Just this past weekend we passed the halfway mark of the college football season, so it seems like a good time for another Seahawks mock draft. First, the quick ground rules:
I reference player overall rankings which come from NFLdraftscout/CBS.
I allow myself to overdraft/reach on players from the draftscout rankings, but I do not allow myself to project players dropping.
The Seahawks currently have 3 expected compensatory picks (a 3rd, a 5th, and a 6th per http://overthecap.com/2016-compensatory-draft-picks-update-5122015/).
Seahawks’ native 5th rounder traded to KC for Kelcie McCray.
Seahawks’ native 6th rounder traded to DET for Mohammed Seisay.
Seahawks added 7th rounder from DAL for Christine Michael.
Total current picks: 1, 2, 3, 3c, 4, 5c, 6c, 7, 7.
We know what the 1st pick needs to be spent on…Offensive Line. It’s the team’s biggest, glaring embarrassment. Its inefficacy has become so extreme as to truly put our franchise QB’s health and well-being in jeopardy. It HAS to be addressed. And there isn’t going to be much help available in free agency. Alex Boone is probably going to be the best name on the market, as it seems he would really prefer not to return to SF.
Where do we begin on the OL? Well, two of our OL starters will be UFA at the end of the year (Okung and Sweezy), disenchanted backup swing OL Alvin Bailey will be a RFA and would CLEARLY prefer to play elsewhere, and two of our current Center options will also be up for new deals (Lewis-RFA, Jean-Pierre-UFA).
I’m not really sure what happens with Okung. I’d rather not give him more than a 2-year extension, and then use those 2 years to try and draft his replacement while Okung remains an overpaid hedge. There WILL NOT be any LT available in free agency. I believe all LT with exception of 34 year old Andrew Whitworth are already re-upped with their current teams. For Seattle LT, it’s either Okung, draft, or both. My guess is both.
My hunch is that Sweezy will be allowed to walk. We drafted Glowinski and Sokoli in 2015 with the expectation that they will compete for the RG job in 2016. Technically, Soko may have been drafted as a Center fallback plan after missing on their preferred OC in an earlier round, but I think it was too ambitious to make a DL into a Center. It could also be the team didn’t want to send Sweezy the message that they just drafted two potential RG’s right before his contract year. Regardless, Soko will end up at OG.
Nowak’s been attempting the conversion from DL to OC for four years now…it’s a tough road to take. I just don’t think Nowak is the future at the position. I think he is a stop-gap after missing on C in the draft last year.
At LG, I’m optimistic today after Britt had his best game of the year on Thursday vs SF. We have Terry Poole on the practice squad as competition.
I’ve always been optimistic about Gilliam at RT. At the very least, Britt and Gilliam are athletic, inexpensive, versatile, club-control depth. For intents and purposes of this mock, I’m leaving Britt and Gilliam in place, I’m promoting RG from within, and I’m looking for LT and OC in the draft.
I recently made a list of 25 of the most athletic and/or highest projected OT in college football (Laremy Tunsil would be #26, but hadn’t played at that point)…of those 24 names, I’ve tracked Seattle scouts to 22 of them. The big names from the big schools aren’t that telling, BUT…the fact that my blindly-compiled list of OT’s also included names like Willie Beavers of Western Michigan, Joe Haeg of North Dakota State, and Nick Richter of Richmond; ALL of whom the Seahawks have scouted??? Now, THAT is more than coincidence.
So who on that list does Seattle like? THAT is the million dollar question (or, roughly, the $8million APY question). I have no clue. But I will tell you who I like:
1st round- OL Joe Dahl, Washington State
I’m saying "OL" because I don’t know where Dahl will end up. I don’t care. He would improve all 5 OL positions. Dahl is the only OL in college right now that impresses me EVERY game I watch him in. And that includes games from his sophomore year at LG.
For the second consecutive year, Dahl is the best pass-protecting LT in the country. Period. WSU attempts 56.3 passes per game…that is #1 in the country by 8 attempts/gm. Per PFF, prior to the Arizona game, Dahl had allowed only 12 QB pressures on 364 snaps. That is 3% of snaps. That is 1 pressure every 30 snaps. The Seahawks pass 29 times a game. If you can get a guy that will only let Russell be pressured once a game…you do it.
