Targeting Cornerbacks: Seattle Seahawks

Year after year Seattle Seahawks fans are reminded of the style and thresholds that John Schneider and Pete Carroll look for in corners. Since there isn’t anything on the world wide web leading up to the 2017 draft here is your yearly reminder.

The Seahawks have only drafted 6 total corners since Pete and John took the team over in 2010. Those corners are Walter Thurmond (‘10), Richard Sherman (‘11), Byron Maxwell (‘11), Jeremy Lane (‘12), Tharold Simon (‘13), and Tye Smith (‘15). The earliest a corner was drafted was Walter Thurmond in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Every other corner was drafted in the 5th or later. This year I strongly believe they will have to dump that trend and grab a corner much sooner unless they are able to move back in the draft and pick up either a 4th or a 5th round pick which they currently do not have because of trades and disciplinary reasons.

I will give some numbers and measurements that most are very familiar with to find certain corners that meet the Seahawks thresholds for this year’s draft.

When looking at this chart the most telling measurement is arm length. The Seahawks love corners with 32” arms and would like them to be 6’ or better. Outside of those numbers, we have varying results for the test scores from the corners that have been drafted. Because of the kick step technique that is taught by Pete Carroll in his Cover 3 scheme, I don’t believe they focus too heavily on agility testing, but it would definitely be an added bonus. The length from the corners paired with their jumping ability obviously helps defend passes down the field and makes it harder for quarterbacks to go over the top. The baseline for the type of corner the Seahawks like is so apparent it makes things easier when looking for players to fit their mold. So we want a 6’ plus corner with 32” arms for starters.

In years past there haven’t been many corners that meet the Seahawks mold, but this year they will have their pick of the litter. I’ll give a few names that fit what they are looking for and where I believe they will be targeted at in the draft.

Gareon Conley – Ohio State – 1st round
6’ – 195 – 33” arms
40: 4.44
Vert: 37
Broad: 128
3 Cone: 6.68
SS: 4.18

Conley has good change of direction and mirrors receivers very well. He sometimes struggles with big receivers but does bring physicality to his game. Conley has very good ball skills and knows how to use his length in coverage. This is a player the Seahawks will likely have to trade up for if they wish to take him in the first round.

Marlon Humphrey – Alabama – 1st round
6’ – 197 – 32.25” arms
40: 4.41
Broad: 125
3 cone: 6.75

Humphrey comes with the Alabama pedigree and has played on the big stage his whole college career. He won’t shy away from competition and has excellent cover skills. He fits the mold and has plus athleticism, but he reminds me of Deshawn Shead in how he struggles to get his head around and play the ball. He does have good change of direction, and his knack for making strong tackles is a plus. Humphrey is another player I think the Seahawks might have to trade up for if they want to land him.

Quincy Wilson – Florida – 1st round
6’1” – 211- 32.25” arms
40: 4.54
Vert: 32
Broad: 118
3 cone: 6.86
SS: 4.02

Wilson is built very well, and it shows when making tackles. He’s smooth in transition, and it shows when he goes to flip his hips and run with a receiver. He knows how to use his length to turn and play the ball. I have him as a first rounder, but there have been rumors of him going later so he might be a target at 26 when the Seahawks pick.

Tre’Davious White – LSU – 1st/2nd round
5’11” – 192 – 32” arms
40: 4.47
Vert: 32
Broad: 119
3 cone: 6.90
SS: 4.32

White is very fluid in man coverage and plays the ball well. He can support the run which the Seahawks expect their corners to do. He plays with very good instincts and has a good chance at being drafted in the first round.

Obi Melifonwu – UConn – 1st/2nd round
6’4” – 224 – 32.5” arms
40: 4.40
Vert: 44
Broad: 141
3 cone: 7.07
SS: 4.30

Melifonwu is an interesting one. The Seahawks have met with him more than once throughout the process, and they seem to really like him. He is a workout warrior and a freak of nature. He played safety in college, but I think the Seahawks are looking at him to play corner. He won’t have any problem in run support, and more importantly, his ability to change direction can really help him in coverage. I have a second round grade on him, but if he is available at 26, he’s a player I can definitely see the Seahawks taking.

Kevin King – Washington – 1st/2nd round
6’3” – 200 – 32” arms
40: 4.43
Vert: 39.5
3 cone: 6.56
SS: 3.89

King is another workout warrior who blew up the combine. He is consistently getting compared to Richard Sherman and for good reason. His agility scores don’t necessarily translate to how he plays on the field. I love his length and ball skills, but he struggles mirroring receivers at the line of scrimmage. His recovery speed doesn’t always show up but I think he would fit perfectly in the Seahawks scheme and he’s likely a player they’ll have to take at 26 with the recent hype surrounding him.

Ahkello Witherspoon – Colorado – 2nd/3rd round
6’3 – 198 – 33” arms
40: 4.45
Vert: 40.5
Broad: 127
3 cone: 6.93
SS: 4.13

Witherspoon is another very athletic corner. The numbers he put up at his size speak volumes for him. The difference between King and Witherspoon is his change of direction and footwork does show up on tape. His vertical and length will allow him to disrupt a ton of passes. This is a guy I really hope the Seahawks pull the trigger on if he’s available when they select in the second.

