Defensive tackle Jaye Howard #6 of the Florida Gators.
With the 19th pick in the 4th round (114 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Seahawks have selected Jaye Howard, a defensive tackle out of Florida. Howard is an extremely athletic defensive lineman at 6'3", 301 pounds. He ran 4.82 in the 40, put up 24 reps on the bench, registered a 8' 10" broad jump, 4.47 20-yard shuttle, and 7.32 3-cone drill at combine. The short shuttle and 3-cone numbers look pretty nice for an interior lineman, as does his 40 time, though that's not really too important for defensive tackle.
Since I don't know a ton about Howard, I'll consult the experts. Derek Stephens notes that the new Seahawk is "a quick, nimble DT with natural ability to penetrate. He uses his hands well and can close on quarterback. Howard isn't the biggest guy, doesn't have a ton of natural power [but], he's a finesse, quick DT who wins with hands, leverage, and lateral agility. He's a good-looking athlete with long arms and a pretty lean upper body for a DT."
The first comparison I can think of is that Howard is a Jason Jones type of player - best on the inside as an interior pass rusher, but has an ability to play on the outside in a pinch or to change up looks.
I like the pick because Howard should provide some nice depth on the defensive line, which was an underrated need in this draft. The Seahawks have looked at guys like Pep Levingston (still with the team), Jimmy Wilkerson, Anthony Hargrove (both now gone) over the last few years and now have signed Jason Jones to a one-year deal, but I'm guessing they're hoping Howard can be the long term answer for that pass rushing, versatile athletic defensive lineman role if Jones doesn't work out. Howard is another athletic player that can improve the pass rush, the Seahawks' stated primary goal for the offseason. With Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch, Clint McDonald, Red Bryant, Jason Jones, and now Bruce Irvin (plus don't forget Dexter Davis), the addition of Howard potentially makes the Seahawks defensive line depth a little more solid.
Strengths: Carries his weight well for his size and looks to be in much improved shape. Quick-footed with nimble agility and range to work up and down the line of scrimmage. Good get-off burst and quickness with natural explosion. Looks fluid when moving laterally and is a flexible and natural bender. Gets to plays in a hurry with smooth pursuit and penetration skills. Has very good awareness and uses his eyes well with field sense. Does a nice job getting his hands up at the line to knock down passes. Has a versatile skill-set with experience lining up at several different defensive line spots over his career.
Weaknesses: Possesses a narrow frame and lacks an ideal frame to add much more girth or bulk. Has underwhelming strength for the position and lacks raw power ... too easily controlled by single blockers. Doesn't always finish and too easily gets locked up, struggling to shed. Has streaky snap anticipation and needs to develop better reaction skills. Recorded too many facemask and offsides penalties, struggling with poor discipline. Easily jumps off hard counts. Lacks a wide array of pass rush moves and needs to finish after he gets his hands on ballcarriers. Was part of a defensive line rotation most of his career and was out-played by underclassmen the past few years. Battled a right ankle injury in 2010 and needs to stay conditioned.
STRENGTHS Howard has been a durable player for the Gators. He is very quick off the ball for his size, although he can forget his technique (a testament to his inconsistent play) and rise up to get stonewalled by offensive linemen at times. He is very good against the run and has the ability to snap off the ball, engage a lineman, then work off him to move laterally towards a running back and make a big-time play in the backfield.
WEAKNESSES Howard is very inconsistent. There were times at Florida when he would just let himself get blocked. He is late to disengage from his man on many plays. When he sees an opening, he can hit it and make a big play, but he shouldn't be relied upon to defeat blocks and make plays on his own.