Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Ten to watch for 2010

You may have noticed the recently updated list on the right hand sidebar. I've compiled a list of ten senior prospects (in no particular order) who may be worth keeping an eye on during the 2009 college football season. Some have been added due to their potential interest to the Seahawks and the 12th man. Others are present on merit as the highest rated prospects in the 2010 draft class.

#1 Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
Ranked by Rob Rang as the top senior prospect heading into the 2009 season, Suh has also been compared to Richard Seymour by Matt McGuire. His stat line as a junior is incredible - 7.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss and even two interceptions returned for touchdowns. If he showcases that kind of ability as a senior, he could be a potential #1 overall pick. Jim Mora's defense in Seattle relies heavily on pressure created from the front, making a stud defensive line pick a distinct possibility next year.

#2 Tim Tebow (QB, Florida)
Tebow will undoubtedly be the story of the 2010 draft. Nobody divides opinion more than Florida's stand out leader and it's a debate that will continue right up until next April's event. Is he a top ten pick or a third rounder? Described by Rob Rang as having, "the arm, poise and work ethic critical for success at the NFL level" Tebow could easily be described as the stereotypical Tim Ruskell draft pick. Big school, high character grading, massive production. Watch this guy closely to see if he adapts his game in any way to showcase any pro-style potential.

#3 Taylor Mays (S, USC)
Seattle born Mays has long been a favorite amongst the 12th man and many had hoped the Seahawks would be in position to draft him this year. His decision to stay in SoCal gives us another year to judge his talents and decipher just how good he really is. He has the physical attributes to be special (6'4, 225lbs) but is often untested - he plays so far behind the line for USC and not many teams throw deep against the Trojans. Matt McGuire is unsure, "Mays is definitely a first-round pick, but I doubt he is the top-five talent he is being hyped up as right now. I think he is a very talented player, but I wouldn't say he is an elite talent like Sean Taylor or LaRon Landry."

#4 Greg Hardy (DE, Ole Miss)
The best way to describe Hardy is that he's an 'enigma'. Dominant on the field, he registered eight sacks and an interception in just seven games last year. Off the field, he's a different prospect as Scott Cacciola testifies, "He attracts drama the way lamps lure moths, and seldom does a week pass without some made-for-TV moment." As a sophomore he was suspended by Ole Miss for two games for violating team rules and rumors circulated at one stage last season that he'd been kicked off the team. Not a likely pick for Ruskell's Seahawks, but his combination of soap-opera and raw talent makes him a must watch.

#5 Colt McCoy (QB, Texas)
At one stage last year it seemed McCoy could do know wrong. Leading an unbeaten Longhorns team he seemed a shoe in for the Heisman and a BCS championship appearance. The wheels fell off largely thanks to Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, so McCoy is back to do it again in 2009. According to Matt McGuire, he has lots to prove, "Colt McCoy is the next over hyped collegiate quarterback who really doesn't have much of a chance in the NFL. He is a late-round talent." Will another year of analysing damage his stock? We'll soon find out.

#6 C.J. Spiller (RB, Clemson)
A rarity these days - a highly rated running back staying for his senior year. Here's the facts though - Spiller has 390 carries in a three year career. Knowshon Moreno had 498 attempts in just two years before declaring. Simply put - they'll have a similar mileage upon entering the NFL. Truly elusive as a runner, his ability to dodge tackles reminds me of Shaun Alexander before he entered the league. Shifty speed and genuinely talented, it'll be interesting to see if he has the kind of senior year which propels him to the top of draft boards.

#7 Trent Williams (OT, Oklahoma)
It's unlikely the 2010 offensive line class will compare to the highly rated 2009 group. However, 6'5", 310lbs Trent Williams is being touted as the 'one to watch' from the senior class. Ranked second amongst senior's by Rob Rang, he's described as being, "Blessed with size, balance and quick feet." The Sooners' system will help Williams' excel in what should remain an elite offense retaining Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham.

#8 Brandon LaFell (WR, LSU)
Compared favorably by Rob Rang to former Tigers receiver Dwayne Bowe, LaFell will be hoping to eventually have the same impact on the NFL. The Seahawks signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh and drafted Deon Butler this off season, but may look to add some height (6'3") and raw talent to the position in 2010. Matt McGuire, in his most recently published 2010 mock draft, has the Seahawks selecting LaFell 16th overall, "LaFell is the top-rated senior receiver in the country and has the skill set Jim Mora likes in his offense."

