College: N.C. State
Projected 40 Time: 4.5
Projected Round: 4-6
As we all know by now, the Seattle Seahawks became Super Bowl Champions last night after demolishing Manning and Co. in one of the most lopsided victories in recent memory. Despite throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns and capping his season off with a well-deserved MVP award, Manning was only able to throw for a meager 280 yards with 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and a fumble. Seattle’s physical and aggressive defense made an all-time great offense look like a Mark Sanchez led Jets offense.
Idzik spent 6 years with the Seahawks front office before being anointed Jets General Manager. I think its fair to assume that he played a significant role in their successful rebuild, and will likely choose to build a roster in a similar way. Although Lynch is incredible, it can be argued that Seattle’s biggest strength this season was their secondary. In fact, they were clearly the #1 pass defense in the NFL this year allowing 172 y/g, which is 22 y/g behind their next closes opponent. They also led the league with 28 interceptions, and allowed the second fewest passing touchdowns at 16.
One of the biggest reasons for Seattle’s fantastic secondary play is because of their ability to find big contributors late in the draft. Richard Sherman, a 5th round pick in 2011, is now considered by some to be the best CB in football. At 6-3, 195 Sherman is able to use his size, strength, and technique to consistently shutdown opposing receivers. He isn’t the fasted player in the draft and ran a 4.54 at the combine, which is likely the reason that he fell so far in the draft. When I started looking at mid-late round prospects with a similar skillset, the guy that stood out to me was Dontae Johnson out of N.C. State.
Like Sherman, Johnson isn’t the fastest player in the world, but he has ideal size for the position. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of film of him available, but he seems to move very well for his size and is fluid in his movements. He dropped a pretty easy interception so he might not have the best ball skills in the world, but he gets in a great position to make a play on the ball. He doesn’t seem to have any problem staying with Jordan Matthews, who was one of the best receivers in all of college football.
His size and strength will make him a good matchup for big, physical wide receivers. In the Super Bowl, we saw Eric Decker struggle to do anything and he spent a lot of the game lined up against Richard Sherman. Jordan Matthews has often drawn comparisons to Eric Decker, so it makes for a somewhat interesting comparison. Obviously it is highly unlikely that Johnson ever comes close to reaching Sherman status, but I think that with the proper coaching he can be a solid pro. He missed an easy tackle and he might need to improve his technique, but I think he has the size, athleticism, and instincts to develop into a good player. I think he could be a steal late in the draft.