My game is Earl

By Jared Stanger

This offseason is poised to continue to be a massive transition for the Seattle Seahawks. We’ve already seen huge turnover on the coaching staff (which may not be done), and the player roster is coming. Tons of free agents, some cap cuts, some potential trades.

Perhaps the biggest potential trade coming could be looking to find draft picks for the biggest trade chip on the team: Earl Thomas. Earl has, through either an emotional outburst or calculated career positioning, expressed interest in playing for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s of an age where his body, and those of similar age group and contract status, has started breaking down.

Seattle as recently as 2017 floated the idea of trading a pro bowl player, and the hindsight of that non-trade is that the player got hurt and no longer carries near the same trade value. Seattle also has a recent example of extending a veteran secondary player with a very team-unfriendly contract, and then losing that player to injury.

The logic of my mind says let’s not risk either of those again. Let’s go full rebuild, and trade Earl while he still holds pretty high value, and then reapply those draftpicks to getting younger again.

Now, I’m not the type to suggest crazy moves without a chain of command type plan. So, this becomes a profile of the 2018 draft player that I would use to replace Earl. This is Jeremy Reaves.

First, the physical comparison. Earl came out of Texas at 5’10″/208lbs (played his rSoph year at 197lbs) with a 4.49s combine forty and a 4.37s pro day. Jeremy was measured at the Senior Bowl as 5’11″/204lbs. I will optimistically suggest Reaves could hit the 4.49s forty mark at his pro day. I say “pro day” because Reaves was weirdly not invited to Indy for the combine. More on that later.

On tape; there is no one else in this class whose game brings Earl to mind more than Reaves.

Reaves is a very solid hitter for his size. He’s also a very tactical hitter, and has a knack for putting helmet or shoulder on the football. Three examples:

Considered a PBU rather than a FF:

In Pete Carroll’s “all about the ball” mindset, Reaves has to be one of the players on his list with 3 INT, 8 PBU, and 3 FF for 2017.

Reaves is one of the best Safety tacklers I’ve watched this year. Both film and boxscore concur (104 tackles for the season).

I think the two things that differentiate a replacement level safety and a legit single-high stud are related: 1) ability to come from deep and make plays in the run-game.

2) ability to get from CF to either sideline in pass coverage.

There isn’t a ton of coverage assignments on the South Alabama tape I watched on Reaves from this year (although he did play CB in previous years). But I really appreciated this play from the Senior Bowl on a very good, very big TE:

The quick recap on Reaves film: very good tackler, very good hitter, very good speed, very good FBI. I wouldn’t put an elite/A+ stamp on any one trait, but it’s A/A- across the board.

The one elite trait I’ve found about Reaves is not something I can show with tape. It’s more intangible. But I feel very strongly that Reaves has it in the same way that I recently saw while scouting Kevin Byard when he came out of college.

Byard is another important comp for Reaves. Both come from small schools (Middle Tennessee and South Alabama). Both were not invited to the combine. Byard was a 3rd round pick, and that is where I expect Reaves eventually gets drafted (even though he is generally mocked MUCH later). In 2017 Byard led the NFL in INT and became a pro bowler for the first time. These are things that I see in Jeremy Reaves future.

Earl Thomas is a Hall of Fame player. You can’t replicate that. But if you can find a pro bowler, and in the third round no less, it at least lessens the dropoff as much as you’re probably going to in a generation.

So, if you ever feel concerned that I’m thinking of trading a HOF…just know that I’m also thinking about the next era of LOB, too. And it can be a bright future. I’m just trying to be a better mock drafter. My name is Jare.