The 6th round feels, to me, like the round for a backup QB, a developmental DT, or a WR. Of those three position groups, I kinda feel like the QBs and DTs I’m most-interested in will still be available in the 7th. I think I’m more anxious to lock up one of my favorite WRs.
Without a tradeback earlier in the draft to acquire draftchoice #11, my guess is the Hawks haven’t been able to address that big WR. If they have made the tradeback, I hope they’ve already pocketed Rodney Smith. Should Smith be available this late, I’d run to the podium to grab him. If he’s gone, there is still a ton of big-slot WR to consider.
From the VMAC visitors like Tyrone Goard and Greg Herd, to players scouted at pro days like Eric Rogers and Brice Butler, this draft is pretty epically deep at WR (Sidenote: Since hearing the Hawks talked to Brice Butler about playing CB, and it’s been rumored teams are talking to Russell Shepard about possibly switching to CB, I’ve become a little obsessed with the idea that the Hawks will proactively attempt to "grow" another Richard Sherman). But there is one WR with Hawk rumor ties that I have become particularly fascinated by: Clemson’s Jaron Brown.
Brown has gone largely undervalued this offseason as a result of his lack of production, thanks to playing alongside likely 2013 and 2014 first-rounders: DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins (respectively). He doesn’t have eye-popping stats. Brown came to my attention at the Clemson pro-day: 6’2"/204lbs with a 4.40 forty, 35.5"vert, and 10’04" broad. As I do for all of my prospects, I went in search of game tape.
I found very little tape on him. There was a touchdown catch here and there, but most with poor angles and none with whole game cutups. However, I did find two tapes on Brown that furthered my interest. The first was an interview tape taken just after his pro day performance. This is a BRIGHT football player. That thought was confirmed when my research showed Brown was named Clemson’s permanent co-captain and an Academic All-American.
The second tape on Brown that really piqued my interest was this little nug:
OOOOOhhhhhweeeeeeeeee! What?! That is USC LB Shaq Wilson at 240lbs getting decleated! I pointed this play out to Danny Kelly and I put Brown on the top of my list for the WR-to-CB conversion list. But then…and I really don’t know why/how I came to this…maybe because the Hawks signed Winfield, or because I found a different player I liked at CB…but I started thinking about picking Brown and converting him to safety.
I mean, the guy has Earl’s speed, and he clearly can hit like Bam Bam…(hmmm…more research)…turns out Jaron was a pretty solid safety back in high school (100 tackles and four interceptions as a senior)…hmmmm.
Then I took it a step further. What if Brown can slide into either Ben Obomanu or Chris Maragos’ roster spot, be a demon on special teams for a year or two, AND play both ways?! Now, when I say "play both ways" it’s really rhetorical; I’m not sure he’ll be getting much playing time either side of the ball (most likely more time at WR to begin). Regardless of the plausibility of my little experiment, I want Jaron Brown on my team. I’d find a position for him to play somewhere. Oh yeah, there was also this little quote from Brown I discovered on nfldraftzone.com: Who was the toughest player you have ever played against?
Answer: "My former teammate, Byron Maxwell. I would go up against this guy every day in practice and we would go back and forth. We helped make each other better every day."
There’s one other player I like in this sixth round range, but I just don’t have the bullets to pull the trigger on him. But let’s just name him in case he gets picked and then I’ll get partial genius credit. I really like Willie Carter, FB out of Tulsa. His pro-day was pretty damn compelling, and watching his tape after that made me a fan. Played more of the H-back position for Tulsa, but hell…Mike Rob played more of the Q-back position for Penn State. I’m letting Mr. Carter pass here and hoping he finds his way to UDFA.
#194- WR/CB/S Jaron Brown (Bell atop brunette)
These next four picks are all in the 7th round (assuming none have been used as trade pieces), and they feel more or less interchangeable. I’m putting DT first simply because it is the position of greatest need. I would have loved to get a DT in the 2nd, but not seeing one I like there, I REALLY didn’t like any of them in the middle rounds.
