Ok, so I thought I’d put out some of my thoughts on some of the prospects that the Hawks could draft come April. Please note: I am not a scout and really don’t do this often. I like to think I know what’s going on but I am wrong often enough to know that these opinions and "analysis" are probably off base. Let me know what you think in the comments, if it goes over well I’ll try to throw out some other reports on latter rounds. I’m not scouting any player the Hawks have no chance of getting so Luck, RGIII, Kalil, Cailborne, and Blackmon are all out immediately, sorry.
Round one prospects (that we have a chance of getting):
Trent Richardson- 5’11’’ and 220 lbs. This is pretty much prototypical size for an elite NFL RB. He runs with good leverage and throws off tacklers but also has a certain finesse that is very evident. Richardson is my top prospect by far and I really hope he falls to 12 though I don’t think he will. He hits the hole FAST and is a great one-cut runner which is ideal for the zone blocking scheme we run. He has excellent vision to find running lanes and his physical ability combine with this to allow him to burst into the open field and break off big runs but also to turn a negative play into something positive. He seems durable. Blitz pick up is ok, he isn’t a great blocker but he is adept at being in the right spot to attempt a block. He can also catch out of the backfield which would be an excellent addition to our offense. I can’t really find much weakness in his game, he looks like the complete back. Concern with his knee (he had minor surgery this offseason) could cause him to slide.
Quinton Coples- I think he’ll still be on the board when we pick. Ok, I’m going to separate myself from my biased here and say that he projects to be the ideal pass rush defensive end immediately and possibly a complete end. His size (6’5’’ 280 lbs) will prevent him from being a linebacker, but it places him as a perfect defensive end. It should translate to him being stout against the run in the NFL and gives him the size to not be bullied by stronger offensive tackles. Very quick, though not necessarily fast. He uses his hands well and has good moves to get around blocks as well as power through them. He made tackles look foolish at times. Very durable, injuries haven’t been a concern. His pad level is perfect, he doesn’t come off the ball too high or too low. Up until now he seems ideal right? Top 5 pick? Well the main problem with Coples is in his head. He has all the potential to be elite, but his motor is a question mark. Will he give 100%b every play? In college it looked like he stopped caring too often and just kind of faded out. Now, it should be noted that he wasn’t happy about moving to DT for his junior season and that is when the motor questions arose. He dominated from DE as a sophomore getting 15.5 sacks. I see him fitting well into the system if only as a rotational player his first year. After watching film I had no choice but to place him second on my board of possible picks. He looks like a real difference maker and someone I’d be thrilled to see on the Hawks.
Luke Kuechly- Kuechly goes 3rd because of need and ability. He would be an ideal match on the hawks. His size (6’3’’ 240 lbs) is almost ideal for MLB, he could add about 10 pounds of muscle to really make it perfect. I’ve never seen instincts like this on a rookie prospect. He has an incredible nose for the ball and is in on every play. His tackling form looks great; he doesn’t let guys get away. He seems adept at shedding blockers on his way to a tackle. Coverage ability looks awesome and would provide something Seattle is desperately in need of. Coaches and teammates praise him for his leadership and dedication. A real film room warrior. Also would appear to be a weight room warrior after silencing all critics that said he wasn’t athletic enough to play at a high level in the NFL. You can tell on tape he is quick and quite strong (by my interpretation). His blend of instincts and athleticism is rare and would be a welcome addition to any team, the fact that the Hawks need a MLB makes him a great option. He also seems to be durable and tough, not on the injury report often if ever. Blitzing is not great, this really could keep him out of Seattle given Carroll’s desire for pass rush from LBs or Carroll could use a later pick on a LB that can rush the passer (Kendricks?) If a team falls in love they could take him high, higher than 12. Heard rumors of the Bucs being interested if they can’t get Lofton.
