Tag Archives: NFL Scouting Combine

Review: Panthers 31, Seahawks 24

17 Jan
Jonathan Stewart

Photo Credit: NFL.com

There is no doubt the Seattle Seahawks showed a tremendous amount of heart on Sunday. Unfortunately at the end of the day the deficit was too big and time was too little. The 2015 campaign comes to a close as the Carolina Panthers defeat the Seahawks 31-24, eliminating Seattle and advancing to next week’s NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by a team other than the Seahawks for the first time since 2012. For this preview I will break the game down into two huge chunks, the frustrating disaster that was the first half, and the incredible comeback which fueled the second half. Here are my final thoughts of the 2015 season.

The First Half: The Seahawks spotted the Panthers 31 points going into the halftime break. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and both the Seattle offense and defense were to blame. On the very first play of the game Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart broke through into the Legion of Boom and galloped all the way down to the Seattle 16-yard line, a gain of 59 yards. This set up a Stewart touchdown run 3 plays later giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead only two and a half minutes into the game. On the Seahawks first possession of the game Carolina stole away any momentum the Seahawks were trying to muster and held a tight grasp on it for the rest of the half. On second down Russell Wilson felt immediate pressure and forced a pass to the middle of the field in the direction of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had yet to turn around and Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted the pass and ran it in for a touchdown. 14-0 Panthers less than three and a half minutes into the game. After a Seahawks punt the Panthers drove down the field and scored again on a Stewart 1-yard touchdown run. 21-0 Panthers. On the first play of Seattle’s next possession Wilson felt rushed again and threw a low pass which was intercepted by Cortland Finnegan. A Carolina field goal made it 24-0 Panthers with 12:37 left in the second quarter. The nightmare continued on Carolina’s next possession. After a Seahawks punt the Panthers drove 54 yards in 9 plays culminating with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen. The Seahawks went into the halftime break down 31-0, their largest deficit in a game since 2010.

I noticed a few things in the first half that drove me crazy, some which we could control and others we really could not. For starters as the score went up I felt like our defense started to play panicked and tried to force their play. What I mean by this is instead of good fundamental tackling we would try to force takeaways by forcing the ball out which at times helped Carolina gain extra yards. Third down defense was also a problem, as Carolina converted 71 percent of their third down chances in the first half. On offense I found quarterback pressures and hurries to be particularly frustrating. One of the best facets of Russell Wilson’s game is his escapability and he did not do a good job of creating plays in the first half. He felt too comfortable in the pocket and trusted his offensive line almost to a fault. I also believe Wilson and the Seahawks offense discounted the speed of the Panthers defense. They absolutely swarmed him and ate him up in the first half, leading to two turnovers and a sack. The field also did not do the Seahawks any favors either. Players were slipping, sliding, and falling down throughout pregame warmups which led to harsh criticism which was discussed on the FOX broadcast in the early part of the game. Marshawn Lynch looked particularly uncomfortable playing on that sloppy surface, especially since the majority of his success running the ball depends on him being able to be shifty and cut sharply on the turf.

The Second Half: My hope was that if the Seahawks could somehow score 21 points in the third quarter to cut the Panthers lead to 10, we could put ourselves in position to potentially make the greatest comeback in NFL playoffs history a reality. For a time it looked like it might be doable. The Seahawks adjusted wonderfully coming out of the halftime break and came out firing. On the first offensive possession of the second half the Seahawks were set up thanks to a 50-yard kick return by Tyler Lockett. A personal foul by Carolina on the kickoff gave the Seahawks an additional 15 yards. On the fourth play of the drive Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown. After forcing the Panthers to punt the Seahawks took their next drive all the way down the field resulting in a touchdown pass to Lockett. Halfway through the third quarter the Seahawks were only 7 points away from my goal. It was 31-14 Carolina. At the pace we were going I thought an epic comeback was a real possibility at this point but after our next drive resulted in a punt it started to feel like it was going to be extremely difficult. The Seahawks got the ball back with 9:34 left in the game and we drove down the field to score a touchdown in 3 minutes and 28 seconds. With just over 6 minutes left in the game, two timeouts, needing two scores, and the Panthers getting the ball again the blueprint was set in terms of what we needed to do; force a Carolina punt, score, recover an onside kick, and score again. Step one was completed after Carolina held the ball for another 3 minutes. The Seahawks got the ball back with 2:49 left and kicked a field goal cutting the deficit to 7 with the clock reading 1:12. Just like last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks season continuing depended on recovering an onside kick. Steven Hauschka’s onside attempt was a good one but the ball was caught and held on to by Thomas Davis, sealing the victory for the Carolina Panthers.

