Doug Farrar was on the John Clayton show on Saturday to talk some football and naturally they got onto the subject of the Seahawks' targets in free agency. I thought it was overall a really good listen on a number of subjects, but most interesting to me was when Clayton asked Farrar who he thought the Seahawks should put at the top of their list of guys to pursue. Farrar responded:
"The first thing that I do is I look very hard at, and I don't know in a four-year free agency circle, I don't know if the Bengals will be able to retain Johnathan Joseph, their great cornerback. The Bengals play a lot of Cover-1, Cover-3, you know this - the Seahawks play a lot of this single high safety look last year, they might change that a little bit if Milloy is sort of structured in and out, but I think he'd be a perfect fit.
"He's not a big guy, he's not 6'4 or anything and I know John Schneider likes bigger cornerbacks. I could see him as a perfect fit. I mean, everyone talks about 'oh, this and that with Brandon Mebane - Mebane's a need'. I think they'll retain Matt Hasselbeck so I don't see quarterback as a big need this year, but to me, the more Seahawks' tape I've watched from last season, you look back at the Tampa Bay game when Trufant's back was hurt, I think cornerback might be their biggest need when they retain the guys that they need to going into free agency. I think Nnamdi Asomugha will overprice himself for Seattle, but they've got to look at those second-tier cornerbacks pretty hard."
This goes a little bit against what I was talking about recently when I pointed out (citing all-knowledgeable Scott Enyeart) that in Pete Carroll's history at USC, his defense isn't typically driven by top-tier cornerbacks. Generally, you saw solid, not spectacular, coverage corners with size and ability in the run-support game. Not many all-world corners came into or out of USC and that's something to note.
On the other hand though, having a shutdown cornerback that can essentially lock up one side of the field is not something to discount. This is the NFL and the quarterbacks are infinitely better at this level - so I'm not going to suggest that Carroll will refuse to adapt a little. For what it's worth, I completely agree with Farrar on the subject and would love to see the Hawks pursue Joseph over almost any other player. John Clayton holds a similar view:
"I would agree with that. One of the best, I mean the sleeper duo for cornerbacks were Joseph and Leon Hall. When you watch them, and you're right about that ideal, they've got that ideal angular type of body that you love as far as using for Cover-1, and you know, just locking things down. Look at how well they played two years ago in 2009 when the Bengals won 10 games.... Joseph is a very good cornerback. You wonder what is going to be the right price, but you do have free agent money that you're able to spend, and that would be one of the moves that you'd like to make."
"Yeah, I think so. I did a piece on the Shutdown Corner on the 10 most coveted free agents in a four-year cycle, and again I mean maybe Sidney Rice would be adventurous, but I don't know how much they're going to look to bolster their wide receiver corps. They do have their other needs, but even with changes on their front, that's kind of Pete Carroll's concept, they gave up, I think they were top-3 in plays of over 20 yards given up. You know, we all saw the same film. That's to me, where they got to start if they want to (compete). I mean, look at their schedule, we're facing a lot of good quarterbacks this year."
"Right, particularly too, the NFC East, that's going to be the big challenge, because you've got three really top quarterbacks in that division, and who knows what's going to be there for the Washington Redskins."
Now, do I think that the Seahawks will pursue a high-priced cornerback once free agency starts? My gut feeling is that they probably won't, ...but depending on how you look at it, the Hawks may be forced to spend some money and apart from addressing the defensive line position, I can't think of anyone I'd rather see them woo.
Joseph is young, would come cheaper than Nnamdi Asomugha, and could legitimately change the complexion of the Seahawks' secondary. If you have Joseph as your number one corner you now have the opportunity to move Marcus Trufant to the number two spot and start working Walter Thurmond in for certain situations. With one side of the field locked down, you can start to move your safeties around in blitz packages with more confidence and can possibly give your defensive line that split second needed to turn a pressure into a sack.
What are your thoughts on Joseph?
Check out the rest of the interview in the embedded audio below; they touch on the offensive line and several other subjects as well so it's a good listen.