Scouting the combine
Over the past 4 days, hopeful NFL prospects poured into Indianapolis to take part in the annual NFL combine. The combine tests athletes physically and mentally in order for prospective NFL teams to get a closer look at the players. It also marks the first offseason activity that will lead up the NFL Draft and spring workouts.
Among the hustle and bustle of the weekend, you better believe the Seattle Seahawks were in attendance. In fact, if you watched NFL Network’s coverage of the combine, you would have seen the many pans to Head Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider.
While Pete and John were most likely coming up with a plan to take over the world, I was watching the prospects run, jump, spin, catch, throw and roll at the sound of a whistle.
This is where I get to play armchair GM. Kick back, John, I got this.
Here are 5 prospects who impressed this weekend that could improve the Seattle Seahawks.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin is a name I’ve already floated around. He’s a speedy wide receiver who helped propel quarterback Geno Smith to the front of the quarterback class of 2013. He is dynamic as they come and possesses serious speed.
Not only is Austin your new-age prototypical slot receiver, but he would make a hell of a return man when Leon Washington relinquishes his duties.
Austin was a top performer in 2 of the 5 drills he participated in: 40 yard dash (4.34 sec) and 20 yard shuttle (4.01 sec.)
His speed is his greatest asset, and his playmaking ability out of the slot makes him a serious threat to anyone who has the dreadful assignment of covering him. His size, though, will limit him at times and make teams target him to test his durability.
Vance McDonald, TE, Rice
When the Tight Ends of the 2013 class are highlighted, the spotlight almost always shines on Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz. Little do they know, there is some great value at the position in the middle rounds.
Vance McDonald was a top performer over the weekend in 5 out of the 7 combine drills: 40 yard dash (4.69 sec), bench press (31 reps), broad jump (119 in.), 3 cone drill (7.08 sec), and 60 yard shuttle (11.73 sec).
While McDonald is no Ertz or Eifert in the receiving game, he can more than hold his own. He lined up primarily in the slot at Rice, using his speed and size to make catches and gain extra yardage downfield. He was an effective blocker off the edge as well, which could work in the Seahawks favor.
Drops could be an issue at first, but as we saw with the development of Anthony McCoy, that could easily change. He does use his big hands to catch the ball away from his body, but if need be will have no problem making a cradle catch. He also wins many contested pass attempts.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
While the Seahawks may not get to see Jonathan Cooper on the board come pick 25, it still doesn’t hide the fact that I like him a lot and that he could greatly help the Seahawks. While Seattle need an offensive lineman, a guard seems to be a bigger need than tackle. Cooper fits there perfectly.
Cooper was a top performer in only one event: bench press (35 reps.) This did not stop him from finishing near the top in most of the 6 events he participated in. Cooper’s ability to both pass block and run block effectively makes him a perfect fit for any offensive line, especially in Seattle.
With less sacks given up from the guard position if Cooper were on board, Russell Wilson would greatly benefit from such a movable brick wall.
If Cooper isn’t available, Kyle Long, OG, Oregon is a great fit as well. Ask his father NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long or brother Chris Long of the Rams.
Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Dion Jordan is another player the Seahawks should covet, but may not see on the board come their time to pick. Jordan was an early projected 2nd rounder, but this weekend has boosted him almost surely into the 1st round. And if you have followed any of my college football writing, you know it absolutely pains me to admit all of this.
Jordan possesses the size AND speed to get around the edge. Unlike Bruce Irvin, Jordan does not need to rely on bull rushing linemen to get through – he has an arsenal of moves to beat people with if his speed alone won’t do it for him.
The only drawback is that his run stopping ability suffers slightly because of his excellent pass rushing skills.
Jordan only participated in 3 events and was a top performer in 2 of them: 40 yard dash (4.60 sec) and broad jump (122 in.)
If Jordan isn’t available, another good option would be Trevardo Williams, DE, UCONN.
Dion Jordan 40 yard dash
DeVonte Holloman, OLB, South Carolina
The Seahawks will almost certainly need to replace Leroy Hill. Now the decision to promote from within (Malcolm Smith) or draft a replacement becomes a hot topic in the front office. A good outside replacement in my eyes is DeVonte Holloman.
Holloman is a converted safety who is able to do it all on defense effectively. In all honesty, I don’t know why his draft stock isn’t higher. He can hit hard, he can cover, and he can blitz successfully if called upon to do so. He sounds like a spitting image of Kam Chancellor.
Holloman participated in 6 events, earning top performer status in just the 20 yard shuttle (4.26 sec.)
This is a pick I feel strongly could wind up like the choice of Bobby Wagner last year. At first, people were baffled by it, but Wagner quickly ended all negative speculation with outstanding play. Holloman has that same kind of ability.