The biggest question on Dahl will be run-blocking. I’m currently of the thinking that if Cable thinks he can take DT’s that don’t know how to run OR pass-block and make them good run-blockers that are failing miserably in pass-pro, he should be willing and able to teach a stud pass-blocker to run-block. I don’t even think it will be a long course.
Dahl is listed 6’5"/310 this year after being listed 6’4"/303 last year. I’ll buy the 310lbs, but I don’t know that he grew an inch at 22 years old. Regardless, I think his arm length measurement at the combine will determine his NFL position. I think the interesting move is putting him at Center. But that will only be possible if you can nail an OT in another round.
Draftscout currently lists Dahl as an OG, and the 667th overall player in this draft. I don’t care. He’s in my first round, and he’s on my team.
In previous mocks, I think I had a RB in the 2nd round. With the emergence of Rawls and the overall RB landscape in the draft the next two years, I think I’m able to push RB down a bit. Let’s instead further-reinforce the OL.
As I alluded to earlier, this pick/position will be dependent on where the team projects Dahl. If Dahl is left at LT, we draft a Center here. If Dahl moves inside to Center, we draft a LT here. I’ll give you my names for both.
2nd round- OT Connor McGovern, Missouri
As much as this may make some readers cringe at the position/school affiliation, I’m taking Missouri LT Connor McGovern.
McGovern is potentially the 2nd-best athlete at OT in this draft behind Jason Spriggs. Connor’s weightroom achievements are well-documented, and insane. That is what first drew me to studying him. Initially, over the summer, I only had tape of him at OG, and that is where I was projecting him. But now, after 8 weeks playing LT, I’ve been able to study multiple games worth of tape at his new position, and I’ve been EXTREMELY impressed.
Not only does McGovern have the strength to get good push in the run game, his movement and footwork on his pass sets has been a VERY pleasant surprise. In a sense, Connor is a more balanced (run/pass) player than Dahl.
McGovern is listed at 6’4"/304 but plays bigger. He is currently ranked #254 overall as a Guard, and he does give you positional flexibility should Okung/Dahl fit in as LT.
2nd round- OC Max Tuerk, USC
In a move that is only possible after Tuerk suffered a year-ending knee injury two weeks ago, Seattle now has the potential opportunity to get the best Center in the draft as late as the end of the 2nd round.
If I’m not mistaken, average recovery time from a knee injury is 10 months, putting Tuerk ready to practice in August. We may see him start on PUP much like PRich this year.
Tuerk has been listed 6’6"/285 since he showed up on campus, so I have my doubts that he is still that size. He was originally an OT (hence the #75 jersey), and could give you some flexibility that way, if necessary. 6’6" feels like it’d be too tall to play center, but a) players are often listed bigger than fact, b) Max Unger was actually a 6’5" former OT playing center for Seattle.
Max is easily my favorite Center at the second level. Maybe not as quick as Mike Mathews, but he is stronger and better at squaring up his blocks. My source at USC tells me Tuerk has intangibles off the charts and will easily step into a leadership role on the Seattle OL.
Tuerk has dropped from the 1st round, and is now listed at #73 overall since his injury. Even if he misses part of the year, I think the value is immense.
The next-biggest problem on the Seahawks 2016 roster is the DL. Specifically, the fact that both of our base DT (Mebane/Rubin) will be free agents.
For me, all it takes is a quick look at draftscout’s DT rankings to know what I’m going to do here.
3rd round- DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
I’ve been watching Rankins for a while now, and not only is he listed 6’2"/303 and able to play DT, he is athletic enough that Louisville will play him like a Red Bryant, run-stuffing DE. Here’s some of that athleticism from this weekend:
Rankins gets lots of credit for his play against the run, but he’s also put up 4.0 sacks in 7 games this year, and 8.0 sacks in 2014. His positional flexibility allows him to step in for Mebane or Rubin if they’re not re-signed, or he could play the nickel DT role Hill currently plays (when not hurt).
Rankins is ranked #118 overall, putting him on the board at both Seattle’s native 3rd and the Maxwell 3rd comp slot.
The 2nd round is sort of the historical sweet-spot for drafting RB. It’s a list that includes: TJ Yeldon, Ameer Abdullah, Jeremy Hill, Carlos Hyde, Gio Bernard, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy. I had been thinking about RB in the 2nd for that reason. But with the emergence of Thomas Rawl; knowing the run-game won’t be a trainwreck with him as RB1, if necessary; I feel more comfortable pushing RB down a round, and looking more for a player that can fill the Robert Turbin/Fred Jackson role.
