Friend of the blog (and recent ESPN addition) Daniel Jeremiah (@movethesticks) was recently asked: "What current NFL player will benefit the most from their teams 2010 draft?" His answer: "Matt Hasselbeck/Charlie Whitehurst." Can't disagree with him there. I think the Hawks proved that they are committed to these guys, which none of us were all that certain of headed into the draft. They gave them big time playmakers (Tate, Washington) and big time protection (Okung), while slowly planting a few seeds for the future of this offensive line.
We hit on the offense earlier, time for defense! Be sure to check our pre-draft assessments out if you haven't already. I'll be getting a bit more in depth with the different position groupings as the week goes on. Let's get started here:
Pre-Draft Proj. Starters: Jackson, Cole, Mebane, Clemons
Post-Draft Proj. Starters: Jackson, Cole, Mebane, Clemons
Well, technically we did make a few moves to better ourselves in this area -- drafting C.J. Wilson and Dexter Davis at DE, trading for DT Kevin Vickerson, and signing DT DeMarcus Granger (who has a great shot to make the team) and DE Rob Rose as free agents. Still, it doesn't look like any big additions were made in this area, and hopefully that's not going to come back and bite us. In an absolutely incredible draft, it appears this is one need (defensive end, specifically) that went unfilled by and large. Depth was brought to the table, which is great, but nothing to hang our hats on.
One person to keep your eyes on is former Oklahoma DT DeMarcus Granger. He's a big body - 6'2" 327, and he went undrafted due largely to a back injury that sidelined him from the entire 2009 season. He did see some playing time in the Sun Bowl where he assisted with 3 tackles. He had a very promising sophomore season, but serving as one of five in the DT rotation, he was quickly surpassed by freak-of-nature Gerald McCoy. No shock. If he's healthy, he could push Cole for the 1-tech job.
Pre-Draft Proj Starters: Curry - Tatupu - Hill
Post-Draft Proj Starters: Curry - Tatupu - Hill
The only person in question is Hill, but it is certainly his job to lose on the weakside. Both Will Herring and David Hawthorne will push him for playing time, but with no draftees and only two UFA signings (MLBs Kevin Dixon from Troy and Joe Pawelek from Baylor), nothing much changed here. One thing to look for as an outside chance, but fun to consider, would be WR Jameson Konz (who played linebacker for most of his college career) flexing in at the elephant backer position. No idea if he has pass rush skills, but he could just jump over the DE and bring the sack fury! Or not. Moving on.
Pre-Draft Proj Starters: CB1 Trufant - CB2 Wilson - NB Jennings - FS Babineaux - SS Adams
Post-Draft Proj Starters: CB1 Trufant - CB2 Wilson - NB W. Thurmond - FS E. Thomas - SS Babineaux/Chancellor
Whoa! Radical changes here! Let's start with the cornerbacks, because that's a bit more convoluted.
Realistically, the Seahawks have four options for three positions. We know that Trufant will be a starter, and unless Carroll and company are idiots, Josh Wilson will remain in that top three. The only problem with Wilson is that his size and speed make him a perfect nickelback. He is one of the most effective blitzing CBs that I've seen in years, and as such makes the nickel package a powerful weapon for the Seahawks. Throw in an Elephant Backer posing as a DE and you've got a legit defensive scheme that will make it hard to account for all 11 defenders. Even still, it's unlikely that Thurmond will be ready to start, so I'm calling him the Nickelback in year one, with Kelly Jennings spending his last guaranteed year in Seattle as a dime back. A very expensive dime back. With Thurmond, this group is much better. Ken Lucas was easily the worst CB last year, whereas Jennings actually stepped up towards the end of the year. I like this group.
Now, onto the safeties! Your new starting free safety is Earl Thomas. He's a playmaking freak with a nose for the ball. He is consistently what Big Play Babs is 3x a year. Take out your sharpie and write him into the starting spot. Now, as for strong safety, the Seahawks mentioned that Jordan Babineaux would be moving over to strong safety. Now, that's good and fine, and makes sense at this point. However, I think there is a very good chance that Kam Chancellor can win the starting job over Babineaux. Babs is not particularly good at anything but the occasional awesome play. His tackling was very unsure last year. If he doesn't show up in a big way in the preseason, and Chancellor does, you had better believe it'll be the Earl and Kam show.
