Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Passing the Ruskell test

A lot of debate surrounding which direction the Seahawks will go in the draft is based on passing the 'Ruskell test'. Pundits and fans alike regularly refer to prospects being a 'Ruskell guy' or not. The term generally refers to someone who comes from a big school, has shown consistent production and has no 'baggage' off the field - basically a good character. Of course these are all guidelines most franchises will look to but the Seahawks pay particular attention under Ruskell. Not one to be wowed by a striking combine performance or a great personal workout at their pro-day, the Seahawks front office will no doubt already have a good idea of who is in their sights and will be trawling through the game tape to come up with a plan for the draft.

With that in mind, let's look at some of the prospects being tipped to be on Seattle's radar. Do they pass the Ruskell test?
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Matt Stafford - QB, Georgia
Showed good production as a three year starter with the Bulldogs and stats came against strong opposition. Ruskell has drafted a quarter back from this school in the past (David Greene). Has tremendous upside to coincide with what he's shown already. Not a big personality but a quiet leader.
Any character red flags? Go on to google images and type in Matt Stafford. You'll find some pictures of him raising a keg over his head like a trophy and a few others enjoying the kind of party only Matt Leinart can better. Still, you can't blame a guy for having some fun at that age.
Pass/fail? Pass

Michael Crabtree - WR, Texas Tech
In two years with the Red Raiders, Crabtree put up monster stats (3127 yards, 41 touchdowns). He was named an All-American both years and also picked up two Biletnikoff awards, the first player in history to win it twice. Unquestionable production in a difficult division. Has a charismatic but humble personality and has strong family values.
Any character red flags? His roommate at Texas Tech was arrested for possessing cocaine in December. It was reported that Crabtree had nothing to do with it and this shouldn't harm his character test at all.
Pass/fail? Pass

Michael Oher - OT, Ole Miss
It's hard not to be inspired by Oher's rise to potential NFL stardom. He's certainly shown great character to get to where he is today. There are question marks about his intelligence to pick up the difficult schemes Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari uses. Stayed until his senior year when he likely would have been a top pick in the 2008 draft. Can be very inconsistent, dominant at times but switches off occasionally leading to lapses in concentration.
Any character red flags? An incident was reported where he attacked a teammate for saying derogatory things about his adoptive mother and sister. In the process, a three year old child was hurt in the incident.
Pass/fail? Could go either way

Andre Smith - OT, Alabama
Fits in well to Alabama's system and played an integral role as they had a very successful 2008 season. Decided to forgo his senior year to declare this year so hasn't got the resume of consistent production over a number of years. Weight issues are a big concern - does this mean we should question his work ethic? More importantly, will the Seahawks? He has great strength but doesn't always maximise it due to the extra weight he carries.
Any character red flags? Missed his team's most important game of the year because he talked to an agent when he wasn't supposed to.
Pass/fail? Potential fail

Malcolm Jenkins - CB, Ohio State
Three year starter at a big school and decided to stay for his senior year instead of declaring in 2008 - he would have been a guaranteed first round pick. Has shown production in terms of tackles - registered 54 in total this year just gone. Only managed three interceptions though. Question marks about his recovery speed - can he stay with the quicker receivers in the NFL? Well respected and some have credited his intelligence on the field.
Any character red flags? None that have been reported.
Pass/fail? Pass

B.J. Raji - DT, Boston College
Hasn't been consistent for BC and tends to have bursts of form. Wasn't really considered amongst the top prospects until a solid performance in work outs at the Senior Bowl, but was shutdown in the game. The number of drop outs and a generally weak senior class could have helped Raji gain some attention last week - his real value could be a lot lower than what some pundits are currently suggesting.
Any character red flags? Yes. He was held back from his senior year and red shirted by the team for academic issues. He was also suspended for punching an opponent during a game. It would be a major surprise if the Seahawks took him in the first round.
Pass/fail? Fail

