I recently had the chance to catch up with Kyle Rota from College Talent Scout. I put some questions to Kyle in order to find out his thoughts and see how free agency might change things - specifically for the Seahawks.
Q/ The big question in Seattle at the moment is surely 'will the Seahawks still take Michael Crabtree' with Houshmandzadeh now on the roster? Do you think drafting Crabtree is still realistic with the amount of money tied up at wide receiver?
KR/ I still think Crabtree would be a good decision. Is there the immediacy needed before Houshmanzadeh's signing? Nope. But you're still looking at arguably the best player in the draft, at a position where the Seahawks have no long term future. Branch is only slightly more likely to be activated all 16 games than I am, Burleson is a free agent at the end of this season and coming off of a major injury, and Housh is a lot closer to the end of his career than he is the beginning. Crabtree would instantly start for the team opposite Houshmanzadeh, and would provide some long term security at a position where Seattle has none. I don't think it is wise to focus on the money, because WR is a need with or without the cash invested in it.
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Q/ You recently published your scouting report on Eugene Monroe. In Rob Rang's latest mock draft, he sends Monroe to Seattle. Is he a realistic option, and does he present good value fourth overall?
KR/ Monroe is a really high-risk high-reward player. I have very serious concerns about his work ethic. He's lazy on the field and his soft midsection is a sign his off-the-field work habits may not be any better. However, Monroe is the best technician in this class, he's a very good athlete with good strength. He gives up a little athleticism but provides a lot more consistency than Oher, and he has far better hand use than either Smith. I have this sinking feeling in my gut that Monroe will be the next Alex Barron, but if a team is prepared to constantly be motivating him they could get an elite tackle.
Q/ A lot of people mention Brian Orakpo as a potential 'wild card' pick for the Seahawks. Can he play as a 4-3 defensive end, and will he be on Seattle's shortlist?
KR/ I think Orakpo projects well as a 43 DE, but he's not a guy I'm really fond of, personally. He has only "okay" size for the weakside end, and makes a lot of plays due to his motor. Athletically, he hasn't looked like anything special in what I have seen of him.
I'm not a big fan of drafting "medium-talent high-motor" guys early in the first round, if I am going to take a DE that early I want them to be more in the Gaines Adams mold (assuming the Mario Williams/Julius Peppers type is taken in the top-3 picks). Furthermore, I think Seattle needs to try developing the DL they have rather than continually spending high picks at the position. You have 3 DEs with 1st day talent, as well as a great if injury-prone player in Patrick Kerney. At some point, I think Seattle needs to give these a shot. I don't claim to have a mind-meld with Ruskell, but I don't seem him willing to give up on Jackson so early, and both Jackson and Orakpo present themselves as weakside ends in a 43 defense.(I think Orakpo is best suited to the heavier-style (the kind Pitt, NE, Cleveland, NYJ run) 34 defense.
I've had it explained to me that there are really two types of 34s, a "bigger" style and a "smaller" style. Orakpo has enough size and speed to excel in the "bigger" style and while his functional strength is not as good as his weight-room strength, he could deliver a nasty shock to OL who think he's weak.)
Q/ Is Jason Smith the shoe in to go 2nd overall to St Louis that most people predict after his combine performance?
Smith not only answered his biggest question mark (size), but also ran better than anyone else, benched more than the other top OTs, and aced his interviews. Combined with what was a disappointing (not disastrous, however) combine for Crabtree, Smith has cemented his spot as the 2nd best player.
Each OT has a question mark:
J.Smith: Hand use.
Of those, Smith's nastiness and intelligence should allow him to overcome his weakness with less difficulty than any of the other OLs mentioned. You don't want to waste a top-5 pick, and the security Jason Smith provides will make him the best pick for the Rams.
Q/ Where do you see Mark Sanchez going in the draft?
KR/ Thanks for throwing me the easy questions, Rob (not).
Sanchez could go anywhere. I don't think he cemented himself as better than Stafford in the majority opinion, but there are some who view him as better. I've talked to someone with excellent sources, and supposedly Sanchez has every leadership intangible that Carson Palmer had, and then some. He still has major problems with his release point, where he holds the ball, and how long he holds onto the ball, but I think Sanchez is deserving to go in the top-10 and I feel a little better about him than I do Matt Stafford. One thing I will be doing closer to the draft is comparing Sanchez and Stafford side-by-side, that should give me a better idea of who deserves to be the first quarterback off the board. If I had to make a prediction, I'd say Sanchez ends up with San Francisco at #10.