Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Mel Kiper on Clemson's C.J. Spiller

It's not looking like a particularly strong draft at the offensive skill positions in 2010. Last year we had some pretty obvious first round candidates - Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno and Beanie Wells for example. In 2008 it was a deep draft for running backs, with Darren McFadden taken fourth overall and the likes of Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson all taken in the first round. Some current big name RB's went later on, like Matt Forte and Kevin Smith. No wide receivers went in the first round, however.

It wouldn't be a total shock if that happened again in 2010. The bigger names like Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State) have been erratic this year whilst Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois) has fallen off the map completely - in four games he's registered only ten catches for 138 yards and no scores. It's not much better at running back - Jonathan Dwyer (RB, Georgia Tech) has had a hit and miss 2009 so far. Jahvid Best (RB, Cal) has flashed big play potential but not the ability to carry a big workload. Joe McKnight (RB, USC) has done more than most to improve his stock.

But for me the undoubted #1 at either position is C.J. Spiller. He's taken on greater responsibility with Clemson this year and although the stats aren't mind blowing (864 rushing yards through four games with a 4.2 average per carry), he's shown a flexibility that a team like Seattle would value. The Seahawks want balance on offense and a back who won't sell their play calling - Spiller fits the bill.

ESPN's Mel Kiper offered some thoughts on Spiller this week:

"I get asked a lot what I see in Spiller and one thing I know is this: The ability to put six points on the board in an instant in a variety of ways (he has scored a touchdown as a rusher, receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner this season) is what makes him so highly thought of in NFL circles. While his yards per carry for the season is rather pedestrian, he is averaging 15.7 yards per catch, 37.8 yards on kick returns and 30.0 yards on punt returns." - Mel Kiper, ESPN

I've watched Spiller this year on two occasions. Both times he was used split out at receiver and as a kick return specialist. I was impressed with his route running for a RB, his hands and an ability to get deep. His running style is a bit Felix Jones in comparison and I share concerns voiced by Kiper in his article that Spiller is better suited in a two-punch system.

However, he's a playmaker. He'll create a spark somehow, whatever he's asked to do. That's something that is quite often missing on the Seahawks roster. He's also a senior running back - a rarity these days - and we know that GM Tim Ruskell likes to take seniors early in the draft.


Patrick said...

I love Jahvid Best. I think, while maybe not an every down back, he could be one hell of an offensive weapon. I'm not ready to give up on Julius Jones yet, or Justin Forsett, so having the 3 in a committee would (at least on paper) seem like a better RB situation than we have now. With that said... I'm not entirely sure we need to draft a top RB. We've got 2 top picks, and to me the most glaring weaknesses on offense are QB and OL. On defense, DT and S. I would honestly rather have Julius Jones and Justin Forsett, than seeing Wallace back up Hasselbeck again (Or seeing our line as sad as it is now). With that said, I would certainly not be disapointed with C.J. Spiller or Jahvid Best though (And I also don't see us drafting a top WR)

Rob Staton said...

I think the Seahawks lack some elite playmakers on offense. Someone who's going to need to be game planned, someone who can make a play that changes a game at a crucial time. One of the main reasons I advocated taking Michael Crabtree in the 09 draft was that I felt (and still do) he has the potential to be an elite receiver in the NFL. To come into the league and have an impact quite quickly, and then progress to become one of the top players at his position. Something to build around. When Crabtree does eventually sign for the 49ers (and it appears close) I firmly believe he'll become a top player, even with Shaun Hill throwing the ball.

A guy like Jahvid Best, or CJ Spiller and Joe McKnight for that matter, offer a spark on offense if not the full blown responsibility that goes with an every down back. It'll all depend on where guys like Best are slated to fall and whether or not you deem it something of a luxury pick for a team in need of some substance.

The issues has progressed somewhat now and it's not just a case of missing a spark. Matt Hasselbeck has missed as many games as Deion Branch since 2006. Every Seahawks fan has time for Matt, but when does the franchise have to look at that injury record and make a big decision to get someone who is a legitimate longer term option - even if that means sitting behind Hasselbeck/Wallace/whoever in the short term.

It's a similar situation on the offensive line. Walter Jones is almost certainly nearing the end of his career, which is a huge loss to the Seahawks. Sean Locklear hasn't proved a capable deputy because he's largely been injured himself.

So you could argue the offense is in need of some investment in the core positions: QB, RB, LT.

It can't be neglected for much longer, and it'll likely take some time to correct. It's not impossible though - after all, Denver managed to draft Jay Cutler, Ryan Clady and Knowshon Moreno in a four year span. But that's the kind of timescale we're looking at hear - and that's with sound drafting too. Even with two first round picks, they won't be able to solve every problem this year. But the Seahawks have to set out a plan to improve the offense over the long term, they can't put band aids on the problem anymore.

It might have looked like the defense was mainly at fault against the Colts, but the Seahawks inability to threaten teams on offense will always hold them back. A good defense will only carry you so far, and the Seattle defense has had a lot more attention recently than the offense.

germpod said...

Right now when I think draft, my head gets jumbled due to trying to figure out how to fix so many positions with such few picks. I have to remind myself that most teams are in the same boat, needing to replace aging players.

Spiller seems too good to pass up though. He seems like a guy you can really build a team around. Like the type of player who forces teams to stack the box giving receivers more room, and the type to make teams pay for blitzing giving the QB more time.

germpod said...

When it comes draft time, Ruskell can not be in his "war room" telling his staff "here is the top five talents at QB, they are all going to bust, but we need to take the best one anyhow because we have to have a replacement for Matt".

That is the hardest part about all this. There may not be a guy at the position that we need most. If that is the case, I hope we can at least improve our line like the Jets did so when we do get a guy he will have the best chance of succeeding.

Rob Staton said...

Essentially you can't fight a draft board. Teams will always have big needs that they can't fill. Seattle's perhaps in a deceiving position because we own two first round picks, it gives the impression perhaps that more problems can be solved. But if the guys just aren't there, you don't make a dramatic reach to fill a hole. It wouldn't surprise me if Seattle didn't draft an offensive lineman with one of those picks because such is the lack of talent at the position this year. In fact, it wouldn't be a total shock if those two first round picks both went on defense, regardless of how much the offense is in dire need of an injection of youth.

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