Clayton: Seahawks can go plenty of ways in draft after taking L.J. Collier
Thanks in part to the Frank Clark trade, Seahawks general manager John Schneider was able to get his kind of draft.
Getting the No. 29 overall first-round pick from the Kansas City Chiefs as part of the return for Clark, Schneider had the flexibility on Thursday night to make two first-round trades and restock his number of draft choices, going from five to nine. Not only that, but heading into the second day of the draft the Seahawks already have a Michael Bennett-type defensive lineman in L.J. Collier of Texas Christian University, who they took with the No. 29 pick.
Collier was rated a second-round pick and didn’t even start until his senior year at TCU, but he offers a lot of things Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes. He’s 6-foot-2, 283 pounds and has 34-inch arms. He has an excellent bull-rush. And in 10 starts as a senior, he had 42 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks to earn All-Big 12 honors.
The Seahawks’ plan is to play Collier at the 5-technique, which is Red Bryant’s old position. He’s the first of what could be a couple additions at defensive end over the next week.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said Collier was part of a three-man rotation at defensive end, which put him at a tough situation. In Patterson’s defensive scheme, he asks the defensive ends to drop into coverage. That was a lot to ask of Collier at his size, but Patterson said Collier has the speed – he ran a 4.72 40-yard dash last year.
The other part of Collier’s game is power. He’s great with a bull-rush and has excellent quickness. While he might have been under the radar, under-the-radar talent is what Schneider and Carroll always seem to find and develop.
While no one had Collier linked to the Seahawks or the first-round, the draft day trades and his selection speaks to how Schneider works the draft.
Since the Seahawks have established themselves as a playoff contender, they usually draft in the final 12 picks in the round. Most teams put first-round grades on only 12 to 15 players, though some might go as high as 18. Because of that, playoff teams are sometimes drafting players with second-round grades in the first round. Often, and especially this year, second-round grades could go to as many as 40 players and the ratings differ quite a bit among those teams.
As a result, more and more playoff teams are becoming willing to trade away first-round picks either to acquire players or draft choices. The Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears are all playoff teams that have done just that.
The Seahawks and Rams did it for draft choices, while the Saints traded away their No. 1 pick this year to get defensive end Marcus Davenport last year. The Bears surrendered a No. 1 for linebacker Khalil Mack. The Cowboys picked up wide receiver Amari Cooper for a first. The Chiefs traded for Clark.
Looking ahead, the Seahawks enter Friday with eight remaining picks over the final two days of the draft, starting with fifth pick in the second round. They could go for defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, or a wide receiver such as Parris Campbell. Another name to watch is safety Juan Thornhill.
And don’t dismiss the thought of Schneider trading down again. There is great value at the top of the second round. A wide receiver run could start there. Three offensive linemen – Cody Ford, Greg Little and Jawaan Taylor – are available. UW Huskies cornerback Byron Murphy might go at the top of the round, which could draw trade interest. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is still out there.
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