Anticipating Seahawks moves in the draft is a little like trying rescue a cat high in a tree. Every time you get close, the cat goes up another limb instead of trusting the rescuer, until you run out of ladder. Fine, you say, be a snack for eagles.
And sure enough, they draft Malik McDowell, and all that’s left is kitty parts.
Nevertheless, conscience demands that the try be made. When it comes to the draft, the Seahawks are always out on a limb. They need our help.
Desperation is more acute this year, because they gave away their first round pick and, at the moment, will not choose until the second round, 56th overall, and have only two other picks, a fourth and a seventh.
While general manager John Schneider is famous for trading to acquire more picks, the trick is harder this year because the shrunken salary cap limits the flexibility to deal higher-salaried players to teams seeking one last piece (Frank Clark to Kansas City, 2019). At this point, nearly every team can afford only draftees.
Schneider can still deal back, but he needs to check his impulses, because having six picks in the seventh round is a heaping helping of empty calories.
So for purposes of this exercise, let’s assume the Seahawks are non-participants in Thursday’s first round, and stay put for rounds two and three Friday.
Here’s the guy, if he’s still there, that the Seahawks would be shrewd to choose. The irresistible video evidence:
Let us never forget the time that Rondale Moore ran over Ohio State.pic.twitter.com/u3GsJ4ttdc
— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) August 6, 2020
The guy who threw away the Ohio State linebacker is 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds.
Rondale Moore. Purdue. Wide receiver.
Exactly the kind of freakish athlete that makes Carroll cartwheel.
Yes, it’s unwise to develop a man-crush off a single video. But his entire body of work shouts, “Yards after catch!” That video play was one of Moore’s 12 receptions for 170 yards in Purdue’s 49-20 upset of the Buckeyes in 2018.
Moore could be the next Golden Tate.
I always thought Tate in his Seahawks years was the best I’d seen at YAC.
I might have been right.
Most YAC by a WR last 5 seasons:
1. Golden Tate – 1003
2. Larry Fitzgerald – 674
3. Jarvis Landry – 631 pic.twitter.com/tAxUpG0FKb
— PFF (@PFF) July 19, 2020
At least, that’s how I guess Moore’s upside would look. It’s especially hard to know how he’ll do in the NFL since he’s played seven games in Purdue’s past two seasons, either due to a tender hamstring or a partial COVID opt-out.
But in 2018, he was the first consensus All-America freshman in Big Ten Conference history, and won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player (114 receptions, 21 carries, 33 kickoff returns and 12 punt returns, 14 touchdowns).
At his pro day in March, his 40-yard dash time was 4.29 seconds (former UW star John Ross set the NFL combine mark at 4.22). His vertical leap was 42.5 inches. From my time covering the NBA, I recall ex-Sonic David Thompson had a vertical of 42 inches. His nickname was David Skywalker.
Many of his plays at Purdue were screens and slants, so he was labeled a gadget guy. In the Seahawks’ Post-Pout World of Russell Wilson, that figures to be a swell virtue. As a slot receiver to complement the deep routes of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and the seam routes of new TE Gerald Everett, Moore would be a tender housewarming gift for new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
You may recall games against Waldron’s former employer, the Los Angeles Rams, when you found yourself screaming at the television machine: “How did that effin’ guy get so effin’ open?!” With Moore’s skills, you would scream same at your own team, without the question mark in your voice.
It’s true that the Seahawks have perhaps a greater need at cornerback, although Carroll is so fussy about corner play that it may take most of the season to get full impact from a rookie. The Seahawks also have needs on the O-line, either an upgrade at center over Ethan Pocic, or an eventual replacement for Duane Brown, 35, at left tackle.
But for 2021, they are OK at all three positions. They don’t have a difference-making third receiver. And a good rookie in the slot will have an immediate impact.
Pro Football Focus ranked Moore seventh in the wide receiver class, writing: “Moore is a rare athlete not only from a movement skills perspective but also from a strength perspective. Before he even stepped foot on Purdue’s campus, the then-174-pound receiver could already squat 600 pounds. It’s what makes him uniquely capable of not only making guys miss but, to quote Marshawn Lynch, “run through a mother***** face.”
Here’s how another draft analyst put it:
He’s not the best WR I’ve studied in this class, but watching Rondale Moore 2018 for a @CBSFantasy draft profile I’m doing is easily the most fun I’ve had watching any prospect at any position. You want to talk about eliminating angles in space? Stop and start ability? Whoa.
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) April 20, 2021
Remember that the Seahawks intend to be as all in on 2021 as they were in 2020, only without the final-act plunge into the orchestra pit. Management may have thwarted Wilson’s power play by keeping a fence around him for another year. But the idea is to not go through another January/February ice storm like the last one.
Providing him a younger, faster version of Tate to complement Metcalf, Lockett and Everett might take the bitter edge off next winter.
Two final helpful words: Trade up.
Great idea – I have heard this kid interviewed nationally (Jim Rome), and he’s very driven, great ethics, model citizen and excellent teammate. Not only says all of the right things, but lives it – he’s the real deal. Graduated in two years. Certainly the Seahawks would know how to use him and he could be quite valuable, the question is how does he fit the mold of WR for other teams, and where is WR on their priority lists. I’m still trying to figure out how this kid squatted 600 lbs so early on! No matter where he goes, I’ll probably try to follow him.
Bring on one of the most intriguing (not necessarily rewarding) weeks of the year for Hawks’ coverage!
Thanks for the vine, Romey.
The WR class is considered deep, so it’s reasonable to consider he might be there at 56. All teams want the Metcalf/Jones body type, so Moore’s height represents a risk to them. As we saw with Wilson, the Seahawks don’t mind anomalies.
Trade up using what as capital? I like your guy. We could definitely use a YAC slot receiver since Lockett self tackles. There is another Moore who others speak highly of who has similar skills, his name is Isaiah (?).
But don’t trade up. Wait for the next DK Metcalf to drop into your lap. Someone we can use will be available at 56, we just don’t know who. We can use an OL, or a CB, or a WR, or a TE, or a QB. Go with the BPA. That very well could be YOUR GUY, Art.
Picks in 2022 can be traded now. None of us know how the board will play out, so Moore may fall, as Metcalf did. If Moore is still there around 50, Schneider can give up 56 and a 2022 pick to assure his hire.
If there’s sometime we really, REALLY like, our R2 and our ’23 R1 might get us into Round 1, somewhere around #28, perhaps. The Saints’ pick seems like a good target given their cap situation.
Not saying we SHOULD trade up that far; just pointing out that our 2023 picks are ALSO available as trade assets. And our 2024 picks will be available as soon as the Commissioner officially “opens” the draft on Thursday evening.
Edited to add that if we DO trade up into Round 1, I’d rather see us take Florida’s Kadarius Toney – he-s bigger than Elijah Moore AND more dangerous.
Would also be a huge fan of trading into R1 for Alabama running back Najee Harris. Pairing him with Carson would be SICK.
Not another RB in the first. Please.
Husky73 <—— running with scissors
The Hawks have done plenty of “trading up” recently. Which has resulted in a virtually empty draft card this year. Very, very much doubt Schneider will sacrifice yet more of the future for the present during the draft this year.
As much draft capital as the Seahawks have surrendered, as much payroll money that been kicked down the road, other teams have done more. The urgency to win each year has grown more intense. NFL execs have changed their views regarding future picks and future debt.
Maybe he’ll fall to us. You sold me!
Carroll loves him some freakish athletic talents.
As you allude to, Art, it’s always like reading tea leaves to discern what is in the minds of PC and JS concerning an esoteric concept like the “best player available.” Seahawks draft history has proven out that often by the time they get through fiddling with their eventual draft positions by swapping down, they end up with a lot of weak tea. Just for fans excitement and enjoyment, it would be good to just grab a well ranked prospect with their pick number 56 and not dilute their talent pool possibilities by dropping to the 6th and 7th rounds in order to get an extra pick or two. By that time in the order of the draft, they would likely do just as well with the raft of UDFA’s that are always out there waiting for a chance to prove themselves.
Given their his-hits with first-rounders because they’re trying to find something that isn’t there, it just as well they use the assets to acquire Jamal Adams.
This time, a good rookie wideout at WR can have immediate impact.
The Seahawks have lost their magic touch on finding absolute games in the lower rounds. They should either trade up or trade away their picks. Don’t let a fringe player hang around for 2-3 years and barely be given an opportunity to contribute. Lots of FA’s out there.
Not sure their late-round touch was ever much beyond NFL average. All teams get lucky.
Don’t forget: Seahawks can trade picks beyond 2021 to get a player they really want.
The last few drafts have been rough in general.
UDFAs will be very important this year and Seattle is above average there so . . . we’ll be fine.
Art, you nailed Metcalf. I’m all in on this pick. Except….I’d sure like to see that Husky corner in a Seahawks uniform.
Thanks for remembering.
