Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Breaking down a Clausen game winning drive

I managed to sit down and watch the game winning drive by Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen today as he led his team to a dramatic 24-21 victory over Purdue last weekend. He missed a large portion of this game with a turf toe injury but Charlie Weiss put him back in for the fourth quarter with Purdue leading 21-17.

I've broken down the drive below and afterwards I had some thoughts.

3:37 - shotgun pass from the 33 yard line. Dropped back, lots of pressure but managed to avoid it before launching the ball through the middle for a twelve yard reception.

3:13 - shotgun pass from the 45 yard line. Good pressure and looked like he's be sacked, but an excellent pump fake through the defensive end (who was concerned about a late hit penalty). Managed to buy himself an extra second to complete a screen pass left to the RB for a short gain.

2:47 - shotgun pass from the 46 yard line. Short pass to WR in space, who is able to turn up the field for a twenty-four yard gain.

2:14 - Clausen under center, hands off to the RB for a short rushing gain.

1:36 - shotgun pass from the 28 yard line. Clausen sacked looking downfield, didn't feel the presence and needed to get rid of the ball.

1:21 - shotgun pass from 36 on 3rd and 14. Pass thrown to the right, ball seemed to float out of Clausen's hands a bit. Wobbly pass but WR had created very good separation to make a 15 yard catch for the first down.

1:16 - shotgun pass from the 21 yard line. Clausen throws off his back foot deep left to the end zone to a receiver in single coverage. Nice spiral on the ball but lacked velocity and sailed out of bounds for an incompletion.

1:11 - shotgun pass from 21. Ball thrown to an open WR on the 10 yard line. Ball again floats a little which suggests a lack of arm strength when throwing off his back foot. Receiver makes a nice move to avoid a tackle and get to the four yard line for a 17 yard gain.

:48 - shotgun pass from the four yard line. Clausen throws off his front foot this time and generates a lot more force on the ball. Looks for a WR at the back of the end zone but too much on the pass and it shoots through the end zone.

:42 - Clausen hands off to the RB for a two yard gain from shotgun.

:36 - shotgun pass, great protection allowing Clausen an age to throw. The QB considers running it in but checks his run and instead throws a soft pass out of bounds.

:29 - 4th and goal with the game on the line. Clausen drops back receiving good protection. He throws a good, tight ball to a WR in single coverage who catches the ball in the end zone.

For starters, you have to credit Clausen for coming into the game at such a late stage, clearly not at 100% and leading his team to victory. It was a hostile atmosphere on the road and he showed some leadership to put the game on his own shoulders and drag ND over the finish line. You also have to credit that last play in a do-or-die situation. Clausen finished with a state line of 15/26 for 171 yards and a TD & Interception.

The reason I wanted to include some thoughts on Clausen are largely because his stock has risen dramatically in recent weeks. Walter Cherepinsky has the Notre Dame QB going first overall in his latest mock draft, published last week. It's only a small sample, but considering the consequences it's also a chance to see Clausen at his best.

It's the first real chance I've had to sit down and look at Clausen. As I've mentioned, I like his leadership and ability to get the job done in this game. It shows character and that's an under rated quality. He shows good agility to avoid pressure in the pocket, he keeps his eyes down field and he seems to be pretty accurate.

However, I don't much like his side arm action. He's listed as 6'3" according to ESPN but it's quite a low throwing action. It's a similar complaint to that which is thrown at Sam Bradford. He generates decent velocity on his passes when he throws on the front foot, but his passes get a bit floaty on the back foot. It's was also quite evident to me that Clausen was getting good protection for the most part, certainly as ND got into the red zone.

I would like to see more from Clausen but at this point I'd still rank Tony Pike (Cincinnati) as my number one ranked QB. I'd put Clausen alongside Sam Bradford as being bigger names with arguably bigger upside, but mechanical issues that could be a concern.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Time for some favorites

We're four weeks through the 2009 college season so I've decided to compile a list of my favorite prospects at each position. I've tried to pick these guys with an eye towards the Seahawks (for example, I won't include obvious non targets like a guy with severe character red flags). Feel free to give me your own rankings or thoughts in the comments section below or via email rob@seahawksdraftblog.com

QB - Tony Pike (Cincinnati)
Good size (6'6") but admits he struggles to add weight (only 210lbs). Not a big name like Tebow, Bradford, Snead, Clausen or McCoy but has the best overall package. Few thrills but less issues than the rest.

RB - C.J. Spiller (Clemson)
The Seahawks want a running back who won't sell the play calling. Spiller is an every down guy who can be used to carry the load, move out to receiver or pass block.

WR - Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State)
Not a good year at wide out. Bryant has size and strength and he's difficult to bring down. He also makes too many basic errors, doesn't really generate much YAC and his route running is suspect.

OL - Bryan Bulaga (Iowa)
There isn't anywhere near as much depth on the offensive line as the 2009 draft. I've seen precious little of Bulaga, but he's here because nobody else has really impressed me.

DL - Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska)
My #1 ranked prospect for 2010. Simply a superstar in the making who does everything well. He'll clog up space against the run, but he also does a good job getting to the QB. He had two interception returns for TD's last year.

LB - Eric Norwood (South Carolina)
There's virtually 0% chance Seattle will take a linebacker in round one of next year's draft so this is a token gesture. I love the way Norwood leads his team and seems to be consistently involved.

CB - Joe Haden (Florida)
Good recovery speed, capable of reacting to a play and getting to the ball. There should be some depth at cornerback but no elite prospect.

S - Eric Berry (Tennessee)
I don't think Berry is the top ten pick a lot of people suggest, but he's still clearly the best safety prospect that's eligible for 2010.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Some thoughts on Jevan Snead

I watched the Ole Miss defeat against South Carolina last night, mainly to have another look at Jevan Snead. I was hoping that the disaster zone that was his performance against Memphis in week one was just an off day. Those hopes were shattered by half time.

Something isn't working with Jevan Snead. He's an absolute mess at the moment. Any thoughts that he's going to be the #1 pick next year are well and truly in the trash can right now and it's going to take an almighty shift in fortunes to change that.

Yes, he has a big arm - but it's too wild. He over throws open receivers, he shows virtually no accuracy or touch. When things aren't going well he'll panic and try to throw big bombs down field to fluctuate his stats. He's not athletic when trying to run to avoid pressure.

He was 3/8 for 30 yards at half time and it never got much better. With 9:02 left in the third he took a snap and the rush did it's job, collapsing the pocket. He needed to recognise that, tuck the ball and get down to minimise the loss. Instead he took two huge hits and held the ball loosely in his arms, before inevitably fumbling the ball. It was one of many incidents where I'm just wondering whats going on in the kid's head.

With 4:53 left in the same quarter and 3rd and five to go, Ole Miss were 16-3 down. Rather than move the chains and with Snead struggling, he unwisely decides to go deep downfield. He takes the snap, locked on to one receiver and threw directly into double coverage. It was bobbled by the DB and should have been picked, a truly awful decision to throw that pass that went unpunished.

He should have been picked off twice more in the game but wasn't, the second of which was possibly the worst throwing decision of the lot straight to an area with three defensive players stood and a linebacker completely botching the interception.

Part of me wonders, is this a quarter back struggling under the intense media spotlight and expectation. Another part of me wonders if this guy needs better coaching - be told to calm it down when the pressure is on and better play calling.

