Not sticking to sports

By Jared Stanger

I was born, and spent the first decade of my life, in Southern California. My family moved around quite a bit back then, but the first house that we lived in that I still retain quite a bit of memory of was the house we had when I was about 4 to 6 years old.

It was the house with the olive tree that never seemed to grow olives in the front yard. It was the house where I learned to stay away from bees. It was the house where I learned to ride a bike. It was the house where a guy living around the corner owned a Delorean. It was the house where I nearly died from a ruptured appendix. It was the house where I found my first best friend.

This is that house.

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More accurately, this is the street where that house was. We lived in the #2 house from the right corner. I’ve marked three other houses on the street that were really important to me.

The first house on the block belonged to my friend Alex. I don’t know if Alex was wealthy, or just wealthy relative to the rest of us, but I remember Alex’s dad drove a Porsche, Alex always had the newest, coolest Transformer toys, and, although my 5 year old brain didn’t recognize it at the time, Alex and his sister would come home from school in the uniforms of a private, Catholic School.

The seventh house on the block belonged to my friends Kim and Lee. Kim and Lee were brothers; Kim the older, and Lee the younger (and my age), if I’m remembering correctly. I don’t know for sure which Asian country Kim and Lee’s parents came from, but my adult self approximates that they were Korean. What I do remember is their house is where I was first introduced to the custom of taking my shoes off inside the home. But, most importantly, Kim and Lee had the coolest tree house in their back yard. The tree house enabled us, in our short little 5 year old bodies, to reach the fruit from the nearby apricot tree.

The third house on the block belonged to my friend Bobby. My best friend. Bobby had an older sister and an older brother, and his family was Mexican-American. From Bobby I remember my first experience with a pinata at a birthday party, but also learning about guilt when I refused to share some candy I had, and Bobby pointed out that the boy who lived in the house before me would have shared. Which was also a lesson about sharing.

I loved those years in that house with those friends.

Korean, Mexican, Agnostic Caucasian, Roman Catholic. We were different enough that my kindergarten brain recognized it. But we were the same enough that we didn’t care. I didn’t care.

I still don’t care.

In 4th grade, my first big crush, was this girl named Alicia Garcia. Though her name clearly indicates she was some kind of Latin American, my only concern was that she was really lovely. I totally did the little boy thing of being outwardly mean to her. I don’t remember specifically pulling her hair, but that was essentially the sentiment of the things I did.

In 5th grade, after moving to Washington, I met a girl who had been born in Guam and fell pretty hard for her. She was exotic-looking…not quite Latin, not quite Asian, not quite Pac Islander. At the time I really didn’t have a clue where Guam was. Years later, when I was working in radio promotions, I would run into her at a bikini contest my station was involved in. Still stunningly beautiful.

In 6th grade my best friend was a Korean guy named Cheol that used to let me steal bags full of gummy bears from his parents’ pantry. That was also, basically, my first introduction to Costco.

In junior high, my best friend became a guy named Alan who I met in my Honors English/Social Studies block. Alan’s dad was African-American and his mom was Japanese. Alan was a really great guy. I wish I hadn’t lost contact with him over the years.

Somewhere in the transition between junior high and high school, I became really close with a guy named Aaron. Aaron was Caucasian and pretty devoutly Christian. Aaron was one of the first people I knew to get his driver’s license. I remember driving around town in the summer, Aaron forcibly making me listen to Alan Jackson songs on repeat. I don’t listen to country music.

Then, in high school, all of my memories shift from school itself, to the fast food restaurant I worked at, and specifically all the friends I had, and made, while working there. That restaurant was where I was when I fell in love for the first time. Hell, it was, for me, an honest-to-goodness case of “love at first sight”.

She was deeply religious, went to a Christian private school…I was a heathen, borderline atheist at that point…in hindsight, we had next to nothing in common. But we became best friends, nonetheless.

