Seahawks 2017 Draft Targets
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2017 Draft Review - by James Thomas
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Seattle's best draft class since its historic 3 year run (2010-2012) was 2015 - Graham*, Clark, Lockett, Glowinski. I was a big fan at the time, since Clark & Lockett were 2 of my favourite on-field prospects in
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the entire class. I'm more excited about this 2017 class. Seattle drafted brilliantly on Day 2, adding high upside players with a clear path to playing time (McDowell & Griffin), and added NFL-ready talent in
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Pocic, Hill & Darboh. Nazair Jones & Tedric Thompson fill clear needs at backup free safety & DT. I need to learn more about the late round picks, but each of them will battle for roster spots in camp.
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Delano Hill was my favourite pick, as I think he was a 2nd round talent, and could earn a big nickel role as a rookie. McDowell will become a staple in nickel packages as a rookie, potentially giving Seattle the
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best 4-man nickel pass rush in the NFL. Pocic is likely to start at RG or RT as a rookie, and he could instantly be one of the Hawks' best offensive linemen. Griffin is raw, but the hole at Right CB (plus his talent)
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means he could be starting across from Richard Sherman as a rookie. Darboh finally gives Seattle a big WR with talent. He'll push Jermaine Kearse by 2018 at the latest. Reviews of each pick are below.
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Edit: I'm liking this class more & more as I learn about some of the more obscure players drafted. I'm not generally this cheerful after a Seahawks draft - I just genuinely like the prospects taken and the
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value Seattle got throughout the draft while filling needs. Scouting reports have been added below for Ethan Pocic, Nazair Jones, Amara Darboh, Tedric Thompson, Justin Senior & Mike Tyson.
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Pre-draft scouting reports for McDowell, Griffin & Hill are included as well, with some additional notes on Hill.
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Round
Pick
PlayerReaction
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Malik McDowell
Wow - after trading down 3 times, Seattle selects Malik McDowell, DT from Michigan State. McDowell has been one of the top pass rush talents in college football for 2 years. He's only 20 years old,
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DT
extremely tall & long, and a highly fluid athlete for his size. If McDowell were eligible to enter the draft in 2016, he may have been a top 10 pick. In contrast, Malik's 2016 season was disappointing. His
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motor ran hot & cold, his production fell off, he missed the last month of the season with an undisclosed injury, and reportedly isn't the most popular locker room guy at MSU. He fills an underrated need
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for Seattle - a 4 man nickel rush of McDowell, Bennett, Clark & Avril could be the NFL's best. McDowell could earn backup snaps at DE in the Hawks 43 run defense, while being developed to play
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3-tech full-time. Seattle did their homework on McDowell during the pre-draft process, and must feel confident that he'll be a positive locker room influence and competitor. McDowell has sky-high upside,
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and unlike Ifedi last year, he actually showed evidenceof that upside on the field at the college level. It's already been reported that Seattle would have drafted McDowell at 26 if they hadn't traded down.
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While some fans may question the pick, PCJS did a great job of acquiring 4 extra draft picks by trading down 9 spots.
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Seattle will almost certainly address the most pressing needs at CB or OL with their second draft pick.
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Pre-draft Scouting Report: Malik McDowell is extremely tall & long, and a very fluid athlete at his size. Has experience all over the D-Line, and pressures the pocket effectively from all spots. Violent hand use & advanced pass
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rush repertoire (clubs, swats, swims, spins, bulls), especially for a 20 year old prospect. Capable of churning through double-teams to pressure the QB. So much more impactful when he attacks forward and works off the blocker
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with his fantastic agility & length. Only 1.5 sacks in 2016, but created consistent pressure. There is no way Seattle would trust him vs. the run in their 43 sets. He often crosses 1-2 gaps to create rushing lanes, completely abandoning
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his gap integrity in all situations. Doesn't have the lower body power or leverage to anchor effectively inside, and plays way too high vs. the run. Plenty of big running plays went straight through his gap. The offset of that is his
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quickness & length allow him to make a number of splash plays in the backfield on runs. Big attitude & character questions. Incredibly inconsistent on the field, and is reportedly lazy, not well-liked by MSU, and interviewed terribly
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at the combine. Seattle brought him in for a visit, as they likely see value in him as a nickel rusher. He's an option in the second round, but his attitude & inconsistency aren't what the Hawks typically look for.
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258Ethan PocicIf Seattle's first choice was considered a suprise, Ethan Pocic at 58 could be described as a shocker. It's safe to say I overlooked the college Centers leading up to the draft.
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OC/RG/RTScouting Report: I was really surprised to see the Hawks draft Pocic, but I'm full of intrigue after watching half a dozen of his most relevant games.
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Pocic is actually a good athlete for the Center position, with solid size, length & strength. He tested well in the 40 yard dash & the broad jump, but not in the change-of-direction tests. These traits were apparent on tape.