But I've come to the conclusion that for all the tools, Jevan Snead is just too erratic. The big arm will interest some teams, but he's simply too raw. It's a shame too, I truly believed at the start of the year that Snead was well placed to become the top QB. He reminded me a lot of Matt Stafford, but I have to say he's been a big dissapointment so far in 2009. He has similar negatives to Stafford, but nowhere near enough of the positives.

Tony Pike however, his stock just keeps on rising. It wouldn't surprise me if by the end of the year, he's the top QB taken in the 2010 draft. It could happen, seriously. He has the tools and he's doing a great job leading that Cincinatti team. Another great performance today, getting it done when he needed to as the Bearcats defeated Fresno State 28-20. He registered 18/26 passes for 300 yards, 3TD's and no interceptions. Big, good arm and accurate with sound mechanics. He might not be the big name, flashy superstar QB but he has the least question marks.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Mocks and reports

Walter Cherepinsky has published a new mock with an interesting choice at #1. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is pencilled in as the first overall pick, going to the Cleveland Browns. The Seahawks take Brian Bulaga (OT, Iowa) eighth overall and Jahvid Best (RB, California) with the seventeenth pick: "The ultra-talented Jahvid Best is a perfect fit for their zone-blocking scheme."

Matt McGuire has a scouting report out for Jahvid Best. He makes an interesting comparison to Chris Johnson of the Titans. Physically I wouldn't compare the two, Johnson is clearly bigger and capable of taking a greater load. But they do both own elite breakaway speed and are perhaps best suited in a dual back system. I need to see greater evidence Best can take the ball through the middle to be completely sold on his abilities, but there's no doubt he's a very exciting prospect.

McGuire also has a report out for C.J. Spiller. In all honesty, I completely disagree with most of McGuire's assessments. He says Spiller is 'mediocre' in pass protection. He clearly didn't pay much attention to the Clemson v Georgia Tech game, where Spiller was doing a fantastic job keeping Derrick Morgan at bay. He also compares Spiller to Reggie Bush - something else I don't entirely agree with. He's shown an ability this season to carry a bigger work load and I've been impressed.

New Sports Draft has the Seahawks taking Jevan Snead (QB, Ole Miss) and Brian Bulaga (OT, Iowa) with two picks in the teens. A lot of mocks are going to have the Seahawks taking an offensive tackle as a reaction to Sean Locklear's injury. Personally, I still think Seattle's main issues on the O-line are interior problems.

Football Draft Analysis give Seattle back-to-back picks at #9 and #10. They're also the first website I've noticed to cleverly place a declaring Jake Locker (QB, Washington) with the Seahawks. They also put C.J. Spiller (RB, Clemson) down as a top ten pick. I like Spiller, but that's far too high.

NFL Draft Blitz has Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) moving to the northwest with the sixth overall selection. Love that pick. They also have the Seahawks taking Ciron Black (OT, LSU) with the #15 choice. Hate that pick.

Ryan McCrystal gets some style points for putting together an aesthetically pleasing mock draft. The Seahawks take Trent Williams (OT, Oklahoma) tenth overall and follow it up with C.J. Spiller with the #17 selection.

NFL Draft Dog has the Seahawks taking a couple of big name defensive prospects. Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida) is the first pick sixth overall. The second choice is Taylor Mays (S, USC) with the #14 choice. One thing I've noticed in this weeks mocks - nearly all have Seattle's pick before the choice gained from Denver. It's funny how two wins against the Bengals (gift) and the Browns (awful) change a lot of minds very quickly.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Ciron Black - Cajun for "Stay Away"

At first blush, Ciron Black looks like a typical Ruskell draft pick. He is entering his 4th year starting at LT for Louisiana State University. He is an outstanding character guy who you want to root for, and I'll be pulling for him to succeed in the NFL after reading a story like this.

Unfortunately, after watching several games in 2008, I just can't like him on the football field. It's very important to note that I haven't watched him in 2009, and I won't be finishing my report until more games have been played. That said, I can't even advocate sticking him at RT in the NFL, except maybe for a team with a good block-first TE to help in pass protection.

Let's start with praise: He's big at 6'5 330, with pretty good strength. His upper-body strength is very good, he latches onto defenders very well. He's a team leader. He's durable and experienced. LSU Head Coach Les Miles praises his understanding of the offense. He looks ugly doing it, but he generally manages to at least get his hands on the DE. He's smart with blitz pickups.

Unfortunately, the flaws are a lot bigger: He's not very athletic and is unlikely to fit Seattle's blocking system. He also has a lot of trouble adjusting to linebackers at the second level, and is only okay at getting there. He has an inexplicable desire to cut-block LBs who he should be able to overpower - and he's not very good at it. He can (and will be) beaten around the edge by DEs. He is very slow off the snap, often the last guy on the line to snap up with the ball. Not very good with his hands as a pass blocker. His QBs took quite a bit of heat from his man.

At the end of the day, Ciron Black is one of the most frustrating players I've scouted. I want to like him (I almost attended LSU and like the school, plus he seems like a great person), but his play on the field is so ugly I'm amazed he's even being considered as a top tackle prospect. What's frustrating is that I'm convinced he has some athleticism there, and he might work out well, but his footwork is so bad it doesn't show up on the field. It amazes me he is being considered a top tackle prospect in this draft. Just to be certain I wasn't completely missing the boat, I talked to a former NFL Scout about Black and he confirmed my opinion. I wouldn't recommend any NFL team take him before the end of the 3rd round, but Seattle is probably best off not taking him at all.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Keep an eye on... Cyhl Quarles

I received a great email from a reader called Kyle Rancourt recently. He had some great views on the draft and was kind enough to suggest a name for everyone to keep an eye on - Cyhl (pronounced Kyle) Quarles (pictured above wearing #28). He's a strong safety from Wake Forest and a redshirt sophomore:

"This is his first year getting real playing time and I'm not sure it'd be wise for him to declare for the draft, but look for him in 2011. He's always around the ball and is a pretty solid tackler. That's not to say he's perfect; he is a sophomore, after all, so he's still got a ways to go in terms of fundamentals and just learning."

I'll certainly keep an eye out for Quarles over the next few weeks and if anyone knows about him, feel free to contribute some thoughts in the comments section below. Alternatively, send me your scouting reports to rob@seahawksdraftblog.com

Monday, 21 September 2009

Matt Rocha's latest scouting reports

Matt Rocha is a reader of the blog with an eye for scouting, here's his latest thoughts on some of the prospects he's been watching recently.

Craig Cooper (RB, Miami) 6-0 202 lbs (JR) : VS. Georgia Tech
He got more carries as a RB than the Florida St game. Very shifty/make you miss type of runner. Good hands. Looked good running between the tackles for a speed guy, he was able to run through arm tackles to get a few extra yards. I like that he is not afraid to run between the tackles, I assumed since he is a speed guy that he would bounce to the outside the majority of the time (which Reggie Bush tends to do and is the reason why he is not an every down back). Looked good in the 4th quarter; I was very impressed with one particular play where he ran between the tackles, patiently followed his blockers then went on to lower his shoulder breaking two tackles, and got a first down on a 3rd & 13 play. He is a patient runner. Might be comparable to Chris Johnson of the Titans as a RB and comparable to Devin Hester as a KR/PR. Looks like he runs a low 4.3 40-yard dash. He took a big hit from the safety and got right back up, which shows his toughness. He is playing like a top-15 pick. If he declares for the draft he might be my favorite RB (Cooper, C.J.Spiller, then J. Best).

