DRAFT COUNTDOWN: 4 weeks. A weekly look at draft-related topics involving the Seahawks. Make sure to check out our draft page.
John Schneider and Matt Thomas have done a very good job of resetting Seattle’s veteran roster over the past couple of weeks, and attention now can turn toward the draft – less than four weeks away.
The Seahawks have just three picks at the moment (rounds 2, 4, 7), but you can expect Schneider to pull off some of his trade magic and bump that to at least five (even if most of them are on Day 3). We recently went through some options for how he could do that (although we unfortunately can scratch Jarran Reed from bringing any draft value).
This draft appears to be strong at the three spots the Seahawks still need to improve: cornerback, wide receiver and center.
The Seahawks are already eyeing the first two positions pretty closely, based on their reported meetings (virtually or at Pro Days or all-star bowls). So far, they have met with at least three corners considered potential Day 2 picks: Northwestern’s Greg Newsome (likely Round 1), Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. and Central Arkansas’ Robert Rochell. Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu and Stanford’s Paulson Adebo have been mocked to them as well, and Georgia’s corners both could fit them.
The Seahawks like long corners for the outside — at least 32-inch arms and typically 77-inch wingspan (Shaquill Griffin had 32-inch arms but only a 74-inch wingspan — but he was blazing fast). Even 5-9 D.J. Reed, who emerged as a starter last year, has a 75-inch wingspan, meaning he plays like a guy who is 6-3.
After Reed’s success, Pete Carroll hinted they might not stick to their old draft MO: “Everybody’s known the long-arm corners and all that stuff, that’s what I’ve always wanted. They come in different shapes and sizes, you know? And we just have to be open to it and not be stubborn about everyone has to be like this mold.”
Pro Football Focus lists 16 corners in the top 100, which bodes well for Seattle. Let’s take a look at some of the cover guys the Hawks have been linked to (Big board is the consensus from NFLmockdraftdatabase.com, analysis is from Lance Zierlein and Tony Pauline, comments from NFL scouts relayed by Bob McGinn, Zierlein and The Athletic):
CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
Big board rank: 29
Key specs: 6 feet, 192 pounds, 31-inch arms, 4.38 40
Analysis: Newsome does not have the desired arm length for Seattle, but he ran a 4.38 at his Pro Day and he’s a well-skilled cover guy with experience in press and Cover-3. Injuries could be a concern; he played in just 21 games in college, missing 13 over his three seasons. He also is not much of a ballhawk; he intercepted just one pass. But he allowed a mere 31.6% completion rate in 2020, per PFF.
Scouts say: “He’s an instant starter. He’s got confidence. Excellent athlete. He has feet, hips, twitch. When he presses, it’s an easy flip and run. The instincts are there.” … “Money’s not going to change this dude. Very low maintenance. He is obsessed with the game of football.” … “He’s a perfect nickel. He probably has to get a little bigger and stronger. He wins the 50-50s more with quickness, savvy and instincts than he does physicality and presence. He’s really good in a lot of things, but no flat-out wow. These guys usually end up in the second round.”
CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
Big board rank: 44
Key specs: 5-10, 184, 30-inch arms, 4.45 40
Analysis: The son of former Pro Bowl corner Asante Samuel is quick and athletic and understands the game (as you would expect of a former star’s son), but he tends to draw flags and is not the best tackler. He looks like a nickel option in the NFL, even though he insists he can play outside. “I’ve been playing outside my whole life,” he recently told reporters. “I feel like size doesn’t matter; it’s about the heart and the dog mentality you have on that field.”
Scouts say: “If he’s 6 feet instead of 5-foot-10, he’s a top-25 pick.” … “I think he goes second round on his good ball production and the name. He’s just small. There aren’t many corners (that small) who are good. It’s hard to last.” … “Knows how to play. Quick as can be. Attacks the ball. But his size does show up. He can get pushed around, and in run support, he’s more of a drag-you-down type.” … “Probably best served in the slot. His feet were really quick. He’s got loose hips. Not very physical. Didn’t like to tackle.”
CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
Big board rank: 48
Key specs: 6-1, 194, 32¾-inch arms, 4.28 40
Analysis: Stokes had just four career interceptions (all in 2020, two for TDs), but he has the second-best NextGen Stats production score among this class (tied with top corner Patrick Surtain II). He has the speed and athleticism to stick with receivers, he is great at challenging receivers for the ball and likely can play inside or out.
Scouts say: “He’s got excellent feel and body control. Just a natural at what he does. Press stuff is easy for him. When he’s off (the receiver), he’s not instant change of direction. His length kind of saves him. Excellent ball skills.” … “He’s got great recovery skills. He’s got a knack for the interception. He just stands out. He’s a physical tackler. There’s high upside with this guy.”
CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia
Big board rank: 54
Key specs: 6-1, 195, 32-inch arms, 4.40 40
Analysis: Campbell has a great pedigree, having been coached by former NFL star Patrick Surtain in high school (Surtain’s kid was his teammate and is the top corner in this draft). He has all the physical gifts, but they haven’t always translated into big plays. With a little coaching up on technique (especially in press coverage) and confidence, analysts think he should ascend to a starting role.
Scouts say: “I’d feel comfortable taking him at the end of the first round.” … “Big, athletic, can cover anybody. He has elite movement, maybe the best of the group.” … “Athletically, he is a freak. If anything, you’ve got to get into his head and find out who he is. I think he’ll be an outside corner. He’ll tackle good enough.”
CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
Big board rank: 56
Key specs: 6-3, 212, 32-inch arms, 4.48 40
Analysis: The Seahawks showed interest in Melifonwu’s brother, Obi, who was a busted second-round pick by the Raiders in 2017. Ifeatu is a similar athlete but perhaps a better football player. At his Pro Day, he beat Seattle’s corner thresholds with a 41.5-inch vertical jump, 4.34-second shuttle and 7.01-second 3-cone. Some will see Melifonwu as a safety, but others might think he could play press corner well. He apparently struggled in zone/off coverage, not being instinctive enough, and had just three picks in three years.
Scouts say: “If he had a different last name, he’d be a first-round pick. But people are so afraid because of his brother.” … “You kind of wonder if he’s exactly like his brother, and his brother had no instincts. He’s big, gifted, but he’s a little bit of an underachiever. You want him to be better for his size and skill-set. Still, if you’re talking about a guy like this in the third round, for sure.” … “For how we would use him, I think he’s one of the best fits for us in the draft. I don’t see any way he gets out of the second round.”
CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
Big board rank: 93
Key specs: 6-1, 190, 31.5-inch arms, 4.42 40
Analysis: Adebo is physically just about everything the Hawks like (6.71 3-cone, 4.13 shuttle, 36.5 vertical at his Pro Day), but he has some things to prove after a subpar 2019 and opting out of 2020. He’s a physical ballhawk, with eight interceptions and 30 pass breakups in 22 games, and his NextGen production score is the best in this class (higher than Surtain’s). He needs some technique help, and he needs to prove he can be consistent and healthy.
CB Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas
Big board rank: 180
Key specs: 6-0, 195, 32-inch arms, 4.39 40
Analysis: Rochell has all the physical tools and likely jumped into the Day 2 mix after a monster Pro Day workout that featured a 4.39 40, 43-inch vertical, 133-inch broad jump and 6.83-second 3-cone. Those all easily eclipse Seattle’s thresholds. Rochell was a press corner in college and will require some coaching (backpedal, press technique, etc.) to get up to NFL par after coming from a small school.
Scout says: “This is the guy that a lot of scouts are talking about because of his long arms and (test results). There are teams out there who will draft him on that alone and barely even care about the tape!”
Others to watch: Kelvin Joseph, LSU; Benjamin St-Just, Minnesota; Aaron Robinson, UCF; Elijah Molden, UW; Tay Gowan, UCF; Ambry Thomas, Michigan; Trill Williams, Syracuse.
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