Technically, I suppose I already wrote about these picks when they were each announced over the weekend, but those posts resulted from a little quick information gathering and an assist or three from Derek Stephens, Ben Harbaugh, and some of the national pundits. I have plans to go back and break down each player individually before the offseason is done, but I figured I would quickly give my opinion on each pick right now. If you're into that kind of thing.
Well, enough chit chat. Let's get down to business.
1.25 (25) - WR Percy Harvin, Florida
I have been including Harvin at the top of all my "Draft Class" lists in prior posts and surprisingly no one has complained about it. Harvin is being treated as one of this year's Class by the front office so I might as well do the same - the only obvious difference between the 24-year old out of Florida and his classmates is about $60 million dollars or so. Cough.
Nonetheless, here's how Seattle sees it: "We acquired Harvin via a 'trade up' in the first-round - we 'traded up from 25 to land Harvin' by giving up our 3rd round pick in 2014, and what we've gotten is a proven, electric playmaker with the ball in his hands, an extreme competitor, a speed element to the offense, Russell Wilson security blanket underneath, and overall ninja assassin on the field." I editorialized that a little.
Harvin is an explosive kick returner with versatility to line up all over an offensive formation. I'm not sure I'll fully grasp the dynamic he'll add until he suits up. It hasn't really sunk in quite yet.
He's listed at 5'11, 184 but seriously. There's no way. Have you seen him? He's like,... wider than two Pete Carrolls through the shoulders, and while he weighed in at 192 at the Combine a few years back, I definitely believe reports that he's closer to the 205, 210 range or so by now. Nonethless, my point is that he's a little yoked speed tank that legitimately runs people over when he carries the ball out of the backfield. I definitely don't think of him as a finesse player like a Tavon Austin or Devon Hester or something.
With Seattle's crowded and talented backfield going into 2013, I don't know if Darrell Bevell intends to use Harvin as a running back all that much (when Bevell was the offensive coordinator for Harvin, he was only used out of the backfield as a running back a little more than once per game, so that's a number you can probably expect unless Seattle greatly expands their college style offense), but I do think they'll concentrate on 'manufacturing' touches for him by using bubble screens, end arounds, quick passes and things like that to get him the football in space. Seattle did this with Sidney Rice and Golden Tate last year - force feeding them in order to engineer chemistry with Russell Wilson (which worked), and I expect Harvin will get that treatment going forward - but he'll obviously get a head start knowing Wilson will be the team's starter.
Either way, I am excited for Harvin to enter the fold because his elite speed is something the offense has actually been missing, quite honestly. He's not historically a vertical, field stretching type of player, but in terms of causing headaches from sideline to sideline, there aren't many in the NFL more elusive than Harvin. Like I said - he can lower his shoulder and run a DB down too, so he's a nightmare to defend. He'll complement Seattle's bruising and relentless run game so, so well. Man, seriously. Can't wait.
Ok, now to the Seahawks' first 'real' pick.
2.32 (62) - RB Christine Michael, Texas A&M - 5'10, 220
Absolutely loved this pick, for many of the same reasons I love the Percy Harvin trade. He was a guy that I was thought would definitely be a target for the Seahawks - as we've said here a million times, Pete Carroll and John Schneider adhere to the Al Davis height-weight-speed belief system that says you can't coach speed and you can't teach a guy to make three people miss on your way to the endzone. Michael is absolutely world-class when it comes to athleticism - speed, agility, power, explosiveness, and as I said previously, that speed shows up on tape (which isn't always the case). "He plays fast".
Rob Staton pointed it out over at Seahawks' Draft Blog and it should be noted that Michael had been a 'blue-chip' 5-star recruit out of High School, behind only Trent Richardson and Bryce Brown. Michael was apparently being mentioned in the 'first-round discussion' following his 2011 season at Texas A&M but after a coaching change and relegation to the doghouse in 2012 (plus injuries), he fell off of people's radars. It's easy, for me anyway, to see why he was so highly sought after out of HS and why Carroll and Schneider rated him so highly after an up-and-down college career.
The first thing that I notice about his running style is his feet - he's got a suddenness to his steps and change of direction that you don't often find. He accelerates quickly and doesn't waste movement. He's also very decisive, from what I've seen, choosing a route and getting to it quickly. He's not a 'dance behind the line' type of runner.
