On Saturday, many of the college football’s top seniors sparred in front of NFL scouts, coaches, and executives looking to boost their value at the 70th annual Senior Bowl All-Star game.
With the North squad prevailing 34-20 over the South squad, the event culminated one of the most important weeks on the NFL calendar, as the Senior Bowl officially ushers in the offseason and teams start assembling their draft boards for April.
Like the other 31 teams, the Seahawks were well-represented in Mobile, looking for prospects who can help the team close the gap between them and the rest of the NFC elite heading towards the 2019 season.
Revisiting Seattle’s top needs, which Senior Bowl standouts stood out as possible targets for the Seahawks? Based on strong performance throughout the week and during Saturday’s scrimmage, these five players should be on Seattle’s radar as the draft approaches.
In what may very well wind up becoming the most loaded defensive line draft in NFL history, there’s no shortage of quality defensive ends available for the Seahawks to team up with Frank Clark. Due to the high-volume of talented defensive line prospects, some players who would be first or second round selections in any other draft class could slip into later rounds this year, including Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson. Overshadowed by other players such as Zach Allen of Boston College, the 6-foot-6, 272-pound Nelson stood out in Mobile, drawing the praise of NFL Draft Scout analyst Rob Rang. While he doesn’t possess the flexibility to bend around the edge like some of his counterparts, he sets up anchor well against the run by utilizing his impressive length and showed fantastic hand-fighting skills throughout the week, including using a stab and chop combo move to get past tackle Andre Dillard for a strip-sack on Saturday.
Seattle could easily re-sign impending free agents D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy heading into 2019, but if the team wants to find a long-term starting solution, Charlotte prospect Nate Davis would be an intriguing mid-round addition for Mike Solari to develop. A Second-Team All-Conference USA selection, the 6-foot-3, 317-pound Davis shined throughout the week in Mobile, displaying plenty of athleticism and strength at the point of attack. Shooting out of his stance ready to maul opponents, he consistently stood up pass rushers during one-on-one drills and moved defenders off the ball in the run game, including making some excellent second level blocks during Saturday’s scrimmage. There might not be a player who increased his stock more over the past week than Davis, who might have positioned himself to be drafted as early as the second round.
Coach Pete Carroll believes the best is yet to come for free safety Tedric Thompson, but the Seahawks reportedly met with Delaware star Nasir Adderley this week and could have him on their draft board for the first round. Adderley has past experience playing corner as well as both safety spots, providing the type of versatility Carroll and his coaching staff covet in the secondary. Though he’s not the biggest safety (6-foot, 195 pounds), he loves to stick his helmet into the fight as a tackler and finished his collegiate career with 226 tackles and 10 interceptions. He wrapped up a dominant week in Mobile with several nice open field tackles and snagged an interception against Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson. There’s a chance Adderley could be long gone before Seattle picks at No. 21 overall, but if he’s available, he may be too talented for general manager John Schneider to pass up.
One season after selecting Will Dissly in the fourth round, the Seahawks could once again stay local searching for another tight end prospect from Washington. Much like Dissly, Drew Sample wasn’t a focal point in the Huskies’ passing attack and was better known as a blocker, though the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end did produce career-highs with 25 receptions, 252 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in 2018. He didn’t enter this week as a known commodity, but after a strong week of practice and a four-catch performance in Saturday’s game, he’ll now be on the radar for several teams seeking help at his position. On his signature play of the day, he snuck across the line of scrimmage as a blocker, leaked into the secondary running a wheel route, and adjusted to a back-shoulder throw from Duke quarterback Daniel Jones for a 19-yard reception. With Dissly recovering from a severe knee injury, don't be surprised if Seattle uses one of its later selections on Sample.
While the Seahawks would love to develop a receiver with more size, UMass receiver Andy Isabella may have been the most impressive in Saturday’s showcase. Though he only weighs 180 pounds, he’s much stronger than he looks and broke several tackles after the catch during the All-Star game, including on a 19-yard touchdown reception from Jones. After catching a quick bubble screen, he powered an attempted tackle and then put the foot on the accelerator to race into the end zone. With Doug Baldwin now on the wrong side of 30 years old coming off an injury-marred season, maybe the Seahawks could look at Isabella as an immediate impact player who eventually replaces the veteran receiver. If the team still hopes to find more size at the position, 6-foot-3 receiver Keelan Doss hauled in four receptions for 55 yards and could be available in later rounds as well.