It was a gritty, heartwarming effort. The Seahawks were dead to rights and the resolve this team showed shows exactly why we are able to be competitive in any game we play. No deficit is too big for this team and we came one score shy of tying or perhaps even winning the game. Hindsight is 20/20, but if the Seahawks would have been able to kick a field goal in the first half (either Hausckha’s miss at the end of the first half or deciding to kick a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 5 late in the first half) and if Wilson would not have thrown one of his two interceptions there is a real possibility we are talking about a Seahawks victory instead. At the end of the day, turnovers may have been the primary culprit, which is what I was wary of in my game preview.

Thoughts on Carolina: This is a defense-driven football team and they are extremely good. With today’s performance I now am questioning whether or not the Seahawks have the best defense in the league. If not, that title definitely belongs to the Panthers. They will host the Cardinals next week and if they play exactly like how they did today, it will be the Carolina Panthers representing the NFC in Super Bowl 50. I look forward to playing the Panthers next season, arguably the best opponent we will play at CenturyLink Field in 2016.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will pick 25th, 26th, or 27th in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The pick better be used on the best offensive lineman available… The 2016 schedule will be released in April but here are our opponents next season. Home games at CenturyLink Field: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins. On the road: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New York Jets… 37 days until the start of the NFL Scouting Combine and 102 days until the NFL Draft.

Thank you guys once again for logging on and reading this season. It always means a lot to me that you read and care about what I write. On to 2016. Go Seahawks!

2015 NFL Draft: Five Good Fits

29 Apr

Over the past 2 months I have scouted over 300 incoming rookies and analyzed hours upon hours of their game film dating back to the NFL Scouting Combine back in February. I have narrowed these players to a short list of about 35 players I would love to see the Seahawks draft this weekend. Of the players on my board, there is a shorter list of 5 players I believe would be perfect fits Darrell Bevell’s offense or Kris Richard’s defense. I would be over-the-moon ecstatic to see the Seahawks select any of the following players on either Friday or Saturday.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Laken Tominson, Offensive Guard, Duke

There is no question that the Seahawks are desperate for offensive line depth, especially after the trade of center Max Unger to the New Orleans Saints and losing guard James Carpenter to the New York Jets in free agency. Laken Tomlinson from Duke would be a perfect fit in the middle of the line. Tomlinson is a fantastic run blocker and an excellent pass blocker, especially down field on screen passes. He is a tough player who bullies his opponents. Offensive linemen usually do not get mentioned on the television broadcast of their games but Tomlinson’s name was brought up positively several times on each game of his I watched. I do not think he would come into camp as the definite starter at left guard, but I believe an open competition between him and Alvin Bailey could put Tomlinson in a fantastic position to win the job.

Projected Round: 3

Photo Credit: imgkid.com

Photo Credit: imgkid.com

Danielle Hunter, Defensive End, LSU

Explosive pass rushers can oftentimes be very hard to find after the first round. I believe that LSU’s Danielle Hunter is the best “second day” pass rusher available and could very much still be on the board when the Seahawks pick at #63 overall. Hunter is extremely fast off the line of scrimmage and he does not have any problems getting past his initial blocker. He does a great job of collapsing the pocket even if he himself cannot get to the quarterback. He has a relentless motor that I believe will not keep John Schneider wary of his on-field effort. Hunter is arguably the best defensive lineman I watched film on and could be a steal for the Seahawks at the end of the second round.

Projected Round: 3

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

Kenny Bell, Wide Receiver, Nebraska

In a talent-rich wide receiver class, Kenny Bell from Nebraska stood out to me. He is Nebraska’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and was a team captain in 2014. He was widely regarded as Nebraska’s most respected player during his time there which I believe would blend tremendously with the leadership the Seahawks possess, especially with Russell Wilson as his potential quarterback. On the field he possesses many traits that would put him right in the middle of the wide receiver rotation in 2015. Bell is 6’1 which would buck the trend of shorter receivers on our roster. Bell can line all over but could best be used on the outside as either a flanker or split end. Bell runs his routes with great timing and adjusts his routes extremely well to put himself in the best position to make the catch. He also has great hands and is nearly immune to dropping passes. That’s not to say he doesn’t drop a pass every once in a blue moon because he does. Bell’s most impressive on-field trait perhaps is his breakaway speed on vertical routes, which would give Wilson a very dependable and trustworthy weapon when throwing deep.

