The ultimate Seahawks combine preview 2019

Workout schedule

» Friday, March 1st: special teams, running backs, offensive linemen
» Saturday, March 2nd: quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends
» Sunday, March 3rd: defensive linemen, linebackers
» Monday, March 4th: defensive backs

Groups 1-3 (PK, ST, OL, RB)

Arrival: Tuesday
Measurements: Wednesday
Bench press: Thursday
On-field drills: Friday

Kaleb McGary was a stand-out performer at the Senior Bowl

Offensive linemen
For the last few years we’ve used a formula called TEF to measure explosive physical traits. It proved to be an accurate way of predicting which offensive linemen the Seahawks might be targeting. In light of Tom Cable’s departure after the 2017 season (due to his influence on the system) it’s unclear if it’ll be quite as useful in the future. Either way, it’s still a good way to compare the offensive and defensive linemen and measure explosive physical traits.

Why are they important? Pat Kirwan — a confidant of Pete Carroll — tells us why in this piece:

Every time a ball is snapped to start a play there is a critical element of explosiveness that takes place. When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation. It could be a blocker vs. a tackler, a tackler vs. a ball carrier, or many other examples of winning at the point of contact.

Explosiveness is defined in the dictionary as a violent release of energy, a sudden outburst. Football is a series of explosions. How do you measure it in athletes trying to play NFL football?

Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness.

Kirwan’s formula is flawed because it diminishes the impact of the broad jump. A superb 9-7 only achieves a 1.2 point advantage over a below par 8-5. That’s why TEF was created — to do what Kirwan intended and measure explosive traits equally and emphasise their combined importance.

TEF is not an attempt to determine who is a good or bad offensive linemen. It’s merely a calculation to judge explosive traits. And while that’s only one part of any evaluation — it’s still a vital part of analysing a prospect or draft class. A year ago, seven offensive linemen scored an optimal 3.00 or higher in TEF. Of the seven, Quenton Nelson and Kolton Miller were both high first round picks. Braden Smith, Connor Williams and Will Hernandez were second round picks.

For more on TEF, including a breakdown of the calculation, click here.

Key tests
Vertical, Broad, Bench

Ideal size
6-3/6-5, 305-320lbs, 35 inch arms, +31 inch vertical, +9’ broad, +30 bench reps

Interesting note
For a long time we’ve been discussing the league-wide problem of the athletic discrepancy between college O-lines and D-lines. At the last three combines there were a total of 78 ‘explosive’ defensive linemen (explosive = a score of 3.00 or higher). In comparison, there were only 16 explosive offensive linemen. This is a big problem for the NFL. Those numbers will likely be even more skewed after the 2019 combine due to the strength of the D-line class.

The best drill to watch
The mirror drill. Two linemen stand opposite each other, with one acting as ‘the rabbit’. He’ll move around and change direction and it’s up to the participant to stick. It’s an important test of footwork, agility, mobility, balance, control and stamina. It’s also a good gauge of pass protection skills. Germain Ifedi boosted his stock in 2016 when he performed well in this drill working opposite Laremy Tunsil.

Five names to watch
Chuma Edoga (T, USC), Kaleb McGary (T, Washington), Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College), Yodny Cajuste (T, West Virginia), Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)

Positional notes
There isn’t an offensive tackle worthy of a top-five pick. Just like a year ago, we could see the perceived ‘best’ lineman go early (Mike McGlinchey was the #10 pick). The favourite at the moment is Jawaan Taylor at Florida although Andre Dillard at Washington State could jump to OT1 with a good combine. Day two (rounds 2-3) should provide plenty of O-line value with a cluster of good guards and athletic tackles likely to be available.

Importance to the Seahawks
Much depends on the future of D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy — both free agents. Germain Ifedi and George Fant are also free agents in 2020. An O-line pick is very possible at some stage.

Rodney Anderson is the forgotten man of this draft class

Running backs
The Seahawks have a type at running back. They’ve consistently drafted players with a similar physical profile. It’s made it fairly straight forward to figure out who they might like. Here are the players we identified from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 combines as probable targets:

2016:

C.J. Prosise — 6-0, 220lbs, 35.5 inch vert, 10-1 broad
Kenneth Dixon — 5-10, 215lbs, 37.5 inch vert, 10-8 broad

2017:

Christopher Carson — 6-0, 218lbs, 37 inch vert, 10-10 broad
Brian Hill — 6-0, 219lbs, 34 inch vert, 10-5 broad
Alvin Kamara — 5-10, 214lbs, 39.5 inch vert, 10-11 broad
Joe Williams — 5-11, 210lbs, 35 inch vert, 10-5 broad

