MLB scouting report card

By Jared Stanger

We’re down to two weeks away from the 2018 MLB Draft, and as I’m refining my impressions of this class I looked back at some of the players I liked in years past to see if scouting MLB is even worth doing. If I’m just throwing darts, or if I’ve actually shown some talent for spotting talent.

I think the first year I spent time on the MLB Draft was 2012. I didn’t dig very deep into the draft in terms of multiple rounds, but I did study 2-3 rounds worth. That year Seattle was drafting 3rd overall and I was hoping Carlos Correa would be there.

Of course, Correa ended up going 1st overall and has become an All-Star shortstop and World Series champ for Houston. The Mariners took Mike Zunino at #3.

Kevin Plawecki obviously wouldn’t have been a need after the M’s got Zunino, but for the record Plawecki made it to MLB at age 24, but has only hit .220 in a primarily backup role.

In 2013, the M’s were drafting at #12 overall, and I wanted them to get DJ Peterson.

Peterson tore up multiple levels of the minors until he suffered a broken jaw from a hit-by-pitch. He was never the same after that, and has been stalled at AAA for parts of the last four seasons, without ever making it to MLB yet.

Hunter Renfroe was drafted right after Peterson at #13 overall, made it to MLB in 2016, and has yet to put it all together in the bigs. He hit 26 homers in 2017, his first full season, but slashed only 231/284/751.

Phil Bickford was drafted two slots before Seattle’s pick, but did not sign in 2013. Since being drafted again in 2015, Bickford has posted a MILB career mark of 2.71 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 10.3 SO/9 in the low minors.

But the interesting names on that prior tweet might be Cavan Biggio and Logan Shore. Both were high schoolers in 2013, and remained true to their respective college commitments. Both were drafted again in 2016, and are having tremendous 2018 seasons. Biggio (son of Craig Biggio) is hitting 303/421/1.118 with 12 HR in 36 games in AA, while Shore has opened 2018 with a 2-0 record, 1.21 ERA, 0.896 WHIP, 10.1 SO/9, and 12.50 SO/BB in A+ ball.

Arguably, 2013 wasn’t a great draft overall with only Kris Bryant becoming an all star from that year’s first round (Aaron Judge and Corey Knebel were selected in first round compensatory rounds).

The 2014 draft Seattle was drafting at #6 overall. I preferred the M’s go the route of college pitcher, and draft Aaron Nola.

Nola was drafted at #7, directly after Seattle selected HS catcher Alex Jackson. Nola made quick progression to MLB, hitting the show a year after his draft, at age 22. He’s been predominantly a solid starter since his arrival, and seems to have taken a step up to elite/ace level here in 2018; pitching to a 6-1 record, 1.99 ERA, 0.989 WHIP so far.

Nick Gordon (ironically, the younger brother of new Mariner Dee Gordon) was drafted at #5 overall, and is now 22 years old and tearing up AA: 336/383/907.

The 2015 draft was a tough year because Seattle had no pick in the 1st round, and nothing until #60 overall. Insanely, I called my shot.

This tweet was sent right before Seattle was on the clock:

Neidert was a very solid MILB player for Seattle until he hit AA last year at a pretty young 20 years old. Then Seattle traded him away to Miami. So far, in his 2nd stint in AA, Neidert is improving. He’s currently at a 3.25 ERA, 1.331 WHIP, and his strikeouts are back up over 9.0 per nine innings.

Josh Naylor was another HS kid I liked that year but he went off the board at #12 overall, and he’s currently hitting 344/427/1.002 with 9 HR, 37 RBI in 40 games for the Padres AA team.

The 2016 draft was probably the most unpredictable we’ve seen in the last 5-6 years. The Mariners were picking at #11 (first draft in Jerry Dipoto era, by the way), and the rumor mills had Seattle targeting college RHP Justin Dunn. Personally, I was targeting high bat Alex Kirilloff.

After a very strong debut in rookie ball; Kirilloff missed all of 2017 with Tommy John (IIRC), but he’s back this year and right back in the groove hitting 316/361/949 with 6 HR, 30 RBI in 34 games for the Twins’ farm.

The Mariners, of course, ended up with Kyle Lewis after his surprising fall out of the top 10. I hadn’t spent much time talking about him as he seemed certain to go top 5. I liked the pick.

