Just another 10 days or so and the Seattle Seahawks can put their research into the 2017 NFL Draft class to rest. For now, the searches continue.
Reddit user /u/Sea_12 compiled all of the Seahawks private visits so far, and I figured it was worth a deep dive. What I mostly noticed was that Seattle is prioritizing defensive backs, as we expected, and that includes pretty much all of their research that is for players (on this list) who may go before round six. That does not include quarterback Davis Webb, but he seems to be his own case. It may also not include receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow, but he could go anywhere from round three to undrafted.
In fact, between 6-7 of their 12 known private visits are with players who could be priority free agents, again showing why John Schneider is not in love with this class. But he and Pete Carroll do appear to be in love with at least one player. And of course, he is a DB.
- Johnathan Calvin, DE, Mississippi State (Projected Round: 7-UDFA)
Pro day: 6’2, 275 lbs, 4.72-4.89 40-yard dash, 35.5” vertical, 9’4 broad.
Calvin was a JUCO transfer who had 17.5 TFL and 8.5 sacks in two seasons with the Bulldogs. It seems that most do not expect him to be drafted but he’s drawn enough attention that he seems certain to go in the seventh round or be a priority free agent. He also played some linebacker at Mississippi State. There’s some more info about him here (not much, really), but I point to that link for another interesting Seahawks note in that article.
Senior cornerback Brandon Wilson turned in an incredible workout.
He completed 24 reps on the bench and touched 41 inches in the vertical jump and 11-foot-1 in the broad. His 40 was timed in the mid-4.3s (4.35s). Wilson then did position drills at cornerback and later some running back drills for the Seattle Seahawks.
We’ve talked about Wilson on 3000 NFL Mock Draft, but I wanted to highlight him again here. His play at corner for Houston was probably not noteworthy for the most part, but his athletic makeup is something that could certainly now get him drafted. The move to running back makes sense. If the Seahawks take him, it’s likely to compete with Alex Collins for a spot.
- Adrian Colbert, SS, Miami (Projected Round: 7-UDFA)
6’, 200 lbs, 4.44 40-yard dash, 1.52 10-yard split. Watch his Pro Day workout here.
Another player who, like Wilson, is more body than body of work. He was a safety at Texas, then transferred to Miami and switched to cornerback. The thought now is that he’ll transition back to safety. He’s a big hitter and may serve as a backup to Kam Chancellor in Seattle, if that’s his ultimate destination. Mike Mayock gave him a shoutout in December. The SB Nation site “State of the U” clocked Colbert at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, and noted a 33” vert and 9’9 broad. The 10 reps on the bench is a fairly low number, especially for a burly “big hitter.”
- Dalton Crossan, RB/RS, New Hampshire (Projected Round: 7-UDFA)
5’11, 205 lbs, 4.52 40-yard dash, 1.58 10-yard split, 21 reps on bench, 35” vertical, 10’2 broad jump
Another athletic player with little football pedigree that the Seahawks wanted a closer look at. Crossan has been compared to everyone from Julian Edelman to Chris Hogan. (That’s the joke.) At 205 lbs he does not fit the mold of most Seattle running backs but as an athlete, he could fit in with the return game and serve as insurance to C.J. Prosise. He is probably an UDFA because he played at New Hampshire and didn’t become a starter until his junior season. He had big-time offers coming out of high school for lacrosse, because his name is literally Dalton Crossan. If you look at the UDFA signing of Tanner McEvoy last year, it’s just one example of why the Seahawks are looking closer at these guys than someone who you’re targeting for them in round one. Also, just the fact that only one of the guys on this list is even close to a sure thing for round one tells you that they probably aren’t that interested in the first round this year.
- Shaquill Griffin, CB/S, UCF (Projected Round: 3-5)
6’, 194 lbs, 4.38 40-yard dash, 32.5” arms, 38.5” vertical, 11’ broad jump
Per PFF, Griffin allowed just 39.7% of throws towards the receiver he was covering to be caught. He is also one of the best athletes in this draft at cornerback. He also played some safety. If the Seahawks want him, they may need to use one of their late third round picks or could need to trade back into round four or five.
- David Jones, FS/RS, Richmond (Projected Round: 7-UDFA)
6’1, 205 lbs, 4.43 40-yard dash (all pro day numbers, unofficial), 1.5 10-yard split (noting 1.5 splits because that’s the really elite territory), 34” vertical, 10’9 broad jump
I don’t need to tell you anything. You see the elite athletic numbers and you know why Seattle wanted to get some extra time with him. He led the FCS in interceptions in 2015 with nine, including four against Albany, tying an NCAA record. He only played in five games in 2016 after he broke his arm for the second time. He also says he has puked before every football game, and not on purpose.
- Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan (Projected Round: 2-3)
5’10, 188 lbs, 31.5” arms, 4.54 40-yard dash, 34.5” vertical, 10’1 broad, 15 reps
In three seasons as starter, allowed just two touchdowns and had 42 passes defensed. Considered one of the best cover guys, even though his size likely relegates him to a slot role. If you’ve been following Rob Staton’s work, you know he is leaning towards the idea that finding a high-end slot may take priority over finding DeShawn Shead’s replacement. Jeremy Lane played 71% of snaps last season and was not that great in the slot; that means he could move outside and they could find a better slot cornerback in a draft that seems loaded with them. Lewis is, of course, an incredible athlete. Undersized with shorter-than-preferred arms, Lewis is described as “cocky and tough” and “ultra-competitive.”
