Changeup for Seahawks at No. 25 in NFL.com’s latest mock draft

The majority of the latest mock drafts have the Seahawks selecting a defensive lineman with the 25th selection in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but NFL.com/NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah (a former scout for the Ravens, Browns and Eagles) goes against the grain in his most recent mock, released today.

Jeremiah pins wide receiver Justin Hunter out of the University of Tennessee as the pick for the Seahawks at No. 25. In three seasons with the Volunteers the 6-4, 196-pound Hunter played in 28 games, hauling in 106 catches for 1,812 yards and 18 touchdowns, registering an average of 17.1 yards per catch.

Hunter’s 2011 season at Tennessee was cut short by an injury to his ACL, but he bounced back with his most productive campaign in 2012, catching 73 passes for 1,083 yards and nine scores in 12 games.

At the combine, Hunter registered a record 136-inch broad jump, tied for top performer with a 39.5-inch vertical jump, and was clocked at 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Jeremiah: “Hunter had an excellent combine performance and his combination of length and speed is intriguing. I’m concerned about the number of drops I watched on tape but his stock appears to be on the rise.”


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Latest mock drafts project tackle to Chiefs at No. 1, D-lineman for Seahawks

Datone Jones

UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

The boys from NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com have updated their mock drafts after attending the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Each now has the Chiefs taking an offensive tackle with the first pick in April’s NFL Draft, and they also project the Seahawks going with a defensive lineman at No. 25 in the first round.

Rob Rang: He has the Chiefs taking Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel at No. 1, but still has the Seahawks going for UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones at No. 25.

“The camaraderie forged between Pete Carroll’s coaching staff and the scouting staff under general manager John Schneider has resulted in several surprising but ultimately successful draft selections in recent years. The 6-4, 280-pound Jones will be viewed by some as a ‘tweener but he might possess the combination of strength, length, burst and passion to aid as an interior pass rusher in Seattle’s hybrid front.”

Dane Brugler: He also has the Chiefs going for a tackle with the top pick, but it’s Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. At No. 25, he projects Florida State defensive end Cornellius “Tank” Carradine for the Seahawks.

“The Seahawks have one of the better defensive fronts in the NFC, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add some depth, especially at pass rusher. Carradine still isn’t 100% healthy from his knee injury, but Pete Carroll and John Schneider will recognize the value of snagging him this late.”

Will Brinson: He’s also got Fisher to the Chiefs and Jones to the Seahawks.

“The Seahawks have made it known they want to upgrade their pass rush this offseason, and while giving Russell Wilson an additional weapon or two wouldn’t hurt, Jones can step in and help impact Seattle’s ability to get after the passer.”

Pete Prisco: He too has Joeckel to the Chiefs, but is thinking bigger when it comes to a D-lineman for the Seahawks – Ohio State tackle Johnathan Hankins (6-3, 320).

“Alan Branch is a free agent and they need big bodies in the middle of their defense.”

Clark Judge: Make it one more vote for Joeckel to the Chiefs and one more option for the Seahawks – North Carolina D-tackle Sylvester Williams (6-3, 313).

“With Alan Branch unsigned, the Seahawks could use more help in the middle.”


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Tru to form in the 40

Desmond Trufant

Asked on Sunday what he expected to run in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, Desmond Trufant smiled and offered, “I’m going to run fast.”

The University of Washington cornerback, and brother of Seahawks corner Marcus Trufant, did just that at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday. Desmond was clocked in 4.38 seconds – third-fastest among the corners behind Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (4.36) and Alabama’s Dee Milliner (4.37), and fast enough to assure Trufant’s status as a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

“You have got to run fast to play corner,” Trufant said. “So I’m going to run pretty fast.”

Mike Mayock, analyst for the NFL Network, said the speed of the corners would determine which might join Milliner in being selected in the first round.

Told of Mayock’s statement, Trufant said, “Oh, that’s what they’re saying? I’m going to do what I’ve been training to do.”

Trufant was working out at API (Athletes’ Performance Institute) in Arizona to prepare for the Combine. You can watch Trufant’s 40 here.

Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL.com, was impressed by Trufant’s efforts.

“Trufant had been considered a fringe first-round prospect following the Senior Bowl, but a strong showing in Indianapolis now has him firmly entrenched in the conversation,” Brooks wrote. “He blazed a 4.38 40, displaying exceptional speed and acceleration. Additionally, Trufant popped impressive measurements in the vertical (37.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-5). Scouts were already convinced Trufant possesses the requisite cover skills to be a solid starter as a pro; the rest of the workout confirmed his movement skills as a borderline blue-chip talent.”


