Draft notes: Is Tre the Russ of corners?

They always say a 6-2 Russell Wilson would have been a first-round pick. John Schneider says the same about Tre Brown, Seattle’s 5-10 fourth-rounder.

“If he was 6-foot-2, he would be picked in the top 10, right? You can see him every weekend running all over the place in the Big 12 with all these receivers and all the speed that’s out there and competing his tail off.”

Pete Carroll said Brown will compete on the outside, despite not having the length these Seahawks typically have favored.

“He played outside throughout his (college) years,” Carroll said after the draft. “Hasn’t played inside as a featured nickel guy, but we know that he would have the ability to do that. The one-on-ones in the Senior Bowl were really indicative of his ability to stick to people. He went against really good receivers, really good one-on-one opportunities, and whether he is playing inside or outside, he’s going to do fine. We’re thinking of him as a corner to play outside. We didn’t draft him as a nickel.”

NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein’s take on Brown: “Possesses a stout, strong frame and loves to turn press release into a physical challenge no matter how big the man is across from him. He’s twitchy and quick for short-area attacks when allowed to play forward but gets overwhelmed by bigger receivers downfield, resulting in penalties and jump-ball losses.”

Dane Brugler of The Athletic: “With his long speed and short-area quickness, Brown works hard to stay within arm’s length and crowds the catch point, taking it personally when a completion happens on his watch. He shows a natural feel for break points and route depth, but his eagerness to make plays and lapses in technique will lead to false steps. Brown is undersized and his aggressive nature is a double-edged sword, but he can flat out fly with the route recognition and athleticism to make plays on the football.”

Brown had 14 holding/PI penalties over last two years, per PFF. But he also held receivers to 37.4% completions in 2019 and 2020.

One AFC scout was wary: “I see these coverage stats and it looks good until you realize how many of the incompletions are going to turn into penalties in the NFL.” 

Carroll has never shied from physical corners who commit penalties though. Remember Brandon Browner, who led the league in flags in 2011 but also picked off six passes and made the Pro Bowl?

Stone will learn from Seattle’s rock

You usually can write off most sixth-rounders. Seattle has had marginal success the past decade, getting strong contributions from only a couple guys (Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane) out of 16 previous picks in the round. But Stone Forsythe, who inexplicably slid from third-rounder to sixth, has a chance to be the best guy they have drafted in that round.

Brugler: “After struggling to find his footing on the Gators’ depth chart his first three seasons on campus, he won the left tackle job as a junior and steadily grew into one of the SEC’s top pass protectors. Forsythe has a wide base in his pass sets and enough range to stay square, using his length to strike and keep rushers busy. His upright posture leads to leverage/recovery issues, putting more onus on his hand timing and reset skills. Forsythe will struggle to lock down a starting job in the NFL if he doesn’t improve as a run blocker, but he shows a natural feel for controlling his massive frame as a pass protector, which gives him a chance to fight for early playing time at tackle.”

Forsythe had a hilarious tweet in 2019 where he mimicked The Rock, Dwayne Johnson (who played college football at Miami):

In Seattle, Stone will learn from a different Duane, the rock of the Hawks’ line.

“The benefit that Stone has is he can learn from one of the best players in the league in Duane Brown,” Carroll said. “He’s going to be able to study with him and work with him. Duane will take him under his wing. He’ll teach him all the ins and outs of this position, as well as demonstrate what it is to be an effective perimeter run blocker. Duane’s been famous for that stuff for us. … He has this great example right there in front of him to show him how to play the game. This should work out really well.”

The Hutch effect

Steve Hutchinson, the Hall of Famer who rejoined the Seahawks as a personnel consultant in 2020, worked out Forsythe and got to know him, spending “a ton of time with him.”

“We’re really blessed to have Steve working with us,” Schneider said. “He focuses on the offensive line, he gives a really fresh opinion on guys. We try to get him out as much as we possibly can to spend time with guys, taking them out for a cup of coffee or dinner or whatever and talking to offensive line coaches. Being able to really put his hands on them in the spring, he’s a very, very clear-thinking individual. He knows what he likes. He knows what it takes.”

Draft value?

We (and everyone else) often pick Schneider apart for not getting the right value for some of his guys – especially his first-rounders. He picked D’Wayne Eskridge higher than he was rated on the Big Board, but he made up for it by trading up to snag Forsythe three rounds later than he was expected to go.

