Uniqueness or versatility?
That question piqued the interest of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll when asked which trait his organization valued more heading into this evening’s NFL draft, which begins at 5 p.m.
“Utility and versatility are huge for coaches,” Carroll said. “Personnel guys see that one dynamic trait and they just want to jump all over it. That’s just been a personal experience.
“Sometimes you need to pull yourself back and say, ‘What’s the whole picture? What’s going to be his role? How can he fit in for us?’ And there are a lot of guys that have a uniqueness about them because of their versatility. Usually that one dynamic trait – while we all get excited about it – doesn’t carry over exactly to what the coaching staff needs.”
Applying Carroll’s assessment to the top pass rushers in this year’s draft, the Seahawks could have a tough decision to make if both North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples and South Carolina defensive end/linebacker Melvin Ingram are still on the board when the team selects today at No. 12.
Coples represents that player with a unique ability Carroll talks about. At 6-foot-5 and a chiseled 284 pounds, Coples is the prototypical defense end who can physically dominate offensive tackles with the potential to develop into a perennial Pro Bowl selection – much like another dominant player from North Carolina, Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers.
The problem with Coples is he’s a potential bust, according to many draft analysts, with some questioning his effort on film during his final season at North Carolina.
“To me, the bust potential is high, and the earlier you take him the more risk there is inherent in that,” said Mike Mayock, a draft analyst with the NFL Network. “So, for me, Quinton Coples is not even a draftable player.”
However, Mayock thinks Coples could be the right fit for Seattle.
“He’s a big, good-looking kid,” he said. “I didn’t like his production as a senior but Pete Carroll is the kind of guy that can get production out of this guy because he does have Pro Bowl potential.”
Coples said that effort won’t be a concern for him at the next level.
“I can see where it can look like that on film,” Coples said. “But overall, I definitely felt like I did a good job and did the right thing and just did the little sacrifices for my team, to help my team out. And that’s what was important to me at the time.”
Putting the issue of effort aside, Coples looks the part of an elite pass rusher, which along with finding a middle linebacker are Seattle’s top draft needs this year.
Coples showed he’s a talented athlete, running the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds, bench pressing 225 pounds 25 times and posting a 31.5-inch vertical jump.
Coples finished with 55 tackles – including 15 tackles for loss – and 7.5 sacks in his final season at North Carolina. He had 10 sacks while playing mostly defensive tackle in 2010.
If Seattle has reservations about drafting Coples, the player offering more versatility for the Seahawks is Ingram. At 6-2 and 262 pounds, Ingram played defensive tackle, defensive end, outside and inside linebacker for the Gamecocks.
Ingram was a 6-2, 225-pound point guard in high school. He also played running back, receiver and quarterback. Ingram was on the “hands” kickoff team for South Carolina. He can do a back flip and he can dunk.
Ingram ran the 40 in 4.79 seconds, benched pressed 225 pounds 28 times and posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump at the combine.
“I feel like playing so many roles helped me,” Ingram said about his college experience. “I feel like my coach gave me the opportunity to show my athletic ability in every way.”
That said, Ingram started only one season at South Carolina – his senior season – finishing with 31 tackles, 10 sacks and two interceptions while playing mostly defensive tackle in 14 games.
Ingram could be a very effective for Seattle because defensive coordinator Gus Bradley uses varied schemes with different personnel. Ingram could provide a pass rush off the edge and from the interior.
Here’s how Carroll thinks Coples and Ingram stack up.
“There’s a guy that’s 6-foot-5-inches-plus that runs 4.6’s in Coples,” Carroll said. “He has prototypical numbers and he’s a classic in the profile of the big pass rusher.
“Ingram is much more of a different guy. He is an inside pass rusher primarily that plays outside linebacker at times, that plays ‘Mike’ (middle) linebacker at times. He’s all over the place, and he’s utilized totally differently.
“He’s a shorter guy with shorter leverage and all of that, and has effectiveness and a total different style. They’re just widely different. Both are very effective and great prospects that will go high in the draft.”
