Two UW defensive backs are rising up mock draft boards after solid performances at the NFL combine. And in general, mock drafters see the Seahawks leaning toward defense.
The NFL combine means, if not some major shuffling, at least some re-evaluating of draft prospects by coaches, general managers and scouts of NFL teams.
And for those who try to predict how the NFL draft will fall, the end of the combine also means some reassessing of their own mock drafts.
Here’s a compilation of 13 of the more popular mock drafts with their updated picks for the Seahawks following the combine, as well as my own comments (and yep, a couple of Huskies make an appearance).
As a reminder, Seattle has the 21st selection in the first round — so all (or almost all) of these picks are the 21st overall in each of these mocks. Seattle also has just four picks overall, in the first, third, fourth and fifth rounds, having traded the others and not gotten any compensatory selections.
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THE PICK: Cornerback Greedy Williams, Louisiana State.
WHAT THEY SAID: “The last time at least one cornerback wasn’t selected in the top 20? That would be 2001. Clearly, they’re highly prized, but this year’s class isn’t as top heavy as some recent years. Greedy — born Andraez Williams — entered last season as the top corner but saw his stock cool a bit, and his lean frame, lack of great arm length and so-so tackling haven’t helped kick it back up. The Seahawks might have more pressing needs (prior to free agency), and we know they always are trade-down candidates in this range. They also haven’t selected a DB in the first three rounds since 2010, but the price for middling free-agent help at this spot could get out of control. Williams would be a smart addition who fits the Seahawks’ mold.”
MY COMMENT: To repeat every time Williams comes up — and as Edholm notes — Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback higher than the third round in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, with maybe their best picks at this spot coming in the fifth round or later (Richard Sherman, Tre Flowers, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane). Williams also is being regarded a real boom-or-bust type, in part due to concerns about his run defense. Given all that, and the presence of Flowers and Shaquill Griffin as returning starters, this seems a little less likely of a pick to me than some others on this list. But if the Seahawks really think Williams is all that, then maybe they really will get Greedy.
THE PICK: Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Frank Clark is coming back to Seattle on the franchise tag, but the Seahawks still need a tackle in the middle next to Jarran Reed. On talent alone, Simmons competes with the best of the class. But there are some off-the-field concerns, and now the necessary recovery from a recent torn ACL.”
MY COMMENT: Seattle has taken some real chances in the draft the past few years with guys carrying medical or other risks, and some have paid off better than others. One of the whispered subplots of the draft last year was that Carroll was taking a little more control and wanted to take fewer injury risks, in particular. So Simmons makes a lot of sense as a player but the other stuff would make me think Seattle would be cautious, unless Simmons is a guy they think they can get by trading down some and acquiring other picks later in the draft.
THE PICK: Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Potential to be unstoppable from the interior, but needs to develop more consistency.”
MY COMMENT: Seattle can definitely use another DT to pair with Reed — Tillery played primarily the three-tech spot at Notre Dame, so in that sense he would be a perfect fit alongside Reed, with also some time at the nose and end positions. The big question might be if the Seahawks think he has the ability to be a three-down player.
THE PICK: Safety Taylor Rapp, Washington.
WHAT THEY SAID: “The best safety in the draft falls to the perfect team for him. Taylor Rapp is a Minkah Fitzpatrick-type player who can line up at multiple spots in the secondary. With the Seattle Seahawks likely to move on from Earl Thomas, Rapp can take his place. Rapp’s tape was by far the best of any safety in the 2019 draft class. He’s a hitter with range and instincts. He’s also a great athlete, which was on display at the combine with his 6.82-second three-cone time and a blistering 3.99 seconds in the short shuttle. Combined with two years of great tape, those times could push Rapp higher than No. 21 overall.”
MY COMMENT: Rapp said he met with the Seahawks. I don’t read much, if anything, into reports of visits — teams are going to use all 60 they get so they inevitably meet with just about everybody they can that might make sense. But Seattle has obvious reasons to be interested in Rapp. As I’ve written before, I think Seattle has confidence in young safeties Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill, but neither has yet shown definitively they are unquestioned budding stars the way Thomas and Kam Chancellor did by the second years of their careers. So Seattle could well look to add competition in the back end, especially with Thomas unquestionably now gone.
THE PICK: Defensive lineman Ed Oliver, Houston.
WHAT THEY SAID: “It’s tough to identify the right landing spot for Oliver, but the Seahawks have had a front-row seat to see how an undersized pass-rusher can take over a game when they’ve lined up against Aaron Donald twice a year. Oliver would be a nice player to pair with DT Jarran Reed.”
MY COMMENT: A lot of people still have Oliver as a potential top 10 choice, so if the Seahawks have him graded similarly then they might leap to the podium to make that pick. Oliver is viewed as being almost primarily a tackle at the next level, similar to Reed. But he also is viewed as a premier inside pass rusher, and any team can never have enough of those. And who knows? With Reed needing to be extended following the 2019 season, Seattle might want some options there just in case something were to go haywire in those negotiations.
THE PICK: Defensive end Brian Burns, Florida State.
