Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Deon Grant's departure and Taylor Mays

By Rob Staton
The Seahawks released starting strong safety Deon Grant yesterday, igniting a lot of talk that it's a sign of intent that Seattle will draft a safety early. I particularly enjoyed Jon's remark in the comments section: "What's the over/under on Mel Kiper mocking Eric Berry to the Hawks? I say 20 hours, take the under."

On a more serious note, I'm not sure the Seahawks would entertain drafting a safety as high as 6th overall - the pick it would take to secure the Tennessee product. Even with a hole created in the secondary since Grant's departure, it would appear to be something of a luxury considering the continued lack of a pass rush - not to mention the laundry list of long and short term needs on offense. Nevertheless, you would imagine someone will be added at some stage with only Jordan Babineaux and Jamar Adams the recognised safety's left on the roster.

Resident scout Kyle Rota raised the following points and I think he's made a very solid judgement call. Let's say the Seahawks did draft Berry and paired him with Babineaux in the secondary. Your two starters would be 5'11", 211lbs (Berry) and 6'0" and 200lbs (Babineaux). Neither are physically imposing players and despite many reports to the contrary, I still hold some concerns about Berry's ability in run support and particularly his tackling. I also expect his playing weight will be nearer the 200lbs mark than the 211lbs listed at the combine. As a partnership, it would almost be like playing four starting cornerbacks. In comparison, Deon Grant was 6'2", 210lbs.

There's been a lot of negative reports on Mays. I've voiced some concerns about his ability in coverage and reliance on the big hit rather than playing the ball. But what Mays did afford Pete Carroll at USC was the ability to use a lot of eight-man fronts. Mays hasn't just got linebacker size to stand up against the run - he's also got (as proven at the combine) unique, blistering speed to get back and cover if the pass is called. That makes it incredibly hard for an opposition offense to get a read on the defense. You can potentially commit more up front to the rush too, knowing you have that size/speed combo as your last line of defense. In run support, there are also some positives in Mays' game as he has the size to bring down bigger running backs but the speed to keep up with the nimble guys too. One of the more memorable moments during the 2009 season for me personally was watching Mays shadow Jahvid Best as he bounced out wide before bringing him down for a short loss. Not many guys keep up with Jahvid Best when he finds the edge.

Are the Seahawks more likely to draft a safety high after Grant's release? I'm still sceptical. Whether Seattle would potentially take Mays at #14 is debatable - it's still the same kind of luxury discussed at the start of the article. But Pete Carroll did offer more glowing praise to Taylor Mays than many of the other big name prospects leaving the SoCal production line. He knew the value of Mays to his defense, even if it meant living with some of the obvious issues that came with it. That could be the case again in Seattle, as Carroll and his staff look to stamp their authority on both sides of the ball. Unlikely, perhaps, but I wouldn't rule it out either.


CLanterman said...

If we draft Mays, I think I'll revolt as a Seahawks fan. I know he's athletic as hell, but I'm not a fan in the slightest.

Rob Staton said...

I think it's unlikely, but I'm loathe to rule it out.

akki said...

Bob Sanders and Antoine Bethea play a cover two and aren't big either. Of course, Sanders hits like someone weighing 20 lbs more.

Rob, the best thing about this blog is that the writers don't just see things in black and white, and try to explain that different points of view also have some validity. It's a good change from mass media types who are paid to develop strong opinions and ignore contrary evidence. It may generate buzz and ratings but gets annoying after a while.

That said, since I agree with CLanterman, heh heh. I watched the USC-Stanford game and hitting power is nothing when you can't get a clean shot on Gerhart because you were a split second late in your reactions. That's even though you knew he was getting the ball.

Anonymous said...

Akwasi Owusu-Ansah I think is also a possibility. Hes big (6-1/207), had an impressive combine and an even more impressive pro day (4.31 40). He played CB in college but a lot of scouts are thinking he might play safety as well. He is also a solid return guy!

Dan Alexander said...

What about Earl Thomas at #14?

I personally like that pick better than Berry at 6 or Mays period. I'm not a Mays hater, have doubts obviously and think his athletic abilities force whoever drafts him to take him earlier than his football abilities are worth. But with him, you HAVE to take him early, he wont fall to where his actual on-field value is.

DSAhawker via google identity :)

CLanterman said...

Earl Thomas is like Berry in that he's a bit on the small side when it comes to safeties.
I was a huge Delmas fan last year, since he's like Bob Sanders or Troy Polamalu in that he hits really hard, but he also has great instincts and can get an interception.

