Jared’s Gems: 2016 College Preview – Defense

By Jared Stanger

Last week I wrote up a preview of some of my favorite offensive players to watch early this year…you can revisit that here https://seattleseamocks.com/2016/08/21/jareds-gems-2016-college-preseason/

Defensive Tackle

Even after losing Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson to the 2016 draft, Alabama is still really loaded on the DL. I don’t remember which of their many prospects I was watching, but I ended up often noticing Dalvin Tomlinson.

I had read recently that many of the Alabama DL had lost 20 lbs prior to this year, but according to the Bama team site, Tomlinson is listed at 6’3″/307 lbs this year after playing 2015 at 6’3″/294.

Tomlinson is now a Senior member of the team, and his role should expand quite a bit in lieu of the missing drafted players. In limited snaps last year, Dalvin posted 6 PBU (of which you can find gif of if you follow the embedded tweet).

A player with very similar build and skillset to Tomlinson is Indiana’s Ralph Green III. Listed at 6’5″/305 lbs, Green also posted an identical 6 PBU last year. I’ve only watched one game edit of RG3, but in it he’s showing tremendous stack and shed:

Ralph also has some pretty solid get-off sprinkled within his tape.

Green and Tomlinson both look capable of playing 1T and 3T, but would fit best at the 1. At the 3tech, interior pass rush specialist, my favorite player right now is Jarrod “Chunky” Clements.

Clements is listed 6’3″/295 heading into this year after playing around 290 lbs his Junior year. None of these DT have had productive careers in the sacks department (1.5 sacks combined last year, but Chunky did finish with 11.5 TFL in 2015. Clements is #11:

Of my list so far, NFLdraftscout has Tomlinson at #225 overall, Clements at #237 overall, and Ralph Green undrafted at #306 overall. The known commodity that I like is #41 overall, Caleb Brantley from Florida.

The Gators seemingly have one of these guys every year going back at least 5 years…Howard, Easley, Floyd, Fowler, Bullard. The size varies from 270 lbs to 300 lbs, but they all can play multiple spots, and they ALL can GET.OFF.

(Note: Brantley is down to 6’2″/297 lbs this year.)

Defensive End

All the 2017 DE class needs to do is stay healthy. Well, and a fair amount need to be Junior-declares cause there is a lot of underclass talent here. If Justin Britt maintains what he has shown so far in preseason at Center, Seahawks could/should look to add reinforcements to their edge rush in the first round next spring.

I really liked Missouri’s Charles Harris early last year (reminded me of Cliff Avril), but there is too much heat on his stock right now. Probably doesn’t reach late-1st (draftscout has him at #27 but many others rank him top 20).

Draftscout has Tennessee’s Derek Barnett at #31 overall. I also don’t see that lasting. I think the most plausible first round name is Illinois’ Dawaune Smoot. 6’3″/265 lbs and 8.0 sacks, 15.0 TFL, 40 tackles, 2 PBU, 3 FF in 2016.

Smoot shows great get-off, very smart hand use, good arc around the OT, and plenty of power:

Draftscout has Smooth at #45 overall.

My edge value pick is Miami of Ohio’s JT Jones. 9.0 sacks, 14.5 TFL, and another 12 hurries. He’s at #644 overall. Umm…nah. He’ll be projecting in the 5th round before long.

Linebacker

Seattle is pretty set at LB with the possible exception of this being a bridge-year at SAM. If no one from the list of Morgan, Marsh, Pinkins takes the spot and runs with it (or if a redshirt name like French or Overton doesn’t re-emerge on the PS); Seattle could look somewhere in the mid-rounds to find a rookie starter for 2017.

I think Florida’s Jarrad Davis is one of the most exciting linebackers we’ve seen since Ryan Shazier came out of OSU. He will be must-watch TV. But his value is too high than I’d go for a 2-down player.

Lorenzo Carter from Georgia is a name not many are talking about yet, but he is only a Junior. He’ll be a really SPARQ’d up entrant in whichever Combine year he ends up in.

Then, I also like Haason Reddick from Temple. He’s coming into 2016 at 6’1″/230 lbs, and last year posted 46 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 1 pBU, and 1 FF as a standup LB/DE.

