The Carroll Code 2018

By Jared Stanger

Once again this year, Pete Carroll took to twitter in the minutes before the NFL Draft to give clues to who Seattle would be drafting. This is the way I decipher what they meant.

I don’t know for sure that this was intended to be a clue or just to tease the clues, but I’ll include it.

The two big connections are “Will Ferrell” representing WILL Dissly, and the scene coming from “Old School” referring to Carroll’s old school: USC, meaning Rasheem Green.

I want to emphasize that this one might not even be a clue.

This was the first official clue:

My first thought for that was that it might be a monkey “Nick-ing” a hubcap…so Nick cHUBb. Then I remembered…

I have developed a working theory that the Seahawks don’t invite their 1A players to the VMAC. So Rasheem Green would not be the 1A guy they wanted. It might have been Sam Hubbard who was drafted by Cincinnati at #77…two picks before Seattle drafted Green, and one pick after Seattle traded back from #76.

Clue #2:

This is by far the most abstract clue he gave. My conclusion came down to this:

So the complete connection there is: San Diego State Aztec INDIAN Rashaad Penny.

Clue #3:

I saw two themes with this. The first is that Kevin Hart is from Philadelphia which is where Temple University is located. The second is that the quote, “alright, alright, alright” is more famously the catchphrase of Matthew McConaughey who went to Texas. This would put either Jacob Martin or Michael Dickson in play.

Clue #4:

That immediately seemed it had to be Shaquem “Shaq” Griffin.

Enough said.

Clue #5:

Another really tough one. My first thought was that “Mike Tyson” is representing Michael Dickson. But maybe it has something to do with the guy standing in the corner, a guy moving in the corner, moving to corner? In my biggest stretch, let’s say this is for Tre Flowers, the OkState Safety that will be moved to Corner.

Clue #6:

There wasn’t a lot to go on here. The green suit might mean a player or team with Green in the name. Or that it would be a player from a team with a cat as the mascot (Cincinnati Bearcats, etc.). Alex McGough comes from the FIU Panthers.

Clue #7:

A second clue from Kevin Hart and this time it doesn’t have the McConaughey crossover. It had to be someone from Temple.

Jacob Martin.

Clue #8:

This clue I actually somehow missed on Thursday night. It’s a scene from “White Men Can’t Jump”. The movie is sort of famous for the trash-talking, and that could mean “disses”, which means Will Dissly.
Clue #1: Sam Hubbard, drafted 2 picks before Rasheem Green
Clue #2: Rashaad Penny, from the Aztec Indians
Clue #3: Michael Dickson, from Texas
Clue #4: Shaquem Griffin, aka “Shaq”
Clue #5: Tre Flowers, who is being moved to the corner
Clue #6: Alex McGough, from the Panthers
Clue #7: Jacob Martin, from Temple
Clue #8: Will Dissly, for being a white guy that didn’t post great combine jumps

I tend to think that these clues are chosen with more than one player in mind, but both of whom are on Seattle’s shortlist. So there is some flexibility if they miss on a guy (if they don’t get Penny, they probably go Chubb, etc.), but ultimately the clues are legitimate clues.

Which means that Pete is kinda nuts, but also hangs some huge brass balls.

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Thoughts for your Penny

By Jared Stanger

It’s not the player…it’s the price.

Thursday evening, after a nine-pick trade back with Green Bay; the Seattle Seahawks selected San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Man.

I get most of what this is and what it’s about. I had been projecting Seattle to take a 220lb RB for months now.

I figured they’d want someone to replace CJ Prosise…which basically meant “more durable”.

And as late in the process as early this week, after Pete and John gave their pre-draft presser, I had sort of realized the personality type of RB they might target. Got it down to three guys.

I WANTED Seattle to be that kind of selective…parsing the RB group down to three. I even wrote that I’d want them to get their guy a round early if they had to. But in the case of these running backs, I thought we’d be talking about 3rd round players that you draft in the 2nd.