Police officers responded to a domestic violence call by Lewis’ girlfriend, who alleged he assaulted her. He was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. His girlfriend did not have any marks and was not treated for injuries. He tweeted "It's sad that somebody would want to control you so bad they would ruin your life over it." just after the charges were announced, and later deleted the tweet.
- Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn (Projected Round: 1)
6’4, 224 lbs, 32.5” arms, 4.4 40-yard dash, 44” vertical, 11’9 broad jump, 4.09 20-yard shuttle, 7.05 3-cone drill
One of the best athletes in NFL draft history. Some will question his tape at UConn, others unsure of where he fits on a defense, but the Seahawks appear obsessed. If they have one target for the first round, the message they’re sending to the NFL is that it is Melifonwu. I could see him lasting to 26, but I could also see him going top 15. There is not a human in the league like him. Former teammate Byron Jones was in a similar situation — freak athlete, went to UConn — and he seems to be blossoming into a great player for the Cowboys. Jones went 27th overall.
Seattle could possibly be looking at a situation where if the draft Melifonwu, they could pass on Lewis in the second, and if they don’t get Melifonwu, they target Lewis. The emphasis here is still: Slot over Outside.
- Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss (Projected Round: 3-7)
6’2, 211 lbs, (pro day) 4.54 40-yard dash, 38” vertical, 10’10 broad jump, 17 reps
Oh, the irony. Stringfellow went to Washington to begin his college career but was arrested in 2014 for assaulting ... two Seahawks fans. He transferred to Ole Miss, catching 82 passes (14.9 YPC) and 11 touchdowns over two seasons. The draft projection is weird because reports are quite conflicting. He is the athlete you want, but he was not super productive at Ole Miss and didn’t get a combine invite. Perhaps he goes into round three, perhaps his 2014 arrest and lack of production causes him to go undrafted.
Could this be a Seattle scout? "I like him better than a lot of the scouts I talk to. He competes and he's a better athlete than people give him credit for. I'm hoping he's there for us on the third day (Rounds 4-7)." -- NFC West scout
Probably not, since they don’t pick again until round six on day three.
- Josh Tupou, DT, Colorado (Projected Round: 7-UDFA)
6’3, 325 lbs, (pro day) 5.35 40-yard dash, 7’5 broad, 27 reps on bench, 23.5” vertical
Huge. Slow. Potential target for after the draft. But the only defensive tackle who they are known to have a private visit with.
- Davis Webb, QB, Cal (Projected Round: End of Round 1-3)
- Akhello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado (Projected Round: 1-2)
6’3, 198 lbs, 33” arms, 4.45 40-yard dash, 40.5” vertical, 10’7 broad jump
What Rob Staton wrote about him in February:
Ahkello Witherspoon is a great example of why length is important at cornerback. There are times when he concedes position on a route (it’s going to happen) but his ability to recover and make a play on the ball is really consistent. So often he’ll get a hand in there to break it up.
He’s shown the awareness to squeeze the sideline and narrow the target zone for a QB. There’s evidence he can develop into a good red-line defender and with his size and length, any throw to a tight sideline is defendable.
His statement performance came against Washington and John Ross (see the video below). I’m not sure I’ve seen a corner defend Ross better than Witherspoon in 2016. He didn’t get beat over the top and was able to stay with him downfield. One of the things Ross is really good at is creating initial separation with an explosive release. Witherspoon, again, was able to recover and get a paw to the ball.
Per PFF, Witherspoon’s 13 passes broken up in 2016 tied for number one in the nation. It’s possible he sneaks his way into the back end of round one. If the Seahawks want him, it’s possible he falls to 58, but they may also need to trade up (or trade down from one, if they want to do it that way.) It’s like there are three levels to how Seattle will approach day one and two and it goes: Melifonwu, Witherspoon, and then Lewis. Clearly their only focus with these private workouts, when it comes to their first two picks, is cornerbacks. Yes, they met with Davis Webb and have also appeared at Patrick Mahomes pro day, but that’s probably due diligence, and potentially has to do with their trade options at 26. They’re almost certainly going to come away with a tough, athletic cornerback before round three. (Melifonwu has been a safety but he’d clearly be starting his career in Seattle as a corner/linebacker since they have Kam Chancellor already. It’s possible they see him replacing Chancellor in the future, but for now it has to be to defend close to the line. And they are clearly interested in Melifonwu.)
- Deangelo Yancey, WR, Purdue (Projected Round: 7-UDFA)
6’2, 201 lbs, (pro day) 4.45-4.55 40-yard dash, 6.89 3-cone drill
Had 49 catches, 951 yards (19.4 YPC), and 10 touchdowns as a senior. He did it for awful Purdue with David Blough as his quarterback. (As a team, Purdue threw 25 interceptions.) Considered mostly just a “deep ball threat,” Yancey had seven touchdowns that went for 31 yards or more, including an 88-yarder vs Nebraska. He could go on day three or be a high-priority free agent. Seattle obviously loves to scout potential free agent receivers for the draft, though they also haven’t been opposed to using their first and second rounders on guys who catch passes. This year, they seem to be focused on DBs for the early rounds and maybe WRs for day three and UDFA. There are also all the cards they aren’t showing, of course.