks in this league.  Mark Sanchez has been a disappointment for longer than Kaepernick has even been in the league.  Anyone named McCown seems to have a standing invite from every team to hold clipboard for millions per year.  Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden, Drew Stanton, Matt Cassell and Kellen Moore are all on NFL rosters and not a one of them is as athletically gifted as Kaepernick, nor have any of them lead a team to the Super Bowl.

At this point, it appears unlikely that Kaepernick will be signed by the Seahawks.  Personally, in the unlikely disastrous event that Russell Wilson should miss snaps, I would prefer Kaepernick take the reins than Jake Heaps, Trevone Boykin or Austin Davis.  All four options would be drastic steps down from the production and play making ability we get with Russell Wilson-- but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Kaepernick is the best option of the rest.

I went from hating Colin Kapernick to calling myself a fan of his.  It's silly to even consider what he did a 'failure' or a 'crime', because it absolutely is not.  Even if it were-- failure should not be permanent.  Some of America's greatest achievements came after a series of substantial failures. If we condemn failure so fiercely, we discourage people from taking chances-- chances that might have otherwise accomplished great things.

I believe many of the Kaepernick detractors have misplaced hate and I would love to interview them to get to the bottom of where it comes from.  The bottom line should be that we're all Seahawks fans that just want our team to succeed. Our loyalty is to the laundry-- not the human beings that wear it.  The Seahawks would be a better team with Kaepernick backing up Wilson than Davis or Boykin. That's plain as day to see.

I honestly can't fathom someone being so hurt by someone taking a knee during the anthem-- an event usually spent getting last minute concessions at the game or literally sitting on your ass in front of your home television-- that they would prefer their favorite team be worse off without them.

Seriously, I can't.  If you do-- reach out to me for an interview.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Seahawks 2017 Draft Class

The 2017 NFL Draft is officially behind us. The Seahawks, as usual, did not make a selection in the first round.  This was truly a rollercoaster draft for Seahawks fans, myself included.

At the end of the first round, I was despondent and that feeling bled well into the second round of the draft.  Perhaps unlike last year, the Seahawks had legitimate needs to fill in their roster that went unfulfilled in free agency.

Seattle seemingly passed on potential starters like Kevin King, Reuben Foster, Jabril Peppers, Budda Baker and TJ Watt.  All of which I felt could have addressed an immediate need and became day one starters for this team. It was especially painful to see Baker land with a division rival and King go to the Packers, who many would say have been our chief conference rival over the past half decade.

WVU's Skylar Howard signed as possible Travone Boykin replacement
We should all know by now that Pete Carroll and John Schneider march to the beat of their own drum.

As that drum beat on and the draft with it, I began to relax more and more. Seahawks addressed many of the areas of need with the wealth of picks they acquired by their trademark incessant trading back. They went hard after secondary help-- a huge problem down the stretch last season. 

They brought in offensive line help and pass rushing depth, too. They even selected a few pass catchers and a running back to bolster the competition for starting jobs this offseason. With so many roster spots solidified over the last few years, competition has been lacking in the previous two training camps.  I would like to see some of these young receivers push Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson for their jobs.

Seattle was able to bring in 11 new players from the draft and 14 additional players coming into camp undrafted which will certainly fuel the competition Pete Carroll bases his philosophy upon-- I question their decision to pass on some top-tier talent.  It's possible they could've taken the guy they seemed to have wanted most (Malik McDowell) without passing on King or Baker.  I'm still scratching my head as to why they felt that Ethan Pocic was more valuable than say a Cam Robinson who could've started at Tackle, but we'll see how it shakes out in camp.

This upcoming season will reveal more from not only this draft class but the previous 2 or 3 as well.  Depending on where Seattle finishes this year, we can more accurately dissect Pete & John's draft history.  Will this be more like the early, homerun draft classes P&J had when they first took over?  Or are the Seahawks brass trending more toward mediocrity?

Only time will tell, but I can't wait for the regular season to begin!

