On Tuesday afternoon, I released my Seattle Seahawks draft board/database, based off of Seattle’s minimum athletic thresholds, draft history and who in the 2018 class fits into their mold at each position. You can find it pinned to my Twitter profile or a direct link to the spreadsheet here.
While the 2018 offseason is absolutely one of transition for the Seahawks’ roster and direction, they have an established philosophy at a good portion of positions. Here’s a run down of each position group, what testing numbers matter and why. Quarterbacks were omitted, mainly because the only quarterback selected by the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime is Russell Wilson.
I’ve previously written about Seattle’s thresholds for the running back position and how much it narrows down the group available to them in a given draft. As far as combine testing goes, it’s three main drills: the broad jump, the vertical jump and the 40-yard dash. The broad and vertical jumps test a prospect’s explosiveness - obviously an important trait for RBs - while the 40-yard dash is simply to indicate functional speed. For example, Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway has good size at 6-0 and 235 pounds, but ran a 4.74 40-yard dash — a figure considerably slower than almost every starting-caliber running back in the NFL.
Size is the other indicator for the Seahawks’ targeted running backs. Generally, they are between 5-10 and 6-1, weighing in between 215 and 230 pounds. This sort of mold isn’t unique to Seattle; Out of the top-20 backs in carries in the NFL last season, all of them were above 205 pounds. Simply put, a back must possess good size to survive on an every-down basis in the NFL.
Of the running backs who participated in every drill at last week’s Scouting Combine, only Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Alabama’s Bo Scarbough reached the threshold in each category. Other RBs tested particularly well in other areas while being deficient in another, and absolutely remain on the Seahawks’ board.
Due to the different roles players play within the position, the list of wide receivers is more subjective and split into the three main roles you want from your wide receivers: A big-bodied possession receiver able to win above the rim regularly, a deep threat capable of stretching the field vertically and a smaller, more agile receiver able to win underneath with separation.
While there are various sizes and roles of players at WR, there was some consistencies in Seattle’s drafting of the position. Mainly, explosiveness. From the 5-10 Tyler Lockett to the 6-2 Amara Darboh, nearly every receiver drafted by the Seahawks since 2010 all jump over 10 feet in the broad jump. Beyond that, it’s a good vertical jump, functional speed in the 40 and good change of direction in the three cone.
With Paul Richardson potentially moving on in free agency, Seattle still searching for the possession receiver they’ve lacked since Sidney Rice’s retirement, and Tyler Lockett coming off a dreadful season, they could be looking for a player in each role.
Like wide receiver, tight end is more subjective. During their time with the Seahawks, Carroll and Schneider have drafted the position three times: Jameson Konz, Luke Willson and Nick Vannett, while bringing in Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham. Konz’s position became fluid during his time in Seattle and he was drafted much more as an athlete than a tight end.
The 40-yard dash here isn’t particularly important; Nick Vannett ran a 4.85 at his pro day, but excelled in the short shuttle and three-cone.
There was added emphasis on more traditional in-line tight ends, excluding combine star Mike Gesicki, who is a fantastic jump ball specialist but even worse as a blocker than Graham. Three players stand out as targets for the Seahawks, and are likely to be available in the early stages of day three: Stanford’s Dalton Schultz, Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe and Washington’s Will Dissly.
The thresholds listed for tackle and guard/center are based largely off the team’s ideals, outlined by Tom Cable at a Seattle Town Hall event. Cable has moved onto the Oakland Raiders, but explosiveness is still key here — hence the trench explosion formula score. Additionally, short-shuttle was focused on to reflect Schneider and Mike Solari’s offensive lines of the early 2000s. We’ll have a much clearer idea of their offensive line philosophy moving forward after this offseason.
The weight of tackles they’ve brought in has been dependent on the type of prospect. Established, more pro-ready tackles like Germain Ifedi and James Carpenter were around 320 pounds, while the projects (Garry Gilliam, George Fant) were in the 295-305 pound range. Although Ifedi remains a question mark at right tackle, I can’t see them addressing the position before the back end of the draft. A couple day three or UDFA prospects to keep an eye on: Brett Toth, Gregory Senat and Dave Steinmetz.
The philosophy for the interior of the offensive line currently and moving forward is the same as tackle and we’ll have a much better idea after free agency and the draft. However unlike tackle, there’s a chance they address the interior of the line early in the draft. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn is recovering from a torn labrum and didn’t participate in any drills at the Scouting Combine, but he would fit with the team’s recent trend of targeting talent and pedigree at the position. Wynn excelled at left tackle in the SEC last year, but will move back to guard in the NFL and start comfortably for the next 10 years. He is an incredible prospect (rightfully) overshadowed by Quenton Nelson. The Seahawks were reportedly talking to Austin Corbett at the Senior Bowl.
Admittedly, I’ve made it sound overly simplistic by separating defensive tackle into ‘run defenders’ and ‘interior rushers,’ but it really is 300-pound plus players whose main role is defending the role, then smaller (295-305 pounds) agile defenders who rush from the inside. The latter is the role needing filling, especially if Sheldon Richardson doesn’t return in free agency and Malik McDowell’s future remains unclear.
