.NET Chat Transcript: NFL Expert Rob Rang!

.NET Chat Transcript: NFL Expert Rob Rang!

On July 21, NFL/draft expert Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com spent almost two hours in the Seahawks.NET chat room. A longtime friend of Seahawks.NET, Rob provided great analysis and several interesting team tidbits to our community...as he always does. Here is the transcript of the chat for all to read and enjoy!

::BEGIN CHAT::

RobRang:: Okay, I’m here!
Hawkstorian:: Hey RR
MysterMatt:: Hey, Rob! First question: Niko Koutouvides or Lofa Tatupu to start at MLB?
RobRang:: Expect Niko to start in TC and perhaps even into the regular season, but I'd be surprised if Lofa doesn't win the job relatively quickly. I believe in him more than any other pick for Seattle's 2005 draft - including Chris Spencer, who I'm quite high on...
dfarrar777:: On the day the Seahawks drafted Lofa, you were quoted by Seahawks.NET as saying that in a few years, there will be Tatupu jerseys all over Seattle. What specific characteristics do you think will make him such a great NFL player? What did the Seahawks see that made them leapfrog up the second round to get him?
RobRang:: Instincts. Hustle. Determination. A passion for the game that every fan loves to see from his team's players...
MysterMatt:: How do you see him taking on blockers? I'd think your average guard would eat him up. He's kinda a pursuit guy, isn't he?
RobRang:: Tatupu is very physical, but obviously smaller than ideal (6’0”, 240). He beats a lot of blockers due to his anticipation, quickness, and explosive strength (as opposed to extended, pure strength). If this were the 3-4, where he'd need to consistently take on OGs and Cs, then I think he'd struggle a bit, but the 4-3 is designed to free up the MLBs with the play of the big DTs in front, so I think he'll be fine.

rlrigmaiden:: I think MLB DeShone Myles was the last ‘Hawk linebacker that actually took on blocks well, and his career was short-lived to say the least. What are the chances that Seattle pulls the trigger on a LB like Iowa’s Chad Greenway, my favorite player in the class, next year? The 2006 class is loaded with talent, if not Greenway, who? (Sims, Brooks, Hodge, Hawk)
RobRang:: Nice call on Myles, Ryan. Haven't heard that name in awhile and nice job on the pre-draft stuff, in general...
rlrigmaiden:: thanks
rlrigmaiden:: Myles was my favorite "what could've been" Seahawk. Absolutely loved that guy.
RobRang:: Gotta agree with your liking for Greenway, in particular. Helluva player. Derrick Johnson got a lot of love as an OLB this year, but Greenway is a similar athlete without the holes in his tackling. Elite prospect. Probably top five.

dfarrar777:: How long do you think it will take Chris Spencer to become the Seahawks’ starting center?
RobRang:: Barring injury, I don't believe Spencer will beat out Robbie Tobeck this year, and perhaps even next. Tobeck's command of the line can't be underestimated. No one is questioning Spencer's ability, but cohesion and leadership is what it is all about at center, and those are Tobeck's greatest strengths... People will be calling Spencer a bust halfway through the year - and it won't be fair at all...A “bust” because he can't beat out a supposedly washed up, unathletic center, but if you watch this club much, you know Tobeck's worth...
MysterMatt:: Could Spencer get a shot in short-yardage situations to exploit his strength and explosive power?.
ScottEklund:: how about at guard Rob...for spencer?
BucketheadJones:: I wondered about that too.
RobRang:: I'd be surprised if he gets a shot in those roles, unless it is at guard. Your question is a good point - his explosiveness would come in very handy in those situations, but so would the trust and reliability Hass and Tobeck have snapping/accepting the snap together. I'd be surprised if there was subbing at center in such a crucial position as short yardage...

