Prior to the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft on Friday, I had formulated a final mock draft in my head, and I had Seattle's top pick - a third rounder after a trade-back to pick up more 4ths and 5ths - (look, I can rosterbate in my head as long as I don't publish it, right? Is that against site rules?) - the Jared Stanger special: OT Brennan Williams. Williams actually ended up going to fellow-zone-blocking-stud in the Houston Texans with the 27th pick of the 3rd round, so I was pretty close in my estimation there, I guess. Regardless, that kind of tells you how highly I value the offensive line. For 2013, I think the depth is fine and the projected starters adequate (I'll get to that), but past this upcoming season, the depth falls off a cliff and the presumptive starters become mysterious.
Paul McQuistan is in the final year of his deal. Breno Giacomini is in the final year of his deal. Lemuel Jeanpierre is in the final year of his deal. John Moffitt has been underwhelming and is likely in his 'make or break' pre-season, in my opinion.
So why were the Seahawks dicking around with two more running backs while the offensive line remained such a glaring depth need going forward? Well - first of all, I say that tongue in cheek because I actually loved the selections of Christine Michael and Spencer Ware (a lot), and I'll get to my reactions on each pick this week - but second of all, what the Seahawks were able to do in the 7th round and rookie free agency has improved my mood substantially over how I had been feeling as the 6th round rolled to an end.
Seattle first chose an offensive lineman out of Vanderbilt named Ryan Seymour, and he comes to Seattle with some experience at tackle (65% of the time, from the horse's mouth), guard (30%), and center (5%). He has three years in the SEC and 35 starts under his belt (who knew that Vandy was in the SEC?), played three positions, against some of the top-tier defensive line talent in the country. He was expected to be a UDFA but Seattle evidently has a vision in mind for the 6'4, 300 pound lineman. My first guess - way too early of course - is that they see Seymour as an eventual (or immediate) successor to Lemuel Jeanpierre or John Moffitt. A guy that can back-up at both guard and center.
With the way Seattle's roster is structured - and Davis has told you this many a time - you can only afford to pay so many people - the Draft is a means to an end in stocking the back-end of your roster and depth with cheap, hungry, first-deal players. Lemuel, Breno, and Paul McQ probably won't get new deals, because Seattle saves big money by going with youth - particularly when Max Unger and Russell Okung are getting PAID, and Carpenter will likely get his second deal at some point. Yes, I think Carp has All-Pro potential at LG - in fact I was watching tape from this past season on Carp and hot damn it gets me excited about the left side of the line in 2013. But I digress.
Seymour can take the place of Lemuel Jeanpierre as the primary backup to Max Unger and also play at G in the case of injuries, or hell, even RT in a pinch. This versatility has always been attractive to Tom Cable, and I came to the 'he's going to play center' conclusion by going off of clues from John Schneider and Pete Carroll in the post-draft presser: the first thing they mentioned about him was that they were really impressed with his intelligence. Center is not an easy job and you must possess above average intelligence and memory to play that positon. Athleticism/strength helps too and a guy that could play LT in the SEC probably has the movement skills necessary for the center position in the NFL.
Look at the pre-draft measurables of Max Unger and Ryan Seymour, side-by-side:
-- Unger: 6'5, 309 pounds - 5.35 40 - 22 reps on bench - 24.5" vert - 93" broad - 7.39 3-cone - 4.50 short shuttle - played LT & C in college.
-- Seymour: 6'4, 300 ponds - 5.09 40 - 30 reps on bench - 29" vert - 110" broad - 7.53 3-cone - 4.59 short shuttle - played LT, LG, C in college.
Now, measurables aside, while I haven't scouted Seymour yet, Derek Stephens is through two Vandy games and has come off impressed. Per Stephens, Seymour has "good extension and punch off snap" with "above average quicks getting downfield, and some fluidity in pass-pro. As a backup, he could fill depth at any of the spots except LT. Played everything at Vandy though, including LT. Very technically sound."
It's early, but I'm liking this pick already. The shock of "who the f*ck is this guy" has turned into "ohhhhhh, I get it."
I've got similar, if not stronger opinions on the Seahawks' final 7th round pick, OT Michael Bowie. Bowie is a former JUCO transfer to Oklahoma State that was Brandon Weeden's blindside protector in 2011 for five games. Bowie didn't give up a sack - a year in which the Cowboys went on to a 12-1 record, a top-three national ranking and a victory over Stanford in the 2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - but after a violation of team rules and a reprimand, Bowie decided to leave Oklahoma State and finished his career at Northeastern Oklahoma State, or some place weird like that.
I included a snippet from Optimum Scouting's Alex Brown in my brief writeup on Bowie following the pick, and here's what he had to say about Bowie after his 2011 season with Oklahoma State:
"Bowie has a developed kick slide that is very effective against speed rushers, and works hard to control the midsection of his pass rushing opponent. He read and reacts to pass rushers very well, exhibiting plus hands and balance out of his pass set. He plays with very good balance and bend and utilizes good hand placement and arm length.