The big thing I did not account for was the combined effect of having limited draftpick inventory, combined with Seattle’s self-admitted smaller big board, combined with Seattle wanting to NOT make the mistake they made in 2017 when they traded back three times from their first pick and I think it cost them the player they really wanted and led to the whole Lemony Maliket series of unfortunate events.

So then I think these became a lot of Seattle’s thought processes: a big back that breaks a lot of tackles, but stays durable, with explosivity, to reinvigorate the run game, who also has a certain personality. And they wanted to do all of this without repeating mistakes of overtrading and missing him. It was an impossibly narrow target to hit.

John told reporters after the first round that they had offers for the 27th pick and that a team called to try to acquire Rashaad by trade…I mean, those are very convenient stories to have ready when most of the fanbase and draft media are like, “REALLY?? So soon???” Maybe we’ll never know if Penny would have still been available six picks later, twelve picks later, a full round later. Maybe years from now in a ’30 for 30′ special the GM from that mystery team will step forward and confirm he offered a trade for Penny.

Maybe John made the pick at exactly the right time, exactly the right price. But it feels like they overpaid. It feels like we got running back value at dollars on the Penny.

Those are my thoughts on it. Keep the change.

2018 Final Sea-mock

By Jared Stanger

I am sooo ready for this draft to happen. Let’s just do it already. So for this mock draft, I’m not going to spend a ton of time talking about the scouting breakdown of the players. I’ve written about most of these players before. This will be a bit more about how to execute acquiring this collection of players.

We’ll start by trading back the #18 overall. I’m going to hope New England has their sights set on QB Lamar Jackson and will move up to get him. I will trade Seattle’s #18 + #120 for New England’s #31 + #63 + #95. This trade is within 2.5 pts on the new trade chart.

And then, somewhere between the start of the 1st and the middle of the 2nd, I’m trading Earl Thomas to Dallas for their 2018 and 2019 2nd round picks (#50 this year). Then I flip #50 plus one of our 5th’s to Houston (who don’t have any picks in rounds 1, 2, and 5) for two of their three 3rd rounders. #50 + #146 for #68 + #80.

Seattle has had trades with both New England and Houston in the last year, so there is presumably good relationships there to accomplish these trades. I’m trying to think if Schneider has ever done a deal with Jerry but coming up blank. But I think it’s a reasonable deal.

These three trades would put Seattle’s board at:

1.31, 2.63, 3.68, 3.80, 3.95, 5.141, 5.156, 5.168, 7.226, 7.248, 7.250

That is 11 picks. We manage to stay in the 1st round, and also manage to get four picks on day two. Seattle has often been mentioned wanting to draft 10 times this year (and most years), but it’s pretty easy to find use of 11 or 12 picks.

Here we go.

#31 – OL Billy Price

In a first draft to this final mock I had Seattle trading with Cleveland and starting off at #33. I’m a little nervous Price doesn’t last that long. So I modified the whole thing to the New England trade.

I’m hoping with a good group of interior OL available in this draft and Price’s lack of athletic testing after tearing a pec muscle on the bench press at the combine, he will be available here. Price’s most recent position was Center, but he’s also had at least one year playing each of right and left guard. When I dug it up, I kinda preferred Billy’s tape at LG. Either way, between he and Pocic you’ll have both guard spots set for three years. Plus, Price is as S-T-R as they come.

#63 – DE Duke Ejiofor

After going OL first, it’s a no-brainer that they go DL next. I have strong suspicions this pick at this value might go to Rasheem Green if he lasts, but I’m sticking with the guy I’ve had all year in Duke. I just think he’s the better player of the “Michael Bennett” types. He’s more pro-ready today, and there’s still some upside left in him.

In the past I’ve done pretty well looking for a value DL in guys like Preston Smith and Yannick Ngakoue, and Duke is my hope to be that guy this year.

