NFL Draft 2011: Moffitt Mauls into Seattle, Seahawks Ready To Soar in Day 3

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NFL Draft 2011: Moffitt Mauls into Seattle, Seahawks Ready To Soar in Day 3
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The Seahawks are fired up about their seemingly boring draft...two strong moves in the direction of a championship running game

The Seahawks headed into Day 2 of the draft no longer holding the “we got a steal” smile that was present after selecting James Carpenter, instead focused on finding a way to complement their Day 1 selection.

Unlike Day 1, the Seahawks were able to trade down in Round 2, as their board was still very intact. They moved down 17 spots into the third round and acquired a fourth-round pick, also moving up three and four spots in Rounds 5 and 7 respectively.

Now with an extra selection, Seattle could shift their focus going into the third round.

 

Blowing Smoke

I used the word “complement” above because it’s a word Carroll used multiple times in the pre-draft presser, describing the organization's draft approach.

As I noted in my Day 1 recap, Carpenter brings versatility across the offensive line as a main competitor at right tackle and capable at four line positions; he complements the Seahawks offensive line. I believed Seattle would continue to use this “complementary” approach throughout the draft. 

Throughout the offseason, I have been tracing Carroll’s comments about the depth on the interior offensive line. Starting at the combine, all the way through the pre-draft presser, Carroll spoke of the guys who had been signed in 2010 that hadn’t made an impact on the field; a continual tone of praise surrounding the group.

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After the selection of Carpenter, I questioned if Carroll’s comments were a smokescreen, or if Carpenter was a complement to that depth, the player Seattle needed to remove its focus from the offensive line going forward.

As the Carpenter selection was also the first roster move with the clear influence of Tom Cable, we learned Tom Cable would have an immediate impact on the program.

 

Getting it right

When Seattle selected John Moffitt, guard, from Wisconsin (6'4", 319) with the 75th pick, the expectation Carroll has for the addition of Cable became a little more clear; Carroll’s gun shooting out a "got ya" flag and new assistant head/offensive line coach Tom Cable proved his opinion matters around Seahawks HQ.   

During the post-Day 2 presser, Schneider revealed that Moffitt was, again, their guy, Tom Cable’s ideal guard to pair with Carpenter as of a few weeks ago.  Schneider then cracked that Cable may be happy, but “go ask Gus how he’s doin’.”  More on that thought later.

The fact that they have been following, and Cable hoping for, Moffitt during the process, as Carroll noted during ESPN’s draft coverage, makes the mid third-round selection fully justifiable from a value perspective; Moffitt is widely believed to be a third- or fourth-round pick.

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While not holding ideal athleticism or strength, he is a heady lineman with good footwork and “phone booth” quickness. He has a mentality described by Carroll as “he isn’t backing down from nothing.”  He can play both guard spots, and even work at center; versatility along the line is a continued factor in their picks.

Schneider described a personal experience at the Rose Bowl, where he witnessed Moffitt get the team together and “you wouldn’t want to have your kids standing right there…pretty cool, he’s a natural leader.” Moffitt is the take charge addition to the offensive line.

Moffitt is a powerful run blocker on the right interior, complementing Carpenter’s pass blocking prowess on the right edge. On Day 1 Seattle found their carpenter to seal the cracks, on Day 2 they found a landscaper to pave the way.  

There are other approaches Seattle could have taken to this point: pairing a defensive lineman with a cornerback; taking a quarterback after an offensive lineman or vice versa; taking the best defensive and best offensive player available through the first two days, no particular order; or even take two defensive lineman, something similar to the Wilkerson/Ellis combination taken by the Jets.

But one of the lesser considered scenarios turned out to be what was for Seattle on Day 2, no surprise there—I earlier explored the impact of drafting guard Danny Watkins coupled with bringing back free agent lineman guard/tackle Tyler Polumbus to compete with Stacy Andrews. This a scenario I believed would be a strong move for Seattle and an opportunity to address defense in the remainder of the draft.

A look at the "ass-kicker."

While not the exact scenario that played out, Seattle is in a similar position headed into Day 3.

Not the prettiest method, but Seattle maintained their statement in re-tooling the offensive line early in the 2011 draft, a major step in Seattle’s vision to pace the game by controlling the offensive line of scrimmage.

Carroll is 100 percent confident they “matched the style of player to the style of play” with both Carpenter and Moffitt to coach Cable. One interesting point to note is two primarily left-side college players moving to the right side in the NFL.

