Mike Davis and the fallacy of competition

By Jared Stanger

Here’s the thing…we’re being lied to. The lie at its core is that catch phrase: “Always Compete”. The way you know it’s a lie are two-fold. 1) There would be a hell of a lot more pressure on coaches like Bevell and Cable to compete to KEEP THEIR FUCKING JOBS. 2) The guys that WIN competitions would actually get to KEEP THEIR FUCKING JOBS.

For now I’m going to talk about the latter. This is the guys like Kasen Williams and Pierre Desir that competed this summer, won the competition, and had their jobs given to other people. Those two are gone now, signed to other teams, and we won’t be getting them back without luck or paying a price that exceeds the value we got for cutting them.

But it might not be too late to save Mike Davis.

Mike Davis won the preseason RB competition. Chris Carson got the headlines because he’s the bright, shiny new toy fresh out of the draft, but Davis played better than the whole group.

Statistically, here are the numbers:

I posted that a couple weeks ago and someone argued it was inverse of when guys got touches and the level of competition they faced. If you actually watched, though, Chris Carson was getting 1st quarter touches A LOT, and Davis was running the end of the 2nd quarter in at least two of the four games. Here’s Davis in the Minnesota game catching a TD pass from Russell Wilson:

Davis showed good route running and sense for finding the soft spot underneath.

This, vs KC, is nice by Davis finding the opening. If Joeckel and/or Britt had picked up a block, this might have gone for 20 yards.

For whatever reason, Russell and the active RB in the Green Bay game seemed to have trouble connecting on these simple checkdown type plays. Russell, I think, showed good chemistry with Davis as his outlet guy.

Offhand, I don’t remember how well the active RB did in terms of chip-blocking vs GB. I think I spotted one play that Prosise missed his assignment, but I didn’t go back and watch for that specifically.

Here are some Mike Davis blocks.

I’d be curious how this one was designed. Are both backs supposed to block this way? I don’t know, but backside is contained.

This is one of the better RB blocks I saw this preseason.

Now let’s actually watch some run plays.

My contention is that Davis ran the zone scheme better than any of the Seattle backs in preseason. Keys to running zone are timing and decision-making. The RB’s footworks/steps should be in line with the OL’s synchronized footwork. And the RB should be decisive; choosing in-rhythm whether to take the frontside lane, or to cut it back.

Here, we’ve got OL blocking well to the playcall of wide zone. Biggest concern is that backside chaser. Davis escapes that ankle tackle and then has freedom to improvise at the 2nd level.

Wide zone the other way. I think a TE should be peeling off that double team to pick up the incoming LB. Not a well-blocked play, but Davis shows ability to adapt. This is something Lacy, specifically, could not do Sunday.

This is the type of play that isn’t splashy, but that shows better understanding of the system, better decision making, and great effort. This play could have gone for loss, then could have gone for only 2 yard gain, but Mike makes it into a 4-yard gain.

This is just tremendous feel by Davis. Defender is getting too deep in outside contain and Mike pulls hard back inside, breaks the foot tackle, gets extra yardage falling forward during tackle.

Moving on to the Vikings game.

This is another minor play, but shows again Mike making 4 yards out of what could/would be 2 for other RB.

This play needs to be run slow-mo or paused. Davis is 2 yards deep in the EZ, but already reading Viking DL coming free from his left, and cutting it back right for positive yardage.

One of the better zone plays this game. Mike has two-way go at handoff: he can follow Madden through frontside, but his eye is drawn to the opening backside between TE and LT. Viking DB breaks for Mike’s running lane, but his overpursuit leaves no one outside contain, so Mike cuts outside…huge gain. Good block by Vannett (who we need to feature more).

Same play from endzone view.

I didn’t go through the Raider game, so we’ll be ending on the KC tape.

 

Glow wiffs on his cutblock backside, so Mike is forced to get skinny. Positive yardage, though.

I think this was Mike’s first touch of the KC game. Fortunately the OLB was reading play action pass all the way and took himself out of the play. Easy read for Davis to bounce it outside and pick up a nice chunk of yardage.

And Mike closes the play initiating contact with the defender with his helmet right under dude’s chin, plus the fall forward over the first down line-to-gain.

There’s just nothing in his tape that tells me that Mike Davis wasn’t consistently one of Seattle’s top four RB throughout the preseason. Stats support it. Tape supports it. Fundamentals support it. And if you want to get a little romantic about it…the W-L record supports it: 4-0 with Mike Davis on the team, 0-1 with him now off the active roster.

If we’re making decisions based on competition; I don’t see how Mike Davis hasn’t won at least a job on the active roster. It’s supposed to be “ALWAYS Compete”; not “compete except when we’ve overdrafted you, or paid you more than you’re worth.”

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Fail quickly

By Jared Stanger

I got on my PC late Sunday night, after that pathetic, offensive offensive effort (not a typo), with the intent to watch some college tape. I watched a couple games featuring higher-end college Left Tackles. But I was distracted. Distracted by the insanity of this franchise’s continued effort to do the same thing and expect different results. It. Is. NUTS.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Seattle next takes on the Niners back home at Century Link. The Niners looked pretty miserable against Carolina Sunday, and may have taken a huge hit if they’ve lost Reuben Foster for any length of time.

The unfortunate part of this is that this level of weaker opponent…where Brian Hoyer will in no way, shape, or form be able to overcome the Seattle defense like Aaron Rodgers did…will hide the Seahawk deficiencies that Green Bay exposed this week.

I want the team to be proactive. I want the team to make actual changes. I want the team to fail quickly.

And in that spirit; these are some of the changes I would like to see PCJS make starting as soon as “tell the truth Monday” tomorrow.

They won’t make the coaching changes at Offensive Coordinator or Offensive Line that I think are long-past due. So, instead, force them to make better fucking use of the resources available to them.

Offensive Line: make the personnel change along the starting OL to be (L-R) Luke Joeckel, Rees Odhiambo, Justin Britt, Oday Aboushi, Ethan Pocic. If Cable insists on having a unique backup center with Pocic at RT; Joey Hunt will need to be called up from the practice squad. Release Tobin or Battle…I don’t really care which. Hopefully one that gets you the conditional draftpick compensation back.

Offensive play-calling: fuck Bevell and give Russell more leeway to go up-tempo/no-huddle. It works. Do it. And don’t EVER start a game with a pass play EVER again. As a rule. Just don’t.