Molden is going in the first two rounds, but for the good of the Seahawks, you’ll have to take off the purple glasses.
I’m leaving them on for Levi.
Love Levi. Tryon would also be a great addition. But we’re not using a pick on a defensive tackle this year. Of that, I am certain.
Yes. Even if Aldon Smith doesn’t play, the priorities are elsewhere.
Elijah Molden projects as a slot corrner / nickelback in the NFL. With only 3 draft picks and 2 solid options at that position already (Amadi, Blair) and other corners on the roster that could fill the void if necessary, Molden seems like the ultimate “luxury” pick to me. Like you, I would like to see him in Seattle. 99.9% sure it will be in another team’s uniform though.
The big unknown with a guy like Moore is durability. Maybe he’s slippery enough to never take a direct hit. But if he gets hit too often, he won’t last.
Otherwise, this year could be a perfect Hawks scenario— not enough data to work with, great uncertainty about who is real and I’m who is illusion. Many failures at the top of the draft and many hidden gems slipping through the net. Loading up on seventh round picks might actually be the way to go. If you have enough shots at the leftovers, and a good day with hunches, it could produce some tasty surprises.
Doug Baldwin went undrafted because he was deemed too small, and he lasted a splendid eight years.
If there ever was a year to trade up, it’s this one. No combine. Less actual competition. Not a ton of usable tape. Pro days and 2-year-old film. At this point, I’d try to find a way to only have picks somewhere between 50 and 80. If that makes it 2, then that’s all there is. We need a CB more than a WR, so I’d find a way to get Melifonwu or Adebo. And we could use an OL (tackle to learn the ropes behind Duane Brown; center/guard to challenge Pocic). Anything else is a bonus, an untested, unresearched bonus.
The Seahawks understood that if there’s ever a draft to go light on, it’s one disrupted by a pandemic that has less reliable information.
A good case can be made for Melifonwu. I think he is likely to go earlier than Moore.
Wilson has to have a chance at delivering the ball rather than eating it. A hot-shot receiver will not necessarily help with that.
That’s why they signed Gabe Jackson.
But does he like doughnuts?
Maple bars. Keep your Seahawks criminality accurate.
I’m a big fan of Rondale Moore and IF we stay put at #56 (a big IF) and IF Moore is still on the board (an even bigger IF) then I’m all for picking him.
But if we trade back and/or if Moore is off the board when we are on the clock, 3 other options that would yield the same relative result in the offense Shane Waldron is expected to implement are North Texas wideout Jaelon Darden, Clemson wideout / potential NFL running back Amari Rodgers, and UCLA running back / secretly one of the draft’s best slot receivers Demetric Felton.
Darden, Rodgers, and Felton should all be available on the back half of Round 3, maybe into the early parts of Day 3 (i.e Round 4 and the top of Round 5). As such, I think they’re targets at #129 -maybe sooner if we add picks before that.
Those 4 players and what they would bring to Seattle notwithstanding, cornerback is, in my opinion, a MUCH HIGHER priority than wide receiver.
But . . .
If we stay put at #56, we probably WON’T use the pick on a corner – even if we should. Why? Because this regime has NEVER picked a cornerback before Round Three.
IF we stay put at #56, which I think is doubtful, I expect that we will use the pick on a linebacker, specifically on LSU’s Jabril Cox.
Or a Center (either Landon Dickerson, Creed Humphrey, or Quinn Meinerz, in that order).
Or on Illinois IOL Kendrick Green.
Or on NC State DT/NT Alim McNeill.
In other words, I think we will move back but, if we don’t, my money is on us NOT using #56 on a wideout OR a corner.
You’ve covered enough bases here to let the roulette ball drop your way. Thanks for the scouting report. I’m skeptical about an LB choice because they have Barton and can still re-hire Wright. They don’t have those choices at WR/CB.
Thoroughly enjoyed this article, Art. Laughed several times:
– “Nevertheless, conscience demands that the try be made. When it comes to the draft, the Seahawks are always out on a limb. They need our help.”
– “Schneider can still deal back, but he needs to check his impulses, because having six picks in the seventh round is a heaping helping of empty calories.”
These two need to be recalled in future drafts.
I’m left with the image of Art Thiel on his ladder, trying to coax Pete Carrol down from that tree. (I don’t think Schneider would climb that high.)
Thanks for your humor and great writing. Much appreciated, as always!
OK, Rondale was long gone. But we got D’Wayne Triple E, almost as fast and electric, also 5′ 9″ and ten pounds heavier at 190. I think the guys did all right this time.