2012 NFL Draft: Notes on Potential Front-7 Targets for the Seahawks

Earlier this month I did a series of posts on potential targets for the Seahawks at various front seven positions. Here are the links; 3-techs, MLBs, 5-techs, OLBs, and LEOs. Early January might bit premature to put together such lists. Many prospects will rise before the draft in April, others will fall. I think it's good to have a starting point when considering our options though. These past two weeks were a great opportunity for many prospects to show their muster with the East West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl taking place.

The value of college all-star games from an evaluation stand-point is a bit controversial. Some believe it is an excellent chance to see highly rated prospects matched up head-to-head. Others believe you can't trust the results from just one week of practice and a game where the scoreboard is meaningless. The truth of the matter is probably somewhere in between.

John Schneider weighed in on the subject in this article by Clare Farnsworth last off-season.

Schneider learned the player-evaluation game from Ron Wolf while working for the Green Bay Packers, and still recites what he calls a "rule of thumb" handed down by Wolf.

"He always used to say, ‘An all-star game can only help somebody, it can’t hurt somebody.’ Because really what you’re focusing on is how they played in the fall," Schneider said, adding that the process also includes how the player progressed through his career, how he played against the better competition and how he played later in the season when the games often took on more significance.

"Some of the biggest mistakes, just from a pure evaluation standpoint, that I have made have been from all-star games – because the guy had a real nice week at the Senior Bowl. So I might have gone the other way, and not really truly stuck with my feelings on how I felt about him in the fall."

Past the jump you will find notes on how some of the prospects from my lists performed during the past two weeks. You will also find brief scouting reports and film on some prospects who aren't on the lists but should have been. I will indicate what list they should be on and how they might fit into the Hawks plans. With the front seven wrapped up, I will continue on and provide lists for CBs, safeties, RBs, WRs, and QBs in the coming weeks.

3-techniques

Kendall Reyes (6-4 300) RS Senior from Conneticut - I listed Reyes as a 5-tech mostly due to his height/weight ratio. I have since changed my mind. Reyes is plenty strong enough to play 3-tech. Reports from his Senior Bowl weigh in are that he has an extremely powerful build and further film review has revealed he uses his strength well. Reyes was easily the most impressive interior defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl in my opinion.

In college he often played NT and frequently faced multiple blockers, which perhaps prompted the concerns about his pass rush ability entering the week of practice. Reyes quickly put those concerns to rest. He flourished playing in space, consistently beating his man in pass rush drills. He then matched that with a solid performance in the game as the starting 3-tech for the North.

Reyes quickly attacks the B-gap off the snap and then continues driving up field. What really sets him apart is how he holds the POA as he diagnosis the play. Many 3-techs will penetrate themselves right out of the play but not Reyes. He penetrates and then sheds or bulls or gets his hands up to knock the pass down. Reyes might not rack up the sacks but if the Hawks stick with their current read-react scheme then Reyes will be high on the list. Here he is against Syracuse this year, film that wasn't in the 5-tech post.

Brandon Thompson (6-2 311) Senior from Clemson

I didn't include Thompson on my original 3-tech list because he has short arms and can struggle shedding blocks. I now realize that might be a bit narrow minded. I value the ability to shed blocks highly because with an undersized LEO DE playing next to the 3-tech, this is an important trait for defending the run on the weak-side. However, Thompson does anchor well and is very disruptive in the backfield with his impressive burst off the line and nimble feet.

If pass rush ability and a strong anchor are enough then Thompson will be in consideration for our second round pick. Here is a scouting report. Below you can watch him against Florida State this year and here he is against Virginia Tech.


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Akiem Hicks (6-5 324) RS Senior from Regina

Hicks is huge and powerful with arms like anacondas and feet like a cat's. How did I miss this guy? Oh right. He played for the Regina Rams in Canada. Well, he's certainly on my radar now. Hicks was the most active interior pass rusher at the East West Shrine Game. His technique is raw and he plays too high but his motor runs hot and his athleticism is readily apparent.

Below you can see some 2011 highlights and here is an interview with some film, including a short clip of him demolishing Chandler Harnish in the Shrine game.


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Jaye Howard (6-3 295) RS Senior from Florida - Quietly put together a nice Senior Bowl week of practice and had some nice plays in the game. The guy is just starting to realize his potential.

DaJohn Harris (6-3 308) RS Senior from Southern California - Isn't quite as big as I suspected but seems to use his size better than I had scouted. He does in fact play with good leverage. Inconsistent effort remains the primary concern.

5-techniques

Quinton Coples (6-6 281) Senior from North Carolina - You don't need a scouting report from me on Coples. You already know the deal. Who will take the leap of faith? I don't think it will be the Seahawks but I can't be sure. He was easily the best player on the field in the Senior Bowl. John Schneider and I are wondering where that player was for most of the 2011 season.

Kheeston Randall (6-5 297) Senior from Texas - Not a lot of buzz about Randall and I didn't notice him much in the game. He seems to be exactly what I scouted, an immovable object.

Derek Wolfe (6-5 286) Senior from Cincinnati - Strong. Active. Not athletic.

MLBs

Audie Cole (6-4 248) RS Senior from North Carolina State - Cole showed well in the Senior Bowl and definitely flashes potential as a pass rusher. Here he is against Louisville this year, which wasn't available when I made the MLB post.