Projected Round: 5

Photo Credit: bluegoldsports.com

Photo Credit: bluegoldsports.com

Ben Heeney, Middle Linebacker, Kansas

To me, Heeney is a poor man’s Luke Kuechly. He carries many similar traits on the field to that of Kuechly but his projection as a day three pick goes to show there may be a bit of uncertainly. I like him and selecting him could provide a solid player to compete with Brock Coyle and Heath Farwell for the backup middle linebacker job. Heeney does a good job reading the quarterback’s eyes but he can be a bit hesitant committing where to go when the quarterback drops back to pass. He is a solid fundamental tackler and always seems to go low to wrap up the ball carrier. His biggest weakness is that he is not a bully, and his tenacity comes into question. Nevertheless I believe he would be a solid player to take a flyer on in the later rounds of the draft.

Projected Round: 6

Photo Credit: Rant Sports

Photo Credit: Rant Sports

Clayton Geathers, Safety, Central Florida

In a rather underwhelming class of safeties, I wound up getting really excited while watching tape of Central Florida’s Clayton Geathers. I believe Geathers is the closest thing to Kam Chancellor this draft has to offer. Geathers is a punisher who is not afraid to lay a big hit on a receiver going over the middle. He plays tight coverage and does a great job in pass coverage but at times he can be overeager. One play really stood out to me, an interception he made last season against the University of Houston. Geathers jumping in front of the pass, picking it off, and running it back to the house for a touchdown was almost a spitting image of Chancellor’s pick-six in the playoffs against Carolina. I believe he would fit extremely well in the Legion of Boom. He is absolutely my favorite defensive player available and would be an absolute steal in the last round of the draft. I project him as a 7th rounder but it honestly would not surprise me one bit to see him selected in round 5 or even as early as round 4 if a team is as in love with him as I am.

Projected Round: 7

Review: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

3 Feb
Photo Credit: Patriots.com

Photo Credit: Patriots.com

I can count the number of times I have been this heartbroken on one hand. I could use only a couple of fingers actually. After a game in which we saw alternating first half touchdowns and us grabbing a 10-point fourth quarter lead, two defensive lapses and a play call which will go down as one of the worst in NFL history ultimately cost the Seahawks a second world championship. The New England Patriots are the 2014 world champions after a 28-24 Super Bowl XLIX win which will go down as one of the greatest Super Bowls of all-time. Unfortunately for us 12’s, we come out on the short end of things. This review will be exclusively commentary. There are several topics on the way this game turned out that I would like to shed light on. No stats, no game analysis. Just me talking. My hope is by the end of this I myself will be feeling better. My hope is that my words will help you get over this incredible unexplainable heartbreak as well.

Seahawks Lost Game Well Before Final Play: The Seahawks defense had every opportunity to make sure this game would not come down to Russell Wilson’s game clinching interception. Instead they gave up 14 fourth quarter points, blowing a 10-point lead which normally would be enough for us to hold on and win. Tom Brady absolutely picked the Seahawks defense apart and the New England offensive game plan was executed exquisitely. It did not help that Seattle lost both Jeremy Lane and Cliff Avril to injuries but their replacements, especially backup cornerback Tharold Simon had an extremely difficult time staying with the Patriots receivers. The 28 points the Seahawks allowed is tied for the 3rd highest single game total allowed in 2014. Seattle lost all three of the other games in which they allowed 28 or more points (San Diego, Dallas, St. Louis). Our pass rush was ineffective and that allowed Brady time to step up and make some great throws. It is amazing however that considering how badly our defense played, we were still in a position to win the game. That should say something about the resolve and fight of this young group.

The Call: In regards to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and his play calling, let me rewind the clock for a minute. The following was taken directly from my review of the Seahawks loss to the Kansas City Chiefs back on November 16th:

”I understand that in crunch time if a play is successful the offensive coordinator is touted as a genius and if it fails he is widely criticized. This season however I feel like whatever play Bevell dials up in these situations, me along with the majority of Seahawks fans would have called the complete opposite play, regardless of whether we convert or not. Frankly I am absolutely sick and tired of Bevell’s play-calling in high pressure situations. I hope that Bevell is in a position to be interviewed and accept a head coaching job somewhere come seasons end. Whether he is offered a new job elsewhere or he is fired, I do not want him on this staff in 2015. Overreaction or not, I believe it is time for the Seahawks to move on from Darrell Bevell.”