There's a string of like ten run plays in his 2011 Iowa State DraftBreakdown tape where he showcases the different types of things he can do behind a zone-blocking offensive line. Here are two examples - in both cases, the hole in front of him closes up, but he changes directly quickly and turns nothing into something. Vision comes into play here - he sees where the linebackers are filling and makes adjustments on the fly :
Now, it's always fun to compare running back prospects to current NFL stars and I'm not saying that Michael is going to be a star - but I do believe that he has the physical potential to become one and is coming into a pretty perfect situation, considering all the factors. In some ways he reminds me of Arian Foster, not really in body type, but both in running style (forward lean, quick jump steps behind the line combined with nice vision/explosion to pick seams in the ZBS), and circumstances - Foster was another guy whose draft stock was badly damaged by character concerns.
Michael's first role - as Aaron pointed out this week - will be to prolong Marshawn Lynch's career, simply put. Lynch remains the focal point of the offense and embodies the identity they espouse. Now, combined with the Spencer Ware pick and a little Robert Turbin sprinkled in, Seattle will have the absolute luxury of handing off to four different backs and each brings a slightly different style while maintaining the Seattle smashmouth identity. Football players might be masochists but they're still human and can feel pain - and like a consistant delivery of body blows in a boxing match, the incessant hits can take a toll on a defense, physically and mentally. Something we as fans tend to forget is that even though these are professional athletes, intimidation is still a very real thing.
It's kinda cliche when I say it, but I legitimately think that's what Pete Carroll and Tom Cable believe in. Think about the intimidation factor that comes along with the San Francisco 49ers' defense - Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Novarro Bowman, Donte Whitner - there's a palpable respect/fear factor they create and Seattle is creating that as well as they can on offense. It's centered around Marshawn Lynch, but Christine Michael adds another dimension to it. He'll run around you most of the time, but when you're in his way, he'll run through you.
Scouting terms in action - "pad level", "good forward lean", "finishes runs, always falls forward":
Anyway, I was pretty excited to hear Christine Michael's name called after Seattle picked up two additional picks through a quick slide-back with Baltimore.
3.25 (87) - DT Jordan Hill, Penn State - 6'1, 303
Jordan Hill's name, on the contrary, produced little to no reaction from yours truly, other than a solemn "ok, ok" or something similar. I feel like the Seahawks pulled a little slight-of-hand in the pre-draft run-up and in one palm had held out, for all to see, 'LONG, 3-4 TYPE DE/DT TYPES', distracting from their other palm their hidden interest in a boring-old prototype 4-3 three-tech like Hill.
While I'd been researching guys with 'unique' measurables and trying to identify guys that fit that profile, Seattle went with a guy whose measureables are about as unremarkable as any early- to mid-round lineman in the class. 6'1, 303, 5.02 40, 9'03" broad jump, 33 1/2" arms, 10 1/4" hands.
The only thing about his measureables line is that 5.02 40 (with a 1.72 second 10-yard split), and as thus, I pretty much overlooked him. Which was dumb. Because look at Brandon Mebane, Jaye Howard, Clint McDonald, and Wade Myles. I should have been looking at those guys, but was instead looking at Alan Branch & Red Bryant plus Seattle's free agency interest in DTs Desmond Bryant (6'6), Ropati Pitoitua (6'8), Tony McDaniel (6'6), and Vaughn Martin (6'4), for example. Bryant signed with the Browns after seeing interest from Seattle, and John Schneider indicated a sort of regret that Cleveland was able to get that deal done. Pitoitua signed on in Tennessee but not before getting overtures from Seattle, and Vaughn Martin agreed to terms with Miami while reportedly en route to Seattle for a visit.
So, yeah. I didn't really study Hill, but the more I read about him and watch his tape, the more excited I get. Right off the bat, the comparison to Geno Atkins was made by several people on twitter and fellow-SBN blogger Joe Goodberry, one of the main writers over at the Cincy Jungle and a draft expert for their blog whom I really respect, wrote to me that while "everyone is always comparing mid-round DTs to Geno Atkins, Hill is the first DT that actually warranted it from me." Whoa, I says. Whoa!