rlrigmaiden:: Personally, I think it was a big mistake not to take a RB in last year’s Draft. I like MoMo and Carter has potential, but don't you think letting one of the best RB Drafts in recent memory pass you by without taking one was a mistake? I would have loved a shot at a guy like Darren Sproles, who could also return punts.
RobRang:: Darren Sproles is going to be a stud, but if Seattle would have selected him, they would have had to cut either Maurice Morris or Kerry Carter at RB, and that wasn't likely to happen. Agreed that last year was a very good RB class, but it dropped quickly after the Big Three. Seattle would have scooped up J.J. Arrington in the 3rd. They liked him a lot, but It just didn't work out. They feel extremely confident that the combo of Morris and Carter will prove effective if SA isn't around.

DrDiags:: Any chance Jeb Huckeba can make any impact this year or even make the team?
RobRang:: He'll get a shot as a pass rush specialist on 3rd down and has some burst for a kid with his size potential, so a few sacks isn't out of the question. Perhaps a few more if the club asks him to play a lot on 3rd down. I still expect to see Peter Boulware here, so that might not be as huge a need as it looks now.
dfarrar777:: Ahhh...Boulware. What have you heard? What do you know?
RobRang:: Same as everyone else basically. 4 teams in it. Houston, Cleveland, Seattle, Pittsburgh. Seattle believes they can get him a little cheaper than the others because of his brother and they are probably right.

Hawkstorian:: Rob, earlier this year you said in this chat that Shaun Alexander was absolutely gone from Seattle. Care to expound?
RobRang:: If they had received a 3rd round pick for him - the day they made him the Franchise, the day of the draft, or today - he'd be gone.
RobRang:: This is fact. I knew it. Alexander's agents (and thus, Alexander, himself), and the team knew it. Problem was, so did every other team, so teams lowballed Seattle. They're stuck.
MysterMatt:: The team really thinks that Mo and Carter can come close to his production? Or the WRs are all that good? Or are they willing to postion for a better draft pick next season?
PithyRadish:: There are many people that seem to think that the duo of Carter & Mo can do well enough without Shaun. What are your thoughts on that?
RobRang:: The fact is everything you've heard about Alexander's me-first attitude is correct and that has rubbed a lot of people wrong. Also, Holmgren flat out feels his offense can CREATE a 1,200 yard rusher. Maybe not a 1,600 yard rusher as Alexander is, but good enough. They feel their offense (same one in GB) made Dorsey Levens. Made Edgar Bennett. Etc.
MysterMatt:: All due respect but a 1,200 yard rusher would have put us right out of the playoffs last year.
RobRang:: If you were to ask me right now, I believe SA holds out and missed at least the first regular season game at Jax.
rlrigmaiden:: wouldn't matter, Stroud and Henderson would shut anyone down.
dfarrar777:: What do you base that belief on, Rob?
RobRang:: Most players obviously will hold out and then once the paychecks start dropping, they come in. Alexander is a weird bird that way - I really could see him trying to make a point by holding out for another week or so. Should SEA's running game stink against JAX in week one (and it will, Henderson and Stroud are monsters), Alexander feels he'll have a lot more leverage and that maybe Seattle will panic.
RobRang:: And give him the monster deal his numbers say he deserves.
PithyRadish:: A reasonable assumption on his part. But I think the entire team is going to step up if he does continue to hold out.
RobRang:: Before I jump to any other Qs, anything else on Alexander?
BucketheadJones:: Anymore rumors of a trade? JAX perhaps?
RobRang:: No rumors on trade. His agents have spent a lot of time sniffing these out.
PithyRadish:: I have one, Do you think that this might bring the team together like nothing else has?
RobRang:: Potentially could bring the team together. One of the best things that could happen to this team would be if the "star" on offense was Hasselbeck. He's a leader. Not necessarily a superstar, but he plays his butt off. Some like him, some hate him, but he gives 110% everytime. The Hawks’ "glory" years came behind QBs in Dave Krieg and Jim Zorn who played in this same manner.

