I feel pretty safe in saying that if you polled a reasonable number of football media people you would get a majority of them who would agree that the Sea Hawks are currently in a pretty serous roster rebuild. That is due to multiple factors primarily salary cap issues now that they are paying Russell Wilson like a premier Franchise QB, as well as wear and tear taking its toll on a significant number of core vets, who must now be replaced. Just this off-season the team has parted ways with JIMMY GRAHAM/TE, THOMAS RAWLS/RB, MICHAEL BENNETT/DL, RICHARD SHERMAN/CB, CLIFF AVRIL/DE and more. So let’s take a look at their 9 selections in the 2018 Draft.
I am not as critical of their first round pick RASHAAD PENNY/RB/RS as many have been. I ranked the 5’11/220 PENNY as an early Round 2 prospect, likely to make a solid No. 1 RB option for an NFL team. He has some power and some speed. He demonstrated at the Senior Bowl that he should make a solid receiving option at the pro level. A major forte of his in college was as a Kick-Off Returner, which was his prime job while backing up a guy named Pumphrey for the Aztecs. He averaged 30.7 yards per kick return in 2017. He also rushed for over 2200-yards at 7.8 ypc. He has a nose for the end zone, as evidenced by his 23 rushing TD last season. If he proves durable, he should surface early as their top RB. Fantasy Fan alert; this guy could be a big Fantasy stats guy, and soon.
I also liked their 3rd Round Pick, at 79, of RASHEEM GREEN from USC. He was a very active DT for the Trojans, but I see him spending most of his time at DE in the NFL, although, he may slide inside to DT on passing downs to get an edge-rusher or two out on the field. That versatility will go far winning playing time in their system. Was still only 20-years old on Draft Day. I think he has big time upside and will help them not miss Bennett too much, not to mention being a very attractive price option. Of the 22 players at his position at the Combine, GREEN was the top ranked athlete in the group. Look for him to jump into their DL rotation as a Rookie.
PENNY, was step one in rebuilding their running attack and the selection of TE/WILL DISSLY/Washington in Round 4, at Pick 120 was step 2. DISSLY, a converted DE, specializes in blocking, and CARROLL wants to run the ball more to take some heat off of QB/WILSON. He can catch the ball a bit on short routes and with his 9 3/4″ hands, and some coaching-up might be able to step up the receiving aspect of his game in time. He also has long arms, 33 1/4″, which help him move defenders around as a blocker. His biggest area of improvement may come if he can learn to explode out of his stance, instead of popping upright, which he still does too often. The team let JIMMY GRAHAM and LUKE WILLSON both leave this off-season, which is another big Cap relief measure. Now the young guys like VANNETT and DISSLY have to step up.
In Round 5, at Pick 141 the team took the feel-good story of the year, if not the decade, by drafting the one-handed LB SHAQUEM GRIFFIN. The high-motor, emotional leader at UCF in college, may be a great fit in Pete Carroll’s locker room. SHAQUEM should emerge immediately as a Special Teams leader. His twin brother Shaquill, may already be their best CB after a strong Rookie season in 2017. Only time will tell how having only one hand will affect his overall play, but his personality and energy may take him far. He may never be a Pro Bowler, but in Round 5 that’s not required to call him a good Pick.
The second of their 4, 5th Round Picks was TRE FLOWERS/S/Oklahoma State. He’s a solid athlete and a productive player. Has the versatility to play multiple roles in their Defensive scheme. Should also help the quality of their Special Teams units. At 6’3, 202 lbs., he needs to add some beef to his bones. He’s is not great in coverage, but in Round 5 getting a solid all-around player like Flowers is a solid get.
Round 5, Pick 149 saw the team take perhaps the best Punter in the Draft in MIKE DICKSON/Texas. Won the coveted RAY GUY Award in 2017. Brings every punting skill with him, including big hang-time punts, directional kicking, and backspin on his punts. Almost single-handedly defeated Missouri with his Punts pinning the Tigers inside their 5-10-20-yard line time and time again. To put it bluntly he can flip the field and does so repeatedly. A smart pick here IMO, given that reliable JON RYAN is now 36-years old and never had the kind of leg power that DICKSON brings to the table. The Punting battle in Training Camp could be one of the most interesting competitions on their roster.
And finally we get a selection for their highly questionable OL group at Pick 168. And the selection of JAMARCO JONES is an intriguing one. The evaluations on JONES are all over the map to put it mildly. He looks like a nice long OT prospect, but when the tape came out at the Combine he was only 6’4/299 lbs. Perhaps it’s his vine-like 35 1/8″ long arms that make him look bigger. He basically ran a 5.50/40 and it shows at times when watching him on tape. Then again a player has to be doing something right to start for two years as a Buckeye. His best place may be a move inside to OG. The Sea Hawks are never bashful in shuffling their OL around and trying people at different positions. I’d bet he has a spot, maybe not this season, inside at OG, with another 10-15 lbs. on his lean frame. He will be a key draftee long term because the OL has been such a challenge for them during the Carroll coaching regime.
I don’t know what to tell you about their final two Picks in this Draft. Almost every year the SCHNEIDER/CARROLL tandem seems to pull some of their later picks out of thin air. I had neither JACOB MARTIN/DE/ER nor ALEX McGOUGH/QB on my prospect list of 300+ players. But I was aware of them, and clearly this team saw some things they really liked in them. But in today’s NFL not too many players slip through the cracks and then develop into legit players in the League. These Picks are what I refer to as “getting cute” in their War Room evaluations.
The good news for Sea Hawks fans is that I think the team signed 5-6 URFA who have more potential as pros than their last couple of Picks here. All these Rookies will get a long look this summer, with the chance to show that they belong at he next level. The team may now be in a place where getting a dozen Rookies on their roster every year is a must. Some good work here overall!