Saturday, 21 March 2009

Draft theory: Seahawks eyeing Moreno?


It was widely reported that the Seahawks had a strong presence at the Georgia pro-day on Thursday. No big surprises there with Matt Stafford throwing for the first time and a number of other highly rated prospects working out. However, since I saw this picture I've been wondering just what encouraged Tim Ruskell to get down on one knee with his stop watch next to Mike Mayock. Was there one prospect in particular that Ruskell was paying particularly close attention to? Of course it's nothing out of the ordinary to see a general manager timing a forty yard dash at a pro-day. We're just over a month away from the draft and Seattle have some high picks this year - they need to do their homework. No doubt Ruskell will have likely timed every prospect considering he made the trip.

But then I saw this video clip published today by the NFL Network.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

When the video gets to 4:02 minutes, Knowshon Moreno begins his 40 yard dash. As he completes the run and disappears into a crowd of scouts, reporters and coaches, the camera pans out to show most of the group stood away from the action. Check who's kneeling down at the very front away from the crowd. Is is the same three individuals we see in the picture above? The answer is yes. Look closely to the video clips and you'll see for yourself. It's difficult to get photographic evidence from the clip itself, but I've tried to point you in the right direction here and here.

An annonymous reader sent me the picture at the top of the article, which is much clearer and confirmation that at the very least the Seahawks wanted to get a good look at Moreno.

As previously suggested, it's perfectly plausible that Ruskell remained in that 'front row seat' to see all the prospects. Or maybe, just maybe, there was somebody in particular he wanted to get a good look at.

I want to make it clear that as the title suggests, this is merely a theory. I'm putting this out there to discuss, it's not a stonewall prediction or a suggestion that this is anything other than me thinking out loud. But everything I've seen, read and heard about Knowshon Moreno makes me believe he is a 'Ruskell pick' down to a tee.

Character? Moreno has an infectious personality, is incredibly well spoken and intelligent. No red flags.

Production? In two years with the Bulldogs, he scored 30 touchdowns, compiled 2,736 yards with a further 645 receiving yards and two more TD's

Playing above physical restrictions? Ruskell has never been one to be blown away by a great 40 time or a workout warrior. He's prepared to take a prospect who physically isn't the biggest, fastest or strongest - as long as they are good football players. Moreno hasn't blown anyone away in work outs, but he does on the field.

Safe pick/Instant impact? Despite Moreno's committed running style he has a faultless health record. Rookie running backs don't tend to have the big learning curves that other positions face. Moreno is likely to join a team from day one and contribute, possibly in the same way Jonathan Stewart did for Carolina in 2008 as part of a two pronged attack with DeAngelo Hall.

The only marker you could place against Moreno is that he isn't a four year starter. But let's be honest, how many running backs are these days? He played two solid years for a big school in a pro-style offense. That should be enough compensation.

Even in the aftermath of the T.J. Houshmandzadeh signing, the Seahawks still need an injection of playmaking ability on offense. Steve Wyche reported this week that Seattle were hoping to take an offensive playmaker. That could mean many things - Michael Crabtree anyone? How about a long term replacement for an ageing veteran (Matt Stafford? Jason Smith?). Perhaps it could also mean a wildcard option - someone who isn't a consensus 'elite' talent amongst pundits but is high on the Seahawks draft board?

Again, I want to stress that this is merely a theory. Oakland took a running back with the fourth pick last year in Darren McFadden. He signed a $60m contract with $26m in guarantees and recorded 499 yards and 4 TD's as a rookie. No doubt about it, teams think they can find good running back's in the mid-late rounds and with two-back systems en vogue - the value of RB's has decreased. Considering the team still has Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett on the roster, Seattle would be making a big investment to take Moreno 4th overall.

We can talk about a trade down. It's still highly unlikely due to the finances involved amongst the top five picks. Perhaps Seattle would 'force the issue' by deliberately accepting a token gesture to move down - for example a 5th round pick to drop 3-4 places? We're getting into the realms of fantasy football now when we talk about trades in this detail, but you get the idea.

Whether or not there's any substance to this theory, we likely won't find out until April 25th. I have to believe the Seahawks would be all over this pick had they been drafting in the 10-20 region as opposed to fourth overall. That essentially could be the deciding factor, can you justify a running back that early however much you like them - and if not - can you trade down? Having said that, when the draft comes around and the Seahawks are settling on their big board - I wouldn't be surprised to see Moreno somewhere near the top alongside the Stafford's, the Smith's and the Crabtree's.

31 comments:

Louis said...

Wow very interesting...

If both Crabtree and Moreno are available at #4 and if we cannot find a trading partner, I would want them to take Crabtree but is there any chance that they would take Moreno ahead of Crabtree at #4? It seems highly unlikely tho, as both of these do not warrent top 5, not even top 10 picks.

