.NET Draft Spotlight: Shawne Merriman

.NET Draft guru Ryan Rigmaiden continues his focus on the pass rushers who may or may not be available for the Seahawks during this month's NFL Draft. Today he focuses on Maryland OLB/DE Shawne Merriman.

3. Shawne Merriman, DE/OLB Maryland
6'4" 277 4.66 (40 Time)

NFL Comparison- John Abraham, New York Jets

Overview-

Extremely versatile defender who's made an impact both as a hands-down DE and as an upright OLB. Very smooth athlete who top-end speed, but is also very quick and possesses great lateral agility. Workout warrior who's a gym rat. Is at his best when he's turned loose and heading upfield. Is still raw and needs to work on fundamentals, but produces because he's such a great athlete. Would be an ideal OLB in a 3-4 scheme ala New England DE/OLB Willie McGinnest or Pittsburgt OLB Joey Porter.

Pass Rush-

Merriman's specialty. Uses speed and quickness to turn the corner and drop QB's. Good initial quickness and can change direction quickly. Hits hard and plays mean all the time. Might have the best lateral quickness in the class and definitely has the best leaping ability. Because of his awesome athleticism, Merriman's skills translate better to the NFL than any other DE coming out this year.

Playing the Run-

By playing both OLB and DE, his evaluation can be a bit murky in this area. However, Merriman's a hitter that has the strength and skill to contain the outside. His lack of fundamentals hurts him here, but his tenacity sometimes makes up for it. He'll have to get better in this area in the NFL. Seals off the backside when the play goes to the other side and does well scraping down the line of scrimmage. Does a nice job anticipating the snap and makes stops behind the line.

Roster Impact for Seattle-

On a team lacking an elite pass rusher, Merriman seems would be a very nice acquisition. He has legitimate Pro Bowl potential and is capable of 10+ sacks a year, something no current Seattle DE can say. Nickel duty would be a great start for Merriman, but starting is by no means out of the question. But, like most elite defenders in the Draft, it's almost a lock that the ‘Hawks will be unable to get him because he'll be off the board when the ‘Hawks are picking.

Draft Projection-

Top 15. Merriman's recent personal workout cemented his status as an elite pass rushing prospect and his ability to play OLB only increases his value. Teams such as Detroit, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City are drooling over him.

Final Analysis-

Easily the most athletic of the DE's, Merriman has the chance to be a star in the NFL. His pass rushing skills are second to none and he's the kind of playmaking defender every team craves. The only question is where to put him. With so many teams experimenting with the 3-4 nowadays, the versatile Merriman is one of the hottest names in the Draft right now. Look for him to go quickly in Round 1.

Any question or comments can be sent to rlrigmaiden@hotmail.com. Thanks for taking the time to write in.

R.L.


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