Friday, 30 October 2009

Potential Seahawks? Guys who fit (defense)

This week we're reviewing some of the prospects that could make a good fit for the Seahawks. On Thursday we looked at the offense and today it's the turn of the defense. The rules are simple - prospects have to fit from a schematic point of view (there's little point considering someone who is marked down as a 3-4 OLB) and coincide with the way Tim Ruskell drafts using previous years as a benchmark. For this review we'll also be concentrating strictly on prospects who are likely to go within the first two rounds.

So who might be on Seattle's radar?

Click here to find out or select 'Read More'.

Defensive Tackle

Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska)
I have to believe Ruskell likes Suh as much as everyone else. In my opinion, he's easily the best senior prospect for 2010 and has elite potential at the next level. He's a very intelligent, grounded individual who originates from Oregon - so bringing him to Seattle would be something of a homecoming. He has perfect size (6'4", 300lbs), tone and fits any scheme - be it as a three-technique in the 4-3 or as a 3-4 defensive end. His production in four years starting is phenomenal - 15 sacks, four interceptions and two returned for touchdowns. He led his team in tackles last year and is on track to do the same again in 2009. Quite simply a superstar in the making.

There are two genuinely exciting prospects at defensive tackle. Suh is the best senior, but Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) has just as much potential and is expected to declare as a junior for 2010. Ruskell favors senior prospects early in the first round, but even he may make an exception if McCoy is available in round one.

Unless the Seahawks are picking in the top five, they might not get a chance at Suh or McCoy. Glenn Dorsey was heavily touted as a #1 pick in 2008 and fell to Kansas City with the fifth pick - but injuries played a large part. It'd probably take an injury to either prospect to see any kind of drop, otherwise they'll be amongst the top picks and will almost certainly earn an invite to New York. Need always plays a part at the very top of the draft and teams looking for a quarterback in a deep class could force the defensive lineman down the board. But Tampa Bay will almost certainly target a defensive lineman early, having watched them live at Wembley last week I'll be stunned if they aren't picking in the top three. The Seahawks would have to be pretty bad between now and the end of the year to have a chance at Ndamukong Suh.

Defensive End

Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech)
A number of talented underclassmen will make the defensive end position a rich class in 2010. Derrick Morgan might be the best of the bunch. A relentless pass rusher, Morgan is a great edge rusher that consistently gets to the quarterback. As his stock has risen during the year, he's earned more double teams - but this hasn't been a problem in racking up nine sacks so far. The only concern I have is his 100% effort on every snap does lead to fatigue issues late in games. However, he's on the field for every defensive play the Yellow Jackets call. Seattle's rotation policy on the defensive line should help keep Morgan fresh if he ends up with the Seahawks.

Florida's Carlos Dunlap isn't everyone's favorite. Some think he's lazy and others question his lack of production considering his elite physical qualities. He stepped up his efforts last week against Mississippi State to record three sacks, so let's hope this is a sign of things to come. Is he a Ruskell pick? Possibly not, although the potential upside is off the charts - we've not see a prospect with his size and speed since Mario Williams in 2006. Jason Pierre-Paul (USF) and Everson Griffen (USC) both deserve first round grades and can operate in the 4-3. Rule out Greg Hardy (Ole Miss) however - he wouldn't get past question one on Ruskell's character exam.

Patrick Kerney will be 33 in December and has missed 17 games in the last four years, whilst Darryl Tapp and Cory Redding hit free agency after the 2009 season. Even with Lawrence Jackson's improved play, the Seahawks could use a brilliant, young defensive end like Derrick Morgan. You cannot underestimate the importance of the defensive line in Jim Mora's defense. It's as simple as this - the team is dependant on them to create any kind of pass rush allowing the linebackers to make plays and the cover-2 to function. There might not be an elite senior prospect (the type Ruskell likes - see Aaron Curry) but this is a position Seattle's GM may make an exception for.


