Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Imagining Lavonte David

The Seahawks own the #12 overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft. Signing Matt Flynn, Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Marshawn Lynch, Breno Giacomini, and Paul McQuistan has left the team with the luxury of picking the best player that falls to them. This series will explore some possible selections, and how they could impact the team.


DE Melvin Ingram
OG David DeCastro
MLB Luke Kuechly
DE Courtney Upshaw
LB Lavonte David

Profile of Lavonte David

WHAT DOES HE BRING?
Pete Carroll has been quoted multiple times this off-season indicating the team's desire to add speed at the linebacker position. David is a prime candidate to fill that need. He is undersized by NFL standards for a linebacker at 6'1" 233 lbs, but runs fast enough to have some teams projecting him as a safety on the next level. Nobody denies his ability as a football player or athlete. He registered 152 tackles, 6 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 10 passes defensed as a junior. He followed that up with 133 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his senior season. David is comfortable in space, instinctive against the run and the pass, and will chase down quarterbacks. He can shed blocks despite his size, and aggressively strips at the ball while wrapping up. Bo Pelini called him a "coach's dream." David's size is what has many scouts projecting him as a second-round selection, as most are unsure where to play him. Some draftniks are starting to uncomfortably project him in the first-round. Don't be surprised if he ends up going in the Top 20.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
David could be the anti-Aaron Curry. Undersized, underrated, incredibly instinctive and overwhelmingly productive. His addition would slide K.J. Wright over to the middle linebacker spot, where his 6'4" frame with long arms would make passing over the middle a headache for any quarterback. Wright can be a very good linebacker, but his skills as a blitzer remain unclear. There are far fewer questions about his ability to excel in the middle, and adding a guy like David would give the Seahawks young playmakers all over the field. Imagine a linebacker crew of Wright in the middle with two rockets on the outside in David and Malcolm Smith. Expect Leroy Hill to be in the mix, but the size of the Seahawks line could allow fleet-footed players like Smith and David to rack up big plays and big hits with regularity. The other possibility would be to play David at the WILL, leave Wright at SAM, and re-sign a player like David Hawthorne to play in the middle. David would be a three-down linebacker who would excel in the nickel packages as well. Carroll and Gus Bradley would have a field day using David in things like the Bandit package where linebackers are needed to be equally adept at both coverage and pass pressure. David has the potential to be a regular Pro Bowler and could be an All-Pro in the right system.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
Taking a player like David at #12 overall would be considered a stretch by most, maybe by all. Scouts love Luke Kuechly at that spot, yet he plays in the middle, a less crucial position in the Seahawks hybrid 4-3 scheme. David would add more pass rush and maximize the talent already on the roster by sliding Wright over to MIKE. The downside with David would be if he cannot stay on the field due to injury while taking on larger players in the NFL. Hill was fantastic his rookie season, but struggled to stay on the field the following years, and never regained his pass rush form. This is a different defense, with far larger lineman to keep linebackers clean, especially on the strong side where David could lineup next to Red Bryant. David is simply too good of a football player and athlete to be a bust due to anything but injury. The biggest argument against taking him at #12 is that the team could potentially get him by trading back. He may be too good to take that risk. 

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

I love this guy. He's not just the anti-curry, he's the fricking Spock of linebackers. Frequently you'll see him just pause at the start of play, diagnose what's happening and then explode toward the ball and finish with tenacity.

Undersized, but his football IQ and heart more than compensate. His size and quickness enable him to fire through gaps in the line and get into the backfield. I worry that Upshaw and Ingram will end up engaging offensive linemen directly and just get overpowered in the NFL. Lavonte will go around them.

He's also excellent in coverage and having support for our safety's in case Kam or Earl go out would be nice.

Ideally I'd trade back and grab him late 1st/early second but could live with taking him at 12 if he's getting interest elsewhere (as I expect he will).

DJ

Kip Earlywine said...

David weighed in at the combine at 233 pounds, which was a big deal for him. During the season, his playing weight was around 225. He ran a solidly fast 4.65 forty time which seemed to indicate that the added weight didn't slow him down much.

Lavonte David and Sean Spence have very similar measurables and both have good tape. David is a little bit better of the two, but its really close, and Spence is commonly mocked in the rounds 3-5 range. If David went anywhere in the 1st round, I'd be surprised.

I'm also curious to see if Seattle will go for undersized WLB options like David/Spence for the sake of speed. The team already has Malcolm Smith who is a very similar player. Something tells me Seattle is going to target more of a KJ Wright type if possible- tall, big, and fast. Maybe someone like Josh Kaddu or Nigel Bradham. That's just a guess though. I guess we'll find out. I'm personally rooting like crazy for Dont'a Hightower or Ronnell Lewis to slip to #43.