Seahawks Emphasize Pass Rush in Latest Seven-Round Mock Draft
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has rocked the sports world, the NFL will still be hosting the 2020 draft as scheduled, albeit without the public events in Las Vegas.
Free agency has provided a bit of a distraction for fans during difficult times, but as that process begins to slow down, focus will start shifting back to the draft. Teams won't have the luxury of being able to attend pro days or bring prospects in for official visits due to travel restrictions put in place by the league, making this year's pre-draft process a truly unique one for everyone involved.
Following an exciting first week of the new league year, here's my latest stab at a seven-round Seahawks mock draft, including a non-first round trade down by general manager John Schneider to add an extra day three selection.
Round 1, Pick No. 27 - Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
Staying put in the first round to fill a huge need that has only been magnified by Clowney's lingering decision and missed chances to sign other veterans, the Seahawks land a coveted EDGE defender in Gross-Matos. Built with a prototypical 6-foot-4, 264-pound frame well-suited for the position, he excelled both as a rusher and run defender at Penn State, recording 17.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss during the past two seasons. He can win off the edge with speed and power, and with room to add muscle to his frame and develop his array of counter moves, he has as much upside as any defensive end in this draft class. In a perfect world, he's teaming up with Clowney to harass opposing quarterbacks for the foreseeable future.
Round 2, Pick No. 59 - Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
With Schneider at the helm, the Seahawks haven't drafted a cornerback earlier than the third round, but Hall is simply too enticing to pass up. He fits a number of the team's thresholds at the position, including possessing 32 1/4-inch arms, a lengthy 6-foot-1, 202-pound frame, and outstanding ball skills as a former receiver. Just two years ago, he finished with an FBS-best 22 pass deflections for the Cavaliers, intercepted two passes, and also forced two fumbles. He's coming off an injury-shortened senior season and didn't do any running at the scouting combine, but assuming he makes a full recovery, he would immediately have a chance to push Tre Flowers for a starting job across from Shaquill Griffin.
Round 3, Pick No. 75 - Ezra Cleveland, T, Boise State*
*Acquired from Colts for pick No. 64.
Few draft prospects improved their stock more than Cleveland during the scouting combine in Indianapolis last month. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 311 pounds, the Spanaway, Washington native ran the 40-yard dash in 4.93 seconds and further displayed his athleticism by topping all linemen in the 3-cone drill and short shuttle. The two-time All-Mountain West First-Team performer needs to add a bit more muscle to his frame to improve at the point of attack as a run blocker, but he's light on his feet in pass protection, moves well in space getting to the second level, and plays with sound technique. Even if he's not starting on the right side right away, he looks like an ideal heir to Duane Brown at left tackle.
Round 3, Pick No. 101 - Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida
Seattle needs to double-down on pass rushers after ranking near the bottom of the league in sacks, pressures, and quarterback hits a year ago and Zuniga would provide excellent value in the late third round. Injuries prevented him from truly reaching his potential at Florida, as he never finished a season with more than 6.5 sacks and only eclipsed double digit tackles for loss once. But when healthy, he's an electric rusher off the edge who can wreak havoc splitting gaps and has shown a propensity for disrupting plays in the backfield. While Gross-Matos would play base defensive end most of the time, the 264-pound Zuniga would provide an intriguing LEO defensive end option for Pete Carroll's defense.
Round 4, Pick No. 133- Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
Though it's not their greatest need, the Seahawks would be wise to take advantage of a deep receiver class to add a complementary weapon next to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Coming off an excellent senior season where he caught 106 passes for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Duvernay had been an under-the-radar prospect until he exploded at the combine, running a sub-4.40 40-yard dash and finishing third among receivers in the short shuttle. Given the depth of this class, there's a good chance the ex-Longhorn standout will still be available early on day three. Seattle could immediately plug him into the slot and his physical nature breaking tackles after the catch would add a new element to the team's passing game.
Round 4, Pick No. 144 - AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
With Chris Carson entering the final year of his rookie contract and Rashaad Penny recovering from a torn ACL, snagging a running back from a strong class at the position a year early would be a prudent choice. Possessing rare burst for a 247-pound back and the ability to bowl over defenders in bunches, Dillon rushed for 4,382 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons with the Eagles. He bolstered his stock substantially by running a 4.53-second 40-yard dash and posting a 41-inch vertical jump. Though he’s not much of a threat as a receiver stat-wise, the bruising back actually has serviceable hands and would be an intriguing replacement candidate if Carson isn’t extended and departs in 2021.
Round 5, Pick No. 160 - Myles Bryant, CB, Washington
*Acquired from Colts for pick No. 64
Bryant would never be in consideration for an outside cornerback role in Seattle due to his lack of size (5-foot-8, 183 pounds, 29 1/2-inch arms), but the team has been far more flexible in that regard at the slot cornerback position. While he doesn't possess elite top speed and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds, he posted one of the top 3-cone drill times for cornerbacks in Indianapolis (6.81 seconds) and also performed well in the short shuttle. The Seahawks have valued both of those drills when pursuing nickel corners and considering the fact he's coming off a three interception season and has been a consistent tackler in the Huskies' secondary, he'd make sense as competition for Ugo Amadi in the fifth round.
Round 5, Pick No. 162 - Benito Jones, DT, Ole Miss
After re-signing Jarran Reed, Seattle doesn't necessarily need another one-gap penetrating defensive tackle. Still, additional depth in the interior defensive line is never a bad thing and Jones would be another solid value pick at this stage of the draft. A former five-star recruit, the 6-foot-1, 316-pound defender is capable of being a disruptive run defender thanks to a quick first step to shoot through gaps and a couple of developed counter moves. He's also gradually improved as a pass rusher during his time with the Rebels, producing 5.5 sacks as a senior. Lack of length and overall mass may cause him to slide late into day three, but Jones offers enough versatility to potentially evolve into a quality NFL nose tackle
Round 6, Pick No. 214 - Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
With Quandre Diggs, Bradley McDougald, and Marquise Blair already on the roster, the Seahawks likely won't prioritize drafting a safety. But taking a shot on an intriguing prospect with impressive positional versatility like Muse has the potential to be a late round home run. At 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, some scouts suggested the former Clemson standout should transition to linebacker at the next level, but then he ran a blazing 4.41 in the 40-yard dash to quiet his critics. He's a big hitter who loves to mix it up near the line of scrimmage and has surprising ball skills, as he intercepted six passes during his last two seasons on campus. He could be a special teams contributor for Seattle right away and possibly be a starting strong safety in waiting.