Safety

Safety is one of the toughest positions to scout from TV copy tapes due to how often Safeties are actually out of frame. So you really end up doing them last out of all positions. I do, anyways.

But I do have this one name that I’ve been watching since the spring…UCLA’s Jaleel Wadood. He’s a mighty mite of a player…listed 5’10″/175. But he’s really quick on the ball, and carries some decent punch for his size. He’s only a Junior, and I don’t get the impression he will declare. Still a fun watch:

Cornerback

The 2017 draft is already buzzing for its DE and RB potential prospects, but don’t sleep on this CB class. I REALLY like Marlon Humphrey at the top, and then I have Cordrea Tankersley as my #2 at the position. I’m not on the “Teez” Tabor train.

The second tier has names like Adoree, Desmond, Sidney, Cameron, Jourdan, but I like to skip down all the way to that 4th-5th round range. Down there we see guys like Brandon Facyson and UW’s Kevin King. I’ve written many times before about my affinity for Kevin King.

Facyson is 6’2″/197 lbs out of Virginia Tech that came in his freshman year and posted 5 INT and 8 PBU. Then injury derailed his 2014 season after only 3 games. On his return last year Facyson caused 10 PBU. His game is still inconsistent…potentially from that year of missed time…but he has flashes of some of the best technique in the game.

Facyson and King are both currently ranked in the #148-166 range.

And it wouldn’t be a ‘Jared’s Gems’ without a deep sleeper cornerback. The discovery this week was James Madison’s Taylor Reynolds. I’ve seen him listed variously between 5’11”- 6’1″, but when I first watched his tape, my eyes thought more of that Walter Thurmond 5’11” size. JMU lists him at 6’0″/195 lbs.

Regardless of size, Reynolds can play. In 2015, Taylor finished with 16 PBU, 3 INT, 4.5 TFL, 46 tackles, and 2 FF. He has a bit of Peanut Tillman to him too, with 5 FF over the last two years.

Reynolds was part of the 2015 CAA All-Conference Academic team. His intelligence definitely shows up in his tape. Multiple great reads in the one full-game edit I watched, and then more in his 2015 highlight reel. Draftscout has him ranked at a lowly UDFA #383 overall.

College football 2016 opens in full this Thursday with a 16-game slate. Come back to the SeaMock throughout the year for new Gems, new tape, and tons of other new content.

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Jared’s Gems: 2016 College Preseason

By Jared Stanger

From the galleria of prospects, here are some of my favorite draft prospects heading into the college kickoff this Friday (Hawaii vs California), followed by a slate of about 16 games on Thursday 9/1.

Running Back

It will be interesting to see how John Schneider handles the superior 2017 class of RB, after drafting three in the 2016 class. It’s possible he’s put himself in position to counter-program, and zag while the rest of the league is zigging and NOT draft a RB at all. Maybe he’s put himself in position to see what’s available in the 3rd round of a deep class. I have no idea. But here are a couple names I’m most intrigued by:

Nick Chubb. As of right now, Chubb is a massive question mark after missing most of 2015 with a pretty catastrophic knee injury. Marcus Lattimore never made it back, Todd Gurley came back pretty effectively. What will be the trajectory for Chubb?

Before his injury, I preferred Chubb to all backs minus Fournette. Post injury, many have Chubb behind at least a handful of the Junior RB class (Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey, Freeman, Perine). In the 2016 draft, the 6th RB taken didn’t come off the board until 4th round – #134 overall (Kenneth Dixon). In 2015, it was 3rd round – #77 overall. In 2014, 3rd round – #94 overall. In fact, #94 overall is the average spot where the 6th RB has been drafted over the last 5 years. #96 is the last pick of the 3rd round.

Even if the 6th RB isn’t Chubb, I think I’ve illustrated there’s a pretty high advisability to wait until at least 3rd round on RB this year.

