Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Russell Okung vs. Oregon (2008)


By Kip Earlywine
Sorry about taking so long from part I. I haven't talked about my personal life much, but I've been unemployed for a while... but that's changing soon and recently I've started preparing for a new job with a small business. For other reasons as well (including an HTML class and wanting to take a break from football for a little while), I just haven't had the time or energy to finish.

Today I finally looked at the first of my two 2008 OSU games. This one was the final game of the 2008 season for OSU, the Holiday Bowl against Oregon.

(Off-topic notes: (1) Zac Robinson was terrible in the first two games I watched. He simply killed his team's ability to move the ball with terrible decision making. Robinson did have a good 2008 season, and in the first half, he was pretty good here too. Unfortunately, his accuracy completely disappeared in the 4th quarter, he made Mike Teel look like Peyton Manning in comparison, and it cost his team a close game that they led for much of the contest. Through 3 games, I'm pretty happy the Seahawks didn't take a flier on him. (2) Three other Seahawks: Max Unger, Nick Reed, and Walter Thurmond, received a lot of face time in this game. Thurmond in particular had a very interesting game, and I'm excited about his future as a Seahawk. On one hand, he did little to stop Dez Bryant, who was a beast in this game. But Thurmond contributed with big plays throughout and flashed very good athleticism and polish. He made a circus interception on his back to end the 1st half, then opened the 2nd half with a 95 yard kickoff return inside the 5 yard line. He later even shed a down-field block by Russell Okung himself to tackle Zac Robinson and limit the damage of a successful trick play. (3) No .gifs this time :(. My efforts to secure a free gif host server with good bandwidth tolerance were unsuccessful. I actually have access to a host right now, but I don't yet know how to use it. I'm in the process of being trained. I'm hoping that if I contribute to this blog for next year's draft, I'll have figured out how to host gifs by that time, because I think gifs make these reports a lot more fun.)

Areas of strength:

Players tend to be at their most polished state when playing their final game of the season and this was true in this game as well as Okung's game against Ole Miss in 2009. Okung allowed no sacks and no penalties while facing the tenacious and annoying (and productive) Nick Reed on almost every snap. Okung did have 3 mistakes though against Reed, and all of them resulted in hurried throws, two for incompletions, and a couple rough QB hits. I was pretty surprised by Reed's ability to lay a hit. For what its worth, all of these mistakes were mental, including one play in the 2nd quarter where Reed ran unabated as Okung stared off in the distance, thinking about hot dogs or something. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. Are mental lapses fixable? After watching Seneca Wallace this year, I'm not very sure about that.

Nick Reed is a quick DE with a good inside move and fast edge rush. When Okung wasn't day-dreaming, he was with Reed step for step all game long which is very impressive given the difference in size between these two men. On at least a few plays, Okung actually tossed Reed around like a rag-doll, including a pass play for OSU's 2nd TD of the game. When Reed beat Okung in this game, it was because Okung was caught sleeping. When Okung beat Reed in this game, it was utter domination.

Overall, a few mental lapses aside, I thought Okung showed legitimate top 5 overall pick pass pro ability. He showed excellent footwork and hand use, and expertly picked up stunts and inside/outside moves. He was excellent as usual against the bull-rush and appropriately it was only rarely that an Oregon defender even attempted to bull him.

As a run blocker, this game comes somewhere in between the previous two games I covered. His drive blocking is pretty mediocre especially for his size and build, but his agility allowed him to get outside contain on Nick Reed on several outside sweeps, which is one of the toughest blocks to make for most linemen especially against a DE with Reed's agility.

Okung had very few negatives in this game, and his ability to play well at the end of each season is a positive sign in a few ways. It shows that he is capable of improving week to week and good play late in the year is often the byproduct of excellent physical resilience and durability.

Areas of weakness:

I've scouted three games now, and Okung has shown some pretty head-scratching mental errors in all three. It makes me worry that like Seneca Wallace, he might be hampered by a minor but significant mental disability of some sort. Which isn't to say Okung isn't smart or has serious mental issues, just that some people are born more mistake prone than others and Okung appears to be one of them. So far at least. Okung has a ton of talent and if the mistakes are fixable, he could be an all-pro LT. Okung is either going to blossom under Gibbs... or drive Gibbs utterly insane. There will be no middle ground.

Other than the mental lapses, I can only nitpick really. I don't like how Okung is a minimum effort guy. When he gives 100% effort- you can really tell because he just manhandles the opposition. That happened a few times in this game, and it was awesome, but if only it would happen every snap. Okung is the type that doesn't use maximum effort because he can skate by at 80% and still win. He'll stand and watch plays when he thinks his task is done. He's horrible at 2nd level blocks (just one good 2nd level block all game long), and part of that is a poor straight line speed, but its mostly due to lacking a mean-streak and killer instinct.

