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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Kip Earlywine