Emmanuel Acho (6-1 235) Senior from Texas - Acho was moved to OLB for the week but the switch didn't go too well. He was stiff as a pass rusher and struggled to match-up in man coverage. He'll be best in the middle in my opinion. Should still be a mid-late round option for us.

OLBs

Sean Spence (5-11 228) Senior from Miami

Sean Spence is undersized yet very athletic and is a legitimate playmaker who can really pack a punch. He has great instincts and really attacks the LOS. Spence seems to be the linebacker Travis Lewis was supposed to be entering the season. He would start at WILL from day one.

Spence has been steadily rising up draft boards and Rob Staton projected him to the Seahawks with 12th pick in his most recent mock draft. I don't see that happening but he could be an option for us in the second. He had a quiet Senior Bowl but Mike Mayock took note of him, saying he "made money" during the week of practice.

Here is a scouting report. Below you can watch him against Clemson and here he is against Ohio State. Both games are from 2010.


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Courtney Upshaw (6-1 273) Senior from Alabama - I had Upshaw as a LEO but it's looking like he's an OLB who can rotate in on the DL. Check out Rob Staton's fieldgulls article on Upshaw if you haven't already. He didn't make much noise in the Senior Bowl but reportedly had a good week of practice.

Zach Brown (6-1 236) Senior from North Carolina - Brown had an excellent Senior Bowl and seemed determined to show more physicality. That might have been a Senior Bowl aberration but he was still flying around making plays. There's no question he has top tier instincts and closing speed and he's also very comfortable in coverage. I'm probably in the minority with this opinion but I feel Brown would be a "safe" pick at the 11/12 spot.

Melvin Ingram (6-2 276) RS Senior from South Carolina - Ingram has received a lot of hype recently but didn't do much to justify it at the Senior Bowl. He apparently looked flabby at the weigh in and was a complete non-factor in the game. He flashed in the one-on-one drills but not consistently. I've also started to notice that while Ingram's very active, it's often at the expense of the POA. There's no doubt he's athletic and he can absolutely take over games at times. But the inconsistency makes me nervous about using a top-15 pick on him.

Bobby Wagner (6-0 241) Senior from Utah State - Bobby Wagner did very well for himself with an interception and a number of strong tackles at the Senior Bowl. He's extremely well rounded and could move inside if needed. He probably won't be a star at the next level but he's about as close to a guaranteed quality starter as you can get.

Lavonte David (6-1 225) Senior from Nebraska - I didn't notice David as much as I expected to. If John Schneider says the Senior Bowl can't hurt a player's stock, I guess I'll just have to take his word for it.

Keenan Robinson (6-3 240) RS Senior from Texas - I don't have much to add from my initial scouting report except that my suspicions about him having some pass rush ability might be confirmed. He reportedly showed nice burst and bend in pass rush drills during the week.

Josh Kaddu (6-3 235) Senior from Oregon - New name on this list. Kaddu has the three F's of linebacking; he's fluid, fast, and physical. He's raw though and could stand to add a bit more bulk. Kaddu will be a special teams contributor right away and has all the potential to develop into a full-time starter. Also, Pac-12 connection?

LEOs

Vinny Curry (6-3 265) RS Senior from Marshall - Curry impressed all week and continued that trend in the Senior Bowl. The guy is just an animal. OT's better pull their chin straps tight when trying to block him. The Hawks will be lucky if he's still available come their pick in the second round.

Cam Johnson (6-4 267) Senior from Virginia

New name on the LEO list. Cam Johnson was virtually unblockable in the one-on-one drills this week and as Mike Mayock put it, he "has a real knack for rushing the passer." Johnson is low, explosive, and has a way of sliding past blockers. He also has a relentless motor and heavy hands to keep OTs off his body. He should hold up against the run pretty well.

Johnson reminds me a lot of Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles, who also rose up the boards after looking unblockable in Senior Bowl drills. The Seahawks had Graham rated very highly before he was selected one pick before us and we took Earl Thomas. Neither fit the mold of a LEO in the way of a Chris Clemons speed rusher. But the ability to get after the QB made Graham, and now probably Johnson, an attractive option for us.

Below you can watch him against Miami and here he is against Georgia Tech, both from this year.


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Jake Bequette (6-5 264) RS Senior from Arkansas - Bequette was tested at OLB this week and looked uncomfortable dropping into coverage. He is best at pinning his ears back with his hand on the ground. This is good news for the Seahawks as 3-4 teams probably won't consider him. I maintain that he would be a great fit at LEO and maybe another mid-round steal for the Hawks.

Shea McClellin (6-3 248) RS Senior from Boise State - McClellin was also tested at OLB and actually looked pretty good. His stock is rising and I'd bet a 3-4 team will snag him earlier than expected.

Brandon Lindsey (6-2 255) RS Senior from Pittsburgh - Lindsey did not have a good week leading up to the East West Shrine Game. He played OLB there and reportedly looked of his element. Reports also said he looked stiff turning the corner as a pass rusher. Still, he's explosive and tough and seems like a solid fit for the LEO spot. We might be able to nab him late since he doesn't fit as anything more than a conditional pass rusher in most schemes.

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