Seahawks 2017 Draft Selections

23 (35)Malik McDowellDT6'6"295Michigan St.
226 (58)Ethan PocicOL6'6"310LSU
326 (90)Shaquill GriffinDB6'0"194Central Florida
331 (95)Delano HillSS6'1"216Michigan
338 (102)Nazair JonesDT6'5"304North Carolina
342 (106)Amara DarbohWR6'2"214Michigan
44 (111)Tedric ThompsonFS6'0"204Colorado
63 (187)Mike TysonS6'1"204Cincinnati
626 (210)Justin SeniorOT6'5"331Mississippi St.
78 (226)David MooreWR6'2"225East Central (OK)
731 (249)Chris CarsonRB6'0"218Oklahoma St.

Seahawks 2017 Undrafted Free Agent Signings

Darreus RogersWR6'1"215USC
Algernon BrownFB6'1"250BYU
Jordan RoosG6'4"302Purdue
Skyler HowardQB6'0"207WVU
Jordan SimoneWR5'11"190Arizona State
Tyrone SwoopesTE6'4"249Texas
Otha PetersLB6'0"238Louisiana Lafayette
Calvin SteynOL6'4"320Weber State
Tony BridgesDB6'2"185Mississippi
Hayden PlinkeTE6'4"265UTEP
Nick UsherLB6'4"245UTEP

Seahawks 2017 Tryouts and Camp Invites

Bernard DawsonDT6'2"248Georgia Southern
Ronald ButlerQB6'3"180Tennessee St.
Al RilesWR5'10"212Lousiana

Friday, April 28, 2017

What will the Seahawks do on Day Two of the NFL Draft?

