10 NFL Combine Prospects That Seattle Seahawks Must Closely Watch

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIIFebruary 20, 2013

10 NFL Combine Prospects That Seattle Seahawks Must Closely Watch

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    The Seattle Seahawks will soon join the rest of the league at the NFL Scouting Combine. This is an opportunity for over 300 athletes to show off their strength, speed, agility and football acumen.

    Obviously the combine is just one piece of the puzzle. Players are in workout clothes and not in tense game situations. There is certainly pressure to perform, but it is a unique atmosphere that has to be put in context.

    Translating a fast time in the 40-yard dash to projected future performances in the NFL requires comprehensive evaluation by multiple sets of eyes.

    The challenge with the combine is that executives can become enamored with specific athletic performances. Seattle is in a good position in that it is not desperate for any particular position. However, the Seahawks must continue to make sound judgments and look for talent that can strengthen already talented groups of athletes on the roster.

    There are needs to be addressed, including defensive line, linebacker and possibly wide receiver. These are some of the positions that Seattle may be specifically monitoring at the combine.

    As athletes go through tests and drills, here are 10 prospects that the Seahawks may want to watch a little more closely.

    All projected 40-yard dash times courtesy of walterfootball.com.

Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri

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    6’4”, 295 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 5.17

    Richardson represents the type of player that may fit what Seattle needs in terms of a disruptive defensive lineman that can provide pressure up the middle and harass the opposing quarterback.

    The descriptions of Richardson have all the appropriate cliched words that are often used to describe talented defensive lineman. He is “relentless” and has a fantastic “motor.” However, can he compete at the pro level?

    Does he has the strength and agility to get past the top-tier offensive lines?

    Seattle will be looking at speed off the line as well as core strength. Richardson may not be available, but he is projected to be drafted somewhere in the range where the Seahawks are picking (25th) in 2013.

John Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia

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    6’3”, 359 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 5.25

    Jenkins is a big body. Big.

    When you are talking about a body that big, you are not as concerned with how fast the player can run 40 yards. It is more important to see how fast he can run five yards, or 10.

    The Seahawks are going to be interested in speed, but again are going to look at strength, agility and footwork. In college, Jenkins was effective in collapsing the pocket, and he was also a quality run-stuffer. Does Jenkins have the raw strength to match his size, or is he just big?

    One question will be whether Jenkins would be a natural fit for the Seattle defensive scheme, as he mostly played nose tackle in a traditional 3-4 defense at Georgia.

    Mel Kiper of ESPN sees the Seahawks taking Jenkins in the first round to shore up their run defense. We will see.

Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida

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    6’3”, 301 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.98

    Floyd is another highly-touted defensive tackle that could be a big part of Seattle’s interior defensive scheme. He is not as big of a load as John Jenkins, but he is a faster athlete that could prove to be a great addition to an already talented defense.

    Seattle will be curious about the raw speed, and will also look to see if he has the core strength to push through opposing offensive lines.

    If Floyd goes where he is projected, he may be long gone by the time Seattle drafts. Therefore, if the Seahawks really want him, they may need to hope that he drops or trade up to get him.

    If Floyd or other defensive tackle are not available, Seattle may check out Jesse Williams from Alabama, Sylvester Williams from North Carolina or Bennie Logan from LSU.

Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, California

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    6’2”, 215 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.49

    There are obviously different perspectives on the potential draft strategy of the Seattle Seahawks. The defensive line is seen as a need, but there are also those that would like to see an upgrade at the wide receiver position.

    Keenan Allen may fit that need, and there are lists that project Seattle taking him in the first round. Allen has good speed, though he is not necessarily the fastest receiver in the draft.

    The question will be whether the Seahawks want to draft a wideout in the first round and whether Allen is perceived as a big enough body to be a “playmaker” in the NFL. He appears to have all the skills to be a quality, polished receiver.

    Other receivers to examine might include DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson, Tavon Austin from West Virginia, Robert Woods from USC and Justin Hunter from Tennessee.

Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, Brigham Young

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    6’5”, 274 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.69

    There are going to be multiple arguments against drafting a player like Ezekiel Ansah.

    Chris Clemons is still under contract and will return. Seattle drafted Bruce Irvin a year ago to be a dedicated pass-rusher in certain packages. Ansah is the wrong player type for the defensive scheme of the Seahawks.

    And yet, Seattle may be intrigued (along with the rest of the league) by the raw physical gifts that Ansah possesses. It doesn’t hurt to watch him run drills, right?

    The appeal of Ansah is going to be his speed, and while some will argue that the 40-yard dash time is somewhat overrated, the ability of a player to blow past an offensive lineman and get to opposing quarterback is not overrated.

    Seattle will watch. Pete Carroll and John Schneider will decide whether Ansah is worth an adjustment to the scheme. In addition, they will decide whether a first-round pick is worth spending on a guy who could have a part-time role.

    Ansah may be long gone, but if he falls, could Seattle grab him?

Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida

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    6’1”, 230 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.51

    The Seattle Seahawks may need an outside linebacker in 2013, or at least they may need some depth.

    Jelani Jenkins is regarded as a guy who has solid speed, which can be valuable at the linebacker position. Therefore, the Seahawks will be interested in seeing his raw speed and his lateral movement.

    The challenge is that Jenkins struggled with injury issues in 2012. Therefore, the combine may provide an opportunity to see how he looks physically. Unfortunately, the drills will not show how Jenkins will handle tackling and hard hits in the future.

    If Jenkins is not the solution, the Seahawks might look at Sio Moore from Connecticut or Zaviar Gooden of Missouri.

Marquess Wilson, Wide Receiver, WSU

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    6’4”, 183 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.57

    Another interesting player to look at from a combine standpoint is former Washington State Cougars wideout Marquess Wilson. For Seattle, Wilson represents a tall, athletic body that could be a quality target for Russell Wilson.

    Wilson doesn’t have great speed and he may need to bulk up a bit, but Seattle has liked tall receivers in the past.

    The combine may have some value because Wilson departed from WSU after a conflict with coaches. Therefore, he does not have a recent body of work.

    Whether the Seahawks are concerned about attitude issues or whether they want to draft another wide receiver is yet to be determined. Some believe that Wilson may actually go undrafted, so the combine may provide more data to determine whether is a worth a later-round pick.

Menelik Watson, Offensive Tackle, Florida State

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    6’6”, 320 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 5.25

    Another debated topic is whether the Seahawks should draft another offensive lineman or stick with their current personnel and give them another year to develop consistency.

    If Seattle does look at the offensive lineman, particularly for the right side, they may watch an athletic player like Menelik Watson at the combine. Watson is regarded by some as a “project,” so the combine may provide some opportunity to observe fundamental abilities.

    Another lineman to watch may be Ricky Wagner, who blocked for Russell Wilson at Wisconsin. Wagner’s stock has been dropping of late as he did not do particularly well at the Rose Bowl and the Senior Bowl.

    Wagner’s combine performance may determine whether a team like Seattle might take a chance on him in the later rounds.

Joseph Fauria, Tight End, UCLA

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    6’7”, 258 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.69

    The Seahawks may look for another tight end in the draft, even though Russell Wilson and Zach Miller developed an excellent rapport in 2012, particularly late in the season.

    One player to look at is Joseph Fauria, who is a very big body that may be another short-yardage weapon for Wilson, particularly in the red zone. Fauria has average speed for a tight end, so it will be interesting to see how he performs at the combine.

    Fauria may need to work on his blocking ability, but that could come later if he gets a job in the NFL.

    If Seattle wants to look at other big-body tight ends in the mid or late rounds, it might also scout Nick Kasa from Colorado or Philip Lutzenkirchen from Auburn. Michael Willliams of Alabama is also an intriguing athlete, but he wasn’t invited to the combine.

Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback, LSU

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    5’9”, 175 pounds
    Projected 40 time: 4.42

    There are other positions on the Seahawks that are not necessarily critical, but could still benefit from an upgrade. For example, the ‘Hawks could be looking for a replacement for Marcus Trufant in order to provide depth in the secondary.

    The "Honey Badger" is one of those players that solicits both intrigue and potential red flags. He could certainly play in 2011. Will he be an impact NFL player in 2013?

    If the Seahawks were to consider someone like Mathieu, they would be concerned about raw speed, lateral movement and strength.

    Mathieu was a dynamic player in college, but he may not have the type of body that Seattle wants in a cornerback. Richard Sherman is 6’3” and Brandon Browner is 6’4”. Even Trufant is 5’11”. Still, there will be some interest surrounding Mathieu.