The reason for this is, all off-season the Hawks have been looking at really tall, really long, pretty quick DT’s. Other Field Gull writers have already written about it. If the Hawks truly are putting such priority on measurables at DT, I think those types are gonna be available late. Honestly, I could probably rattle off 10 names. I’ll do five: Lawrence Okoye (unbelievable, raw Olympic athlete from UK), Stefan Charles (the Canadian player the Hawks have already had visit VMAC), Glenn Foster (sort of Greg Scruggs-esque), Nick Williams (pretty amazing raw athlete from Samford), and Earl Okine (Florida DE with ties to Dan Quinn).
My choice of the five is Earl Okine. At the Florida Gators pro day back in March, Okine was measured at 6’7"/284 with 25 bench reps, 33" vert, 09’06" broad, and a 4.98 forty yard dash in, reportedly, bad field conditions. The arm measurement of 34.25" was above average, but not stunning. The basic thought is that PCJS are looking for a Calais Campbell type.
Alan Branch: 6’6"/324/5.07/33 reps/27.5 vert/08’11" broad
Calais Campbell: 6’8"/290/5.00/16 reps/34.5" vert/09’03" broad
Earl Okine: 6’7"/284/4.98/25 reps/33.0" vert/09’06" broad
I suppose, really, the only reason I’m favoring Okine over the others is a hunch based on his ties to Dan Quinn. Earl had almost no production at Florida; no stats to draw perspective from, and very little game tape. This is, at least partially, due to sharing snaps with: Sharrif Floyd, Omar Hunter, Dominique Easley, and Lerentee McCray. But the other side of that same point is, why would Quinn be interested in Okine as a pro, when he clearly didn’t give him much favor in college? It’s a very fair question. I don’t have that answer. The next-best reasoning I have is that Okine is probably the tallest of this late-round group of DL.
#220- Earl Okine (Acute Irish, self-improvement lister)
As I said in the 6th round, my next three targets were WR, DT, and QB. We’ve hit the first two, so let’s knock out that John Schneider, diamond-in-the-rough, 7th round backup QB with upside. I’ve got two names that I’m considering:
I’ve had Arkansas State’s Ryan Aplin (Pastrami and pull dump gang) in my sights for a while. I watch his game tape, I read his stats, and I see shades of Russell Wilson. Trained under a wizard of the pistol, the wildcat, and the zone read option (Gus Malzahn), Aplin has accuracy, elusiveness, intelligence, and play-fake skills to be an NFL backup. I prefer Aplin on game-tape alone. Watch some of the timing of his throws...hitting the receiver in perfect stride. I’ve only recently slowed my roll on him though because a) he has small hands, b) I just haven’t seen enough fire from him in his draft-prep.
The second name is one that Matt Erickson tipped me to (via Kip Earlywine): USF’s BJ Daniels. Daniels’ tape reminds me of a mix between Michael Vick and Robert Griffin. He runs like Vick (actually, he kinda runs like a RB), and his throwing motion reminds me very much of RG3. But, unfortunately, Daniels is like three inches shorter than Griffin. Those three inches, combined with a low release-point, make me worry about BJ being able to find his passing lanes. As we now know, Russell Wilson has a very high release point, thus helping to compensate for his 5’11" stature. I’m less sure that Daniels has that opportunity with his motion.
At this point, coming up to the deadline for publishing, I have to give the edge to Daniels. Not only do I prefer his (seemingly) better competitive fire, he is also known to have worked out for Seahawks coaches in Florida.
#231- BJ Daniels (Oral for Craig and my brother)
No messing about with this one. Whichever of the 7th round picks it takes to accomplish it, I need to come out of this draft with Winona State’s record-breaking running back; Rayon Simmons. Rayon is very much the opposite of many of my choices throughout this mock session. He did not have a great pro day. I’m not even going to look the numbers up (his forty was in the 4.6’s…but so was Alfred Morris’).
He just simply blows me away on film. He makes cuts that I don’t understand any reason why he knows to make the cut, nor do I understand how his body allows him to make said cuts with such immediacy and force. I’ve watched this tape (along with Armonty Bryant’s) more than any other in this draft. Lock in to the run at about 2:30 and repeat it a couple times:
Again, like many of my picks the last two days, I’m helped in making this choice by the knowledge that Seattle has shown interest in Simmons. To the point that they suggested to him a weight that they would like him to play at. Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but I don’t care. I’ll be wrong about Okine or someone else in this draft, but I don’t think I’m gonna be wrong about Rayon Simmons.