Again, through the second decade of my life, all the people I cared about, we had pretty significant differences, but I honestly never cared. They were always secondary to the bigger picture of: “I like being around you more than I like digging in about our differences.”

If I ran into any of these people today, I would welcome them with open arms and love finding out who they became and how they got there.

That’s how I feel about most people most of the time. I don’t know if it’s the journalist in me, or what, but I’m compulsively curious about a person’s backstory. From the notary that recently came to my house to officiate my re-fi, to my neighbor across the street that I think might be Muslim…I can’t help but want to know their stories.

And there’s something beautiful about when you’re willing to ask and they’re willing to answer.

The people I’ve always struggled to relate to in life are those that seem aggressively close-minded and/or arrogantly ignorant.

This is why I don’t understand much of what is going on in our country these days. I don’t understand the levels of fear and hate and intolerance pointed at people because of the superficialities of race and religion and orientation. I. DON’T. GET. IT.

Not only do I not get it from a humanitarian viewpoint…I don’t get it from a practical application. Like, if you’re for measures being taken against Mexico/Mexicans; are you philosophically able to go to a Mexican restaurant? If you can’t empathize with BLM, do you HAVE to also take a hard pass on hip hop music and pretty much all professional sports?? If you’re Islamaphobic, do you make sure the gas station you fill up at isn’t supplied by, and financially supporting, Muslim-based countries? How does a racist ever travel anywhere, or do they?

If you’ve built up intolerances to any of these groups, if you believe the stereotypes, how do you then function day-to-day in a world where these other cultures are routinely contributing and improving it? How do you function when/where it isn’t really by/for/about and revolving around YOU? It really becomes a question, to me, that if you’ve decided you hate the players…aren’t you also forced to hate the game? And eventually you’ll hate all games. How does that ever leave you enjoying life??

I think of this sketch from Key n Peele that has one specific route to point out a larger “type” of mentality (NSFW):

This growing faction of white Americans that act so persecuted, with no self awareness to realize that any real persecution they’re suffering is not the action, but the reaction to them being assholes.

So what do we do? I don’t know. The character in the sketch became self aware. He calls himself the asshole. I don’t know how to communicate with people lacking this truly important basic self awareness. My first hope is for a miraculous movement en masse of them to be willing to be willing. But it’s like waiting for a junkie to hit rock bottom before they can admit that they have a problem.

My younger brother, probably the most worldly person in my family, is a total foodie, and in his attempt to share various foods and international cuisines with myself or our mom (both she and I tend to be new-food apprehensive); came up with this term: the “no thank you bite”. Which is to say, try at least one bite of it before deciding, “no, thank you…not for me”.

It’s sort of profound in its simplicity. And positives come from it. Eventually one of those “no thank you bites” turns into actually enjoying a new food, a new culture. I can remember with distinct clarity finding Vietnamese food for the first time as a result of my brother’s gentle prompting. But I was willing to be willing to try.

Having the self awareness that I’m apprehensive to trying new cuisine led me to deciding whether or not I liked that about myself. Recognizing that I didn’t gave me motivation to change. Motivation to change allows you to look for new doors you can open…and, trust me, from personal experience opening a door feels so much better than building up a wall.

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Seahawks Draft All-22

By Jared Stanger

Sitting at work Thursday afternoon I found myself making this mental list of which player in the 2017 draft class I like for Seattle at each spot along the offensive line. It was instantly like, “I have to write this for the entire starting 22 positions.” So that’s what this is. I’m going to give my list of the best (plausible) names at every position.

Left Tackle – Antonio Garcia, 6’7″/302 lbs, Troy University

There really aren’t many LT’s I like in this entire draft. The top name won’t be available past #20 overall. But Garcia should be there.

He’s got the right build. It looks like he has enough athleticism. He definitely has a little bit of edge to him. Run-blocking will be the biggest question mark, but at LT you probably want your best pass-protector.