Check out the pre-draft assessment here. Let's take a look at how things have changed. The Seahawks have added 12 new players through the draft (plus three trade acquisitions). Of those players, six were on offense, six on defense. What have our selections told us about this offense, and how much better might we have gotten? Let's take a look at the position groups that were affected:
Projected Starters Pre-Draft:
Locklear - Hamilton - Spencer - Unger - Willis
Project Starters Post-Draft:
Okung - Hamilton - Spencer - Unger - Locklear
The Seahawks went after fewer linemen than we anticipated in the draft, but did add four undrafted FAs. Okung immediately makes this line much better, as he is far and away the best fitted left tackle on the squad. Add to that the fact that he will move Locklear back to his more natural RT spot and it's a two-fer. Ray Willis is bumped from the starters, but will compete with Locklear for the RT spot. I don't see him winning the spot though, as he is not a great fit for the ZBS. He could potentially beat out Unger for the RG position, but I find that unlikely, especially if Unger takes a significant step up as 2nd year starters most often do.
OT Kyle Burkhart, C/G Jeff Byers, C Adrian Martinez, an OT Jacob Philips were also added as undrafted free agents. Of those, I would be surprised if Jeff Byers did not make the team, as he knows the system well and was very affective at USC. He doesn't figure to get any playing time for a year or two though, as is the way Gibbs likes to work.
Project Key Players, Pre-Draft: Houshmandzadeh, Branch, Butler
Projected Key Players Post-Draft: Houshmandzadeh, Golden Tate, Branch/Butler
The Wide Receiver position will again play host to the greatest competition of the Seahawks offseason. Golden Tate dramatically improves the squad, giving Jeremy Bates a sick mix of Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall's skill sets, though doubtful that he's as good at either main skills as those two. Tate's speed and elusiveness do remind me of Royal though, and he seems capable of having a breakout year early in the same mold as Royal and DeSean Jackson. His toughness and yards after catch ability have drawn comparisons to Marshall and Hines Ward. Again, I'm not saying he's as good as any of these players, we just don't know, but he could be something special.
Beyond Tate, who could get some time at Flanker but is not really disciplined enough with his route running to be a starting traditional WR, you have TJ Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch who figure to be the starters at this point in time. Branch could always be traded, but we are fooling ourselves to think that will be anytime soon. My guess is the Seahawks will try to move either Branch or Butler prior to the final round of cuts, but it's way to early to say for sure. Mike Williams could become a factor based primarily on his size and strength. Oh, and then there is...
Jameson Konz. He will make the team on special teams, and if he can actually play WR, look out. I think he'll take a few years to develop, but the kid is a specimen. Imagine Wes Welker's build on a 6'3", 230 lb frame. Again, don't see him doing much this year outside of ST, but who knows.
Projected Starters Pre-Draft: Carlson, Baker
Projected Starters Post-Draft: Carlson, Baker (McCoy)
Adding McCoy was a phenomenal move, one that I'm very excited about. Jeremy Bates loves to use tight ends, and McCoy is a rare talent in that he can catch AND block well. Increasingly the blocking tight end is become less valuable. Sando noted yesterday that the McCoy pick allows the Seahawks to be more flexible with their usage of John Carlson. In jumbo packages, look for Baker and McCoy to run in a two-TE set, which lets the team more easily disguise pass/run plays. Carlson can take a breather there or, as likely, he can slide over to wide receiver where he had a decent amount of success last year when allowed to.
I'm very excited about McCoy, and the added flexibility he allows. It is rare for a 6th round pick to make a team as anything other than a special teams player, but I think he will. I don't expect him to be a game changer by any stretch, but he'll have the chance to impact a few games.
Projected Stable Pre-Draft: Forsett, Jones, Ganther
Projected Stable Post-Draft: Forsett, Washington, White (aka, "Shake, Rattle & Roll")
Yeah! New RBs for almost nothing. I'll take it! No single offensive position group got better than the RBs, adding some low-risk, high-reward guys in Leon Washington and Lendale White. Forsett should easily beat out Julius Jones to be the main running back (serving as the "Rattle" in the nickname). Leon Washington ("Shake") steps in as an explosive, elusive guy. A home run hitter who will give the Seahawks an added threat catching the ball out of the backfield (which Forsett can also do). He will also take over kick returns (Tate will take punt return duty). Lendale White will be the "Roll" portion of the stable, serving primarily as a short yardage back who will get a few carries here and there for good measure.
The RBs have immediately become much better, going from one of the worst trios in the league last year to at least a bit above average. If Washington comes back strongly from his broken leg, and Forsett continues improving, they could be dangerous.
