Did you forget about me? It’s completely understandable if you did! It turns out not writing causes just as much anxiety as actually writing, so 15 Xanax and four shotgunned Mountain Dews later, I am here and ready to finally start getting back into the swing of things at The Armchair Times.
I spent a good deal of time and energy last year into researching and prognosticating on who the Seattle Seahawks would be targeting for their 2016 draft class and I’m happy to report that this year, I’ll be doing the same. In my last article that came out immediately after the draft, I listed a handful of interesting prospects in the 2017 class. Now, with the college football season in full swing and a bevy of Seahawks scouting intel, here is a much more narrowed focus idea of players the ‘Hawks may have high on their draft board. Seeing how Seattle likes to load up on picks via trade and it’s unclear exactly where their selections could end up being, I’ve broken down prospects who I believe could fit by round. Enjoy!
Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
As surely as the sun rises to signal the beginning of a new day, an offensive lineman will be projected to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round. Despite selecting Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi in the first round of 2016, there’s little doubt that the ‘Hawks would be well-advised to add more depth there in the 2017 draft. And although the line has begun to play better in recent weeks, the stark reality is that there is currently an undrafted rookie free agent, with hardly any college or high school football experience, starting at left tackle.
That’s where junior Garrett Bolles, current left tackle for the Utah Utes, could come into play. Overall, the offensive tackle class of 2017 appears to be weaker than previous years, which always makes it difficult to project where the chips will fall early on. Bolles, a five-star JUCO transfer in his first year at Utah, could very well be the most talented tackle in the entire class. His backstory is intriguing (you can read more about it from the Salt Lake Tribune here), one of overcoming a great deal of adversity, just as a certain former Seahawks first-rounder Bruce Irvin once did.
There’s no doubt that Bolles has the talent to be a first-round selection in the upcoming draft, but he’ll also 25 at the start of his rookie season. It’s for this very reason that some teams could be scared off from taking Bolles, thus potentially playing into Seattle’s favor. This is why despite having one more year of eligibility, Bolles could decide to forgo his senior year to enter the 2017 draft class. Bolles is as physical of an offensive lineman as you will see and his dominance at the point of attack is a huge reason why Utah can bring a running back literally out of retirement and start rushing for 200 yards per game. Oh, and how about Bolles’ on-field demeanor?
Garrett Bolles is a fine young man, but on the field he is the real world equivalent of a dementor.
— Bryan Brown (@brownbearSLC) November 11, 2016
A great comeback story with the potential to anchor the Seahawks’ line for years to come? Sounds like just the type of player Pete Carroll and John Schneider would love to have on the roster.
Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt
Tak McKinley, DE, UCLA
Ethan Pocic, OG, LSU
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
There figures to be some great options at wide receiver in the 2017 draft, but none were more productive in college than Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. By the time this season is over, Davis will likely hold the all-time NCAA record for career receiving yards. He’s been at the forefront of an improbable turnaround at Western Michigan, engineered by head coach PJ Fleck, and now it’s likely that he’ll hear his name called early on in the 2017 NFL Draft.
At 6’3″, 213 lbs, Davis represents a physical mismatch for most corners but also has the ability to take the top off of a defense with his speed. He’s one of those guys who you immediately recognize as being the best player on the entire field. It’s always difficult to translate how steep the learning curve will be transitioning from the MAC to the NFL, but Davis possesses the speed, tremendous hands, and route-running skills capable to make the leap. Paul Richardson will hit free agency after the 2017 season, with Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett slated to do the same after 2018, so Seattle could seize the opportunity to pounce on a physical outside threat like Davis early on.
Carroll Phillips, EDGE, Illinois
DeDe Westrbrook, WR, Oklahoma
Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
A former five-star recruit in high school, Alabama transfer and current Tennessee standout running back Alvin Kamara could represent another dynamic playmaker for Seattle to find in the third round. Kamara recently announced his plans to forgo his senior season and enter the 2017 draft, which could see him rising up draft boards, potentially much higher than the third round by the time all is said and done. The fact that Kamara will enter the draft after the departure of his backfield mate Jalen Hurd could be an indication that he’s been told he’ll be selected on the first or second day of the draft.
Kamara has been a great all-around back in his time with the Volunteers, racking up 10+ total touchdowns in each of the past two seasons despite splitting time with the aforementioned Hurd. Though he’s by no means a bruiser, Kamara has enough physicality to make it at the next level. His calling card remains his vision and quickness, as displayed on this recent touchdown run against Kentucky:
Kamara also shows great hands and route-running ability when catching the ball out of the backfield and can be valuable returning kicks and punts on special teams. It’s my assumption that Seattle would like to find a way to relieve Tyler Lockett from special teams duties to preserve his health and promote his further development as a receiver, so Kamara could be a viable candidate to replace him. The ‘Hawks invested three picks on running backs in the 2016 draft but with CJ Prosise looking like the only one with a clear long-term future, don’t be surprised if they opt to go to the running back well again in 2017.
Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
Taylor Moton, OG, Western Michigan
Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU
Jessamen Dunker, OG, Tennessee State
Even if the Seahawks opt to select another offensive lineman with their first-round pick in 2017, it’s likely that they wouldn’t be done shoring it up for the long term. That’s where Tennessee State’s Jessamen Dunker could enter the picture.