Thanks and keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Here is your photographic evidence:

http://onlineathens.com/multimedia/galleries/032009-proday/slides/031909_pday_Moreno02_ts.html

Chris (Seattle) said...

Rob, for the hawks, and my sanity's, sake, I hope your theory is proved false come April 25th. Unless the unlikely scenerio happens where we get to trade down, I'm praying Moreno isn't the pick at 4 (wouldn't even want them trading down if Crabtree is still there). I love Knowshon, he has great character and will certainly give everything he has on and off the field, but I can't see his talent level justifying that high of a pick. I've said before, unless you are getting an LT or Barry Sanders type player, it isn't worth it this high. We just have too many other needs to take Moreno with 4, but we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

dude you must have the best eyes ever. i wouldnt be able to pick out big foot from that shot. moreno looks good but they're not gonna take him at 4 and he won't be there in the second round so i think you're probably just outta luck man

Louis said...

The way I want the draft to go is like this:

1st Round: Michael Crabtree
2nd Round: LeSean McCoy
3rd Round: Eric Woods

And then with later picks maybe get a QB like Nate Davis and possibly another CB or OT.

But yea, great catch on that Rob, it was a blur and I could not notice that, lol...his cuts looked real good though and I think he would be a great addition to our team.

Btw, do you know how much of a dropoff there is between Moreno and LeSean McCoy? I think McCoy will still be there when we pick in the 2nd round, and the scouts are pretty high on him, so do you know how he compares to Moreno? thanks

Rob Staton said...

I think it's important for me to stress that I'm not advocating the Seahawks taking him fourth overall. It would be a huge investment in Moreno, especially as you imagine he'd split carries with Jones and Duckett. However, I do have a feeling that the Seahawks and Ruskell will rate Moreno very highly. I wanted to throw this out there because as you can see, there's a group of scouts stood together in a line on the video clip and then we have Ruskell, Mayock and another Seahawks representative at the very front with their stop watches kneeling down. Moreno screams 'Ruskell pick' to me and we all know that he wouldn't be afraid to 'reach' for a player or make some moves in order to get the guy he wants.

Whether the Seahawks can get into position to take him is surely dependant on whether they can move down, which will be no easy achievement. As we sit here today, it's still a long shot for it to happen. But I wanted to put the theory out there about Seattle watching Moreno closely, perhaps with a view to drafting him.

Rob Staton said...

Louis,

I've heard conflicting reports about McCoy. Some reports say his pro-day was a success,whilst others have voiced some concerns. I've seen more of Moreno than I have McCoy and I have to admit being very impressed with Knowshon. He's a true triple threat back as a runner, receiver and blocker. He always finishes his runs and despite the average 40 times, he's extremely athletic.

McCoy doesn't have the same value in the passing game and I don't think he's the same competitive type of back. He does have that ability to find a hole and break off a big run which I like. Moreno seems to be more ripped than McCoy - who stands to gain a few pounds in the pro's. He hasn't got the same kind of vibrant personality Moreno has.

If you're comparing the two in the production I believe McCoy has 4 more total TD's than Moreno in the same time frame. There's no reason why McCoy won't have a better pro career, but when I'm grading the prospects I have Moreno in my top 15 and McCoy probably in the 30's.

Anonymous said...

everyone is assuming that if we take him it will be at 4 or trade down. maybe ruskell wants to trade up from the secound round to grab moreno.

Rob Staton said...

Fair point,annonymous.

Anonymous said...

Was that Moreno that was in the pic? I like Moreno a lot and would not be upset with that pic at all if it happens.

Big Joe said...

Tim R has done very well picking in the 2-4th rounds so I would hate to give up most or all of those picks to move back into the upper mid 1st round for KM. The dream senario would be for a trade down from the 4th pick, but as said many times befor, unlikely.

But what about the seldom used pass? What if we skip a half dozen or so spots then take him?
Honestly I do not follow it close enough to give hard numbers, but it seems to me that each year the first round produces only a hand full of players that contribute right away. Even when you look at the top 10 picks. I think everyone gets locked into historical picks for positions, or dollors paid,(I get that),but IF KM is the real deal and becomes one of the elite RB's in the game, would we not be happy in hind sight taking him at 4? That is a big maybe, but it is a maybe in my mind not a "no way". Great info Rob, thanks!

Rob Staton said...

Annonymous - the pick at the top of the article is Knowshon Moreno running the 40 yard dash, with Tim Ruskell and a Seahawks representative looking on closely.

Big Joe - you make a very good point about Ruskell not wanting to lose picks. It might be too expensive to move back into the 1st round, not only with the picks involved but also the finances of inheriting a top 5 pick and another first rounder to the cap. Having said that, Ruskell showed last year that if there's a prospect he really like he isn't afraid to pull the trigger and move up (John Carlson). He made a similar move to get Lofa Tatupu.

