Future Seahawk Watch: CFB Week 1

Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jarran Reed participates in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jarran Reed participates in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

This piece, which is an addendum to our previous article that identified the Seahawks’ highest draft needs in 2017 by position, is meant to provide fans with a list of players to keep an eye on on each week when watching college football this season.

The maiden voyage of the 2016 college football season is the best first week ever, with heavyweight matchups littered throughout Labor Day weekend.

Below are just a handful of the draft-eligible players competing in some of the biggest games that play positions of keen interest to the Seahawks. As you enjoy the action, keep an eye out for these players and decide whether you think they would fit in Seattle’s schemes and with the rest of the locker room.

We’ll go in order of game time, concentrating heavily on Saturday’s action but taking advantage of the bonus games that will take place on Sunday and Monday of week one.

Saturday’s games:

9am PST- Oklahoma vs Houston (In NRG Stadium)

Oklahoma left tackle ORLANDO BROWN is a redshirt sophomore and a mountain of a human at 6’8, 340 lbs. It’ll be fun to see if he has the requisite foot movement to stay out there in the NFL, but if he does, could you imagine having him and Ifedi as bookends of the future? Somewhere Tom Cable is wryly smiling at the thought.

SAMAJE PERINE is going to be a stud running back in the NFL, but Seattle doesn’t need that as much as several other things. Too bad. I love this player. Watch him anyway- the junior is a modern day Earl Campbell.

Sooner cornerback JORDAN THOMAS (6’, 190) is definitely one to watch in this game. A second team All-Big 12 selection last year, his five interceptions were impressive but he also plays the run well, racking up 46 tackles. We know it’s important to exhibit toughness and play the run well from the CB position in Seattle, so this is an intriguing player to keep track of throughout the season.

Houston quarterback GREG WARD (5’11”, 185) is a threat to both pass or run effectively and last year’s stats (2800+ yds passing, 17/6 TD/INT, 1100+ yds rushing) are certainly eye-opening. However, he is not nearly as well-built as Russell Wilson so comparisons between their games should be tempered. Is Ward big enough and does he have the requisite arm strength to play in the NFL? Oklahoma’s defense will help lead us to the answers.

On the flip side, Cougar defensive end CAMERON MALVEAUX will look to continue his incremental career improvement that last year led to a career high 33 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks from the 6’6”, 270 pounder. Could the senior be a future backup for Michael Bennett?

12:30pm PST- UCLA at Texas A&M

What a matchup this is. Keep your eye on Bruin left tackle CONOR McDERMOTT (6’9”, 310) because his job will be to disallow what could be the draft’s #1 pick next year- Aggie defensive end Myles Garrett– from destroying UCLA’s savior sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen. McDermott is seen as a round one or two type of blindside prospect and you better believe many scouts will be watching this game closely. After Bradley Sowell stumbles this season, Seattle will be heavily involved in the left tackle market and maybe early in the 2017 draft. McDermott is certainly on the list of players to thoroughly evaluate.

Junior center SCOTT QUESSENBERRY (6’4”, 313) returns from injury that caused him to miss 2015 and is an all-conference candidate at the pivot for the Bruins. He has the size that the Seahawks like up front and if he plays up his talent level and expectations, he could leave early to play in the NFL, and possibly Seattle.

Cornerback FABIAN MOREAU (6’1”, 200) returns from a September foot injury that cut his 2015 season short but he still brings 28 games of experience to a UCLA secondary that he is expected to lead. Moreau’s size is certain to catch the attention of the Seahawks and of course they’ll appreciate the grit it took to come back from serious injury and hopefully play better than ever before.

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Texas A&M left tackle AVERY GENNESY (6’5”, 310) is one to watch as well. He is a JUCO transfer that sat out the 2014 season but started 13 games in 2015 and could begin to sprout up on draft watch lists soon. The Aggies are on a roll churning out NFL offensive linemen lately and Gennesy could be the next in a long line of them, which of course includes Seahawk 2016 first round pick Germain Ifedi. As a matter of fact, in studying Ifedi, they already have plenty of info on Gennesy and may go back to the Aggie well again- especially if Ifedi lives up to his promise.

On the other side of the ball, Aggie defensive end DAESHON HALL (6’6”, 260) benefits from the attention paid to the great Myles Garrett but Hall has NFL skills of his own, registering seven sacks, seven tackles for loss and 54 tackles in 2015. This is another player the Seahawks could look to add as depth at either the DE position behind Bennett or the LEO pass rushing spot.

3:30 PST- USC vs Alabama (in Arlington, TX)

Another big game, another big left tackle to evaluate. USC Senior CHAD WHEELER (6’6”, 310) will have his hands full with the various defensive ends and pass rushing linebackers the Tide will be rolling his way. It presents Seahawk fans a perfect opportunity to gauge whether Wheeler should be a draft target in April.

