Thursday, 29 October 2009

Potential Seahawks? Guys who fit (offense)

This week I`m going to review some prospects who match what the Seahawks look for in their draft picks. I`m concentrating on prospects they might take with their two first round picks - all the guys listed below could go in the top 32. In order to warrant consideration they have to be good scheme fits, for example an offensive lineman must be able to slot into the zone blocking scheme. In his time with the Seahawks, Tim Ruskell has favored senior prospects in round one with solid production from big schools. This will also be taken into consideration when compiling the list. Today we`ll concentrate on the offense - so who could be on Seattle`s radar?


Sam Bradford (Oklahoma)
Would Tim Ruskell buck a trend to draft an underclassmen at the most important position in football? It`d be a big shift in philosophy for Seattle`s GM, but with Matt Hasselbeck 35 next year and approaching a contract year it might be something he has to consider. None of the senior prospects seriously warrant first round grades, including Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy. Bradford has a grounded personality and leads by example. His injuries are a concern, particularly to a team that has been hampered with health issues the last two years. But his accuracy, poise and production (88 touchdowns in just over two years) should keep him in the top fifteen picks and a possible steal if he slides past the first handful of selections.

The alternatives
Jimmy Clausen ranks as the most pro-ready prospect and is perhaps alone amongst the potential 2010 class in terms of being a potential day one (or early) starter. But he has a tempestuous personality that could rub some people the wrong way and only one year`s solid production. Jake Locker is the local hero, but perhaps a little too much of a gamble for a risk averse GM. I expect the Washington QB to stay in college and enter the 2011 class.

To quote Tim Ruskell, the Seahawks ¨are in the zone¨ when it comes to finding a long term option at quarterback. It has to be considered next year, it`s as simple as that. But does that mean they`ll pull the trigger? I`m still not sure and I`d imagine Ruskell would prefer to draft a productive senior at a time when there aren`t so many question marks regarding the offensive line. Then again, he might not be afforded that luxury.

Running Back

C.J. Spiller (Clemson)
Spiller (a productive senior) fits what the Seahawks want from their running backs. Simply put, they want someone who won`t sell their play calling. Spiller has shown he`s flexible (and good enough) to work as a runner, receiver and blocker. He`s a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands whether he`s running a route, a draw play or returning a kick. There are some concerns - he hasn`t got ideal size (5`11¨, 195lbs) and he`s probably better suited in a two back system. That could restrict his ability to climb up the board too much, but his production - 2882 rushing yard, 1184 receiving yards, 2297 return yards and 39 total touchdowns - should secure a first round grade. Mel Kiper said today he`d give Spiller the Heisman. Seattle needs some spark and a young playmaker on offense.

The alternatives
Cal`s Jahvid Best has put up impressive numbers over the last two years, but struggled against top opposition this year. Still - he`s a home run hitter and the Seahawks need an upgrade at running back. USC`s Joe McKnight is a similar playmaker but there are some character concerns, whilst Georgia Tech`s Jonathan Dwyer has been a big disappointment.

It could come down to position on the draft board. If the Seahawks are picking in the top ten and the back end of round one, they might be (somewhat ironically) too early and too late to grab Spiller. I`m happy to give him a solid mid-first round grade and if the Seahawks own a pick in the late teens, I seriously expect them to consider drafting the Clemson running back.

Wide Receiver

Brandon LaFell (LSU)
Senior wide outs are almost as rare as their running back counter parts these days and admittedly I`d put underclassmen Damian Williams (USC) and Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State) ahead of LaFell in my own personal rankings. However, as we know Tim Ruskell prefers senior prospects and LaFell is still a potential first round pick in his own right. He`s not had the best 2009 season, only registering 100+ receiving yards once this year against lowly Mississippi State. He struggled to have an impact against Florida (44 yards) and Georgia (52 yards) when I`ve watched LSU this year. At the same time, he hasn`t been helped by inconsistency at the quarterback position. On a more productive offense, he could put up bigger numbers.

The alternatives
I`m a big fan of Damian Williams, who flashes big play potential every week for USC. He`s an excellent return man and has a similar gliding running style to Jeremy Maclin. He`s a bit raw when it comes to route running but he has deep speed and YAC ability with the ball in his hands. Dez Bryant is the most hyped receiver, but what effect does his suspension have? How does Tim Ruskell access that situation?

Given the chance to draft the most dynamic college receiver in years (when the position was a need) the Seahawks chose to draft a linebacker instead. Even with two first round picks, I have to believe it`s unlikely the Seahawks will spend a high pick on a wide out in 2010 given what`s on offer - a group without any elite prospects.

Offensive tackle

Charles Brown (USC)
The Seahawks like their lineman to be nimble, athletic and capable of fitting into their zone blocking scheme. This isn`t a good year for offensive tackles, but converted tight end Charles Brown is by far the best scheme fit for Seattle. He owns elite footwork and above average agility. He knows when to block off and progress to the second level and he has some value in the running game. I don`t like his tendency to perform poorly timed cut blocks and he`s occasionally caught a little flat footed. He could also stand to gain a further 15-25lbs of bulk, particularly upper body muscle to get a stronger punch and retain leverage. If he can do that, there`s no reason why he can`t shoot up the draft board, similar to Jason Smith last year.