Let me get this out of the way bluntly. I absolutely do not agree with the second down play call of a quick inside slant on the one-yard line. I doubt anybody agrees with it. My previous thoughts following the Kansas City game however raise an interesting point. If Ricardo Lockette catches that ball for a touchdown, the Seahawks repeat as world champions. The manner in which the play failed is greatly magnified because of the situation; one yard away from taking the lead with 20 seconds left, and the Seahawks likely going on to win the game and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. After taking the time to think about the situation this is what I would have done. You may agree or you may not. I would have called a run to Marshawn Lynch on second down. If we are stopped I would take our final timeout. On third down I would have called one of three plays: either a Russell Wilson roll out pass similar to the 2-point conversion play call in the NFC Championship Game, a fade to Chris Matthews in the back corner of the endzone (I would have confidence in him out-jumping either Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner to make the catch), or I would let Russell Wilson keep the ball on a read-option or a naked bootleg. If we are stopped here and the clock is dead, on fourth down I would line up with an extra offensive lineman on the right side, I would put fullback Will Tukuafu in motion to be an additional right-side blocker, then hand the ball to Lynch and let him plow his way across the goal line.

The timing of this play could not have been worse and it cost us a championship. This is not the first time Bevell has made questionable play calls within 5 yards of the endzone. Arizona in 2012 and Kansas City this year immediately come to mind. I stand by my opinion that the Seahawks need to move on from Darrell Bevell in 2015. Pete Carroll can fall on the sword and take the blame all he wants, but Bevell’s play calling has cost us games time and time again and his tendencies nipping us in the bud in the biggest game in franchise history should be the tipping point.

Infamous Company: Shortly after the game I texted a friend of mine, pondering “is this how Titans fans feel?” The Seahawks join the 1999 Tennessee Titans as the two teams that came up one yard short of potentially winning the Super Bowl. However, the Seahawks loss is much worse for one big reason, the answer my friend and I agreed on: “The Titans didn’t even get the chance to screw it up.”

It is true. The Titans advanced the ball down to the one-yard line but the clock was not their ally. Tennessee ran out of time before they were able to snap one more play and the St. Louis Rams went on to win Super Bowl XXXIV. In this instance, the Seahawks got the ball to the one-yard line and potentially had three more opportunities to score. Instead, well, you know what happened. This is what makes this loss the most painful I have ever experienced. To know we were a mere 36 inches away from back-to-back championships makes me sick to my stomach.

Staying Positive: As tough as this loss may be to process right now here are some points to help us stay optimistic about the future. First, after the Seahawks lost to Atlanta in the 2012 playoffs we saw this team work as hard as possible over the next offseason to make sure they would not be in the same position again. That hard work resulted in a Super Bowl title in 2013. I believe this awful taste will stay in the mouths of all these players for the next seven months and we will be hungrier than ever come September. Second, this team is young. It is not like this group was aging and had only one shot to win a championship and the ship sailed. This core group is going to be around for a long time and I am certain we will be back in the Super Bowl very soon, maybe even again next season. The third and perhaps most important point is this. Even though we lost this time around we know what it feels like to be world champions. For the longest time the Seahawks were a franchise that had no championship history. We have been to the summit. We are not still in search of our first Lombardi Trophy. XLVIII will never be taken away from us. As nice as it would be to have two right now, remember we had zero for over 35 years. I am damn proud of the one championship that we do have and those are memories that will never ever go away.

Random Thoughts: Just one thought in regards to the overall gameday/stadium experience. I liked how spread out and convenient events seemed to be this year compared to last year. Although downtown Phoenix and Times Square were eerily similar, the gameday experience in and around the stadium in Glendale was much smoother this year. I liked being able to be dropped off in the Westgate Entertainment District, eat before the game, then get into the stadium within 10 minutes rather than take two trains to New Jersey, have 4+ hours of time to kill before the game, then take two trains after the game and get back to the hotel at 3 o’clock in the morning.

I have yet to decide if I will do a post chronicling my week in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX. If I do decide to write something, look for that likely this weekend. My hope is to be back in a couple weeks during the NFL Scouting Combine. By then I hope is to be fully over this devastation and be fully focused on the 2015 season. Thanks for reading and for the support throughout this season everybody. It means a lot to me. Go Seahawks!

Titans/Seahawks Preview

12 Oct

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Matchup: Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

After losing their first game of the season last week the Seahawks look to bounce back in week 6 as they finish their tour of the AFC South by hosting the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks hold a one game lead in the NFC West with a 4-1 record. The Tennessee Titans come into this game a somewhat surprising 3-2 and are one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South. Including the playoffs, the Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise 9-6. Their last meeting came in week 17 of the 2009 season. Chris Johnson broke the 2,000 yard mark on the season as the Titans defeated the Seahawks 17-13. The Seahawks finished the season 5-11 and just days after the defeat Jim Mora was fired and Pete Carroll was hired as Seahawks head coach. Here are my keys to victory and some things to look for this week.