That caught my attention, not because I geniunely think Hill will be what Atkins has become - the best three-technique in the NFL - but that Joe was even willing to make the comparison. The sentiment that Hill was a great pick has been echoed all over the blogosphere so until I've done more in-depth study on him with film and then see him in mini-camps, I'm squarely in the camp that likes this pick a lot. His tape has been really impressive, so far.
As for how he'll be used in the defense: In my mind he's a nickel rushing three-technique that should rotate with Michael Bennett and Jesse Williams depending on down and distance, and provides a nice balance as a guy that can get upfield like Bennett but also offer a little more stoutness as the point of attack like Williams. Seattle's defensive line is going to be so filthy this year. I haven't even mentioned Jaye Howard or Greg Scruggs, two other guys that could factor in along with Hill.
4.26 (123) - WR Chris Harper, WR - 6'1, 232
This pick had a sort of funny contrast to the Quinton Patton pick by the Niners five slots later. Seattle gets a raw, size/speed receiver with immense physical upside and the Niners went with a polished, technical receiver with insane college production that some believe is already near his ceiling. I wasn't particularly high on either guy pre-Draft but it was a weird contrast to see these two guys go off the board in close succession, particularly considering Seattle and San Francisco have absurdly similar taste in players. Obviously Seattle had Harper ranked above Patton, but it'd be interested to see how much higher he had been.
My first impression is that Harper could make a nice replacement long term for Golden Tate if either the team or Tate decides to move on after this year. Tate's niche has become the guy can both go up and high-point a ball down field and take a swing pass or quick slant and make plays in the open field. YAC, yo. Of course, if Tate and the Seahawks can come to an agreement that keeps him in Seattle long-term, Harper is a nice complement to Tate and Harvin, but if Tate just doesn't work out here, Harper can step in.
That said, it wouldn't surprise me to see Harper contribute mainly on Special Teams in year one, then work his way into the lineup year two. He may surprise, or there may be injuries, but with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Percy Harvin in front of him, the odds are against him seeing much action early on.
Overall, in general I'm optimistic about Harper but cautiously so. An evaluator whom I respect, Alex Brown, compared Harper to "James Jones but with better hands" and I'd definitely take that.
5.4 (137) - DT Jesse Williams, DT - 6'3, 323
This pick makes me feel weird inside, because on one hand I'm ecstatic that Seattle got him so late and on the other hand I'm afraid there's a real reason for that (his knees). Also, while he's got exceedingly scintillating measureables and athleticism, as I said it before - his tape is kind of boring, quite honestly, so I don't know exactly what to expect for him with the Seahwaks. Course, Alan Branch's tape in 2012 is pretty boring too but obviously he played a key role - essentially the role that Seattle sees Williams filling, early on.
Williams has a squat, squarish frame and at 323 possesses above-average speed and strength. He's still new to the sport and part of the intrigue behind him is that he could improve drastically as he learns more of the nuance and is put into a better fitting scheme - he was a 3-4 DE and NT for Alabama so it will be fun to watch him in a 4-3, particularly if he's asked to 1-gap a lot at three-technique. As an offense, you can't double team Brandon Mebane and Jesse Williams at the same time, so something will have to give - we'll see if his 600 pound bench press shows up as he looks to man-handle opposing guards and tackles from the B-gap and stuff the run. Who knows, maybe he'll feature as a pass rusher, though Pete Carroll is already downplaying that idea.
Nonethless, as a rotational part of the Seahawks' line, along with Hill, Mebane, Bennett, Howard, McDonald/McDaniel, and Scruggs, Williams seems like an awesome value in the 5th round. So, that's really exciting.
5.5 (138) - CB Tharold Simon, CB - 6'2, 202
Fits the profile. Physical, tall, slower than a normal CB but possessing better-than-normal tackling ability and length. I wasn't high on Simon pre-Draft and didn't scout him super closely, but I remember having similar thoughts about Richard Sherman before the 2011 Draft - takes bad angles at times, isn't best in off-coverage, can get lost in space, a bit slow, etc. Simon will be asked to press primarily, though, and apparently the Seahawks believe his skillset will lend itself to their scheme.