If the team expects Moreno to be lingering in the late 20's, you never know, Seattle might force the issue.

Despite the poor 40 yard dash times, I still see Moreno as an under rated talent with definite top 15 ability. If the team feel he won't last until the later part of round one and if they really wanted him, then they have some big decisions to make.

Anonymous said...

What position is Moreno projected to be drafted by the usual draft gurus? Is he projected to last til the 2nd round? And just out of curiosity, if Ruskell liked this kid so much will he go out of his way to tip his hand like this?

Anonymous said...

I've been sipping on the Moreno kool-aid for some time. If we take himk, even at #4, great! I've thought he meets all the Ruskell requirements too!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why people are getting so excited about this picture. Ruskell is a former scout and by all accounts loved scouting and was very good at it. He probably relishes the chances he gets now to look at these players close up. I would be that he was timing every kid who ran that day.
Erik

Louis said...

Wow...over at Seahawk Addicts, they showed the Wonderlic scores of some of the key prospects. Stafford scored the highest with 38. The WRs did not do very well. However, Crabtree had a score of 15 and Maclin had a score of 25...the gap between the 2 seem to be closing.

Rob Staton said...

Erik, I made reference in the article that this is merely a theory. There's a very good chance that Ruskell did time every prospect at Georgia's pro day. I'm putting this out there to provoke a discussion because to me, Moreno is the definition of a Ruskell pick. I think it's an interesting picture combined with the video clip because you can see the crowd of scouts and coaches timing Moreno in a line, then Ruskell is knelt down away from the crowd right at the front next to Mike Mayock and another Seahawks representative. It wouldn't surprise me if there was something in this... but at the same time I don't expect the Seahawks to necessarily call Moreno's name if they remain in the 4th overall pick.

germpod said...

Does anybody have any idea if there is a real correlation between good wonderlic scores and good football players? I know that it only one variable in the grand picture, but it seems that if players with a score of 10 or lower rarely succeed then that may tell us something.

RB may be valuable enough to use a 4th overall for this team depending on how much we depend on the run. If we were to try and become a team of past who runs the ball all game long, then having the stud RB is a tremendous value to the team. If it is a 50/50 split, then it loses some value.

I do not buy into the duel back system making RBs that much less valuable. If we look at the impact that Adrian Peterson has with the Vikings, or LT with the Chargers it is huge. Who made the bigger impact over the course of their careers, LT or Larry Fitzgerald?

Anonymous said...

Don't mind Moreno in the first but not at #4. If we could move down get Moreno and Robiskie in the 2nd I think it would be ideal.

Robiskie is going to be the best WR in this class (IMO)

germpod said...

Disclaimer: I have not looked into but have read in several places that the play life of a RB is quite short. I have read 4 to 5 years, and if that is the case then RBs totally lose a ton of value.

Rob Staton said...

Germpod,

It's definitely the case that a running back's career is shorter than a lot of other positions. They take more punishment than anyone else, constantly running the ball into bigger, stronger guys. It's often said that 30 is the cut off age. Moreno didn't have that many carries in college and is still young. That may help him in his career.

They also offer more of an instant impact, the learning curve isn't the same. Another position might take two or even three years to get up to speed, then have a longer career. A running back's career span is shorter, but they tend to hit the ground running as a rookie.

Louis said...

Hmm...do u think we could trade Hasselbeck for a 1st round pick?

If we can, then we can pick Stafford at #4 if available and then draft Moreno or Wells with our other 1st round pick.

I dunno...just an idea

Rob Staton said...

I'd be surprised if Seattle could get a first round pick for Hasselbeck. As good as he is, not many teams will give up a first rounder for a 34 year old who has just missed most of the latest season with a bad back.

Reports today suggest Detroit have opened up tentative discussions regarding the first overall pick. I will be surprised if Stafford doesn't go No1.

Louis said...

Yea, I was thinking that Hasselbeck would not have that much trade value...i mean, look at Randy Moss. I believe he got traded for like a 3rd or 4th round pick. That was a STEAL!

Hmm...if the first 3 picks go as expected, Stafford - J. Smith - Curry, then who do you think we are more likely to pick, Crabtree or Monroe? Those 2 seem to be the most common names put up for our pick (along with Raji but with the additions of Cole and Redding, drafting Raji would just be stupid), so i know that most of us fans would hope for Crabtree since he is the flashy player and would make a bigger impact, but knowing the state that the Seahawks are in, who do you think is more likely to get picked there at #4 by Tim Ruskell? I know your mock draft has us taking Crabtree (much to my pleasure), but I just wanted to see what you think the chances are that we take him. Thanks

Rob Staton said...

