Wednesday, 21 April 2010

My mid-to-late-round linemen radar


By Kip Earlywine
I normally don't post much after Rob puts up a mock draft, but seeing as the draft is 24 hours away and this is pretty important, I guess I'll make an exception this time. Mock drafts are the backbone of any draft site, especially here at SDB. If you haven't seen it yet, you can check out Rob's final mock here.

Seattle is likely to draft a left tackle in the first round. If not Trent Williams or Bryan Bulaga 6th overall, then perhaps Charles Brown at a later time. I say likely, but not guaranteed. If Seattle decides there are two talents they simply can't pass on and tackle goes unaddressed through the first, that will put an even higher emphasis on the mid round linemen this year. Also, don't be shocked if Seattle takes more than 1 tackle prospect, as Gibbs and Carroll maintain a philosophy of competition and quality by volume. Seattle also needs guards and try not to be stunned if they take a center either. Overall, I expect at least two, quite possible three or even four lineman being drafted by the Seahawks (no inside source or anything, but the need is massive and the Seahawks have a ton of mid-late round picks).

Here are some options Seattle could be looking at starting at pick 60 and beyond. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather, some of the bigger and better known names that are expected to be taken in rounds 3-5.

Tackles:

Tony Washington (6'5.5", 311): If I had procrastinated less or had more time, I would have thrown up a POTD on Washington. According to some, Washington has 1st round talent and tools, and he fits the Gibbs prototype to a tee. 6'5.5", 311 lbs, 35.5" arms, solid athlete. Like Veldheer, Washington also played for a division II school, but at least his tools seem more in line with what Gibbs is looking for. If Seattle finds its "safe" option to start at left tackle in round 1, Washington would make an excellent backup project. The only reason Washington might be there in round 4 is that he once had sex with his sister back when he was 16 years old. I couldn't care less personally, but I could see how a PR-conscious GM might hesitate to take Washington in rounds 2 or 3.

Jared Veldheer (6'8", 312): Veldheer fits a zone scheme but has a lot going against him. First, he's unproven and arguably inexperienced, having played offensive line in division II football. The list of division II linemen to star in the NFL is not a long one. He's also 6'8", which is way above Gibbs' limit of 6'5.5". Gibbs teams have drafted a 6'8" player only 1 time in the past. Despite being insanely tall, Veldheer has Robert Gallery-like 33" arms, meaning he might have to move to guard... but then he'd be a 6'8" guard. I only mention Veldheer because he's a name that gets linked to Seattle a lot, but I think he's an incredibly unlikely option.

Ed Wang (6'5", 310): Wang was a bit of a veteran left tackle for Virginia Tech, a school that runs zone scheme and seems to shoot out 1-2 NFL draft picks every year. Wang is the son of two Chinese Olympians and it really showed at the combine: he's a great athlete, just a single notch below Trent Williams. He'll also make history when he makes his first snap, as he'll be the first NFL player of pure Chinese descent. His arms are a bit short (33.75") but otherwise, he has the tools to be an NFL left tackle. He's not just tools either, he was the anchor of his VT line last year. If Seattle passes on a tackle in round 1, Wang becomes a very likely option and might even coax a trade into the 3rd round.


Jason Fox (6'6.75", 305): Gibbs only rarely signs off on a tackle as tall as Jason Fox, but I'm really hoping he's willing to make an exception here. Fox had started 48 straight games for the Miami Hurricanes, all at left tackle, and did a solid-great job the entire time. Fox is above average in pass protection and has been compared to Michael Roos of the Titans. Back in December, Fox was considered a possible late 1st round pick, but since that time, Fox has had knee surgery, a heartbeat issue, and a very poor offseason (5.45 forty time at his pro-day). Fox's stock has hit the crapper, and he's now a likely 4th or even 5th round pick. If Gibbs is willing to go over his size limit a bit, and if Schneider is willing to gamble a little, Fox is a potentially massive steal in the mid rounds, and if his knee checks out, he could start at left tackle immediately.

Selvish Capers (6'5", 306): (Capers has that sad/bored expression in every photo he's every taken... heh) Capers has some of the best quickness among the entire tackle class, and his potential in pass protection is extremely high. He's also a perfect fit for Gibbs in terms of size (although his arms are a tad short: 34"). However, Capers is the definition of a long term project. He's the Jason Pierre-Paul of this tackle class. If Seattle drafts a tackle in the first round and wants a project backup later on, Capers could make a ton of sense.

Chris Marinelli (6'6.5", 301): Like Fox, Marinelli is significantly over Gibbs' height preference, but I hope he gets consideration anyway. A rock solid RT in 2008, Marinelli moved over to left tackle last year and had his best season on a suddenly very good run blocking line at Stanford. And this was despite fighting a shoulder injury most of the season. Marinelli could potentially go undrafted, which I think is just silly, his tools are right in line with the rest of the names on this list, but I guess its easy to be anonymous on a team like Stanford unless you rush for 1800 yards or are a future first round QB prospect. The Seahawks don't just need a starter at left tackle- they need overall tackle depth, and if Seattle wants to address tackle depth in the 6th or 7th round, Marinelli is an excellent option with a relatively good chance to be more than a backup.