It's official: We've either suddenly found ourselves living in a parallel universe, or the Seahawks quite possibly just had the best on-paper draft in franchise history.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has posted his final grades for each team (unfortunately available to Insider members only), and none other than your Seattle Seahawks have finished at No.1 overall. Kiper gives Pete Carroll, John Schneider and the rest of the front office the highest of praises, saying they made an immediate impact that should help this franchise from day one.
Summary: Pete Carroll and the new Seahawks regime came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later, and some trades thrown in. And they were patient! Russell Okung lands in their laps at No. 6, Earl Thomas is there at No. 14. Golden Tate is still there at No. 60. All three can help the team not in a few years, but immediately. A swap netted the team LenDale White, who isn't remarkable, but it cost them nothing. Then, Seattle parlayed a fifth-rounder into Leon Washington. No team outside of possibly Detroit added impact players the way Seattle has.
Draft grade: A
Unbelievable! Pete Carroll has knocked it out of the park, and in the process, has somehow managed to get positive praise from the national sports media directed at the Seahawks. If this isn't the dawn of a new era, I don't know what is.
I wanted to send a quick shout out to Chris and Mike for all of your hard work during this draft. Your non-stop coverage of the draft was Awesome! I think I say it for every Seahawk Addicts fan out there, but I think the fans need to tell you all via the comments section!
Check the list here, seems pretty good (was last year). So far, the Hawks have signed the following players:
FS James Bradley (5-10, 196), Utah State
CB Marcus Brown (6-1, 195), Arkansas State
OT Kyle Burkhart (6-4, 293), Southern Miss
C/OG Jeff Byers (6-3, 301), USC
OLB Reggie Carter (6-0, 238), UCLA
TE Patrick Devenny (6-3, 239), Colorado
ILB Kevin Dixon (6-2, 257), Troy
DT DeMarcus Granger (6-2, 332), Oklahoma
WR Quintin Hancock (6-2, 211), Tennessee
FS Will Harris (6-0, 204), USC
C Adrian Martinez (6-3, 317), Colorado State
ILB Joe Pawelek (6-2, 237), Baylor
OT Jacob Phillips (6-6, 299), Belhaven
CB Josh Pinkard (6-1, 214), USC
DE Rob Rose (6-4, 294), Ohio State
Gah! There's no audio! FIXITFIXITFIXIT! Okay, it's there, and it's live...
Okung: Personally I think Coach has a lot of passion for the game, for football and the NFL. I love the game, whether it's runblocking or pass blocking, I love it. I'm the type of game, you can hold me accountable.
Thomas: I'm just very competitive, I love to win everything, I hate to lose, whether it's bowling or football or anything. I want to learn from the veterans, see how they made it this long.
Okung: I came in second place (in Bowling), I beat John, I don't want to say my score (Pete: 63), but I'm getting better!
Thomas: My family has taken care of me my whole life, it makes me feel great to give back and get them a house, cuz we don't have a house right now, we are all living in my Grandma's house. [About VMAC] Oh man, it doesn't get better than this, right here on the lake. I visited a lot of other NFL teams, and this is the best there is.
Okung: I got to agree, I went to a lot of teams, and I never saw anyplace quite like this, it is state of the art.
Okung: I wasn't recruited by a lot of schools, I was a lower tier prospect. If it was up to everything they said, I wouldn't be here right now. [Is there a lot of pressure?] I'd say it's a responsibility, you want a chip on your shoulder, you want a monkey on your back. I'm good with that, I want that.
Okung: I saw Walter Jones' locker, if I can ever be as good as him, I know I can help this organization. Just seeing his locker, that's somebody I definitely want to be like some day.
Thomas: I'm not really feeling any pressure, I love this game, I'm just here to play the game. Once I learn the defense, everything is gonna take care of itself.
Okung: As soon as I get that playbook, I'm gonna get after it. I'm gonna stay after my game, I'm gonna try to be the hardest working player, if not person (Carroll challenges him to try to outwork him, heh). That's my goal. If they're gonna give me the opportunity, I'm gonna take it, I'm gonna run with it.
Schneider: I'm extremely proud, especially the character of these guys. You're talking about two individuals who have high expectations of themselves who are going to do what it takes to be tops in their profession. For us to be in a place to draft them, for us, it's a blessing.
Carroll: I think a key about these guys is when we talked to everyone at their schools, equipment guys, coaches, players, we just were blown away by how everyone talked about them, how central they were to their programs. ... We couldn't hope for better guys to illustrate our approach.