Brian Price (DT, UCLA) 6-2 295 lbs (JR)
Very good quickness. He got a 2 sacks vs. Tennessee Did not hustle after QB when QB rolled out of the pocket. Below average for a DT when in pursuit of ball carriers. Good swim move. He hit the QB a few different times (just a half second away from sacks). He gets consistent pressure on the QB. Good against the run. He tossed aside o-lineman of few different times to tackle ball carrier. Blew up a few running plays with his penetration into the backfield. Up to this point he looks like he could be a low 1st round pick.

Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech) 6-3 229 lbs (JR)
Considered the next Calvin Johnson at Georgia Tech.Vs. Miami he did a great job of coming back to the ball on a under thrown pass and jumped up and caught the ball at the highest point of his jump. Good acceleration especially for such a big WR and he has good speed (looks to have 4.45 40-yard dash speed). He caught the ball in stride over his shoulder with his hands and went on to score a TD; other WR’s may have turned their whole body around to make the catch without gaining more yards after the catch. If he comes out this year he could be a top-10 pick even though he will not have the numbers to warrant in, mainly due to the triple option that he is in and his QB is a average to below average passer. He dropped one pass over his shoulder, he would have scored a TD had he caught it.

Dan Williams (DT, Tennessee) 6-3 327 lbs
Looks like a force at DT. Outstanding vs. the run. Very good pursuit for a big guy. Great at fighting off o-lineman to make tackles on RB’s. It looked like he was in on every tackle vs. the run (vs. UCLA). Very high motor, never takes a play off.

Montario Hardesty (DT, Tennessee) 6-0 215 lbs
Decent agility to make people miss in the backfield. Runs through arm tackles. Good vision. He runs with good power, he ran over a CB. Keeps his legs churning for extra yards when in a pile of bodies. He picks up a lot of yards after initial contact.Kansas WR - #10 Kerry Meier 6-3 220 lbs : Former QB, 1,000 receiving yards in 2008. He had a long pass on a WR option pass, strong arm. Very intriguing prospect due to his production, size, and decent speed.Kansas WR - #80 Desmond Briscoe 6-3 200 lbs (JR) : 1,200 receiving yards in 2008. Average acceleration off the line. He does not look fast (looks like a 4.6 40-yard dash guy). It looks like he runs good routes. Very good hands. He is good at getting yards after the catch. Over 150 yards vs. UTEP (Kansas runs the spread offenses).

Jake Sharp (RB, Kansas) - 5-10 195 lbs
Very quick acceleration and great speed. 5.2 career average per carry. Good agility to make people miss. Receiving threat out of the backfield. Good leg drive for a small RB to break a few tackles.

Maxwell Onyegbule (DE/DT, Kansas) 6-5 265 lbs
He played some 3-technique and has a good first step for a DT. 2 sacks vs. UTEP. Needs to develop more pass rush moves. Tipped a pass from the LDE. Good hustle player. Versatile player.

Justin Thornton (LB/CB Kansas) 6-1 213 (JR)
Eleven PBU’s in 2008 as a CB. He got an interception off a tipped pass vs. UTEP. Decent change of direction for his size as a CB. He played a lot as a nickel LB/rover and blitzed from this position. When lined up as a CB he plays 8 yards off of the WR. Very versatile player. He is used like William Moore was used last year at Missouri.

Raheem Moore (FS, UCLA) 6-1 188 lbs (Soph)
Five Int’s in first two games of the season. Has more speed than Eric Berry and outplayed him when he played against Tennessee. He had 3 Int’s vs. Tennessee, although one of them was called back due to d-lineman being offside. South Carolina TE - #88 Weslye Saunders 6-5 280 lbs : Defenders have a difficult time bring him down due to his size. Not fast or quick for a TE, he is just a huge target. He lines up out wide a lot.

Weslye Saunders 6-5 (TE, South Carolina) 280 lbs
Defenders have a difficult time bring him down due to his size. Not fast or quick for a TE, he is just a huge target. He lines up out wide a lot.

Dennis Rogan (CB, Tennessee) 5-10 180 lbs
Good hitter for a CB. He got a sack on a CB blitz against UCLA. Used a few different times to blitz and does it well. He caused a fumble. Good in run support. He recorded a safety against UCLA.

Richard Samuel (RB, Georgia) 6-2 222 lbs (Soph)
Great at running with his pads low which helps him run over and bounce off defenders.

Allen Bailey (DT, Miami) 6-4 290 lbs (JR)
Former LB, then DE, now 3-technique DT but small waist for his size. Week 1 he was getting double teamed a lot vs. Florida St. Bailey is a hustle guy, never quits. Has a swim move. Does a good job of driving back o-lineman. Got a sack by getting good penetration into the backfield. Gets consistent penetration. VS. Georgia Tech - He looks good against the run the way he is able to shed o-lineman to make a tackle.


Disappointing players

Darrell Stuckey (SS, Kansas) 6-1 205 lbs
Five Int’s in 2008. Missed a tackle and the WR continued on for a 75 yard TD. Looks to have average speed for a safety.

Morgan Burnett (FS, Georgia Tech) 6-1 200 lbs (JR)
Missed four tackles, looks slow. Does not have good range for a safety.

Eric Berry (SS, Tennessee) 5-11 203 lbs (JR)
One missed tackle and one of his tackles was broken. Plays in the box a lot. Good quickness. Blitzes QB a lot. Unable to bring down QB on a blitz. He does not look as fast as I was expecting (looks like maybe a 4.55 40-yard dash kind of speed). Comparing Berry and Taylor Mays, Mays looks considerably faster. He made one big hit. He does not look to have a great burst of speed when blitzing.

Javarris James (RB, Miami) 6-0 215 lbs : VS. Georgia Tech
Vision/ability to find a hole is questionable. I liked him in week 1 but he was disappointing vs. Georgia Tech.

Byron Evans (FS, Georgia) 5-11 194 lbs
I really like the way he played in week one but VS. South Carolina he looked like a different player. - He missed a couple of tackles. He did not stand out or look like a draftable player.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday thoughts - Best for Heisman?

I just finished watching the tape of Tennessee at Florida and didn't learn anything to be honest. I kept my eye on Tim Tebow and Eric Berry but they just performed exactly how I expected. Tebow is a great leader for his team and is capable of making some nice plays. However - his mechanics are all over the place and that slow release is a killer - it'll be sack city in the NFL unless he works on that (which he won't until he's drafted).

Eric Berry made an excellent interception with a diving catch and flashed that play making ability. I also liked the way he went low with his tackles and executed for the most part, making up for his lack of real size. However, I still see the guy as a potential liability against NFL TE's and RB's. He's going to get over matched when he takes on much more physically adept opponents. Yes, he'll make big plays in passing defense. I also think he'll give up a fair few with missed tackles. I'm yet to be convinced he's worth the hype.

A word on Joe Haden, Florida cornerback. He's been touted as a potential first rounder and although it's a small sample, he made one outstanding play today. In the second half he tried to read the QB knowing it was a pass play. He initially got into an awkward position allowing the receiver to get down the field into some space. However, he recovered very quickly and diagnosed the play perfectly. He not only burst to the WR, but he also made a superb diving catch at full stretch to get the interception.