#9 Jermaine Gresham (TE, Oklahoma)
It was a big surprise when Gresham decided to stay with the Sooners, considering he was widely expected to be amongst the top picks in the 2009 draft. Described by Rob Rang as a "matchup nightmare", Gresham is close to being the complete tight end. Compared by Matt McGuire to Tony Gonzalez due to his, "size, athleticism and production" Gresham is likely to enjoy another productive year due to Sam Bradford's return.

#10 Brandon Spikes (LB, Florida)
Outspoken, physical linebacker perhaps best remembered for destroying Andre Smith. It's nigh on impossible that Seattle will take another linebacker early next year but I had to add him to the list. He looks like a Raven in the making so it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up in Baltimore come next year. Matt McGuire thinks he has room for improvement, "Brandon Spikes is the prototypical 3-4 inside linebacker, but at this point I am not sold on him being the top-20 2010 NFL Draft pick most are hyping him as."


Patrick said...

I love that we could easily use any of #1-#7. Right now I'm rooting for a QB and then a RB, although I know anything could easily happen to make that change. I'm also not sure I agree with the assessment on Colt McCoy. I guess I'm just biased because I am a fan and in my opinion the lose to Texas Tech was completely not his fault. As much as I would like Tebow, I think Colt McCoy would be my 2nd choice for a QB

Rob Staton said...

Certainly the loss against Texas Tech was not McCoy's fault. Chalk that one down to Harrell and Crabtree - that was an insane drive to win that game.

I have reservations about McCoy just as I do with Tebow. I think McGuire raises some valid points and others are a bit OTT. However, here's something to bare in mind. Tebow has the 'Tebow' factor. Florida will no doubt have a good year, we all know about his leadership qualities and all that. I feel someone will take a chance on Tebow, probably early in round one, rightly or wrongly because he's Tim Tebow.

Colt McCoy however, he's going to be over analysed in his senior year. We see it so many times where a QB stays another year and his stock plumits despite the fact he does nothing differently. I think Tebow will escape that and if anything, people will probably look for areas that have improved as a justification for taking him. His game has already been critiqued.

McCoy hasn't got that luxury. I worry about his draft stock.

Personally (and I speak completely idealistically here, I'm not mentioning any specific names) I'd suggest there's real benefit in taking a D-lineman and a QB next year. Mora's defense will only function at 100% if the defensive line create sufficient pressure. That's how the expensive linebacker trio will be free to make plays and how the Cover-2 will be effective. Getting that stud DT or DE to add to the rotation (especially with Kerney ageeing and Tapp/Redding in contract years).

I envisage over the next few years we'll see a lot of changes on offense as we move away from the Holmgren era and towards whatever Knapp and Mora want to see. Getting a QB who they can mould into 'their guy' would be the perfect stand point and eliminate any question marks about what happens post-Hasselbeck.

But as I said, so much can happen between now and April. This time last year, Aaron Curry had just received a third round grading from the draft committee.

Patrick said...

I agree what you mean about Colt McCoy. Tebow does have the "Tebow" factor and it's easy to be caught up. I think this year could definitely make or break Colt McCoy. Of course, the same really goes for any player.

I think getting a top D-Lineman could definitely be a smart move for Seattle. Even this year there was quite a bit of talk of us selecting B.J. Raji. I really liked Brian Orakpo, but I think what scares me is that it seems like quite a few of the top drafted D-Lineman haven't performed as well as everyone hoped. Even Lawrence Jackson hasn't lived up to his expectations. Do you think if he does improve we might be in better shape for that position?

Rob Staton said...

Certainly the team will be much improved if Jackson can step up next year. However, I think Jackson has a ceiling. He's good against the run, but I doubt he'll ever be a 10 sack DE. He could become a solid piece of the rotation, but I can't see him ever taking a double team and becoming that long term replacement for Patrick Kerney.

I think essentially that is the issue. When Kerney was out last year the Seahawks pass rush just collapsed. Getting someone who can get to the QB consistently and cause match-up nightmares is really what the line needs in the long term. That could be a DT or a DE, but it's certainly an area I'm sure the Seahawks will target because it's the only way Mora's defense will function - pressure from the front.

