The Seahawks brought in Cody Latimer, WR out of Indiana, for a visit on April 15th which could mean nothing, but it could also mean EVERYTHING! As has often been discussed, Seattle could draft a WR in the 1st round and Latimer certainly has the skills to warrant that high of a selection.
Until his Pro Day a lot of people, me included, didn't even know Latimer existed. He unfortunately played at Indiana and then had a foot injury that knocked him out of the NFL Scout Combine. If Latimer had played for Notre Dame or participated at the combine, then everyone would have been raving about him in February. Nonetheless, Latimer got everyone's attention at his Pro Day after he ran a 4.38-4.44 40 (various sources had different times) and jumped 39" with a still-injured foot. What would his numbers have been if he were healthy!?!?!?!
Furthermore, Latimer is not only an athletic freak but he is a really good football player as well. He's fast, has phenomenal body control, terrific hands, is a tremendous blocker, and plays with aggression. NFL analyst and former Seahawks scout Bucky Brooks recently mentioned Latimer as a player that could sneak into the back of the first. Brooks wrote:
"Latimer suddenly is one of the hottest names in the draft, following a spectacular pro-day workout that showcased his explosive athleticism -- just a few months after foot surgery, to boot. With the game tape confirming Latimer's dynamic traits as a playmaker in space, scouts and coaches are pegging the Indiana product as a potential No. 1 receiver. Thus, he has emerged as a legitimate candidate for selection at the bottom of the first round."
Confirming game tape:
Brooks again provides more praise of Latimer,
"It's hard to find big, athletic pass catchers with the kind of speed and explosiveness that Latimer displays on the field. He shows exceptional first-step quickness out of his stance, but I was more impressed with his balance and body control when changing directions. Additionally, Latimer flashes outstanding leaping ability on the perimeter, which makes his combination of size, speed and length tough to defend in one-on-one situations. Given the challenges Latimer's overall athleticism poses to defenders, I believe he will rank as a blue-chip athlete on most draft boards."
Latimer's leaping ability and body control are what make him a top-32 talent. There are tons of fast WRs in the draft but few are capable of making the catches that Latimer snags with ease. Danny recently wrote an article on what to look for in scouting WRs and he used some Bill Walsh quotes that I am going to steal because they describe Latimer's game so accurately. Walsh said:
"The critical factor at wide receiver in my mind, is agility and body control, the ability to change your body position, often off the ground, in order to get your hands in position to make the catch, a la Cris Carter of Minnesota. He would be the ideal in that respect. That particular characteristic must be there for the receiver to be considered a Pro Bowl or a Hall of Fame player. You must have that to get to the highest tier of play."
"We can have drills where the receiver is running under the ball and making great catch after great catch. So people would assume that he has outstanding hands. But in reality, most catches are made with the ball and the defender closing at the same instant and the receiver having to reverse his body into a totally different position, get your hands up and catch the ball and be hit at the same moment. That is the key element in greatness -- agility and strength together."
"Focus is critical here. The ability to find the ball, focusing on it and isolating it from everything else that's happening. When you are evaluating the tapes, you look for those plays that demonstrate those situations. You make a evaluation tape of those plays."
"Pure speed is helpful, but full-stride speed becomes important. You would like a receiver with the ball in the open field to be able to keep the separation with the closing defenders until he gets over the goal line. He doesn't have to outrun them. He doesn't have to gain ground on them. He just has to get there before they do so he scores. So it doesn't have to be sprinters' speed, but full-stride speed."
"Now there have been other people who have been Olympic sprinters who get tangled up and can't get back into full stride quickly enough and somebody just comes up and overwhelms them from out of nowhere. If they catch the ball and there is any contact at all, by the time they get back in running stride, the people have closed on them. Full-stride speed is the key."
Aforementioned, Latimer is not only an explosive athlete with tremendous body control, but is an amazing blocker as well. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks will always be a run first team so being able to block as a WR is paramount. Latimer benched 225 23 times at the combine, the most of any WR, and uses his strength to habitually punk DBs on the boundary.
Tom Cable would be happy about this:
Darrel Bevell would be happy about this:
There is a lot to like about Latimer so he it is possible that he may be drafted before Seattle's pick. However, he still has some flaws in his game and coupled with a strong WR class, he may still be available at 32. One knock on him has been his unpolished route running. He didn't play football until his junior season of high school nor did he redshirt at Indiana so he has only played five seasons of organized football. Because of this, he lacks the nuances of creating separation with more than just athleticism. Again, Bucky Brooks touched on this,
"Latimer didn't have a lot of exposure to advanced route-running concepts in Indiana's spread offense, but his overall athleticism should make him a solid route runner in time. He has the straight-line speed to excel on vertical routes, yet also has the body control to get in and out of breaks on short and intermediate routes. He will need to eliminate the extra steps at the top of his breaks, but an astute position coach will help Latimer refine his game at the next level. If he can master the subtleties of route running early in his career, he could emerge as a potential No. 1 receiver in the right situation."
The Seahawks definitely could provide the "right situation" for Latimer to develop into a No. 1 receiver. Percy Harvin is already the expected No. 1, Doug Baldwin is a solid No. 2, Jermaine Kearse made huge plays in the postseason and Sidney Rice is still on the team so there is very little pressure for Latimer to contribute immediately. Plus the QB is a baller, the locker room is full of meticulous workers, and the coaching staff is notorious for developing players. Latimer certainly has the potential to be a star in the NFL and should definitely be in consideration as the Seahawks' first round pick.
Then of course there is this: