By Kip Earlywine
I've come pretty close to covering what I think are the realistic options for Seattle at #6 and #14. I still have a few 1st round names to go, but I'm going to start covering 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round options from now until draft day. If you've got a player you want me to look at, be sure to post it in the comments (Toby Gerhart is next). I thought I'd do a preview of Gilyard, who really caught my eye today in WR drills. He reminds me so much of Deion Branch, its kind of scary. See for yourself.
Weight: 187 lbs.
40 time: 4.56/4.62
- Snappy hands, catches and secures the ball lightning quick
- Reaches top speed very quickly
- Effortless, smooth runner
- Concise routes
- Very quick
- Good over the shoulder catching ability
- Accomplished kick returner
- Highly productive, consistent
- Slight Frame
- Average speed
- Not overly physical
- Body catches a little too often
- Not especially shifty
- Not a big YAC threat
- Comes from spread offense
- Not a #1 WR
Branch hasn't exactly had a sterling career since joining the Seahawks, but that's partly due to injuries, partly due to a lack of chemistry with Hasselbeck, and partly due to an iffy scheme fit with Holmgren and Knapp. Seattle will probably have a new QB in a year or two, and a new scheme is already here. Jeremy Bates runs a New England-ish offensive scheme and GM John Schneider has gone on record saying that he thinks Deion Branch will be a good fit for the new system. However, Branch is unlikely to capitalize on this, as he is oft-injured, over 30, and might have played his last snap in Seattle.
Branch's would-be successor, Deon Butler, is a bit of an oddity in that he has the skills of a slot WR and the speed of a deep threat but the size/frame for neither. He's also a Tim Ruskell holdover and its unclear exactly how the new regime views him. If Carroll and company do not view Butler as their Eddie Royal, they may attempt to add one between rounds 2-4. Gilyard is incredibly similar to a young Branch, and other receivers might fit the role as well. Jordan Shipley of Texas has drawn many comparisons to the Patriots' Wes Welker. I'd consider Gilyard and Shipley to be "outside looking in" guys at this point, but both are certainly worth keeping an eye on just in case.
I'm not a combine detractor, but I agree with its critics that some of the skill position drills are basically worthless. Watching a WR catch 5 passes in 5 seconds as if from a conveyor belt tells us nothing about his ability to catch them in a real game. So while admittedly I don't take anything from these types of drills, I thought Gilyard stood out in them. I really liked his discipline and the quickness with his hands.
When I went to look up footage of him online in real games, I saw the same thing. Like Deion Branch, he attacks the ball with his hands, and very quickly secures the ball into his body while keeping the ball under complete control. Not many WR can do that as well as Gilyard can. I was impressed. I could summarize Gilyard's entire skillset in just one word: Crisp.
Gilyard is not a #1 WR, and he's not the Brandon Marshall type that both Schneider and Carroll covet, but he could fit nicely for Bates. For Cincinnati he was a good security blanket type with some big play ability. In the NFL, he could be an 60-80 catch a year #2 if placed in the right offense. Whether the Seahawks take him or not depends completely on how they view Butler and what role they see him in, if any. Gilyard figures to be taken in round 2-3.