The Draft and the Rookie Mini-Camp are over. Earl Thomas is gone. Frank Clark is gone. Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor are gone. Russell Wilson is the highest paid player in the NFL. Bye Bye Defense, hello Offense? The Seahawks had a pretty exciting draft.
I think that is the last couple of months summed up pretty nicely. Big focus was the departure of some leaders from the defense and the heavy investment into the Offense through the draft. On the other hand 3 of the first 4 picks were Defense, so I shouldn’t get too picky. If you look at it the draft was pretty balanced overall with a focus on all phases of the game, including improving special teams.
I was a real fan of the 2018 draft class and there is a lot to get excited about 2019 too. Lots of potential and lots of low floors. I don’t see any players there that I could really call “boom or bust” apart from maybe Metcalf, but he is on a positive trend at the moment. I just have to see him in pads and with physical play before I make up my mind. So how did the Seahawks get to their picks.
The Seahawks had a trade festival. Beginning with the Frank Clark trade they made 8 moves to go from 4 picks to 11 – joint second only to the Vikings.
In this way I have to say that the Seahawks had a big win. In my opinion this draft’s strength was not in a couple of star players floating at the top and then having to find “the best of the rest”. The strength of this draft was the high quality you could find throughout. So to maximise the potential, moves down were needed and even if they didn’t always get top value – because everyone knows the Seahawks want to trade down – they did well to make sure they were represented at every level of the draft.
1 (29) L.J. Collier (DE)
His success will always be measured up to Frank Clark. The comparison is difficult. Collier is not as fast or powerful off the go, but seems to do a better job of setting the edge. Maybe it is fair to call him more of a containment end, who makes his plays not directly off the snap, but in the seconds that follow. I was not 100% convinced by him to begin with, but watching interviews of him give a strong indicator of his personality. He thinks highly of himself but isn’t arrogant. He seems to have the drive necessary to be a DE and leader at the next level without being a loud mouth. I like that, and from what I have seen off tape he plays very solid from a complex system. Looking at him now, I would have had him as a 2nd round talent so drafting him at 29th seems ok. I just wish there was some more explosiveness – that ever elusive “pop” – to his play.
2 (47) Marquise Blair (S)
The words “silent assassin” have been used by Seahawks to describe him. If he gets on the pitch – which I strongly expect when you consider Thompson was a starter last year – he will bring the “Boom” back into the secondary. He is quiet in interviews, but has a real mean streak and will fly around.
I see him more as a box safety, which is a shame, because I also see McDougald as stronger in that role than as a FS. That could open up the option of Hill as FS, with McDougald and/or Blair coming onto the pitch depending on the situation. Fact is that I don’t believe that the Seahawks have a high-quality free safety. Definitely an exciting player though, who embodies the Seahawks mentality. I just hope that it doesn’t go overboard at some point and he ends up becoming the type of player who continually gets himself in trouble on the pitch with overly tough or misplaced tackles.
2 (64) DK Metcalf (WR)
I had him rated as more of a 2nd round level player with big question marks as far as health and durability go. He had that neck injury and I just don’t see how having so little body fat can be healthy in a contact sport, where a certain amount of fat protects everything below. That is why, even after rookie mini-camp, I am still careful to really make any comments, similar to Linemen.
As far as athleticism goes, we don’t have to talk about it because he is a freak, so if he can put that with improving his routes and hands – and IF the health concerns turn out to be moot – then the Seahawks have made a really solid pick here who could have gone in the first round. Even if he just takes the top off defenses along with Lockett and the others work underneath he can bring real value. What I also value is that he is a willing blocker, and that I hope that this “late” pick – by standards of where he was expected to go – will put a big chip on his shoulder. I look forward to seeing him play in pads.
3 (88) Cody Barton (LB)
Leader, worker, communicator. Perfect middle linebacker in a 4-3 front to organise everyone and sniff out what will happen. BUT, I think that he drastically loses value in a 4-2-5 situation because he does not have the speed or coverage ability to go sideline to sideline, which can create mismatches.