Tight End: use Nick Vannett more. He’s a more well-rounded player, able to block better on run plays, and his receiving is still underrated. Jimmy deserves a demotion after some of his lackadaisical play Sunday. (As I’m writing this, it dawns on me…was Jimmy distracted by Hurricane Irma hitting Florida, where he’s from?)

Running back: cut Eddie Lacy and call up Mike Davis. Davis was our best back in preseason. He ran the zone better than all of our backs. He caught well. He played well on special teams.
Lacy doesn’t fit this team. Our OL can’t block in a way that would allow Lacy to be effective, and Lacy’s inability to stop-start quickly and, as far as I can tell, his inability to play zone read prevent Russell from being as effective as Russell is with other runners. Now, if we need to hold off on this move until Rawls is fully healthy; fine. But it should be soon.
Let Chris Carson start, and actually use him more than 6 carries a game.

Defense: on all of the defense, really my only thought going forward is that I’d like to see less Jeremy Lane. I know the ejection today wasn’t earned by him, but he’s had enough personal fouls and bone-headed plays the last year-plus to be demoted sooner than later. It didn’t seem like Justin Coleman was a bad replacement in the slot. Certainly Shaquill Griffin stepped up in a pretty big, and important way at boundary. And hopefully Deshawn Shead is back as soon as possible by rule of PUP.

Oh, and get rid of McKissic. Is Kenny Lawler still on the street? Bring him back. Lawler can sit on inactive just as easily as McKissic did today.

Enough of these Matt Flynn, Cary Williams, J’Marcus Webb bullshit moves that don’t last the length of their contract. See down the road better. Fail quicker. Like, in preseason.

2018 Draft: Offensive Tackle

By Jared Stanger

I’m fairly confident that 2018 is going to be a pretty good Offensive Tackle class. The 2017 Seniors include Mike McGlinchey, Tyrell Crosby, Martinas Rankins, and Chukwuma Okorafor. The 2017 Juniors that may declare early include Connor Williams, Orlando Brown, Brian O’Neill, Mitch Hyatt, Trey Adams, Yodny Cajuste, and Yosuah Nijman. If you get 3-4 underclassmen, I think you have a class stacked enough that you can plausibly find a LT late in the 1st round…maybe pushing into the 2nd.

There are quite a few ways we can break down this group. We’ve got guys that are athletes, we’ve got guys that have the right build, we’ve got run-blocking specialists, we’ve got better pass-protectors, etc.

Early on, I’ve been pretty impressed with how many of these guys fit the build proportionally (per each player’s school listing) of what I once found to be the league prototype LT size (6’6″/315lbs). If you give +/- 2″ of height and +/- 5lbs in weight, you get a list looking like this:

Mike McGlinchey- 6’8″/315lbs
Yosuah Nijman- 6’7″/320lbs
Tariq Cole- 6’6″/320lbs
Connor Williams- 6’6″/315lbs
Martinas Rankins- 6’5″/315lbs
Tyrell Crosby- 6’5″/320lbs
Bentley Spain- 6’6″/310lbs
Geron Christian- 6’6″/315lbs
Timon Parris- 6’5″/320lbs

Pretty good list. Couple of bulls-eyes in Williams and Christian. If you had asked me a week ago to name my favorite OT in this class, I would have said Connor Williams. After one week of tape under a new head coach and new system, Connor has taken a step back. (Come to think of it…that might be affecting Trey Adams as well. Not a new HC, but a new position coach.)

Currently having the opposite effect on me from Williams’ hot-to-cold is Mike McGlinchey. I’ve had issues with some of his 2016 games. Michigan State vs Malik McDowell comes to mind. But I watched his first game of 2017 and I had very little complaint (follow tweet thread).

Many have McGlinchey as OT1 this year…the rest probably have Williams. These two are Tier 1: “top 10 picks”. Tier 2 right now is generally comprised of Mitch Hyatt, Orlando Brown, Trey Adams, Chukwuma Okorafor. I’m not really interested in this tier. I’m more interested in what is probably Tier 3 now, but will rise up into tier 2 in time. I’m considering tier 3 as: Brian O’Neill, Tyrell Crosby, Yosuah Nijman, Yodny Cajuste.

Keep in mind, Tom Cable once talked about the height he prefers for his OL and it was players more in the 6’4″-6’5″ range. Tall guys have trouble keeping pad level low enough. Obviously, being over 6’5″ has never stopped PCJSTC from bringing in a given OL (Joeckel, Sowell, Giacomini, etc). Being 6’5″ is probably the A- to the B+ of a 6’6″ guy. So, for Cable, the Rankins/Crosby/Parris grouping may be most intriguing.

With Rankins being moved inside to play Center for Mississippi State this year, I think Tyrell Crosby might be most in Cable’s wheelhouse in terms of size. Tyrell was limited in 2016 to only two games due to injury, so I’m currently operating on very small scouting sample size (if anyone knows where I can find Oregon vs Southern Utah tape, let me know). But I think the sample I’ve seen is excellent (thread).

Whatever Crosby’s tape vs SUU looked like, it was good enough for PFF to honor him for this week:

Yodny Cajuste plays much more stout than his listed 6’5″/308lbs would suggest. I think he might be more in the 315-320 range, as well. Yodny is coming off a pretty big knee injury, but is looking very solid in his first game back this year:

The guys that look a little heavy and play a little slow (for my eye):

Chukwuma Okorafor- 6’6″/330lbs
Orlando Brown- 6’8″/345lbs
Trey Adams- 6’8″/327lbs

Okorafor was teammates with 2017 WMU draftee Taylor Moton. I always had trouble with Moton’s tape because he looked unathletic. Then he tested at the combine, and Moton was actually a pretty good athlete. So I punt a little bit on Okorafor because I don’t trust my eyes on him.

Guys that look a little light and play without enough anchor:

Brian O’Neill- 6’6″/305lbs
Mitch Hyatt- 6’5″/305lbs
Jeromy Irwin- 6’5″/300lbs

Of those three, Hyatt is the most highly touted, but O’Neill is the most intriguing to me. A former TE, Brian still holds possibly the best athleticism at OT this year. And Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi will show him off:

Also:

The other competitor for biggest freak athlete at OT is VTech’s Yosuah Nijman. Although it’s not showcased much on tape, my research tells me Nijman will ruin the combine whichever year he comes out. I had Yosuah’s 2017 debut graded a very solid performance. Nothing too flashy, but nothing to complain about. PFF actually had him graded very high.