More 2016 players:

Puckett- hasn’t played in 2018
Gallen (AAA)- 4-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 7.5 SO/9, 3.08 SO/BB
Burnes (MILB)- 2.31 ERA, 1.070 WHIP, 9.1 SO/9, 3.26 SO/BB

Justus (MILB)- 224/345/656
Jones- went to college at UW
Vieaux (A+)- 3.89 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 7.2 SO/9
Bieber (AA-AAA)- 1.43 ERA, 0.854 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9, 15.3 SO/BB
Lucchesi (MLB)- 3.23 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, 9.1 SO/9, 3.2 SO/BB

The 2017 first round pick was another tough one to predict with Seattle sitting at #17 overall. It was the second year of Jerry, so I had better feel that it would be a college player, and I had some feeling it might be Evan White.

That was my guess at what Seattle WOULD do. My personal preference was to go after a college pitcher.

Peterson has opened his MILB pro career with a 2.10 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 8.1 SO/9 in eight starts.

High school outfielder Jordan Adell never felt like a Jerry pick, and seemed destined to be off the board early, but he was really intriguing.

Adell was picked at #10, and already has 10 homeruns to his credit in his first 74 games, plus a 325/380/928 slash and 58 RBI.

Another college bat I was looking at for Seattle last year was outfielder Stuart Fairchild. But he was a weird value between Seattle’s picks at #17 and #55 (Stuart ended up almost exactly between the two, at #38).

Fairchild has hit 297/390/802 to start his career with 23 stolen bases in 94 games.

Heimlich infamously stayed in school after his off-field history came to light, but Lowther ended up drafted at #74 and has been REALLY good; posting a 1.59 ERA, 0.794 WHIP, 13.2 SO/9, 6.82 SO/BB in his first 17 starts.

Overall, I think I’m “hitting” more than I’m “striking out” on my picks for my career. I think the last two years have been especially solid. I think it’s a pretty huge mistake by Jerry and co. to bypass high school players completely in the 1st round. There are awesome talents like Kirilloff to be found there. This year it’s Jarred Kelenic and Cole Winn, for me.

I am looking to get another Mariner mock draft up before the first night of the draft, and I’m shooting to have a full 10 rounds represented.

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2018 Mariner Draft

By Jared Stanger

The 2018 MLB Draft is now only three weeks away (Monday June 4th-Wednesday June 6th), and with some pretty big downtime in the NFL; I generally like to spend a few weeks digging into some MLB draft prospects.

The Mariners will be picking at #14, #54, #90, #118, and every 30th pick thereafter. I may get this built up to a 10-round mock before the actual draft, but for now I’m just looking at the first five rounds.

Shortly after the 2017 draft completed I made my first foray into the 2018 class, and this is the guy I found:

11 months later and Jarred Kelenic is pretty soundly locked into the top 10 picks. MLB has him at #8, 2080 has him all the way up to #3 overall. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that he’ll make it anywhere near Seattle’s first pick. But, if we consider Seattle’s recent draft history, a) they probably need to prioritize pitching higher, b) they have generally gone with college players in the 1st round, and then shoot for a nice upside high schooler in the 2nd round. So a HS outfielder like Kelenic is probably not a likely Seattle target.

The best college pitcher I’ve watched this Spring has been Auburn’s Casey Mize, and he is currently the favorite to be picked #1 overall. Other first round projected pitchers: Florida’s RHP Brady Singer, USF’s LHP Shane McClanahan, Ole Miss LHP Ryan Rolison, Florida RHP Jackson Kowar, Stetson RHP Logan Gilbert, Stanford RHP Tristan Beck, Kentucky RHP Sean Hjelle. Of that list, I’ve already seen Rolison and Gilbert rumored to Seattle.

Ryan Rolison is a 6’2″/195lb, draft-eligible sophomore lefty with a line of 7-4, 4.03 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 10.6 SO/9, 3.91 BB/9 in 13 starts and 76.0 innings. I tend to think Seattle looks for a little more control from their pitchers, especially in the 1st round.

Logan Gilbert is a 6’5″/195lb, junior righty with a line of 8-1, 2.61 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 12.61 SO/9, 1.88 BB/9 in 12 starts and 86.0 innings. Gilbert’s 121 strikeouts are 2nd in the country, and his 6.72 SO/BB is 21st in the country. The latter stat, I think, might be a strong indicator of Seattle interest, but I just don’t think Gilbert is an MLB player.