But back to Nick Chubb. If completely returned to form, Chubb potentially is the most well-rounded back in this class. At 5’10″/220 he has pretty much the prototypical Seahawk RB build. His SPARQ level is pretty well documented since his high school days. He’s got power, he’s got speed, he’s got elusiveness, and such great vision:

Before his injury, Chubb was already 3/4ths of the way to a second 1000-yard season, and averaging 8.12 ypc (would have been 4th in the country with enough carries to qualify). In only 6 games, Chubb had 8 runs of over 20 yards (72nd in the country), and his explosive/game average would have put him right in the top 10 (behind McCaffery/Fournette, tied with Henry, ahead of Collins/Freeman).

Another RB that should benefit from the graduated/drafted guys, and move up into the top 10 in explosives, is Clemson’s Wayne Gallman. At 6’0″/215 lbs, Gallman posted 1500 yards and 14 TD’s in 2015, but what is really catching my eye about him, is that he can also pass-protect better than arguably every back in the country.

Gallman is currently projecting right behind Chubb, so again, could give you great value in the 3rd.

And then my preseason sleeper fave at RB is NFLdraftscout’s #16 Junior RB: Arizona’s Nick Wilson.  Listed heading into this year at 5’10″/208, Wilson is one big meal from being right in that same 210-220 lb range we generally see Seattle target.

Wilson’s 2015 production was down from his 1300-yard/16 TD Freshman campaign due to missing 3-4 games. He still hit for 725 yards and 8 TD’s in nine games.

Wilson reminds me a lot of Rawls. He has a bit of an upright running posture, but he instinctively knows when/how to get low heading into contact, and he seeks contact pretty voraciously.

Wilson strikes me as a guy whose personality would fit in brilliantly in VMAC.

Wide Receiver

I don’t think the 2017 WR class is getting the love it deserves yet. Top end guys Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Juju Smith-Schuster are getting the early headlines, but I’m always partial to the preseason 2nd-tier (kind of the Josh Doctson type). That group has names like Cooper Kupp, Fred Ross, Josh Reynolds, Isaiah Ford, Zay Jones, Mack Hollins, Chris Godwin.

I’ve written on Ross and Kupp in the past, so today let’s take a look at a little bit of some of those other names.

Leading up to the 2016 draft, my tracking seemed to suggest that Seattle was digging into WR’s that could score the ball. They drafted the receiver with the 7th-most TD’s among draft eligible’s. And underclassmen that ranked very high on that list was Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford.

Ford posted 75 catches, 1164 yards, and 11 TD’s last year. Interestingly, Ford also nearly checks off one of the boxes we’ve seen in past Seattle WR draftpicks: the 35/40 rule. Simply stated, this means 35% of a team’s catches and 40% of the team’s receiving yards.

Ford measures in at 6’2″/188, so he’s comparable to PRich and Lawler in the build department.

Zay Jones (aka Isaiah Jones) is in the 6’1’/197 lb range. His Junior year included 98 catches, 1099 yards, and 5 TD’s. His usage kinda reminds me of Jordan Matthews a few years ago when Matthews was forced to play tons of screen passes and look for RAC. But, as you can see, his route-running is very effective:

Chris Godwin is a Junior for Penn State, listed at 6’1″/208 lbs, and reminds me a lot of Jermaine Kearse. Maybe a little bit more POFG than Kearse. Chris’ 2015 line was 69/1101/5 TD. He’s really solid on the contested deep ball.

And, finally, Mack Hollins is a 6’4″/210 lb freak show that led the country in yards-per-catch last year (24.83 ypc). The helium might hit him the hardest:

Hollins only had 30 catches last year, but 8 of them went for scores (27%).

There are currently about 8 WR on the 90-man that will be ERFA after this year, so receiver could be an interesting spot to watch in the draft if the auditions don’t go well this year.

Offensive Line

In my recent work, I’ve primarily only written about the 2017 Centers when talking about offensive line, but today I’ll focus on Tackles (with the idea that we’ll need someone to work at RG or RT, depending where Ifedi ends up).

Clint Van Horn. This guy is NASTY. Listed at 6’5″/314 (but looking bigger), CVH is one of the most aggressive OL I’ve found early on. I’m not sure his athleticism is a fit at Tackle, but I’ll keep watching.