There isn’t a large difference in the thresholds, although a greater focus is put on short-shuttle for interior rushers. They need to have short-area quickness to succeed at rushing the passer and getting into the backfield from the inside. Bench press and functional strength is important for run defenders, both in terms of pushing the pocket and holding up at the point of attack.
Andrew Brown, Da’Shawn Hand or Nathan Shepherd could slide in as Seattle’s 3-technique immediately and are likely to be available on day two. Towards the end of the draft, Breeland Speaks is the name to watch. He has a chance to improve upon his numbers at his pro day and I believe could contribute on a rotational basis immediately.
It’s probably unfair to label Stanford’s Harrison Phillips strictly as a run defender, but he’ll be gone long before the Seahawks begin to think about a defensive tackle anyway. Foley Fatukasi was often misused at Connecticut and should be a better pro player than he was in college, assuming he’s utilized correctly. The most likely route Seattle will go here is adding a veteran free agent, like they have done in years past.
Edge rusher is the Seahawks’ single biggest need heading into the offseason and that was true prior to them trading away their best pass rusher. At the top of the draft, Harold Landry likely performed his way out of Seattle’s range, while Marcus Davenport might be too raw to justify taking with their first selection. The name that could make the most sense is Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard.
Three times since 2010, the Seahawks have selected the EDGE with the best three-cone time at their position (Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh and Bruce Irvin) and Hubbard’s 6.84 led the way this year. He’s a bona fide top-50 prospect and has the frame to hold up on an every-down basis. If Seattle does in fact prioritize pass rush, Hubbard could make a lot of sense as their first selection.
Along with Hubbard in the second tier of prospects: Kemoko Turay, Josh Sweat and Kylie Fitts all fit into the Seahawks’ EDGE mold and should be available early on day two following a trade down.
On day three, Miami’s Chad Thomas - an inside-out rusher - and Tulane’s Ade Aruna are both the types of player Seattle likes to bring in. Thomas for his versatility and Aruna - a Nigerian immigrant who started playing football in his senior year of high school - for his raw athleticism.
It’s something I’ve written about previously, but it is imperative the Seahawks replenish depth at linebacker. Since Malcolm Smith left, they’ve lacked a rotational ‘backer capable of playing meaningful snaps in relief. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright’s snaps have ballooned as a result and they both wore down by the final few weeks of the 2017 season.
Linebacker is one of the positions that Seattle sticks to their thresholds the most. Like running back, you’re looking for explosiveness and functional speed, as well as change of direction. The only time they’ve truly gone away from their ideals was with the selection of Wright, who tested poorly across the board but had exceptional length (nearly 35 inch arms).
Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks, a former safety, performed terrifically in Indianapolis and is a developmental prospect likely to be available on day three. There’s a question about how well he’ll adapt to the physicality of linebacker, but the athletic profile checks all the boxes. Lorenzo Carter and Malik Jefferson are both SPARQ darlings, while Shaquem Griffin is simply fantastic. He doesn’t really hit any of the team’s thresholds, but sometimes you don’t need to overthink things.
The obvious threshold with cornerbacks is 32-plus inch arms. It has been covered extensively, the rest of the league is catching up, but it won’t change as long as Carroll is coaching the Seahawks. There are more cornerbacks with length coming into the league every year and Seattle could look to add one with Richard Sherman set to move on. Beyond arm length, it’s generally taller corners (6-1 plus), although that could simply be a result of targeting exclusively cornerbacks with great arm length. They haven’t shied away from bigger cornerbacks either, with both DeShawn Shead and Mike Tyson weighing in above 200 pounds.
Holton Hill and Brandon Facyson could be excellent value on day three. Hill is a top-50 talent who ended his career at Texas with a suspension, while Facyson struggled with injuries during his time in college. Facyson will have to perform well at his pro day to remain on the Seahawks’ board, however. Another name to watch is Isaac Yiadom, who tested better than he looked at Boston College; his strong short-shuttle doesn’t reflect the static mover he was in the open field.
At this point in time, who knows who will be the two starting safeties for Seattle by the time Week One rolls around. They’ve been open to offers for Earl Thomas and then not open to offers a half dozen times, while Kam Chancellor’s health status is still up in the air. The Seahawks selected one of each last year - Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill - but only Hill looked like he could contribute in year one and that was only off the back of a good preseason. If Thomas is traded, free safety becomes Seattle’s biggest need on defense.
The athletic profiles they target at safety are similar to cornerback, but without the emphasis on arm length. Strong safeties need to be diverse, able to play everywhere from single-high safety to the edge of the line of scrimmage. Free safeties in Carroll’s defense, proven during Thomas’s absence, need to be transcend talents.
Derwin James has been the most often discussed but his reaffirming performance at the Scouting Combine may make up for an inconsistent career at Florida State, vaulting him into the top-15. The second name needing to be considered here is Stanford’s Justin Reid, a player of high character and talent (former 49ers safety Eric Reid’s brother).
Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates has been getting a lot of buzz recently, and could be a good fit if Seattle needs to add a free safety. However, for where he’s likely to be taken, he could be viewed as duplicative of Thompson. It isn’t that you pass on a potentially great free safety because you have Tedric Thompson on your roster, but his presence could be enough to give the Seahawks pause.
You can find the entire database here. Names will be added as pro days happen and as we get further along in the process, player names will be updated with links to draft profiles on them.