With Max Unger likely back this week, the Seahawks will have their healthiest starting offensive line in three weeks. Given this I hope to see better pass protection of quarterback Russell Wilson which hopefully also translates into better production from Wilson. After 3 solid weeks, Wilson’s numbers slipped in his previous two games. Wilson threw for a combined 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis and last week was the first week since week 2 his completion percentage was under 50 percent in a game. Wilson also has not seemed to be as accurate so far this year as he was at the end of last season. I think the offensive line could make all the difference in the world. I expect the Seahawks passing game to get back on track this week and I would not be surprised to see Wilson throw for between 250 and 300 yards against the Titans.

This week is the first week that all of our pass rushers will play together in front of the 12th Man. This could spell disaster for Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though the defense struggled down the stretch last week, our front 7 still sacked Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble on a strip-sack. I think the pass rush will play a huge factor this week and Fitzpatrick will be sacked at least four times. One thing that could affect the Seahawks on defense this week is linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner is dealing with a low grade high-ankle sprain and head coach Pete Carroll suggested that Wagner’s final game status could be determined during pregame warm-ups on Sunday. If Wagner cannot play, Heath Farwell will most likely start at middle linebacker. Wagner is the leader of the defensive huddle and he may be the most important defensive player as he relays the defensive formations to the rest of the defense. Wagner also has the second most tackles so far this season behind safety Earl Thomas. I am confident in Harwell’s ability to fill in but look for Tennessee to try to take advantage of the “weaker” middle of the field by dumping passes off to tight end Delanie Walker and primary slot receiver Kendall Wright.

The Tennessee Titans have gotten off to a rather surprising start to the 2013 season. After starting the season 3-1 they lost in two aspects last week against Kansas City Chiefs. They lost the game, and they also lost starting quarterback Jake Locker for the next 6-8 weeks with a hip injury. Without Locker, the Titans now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick to command the offense. Ideally with a backup quarterback at the helm the offense will turn to their running back to carry the load to try to take some of the pressure on the quarterback. The Titans definitely have a running back capable of carrying the load in Chris Johnson but playing in Seattle, Johnson may be facing a long and tough day this week. The Titans will be forced to throw a lot this week especially if the Seahawks can build a lead early on in the game. On offense for Tennessee this week my X-Factor player to watch is wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter, a rookie from the University of Tennessee, was a player I had my eye on at this year’s combine and the time before the NFL Draft. Hunter’s height and speed to break away from defenders made him a perfect #2 wide receiver immediately in my eyes. This week he will line up across both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner depending on the play. The Titans have a lot of wide receivers that will see playing time this week. With Kenny Britt and Nate Washington receiving most of the attention, look for Hunter to possibly make a bigger impact than expected against the Legion of Boom.

Last season Richard Sherman led all NFL cornerbacks in interceptions with 8. This year, the Titans feature a guy in their secondary that could wind up leading the league in interceptions by season’s end. Cornerback Alterraun Verner has intercepted 4 passes so far this season and I believe he has established himself as the permanent replacement to former Titan Cortland Finnegan. What is interesting about the Titans defense is that they have a handful of guys that are effective in rushing the passer and another handful of guys that are effective getting to the play and making tackles. My X-Factor player to watch on defense is a guy who falls into both of these categories, outside linebacker Zach Brown. Brown, a second year man from the University of North Carolina, has recorded a team-high 3 sacks so far this season and also ranks third on the team in tackles with 29. Brown has also forced one fumble. Watching him on film, Brown does a very good job at being the first defender to figure out what type of play the offense will run. He does a good job of getting to the ball and is has more of an impact on running plays than on passing plays. I expect Brown to rush to the right side of the Seahawks offensive line to catch J.R. Sweezy and Michael Bowie off guard.

Random Thoughts: This is the first home game in three weeks and the only home game in the three weeks upcoming. Talk about a bummer from a fan’s perspective but I would rather knock out the majority of our road games now so we can enjoy back-to-back home games on two separate occasions later on in the season… The Seahawks will wear blue uniforms and blue pants this week… Carl Cheffers is the referee for Sunday’s game… Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call for CBS this week. They are CBS’s #2 crew, meaning they get the privilege to broadcast one playoff game each season so these guys are pretty good all things considered. Should be a good call if you’re watching from home… I’m changing up my pregame plans this week. I’ll be a bar north of the stadium, probably King Street Bar and Oven. I don’t think I’ve been there since the 2012 preseason… Oh yeah, pregaming starts at 9am sharp… I need to get more pink Seahawks stuff to wear for breast cancer awareness month. All I have is an NFL logo pink ribbon pin and a bracelet… Sunday is a 1:05 start, not a 1:25 start. I’ve stated in the past that this 20 minute difference is actually pretty significant and not as many fans are in their seats for the start of the game if it is a 1:05 start. To all the people going to this week’s game please keep this in mind. Be in your seats by 1:00pm (okay, 12:45 just to be safe).