Garcia is a guy that shows an ability to learn the opposing DE’s moves/habits in-game. So what he misses on early, he is able to correct before the end of the game. He also has some pretty decent recovery ability during individual plays. So even when he’s out of position during a play, he has the strength and athleticism to keep a minus play from being a double-minus.

Draftscout has Garcia at #85 overall.

Left Guard – Forrest Lamp, 6’4″/300 lbs, WKU

I really wish Lamp could stick at LT, where he’s played the majority of his career at Western Kentucky. Such a rock-solid, technical lineman. Sneaky athletic, too. All he’s missing is the prototypical length.

Instead, he’ll likely move inside to guard, and he’ll end up being that Zack Martin stud All-pro guy.

Draftscout has Lamp at #84 overall.

Center – Ethan Pocic, 6’7″/302 lbs, LSU

I had Pocic in one of my earliest 2017 mock drafts…way back before Britt became actually good at Center. I haven’t been watching many Centers since that, but if I had to go back to one, I still think Pocic would be good value.

PFF had a stat this week that Pocic only allowed 11 pressures, with zero sacks and zero hits on QB allowed all year. I’d like to see him be a little stouter though, get his weight up to maybe 317-ish to improve his anchor going forward.

Here is Pocic vs NFL rookie stud Chris Jones from their meeting in 2015.

Draftscout has Pocic as #46 overall.

Right Guard – Dan Feeney, 6’4″/305 lbs, Indiana

I actually haven’t watched much of Feeney this year. He missed some time with a concussion, I believe, as well as playing some games at RT. But he’s one of the rare true-college-guard that can play there at the next level.

The biggest question is: would Seattle spend a 1st round pick on another RG in consecutive years?

Draftscout has Feeney as #28 overall.

Right Tackle – Dan Skipper, 6’10″/319 lbs, Arkansas

Not a misprint. He’s 6’1o”. But he really doesn’t move like it on the field. Skipper is actually Arkansas’ LT for the last couple years…I’ve only started watching him recently, but so far I’m not finding much to complain about in his tape. Good balance between pass-pro and run game. Pad level doesn’t seem to be a problem. He moves like a nicely-athletic, 6’7″ tackle.

Here is Skipper vs LSU, including some snaps vs ultra-productive LSU edge Arden Key:

Draftscout has Skipper as the #126 overall.

Tight End – Cole Hikutini, 6’5″/248 lbs, Louisville

Tight end is such an interesting class this year. The top end is really interesting. The depth is really interesting. You’ve got body types ranging from Jordan Reed to Jordan Cameron to Cameron Jordan. (Well, maybe not that big. But Michael Roberts is pushing 270 lbs.)

My tendency is to go with someone that matches as closely as possible to what I think Seattle could lose in the offseason: Luke Willson.

Luke came out of Rice at 6’5″/251 lbs, and Hikutini is listed 6’5″/248 lbs. Luke had 4.51 speed, and Hikutini looks very quick.

Draftscout has Hikutini as the #144 overall.

Wide Receiver – Cooper Kupp, 6’2″/205 lbs, EWU

(I forgot to mention that I’m using 11-personnel as my base formation. So we’ll look at three WR total.)

I’ve been writing about Kupp for three years. I still like him. He’s got good size, underrated speed, good route-running, decent hands, and he’s pretty damn gritty. EWU uses him a lot as a slot guy, but he’s shown enough ability to play the X.

Draftscout has Kupp as the #67 overall.

Wide Receiver – Carlos Henderson, 5’11″/191 lbs, LaTech

Trying to touch on a few different types of receivers. Carlos is one that will give you some high-end kickoff return ability (3rd in the country at 32.2 YPR plus 2 TD’s). He’s a good deep threat averaging 18.72 ypc, but also scored 19 TD’s through the air (1st in the country), and 2 more “rushing TD’s” on sweeps.

His hands are maybe a 7 of 10, but his run-after-catch is probably the best I’ve seen this year. Carlos was 2nd in the country in explosive catches.

