Seahawks draft takeaways: What we learned from getting a scout’s take
May 1, 2020, 9:07 AM
When it comes to analyzing the NFL Draft, some of the more insightful and influential voices are also the ones kept hidden behind the scenes: scouts.
Jim Nagy, an ESPN analyst, longtime NFL scout and former SEC scout for the Seahawks, joined us Wednesday on Tom, Jake and Stacy to preview the Seahawks’ newest rookie class. While his time with Seattle makes it easy for him to see why general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll would fall in love with a player, it’s his most recent role – executive director for the Senior Bowl – that allowed him to get up close and personal with a few of the newest Seahawks.
Here are a few takeaways from Nagy’s interview, which you can hear in full here.
Jordyn Brooks gets Nagy’s highest compliment
Nagy was watching tape of the former Texas Tech linebacker with three scouting assistants at the Senior Bowl office in Mobile.
“Was that not fun?” Nagy said afterward. “That’s why you scout, is to find guys like Jordyn Brooks.”
Nagy doesn’t mean it lightly. The longtime scout said there were a few players who didn’t end up participating in this year’s Senior Bowl due to injury or postseason surgery. Seattle’s first-round pick was one of those players – Brooks had shoulder surgery in December.
“It was such a bummer because he was one of our favorite players,” Nagy said. “To me, when I was scouting, I always told players this… the highest compliment I could ever give a player is that he’s fun to watch on tape, and Jordyn Brooks is really fun to watch.”
Nagy warned that the player comparison aspect of the draft is far more widely used by NFL media types than by front office execs, but if there is a comparison to draw, there are some flashes of young Bobby Wagner in Brooks’ play.
“The closing speed, the violence, his hitting ability, the range. He just really reminded me of Bobby coming out of Utah State.”
Darrell Taylor looks like a Seahawks player
The Seahawks needed to address their pass rush in the draft, and they did it with their second pick, selecting defensive end Darrell Taylor out of Tennessee at No. 48 overall. Taylor isn’t a perfect prospect, but he could be a perfect fit in Seattle.
“Depending on what game you put in, there were first-round flashes for sure,” Nagy said. “A little inconsistent on junior tape. Some games he’d look like a first-rounder, other games he’d look like a third- or fourth-rounder. And then coming into this year… the play was a little more consistent, it evened out. He does a nice job off the edge bringing power.
“He’s really put together, he’s powerful, he’s combative, he plays hard. He’s a Seahawk. He just plays like a Seahawk to me and he fits that profile. I think he brings a little Frank Clark to that team, just with his edge and mentality. Getting to know Darrell a little bit, there’s just something about him that I think is really going to fit there.”
Schneider told reporters on day 2 of the draft that the team considered selecting Taylor in the late first round, though it ultimately went with Brooks. Both he and Carroll were surprised that they were still able to get Taylor after trading up in the second round. Nagy suspected Taylor could’ve missed out on being a late first-rounder due to recent surgery.
“Had he been able to go through a week of one-on-one drills, he probably would’ve went in the late first round,” Nagy said. “They probably would’ve had to get him with that pick they took Jordyn Brooks with, so great value for him.”
Likewise, Schneider said the team felt comfortable about Taylor’s health specifically because he was one of the few players they had in for an evaluation before quarantine.
Alton Robinson was the Seahawks’ best value pick
Nagy called Robinson the Seahawks’ best pick, value-wise. The Seahawks selected the former Syracuse defensive end in the fifth round, making him their second pass rusher of the draft.
Robinson finished his senior season with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. He posted double-digit sacks (10) as a junior in 2018 and recorded 17 tackles for loss.
“You go back to his junior tape at Syracuse when he had the double-digit sacks, and on tape he’s really a different guy,” Nagy said. “He looks like a guy who’s 6-4 or 6-5. He plays really long; he’s got a powerful long-arm move… He can win with speed and he can win with power. He’s got a really nice get-off, he’s got that powerful long-arm move, he can beat you in different ways… His numbers were down a little bit this year sack-wise but his influence wasn’t. He was still really disruptive. It’s really hard to find pass rush help in the middle rounds, and to me Alton’s a guy who – not to say that he’s this guy, because he’s not, but you can find some guys like (Yannick) Ngakoue who I think went in the fifth. There are guys every year that slide and you’ve just got the right one, and I think Alton’s got a chance to be that guy this year.”
Stephen Sullivan presents a big mismatch opportunity
The Seahawks gave up a 2021 sixth rounder to trade back into the draft and select LSU receiver/tight end Stephen Sullivan with the 251st overall pick in the seventh round.
Late-rounders don’t normally get as much attention as their early-round counterparts – especially with Seattle using its original first-round pick for the first time since 2011 – but Nagy highlighted the 6-foot-5 Sullivan during his interview.
“They got a chance of really hitting on Stephen Sullivan,” Nagy said. “Going back to player comps, the first time I watched him he reminded me of (Raiders tight end) Darren Waller… For 6-5, he’s a really fluid, easy moving guy. Huge catch radius, long arms, can go up and get it… You can call him whatever you want to call him. You can call him a big wideout, you can call him an ‘F’ tight end, but right now he’s a mismatch in the pass game is what he is, and if they can get him up to speed blocking, that’s like a bonus. To me, they’ve got a real cool mismatch guy in the pass game.”
What else we learned
For Nagy, there are no “winners and losers” in the draft – it’s the difference in the way the media and analysts see the picks, compared to how teams research them.
“People just don’t appreciate how much work these scouting staffs put into the draft process,” Nagy said. “It’s really a 12-month process. There’s way too much that goes into it and the public doesn’t have nearly enough information – whether it be on the mental side of things or medical – to sit back and call any team a loser after draft day. I always hate that one.”