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Now that the draft is over and we've had a few days to research the newest Seahawks, most of us naturally have our favorite/least favorite picks. Though I can say with all honesty that I like a FEW of our draft picks a lot, I think my favorite pick so far is Appalachian State safety Mark LeGree. Here's why I like it: first, I just inherently like mid-round small school prospects; call it a quixotic sentiment, but I think the idea of finding a potential future ballhawking playmaker and plucking him from relative obscurity is exciting.
The guy led all of FCS with a career 22 interceptions. Despite being largely avoided by opposing offenses by his senior season, he still made 5 interceptions and broke up 8 passes. The instincts and football IQ needed for that kind of production when opposing teams gameplan away from you is pretty impressive. He flew under the radar due to his average athleticism, but as the cliche goes, he appears to have elite game speed. He also shows an uncanny ability to read the quarterback's eyes and his football instincts seem to be off the charts.
Obviously, because he was in FCS and facing lower competition he'll have a steep learning curve coming into the NFL. He'll have to take a few bumps as NFL caliber QBs look him off of routes and he'll undoubtedly get suckered on pump fakes a time or three. But, if he can translate some of those instincts and natural ballhawking ability to this level he could be a huge steal for the Hawks. He plays like a free safety and that may be where they see him, but with the amount the Hawks used the Nickel and Bandit packages last year I can easily see him playing alongside Earl Thomas in passing situations and that would give the Hawks the type of turnover producing secondary they have been sorely missing.
I have no doubt this is why Pete Carroll and John Schneider ultimately took a chance on LeGree. For a coach that has a Turnover Thursday every week of practice during the season, it's a no-brainer to go get one of the biggest turnover-producing machines in FCS. NFL teams that were plus or even in the turnover ratio in 2010 had a combined record of 215-41. In other words, teams that win the turnover battle win 84% of the time. The Seahawks had 12 interceptions in 2010 compared to 20 by their opponents. Getting playmakers was one of the Hawks' biggest priorities on defense and they did that with Mark LeGree, a guy that I think could have an immediate impact in certain sets and could be a star down the road.
On the other hand, my least favorite pick was probably Lazarius 'Pep' Levingston, but more so due to my ignorance of who he was or what he could bring to the table. I was hoping for Lawrence Guy (taken shortly after) or an interior defensive tackle but the Hawks chose to add depth at the 5-tech position with the selection of Levingston. At this point his obscurity and a collection of relatively mediocre scouting reports haven't helped, but because the 5-tech in Pete Carroll's defense is a bit of a unique position, the Hawks' front office must see something in him that they can work with at that spot.
He appears to be pretty athletic for his size and from multiple accounts, he uses his hands well and can get off of blocks violently. He's got the size and speed you'd expect for the position - Red Bryant is a bit of an anomaly with his size/speed ratio so you can't really hope to find that very often. Pep is about 6'4, 292, and if he can gain about 10 pounds he'd be at about what you'd expect in size from a 2-gapping DE in a 3-4, or in Pete Carroll's case, a C-Gap run stopping specialist in his 4-3 under scheme at the 5-tech position.
We'll see how he does in OTA's and training camp.
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