So it appears our first choice of college pitcher is not a great group.

The next most likely quartile: college bats. This is a bit stronger section. The top 15 could include 2B Nick Madrigal, C Joey Bart, 3B Jonathan India, OF Travis Swaggerty, 3B Alec Bohm, OF Trevor Larnach.

Bohm- 339/436/1.018, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 31 BB, 20 SO, 35% XBH
Madrigal- 449/488/1.078, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 6 BB, 2 SO (*in 18 games)
Bart- 364/474/1.094, 12 HR, 31 RBI, 34 BB, 43 SO, 34% XBH
India- 384/525/1.305, 16 HR, 40 RBI, 43 BB, 38 SO, 47% XBH
Swaggerty- 301/466/1.050, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 45 BB, 30 SO, 42% XBH
Larnach- 339/466/1.139, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 33 BB, 38 SO, 48% XBH

It’s a pretty nice group when the worst of them is OBP’ing .436. Four of six with more walks than strikeouts. Five of six with over 33% XBH. The downside of this group is that they have a combined 32 stolen bases, and only India has over 10. Even Swaggerty, who averaged 19.5 SB in his first two years of college is only at 7 this year. These aren’t tremendous athletes overall. That’s another thing Seattle has targeted in the Dipoto drafts: Kyle Lewis and Evan White are both very good athletes.

Jonathan India seems like the most well-rounded player. Super clean, quick swing. Showing enough power to play a corner infield spot, but enough athleticism that he could possibly play a middle-infield position. MLB has him projected the #10 overall, so it would take a slight drop to make it to Seattle. I like India a lot, though.

High school pitchers is the strongest group in the first round with about seven slots from most top 20 projections. Potential targets at #14 could include RHP Kumar Rocker, RHP Cole Winn, LHP Ryan Weathers, RHP Ethan Hankins, and RHP Mason Denaburg. The guy that I’m most drawn to from this group is Winn.

Winn is listed 6’2″/195lbs, and works with a good four-pitch mix. The fastball is 92-94mph already and Winn is getting swinging strikes on all of his off-speed pitches. And he’s got plus makeup. As of today, without any unexpected players falling, I take Cole at #14 for the M’s.

High school bats are the shallowest group in the early 1st round. I really don’t see a fit there for Seattle.

The fifth group I want to talk about are the “reaches”. Because there is a drop of 40 picks between Seattle’s first rounder and 2nd rounder, and because the nature of the MLB draft is basically the only place where baseball has a salary cap; we may see Seattle reach on a player at #14 in order to sign him under slot, and then use the remainder to go overslot on a tough-sign at #54. This is where the MLB draft is tougher to predict…draftpick bonuses are not slotted and they are capped.

The reach group could include HS catchers Noah Naylor and Will Banfield, college OF Steele Walker and the aforementioned Trevor Larnach, and HS pitcher JT Ginn.

The guy that I like most to reach on is high school RHP Ginn. Much like Cole Winn, Ginn is 6’2″/199lbs and committed to Mississippi State should he go the college route. Ginn has a live arm; already sitting 95-97mph and touching 99mph. The secondary stuff is less polished than Winn…actually the secondary offering is a really good slider…it’s the third pitch that needs work and may prevent Ginn from starting.

Cole Winn’s tape and statline of 6-2, 0.25 ERA, .111 BAA, 0.527 WHIP, 15.2 SO/9, 11.6 SO/BB won me over.

#14 – RHP Cole Winn, Orange Lutheran HS

Watching tape of basically every player I could find that register in any of the major draft publications’ top 150-200 players, it becomes much easier to isolate a player in the next few rounds.

In the 2nd round, I was very drawn to another high school RHP: Owen White. This is an awesome pitchability player with 92mph fastball, 79mph curve, and a really effective 84mph change. I love his control. And at 6’4″/180lbs there is probably still some room there to add strength and velocity.

White’s senior statline: 9-1, 0.25 ERA, .123 BAA, 0.688 WHIP, 14.6 SO/9, 6.1 SO/BB.

The delivery is a bit unconventional, but the hesi kind of adds to the effectiveness of the fastball/change mix.

