Thursday, 9 April 2009

Mel Kiper's final mock draft (& analysis)

ESPN's Mel Kiper today published what I believe will be his final mock draft (he made reference on a recent podcast that this mock would be the one he 'put in the books'). It's a four round prediction and you can see the first sixteen picks here. For the full Seahawks four round projection:

1 - Eugene Monroe (OT, Virginia)
2 - William Moore (OLB/S, Missouri)
3 - Donald Washington (CB, Ohio State)
4 - James Davis (RB, Clemson)

Perhaps it's not my place to criticise a mock draft devised by Mel Kiper, but personally I think these scenarios are very unlikely each for their own individual reasons. There is no doubt that the Seahawks need to add to their offensive line via the draft. Reports from camp suggest the line hasn't looked particularly good so far and with questions still remaining over the health of Walter Jones - this is surely a target area in the 2009 draft.

Even so, I don't think the Seahawks will select Eugene Monroe fourth overall. The Virginia left tackle is perfectly suited to a man scheme that relies on pure pass protection. For a team like Arizona or Indianapolis, he would be a perfect fit. The Cincinnati Bengals are expected to focus on protecting Carson Palmer and therefore he would make some sense with the sixth overall selection. However, Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has made it clear that the team will deploy a zone blocking scheme with greater emphasis to the run. This minimises Monroe's strengths and highlights his weaknesses. He isn't a good run blocker. He lacks a nasty streak and willingness to progress to the second level. His effort can be sloppy and inconsistent. Simply put - he is a bad match for Seattle.

Taking that into account, I cannot see the team investing upwards of $60m on a bad scheme fit. If Jones is healthy, he starts. Monroe doesn't project well at guard in the NFL even if he did play some games at the position in college. With Sean Locklear signed to what could be described as a 'left tackles' contract and Ray Willis also re-signed, I don't think the Seahawks will take Monroe.

Still, the Monroe pick isn't my least favourite choice here. William Moore played more as an outside linebacker than a safety with Missouri. Either way, he's a project. Too slow to play immediately at safety and too small to play linebacker, drafting him in round two would be a big reach for Seattle who could still find a solid 'impact' player 37th overall.

"I cannot imagine Seattle having interest in Moore as a S, but at the Linebacker position Moore becomes a plus in coverage. Moore will probably be drafted higher than I rate him, but I don’t believe in taking position-changing-projects early in the draft, as whenever you change a guy’s position it is a risky endeavor."

Kiper suggests Tim Ruskell will draft Donald Washington in round three. I found this particular prediction confusing. NFL Draft Scout currently have Washington listed at 177 on their big board with a 5th-6th round grading. Here is their overview for the OSU corner back:

"Washington elected to leave with another year of eligibility remaining, surprising scouts who felt he had an opportunity to prove himself in 2009. Despite opposing quarterbacks focusing on his side of the field rather than attack Michael Jenkins, Washington struggled to make game-changing plays throughout his career, intercepting only two passes. Washington is expected to get a late boost with his workouts, but scouts view him as a better athlete than football player and strictly a draft gamble based on his upside."

The Columbus Dispatch reported that in December 2007, Washington was suspended by OSU for violating team rules. Maybe Mel Kiper has seen or heard something I haven't, but he doesn't sound like a Tim Ruskell pick to me. Not only does it appear to be a bit of a reach at the top of round three, he's unlikely to beat out Josh Wilson or Kelly Jennings to play alongside Marcus Trufant. With so many other needs on the team, taking Donald Washington in the third round would be a shock.

Finally, in round four the choice is Clemson's running back James Davis. Kyle Rota recently published his report on Davis:

"There is really nothing remarkable about him. Good size, average speed, good instincts, decent 3rd down value, good character. The only thing he is deficient in is, well, excitement. There is value in what he brings to the table and he would be a great choice if Seattle does not address running back earlier, but is not the kind of back you select before the 4th or 5th round." - Kyle Rota

Overall, I think it's a mock that hasn't really taken into account Seattle's schemes, draft history under Ruskell and in certain cases, needs. Mel Kiper continues to be a thoroughly entertaining draft 'guru' but for this particular mock draft, I'm going to have to give him a D- grade.

What do you think of Mel's final mock? Click comments to have your say or email


Michael said...

Two Questions:

1) Why would the lineman with the best feet, and most athleticism and smarts not be a good fit for ZBS?

2) What is it that you see in Crabtree that differentiates him from Robiskie?

Rob Staton said...

1.) Because in a zone blocking scheme, there is a lot of emphasis to block more than one person. He shows unwillingness to do this. In a man scheme using his athleticism as you quote, he is almost unbeatable. You're only asking him to block one guy and that he can do well. But he won't have that comfort level in a ZBS, and his inability to progress and a distinct lack of desire and nastiness will show up in a ZBS.

