Draft Peers: 2017 Tightends podcast

Davis Hsu and Jared Stanger talk about the really exciting 2017 TE class.

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March 2017 SeaMock

By Jared Stanger

Time for a little post-combine, pre-free agency mock draft. I sketched most of this out Sunday night, before the DB’s actually tested on Monday. I made one alteration Tuesday night…see if you can guess which pick.

In addition to my mock, I’m also going to point out who I think Seattle actually drafts. So it’s “who I would draft” and then “who they WILL draft”. Plus I’ll sprinkle in some trips down memory lane.

I’m beginning (again) by trading back. I noticed recently that pick #32 plus #96 matches pretty exactly to the value of the #26 pick, and 32/96 are both owned by the Patriots. This trade maximizes the value on the 3rd rounder, while keeping you within the 1st round (for 5th year option rights).

#32 – Kevin King, Cornerback, UW

Having him right in my backyard I’ve long been tracking Kevin, and after his combine performance and placing first in corner SPARQ, I think he’s truly shown my faith in him was deserved. He’s got the length for boundary and the world class agility to play nickel. As far as I’m concerned he’s been destined to be a Seahawk forever. It would just make so much sense.

Now, having said that, I kinda don’t think Seattle goes there. My guess is they try to go for one of the corners that have been holding 1st round buzz all year. Somewhere between Marlon Humphrey, Cordrea Tankersley, maybe Gareon Conley. Who am I kidding…it’s probably Obi Melifonwu and I throw up all over myself on draft day.

#58 – Zay Jones, Receiver, ECU

Another case of a guy I’ve really enjoyed all year who made money at the combine. A record setting college career, the #2 SPARQ performance of all WR at the combine, and the kind of intangibles that will blend perfectly with Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, etc.

Although primarily used in the slot at ECU, I think Zay has shown through the Sr. Bowl and combine that he has the size, speed, and ability to line up anywhere on the field.

My actual guess for Seattle’s pick at the 58 would be a TE. They’d love to get near Njoku, but won’t. My hunch is it’s Jordan Leggett, but I’d feel better about that if he had tested a little bit better and ran the 40.

#90 – trade back

In an attempt to balance out their draft from five picks in the first 106 overall followed by zero picks in the next 104; I’ve got another trade back. I’m swapping #90 with Denver for their #101 and #127.

#96 – John Johnson, Safety, BC

Primarily a safety for Boston College, Johnson has several games worth of experience at CB in 2015, and measured in at 6’0″/208lbs with 32″ arms…acceptable Seattle CB size.

John didn’t run a great 40 at the combine (4.61s), but players like Johnson’s former BC teammate Justin Simmons and some guy named Richard Sherman both ran combine 4.6’s which they both later improved to identical 4.53’s at their respective pro day’s. Even without a good 40, John still posted the 3rd-best safety SPARQ of the day, with a 55th percentile NFL athleticism.

What the actual pick is here is not as clear. I think “defense”, but could be Edge, could be a different safety, or maybe a SAM. Josh Jones could be in play, maybe Derek Rivers, maybe Tyus Bowser. I’ll say Josh Jones with the caveat that the 6’1″/220 lb safety that ran a 4.41 forty might be a linebacker project for Seattle.

#101 – Dawuane Smoot, Defensive End, Illinois

I vacillated between Smoot here and Jojo Mathis. I think both have 2016 redflags for differing reasons (production vs injury), but both have put on tape better pass rush technique than quite a few guys that will be picked before them.

I think Smoot has a floor of Cassius Marsh, but he has enough upside that he could recapture the form that saw him finish 2015 with 8.0 sacks and 15.0 TFL.

Would you believe the ACTUAL pick here goes to Smoot’s teammate, and higher SPARQ finisher, Carroll Phillips? 4.64 forty and kind of a consolation if Derek Rivers is already gone.

#102c – Aaron Jones, Running Back, UTEP

Thanks to the trade back, Seattle ends up with consecutive picks in the compensation pick cluster at the end of the 3rd round.

I’ve been coveting Aaron Jones forever, and when he tested as the 2nd highest SPARQ amongst RB, it was decided for me.

He’s a little smaller than we’ve seen from most Seattle RB, but still runs really tough. He catches really well out of the backfield and even deep routes. And he’ll play special teams for you.