#55- RHP Owen White, Jesse Carson HS

In the 3rd round I found another high school RHP I really liked in Braxton Ashcraft, as well as a really nice, toolsy high school SS in Osiris Johnson. But already being two-deep in to high school picks, I’m forcing myself to go college bat.

Cal Raleigh is interesting. He’s slashing 308/442/971 with 9 HR, 39 RBI, 19% walk rate, 36% XBH rate in a strong ACC division. Oh, and he’s a switch-hitting catcher that hits opposite field triples.

#90 – C Cal Raleigh, Florida State

In the 4th round I really like high school two-way player Jack Perkins. Committed to Louisville, Perkins slashed 531/581/1.519 as a batter. As a pitcher, he actually posted a less impressive line: 2.56 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, .219 BAA, 16.5 SO/9, 3.8 SO/BB in six starts. But I think there is potential here. Fastball is only 92mph, but has great plane, which he also mirrors very nicely with a solid curve. Check out this series…

Opens with the fastball.

Then a show-me curve. If he spots this a bit better it’d be a three-pitch punchout.

And a couple pitches later, after showing some off-speed stuff, blows the fastball by him.

#118 – RHP Jack Perkins, Kokomo HS

In the 5th round, I spotted TCU closer Durbin Feltman. Working primarily off of a 95mph fastball and a change that almost has some knuckle action to it, but with identical arm-slot and arm-speed to the FB; Durbin has posted a 0.40 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, added 4 SO/9 from 2017 (up to 15.7 SO/9), and cut his 2017 BB/9 in half (down to 2.01 BB/9 in 2018).

Here’s a look at that change action.

Many of the picks the Mariners will make from roughly pick #4 to #10 will be underslot guys that wouldn’t really be selected as early as they will if not for the screwy MLB draft pool. If Feltman were a Senior, he’d be exactly that kind of pick. But he is only a Junior and could return to school if he chooses. Then again, 5th round is pretty good spot for a pure reliever.

#148 – RHP Durbin Feltman, TCU

Obviously this is a flawed mock draft. I think Seattle is very likely to force a pick on a college player at #14, and there is zero chance they take three high school RHP this early, and four RHP of all ages in five selections, but I have to go with what my eyes tell me. These are the best values I’m seeing.

2019 NFL Draft preview

By Jared Stanger

It’s NEVER “way too early” for looking at the next year’s draft class. So here are some of the players to watch in the 2018 college football season and 2019 draft.

Running Back

I was really looking forward to watching Florida’s Jordan Scarlett in 2017, but after getting caught up in the credit card fraud case that  put multiple Gators into suspension; Scarlett didn’t play a down in 2017. But he’s recently been reinstated to the team, and should be their workhorse back for 2018.

He’ll be playing the season under the scarlet letter of that off-field redflag, but on the field Scarlett is one of the most well-rounded backs in the country. Playing at 5’11″/213lbs in 2016, Jordan ran for 889 yards on 179 carries. A 4.30s forty runner in high school, Scarlett carries great balance and center of gravity to go with that break-away speed.

I love his slashing style of running. It’s a bit faster, less volatile version of the zig-zagging crocodile style that Marshawn Lynch had.

Here is another great version of that serpentine running style.

Also a lot of broken tackles on his tape.

There was no underclass player that I was more disappointed that he stayed in school this last cycle than Alabama’s Damien Harris. Another really well-balanced player. 5’11″/221lbs with roughly 4.48 speed and one of the best running back minds I’ve seen in 5-6 years of scouting. Harris comes across as a really clean prospect, with low wear on only 135 carries, 1000 yards, and 7.41ypc in 2017.

Damien is at his best in a one-cut, zone scheme where his patience frequently gives you runs like this:

Harris can also create a little bit on his own with his subtle jump-cuts.

Three more really good, albeit a little more undersized, RB to watch in 2018: Bryce Love, Myles Gaskin, and Devin Singletary. Each posted over 1300 yards and 19 TD’s in 2017.

Wide Receiver

I read somewhere on twitter after the draft a comment about teams being disinterested in big WR because they weren’t drafted high this year. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but small WR weren’t drafted high this year either. We saw two WR drafted in the 1st round…the lowest total since 2013. But we still saw two 6’3″ WR with 90th percentile athleticism picked in the top 64 picks.