Guards:

Jon Asamoah (6' 4.5", 305): Asamoah has been rising up draft boards this offseason, mainly because of a perception that he was a "hidden gem" on a terrible Illinois OL, much like Roger Saffold of Indiana. Asamoah makes a lot of sense for most zone teams- he's notable for being a fiesty and a gifted run blocker. A few things that work against him coming to Seattle is his height (Gibbs prefers interior linemen to be 6'3" max. Gibbs' teams have drafted 6'4" interior linemen in the past, but its relatively uncommon.) and draft stock (Asamoah may not even reach the #60 pick, much less the first 4th rounder.) Asamoah may also struggle as a pass blocker, his 31" arms were the shortest of any lineman at the combine.

Mitch Petrus (6'3", 307): (He looks like he's late to leading his youth bible study meeting) Mitch Petrus is a bit of a project, but nonetheless is notable for being one of the very few guards in this draft that meets all of Alex Gibbs strict standards. Petrus played RG in college and is known for being a good run blocker. I covered Mitch Petrus in my POTD series, if you want to read more, here's the link.




Marshall Newhouse (6'4", 322): I think its pretty unlikely that Gibbs will be that interested in Newhouse, but it is possible that his tools could potentially interest GM John Schneider if Newhouse slips into the 5th round.







Mike Johnson (6'5.5", 312): Johnson's stock has been slipping this offseason, and I'm not sure why. He was a very good guard on the national championship winning team. That said, Johnson would be the tallest interior lineman ever selected by a Gibbs team if Seattle does take him, which makes him a long shot.




Shawn Lauvao (6'3", 304): Unfortunately for us, Lauvao's NFL draft stock seems to be rising, and he's no longer likely to be around in the 6th or 7th round. Like Petrus, Lauvao is one of just a few interior linemen who meet all of Alex Gibbs strict standards. Lauvao also has the added benefit of playing against USC every year, so Pete Carroll should be pretty familiar with him. Lauvao probably has the best chance of being a Seahawk of all the names on this guards list.


Sergio Render (6'3", 311): Render played on a zone line alongside Ed Wang, and he fits Gibbs size requirements well. He was once considered a top NFL guard prospect, and its hard to find reasons why he's now a mid-round prospect. Injuries could play a part- he had a ton of injuries since 2008, including shoulder surgery. Although that shoulder surgery didn't slow him down almost at all in 2009.



Zane Beadles (6'4", 307): (Beadles grew up in Midvale, Utah. Shocking, I know.) Beadles is a bit tall for a Gibbs guard, but is otherwise a very attractive option. He's famous for being a crafty player on the field, and this was confirmed when he later had one of the highest scores on the Wonderlic test. Intelligence matters a lot to Gibbs, so this won't be viewed as a token asset. Beadles can play both tackle or guard, which provides some valuable depth and versatility. Despite his height, Beadles seems like a fairly likely option for the Seahawks.

Centers:

At the recent minicamp, we heard the team gush about Chris Spencer as a center, which is pretty surprising considering they just shipped off Rob Sims on the cheap for not being a great Gibbs fit, and there really isn't a whole lot of difference physically between Spencer and Sims. They could be telling the truth, and its true that Gibbs will always take a veteran center over a green one unless it can't be helped, but still- the Spencer talk screams pre-draft smokescreen to me. The team also seemingly does not see Max Unger as a center- which isn't entirely surprising. Unger is 6'5" and only played a couple years of center in college. I wouldn't say I "expect" the Seahawks to draft a center in this draft, but if Alex Gibbs identifies a center that he absolutely loves, don't be shocked if they take one.

JD Walton (6'3", 300): (More blue collar than the Blue Collar Comedy Tour) No lineman in the entire draft fits Alex Gibbs criteria the way JD Walton does, which is saying something because center is the position that Gibbs is the pickiest about. He has textbook Gibbs size, he has extremely good intangibles, he's very smart, he's very good as a run blocker, he plays with excellent leverage, and he's very experienced as a center in a zone scheme. Despite being a zone center and playing for the lowly Baylor Bears, JD Walton was a 1st team AP all american last year. Walton is unlikely to reach the 4th round, but could be an option in the 3rd if Seattle swings a trade down in the 1st or a trade up from the 4th.

Jeff Byers (6'3", 301): Once considered a top prospect coming out of high school, Byers has not reached his massive expectations at USC, but was still a solid player that showed flashes of excellence. He fits Gibbs physical tools perfectly and there is also the Pete Carroll connection. Byers could be a name to watch in the 5th or 6th round.

9 comments:

Matthew Baldwin said...

Excellent post Kip. I've been jonsing for some late round write-ups; especially on the o-line.

We need a starting LT and at the minimum, another developmental T. Ruskell left us with a thin bench when it comes to Ts.

What about G Shelly Smith out of Colorado St? I love his athleticsm and seems to be a 6th or 7th round prospect. Put him on the PS and let him grow up with Gibbs

Jon said...

True that, thanks Kip!

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of Selvish Capers because of his upside. With Gibbs, I wouldn't mind low floor, high ceiling. Ed Wang also has nice athleticism with higher floor.