Tyrell Crosby was one of the top rated run-blocking OT’s for 2015, but honestly I don’t think his pass-pro gets the love it deserves. This is a very well-balanced player on film:

Listed at 6’5″/310 lbs, Crosby has the right size, appears to have good length, but I will be looking to see if he can firm up some of that 310 to make him stronger at the POA.

I had intended to cover offense and defense, but at this point, it’s feeling like this is enough content for one post. I will do defense later this week, before the college season kicks off.

53 card pickup

By Jared Stanger

I’ve got this whiteboard I keep in my office that I use throughout the year to draw up various ideas-in-progress that I want to visualize. I’ve had the bulk of my 53 man roster drawn up for a few weeks now. I think I had 50 of the 53 named, with 3 spots open for bubble guys. Since drawing it up two of my picks have gone on IR (Cottom and Perkins) and the team has added two new players from free agency (Evans and McDaniel) which have since altered the projection.

QB

Russell Wilson
Trevone Boykin

Nothing surprising here. I think Boykin earned the backup job Saturday.

RB

Thomas Rawls
Christine Michael
Alex Collins
CJ Prosise

As I said before, I originally had Cottom on my board as the true fullback. That’s a truly disappointing loss, and his replacement will be interesting to discover. I was very tempted to keep Zac Brooks just because he’s such a personal favorite and he’s done nothing but look quick and versatile when he’s been on the field. But knowing the way of the RB position, we still may find Panda kept if/when one of the other four ends up not healthy enough to open the season.

TE

Jimmy Graham
Luke Willson
Nick Vannett
*Brandon Williams

I was really impressed with Williams’ game vs Kansas City. On many of the biggest run-plays, Williams was on the field as a blocking TE, and he’s probably the best blocker of the four. Brandon wasn’t in my original 48 names, but whereas the team originally wanted Cottom (a fullback listed as a TE), maybe now they’ll keep a TE that can play some FB.

I’m still waiting to see visual evidence of Williams repping at FB, but Monday Pete was asked straight-up in his press conference if there was a chance Williams could play some FB, to which Pete coyly replied, “yes.” That was the end of his answer, and the end of the presser. But reading the signals, it does seem to be coming.

I’m also intrigued by the idea of two very good in-line blocking TE on the team (Williams/Vannett) allowing the team to potentially go one lighter on OL.

WR

Doug Baldwin
Tyler Lockett
Jermaine Kearse
Paul Richardson
Douglas McNeil

I think the top 4 WR are pretty much locks. I’ve had McNeil in my WR5 spot for most-closely resembling the skillset of the player we had in Ricardo Lockette. It’s primarily a special teams choice. It also benefits Douglas that he’s been healthy while Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith have had bum hamstrings. Lawler has seemed inconsistent, and really looks like he needs a redshirt year to eat something.

OL

Bradley Sowell
Mark Glowinski
Justin Britt
Germain Ifedi
Garry Gilliam
Rees Odhiambo
Patrick Lewis
Terry Poole
*Jahri Evans

My original configuration had J’Marcus Webb on the team, and Jahri Evans wasn’t yet signed. After seeing Webb looking awful during the mock game, and then coming down injured…I’m considering Evans for Webb a 1 for 1 trade. I don’t think many people believe in Poole yet, but I thought most of his pass sets on Saturday looked far better than what I had seen from Webb. Plus, I’m still hopeful cutting Webb gets one of our 2017 comp picks back.

Cutting Webb will mean we might need to work Ifedi in at RT in some backup/practice capacity just to have the numbers. You can find 3 LT in Sowell, Gilliam, Odhiambo…then 3 RT in Gilliam, Poole, Ifedi…3 LG in Glowinski, Odhiambo, Evans…3 RG in Ifedi, Evans, Glowinski. Or thereabouts.

Now, if you add each of those position groups up, that puts me at 24 on offense. Both offense and defense are generally 25 each (plus 3 special teams specialists). So I have one open spot to which the logical applications are: 10th OL or 6th WR. After Saturday’s game, I think I’m going with Tanner McEvoy.