Most of the cornerbacks that were drafted in the 1st round this year were under 6’0″, but we’re not making the argument that the league doesn’t like big CB’s anymore. No, it was just a better year for more of a quicker, slot type of CB.

And I will go on record right now that in the 2019 draft we will see at least four WR drafted that are over 6’2″ tall in the first two rounds.

I’m starting with a guy that is a bit off the radar in Auburn Jr Darius Slayton. Top five in the country last year in YPC, Slayton isn’t the biggest of the big WR at 6’2″/190lbs, but he has this sixth sense at the receiver position that you don’t often find.

Look at the way Slayton makes this catch:

Instead of running through the ball, Darius senses the CB over the top, keeps his body short of the ball, already anticipating forcing a missed tackle. Plus, it’s a good example of his ability to catch the ball away from his body.

This is 6’3″/200lb Emmanuel Hall. He was 2nd in the country in YPC, and his reel includes many receptions with Hall wide open deep on go routes. His frame, his smooth stride, and wearing that #84 jersey bring to mind Randy Moss.

Both Slayton and Hall will be playing 2018 with very highly regarded QB’s, so they could be in line for big seasons.

Ole Miss’ AJ Brown was 11th in the country in receiving TD’s and could potentially see more work with Van Jefferson transferring. Brown only listed 6’1″ but he’s 225lbs.

Anthony Johnson was a top-10 receiver last year. 6’2″/207lbs.

Tight End

The early look seems to show that 2019 won’t be a great year for TE. Alize Mack at Notre Dame is a stud athlete, but with some redflags.

This is Noah Fant at Iowa. 6’5″/232lbs and a solid mover.

Stanford’s Junior TE Kaden Smith caught my eye during last year’s Pac12 Championship. He posted one more catch than departed TE Dalton Schultz (23 to 22) for the season, but out-gained him 414 yards to 212, and 5 TD to 3. A pretty impressive 18.0ypc is elite for a TE.


Offensive Line

The 2018 class was widely panned for its lack of Offensive Tackle talent. Early signs say that 2019 could be VERY good there.

Jake Browning’s highschool teammate, Jonah Williams is coming along nicely as a blindside protector for Bama. Playing at 6’5’/301lbs last year, he’ll need to get a bit bigger and stronger.

In the category of “if Kolton Miller can be a 1st rounder, so can…” I’ve got a few in mind. Virginia Tech’s Yosuah Nijman is one of the better athletes coming next year. 6’7″/320lbs.

Auburn’s Prince Teno Wanagho (6’7″/301lbs) is far more of a project, but the build is really solid.

The UW bookend Tackles of Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary are going to both be worth watching. Adams is already receiving high projection, though I’d urge more caution there coming off his knee injury. And then McGary is currently underrated, but a pretty awesome athlete in his own right. Here are both on a strong run play:

A wildcard is West Virginia’s Yodny Cajuste (6’5″/308lbs). He might be a right tackle. Needs to stay healthy, though. Injuries in multiple seasons.

And I haven’t even covered Mitch Hyatt, Larry Allen III, and Michael Deiter. Lots of Tackles in 2019.

Safety

With continued uncertainty at the Seattle Safety spots, and Seattle punting on Safety in the 2018 draft, a blue chip Safety may be an early target for Seattle in 2019. I really like Florida’s Chauncey Gardner. A solidly built 6’0″/207lbs, Gardner covers a lot of ground and hits big.

Cornerback

My eye is immediately drawn to LSU redshirt sophomore Andraez “Greedy” Williams. At 6’2″/182lbs he’s got that Seahawk length. With 6 INT and 11 PBU he’s already had great production.

And then the tape shows an innate ability to locate the football in the air. Greedy, if he declares, would be the type of player that doesn’t get out of the top 15 picks, but Seattle would need to pull the trigger if he came near them.

Notre Dame’s Julian Love is 5’11″/193lbs and registered 3 INT and 20 PBU in 2017. Tape is solid.

Linebacker

Joe Giles-Harris will be a Junior and he had a monster sophomore campaign with 125 tackles, 16.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 6 hurries, 4 PBU, 1 INT.

Khalil Hodge (6’1″/235lbs) finished 2017 second in tackles nationally.

USC’s Porter Gustin has some passrush to him and may play a LEO spot for the teams that use personnel that way, but I’ll list him at LB for now. He’s a nice athlete that just needs to work on flexibility.