Teez Tabor – Florida – 2nd/3rd round
6’ – 199 – 32” arms
40: 4.62
Vert: 31
Broad: 120
3 cone: 6.99
SS: 4.22

Tabor fits the mold but tested very poorly. His instincts and ability to recognize routes are some of the best I’ve seen though. He was once regarded as a first rounder early in the process. I noticed him grabbing a ton in coverage so that might have to do with his athleticism and inability to trust his technique. Regardless, Tabor is a very solid corner and someone they might target at the end of the third.

Rasul Douglas – West Virginia- 3rd round
6’2” – 209 – 32.5” arms
40: 4.59
Vert: 33.5
Broad: 120
3 cone: 6.97
SS: 4.26

Two things that really stand out with Douglas are his ball skills and ability to win jump balls. He knows when to turn and play the ball. He is long and physical, and that shows up at the line of scrimmage. I’m not as high on Douglas as most, but I still have him graded as a third rounder. In all honesty, I would much rather the Seahawks use a 3rd round pick on Douglas than Tabor.

Shaquill Griffin – UCF – 3rd/4th round
6’ – 194 – 32.5” arms
40: 4.38
Vert: 38.5
Broad: 132
3 cone: 6.87
SS: 4.14

Griffin is a big sleeper for me. He is extremely athletic, and it shows up on tape. He’s another guy who is not afraid to play the run. When looking for a good corner, ball skills are a huge plus and he definitely possesses that in his game. I think his ability to flip his hips and run with receivers would fit very well in what the Seahawks do. I have him graded as a third rounder and the Seahawks can either take him with one of their compensatory picks in the third or trade back and pick up a fourth to use on his selection.

Brian Allen – Utah – 4th/5th round
6’3” – 215 – 34” arms
40: 4.48
Vert: 38
Broad: 127
3 cone: 6.64
SS: 4.34

Now we are starting to get into the range that the Seahawks prefer to draft corners in. Allen moves so good for his size and his test numbers show why. He was recruited as a WR and played there before transitioning to corner, and his ball skills also display that. I feel as if this is a guy who Pete and John are well aware of and he checks all the boxes plus some. He shows good speed but seems to take unnecessary steps in coverage which can be fixed. Very physical both at the line and in the run game. He looks to be better in off coverage, and that’s perfectly fine. He’s another one that should be there in the fourth or fifth round range, so the Seahawks will be best suited to move back in the third and receive an extra pick to grab Allen later.

Marquez White – Florida State – 5th/6th round
6’ – 194 – 32” arms
40: 4.59
Vert: 36
Broad: 123
3 cone: 7.28
SS: 4.36

White has shown a nice ability to press receivers and mirror at the line of scrimmage. He sometimes seems to guess though and lean too far one way but recovers just fine. He is another player who I’ve seen grab quite a bit downfield. He does transition well in coverage though and seems to be more fluid than his testing numbers would suggest. If the Seahawks miss out on some of their earlier targets, I can see them taking a flier on White.

Brendan Langley – Lamar – 5th/6th round
6’ – 201 – 32” arms
40: 4.43
Vert: 35.5
Broad: 123
3 cone: 7.06
SS: 4.21

Langley is a small school guy who once played at the SEC level. He has a certain tenacity to him that the Seahawks covet. He shows nice physicality at the line of scrimmage. Langley did show the ability to play the ball use his length to disrupt passes. He isn’t as highly touted as other small school corners in recent memory, but he seems like an intriguing prospect for a team struggling with cornerback depth.

Treston Decoud – Oregon State – 6th round
6’2” – 206 – 33” arms
40: 4.62
Vert: 31
Broad: 116
3 cone: 7.20
SS: 4.53

Decoud isn’t quite Brandon Browner’s size, but I can’t help but think of Browner when I watch him. He played at the same school as Browner, and he likes to get right up in a receiver’s grill just the same. Decoud will need some time to polish his technique and coverage skills, but he might be a project worth taking a chance on. He has the build and tools to work with, and he might be available in the 6th round.

Jeremy Clark – Michigan – 7th/UDFA
6’3” – 220 – 32.75” arms

Clark didn’t play most of this past season due to injury, but he fits the mold. The Seahawks could either grab him in the seventh or hope to persuade him to come to Seattle as a free agent after the draft if no one else selects him.

I went through as many corners as I could to try and give fans an idea of who to look for and when to look for them. If I had things my way, the Seahawks would grab two of these corners in hopes of recreating that always-compete mentality. With the trade talk surrounding Richard Sherman, I think they should grab two corners just to be on the safe side depending on how ugly that situation gets. If they do trade Sherman, they will have no choice but to draft heavy at the position to fill the role left behind and to step in for Deshawn Shead while he battles back from injury. One sleeper on the roster to see added snaps is Deondre Elliot. Elliot is a second-year corner who the Seahawks signed last year out of Colorado State as an undrafted free agent. He fits the mold, and he’s full of athleticism but regardless the Seahawks need to add talent to the position, and this is the perfect year to do so.

 

lawrence_chaney

North West born and raised. Sports are everything to me. Took up scouting a few years back and fell in Love with it. Try my best to use the knowledge I have to contribute to the Devy section for DFF.

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