The Seattle Seahawks went back-to-back defensive line selections, taking Mike Morris at No. 151 out of the University of Michigan. The 2022 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year had an underwhelming combine and will be asked to play more inside with Seattle than he did at Michigan.
Relative Athletic Score (RAS) at Defensive End
Mike Morris is a DE prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 4.78 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 851 out of 1629 DE from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/gqFuhGDeF3 pic.twitter.com/VyDhB58PS5— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 22, 2023
As an EDGE/DE, Mike Morris is a subpar athlete. He cut weight from somewhere in the 280s-290s where he played at Michigan to 275 lbs for the NFL Combine in an attempt to improve his athletic testing. That didn’t pan out, as he performed poorly in nearly all the tests except for his 1.64 second 10-yard split. In fairness, Morris suffered a high ankle sprain late in the 2022 season, so he was likely still recovering from that which would have impacted his ability to train for the combine.
That’s the bad news. The good news? When Seattle met with Morris during the pre-draft process, they told him to gain weight because they saw him more as a 3-4 DE and would want him to play 3-tech or 5-tech in their defense. In fact, they contacted Morris and/or his agent the morning he was drafted and confirmed that he was up to 295 lbs before they called the pick in.
Morris looks MUCH better if you run his RAS at DT.
RAS at Defensive Tackle
Mike Morris is a DT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 8.41 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 237 out of 1487 DT from 1987 to 2023.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 18, 2023
So far, Morris' pro day looks to have helped his RAS, assuming the times stand.https://t.co/YFQ40QUaXV #RAS pic.twitter.com/KZBhCG3HpD
The obvious caveat is that these testing numbers were recorded before Morris gained 20 lbs, but it’s still worth looking at considering his weight at the time is accounted for in the RAS and he got dinged pretty bad for only being 275 lbs. As a 3-4 DE prospect, Morris is exciting. He has a big frame that could easily handle the extra weight.
The Mockdraftable comparisons have a few standouts. Aaron Smith was longtime fixture as a 3-4 DE with the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting 152 games over 13 years with 44.0 sacks and one Pro Bowl selection. He had a run from 2000-2008 where he played in 139 of a possible 144 games with two seasons of 8.0 sacks – not an easy number to achieve for a 3-4 DE.
And then, of course, there’s Michael Bennett. Even though Bennett played in a 4-3 defense, he had the rare ability to line up both inside and outside. His athletic testing was pretty poor, but damn was he an awesome player – even if he jumped offsides approximately seven times a game.
Bennett even sent Morris a welcome message, from one Mike to another.
There are a few more athletic comparisons to former Seahawks that I found. One of them will worry/piss people off, but we’ll save that for a bit. First, let’s look at Morris vs. our old friend Jason Jones.
They’re pretty damn close in their size and testing. Jones played both inside and out throughout his career and had between 3.0 and 5.0 sacks every season except for 2013 where he only played 3 games. The Seahawks have consistently looked for this type of player throughout the PCJS era.
Speaking of that type of player, here’s the other comparison I mentioned…
Sorry, not sorry.
There’s a LOT of athletic similarity here. Heck, they even have the same initials! McDowell was taller and longer, which is hard to imagine if you’ve seen pictures of Morris from OTAs or minicamp. The McDowell pick was a disaster in hindsight, but you can see the reasoning behind it at least from a physical standpoint. Morris is a similar type of athlete – let’s hope he’s not a similar type of idiot.
Gut reaction to the pick
The Seahawks addressed the defensive line again, so that’s a huge positive right out of the gate. I also have a soft spot for these late-round picks with intriguing athletic traits. Morris has a long road ahead of him transitioning from more of an EDGE player to a 3-4 DE who will need to be stout at the point of attack.
Maybe the fact that he’s relatively inexperienced will help him soak up all the coaching? Morris only played one game his first two years in Ann Arbor. In 2021, he was playing behind Aidan Hutchinson (No. 2 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft) and David Ojabo (No. 45 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft but would have been much higher had he not torn his Achilles at his pro day). Morris’ sole year as a starter ended with Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honors despite suffering that high ankle sprain towards the end of the season. He’s like a ball of clay, and there’s plenty to work with.
Just watch him blow up the first two plays below.
When you get towards the end of the draft, I’m more than happy when the Seahawks take a swing with a player that has the tools but needs refinement. John Schneider has a pretty decent track record in the fifth round doing just that.
Rookie season prediction
As excited as I am about Morris, I wouldn’t be surprised if 2023 is more of a “redshirt” year for him as he makes the transition to a 3-4 DE, gaining the necessary size and strength that he needs to be effective on the inside in the NFL. He’ll get snaps, sure, but will be behind Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, Mario Edwards and possibly Myles Adams. Don’t rule out the Seahawks adding more rotational players throughout the summer or at the 53-man roster cutdown to eat up snaps.
Morris’ future could be very bright, and I think there will be a few glimpses of this in 2023. He’s a player I’ll be watching very closely in the preseason. As for the regular season, he may not be active every week. I’m hoping he plays in at least 12 games and gets 20 tackles with a random sack.