Overall, this was a solid performance by Okung which is fairly consistent with his other performances. Okung is a very talented lineman with terrific tools, and because he's so blessed, he rides those tools to easy victories instead of going the extra mile for true greatness. The mental lapses worry me and I think they could hold him back throughout his pro career, and his run blocking overall leaves something to be desired, but his overall pass protection, mental goof-ups and all, is still very good.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Seahawks to hire Scot McLoughan

By Rob Staton
It's being reported that the Seattle Seahawks are set to hire former 49ers GM Scot McLoughan to an unnamed position. The 39-year old left San Francisco just before the draft citing undisclosed personal matters. He will likely take a senior personnel position with a significant input to college scouting. McLoughan and current Seahawks GM John Schneider are essentially branches from the same tree - both working together under Ron Wolf in Green Bay. McLoughan held a previous position with the Seahawks and as Mike Sando reports, Schneider has credited McLoughan for helping build Seattle's Superbowl XL team.

It was a significant shock when McLoughan left the 49ers and it's still relatively unclear why that happened. However, this is an excellent move for the Seahawks. McLoughan had received widespread praise for helping rebuild San Francisco into a team most expect to be contenders in the NFC West this year. His previous work in Seattle speaks for itself. This could have a healthy impact on Seattle's ability to rebuild going forward.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Seahawks sign Thurmond & Wilson

By Rob Staton
The Seahawks today agreed terms with fourth round picks Walter Thurmond and E.J. Wilson. It leaves just Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Golden Tate as the remaining rookies to sign up. It'll be more difficult to sign three high picks before camp begins - although it's a challenge the new front office will no doubt thrive upon.

A lineman with size, Wilson is expected to back-up Lawrence Jackson and Red Bryant at left end. He could see some time as part of a rotation in year one but could be limited to a role on special teams. Thurmond is still recovering from an injury that hampered his 2009 season with Oregon and led to a subsequent drop on draft day. He may have some special teams value as a rookie, but his priority must be to heal up for the foreseeable future.

How good is Terrelle Pryor?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Seventh-round picks sign up

By Rob Staton
The Seahawks agreed terms with their two seventh round picks today. Dexter Davis (DE) and Jameson Konz (WR/TE) both signed deals and join Anthony McCoy (TE) and Kam Chancellor (SS) as rookies to complete contracts. Five members of the 2010 draft class are yet to agree terms. Elsewhere, an eventful week for Golden Tate was made even more noticeable when he was drafted to the MLB. The San Francisco Giants selected him in the 50th round, 1518 overall. I guess the drop to the 50th round could've been donut-related.

Pete Carroll unplugged

Friday, 4 June 2010

Mel Kiper's impact rookies

By Rob Staton
Mel Kiper has posted an article listing the rookies he believes have impact-potential in 2010. You'll need to be an ESPN insider to read the article in full, but there is a Seahawks representative. Kiper names four defensive 'shoe-ins' who he expects will hit the ground running in year one. Aside from Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Eric Berry - Earl Thomas is also listed.

"I think Thomas might even have a chance to make a bigger impact early than Eric Berry, just because his pass-coverage skills are so advanced, and his instincts so good that it's hard to imagine that he won't quickly be stepping in front of some passes at the NFL level. Thomas just makes you a better pass-coverage unit, period."
- Mel Kiper, ESPN

My own personal opinion is to only ever be surprised when rookies have a huge impact. Of the top ten picks last year, only Mark Sanchez had a lasting impact. Even still, he was inconsistent and erratic during the regular season. He was helped significantly in the post season by excellent defense and a good running game, but kept things together. Michael Crabtree was excellent considering he missed time early due to an extended hold out, but was too late to help the 49ers make a realistic push for the post season.

Aaron Curry probably would've been listed in a similar 'shoe-in' list last year. Unfortunately, despite a bright start the linebacker saw a decrease in game-time and impact as the Seahawks slumped to 5-11. Both of Seattle's first round picks (and second rounder Golden Tate) will be put on the field quickly. The need for patience is vital though amongst pundits and fans alike. Potential is one thing, execution and consistency is another. A good year for Seattle's top rookie's will be a great understanding of their schemes and the knowledge of what it takes to succeed in the NFL.

If the numbers don't match the quality of experience, it won't necessarily be a negative.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Chancellor the second rookie to sign

By Rob Staton
Kam Chancellor has agreed terms with the Seahawks on a four year deal, becoming the second rookie to do so. The fifth round draft pick has inked a $2.83m contract. The deal can escalate to a low-end restricted free agent contract in the final year depending on performance. Chancellor is a developmental strong safety who has a chance to have some impact on special teams this year. Although he is a good fit physically to start at SS, don't expect to see two rookies starting at safety for the Seahawks in 2010.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Anthony McCoy the first to sign-up

By Rob Staton
Anthony McCoy (TE, USC) became the first member of the Seahawks 2010 draft class to agree terms today. He's signed a four-year deal having been drafted in round six. Although McCoy might not have much impact as a rookie, he's one to keep an eye on. Ultra-talented and with major upside, his off the field issues cost him dearly on draft day. If he wants to be good, he can be. Here's what I wrote about McCoy shortly after the draft.