By Jared Stanger
It hasn’t been that long since my last 7-round Seahawk mock draft, but I’ve just been feeling a little different about where the draft is right now. And I also feel a little bit different about individual players. This is a mock where I’ve REALLY dug into each of these guys, and I have a more comprehensive opinion of each.
To find these types of players, I’ve had to make concessions. The primary concession you may notice: I’ve gone away from players that come with the Zach Whitman coined term “SEC tax”, which means in many cases going after smaller school players. This is an abrupt turn from what John Schneider and staff did in 2016…drafting 3 SEC, 1 Pac12, 1 Big10, 1 ACC, etc. And they were from the most successful programs within those conferences, to boot. The smallest school a player was chosen from in 2016 was Rees Odhiambo out of Boise State.
So this could mean my projection will stray from where the Seahawks will actually wind up. Then again, the best draft class of the PCJS’ regime was 2012 when the picks included players from Utah State, Idaho, and Northwestern State. And two of those small school guys have already gotten paid in Seattle, and the third is balling out in San Diego.
Regardless, this is my mock and in my mock I’m ignoring what fucking school a guy is coming from. “What are my eyes seeing? What are my ears hearing?” That’s it. And then, “How late can I wait to pull the trigger and still get them?” The first two questions answer where I value them, and the third question answers (or attempts to) where the league values them.
We’re opening with seven picks, I believe (1, 2, 3, 4c, 5c, 6, 7t). I need ten. Sorry folks, we’re trading out of the 1st round. We drop from #29 overall by trading with Chicago for their #2.35 and #4.110. Chicago might be a good trade partner here if they don’t like QB value at #3 overall, but want to move back up into the 1st to still get the 5th year option on a QB later. (The only reason for Seattle to NOT trade back here is if Ryan Ramczyk is still alive when Seattle is on the clock.) At #35 we’re taking the player that Draftscout currently lists as the #300 player overall. I don’t know how they came to that number, but it is fucking clown shoes.
#35- OT Western Kentucky, Forrest Lamp
Lamp is listed at 6’4″/300lbs and he may show up with arms shorter than the generally accepted 34″ that are usually required for a left tackle; prompting most to project him at Guard. Here’s the thing: stop it. Taylor Decker had 33 3/4″ arms last year and he’s been one of the top two rookie OL this year. I also feel like I remember reading one of the elite OT in the league for many years had pretty short arms…I want to say Joe Thomas.
Regardless…isn’t one of the recurring cliche’s of good draft rooms about wanting to focus not on what players can’t do, but what they can do? Aren’t there enough Russell Wilson’s and Aaron Donald’s and Steve Smith’s in the league for us to stop being so conventional about evaluations based on size?
Lamp is one of only two draft-eligible OT right now that I can turn on and watch for an entire game (Ramczyk the other). He is so fundamentally sound. He doesn’t seem to lean heavily-favored to either run-blocking or pass-blocking…he’s good in both. He also doesn’t lean literally…he has that good upright posture in pass sets. Lamp has the best cut-block I’ve seen on tape all year…which no one seems to be able to do any more. There’s enough sprinkling of nasty in there…I think in one game I saw him jawing at a ref, which is good to see. And Forrest has one of the best games any OL has put up against the Bama defense in the last 3-ish years.
The only thing I’m not confident about in this guy is whether or not you can get him later. Cause if you could get him later, even at the native-2nd round pick, that allows the first pick to be a passrusher of degree or two improvement. Like a Solomon Thomas at 35 with Forrest Lamp chaser at 61 would be amazing. Then again, Thomas projecting at #45 overall by Draftscout is well under my grade for him. I think he’s top-25.
From the native-2nd round pick, I again look to trade back. Tennessee, after drafting like 14 times in 2016, may choose to be more aggressive this year with some moves up. It’s a steeper drop than you’d like, but we’ll drop from #61 in the 2nd to #71 in the 3rd, and add #109 in the 4th. Seattle would now hold #109, #110, and a comp pick at the end of the 4th (for Bruce Irvin).
#71- DE Kansas State, Jordan Willis
There are actually a couple names available here (per Draftscout) that I’d be happy with: Willis and Dawaune Smoot. Smoot is currently dropping in projection due to his lack of production, but I still think he’s one of the best pure pass-rushers in the class. But Willis is more in line with what I think the theme of this mock is: S-T-R.
Willis is a 6’5″/258 lb, yoked up, SPARQ’d up specimen of a dude that I’ve been tracking for two years. He’s a little bit of a deceptive player because he is as pinpoint, assignment-sound as you can find at DE. Which isn’t always the sexy tape to watch. But then, just when you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, Willis JUST. MAKES. PLAYS.
Willis currently has the 8th-most sacks in all of college football with 10.5, along with 45 tackles, 15.0 TFL, 3 QB hurries, 3 PBU, and 2 FF. So there is production to go with athleticism and FBIQ.
#93- RB Pittsburgh, James Conner
Ever since it was pointed out to me, I can’t stop thinking about Pete Carroll telling Brock n Salk that his ideal RB was Thomas Rawls’ attitude in a 6’2″/230-240lb body (paraphrasing). James Conner is listed 6’2″/235.