Bruce Carter (North Carolina)
Let's be honest here, the Seahawks aren't going to take a linebacker in round one of the 2010 draft. They've spent millions tying up Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill - and a top five pick plus even bigger money to draft Aaron Curry. Even if college football's greatest ever linebacker was available in next year's draft, the Seahawks would have to think twice about taking him. No doubt that Rolando McClain (Alabama), Sean Wetherspoon (Missouri) and Brandon Spikes (Florida) will go in rounds 1-2, but I see little point discussing them. So I've decided to talk a little bit about Bruce Carter instead. Whilst watching the UNC vs Virginia Tech game this week, Carter really stood out to me as one to watch. He's a junior so could declare - but I hope he stays for his senior year. He has cat-like agility and speed, consistently getting into the backfield to stop a run play or screen in it's tracks. He gets to the quarterback quickly on blitzes and generally impressed me. If he adds a bit more bulk (it's needed) I'm not sure if this will affect his top end speed, but he's one to watch out for even if Seattle aren't in the market.


Joe Haden (Florida)
In my opinion, Haden is the clear front runner at the cornerback position for 2010. He owns a good package as a quick back with good recovery speed, whilst also remaining a tenacious and aggressive tackler. It creates the perfect package of a guy who can play coverage in any scheme whilst providing sufficient help in the running game with his ability to wrap up and hit hard. Haden flashes the occasional eye catching brilliance too - a leaping interception at full stretch for example like the kind we saw against LSU. He might be an underclassmen, but by 2010 he'll have had three solid years of starting experience playing on what some would regard a NFL calibre defense. He'd be a good fit for Seattle not only for the cover-2 but also the way he plays the game - competitive with a real edge.

It's not a deep class for CB's. Patrick Robinson (Florida State) is the highest ranked senior corner. He's aggressive and is something of an organiser for the Seminoles, but he also has good top end speed and prototypical size (6'0", 192lbs). There are some character concerns though - he's had suspensions. Syd'Quan Thompson (California) is the next best senior, showing toughness and good instincts at cornerback for the Golden Bears. I have reservations about his recovery speed though and he's not the biggest at 5'9".

Joe Haden is likely to be the only cornerback who goes in round one, which limits the chances of Seattle drafting a cornerback early. I think his three years starting for Florida negates the fact he's not a senior, but at the point he's likely to be available for the Seahawks there's going to be bigger needs or more attractive options available. I think Ruskell could take a cornerback at some point, but probably later on in the draft where there could be some good value in rounds 3-4. Nevertheless I'm a big fan of Joe Haden's and I think he could have a very good career in the NFL.

Defensive Back/Safety

Taylor Mays (USC)
This is the piece I looked forward to writing the least. I've been pretty vocal about my lack of enthusiasm for this year's safety class. Whilst a lot of other people rave about the abilities of Eric Berry (Tennessee) and Taylor Mays (USC) - I feel like I'm watching a different game. Both have glaring flaws that seem to be negated by eye catching positives. In Berry's case, he's a very instinctive corner. This has helped him make a number of big play interceptions and when you put the ball in his hands, he's a threat to take it back for six. If you type 'Eric Berry' into YouTube, you'll likely see a collection of picks one after another. You'll probably think, "This guy is Ed Reed". The clips won't show the number of whiffed tackles Berry makes or the times he's just flat out over powered by a running back. He doesn't wrap up his tackles and will be a liability in the NFL against physically greater players.

On the other hand, Mays hits like a sledgehammer. When you get tackled by the USC safety, you'll know about it the next morning. Type Taylor Mays into YouTube and you'll be offered the chance to watch a number of these hits. What it won't break down is the regularity with which Mays is slow to react to the ball carrier, his lack of instincts and his reliance on big hits every snap when it's not always called for. It's borderline dangerous sometimes and he should get penalised more for late, dangerous hits. He nearly cost his team a win against Notre Dame with a pathetic lunge on a tight end late in the game.

Don't get me wrong - they are both good at what they do. But the weaknesses don't get mentioned very often and I don't think either warrants a top ten pick. When pushed for a selection here I've gone for Mays. He's a senior, he's from Seattle and he would add some bite to the Seahawks secondary. In all honesty though, I wouldn't take either until the late first round.

Red shirt sophomore Earl Thomas is fast rising up many draft boards after some eye catching displays in recent weeks. His lack of starting experience might put off Tim Ruskell but he's being talked about as a potential first round pick out of Texas. He has five interceptions this year - Berry and Mays have one apiece. The next best senior is Nate Allen (USF) who could go in round two. He has four interceptions on the season so far.

