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.
Posted by Rob Staton