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Nickell Robey: Little big man

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INDIANAPOLIS – The trend in the NFL is finding bigger cornerbacks to matchup against the bigger receivers in the league. And you need look no farther than the Seahawks’ tandem of 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner and 6-3 Richard Sherman.

Then there’s Nickell Robey, the 5-7¾, 169-pound cornerback from USC. His measurables just don’t measure up. Neither did the evaluation he got when he decided to forego his senior season for the Trojans, which projected he would not be selected in the first three rounds of the draft in April.

But here is at the NFL Scouting Combine, ready to prove everyone wrong.

“That’s why I run like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, I jump like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” Robey said Sunday. “Because they say I’m not a prototypical corner. I’m not 5-10, 5-11, 6-foot. And I’m not 190, 180, or whatever.

“That’s why I go so hard and I try to go extra hard. Just to prove that it isn’t all about size. You can’t measure heart.”

Robey plans to make it in the NFL the same way he was able to play at USC, by compensating for his lack of size with speed and hops. As for the speed, he is planning to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.2-4.3-second range on Tuesday and already has a 41-inch vertical leap on his resume.

He can dunk a basketball, and has been able to do it since he was in the eighth grade.

“I was just playing around thinking I wasn’t going to be able to dunk,” he said of that first, fateful slam. “I jumped and I was just up there for a while. Then I just put the ball in.”

If only his ascent to becoming an NFL player was as much of a slam-dunk.


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Datone Jones no stranger to Pete Carroll

UCLA's Datone Jones (Courtesy  Don Liebig/ASUCLA)

UCLA’s Datone Jones (Courtesy Don Liebig/ASUCLA)

INDIANAPOLIS – He opted to play his college ball at UCLA, but Datone Jones knows all about Pete Carroll. And the Seahawks’ coach knows all about the versatile pass-rusher who had six sacks and 17.5 tackles for losses last season.

Jones first met Carroll when he was a sophomore at Compton (Calif.) High School and Carroll was coaching at USC. Jones said he has talked to Carroll, as well as linebackers coach Ken Norton, here at the NFL Scouting Combine and that they also hooked up at the Senior Bowl last month.

“They recruited me out of high school,” Jones said on Saturday. “Coach Norton gave me a lot of (grief) that I didn’t come to USC. But he respects my game. I love Ken Norton. I’ve known him since I was in the 10th grade.”

In an ironic twist, Jones played last season for Jim Mora, the coach Carroll replaced with the Seahawks.

“It was unbelievable,” Jones said of playing for Mora. “He’s a great guy. He’s a players’ coach. He’s going to fire you up. He’s going to expect the best.

“One thing he told us when he came in, in his first team meeting, he said, ‘If you have aspirations of playing at the next level, then I’m your guy.’ He said, ‘I’m bringing an NFL staff in here, coaches that have never coached college football before.’ He said, ‘If this is your senior year, this is your rookie year.’ ”


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Forty time shmorty time

Alex Okafor

INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Okafor won’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine because he’s recovering from a bruised hip he got at the Senior Bowl last month. But then the pass-rushing defensive end from Texas says he hasn’t run one since his sophomore year in high school.

And, he isn’t concerned about when he might run the next one.

“It’s not needed,” Okafor said on Saturday during his Q&A session in the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium. “The 40-yard dash is not needed in football at my position.”

Instead, Okafor would prefer that teams look at his performance at the Senior Bowl before he was injured.

“I think I showed a lot of teams that I’m more explosive than they thought,” he said. “I know a lot of guys came up to me and said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you were that explosive.’ I guess that answered a couple of questions.”

Regardless of his disdain for the 40, you can bet scouts will expect to see Okafor run at the Texas Pro Day workout on March 26.

Okafor had 12.5 sacks and 20 quarterback pressures last season, after posting eight sacks and 14 tackles for losses in 2011.


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The Manti Te’o Show

Manti Te'OINDIANAPOLIS – Reality TV came to the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday afternoon.

Actually, it was the Q&A session for Norte Dame linebacker Manti Te’o at Lucas Oil Stadium. But it was unlike any of the other player interviews at this Combine, or any Combine for the matter. Long-time attendees could remember the throngs that assembled for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (2010), Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett (2005) and Auburn QB Cam Newton (2011).

But those gatherings looked like intimate one-on-one interviews compared to the treatment afforded Te’o.

The NFL Network carried the interview live, while reporters and cameras began assembling near podium C in the media center on two occasions – and hours before the interview actually took place – based on rumors that he was on his way.

And the almost-morbid fascination had little to do with his prowess as a football player. Instead, it was the next step in Te’o’s damage control after it was revealed he has been the victim of a hoax dealing with the death of a girlfriend he met on line who never existed.

The attention was so intense that several publications and outlets carried advances on Saturday morning that Te’o would talk later in the day.