The Seahawks were unable to drop before drafting Eskridge, so they took him at 56 even though he was rated a third-rounder on the consensus board. They took him ahead of Terrace Marshall, the No. 35 player on the Big Board who slid to 59, and Dyami Brown, the guy we thought might be the pick if Seattle went receiver in the second round (Brown lasted until 82).

The Hawks also picked Tre Brown a round early, by the board, despite trading down from 129 to 137 with Tampa Bay.

But the Hawks made up for that by getting very good value for Forsythe, drafted in the sixth even though he was rated in the third. Schneider said they started trying to move up for him in the 190s when “we felt like we had enough (ammunition) to go try. Then from there we just started the whole time.

“There was a situation where we could have gone back even further after we worked with Tampa, to see if we could get Tre a little bit later … with the thought of acquiring another pick to try to get up to go get Stone. So, I want to say it was in the 190s that we tried, and then it literally seemed like two hours.”

Key UDFAs

The Seahawks signed several undrafted guys who were expected to go as high as the fourth round. Here are the top UDFAs:

WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota State
5-10, 184, 4.51. 134 (fourth round) on the big board.
Zierlein: Highly productive slot prospect with average size. Possesses above-average toughness to work in the middle of the field and win the combat catches. Johnson’s acceleration off the snap is instant and smooth. He’s very good at weaving around route redirection to maintain his timing and momentum. His routes are a little rounded and he doesn’t have much of a catch radius. However, he does have the ability to add yards after the catch and offers kick-return value. College teams missed with this former FCS walk-on, but NFL teams should pay attention. He has starting slot upside.

WR Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
6-3, 207, 4.44. 161 (fifth round) on big board. Knee injury likely dropped him.
Zierlein: Linear outside target with an exciting blend of size, tape and speed to open up an offense’s vertical attack. Terry really opens his stride length, rocketing him past the coverage. He clearly needs more attention to route-running underneath, but his pure speed will open easy slant catches and subsequent slant-and-go (sluggo) looks that are capable of turning into home runs. While focus and ball-tracking are issues, the bigger issue is that his pass-catching technique is poor and drops might just have to be part of the package. Terry is a high-upside prospect with undeniable home run potential and WR2/3 talent, but the floor is on the low side.

CB Bryan Mills, North Carolina Central
6-1, 174, 4.56, 32” arms. UDFA on big board, but fifth round by Zierlein and Brugler. Considered the top undrafted corner, Mills got a $20,000 bonus from Seattle.
Zierlein: Mills’ size, length and toughness make him an intriguing draft prospect but he’s much more of a “potential” prospect than a projectable one. He possesses very good ball skills and disruption potential but his fundamentals and technique will need to be overhauled if he wants to make it as a press corner, which is his best chance. He lacks true long speed and finds himself scrambling into catch-up mode too often due to a lack of patience and footwork, but he’s not without talent to mold. Mills succeeds on a lower level with natural ability and NFL traits. He has Cover 2 and Cover 3 characteristics and could become a quality backup if he can get his technique squared away.

OG Jared Hocker, Texas A&M
6-6, 327. UDFA on big board, but fifth round by Brugler.
Brugler: A three-year starter at Texas A&M, he bounced between left and right guard and was a rock-solid performer, making a jump between his junior and senior seasons. Hocker has NFL size and plays with the anchor strength and competitive attitude to keep defenders occupied at the line of scrimmage. He has seen a lot of football but lacks ideal range and recovery quickness vs. counters, struggling to bend and connect in space. Overall, Hocker’s average athletic traits will be tougher to mask vs. NFL interior speed, but his size, experience and functional strength make him a roster-worthy player in the NFL.

WR Connor Wedington, Stanford
6-1, 195, 4.44. Considered a UDFA option by all, but Seattle paid him a $20,000 bonus.
Brugler: Wedington has outstanding speed and natural body movements, but that doesn’t always show within his route construction. He lacks deception in his set-up and stem mechanics to consistently create separation. He has good-enough hands, but he struggles to slip tackles (only one career catch of 35-plus yards). Wedington tested off the charts athletically and offers value as a kick returner, but he needs to improve his route polish to unlock his physical gifts as a receiver.

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