Prediction: Last season the Seahawks lost a close game to the Miami Dolphins and responded by winning 6 straight games before losing to Atlanta in the playoffs. I think that the Titans may open up this game with an early lead but the Seahawks will regain complete control shortly thereafter. Earl Thomas will intercept a deep pass and the Seahawks defensive front seven will force two fumbles. On offense, Sidney Rice will lead the receivers in yardage with 80 and a touchdown. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will both run for touchdowns and the Seahawks will get ready for the Arizona Cardinals with a 5-1 record.

Seahawks 30, Titans 13

Check back Sunday night for a review of the Seahawks game against the Titans. I will be blogging a lot in the coming week as the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week in week 7. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Thoughts on the Rookie Class of 2013

28 Apr
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Seahawks RB Christine Michael

The 2013 NFL Draft is in the books. After making two trades during the draft, the Seahawks selected 11 players and added 9 undrafted free agents to the roster, which make up the Seahawks 2013 rookie class. Here are some thoughts about a few of the players the Seahawks drafted and what I think about our picks.

If there’s one thing myself and other Seahawks fans have learned over the past three years it’s this; do not doubt head coach Pete Carroll and DEFINITELY do not doubt general manager John Schneider. Having said this, I am a little flustered about our first selection. The Seahawks selected Texas A&M running back Christine Michael with the last pick of round 2 (pick #62). With a backfield that already includes pro bowler Marshawn Lynch and second-year power back Robert Turbin, I felt there were bigger positional needs to be addressed at the point in the draft especially given the talent that was still on the board at the end of the second round. Michael reminds me of Falcons running back Steven Jackson. After watching film I noted that Michael is a physical running back who is really hard to tackle. He bounces off tackles and has excellent breakaway speed. The one thing I didn’t like while watching Michael’s film is his footwook. He didn’t show his ability to juke defenders and make cuts for extra yards. One other puzzling note is the fact that Michael was not a part of the return game at Texas A&M. With Leon Washington gone and the draft of Michael, it still looks as though Percy Harvin and Golden Tate will be used on kickoff and punt returns this season.

Every year after the draft I like to pick one guy, usually from the later rounds of the draft, who I think could have a major impact with the Seahawks in his rookie season and beyond. Two years ago I picked Richard Sherman and I could not have been more right. I think the reason why I like Sherman so much is he made me look very intelligent. Last year however I picked defensive tackle Jaye Howard, who did not see much playing time on defense last season. This season my impact rookie prediction is defensive tackle Jesse Williams from the University of Alabama. Williams was taken with our first 5th round pick (#137 overall). Williams was projected to be a 3rd round pick but slipped all the way to the 5th round. The Seahawks traded up with the Detroit Lions to snag him. Williams is a 6-3, 325 pound defensive tackle who I feel resembles Alan Branch the most. Williams may be called upon early and often on running downs to plug the holes vacated by Branch.

Coming into the draft, I felt that the two most important positions to fill were outside linebacker and offensive line. The Seahawks did not draft any true linebackers in 2013 and the first offensive lineman drafted came in round 7. The Seahawks already have one of the best offensive lines in the league but the foundation of any offense is the offensive line and it never hurts to add depth. The Seahawks took three offensive linemen in the final round of the draft, selecting Ryan Seymour of Vanderbilt, Jared Smith of New Hampshire, and Michael Bowie of Northeast Oklahoma State. These guys probably won’t see any playing time on offense this season but they could have an impact on special teams. I like Seymour the most out of these three picks because he is a hybrid lineman who has spent the most time playing guard, which in my opinion is our weakest spot along the offensive line.

Going into the final day of the draft there were still 30 players on my “big board” who I thought could fit well with what the Seahawks do. The Seahawks only took one of my highlighted players; defensive end/linebacker Ty Powell from Harding. I noted Powell after the Scouting Combine in February because he ran a fast 40-yard dash and also did 28 bench press reps. His combination of speed and strength caught my eye and after watching game film of Powell I was further impressed. Although he played against weak competition at Harding, I liked how Powell played both defensive end and outside linebacker and he did an excellent job penetrating the line and also dropping into coverage on passing plays. He also recorded 8.5 sacks and 40 tackles during the 2012 season. He could also play a big role on special teams with the Seahawks in 2013.