Elsewhere, I'm guessing we're going to start hearing Jahvid Best's name mentioned amongst the Heisman contenders. FIVE TD's today in a tough win for California in Minnesota. Put Best in space with the ball in his hands and the guy is explosive - he's a true home run threat. I want to see him run through tackles though, I still remember that moderate hit he took and was physically sick afterwards. He probably needs to share the load with someone else in the NFL. He's an exciting prospect though and from what I understand is a great character guy - keep an eye on him.

C.J. Spiller looks to me like a late first, early second round pick. I like the look of Spiller, he's a very balanced back. Has the speed to take it all the way, he returns kicks, he pass blocks very well, he has good hands and lines up at wide out. I also think you can rely on him, unlike Best, to carry the load. He certainly fits everything Seattle want in a running back on Greg Knapp's watch.

Not blown away by Jevan Snead again today. He's scored three touchdowns in a powder puff contest against Southeastern Louisiana, but he's missed on nearly half of his 29 throws. He'll be tested more later in the year and still has a chance to cement himself as the #1 QB for 2010, but he's got off to an unspectacular start.

Taylor Mays missed USC's defeat to Washington in his hometown Seattle. Big shame that, for the player and our hopes of getting a read on the new, more involved safety. It was another productive day for Trojans RB Joe McKnight, 100 yards from 11 carries. I'll happily admit the guy sold me in Ohio State last week. He's not the biggest runner, but he plays big. He'll take it through the middle and knock three guys back for another yard. He's great in the passing game and has the speed to be a home run threat. There is one concern though - ball security. He's got an issue with fumbling and it's a big problem. That could cost him because aside from that, he's a very good running back.

Dez Bryant had a big afternoon for Oklahoma State. The enigmatic wideout grabbed a pair of TD's and 162 yards from nine catches. Tony Pike led Cincinnati to another victory against Oregon State. He scored three total TD's and continues to rise in the QB rankings.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Meet Russell Okung

I won't be doing the detailed scouting reports I did last year until December, in all likelihood. It takes a while to accumulate enough 2009 games to scout a player accurately. Even though I can't push out a full scouting report, doesn't mean that I can't introduce some of the prospects in the 2010 draft.

One such player is Russell Okung, LT, Oklahoma State. Entering his 4th year starting (3rd as a left tackle), many consider Okung the top Senior tackle prospect in 2010. Okung is expected to contend for every postseason OL award this season, and is a big part of the explosive Oklahoma State offense. So far, I've scouted Okung against Missouri (2008), Oregon (2008) and Georgia (2009). I also watched Okung play against Texas, but I wasn't taking notes or re-winding plays so I'm not reading a ton into that game.

Pros: Natural pass-protector with long arms. Skilled at reaching the corner and preventing the DE from turning it. Plays with good but not great effort. Smart player. Footwork in pass protection is very good. Very fluid. Good athlete. Keeps his hands on the defender and battles in pass protection. Very good cut blocker for a college player.

Cons: Gets almost no push in the running game. Lacks explosion in all aspects of the game (doesn't explode to second level, no explosion with his punch). On the 2nd level, he adjusts pretty well to LBs but doesn't overpower them like you'd hope from a 305lb player. While he generally defends the edge well, he can be pushed back in the pocket with a strong bull rush. Stands up his man run blocking, but Okung doesn't use his legs once contact is made. Not a natural runner on the second level.

Overall: I certainly understand why Okung gets the hype. He has a lot of promise protecting the quarterback against speed rushers. For Seahawk fans, he probably will find himself working on a line that runs a lot of zone rushes, as he lacks the power needed for a man-to-man scheme. Either way, his value is as a pass protector, not a run blocker. He is a clear cut below Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, and Michael Oher in my opinion. He probably will never be a powerful or terribly ferocious, but if he improves his hand technique and beats some quality competition (he struggled quite a bit against Nick Reed and Brian Orakpo) he could find himself rising to the top of what appears to be a weak tackle class.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

D-line depth could top the draft

It's still early days but heading into week three of the college football season, I'm beginning to believe the best depth in the 2010 draft could be on the defensive line. My #1 prospect at the moment remains defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Last year we saw three offensive lineman go in the top ten picks and it wouldn't surprise me if four prospects (listed below) are taken near the top of round one:

1. Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
2. Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)
3. Derrick Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech)
4. Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida)

Performance during the rest of 2009, team needs and schematic fit will likely dictate whether this actually happens. I'm not particularly high on next year's QB prospects, but it seems more than likely at least one desperate team will look for a rookie signal caller very early.

It's worth keeping an eye on the names listed above, especially as we move towards the business end of the season. Now that Florida have ended their extended pre-season, we should see if Carlos Dunlap is capable of living up to expectations. Derrick Morgan is in action with the Yellow Jackets against Miami (FL) tonight - worth watching not only to review Morgan, but to see if Jonathan Dwyer can hit back after a very dissapointing performance last week.

It's also a big weekend for two other top running backs. Jahvid Best will hope to carry the Golden Bears to a victory in Minnesota, whilst Joe McKnight is in Seattle to take on the Huskies. But perhaps the most eagerly anticipated face-off is the Tim Tebow vs Eric Berry game on Saturday. I've voiced reservations about Berry this week, so I'm looking forward to seeing how he copes with the Gators' offense.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Some thoughts on Mays and Berry

It's still early days but strike up a conversation with a Seahawks fan about next years draft and two names you're likely to hear are Taylor Mays and Eric Berry. It's not surprising really, both are highly rated prospects at a perceived position of need (safety). Jordan Babineaux will have a chance this year to dispel that theory, but as things stand both Mays and Berry remain on the radar.

However, I watched both Mays and Berry in action on Saturday, as USC travelled to Ohio State and Tennessee took on UCLA. I have some reservations about both. I'm prepared to change my opinion over the upcoming weeks and that could well happen. But for now, here's my assessment.

To read the rest of the article click here.

Some early mocks have Berry going as early as fourth overall (here and here) whilst it's not unusual to see Mays slotted in the top ten. I'll start with Mays and what I saw from his performance against the Buckeyes.

Make no mistake, Taylor Mays is unique. He's 6'4" and 225lbs and has supposedly been clocked in the 4.3 range. As a package, it doesn't get much better than that at the safety position. On the field, he's capable of delivering a bone crunching hit. No doubt that alone will appeal to certain NFL decision makers (namely, Al Davis).

It's previously been hard to get a read on Mays aside from the physical statistics. Often found so deep behind the line of scrimmage, getting tape on him was almost impossible. Not many teams throw deep on USC, so it's easy to explain the relatively unspectacular return of four interceptions and one forced fumble in three years as a starter.

I'm of the opinion that Mays was deep not necessarily as a precaution against the pass - as we've mentioned, not many teams go deep against the Trojans. I think Mays was positioned there as a last line of defense against the run. If a running back broke free, Mays has the speed and size to get to his man one-on-one and make a potential TD saving tackle.

This year the Seattle-born prospect is being asked to do a bit more. Against the Buckeye's he was regularly pushed closer to the action with greater responsibilities. My first impressions weren't great. This might be something that Mays develops as the season goes on, but his read and reaction skills seemed a little off. On one play with the Trojans leading 7-0, the running back found some space to the left and picked up the first down. Mays had a good view of the RB and eventually came in with a sledgehammer hit. Unfortunately, the back had already got his first down.

