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Nate Dogg's Very Important Draft Thoughts and Big Board

The draft is nearly here! All of the hours watching Draft Breakdown videos will finally pay off, as we laugh at teams for taking obviously terrible players, cry as our favorite prospects head to other teams, and beg from our living rooms for Seattle to take the gem that's hiding in plain sight.

The Big Board

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I've easily watched more prospects in this class than any class before it, in large part thanks to a lingering Super Bowl high. At the end of it all, I feel like I've learned more about the scouting process than I have about the prospects themselves.

One of my biggest take aways from doing all of this is the feeling that I've barely scratched the surface. Watching 152 prospects is nothing to sneeze at, but it pales in comparison to the number of prospects available. I basically took a pass on quarterbacks, safeties, and running backs. I watched a disappointingly low number of corners, defensive tackles, and tight ends. I just got around to watching Lamarcus Joyner, Adrian Hubbard, and Michael Schofield in the last few days. Those are good players! You could push the draft back another two weeks, and I'd still be lamenting all of the prospects I haven't had a chance to watch.

Another big take away for me is the importance of confidence in your evaluation. Group think and hype are real, and the line between them and trying to grow and be open minded is perilously thin. It's important to remember that, even among the different NFL front offices, grades on players can vary significantly. Take dissenting opinion into account, but always base your grades and any changes to them on tape. I can't tell you how many times I've seen opinions on a player similar to mine bashed for weeks, only to have the consensus come back around and land on what I had thought in the first place. You can't let that stuff worry you, otherwise you'll end up kicking yourself for having Cody Latimer rated about 3 spots lower on your positional rankings than you think he should be.

The Seahawks

By now, everyone knows that SPARQ is the first thing to check on a prospect when considering them as a fit for Seattle. This quote from Scott Fitterer, Seahawks director of college scouting, makes it pretty clear that the first filter Seattle applies to the prospects is athleticism:

"We breakdown each player from just a pure athletic standpoint at the beginning. We breakdown their game as it is now. Then we put them through the filter for our team - because we grade specifically for our team, we don't grade for the NFL. So they have to fit our scheme."

After the "try hards" are weeded out, Seattle looks at who best fits the team. In a lot of ways, this is a moving goal post. Pete and his staff have become well known for their versatility, so what exactly counts as a scheme fit can vary depending on a player's skill and talent set.

Instead of looking for pure scheme fits, I try to look at principle fits. Again, if you've been reading Field Gulls for any amount of time, I'm sure you've seen Pete Carroll's core football principles:

  • Maximize the explosive play
  • Out-hit the opponent on every play
  • Get to (or protect) the football
These three principles don't need a lot of explaining. Find touchdown makers. Find defenders that hunt the ball and hit like a truck. Tackling isn't called out here specifically, but it's important to note. Seattle is a very good, and very sound, tackling team. It's something that can be taught, so the mentality of a hitter is more important, but it's something to watch for when evaluating guys for Seattle.
Lastly, this team loves length. Arm length is as important as any other number, especially for corners and offensive and defensive linemen. It's a game of inches, and those inches can be found in a player's reach. KJ Wright is the poster child for length, clocking in with a roughly average SPARQ, lowest of Seattle's linebackers, but with freakish 34 7/8 inch arms. That length is a huge factor in the smothering coverage he provides.
So, with that, here are a few of the guys that stick out to me when looking at who the Seahawks could be interested in.

Jerome Couplin III - A safety from little William & Mary, he checks off the athleticism (129.5 SPARQ) and length (32 7/8in arms) boxes nicely. He also checks off the out-hit the opponent box pretty well:


Watch the rest of that video if you want to see him perform against decent competition. Watch this highlight video if you want to watch football candy.

Adrian Hubbard - Checks in with a decent SPARQ (120.3) and gives KJ Wright a run for his money in length (34 1/2). On my first watch I couldn't help but think of KJ, but when I pulled him up on Mockdraftable I found some comps that were even more flattering.

That's some lofty territory, and I wouldn't expect him to reach those levels. But the talent is there, and he may be undervalued after a down year.

Aaron Lynch - Lynch is a bit of an odd case. On film, he looks every bit the part of a pure speed rusher. At the combine, he posted numbers good for only a 106.3 SPARQ. I'm taking my chances that his game speed is better than his track speed, with the added insurance of his 34 inch arms. There are rumors that he may have some character red flags, so there is great potential value here if he slips into the later rounds.

Marcus Martin - Martin is a surprise first round option for me because of his ability to step in and contribute at guard immediately, and the option to move to center down the road should Seattle look to get cheaper and younger there. Martin has rare strength for a center and could grow into a cornerstone in Seattle's run game. Martin will still be 20 when the season starts, which is extremely young for a prospect.

Crockett Gillmore - After restructuring Miller and bringing back McCoy, the sheen has really come off the tight end position. Regardless, Gillmore is a favorite of mine in this class and I could see the Seahawks looking hard at him if he makes it into the mid-late rounds. Gillmore didn't blow up the combine, but he has the nasty that I think a tight end needs to succeed. He'll block, make catches in traffic, and take hits without batting an eye.

Marcus Smith - Checks off SPARQ (124.0) and length (34). A speed rusher that can get up field in a hurry, but also has the versatility to drop back and provide honest to god coverage as a line backer. My big worry with him is that he didn't consistently show the ability to drop his hips and get around the tackle, but everything else is there. If Seattle can coach that up, hello Chris Clemons 2.0.

Garrett Scott - This guy got some talk late in the process because of his measurables (34 inch arms, 143.3 SPARQ!). Scott is as physically talented as any tackle in this class not named Greg Robinson, and he isn't as raw as you might think for a mid conference guy. He can play, and I won't be surprised to see Seattle looking to grab him as high as the second round.

Kevin Norwood - So this guy doesn't rock the SPARQ (106.4) and he doesn't have great length (32 2/8). His size is good, but hardly imposing at 6'2 and 198. He didn't even produce that much and was used as role player on a stacked Bama team. On the surface he isn't a guy that screams Seahawk. But then you watch him, and he does this, and this, and this. You can't measure it, but his hands, concentration, and body control is out of this world.

Donte Moncrief - The anti-Norwood. Moncrief had a spectacular combine, netting him a SPARQ of 130.6. The tape can be hit and miss, but he'll be a serious consideration if he's available at 32.

The Mock

Everyone has to do one, and plus they're a lot of fun. Fun is the operative word, and I wouldn't take this or any other mock too seriously. I mixed trades into mine because I thought "Why not set an even more impossible standard?"

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For more very important thoughts by Nate Dogg, you can follow me on Twitter.

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