Prior to the draft it was believed that the Seahawks already had a roster that could compete for a championship. After drafting 11 players and adding 9 undrafted rookie free agents, it must be preached that it is going to be extremely difficult for these 20 players to make the 2013 53-man roster. I would not be surprised to see all of our undrafted rookies and over half of our draft picks get cut before the end of the preseason. Although this possibility does not favor these players, it is a situation that Pete Carroll and John Schneider strived for when they arrived in Seattle; to build the roster that includes so much talent that a good number of rookie draft picks are in jeopardy of even making the team.

Combine Thoughts Part Two

7 Mar

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*I have split my combine review and thoughts into two parts. The second part is my thoughts on the defensive players who participated*

On days 3 and 4 of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, the defensive draft prospects hit the field for various drills. Like in my offense review that I posted yesterday, I have noted some defensive players who impressed me during the on-the-field workouts and who I think could be a good fit for the Seahawks. I have broken them down by position and why I could see them getting drafted by Seattle next month.

Defensive Line

Margus Hunt (SMU)

Datone Jones (UCLA)

Corey Lemonier (Auburn)

Ty Powell (Harding)

Akeem Spence (Illinois)

Brandon Williams (Mississippi Southern St.)

The first two players on my list could possibly be picked by the Seahawks in the first round. I put my spotlight on Hunt after the Senior Bowl because of his height and his potential ability to swat passes down in addition to sacking the quarterback. Datone Jones has emerged as a strong possibility to draft in the first round. Jones was recruited by Coach Carroll when he was the head coach at USC and Jones is highly regarded by both Carroll and John Schneider. Although he did not put up eye-popping numbers in college, Jones shows the potential of being a very good pass rusher in the NFL. With Chris Clemons rehabbing his torn ACL, we need another pass rush threat to help out Bruce Irvin. The other four players listed could be decent value picks.

Linebacker

Jon Bostic (Florida)

Zaviar Gooden (Missouri)

Jelani Jenkins (Florida)

Sio Moore (Connecticut)

Cornelius Washington (Georgia)

With the apparent departure of Leroy Hill, the Seahawks may be in need of another outside linebacker. Malcolm Smith may be the answer in the starting lineup but we will need more depth at outside linebacker. Cornelius Washington put up impressive numbers at the combine. Washington tied for the fastest unofficial 40-yard dash time with a 4.50. He also led all linebackers in the bench press with 36 reps; the next closest being Sio Moore with 29 reps. Washington proved to have a good mix of speed and strength at the combine. I could see him being a 3rd or 4th round pick. I put both Florida linebackers on my list for one obvious reason; our new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. I think it would make sense for Quinn to add at least one player who he coached in college. If this is to be the case, I would rank Jenkins over Bostic.

Cornerback

Xavier Rhodes (Florida St.)

Darius Slay (Mississippi St.)

Daxton Swanson (Sam Houston St.)

Jamar Taylor (Boise St.)

Steve Williams (California)

For the first time in a long time cornerback is not a glaring need for the Seahawks heading into the draft. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have proven to be one of the best cornerback duos in the league and I expect that to continue in 2013. I do think it would be beneficial to possibly add another cornerback in the later round to play in the nickel package, depending on if the Seahawks decide to retain Marcus Trufant in free agency. I have not watched any tape on these 5 players yet to see if they can play nickel but these players have a projected draft range of rounds 3-7. If Trufant does not return in 2013, I could see us drafting any one of these cornerbacks in the draft. Jamar Taylor is the man in this group to watch. He played with current Seahawks cornerback Jeron Johnson in college and also ran an unofficial 4.32 40YD.

Safety

Keelan Johnson (Arizona St.)

Jawanza Starling (USC)

Earl Wolff (North Carolina St.)

Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are undoubtedly the starters at free safety and strong safety respectively in 2013. I could easily see us passing on this position group in the draft but these three players I think could be Seahawks this season. I highlight Jawanza Starling because he is a USC product and an athletic prospect that Coach Carroll is familiar with. He ran a respectable 4.53 40YD and had good hip control in the on-the-field workouts.

Combine Thoughts Part One

6 Mar

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*I have split my combine review and thoughts into two parts. The first part is my thoughts on the offensive players who participated*

The NFL Scouting Combine took place last week where I counted over 325 players participated in both the on-the-field football drills and the off-the-field team interviews. At the combine, a player’s draft stock can either rise or fall depending on how they perform on the field and if they can impress coaches and general managers in a meeting room. This year’s broadcast and coverage of combine drills put a focus on the 40-yard dash, bench press, and various football drills depending on the position. Of course I am not a part of the coaching staff or front office so I can only judge character and off the field traits based on what I hear. I can only go off of what I see.

The first two days of the 2013 combine focused on offensive players. I have noted some players who I believe helped themselves at the combine and who I would have an eye on for the Seahawks to draft; broken down by position. An example of a player who can help their draft stock is a player who can put up above-average numbers in both the 40-yard dash and bench press. Those two drills are the most important activities in my eyes.