2018:

Saquon Barkley — 6-0, 233lbs, 41 inch vert DNP broad
Kerryon Johnson — 511, 213lbs 40 inch vert, 10-6 broad
Bo Scarborough — 6-0, 228lbs, 40 inch vert, 10-9 broad
Nick Chubb — 5-11, 227lbs, 38.5 inch vert, 10-8 broad
John Kelly — 5-10, 216lbs, 35 inch vert, 10-0 broad
Lavon Coleman — 5-10, 223lbs, 33 inch vert, 10-0 broad
Rashaad Penny — 5-11, 220lbs, 32.5 inch vert, 10-0 broad
Royce Freeman — 5-11, 229lbs, 34 inch vert, 9-10 broad

They drafted Prosise, Carson and Penny. They eventually added Bo Scarborough during the season. There are a lot more names in the 2018 list because it was such a strong running back class. Usually their ‘type’ at running back is in relatively short supply. That wasn’t the case a year ago.

The Seahawks might not draft another running back this year but we should be able to identify which players they’ll like.

Key tests
Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
5-11, 220lbs, +36 inch vertical, +10 broad

Interesting note
The Seahawks preferred explosive traits over straight line speed prior to the 2018 draft. Christine Michael (4.54), C.J. Prosise (4.48), Robert Turbin (4.50) and Chris Carson (4.58) were explosive rather than fast. Rashaad Penny wasn’t quite as explosive but ran a 4.46. It’s probably not a major shift in terms of the type of player they like but it’s still worth noting.

The best drill to watch
The footage will be limited but absolutely it’s the coverage of the vertical and broad jump. Explosive traits are key. It’s nice to see the running backs cutting against pads while showing body control and quickness in the open field. Explosive power and the ability to run through contact is vital at the next level, however.

Five names to watch
Damien Harris (RB, Alabama), Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama), Rodney Anderson (RB, Oklahoma), Ryquell Armstead (RB, Temple), Mike Weber (RB, Ohio State)

Positional notes
How many players fit Seattle’s prototype? That’s really the only question that matters. The Seahawks haven’t really strayed and gone after smaller, niche running backs. They like explosive power and physicality. Damien Harris and Rodney Anderson are former SPARQ stars and fit the size profile too. Mike Weber at Ohio State is expected to test well. Anderson likely would’ve been a top-25 pick had he not suffered a knee injury during the season. There’s nowhere near the positional depth we saw a year ago but there should be nice options in days 2-3.

Importance to the Seahawks
A year ago I wrote, “simply put, they have to tap into this running back class“. That’s not the case in 2019. The only question mark is whether they keep Mike Davis. If they do, they’re loaded at the position and might ignore it altogether. That said, they still drafted Christine Michael and Robert Turbin with a healthy Marshawn Lynch on the roster. Pete Carroll collected 5-star runners at USC. So if the right player is available, they could strike.

Groups 4-6 (QB, WR, TE)

Arrival: Wednesday
Measurements: Thursday
Bench press: Friday
On-field drills: Saturday

Will Grier’s deep accuracy could interest the Seahawks

Quarterbacks
For the last few years we haven’t had to pay much attention to the quarterbacks. This year is different. With Russell Wilson’s contract situation set to dominate the headlines this off-season (and possibly beyond) — there’s a distinct possibility they’ll draft a QB. They have to start planning ahead. This is going to be an extremely difficult and aggressive negotiation. Preparing for the worst-case scenario — life without Wilson — is essential.

It’s difficult to work out who they might be interested in. After all, look at the starting QB’s Pete Carroll has used so far — Matt Hasselbeck, Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst and Russell Wilson. There’s very little consistency there.

Downfield throwing seems to be vital though. We know Carroll values explosive plays. Wilson in particular is an exceptional downfield thrower. Whitehurst struggled in Seattle but had the arm strength. That’s likely what convinced them to spend a third round pick to acquire him in 2010.

In this draft the two best downfield passers are clear — Kyler Murray at Oklahoma and Will Grier at West Virginia. Drew Lock and Jarrett Stidham might have stronger arms but Murray was a surgeon throwing deep in 2018 as he won the Heisman. Here’s what PFF noted about Grier’s performance last season:

Grier was once again tremendous for the Mountaineers in 2018, finishing the year as the nation’s third-highest graded quarterback. He let it rip with the best of them, sprinkling in deep shots with great accuracy just as quick as he’d hit a crosser over the middle or perfectly lead his targets away from coverage with relative ease. In total, he averaged the fourth-highest yards per attempt at 9.7 while throwing more deep pass touchdowns than any other FBS QB with 20. He goes down as arguably the best deep-ball thrower over the past two seasons as he’s thrown for more yards (2,850), more touchdowns (36) and more big-time throws (54) on passes targeted at least 20 yards downfield than any other quarterback since 2017.