It's a fairly basic scheme from a responsibilities point of view - most of the time you play with inside leverage, bully at the line, re-direct, disrupt timing, and utilize the sideline in trailing coverage with help over the top. Obviously there are many nuances therein - you'll see Seahawks CBs bail prior to the snap now and again, and there are 'pass-off' responsibilities for in-running routes, so it's not like they press every down, but there's a reason Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman fit so well in this scheme - it's suited to their abilities as oversized and slower corners. I think Simon fits into this profile, so for now I'll withhold judgement.
The cornerback competition gets interesting, though, and Simon's presence puts Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, and Walter Thurmond on notice because there are only so many spots for corners and Sherman/Browner and Antoine Winfield are near-locks. My guess is that three in the quartet of Simon/Maxwell/Lane/Thurmond make the 53-man roster.
5.25 (158) - TE Luke Willson 6'5, 251
Super, super fast for a tight end. Have read/heard reports that he's an excellent blocker, both in-line and in space. He battled injuries in 2012 and was second-fiddle to Vance McDonald. Didn't produce much, but has elite physical potential. Sounds pretty Seahawky. I wonder why they took him in the fifth round when he seems like a guy you can get in undrafted rookie free agency? Perhaps there was wind out there that another team or two liked him, and Seattle just decided to say screw it and make the pick. We'll never know, but nonetheless, it will be fun to see how he does in camp.
Willson will battle with the exceedingly unexciting yet steady and reliable Sean McGrath (have heard reports that his hands are excellent) and the exceedingly exciting yet unknown & completely unreliable prospect that is Darren Fells, for the likely 3rd spot on the roster behind Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy.
Again, will withhold judgement until I see more on Willson. He was a bigger name in 2011 than he was in 2012, and that's evidenced by the fact Willson was on the Mackey Award pre-season watch list and then barely did anything stats-wise as a senior. Seattle seems to like guys that have fallen off of people's radars but still could hold top-tier talent and abilities.
6.26 (194) - RB Spencer Ware- 5'10, 229
Head-scratching pick, right? I loved it though. Kip Earlywine over at SeahawksDraftBlog said it best when he said that Ware has probably the most entertaining highlight reel of any of the Seahawks picks.
You can't judge a player by his highlight reel but dammit if that isn't fun to watch. Ware comes in as the fourth back in the Seahawks' backfield, and like Michael, fits perfectly while adding a little uniqueness to the group. Ware reminds me of a cross between Marshawn Lynch and Golden Tate - Tate in that he's got the pin-ball style of running with a low center of gravity that someone keeps him upright even after taking three or four shots, and Lynch in that he'll run into a crowd of tacklers, disappear for a minute, and then miraculously come out of the scrum unscathed, still motoring downfield haphazardly.
Carroll said that they'd 'groom' Ware as a fullback but also as a guy that can play tailback and they really seem to value players that can function in more than one role for the team. Ware played some fullback at LSU but has many of the traits you like to see in a tailback, particularly toughness and physicality between the tackles, so he should fit right in.
Obviously, now it comes down to the numbers game, and where Ware fits in in relation to Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and Michael Robinson will be thing to watch. The Hawks could keep five running backs on the roster and instead go with 5 WRs and 3 TEs, so it's not a forgone conclusion that anyone will be cut. We shall see.
7.14 (220) - OL Ryan Seymour- 6'5, 300
7.25 (231) - DE Ty Powell - 6'2, 249
Powell is another DE/LEO tweener that will play the Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons position in the Seahawks' defense going forward. Do you know what that means? Me neither! I have some ideas though, and it won't be a wholesale change from last year, but just a tweak in scheme and responsibilities that adds another wrinkle into the Hawks' gameplan. With so much speed and talent on the outside of their defensive line now, it behooves the Hawks to get those players on the field together when it makes sense in terms of down/distance.
I'll be following up on this soon, and I'll be doing a separate post on Powell later as well. For now though, I'll just say that I think this is a great value-pick in the 7th round and embodies the spirit of a 7th rounder - that is to say, a 'tweener' guy high potential upside that fell because of character concerns and small-school competition. A flier, of course, but a low-risk flier.
7.35 (241) - OG Jared Smith, G - 6'3, 302
7.36 (242) - OT Michael Bowie, NE Oklahoma State - 6'5, 330