Earl Thomas reminds me a bit of John Carlson... not an impressive press conference, but then, he's only 20 years old. Said he doesn't really look up to anyone, but he said yesterday that he looked up to Nathan Vasher. Oh well.
Thomas' grandfather is in ICU right now, the whole family is there. "As soon as I leave here, I will be right back down there with him."
Thomas: Yeah, me and [Okung] have met before, I tried to blitz and he caught me... he grabbed me right under my shoulder pads and just held me there. I said "Please don't throw me down," and he didn't, so we're good. I'm glad he's on my team now.
Okung: [Why didn't you throw him down?] I don't know, I don't know why I didn't. I kinda regret it now. [haha]
The end! Not sure why Golden Tate couldn't be introduced, but oh well.
Check it out here, starts at 3pm!
Pretty modest intro... Schneider: Lendale, power back, explosive inside runner. Leon Washington has been a fantastic back, arguably one of the most talented backs in the league. We'll use him in a bunch of different ways.
Carroll: We think our offense is at its best when we have a lot of diversity amongst our backs.
Carroll mentioned also that Vickerson was a pretty big part of the deal, saved them a draft pick. Question: "is there going to be too much competition?"
Carroll: "Too much competition? No. no. no. That's the central theme of our program... At this point, when we're trying to fight for spots, this is exactly what we hope to do in as many spots as possible."
Schneider: "Today was a grind. It was fun, it was intense. I don't get to call plays like Pete does, so this is [my kind of] fun. It was exciting. We drafted two guys in the 7th round that we're real excited about too."
"Now we're competing with clubs in free agency, we're gonna wind it down, assess what we did, and see where we go from there."
Carroll: "What I love about this draft class: There are playmakers here... everywhere you look, there are playmakers, there is firepower here. Now these guys have got to come through, at this point, I think we're about as excited as we could have hoped to have been here."
Quite impressed with Schneider and his scouting, filling the needs of this team and especially to fulfill Carroll's vision. I like it.
E.J. Wilson - We're gonna give him a shot to play at the 5-technique spot and see how that works. He's active, he does a lot of things, particularly in the run game. We're just getting started at figuring all that out. ...Dexter Davis will play on the right side with Chris Clemons and give us the kind of play that he's accustomed to.
Konz - He verticalled 46 inches. We're gonna play him at WR and let it rip. 4.16 short shuttle, big hands...
Carroll: When we come back [to minicamp] next week, we're going to basically do the same meetings again. In doing that, we're going to figure them out, the sooner we can figure out how to best use their abilities, the farther we'll be able to go. ...We're going to have additional free agents coming in and we'll have a few more tryout guys... This will be a crucial, busy weekend for us next week.
On McCoy - I think our background with Anthony helps us, we've recruited him since his Junior year in HS... He's made some mistakes along the way, but we know if we work together on this way, he can be a tremendous, tremendous guy for this football team... Probably the best guy at his position that we got in the [draft]. ...Jeremy [Bates] knows perfectly how to utilize him.
Carroll - Everybody on our board got drafted. [That's rare.] That might indicate that our splash in UFA signings might be minimal...
To close their 2010 NFL Draft, the Seahawks select WR Jameson Konz out of Kent State! The Seahawks are calling him a WR on their twitter page, but NFLN and ESPN have him listed as a full back. He was a linebacker / TE/Hback previously, and only has 13 games on offense. This is a perfect 7th round pick, a huge maybe-we-can-turn-him-into-something pick. Sure!
He is 6'3", 227 lbs. That's very large. If he has solid hands, he could catch on, and if he can block, double so. Comp picks are often throwaways, so if the guys see something they like here, why not?
UPDATE - From Sando: "Jameson Konz is h-back type with 46-inch vertical. Workout warrior. Seattle took him in seventh. Hey, why not?"
The end! I'll be back a bit later for analysis. So much to look at. What a draft! How would you grade it?
With the 236th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, acquired from the New York Jets, YOUR Seattle Seahawks select DE Dexter Davis, Arizona State. From his profile on ASU's website:
One of the Sun Devils' most consistent defenders and most dangerous pass-rushers over his four-year career...started all 50 games of his ASU career, the most starts by any player in school history...ranks as one of the top defensive ends in school history...departs ASU ranked third in school history with 31.0 career sacks (minus 208 yards), behind only Terrell Suggs (44.0) and Shante Carver (41.0).