Grier does lose velocity on some deep throws due to suspect mechanics. It’ll be interesting to see how he throws downfield at the combine.

Key tests
Deep throws

Ideal size
+6-1, 220lbs, +9.5 inch hands

Interesting note
The Seahawks have only drafted two quarterbacks in the Pete Carroll era — Russell Wilson (third round, 2012) and Alex McGough (seventh round, 2018).

The best drill to watch
Everyone wants to see the top QB’s throw the deep ball. That’s basically why they’re there apart from the medicals and interviews. They’re not facing a defense. They’re just standing in shorts and throwing the football. The only real reason to watch the drills is to see which players stand out throwing downfield with power and precision with reasonable mechanics.

Five names to watch
Will Grier (QB, West Virginia), Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma), Jarrett Stidham (QB, Auburn), Ryan Finley (QB, NC State), Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)

Positional notes
Kyler Murray, for me, is the most talented player in the entire draft and a worthy selection with the #1 overall pick. After that, the chances are teams will over-draft Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock in the top-15. Both are talented players but appear to be a significant notch below Murray and the top four from 2018 (Darnold, Allen, Mayfield, Rosen). Will Grier, Daniel Jones and Ryan Finley will likely be drafted in the top-100 picks. It’s not a horrendous quarterback class but it lacks the kind of clear top-10 talents that defined the 2018 group.

Importance to the Seahawks
Not everyone will agree but it’s of massive importance. If you actually sit down and properly consider the dilemma over Wilson’s contract, it’s a no-brainer to consider drafting a quarterback early this year. That doesn’t mean you take any player for the sake of it. You have to clearly identify a player you believe can be a future starter. In Murray and Grier, there are two candidates who fit Seattle in terms of their ability to throw downfield and produce in a big way in college. They might not draft a QB with their top pick in 2019 but they could spend a day two pick on the position as insurance for the future.

If D.K. Metcalf lasts due to his neck injury, the Seahawks could be interested

Wide receivers
Pete Carroll has only drafted two receivers who haven’t run a 4.4 forty or faster (Kenny Lawler 4.64, Chris Harper 4.50). Paul Richardson (4.40), Golden Tate (4.42), Tyler Lockett (4.40), Kris Durham (4.46), Kevin Norwood (4.48), Amara Darboh (4.45) and David Moore (4.42) all cracked the 4.4’s. Kris Durham (216lbs), Chris Harper (229lbs), Kenny Lawler (203lbs), Amara Darboh (214lbs) and David Moore (219lbs) were all +200lbs. Richardson, Tate and Lockett — the three most productive players — were smaller.

This really tells us two things. One — the Seahawks value speed and suddenness at the position even if you’re a ‘bigger’ receiver. Two — they’ve had greater success with smaller receivers since drafting Russell Wilson.

The entire NFL is seeing a shift towards speed and suddenness over pure size. The 2019 draft class is rich in players with great size who struggle to separate. You’ll have seen plenty of mock drafts listing N’Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon and Hakeem Butler in the top-50. None of the three create consistent separation and rely on contested catches. That’s fine in college but at the next level against superior defensive backs you win fewer of those battles. The ability to separate is vital. Watch the forty, the 10-yard split, the three-cone and short shuttle. It’ll provide a clear indication on which players have the quickness and agility to create openings.

Interesting note
Carroll’s Seahawks don’t really have a ‘range’ where they take receivers. They’ve drafted two players in round two (Richardson, Tate), two in round three (Darboh, Lockett), three in round four (Norwood, Harper, Durham) and two in round seven (Moore, Lawler). They traded a first round pick for Percy Harvin. They’ve also had a degree of success with UDFA’s. The best non-FA athlete Seattle has acquired in the Carroll era was an UDFA — Ricardo Lockette. He ran a 4.41, had a 39-inch vertical and a 6.76 three-cone. He was also well-sized at 211lbs with 33.5-inch arms. The Seahawks have been comfortable bringing in high-ceiling UDFA receivers, finding success with Lockette, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

Key test
Forty, 10-yard split, catching drills (proper technique)

Ideal size
6-1, 210lbs, 4.45 forty

The best drill to watch
Any drill that clearly shows the receiver’s catching technique. It’s extremely important. You want to see a wide out cupping his hands while presenting them to the ball. No alligator arms, no fighting the ball or snatching at it. Watch the downfield throws too and see who is good at high pointing the football, showing body control. Who is a natural hands catcher?