#68 – Shaquem Griffin

For me, this pick came down to Deshon Elliott at Strong Safety and Shaquem Griffin. I’m going with Shaquem for his presence, his speed, and his versatility. He might be the strong safety I wanted in Elliott, but he also might be a SAM, and/or a 3rd down DPR (designated pass rusher). I mean, the possibilities are pretty intriguing. It’s tough to totally pin down where Shaquem’s draft value will be, and this may be a reach, but I’d rather just get it done.

#80 – CB Isaac Yiadom

Another guy, like Duke, that I’ve been with for most of the year and I’m just sticking with him to the end. He checks pretty much all of the boxes of a Seattle CB. I’d like to get him a little bit later than this, but it’s not worth getting cute. Pair him with Shaquill, Shaquem, and hopefully a stud FS, and you might have a whole new LOB.

#95 – Jaylen Samuels

Samuels is more similar to Billy Price, in that I wasn’t really thinking about him most of the year because of position labeling. But after he ran 4.54s at 6’0″/225lbs it sort of dawned on me that he’s a straight running back. He’s certainly not much different than David Johnson at 6’1″/224lbs, 4.50s (Johnson has way better jumps, but the agility scores are VERY similar).

I’ve had a sense for a while that Seattle would go with one of the Scarbrough/Ballage/Freeman type of RB this draft, and after some late cramming on his tape; I kinda feel like Samuels is the best of the group. He’d be a dope replacement for Prosise, and has the upside to be really good considering how much he checks off the S-T-R list.

#141 – FS Dane Cruikshank

This is a bit of a flyer. Having traded away Earl, we need to find a new Free Safety. I don’t necessarily need THEE answer at FS (I have my eye on a guy as Seattle’s first pick in 2019), but I want a guy with some upside to compete with Macdougald and/or Thompson for 2018.

Cruikshank has mixed projection as both corner and safety, but I’m projecting him at FS because of his 31″ arms, 4.41s speed, and really nice tackling.

The other option for me here (depending on the board) is Tony Brown, who I also would like to try at FS. Brown concerns me with his back to the QB, but sliding him deep to single-high FS, with the play always in front of him, and his 4.3 speed, may show him in a new light.

#156 – TE Durham Smythe

Arguably the best blocking TE in the class. Others may want an offensive weapon at TE, but A) I’m not sure that fits with Seattle’s re-commitment to the run game, B) I’m not sure there are enough of those guys available in this draft to overpay to get one. I mean, there’s basically four or five above-average TE athletes this year. And that’s not a very high bar. Don’t chase what the earth hasn’t provided.

Besides, Smythe is underrated as a received due to Notre Dame’s problems at QB. Go back and watch him in the Senior Bowl.

#168 – DL Jullian Taylor

Taylor is getting lots of late helium thanks to an impressive pro day performance. If you can get him here in the 5th, I think he’s a better value than a guy like Taven Bryan in the 1st. Jullian will be a sort of replacement for Malik McDowell that you hope you can get both 5tech and 3tech reps from.

#226 – QB J.T. Barrett

Personally, I value Barrett in the 5th round, and if I hadn’t traded away that other 5th I would take him there. But in most mocks, including the consensus mock, Barrett is frequently seen as an UDFA. I’ll take him here and love having a guy with his resume backing Russell up.

#248 – LB Jacob Martin

These last two picks are basically just guys you don’t think you can get in undrafted free agency, but want to make sure you get them on board. I could do anything here…another running back, another linebacker, a placekicker, a wide receiver. There were a ton of interesting options that came through VMAC as official visits. I’m going with Martin because of his athleticism to potentially play linebacker, mixed with his experience as an edge rusher. We didn’t draft a true Cliff Avril type (instead going with a Bennett and then a McDowell), so this is a bit of an undersized attempt at a Cliff. But it also gives your new defensive coordinator (a former linebacker) two new guys that can both run under 4.59.