Now for me, Mays could have reacted to that play a bit quicker. There were 3-4 yards lost there and more importantly, a first down. It proved crucial later on when Mays made another error. Playing deeper this time, he watched the QB and locked onto the ball. When it was thrown to Mays' right, he tracked it's projection. By following the ball he lost a receiver through the middle, who simply plucked it out of the air in front of Mays for a huge gain. The safety needed to show greater awareness, that was not a pass that was going to be intercepted. He needed to make a play on the receiver to stop the catch or at least make the tackle to prevent the huge YAC.

The eventual result of that drive was a touchdown and a 7-7 tie. It didn't help that the error was compounded by a very visible Mays taking an age to react, change direction and try to recover. He was out of position, didn't read the play well and couldn't react to adjust.

It noticed less of these mistakes in the second half, but I'd already seen enough to suggest that there's room for improvement there. As I said previously, Mays is adjusting to a greater responsibility this year. There may be some teething problems that disappear in time.

But if this is a legitimate concern and Mays is not a good reader of the game, doesn't have the right kind of instincts - it severely hampers his stock. A big hit is fun to watch, but not when the other team has a first down and consistently moves the chains. Seattle moved out Brian Russell for the play making qualities of Jordan Babineaux. I'm not sure Mays fits what Seattle want at the position.

So you could argue, Eric Berry would be a better fit?

He certainly fits that play maker role a lot better. Having seen a reasonable amount of Berry now, I've come to the conclusion that he reads a game very well indeed. He almost always seems to be in the right position to make a play. When a QB drops back to pass, Berry has that knack of knowing where it's going. He's not fooled easily.

The stats back that up. Prior to the 2009 season, he had 12 interceptions in just two years. Three of those were returned for touchdowns. If Berry gets the ball in his hands he is capable of turning it into a big play. It's that ability which leads people to draw comparisons to Baltimore's brilliant safety Ed Reed.

However, I see a downside in Berry's game too.

He's 5'11" and 203lbs. Let's get one thing clear early - I know that Ed Reed is only 5'11" and that he's currently listed at 200lbs. Troy Polamalu is 5'10" and 207lbs. You don't need Taylor Mays size and speed to be elite.

But when I watch Eric Berry, I don't always see the kind of ferocious hitting witnessed by the two safety's name dropped above. Sure, he's capable of planting the odd hit. At the same time, I don't see a real physical presence from Berry or a truly aggressive demeanour. On Saturday, I saw missed tackles as Berry struggled to match up to a tight end in space.

In the NFL, those tight ends are going to be bigger and better. So are the running backs. I have some concerns that whilst Berry will always have that big play ability, he could be a liability against bigger guys on offense. Can he make a last ditch tackle on a Steve Jackson? Can he challenge Antonio Gates?

I'll admit my reservations about Berry are smaller than my reservations about Mays. But I think each safety's strengths are the other's weakness. Mays isn't the ball hawk, field general that Berry is. The Vols DB hasn't necessarily got the size or ability to deliver a thumping hit.

I'll be really honest and say that as of today, I don't think you'll see either going as high as some are predicting right now. I'd be surprised if Berry or Mays are top five picks next April. My concerns here are just some thoughts I wanted to put down in writing and things could definitely change.

But when I watch guys like Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Derrick Morgan and Carlos Dunlap - all extremely impressive D-liners - I'm not sure there's room for a pair of safety's at the very top of the draft.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below or email rob@seahawksdraftblog.com

Saturday's top 10 plays

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Joe McKnight makes a statement



Look at the stat sheet for Joe McKnight (RB, USC) last night and it's not particularly eye catching. Sixteen carries for 60 yards and a couple of receptions for a further 46 yards can only be described as 'modest'. However, my concern has always been that McKnight is too much of a luxury. A speed option on the outside, a guy you want to get into space and provides an option in the passing game. There have previously been concerns about fumbles, which isn't surprising considering he isn't the biggest.

However, last night Joe McKnight beat Ohio State. Matt Barkley gets the credit because he's a better story, a true freshman quarter back at the start of a tremendous career. Barkley looked composed and held things together in the game winning drive, but it was McKnight that won it.

The junior running back carried the load for So Cal. They put the ball in his hands as he drove them down field, putting them in position to go ahead. The drive started with an 11-yard burst quickly followed by a neat catch for a further 21. We also saw the explosion McKnight possesses and the patience and vision we don't often hear about as he jinked through tackles. On his last carry of the drive, he took an initial hit but kept his legs moving and actually carried four defenders a further 2-3 yards.

It set up Stefan Johnson to roll in for the TD, but McKnight did the work. Barkley and McKnight hooked up on the two point conversion, the back taking a screen before diving into the end zone, carrying a defender with him for a game winning 18-15 scoreline.

It was a statement game for McKnight. The Trojans leaned on his shoulders to help out the young QB. He ran through the middle, took his hits and shielded the ball. He showed power to match the pace and whilst others toiled against lesser opposition, McKnight turned it on in a key game.

If I'm ranking the running backs likely to be present in the 2010 draft, my top three goes: C.J. Spiller, Jahvid Best and Joe McKnight. Jonathan Dwyer has a lot to prove after that Clemson game. The order of the three chosen? Undecided, for now.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Bradford, McCoy, and Tebow - An Introduction

Turn on SportsCenter during the 50 seconds a week they’ll talk draft this time of the year, and chances are Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and/or Tim Tebow will come up. They’re all very successful college quarterbacks playing at big programs that win a lot of games, so the national spotlight is drawn to them. However, that does not mean they’ll be good NFL QBs – from what I have seen from scouting their 2008 games, all three have significant work before they reach they level of Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez.

Working alphabetically, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma will start us off. The 2008 Heisman Award winner, owner of two extremely impressive seasons (2007 and 2008… 2009 didn’t get off to a good start) for the high-powered Oklahoma offense. Bradford has the least amount of experience in the group, and arguably the best results. Bradford has excellent height, good mobility, good pocket awareness, superb short accuracy, ability to make touch throws, an arm that can flash power, and a pretty deep ball. Those are all valuable skills that are almost a requirement to play QB in the NFL.

Unfortunately, Bradford has some big problems he’ll need to correct. He is a mechanical mess. His release is quick, but the ball leaves closer to sidearm than over-the-top. He throws off his back foot a fair bit (sadly, not as often as the following QBs), with poor balance, and almost never strides into his throws. If he fixed his mechanical issues, he would be the owner of a pretty strong arm. Like the other top QBs, he played out of an offense that limits his reads and responsibilities (he does show the ability to locate secondary and tertiary receivers). He does have more experience dropping back, but there will be an adjustment in the NFL. He also has a thin frame that could struggle to hand punishment at the NFL level. All in all, he enters 2009 as the top QB on this list, but somewhat by default.

Colt McCoy of Texas could make a convincing case that he deserved to have won the Heisman and play for the National Championship last year. He is as well positioned as anyone in the country to win the Heisman this year. McCoy is an accurate passer with the legs to move the chains when the defense forgets about him. He has a quick release on his short tosses. He has shown the ability to get the ball downfield on occasion, though with a significant wind-up.