#241- Rayon Simmons (Charles off Russell)
If you read the first half of this mock on Thursday, you’ll remember I teased about a player that reminds me of the Honey Badger. For side-by-side comparison:
Tyrann Mathieu: 5’9"/186/4.50/34.0" vert/09’09" broad
Skinny Badger: 5’11"/177/4.46/35.5" vert/10’04" broad
Let’s look at some 2011 numbers:
Honey- 27 punt returns, 421 yards, 15.59 YPR, 2 TD
Skinny- 18 punt returns, 335 yards, 18.61 YPR, 1 TD
More 2011 numbers:
Honey- 2 INT, 9 PBU, 1.5 sacks, 6 FF
Skinny- 1 INT, 8 PBU, 2 sacks, 23.38 yards/kickoff return
The Badger behind door #2 is the CB/KR from Texas A&M; Dustin Harris. Harris was a guy I found while specifically looking to replace Leon Washington in the punt-return game. I literally went down the punt-return leaderboard looking for the best draft-eligible players. Since I’m allocating my 3rd RB spot to a "big back", I need punt and kick return duties to come from WR/CB. Percy Harvin can do some of the kickoffs, Golden Tate can maybe do some punts, but it’d be nice to have another guy that can do both.
Back to the punt-return leaderboard: I keyed in on Senior players listed at CB and WR. That left names like Khalid Wooten, Justin Brown, and Dustin Harris. Harris was only 16th in the country this year at 12.71 YPR but, as I always do, I looked at his 2011 numbers. Wouldn’t you know it…that 18.61 YPR in 2011 led the country; beating out Mathieu, Tavon Austin, Rishard Matthews, Jayron Hosley, Johnthan Banks, Ace Sanders, etc. Here is some tape of Harris returning punts in 2012:
I also looked for tape of Dustin playing CB. That was harder to find. There is a highlight tape on youtube, but highlights are always deceiving. Instead, I went a roundabout way to study Harris; looking at the Aggies season schedule and seeing when he matched up against a good receiver. I chose A&M versus LATech…The General; Quinton Patton.
You may, or may not, know that the A&M/LATech game was an absolute slugfest (59-57 final score) and Quinton Patton torched the Aggies for 21 catches, 233 yards, and 4 TD’s. A&M couldn’t stop Patton, and they used at least four CB in the effort. Of the four CB I saw covering Patton, Harris really was the best of the bunch. Whereas some of them bit on his double-moves and got burned deep, or got juked out of their shoes and gave up huge RAC…Harris was the best at minimizing damage, giving up only minor yardage on bubble screens with little-to-no RAC. He’s a pretty sound tackler for a 177lb guy. Durable too.
The biggest problem with drafting Harris may be trying to find a roster spot for him. Sherman, Browner, Winfield should get the starts…then we have Maxwell, Lane, and Thurmond as the next-in-line at each spot…plus Blackmon, Fenner, Parker, Shead…gonna be a tough group to break into. I think Harris is a better return-man than Blackmon (plus he has youth…a Seahawk preference), I think Harris has better health than Thurmond (Harris played in 51 games in his college career),I think Harris has better speed than Fenner, I think Shead may end up at Safety, and I thought Parker was already off the roster. It will likely come down to Thurmond and a draftpick for the 6th and final CB spot. And then, of course, there’s practice squad.
#242- Dustin Harris (Breezeless Kansas on ford)
And speaking of practice squad…would love to see any of the following make it to Seattle’s PS via UDFA:
CB Dontra Peters, DE/OLB Caleb Schreibeis, ILB Luke Batton (Jedi hatches), OLB Craig Wilkins, DT Michael Brooks, S Gary Walker, WR Greg Herd, or QB Casey Brockman.
#56- ECU DE Armonty Bryant
#87- UNC OT Brennan Williams
#123- SJSU TE Ryan Otten
#138- OSU K/P Quinn Sharp
#158- SIU OLB Jayson Dimanche
#194- Clemson WR/CB/S Jaron Brown
#220- Florida DT/DE Earl Okine
#231- USF QB BJ Daniels
#241- Winona St. RB Rayon Simmons
#242- Texas A&M CB/KR Dustin Harris
And finally, a quick little chart to reference all throughout day two and three of some of my favorite players at each position and the round I’m valuing them in:
Stanger draft board (right click to download)