Currently, my sleepers of the 2018 OT class are Stony Brook’s Timon Parris and Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa. I have no clue how to relate these two to FBS players. I can only judge whether or not they dominate their league. Cappa definitely does.

Parris is playing better competition, but not as dominant. I’d need to see him take some strides forward this year before thinking him more than UDFA, but he could get there.

For live scouting some of these players, here are the choice picks from this week’s Saturday schedule:

Brian O’Neill/Pitt on ABC at 12:30pm vs Penn State
Tyrell Crosby/Oregon on Fox at 1:30pm vs Nebraska
Orlando Brown/Oklahoma on ABC at 4:30 vs Ohio State
Mike McGlinchey/Notre Dame on NBC at 4:30 vs Georgia

The 53

By Jared Stanger

On the day before the day before the final preseason game of 2017, and by Twitter poll demand, here is my projection of this year’s opening week 53-man roster.

Unfortunately, with this year’s change in cutdown process, I have a feeling there will be a spot or two on the 53 occupied by players currently on other teams’ 90-man rosters. That day will be a kind of crazy we haven’t seen before.

In the meantime, this is what I’d do to fill out the roster from currently known names.

Actually, first, let’s look at the recent history. In 2016, the roster breakdown went:

2 QB
4 RB
0 FB
5WR
4 TE
9 OL
9 DL
5 LB
12 DB
3 ST

That’s 24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists. Cassius Marsh was counted as DL, Dewey McDonald was counted as DB.

We need to make some changes. We probably can spend the fourth TE to keep a FB. We’d probably like to take back a spot from defense so that we can keep a sixth WR (or whatever the hell JD McKissic is). In 2016, with Kam and Earl coming back from offseason surgeries; the team carried six safeties. I think they probably do a similar thing this year at WR where Tyler Lockett is coming back from surgery. That’s McKissic…at least to start the season.

Quarterback

Boykin has had his off-field issues this offseason, and the overall snapshot of his on-field preseason is not as good as what Davis has done.

Davis has gone out and posted a 123.4 passer rating while going 14×19 (73.7%), 10.2 YPA, 1 TD, 0 INT. Boykin is going to give you the run ability, but, interestingly, Davis has only taken 2 sacks to Boykin’s 3 sacks.

(Sidenote: QB may be a spot where the team focuses at cutdowns…likely looking for someone they can practice squad.)

Russell Wilson
Austin Davis

Running Back

This is straight up the hardest position to call. The guys that should be locks are hurt. The guys that are on the bubble have actually played better than the incumbents. In a just world, Chris Carson has played himself into the RB1 spot, Mike Davis has been RB2, and JD McKissic has been the better (slash available) 3rd down back. And yet we need to sit here and figure out what to do with Thomas Rawls, CJ Prosise, and Eddie Lacy.

I have no loyalty or obligation to Lacy. With his age, size, and club control; I still maintain he is a guy I’d look to trade before eventually cutting. I’ll take Carson and Davis’ club control on cheap rookie deals.

Prosise is going to infuriate us until the day he is no longer on the roster. It’s just a fact. The best option at this point is to IR-return him until midseason when Lock can retake return duties from McKissic, and cut McKissic to bring back Prosise.

The easiest call, for me, to make is: Collins is gone.

Chris Carson
Thomas Rawls
Mike Davis
JD McKissic
Marcel Reece
IR- CJ Prosise

Tightend

From the hardest spot, to the easiest spot. Due to airballing on TE in the draft, I don’t see any option (on 90-man) other than:

Jimmy Graham
Luke Willson
Nick Vannett

Wide Receiver

Another interesting spot. You’d think the team had brought in players to challenge Jermaine Kearse for his spot, but none have really stepped up. Kasen Williams has played well enough to have the lead for WR5 over Tanner McEvoy (who began 2016 as the WR5), but I don’t think he’s ahead of Kearse. And the most recent depth chart I believe confirms Kearse is still WR4.

That same recent depth chart had Kenny Lawler and Kasen listed as the third WR on either left or right side, respectively. McEvoy and Amara Darboh were the fourth WR’s on either side. If they keep six WR, I think the final guy in is McEvoy, with Darboh going to IR for the year (I don’t think they IR-return a rookie WR).

If you asked me three weeks ago, I would have put Lawler on the team over McEvoy based on what he showed at camp. McEvoy gives you unique size. He gives you a guy that could act as a sort of TE4, if needed.

Doug Baldwin
Paul Richardson
Tyler Lockett
Jermaine Kearse
Kasen Williams
Tanner McEvoy

Offensive Line

Because we’ve added to the RB room and WR room, but only cut from TE; we need to take that 26th defensive player from the 2016 roster to keep 9 on the OL. I thought there was an outside shot they’d keep only 8 OL back before Fant was hurt, but now I can’t imagine they do that.

Ignoring that I think Cable is using multiple guys outside their best position (what a shock); I think the starting OL right now is: Odhiambo-Joeckel-Britt-Aboushi-Ifedi.

You NEED a backup LT, so the new signee Matt Tobin is in until they find someone better at cutdowns. Then, you need to pick three from the list of: Jordan Roos, Ethan Pocic, Mark Glowinski, Darrell Brown, Tyrus Thompson.

I believe Tobin can play some RT, as can Pocic, so both Brown and Thompson are immediately the obvious two cuts, to me.

Again, before Fant’s injury, I would have cut Roos because I think Odhiambo is a very good LG candidate, but post ACL I see no reason (and really no other LG option) to cut Roos. I’m not getting into the Glow back to LG conversation. Let’s not.

Pocic is your new Center backup. And that will be his primary spot this year. What the future holds for him with Britt now extended is beyond me. A 2nd round pick for a bench utility player is not a great use of resources.

Rees Odhiambo
Luke Joeckel
Justin Britt
Oday Aboushi
Germain Ifedi
Matt Tobin
Jordan Roos
Ethan Pocic
Mark Glowinski

Defensive Line

Six of these nine spots remained unchanged: Bennett, Avril, Clark, Rubin, Reed, Marsh. It’s possible Quinton Jefferson makes seven unchanged.