ADOREE’ JACKSON has been a two-way threat for the Trojans as an uber-athlete, but expect him to concentrate on cornerback for the most part this season. Though he isn’t the biggest guy out there (5’11”, 185), Jackson possesses athletic traits Pete Carroll would define as “unique”, which is code for “I want that on my team”. He may not even be available when the Seahawks pick in the first round next year, but if he is he could be a strong consideration.

Unless the Seahawks’ season is ruined by a catastrophic injury to Russell Wilson, they won’t be picking high enough to get a shot at Alabama junior left tackle CAM ROBINSON (6’6”, 327). Watch him anyway, because maybe he’ll release a video that includes a bong, a gas mask and a creepy Confederate flag minutes before the draft that pushes him down the board.

Tide senior tight end O J HOWARD (6’6”, 242) could be a round one consideration if the team doesn’t re-sign Luke Willson and if Jimmy Graham doesn’t really come back from the dreaded torn patellar tendon. Watch for Howard to be used more as a pass catching weapon this year, for which he seems perfectly built.

On defense, senior TIM WILLIAMS (6’4”, 237) plays the ‘jack’ linebacker position in Tuscaloosa and will be chasing quarterbacks all year long, coming off a 10.5 sack and 12 TFL season in 2015. This could be a very intriguing player to add to the group at LEO in Seattle. When watching Williams, look for violent hand usage and ability to convert his speed to power when attacking the edge.

Senior strong safety EDDIE JACKSON (6’0”, 194) could be a player capable of taking over the same position in Seattle whenever the team parts ways with Kam Chancellor. Jackson had six picks last year to supplement 46 tackles in what is a fine two-way skill set.

Lastly, watch the punter! Junior J K SCOTT has a booming leg and if he were to leave college early, he could be a day three selection- that is if he rebounds from a somewhat disappointing sophomore campaign. Hey, sometimes punters get too caught up in the party scene and are forced to reset their priorities. Chicks dig the long ball.

Sunday’s game:

4:30pm PST- Notre Dame at Texas

Yet another left tackle to watch here as senior MIKE McGLINCHY (6’7”, 310) moves over from the right side after Ronnie Stanley moved on to the NFL. McGlinchy, who brings a thick mean streak to the field that Tom Cable would love, is seen as a round two prospect right now which puts him square in the conversation for late round one consideration by the Seahawks. As with all the tackles you watch this weekend, look for an ability to anchor versus bull rushes, foot movement on outside speed, and also second-level blocking skills.

Defensive end ISAAC ROCHELL (6’3”, 290) is coming off a fine season in which was second on the team in quarterback pressures and chipped in 7.5 tackles for loss, which leads all returning players for the Irish. The senior could be a fine five-tech chess piece for the Seahawks to use in 2017.

The University of Texas has no draft eligible players worth watching because explosive linebacker Malik Jefferson is only a sophomore. I can’t even believe I’m typing that. What the hell has happened to Texas?!

Monday’s game:

5:00pm PST- Mississippi vs Florida St (In Orlando)

It seems like senior tight end EVAN ENGRAM has been at Ole Miss for ten years because he exploded onto the scene as a freshman. At 6’3”, 227 lbs, Engram is lighter than most tight ends but he plays bigger and uses that weight to his advantage as a proficient pass catcher and refined route runner.

Rebel defensive end MARQUIS HAYNES enters his junior year an already-decorated player in the SEC. Last year he had 10 sacks, eight hurries, and six TFL’s. Listed at 6’3”, 235 lbs, Haynes will get bigger and stronger before leaving college and could add much needed EDGE pressure to the Seahawks defense if he chooses to enter the draft early.

Senior TONY CONNOR could be the answer to the Seahawks’ need for a linebacker/safety hybrid. The 6’0”, 215 tough guy returns from injury to again play the ‘Husky’ position on Ole Miss’ defense and is certainly another consideration for the Seahawks on day two of the draft in 2017.

RODERICK JOHNSON (6’7”, 307) continues the trend of big, tall, highly regarded left tackles playing in big games on opening weekend. The junior blind side protector may actually be out of Seattle’s reach in round one next year, but you’ll want to watch the junior anyway because anything can happen between now and then. He might be the Seminoles’ best left tackle since Walter Jones dominated at FSU.

Florida State has always had menacing defensive linemen and senior defensive ends. DEMARCUS WALKER (6’3, 273”) is the latest quarterback terror to roam Tallahassee. Built more like Michael Bennett and therefore best suited to play left defensive end in Seattle’s defense, Walker is coming off a 10.5 sack season in 2015 with six passes defended, showing a knack for reading quarterbacks and having the awareness to bat down passes when he’s not mauling passers.

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As you can see, it is a left tackle and edge rushing bonanza on opening week of the college football season. There are so many gifted players to watch at these areas of acute need on Seattle’s roster. Mix in a wide array of tight end options and some intriguing secondary options and what you have are overflowing options for your Seahawk-centric viewing pleasure on this, the best opening weekend in college football history.