Conner is also a wonderful pass-catcher and one of the toughest S.O.B’s in the game today. Did you know that he was maintaining a pretty rigorous practice/training schedule with Pittsburgh while he was doing chemo therapy?? He wasn’t allowed contact because of the chemo intubation port in his chest, and he had to wear a surgical mask to protect himself while his immune system was reduced, but otherwise he was practicing.
If this isn’t Rawls beefed up, I don’t know what is.
#109- CB Virginia Tech, Brandon Facyson
I’ll be honest…in this really good class of CB, they are corners with better tape. Or at least more consistently good tape. A Facyson pick is about a) he’s a 6’2″/197lb corner with 11 PBU, 4.0 TFL, and 2 FF on the year, and b) he’s the smartest corner in this draft.
If you give those core traits to the Seattle coaching staff, the rest can be coached up. This is sort of the polar opposite of our faith in drafting/developing OL.
After trading themselves into holding back-to-back picks at #109-110, Seattle trades back the latter to add a 10th pick. Minnesota holds picks #115-116, so we’ll take the front end of that and add the Vikings’ 7th rounder (#210).
#115- WR Mississippi State, Fred Ross
I have a handful of WR that I’m favoring in this draft. I think they all have recent, if not current, special teams return duties. They each also have good route-running and RAC ability. Ross is probably 4th or 5th of my five, but the top three are also off the board before this point. Ross ends up being the best fit of talent and value relative to draft needs.
Fred is listed 6’2″/205lbs (probably smaller when he’s officially measured), and he’s recorded 68 catches for 873 yards and 12 TD’s this year. Decent numbers, but slightly down from his Junior of 88×1007 when Dak Prescott was leading the Bulldog offense.
In the MissSt offense, Ross gets used a lot in screen game, but when allowed to he shows good downfield abilities. Here is a clip of him running a ‘go’ down the redline. Note how he gets open late. Subtle quality.
4th round comp- DT Minnesota, Steven Richardson
This is a bit of a guess in terms of national value because Richardson is a Junior that no one is really paying much attention to. But he’s a 6’0″/300 lb inside pass rusher who has posted 11.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks this year. Either paired with Jarran Reed on early downs or Michael Bennett on 3rd, Richardson would bring a different skillset inside.
5th round comp- TE Louisville, Cole Hikutini
Another player set to climb. Hikutini is listed 6’5″/248 lbs, but he moves more like a 23o lb received like Tanner McEvoy. Cole has 49 catches for 656 yards and 8 TD’s this year. He’s also one of the most impressive run-blocking TE’s I’ve ever seen (haven’t seen him used in pass-blocking much).
Hikutini is a pick I make if I’m planning on not re-signing UFA Luke Willson this offseason. Could be a pretty seamless transition.
#187- SS Michigan State, Montae Nicholson
This is my least certain pick. I don’t know where the club will stand on keeping Kam Chancellor and/or Kelcie McCray. If both of those are back, and Tyvis is in the mix another 3 years, I’d try to move a SAM linebacker into this spot. Could also double-dip on RB here.
But if told safety were a need before next spring, Nicholson and LaTech’s Xavier Woods are two well-rounded DB’s I would look to steal away in the 6th. Draftscout has Woods at #191 overall and Nicholson at #196.
Nicholson is one of quite a few big safeties this year (something Seattle might want to take advantage of), listed at 6’2″/219 lbs. Also one of the most prolific tacklers at safety this year, with 86 total on the year.
#210- OL Kutztown, Jordan Morgan
This is a player I hadn’t even heard of until he was announced as an accepted invite to this year’s Senior Bowl. I dug up some tape on him, and I fell in love. Listed at 6’4″/320 lbs, Morgan’s tape is some of the nastiest OL tape I’ve seen this year. No, it is THEE nastiest. This guy has more pancakes than IHOP. A total finisher, Jordan is doing stuff to whatever level of competition Kutztown faces that looks borderline abusive.
Senior Bowl lists him at Guard, which is kind of standard when a tackle isn’t 6’5″+ or if expectation is that his arm length won’t measure up. But just on the eye test, his arms don’t look that short, and his footwork and movement is all Tackle-esque.
Wherever he ends up, Morgan would be another solid player to add competition to the struggling Seattle OL depth chart.
#219- OLB Colorado, Jimmie Gilbert
Jimmie is a personal favorite of mine, and with Draftscout projection of #268 overall I’d be thrilled to take him in a similar spot to former Seahawk Obum Gwacham (drafted #209 in 2015). Similar players too.
Jimmie is listed 6’5″/230 lbs, and he must hold most of that in his legs because his upper body is pretty slender. Colorado uses him almost exclusively at the LOS, as a passrusher, but I’m projecting him to back up to SAM with some pass-rush duties on 3rd down. Kind of the Bruce Irvin role, but in a Mike Morgan build.
Gilbert is 19th in the country in sacks with 9.0, and he’s 2nd in the country in forced fumbles. And, despite his visually slighter build, on tape Jimmie shows surprising strength; tossing good-sized OL to the side to make tackles.
OT Forrest Lamp
DE Jordan Willis
RB James Conner
CB Brandon Facyson
WR Fred Ross
DT Steven Richardson
TE Cole Hikutini
SS Montae Nicholson
OT Jordan Morgan
OLB Jimmie Gilbert
I think I’m missing a second RB, and perhaps a second CB, but otherwise I really like the balance of this draft. And it certainly is full of guys I see doing well in the ultra-competitive Seattle locker room.