I'm not sure the Seahawks will take Eugene Monroe. He has excellent pass protection skills and great feet. But when I've watched tape of Virginia I don't like his questionable heart and inconsistent effort. He shows a real unwillingness to get to the second level. He'll block a man well, but then call it a play. In a zone blocking scheme that won't work. Therefore, I don't believe he would be a great scheme fit.

Adding to that, the Seahawks expect Walter Jones back, they have Sean Locklear signed up as of last year and they re-signed Ray Willis in free agency. I think they could add depth with a draft pick, but I'm not sure they will spend $60m on someone like Monroe essentially to backup Jones until he retires before taking over. The best case scenario in that situation is you're hoping for Jones to retire or get injured again in 2009 (and what Seahawks fan in his right mind would hope for that?). The worst case scenario is Jones plays for another 2-3 years and you're not seeing half of that $60m contract in terms of starts at the prospects best position.

I rate Michael Crabtree very highly. I've tried to do some research on the prospects in order to be in a better position to write articles and answer questions. Although I'm by no means an expert, the guy I was most impressed with during my studies was Crabtree. I firmly believe that he can be a superstar in the NFL. Put him in a team with Houshmandzadeh, Carlson, Branch and Burleson and watch teams struggle to get anything like sufficient coverage on that grouping. That in turn could open up the running game.

Having said that, reports have surfaced recently about character issues. Clare Farnsworth mentioned that he'd heard scouts talk about this potential 'red flag', and Rob Rang touched on it when I spoke to him. There's no concrete information as to what this could be and Rob was very clear that these were only 'reservations'. However, if there is something out there I guarantee Ruskell will know about it. If it's deemed a big concern then Crabtree is less likely to be drafted. I will try to find more information on this issue if I can.

So if the board falls how it does in my mock draft (see right hand side bar), then Seattle (in my opinion) takes Crabtree.

However, Ruskell is not an orthodox thinker when it comes to the draft and he's always good for a surprise or two on draft day. Case in point - Knowshon Moreno. I have to believe that the team would like to trade down and accumulate some picks, whilst also investing in somebody like Moreno at a lesser cost. Whether or not a trade down would be possible, and it still seems a stretch at this stage, we'll have to wait and see.

Louis said...

Hey Rob, do you know if Rob Rang has updated his mock draft yet? And if so, does he still think we are going to take Curry? Because Curry seems like a lock at #3 right now for KC. As you guys say, Rob Rang has been getting the SEahawk's picks right the past couple of years, so his mock drafts are usually pretty telling.
THanks.
PS...remember back when Rob Rang had us taking Jason Smith and everyone was questioning why he rated him so highly? Well now, we can look back and see how right he was, as Smith is almost the clear #1 OT in this draft.

Wes said...

What did Moreno run? about a 4.5 right? That's what matt forte ran last year, and he turned out to be an absolute stud. One of the main reasons for that is that he was an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He even led all RB's in the league last year in fantasy football points in PPR leagues. I think Moreno is a very similar RB, in terms of size, speed and overall skills. I think he would bring the same receiving element that Forte does. Picking him at 4? I dunno, I wouldn't do it with Crabs/Stafford/Monroe there, but if we could trade back...I'd be quite pumped to get him.

Louis said...

Hey Rob, this just in from Seahawk Addicts:

[UPDATE: Now they're reporting that KFFL is reporting (heh) that the Lions have "already decided" on Jason Smith. If this is the case, it is very likely that Stafford will drop to the Seahawks at four. It might also force the Rams to take a long hard look at Stafford as the #2 overall pick. While Bulger is the franchise QB, he is 31 years old and coming off two atrocious seasons. In the same way that the Hawks have to look long and hard at him, how could the Rams not do the same?]

Louis said...

That would probably leave Stafford dropping down available for us to choose from. So, if the first 3 picks go: J.Smith, Monroe, Curry, then who do u think we would be picking THEN, Stafford or Crabtree? I think u cant go wrong with either of the 2, but it is a question on Matt's back and the question of Now or Future? Crabtree will instantly help us, while Stafford would sit on the bench for a couple years, which would help him develop but at the same time would not help the team that year.

Hmm...im still on the Crabtree bandwagon

Anonymous said...

Do not discount the Hawks having Sanchez rated higher than Stafford. I see Sanchez having more of the intangibles that Ruskell likes out of his players, except game experience.

Rob Staton said...

Louis,

There's a few reports going around right now. PFT reported earlier that the Lions 'were focussing' on Mark Sanchez not Stafford, and now he have this. It's still early and although the Lions can make a signing any time they want with the No1 pick - I'm sure they will speak to all the prospects before coming to a desicion.