If QJeff stays; you’re looking for two bodies from the list of David Bass, Christian French, Nazair Jones, Marcus Smith, Rodney Coe, Tylor Harris, Garrison Smith, Greg Milhouse. It would have to be Jones and Bass from that list, right?

I’ve read this week that John Clayton thinks Marcus Smith makes the team…I just don’t see it. You need interior players more than edge. I don’t think any of: Bennett, Avril, Clark, Marsh are really debatable. Smith would have to take Bass or Jefferson’s spot, but both of those have been used both inside and outside. And I don’t think you can steal from the linebackers, who will be special teams centric, to keep Marcus.

Until the team makes a trade for a DL:

Mike Bennett
Cliff Avril
Frank Clark
Cassius Marsh
David Bass
Jarran Reed
Ahtyba Rubin
Naz Jones
Quinton Jefferson

Linebackers

Pretty straightforward. Needing more nickel players, you only keep five LB.

Bobby Wagner
KJ Wright
Terrence Garvin
Michael Wilhoite
DJ Alexander

Defensive Backs

This where you finally steal from to make up the missing 25th offensive player. Last year they carried extra DB’s. This year, there is room for eleven.

Your base secondary sees only one change: Jeremy Lane starts at RCB in place of injured Deshawn Shead. Shaquill Griffin is your new third CB in nickel defense (Lane rotates to slot, though).

For backups, Bradley McDougald is your #1 safety backup at either spot (but primarily FS). Delano Hill has made a great first impression and should be fine as SS2. I think you keep Neiko Thorpe for his special teams play. Those are locks. That’s eight of the eleven spots.

The three remaining spots are between: Tramaine Brock, Deandre Elliott, Pierre Desir, Demetrius McCray, Mike Tyson, Tedric Thompson, Marcus Cromartie. It’s not an impressive group (though, keep in mind Shead should eventually return from PUP to claim one spot).

Honestly, I think Pierre Desir has looked better than the rest of the guys in this tier (they really should have drafted CB in the 1st round AND in the 3rd round). I don’t know that either of the guys that look like backup slot CB’s (Brock, Elliott) have run away with that gig. And I’m not entirely sure there’s a fifth safety on this roster that deserves to stay.

Does that mean maybe borrowing a roster spot from the secondary to keep an extra DL? Is that how you keep Marcus Smith?? Or is safety a spot that they look for at cutdowns?

Richard Sherman
Jeremy Lane
Shaquill Griffin
Neiko Thorpe
Pierre Desir
Deandre Elliott

Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
Bradley McDougald
Delano Hill
(Waiver claim)

Ultimately, I think the Seahawks need to find help via trade for the DL, and they can improve via waiver claim at cutdown for FS (watch Pats cuts). At QB/TE they will wait to see which players clear waivers, then PS them.

2018 Seattle Sea-Mock 1.0

By Jared Stanger

Welcome to August. We’re roughly four days into NFL preseason, and meaningful football is 20 days away in college and I think I counted 32 days away for NFL. It’s about time for my first Seahawks 2018 mock draft.

I’m not entirely sure where Seattle stands on total draft picks. I suspect they will forfeit a pick for the skirmish that ended with Frank Clark punching Germain Ifedi. Probably a 3rd rounder. But I will figure that out later. Right now, I’m just looking to primarily make some sense of what the team needs to do this year. This will just be 7 picks for 7 rounds.

We hear John Schneider talk a lot about the “three-year plan”…I sketched out a pretty basic two-year plan just to give myself a big-picture view. Then, I’m factoring in my early sense of what is coming in this next draft in terms of positional strengths/weaknesses.

1st Round

I glanced at maybe three national writers’ 1st round mock drafts and I think all three gave Seattle an offensive tackle in the first. I don’t think they realize what the team thinks about George Fant. Or, at least, how much the team values Fant’s pricetag for the next two years. Now, in 2019, it’s probably a different story.

If anything on OL; 2018 probably needs to be more about drafting an interior OL. Joeckel, Aboushi, and Britt are in contract years, and Glow has two years left. But…Odhiambo could be a hedge at LG, Pocic a hedge at OC, and Glow/Ifedi have time remaining as potential RG.

On the other hand, after the 2017 season, your potential OT’s will have (respectively) 1 year left plus RFA, 2 years left, and 3 years left. I don’t see it as a priority.

From an inventory standpoint, depending on underclass declares, either 2018 or 2019 will pop as a really good OT class. You sort of hope that the 2017 Juniors stay in school and the good class is in 2019, after Fant has played out his UDFA contract.

If the good class is this year…I don’t know. Drafting late in rounds from making the playoffs means you need to take advantage of deep position groups. I may retract my thought to pass on OT this year (at which point, I’m looking hard at Tyrell Crosby from Oregon as a guy with nice tape and low enough draft buzz to be there late 1st).

I think the two biggest needs for the 2018 draft are DE and TE. Tightend is kind of already a problem with both Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson in contract years. Defensive end will see (potentially) 3.5 losses in the next two years.

I think one of Cassius Marsh and Marcus Smith make the 2017 roster, and both are free agents next year. Then, in 2019, both Cliff Avril and Frank Clark are FA. Not all of these guys walk. But, arguably, you need two DE in the next two years.

If the top two needs are DE and TE, I think it’s pretty easy to prioritize…historically, you don’t need to draft a TE in the 1st round. Sack artists always get drafted early. Go with DE first.

For now, I’m putting Kansas DE/OLB Dorance Armstrong here. I think he’s a really cool player, but one that not everyone is buying yet. But at 6’4″/246lbs during his sophomore year in 2016, Dorance posted 10.0 sacks and 20.0 TFL. Pretty good production in a defense that isn’t exactly rife with NFL talent.

I think Dorance has more innate passrush ability than many higher-touted guys with better athleticism. I like guys that can get sacks/pressure on an island. No scheme, no stunts, just individual performance.

2nd Round

I think you next go straight to the glaring problem at TE. 2017 was a pretty nice TE class, and the team should have drafted one…probably could have had one in the 4th…but here we are. Maybe artificially forcing TE earlier than you’d like.