#250 – PK Trevor Moore

If Seattle hadn’t signed Sebastian Janikowski they might have been able to get a kicker in UDFA. But with two PK’s currently rostered, I don’t think a rookie would choose to be one of three. As a draftpick he won’t have a choice. Moore is one of the better kickers I’ve found from 40+ yards.

Final tally: 4 offense, 6 defense, 1 special teams. I’m missing a WR, and I’d like to get a second RB, but those are both spots Seattle has had some success going through UDFA. With the RB depth in this class there should still be guys left in free agency. At WR, the team may have knowingly added via trade and vet free agency because they didn’t love the draft class.

1.31 Billy Price
2.63 Duke Ejiofor
3.68 Shaquem Griffin
3.80 Isaac Yiadom
3.95 Jaylen Samuels
5.141 Dane Cruikshank
5.156 Durham Smythe
5.168 Jullian Taylor
7.226 JT Barrett
7.248 Jacob Martin
7.250 Trevor Moore

Drafting backwards

By Jared Stanger

I’m a big fan of what I call drafting backwards. It’s in part an evaluation of the players that will be available in later rounds that you see as undervalued, and also part evaluation of position groups that dry up earlier than others. The farther back you start, the harder it is to predict which players will still be there. So for this story we’re going to focus on the 3rd round.

Seattle has historically had pretty good luck in the 3rd round. Russell Wilson is obviously their biggest success story in the 3rd, but Tyler Lockett and Shaquill Griffin have also been good finds in the 3rd.

If you can find a player that you really, really like that is pretty unanimously entrenched in the 3rd round, you can take his position group off of your board in the earlier rounds, and focus on other spots that may have more significant talent cliffs. Here are my 3rd round picks at most positions:

Cornerback – Isaac Yiadom

Isaac Yiadom is classic Seahawk CB size: 6’1″/190lbs, 32 1/4″ arms. He has adequate athleticism at 4.52s forty, 34.5″ vert, 10’00” broad, and a solid 6.85 cone. Yiadom is an excellent tackler who excels in Boston College’s press-man scheme with incredible patience and press technique. He maintains consistent over-the-top position with fluid hips to adjust for comebacks. And he plays extremely hard all the way through the whistle.

Yiadom has the most pro-ready technique of all corners in this class:

This is an example of Isaac’s motor:

Draftscout ranks Yiadom as the #100 overall player.

Defensive End – Duke Ejiofor

Duke Ejiofor is a guy I’ve been very high on all year who was forced to have shoulder labrum surgery after the end of the season. That injury/surgery has prevented Ejiofor from testing athletically, and has dropped his value into the 3rd round. His combine weigh-in was: 6’3″/264lbs, with massive 34 7/8″ arms. Wake Forest had Duke listed at 6’4″/275lbs during the season, and that would be a weight that I would target playing him as it helps allow him to continue playing with inside/outside versatility. This is the guy I target to play Michael Bennett’s vacated role.

It’s honestly a little baffling to me that Ejiofor isn’t valued higher. He has one of the best pass-rush repertoires in this class. He’s a smart player that makes many plays just based on great reads. And the unconfirmed reports of his athleticism suggest he’s a very good athlete.

To showcase Ejiofor I’m going to show some of his specific pass rush moves. Starting with the best spin in the class.

Inside to outside spin:

Outside to inside spin:

When Duke gets snaps inside; he moves to using a swim which is really solid:

This two hand swipe is really effective for him:

Then, when he has the outside rush setup, he has a nice inside counter:

There are more moves with lesser refinement (like his long-arm), but that still show promise. He also is a well-rounded DE playing the run and short passing game very nicely.

Draftscout has Ejiofor as the #120 overall.

Defensive tackle – Derrick Nnadi

As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of drafting DT early. Unless you have a pretty good idea you’re getting Aaron Donald; I’d rather wait until the 3rd round.