NW Pride said...

I know he is not a senior, and nobody knows if he will play his senior year or go in the draft, but what about Sam Bradford from OK? If he does become eligible for the draft, he seems like another QB that has proved himself and if he has another great year could be a great QB for the Hawks to consider.

I personally think this is a very important preseason. If Teel shows he has the potential and ability, it would be nice to feel we already have our future QB, so we can use our 2 1st. round picks elsewhere.

I like the thought of beefing up the D-line, but I dont know about the 1st round. It seems that D-lineman take a few years to mature before they become studs. I would rather beef up the secondary, and running backs, and use the other rounds for the D-line with the hope we will score another Mebane.

Its always tough, because a year ago I would never imagine us using a 1st. round pick on LB when we had Lofa, Leroy, and Julian. Sometimes a team just has to pick the most talented player available. I hope I am wrong, but we may be using our 1st round picks on a new line if Walt, Whale, Spenc, and Sims either retire, fall apart, or flop. That would really suck to use 2 1st round picks on OL. Its not that I wouldnt think we dont need them, but their not that exciting of picks.

Love the blog, and love everybodys opinions and thoughts.

Rob Staton said...

Thanks for the kind words NW Pride, keep visiting the blog and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

I've decided only to include Seniors in the 'ten to watch' list mainly because, as you say, we don't know whether guys like Sam Bradford will declare. I might do a 'ten underclassmen' list soon tallying those who might be likely to leave for the NFL in 2010.

Bradford for me is a bit of an unknown quantity. He plays in a funky no huddle offense and has never been asked to make a read. He's played behind an offensive line that has made him untouchable. He's incredibly accurate but it's tough to measure how much is down to the quality of Bradford or the time he's afforded and the skill of his receivers.

Given time, I truly believe Bradford could become a very good NFL QB. I don't think he'd be an instant starter and I think he might the right decision to go back to the Sooners. If he has another good year in 2009, he'll surely declare and would represent an intriguing prospect for Seattle should they wish to go down that route.

My expectations for Mike Teel are incredibly low. He'll do well to remain on the roster this time next year, let alone be any kind of QB for the future. He's a 6th round flier and anything from him would be a bonus. Guys like Hasselbeck and Brady are very rare. We can hope that Teel can be another 6th round steal, but we're a long way from that.

He also needs Matt Hasselbeck to stay healthy. If Hass plays 16 games in each of the next two years, the pressure won't be there to draft a replacement. If Hasselbeck has another injury plagued year in 2009, they'll almost certainly have to find a longer term solution.

With regard to defensive lineman, it is true that they take time to develop. However, the truly elite DE's tend to be found at the top of the draft. 2010, as things stand today, could be a great year for D-lineman.

I think it's important to stress the dependance on the D-line under Jim Mora. His scheme relies on pressure created from the front four, freeing the linebackers to make plays and helping the cover-2 to thrive. We saw last year how the D-line struggled without Kerney, the simple fact is they'll never get their money's worth from Curry, Hill and Tatupu without a pass rush from the front.

I know a lot of fans do not rate Brian Russell, but ultimately he is a lot easier to replace than Patrick Kerney and a safety drafted early is a bit of a luxury.

Kyle Rota said...

I popped in a Missouri v Nebraska game last night to check out Suh. Holy. Fricking. Crap.

The guy is amazing. The 76/16/7.5 line speaks volumes as to his consistency, especially since Nebraska did a lot from the 3-4 (NT for Suh). There was one series in the 1st quarter where Suh threw the C out of the way one play, split a double team to get pressure the next, then blew up a run by blowing into the gap the play after. Absolutely dominant.

Oh, he also runs like a LT (seriously, he may be more athletic than Jason Smith) and hustles to chase down screens and the like. I'd have to see more games to be sure, but he probably would've been given a top-10 grade by me this past year.

Rob Staton said...

It's funny you mention Suh, I've just tidied up a blog post for later with a highlights reel.

As you say Kyle, unbelievably athletic for a guy his size. They even had him catching the ball and scoring a TD for crying out loud.

A DT like him that is capable of collapsing the pocket, roaming to the ball carrier like a LB, getting to the QB and batting down passes (then collecting them for TD's) is going to be a top pick.

He's a definite top 5 pick candidate as things stand right now.