Perhaps I am too quick to judge in that respect though, because he does have some great short area quickness. What I think is interesting, is that his testing was almost opposite to Wagner in that the things Barton excelled at (Bench Press, 20 yard shuttle, 3 cone) Wagner was only average at, but the the things Wagner excelled at (40, vert and broad jump), Barton was below average – except for the 40. I think that he will have to win with his intelligence, which isn’t always a bad thing at the next level. Nonetheless, purely judging on tape and character I think that he is an upgrade to Austin Calitro, whose place he will take.
What I think is curious, is that the Seahawks selected ILB so high (that is where they had him in Rookie minicamp), because I would be very surprised if Wagner doesn’t extend his contract. That means a very high pick for someone you know will be a backup – I don’t think he has the athleticism to get into the mix at Will at the NFL level.
4 (120) Gary Jennings (WR)
They got things started on day 3 with a second receiver, at the time I was very surprised, even with news about Baldwin potentially not being there next season, it was just a surprise that they invested into a second guy before looking at DT.
Looking at his tape though, there is a lot to like. He starts from the slot as well as outside and has success catching the ball all over the field: on the outside as well as over the middle and has a great ability to go deep. His blocking has some serious room for potential, but he catches well outside of the body and when he does he makes YAC. He is not a guy who catches and goes down, but keep going which is a good mindset. He is also great with contested catches. Since every catch in the NFL is more toughly contested, that is a good trait. He also wears feathers in his helmet because he once punched a bird – weird story which I am sure we will hear more about if he does it in the NFL.
A solid pick now that Baldwin is gone, especially because the front office of the Seahawks need to set up Wilson for success now that they have made him the highest payed player in the NFL, otherwise it will be hard to justify. In that sense I can understand why they picked 3 WRs overall.
4 (124) Phil Haynes (OL)
I have already said a lot about Phil Haynes, because I had him on my own draft board and actually picked him with the same pick. He is athletic, versatile and big – in that Fluker way – so I am excited to see him with the Seahawks. I am always for picking OL early, but he is a high value day 3 pick.
4 (132) Ugo Amadi (DB)
An articulate talker, joker and leader – voted permanent team captain and was a vocal guy in the secondary. He will be in the mix for the starting nickle position and special teams, because if I am honest I don’t see any other place for him. Even nickle is a stretch in the NFL because he doesn’t have the suddenness needed. he is a great communicator and personality but I’m just having a problem seeing where he will be able to make an impact at the next level, except on special teams, maybe even as a returner.
5 (142) Ben Burr-Kirven (LB)
That I was very high on BBK is probably a gross understatement, I took him with my 4th pick no. 77 overall in my own draft and do not feel like I overdrafted. I’m guessing that a lot of teams passed on him due to his size, but I think that the best players make up for it in other ways. Played ILB, but will move to Will for the Seahawks and I think that he will replace KJ Wright after the 2019 season. If he doesn’t live up to that potential straight away the Seahawks can always extend KJ another season, that’s how I would be looking at it. I think that he can come in and contibute on special teams straight away. He showed his intelligence and leader qualities straight away at the rookie mini-camp as him an Barton took control of the center. I think they will push each other because both will want to be that top backup behind the current great LB pair.
6 (204) Travis Homer (RB)
Excellent in pass pro, top special teamer and is useful in 3rd down situations. In Homer I believer that the Seahawks have found the perfect guy to slot in behind Carson and Penny, who could even come on with them at times. He is not a guy who will make gaps and make people miss, but will explode into holes with great agression and can get around the corner. I actually think that he could end up being an upgrade to Davis, because besides a similar playing style Homer has a big upside on special teams.He also had come really explosive results on the broad and vert, as well as an above average 40 and big 91st percentile hands. Lets hope he just stops fumbling.
This could end up being a great value pick even if you can argue that they should have still been looking at DTs or even another speedy DE. Instead the go third running back behind Carson and Penny (possibly even McKissic). Again though, I feel like this pick highlights a commitment to Russell Wilson as well as special teams over the defense. Talking of offense over defense… Homer was wearing Sherman’s no.25 in rookie minicamp. Another thing I like about him is that he is an anime fan.