To quote Kyle Rota again:

"He will ride his man out of the play if he is able to, but he has no interest in blocking anyone other than his man on most plays. If a DE didn’t line up on him, he’d go and take out the linebacker with glee, but if he was asked to block a DE and for whatever reason stopped blocking the DE (end disengaged, knocked down, whatever), he rarely went after a 2nd man to block."

His run blocking is also a big concern for me, especially for a team that has actively suggested they wish to use a greater emphasis on the run in 2009.

2.) I like Robiskie, but in fairness in my honest opinion he isn't in the same class as Michael Crabtree. Admittedly both came from very different offensive schemes, but having seen a lot of Crabtree and some of Robiskie, I think there's a reason one if a consensus top five pick and the other is a 1-2 round guy.

Anonymous said...

#4: Monroe, debatable but plausible.
#37: William Moore: Don't see it. Kind of a tweener and no way Ruskell passes on Alex Mack (who is still on the board according to Kiper).
#68: Washington. I can confidently say, Donald Washington will never be drafted by Tim Ruskell. Suspended by coaches, doesn't even grade out very high. You don't take Washington and pass on Jamon Meredith or Marcus Freeman or Rashad Johnson who provide better value/fit.
#105: James Davis: Average speed/size/strength and is not very good in the passing game. Once again, in Mel's draft, this involves us passing on Chip Vaughn, Michael Hamlin, Mike Goodson, and Jonathan Casillas who provide much more for the Hawks than Davis does.

Pretty disappointing draft by Mel. It clearly shows he has a loose idea of what team needs are in Seattle. Although I don't think Monroe is a great fit in ZBS (specifically unwillingness to block at the 2nd level, and nastiness), I do think he will be heavily considered due to where the O-line currently sits.

Michael said...

Thanks for your prompt reply.

If I am understanding you correctly, then Jason Smith is a better fit for Seattle and Eugene Monroe is a better fit for St. Louis.

That said, do you still think Crabtree's value trumps that of Jason Smith.

Lastly, can you address how Crabtree's Texas Tech experience meshes with Seattle's WC Offense, as opposed to Robiskie?

In my mind, the same issues you have with Monroe, I have with Crabtree. Both are amazing talents, but bad "fits".

WC Offense requires strict discipline, percise route running, and great football smarts.

In my mind, Robiskie wins on all counts.

Rob Staton said...

No problem Michael,

I think Jason Smith is a better fit for Seattle and St Louis. Just because I don't think the Seahawks will take Monroe, doesn't mean I don't think they'd have to seriously consider Jason Smith. He would be the perfect ZBS left tackle and has massive upside. Everything Seattle wants from their offensive line, Smith brings to the table.

St Louis also wants to run the ball better and play with greater aggression on the offensive line. I can't see Smith getting passed St Louis, it's a perfect match.

With regard to Crabtree, I really disagree he'd be a bad match. At Texas Tech he excelled in short routes and routes down the sidelines. I think he's a better route runner than you think. The fact he has such a good short-medium game makes him a good fit for a west coast offense. His YAC ability is off the chart and again, is another big benefit for a WCO. His one issue is a lack of elite straight line speed, but that's no biggie for Seattle because Hasselbeck doesn't have the arm to make use of it. Overall, I think Crabtree could be the perfect WCO receiver.

Michael said...

Much thanks. I enjoy your honest positions, and look forward to the coming days posts.

Be well.

Wes said...

First let me compliment your blog Rob. I think it really shows that you put a lot of effort into your analysis of what is out there. Will you continue to do any blogging once the draft has come and gone?

Regarding Kiper's mock, it just seems like a pretty classic case of a national media guy not knowing much about the Hawks, something we see all too often. I think the Hawks will give Monroe some consideration, but none of those other picks seem likely to me.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I agree with your assessment on all counts. Still, I'm not sold on any other picks at 4 that make any more sense than Monroe. He may be the lesser of multiple weavils. For rounds 2-7, what do you think of this?
Alex Mack OC Cal 2 37
Rashad Jennings RB Liberty 3 68
David Bruton FS Notre Dame 4 105
Zach Follet OLB Cal 5 137
Louis Vasquez OG Texas Tech 6 178
Tiquan Underwood WR Rutgers 7 213
Al Afalava SS Oregon State 7 245
Don Carey CB Norfolk State 7 247
Cullen Harper QB Clemson 7 248

Michael said...

Anonymous -

I cannot speak for Rob, but I would like that outcome.

I would only suggest we take Hamlin (if available) in the 4th and look at Hunter Cantwell or Curtis Painter in the 7th instead of Harper.

This would be a nice outcome, with Crabtree or Monroe.

Anonymous said...

I'm still thinking Kiper's hair piece made all those selections. It's the only rational answer I can come up with...

Rob Staton said...

I think there are some very sound suggestions there annonymous. I'm currently participating in a seven round mock draft with 31 other GM's. I will publish the results when it is complete after this weekend.