Unfortunately, that was really all the good I saw from McCoy. In general, his arm is weak and his short passes lack zip after about 12 yards. He makes more throws within 5 yards of the LOS than Bradford and Tebow combined. He’s probably not a good enough scrambler to run consistently against NFL defenses. He throws off his back foot far too often, though he’s less of a mechanical wreck than Bradford or Tebow. He is probably 6’2 210 and honestly looks smaller than that, but he has done a good job getting bigger since he arrived at UT. He played out of a wacky offense that makes very few NFL throws, and I doubt his ability to make them. Dropping back could present some problems for McCoy. Right now, I’m not sure I’d take McCoy before the 6th round – his potential is fairly low due to lack of amazing physical gifts, and he has a lot of work to do to reach that low ceiling.

Tim Tebow of Florida might get the most press, and has an impressive resume. In 2006, he won a National Championship as a part-time QB. In 2007, he won the Heisman as the 1-man team for Florida. In 2008, he won another National Championship and made arguably the most famous speech of the 2008 college football season. The lefty QB is a tantalizing mix of size and speed, with a strong arm to boot. He could go down as the most successful college quarterback ever. He has shown pretty good accuracy and runs hard. He has made big progress in every year (he was a far better QB in 2008 than 2007, despite the lower personal statistics), and appears to be one of the more determined players in his draft class.

Unfortunately for him, Tebow is also a mechanical mess. He has a very long release, though the ball leaves his hand at a high point. His arm strength is hurt when he doesn’t stride into his throws, which is far too often. He isn’t as fast as some people seem to think, though he will be able to buy time, pick up 1st downs, and run QB sneaks. His offense has little in common with an NFL offense, and he has a lot of work before he is even ready to take the field. His reads are 1, 2, and run, and sometimes the second target doesn’t get much more than a cursory glance. He plays on the most talented team in the country, so there are some concerns about what his team does to make him look good. With that slow release, he’ll probably never fit into a timing offense, but he could still have a future as a successful starting QB in a downfield passing attack… 3+ years from the 2010 draft. Tebow has more potential than Bradford or McCoy, but he is also the least ready for the NFL. Personally, my own draft philosophy says projects with high potential are 4th round picks at best, but some teams are willing to gamble a lot earlier.

None of these guys look like players who could start for Seattle from Day 1. Bradford is the guy I’d take earliest, but there are a lot of concerns with his game. Tebow is the guy I’d take as a project (if Seattle plans to ditch the WCO entirely), but there are a lot of mechanical issues with him. And McCoy is the guy I’d spend a 6th round pick on in the hope he develops into Jeff Garcia before his rookie contract ends – not terribly likely, to be honest.

These QBs have had big success at big programs, but none of them are terribly appealing NFL prospects at this point in time. If Bradford goes from a mechanical mess to pretty good, he’ll probably be deserving to go #1, but it isn’t easy to change the way you throw when you’ve been throwing one way since puberty.

I haven’t had the chance to look at QBs like Jevan Snead (Ole Miss) or Tony Pike (Cincinnati), but they are definitely worth paying attention to and might end up as the best QBs in this class.

Friday, 11 September 2009

New Guy

I just wanted to say "Hello" and introduce myself.

My name is Kyle Rota, last year I ran College Talent Scout (another draft-oriented site) and had the opportunity to contribute to Seahawks Draft Blog several times.

Rob has graciously invited me to write for Seahawks Draft Blog this football season, so I figured that I would start things off by saying hello to everyone here.

I tend to focus my energy on the scouting end of things. The main reason for posting this was that I needed a good way to offer my services to all of you. If there are any players that you want me to take a quick look at, let me know! I can't promise I'll have games of every player, but I'll try to obtain some film on the player if I don't already have it.

I can be reached at ksrota@gmail.com, or just leave a comment somewhere and there's a good chance I'll see it.

Thanks for the opportunity, and if you have any questions/requests, feel free to send me an e-mail!

Matt Rocha's scouting report

Reader and contributor Matt Rocha emailed me this week to suggest some prospects to keep an eye on ahead of the 2010 draft. Based on week one performances, here's Matt's notes from last weekend - it's well worth a look.

CB Perish Cox (6-0, 195 lbs) Oklahoma St
Four career kick returns for TD’s. Looks very good against the run (fought off FB to make a tackle). He has good ball skills (broke up a pass in the end zone against WR A.J. Green). Good awareness. Great leaping ability and coverage skills against WR A.J. Green (he was trailing Green on a crossing route and jumped in over Green to knock down the ball). He's playing like a top five pick. He had a 74 yard kick return. He broke up another pass to A.J. Green. Very good at staying in the WR hip pocket. He had four passes broken up in week one.

To read the rest of Matt's scouting report, click here.

CB Patrick Robinson (5-11, 194 lbs) Florida St
He did a great job on one play to jam WR LaRon Byrd (6-4 215 lbs) at the line of scrimmage. He is very good at jamming WR’s. Times his jumps well to break up the pass. Outstanding feet, very little wasted motion when changing direction. Great at flipping his hips and running with WR‘s. Misses some tackles. He looks a little lighter than his listed 194 lbs. He is the best cover CB I scouted in week one.

CB Kareem Jackson (5-11, 192 lbs) Alabama
Looks a little bigger than his listed 192 lbs (good weight). Very good backpedal and great feet. Stays on his WR hip. Rear smooth and fluid when turning and running with WR. Very impressive cover guy. He was able to stay on Virginia Tech fastest WR’s hip downfield. Looks to be the best cover CB for Alabama even though his teammate CB Javier Arenas has a bigger reputation. Made an interception on great coverage, but he caught it out of bounds; good ball skills.

CB Marquis Johnson (5-11, 192 lbs) Alabama
Good feet, looks fairly fluid when turning and running with WR. Gave up a TD on busted coverage. Good at jamming WR and still being able to keep great coverage. Broke up a pass after jamming WR then jumping the slant route to knock the ball away. Good change of direction.

S Byron Evans (5-11, 194 lbs) Georgia
He played three years as a CB. He runs a 4.26 40-yard dash. Outstanding range. Great acceleration to ball carrier. Big hitter. Has some nastiness in him (he went out of his way to knock WR Dez Bryant on his ass during a running play that was over, as to intimidate him. Bryant had to go to the side line to gather himself). He always wants to get a hit on the ball carrier i.e., gang tackle guy. He was so intent on getting a tackle that he pushed OT Russell Okung out of the way. Timed his hit just perfect on WR Dez Bryant and jarred the ball out of his hands (very hard hit). Good open field tackler.

RB Javarris James (6-0, 215 lbs) Miami
Runs with good power/does not go down easy. Very patient runner. Good cutback runner. Nice vision at finding running lanes. Made a outstanding block on DE which decleated him.

RB Craig Cooper (6-0, 202 lbs) Miami
Outstanding kick returner, he looked like Devin Hester as a returner. Great speed and change of direction. Great burst and ability to make defenders miss tackles. He was lined up as a WR and had a reception for a TD.

DT Allen Bailey (6-4, 290 lbs) Miami
Former LB, then DE, now 3-technique DT. Looks to have gained good weight, small waist for a 290 lb man. Getting double teamed a lot vs. Florida St. Hustle guy. Has a swim move. Does a good job of driving back o-lineman. Got a sack by getting good penetration into the backfield. Gets consistent penetration.