If we were to opt for a big safety, I'd much rather go with Chad Jones from LSU (225 pounds), though Reshad Jones isn't bad and of course I love Burnett even though both those guys are 'just' 210 lbs.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Mays would not be an ideal choice at 14. But if his flaws are not so ingrained that they can't be coached up, I have to admit the thought of him bringing the wood to Fitzgerald and Crabtree twice a year tends to warm my heart a little.

Kyle Rota said...

Just some thoughts regarding safety:

I don't care much for Mays. The good: Unbelievably athleticism, I totally believed he ran a 4.24 when that was his unofficial time, it makes sense because in a straight line he eats up ground like few others. With his big hands, I wish he played WR instead, he'd be special if he had any ball skills. He's a hard worker and a good tackler who smartly chooses when to hit and when to tackle.

His read/react seems fine (probably hurt him a little that USC put him in Cover-1 a lot... Too much ground for anyone to cover terribly well, IMO), that isn't a big concern, but he has 0 interest in playing the ball in the air and that hurts him a lot. Either he was coached not to, which probably wouldn't change in Seattle, or he just doesn't have the ball skills, which isn't good either. At some point, Mays becomes a good choice. But I don't see him becoming a superstar at S, no matter how physically appealing he is.

I want to like Chad Jones (LSU), mainly because I like LSU, I'm a baseball fan (Jones the pitcher has a pro-baseball future, if he so desired), and I like players who are easily identifiable (hair - makes it much much much easier to scout a guy when you can consistently locate him. There are times I have to watch 3 replays just to make sure that I'm indeed watching the right guy). That aside, I've heard from 2 very good amateur-scout types that Jones is not very good. IIRC, one said undraftable the other said not until the late rounds. I guess he doesn't play fast and that puts him out of position. I don't always agree with either of those guys, but I respect them and until I scout Jones they're the most reliable source I know of.

Morgan Burnette I did when scouting Morgan, but I don't think I'll do a report on him. He gets in position to make a ton of plays... but he misses a ton of them as well. Misses tackles, gets beat all over the field against the pass... I just really didn't see much to like other than perhaps instincts/read and react.

Like CLanternman, I'm really interested in Georgia's Reshad Jones. I haven't done much with UGA this year, but last year I scouted that team pretty heavily and Jones made a very good impression. He's definitely on my list of safeties, especially since I think we'll be looking for physical but athletic safeties... that sounds like Jones, to me.

myjackrebel said...

ball skills is something he can/will/is working on and was able to flash it in the senior bowl. Let him play center field and stuff 8 men in the box


By releasing Grant before the NFL Draft the Hawks showed their hand! This is the second mistake that the new coaching staff has done. First mistake giving up a proven second string QB Senca Wallace for 6th or 7th rd pick. When the Hawks could of gotten Brady Quinn for Senca straight-up. If the reports are true about Whitehurst its gonna cost us a 3rd rd. pick to acquire his service. Wasting a very needed pick when trying to rebuild. What do guys think?

Anonymous said...

A perfect fit would be: Chancellor 6-3-1/4, 231-lbs, 4.60 he is a hard hitter and has played FS and SS, Lots of upside abnd he should be available in the 4th round at pick #101. Check him out!

Jon said...

And of course now with Tapp being traded we will be mocked to get Eversen Griffen all the more. DE was a real possibility, and not a luxury like safety as Rob points out so I think the odds of a first round DE have gone up a bit since Clemons figures as more of an Elephant position guy than a straight up 4-3 DE.

Anonymous said...

I am with you. Why wouldn't the hawks just trade wallace for a young guy like quinn (who could learn from hass for a year or two). Now we need to draft a qb and s. Not making alot of sense right now. And why give up a 3rd (which we don't have) for whitehurst. would rather have tebow.

e in f

Tim Malone said...

The Broncos gave up two draft picks and a serviceable starter for Quinn. I'm not a fan of Holmgren as football czar, he'll be coach next year, but he wouldn't have taken the Hawks deal over the Broncos.

Mays is just like Roy Williams the safety. In the NBA he's a guy who can "jump out of the gym." But he doesn't make plays, I prefer CBs like Wilson, Haden and Franks. 2 of the 3 can contribute on special teams.

Rob Staton said...

I think the chances have increased that Seattle will take a DE early. Lest we forget, this is a very strong year for defensive ends. Morgan, JPP, Griffen, Graham, Dunlap.