It has become a joke. Analyze the Seahawks roster. Identify their weak spots. Match them with players based on a variety of factors, including past draft picks. Then, watch as a handful of players you hoped would be available magically fall to the Seahawks, only to have the team pick a guy nobody had pegged to Seattle, and possibly a guy nobody had even being drafted that day. John Schneider and Pete Carroll found a new way to surprise this time around.
Frank Clark tests Schneider’s integrity
Clark has terrific physical gifts. He is more power than speed, and has demonstrated the ability to make impact plays. With 35.5 tackles for loss in his college career, he has been good for roughly one per game. Add in his 11.5 sacks, and it is easy to see the production that enticed Seattle.
The question is whether his talent comes with a cost far greater than a high draft pick. Schneider has been steadfast in his rules around not allowing any player on the roster who has hit a woman. The circumstantial evidence surrounding the Clark incident, which includes photos of the woman with cuts on her face and neck, makes it hard to imagine how Schneider is confident that his new defensive end meets this criteria.
Seattle uses heavy duty background checkers on their players. Some are said to be former FBI agents. It is because of that investment that Schneider thinks they have information other teams might not. The implication from this selection is that the team has evidence they believe in that shows Clark never hit this woman. Whether fans or media believe that is another question. Asking them to believe it without seeing the same evidence may be unreasonable. Tampa Bay fans face a similar situation with the #1 overall pick, Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape and theft.
How Clark conducts himself off the field will impact the evaluation of Schneider every bit as much as how he performs on it
While I fully understand some fan and media skepticism and cynicism about the Clark selection, I do trust Schneider when it comes to these types of situations. He is man of high integrity and character, and I do not believe he would ever knowingly add a player who beats women to his roster.
As for the player himself…I have some questions about Clark. At 6’3″ tall and 271 lbs, he projects to be a defensive end. The team listed him as a LEO, although he is a bit heavy and lacks the suddenness I have come to expect from players Seattle utilized at LEO. Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril and even Michael Bennett have a terrific first step. Clark looks a bit more lumbering and powerful. Maybe they have him in mind for the 5-technique end in the base defense that Bennett currently occupies.
You can see how he physically compares to a player like Aaron Schobel. Seattle would obviously be thrilled to add a player who winds up with 78.0 career sacks like Schobel did. It was also interesting to see Clark compared to Kyle Vanden Bosch, who also had a successful career as a pass rusher. Neither of those players were the quick twitch pass rushers Seattle has tended to favor.
The immediate assumption is that Clark was picked as a hedge against Bruce Irvin, who could be gone by next year. I’m not ready to make that leap. They are two very different players, and I would need to see far more of Clark in space before I would make any predictions about his future as a SAM linebacker in the Seahawks system. Clark is only the second defensive end Schneider has selected before the fourth round, with Irvin being the other. That, combined with the off-field baggage Clark came with implies the Seahawks feel pretty strongly that they have added an impact edge rusher to the roster.
Tyler Lockett comes at a high cost
Lockett is fast, but not blazing. His super powers are his change of direction and quickness. Watch him play, and you will see a guy who corners have a tough time getting their hands on, and an even tougher time sticking with in and out of his route breaks. There are some pretty sick highlights of him losing defensive backs on double moves, and he brings that shiftiness to the return game. He was both a punt and kick returner, something the Seahawks really lacked last season.
That is where he fits first and foremost. On offense, he projects to a slot receiver, but I wonder a bit about that. Take a look at his comparables:
While everyone is waiting for Seattle to draft a big framed receiver, they continue to get smaller, shiftier guys. That may be because they see a trend toward larger corners who can be exploited by these smaller receivers since they have more trouble changing direction. It also may be because they believe Jimmy Graham, Chris Mathews and Kevin Norwood give the team the big targets they need.
Either way, Lockett becomes just the second player Schneider has been willing to trade up to get. The first, Jesse Williams, did not work so well. It speaks volumes that Schneider surrendered a 4th, 5th and 6th round pick to climb all the way up the third round to nab Lockett.
No offensive lineman yet