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The first thing you notice is his size at Center - he's very tall for the position. However Pocic plays with fantastic leverage to compensate. He comes off the ball with great bend to stay low, and constantly gets his hands inside
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& under the arms of defensive tackles. NT's can still get under him and get initial push on running plays, however Pocic consistently works to find the right leverage anyway. He resets his hands, drops his hips, and drives
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defenders back with his strength & nice footwork. He's even better when reach-blocking, due to his explosion & flexibility firing off the ball. I love how often plays finish with his opponent on the ground.
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Pocic also looked fairly clean in pass protection at Center. He can really eat up rushers with his size & strength, and he shows the same urgency with his feet & hands in pass pro as he does in the run game. He mirrors very
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well, and doesn't give up on the block/play. The only issue I noticed is he can stand up too high at times, allowing powerful DT's to occasionally bull rush with some success.
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His best NFL position might not be Center due to his height, but he's got the traits & experience to excel at the pivot. Pocic played Right Guard in 2014, and had one excellent 2016 start at Right tackle - Seattle loves his versatility.
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I think he'll start at RG or RT as a rookie, and could move to OC in 2018 if Britt is not retained. Regardless of where he plays, he appears to have a Center's football IQ - awareness to recognize stunts, and locate LB's on the move
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with balance. He also shows good timing when transitioning off a double team to the second level.
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Pocic performed brilliantly in his toughest matchups. He was excellent vs. Chris Jones in 2015, who otherwise dominated interior OL's at the college level. In Jones' rookie year in the NFL, he pressured the QB as often as any
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DT in the league not named Aaron Donald. However Jones was stymied when rushing against 20-year old Ethan Pocic a year earlier. LSU's offensive line struggled mightily vs. Alabama's dominant defensive front the last 2 years...
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except for Pocic. Ethan held up very well vs. a number of future & current NFL players, including Jarran Reed & Jonathan Allen. His best tape I watched might've been his lone start at RT vs. Southern Miss. He looked like a natural
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on the edge.
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Pocic might not possess elite upside, but he's versatile, dependable, and NFL ready. He has the ability to be a solid starter from day 1 with Seattle. I think this was a great value pick at a position of need for the Hawks.
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Shaquill Griffin
With the 90th overall pick, Seattle drafts a CB who looks remarkably like Richard Sherman on the football field (long arms, legs & dreads). It's a great value pick for Seattle, as Shaq has good size, is an
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CB
outstanding athlete, and had mostly impressive game film. He's still quite raw, but Seattle's need at CB means he will compete for a starting spot from day 1. High upside selection.
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His twin brother Shaquem also stood out for UCF in 2016, without the benefit of a left hand.
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Pre-draft Scouting Report: Shaquill Griffin is a raw, boom or bust CB. His long arms & legs stand out, and he tested like an elite athlete at the combine. He got his hands on the ball a lot in 2016, with 4 INTs & 15 PDs. He also looks
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more willing & effective in run support than the majority of this CB class. Shaq is prone to giving up big plays for a few reasons. He often fails to jolt WRs off the line, then tries to jam them 5 yards downfield instead of fully turning
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his hips to run. He also often lined up with excessive outside leverage in off-coverage, frequently getting burned on inside routes. He can also be slow to react to a new player entering his zone, resulting in busted coverages.
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The Hawks brought him in for a pre-draft visit. I'm sure the team is trying to gauge if he has the drive and mental make-up to tap into his high athletic upside. Griffin is a strong candidate to be chosen with one of Seattle's R3 picks.
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395Delano Hill
The Ravens got the steal of the draft with Chris Wormley in the 3rd round. Despite receiving little pre-draft hype, Delano Hill is Seattle's steal so far. He's only 21 years old, but is an NFL ready safety. He is very
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SS
similar in style, athleticism and talent to Marcus Maye, who was picked 39th overall. He was effective both in the box and in the slot for Michigan - and that could translate to a big nickel role with Seattle.
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He's not a big hitter like Kam, but Hill could be developed as Chancellor's eventual replacement at SS.
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Pre-draft Scouting Report: Delano Hill has solid size & athleticism, and is a very smart & instinctive safety. Fantastic open-field tackler, and plays with great physicality in coverage & against the run. Uses his length & strength to
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effectively press slot receivers, and to shed blockers. Smooth footwork & fluidity in coverage, and nice body control to contest catches. Michigan's elite pass rush enabled him to be aggressive in coverage, which sometimes left
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him susceptible to double-moves. He looks like an immediate contributor in the slot & in the box, and could compete for a big nickel role with the Hawks right away. Marcus Maye is another complete safety whose evaluation is
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remarkably similar to Hill's. He packs more thump, but is not quite as natural covering the slot. I like Maye a lot, but he probably comes with at least a full round premium over Hill.