WHAT THEY SAID: “The Seahawks need another pass-rusher on the other side of Frank Clark, although it’s likely they’ll look to trade back a couple of times to collect more picks. If they’re lucky, they could move down and get Burns late in the first round.”
MY COMMENT: I agree with Clayton — Seattle is likely to move down. Burns had a good combine but also still seems like a little bit of a projection, so it’s possible he could be there a little later, as Clayton suggests. Conversely, Burns weighing in at 249 at the combine compared to his listed 235 might mean he’ll be too enticing to pass up for teams before the late first.
THE PICK: Alabama safety Deionte Thompon (but at No. 32 after a trade with New England).
WHAT THEY SAID: “After moving back and adding multiple Day 2 selections to help ease the loss of their original second-round pick, the Seahawks still land a dynamic playmaker to replace Earl Thomas. Thompson still needs some refinement, but all the physical tools are there.”
MY COMMENT: Easterling included trades in his mock and had the Seahawks dealing with New England to move down to 32 to allow the Patriots to take Iowa tight end Luke Hockenson at 21 — which makes all the sense in the world for both sides. With the extra picks, Easterling had Seattle acquiring, he gave them Wisconsin offensive tackle David Edwards at No. 64 and offensive lineman Ben Powers of Oklahoma at 97. He also gave Seattle cornerback Lonnie Johnson of Kentucky with its own pick in the third round at No. 84 (Johnson is the guy the Seahawks asked to engage in a staring contest at the combine) and then receiver Antoine Wesley of Texas Tech with its own pick at 124 in the fourth round. So a safety, two OLs, a cornerback and a receiver all in the first 124 picks for a team entering the draft with just four picks overall. Without knowing a ton about the latter two guys on that list, it sounds like a good haul on paper — and Wesley is listed at a hair over 6-4 and a big receiver makes a lot of sense for the Seahawks.
THE PICK: Cornerback Byron Murphy, Washington.
WHAT THEY SAID: “At 5-11 and a newly rocked-up 190 pounds, he still doesn’t fit Seattle’s corner prototype. But this overhauled secondary still needs more.”
MY COMMENT: So, the usual caveats on the Seahawks and corners and the draft. But as Davis notes, Murphy’s weigh-in coupled with some good on-field drills appeared to move him solidly into the first round. Murphy didn’t play much in the slot at UW, which might be Seattle’s biggest cornerback need at the moment. But the Seahawks never are averse to changing someone’s position and role after drafting them and maybe they’d view Murphy as an answer there should free agent Justin Coleman — the starting nickel last year — get away.
THE PICK: Safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida.
WHAT THEY SAID: “After the 2017 season there were questions about Gardner-Johnson’s tackling ability but he proved he’s more than capable in ’18, and his coverage ability makes him an attractive option for the Seahawks, who won’t have Earl Thomas.”
MY COMMENT: Some view Gardner-Johnson as having the ability to play both safety spots as well as nickel corner (he measured 5-11, 210 at the combine). If so, he could be really attractive to Seattle as a player they could throw into the competition all over the secondary. His 4.48 40 at the combine also doesn’t hurt.
THE PICK: Tight end T.J. Hockenson, Iowa.
WHAT THEY SAID: “A seam-running, in-line monster that falls this far and gives Russell Wilson a weapon who can create major problems and help in the run game? Wheeeeeeeeew.”
MY COMMENT: Tight end doesn’t feel like Seattle’s biggest need. Conversely, Hockenson is viewed as potentially a real difference-maker on offense and Seattle can use all the playmakers in the passing game it can get. Seattle could also save $3.5 million against the cap if it made Ed Dickson a post-June 1 cut with just an $866,666 dead cap number. Something to think about anyway.
THE PICK: Hockenson.
WHAT THEY SAID: “The Seahawks could stand to give Russell Wilson a viable intermediate target, as Jimmy Graham has been missed. T.J. Hockenson is considered the top all-around tight end in the 2019 NFL draft class. He’s a very talented receiver and a skilled blocker as well. He was great at the combine.”
MY COMMENT: Another vote for Hockenson. I don’t know how much Seattle has missed Graham necessarily, but the fact that Hockenson also is viewed as a plus blocker could make him a real consideration.
THE PICK: Hockenson.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Here’s Seahawks general manager John Schneider on trading down: ‘We don’t necessarily have to go down all the time. But it’s kind of fun.’ With no second-round pick this year, expect the Seahawks to have some fun on draft day. But that’s only if they find a fair deal. If they can’t, and Hockenson is still around, he’s too good to pass up. Will Dissly is a promising player, but he’s coming back from injury. Nick Vannett hasn’t contributed much as a receiver in his three seasons in the NFL.”
MY COMMENT: And one more vote for Hockenson.
THE PICK: Burns.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Frank Clark was franchise tagged, but Seattle could use some more pass-rushing help. At 249 pounds, Brian Burns is lighter than your typical edge player, but he makes up for it with a 6-6 3/4 frame and excellent speed (4.55 in the 40) and bend. Head coach Pete Carroll has taken lighter, quicker pass-rushers in the past — most notably Bruce Irvin — so Burns could be a fit here.”
MY COMMENT: As noted there, size is going to be the question with Burns, but the 249 at the combine helps him.