However, he must improve his stamina level, be much more sudden with his inside power step, and fire his hands out quicker in pass protection. He also lacks great power or drive in the run game and is not a great second level, in-space blocker."
That kick slide is evident in his tape from 2011 - and I came away impressed with his ability to contain smaller, quicker and shiftier defensive ends or pass rushers. Balance is a term that Brown uses several times and that shows up on tape for me as well. This play below in particular shows his ability to mirror.
More (how about this pass by Weeden, you guys):
That's pass pro - and the aspect of his game that really piques your interest. His fit for the Seahawks will likely be on the right side, because I don't think he's quick enough, necessarily, to be a left tackle at the NFL level. That said - he did back up Russell Okung at Oklahoma State for a spell and didn't allow a sack in his five starts (nor in any of his starts in 2012, I might add) so you never know.
Nonetheless, assuming Okung can stay relatively healthy, I don't think it's a stretch to hope that Bowie can become a potential successor to Breno Giacomini on the right side. Bowie is only 21 and should need to work on his run blocking, but his deficiencies there might be aided by the Tom Cable brand of zone blocking - not as reliant on space-power on the outside, nor reaching the second level and laying hat on someone as some zone blocking schemes might need, and Seattle's is more focused on down blocking or kick-out blocking laterally at the right tackle position. Tackles pull to the inside occasionally with the Seahawks' read-option stuff, but if Okung can handle it I think that Bowie could too.
Bowie is a freak though - and I mean that in the best possible of ways. 6'5, 330 - with very long arms and a thick, powerful base - he just looks like a right tackle and in my mind's eye has some potential there for the Seahawks. Don't be surprised if it's a multi-year project, but that's most typically what 7th round picks are anyway. The transfer from Oklahoma State annihilated his draft stock but prior to that you'd have probably guessed he'd end up a mid-round pick, based on his limited 2011 tape.
As for where that leaves Seattle in terms of their depth at tackle? Well - right now, Paul McQuistan is really the only one I'd trust to backup Russell Okung at left tackle... so at this point his job security has got to be fairly strong, unless Bowie really shines. It will be an interesting training camp and preseason, in that regard.
See more of Bowie's tape here:
As for Guards...
Seattle picked up two potential guards with seventh round picks - Jared Smith, the DT convert and probable Practice Squad project, and the above-mentioned Ryan Seymour as a G/C type prospect. They added an additional two among their UDFA ranks - Alvin Bailey and Jordan Roussos. While Seattle's depth at the G position for 2013 remains fairly strong, past this upcoming year it falls off a cliff somewhat and I have to think that Tom Cable wasn't stoked to be running a platoon-by-quarter with J.R. Sweezy and John Moffitt last year. I know I wasn't. I really get sick of seeing the interior line collapse and force Russell Wilson to scramble off-script (though he does love to scramble).
As I said above, McQuistan will likely be gone after 2013 and Lemuel Jeanpierre will possibly be gone before that; Moffitt's been underwhelming so his status with the team comes into question.
On the other hand, there are some intriguing players at the guard position going forward. J.R. Sweezy is an ongoing project - he looked fantastic in the preseason last year, mere months after playing his first offensive snap ever, then predictably fell back to earth as the regular season kicked in. His baptism by fire against Arizona's Darnell Dockett was regrettable, and he and John Moffitt platooned for much of the season, neither player really taking the reins and running with the job. Moffitt had injury issues and Sweezy was just plain green, often missing assignments and showing a weakness against the bull-rush.
Sweezy's athleticism is off the charts though - you may remember that at 6'5, 300 pounds he ran the 40 in 5.01 seconds and registered an absurd 36" vertical jump (lower body explosiveness and power). He also ran through the agility drills with aplomb - 7.40 seconds on the 3-cone and 4.41 seconds on the short shuttle. He has 34" arms to go with his long, lean-looking frame, and his physical upside alone makes him the probable favorite for the job at RG coming into OTAs. As the game slows down for him and he better understands core offensive line concepts, he should improve.
That said, there are a couple of dark-horses outside John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy at the position that could challenge for not only a roster-spot, but regular season snaps at RG.
First up, the jewel in Seattle's UDFA crown, in my opinion, Arkansas G Alvin Bailey. Let's take a spin around the interwebs to see what's being said about Bailey.
First up, Via Derek Stephens:
Bailey is a good-looking athlete with ideal thickness and proportion throughout. Possesses raw power to move bigger opponents on contact, comes off the ball with natural explosion, and can get down the field rapidly as a run blocker. It's when he's asked to move laterally or break down and redirect where his limitations are apparent. An ideal depth fit at guard in a power-run scheme at the next level.
Seattle's version of the zone-blocking scheme is often referred to as a Power-Zone because of a Cable's desire for bigger, mauling type linemen over the traditional undersized/quick ZBS linemen of the Shanahan/Kubiak tree. Noted offensive line expert and respected draft analyst Lance Zierlein is not high on Bailey as a player - listing him among the most overrated prospects on the offensive line prior to the Draft, but acknowledged that while he may be too stiff for most zone teams, Seattle's iteration might be a fit.
