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Evaluating the draft class, breaking down each selection

Monday, April 30, 2018

 

So it’s finally over? All the anticipation, research, discussions, debates and uncertainty are now redundant. The Seahawks front office has answered all our questions, but how did they do?

 

Let be start by saying I’m not a huge fan of grading drafts immediately after they take place. How players look in college can vary wildly to how they perform at the next level. For better or worse, many draftees look like totally different players in the NFL. Of course, this swings both ways and can both hinder and benefit teams with different players. Looking at first round busts and UDFA stars at either end of the extremes is the perfect example.

 

We simply don’t know how these young men will adapt to life as a professional athlete but the vast majority are certainly given the tools to succeed, I can’t speak for the 31 other teams but Seattle has a solid support system in place to give these guys the best possible chance at success. 

 

They tend to be patient, they have superb facilities, conditioning coaches, positional coaches, if any of these guys don’t work out at the next level, it’s certainly not down to their surroundings. As the famous saying goes - “a coach has never had to cut a player, they cut themselves”.

 

Reading all that back and it may sound slightly on the negative side which is far from my intention, merely tapering expectations. Some guys will be stars, some will flop, some will be above average and some will be below average. And that’s just fine, the draft has been historically proven time and time again to be somewhat of a ‘luck-fest’ and mainly for the reasons highlighted above, it’s impossible to measure how much these guys really want to play football in the NFL. When asked, no NFL draftee has ever said ‘no’ when asked if they love football or winning. 

 

With all that said, Seattle has clearly focussed on guys who are ‘all football’. They seem to be smart, tough and reliable, something you’ve probably read numerous times on this site and heard John Schneider say even more. It’s been the theme of this offseason and comes down to the culture reset and getting back to Pete Carroll’s philosophy of fully ‘buying in’. I struggle to believe that a single one of these new additions to the roster will not be ‘all in’ with Seattle. My only slight reservation amongst the whole group is Rasheem Green doesn’t seem too keen on playing inside on the defensive line. Out of 9 players, having one slight reservation about one singular part of a players mentality is pretty damn good going if you ask me, but more on that later.

 

Let’s take a look at each player and share some thoughts and initial reactions on each.

 

 

 

 

 

Pete is certainly staying true to his word with committing to the run this coming season. 

 

One of my biggest pet hates is when fans say ‘could have got him a round later’. It’s a ridiculous statement for numerous reasons. Firstly, how on earth do you know that? If NFL teams rarely know exactly what a team will do at a given selection, why do these guys think they have all the answers? It’s ridiculous. Secondly, it doesn’t take into consideration how high the team must have been on said player to take him early. In 3 years time when said player turns into a superstar, no fan will ever say “yeah he’s great, really great, but I’m still so pissed off we took him in the 4th when we could have gotten him in the 5th”, it just doesn’t work like that. 

 

Rashaad was one of the few tier 1 running backs in this class who didn’t have a huge question mark over his head. 

 

Nick Chubb looks great, but has had major injuries in the past.

 

Derrius Guice looks great, but seems like a total nutter, and an unpredictable nutter on top. 

 

Ronald Jones II looks great, but seems a bit light and arguably not an every down back.

 

Sony Michel looks great, but fumbles the ball at an alarming rate.

 

See where I’m going with this? Outside of Saquon Barkley, Rashaad Penny is the safest running back in this draft, period. Right now, Seattle needs safe, they need reliability, they need an every down back, they need everything that Rashaad Penny possesses and I, for one, love the pick. 

 

His main criticism is his pass blocking. He’s really not very good in that area, but it’s very coachable. You can’t coach a dodgy knee. Seattle has a whole lot of skill position players on this roster that he can learn from, it won’t just be the coaches helping him out, it’ll be half the roster getting involved, a ‘group effort’ if you will. 

 

Rashaad has the potential to be an absolute star in the NFL, and I’m very confident that’s exactly what he will become. He has patience, something that will likely prove a valued asset, even more so early whilst the offensive line gets up to an NFL level under Mike Solari. If you’re a defender trying to bring Penny down, you better get both arms round his legs, and tightly. If you just grab his upper body and try and simply pull him down, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, he will simply shrug you off and continue going about his business downhill. He’s pretty twitchy, too. Whilst I don’t expect him to become elite in the passing game, he will excel in dump offs and will turn those little shovel passes into 10-30 yard gains on a regular basis, he has a real knack for making defenders miss him. He’s not primed to be particularly ‘special’ as a receiver, but I bet once you look at his receiving yards at the end of each season, they’ll tell a different story. And if he does improve on actual route running, and that’s not exactly the most far-fetched expectation, watch out league.

 

 

 



Seattle didn’t select Green in the third round because of his tape and what he’s already achieved at the collegiate level, they selected him in the third because of the potential of what he can become. With correct coaching and a dashing of luck, there is superstar potential just waiting to be unleashed here. He has all the raw qualities of a top tier pass rusher and his potential truly is off the charts. 