David Decastro- Picture the ideal NFL guard. Did you picture David Decastro? No? You’re doing it wrong then. 6’5’’ and 310 lbs of tough and powerful freak of a lineman. To get it out of the way early, Decastro was not matched against any real elite pass rushers but that in no way docks his ability in my eyes. He is a real roadgrader and can absolutely maul a defender when run blocking. Driving a lineman back a few yards and into a LB was quite common. Decastro is no slouch in pass protection though. He can protect the pocket with the best of guards. He is quick and agile enough to pull well and can engage LBs to open a hole. Footwork looks great and his technique is already very advanced. He is a very durable player. His ability puts him at 4th on my list even though it would be filling an already seemingly sound position on our roster. He is the type of talent on the line that would make everyone around him better. Okung and Decastro could be the Jones, Hutchinson combination we were spoiled with. This would mean Carpenter stays at RT or moves to RG, but I would have no qualms with this pick in that it would further solidify the o-line and add depth (by pushing someone else back) which we’ve needed on our line the past few years..
Courtney Upshaw- Nasty and mean… those are the first two words that come to mind when I try to describe Upshaw’s game. 6-1 270 is not quite the ideal size for a DE (he’s a little short) but he plays taller. He has elite potential at DE but I think he’s too large to play OLB in the NFL. He looks more like a LEO in our scheme which is a position I have a hard time spending a high pick on, but I think he could also be a solid 3 down end. He has the physical tools you look for. He does seem to lack the technique required to get past defenders at the NFL level but so did JPP. That said, Upshaw will not be JPP, he is far from the same player. Not exactly a blazing speed guy, but he is decently quick for his size. He has great strength which allowed him to manhandle Tackles in college. Sometimes seemed like he got by on strength alone which is concerning (can’t really do that in the NFL). Overall he goes 5th because of the fit he provides and the ability. I would prefer to trade down and try to get him latter but that doesn’t seem like a great possibility.
Michael Floyd- Personally my favorite receiver in the draft. He has a definite swagger about him which I think is required for any great receiver (not saying he will be, just that it is almost always the case) and shows incredible concentration and sure hands. Never drops the ball really. Routes look excellent. His timed speed doesn’t match the playing speed in that he plays slower. I think he could be an upgraded Mike Williams in that he is faster but plays a similar way with similar (though not the same) size- 6’3’’ 224. Very physical style of play that Carroll likes and he can get a lot of YAC yards (Packers
receivers are great at this and look how good they are). Good at getting open, think Doug Baldwin
type in that he always seems to get open when he needs to. He blocks well downfield and is quite durable. Now just because he’s not injured doesn’t mean he will be playing every game. He’s had some trouble with the law and his attitude seems… questionable at times. He struggled to beat double teams at times in college and also had difficulties against corners who he couldn’t bully with his size.
There are a couple other players I would consider good picks in the first if we traded down a lot. These would include Melvin Ingram, Whitney Mercilus, Fletcher Cox, and Dontari Poe but they are far from worth the pick at 12-20 given the severe question marks surrounding them. Ingram’s size probably takes him out of consideration from Carroll as he seems to look for certain physical sets and Mercilus’ production is a question as are Poe’s and Cox’.
Round two (I will scout later maybe, ran out of time today) some I like there are:
Zach Brown- athleticism including speed. Could be a great player if he doesn’t pull a Curry and not pick up some instincts.
Ronell Lewis- overall solid, the guy looks like a legitimate starter at least. High ceiling on him.
Vinny Curry- explosive pass rusher, looks solid. Was underrated but is breaking out now.
Kendricks- athleticism is great, could be a great pass rusher. Maybe good coverage? (need to watch more film)
Osweiler- cannon arm but needs time to develop. Could be great if we let him sit for a few years. Carroll andCo. Apparently like him a lot.
Donta Hightower- Solid run defender with decent instincts. Strong and big and could be a force in the middle. Really see him improving run defense and maybe pass defense to a more limited extent.
Hopefully more to come! Let me know what you think.