Another NFL Combine is history, the impact of which is likely to recede quickly as players and scouts now turn their attention to the Pro Day circuit and team execs begin preparing for free agency.
Still, while conventional wisdom is that what happens at the Combine is often overblown in terms of what happens in the draft, it does give teams a lot more information to begin really solidifying their draft plans.
Here’s a look at how five players who have commonly been pegged by mock drafters to Seattle with the number 18 pick performed at the Combine — and yes, I’ll throw in the caveat that Seattle is more likely to trade the 18th pick than to keep it. But for now, it’s what they’ve got.
More than one mock has had Seattle taking Jackson, in part based on the thought that the Seahawks could trade Richard Sherman, creating a significant need at that position.
But if history means anything, then Jackson’s arm length measurement at the Combine — 31-1/8 — could dash that idea. Seattle has never drafted a player it envisioned as an outside cornerback who has had arm length of less than 32 inches. Jackson’s frame (6-1, 190) and background — beginning his career as a receiver — has drawn lots of comparisons to Sherman. But one thing that drew Seattle to Sherman (and allowed them to overlook a rather ordinary 4.6 40) was his 32-inch arm measurement.
Jackson also disappointed in some other areas, as Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network noted writing: “The ball-hawking safety entered the weekend with a chance to claim the No. 1 spot on the cornerback chart, but a disappointing workout will make it tougher for the Hawkeye to seize the crown. Posting a pedestrian 4.56-second 40, Jackson also disappointed scouts with his movement skills and unpolished backpedal in drills. He didn’t look comfortable with his turns and transitions, and his upright stance could be an issue as a young player. While most scouts will trust the evaluations compiled off film study, this disappointing showing is a definite setback for the potential first-rounder heading into the pro day circuit.’’
If it’s clear that Seattle is keeping Sherman by the time the draft rolls around, as well as the likes of Justin Coleman and Byron Maxwell, then a cornerback seems an unlikely way to go with the first pick, anyway.
FLORIDA STATE, S, DERWIN JAMES
James has been the pick for Seattle by ESPN’s Mel Kiper on both of his mocks, as well as a few others. But James made it clear at the Combine he hopes to go earlier.
“I still feel I’m top 10,’’ he said. “I’m confident through the whole process. Like I said it’s a lot of mock drafts people have with their own opinion, but at the end of the day nobody who’s picking who.’’
What he did at the Combine might make that happen as he was generally regarded as exceeding expectations. To again cite Brooks: “James could experience a resurgence in draft buzz, given the final copy of measurements and athletic numbers the second-team AP All-American gave scouts at the combine. The versatile defender blazed a 4.47-second 40-yard dash to go along with a 40-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump. Although evaluators expected him to be one of the athletic freaks at the position, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound hybrid safety exceeded expectations by showing quick feet and smooth movement skills in positional drills. With some teams reportedly considering James as a ‘big’ cornerback, this spectacular showing could elevate him back into top-15 consideration.’’
Seattle has obvious needs at safety with Kam Chancellor’s situation but could have more so if Earl Thomas is really traded. If drafting James was part of Seattle’s plan as it pertains to Thomas, though, the Combine might have delivered the Seahawks bad news.
Many consider Hernandez the second-best guard following Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, who won’t be around at 18.
Some might think it a little of a reach to take the second-best guard at 18. But in a year when the tackle class is considered underwhelming, it might be the way to go for a team that wants to improve its OL.
And Hernandez appeared to only strengthen his case to potentially sneak into the late teens of the draft at the Combine, specifically with a bench press number of 37, tied for the most of any offensive lineman in the last four years.
Wrote Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com: “UTEP’s Will Hernandez, Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson and Auburn’s Braden Smith turned in dominant performances that left the NFL scouts and coaches in attendance scribbling notes and the fans assembled inside the Indiana Convention Center cheering. Fresh off of a terrific showing at the Senior Bowl, Hernandez lifted the 225-pound bar a staggering 37 times, two more than the latter duo and anyone who competed in this event in Indianapolis a year ago.’’
The Seahawks already have obvious needs for beefing up their edge positions with Cliff Avril probably set to soon be released, and those could increase if Michael Bennett is traded. Davenport, who played at University of Texas-San Antonio, is generally regarded as a mid-to-late first round pick and only helped his stock at the Combine.
Wrote Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com: “Explosive. That’s the one-word scouting report for Davenport. At almost 6-6 and 260-plus pounds, Davenport lit the 40-yard dash on fire with a 4.58 and had a 1.63 10-yard split. Those numbers are comparable to former No. 5 overall pick — and similarly sized — Ziggy Ansah and aren’t far away from the speed Jadeveon Clowney displayed at the 2014 combine before going first overall.’’
The Seahawks unquestionably want to revive their running game in 2018 and figure to spend some significant resources in some way to get that done. Could they really take a first-round pick on a running back?
Seattle has taken a running back in the first round only twice, but it’s hard to argue with other choice — Curt Warner third in 1983 and Shaun Alexander 19th in 2000.
A few mock drafters have speculated that Guice could be the next one, assuming Seattle keeps its pick at 18.
And while some question the worth of devoting high picks on tailbacks, Guice’s performance at the Combine didn’t dissuade anyone from the idea that he cold be worth it. Wrote USA Today about Guice in calling him one of the winners of the Combine: “After an injury-riddled 2017, he reminded scouts why he engendered so much hype as Leonard Fournette’s successor. The hard-nosed Guice ripped off a 4.49-second 40-yard dash and looked smooth, fueling comparisons to a young Marshawn Lynch. Guice helped solidify his case to be the second or third back taken in a group that’s deep behind (Saquon) Barkley.’’