Defensive Line

This combined position group might have the best shot at being really special. With the entire Clemson DL returning to school last year they have a chance to see three drafted in the 1st between Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell, Christian Watkins, Austin Bryant. Additionally, there will be Ed Oliver, Rashan Gary, Nick Bosa, Dre’mont Jones, Raekwon Davis, and inevitably a wildcard small-schooler like Jaylon Ferguson or Carl Granderson.

I get my Clemson guys confused, but I think Christian Wilkins is the 300lb’er that does jump splits.

Nick Bosa will face the lifelong comp to his brother. I kinda like Nick better to the same point in their careers.

Jaylon Ferguson has been consistently productive in Conference USA, but will need to play well enough to get a Senior Bowl invite, and then play well there, too.

Cece Jefferson is coming off a recent shoulder surgery, but should be ready by August. Slightly undersized, but could see an uptick under a new Defensive Coordinator. The upside is Dwight Freeney.

I didn’t cut any video of Ed Oliver yet. Like, he’s an absolute freak and his upside is high enough to go #1.1. But I have this weird feeling he’s gonna be regularly nicked up with soft tissue problems.

That’s the early look at the 2019 NFL Draft. Looking light on DB’s, but very strong in the trenches. The DL will get the early headlines, but this OT class could be special.

Rookie camp notes: day 3

By Jared Stanger

6th round pick Jacob Martin currently weighing in the 240lb range, but targeting playing at 250lbs. Coach Carroll believes he has the versatility to play DE and OLB (perhaps closer to the OTTO role that Bruce Irvin developed into), which is where I’ve been projecting Jacob to end up.

At the WILL backer spot, Pete talked a lot about how that spot is important to have coverage ability because of how much nickel the team will play. This is why the team is trying out a lot of safeties at LB. Shaquem Griffin is in that group, and I kinda like the kid from Texas, Jason Hall.

5th round pick Jamarco Jones is still nicked up with his left knee. Carroll talking about his future potential to play Tackle and Guard. My suspicion is that Seattle is looking to split the backup OL into left and right utilities, rather than swing guard and swing tackle. So Jamarco would battle Rees Odhiambo for left swing, perhaps Ifedi becomes the right swing when Fant gets healthy.

Couple more slight injuries sound like corner Tre Flowers and fullback Khalid Hill.

Carroll calls Khalid a smart player, and watching his ability catching and running the short goalline at Michigan; Hill is my favorite to win the fullback job.

Seattle all but done with Malik McDowell. Pete has no update, but the update is that the team gave Malik’s jersey number to Rasheem Green. It’s all but done.

Sounds like we’ll see quite a bit of movement on the 90-man roster as the team transfers some of the rookie camp tryout guys onto the roster, and some of the signed players off. I’m curious who the team sees as potential MIKE linebackers. They may need to add someone there. And I could see the team make some moves at WR and RB.

Rookie camp notes

By Jared Stanger

Seahawks rookie minicamp opened Friday with the team announcing 3 draftpick signings, 15 rookie free agent signings, and releasing the roster for the four-day rookie camp. Here are some of my early observations:

Seattle punted on WR in the draft and then came back in UDFA with three of their fifteen signings at that spot. 12 total WR in camp, and six of those are 6’2″ or taller.

Seattle also going pretty aggressive in UDFA at LB, with the additional note that they are using many college safeties as linebackers, and what may approximate as a SPUR or STAR position.

The rookie OL roster sort of resembles the draft: deeper at Guard (seven men) and Center (three), and light at Tackle (only four). One of the four Tackles is college defensive lineman Ulric Jones at 6’5″/300lbs.

The Seattle 90-man roster is potentially light at the TE position, so keep an eye on camp invites Jeb Blazevich (who played for Brian Schottenheimer in 2015 at Georgia), and Boston College basketball wing Garland Owens (who at 6’5″/225lbs is being listed as a WR). These would be potential 90-man additions, not 53-man players.

Rookie roster is extremely light at DT with only three men listed at the spot. Rasheem Green will get some work there, and perhaps 6’2″/278lbs Seyvon Lowry.