WR Danario Alexander (6-5 215 lbs) Missouri
Forty-six inch vertical jump. His size allows him to break tackles. He reminds me of Plexico Burress. He is more of a possession WR due to his size and lack of speed.

CB Carl Gettis (5-11, 200 lbs) Missouri
Good speed. Broke up a pass. Looks good against the run. Willing to fight off a block to make tackle. He stripped the ball from Illinois WR and his team recovered the fumble.

RB Kendall Hunter (5-8, 190 lbs) Oklahoma St
Good speed. Looks bigger than his listed 190 lbs. He keeps his legs churning when defenders have hold of him which enables his to get a couple of more yards, his legs don’t go dead.

SS Lucien Antoine (6-1, 215 lbs) Oklahoma St
He made a good tackle for loss by knifing past the fullback to tackle the RB in the back field. He forced a fumble. Hard hitter, not a passive guy.

RB Roy Upchurch (6-0, 201 lbs) Alabama
He has good vision, good speed, good agility, and great power for a 200 lb RB. He ran over one defender to score a TD and ran over another one later in the game (injuring the other player). He does not get that many carries despite his obvious talent. He runs angry looking to punish defenders. Easily breaks arm tackles. He fumbled the ball (stripped from behind). He is a backup player but very talented.

Thoughts from Clemson vs Georgia Tech

I came out of last night's game between Clemson and Georgia Tech with mixed feelings. Let's start with the positives. Yellow Jackets defensive end Derrick Morgan was very impressive in the first half. He recorded three sacks in the first quarter alone (taking his season tally to five) and he consistently caused problems for the Clemson offensive line. Great speed on the edge, good spin move. He was visibly exhausted at the end but that's understandable considering the amount of time he was on the field. Morgan never gave up though and was still causing problems late in the game.

As a junior he could declare for the 2010 draft. It's already looking like a loaded class on the defensive line, but if Morgan continues to generate sacks it'll be very tempting to throw his name into the hat too. He gets a glowing review from NFL Draft Scout.

Another junior, safety DeAndre McDaniels, also caught my eye. He recorded two interceptions (he has three this season already). Better known as a guy who delivers big hits, he's shown at the start of the season an a ball hawking ability and both picks were highlight reel quality. Unfortunately, he was arrested in June 2008 for an alleged assault on his girl friend. That might rule out any potential Seahawks interest, knowing Tim Ruskell's strict character policies.

On to the running backs and I was impressed with C.J. Spiller, particularly as a possible target for the Seahawks. Greg Knapp has emphasised the need for balance on offense and keeping teams guessing. One of the reasons they replaced T.J. Duckett for Edgerrin James in my opinion is the predictability of Duckett's game as a short yardage specialist. James is a more all round back with great blocking abilities.

Spiller really showed against GT that he can do it all. He took the bulk of the load as a rusher, carrying 20 times for 87 yards . He put in a real shift but never seemed to tire even when running deep routes late in the fourth quarter. One of the question marks I have about Spiller is whether he can carry the load on his own in the NFL. I'm still not entirely convinced, but he certainly showed last night that in certain circumstances he can be relied upon.

But it was the other things he did that impressed me most. He was spread out wide to play some wide receiver, he did some nice wheel routes and moved around in motion. He was a legitimate pass catching threat and his route running for a running back was very sound. He scored on a 63 yard deep route from QB Kyle Parker.

His pass blocking was also exceptional. A number of times he managed to block out the impressive Derrick Morgan (seemingly the only guy who could for Clemson). He looked very willing to make blocks and put his body on the line. As a complete package, I can see Spiller being the kind of guy Knapp would want on his offense. You could be creative with a guy like Spiller, he'll keep teams guessing. Keep an eye on him.

Unfortunately I wasn't anywhere near as impressed with Jonathan Dwyer, raising concerns that maybe the funky Georgia Tech triple option offense has inflated his production. He looked heavy to me and lacked any kind of explosion. He laboured to 66 yards on 18 carries and didn't register in a woeful passing performance from GT.

No doubt when he's given a clear running lane, he can accelerate into it and break away. But I'm not sure he has that initial burst from the line to blow through a gap. It's only one performance and I'll wait to see how he does over the next few weeks, but he didn't look like a top 15 draft pick like some people have been predicting. If Spiller vs Dwyer was a boxing match, this one was a 6th round stoppage in favor of the Clemson runner.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Forget running back Thursday

Scrap running back Thursday, I'm calling this Derrick Morgan Thursday instead. My main point of interest in the Georgia Tech/Clemson game was to take a good look at Jonathan Dwyer and C.J. Spiller. However, Morgan (a junior DE) has stolen the show in the first quarter. He already has three sacks (taking his tally to 5 in two games). He's shown speed off the edge, a good spin move, strength to plow through blockers and get to the QB. If this guy declares for the draft next year, he's going to be pushing the top defensive lineman in an already loaded class.

NFL Draft Scout gives him a first round grade: "Derrick Morgan’s consistency is a sight to behold. The junior plays all-out on every snap, no matter the opponent, and excels against the run and pass."

Running back Thursday

The NFL season kicks off tonight as attention turns towards the Titans/Steelers opener. However - I'm more interested in the mouth watering head-to-head between C.J. Spiller and Jonathan Dwyer in tonight's Georgia Tech vs Clemson match up. I'm officially naming today as 'Running back Thursday'.

Both got off to exciting starts last weekend. Spiller took the opening kick off 97 yards for a TD in the Tigers 37-14 victory over Middle Tennessee. He sat out the second half with a tweaked hamstring as a precaution, but will feature tonight.

Dwyer, the reigning ACC player of the year, scored from a 74 yard pitch on the first play from scrimmage in GT's 37-17 win over Jacksonville State. He added a further score later on but was quickly rested in anticipation of tougher tests ahead.

It's no secret that the Seahawks have lacked some dynamism at the position since the fall from grace of Shaun Alexander. The late decision to replace T.J. Duckett with Edgerrin James further suggests the team aren't entirely satisfied with their stable of backs.

It might be worth checking out the GT/Clemson game tonight if you want to see two of the better RB's who could be available in next year's draft. Spiller will certainly be there as a senior, Dwyer will likely declare as a junior.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

McShay on Gresham's injury, draft stock

Anyone for some mocks?

We've had one week of the college football season and the NFL schedule doesn't begin until tomorrow, however it's never too early to check on the latest mock drafts.

Walter Cherepinsky updated his 2010 mock today. It's a three round prediction, with the Seahawks picking at #4 and #21 in the first. They take a pair of explosive play makers in Eric Berry (S, Tennessee) and Jahvid Best (RB, California). Interestingly, Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma St) goes first overall to Kansas City. Personally, I'll be surprised if Okung is the first guy taken next April.

Matt McGuire also has a new mock out. The Seahawks pick second overall and sixteenth. They concentrate on offense, taking Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma) and Jonathan Dwyer (RB, Georgia Tech). In McGuire's mock, Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida) is the first pick going to the Raiders. I could easily see a situation where Dunlap, Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) and Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska) all go in the top five.

Draft Tek's sophisticated software has calculated a new consensus mock. The Seahawks pick at #8 and #13 and go heavy on offense - selecting Sam Bradford and Selvish Capers (OT, West Virginia). The Detroit Lions are picking first overall again and this time they select Ndamukong Suh - my #1 ranked draft prospect heading into this years college season.