McEvoy is a guy that can play WR, TE, S, and might even be able to play the emergency QB (God forbid). I think he’ll be an interesting special teams addition. He already showcased that he brings a unique skillset to the endzone with his ability to box out on jumpballs (a skillset that my draft research tells me PCJS have been digging deep into, in general). I know he had a drop on Saturday (on, I think, his first-ever pro target), but he later showed the impressive hands I’ve been seeing in camp (and in limited WR use at Wisconsin).

Most importantly, whereas a lot of the bubble WR have seemed to already plateau in camp, since McEvoy has moved to WR, he’s consistently shown improvement.

DL

Cliff Avril
Michael Bennett
Ahtyba Rubin
Jarran Reed
Frank Clark
Cassius Marsh
Quinton Jefferson
*Tony McDaniel
*Brandin Bryant

In my original projection, I had Jordan Hill on the team, but with a question mark. Ever since the draft (picking Reed, Jefferson, and then bringing in Bryant in UDFA), it has felt like the team is looking to find younger/healthier alternatives at DT to the injury-plagued Hill. And even now, as it stands, Hill may come back to practice this week, but Coach Pete has already ruled him out for Thursday’s game. When is enough – enough?

Add on top of Hill’s issues the signing Monday of former Seahawk DT Tony McDaniel…I think there will be better combinations with the above look. Tuba and Reed can both play 1T and 3T. McDaniel can play more of a base 3T. Jefferson should end up primarily a 3T but has been used some as 5T with Bennett out. And I like the signing of McDaniel because it will allow Bryant to play more of a tightly monitored pass-rushing DT (3T in standard 3rd down, but maybe the 1T in NASCAR between Bennett and Clark).

I’ve included Marsh as DL because I think that this is his best fit. He’s been on the LOS for most of his collegiate and pro career, and I think he’s shown the most flash there in both the mock game and at KC. Plus, SAM has other cool candidates.

LB

Bobby Wagner
KJ Wright
Michael Morgan
Eric Pinkins
Brock Coyle
Kevin Pierre Louis

I mean, that HAS to be the fastest 2nd unit LB corps in the league. I’ll be curious what happens with the Morgan situation…if he misses any kind of significant time.

DB

I’m grouping CB and S together because they’re all LOB (and there’s so much crossover, anyways).

I also thought it would be interesting to display this group a little differently as this pattern sort of appeared to me Saturday night:

Richard Sherman                      Tharold Simon
Deshawn Shead                         *Tyvis Powell
Jeremy Lane                                Tye Smith
Kam Chancellor                         Brandon Browner
Earl Thomas                                Kelcie McCray

That group is probably the most interesting display of roster mirroring on the 53. Sherman and Simon, Kam and Browner are pretty obvious pairs. Thomas and McCray are nothing alike, but I like McCray better than Terrell. Pete has literally compared Shead and Powell. Lane and Tye have similar size, but Lane is obviously the faster player.

Kris Richard said recently that Tye would start to see time in the slot. I think this is due, in part, to the team starting to come around to the idea of keeping Tyvis, and teaching him to play the hybrid CB/S role that Shead had a couple years ago. But in keeping a 5th safety, you can no longer carry Tye as simply the #5 corner. You need another guy that can play the slot behind Lane. If I’m choosing between Tye and Burley – one with three years left on his deal, the other with only one – I’ll take the ‘three’ that also happens to have some upside left.

Powell made the team on Saturday. You already kinda knew he would either need to be rostered or lost on waivers, but now it’s a foregone conclusion. But Pete, in his Monday post-practice presser, said the most interesting thing in regard to Tyvis’ ability to play CB and S: “That makes him more valuable to us, makes a spot on the roster more available.”

That is probably the most candid comment anyone on the coaching staff has made about any player on the bubble. And it tells you Tyvis is taking the spot of a CB. Whether that means Burley, Smith, or the recently injured Stanley Jean-Baptiste…I’m not sure.

ST

Let’s not forget Jon Ryan, Steven Hauschka, and the long-snapper. Remind me again who the long-snapper is this week? Oh yeah…Nolan Freese.

And finally, here is my original chicken-scratch whiteboard outline of how the 53 looks in 11 personnel formation (sorry, the safeties got cut off at the top).