Safety is a position of need for the Seahawks and there's definitely reasons why Tim Ruskell would take someone like Taylor Mays. After all, he's from USC (a school Ruskell likes to draft from), he'd be a popular pick as the local guy returning home and he's a four year starter. However, with the Seahawks currently at 2-4 heading into a stretch of four tough road trips in five weeks, drafting a safety early in round one might seem at this stage to be a bit of a luxury. If the GM's and scouts out there rate Berry and Mays as highly as most of the draft pundits, they'll go fairly early. If the Broncos pick is in the late 20's that would present good value to take a chance on the aforementioned duo. However, would the Seahawks really choose to draft a safety with a potential top-15 pick with a lot of needs at core positions elsewhere?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section or email


ivotuk said...

This is the area I am most interested in is defense.

It is possible that Suh could slide if people start worrying about the knee problems. I'd hate to see another Marcus Tubbs but from watching Suh, I don't see him having any serious health problems.

The way he moves, his athleticism, he looks long and I would say fluid. Somehow that just gives me the impression of someone who is built to shrug off the physical pounding an aggressive DT like Ndamokung engages in.

I've seen how important a Pro Bowl caliber safety can be. Bob Sanders coming of an injury is responsible for slowing down the rushing game of opponents and the difference in whether or not the Colts appear in a SuperBowl and get the win.

After watching some games I have seen the problems you have mentioned with Mays and Berry but the upside to them is this; for Berry it's working with Monte Kiffin, for Mays it's the fear factor for receivers when they are stretching out for a high ball when coming over the middle. Mays will cause a lot of receivers to develop T Rex arms. I think there will always be that cringe factor when the WR isn't sure were Taylor Mays is coming from or how fast. I think the fear would work well against Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis and Crabtree.

Having said that, I believe there will be 1 or 2 good FS early in the 2nd round and my dream would be to trade back with our highest pick and grab a late first round DL or OT and/or C.J. Spiller then go for a S with the 2nd rounder and BPA with the second 2nd rounder from a trade.

But, depending on how the draft goes, unless there is a phenom at OT, RB or S right at our early pick, I would go with a dominant DT or DE. I honestly believe either of them would give this defense what it needs to apply pressure to any O-Line. If we can dominate on the defensive side of the ball then we can use the OL we have now, pick up a good FA, and use the 2nd first rounder on Spiller or a Safety.

I don't think CB is a big need as we have Trufant, Lucas is good for another year or two and Josh Wilson is a very good CB. Kelly Jennings will improve and eventually show that he was worth a first round pick and with Babs, we have a very solid DB backfield.

So I guess what it comes down to is I want our earliest pick spent on a top notch DT or DE in that order.

The next first rounder should be spent on a game breaker sort of like Percy Harvin, which seems to be CJ SPiller.

Then spend the 2nd rounder on BPA out of the OL and S positions.

After watching drafts and seeing a short inside look at Bill Bellichecks war room, I think the best value is to consider trading up in the first to get another 2nd and maybe 3rd rounder. This draft should provide real talent well in to the 2nd round and some diamonds in the 3rd.

That would give us at least one or two extra quality players.

I want a defense that can push any offensive line backwards because that will give our offense plenty of opportunities to score. And we have seen how well they can score when the opposing team has a lot of 3 and outs.

ivotuk said...

One more thing, I watched the WV USF game tonight and Pierre - something did fairly well against Selvish Capers playing RT. I was not impressed with capers and he let Pierre run right by him several times and Capers did not continue blocking once the first man got by. And he did a horrible job of cutting a DL. The DL hopped 1 foot in the air and got over him with a clear path to the QB.

For WV Db wearing #2 and #11 both played very well

For FSU DT #97 got some great push up the middle and #49 was in on a lot of plays.

Too lazy to get their names :p

I have a couple of games from the last couple of weeks on my HD DVR and have it set to get several more tomorrow. I need to hook the DVR to my computer and transfer them over.

I also got some great quality Oklahoma St games from TYT. :)

ivotuk said...

Me again! What do you think of Jacory Harris? His placement on deep throws was perfect when he was on! I think Matt is good for at least another year and Jacory might be a good possibllity in 2011

Anonymous said...