Draftscout has Henderson as the #122 overall.

Wide Receiver – Chris Godwin, 6’1″/205 lbs, Penn State

For this spot, I was primarily thinking of the next Jermaine Kearse. It’s mostly a body type, but then with primary/best usage as a redline target. There were three guys that came to mind for this, and they’re listed between 6’1″-6’2″ and 202-205 lbs.

Amba Etta-Tawo 6’2″/202
Chris Godwin 6’1″/205
Deangelo Yancey 6’2″/20

Etta-Tawo had a huge year with 94 catches and 1400 yards, but I’m not seeing great speed. He did place 8th in explosive receptions.

Yancey I haven’t seen enough tape on yet, but his 19.41 YPC is 13th in the country. Also, 3rd in the country in catches of 60-yards+. He would look better on the explosive receptions list, but he just didn’t have as much volume in targets.

I’m going with Godwin cause he’s the guy I’ve been following the longest, and he just had the biggest game of his college career in that incredible Rose Bowl game on Monday.

Draftscout has Godwin as the #117 overall.

Running Back – Kareem Hunt, 6’0″/225 lbs, Toledo

Kareem is another player that I’ve been following for a long time, and he really justified my early interest this year; rushing for 1475 yards, 10 TD’s, plus 41 catches for 403 yards.

Every tape I put on from Kareem this year, he was breaking off impressive runs. A lot of self-help work; breaking tackles, falling forward, getting that extra 2 yards really regularly. Great balance and enough burst.

Also, the 41 catches is a very good number for a RB.

Draftscout has Hunt as the #131 overall.

Quarterback – Jerod Evans, 6’3″/238 lbs, Virginia Tech

Okay, I’m not terribly concerned about QB this draft. But if we were to look for a backup QB, Evans showed good efficiency (153.10 rating), minimal turnovers (1.9% INT), and enough of a running threat (846 yards and 12 rushing TD’s).

Draftscout has Evans as the #186 overall.

Left Cornerback – Ahkello Witherspoon, 6’3″/195 lbs, Colorado

If roster-mirroring is a thing, and if Seattle does it, Kello is the mirror for Sherm. Literally the same size as Sherm when he was measured at the combine. Witherspoon is one of the most technical corners in this really loaded CB class. And he finished the year with the 2nd-most passes defended in the country.

The downside on Kello is his tackling (which was also a knock on Sherm his rookie year…not always a deal-breaker).

Draftscout has Witherspoon as the #188 overall.

Free Safety – Tedric Thompson, 6’1″/205 lbs, Colorado

We stay right there in Boulder and focus on Safety Tedric Thompson…the only guy with MORE passes defended than Ahkello this year.

Some places list Tedric as a strong safety (he’s certainly big enough), but I just think of him coming from centerfield to snatch this INT against Utah. He would probably need to hit a 4.3 forty to light Coach Pete’s fire for a FS, but based just on tape…

Strong Safety – Xavier Woods, 5’11″/219 lbs, LaTech

It seems weird to look at a strong safety that’s under 6’0″ when we’re so used to Kam Chancellor now, but Xavier is probably top 5 at the position in terms of weight. He’s a stout dude.

Woods really knows how to fill up a boxscore: 89 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 5 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FF. Awesome in run support, a good team leader, plenty of instincts and hustle. And he can hit.

Draftscout has Woods listed as the #220 overall.

Right Cornerback – Kevin King, 6’4″/192 lbs, UW

When there’s a Seahawk corner playing right in your back yard, you notice early and you cross your fingers.

Two full seasons later King is now pushing 6’4″, he finished top 16 in the country in pass defenses, helped UW to the college playoff, and in that playoff game he showcased a brand of tough, physical football that included 9 tackles (mostly in run-support).

We had previously witnessed a sneak-peek of King’s future combine performance, and it was exceptional.

From here, you just need to want him more than everyone else does.

Draftscout has King as the #91 overall.

