The first group of prospects—special teamers, offensive linemen and running backs—arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday for medicals and interviews. On Wednesday, the proper fun begins, as those positions will be measured ahead of their on-field workouts on Friday.
My draft board will drop early next week, detailing which players at every position meet the Seahawks’ athletic and size thresholds. For now, let’s take a look at Seattle’s combine trends, and what to look out for this week in Indianapolis, starting with OL and RB.
The case study of offensive line will continue this offseason, Mike Solari’s second as Seahawks offensive line coach. Under Tom Cable, they had a very specific mold in mind: Players who jumped 31” in the vertical, 9’ in the broad and benched at least 27 reps.
There are reasons to believe that is still a rough guide, but not a hard-fast rule. That much was made clear during the 2018 NFL Draft, when Seattle selected Jamarco Jones—far and away the least athletic linemen drafted in the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era. However, from both the Seahawks’ previous drafting, and Solari’s past lines with the Chiefs and 49ers, we get a picture of what they’ll be looking for.
At tackle, it’s long (6-foot-5, 35-plus inch arms) and lean (305 pounds) players. This is a bit of a departure from Cable’s lines, where tackles in the 320-pound range were targeted regularly—which in turn led to the position flip-flopping that marred the start of James Carpenter, Justin Britt and Germain Ifedi’s careers. Explosiveness (broad and vertical jump) will remain the important part of athletic testing—around where the threshold was during Cable’s time—however with more wiggle room.
Along the interior, Seattle’s size requirements are likely to remain the same: In the 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 range, and in the neighborhood of 300-320 pounds. Explosiveness inside isn’t as sought after by Solari, with the thresholds dropping to around 27” on the vertical and 8’ on the broad. Short shuttle is a great indicator of NFL success, however, Solari’s lines have hardly been strict on a threshold there.
To reiterate, for as established as most of the Seahawks’ positional thresholds are, offensive line is a newly developing picture. In Solari’s second offseason, that picture will continue to develop and give us a clearer idea of what to look for moving forward.
Similar to offensive line under Cable, Seattle has a clear idea of what they look for in running backs. To boil it down, it’s the following profile: Between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-1, 215-230 pounds, a sub-4.65 40-yard dash, a 35-plus inch vertical jump and a 10-plus foot broad jump. During last year’s pre-draft process, it looked as though they may move away from it, extensively scouting much smaller RBs, such as Ito Smith and Chase Edmonds. Instead, they selected Rashaad Penny—very much in their mold—and rolled with Mike Davis to fill the role a player like Smith or Edmonds would’ve played.
The Seahawks’ quest for a long-term passing down back will continue this year, and what they’ve told us through their actions is that that shouldn’t mean going away from the athletic profile. And so, in watching the RBs at the Scouting Combine, keep an eye on players with those measurements. During drills, it’ll be a heightened focus on the pass catchers in the group—college production in the passing game isn’t required, but displaying the traits absolutely is.
For any perceived shortcomings Seattle has as team builders (justified or not), no one can fault them for not having types. The Seahawks know what they want at every position, and what works within their system. That will continue in Carroll and Schneider’s 10th offseason at the helm.