Why do we love draft talk so much?
We clearly don't love it because it's good at predicting what teams do. It's not. So if you're sitting at home dutifully preparing to throw some post-draft shade on Mel Kiper, Jr., maybe you oughta just save that. We already know he's gonna guess wrong most of the time.
Rather, I think what makes NFL draft talk valuable to us is mostly the actual chatter, the discourse. Draft season is one of the few moments in the average NFL fan's never-ending quest to vanquish all foes that his or her focus turns inward. It is in this blessed season that we NFL fans are at our most thoughtful, and most introspective, waiting with bated breath to see how our team's future will unfold.
In this this holy season, even the bros in every fan base return from the farthest reaches of the internet, where they have been pounding brews, talking trash, and trolling other fan bases, to be counted among the faithful. Legend has it that they will re-orient their caps, put their shirts back on, Axe up, and (half) read the sacred draft texts about incoming prospects on draft night eve. Then, they will boo at the appropriate time.
How well do we "get" our front office?
Back during the college bowl season we did a "Community Scouting the Bowls" series. We talked about prospects who appeared in those games in terms of the fit in Seattle. Of course, we have talked prospects in numerous posts, fan posts, etc. since then. Now that we have an idea about which prospects the Seahawks have invited to the VMAC we can use the handy dandy search function to see how well the players we like match they players they like.*
*Obviously, this is a quick-and-dirty impressionistic take. Seattle won't invite every prospect it likes to the VMAC some prospects they like will not have appeared in games we community scouted or even be known to the community.
Once we throw out the nonsensical goal of guessing which players the front office will draft, we can highlight the prospects we like compared to those clearly on Seattle's radar. That will give us a limited indication of how much we "get" them. Seems simple enough, but realize that many fan bases (and journalists) never develop even a vaguely reliable feel for what kinds of players the front office likes. It wasn't long ago that people routinely speculated that Schneider and Carroll had a hard preference for former USC Trojans.
As of the most recent (as of this writing) list of VMAC visitors, Seattle has met with 14 potential draftees/undrafted free agents. Those visitors who also played in bowls that we (mostly) community scouted are listed.
- OL -- Lawrence Gibson (Va Tech), Mark Glowinski (W. Va), Chaz Green (Florida), Ty Sambraillo (Colorado St.)
- WR -- Chris Conley (Georgia), Vince Mayle (Wazzu), Ty Montgomery (Stanford)
- RB -- Mike Davis (S. Carolina)
- Edge/OLB -- Mario Edwards (Florida State)
- DL -- Ray Drew (Georgia), Justin Hamilton (LA-Lafayette), Christian Ringo (LA-Lafayette)
- S -- Damarious Randall (Arizona State),
What did Field Gulls say about these prospects?
My assumption about invites to the VMAC is that the team's interest is real. That seems like the safest assumption. Not surprisingly, you don't see much chatter about many late round/UDFA prospects, especially offensive linemen the regular draftnik posters (e.g., Jared Stanger, Zach Whitman, Davis Hsu, Danny, etc.).
Chris Conley, WR, Georgia -- Before he decided to just go wreck the whole dang combine, Conley got some love in the community scouting thread as a possible late round flier. He's probably mid-round at worst now.
- Comments from community scouts -- Maury Povich noted Conley's excellent blocking in the bowl game thread.
- Comments on Field Gulls -- As you might imagine, interest in Conley has picked up since the combine. He appears in multiple posts and comments. I think he's on a number of teams' radars as a guy who does a lot of the little things, but with plus athleticism and some receiving skills he didn't get to show at Georgia.
Mike Davis, RB, S. Carolina -- Davis has always been a favorite of a few around Field Gulls. Few would be shocked to see the Seahawks pull the trigger if he's available where they value him.
- Comments from community scouts -- None (no game thread)
- Comments on Field Gulls -- The Kelly's Heroes post on "Seahawky" RBs is the most extensive recent write up, but Davis gets a lot of chatter on Field Gulls. Had Seattle shown zero interest, we'd have been WAY off.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford -- Montgomery has appeared regularly on the site as a prospect of interest.
- Comments from community scouts -- None (Montgomery didn't play in Stanford's bowl game)
- Comments from Field Gulls -- We sure do like Ty Montgomery 'round these parts. The big question is about what kind of draft capital Seattle might be willing to invest. Again, were Seattle disinterested that would be telling.
Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State -- A bit more polarizing than Montgomery, Mayle is pretty still pretty popular.
- Comments from community scouts -- He caught my attention in the New Mexico Bowl because of his size.
- Comments from Field Gulls -- He's been a popular source of discussion from regular posters and among commenters. He's got all the measurables you like, but he's a good bit older than other prospects.
Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State -- For a Pac 12 guy with good measurables and versatility (CBSSports projects second round) he's not gotten much love on Field Gulls.
- Comments from community scouts -- None (no bowl game thread)
- Comments from Field Gulls -- AlienBob gave a little love to Randall as a guy who can play both slot corner and safety in a comment on Danny's seven round mock in mid-April.
Ty Sambraillo, OL, Colorado St. -- He's seen more love in other parts of the Seahawks blogosphere, but a little here at Field Gulls too among the commentariat.
- Comments from community scouts -- None (no bowl game thread)
- Comments from Field Gulls -- In Ghaugsven's March 19th draft fanpost a couple folks considered Sambraillo at #63 better value than LSU's Danielle Hunter (LEO).
These other prospects didn't generate much notable talk on Field Gulls among writers, fan posts, or in comments.
Mario Edwards, Edge, Florida State -- He's physically gifted and potentially quite versatile in a Micheal Bennett sort of way, but he didn't generate much chatter on Field Gulls during the bowl season or subsequently. His athleticism didn't jump of the screen, but it's there.
Ray Drew, DE, Georgia -- Drew was highly recruited but was mostly just a guy at Georgia.
Lawrence Gibson (Va. Tech.) & Mark Glowinski (W. Virginia), OL -- Gibson is unrated in CBSSports draft database, but has nice measurables (including 35+ inch arms!). Glowinski did not register on our radar.
Chaz Green, OL, Florida -- Green may not have come up for the community scouts but he did not escape Jared Stanger's watchful eye.
Justin Hamilton & Christian Ringo (LA-Lafayette), DL -- late-round or undrafted free agent prospects, both guys played well in the Sun Belt.
What's the takeaway?
Well, this is far from any kind of rigorous scientific analysis. But my impression is that the community has a reasonable feel for the kinds of players that attract the Seahawks' brass. Consider that the guys with the most chatter (or most detailed chatter) are considered mid-round prospects or later. I suspect few fan bases guess the mid-round prospects that visit their teams pre-draft. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
Obviously we don't know that Seattle will draft or sign any of these players, even if they get the opportunity. They'll always have more and more relevant data. Add to it, they will throw a curve ball and take a guy we've not heard much about (like Justin Britt). Still, I'd say that as a fan community we generally "get" what the front office is trying to do. Not every fan base can say that.