 

You could easily say he is the Michael Bennett replacement. He can line up at any technique in any situation and succeed. I don’t think he is too keen on moving inside on passing downs but will reserve judgement on that. He may feel it’s not his strongest area and therefore prefers rushing from the 5 technique on the outside, but if he is forced to rush inside and starts getting success there, expect his confidence to grow and his willingness to improve. 

 

I’m not totally convinced Green ticks all three of the ‘smart tough reliable’ traits, I suspect his reason for not being keen on lining up inside is due to those nasty guards, lineman get away with a whole lot more on the interior of the trenches and Green may want no part of what goes on there, which would mean he doesn’t tick the ‘tough’ box, but we shall see. I’ll reserve judgement as we really don’t know why he doesn’t seem keen on playing inside and anything written or spoken on the subject is merely speculation, not matter of fact. 

 

If NFL teams were forced to draft purely on potential, Green would easily be a top 5 selection and possibly #1 overall. He really does have everything you want. He’s explosive and athletic, has wicked quickness heading into gaps, has great feet and arm placement, can bull rush and in my opinion, his most important trait is he plays ‘football smart’. When he gets beat and it becomes clear he’s not going to get to the passer he doesn’t just carry on for the sake of it or give up, he will do everything he can do distract and get in the eye line of the quarterback to disrupt the pass. One of my favourite moments in football is when defensive lineman pick off or tip the ball, expect Green to do exactly that. My biggest smile last season was probably seeing defensive tackle Nazair Jones running downfield with the ball in his hands, just a marvellous sight.

 

Even if Green doesn’t amount to anything with Seattle, I’d never be mad at the selection due to the ‘what if’ possibility. I don’t think we will be disappoint, however. 

 

 

 

 

 

Could have got this guy in the 6th [rolls eyes]. 

 

A few weeks ago I said how great it would be to find Zach Miller 2.0. Guess what? We have. Zach and Will have some strangely similar measurables and combine performances, on paper, they look like near identical players.

 

If anyone is going to come in and give 100% in camp, this is the guy. He is the very definition of smart, the very definition of tough and, you guessed it, the very definition of reliable. 

 

He is a pure Y tight end at the moment, however can (and will) be used in the passing game also. He may only get 200-300 yards a season but that’s merely an added bonus, his value comes in his run and pass blocking. This guy is, by far, the best blocker of every single tight end in the 2018 class. You want to improve the run game? Dissly will do exactly that and do it with excellence. 

 

He’s 6 foot 4 and 262 pounds of pure blocking meat (can’t believe I just said that). If a coach asks him to block the edge, he will block the edge, if a coach asks him to make a quick block and be available in the passing game if the play breaks down, he will, if a coach asks him to get to bed at 7pm the night before a game, he will be tucked up with a glass of milk and his pyjamas on at 6.58pm. My point is, he will do whatever is asked of him, and do it with 100% effort, 100% of the time. The very definition of a team player. 

 

Will and Ed Dickson are very similar players who excel in different areas. Dissly is better in the run game while Dickson is better in the pass game. I have a slight concern that if only one of them is on the field, it will put a big neon sign above the offense telling the defense what they’re doing, but I’d expect these guys to be on the field together...a lot. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer loves using two tight end sets.

 

The fact he also played his college ball in the great state of Washington for the Huskies just adds to the ‘coolness’ of this pick. 

 

 

 

 

What can you say? Seriously, I’m still lost for words with this. Arguably the best draft selection ever made. Fans from all around the NFL have congratulated Seahawks personnel and fans alike on the selection, can you remember when that last happened? Ever? 

 

The energy and chemistry Shaquem is going to bring to this locker room is like nothing before, seriously. If any one player is going to have close to the impact a quarterback  has on an NFL roster, this guy is it. 

 

Pete Carroll and said he will start out at weak side linebacker (behind K.J. Wright) but make no mistake, this guy is going to get reps. The versatility he brings to the Seahawks is tremendous, particularly in nickel packages. More often than not, when in nickel Pete takes a linebacker out to add in the slot corner, I’d expect him to take a defensive lineman out of the game a lot more now Griffin is on the roster. This is where he’s going to shine in my opinion. He is the perfect nickel linebacker who will line of just off, or even on, the line of scrimmage.

 

He will rush the passer and have success at it.

 

He will be a quarterback spy when we play teams who have QB’s that like to use their feet.

 

He will also be the single reason we beat Green Bay on Thursday NightFootball next season.  

 

Make no mistake, this is not a feel good pick, NFL teams don’t do that. This is a pick that improves your roster from a talent perspective and improves your locker room from a personality perspective. 

 

All of that and I haven’t even touched on his special teams ability. He is likely going to vault to the number 1 special teams player immediately for the Seahawks, Pete has always committed to special teams more than most and Shaquem is going to have fantastic impact in the third facet of the wonderful game of football. 

 

“And the winner of the 2018 season Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year award goes to”

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers was officially listed as a safety however Seattle has him as a cornerback and when you look at his profile it’s easy to see why...