6 (209) Demarcus Christmas (DT)
Run stuffer by nature, something he is quick to admit himself. With Ford and Reed as rushing options that makes a lot of sense. His big advantage if it does turn into a pass is that he has the ability to get his hands up and into passing lanes because he keeps good eyes on the QB, that is not a given. He is big, athletic (with the potential to put more onto his frame) and seems like a guy who will focus on getting it done rather than being flashy. On the other hand he seems like a really willing guy to develop his own technique, which is sometimes better than raw talent. In terms of the rush though, I think that he needs the outside to create gaps inside for him to produce pressure, which I don’t think he will get too much next season. Overall, I think he is a good rotational player and a decent backup to the other guys with some potential upside if he develops well.
7 (236) John Ursua (WR)
He was not invited to the Combine and NFL.com didn’t do a profile on him, which always means that by the broad majority you are not viewed as a top choice at your position. However, the Seahawks saw enough to make sure to trade back into the 7th round and sacrifice a 2020 6th rounder. What you get is a guy who is tough, has a good extra gear when he goes deep and can find space to make plays. What he lacks is that he needs that separation and has a tendency to hold the ball a bit loose from his body, something he should change otherwise DBs have the chance of knocking it out. Nonetheless, I would have liked this pick even if Baldwin were still there.
Why? Well, according to PFF last season he is a mixture of Baldwin and Lockett’s talents, starting most of his reps from the slot:
- on go routes he had 36 targets; 16 receptions; 487 yards; 8 (!) touchdowns; and a passer rating of 130.8
- on slant routes he had 28 targets; 16 receptions; 270 yards; 3 touchdowns; and a passer rating of 125.6
And that was without Russell Wilson throwing him the ball. Of course he also wasn’t facing elite NFL level players on the defense every week, so we will see how he does at the next level.
It feels like another Baldwin story, who went on to be one of the the most epic receivers in the modern NFL era. I can honestly say that I would prefer a healthy Baldwin to the likes of Antonio Brown, not just because of his hard nosed play style, but also for his immaculate technique and character. We will miss you Doug. You can never replace a guy like him so easily, but as the saying goes “the king is dead, long live the king”, so maybe Ursua is the guy to fill the void. Watching him on tape he even looks a bit like Baldwin without the body tension that a Baldwin brings.
- The Seattle Seahawks also picked up Jazz Ferguson (WR) and Derrek Thomas (CB) from my list as UDFAs. Two hyper-athletic guys who I am excited to see in camp.
I don’t want to give a grade for a draft full of players that I didn’t study, and without knowing what the target of the draft was for them. But, from my limited evaluation of the talents here are my main comments:
- missed on a high end DT – but not overdrafting shows faith in Reed/Ford
- missed on an elite OLineman – got an excellent quality guy in the late rounds though
- missed on a high quality nickle CB – I don’t think Amadi is that guy, maybe it will be Blair or an internal solution like King, Hill or Taylor (newly acquired FA previously from the Cardinals)
- got a good, not great DE to replace Clark – this is one of the biggest misses for me, because you are expecting a lot of big steps from a lot of unproven guys (Green, Martin, Jones) and Collier is a very solid player, but not an explosive guy.
- got a bunch of weapons for Wilson following the big contract – 3 WRs speaks a clear language, even if you do have to replace Baldwin. They have to be successful on offense to justify the contract.
- finally got the LB youth that they have been looking for in previous drafts
- undecided on whether they did enough for the Safety spot, but they do have McDougald and Hill. Free Safety is just still lacking for me.
- I think they also missed on a TE specialised on catching. Dissly is a great multi-threat, and Dickson can catch the ball, but after that you don’t have much and Dickson is getting on a bit.
- A lot of players that add to special teams which is great
Evaluating the talent alone I come to the conclusion that this class may rival last years, if not be even better. I also feel like there are some players though where it is: he could be great…or not. That is the process, but the first evaluation seems decent and I think that they had a very solid draft. Not least of all because they picked 2 of my players and got 2 more as UDFAs.
Prior to publishing this article I also had a brief look at how the squad looks now and where there are still gaps, but to be fair to them the squad doesn’t seem light anywhere. On the contrary they may need to move on some players who they could get some return for. I will look at it properly in another article. Overall though, that means that they have done things right. There is always room for improvement but I am excited about the Seahawks squad going into 2019. They just really have to make sure that they nail the contracts of Wagner and Reed.