I'm a huge fan of Alex Mack. He is a genuine top 20 talent who likely survives passed that mark due to the position he plays. He could play center or guard as a rookie and would give the Seahawks an immediate upgrade on the offensive line.

The Seahawks don't need to feel handcuffed to go offensive line in round one to find much needed help. If Mack is off the board as I suspect he will be, Max Unger offers similar versitility in the interior and I am also a fan of Eric Wood. At tackle, William Beatty would be a very good fit to a ZBS as a round 2 option, and Troy Kropog and Gerald Cadogan are similarly good fits in rounds 3 or 4. I also like your suggestion of Louis Vazquez.

At safety, I would probably prefer one of Rashad Johnson, Louis Delmas or Derek Pegues. They are all free safeties who can play deep like Seattle likes in a Cover-2. Don Carey is a 6-7 round guy who could offer depth at CB or S.

Linebacker is going to be a tough void to fill if the team don't take Aaron Curry which I suppose might be a reason they go in that direction. Having said that, I wonder how much of an impact he can have playing alongside Tatupu soaking up tackles and Hill also in the mix. Three top LB's didn't make Seattle's defense elite in 06-08.

The guy I probably prefer the most is Jason Williams from Western Illinois.

Anonymous said...

Gerald McRath, Marcus Freeman, and Jonathan Casillas are also enticing LBs who have some serious speed and could be a good option as a coverage OLB.

As much as I don't think Curry makes the most sense at #4, the guy is an absolute beast and I have zero concern with that pick in regards to getting a guy that won't perform.

Anonymous said...

rob, your arguement against taking curry is very flimsy.what wasn't our defense ranked near the bottom of the league last year.i think that there are plenty of tackles to go around for all of are linebackers.

Bruce M. said...

Not sure how hard Rob is arguing against Curry, number 1. And to the extent he is, it's perectly legitimate to point out that when we had three supposedly ace linebackers in the line-up last year, we sucked as a defense. So substituting a young ace for an older one, alone, may well lead to the same, bad result.

That said, I'd take Curry over Peterson right now. With Cole and Redding added to the mix, I think the linebackers will play better this year, Curry or not.

Rob Staton said...

Annonymous, I don't believe I've ever written a case 'against' Curry so to speak. I think he's the prospect who carries the least amount of risk in this draft as you can plug him in from day one and he'll instantly be playing at a high level.

My point is though, there's only so many tackles to go around. In a team like Kansas City or Cleveland, he would be the playmaker. He'd be playing the Patrick Willis role, leading the defense. For Seattle, Lofa Tatupu will take up a lot of tackles. Leroy Hill is expected to take on added responsibility this year, possibly as more of a pass rusher to replace Julian Peterson and he will also make plays. The simple fact is, there's only so much to go around for a linebacker playing alongside Tatupu and Hill.

Here's an example: Leroy Hill as a rookie had 7.5 sacks. After the Seahawks signed Peterson, he recorded 6 sacks in three seasons. That's quite a drop off. I'd be concerned that for $60m, are you getting much of a difference maker?

You say our defense was poor in 2008, but that was with three very good linebackers.

In 2006 and 2007 we had what some described as the best LB tandem in the NFL and it never pushed the defense over the edge.

Now, if the Seahawks sign Curry that's not to say it's a bad move. However, I think the points I have raised are legitimate with regard to what you're actually going to get from a large investment and 4th overall pick. We currently have the three linebackers on the roster that were part of the Superbowl team. I think filling that weakside LB spot is possible without using the 4th overall pick.

Kyle Rota said...

Rob did nothing wrong here, but on the piece where he quoted my opinion on James Davis, I want to amend what I said... I wasn't clear.

When I said "Davis lacks excitement" I wasn't really getting my point across. While he'll never be an explosive player, that doesn't mean he's a boring player to watch. He's just boring from a scouting perspective because his skill-set is not extraordinary at all.

Anonymous - I love that mock draft... except, well, I'd actually be surprised if any of your 2-5 picks are actually available. Thrilled, but a little surprised. Just my feeling.

Anonymous said...

Recently I've seen Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen listed as a top 5 pick if he comes out a year early. Let me tell you, I believe Jimmy Clausen will be the biggest NFL bust since Ryan Leaf. He has limited mobility, an average to below average arm (he slings the ball and must use his body too much to get any velocity), a slow release, and overall, he just really can't "play." He looks like he's accomplishing alot out there, but really he's just churning. I expected him to have real talent since he was the nation's top recruit coming out of high school. But he really is a below average athlete. When I think "talent" I think Elway and when I think "play" I think Drew Brees; this guy has none of either qualities. He has no real feel for the game either; he's so "constructed" out there. He can't really make plays because he's got none of Elway/Brees qualities. Am I the only one who can see this? Just like Notre Dame itself, Clausen is just so overrated. Someone's going to blow a major bundle on that guy. Weis should go back to the NFL; Clausen's most fitting days were for high school. He's all resume, no results. This guy will not make it at all in the NFL. Mark my words.

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