That word 'overrated' is sort of a key here - and Zierlein used it because the raw, athletically gifted guard out of Arkansas was listed as a 3rd or 4th round prospect in just about every scouting report I read. The fact he went undrafted is probably thanks in part to the depth in this year's draft at the position, and also in part to the fact that he was, probably, overrated on pure athleticism by draft scouts.
Via Doug Farrar, from his list of the best UDFAs:
Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas: Big but agile blocker with the ability to protect in space and at the second level, but can also bring it with power at the line. Can play right or left guard. Struggles with more advanced defensive concepts and is erratic in play-to-play blocking consistency. Needs an NFL team that understands how to bridge the gap between potential and performance. (Seattle Seahawks)
SUMMARY - An under-classman who came out early for the Draft, Bailey no doubt is a very physically talented guard, but he does not produce like an elite athlete consistently. Strong and powerful, Bailey can drive DL off the LOS on in-line run blocks and can anchor against power rushers when he blocks with leverage and uses hands aggressively. Bailey is a frustrating player to evaluate because when he is on he looks like a first round pick who should step into the NFL and be a productive starting guard from day one. However, he does not play with good technique consistently and lacks instincts/awareness, which greatly hinder his production. Overall, I would draft Bailey in the third / fourth round because he is so physically gifted, but he needs to greatly improve his consistency to become the blocker he is capable of being.
Now - as fans we trend to irrationality about players and often believe that 'with a little coaching, this guy will be a stud at the next level!' I do it. You do it. A lot of people do it. It's not necessarily always wrong, but that type of thinking can get you in trouble. Still, I honestly do believe that if anyone is going to be able to tap Bailey's potential, it'll be Tom Cable.
From NFP: "When he's on, he looks like a first round pick that should step into the NFL and be a productive starting guard from day one." Damn! From Farrar: "Needs an NFL team that understands how to bridge the gap between potential and performance." Damn! Tom Cable!
Now - I'm not saying that Bailey is the answer in week one for the Seahawks at RG, but I also didn't think that frickin' J.R. Sweezy would be starting in week one last year either. I believe that Bailey is a fantastic rookie free agent get, though, and has the potential to catch on to the roster as a versatile G prospect that can back up whoever is starting at RG and LG. Bailey was on an Arkansas team that was one of the rare offenses to switch their guards depending strong or weak packages, so as you watch OG #67 below, note that he plays at both left guard and right guard in any given series. That kind of versatility was surely attractive to Tom Cable.
Which reminds me...
Hey you guys, remember Rishaw Johnson? That one dude that was on the 53-man roster for the last four weeks of the Seahawks' regular season and through the playoffs? The guy that Pete Carroll was raving about prior to the 2012 season after he was picked up as a UDFA by the team? I remember him. I like him.
I was talking to Jared recently about some Guard prospects and we ended back up on Rishaw somehow. Jared forwarded me some of his college tape at California (PA) and hot damn the dude just straight dominated.
Of course, that's small school football, not the NFL, but like Bailey, Johnson was rated anywhere from the 2nd round to the 4th round prior to last year's draft and due to character concerns (he was kicked off of Ole Miss), he fell into the undrafted ranks, signing with the Hawks. Like Bailey, he's a big ball of athleticism.
Rishaw Johnson Combine: 6'3 3/8" - 313 pounds - 35 1/4" arms - 10 1/4" hands - 5.18 40 - 22 bench - 9'0 broad - 31.5" vert - 4.58 short shuttle - 7.87 3-cone
Alvin Bailey Combine: 6'3 - 312 pounds - 34 3/4" arms - 9 3/8" hands - 4.90 40 - 27 bench.
James Carpenter Combine: 6'4 3/8" - 321 pounds - 34" arms, 9 5/8" hands, 5.22 40 - 23 reps on bench.
PFW's Nolan Nawrocki wrote a scouting report on Johnson last year and while the 'negatives' section was riddled with character concerns, the positives portion piques my interest:
Has long arms and meat hooks for hands. Pops out of his stance. Light on his feet. Fluid movement skills for a big man, including terrific knee and ankle flexion. Expansive blocking range. Outstanding pulling ability - leads through the hole with speed, agility and body control. Gets on top of linebackers with ease and can even pick off third-level defenders. Has a solid base and shows the ability to sit in his stance. Plays through the whistle and flashes some nasty.
Has meat hooks for hands. That's got to be my favorite scouting line of all time. The rest of it - just sounds so Seahawk-y and Tom Cable-y. Me likey.
Johnson is the sleeper of the group, in my mind - and could find himself competing for a roster spot or even that up-for-grabs right guard spot if he keeps his off-field stuff in check. I didn't hear anything last year about him in that regard, so my hopes are high.
The bottom line - Seattle didn't use a pick on the offensive line until the seventh round, but it seems like they got a couple of guys that could contribute eventually, under the tutelage of Tom Cable. Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey are super intriguing prospects, in my mind, and Rishaw Johnson has some potential to surprise as well. Cannot wait for training camp, because that's a group I'll be watching closely.