Five names to watch
D.K. Metcalf (WR, Ole Miss), Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State), Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR, Stanford), Emmanuel Hall (WR, Missouri)

Positional assessment
There isn’t a clear top-10 pick among the group but there’s nice depth overall. D.K. Metcalf has the physical profile to blow-up the combine but there are concerns about his WWE body and serious neck injury sustained at Ole Miss. Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin will have amazing workouts. Marquise Brown sadly won’t perform due to a lisfranc injury. Deebo Samuel had a terrific Senior Bowl but needs to allay some concerns about his actual speed. Emmanuel Hall is a burner and he’s not the only one. It’s a shame the league has banned Preston Williams from competing. Perhaps the most intriguing thing with this group is the number of ‘big’ receivers. The ones who manage to run well (4.4’s preferably) will seriously help their stock.

Importance to the Seahawks
Seattle currently has Doug Baldwin (free agent after 2020), Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and Malik Turner under contract for 2019. David Moore is an exclusive rights free agent and the likes of Amara Darboh, Keenan Reynolds and Caleb Scott could be retained. It feels like they need one more quality target. Pete Carroll has often talked about landing a dynamic big receiver. This is a class full of big receivers. If any run in the 4.4’s — put them on the radar. Likewise, who are the sudden and speedy wide outs who can separate and get downfield to make explosive plays?

T.J. Hockenson — the best offensive player in the draft after Kyler Murray

Tight ends
Seattle has drafted four tight ends under Pete Carroll — Nick Vannett, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy and Will Dissly. Vannett and Dissly (the two remaining) were both considered throw-back Y-TE’s who can block. Willson ran a 4.51 at his pro-day with a 38-inch vertical. McCoy ran a 4.78 but was familiar with Carroll and had great size. All four players are quite different.

This is one of the more unpredictable positions to judge for Seattle. They tried to turn Jimmy Graham into the ‘complete tight end’ but settled on making him a red zone machine in 2017. It feels like the Graham experience provided a lesson of sorts. The Dissly pick suggests they’ll stick to players more in the mould of Zach Miller than Jimmy Graham and that style fits Seattle’s preferred offensive identity (which they regained in 2018).

It appears the Seahawks view the short shuttle as an important drill:

Luke Willson — 4.29 at pro-day
Will Dissly — 4.40 (8th best in 2018)
Nick Vannett — 4.20 (2nd best in 2016)
Anthony McCoy — 4.57
Zach Miller — 4.42
Jimmy Graham — 4.45

It was suggested they really liked O.J. Howard. He had the top short shuttle in 2017 (4.16). He was also an excellent blocker to go with his high level of athleticism. So any player who blocks well and runs a good short-shuttle could be on their radar.

Key test
Vertical, Broad, Short shuttle

Ideal size
6-5, 250-265lbs, +34-inch arms, +10-inch hands

Interesting note
In 2010 when Jimmy Graham was drafted in round three by the Saints — the following players left the board between pick #95 and Seattle’s next pick at #111: Everson Griffen, Alterraun Verner, Darrell Stuckey and Geno Atkins. The Seahawks took Kam Chancellor at #133. Reshad Jones (#163) and Antonio Brown (#195) were also day three picks. The 2010 draft had some depth.

Best drill to watch
Like the receivers, check out the catching technique. Is he cupping his hands and showing to the football, or is he fighting the ball?

Five names to watch
T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa), Drew Sample (TE, Washington), Noah Fant (TE, Iowa), Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford), Trevon Wesco (TE, West Virginia)

Positional assessment
T.J. Hockenson appears destined to be a top-10 pick and could be drafted by Jacksonville (#7), Detroit (#8), Buffalo (#9) or Denver (#10). For me he’s the second best offensive player in the class after Kyler Murray. There’s a big drop after Hockenson but as with the receiver and O-line units — there’s depth and value to be had on days 2-3. You’ve also got a good mix of blocking TE’s like Drew Sample and Trevon Wesco mixed in with some athletes and ‘big slot receivers’. There’s a bit of everything in this group.

Importance to the Seahawks?
It could go either way. Will Dissly is recovering from a very serious knee injury and Nick Vannett is a free agent after the 2019 season. Ed Dickson is a veteran stop-gap. Are they comfortable rolling with this trio — especially seeing as the TE position in 2018 turned into George Fant acting as a sixth offensive lineman? Or do they need to add another TE to provide insurance against Dissly’s injury, Dickson’s injury history and Vannett’s expiring contract?

Groups 7-9 (DL, LB)

Arrival: Thursday
Measurements: Friday
Bench press: Saturday
On-field drills: Sunday

Can TCU’s L.J. Collier boost his stock at the combine?