Gromit:: What's the right side of the o-line going to look like? I'd like to see Sean Locklear on the field.
RobRang:: I see it as being Floyd Womack at RG and Locklear at RT. Womack can play damn near any position, which is a nice luxury. Locklear is the better player (than Wayne Hunter), but if Hunter raises his game to beat out Locklear, he could be a monster. Still among the most freakishly athletic OL I've ever seen. I'm not so sure he ever plays up to his potential, however, whereas I believe Locklear will - and prove to be a damn solid RT.
Gromit:: holmy seems to favor Chris Gray and vets in general.
RobRang:: Again though, Womack will have to beat out Gray. Gray, like Tobeck, just does the little things. If Gray beats out Womack at RG, don't be surprised at all to see Womack switch back over to RT. He's the best of the trio right now (Womack, Locklear, Hunter) and is certainly better right now that Willis.
PithyRadish:: It sounds to me as if you're saying we have the goods already if they just step up and play as a unit.
RobRang:: On the offensive line, Seattle absolutely has the goods. Among the top OLs top to bottom in the entire league.
RobRang:: center is solid. especially when you consider the grooming of Spencer.
RobRang:: Left side obviously dominant.
RobRang:: right side should be solid. Not dominant by any means, but solid. add that solid to a dominating left side (and with the youth being developed all along the line) and I feel it will enter the season as one of the better lines and - injuries aside - should end the season even better as they mesh...
Gromit:: Good enough to succeed with Morris/Carter?
Gromit:: If needed?
RobRang:: Line, offensive philosophy absolutely good enough to win with Morris/Carter. Sure, neither will suddenly turn into a 1,600 yard rusher, but they'll be solid enough in the rushing game and will obviously contribute more as a blocker and receiver.

ScottEklund:: rob any rumors on whether the Hawks want to negotiate a deal with Steve Hutchinson during the season? or now?
RobRang:: Would love to see/hear/feel that Seattle was in negotiation for long-terming Hutchinson. Spectacular player. Among the best in Seattle's history if he can continue at this pace. Would make a lot of sense, but locking up stars before their contract is actually up hasn't been one of Seattle's strengths in the past. Reinfeldt has worked wonders before, however...

Hawkstorian:: The Cardinals are this year's "sexy" team, are you drinking that particular flavor of kool-aid?
RobRang:: Arizona certainly has a lot to like. Everyone is talking about Kurt Warner, of course, and he'll be key. Also key will be their defense. Nice job by their D-coordinator (Clandcy Pendergast) last year, but the expectations will be higher now. Lots of young talent and they're hungry. I don't expect them to run away with the division or anything, but absolutely believe they'll contend for it/playoff spot.
PithyRadish:: I think that Warner’s time is over, but you seem to think he might be a "Maybe"?
RobRang:: If Kurt Warner was going anywhere other than Arizona and noted QB rejuvenator Denny Green and that great collection of WRs and a RB I really like (Arrington), I'd agree that he was likely washed up. But in Arizona? I think he shows some stuff - until he gets hurt again (which could happen at any time with Arizona's really mediocre line).

rlrigmaiden:: My first article for Seahawks.net was about Holmgren's lack of selecting speed pass rushers. I know much of that scheme goes back to Fritz Shurmur's defensive philosophy, but don't you think Holmgren needs to get someone that has even the threat of speed? Now that Chad Brown is gone, the 'Hawks might be the only team in the NFL without a true nickel pass rushing DE that relies on speed and quickness, rather than strength
RobRang:: agreed 100% and feel this is why ultimately they HAVE to get Boulware or get creative and make a trade.
RobRang:: If they don't, I truly don't see how they expect to make a move up the standings.
dfarrar777:: And Boulware's a HUGE risk, physically.
Gromit:: Make a trade? Any rumors on that end? Any other backs and/or ends in their sights?
rockhawkx:: Is getting Darren Howard from New Orleans still a possibility?
RobRang:: I'd be shocked if they could pry Howard from the Saints at this point. The one player who makes some sense to me is Greg Ellis, a reasonably solid end from Dallas. Dallas is switching to the 3-4 and thus, Ellis is going to struggle for playing time. Dallas will be hesitant to trade a player (for what likely will be a pick) inside the conference, but it seems to make sense. That said, don't run with this too far - this is strictly conjecture. I've heard no rumors of this.
ScottEklund:: ellis just had a big blowup with parcells in parcells' office
RobRang:: For what it is worth, 2006 looks like one of the better DE crops in years...