I’m guessing the pick is a bigger RB that I don’t like as much like a Jeremy McNichols or Brian Hill.

#106c – trade back

I don’t know if Seattle shoots for 10 picks this year. Having five on day 2 might be more appealing. But I like how my board looks moving this back in a trade with Minnesota for their #121 and #160.

#121 – Ahkello Witherspoon, Cornerback, Colorado

I’m actually seeing Kello projected WAY earlier than this since he tested on Monday and came out as the #4 CB athletically. Maybe that means sticking at #106? Maybe that means Ahkello at #102 and Aaron Jones at #121? For now, I’m leaving it as I drew it up on Sunday.

Witherspoon finished 2016 as the 2nd-most passes defended in college football with 22. He’s 6’3″/198 lbs with 33″ arms and ran a 4.45 with a 40.5″ vert. I mean…and there’s this:

Ahkello

He struggles a fair amount with his tackling, but I’ll put his cover technique on par with pretty much any of the 1st round guys.

I’m actually gonna keep Ahkello as the Seahawks pick. If he’s there, I think they can work with him.

#127 – Cole Hikutini, Tight End, Louisville

I have no research to suggest Hikutini is high on Seattle’s TE priority list, and he hasn’t yet tested, but I just like his tape-to-value ratio the best out of all of this year’s TE. If his athleticism is close to what I think I see on tape, he’ll be close to a Gerald Everett level (approx. 1-sigma). Decent production, decent number of TD’s, decent blocking, very good hands.

Historically these 4th-6th round picks have come from very athletic flyer-types. But with SPARQ kind of being public knowledge now, I’m wondering if Seattle is having to adapt and look for other things on day 3. Let’s call the real pick another Seattle 4th round WR: Josh Reynolds. 6’3″ with 63rd percentile athleticism and 12 TD’s this year. Could also see SPARQ leader Robert Davis. Either would be a future Kearse hedge.

#160 – Harrison Butker, Kicker, GTech

I think the target is ASU’s Zane Gonzalez, the presumptive #1 kicker this year. But I think earlier than you’re willing to pay for a kicker.

I think that Butker will be a late riser. A guy that hasn’t even begun to tap into his potential. He’s 6’4″ (just like Hauschka). He hit 8×8 from 40+ this year, while going 15×17 overall, and finishing 6th in the country in touchback percentage.

The real pick: OL Aviante Collins. Collins probably needs to be higher since he just ran a 4.81 forty at 295 lbs, but Draftscout has him at #228 overall, so this is my compromise. Aviante played RT for TCU…has just barely enough arm length to stick there…but could also become a guard. Either way…this is, historically, what Seattle likes.

#210 – Victor Salako, Offensive Tackle, OkSt

I’m going the opposite of Seattle’s trends and taking my OL flyer on a guy that wasn’t invited to the combine. I have no idea of Salako’s actual athleticism…I noticed him early on in the 2016 season, then forgot about him until he weighed in at the Shrine game at pretty ideal OT specs: 6’5″/315 lbs, 34 1/4″ arms.

Above was when I first noticed him watching Oklahoma State in real time. Upon revisiting him recently:

The real pick: maybe a flyer on a 3tech. I’ve got Chunky Clements as a possibility. He has upside if a coach can focus him. Did not test at the combine though invited.

#226 – Jimmie Gilbert, Linebacker, Colorado

This is my purely self-indulgent, “I like this guy better than everyone else seems to”, “it can’t be worse than drafting Kiero Small” draft pick.

Gilbert is tragically underweight (6’4″/223 lbs) and wasn’t invited to the combine. But if he can put together a decent pro day, he could resemble 2011 Seahawk UDFA Mike Morgan (6’3″/226 lbs).

I love Gilbert’s tape and the way he is absolutely maximizing every ounce of his body, if not exceeding. With 34 1/8″ arms, Gilbert has great length and technique for rushing the passer. He’s also shown ability to drop in coverage.

If Jimmie can run anywhere under 4.6 he will put himself ahead of all the Combine LB’s except for Duke Riley. But I don’t think he can get close to Morgan’s 4.46.

The real pick: it actually might be Harrison Butker. Also could see one of a few fullbacks: Algernon Brown or local product Darrin Laufasa.