Draft King thinks the Seahawks will have two picks in the top twelve. He says Colt McCoy (QB, Texas) at #6 and Ciron Black (OT, LSU) at #12. I have to admit, I'm not a fan of the picks. I don't think McCoy is a top 10 pick next year and really needs to go to a system that suites him. He'd be a wiser choice for someone like Denver, who will really on short routes and a lot of shotgun. Black is only a border line first round pick.

NFL Draft Dog has the Seahawks picking first overall. Not sure how the team would react to being lumbered with that kind of forced investment! It's of course the Broncos pick, I'm not sure Denver will be that bad in 2009. The Seahawks take Sam Bradford with the #1 pick and return to select Morgan Burnett (S, Georgia Tech) with the 18th selection.

What do you think? Let me know your views in the comments section or email rob@seahawksdraftblog.com

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Jermaine Gresham out for the season

Huge news today, Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee injury. He missed the season opener against BYU on Saturday and was considered out indefinitely. Surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee has taken place and it's now being reported he won't feature for the Sooners this year.

This is big for two reasons. Firstly, what will this do to his draft stock? He could have entered the 2009 draft but decided against it, despite being ranked as a sure fire top 20 pick.

Secondly, how does this affect Sam Bradford? We're still none the wiser as to how long he'll be out with a shoulder injury. If he returned in 2-4 weeks, he'll be without his No1 pass catching target. Without Gresham Saturday, Bradford toiled for a measly 96 yards in one half - a long way from the kind of numbers he posted last year to win the Heisman. If he does return soon, losing Gresham could hurt the quarter backs stock.

Gresham remains an unlikely choice for the Seahawks regardless. With John Carlson firmly planted as the team's long term option at tight end, taking another with a high draft pick would be deemed something of an unnecessary luxury. There could also be a red flag - he was arrested in April for failing to pay a seat belt citation.

Poll - Jones Soda - Bradford - Top performers

There's a new poll on the blog this week asking the question - who's the No 1 college Quarterback ahead of the 2010 draft? Place your vote on the right hand side bar and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

I'm pleased to reveal that Seahawks Draft Blog have struck up a partnership with Jones Soda. As you probably know, they're the official soft drink suppliers of the Seattle Seahawks so it's a pleasure to be associated with a brand working so closely with the franchise.

You'll find their banner placed on the right hand side bar and further down the page. By clicking on the images you'll be taken directly to the Jones Soda website. I'd like to encourage all readers to check out the links and help make the partnership a productive one. There's also a banner at the bottom of the page.



Monday, 7 September 2009

Say hello to Tony Pike

We've spent a lot of time discussing Sam Bradford's shoulder injury and the largely disappointing performance from Jevan Snead on Sunday, but are we maybe missing someone from the 2010 quarter back debate?

Tony Pike threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns as Cincinnati routed Rutgers on Monday 47-15. An inspired performance from the Bearcats signal caller, who's raised a few eyebrows. Mike Freeman at CBS Sportsline wonders whether he'll gate crash the draft:

"He's a better pure passer and more NFL ready than Tim Tebow. He's got a stronger arm than Colt McCoy. He's got the smarts of Jevan Snead and unlike Sam Bradford has two perfectly healthy shoulders. Some NFL scouts believe he's one of the fastest risers in all of college football and by the end of the season might be a first-round pick." - Mike Freeman

It's still early days and clearly the Rutgers defense didn't exactly put on the greatest performance. There's a danger of jumping on the bandwagon in these kind of situations. Before his master class in the season opener, we last saw him throwing four interceptions in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech.

However, it might be worth keeping an eye on Pike over the next few weeks. He's 6'6" and ranked 5th amongst QB's this year by NFL Draft Scout. He's reportedly had problems adding weight to his frame and is currently listed at a modest 226lbs.

Latest on Bradford, top 10 weekend plays



Sunday, 6 September 2009

Jevan Snead is Matt Stafford

Before the season began, I was touting Jevan Snead as my favorite college QB this year. Let's be honest, there were a few people on the bandwagon. It was a trendy pick - Snead's regarded as a solid pocket passer with a big arm. The comparisons to Matt Stafford were inevitable and the feeling was a solid year for a talented Rebels outfit could propel Snead into a potential #1 draft pick next year.

It's only one game, but the comparison appears justified. It's been a particularly inconsistent display from Snead against Memphis in Ole Miss' season opener. He's thrown two picks, made some terrible decisions and forced a lot of throws. At the same time, he has the big arm and is on the money when he gets a receiver in single coverage. Doesn't this just sound like Matt Stafford mark II?

His first pick occurred when he zoned in on Derek McLuster and without seemingly making any read, simply threw it straight to a defensive back. I'm not sure if it was a bad route from McLuster or not, but Snead threw almost without looking and barely in the receivers range. Memphis turned it into six shortly after.

With 12:25 left in the second quarter and Ole Miss at 2nd & 13, he moved out of the pocket and ran towards the line of scrimmage. With a good 5-6 yards of empty space in front of him, he should have taken the handful and moved on to third down. Instead, he noticed he was approaching the LOS, checked his run and then threw what could only be described as a basketball free throw into the direction of a covered receiver. The ball dropped safely to the ground, but it was an unnecessary incomplete throw when there was 4-5 rushing yards on offer.

He threw a second pick with 5:38 left in the half. Snead stepped away from pressure in the pocket before throwing deep into double coverage. He was easily picked off. It was a blatant example of Snead trying to rely on his arm too much and forcing the throw. The deep play was never on, but he didn't make a read. It was the kind of decision making which raised question marks about Matt Stafford last year and it's something Snead needs to control. He can't afford to always rely on his arm and he's shown an inability to manage this game thus far. Why make that play when you're 10-7 up?

His second half performance was a little better in the sense he made up for the picks with a couple of TD's. Both thrown from around the 20 yard line, showing that clinical ability when he latches onto a receiver in single coverage. Both passes were thrown well and he showed good athleticism on the first to avoid pressure.

It's only week one but the feeling I get with Snead is that he does have the tools the pro-teams will salivate over. Like Stafford, he has a big arm and can make all the throws. Like Stafford, he can be erratic and he will throw interceptions. With the national spotlight firmly fixed on his performances this season, it'll be interesting to see how Snead copes and if he can find the form he showed at the end of the 2008 season.

The other top QB's also endured mixed fortunes. Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy coasted to victories in powder puff contests, whilst Sam Bradford suffered an injured shoulder as Oklahoma crashed to BYU. On the other hand, it's been a great weekend for underclassman running backs. After the depth filled 2008 class of RB's and the declaration of Knowshon Moreno this year, it did look like a tough act to follow.

However, Jahvid Best showed off his Heisman potential with a great display against Maryland. Jonathan Dwyer made a good start as did Joe McKnight. I need to see more of all three to determine whether or not they have the kind of potential to be every down backs in the NFL, let alone top draft picks. It's a good start though and Best is the one that intrigues me the most.

Finally, Mel Kiper published some of his 2010 big board during the Ole Miss game today. He has Sam Bradford at #1 (although this doesn't take into account his recent injury). Jevan Snead is at #7. There's a couple of other interesting choices - Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) at #4 and Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State) as high as #8. Fellow Cowboy Russell Okung only makes it to #15.