BucketheadJones:: What's the most compelling story out of Kirkland that the public doesn't know heading into training camp?
RobRang:: Compelling story.... hmmm.
RobRang:: I would say just how little Alexander would be missed in the locker room. Now, of course, the locker room is different from the field...
rockhawkx:: Do you think the other Seahawk players are behind S.A. or the FO on this one? (In general)
RobRang:: Probably behind SA because his numbers say he deserves to be paid. He's not a jerk - don't get me wrong.
RobRang:: Another story would be just how important is it that recent 1st-rounders Marcus Tubbs and Jerramy Stevens play up to their ability this year.
PithyRadish:: I think Tubbs is a must! If they are going to go anywhere.
ScottEklund:: tubbs more than stevens
Gromit:: I agree Rob . . . especially with Stevens. The Hawks have one real receiving threat in Jackson, and a lot of bodies. A big TE contribution would do wonders.

rlrigmaiden:: I’m not too sold on this year’s WR class. Outside of the Hagans and Holmes, who do you like in the 2006 draft?
RobRang:: Not a lot of great senior receiver prospects at this time... The BYU receiver, Todd Watkins, is the best I've seen so far...

dfarrar777:: Rob, Tim Ruskell has worked with some of the finest defensive minds in football over the last ten years (Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin, Jim Mora). He now runs a team that finished 26th overall defensively in the NFL in 2004. With all the roster changes on defense, where does this unit need to finish for Ray Rhodes to keep his job?
RobRang:: Not so sure there needs to be a specific statistical ranking for Rhodes to keep his job. The D has to be improving as the season goes on, not regressing like last year. That much is for sure.
Gromit:: I think a rocky start is a given considering the new faces and young bucks. Would you agree Rob?
RobRang:: I would say the young players, in particular, need to continue to develop. Let's face it, as exciting as Marcus Trufant and Ken Hamlin looked as rookies, not many around the league would say they developed a great deal in year two. The young players who have star potential, need to start developing into stars - not leveling off.
Gromit:: I’d like to know about DD Lewis . . . how’s the injury coming and can we expect solid play opposite Sharper?
RobRang:: Not so sure I believe it is a given. DD Lewis was very effective when given the oportunity in the past, and all indications I have is that he is back to 100%. Tatupu will step up the play in the middle (or force Koutovides to). The DL should be improved with Tubbs healthy. The backfield had better be the team's strongest area, or the club is dead in the water. The ? as we've gone over is the pass rush.
PithyRadish:: I wondered if they will finally let Trufant & Hamlin lose to play man this year, or will they be held down on backing up again?
PithyRadish:: If you can't tell I am not a fan of the defensive scheme last season
Gromit:: There was a scheme last season?
RobRang:: Not many were. The problem was, I'm not so sure Rhodes was either, but with no pass rush and the coverage ability of his corners, hitting ability of Hamlin and instincts of Michael Boulware, he was forced into a lot of things.
PithyRadish:: Many are not fans of Rhodes staying in the booth. Any chance of him descending from the heavens this season?
RobRang:: Not likely. A lot of coordinators prefer to sit up high. You can simply get the better view to see it all. That's how I prefer my scouting film too.
RobRang:: For all of the abuse Rhodes took (some deservedly so, I agree), you have to give him credit, at times too. It was his defensive schemes that helped Lucas lead the NFC in picks, set up Boulware for his game-saving plays, etc...
dfarrar777:: He's great with the secondary. I'll give him that.
Gromit:: Les, I think the best place for the DC is in the booth.