Dunker, a former HS All-American and Florida Gator, transferred from Gainesville after off-field issues that involved allegedly stealing a scooter. Since joining Tennessee State, he’s been an anchor of their offensive line and figures to be taken with a mid-round selection in the 2017 draft.
Dunker possesses great athleticism and power, particularly in the run game, which is why many feel that he will end up at guard at the next level. One recurring theme when it comes to what the Seahawks covet in offensive lineman is the experience playing multiple positions in college. Dunker has played left tackle, left guard, and right guard for Tennessee State, which could be an indication of the type of versatility that John Schneider and Pete Carroll look for. Carroll has said that Germain Ifedi could eventually move out to right tackle, so adding Bolles at left tackle and Dunker at right guard in 2017 could significantly improve their play up front moving forward.
Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Though Seattle currently has no fifth-round pick as the result of too much contact during OTA’s, I would imagine they’ll end up having one or more selections in the fifth when all is said and done via trade. Historically, one of their favorite groups to target in these later rounds is the secondary and UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau could be a great fit for the Legion of Boom.
Moreau was granted a medical redshirt after missing the majority of the 2015 season with a lisfranc injury, but has come back in 2016 as a captain and vital member of the Bruins’ defense. Moreau is one of the most physical corners in the country and especially thrives in man coverage. In one particular interview, Moreau talked about facing star UNLV receiver Devonte Boyd:
On locking up Devonte Boyd in the second half:
Coach asked me to follow him and I just played man to man defense on him and that’s something I loved to do. It’s a challenge.
On when that challenge happened:
The second half. In the first, Nate and I were playing on our normal side. He’s a great receiver and I took the challenge, but I knew if I used my technique then I could win my reps against him.
Moreau’s ability to not only leave his side of the field for a special assignment, but proceed to not allow his assignment to have a catch for the remainder of the game, seems awfully Sherman-esque to me. He already has eight pass breakups this season, matching a career high, and shows great tackling skills in the open field. Most importantly, Moreau’s instincts and patience at the line of scrimmage, never panicking on a receiver’s first move, could allow him to flourish in the Seahawks’ system.
Pita Taumoepenu, LB, Utah
Obi Melifonwu, DB, Connecticut
Godwin Igwebuike, DB, Northwestern
Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami
Continuing with the secondary theme, Miami’s ball-hawking safety Rayshawn Jenkins could be another viable addition to the Legion of Boom that has seen its depth tested over the last couple seasons.
With Tyvis Powell looking like a potential long-term replacement for Kam Chancellor, it’s possible that the ‘Hawks could look to pair him with another long term safety replacement, this time for Earl Thomas. Since arriving on campus for the Hurricanes, Jenkins has racked up 9 career interceptions and 12 pass breakups, in addition to being one of Miami’s most reliable tacklers.
Jenkins missed all of 2014 with a back injury but over the last two seasons has cemented himself as an important piece of a very talented Miami secondary. Jenkins possesses tremendous ball skills and seems to have a knack for coming up with interceptions at clutch moments. His physicality jumps out on film, as he regularly delivers punishing blows to ball carriers, rarely being out-matched physically in one-on-one situations. Jenkins’ ability to take on blockers and make tackles in the open field could make him a standout on Seattle’s special teams unit while he further develops his coverage skills.
Duke Riley, LB, LSU
Donald Payne, DB, Stetson
Jake Eldrenkamp, OG, Washington
Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota
Quarterbacks will always be the most notoriously-difficult position to project come draft day. Especially early on in the process. Before the season started, some had Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner pegged as a first-round pick. Some say he’s not an NFL quarterback at all. Fortunately for all of us draft enthusiasts, there’s still plenty of time to sort that out.
From what I’ve been able to gather, Seattle have done their homework on Leidner, the current Golden Gophers’ QB. The numbers aren’t very pretty (career TD-INT ratio of 33-27, career 57.0% completion rate) and the reviews this season have been less than stellar. But I still believe there’s plenty of talent to work with.
There are a lot of issues to unpack with Leidner. His mechanics, for instance, will need to be cleaned up at the next level. He’s dealt with numerous injuries during his career at Minnesota. He will at times be so wildly inaccurate with his throws that you’ll wonder if he’s somehow seeing hologram receivers in places where his real receivers aren’t. But then sometimes, he will make throws like this:
On fourth down, with the game on the line and a blitz right in his grill, Leidner delivers an absolute laser in the only spot his receiver had a chance to catch it. Arm talent and poise like Leidner displayed on that particular play are the golden ticket that secures your chance at a shot in the NFL. Combined with Leidner’s athleticism and ability to run the ball (31 career rushing touchdowns), John Schneider and Pete Carroll could see just enough to try molding the Golden Gophers’ star into RW3’s long-term backup plan.
Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston
Deatrich Wise, Jr., DE, Arkansas
Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
Keon Hatcher, WR, Arkansas
Tim White, WR, Arizona State
Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forest
William Stanback, RB, Virginia Union
Jack Tocho, DB, NC State
Keion Adams, DE, Western Michigan
Zach Pascal, WR, Old Dominion
Antwan Hadley, DB, Nebraska-Kearney
Joe Williams, RB, Utah
AJ Leggett, DB, West Georgia
Antonio Green, OL, Sioux Falls
Jimmy Gilbert, LB, Colorado
Marcus Cox, RB, Appalachian State
Michael Rector, WR, Stanford
Aaron Curry, DL, TCU