Defensive line
The Seahawks appear to have defined preferences at each of the different positions. For example, Seattle hasn’t drafted a defensive lineman or EDGE rusher with sub-33 inch arms. Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson, Jordan Hill, Jaye Howard and Malik McDowell all tested superbly in the short shuttle (4.39, 4.37, 4.51, 4.47 and 4.53 respectively). If they’re looking for a quicker, interior pass-rush or inside/out option — this drill appears to be significant.

Twitchy athletes with great burst are their thing at DE/EDGE. The 10-yard split is clearly important. EDGE rushers Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril ran 1.55 and 1.50 splits respectively. Anything in the 1.5’s is considered ‘elite’. If you’re looking for a possible LEO in this draft class then you need to be keeping an eye out for the 1.50-1.59 10-yard splits.

The splits are also important for inside/out rushers or interior pass rushers. Frank Clark was considered more of an explosive inside/out rusher and he ran a 1.69 split at 271lbs. Malik McDowell managed the same 1.69 split at 295lbs. Rasheem Green ran a 1.65 at 275lbs.

Look for any EDGE running a 1.5-split or any DE/DT running a 1.6.

Bruce Irvin (4.03) and Frank Clark (4.05) both ran incredible short shuttles. Cassius Marsh’s 4.25 and Obum Gwacham’s 4.28 were also really good.

There were serious concerns about Malik McDowell’s effort and attitude but he put on a show at the combine. He was 295lbs with great height (6-6) and length (35 inch arms) and ran a 4.85 with a 1.69 split. His three cone (4.53) was the same as Dalvin Cook’s.

Every year the defensive linemen generally test well. It’s indicative of the way college football has gone. The top High School players want to play defense because that’s where the money is in the NFL and the stats/kudos/respect. It often means some exceptional combine performers last deep into the draft. We spent a lot of time in 2011 talking about Justin Houston as a possible LEO target. He lasted into round three. Two years ago Kansas State’s Jordan Willis had a fantastic workout and also lasted into round three. His 1.54 10-yard split was the best for a +250lbs player since Cliff Avril’s 1.50 (Avril was also a third round pick). A great combine for a pass rusher will not automatically mean they shoot into the early rounds.

Key tests
Vertical, Broad, Bench, Short Shuttle, Three-cone, 10-yard split (forty)

Ideal size
DL — 6-2/6-4, 300-310lbs, +33 inch arms, +31 inch vertical, +9’ broad, 4.50 ss
LEO — 6-4, 250lbs, +33 inch arms, 1.50-1.59 10-yard split

Interesting note
Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis III is the brother of New York Giants safety Landon Collins.

Best drill to watch
Just absorb everything. The D-line drills are the most entertaining, most fan-friendly of all the combine events. The bag drills, the swim/rip drills, the club, the working in space. It’s a real show of the most explosive athletes in college football competing in one venue. This is a D-line draft so enjoy.

Five names to watch
Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson), Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson), Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State), Renell Wren (DT, Arizona State), Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)

Positional assessment
The D-liners will be the highlight of the combine. The 2019 class of defensive linemen has legendary potential. You’ve got a cluster of prospective top-10 picks. We could see as many as 10-12 first rounders from this group. The depth continues deep into days two and three. You also have every single type of player covered — nose tackles, dynamic interior rushers, speed rushers, prototype DE’s. Whatever you need it’s here. I could do a whole preview piece purely on the D-line class but here are a few highlights. I think Dexter Lawrence will run an outstanding forty time for his size (about 350lbs) and get people talking. I think everyone will love Christian Wilkins — his personality and his workout. I think it’s going to be interesting to see which of the defensive ends can run in the elite 1.5’s for the 10-yard split (there could be a few this year). I want to see if L.J. Collier is enough of an athlete for Seattle. What kind of a tester is Dre’Mont Jones at Ohio State? Will Khalen Saunders do a back-flip? How big is Ed Oliver and can he, as expected, be one of the stars of the combine? Is Quinnen Williams a potential challenger to Nick Bosa to be the first D-liner drafted? Is Nick a better tester than Joey? Is Christian Miller going to workout? How much does Brian Burns truly weigh? Is Clelin Ferrell more explosive and quick than people are giving him credit for? Will Gerald Willis III run a fantastic short shuttle? Can Jachai Polite and Montez Sweat secure top-20 grades with a great workout and allay some concerns about their off-field personalities?