20160815_231023

Preseason, week 1

By Jared Stanger

God, how good is it that football is back?! Even if it’s as sloppy and undisciplined as we saw today…it’s still NFL football.

And a win is nice, too.

Before the game, I had a few things I wanted to watch for:

Zac Brooks, after dressing in pads and warming up pregame, did not play any game snaps that I noticed.

McEvoy gets the obvious nod today among the bubble WR for finishing 3×77 (25.7ypc) in 6 targets, including the game-winning Hail Mary catch where he simply boxed out the DB in the endzone. Lawler, McNeil, and Hunter each finished with 2 catches, each under 30 yards receiving.

Pinkins was hit and miss at SAM. I like his work moving backwards and flashing to the flat, but he mis-played at least two plays when failing to hold edge contain when up on the line of scrimmage. Marsh looked GREAT, but primarily at DE and special teams; while his SAM work was unmemorable. Cassius finished with 4 tackles and 2 QB hits. Regardless, I think the team can carry 3 at SAM.

Boykin gets a huge vote of confidence for leading the 4th quarter comeback. He finished 16×26 for 188 yards (7.2 ypa) plus the game-winning TD throw, and his 96.3 passer rating was 2nd amongst ALL quarterbacks in the game (behind Alex Smith).

The Seattle offensive player of the game has to go to Christine Michael, who played unbelievable football for the 1st quarter. 7 carries, 44 yards, 6.3 ypc and, most importantly, they were tough-running yards where CMike was REALLY careful with the ball. I had questions about his status before camp, but I was wrong. He is in a great place.

I’ll give the defensive (and special teams) player of the game to OSU rookie free agent Tyvis Powell for his INT, tackle, and punt return decleating of a KC would-be tackler. Powell, either because of the team’s careful management of his practice snaps, or simply just a rookie taking a slower progression through his first NFL camp, Tyvis has been fairly quiet to this point. Not today. And the fact that he was showcased a bit at CB, makes for a very interesting candidate to take one of the 10-ish DB spots on the 53-man.

Perhaps the best piece of news this entire game (other than coming out miraculously healthy, minus SJB, after going in kinda unhealthy), was that the starting offensive line gave up ZERO sacks and looked, dare I say, fucking great! Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But it’s meant as exaggeration in response to how exaggerated the fears about this OL have been the last 6-10 months.

The truth is, the parts of the 2015 O-line that were worst, might be the parts that are now gone. We really haven’t known what we have now because it’s all so new. The assumption is that it’d be bad (or “still bad”, I guess), but were we really being fair to THIS version of the OL? I certainly wasn’t being fair to Queso. I think his performance today showed he might be a very good center. I can wear that.

I also thought Sowell and Gilliam looked good at their respective spots. I thought Poole was fantastic as the backup RT. I’m a little concerned about what they will do as a backup LT, as Odhiambo really wasn’t cutting it outside. I think he was fine at guard…but let’s try to find some better depth at OT.

At TE, I think Vannett looked really good and I like the idea of being able to use both Vannett and Williams in short-yardage. I’m still waiting for them to show us Williams in some fullback snaps.

At WR, the incumbents (1-4) all looked fine in their brief usage. The pack behind them (without Kasen/Kevin/Foxx) are all fairly bunched together. McNeil has the edge on special teams. McEvoy is intriguing for his height. Nwachukwu looked very good. Hunter had a muffed catch on ST, but later caught both of his targets (including a nice 18-yarder).

At RB, there was a steep dropoff after CMike, but that is somewhat to be expected with 3 guys higher on the depth chart out. AC360 took the early 3rd down back reps, which is worth monitoring until some of the guys get back to health. He had a nice catch wiped out by penalty, too.

I thought the play of the DT’s as a whole was lacking. The Chiefs ran for 135 yards (4.7 ypc) and a TD. While Brandin Bryant flashed some of the pass-rush we’ve seen on tape, I could see some of the lack of discipline Pete talked about this week, when Bryant overly committed to pass-rush on plays that turned out to be runs. This could be mitigated somewhat if he’s used only on 3rd downs, but today roles were less specified.