The alternatives?
Russell Okung is the most decorated senior lineman and many expect him to be the first off the board. I`m not convinced about his stock or ability to fit into Seattle`s scheme. He might have to feature at right tackle, but even then he probably has a better chance of success elsewhere. Trent Williams is another possibility but his weight gain, sloppy 2009 play and inability to work in a ZBS probably eliminates him from contention.

With Walter Jones being placed on IR and Sean Locklear`s continued absence through injury, offensive tackle is the trendy pick for the Seahawks right now. The fact is however, this isn`t a great class at the position. Even with the best intentions, they might not be able to fill this need early in 2010. With a lot of money invested already in Sean Locklear, his performance upon return this year could be crucial to any future decision. Having said that, Charles Brown is the most realistic option for the Seahawks in round one and is worth monitoring for the rest of the year.

Interior lineman

Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
Not many interior lineman stand out in college football, but Hudson stuck out like a sore thumb against North Carolina last week. Not only is he a very exciting prospect, he also fits Seattle`s scheme perfectly. Athletic, intelligent and dominant - Hudson is a rare package. As a junior he isn`t guaranteed to enter the 2010 draft, but without doubt he`s the number one guard in the country. That could persuade him to declare and if he does, the Seahawks must consider drafting him. He`s a borderline first round pick - that`s how highly I rate him. If the Seahawks are picking right at the end of round one, I don`t think that would be too high to fill a massive need in the interior line.

The alternatives?
There are none. It`s very rare that interior lineman are given first round grades and last year was a rare exception with both Alex Mack and Eric Wood going early. Mike Iupati is considered a potential first rounder in some quarters, but coming from Idaho he seems an unlikely fit for Tim Ruskell.

Hudson would have to declare for the draft first of all whilst also confirming a high grade with continued good form. His lack of size (285lbs) will put off most teams not running a ZBS and he might decide to stay with Florida State to add bulk and enter the 2011 draft. Even then, some will consider it a stretch for the Seahawks in their current rut to consider spending an expensive pick on a guard - particularly with Tim Ruskell previously using middle round picks to fill holes in the interior. He did take Max Unger early last year though and if he does intend to rebuild Seattle`s offensive line - drafting Hudson could be the best possible start.

Next time we`ll look at the defensive side of the ball. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section or email


Swamp_fox said...

Awesome write up, Rob. I'm really hoping Peanuts will be available at #9 (where I think our pick will be). If we miss him there, I won't blame Ruskell for reaching a bit on Hudson (he's gotta declare) in the mid-20's.

Anonymous said...

Rob, nice to see that you've come to the same conclusions I have when looking at potential 1st round picks. There just aren't many good options on the offensive side. Looking forward to your defensive analysis as I believe in a draft that seems stocked with D-line prospects, we may have to go that direction in the 1st based on value and address O-line in the 2nd round. I do like Spiller in the mid to late first if he's available.

Patrick said...

Great write up Rob!! I definitely agree with you about the WR position. I hate seeing mock drafts with us taking a WR. I personally really like Ben Obomanu and hope we resign him this year. And although I prefer Best to Spiller, I agree I hope we target RB.

Anonymous said...


Just one question; what do you think the likeliehood is that the Hawks will go after a tackle or guard during free agency? I know that at least Marcus Mcneil will be up for Free agency (not that the Chargers won't franchise him...).

germpod said...

Looking at what happened to Bradford should hit close to home with Locker since Jake missed most of last season with an injury. There may also be a rookie salary cap next season, which would also spur Locker to enter the draft.

Michael said...

I for one would love to see both Brown and Hudson drafted.

Montario Hardesty, Chris Brown, Ben Tate are all 5-11 guys that will run in the high 4.4's low 4.5's, are from big BCS schools, seniors, run tough, and generally have the skills to grow into a dependable power back.

My dream draft would be:
Hudson (2nd round)

fountaindale said...

A Brown/Hudson draft would be a dream come true. Rob, would you please comment on Daniel Teo-Nesheim's draft prospects. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the Mike Holmgren Show yesterday on Seattle's KRJ. He had some interesting comments coming from an "outside observer." He seemed to think, at least the way I heard it, that the OL problems are in the middle of the line and are due mostly to lack of communication between C and the Gs. He also said that of the top QB prospects, he likes Bradford. He didn't sound very high on Tebow, but he qualified his comments by saying that he hasn't studied any of them. He also thought that barring injury, Hasselbeck should have 2 or 3 good years left, BUT, he thought that the time to find the future QB is now. He thought that it would be a bad idea to wait to address the position. What this means to the Seahawks? I don't know. I just though it was interesting hearing his thoughts. If anyone else heard the show and has additional comments, or if you heard things differently, I would love to hear your thoughts.


Rob Staton said...