Plus, RB from the 3rd round aren’t awful: Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, David Johnson, Matt Jones, Tre Mason, Ronnie Hillman, Demarco Murray, Stevan Ridley.
Devontae Booker (5’11"/212) would be good in the 3rd down RB role, but his ranking of #74 is slightly above price range. Kareem Hunt (5’11"/215) is ranked #94, and would probably need to be picked with the Seahawks’ native 3rd rather than the comp pick, if I’m sticking to my mock draft rules. Alex Collins, Paul Perkins, Jordan Howard, Elijah McGuire all hold appeal in this range, but as Juniors aren’t ranked for 2016 by draftscout.
The guy that ends up fitting best in this spot is:
3rd round comp- RB Kenneth Dixon, LaTech
Dixon is 5’10"/212, ranked #107 overall, has run for 649 yards in 6 games this year at a 5.95ypc clip, 9 TD on the ground, plus 11.76ypc/3TD receiving. Kenneth’s 73 combined career TD’s is 5th all-time (2 behind Ricky Williams for 4th place, 10 behind Montee Ball for 1st). Kenneth has been a 4-year starter for LaTech and can be a true bellcow back.
Dixon is one of the toughest runners in college football. He’s reported to be really coachable. And his ability blocking, both in pass-pro and downfield for receivers, is at the higher end of the RB’s in this class.
This is the point in the draft where things become less clear. Both in terms of what Seattle will do, and who will be valued in this range by April. My thoughts go back to the Seahawks’ free agent list; notably Bruce Irvin, Jermaine Kearse, and Jeremy Lane. And then behind Bruce at LB, we also have Mike Morgan to decide on. Behind Kearse at WR, we have Lockette, and Matthews to decide on. Behind Lane, we have Shead, Burley, and Seisay to decide on.
The WR in this range are potentially 6’4"/195 Mekale McKay, 6’2"/195 Chris Brown, 6’3"/215 Cayleb Jones (I’d favor Jones, but feels REALLY unlikely he lasts this far). History suggests that if the Seahawks don’t draft a WR by the 4th round, they wait until UDFA.
The CB in this range are potentially 5’11"/196 Eric Murray, 6’1"/196 Wayne Lyons, or a reach on 6’0"/196 Taveze Calhoun. I love Calhoun, but history suggests Seattle waits until the 5th round for their CB.
At this point, I’m going for the LEO linebacker position. I think Bruce has played himself into a pretty hefty FA contract, so as much as I like him, I think he walks. I think the names to monitor are Noah Spence, Ian Seau, Pete Robertson, and Montese Overton.
Spence (6’3"/261) is the former Ohio State player dismissed for drug use, and now playing lights out at Eastern Kentucky (35 tackles, 14.0 TFL, 8.0 sacks, 2 FF in 7 games). He’s really more of a Cliff Avril than Bruce right now, and clearly the best talent in this range getting discounted for redflags. I’m not sure if he can be trusted, but I kind of do. Draftscout says #243.
Seau (6’3"/250) is the nephew of HOF’er Junior Seau playing at Nevada (26 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 FF). Really nice getoff. Draftscout says #235.
Robertson (6’3"/239) is a 5th year player that finished 2014 with 15.5 TFL, 13.0 sacks, 3 PBU, 2 FF; who is at 43 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 blocked kick in 2015. He doesn’t excite me as much, even though Draftscout puts him at #221.
Overton (6’3"/221) is the one that reminded me most of Bruce when I spotted him last year. He has the lowest projection of this group due to his size, but at 51 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks (9th in the country), 6 PBU; Montese is very productive, and the one most capable of playing off the LOS as the SAM/OTTO position Bruce has kind of evolved into in recent years. Draftscout says #443. If Overton gets his weight up by the combine, I may come back to him. But at the moment…
4th round- LEO Noah Spence, EKU
In case you want to nick Spence for racking up the aforementioned stats playing against lower competition, it’s worth noting that in 2013 as a sophomore at OSU, Noah had 14.0 TFL, and 7.5 sacks vs Big 10 competition.