I think the secondary depth didn’t play as well as has been advertised. I thought McCray had a few misplays while starting at SS in place of Kam. I’d like to see more of Browner in that spot, soon. Let’s drop McCray back to FS2. I only saw one series at CB for Tye Smith. I don’t know what to make of that. He looked fine on that series, but it seemed we saw more of Trovon Reed, Deandre Elliott, and Marcus Burley all game. Hell, Tyvis even saw more series at CB than Tye did. Kris Richard said this week we will start seeing Tye worked in as slot corner. Is that because of deficiencies from Burley? I’m also going to be watching Lane going forward, as he’s been seeming to get out-played by Shead (and often even Simon) every time I’ve been able to watch them live. Did Lane lose some of his hunger after getting his new deal?

Next week: Minnesota here at CLink for a primetime, Thursday game. Peterson will be a tough out for the DL that struggled against KC’s RB2-4 today. But I think the Vikings’ defense will be more vulnerable to Seattle’s offense. Short game gonna shred ’em at home.

Training camp notes 8/7/16

By Jared Stanger

Took my second trip up to VMAC for training camp on Sunday, and I was sort of lucky that it turned out to be the mock game. I was also lucky enough to be granted permission to share pics of the day from Twitter friend Vannessa Kralovic (@vannessa_f  and  http://www.vannessakralovic.com/).

First, let’s talk about the non-competing DL. There were quite a few players out from the jump, and then a couple more left early after drills.

Out all day:

Thomas Rawls
Jimmy Graham
Doug Baldwin
Christine Michael
CJ Prosise
Zac “Panda” Brooks
Antwan Goodley
Kevin Smith
Kasen Williams
Kam Chancellor
Jordan Hill
Sealver Siliga
Pete Robertson
Montese Overton
Brock Coyle
Tavaris Barnes

So that’s an uncomfortable number of players held out. On top of that, at least two went out early in practice: Deshon Foxx (almost assuredly a hamstring) and Frank Clark (still his calf). That’s exactly 20% of the roster some manner of dinged-up.

In place of all those injured RB’s, Alex Collins got the bulk of the workload. He looked okay running, but the pleasant surprise was seeing how well he is catching the ball out of the backfield. AC360 had one of the biggest explosive plays of the day catching a wheel route down the far sideline, and then running for a good 25 yards after the catch, and very nearly into the endzone. If Rawls is brought along slowly, CMike takes the early RB1 role, and Prosise/Brooks aren’t healthy soon…Collins could play the 3rd down back role short term, I think.

TrainingCamp-August7(5)

The new RB signees made very little impression, other than Cameron Marshall having a truly tough go. One play to Marshall had Kelcie McCray (starting at strong safety in place of Kam) absolutely light up the RB. Another play Marshall struggled in pass pro (more on that later).

The tight end group was very quiet all day. I think Vannett had the only catch I remember. This could have something to do with Brandon Browner being the new designated TE hitter. Which would be a VERY cool development going forward. Especially after last year’s struggles.

Wide Receiver depth was also tested with 5 guys out. Tyler Lockett became the defacto #1 target for Russell Wilson, and he looked fantastic (7 catches, I believe). If Doug misses any length of time, Tyler is fully capable of playing the primary slot WR.

Kearse had a pretty unmemorable day, as did McNeill. Lawler looked inconsistent with one bad drop but one nice sliding grab. PRich made a nice grab of a well-defended play from Tye Smith, but the ball was thrown out of bounds. EZ Nwachukwu had a nice catch finding the gap in the zone defense over the middle. New addition Montario Hunter got WIDE open on a slow developing play…it felt like slow motion as I was literally pointing at him from the berm, “he’s got him” (meaning Russ)…and they made the play, huge gain.

Oh, and McEvoy had a really nice, away-from-the-body catch. It’s going to be tough to pick the WR5/WR6, but if it’s six kept, I’m starting to believe in McEvoy’s chances at the last spot. At the very least, I’m moving him up in my thought process for practice squad. His hands are very real, and he could easily develop nice possession target rapport with his fellow Badger, Russ. Plus, McEvoy could be your emergency QB and/or QB on scout team.

