The Seahawks have been pretty much all over the board when it comes to supposed interest in prospect positions this year (signal a BPA, or horizontal approach?), and while they've been a little bit more secretive about it this year than in prior seasons (there seems to be conspicuously fewer Twitter pics posted of them hosting guys to the CLink this year than last), there are still a lot of rumors floating around.
Before reading on - I'd suggest you head over to Seahawks Draft Blog and read through Kip Earlywine's series breaking down the Seahawks' official Pre-Draft visits list. Those are definitely players to monitor and because Kip has done such a good job (Kenny as well, here at FG) with it I won't try and re-do all his work here with my version.
However, one name that came up recently with a rumored Seattle connection is a player that I do find pretty interesting, TE Nick Kasa of Colorado.
"Colorado's Nick Kasa has developed into the contingency plan for teams looking to draft a tight end outside the initial three rounds of the draft. Unlike the higher rated players at the position, Kasa does not offer immediate starting possibilities but is a sensational developmental prospect expected to be plucked off the board in round four. The New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins have displayed heavy interest in Kasa."
The Kasa interest makes all the sense in the world. At 6'6, 269 pounds, he's got great size for the TE position but one of his main drawbacks (and the reason he's slated as a 4th-6th round pick) is that he's raw. The former 5-star blue-chip recruit for Colorado started out at defensive end for the Buffs before switching to offense (you know Tom Cable likes this type of thing), and excels in run blocking (you know Tom Cable likes this type of thing).
As Rob Rang puts it, Kasa is a "Physical, competitive run-blocker. Strong hands to turn and seal defenders from the ball-carrier and has an idea of what his opponent is trying to accomplish based on his previous experience playing on the defensive line."
You know Tom Cable likes this type of thing.
Of course, the rawness factor as a receiver is a real issue. He's a project - and likely won't contribute much in 2013, per most scouting reports. This may be a situation that benefits the Seahawks though as they already have Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy on the roster for the year - perhaps a year in the pros, learning to master his routes and pass catching, is just what the Seahawks can provide for Kasa.
Nonethless, the physical potential is off the charts - at 6'6, 269, he ran the 40 in 4.71 seconds with a 31.5" vert and a 9'5" broad jump. He's got the body type of athlete that could put on about 5-10 pounds and become a very good all-around blocking/catching type of tight end and retain his speed - Rob Gronkowski is the prime example of this and while I'm obviously not going to compare Kasa to Gronk, they do have similar size with athletic upside.
Here is Derek Stephens' scouting profile on Kasa:
Nick Kasa TE Colorado
#44 0606 260 4.71
Legacy High School
Positives : Thick, muscular and athletic-looking frame with long arms and well-proportioned upper and lower halves. Better athlete than given credit for, displaying good initial burst and quickness off the line, with the ability to get up to speed rapidly. Burst off the line gives him ability to line up at in the slot as a receiver, but natural hand power and lower-half bend enable him to step in as traditional TE and take on opposing D-linemen. Exhibits some suddenness in and out of breaks and possesses the flexibility to be a smooth, clean route-runner.
Former Defensive End with good blocking instinct when taking on opposing ‘ends. Possesses good 2nd level acceleration to get behind linebackers and stretch the seam. Can pull away once he gets going, and has surprising top-end football speed for his size, despite the 4.71 40-time which he plays faster than on tape. Despite limited experience as a receiver, makes a concerted effort to catch the ball with his hands, and does display natural absorption and coordination when securing the ball off his frame. Has natural ability to be an elite blocker at the position as he exhibits good lower-half bend and strong pop on contact. Displays an awareness for how to utilize his length and size in tight coverage, to seal off defenders and secure the ball.
Negatives: Inexperience as a receiver is most noticeable when asked to get his head around and locate the football, as the ball tends to arrive before he's looking at times. Doesn't always secure the ball before turning up field and is susceptible to having it jarred loose by the big hit, or even dropping it pre-contact. When facing his QB, has a tendency to "clap" or "hug" the ball to his chest rather than extending his arms and plucking the ball. As a blocker, does a good job of getting his arms extended, but will stop moving his feet and is susceptible to swims, clubs or arm-overs as a result.
Summary: Kasa may have more upside than any other tight-end in the draft, in terms of his athleticism and when considering how new he is to the position. There isn't any one area where he lacks the natural ability to eventually be really good, and although he's raw, could be an immediate contributor with his versatility to move around and contribute both as a blocker and a receiver from multiple spots.
He's one player to watch for come Friday or Saturday.
Tony Pauline also wrote recently that my boy Vince Painter is getting some attention of late.
"One lineman who has come up in recent conversations is Vinston Painter of Virginia Tech. The athletic college tackle projects to guard in the NFL but comes with limited playing experience. For purposes of comparison, he's the offensive line version of Nick Kasa. I was told the Chicago Bears, who snuck Painter into town for an official visit, like his athleticism and upside. He could be their pick in round three or four."
I wrote about Painter here, originally thinking he'd be a late round pick, but after a very solid combine, his potential is possibly going to push him into the middle rounds.
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