I think the Penn State TE, Mike Gesicki, is the most comparable to Graham in this class. But he’ll be gone. Some think the Oklahoma kid, Mark Andrews, is the next guy…I think he has problems. Troy Fumagalli from Wisconsin is solid, but potentially too similar to Nick Vannett.

I like the small-school player: Dallas Goedert, from South Dakota State. Listed 6’4″/260 lbs, but he clearly moves like a lighter receiver, and he has great hands.

3rd Round

If they ARE considering OG, I think this is where you start looking. I think this has been a lucky round for them to target WR, and they do need to spend a top 3-round pick on WR in the next two drafts. Or, believe it or not, you consider CB.

Shead is a FA this year. Sherm is a FA after 2018. And we don’t know which Lane we’re going to see going forward, nor if he sees completion of his current deal.

I’m prioritizing CB over the other spots because CB is the spot I look at at training camp and think, “that position group is too shallow”. It needs numbers and it needs another “hit”.

I just found Dee Delaney in the last week. He’s got the right size at 6’1″/193lbs. He has good technique and physicality. And his production, though at a small school to this point, has been good.

4th Round

In the 4th round, I have more of the idea of what I want to do than the actual answer. Seattle has been throwing all kinds of outside players at the SAM linebacker spot since Bruce Irvin left. Names like Garvin, Wilhoite, McDonald, and Alexander are all new to the system, but are also all (potentially) short to be in the system. All four of those will be in and out in the next two years. They need something more longterm, in my opinion.

They might, also, need a new backup to Bobby at the MIKE spot.

I’m curious about college names like Kenny Young, Lorenzo Carter, Elijah Lee.

For now, I will slot in Kenny Young because I think he can play all three LB spots.

5th Round

In rounds 5th-7th, the picks can be less about need and more about interesting upside flyers. With Lacy on a one-year deal and the potential that Collins doesn’t make the team; I can see the team take a late-round pick on a RB.

Jordan Scarlett is a 5’10″/213lb back without a ton of wear, with great speed, and who finishes runs really aggressively.

6th Round

As I described earlier, I think there is potential that Seattle has hedged all of its OL positions so as not to need any early picks on the line. This will be a depth/future pick.

Ike Boettger from Iowa is a 6’6″/307lb LT that I will project as a guard due to his performance in run game, and degree of struggle in pass pro.

7th Round

Paul Richardson is a FA after this year, so it would be good to draft someone with some great deep speed. Maybe someone like Allenzae Staggers at SoMiss or Van Jefferson at Ole Miss.

I’m mocking Michael Gallup from CSU for his all-around game. He won’t last this long, though.

Recap

1st- DE Dorance Armstrong
2nd- TE Dallas Goedert
3rd- CB Dee Delaney
4th- LB Kenny Young
5th- RB Jordan Scarlett
6th- OL Ike Boettger
7th- WR Michael Gallup

Preseason Gems

By Jared Stanger

I’ve been meaning to post some 2018 draft prospects and their videos for a few weeks now, but I’ve kept having those life interruptions. So forgive the delay. The following is just a random collection of prospects that I’m looking forward to studying in the fall. If you’re not familiar, I generally prefer to point out the guys that aren’t getting as much hype.

DE/OLB, Kansas, Dorance Armstrong, Jr

The “Jr” in his listing is both because Dorance’s dad was the Sr, but also because Dorance is entering his Junior year of college. In 2016 he posted 56 tackles, 20.0 TFL, 10.0 sacks, 5 hurries, and 3 forced fumbles. Listed at 6’4″/246lbs last year, Dorance has the ideal build a speed LEO player.

Armstrong has a very instinctive sense of how to bend the edge:

Another example, this time on Patrick Mahomes:

Dorance will be dogged all year for his ability against the run, he’ll be projected to move off the line to stand-up LB…none of these things should be concerning as long as he keeps disrupting backfields on 3rd downs.

OT, Oregon, Tyrell Crosby

Listed 6’5″/320, Tyrell is a bit of a wildcard due to the number of games he’s missed due to injury. After playing 12 games at Right Tackle in 2015, Tyrell played only two games at Left Tackle in 2016 before injury sidelined him.

I watched both of Tyrell’s 2016 games and there’s something very interesting in his game. There’s a certain effortlessness to his performance. Does this mean the game is easy for him? Does this mean he’s not giving 100%? Does this mean he has more untapped potential still in the tank that he hasn’t needed yet?

I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve seen him play 5-6 games this year, but for now, what he did in limited time in 2016 was REALLY compelling:

Very good in pass-pro:

Tyrell tells me he’s ready to go this year. So I’m very hopeful.

RB, Florida, Jordan Scarlett

Another 2017 Junior, Jordan Scarlett is a 5’10″/213lb back with huge SPARQ numbers, and who is coming off a 179 carry, 889 yard, 6 TD season for the Gators. With Barkley, Guice, Chubb, Freeman taking more of the headlines in the next RB class; Scarlett is more of a quiet name. But I like that.

I also like that Scarlett’s size is very much in the Seahawks’ wheelhouse for RB’s. Obviously they’re trying some things with the 250lb Lacy, and the 6’1″ Prosise; but more often than not, Seattle RB’s are built like Scarlett.

Here’s the tape:

I like some of the details I see in Jordan’s running: ability to hand-switch, great feet, choosing contact and the extra yard over going out of bounds.

The other less-heralded RB’s I’m watching this year are UW’s Lavon Coleman, LaTech’s Jarred Craft, and Arizona’s Nick Wilson (if he can stay healthy).

TE, South Dakota State, Dallas Goedert

I think Mike Gesicki is the #1 TE this year, but if Dallas Goedert went to a bigger school, he’d give him a run for his money. Listed around 6’5″/255, Goedert moves really well, catches unbelievably, and posted a 92 catch, 1293 yard, 11 TD season last year. 92 catches would have put Dallas tied for 12th place nationally if he were in the FBS, and 1293 yards would have been 14th. That’s amongst all receivers.

I love scouting cornerbacks probably most out of all positions, and I’d like to show you some really cool 2018 CB that will sneak up on us…but as things generally go in the world of NFL draft, the year after a really good class at one position, there is inevitably a large drop-off the next year.

I don’t have much under the radar to talk about at CB right now. The Alabama trio of Averett, Brown, Fitzpatrick are known. The Virginia Tech duo of Alexander and Facyson are known, but didn’t play well in 2016. Iman Marshall of USC and Jordan Thomas of Oklahoma are known, but inconsistent on tape.