Most of the Northwest schools are represented:

UW- Will Dissly, Andrew Kirkland, Demorea Stringfellow, Troy Williams
WSU- Jamal Morrow
Oregon- Tanner Carew, Kani Benoit, Scott Pagano
Oregon State- Brandon Arnold
Boise State- Marcus Henry
Idaho State- Skyler Phillips

Positions worth tracking:

Pass-catching RB. Between Jamal Morrow, Kani Benoit, and Justin Stockton (and the fact that JD McKissic is now sharing his jersey number with Rashaad Penny), Seattle may be looking for a more traditional 3rd down back.

Linebacker. Seattle has multiple open spots on the linebacker depth chart after multiple vet free agents were not re-signed. Florida State’s Jacob Pugh with his 59th percentile athleticism might be the frontrunner for one spot. But we also need to see who can emerge to backup Bobby Wagner at MIKE.

Big WR. I’ve been thinking they’d look for another bigger target for a while now. Caleb Scott is a very good athlete. Demorea Stringfellow is pretty intriguing, too.

Former Husky and Ute QB Troy Williams is the 3rd-best QB SPARQ in the 2018 class. May be an interesting practice squad target.

Some SPARQ numbers:

Utah’s Troy Williams is 87th percentile at QB.
MSU’s Gerald Holmes is 71st percentile at RB.
Slippery Rock’s Martin is 68th perecentile at FB.
Texas Tech’s Justin Stockton is 53rd percentile at RB.
Vanderbilt’s Caleb Scott is 85th percentile at WR.
Rasheem Green, Marcell Frazier, and Jacob Martin are all about 60th percentile as DE.

One last, pretty major, observation: “Last Chance U” quarterback, turned Florida Atlantic WR, John Franklin is listed at WR on the camp roster, but I noticed in the team’s photo album from day one that Franklin was wearing the white jersey of defense and huddling up with the DB’s. They’ve got him at cornerback.

Grading the draft

By Jared Stanger

After spending a week digesting the 2018 Seattle draft class I am now ready to give you my thoughts.

I think it’s an okay draft. I like the upside of some picks, I see some big redflags on others, and we can grade how we got to each, plus the gaps along the way.  Grade-wise; I think you have to put the Seattle 2018 draft straight down the middle as a ‘C’ grade. Here’s how I get there:

Rashaad Penny- I don’t think this is the huge problem that the national media think it is. It’s a good player that you got maybe 5-13 picks earlier than I would have liked. If what John Schneider said in his presser was true: that “a few teams walked away from potential draft trades”; picking Penny at #27 may not have been their perfect scenario.

Maybe they wanted to get to New England’s pick at #31 or Cleveland’s pick at #33 and those teams balked when Derwin James was taken by the Chargers at #17. Either way Seattle may have been forced into taking the Packer trade, and then not wanting/finding a second trade back from #27.

The bigger problem with Penny at #27 is that the trade only gave Seattle an added 3rd rounder, with no 2nd. Not having a 2nd is a HUGE minus to Seattle’s draft grade that most Seattle fans are ignoring. Drafts aren’t always who did you get, but sometimes who DIDN’T you get (like not getting Xavier Rhodes in 2013 because you gave up the exact pick for Percy Harvin). And Seattle didn’t get ANYONE in the 2nd round that I believe had a ton of really good talent.

Keep in mind, John Schneider is deeply aware of his past mistakes and prone to overcorrect. So if he traded back too much in 2017, he’s going to make sure he doesn’t trade back past Penny in 2018, and be more okay with “reaching”.

That brings us to the 3rd round where Seattle takes, in my opinion, the biggest hit to its grade by selecting Rasheem Green. Contrary to the national media that dislike the Penny pick and like the Green pick; I think the opposite. In general, I prefer reaching on a guy you like than scooping up a guy that has fallen down the draft for all 32 teams.

Between the rumored injury issues and what I’ve observed to be talent and confidence issues; Green is the pick that I am the most frustrated with and skeptical of. At the very best, I think he will take three years to adapt to the NFL, but if I’m being totally honest I think he’s like a CJ Prosise pick: nice athlete, good production, some injury history, but mostly a general softness to his play and his personality.

In the 4th round, Schneider again is compensating for the mistakes of 2017. Last year it was pretty well reported that Seattle missed on the tightends at the top of the 5th round. So this year, John made sure to draft his TE in the 4th. Even though the guy they got this year would probably be available in the 5th. So a slight downgrade for misreading the room and a slight reach on Dissly, but it’s very slight because it’s better to reach than catch a faller.