Rob, this may be a monster class with a horde of juniors and 3rd year sophomores declaring for the draft. If that happens, there will be quality guys slipping to the 3rd-4th round. I think it's critical that Seattle get back that missing 3rd round pick, either through pre-draft trade or trading down in the 1st round. There are a bunch of DT and DE that should go in the first two rounds that you didn't mention. While I agree that DE is very important, given the way we've been shredded by RB's this year, I think DT also needs a serious upgrade. In addition to Suh and McCoy,there are a number of other quality DT's that we should consider with our first 3 picks, including Arthur Jones-Syracuse and Jared Odrick-Penn St (both seniors).

And if I put my Ruskell hat on, I think we need to solve the problem of so much money tied up in our LB's and WR's. Leroy Hill and Deon Branch are luxuries we really can't afford. I'd trade them after the season. Hill for a 2nd or 3rd and 4th, and Branch for, well, just about anything. Equally important we shed the salaries so we can sign a multitude of draftees and nab a high profile free agent or two. We need to think longer term than next season. We need an infusion of quality guys accross the board to upgrade numerous positions if we want to get back to Superbowl contention. Aside from LB, and maybe WR (cause I like Housh, Burly and Butler), I can't think of a single position where we don't need an upgrade, and yes, that includes QB. Hass is a gamer, but his body no longer keeps pace with his will. He is on the decline physically. If Teel isn't the heir apparent, we need to find one soon or everything else is shadows and dust.

Rob Staton said...

Hey Ivotuk - thanks for your thoughts it was great to read through them. Sorry I haven't got back in touch sooner - had a real busy day today and I'm actually trying to plan a trip to Seattle next weekend for the Lions game - still haven't got things sorted and just managed to squeeze in a quick scout of Bryan Bulaga.

I've not concentrated too much on Harris because he's not going to be in the 2010 draft. I've seen Miami once this year and he looked a bit under sized... but he threw it around nicely. I'm not really in a position to say he's worth consideration, I need to do a bit more homework first. I think in general the issue is - even if you draft a Harris or anyone else in 2011, do they have to then start as a rookie? Hasselbeck's contract expires after 2010. Starting a rookie doesn't appeal to me, even if we discover a third Manning brother who can throw it around a bit.

Hey annonymous - I've not seen Odrick or Jones to be honest so didn't want to comment before I do. I've read some suggestions that odrick is better in a 3-4, not sure how true that is. Jones could be an option from what I've heard, but again I've not had a chance to watch him yet.

Todd said...

Have you looked at some film of Robert Johnson out of Utah. He's been every bit the ball hawk Sean Smith was. He plays his best in big games and has the size to jump Larry and Anquan.

Brian said...

Seems like Berry translates to a Free Safety, Mays to SS.

I think with the 'Hawks strength at LB, and lack of ball-hawks in the backfield, I'd prefer they get Berry as someone who can play the ball and provide effective help. Mays is not that guy.

Still, I'd agree that Suh and McCoy are probably BPA if they are available.

My fear is that we'll reach at OT due to our (legitimate) injury and depth concerns.

Anonymous said...


I don't know if you watched the USC game tonight, but I did, and a few things stood out to me; the first thing was that Charles Brown in no way impressed me. He seemed slow, and at no time did he overpower him man. There were times when he maintained his blocks, but on many occasions he got beat...if he gets beat in college with any degree of regularity, I would assume he would get beaten quite often in the NFL. Secondly, I would have to agree with everything you've said regarding Mays. The one thing I noticed about him was that he was a complete NON-FACTOR. He was rairly around the ball, and didn't even make many tackles.

If you watched the game, would you agree with my summary?


Rob Staton said...

Hey Griffin - Because of the TV rights over here I got Iowa vs Indiana and Florida vs Georgia yesterday. The USC vs Oregon game is scheduled to be shown tonight so I've got it on record. I'll likely watch it tomorrow and offer some thoughts. I'll keep an eye on Brown, he impressed me against Notre Dame and Oregon State but it'll be interesting to see how he copes against a better team like the Ducks.

Todd - I've not got easy access to Utah games but if I get a chance to watch them this year I'll watch out for Johnson.

Anonymous said...

dont know how anyone can think babs is any good at all