ECU has a 6’4″/198lb Senior corner named Bobby Fulp that I will be watching for. Illinois State has a 6’0″/200lb corner named Davontae Harris that showed some cool traits in limited pass plays in the one game I watched of him. A&M corner Priest Willis is 6’2″/200lbs and showing the foundation of solid step-kick technique:

That’s all for now, but I intend to do these more often as we get closer to football.

 

Mariner draft recap

The 2017 MLB Draft concluded Wednesday with 30 rapid-fire draft rounds, after the first ten rounds split Monday and Tuesday. These are some of the observations from the second draft conducted under Jerry Dipoto, and the first under new scouting director Scott Hunter.

Here is the complete draft listing: 2017 Mariner Draft

In 2016, the draft went 29 college players, 11 high school. 8 of the HS were picked 30-40.
In 2017, the draft went 32 college players, 8 high school. 5 of the HS were picked 35-40.

Seattle wasn’t able to sign 11 of their 40 picks in 2016, and 9 of the 11 unsigned were high schoolers. They signed their entire top 15 picks, and 23 of their top 24. This year, they drafted fewer HS, presumably increasing their signing-ratio. The final four picks this year were from NW schools (three WA, one OR).

In 2016, the position breakdown went 21 bats, 19 arms. 7 of the first 10 picks were bats.
In 2017, the position breakdown went 17 bats, 23 arms. 7 of the first 10 picks were pitchers.

Further breakdown of the 2017 position picks:

15- RHP
8- LHP
5- CF
5- SS
3- C
2- 1B
2- 3B

13 of 17 bats play up the middle. No corner-outfielders. Jerry will play three centerfielders when/wherever possible, I think. Pretty standard that all shortstops in the system will cross-train as 2B.

At least two of the players drafted as pitchers were primarily position-players in college (Alvarado, Wade).

Of the college pitchers, 12 were primarily starters and 7 were primarily relievers.

But here’s this most-interesting thing about this draft class of college pitchers: 16 of 19 averaged over 8.00 SO/9, and 15 of 19 averaged over 3.00 SO/BB (all 19 averaged over 2.50 SO/BB). If I had to distill Jerry’s tendencies for pitching acquisition down to one stat since he’s been here, it is the SO/BB rate.

Now for some individual player stats.

The best strikeout rate comes from 17th round Maryland IF/RHP Jamal Wade who, in his only year of college used as a pitcher, averaged 15.10 SO/9. He also had the worst BB/9 rate of Mariner draftpicks at 5.95.

The best in SO/BB was 3rd rounder Wyatt Mills, who posted a mark of 14.50, which would have been the best in NCAA if he had enough innings to qualify.

The best WHIP comes from 12th rounder Darren McCaughan, who finished 4th in the country at 0.83.

The most Saves came from 4th rounder Seth Elledge (13 saves – 17th in the country), followed by Mills (12 saves).

11th round pick from the Citadel, J.P. Sears led the class in strikeouts with 142.

1st round pick Evan White led all the hitters drafted in doubles with 24, followed by 31st rounder Ryan Costello. Costello had the most walks among this group with 45.

19th round pick Kevin Santa, a shortstop, led the class in batting average and OBP: .423/.502. The Puerto Rican born Santa has a very sweet, lefthanded swing:

Another SS, 21st rounder Connor Hoover, leads in HR and RBI: 18 HR/74 RBI.

14th round catcher Trevor Casanova tied for the lead in triples at 7 with 28th round OF Johnny Slater.

Slater was also 2nd in stolen bases, going 15×15. He was behind 8th round CF Billy Cooke who had 21 SB.

The best caught-stealing rate has to be David Banuelos, who gunned-down 61% of would be stealers.

It certainly seems this draft had a large tilt towards run-prevention. Evan White is a stud defensive 1B, Banuelos a cannon at C, 20th round C Troy Dixon reportedly only committed 2 errors in three years at St. John’s. Here are some great defensive plays from the M’s draft picks:

8th rounder Billy Cooke

22nd rounder Johnny Adams

28th rounder Johnny Slater

Some of the hitters:

40th rounder from Edmonds CC, Zach Needham

37th rounder from Seattle Prep, Jesse Franklin

20th rounder Troy Dixon

Mariner Mock 2.0

By Jared Stanger

The 2017 MLB Draft starts at 4pm on Monday, June 12th with the Mariners drafting at #17 overall. Here is my second attempt at projecting a look at their top few rounds.

Since my last mock, a few things have changed across the draft landscape. Oregon LHP David Peterson is now frequently seen more in the #13-15 range, as opposed to the 16-18 range we were seeing. Oregon State LHP Luke Heimlich had the bombshell dropped of his teenage conviction for sexual assault of a minor; completely laying waste to his draft potential. And there’s now rumor that UCLA RHP Griffin Canning may have something structurally wrong with his arm.

The Peterson news is most disappointing because I think his mix of control, stuff, size and being left-handed would make him really appealing to Jerry Dipoto for Safeco Field. In the event he drops for some reason (like Kyle Lewis did last year), he might still be the pick.

I had been thinking the pitching options at #17 were generally better than the bats, but there are potentially three fewer arm options there now. The bats are still kinda “meh” for me. The one connected to Seattle the most is Missouri State 3B Jake Burger, who I just flat don’t like. Monster stats, but not a great athlete and his future position might be DH. Other potential bats with projection near #17: Vandy OF Jeren Kendall, UNC SS Logan Warmoth, Kentucky 1B Evan White (I’d vote the latter).

Not only is the draft at #17 not great for me; the story kinda goes that this isn’t a great draft in general. So, the thought occurs to me…get creative. Also…take risks.

Maybe you don’t sweat one of your first two picks as much as you would normally, and instead settle into being okay taking a risk on a tough-sign high school talent. If you get him signed…awesome. If you don’t; either your #17 this year becomes #18 next year, or #55 this year becomes #56 next year in a better class.

At first I was thinking, “go ahead and take the HS player at #17”, but if you don’t sign him there; not only do you lose him this year, but you also lose his signing bonus allotment for the entire 2017 draft class. Whereas, if you draft, say, an underslot college player at #17, then shoot for an overslot HS player at 55…you will have the bigger, 1st round chunk of bonus pool active. Essentially, you want to make sure you have the biggest check available first, before determining how to spend it. So that first round pick needs to be signed.