You forgot to mention that Jon Asomoah is also extremely smart (check it up) with All Big 10 Academic Honors, which as you noted is a trait that Gibbs prizes. Unfortunately, I agree that he'll be gone by the 4th round and even potentially by the 60th pick (if so, I'd rather have Lamar Houston or Alalu).

Besides Shawn Lauvo, I also think Mitch Petrus is a realistic possibility with the 4th round pick.

Reading all this makes me really want to spend the first three picks on areas where we are weaker at coaching (e.g. safety, DE, DT). I now wouldn't mind Berry, Morgan, Houston/Alalu.

micah said...

I dream of Geno (Atkins). But that is DL.

On OL I like Tony Washington, but am not sure that the team will forgive him for having consensual sex with his biological sister.

I'm also hoping Byers is around in the 7th. In game breakdowns of Charles Brown on Fieldgulls, Byers frequently showed up to help Brown. He is receiving 7th round to RFA grade due to injury history on draftscout/cbs sports.

Darnell said...

I'd add Sean Allen, Ted Larsen and the other OT from Rutgers.

akki said...

Good summary, it makes me hopeful that there are some potentially good fits in the middle rounds for repairing the middle line. As for tackle, even if we take a LT in the first round, we should still take another later on. Our only backup on the roster would be Willis, and he's so non-suited for Gibbs' ZBS that I don't even think he'll make the team.

I like Capers too in the mid-rounds. If Williams gets a pass for adjustment period moving from RT to LT, then Capers deserves some slack too. I also figure we'll end up with at least one of the USC guys (Brown, Byers, Parsons).

I don't think Gibbs' height requirements are such a litmus test, even though we tend to apply it because it's easily measurable while the smarts and agility are not so. I interpreted the height limit more as a rough proxy for agility and leverage. If you're tall, your center of gravity is probably higher, making it harder to change direction, making it easier for defenders to get under your pads and knock you off balance, and making it harder to get down to make a cut block. However, I figure if you're above the height requirement but you're shaped like a bowling pin, or if you play with great leverage, or if you change directions unusually well for your height, then maybe Gibbs will give you a passing grade.

I think Spencer gets a pass that Sims doesn't due to two factors:
1) He has significantly more lateral agility than Sims does.
2) If Gibbs must have starting center with multiple years experience, then that disqualifies Unger for another year or so, and prevents you from drafting an immediate starter. Spencer isn't great, but he might represent the strongest of a weak lot of solutions.

Kip Earlywine said...

I just reformatted and I lost the link, but I recently saw a post on a message board that showed every 6'4"+ interior lineman ever drafted and every 6'7"+ tackle ever drafted by a Gibbs team. It was about 10-15 total players, from about 25 drafts, and a lot of those players came in before Gibbs became a big shot. I think Gibbs tends to get his way and exceptions to his height rules are minor. Most of the exceptions were 6'4" guards. I think there was one 6'8" tackle and one 6'5" center, and the center was a 7th round pick who started 20 games.

Akki, I agree with you about those two points in Spencer's favor, but Spencer is still more of a natural man scheme guy just like Sims is. As we now know, Gibbs is really picky about his centers being veterans- I think he'll go and find his center of the future perhaps in this draft and rely on Spencer for the next 2-3 years until the successor develops enough. That center of the future could be Vallos or Unger, but we really don't know how well Gibbs thinks of those two. Should be interesting to see how things go.

I like Capers, but then again I liked Wrotto before the 2007 draft. Oops. My one worry with Capers, and yeah this is shallow and perhaps unfair, but he just doesn't seem extremely bright to me, just like JPP. And like JPP, he's got a mountain of development ahead of him in an environment that destroys even the most prepared college prospects. Like JPP, I think the odds are REALLY stacked against Capers ever amounting to anything, but like JPP, if he does pan out, he'll be terrific.

Steve in Spain said...

Ack! Content overload!

Terrific post, Kip. Will be handy come Friday and Saturday.

Tony Washington intrigues because he will surely be drafted at a level far below where his talent as a football player alone would warrant. And like you, I'm reluctant to judge him too harshly; it was a consensual act of incest and happened a long time ago. Thing is, whether you like it or not, he *is* a registered sex offender in many states (unlike real rapists like Ben Roethlisburger). And some see the incident as being a symptom of more serious underlying emotional problems and a dysfunctional upbringing. Others think he wouldn't be taken seriously in the locker room. I think these concerns are overblown and if the guy can play football, then he deserves a late-round flyer.

Zane Beadles - Alex Gibbs attended his pro day, so at least he hasn't been outright discarded on the basis of his listed height. Rob Rang put Beadles on his Rang's Gang as an ideal ZBS OG.

CLanterman said...

Outstanding work Kip, quite possibly the most interesting draft piece I've read all year. I love late round prospects, especially when they're o-line ones that Gibbs is sure to have his eye on.
I definitely agree about Veldheer. I hear his named linked to the Seahawks, but I think there's almost a 0% chance of us taking him.

Wang, Render, and Byers are interesting, but I've heard that Gibbs is insistent upon having guys who are mostly injury free.