Importance to the Seahawks?
You can easily make a compelling case that adding a pass rusher is Seattle’s top need this off-season. Of course it all depends on who they lose in free agency and the situation with Russell Wilson’s contract. Yet adding more support to Frank Clark and Jarran Reed is still essential. They’ve often tapped into the strength of a draft class and that could easily be the case again in 2019. However — there’s one thing to consider here. The Seahawks will trade down from #21. And if they drop into the 30’s or 40’s, there’s a chance they’ll move out of range for the best defensive linemen and into a range where O-line, receiver and possibly quarterback are greater strengths. With so much great D-line depth this year — are they prepared to wait until rounds 3-5 to add to the pass rush? Could they go in a different direction with their first pick after trading down? It’s possible but they could also take a pass rusher with their first pick as many are projecting.

Mack Wilson is extremely impressive dropping into coverage

Linebackers
The Seahawks have drafted a collection of freakish athletes at linebacker since 2010. Kevin Pierre-Louis, Korey Toomer, Malcolm Smith and Eric Pinkins all ran between a 4.44 and a 4.51 in the forty. Pierre-Louis, Smith and Pinkins all jumped +39 inches in the vertical. Bobby Wagner was a 4.4 runner at his pro-day with a 39.5-inch vertical. Of the five players they’ve drafted with a +140 SPARQ score, Wagner, Pierre-Louis and Bruce Irvin are included. Speed (forty yard dash) and explosive traits (vertical, broad) appear to be preferred.

That said, one of their big success stories since 2011 is K.J. Wright. He’s a 6-3, 246lbs bigger linebacker with incredible length (35 inch arms) but only 4.71 speed, a 34 inch vertical and a 10-0 broad. Wright might be the exception — a unique player with tremendous length and intensity.

Two years ago Pete Carroll stated they needed to add some youth at the position. In the following two drafts the only linebacker they’ve selected is Shaquem Griffin. The 2017 and 2018 combine didn’t produce many exceptionally quick or unique athletes. With Wright now a free agent it’s highly possible they will review this position again depending on how the 2019 linebackers test at the combine.

It’s also very possible they will bring back a man who had this combine performance in 2012:

Height: 5-11
Weight — 239lbs
Forty — 4.47
10-yd split — 1.53
Vertical — 39.5
Broad — 10-7
Short shuttle — 4.19

That exceptional workout belonged to Mychal Kendricks. That’s the type of athlete we need to be looking for if they’re ever going to draft a linebacker early. Kendricks’ forty time is the second fastest by a linebacker at the combine since 2010 (only topped by Shaquem Griffin’s 4.38).

Key tests
Forty yard dash, Three-cone, Vertical, Broad, short shuttle

Ideal size
+6-0, 230-240lbs, 4.4-4.5 forty, 6.70 three-cone, +10’ broad, 4.20-4.35 short shuttle

Interesting note
Bobby Wagner played 99.35% of the defensive snaps in 2016 and K.J. Wright played 97.41%. That led to Carroll’s comment about needing youth at the position to take some of the strain. Since then, Wagner tallied 93.08% of the snaps in 2017 and 93.34% in 2018. Wright had 87.07% in 2017 before missing most of 2018 through injury. It’s been clear for a while that they need some depth and help at the position.

Best drill to watch
The short shuttle results. We highlighted two years ago how important it might be for the Seahawks. Quickness and change of direction is vital at linebacker but the Seahawks also seem to value straight-line speed.

Five names to watch
Devin Bush (LB, Michigan), Mack Wilson (LB, Alabama), Terrill Hanks (LB, New Mexico State), Vosean Joseph (LB, Florida), Bobby Okereke (LB, Stanford)

Positional assessment
There are a cluster of names that could go in the first two rounds including Devin White, Devin Bush, Mack Wilson and Te’Von Coney. After that the depth is a little sparse. It’s been a long time since there’s been a really exciting linebacker class with top-level names and depth. Alabama’s Wilson is a player I’m keen to see at the combine. He was often used as a safety by Alabama on key-passing downs. That’s how highly they rated him in coverage. I watched his Rivals High School footage a few days ago and even prior to joining Alabama it was clear he had a special ability to move in space with his size and cover. Having said that I was a bit disappointed with his 2018 tape. Can he run as well as Bush and White to secure a first round grade? Terrill Hanks and Bobby Okereke have incredibly long arms like K.J. Wright. If they test well they could be on Seattle’s radar.

Importance to the Seahawks?
It gets more important every year. K.J. Wright could be set to depart in free agency and who knows what the future holds for Mychal Kendricks. Bobby Wagner is a free agent after the 2019 season. They need to add some young talent to the position one way or another.