rockhawkx:: Trent Dilfer was a huge influence, both in practice and game situations, for Hass. Now that he's gone, who will be the one to provide the direction that left with Dilfer? Or does Hass really need it anymore?
RobRang:: He'd better not need it anymore.
PithyRadish:: lol very well stated Rob
RobRang:: If he does, the season will be a disaster and you won't have to worry about Holmgren or Rhodes anymore.
rockhawkx:: point taken
Gromit:: Piggy back . . . how is Trent doing?
RobRang:: Dilfer is going great in Cleveland. Truly a class move on Holmgren's part to trade him. Dilfer, as has been much publicized, asked to be traded if the opportunity arose for him to realistically compete for playing time. Seattle saw it, and rewarded him. It might appear odd to some, as Dilfer was great in his role here, but unselfish, classy moves like this are what make Holmgren well-respected by his players.

dfarrar777:: Follow up Q on that - What have you heard about Seneca Wallace’s development? Is he ready to be the full-time backup?
RobRang:: I believe Wallace can win in this league - in this offense and given a reasonable supporting cast. Not as an everyday starter mind you, but as a solid backup. He has the arm, has demonstrated his understanding of the offense, and won games in preseason by his ability to make things happen. The kid is a winner. It is a definite risk to go into the season with him as the #2 (still think there is a shot Tim Couch gets a call), but it is a risk I think the club will strongly, strongly consider. I just hope that if they do give Wallace a shot in training camp, and he plays as well as I expect him to, that they don't cut his feet out from under him and sign a backup vet 2 days before the reg. season starts.
RobRang:: The Couch you all remember was injured (he's since healed) and had bad vision (he's since had Lasik). He'll get some looks this off-season, watch.

PithyRadish:: Rob, do you see any improvement in our special teams this year. They have been less than special lately.
RobRang:: Can't help but improve this year on ST. New coach (Bob Casullo) is good and he's not only experienced, but a motivator. Big time yeller and screamer. Will help. Expect middle of the pack results fro the ST, which would be a monster improvement.
BucketheadJones:: Our draft seemed to be aimed at improving depth AND ST

Gromit:: What about the receivers?
RobRang:: Receivers are obviously a questionable unit.
RobRang:: Speed is an obvious concern, but there will be obviously be fewer drops.
PithyRadish:: Seattle has done better with someone with sure hands and average speed, as opposed to blinding speed.
RobRang:: The nice aspect about the WCO is that pure speed isn't the huge requirement it is for another schemes. Still, Joe Jurevicius isn't the natural WCO receiver either. The receiver with the real upside in this offense could turn out to be Jerome Pathon.

dfarrar777:: Is the rumored interest in Andre Davis legit?
RobRang:: Rumored interest in Davis is legit. He'd fill a need and could be had reasonably cheap.
Gromit:: Cheap as in what, for Davis?
RobRang:: Cheap for Davis, in that in this offense he could turn out to be a starter, but is a 3rd or 4th receiver for Cleveland probably would only cost a mid round pick. For those that remember, he is a similar receiver as James McKnight. Explosive big play artist, but disappears and is an injury risk.

dfarrar777:: Ryan had a Q about Ray Willis, and I was also wondering. What are the primary skill differences between Ray Willis and Alex Barron? How much of a steal was Willis in the fourth round?
RobRang:: Willis was a steal in that he should develop into a solid contributor down the line. Potentially a starter, but at worst a reliable, fairly versatile backup. He gives you everything he has and can be very effective in the running game. He isn't real athletic and can be made to look bad - real bad - at times as a pass blocker. Barron is the opposite. Excellent athlete who could prove to be a Pro Bowler, but doesn't play with passion or push himself. Could be a starter in the Pro Bowl or cut within 3 years and Scouting Depts. wouldn't be surprised either way.