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The last of the Irishmen, McCray looked very good today in place of Kam. Having spent most of camp at backup free safety, and now stepping up into starting strong safety, in addition to his special teams play; McCray is a roster lock.

The other really interesting player stepping up in the place of an injured player was Cassius Marsh. I had Marsh on the bubble before camp but, in all honesty, Marsh was the player of the day; playing more DE in place of the injured Frank Clark, while also rotating at SAM1 with the other two candidates. Cash’s hustle was incredible, his speed is better now at his lowered weight, and he just abused Webb for most of the day. Whereas Morgan and Pinkins are held to playing off the ball LB, Marsh actually gives you more of the OTTO (SAM/LEO hybrid) look that we saw Bruce Irvin used in last year. Important versatility.

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The linebacker room as a whole was probably the best unit on the field Sunday. Pinkins is looking great as he’s settling in to a full-time LB role, after coming in from the draft as a CB/S. At one point, Pierre-Louis had the hit of the day bull-rushing Marshall flat onto his back. Steve Longa filled in for Coyle at MIKE2. Kyle Coleman is quietly looking very interesting as a practice squad/developmental guy. Wagner is looking very solid, and with his sack today, I’m led to think we might see more blitzing and more linebacker sacks this year.

The secondary had a quiet day. I don’t recall seeing much in the way of PBU’s or INT’s. I think Tye Smith had one PBU on McNeill, and also held his own against Kearse. I think Deandre Elliott might have been the guy burnt by the long pass to Hunter. Lane gave up a couple plays underneath. But, predominantly, just a businesslike day from the DB’s.

Which, in a sense, is also a tribute to the trio of QB’s not risking dangerous throws. When the passrush was getting home, these quarterbacks are pulling the ball down and running. There was a lot of QB running today. (Quick QB sidenote: the battle between Boykin and Heaps is closer than we think.)

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Which brings us to the OL. From my vantage point, the pocket absolutely sucked pretty much all game. There were far too many instances where edge rushers were winning outside with speed, but then the interior OL is also giving up ground to the DT’s, leaving the QB’s with nowhere to throw from. They better clean this shit up faster this year than they did last.

Webb got the start at RT and he surely needs to be the first guy removed from the 1’s. Marsh, who has been primarily training at SAM, absolutely owned Webb all day. I can only imagine what Cliff Avril would have done to him (Cliff looks fantastic vs the 2’s, by the way).

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Webb vs Marsh

Sowell split time at 1st-team LT and RT. I’d put him behind Gilliam at LT, but in front of Webb at RT.

I read that Odhiambo had some reps at RT, but I had taken off for the buses before those reps happened.

Poole looks better at RT than Webb.

Glowinski and Ifedi seemed pretty consistently locked in as LG1 and RG1, respectively. I’m sure we’ll see that change eventually as Jahri Evans progresses. Interior OL, in general, didn’t allow “sacks” but they weren’t anchoring well versus power. Ifedi might not be as ready as we, collectively, thought (Hence, Evans).

Sokoli seemed to get many of the RG2 reps after Schwenke was released and Evans wasn’t yet available for scrimmage.

At Center, Britt started but I think Lewis stepped in with the 1’s by the 3rd series. Later, I think I saw Lewis limping a little bit, and trying to stretch his hamstrings on the sideline. Worth monitoring. And worth noting: I didn’t notice Britt much live (kind of a good thing on OL), and scrolling through the photographs, he looks like he’s handling his assignment very well today. Hunt looks decent with the 2nd team, and surprised me with his movement in run game.

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Britt anchoring well.

The other issue with the OL today, looking at it from profile on the berm (not the best view for OL), there didn’t seem to be much in the way of running lanes. And I realize we’re down to RB3 or RB4 starting in place of multiple hurt guys, but it still didn’t feel like there was much cohesion or execution in the run game.

We need one aspect of the OL play to start clicking, and tout suite. Usually it’s the run-blocking first, which then opens up the passing game.

On a personal note, thank you to Joe, Jared, Hoa for coming by to talk Hawks. Thank you to Vannessa for the great shots. And thank you to Tye and Kate for the thoughtful gesture. Raincheck?

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