SAM LB – Jimmie Gilbert, 6’5″/230 lbs, Colorado

I was pretty late to find Gilbert (which, for me, means October), but I immediately noticed traits that I liked, and that Seattle has previously gone after in guys like Mike Morgan and Obum Gwacham.

Playing mostly as a rush OLB for Colorado, Gilbert was completely out of his weightclass against most OT, but he proved surprisingly strong for his lean upper body. He also shows some pretty developed passrush techniques. My assumption is Jimmie will move off the ball more in the NFL, which should be a smooth transition, while still revisiting his passrush on some 3rd downs and certainly in blitz packages.

Draftscout has Gilbert as the #268 overall.

MIKE LB – Blair Brown, 6’0″/240 lbs, Ohio

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t watched Brown at all. Or any MLB, for that matter. Wagz is amazing and this is purely for the exercise.

But Brown did post 128 tackles, 15.0 TFL, and 4.5 sacks. If he does anything at the Combine I will dig into him.

WILL LB – Steven Taylor, 6’1″/225 lbs, Houston

KJ Wright is the current starting WILL in Seattle, which is an impossible body type to mirror in most drafts. So I’m going in more of a Kevin Pierre Louis direction with the smaller, faster Taylor.

Another guy that REALLY fills up a boxscore: 74 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 2 FF. If the price is right, he’d be a really nice rookie-year special teams player, with upside to develop into more.

Draftscout has Taylor as the #184 overall.

Right Defensive End – Joe Mathis, 6’2″/260 lbs, UW

I’m listing Mathis at 260 lbs cause that’s where he told me he’s aiming to play at in 2017 (after being listed at 255 lbs in 2016).

I was really tempted to put Demarcus Walker at this spot as he would give that RDE look, but also be able to play some 3T. Plus, this story could actually use some more first round options. It’s been fairly conservative so far.

I went with Mathis because he’s a better pure edge rusher. He has good get-off (and is working to make it better), he has amazing hand technique, good ability to dip, knows his angle to the QB, but most importantly he has really good all-around, fundamental game (run and pass defense).

Draftscout has Mathis as the #260 overall.

Defensive Tackle – Jarron Jones, 6’5″/315 lbs, Notre Dame

Sometimes when I’m internet scouting I’m starting with tape and then looking for traits. But sometimes I’m starting with traits and then looking for tape. In the case of Jarron Jones; it was the latter. In part because there isn’t much edited tape for him from 2016. I’m stealing from this Brad Kaaya tape. But it’s kind of really a Jones tape.

Jones is #94:

Draftscout has Jones as the #83 overall.

Defensive Tackle – Dalvin Tomlinson, 6’3″/305 lbs, Alabama

After seeing Tomlinson destroy UW in the semifinal, I’m pretty interested in reuniting him with Jarran Reed.

Draftscout has Tomlinson as the #151 overall.

Left Defensive End – Dawaune Smoot, 6’3″/255 lbs, Illinois

I was on the Smoot train as far back as May, and thanks to a pretty “unproductive” year, I’ve been able to watch Smoot drop in projection. At one point he was getting first round buzz. At this point he’s looking like a 3rd round pick. That could be a steal for someone.

So I put unproductive in quotes because Dawaune still put up 15.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks (plus another 10 QB hurries). But there’s this weird thing where unless you’re Myles Garrett (15.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries) this year, Joey Bosa in 2015 (16.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 14 QB hurries), or Jadeveon Clowney in 2013 (11.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 9 QB hurries) people have trouble looking past the production.

I don’t know that that is fair for Dawaune. I still like him. Cliff Avril was a 6’3″/253 lb edge drafted at #92 overall in 2008, and Smoot has similar traits this year.

Draftscout has Smoot as the #107 overall.

There ya go. That’s my All-22. Now, it’s your opportunity to piece together your own mock draft from these 22 players. Pick 7 of them without overlapping anyone within 32 picks of the prior and next pick. Let’s see what you come up with!