Derrick Nnadi is a 6’1″/317lb, penetrating 1-tech in the mold of Jordan Hill.

Power is Nnadi’s best trait:

Draftscout has Nnadi as the #101 overall player.

Linebacker – Shaquem Griffin

Shaquem Griffin is such an interesting story with an interesting projection. At 6’0″/227lbs he is the size (and speed) of a big safety. He’s primarily played DE in the last two years. And most project him to be a LB as a pro.

I’ve primarily been thinking about him as a Safety because I want to use that speed, but recently I’m reminded of what a great passrusher Quem is. Whether you call him a S or a LB; he needs to be up in the box with chances at rushing the QB.

True sideline to sideline speed:

Draftscout has Griffin as the #89 overall player.

Quarterback – Kyle Lauletta

I don’t love a QB this early for Seattle with all of the other postions that need help, and the QB expected to be a backup. But clearly Seattle has been digging in to the QB market.

My observation is that Seattle seems to be looking for a QB at least 6’2″/210lbs, and they prefer a good athlete with a 4.7s forty. Lauletta is 6’3″/222lbs with only a 4.81s forty, but generally good athleticism. I’m generally okay with a QB with lesser armstrength and better FBIQ, but it’s tough to guess what Seattle looks for when the only QB they’ve drafted under PCJS is Russell Wilson.

Personally, I think Lauletta’s armstrength is fine. More importantly, he’s very accurate deep.

Again, during the Sr Bowl:

Draftscout has Lauletta as the #93 overall.

Running Back – Royce Freeman

There have often been running backs drafted in the 3rd round that have become really successful pro’s. It’s one of the best positions to wait on (especially in good RB classes).

I like Royce Freeman more than most. I think he’s a smart player, super reliable, super tough, without any major holes to his game. At 6’0″/229lbs he’s big enough to be your workhorse. With nice hands he’s versatile enough to be a 3rd down specialist. At 4.54s forty and 6.90 cone, he’s a better athlete than given credit for.

Draftscout has Freeman as the #105 overall.

Safety – Deshon Elliott

I can only assume Elliott’s projection is because he only ran a 4.58s forty. Which isn’t even that bad. On tape, he has some of the best tackling, best reads, best ball skills of all safeties this class.

Deshon is 6’1″/210lbs…not an overwhelming size, but big and physical enough to hold down a Strong Safety slot. Fourth in the country in 2017 for Interceptions.

Nice physicality:

What I like best about him is the way he reads the offense:

Draftscout has Elliott as the #178 overall. Ridiculous.

Now, the other thing this list suggests to me is the positions that don’t fit. Offensive line has a pretty steep cliff after the 2nd round, to me. Tight End is super shallow to begin with, but if you target a run-blocking TE like Durham Smythe/Will Dissly you can get that in like the 5th round. Wide receiver is a position that I think you can find throughout this draft, but 3rd round isn’t the best fit.

 

Winning drafts is about two things: nailing your early round picks, and hitting on a couple midround picks. And if you go into the draft knowing how you can draft backwards; then you’re already ahead of the game.

Bad Friday

 

On Friday March 30th, 2018…Good Friday…everything changed.

And I was not prepared.

You’re not prepared when you get that call from your older sister and she has an unmistakable seriousness in her voice.

You’re not prepared when you turn the corner into your childhood neighborhood and you can’t get to your house because of all of the emergency vehicles in the cul de sac.

You’re not prepared when you reach your driveway and your younger sister, who arrived just before you, is awash in emotion and tears.

You’re not prepared when you enter your own childhood home and he’s on the kitchen floor with six to ten strangers are all working feverishly around him trying to get a heartbeat.

You’re not prepared when they load him into the ambulance and you can see through the front windshield the corner of the stretcher rise and fall to each compression of CPR.

You’re not prepared when the ambulance never leaves.

You’re not prepared when the lead paramedic gets out of the ambulance, looks at his watch, and starts walking up the driveway towards you.