Seattle now has four of the five pieces in order for their opening day offensive line, with free agency and competition still to play out. Not the most attractive beginning to the draft process, but Schneider added about Moffitt; “He’s an ass kicker…he’s got Steve Hutchinson calves;” a statement that has a pleasant ring to the ears of Seahawks fans.

 

The NFL draft doesn’t begin until the fifth round on Day 3

The least scrutinized day of draft weekend is the most anticipated for Seattle; after 2010’s Day 3, Seattle has set expectations for fireworks.

Schneider, “We’re picking seven times tomorrow…we really take pride in the fifth round through un-drafted free agency because that’s where the core of your team can come from…the teams that are consistently successful in this league do a good job in the bottom half of the draft.”

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In my initial draft board, I highlighted Mike Shanahan’s comments to ESPN’s John Clayton; Shanahan eluding to the draft as the original way to build a football team, with free agency beginning in the late 1980s—the 'Skins have traded down four times in the first two days of the draft.

Carroll and Schneider are old school in their lineage, using variations of football philosophies that date back to nearly the AFL/NFL merger.

I want to highlight one aspect of the Seahawks trade in the second round; I think those minute changes were made for value sake, perhaps forecasting targeting a player they believe would come off the board right before their previous picks, but now sitting in those spots—Cam Jordan, Marvin Austin and Ryan Mallett are three players I believe Seattle had taken out from underneath them in each round of the draft thus far.

The small differences could matter for Seattle when trying to make a deal or find value later in the draft.

John Schneider was bred to build a team through the draft, and contrary to popular belief Seattle may be in position to weather the lockout and continue to compete next season.

The Seahawks are focused on using the later rounds to find as many prospects as they can to fit into the scheme, leaving the holes to be plugged in un-drafted free agency and beyond. Days one and two are only a complement to the deluge of diligence that comes on Day 3.

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What to expect with seven picks

I have maintained this offseason the Seahawks needed to replace four to six starters, eight to 10 players total to be in position, from a personnel perspective, to try and elevate the program to the next level.

Seattle currently sits three or four starters and eight players from that benchmark.

As Day 3 may be the most active of any for Seattle, I won’t attempt to forecast how many picks Seattle ends up making by the end of the day; either way, the organization will strongly pursue undrafted free agents as the final, and perhaps most important piece, to the draft puzzle.

Below is a group of players to watch, mostly players from on my pre-draft board,with a few new prospects added (new prospects in italics):

Balanced inside lineman, explosive and disruptive pass rusher: Martin Parker, Anthony Gray, Lawrence Guy

Press and run cornerback:  Brandon Burton, Davon House, Jalil Brown, Richard Sherman 

H- back/fullback/alternate position: D.J. Williams, Josh Baker, Matangi Tonga, Anthony Sherman

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Special teams savvy, high IQ, attitude driven safety: Shiloh Keo, Michael O’Connell, Mana Silva

5-technique run stopper with athleticism, depth behind Red Bryant: Karl Klug, Christian Ballard

Offensive lineman: Kris O’Dowd, Brandon Fusco, Byron Bell, Stephen Schilling

Two versatile linebackers: Brian Rolle, Malcolm Smith, Bruce Miller, Mark Herzlich, Scott Lutrus, K.J. Wright, Quan Sturdivant 

Developmental system quarterback: Ricky Stanzi, Greg McElroy, Nathan Enderle, T.J. Yates  

Slot receiver: Tandon Doss, Jeremy Kerley             

Downfield playmaker: Cecil Shorts, Tori Gurley

Beastmode-type back: Jacquizz Rodgers, Anthony Allen 

Carroll and Schneider won't disagree, the organization is far from where they want to end up, and that’s raising the Lombardi Trophy. The first two days of the 2011 draft may be remembered as the unappealing picks that were the legitimate starting point to that goal.

The organization wasn’t worried with wowing pundits after the first two days of the draft. Instead, their picks had John Schneider making comparisons to “Hutch.”  

Day 3 is where the real fun begins and the Seahawks compete at the highest level; Carroll was adamant while noting “the whole staff competed like hell” during the only lockout-lifted day—their draft process driven by the duo of brotherly love.

Boring, yet surprising and strong, created seven picks going into Saturday. Expect Carroll and Schneider to turn yawns into grins during the grind of Day 3, the final act of the 2011 NFL draft.

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