The Seahawks are a team with excellent top-end talent, but their lack of depth, especially at offensive line, wore on them throughout the season and into the playoffs. Heading into a draft filled with quality depth, it was time for the team to plug holes and bolster the depth chart. Matthew Brown takes a look at how they did that in rounds 1 through 3.
This article represents Part 1 of Matthew Brown’s Seattle Seahawks 2016 draft review. Part 2 will cover their selections in rounds 5 through 7 (Seattle did not have a 4th round pick).
Round 1 Pick 31, Right Tackle Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
The Seahawks’ first pick fit the theme of their offseason: getting bigger on the offensive line. Ifedi is huge at 6’6”, 325 lbs with a 36” wingspan. He has the ideal size for an NFL right tackle and has the nasty edge that Seattle looks for in offensive linemen. He plays with a physicality which is rare in a spread offensive lineman. Quick-footed, a powerful run blocker, and athletic — a basketball player even — he has the potential to be a quality NFL right tackle.
However, his technique is poor and he is found particularly wanting in pass protection, a common theme among offensive linemen drafted by the Seahawks. Pete Carroll backtracked on comments made after drafting Ifedi, saying that he would start out at right guard rather than at right tackle. He looks more like a guard when you consider his statistics against the bull rush in comparison to the speed rush: Ifedi was beaten once every 271 snaps against the bull rush, compared to once every 31.9 snaps against outside pressure.
The main issue with his pass protection is he often gives up the length he has on an opponent, relinquishing ground needlessly. He also has a tendency to turn his shoulders at times. According to Pro Football Focus, though, he was ranked No. 1 in third-down pass blocking efficiency last season. Ifedi, who had three offensive line coaches while at Texas A&M, should benefit from working with Seattle assistant head coach and offensive line coach Tom Cable. Cable had high praise for the former Aggie after working him out prior to the draft.
It is also worth noting that Seattle traded down from pick 26 with Denver, gaining a third-round pick in addition to the 31st.
Round 2 Pick 49, Nose Tackle Jarran Reed, Alabama
Reed is a player who fell because of his supposedly limited pass-rushing ability, which is more a function of Alabama rotating players on the line than Reed’s ability. As has been discussed on this site before by Dan Hatman and Matt Miller, scout the traits, not the scheme. He certainly has upside in getting to the quarterback if he can learn a few pass-rushing moves.
Reed is an excellent run defender, whom the Seahawks probably see as a Brandon Mebane replacement. Seahawks southeast scout Jim Nagy said Reed was “the best run stuffer I’ve seen in a long time.” According to Pro Football Focus, he had the best run stop percentage for interior linemen in the 2016 draft class. He led Alabama in tackles from the defensive line position two seasons in a row, playing with fantastic leverage and gap-discipline. He anchors extremely well and is rarely pushed backward. His relatively short arms were never an issue in college, which testifies to the excellent technique he plays with.
The Seahawks’ love for this pick is evident in that they swapped second round picks with the Bears and traded a fourth-round pick to move up to the 49th selection. John Schneider recently said that the war room debated Ifedi or Reed in the first round; “When we were picking Ifedi, [Reed] was definitely a consideration for us … we went with Germain first, but when Jarran kept coming to us, that was a situation for us that was really a big blessing.”
Round 3 Pick 90, Running Back C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
One of the Seahawks’ offseason needs was a third-down back, especially after Fred Jackson’s contract expired. Prosise can certainly execute the receiving side of this role. He has good hands and ran a variety of routes out of the backfield in college. He also was motioned into the slot and, as the Seahawks love to do, flexed out wide. One knock on his receiving skills is his ability to catch in traffic.
If the Seahawks are expecting Prosise to block as a third-down back, however, their offense may run into issues. He needs to improve his pass protection, as he did not pass block very often at Notre Dame, with Pro Football Focus recording him pass blocking on just 61 occasions last season. Despite this, Carroll said that “He did very well [with pass protection],” so clearly Seattle see something others do not.
As a converted wide-receiver and safety, Prosise’s body has not taken the punishment of a typical college running back, as he has only played one year at the position. On the other hand, this makes Prosise a raw talent, whose running style is rather upright. He forced one missed tackle for every 3.8 touches, and possesses clear breakaway speed with an 87th percentile weight-adjusted speed score. His ball security is an issue, fumbling four times on 182 touches in 2015. Also, Prosise struggles when there is not a wide open hole to hit. According to Pro Football Focus, he reached the second level untouched on a quarter of his total carries, but that production may be tempered without the luxury of running behind a more effective offensive line, as will be the case in Seattle. Seattle places an initial emphasis on quick decision and instinct, rather than patience.
Prosise is a third-down back who could potentially grow into a first and second-down back at 220 lbs. If his persistent issues with pass protection continue, he may be forced to fight for a Golden Tate or Percy Harvin role within the Seahawks offense.
Round 3 Pick 94, Tight End Nick Vannett, Ohio State
In need of a blocking tight end since losing Zach Miller to an ankle injury in 2014, the Seahawks drafted Ohio State’s Nick Vannett. A true Y tight end at the NFL level – one who often plays in-line and blocks more – Vannett is an elite run blocker who takes good angles on blocks at the second level. His pass blocking is harder to evaluate, though, because Ohio State lined him up in the slot or at H-back. If his pass protection is up to NFL standards, Vannett will be of enormous help to the Seahawks’ offensive line, which has sorely missed Miller’s additional protection.
While Vannett will contribute heavily in the running game, expectations of him in the passing game should be low. In four years with the Buckeyes, he caught 55 passes for 585 yards; a measly 15.8 receiving yards a game. He likely won’t be asked to do much in the passing game, though, as Seattle has Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson to fill that role.
The selection of Vannett puts pressure on Willson, a player in a contract year, and likely spells the end of Cooper Helfelt’s time in Seattle.
Round 3 Pick 97, Left Guard Rees Odhiambo, Boise State
This was a slightly strange pick from Seattle, considering Carroll mentioned an increased emphasis on healthiness and continuity on the offensive line. Odhiambo has missed at least four games in the last three seasons and has never played a full season. Pre-draft, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora wrote that “the Seahawks believe their medical team and advanced sport science department give them a competitive edge…so if a stud player slips for a medical reason and Schneider sees value there, that could be the pick.” Clearly, Seattle thinks it can keep Odhiambo on the field.
If the Seahawks can, they get a guard with excellent potential. His pro-day numbers were badly skewed by his recovery from a broken ankle, but the fact that Cable attended his workout demonstrates how impressed the Seahawks were with his game film. Odhiambo’s athleticism is clear on tape, as he flashes remarkable agility for a 6’4”, 314 pound offensive lineman. Carroll mentioned in the draft build up that when he watched tape of offensive linemen, they didn’t fire off the ball like the Seahawks would like. Odhiambo does fire off of the ball, but his arms have a tendency to fall down in the run game and he struggles to latch onto opponents through the duration of the play. Meanwhile, his pass blocking, while fairly sound, sees him overextend and lunge at times. In the passing game, he also needs to lock onto his opponent instead of just extending his arms outward.
This is a man who has overcome a lot, moving from Kenya to the United States in 2004 and losing both his mom and dad by the age of 17. He will now hope to beat his injury concerns and add to the competition at left guard, which could see the largely disappointing Justin Britt lose his place on the 53-man roster. Indeed, Britt was seen working out as a center in the most recent Seahawk camp.