He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting after leading the Irish to an unbeaten regular season, but now must work on repairing his reputation with NFL teams as they prepare for the April NFL Draft.

“They’ve told me that they’ve all just wanted to hear from me what the truth was,” Te’o said when asked what reaction he has been getting during interviews with team representatives. “They haven’t really said anything about it affecting me.”

He said he discussed the situation with one team for 30 seconds and the rest of his 15-minute session centered on football.

“They want to hear it from me,” Te’o said. “They want to know what happened.”


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Gus Bradley showing he’s a chip off the ol’ Pete

Gus BradleyINDIANAPOLIS – Gus Bradley is attending his eighth NFL Scouting Combine, but this one is unlike the previous seven.

That will happen when you go from being a position coach, as he was with the Buccaneers from 2006-08; to a defensive coordinator, as he was with the Seahawks the past four years; to a head coach, the position he was hired to fill with the Jaguars last month.

Asked on Saturday for an example of the change, Bradley smiled and said, “The other day, it’s the first time that I saw punters and kickers do heights and weights. I’m sitting there kind of shaking my head thinking, ‘I’ve never done this before.’ ”

As a position coach, Bradley attended the Combine only to see the players at that position. As a coordinator, he would hang around long enough to see all the defensive players. Now, he’s here from start to finish.

“But it’s been great,” he said. “It’s been a great opportunity. Everyday I’ve been learning.”

And it was obvious during his Q&A session at Lucas Oil Stadium that Bradley learned a lot from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll the past three years. Bradley repeatedly made Seattle and Seahawks references when asked how he planned to approach things in Jacksonville during his first stint as a head coach in the league.

“Pete’s a tremendous coach – offensively, defensively special teams,” Bradley said. “I think he had tremendous impact offensively. He was in there in those meetings. He was in our defensive meetings. He was in the special teams meetings.

“Every day he was the same person. And he had great vision, great conviction. I think I’ve always had some vision. And if I was in this opportunity, that I have even stronger convictions now that I’ve been with Pete. He’s obviously someone who’s had a great impact on me.”

But some things with Bradley have not changed, despite his relocation and rapid ascension up the coaching ladder. He remains as energetic and passionate as he was the past four seasons in Seattle.

“All this right now is great, but I can’t wait for April. That’s when we get our players in-house,” he said. “And really, the communication, the vision, the language that we want to use in our building and how we coach as a staff … I’m excited to see that.

“I’m ecstatic. I can’t wait.”


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Matt Barkley comes up taller than expected

Matt Barkley

INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Barkley wasn’t quite sure how tall he was when asked that question at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“They told me a weird number, I don’t remember the height,” the quarterback from USC said during his Q&A session in the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday.

Turns out the QB that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll recruited to USC was taller than anyone expected: 6 feet 2½.

But in Combine speak, that came out 6024 when Barkley was weighed and measured, which led to his confusion. Last spring, Barkley was listed at 6-1 7/8.

Football, as we know, is a game of inches. But even fractions of inches matter, especially when you’re attempting to measure up as a first-round prospect at the pivotal position of quarterback.


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Pete Carroll on Richard Sherman: ‘I think he’s a great corner’

Richard Sherman & Pete CarrollINDIANAPOLIS – Richard Sherman’s good-natured “feud” with Darrelle Revis over who is the best cornerback in the league has become can’t-avoid TV here at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider was distracted during his podium stint on Thursday by a graphic on the NFL Network comparing the stats of the team’s All-Pro corner to those of the Jets’ Revis. Friday, it was Pete Carroll’s turn, as the Seahawks’ coach was asked about Sherman taking his case to Twitter, TV and seemingly everywhere else.

“It’s obvious that Richard’s got a lot of free time on his hands,” Carroll cracked when asked about Sherman in the hallway at Lucas Oil Stadium after completing his Q&A session in the media center.

Asked if he agreed with Sherman’s contention, Carroll offered, “I haven’t read one word that he’s said. I just see the pictures with the mouth open and I know what’s going on.”

After the laughter subsided, Carroll added, “Richard knows what he’s doing. He’s having fun playing with the whole thing. He had a tremendous season. So he’s got something to stand on right now.”

Like his league-high 24 passes defensed and eight interceptions, which tied for second in the NFL. Then there’s that All-Pro berth.

“It’s better than when he used to talk when he didn’t,” Carroll said with a smile.

Asked again if he thought Sherman was the best corner in the league, Carroll said, “I think he’s a great corner. I think he’s playing tremendous football. I think not enough people know about him yet, although he’s working on that.”

Carroll then admitted he has never known how you gauge who is the “best corner” in the league, adding, “But he’s up there in consideration.”


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