This year instead of writing mock drafts and attempting to predict not only what the Seahawks would do, but what every other team would do as well (pretty much required to write a mock draft), I chose to focus on what I thought the Seahawks big board would look like. The methodology of constructing that board and how they would rank the players on the board. You can see my initial draft board here: Initial draft board
With an additional few weeks of analysis and after the first round the board looked like this: My draft board after the first round
Not many people create an entire board because it is difficult to do in a structured way and it requires a lot of work. Additionally, even fewer people actually provide a postmortem on their draft board and why they got it wrong. That is exactly what I'm going to do here because not only will that help me for next year's draft, but I think there are some interesting observations that can be made about how the Seahawks view roster construction in 2014.
To do this in a way that doesn't consume a ton of real estate for your eyes to sort through I will focus on some of the key misses and players I had ranked higher than who the Seahawks actually drafted
What the board looked like when Paul Richardson was drafted
Below are all the wide receivers still available I had graded higher than PRich
- Cody Latimer, WR, 6'2 215, Indiana, 32.5" arms, 23 b, 4.43 40, 39" v, Grade=3.5
- Allen Robinson, WR, 6'2 220, Penn State, 32" arms, 39" v, 4.6 40, 1.54 10, 4.0 20s, 7.0 3c, Grade=3, too slow
- Martavis Bryant, WR, 6'4 211, Clemson, 32.5" arms, 4.42 40, 1.53 10, 16 b, 39" v, 4.15 20s, 7.18 3c, Grade=2.5, graded too high
- Donte Moncrief, WR, 6'2 221, 32.5" arms, 4.40 40, 1.50 10, 39" v, 4.30 20s, 7.02 3c, Grade=2.5, graded too high
- Davante Adams, WR, 6'1 212, Fresno state, 32.5" arms, 39.5" v, 4.56 40, 1.53 10, 4.3 20s, 6.82 3c, Grade=2.5, graded too high, slow
- Jarvis Landry, WR, 5'11 204, LSU, 31.75" arms, 12 b, 28.5" v, 4.77 40, 1.65 10, Grade=2.5, graded too high, slow
- Jace Amaro - TE Texas Tech 6'5 265, 34" arms, 28 b, 4.74 40, 33" v, 4.3 20s, 7.42 3c, Grade=2, graded too high, tight end ranks too low on need
- Devin Street, WR, 6'3 198, Pittsburgh, 33.5" arms, 37" v, 4.55 40, 1.56 10, 4.01 20s, 6.89 3c, Grade=2, graded too high, too slow
Cody Latimer seemed like a perfect pick. He was big, fast and had incredible hands. He could win on the outside, but could also be that much-needed possession receiver. Why did we pick Paul Richardson over this guy? Additionally, I was a big fan of Allen Robinson's game. I thought our biggest need at wide receiver was someone that could win a jump ball, catch a contested pass in the end zone, perhaps on a fade, and someone that could move the chains on 3rd and 6. These are actually some of our biggest weaknesses on offense. I have to admit I am somewhat jealous watching Anquan Boldin go to work. And guess what? After our draft this might still be a need! This tells us something extremely valuable about how the Seahawks view roster construction in 2014. They value speed. They value the big-play. And I think, after watching a full game with Percy Harvin in the Super Bowl 100% healthy, they really like how he can stretch the field horizontally running plays like the fly sweep. Rather than getting a big #1 receiver (a common draft demand by many Seahawks fans), or getting a solid possession receiver (a draft demand by yours truly), Why not try to get another guy who can stretch the field with incredible speed and big-play capability?
- This is interesting not because these statements about what the Seahawks value are new or profound, but rather than rounding out their WR room with other types of players since they already have Harvin, they double down on the similar type!
- I actually tried to make this argument over on seahawksdraftblog.com a few months before the draft and the idea was totally rejected because why would we get another small speed guy when we have Harvin? We need a big #1 receiver instead!
Jumping straight to our pick of Cassius Marsh
I totally did not see this one coming!. Yet there is another interesting lesson here. Anyone who is looking at the Seahawks roster closely can tell there is a question mark on the Leo position group. Will Avril play the weak side end? If he doesn't, who would be the starting Leo? If he gets hurt who would be next? Mayowa? The Seahawks have been very good at not putting developmental projects like Mayowa right into the fire on day one, without making him have to beat somebody else out. Who was that going to be in this years draft that was very light on pass rushers? Here is why it would not be Cassius Marsh:Cassius Marsh, DE, 6'4 252, UCLA, 32.75" arms, 14 b, 32" v, 4.89 40, 7.08 3c, 4.25 20s
- Arm length is not that great. Vertical at only 32 inches is way outside expected Leo parameters as is the 4.89 40. He was graded as a late rounder(7th to be exact) for me. Not everyone knows this, but for certain positions the Seahawks have fairly narrow performance parameters. The Leo being one of those positions.
- So now here is what I find most interesting after listening to the post-draft interviews: Cassius Marsh was not drafted to be a Leo! What!? That's right, they want another Michael Bennet. I'm not sure the Michael Bennet type was a priority before 2014, but after watching him make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket all year long in 2013, they clearly value this type of contribution to a high degree.
- So here we are once again thinking the Seahawks need to round out their roster with another Leo, and instead they do exactly what they did at wide receiver and look for similar qualities to a player they already have and double down… It's almost as if they feel like they have figured out the Super Bowl winning formula and just want to rinse and repeat...
A few other lessons I learned independent of specific players
- Guessing who the Seahawks will draft at linebacker is probably the easiest thing to predict in their draft. Those same performance parameters misapplied to some earlier players helped me nail Kevin Pierre Louis as the only pre-draft prediction I got right. However last year when everyone was clamoring for a WILL linebacker it also helped steer me away from any of the available players fans were clamoring for last year.
- Relying too much on draft profiles posted on NFL draft Scout or NFL.com are not suitable replacements to watching all of the film yourself. I hoped I could save some time on some later round players by combining performance parameters with these profiles and thinking through what I know of the Seahawks priorities. This led me to completely whiffing on Justin Britt. He fit the performance parameters they use and observe religiously for their offensive line choices, but check out this profile on him:
STRENGTHS Solid build with a stout base and long torso. Quick enough to cut off the outside rush and give help where it is needed. Recognizes the blitz and displays good enough agility to adjust to movement. Good work ethic. Very good weight-room strength -- cleans nearly 400 pounds.
WEAKNESSES Operates out of a 2-point stance in a spread-option offense. Falls off blocks and does not finish. Very average sustain. Limited body control and recovery speed. Late to reach the block point on the second level. Does not create movement in the run game. Gives too much ground in pass protection.
BOTTOM LINE College left tackle with enough length and foot quickness to handle the blind side in a pinch, but is more ideally suited for the right side and could be best suited for a swing backup role. Has played nearly every position on the line and could add depth as a positional, wall-off blocker.
- Does not get movement in the run game? This could not be a more incorrect statement! Watching the tape of him against Clowney tell you exactly the opposite. He manhandled the drafts number one overall pick.
Lastly I would say that just trusting my eyes from the tape I watched and my own analysis over other people's opinions will yield more accurate draft boards. For example watching Brandon Coleman's tape told me he would go undrafted, but I had him in the third round because Rob Staton has been high on him all year. Players like Morgan Moses I also had in the third round, but I knew the Seahawks would not draft him over many of the other available tackles. My board ends up as a mix of my own opinions plus everyone else's that I respect. Next year I vow to do more film watching and stick closer to my own gut on how I think I understand both the Seahawks value system and my analysis of the prospect.