by Adam Householder, Scouting & Draft Analyst,

Day Two Preview
The primetime event of the NFL Draft’s first round has come and gone, and it should be no surprise that Seahawks General Manager John Schneider did what he does best by trading out of the first round for the fourth time in the last five years.  Schneider continued to add draft capital by adding a significant haul for essentially moving back from 26th overall to 34th overall.  By making this move, Schneider added an additional 3rd round and 7th round picks from Atlanta, and an additional 4th round pick from Chicago via San Francisco after 49ers GM John Lynch moved back up into the first round to draft LB Reuben Foster.  
This leaves Seattle with five draft picks between draft picks 90-111 overall.  “That’s what was great, we didn’t feel like we lost a player to make the moves.  That kept us incentivized.”  Pete Carroll said of their comfort with trading back in the first round, and then completely out of it after receiving a late offer from San Francisco.  
Rumors throughout league insiders is that this draft class contained a few elite prospects that separated themselves from the next shelf of players, but that the next talent level contained rare depth.  More rumors have circulated today saying that the Seahawks only had a few of players they were willing to invest drafting a first round pick on, and that one of those players was QB Patrick Mahomes II.  Which would have been a classic John Schneider pick.  My hunch is that another one of those players would have been the player that was drafted right ahead of them by the Cleveland Browns at 25th overall - Jabrill Peppers.  
Schneider’s comfort with moving back means that Seattle has a group of players they consider equivalent in their projected value.  And now with the Seahawks holding six draft picks in day two, that suggests to me that Seattle may be busy again in day two, and may use some of that capital to move back up into the second round for a third selection.  
Three picks in the second round… Let’s start dreaming up scenarios…
My belief is that the Seahawks may have a few guys they’ve fallen in love with, like they have in year’s past with Tyler Lockett, Russell Wilson, and Earl Thomas.  But most of the players on their board likely fit a profile of what they’re looking for at a certain position.
The Seahawks will add one offensive lineman with significant potential, if that…
Cam Robinson and Forrest Lamp are possibilities early in the second, as are Isaac Asiata and Zach Banner, but I have them more likely to go in the third.  If one of those four names are not called by the Seahawks, then we may see Schneider neglect the position group until the late mid rounds.  If that’s the case, then that would be a major vote of confidence into Tom Cable and last year’s additions – Ifedi, Odhiambo, and Fant, along with the addition of former second overall pick Luke Joeckel (who I really like on a one year deal).  This group could be undervalued by the public, which may be something silently working in Schneider’s favor as other team’s attempt to project players as targets of the Seattle Seahawks.  – Forrest Lamp, Cam Robinson, Isaac Asiata, Zach Banner
Secondary help is going to be part of this draft group by the Seahawks.  We could see a long lean body type to man the outside corner, an inside nickel-type, a play making safety type, or a player providing multiple desired traits.  This group is deep.  Seattle has had pre-draft contacts with UW’s Budda Baker, Kevin King, and the best of the three, recently injured Sidney Jones.  While I considered King overvalued heading into the draft, I do see incredible value of any of these players in the second or early third rounds.  Another PAC-12 secondary I see the Seahawks having interest in is the trio out of Colorado.  Chidobe Awuzie gets the most hype, but I’m a huge fan of both Ahkello Witherspoon and Tedric Thompson.  In the later rounds, the players I think Seattle will show interest in are Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley, New Hampshire Safety Casey DeAndrade, and Louisville Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons - who reminds me so much of Brandon Browner that it feels too likely to happen.  Tankersley, DeAndrade, and Harvey-Clemons would likely be day three targets.   – Sidney Jones, Budda Baker, Kevin King, Ahkello Witherspoon, Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson, Casey DeAndrade
Last year, Seattle looked into troubled DE/DT Robert Nkemdiche, who they elected to pass on when he was still available and Seattle was on the clock.  That type of player also exists this year, and his name is Malik McDowell out of Michigan State.  McDowell has been rumored as a top five talent, like Nkemdiche last year, but is devalued due to personality/character concerns.  The guy I love for this role is Michigan DE/DT Chris Wormley.  If I had my pick between the two, I’d go with Wormley.  – Chris Wormley, Malik McDowell
Run stuffing prospects Seattle will likely have interest in for the interior of the defensive line are Colorado DT Josh Tupou and Alabama DT Dalvin Tomlinson, with Tomlinson likely going much earlier than Tupou. – Dalvin Tomlinson, Josh Tupou.
Finally, the pass rushers.  FSU’s DeMarcus Walker has been a popular choice through many mock drafts found online, and I don’t think that’s inaccurate.  My top player for the vacancy at SAM linebacker for the Seahawks was TJ Watt, but I also really like OLB/DE Tim Williams out of Alabama.  – Tim Williams, DeMarcus Walker
But most of all, out of all the players still on the draft board, my favorite player for the Seahawks is UConn Safety Obi Melifonwu.   
Other players I think Seattle really likes, but may not be an immediate position of need, are TE Antony Auclair, and QB Davis Webb out of Cal. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 Seahawks Draft Guide

by Adam Householder 
Draft & Scouting Analyst,

Aside from weaknesses in the Seattle secondary, there are other areas of needed improvement, and it’s possible that no position group needs to build upon their performance from last year more than the Seattle offensive line.  The Seahawks have seen their rushing statistics fall from an average of 5.3 yards per rush (2014) to 4.8 yards (2015), to only 3.9 yards per rush this last season (2016).  
According to radio and TV interviews with Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and several other big decision makers throughout the league, offensive line talent in this year’s crop of prospects is not as deep as previous years, which may prove to have a major influence on the entire draft.  Because scouts do not see as many starting caliber talented offensive line prospects, it may force some of the good, but not great, prospects to be overdrafted by teams desperate to fill vacancies left by free agency.  
If this scenario were to play out, I would expect John Schneider to shift his focus to another position group to add to, as Schneider historically drafts the most talented player on his draft board rather than drafting for need.  It may upset some to not see an offensive lineman as Seattle’s first draft selection, but people can rest assured that the player drafted will be a player the coaching staff and front office expect to be an impact player at some point.