Jason Smith - OT, Baylor
Great character and a big personality respected by his team. Even allowed to get away with constantly joking with a teammate that he would 'marry his sister' one day. Only played offensive tackle after a switch from tight end so is a work in progress but has massive upside due to great athleticism. Very intelligent, has already graduated and spent his senior year in further education. Not from a big school.
Any character red flags? None at all, he comes across as a genuinely nice guy.
Pass/fail? Pass

Aaron Curry - LB, Wake Forest
Production is as good as it gets for a linebacker. Started nearly every game he's been able to for Wake Forest racking up tackles, including 99 in 2007 alone. Has yet to miss a game with injury. His instincts have questioned by some scouts but appears to have good game intelligence and was a leader for his team.
Any character red flags? Didn't play in a 2007 game against Navy because he missed a class earlier in the week. Nothing major though.
Pass/Fail? Pass

Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Only started a handful of games for So Cal and many, including coach Pete Carroll, thought he needed another year in college to refine his skills. An excellent performance in the Rose Bowl, a poor QB class and the decision of Sam Bradford not to declare encouraged Sanchez to head for the pro's, clearly to take advantage of the situation. Comes from a big school the Seahawks have drafted from in the past.
Any character red flags? Was arrested in April 2006 on an allegation of sexual assault. The team temporarily suspended Sanchez, although the charges were later dropped due to 'insufficient evidence'. He has also been disciplined by the team for under age drinking and using a fake I.D. He was also detained but not arrested for breaking a window at a fraternity party.
Pass/fail? Fail

Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Blue chip four year starter who started out splitting time at left tackle and right guard. Production at tackle forced Virginia to play Brendan Albert at guard - he has since been drafted as a first round left tackle. Scouts have questioned his heart and consistent effort, but he is a physical specimen with a strong hand punch. Has issues with false starts. Dislocated his knee cap in Spring 2006 and has missed time because of the injury, needs to be checked.
Any character red flags? None.
Pass/fail? Pass


Mind of no mind said...

Wow, I don't follow college very closely, so I'm pretty shocked to hear about how bad Sanchez is. In light of that and his limited experience, I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a Randy Moss like dive on draft day and ends up near the bottom third of the 1st round. Seems likely to be a bust in the NFL.

Aaron Weinberg said...

Following in Leinhart's footsteps I suppose hah. Nice compilation Rob, this furthers my belief that we should go Crabtree come April 25.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised I didn't see Eugene Monroe in this analysis. He is likely the top candidate for Ruskell.

Rob Staton said...

Apologies, anonymous. I will add him to the list shortly.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that Ruskell's also only drafted guys who've been in college for 4+ years? Either seniors or redshirt juniors, and most if not all of them actually earned a degree.

If so, Crabtree would be a first coming out after a redshirt sophomore season.


Rob Staton said...

Eugene Monroe has now been added to the list.

Aki, yes Ruskell has previously looked for guys who have stayed in school and show consistent production. I don't think this means Ruskell won't draft a redshirt sophomore who has declared, especially Crabtree who has shown incredible production in his two years at Texas Tech. Ruskell essentially looks for talented guys with low risk attached.

Kurt said...

Sometimes I think Ruskell takes the whole character thing too far. Sure, it's nice to avoid the problems that a Pacman Jones/Chris Henry type can bring but I almost think he puts character before talent and/or potential. That, to me, is a flawed strategy.

By the way, Oher is an unbelievable story. For those who haven't read the NY Times piece on him...


Rob Staton said...

Thanks for posting that link Kurt, it's a great read.

Anonymous said...

Kurt, Wow, what a story. Thanks alot! Movie material of the best type. I was sold on Jason Smith prior to reading this and now would be even more ecitted to see Big Mike come to town.

Thanks for the line Kurt!

Big Joe

Kurt said...

You're welcome.

They are, in fact, making a movie of it, Big Joe! That article was taken from a book from the same guy who wrote Moneyball.

I will be rooting for Oher wherever he goes. He seems like a good kid.