With all this in mind, and looking at where players are projecting, I think it would be really interesting to go underslot at #17 with a college bat (the rumored preference for Jerry), and take former Seattle Prep player and current Wake Forest CF: Stuart Fairchild.

#17- OF, Wake Forest, Stuart Fairchild

Fairchild is hitting .364 this year with a .441 OBP, roughly a .286 ISO and .464 secA, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 18 2B, 21 SB in 26 attempts, and he plays a really solid CF. As I’m writing this, Stuart is 2×2 off probable 1st-rounder Alex Faedo in the CWS super regional (before the rain delay hit). He’s also a semi-finalist (top 25) for the 2017 Golden Spikes Award.

Baseball America currently has Fairchild as their #43 overall player. So drafting him at #17 in his hometown, you might get a decent discount on signing (Seattle has a bonus pool of $6,737,300 to work with, and #17 is worth $3,333,200 of that). If you sign Fairchild for what slot #40 is worth, you would gain $1,618,700 of space to go after a hard-sign at #55.

Draft slot #55 is valued at $1,206,900. Plus the surplus just from going under slot at 17; you’re potentially looking at having $2,825,600 to work with at 55. That dollar amount is somewhere between the allotment for pick #21-22 overall. In theory, if a player is more concerned with the signing bonus than the label of being a “1st round pick”, you should be able to get a tough-sign for 1st round money at #55.

And I would target high school RHP Alex Scherff.

#55- RHP, Colleyville Heritage HS, Alex Scherff

BA has Scherff ranked at #60 overall. With his max of high-90’s fastball, and potentially the best change-up in the entire draft; I have no clue why he is ranked that low. Maybe it’s his signability (committed to Texas A&M). But that’s why I’m targeting this strategy. It may not be all that different from how they got 2016 second-pick, HS 3B Joe Rizzo to sign.

If Jerry and Tom McNamara have info that leads them away from Scherff for signability; I think there are great options at 1B from the college ranks here. Take your pick of LSU’s Gregg Deichmann, Wake Forest’s Gavin Sheets, Oregon State’s KJ Harrison, Arizona’s JJ Matijevic. I’m currently very high on Matijevic. His lefty swing is so clean, and he’s hit .383/.436/1.069 this year with 10 HR, 65 RBI, 30 doubles (*1st in the country), and 9 SB in 10 attempts. His strikeout to walk (38-23) isn’t as good as some others at 1B, but I think there is still more upside to him coming.

Moving into the 3rd round, I think the best options for Seattle at #93 are between a LHP, a C, and a SS. Baseball America has Wisconsin-Milwaukee C Daulton Varsho at #100, St. John’s SS Jesse Berardi at #105, and Xavier LHP Zac Lowther at #112.

Varsho is a lefty-swinging catcher that has easily the best offensive season of all college catchers this year: .362/.490/1.133 slash, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 11 doubles, 6 triples, 10 SB in 10 attempts, and 46-39 BB-SO. Gets on-base a ton, and he’s really athletic for a catcher (6 triples and 10 steals?!).

Berardi is one of the few college shortstops I like in a bad year for SS. His hands are great, and offensively he went: .356/.456/.918 with 4 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 38 BB, 35 SO.

Lowther posted a 2.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 13.28 SO/9 (*4th in the country), and 3.73 SO/BB this year. He was also very effective in the 2016 Cape Cod League. As far as I can tell he’s working only 90-91mph with his fastball, but he’s getting a ton of swing-and-miss with a pretty nasty curve.

#93- LHP, Xavier, Zac Lowther

In the 4th round, having passed on Berardi, there are even fewer SS available. NC State’s Joe Dunand played SS this year, but probably projects more as a 3B. He’s lacking a bit in plate discipline (19 BB, 45 SO), but probably the best power tool from all SS this year (18 HR, 51 RBI, 12 double, 3 triple, 2 SB, .287/.368/1.000 slash. If he can refine his pitch selection, his .344 ISO is pretty attractive. He does have a great arm, as well. Oh, and he’s Alex Rodriguez’ nephew.

One of the only other options I like at #123 would be Auburn RHP Keegan Thompson. 7-4, 2.41 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 7.23 SO/9, 4.41 SO/BB.

#123- SS, NC State, Joe Dunand

The 5th round has a pretty nice collection of players: Louisville closer Lincoln Henzman, Vandy 3B Will Toffey, Arkansas C/1B Chad Spanberger, LSU 2B Cole Freeman, Arkansas RHP Trevor Stephan, etc. I’m going with Florida State LHP Tyler Holton.

6’2″/200lbs, Holton doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but gets great results from his pitchability. 10-2, 2.22 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 11.28 SO/9, 5.28 SO/BB.

#153- LHP, Florida State, Tyler Holton

Part of the reason I decided to pass on Daulton Varsho earlier is because I’ve actually found a few lefty-hitting catchers this year that I really like. There’s also St. John’s Troy Dixon and Hartford’s Erik Ostberg.

I’m leaning toward Ostberg and his .500/.596/1.456 slash, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 22 BB, 10 SO in only 24 games. Really good bat-speed.

At this point in the mock we take a turn. At this point we look specifically for college seniors that will sign well under slot. I’m not sure how much the order matters as none are sort of the “ranked” prospects.

#213- UT, Dallas Baptist, Austin Listi

I’m not sure where he ends up position-wise, but with a slash of .336/.454/1.189, 24 HR, 55 RBI, 23 doubles, .399 ISO, .588 secA I think he’s an interesting righthanded power bat.

#243- 1B, Southern Missouri, Dylan Burdeaux

Looking for some athleticism to add to a MILB lineup at first base, I found Burdeaux with 21 SB on 23 attempts this year. Then I looked at the rest of his line: .337/.409/.944, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 24 doubles.

#273- RHP, Minnesota, Brian Glowicki

The closer for the Gophers, Glowicki is tied for 1st in the country in saves with 16. He also sports a 2.20 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.74 SO/9, and 5.57 SO/BB.

#303- LHP, Norfolk State, Devin Hemmerich

10-2, 1.97 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 10.08 SO/9, 7.38 SO/BB.