Seahawks 2017 Draft Picks

First round: 26th pick overall.
Second round: 26th pick, 58 overall.
Third round: 26th pick, 90 overall.
Third round: 38th pick, 102 overall.
Fourth round: No pick (traded to Patriots).
Fifth round: No pick (forfeited after violating offseason workout rules).
Sixth round: 26th pick, 210 overall.
Seventh round: Eighth pick, 226 overall (via trade with Panthers in 2015; traded original pick conditionally to Raiders in 2016).

The Seahawks have two of the top 60 draft selections (26, 58 overall), but don’t be surprised to see Schneider trade his first pick, as he’s done three of the last four years.  

Potential Trade Scenarios 

Three-way trade:
Cleveland Browns trade 12th overall to Seattle.
New England trades QB Jimmy Garoppolo to Cleveland.
New England trades CB Malcolm Butler to Seattle.
Seattle trades CB Richard Sherman to New England.

Seattle trades their 1st round pick (26 overall) to Cleveland.
Cleveland trades a 2nd and 3rd round pick (33 and 65 overall) to Seattle.

So, what are some other potential names Seahawks fans should start to get acquainted with?

OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)
Ramczyk has the size, strength, and athleticism Seattle looks for in an offensive lineman, but due to the lack of depth at the position throughout the draft, it’s likely that Ramczyk gets overdrafted by a team before #26.   
One of the few knocks on Ramczyk is that he has the height and athleticism, but he lacks the arm length (33 ½”) to be a starting caliber NFL tackle, and likely projects more as a guard.  Projecting to a guard may lower Ramczyk’s draft value due to a much lower premium on interior offensive lineman, which may benefit the Seahawks, if they see the value.  Seattle currently has a vacancy at Right Guard after Pete Carroll stated they intend to move last year’s first round pick, Germaine Ifedi, to Right Tackle.

Offensive Tackle/Offensive Guard Cam Robinson (Alabama)
Classic Pete Carroll type of player in Cam Robinson.  Carroll loves great athletic pedigree.  Robinson, a former 5-star high school recruit, ended up having to work his way through some adversity before regaining his potentially elite status.  Robinson has the physical make up to be an impact player at either guard or tackle position, drawing comparisons to another former first round Alabama offensive lineman drafted by Schneider and Carroll – LG James Carpenter.

Robinson’s consistency in pass protection is the major knock against him.  Teams may also show caution and not draft Robinson as high as his play would merit due to recent Alabama player’s dominance at the collegiate level not translating to the pros.  A player like Cam Robinson could be drafted as early as the middle of the first round, or linger to the end of the second round, but I expect to see his name called sooner than later.

Safety Budda Baker (Washington)
When you watch his tape, it’s hard to dismiss the Earl Thomas comparisons many draft pundits apply when analyzing University of Washington Safety Budda Baker.  Baker was the heartbeat of a Huskies defense that found itself in the national championship last year for the first time since 1991.

The one negative I have on Baker is that he drops too many balls that could otherwise be interceptions.  If he can learn to slow down and let the game come to him a little more, he could be dangerous.  Baker’s range, positional flexibility, and ability to cover on special teams make him an exceptional fit for the team needs of the Seattle Seahawks, who have already shown interest, by scheduling a prospect meeting with him at the NFL Combine.

Cornerback Kevin King (Washington)
Kevin King’s physical profile screams Pete Carroll-type corner.  He’s tall, he’s long, and he’s really fast.  King has Richard Sherman-like size and wingspan, yet King possesses the speed and vertical jump Richard Sherman only dreams of having.  I’m not saying King will ever be a better player than Sherman, but I am saying that King has a higher caliber toolbox when it comes to athleticism.
While I’d love a hometown prospect for the Seahawks, I do not see King being drafted at 26 by Seattle, but possibly so if he’s there in the 2nd (or 3rd…).  He’s a fun prospect, but he was never even the number one corner at UW; King regularly defended the second-best receiver on opposing teams due to his counterpart, Sidney Jones, taking on the challenge of covering opposing number one receivers.  
This would be a player I could see Seattle drafting if they decided to trade back from their original first round pick, but not at 26 overall.