First of all - thanks for all the positive comments. The most enjoyable thing about writing this blog is starting a debate in the comments section and being able to log on and be part of it. Thanks again and please always feel welcome to contribute.

Anonymous - I think there it's a near certainty that Tim Ruskell will look to add some lineman in free agency. Over the years he's consistently tried to solves problems with a big splash on free agents. Last year WR was an issue, so he signs Houshmandzadeh. The year before, he brought in two running backs and cut Shaun Alexander. The year before that - he signed two safety's and Patrick Kerney. If there are high profile lineman available, at any position, I'm sure Ruskell will open the cheque book. It's not something I always agree with - you always over spend in free agency. Colin Cole is a perfect example, a DT of completely modest abilities earning a big contract because he fills a need. Tim Ruskell's mantra is to go into the draft with as few a needs as possible and to be in a position to challenge every season. Personally, I'd be a little more strict in future. We need to build through the draft and be a bit more selective in free agency.

Germpod - I think it's a very valid argument regarding Jake Locker. If he does declare, that'll be the reason why. However - I still think he stays at Washington. Call that one a hunch - I'm prepared to be completely wrong though.

Patrick - I don't think the Seahawks will take a WR early in 2010. But I think the Seahawks could use a #1 wide out in the long term. Without the Holmgren system these days, they'll need bigger game breakers. Right now, Housh and Burleson are doing a good job. But Housh isn't a short term solution and Burleson will hit free agency soon. There's a point in round one or early round two when Damian Williams really interests me next year, but it's not a good year for wide outs generally and there's certainly no Michael Crabtree elite potential.

Michael - considering the teams needs and the real necessity to build a new offensive core over the next few years, I think a draft of Charles Brown, C.J. Spiller and Rodney Hudson would be nearly perfect. You've secured the left hand side of your offensive line for 10 years and added a much needed playmaker. I like the sound of it.

Fountaindale - I haven't actually seen Washington play a full game yet so I can't help you with Daniel Teo-Nesheim at the moment. Hopefully I'll get some tape on the Huskies soon and I'll get back to you.

TJ - I didn't hear Holmgren but I think he's hit the nail on the head. Everyone points to the left tackle issues at the moment - and justifiably so. But for me, the interior line remains a huge issue. I'm hoping Max Unger can tie up one position long term. Even then, I think we need a left guard. In fact, I know we do. Unless Unger moves inside, I think we need a center too. Spencer hasn't proven to me he can stay healthy, so unless he's willing to sign a very modest contract next year, I think we move on. A good combination would be an experienced, veteran center signed in free agency and perhaps an uber-talented guard who fits the scheme perfectly like Rodney Hudson.

Anonymous said...

A name to look out for at the end of the first or with the 2nd round pick is OG M. Iupati from Idaho. He is a monster and would fit very nicely so Unger can slide over to C.

Kyle Rota said...

Until Ruskell takes a non BCS prospect anywhere near the first day, I think we can probably rule out Lupati. In fact, I'm not sure Ruskell has taken a single non BCS prospect in his time at Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Kyle, you are right, and I see this as a big flaw in his drafting philosophy. Bryan Westbrook, Dominic Rogers-Cromartie, Joe Flacco, Demarcus Ware, and Vincent Jackson were all small school players, as were Walter Payton and Jerry Rice. I can understand liking players from big schools, but what this team needs are good football players, not players with good pedigree. Sometimes, it is OK to look at higher risk/reward players, especially in the later rounds of the draft. Those are my 2 cents :)


nightwulf said...

Hi all,
I just found this site last night, and it's been a breath of fresh air:)
Especially in the comments section. The folks commenting here seem to actually know something about football and make constructive, insightful comments, rather than shrieking that Matt is the worst QB in the NFL, that our RB's are worse than useless (behind this line, who can tell?) or that we should trade Curry for a stud LT like Joe Thomas (as if ANY team is going to trade a young stud LT)Thank you, one and all:)
On the current subject, from what I've seen, Holmy is right...the biggest problem is with the middle of the line. I lay that at Spencer's feet. He just doesn't seem to have the smarts to make good line calls. Tobek was a stud at C because he was a wizard at line calls, rather than his physical abilities. I really want to see Unger move inside, from what I hear, he's got the smarts to make the calls.
I'm going to take your "nearly perfect draft" and turn it into a full blown, buffalo wing sauce spattered football fantasy and hope we pick up Jheri Evans in FA.
A line of Brown, Hudson, Unger, Evans and Locklear/Willis would give us a young, talented line that could play together for years to come. Would it help us in the 2010 campaign? Not really, most of that season would be the line learning to play together, but come 2012, and look out NFL...(of course, from a long term view, not doing so well next season might not be all that bad, as it would put us in position to pick up one of the best QB's next year in the draft. By the time the line is cookin', our new QB (Locker? I think he stays one more year at UW, he's just learning too much from Sark) will be ready to step in and play a few would be like Jones, Hutch, Tobek and Gray with Matt all over again (except that our C and RG would be young this time around)

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