Groups 10-11 (DB)

Arrival: Friday
Measurements: Saturday
Bench press: Sunday
On-field drills: Monday

Jamal Peters — looks and plays like a Seahawks cornerback

Cornerback
The 2017 cornerback class was the talk of the town. The 2018 group was the complete opposite. The combine workout for last years CB’s was one of the most boring, uninspiring sessions I’ve witnessed in a decade of writing this blog. The length of the workouts didn’t help — they seemed to go on forever in part because so many players had to re-start their drills. Let’s hope it’s a much improved 2019 performance but the early signs aren’t great. It does not look like a strong cornerback class.

By now everyone knows what the Seahawks like in a corner. Every CB drafted in the Pete Carroll era has had 32 inch arms. Those players are generally physical and tall and take pride in defending the run.

A year ago we highlighted Tre Flowers as a possible target and mocked him to Seattle in many of our seven-round projections — simply because he looked like a prototype Seahawks corner at the combine. It was clear and obvious.

We’ve previously discussed the importance of wingspan too. Wingspan is defined as the length between the tip of your middle finger on one outstretched arm to the other. The average NFL cornerback has a wingspan of 75.5 inches (31.5 inch arm length). Here’s the arm length and wingspan data for some of Seattle’s draftees, acquisitions and starters since 2010:

Richard Sherman — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Brandon Browner — 33 (arms) 80 (wingspan)
Byron Maxwell — 33.5 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Jeremy Lane — 32.5 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
Tye Smith — 32 (arms) 78 (wingspan)
DeAndre Elliott — 32 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)
Neiko Thorpe — 31 3/4 (arms) 78 1/2 (wingspan)
Stanley Jean-Baptiste — 32 3/8 (arms) 78 3/8 (wingspan)
Pierre Desir — 33 (arms) 77.5 (wingspan)

In 2017 they drafted Shaq Griffin in round three. He has 32 3/8 inch arms but only a 74 3/4 inch wingspan so this was quite a difference compared to some of the other corners. Griffin lacks the kind of length they usually go for at the position.

Why is length so important? 100% of multiple first team All-Pro cornerbacks drafted since 1998 have +32 inch arms.

Short-area quickness also seems to be important. The short shuttle tests lateral quickness, explosion in short areas, body control and the ability to change direction quickly. In this visual demonstration of the drill, Mike Mayock states:

“It’s important for literally every position. Why? For the little guys it’s obvious. Quickness, acceleration, change of direction. How about the big guys? Can they bend? Are you a natural bender or are you a heavy-legged waist bender? A great time for a defensive back is a 4.2.”

If a great time is a 4.2, it’s fair to assume anything quicker than a 4.00 is exceptional.

Since 2010, only five CB’s have run a sub-4.00 short shuttle and measured with 32 inch arms:

2018 — Jordan Thomas (3.94)
2017 — Kevin King (3.89)
2016 — DeAndre Elliott (3.94)
2015 — Byron Jones (3.94), Tye Smith (3.96)
2010-2014 — No qualifiers

The Seahawks drafted Smith and signed Elliott. Short-area quickness and great length is a rare combination so any possible day three prospects with these physical traits will likely be on the radar.

Here are the known short shuttle times for drafted/UDFA cornerbacks in Seattle:

DeAndre Elliott — 3.94
Tye Smith — 3.96
Jeremy Lane — 4.14
Shaq Griffin — 4.14
Deshawn Shead — 4.23
Brandon Browner — 4.24
Richard Sherman — 4.29
Tharold Simon — 4.31
Byron Maxwell — 4.49

Key tests
Three-cone, Vertical, measurements (arm length), short shuttle

Ideal size
+6-1, 195lbs, +32-inch arms, 4.50 forty, +35-inch vertical

Interesting note
Speed previously didn’t appear to be crucial but it might’ve been the difference for Shaq Griffin. Five of Seattle’s six drafted cornerbacks before 2017 ran between a 4.47 and a 4.56 in the forty yard dash. Griffin ran a 4.38 and they drafted him earlier than any other cornerback in the Pete Carroll era.

Best drill to watch
The backpedal drill. Watch to see how the cornerback transitions and whether it’s effortless. Do they have loose hips and do they explode out of their break? Is their footwork smooth or clunky? Are they laboured in any way or does it just look natural?

Five names to watch
Jamal Peters (CB, Mississippi State), Rock Ya-Sin (CB, Temple), Lonnie Johnson (CB, Kentucky), Joejuan Williams (CB, Vanderbilt), Justin Layne (CB, Michigan State)

Positional assessment
Many of the big names are a bit overrated and it’s very difficult to get excited about any of the 2019 cornerbacks in round one. It feels like a year where you identify a collection of CB’s who fit your scheme and you find a range to add one and make do. It’s not a year to chase after the position in round one unless you really believe in a player like Greedy Williams. As usual for the Seahawks — look for the 32-inch armed prospects with decent height and watch how they test. Write down the names and find out how they tackle. You might discover the next player they draft on day three.