This 5th round is basically going to determine the longview opinion of Seattle’s 2018 draft. If you hit on 2-3 it completely changes the complexion of everything. But you’re counting on a linebacker with one hand, a safety that you’ll move to a new position, a punter, and a backup tackle with pretty awful athletic testing. You need 2/4 to become pro bowl talent. With the exception of Dickson at punter; you’re probably looking at three backups in their rookie years, then wait-and-see. So that’s a ‘C’ for the 5th.

I know people are going to want to argue in favor of (especially the 5th round) players’ “upside” as reason to grade them higher. But that’s EVERY PLAYER ON EVERY DRAFTBOARD. They’re all upside/projection picks for each respective team. Baker Mayfield is an upside/projection pick. Saquon Barkley is an upside/projection pick.

Every draft class is an “A” for the team that drafted them. Just ask…they’ll tell you the same. Nobody is aiming for a “C” grade. And no fanbase is objective in evaluating theirs. For me, I don’t think we wave a magic wand and think Seattle’s 2018 5th round picks are the unicorns they once-upon-a-time found in the ghost of 5th rounds past. It’s been six years. At some point you stop getting that benefit of the doubt.

Certainly, in terms of class grades, the upside of the 5th round doesn’t overpower a small 1st round reach, no 2nd, and potentially a bust of a 3rd rounder. At best, you hit on two of your 5th’s and that creates a “push” with the day two problems.

The 6th round, to me, is a solid pick for Seattle. Jacob Martin is an above average athlete with good intangibles and decent college production that falls in the draft because he’s undersized. This is what a 6th round pick looks like.

Similarly, Alex McGough in the 7th is a very good athlete, with good size, that falls in the draft because of iffy production at a small school. I would have preferred JT Barrett, but Seattle has previously used 7’s on fullbacks that didn’t even make it out of camp, so there isn’t and shouldn’t be tremendous expectations here regardless of the player or position.

These last two picks, however, do bring us to an interesting dialogue: how DO we grade a pick? If our expectation of a pick in a late round is that we find a ‘C’ player, and you get a ‘C’ player, is that a ‘C’ grade? Or is the idea that we grade on a curve in the late rounds, and hitting the maximum expectation of a pick in that round gets an ‘A’? But arguably an ‘A’ in an easy class should not register the same impact on your GPA as an ‘A’ in a 300 level class.

So, even before talking about draft grades, we really should have talked about how we’re grading. Zach Whitman and I had a brief conversation on twitter this week centered on 5th rounder Tre Flowers, and who he would represent in my “Seattle’s 2018 draft is symbolically analogous to their 2011 draft” thread. Zach contends that Flowers approximating Byron Maxwell would be great value. My intention/effort is more to find the “Richard Sherman” from every pick. Is either right? Not something I’d aggressively fight for or against.

I had another conversation this week with Aaron Levine who was arguing that Rob Rang was giving Seattle a fairer grade than the national media because Rang is local and gets what the team is doing better. First of all, being closer doesn’t make one more objective; it’s literally the opposite, especially if any part of your job requires access. But second of all, evaluate the evaluator. Rang has given Seattle between a B- and a B+ in every draft since 2013 (that I could find). So, for him, we need to either convert the entire scale to between B- to B+, or we need to convert up or down a full grade, or something.

Does his “B+” become his “A” and his “B-” is really his “D”.  Or is his “B+” really his “C+” and his “B-” really a “C-“?

Using the former conversion, these would be his Seattle grades:
2017- B becomes C
2016- B+ becomes A
2015- B- becomes D
2013- B becomes C

Using the latter conversion, his grades would be:
2017- B becomes C
2016- B+ becomes C+
2015- B- becomes C-
2013- B becomes C

Do either of those groupings look more fair with hindsight? Ultimately, we need the context of what a “B” grade means to someone.

And it’s also interesting that different personalities have different thoughts pre- and post- draft. I tend towards idealism pre-draft, and realism post-draft. Others may go realism pre-draft, and idealism post-draft. And the grades will differ reflective of that. First, “what is your expectation of the draft?” and then “did you accomplish those expectations?” My expectations are VERY high, and I haven’t felt they were accomplished immediately following a draft since 2012.

And lastly, “did you evaluate the individual players accurately?” Which will take three years to know. Or does it?