Seattle’s looking for a pass rusher to pair with Chris Clemons on third downs, and possibly replace him should he leave in free agency in 2013.
The Seahawks finished tied for 19th in sacks in 2011 with 33. Clemons led Seattle with 11 sacks, but linebacker Leroy Hill was a distant second with four.
The team has struggled in drafting productive defensive linemen in the first round.
The last pass rusher Seattle drafted in the first round was Carroll’s former pupil, USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson with the No. 28 overall pick in 2008. Upon his arrival, Carroll openly questioned why the Seahawks selected Jackson in the first round, and promptly shipped him to the Lions in a trade for a sixth-rounder during the 2010 training camp.
Before that, the Seahawks selected defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs at No. 23 overall in the 2004 draft. Tubbs was a talented run stuffer when healthy but his career was shortened by persistent knee problems.
Seattle fared no better with defensive end Lamar King (No. 22 overall, 1999), who finished with 12 sacks in five seasons.
Carroll is looking for better results this weekend.
“There’s a lot of edge rushers in this draft, which is exciting,” Carroll said. “We’re always looking. Certainly in this draft it’s one of the issues that we’d like to attend to.”
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN TO CONSIDER
First round, 12th pick: Michael Brockers, 6-6, 322, LSU
Rob’s rationale: Left the Tigers after his redshirt sophomore season and thus is undeniably raw. Nonetheless, Brockers’ potential as a DT and five-technique DE warrants a close look.
Second round, 43rd pick: Vinny Curry, 6-3, 266, Marshall
Rob’s rationale: A high-motor pass rusher who posted an eye-popping 22 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 2011, Curry would be an ideal Leo (floating pass-rush specialist).
Third round, 75th pick: Tyrone Crawford, 6-4, 275, Boise State
Rob’s rationale: Overshadowed while at Boise State, Crawford has an intriguing blend of size, burst and upside; he only started playing the sport as a high school senior.
Fourth round, 106th pick: Jack Crawford, 6-5, 275, Penn State
Rob’s rationale: Unrelated to Boise’s standout, Jack also began his football career late and thus should continue to improve. He’s more powerful than speedy off the edge.
Sixth round, 181st pick: Hebron Fangupo, 6-1, 323, BYU
Rob’s rationale: A short, powerful run defender who began his career with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC, Fangupo isn’t flashy but he’s among the better nose guards in this draft.
Seventh round, 225th pick: Matt Conrath, 6-8, 290, Virginia
Rob’s rationale: After playing out of position at DT for Virginia, Conrath projects nicely as a backup behind Red Bryant as a five-technique DE due to his length and effort.
AND LINEBACKERS TO CONSIDER
First round, 12th pick: Luke Kuechly, 6-3, 242, Boston College
Rob’s rationale: Possessing an ideal combination of size and athleticism (as well as the instincts to stand apart from other recent “can’t miss” LBs), Kuechly is among 2012’s safest prospects.
Second round, 43rd pick: Lavonte David, 6-1, 233, Nebraska
Rob’s rationale: While smaller than scouts would prefer, David is physical, athletic and highly instinctive. His best fit would be as a weakside linebacker in Seattle’s 4-3 scheme.
Third round, 75th pick: Nigel Bradham, 6-2, 241, Florida State
Rob’s rationale: FSU’s leading tackler in each of his three starting seasons, Bradham’s size, athleticism and versatility make him one of 2012’s more underrated LB prospects.
Fourth round, 106th pick: Demario Davis, 6-2, 235, Arkansas State
Rob’s rationale: The highly productive player you’d expect considering his level of competition, Davis impressed against elite talent at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine.
Sixth round, 181st pick: Tank Carder, 6-2, 236, TCU
Rob’s rationale: Like former TCU and Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne, Carder’s instincts, physicality and consistency are enough to overcome his less-than-ideal build and level of competition.
Seventh round, 225th pick: Alex Hoffman-ellis, 6-1, 232, Washington State
Rob’s rationale: Despite having quietly led the Pacific-12 Conference in solo tackles per game, the former Cougar wasn’t invited to the combine. He’d be a nice fit on the weakside.