Outside Linebacker/Defensive End Tim Williams (Alabama)
The good thing about the Alabama defense is that there are so many great players, some of them don’t get as much of the spotlight as they would otherwise deserve, like last year’s second round pick by Seattle, former Alabama Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed.  Tim Williams is possibly another one of those hidden gems.

Williams is extremely quick off the snap, and uses leverage well when engaged, but he’s lean and will need to add more bulk to his frame once he gets to the NFL.  If drafted by Seattle, Williams could immediately add play-making ability to a vacancy at the SAM linebacker spot; a void created two years ago after Bruce Irvin left in free agency for Oakland.  Williams would also add high caliber depth at key pass rusher spots behind Cliff Avril and Frank Clark.  

The Seahawks have brought Williams to Seattle for a private workout, showing there’s genuine interest.

Defensive Tackle/Defensive End Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
Perhaps one of the most volatile draft stocks this class has seen, McDowell has been projected by some to be a potential top-ten pick, while others have projected him to fall completely out of the first round.  McDowell entered the 2016 college season looking to cement his draft stock as a top first round pick, but did not complete the task after suffering injuries and not playing with the same intensity that earned him the national exposure and hype from the seasons before.

Drawing on-field comparrisons to San Francisco Defensive End DeForrest Buckner, by Pro Football Focus, there are still questions about McDowell’s motor and work ethic.  The Seahawks will do their due diligence, as they did with Robert Nkemdiche last year, but the Seahawks did pass up on a player with a similar make-up in last year’s draft.

Safety/Cornerback/Linebacker Jabrill Peppers (University of Michigan)
I love this prospect.  I love the versatility, the instincts, the play making ability.  What is not to like?!  Well, the way Peppers was utilized at the University of Michigan may possibly end up working against him.  As a Heisman finalist, college offenses would gameplan just to avoid giving Peppers playmaking opportunities that could affect the game, but those plans rarely worked.  
Because Peppers was utilized in so many different ways, he never had the opportunity to really develop and focus on certain skills.  Meaning that Peppers skill-set and acumen is wide, but isn’t as deep as you’d expect.  
Peppers will need to hone his skills to one position group and master one, rather than be a jack of all trades and master of none.  
Outside Linebacker/Defensive End T.J. Watt (University of Wisconsin)
Watt is an interesting prospect on several levels.  First, he’s the younger brother of NFL superstar and former NFL Defensive MVP J.J. Watt, so that’s obviously going to turn heads.  Watt went to Wisconsin originally as an offensive player (Tight End), but after injuries plagued him and other team needs surfaced, Watt made the transition to defense, and never looked back.  
In pass coverage, Watt has rare perspective after initially playing at the collegiate level as a pass catcher and blocker.  Theoretically, this allows him to more quickly diagnose and impact plays, and his game tape confirms it.  Watt possesses unique physical tools, standing at 6’5” with 33 ½” arms, Watt’s size allows him to engage and leverage his length against pass blockers, which means he could add immediate depth at defensive end while immediately slotting in as the new starting strongside linebacker.

And for my top pick at 26th overall, if the Seahawks do not trade back is...

Safety Obi Melifonwu (University of Connecticut)

Not often does a safety come out of the draft with the combination of size and speed that Melifonwu possesses.  Melifonwu’s professional comparison is, without surprise, Seattle Safety Kam Chancellor.  Both players possess rare size (6 feet 3 inches), but Melifonwu might already exceed Chancellor in his pass coverage ability, as Melifonwu is also being considered a potential cornerback prospect.  
Melifonwu offers incredibly intriguing size and athleticism, but he also provides utility and flexibility by adding depth behind all three of Seattle’s key Legion of Boom members – Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman, while also immediately starting opposite Richard Sherman as the number two corner.  
When you’re looking at a rare combination of size, speed, athleticism, utility, and flexibility, I’d say that’s about as unique as it gets.