Importance to the Seahawks?
There are two aspects to this. Firstly, they could do with adding some competition for Shaquille Griffin and Tre Flowers. The depth at the position is pretty suspect and needs replenishing. Secondly, do they intend to re-sign Justin Coleman? If they lose Coleman they could be on the lookout for a dynamic slot corner. This means a very different physical profile. Coleman was only 5-11 and 185lbs at his combine with 31 1/4 inch arms. He did, however, run a blistering short shuttle (3.98) and jumped a 37.5 inch vertical.

Taylor Rapp is expected to excel in the short shuttle

Safety
After hitting on Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010, Seattle hasn’t had much success drafting for the safety position. Ryan Murphy, Winston Guy and Mark LeGree have come and gone. The jury’s still out on Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill (although Hill finished the 2018 season strongly).

There’s a real mix of physical profiles in the players they’ve taken, making it a difficult position to project. Thomas (31 1/4) and Legree (30 1/4) have short arms so the 32-inch test isn’t necessary here but Guy had great arm length (33). Murphy ran a 4.48 at his pro-day with an impressive 39-inch vertical but Legree (4.59) and Guy (4.70) didn’t run fast times (Legree only had a 31-inch vertical too). Hill ran a 4.47 but Thompson managed only a 4.60. Overall it’s hard to determine a Seahawks ‘type’ with these numbers. The only safety they’ve drafted in the first two rounds (Earl Thomas) is a tremendous athlete. He ran a 4.37 at his pro-day after pulling a hamstring running the forty at the combine (while still managing an official 4.49).

There aren’t many safety’s entering the NFL with elite level speed. Since 2010, only three (Troy Akpe, T.J. Green and Justin Cox) ran in the 4.3’s at the combine. Budda Baker’s 4.45 at only 195lbs is the 15th best time by a safety in the last nine years. The fastest players haven’t always been the best either. Here are the top-15 runners at the position since 2010:

Troy Akpe — 4.34
T.J. Green — 4.34
Justin Cox — 4.36
Natrell Jamerson — 4.40
Obi Melifownu — 4.40
Justin Reid — 4.40
Dane Cruikshank — 4.41
Josh Jones — 4.41
Terrence Brooks — 4.42
Montae Nicholson — 4.42
Shamarko Thomas — 4.42
Taylor Mays — 4.43
Godwin Igwebuike — 4.44
Earl Wolff — 4.44
Budda Baker — 4.45

We talk a lot about speed at safety because of Earl Thomas but the results here tend to suggest a couple of possibilities. Either speed isn’t as important as some people think to be a great safety or it’s indicative of a lack of quality safety’s currently in the NFL. Both might be true.

Key drills
Forty yard dash, Three-cone, Vertical, Broad

Ideal size
+6-0, 200-220lbs, 4.4 forty, +39-inch vertical, +10-5 broad jump

Interesting note
Bob McGinn’s sourced NFL draft article sums up the 2019 safety class as such: “This class of safeties lacks quality and quantity.”

Best drill to watch
Any of the drills requiring the safety’s to close in space and show off their open-field quickness and range.

Five names to watch
Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State), Marvell Tell (S, USC), Marquise Blair (S, Utah), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S, Florida), Taylor Rapp (S, Washington)

Positional assessment
It’s difficult to make a case for any safety deserving to be drafted in round one. Taylor Rapp and Jonathan Abram are the most likely players to land in the top-40. Rapp should test very well in the short shuttle. If he runs in the low 4.5’s he could very easily find himself in the first frame. Deionte Thompson and Nasir Adderley have been hyped up unfairly. USC’s Marvell Tell is one to watch as a possible safety/corner convert project. It’s not a great safety class.

Importance to the Seahawks?
The Seahawks appear to like their existing safety’s more than the fans and media. Bradley McDougald has developed into a crucial starter. They seem to really rate Delano Hill and like Tedric Thompson’s potential. They traded for Shalom Luani during the season. It’s very possible they add to the position but it seems unlikely to be a high pick.

Further reading

First round mock draft

Second round mock draft

Free agent priorities for the Seahawks

Why the Seahawks aren’t as focused on SPARQ as you might think

The top performers in each drill position-by-position since 2006

What is TEF?

Thoughts and predictions on Seattle’s off-season

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The ultimate Seahawks combine preview 2019