Weekly Mailbag: 10/29

Weekly Mailbag: Have questions for longtime football scout and life-long Seattle-area resident Rob Rang? He’ll answer five questions per week for SeahawkFootball.com.

Send in your questions for possible inclusion in a future article to robrang76@yahoo.com
There are lots of reports that Marshawn Lynch is going to be traded. Will he?

Pete Carroll stated earlier this week that Lynch would not be traded and Tuesday's trade deadline in the NFL came and went without the Seahawks making a move. Trading Lynch this year was never a likely scenario. With all due respect to Russell Wilson and a talented defense, Lynch is the life-blood of Seattle’s attack and key to Seattle defending their Super Bowl crown. Other than a disappointing drop at the goal-line last week, I’ve seen no evidence of a drop-off in play from Lynch this year.

That said, Lynch’s physical style of play has to be a concern to the front office. No position seems to “hit the wall” as abruptly as running backs and given Lynch’s salary and the draft-day investments made the past two years, the Seahawks must consider the long-term future of the position.

One team that doesn’t seem likely to be making any more long-terms plans is the Oakland Raiders – the often-rumored landing spot for Lynch if traded. Given their 0-7 record, the millions dedicated in free agency and – oh, by the way, the pending matchup with Seattle, the Raiders would seem among the NFL’s least likely partners if the Seahawks were to trade Lynch…

Can recall your initial pre-draft scouting report on James Carpenter? Is he what was expected coming into the draft?

Carpenter was a two-year a starting offensive tackle at Alabama and I scouted him in person at the 2011 Senior Bowl, where he also played at tackle. I was impressed with his athleticism, length and physicality. Those traits have carried over to guard for the Seahawks.

Unfortunately, the durability he showed at Alabama has not. This is the single greatest reason why Carpenter hasn’t played up to his first round selection, in my opinion.

At roughly 6-4, 330 pounds, Carpenter can be a mauler. He also possesses surprisingly light feet and body control to block on the move – attributes that are very important in Tom Cable’s offense.

I’ve spoken with several teams prior to the draft who viewed Carpenter as one of a handful of players who could “crash” the first round. I was among those who placed Carpenter in the first round of my final mock draft, though I had him going No. 31 overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers and not 25th to Seattle. As I stated then, Carpenter is aptly-named. When healthy, his size, physicality and blue-collar playing style make him a dependable starter up front.

With the injuries to the FB's, how difficult is it for a guy like Robert Turbin to slide into that position?

This is a very difficult transition, even for a player as athletically gifted, intelligent and dedicated as Turbin. Fullbacks aren’t just expected to know the blocking assignments; the running backs or quarterbacks behind them are making split-second decisions based on which direction they anticipate their lead blockers will take defenders. This isn’t just a position switch that requires athleticism but incredible toughness and selflessness. Turbin deserves kudos for his willingness to make the position change but it will take time for him to play the position with the degree of excellence that the Seahawks have enjoyed in recent years with Derrick Coleman and previously Michael Robinson.

How important is it for Seattle to acquire a TE for next year? Would a blocking TE or a pass catching TE be a priority?

I don’t know that it is critical that Seattle acquires a new tight end next year but improvement at the position is important. Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet have quite an opportunity with Zach Miller sidelined. I currently project Michigan’s 6-5, 240-pound tight end/receiver hybrid Devin Funchess as a possible fit for the Seahawks in the 2015 draft. There is still plenty of college football to be played, of course, but at this point, tight end looks like one of the weaker positions in next spring’s draft.

What appear to be the strengths of the 2015 draft class?

If underclassmen continue to flock to the NFL at the same rate as recent years, the 2015 NFL Draft is going to be well known for pass rushers and the return of running backs. Southern Cal’s Leonard Williams and Nebraska’s Randy Gregory lead things off but there are a number of other defensive linemen I anticipate earning first round grades, including Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, Missouri’s Shane Ray, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree and perhaps Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha.

The more interesting story may be at running back. After at least one runner was selected in the first round of every NFL draft since 1963, there have been none selected in the initial frame the past two years. Some have pointed to the NFL’s increasing reliance on committees at the position as cause for this. That may have contributed to the issue but I think the answer was simpler – there simply weren’t elite backs available.

This year, however, Georgia’s Todd Gurley is unquestionably a first round candidate. I think Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is also a legitimate first round prospect. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, South Carolina’s Mike Davis, Boise State’s Jay Ajayi and Miami’s Duke Johnson are all second round types who also could enjoy immediate success in the NFL.

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