Last July, ex-NFL scout Dave Razzano put together a piece that profiled 20 rookies that he thought would have a big impact in the 2010 season. While most people in the know could look at a team's depth chart and surmise which early-round players will have a big impact in their first season, it takes a little bit keener eye to pick out late round guys that will surprise in year one. Razzano showed pretty remarkable foresight in his piece dated back to July when he hit on Green Bay RB James Starks and Tennessee WR Marc Mariani. As we saw, Starks contributed heavily to Green Bay's Super Bowl run and Marc Mariani made the Pro Bowl as a punt return specialist. I doubt many people had both of these guys in their preseason impact player predictions.
I've done a few articles about him already, but if you're not familiar, (according to his blog bio), 'Dave Razzano is an NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox and Dick Vermeil.
He's been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000) and he consistently delivers independent unfiltered opinions on college and pro football talent.'
I got a chance to talk to Dave about the Seahawks' draft strategy and drafting in general. It's great to get his point of view - he's a guy that been around NFL organizations his whole life (his dad was a legendary NFL scout as well) and has seen inner workings from every angle - from inside the war rooms to on the road scouting players. He's had a lot of contact with and influence on NFL GMs so you he brings a lot to the table in his analysis. Though he's not always right, as I pointed out in the past, he has a track record of success and at worst gives us a great look at some of the methodology scouts and teams use, and offers some opinions that go against the grain with respect to the general consensus surrounding players. Here's a few answers he gave me about some things the Hawks have to consider as the draft draws nigh.
DK: From a 'scout's perspective', what would be your recommendations to the Hawks regarding their situation at QB? (ie, do they go for a 1st round guy, Mallett/Locker, or try and wait for a Kaepernick in the 2nd round? - explain what you'd do there and why that player may fit for the Hawks)
DR: Would grab Locker in a minute but they will have to trade up. He never gets out of top 20 picks. Would not touch Ryan Mallett. Someone will become enamored with his rocket arm. Immobile guys who are "shady " like he is would not interest me in any round. Hawks were waayyy too hasty in getting rid of Nate Davis. Nobody seems to like his locker room demeanor. Games are not won in the locker room. They are won on the field of play and this guy Davis is BIGTIME!! The niners screwed up by not playing him and it cost Singletary potential millions in earnings. Whoever plays this guy will look like a genius! Nobody thought much of the "laid back" Kurt Warner sitting around Rams facility for 2 yrs. That is why we traded for Trent Green. He gets hurt, Vermeil has no other choice but to put in this mild mannered camp body and the rest is history. Point being until you put a guy on the field....last time I looked Davis has ZERO attempts in a regular season game, you just don't know. Moot point, he is gone and that's too bad.
Anyway, Kaepernick is another QB I feel will be very successful. Everyone is targeting for round two. He will go either late one or early two. Again, Jake Locker, to me, is a Brett Favre clone and the same things people say about Locker they said about Favre coming out of S Mississippi. Poor accuracy, can't read defenses etc. Not shocked when I checked out favre's total college stats vs Locker and they were identical Favre in college....55 td 35 int 53.2% completion. Locker...53 td 35 int 53.6 completion percentage. This is why you can't put emphasis on the stat sheet. Most of the stats is the team you are on and the system. Joe Montana did not have overly impressive stats coming out of Notre Dame. When you studied him closely he made plays when team needed them most..Had "winner" written all over him, just like Locker does today.
DK: Do you have any favorite - (either high profile or sleeper) Defensive Tackles (3-tech) that you think will have a lot of success rushing the passer and creating havoc on the line? If so, who and why do you like him? Anybody that no one is talking about yet?
DR: The Hawks really need help in the front seven of their defense. As for DT's, it will be interesting to see if Pete Carroll has big interest in a player I feel is being completely overlooked early, DT Jurrell Casey of USC. Looks like a Casey Hampton (Steelers) clone. Short and compact, very strong and explosive, high effort. Folks seem to be knocking his "work ethic" just like they did Ryan Pickett coming out of Ohio State. It is extremely difficult to find good defensive linemen and most don't have great work ethic, which is why they are big in the first place. You don't need choir boys for the position. Just disruptive and nasty players like Casey. If the Hawks are smart they are targeting this player!
DK: What offensive linemen are you most high on? The Hawks have needs at every position on the line except LT - who do you see as some guys that could excel in the Hawks' zone-blocking scheme under Tom Cable?
DR: The OL is much better off than the DL right now, especially with very strong back-ups like Stacy Andrews, Paul Fanaika and Breno Giacomini. If they decide to go with an OT in the first round a name to remember is James Brewer of Indiana. This former basketball player is a bit off the radar but, believe me, scouts and OL coaches know all about this guy. Instant starter at ROT who can also play on the left side. If they want a versatile kid who can play all three positions then go get Will Rackley of Lehigh. A solid OT in round two would be Marcus Gilbert of Florida.
DK: Do you have any mid to late round WR or CB sleepers in mind that you think will make a big impact?
DR: Another USC player is a DC sleeper of mine and again, will be interesting to see if Pete Carroll lobbies John Schneider for the services of the very field smart and talented Shareece Wright. A couple of WO's who could fall down some Draft boards are Vincent Brown of San Diego State, an excellent player who ran 4.70 at Indy. Throw out the stopwatch, Anquan Boldin ran a 4.71! This kid is legit!! Another WO I love is Greg Salas of Hawaii, a Poor Man's Hines Ward. This kid caught 115 balls last year and is one of the most competitive route runners and downfield blockers you will see. Again, will get knocked down some due to his 4.60 play speed.
DK: Talk a little bit about the Hawks' 2010 draft class - do you see any big hits or misses? What are your thoughts on their later round guys - CB Walter Thurmond, S Kam Chancellor, TE Anthony McCoy, DE Dexter Davis, and FB/TE Jameson Konz - did you have high grades for any of these guys?
DR: As for the 2010 Hawks Draft class, wasn't thrilled with 1st pick OT Russell Okung. Thought he was best on the right side and would not touch a ROT in 1st. This player struggles athletically to play consistently on the Left. Loved Earl Thomas. Very consistent playmaker from game to game on tape. Love his play demeanor. Did not like WO Golden Tate. Thought he was a mid round tweener at best. Lacks explosiveness and not fluid enough to be a consistent outside threat. Mid rounds picks were very average but LOVED a couple later picks like TE Anthony McCoy and especially OLB Dexter Davis, who I had rated in the 2nd round and a guy who can line up and get after the QB!
Overall, there is great promise for the Hawk fans due to the front office cohesion between the fun and energetic Pete Carroll and the very talented GM John Schneider. Talented and "solid" people who will create an environment that does things the right way with "winning" the only goal!!
Big thanks to Dave for taking the time to respond to my questions. Let me know if you guys have any more questions for him and I'll try to pass them on and get some answers! Check out his blog at Playmaker Mobile for more insights.