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'.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Rob Staton