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John Schneider was on the radio this morning (May 2), and mentioned that Seattle had R2 grades on most of their late R3/early R4 picks. I'm confident that Hill is one of those players he referred to, and below are some more
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details explaining why I was so high on him before the draft. A lot of "experts" have written off the selection of Hill as a reach, but I think it was Seattle's best value pick in the whole draft.
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Hill has an above-average physical profile for the strong safety position. He's 6'1, weighs between 216-223 lbs, and possesses long 32+ inch arms. His combine 40 time was 4.47, although Schneider was quoted saying Seattle had
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him at 4.44. In terms of size/speed, he's not far off from overall freak athletes like Obi Melifonwu & Josh Jones. Hill's composite Sparq score is weighed down by mediocre jumps, but it's still superior to Chancellor's (113 vs ~103).
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Hill also posted solid marks in the agility tests. His on-field change of direction ability appears to be even better than those tests would indicate, as Hill's footwork & balance is fantastic. He also shows great body control at the
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catch point, so his limited explosion doesn't prevent him from effectively contesting catches. My only (minor) complaint from an athletic standpoint is his hit power. He's not going to rock guys like Kam does due to his limited
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explosiveness, but he's a strong player and can still deliver good hits with his excellent burst.
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While Hill doesn't have the elite range of an Earl Thomas or Malik Hooker, nor the punishing power of a Kam Chancellor, he excelled all over the field for Michigan. He played deep safety and single-high effectively at the college
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level, but did his best work near the line of scrimmage. He'll only be a 21-year old rookie with Seattle, but he already plays like a seasoned veteran. He reads and reacts very well in the box, stays disciplined in his zones, and he's
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quick to the ball. His game-to-game (and even snap-to-snap) consistency, despite playing a variety of roles, is a coach's dream.
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Hill was often trusted to cover receivers in man coverage from the slot. His press coverage technique is better than most of the CB's in this draft class. He's very patient off the snap, and kills routes before they start with a
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tenacious press vs. slot receivers. Even against larger TE's, he just absorbs their forward momentum, locks out with his strong upper body & long arms, and (legally) grips to their chest for the 1st five yards. It's a thing of beauty.
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Hill is exactly the type of slot defender you'd want covering "matchup weapon" TE's in the slot. He's certainly no slouch vs. smaller WR's either, as he can overwhelm them with physicality off the line. He also displays quick feet
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& fluid hips in man coverage, typically staying right in the hip pocket of receivers.
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Unfortunately, Hill didn't get to play in the box nearly as much as he should have - Michigan needed his coverage ability in the back half of the defense. However, his performance in the box was impressive. He has no fear taking
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on the blocks of TE's or offensive linemen, and doesn't embarrass himself in those situations. The same strength & physicality that benefits him in press coverage allows him to stack and shed blockers in the box. When he met
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larger blockers on the move during outside runs, he often went through the block like it was nothing to make the tackle. Hill's aptitude both in the box & in the slot is why I think he's ideally suited for a big nickel role with Seattle
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as a rookie. He can defend the run in the box like a linebacker and cover the slot like a corner. I don't know much about Bradley McDougald, but it wouldn't surprise me if Hill could carve out a 2017 role as a big nickel safety.
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Whether Chancellor moves on after 2017 or is re-signed by Seattle, he's not going to hold up forever with his style of play. Hill can be groomed to be Kam's eventual replacement at SS, just like Pocic could be for Justin Britt at OC.
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As mentioned a couple times above, Hill also played a significant number of snaps as a deep safety in Michigan's defense. This role allowed him to show off perhaps his best football skill - tackling. His ability to stay square and
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bring down shifty players in the open field is outstanding. He would do so even when bursting towards the LOS to attack the ball-carrier. He uses proper technique to hit with some power and consistently wraps-up. One issue
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that popped up in multiple instances was a tendency to attack forward at a poor angle, losing contain on outside runs. In contrast, his ability to maintain gaps & contain the edge was not an issue when lined up near the LOS.
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Hill showed good instincts in the deep field, and decent range as well. Even so - I'd much prefer to have him lined up close to the line of srimmage, and that is undoubtedly his future role with the Hawks.
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3102Nazair Jones
Seattle adds some much-needed depth at 43 DT. They needed another run stuffer behind Reed & Rubin, and Jones excelled against the run in college. Like Pocic, I need to see more of Jones on tape.
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DT
Scouting Report: Just like with Pocic & Tyson, I didn't know what to think about this pick, as I knew little about Jones before the draft. And once again, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of prospect Jones is.
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On the surface, his Sparq score indicates that he's a poor athlete, but he has several useful athletic traits that show up on game day. Jones is tall (6'5) with long arms (+34.5"), and monstrous hands (11"). He posted solid #s in
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the 40 yard dash, broad jump & short shuttle.
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He's been a productive run-defender in UNC's DL rotation for 3 years, compiling 146 tackles & 22 TFL despite few sacks. Naz has superb timing off the snap - he's often the first player to cross the LOS. That initial burst allows him
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