Summary:

1- OF Stuart Fairchild
2- RHP Alex Scherff
3- LHP Zac Lowther
4- SS Joe Dunand
5- LHP Tyler Holton
6- C Erik Ostberg
7- UT Austin Listi
8-1B Dylan Burdeaux
9- RHP Brian Glowicki
10- LHP Devin Hemmerich

 

Summer Playlist

By Jared Stanger

Late last week I was at work when a song I recognized came on a coworker’s radio. It was “Sweet Disaster” from Dreamers. I had heard that song back in July 2016 and thought it sounded like a really commercial, radio-friendly song (props for the Clerks-esque video).

Actually, let’s go further back. If you don’t know, prior to doing Seahawks and draft stuff I worked in Seattle radio for about 10 years. Most notably I worked at 1077 The End on-air and behind the scenes as the Assistant Music Director. I like to think I was the Scott Fitterer of the Seattle franchise in the NARL (National Alternative Radio League). I was scouting bands and ACTUALLY having input in the station’s playlist (as opposed to football scouting, which is just a hobby). Sidenote: I was pretty good at A&R, too.

Anyways…I mentioned on Twitter how radio is constantly 6-12 months behind on new music (especially from new bands), and a few people were curious what I would recommend today that might break through 6-12 months from now.

Full disclosure: I don’t keep up on music anymore. In my mind, radio is symbolically like an ex-girlfriend. I was fully invested in her for so many years…we didn’t have a smooth break-up…I wish her the best, but I don’t really want to know a ton of details of her new life and new relationships. Plus, I’m really committed to football now.

So to give an answer to twitter followers that is fully researched would take a while. What I did instead was listen to (literally and exactly) 100 of the newest singles from an alternative radio website I used to use. Having no background on any of these bands is not entirely a bad thing, cause I’m a fan of the Pepsi-challenge and I’m able to just judge on the merits of the songs themselves.

I don’t know which, if any, of these songs are already known and getting spins. Some are probably already 6 months old. Like I said; I’m catching up in one day from the last time I did this 10 months ago. For people that are consistently invested in music – listening to KEXP or going to festivals regularly – this is not breaking news. But none of this list are songs I’ve HEARD getting spins commercially (yet).

Total derivative of Churches “Mother We Share”, but it’s pretty well done:

Not actually the single from Vinyl Theatre, but I found the full-length and liked this one better:

This one is older, but gotta have some reggae for the summer:

Reminds me of Of Monsters and Men, or the Canadian group Stars:

I wish the singer had a stronger voice, but the groove is too good:

Found this one stuck in my head the day after I first listened to it:

Like Queen had a baby with Ok Go:

This one is like classic Lemonheads:

Black Keys frontman solo track reminds me of the Travelling Wilburys or Tom Petty. I haven’t placed the exact song:

I’ve heard of this band before, but I hadn’t heard this song. At the very least soundtrack for a commercial:

Less of a radio song and more of a song for a cool movie soundtrack:

 

There ya go. Out of 100 songs, I narrowed it down to 12 songs for the 12’s. (And asterisk for the new Papa Roach single “Help”. Their reputation precedes them, I have no idea how active rock radio will handle them currently, and I totally understand you bristling at this suggestion; but that song is a smash.)

Happy listening!!

Mariners international prospects

By Jared Stanger

The opening of the MLB international signing period isn’t until July 2nd, 2017 but as the least suspenseful piece of any sports’ amateur-to-pro process; this is more set in stone, and more of a report than a projection.

MLB recently made some changes to their international process, which are mostly beyond my interest to study up on. Suffice to say; Seattle began with a signing bonus pool of $4.75 million (the minimum). Jerry Dipoto traded an international slot worth approximately $320K to Tampa in exchange for MILB pitcher Bryan Bonnell about a week ago. So let’s call Seattle’s pool $4.43 million now.

MLB.com currently has their top-30 international player rankings up, and I think I counted 27 of those already understood to have agreements with respective major league teams. Seattle is associated with 3 of the top 30 (which is more than they have gone after international targets recently).

The highest-ranked player connected to the Mariners is R/R, Dominican OF Julio Rodriguez who comes in at #9 for MLB.com. MLB has him listed at 6’1″/170 lbs with his best tool his bat, while other sources say he’s now more 6’3″/200-205. There’s a bit of an odd timing mechanism early in his swing (like one of Cal Ripken Jr’s least-successful stances), but Rodriguez seems to have enough bat speed to compensate for it.

Oddly, though he’s ranked much higher than Seattle’s other two top-30 INTL’s, Rodriguez is actually my least favorite.

Ranked #26 in this class, my favorite of Seattle’s expected signings is Venezuelan IF Juan Querecuto. MLB has him at 6’0″/155 lbs and listed as a shortstop. Something about my limited view of him tells me he’s more of 2B (maybe 3B if the bat plays up more as he grows). I love how free and easy Juan’s swing is:

MLB says he’s got a 60-grade arm, which could also suggest 3B in the future.

Finally, at #29, MLB is connecting Venezuelan OF Stir Candelario to the Mariners. Listed 5’11″/170 lbs with 60-grade in both power and arm-strength; from the video, I’m actually wondering if Stir isn’t a potential future pitcher. Arm looks REALLY live.

I didn’t specifically count the number of players in the top 30 from the Dominican vs Venezuela (the two primary signing bases), but with the well-documented struggles MLB has had finding safe ways to scout players in war/crime riddled Venezuela; it’s interesting that Seattle found 2 of their 3 guys there. It made me wonder if Seattle has made a more concerted effort to risk going to VZ than other teams.

It also made me wonder if Seattle is the mystery team behind any of the players currently not reported as attached to any one team. The #6 player for MLB.com is from Venezuela (OF Raimfer Salinas), as is the #8 player (C Antonio Cabello). Both unattached and, in fact, both of those kids are trained by the same man: Francisco Ortiz. There is also #24, SS Osleivis Basabe from Venezuela without an attachment.

I think Cabello is the most interesting of the three. Honestly seems undervalued at #8 because he looks like a young Ivan Rodriguez to me. I like him behind the plate, and I REALLY like his swing. Super athletic kid.

Getting 4 of the top 30 (and moreso 2 of the top 10) seems far-fetched, especially for a team that now has less than the minimum international bonus pool, but who knows…maybe kids are eager to come to the home of the King of Venezuela: Felix Hernandez.