 

He’s 6 foot 3, 202 pounds with an arm length of 33 7/8 (what?!!!). If pure not aware, those are some freakishly long arms. Seattle has never drafted an outside corner with an arm length less than 32 inches, tagging on nearly 2 inches on top of that? This guy can itch his ankle without bending down for crying out loud. 

 

The NFL is nothing new for this kid, his uncle, Erik Flowers was a first round selection from the Bills in 2000. His cousin is also fullback Dimitri Flowers, who recently signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent.”all football”? You bet.

 

Likely better in zone coverage rather than man to man, Flowers could be an outside corner or strong safety for the Hawks. Most likely providing back up insurance to both positions.

 

While he’s not guaranteed a roster spot, I’d be surprised if he didn’t make the 53 man in September, in part, to his potential. He has the length, speed, effort and pedigree of an NFL starter, can you think of a better team to unlock his full potential than Seattle? This team are so good at developing corners I’m surprised the NFL hasn’t investigated them. Something fishy must be going on, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Bit of a shocker, I agree. I spent a fair bit of time watching Dickson in the lead up to the draft but never had the bottle to pencil him in as a legitimate consideration to Seattle because, well, he’s a punter.

 

You don’t need a punter until you do, though. And having a good one is probably the most underrated part of football in general. They can, and do, swing the field position game either way. If you have a bad one, opponents will likely shred you and cause incredibly frustrating points on the board. I talked earlier about one of my favourite parts of an NFL game is when defensive lineman pick the ball off. My second? Punters causing your opponent to start their drive inside the 5 yard line. 

 

Dickson is easily the best punter in this draft class and while the Denver Broncos openly laughed in their war room when Seattle made the selection after trading with them for the selection, I’m sure they won’t be laughing when Seattle go into their house and embarrass them, again...The Broncos managed 8 points in their Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks, that’s about the same amount of punt return yards they’ll likely get in the regular season matchup, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Some have compared Jones to Michael Oher, if Jones goes on to have the career of Oher, Seattle nailed this pick.

 

He was pegged to go much, much earlier than the late 5th round so his fall is very beneficial. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in length.

 

This is an interesting selection for a couple of reasons, typically Seattle focus their attention to run blocking as opposed to pass blocking with offensive lineman however Jamarco’s strengths sit with his pass protection. Secondly, they typically enjoy ultra athletic lineman, this isn’t Jones, Sr all. In fact, he tested terribly. Maybe they’re trying a different technique this time round on he line, it’s not as if the athletic route has worked out to date after all. How they plan on using him is yet to be determined, he played left tackle in college so he may have a number of potential fits, back up the Duane Brown as well as acting as a hedge incase the two sides can’t get a deal agreed upon. He could compete to start at right tackle as well as even guard, too. Im intrigued, I’m not going to lie.

 

For me, he’s a pretty hard one to project, I could very easily see him beating everyone out and being the starter at right tackle but in the same breathe could also see him having an unconvincing camp and not even forcing his way on the 53 man roster. I appreciate that is a pretty wide sweeping statement but it’s true, I really feel it could go either way and would by lying if I said I was certain on   either take.

 

Interestingly, PFF have him as the 3rd highest ranked tackle in this draft class. People only tend to quote PFF rankings when it suits their narratives. When it’s beneficial to their thoughts it’s the best thing since sliced bread but when it goes against their belief it’s “PFF? lolz”. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve done it in the past but have grown to respect their grading system and while I think their system works at certain positions far more than others, it’s still a valuable asset in player evaluation. 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle addressed the inside out need with Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, potentially, addresses the LEO spot if (when) Cliff Avril retires or is forced off the roster. Even if Avril does in fact end up playing in 2018, he’s certainly in the twilight of his career so this selection makes sense, at least from a need aspect.

 

Jacob is another Seahawk that comes from an NFL family, his brother, Josh, has been in the league for 5 years and is currently with the Jets. 

 

This is another pick that falls into the STR category, he is happy doing the dirty work in the trenches as well as being a very smart football player. 

 

He has the key traits of a Pete Carroll LEO, speed and quickness. He plays with a fantastic tempo and a motor that keeps going and going.

 

With with the importance of managing expectations, he ‘may’ be a bit too light to be successful at the next level. If his body doesn’t respond well to an NFL weight room I’d be surprised if he makes it out of camp. However, he could come in, get his weight up and provide tremendous value. All 6th round picks are gambles, the key is to get guys with a high ceiling and he has exactly that. 

 

 

 

John Schneider gave some real hints in the build up to the draft that they were going to select a quarterback at some point and he stayed true to his word, with the final selection no less.

 

His stats at Florida International in 2017 are 231 of 354 pass attempts for 2,791 yards with 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. 

 

I must say, he wasn’t on my radar at all but was clearly on the Seahawks. He will add competition in camp and compete with with Austin Davis and Stephen Morris for the backup spot.

 

Before the draft I thought Seattle would draft a QB in the 4th or 5th round and actually carry 3 QB’s on the roster however I’m not sure I see that strategy with this pick. If he has a poor camp, I’d be very surprised if they hold a valuable roster spot for him to develop over a couple years.

 

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