Staff writer Eric D. Williams predicts the first round of today’s NFL draft.
1. INDIANAPOLIS: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 234
The most complete QB prospect to enter the draft since John Elway.
2. WASHINGTON (from St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 223
A gifted athlete and thrower, Griffin will ignite Mike Shanahan’s offense.
3. MINNESOTA: Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal
Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 306
Vikings would like to trade down, but they get a cornerstone LT in Kalil.
4. CLEVELAND: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 228
Mike Holmgren finally finds his Shaun Alexander for the Browns.
5. TAMPA BAY: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 188
Bucs can wave goodbye to talented-but-troubled corner Aqib Talib.
6. ST LOUIS (from Washington): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 298
WR Justin Blackmon is tempting, but Rams need an anchor up front on defense.
7. Jacksonville: Melvin Ingram, de/OLB, South Carolina
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 264
Jags need a pass rusher, and the versatile Ingram also can play linebacker.
8. MIAMI: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 221
Dolphins finally get their quarterback of the future.
9. CAROLINA: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 284
Inconsistent at times on tape, but Coples is the most physically gifted pass rusher in the draft.
10. BUFFALO: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 207
The Bills add a playmaker on offense, the most talented receiver in the draft.
11. KANSAS CITY: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 242
The Dick Butkus award winner is athletic and a tackling machine.
12. SEATTLE: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 265
Seahawks might move down to get Hightower, but he fills an obvious need and will be the team’s quarterback on defense for the next 10 years.
13. ARIZONA: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 313
Reiff has been groomed in a pro-style offense at Iowa and can step in and play right away.
14. DALLAS: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 213
Barron is a ballhawking defensive back who can over cover a lot of ground in the passing game.
15. PHILADELPHIA: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 322
Brockers offers versatility with an ability to play both defensive tackle positions.
16. NEW YORK JETS: Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 272
Upshaw gives Rex Ryan the edge rusher he’s been looking for.
17. CINCINNATI (from Oakland): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 220
Bengals bring in another playmaker for young QB Andy Dalton.
18. SAN DIEGO: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 316
Chargers beef up the offensive line with the best interior blocker in the draft.
19. CHIGAGO: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 261
Bears can’t pass up one of the most productive pass rushers available.
20. TENNESSEE: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190
Gilmore helps fill the Titans’ void left by the departure of Cortland Finnegan to St. Louis.
21. CINCINNATI: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 192
Kirkpatrick strengthens a pass defense that finished with just 10 interceptions last season.
22. CLEVELAND (from Atlanta): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215
The most physically gifted receiver in the draft, Hill gives Browns QB Colt McCoy another playmaker.
23. DETROIT: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 314
Lions add some beef and youth up front offensively with Adams.
24. PITTSBURGH: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 294
Poe serves as the heir apparent to longtime nose tackle Casey Hampton.
25. DENVER: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 310
He fills in for Brodrick Bunkley, who left for the Saints in free agency.
26. HOUSTON: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 196
In Wright, the Texans pick up a slot receiver with the ability to make people miss.
27. NEW ENGLAND: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 265
Long arms and an explosive first step make Jones a good fit for the Patriots, who are in need of pass-rushing help.
28. GREEN BAY: Nick Perry, DE, USC
Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 310
An explosive athlete, Perry will pair with fellow former USC linebacker Clay Matthews to give the Packers two dangerous pass rushers on the edge.
29. BALTIMORE: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 208
Ravens need a replacement for Lee Evans, who joined Jacksonville in free agency.
30. SAN FRANCISCO: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 247
Fleener is reunited with former college coach Jim Harbaugh.
31. NEW ENGLAND: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 345
He brings some youth to the Patriots’ offensive line, which is getting long in the tooth.
32. NEW YORK GIANTS: David Wilson, RB, Boise State
Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 223
Giants get a replacement for Brandon Jacobs, who left for San Francisco in free agency.