You’re not prepared for the words.

And then comes the shit that you really had no clue how unprepared for you’d be.

You’re not prepared for the fact that ambulances transport to hospitals and don’t transport to medical examiners.

You’re not prepared to see his lifeless body brought back into your house and laid on the couch that sits in front of the framed picture of HIS mom and his step-dad.

You’re not prepared for the color of his face.

You’re not prepared to see the truest and deepest pain you’ve ever seen: when your mom kneels beside her partner of 40 years, and weeps uncontrollably. You’re not fucking prepared for that. THAT is pain.

You’re not prepared for death. I wasn’t.

On Friday night, as I stood frozen, compelled by a force inside me not to walk away, my stepfather, who gave me his name and raised me as his own, died inside that ambulance at the bottom of the driveway of my childhood home. He was only 68.

 

************************************************************************************

 

In hindsight, it was a blessing that the paramedics fought as long as they did to try to save him because all of four of us kids, and the three of his five grandkids that are old enough to understand what was happening were able to be there. We were all able to have a private moment to say something to him before the medical examiner came. I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful that about two weeks ago it was his birthday, and the whole family was together and had a beautiful evening, and I gave him a really big hug as I left that night. That was the last time I saw him and spoke to him. My last moment with him was a hug. Internally, I pretty instantly had so many regrets about big chunks of my relationship with him over the years. But my last moment with him was that hug.

I’m thankful that my older sister is such a rock. Resilient and graceful.

I’m thankful that both of my brothers-in-law, and soon-to-be sister-in-law, are so compassionate and giving.

I’m thankful that friends of the family brought over an entire Easter dinner.

But there is sadness, too.

I’m sad, and regret, that I was always so difficult.

I’m sad that my younger sister’s kids are too young to have formed strong memories of their Boompa.

I’m sad that my oldest nephew was recently growing so close to his Boompa…he’d walk over from his house and together they’d watch random things no teenager would normally have interest in, like “The Waltons”…and I was sad at how much he was affected on Friday night.

I’m sad that my brother won’t have his dad at his wedding this summer.

But mostly I’m sad for all that my mom has lost in this one fell swoop. Like, you can sort of tell how parents change once all of the kids are grown up and out of the house, and that “empty-nest” feeling hits. But now compound that by a factor of thousands. Maybe it’s over 15,000…for every day they had been together.

15, 000 days is a lot. It’s a lot of habits. It’s a lot of co-dependence. It’s a lot of physical property. It’s a lot of memories.

 

With almost 30 years in that same house, the volume of physical stuff in there is incredible, but it’s nothing compared to the memories. After 30 years, every single nook and cranny of that house has a memory association to him.

I watched my mom trying to process it all, and already dealing with the memories. I watched her, as she listened to the fire department chaplain, silently notice dad’s slippers stowed under the chair she stood beside, and then step into them one at a time.

I watched her Sunday sit at his favorite spot on the couch.

I listen to her.

I listen as she says things like, “I don’t know how to be alone.” I listen to her literally account for the very few months across her entire life when she lived alone. I listen to her plainly asking that all us kids come, visit, stay.

I hear you.

In my mind I already know that I will start to go over there 2-3 nights a week for dinner. I know that we will need to help her move out of that five bedroom house. I know that we need to pivot to supporting one another, and especially her, going forward.

I wasn’t prepared for any of this, but I will learn and adapt quickly to help her. I wasn’t prepared for death, but I will try to be more prepared for life. I promise.

I promise I will try to be a better son, brother, uncle, friend, man. I’ve already gone to someone that means a whole lot to me to ask her forgiveness for how I had recently acted. I meant every word I said.

I promise I will always think of you every time the Bears lose, and every time Elvis comes on the radio, and every time I write my last name, and every time Kevin Costner says, “Wanna have a catch?”

I love you.

Goodbye, Dad.