On to the 5th round, and this has been such a good round to us for CB’s that I’m going to stick to that formula. What I’m not going to stick to, however, is the draftscout list of CB’s. It seems like all of the CB’s I’ve liked best this year are actually currently playing Safety. Names like Sean Davis (6’1"/200), Vicente Miles Jr (6’1"/196), and Justin Simmons (6’3"/201).
I already know which one I want, too.
5th round comp- CB/S Justin Simmons, Boston College
Simmons is predominantly a FS for BC, but in nickel and dime packages he does come up and play man CB. It’s sort of Deshawn Shead-esque. My research tells me Simmons is a very intelligent player, he obviously has that Sherm/Cary body type, he’s a great tackler, and a very smooth athlete.
He will need some technique coaching, but so would any pure CB we draft. Simmons is so under the radar right now that there really isn’t any edited tape on him. Draftscout has him at #323 overall.
Here is some 2014 tape of Simmons vs Clemson. He’s wearing #27, and in this game Justin had 5 tackles, 1.0 TFL, and 2 PBU.
As we get into the 6th and 7th rounds, we’re really looking for the high SPARQ lotto tickets. Not having any combine data yet, it’s tough to guess at that.
But between the three remaining selections, I expect one to fill the Tony McDaniel role. I could see one replacing Mike Morgan. And the last may replace TJack, add an upgrade at blocking TE, or maybe triple-down on OL.
A few days ago while reading PFF’s weekly "College Dream Team" article, I noted the name they had at TE. It’s the name from the smallest school on the list. It’s the name that I myself had the least recognition of on first pass. But then, while digging into the name, I watched a video of the player giving an interview. THAT triggered my memory, "I’ve seen this interview before," I thought to myself. So, if I’ve seen that interview, I MUST have also dug for game tape on him. That’s when I found this:
A new, sleeper draft prospect. David Morgan. pic.twitter.com/KyW5BpCJMS— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) September 5, 2015
And with "dibs" being legally binding in the continental U.S.
6th round comp- TE David Morgan II, UTSA
Dude is country strong. 6’4"/260. 30 catches, 361 yards, 12.03 YPC, and 4 TD. As far as I can tell, only Bryce Williams, Jonnu Smith, Cam Serigne, Jaylen Samuels, and Matt Weiser have more catches from the TE position. And PFF says Morgan has the #1 TE run-blocking grade in the country. That’ll do.
At the pick we’re getting from Dallas, I’m going to target a SPARQy LB. We could wait till UDFA like we did with Mike Morgan in 2011, or we could go 7th round like we did with Malcolm Smith the same year. Morgan entered the league at 6’3"/226 with 4.46 speed. Smitty entered the league at 6’0"/226 with 4.44 speed. That’s the kind of guy I’m looking for.
It’s possible Montese Overton is still available here (Draftscout did have him at #443). Then I’d also be watching UW Husky Travis Feeney as a possibility. Feeney is listed at 6’4"/226. If either of these two hit a 4.4 and are available here, you pounce.
7th round (t)- LB Montese Overton, ECU
Part of me thinks the last pick should be on offense simply because that will give the overall draft a 5-4 offense to defense split. But there’s also the probability that the Seahawks have an easier sell to offensive players in UDFA because there are more jobs up for grabs on offense next year.
Either way, my two suggestions for this last pick in the 7th round are Illinois DE/DT Jihad Ward (6’6"/295), and Clemson RT Joe Gore (6’6"/300). Both should measure out as plus-athletes. It’s just a question of how strong your relationship is with each, and which you think you can get as UDFA.
I will go with Ward for now.
7th round- DT Jihad Ward, Illinois
A couple more thoughts before concluding:
I didn’t mock any trades in this piece, but if I had to guess, I think trading back our 2nd round pick to (hopefully) add a 4th rounder would be ideal. A) I think we can try adding a Center in #60-70 range this year, B) adding a second 4th rounder could get us a WR to hedge for Kearse.
Lastly, the guys that I REALLY like, but just didn’t fit in:
#40 DT Jonathan Bullard, Florida
#71 CB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
#88 WR Tajae Sharpe, UMass
#111 SS Elijah Shumate, Notre Dame
#136 FS Karl Joseph, WVU
#165 TE Jerell Adams, S.Carolina
All would be nice picks should the board fall differently than hoped.