DrDiags:: Is Seattle considered a finesse team? Heard the Falcons announcers call them this in the Rams playoff game.
RobRang:: Unfortunately yes, a finesse team. That is one of their biggest problems - and something they'd like to think their biggest roster updates in the past year or so (Wistrom, Tubbs, Sharper, Tatupu, etc.) will change.

Gromit:: Okay Rob . . . who is a surprise starter and who is a surprise cut?
RobRang:: Surprise cut: Kevin Bentley - not much of a surprise probably, but the FO touted him as potential starter when he signed and I just don't see it.
MysterMatt:: wow
Gromit:: I was blasted online for having Bentley on the bubble . . . glad to hear your opinion Rob.
RobRang:: Surprise starter - definitely Tatupu.
ScottEklund:: that wouldn’t surprise me
RobRang:: It would surprise a lot of people throughout the league... (Tatupu)

dfarrar777:: Here comes the biased question: Auburn UDFA safety Junior Rosegreen WILL make the team! What are his attributes, and why wasn’t he drafted after grabbing 6 INTs in his senior year? Where would you see him fitting in? Safety depth? Special teams?
RobRang:: Rosegreen had a nice senior year and was one of the real surprises of the Senior Bowl practices as a late addition. The problem is, he is instinctive and both a ballhawk and hitter, but lacks size and pure speed. He is the classic S/CB 'tweener. He has a legit shot of making the team, though. Kid can play football.

MysterMatt:: What are the 2005 Seahawks’ biggest strengths and weaknesses?
RobRang:: Strengths: defensive backfield, offensive line, Alexander as a rushing/scoring option
RobRang:: Weaknesses: pass rush, selfishness - this was their biggest problem last season - we'll see if the off-season cleaned it up sufficiently.

dfarrar777:: Last question, Rob - how do you think this team will do in 2005? Where are they in the division?
RobRang:: I'm saying 10-6 to 8-8, competing for a playoff spot. Not great, not bad. Not as athletic as last season, but improving as the season goes on because leaders will develop especially if the season is around.500 and the talk about Holmgren's job surfaces...
Gromit:: So the selfish thing is more than just a party line . . . it was a real deal. Great info Rob.
ScottEklund:: thank you rob
Gromit:: Thank ROB . . .
BucketheadJones:: Hope to see you in Cheney, Rob! Thanks!
dfarrar777:: Rob, once again, you are the MAN!!!
RobRang:: Thanks for having me.

::END CHAT::

Rob Rang, one of the foremost Draft Experts in the country, recently joined the staff of NFLDraftScout.com, one of the premier draft sites in the country, as their Senior Draft Analyst. Prior to that, Rob was the Owner and Editor of www.westcoastdraft.com for many years. First recognized by SportsTALK.com (now a component of ESPN Insiders), Rob's work has been featured in quality print, radio, internet, and television networks across the country. USA Today, ESPN, The Sporting News, and CBS Sportsline have all featured elements of Rob's work in the past. NFL front office executives, scouts, and collegiate scouting directors agree that Rob's work is some of the best available, as well. Gil Brandt, recognized for his 29 years as the vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys and now the head draft analyst for NFL.com, frequently uses Rob's information as a supplement to his own for the NFL's base website. His work features not only the detailed player profiles for which he has become so well known, but also historically accurate mock drafts, position breakdown lists considered even more reliable than the scouting services NFL teams typically use, and breaking information such as underclassmen declarations and the Combine results before anyone else. Based in Gig Harbor, Washington, Rob has quickly become a fixture at the elite scouting events held all over the country each year - including the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and numerous Pro Day workouts. You can contact Rob at rrang@nfldraftscout.com.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to convey our gratitude to Rob for taking time out of what is a very busy schedule to answer the questions of the Seahawks.NET community.

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