Offensive Line

Jeff Baca (UCLA)

David Bakhtiari (Colorado)

Emmett Cleary (Boston College)

Reid Fragel (Ohio St.)

Rogers Gaines (Tennessee St.)

Eric Herman (Ohio)

Joe Madsen (West Virginia)

Vince Painter (Virginia Tech)

Brian Schwenke (California)

J.C. Tretter (Cornell)

With offensive lineman my number one priority is strength. I like an offensive lineman at the combine who can do at least 27 bench press reps. In my opinion I do not believe any of these lineman will be picked in the first round. I am looking for value at this position much like was the case with J.R. Sweezy last season. The guys on this list who really caught my eye were Vince Painter and Brian Schwenke. Painter was one of only four offensive linemen at the combine who ran a 40-yard dash under five seconds. He also tied for 5th for most bench press reps among his position group. A guy who can put up numbers in the top 5 in both categories is a guy whose stock will rise and a guy I would be interested in for the Seahawks to take a look at. Brian Schwenke may be one of the best guards available in this year’s draft and is currently projected to be a 2nd round pick. He is a Pac-12 guy so Coach Carroll may be more familiar with him than other prospects. Schwenke could be a guy who could challenge Paul McQuistan for the starting LG spot.

Tight End

Chris Gragg (Arkansas)

Vance McDonald (Rice)

Dion Sims (Michigan St.)

With the signing of TE Darren Fells, I think it is safe to say the Seahawks will not be in the market to take a tight end early in the draft. You can scratch both Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz off the board. I think it would still be possible to add more competition to the tight end position later on in the draft. Any of these three guys I think I would like to see in Seattle. I think another vertical threat would help Russell Wilson. If Fells does not pan out, it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks attack the tight end position in this year’s draft.

Quarterback

E.J. Manuel (Florida St.)

Matt Scott (Arizona)

I am split on Matt Flynn. I think he is a reliable backup in the event Russell Wilson gets hurt but he runs a different offensive package. Without a third quarterback currently on the roster I think it would be beneficial to bring in another athletic quarterback who could step in and mirror Wilson’s offense. These are the only two quarterbacks I would be interested in. E.J. Manuel was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and ran the second fastest 40-yard dash behind potential top 5 pick Geno Smith. Manuel is expected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Matt Scott was a player who surprised me. He ran a sub 4.70 40YD and looked pretty good in the on-the-field quarterback drills. If Scott is still available in round 5, I think it is realistic to think the Seahawks could use a pick on Scott.

Running Back

Giovani Bernard (North Carolina)

D.J. Harper (Boise St.)

Onterio McCalebb (Auburn)

Kerwynn Williams (Utah St.)

The Seahawks have their franchise running back set in stone with Marshawn Lynch. They also have their 3rd down power back locked in with Robert Turbin. Leon Washington is still a solid kick returner but is getting older. Could it be time to start thinking about replacing Washington? These four guys I think could have the potential to come into Seattle and make an impact in 2013. My spotlight is on Onterio McCalebb. McCalebb ran unofficial 40YD times of 4.27 and 4.21; the fastest running back at the combine. His stock is sure to rise but imagine him returning kicks for the Seahawks. With his speed and footwork (which looked good in running back drills), McCalebb could be a nightmare for defenders to try to tackle and he could set the Seahawks up for great field position. Kerwynn Williams could be a guy to keep an eye on because he was teammates with Robert Turbin in college.

Wide Receiver

Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech)

Mark Harrison (Rutgers)

Justin Hunter (Tennessee)

Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)

Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech)

In my opinion, unless an offensive lineman projected to be a top 15 pick falls to the Seahawks at 25th overall, the only offensive position the Seahawks will be looking at in the first round is wide receiver. I am really high on both Tennessee receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. Patterson and Hunter are 6’2” and 6’4” respectively and could be long, tall vertical threats that could line up opposite Sidney Rice. In order to draft Patterson the Seahawks will have to trade up and given the conservative draft strategy of general manager John Schneider it is highly unlikely that will happen. The only way I see us trading up to take Patterson is if Patterson really impressed the Seahawks in his combine interview and if the price is right to pull the trigger on a trade. Hunter is a more realistic pick. Hunter is projected to be a mid-2nd or early 3rd round pick and could be one of our choices on day two of the draft. I like Hunter because of his leaping ability. He tied for first in the vertical jump among wide receivers with a jump of 39.5 inches. I think we need another tall receiver who can jump high to make catches.

Tomorrow I will post part two of my combine thoughts. Part two focuses on the defensive participants.