Monthly Archives: May 2015

Seahawks Draft Analysis: Ryan Murphy and Tye Smith

Ryan Murphy, DB, Oregon State

Selected: 7th round, 248 overall

After the hubbub of the Kristjan Sokoli selection a round prior, I didn’t need anything else out of the 2015 draft. I was settled. And then the Seahawks selected Ryan Murphy, someone I loved watching at Oregon State. This was a fun pick to see come across the NFL Network ticker, and also cool to see a player I profiled get the nod.

Murphy was a good player in Corvallis, but it’s likely the phenomenal pro day that helped him rise from undrafted projections to the 7th round. He’s just a little over 6 foot and weighs 214 lbs. The 4.45 40 and 1.54 10-split are probably his most impressive athletic results, though the 39″ vertical is also indicative of an elite athlete. When this is combined with pretty good agility drills and 32″ arms, the vision of a Seahawk corner begins to take shape.

Murphy fits at either corner or safety in athletic profile. The best comp is easily Deone Bucannon, the former Washington State and current Arizona safety.  Using uniqueness index, we can determine at which position Murphy’s profile best fits. He has a 66 UQI at cornerback and a 57 UQI at safety. This means that he is more athletically similar to the safety group than the corner group, and this probably matches intuition.

wrote pre-draft about how Murphy fit the Seattle profile, and John Schneider admitted as much in his post-draft presser yesterday, saying that he tested at a cornerback level.

Though Murphy tested like a corner, the roster spot at safety is much easier to come by, and this is where Seattle will attempt to place him on the roster. Note the following roster competition at each position:

Corner (carry 5): Richard Sherman, Cary Williams, Tharold Simon, Tye Smith, Will Blackmon/Marcus Burley (Jeremy Lane, PUP/IR)

Safety (carry 4): Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, DeShawn Shead, Dion Bailey

With the departure of Jeron Johnson, there’s room on the Seattle depth chart and special teams unit for athletic safety in the mold of Murphy. Even if his main contributions for 2015 and 2016 are similar to what Shead provided last year, it’s great value for the 7th round. It would be a success for the 248th pick to perform like Jeron Johnson for 4 cheap, club-controlled years.

Murphy was also a kick returner at Oregon State, and even with Tyler Lockett available on both kicks and punts, depth is important. We all remember Robert Turbin’s 2013 return against Arizona.

Seattle has tinkered with Shead at corner in training camp and preseason. I think they’ve been looking for a corner/safety hybrid for a  while, and Murphy might be able to fill that role down the road. In the meantime, there’s a path to a roster spot and plenty of other ways for him to contribute.

Tye Smith, CB, Towson
Selected: 5th round, 170th overall

Fifth-round Seattle corner? Fifth-round Seattle corner.

Seattle’s drafted 9 times under Carroll and Schneider in the 5th round. They came away with Kam Chancellor in 2010 and Richard Sherman in 2011, two selections which rank among the best made by any team in recent memory. Beyond them, Luke WIllson is a pretty nice role player. He has his flaws, but there’s a specific role he provides and he’s clearly worthy of an NFL roster spot.  With Tharold Simon still an incomplete, Seattle’s hit on 3 of 7 fifth-round picks, including two star players.

So, it’s hard to hit on fifth-round picks. Even Seattle misses more than they hit, with Korey Toomer, Mark LeGree, Jesse Williams, and Jimmy Staten all being drafted there in previous years. And with all of that said to limit expectations, I am really excited about Tye Smith, though I somehow forgot to include him in my corner article.

Tye Smith is a very cool prospect. and he’s only just turned 22. He represents the very typical case of a player who underperforms in the 40 at the NFL Combine and then falls even further below the radar. It’s tough for us to erase the memories of the 4.6 we saw in February. I actually noted this at the time, hoping for a better pro day time.


He weighed a little less at his pro day and managed to run a 4.51; and there another Seahawk is born.

Smith is just a shade over 6-foot and weighs in at 195 lbs. His 78″ wingspan meets the 77-1/2″ mark that all Seahawk corner picks have met since Carroll and Schneider arrived in 2010. Past comments from Schneider lead me to believe that wingspan for WR and CB may be more important to the Seahawks than arm length. The one that sticks in my mind most closely is the reference to Doug Baldwin’s wingspan back in 2011. 77-1/2″ wingspan is actually a more restrictive requirement than a 32″ arm length, the value that’s been spoken about in the past for Seahawk corners.

Athletically, he’s solid. The short shuttle result stands out as the most outstanding. His comps:

I’ve strategically excluded two of the next entries on the list, but more on that shortly. Peters and Carter were both much earlier selections, and Smith slots in right alongside them. The idea here isn’t that Smith is some great athlete, but to show that his late availability is likely influenced most by pedigree. Playing at Towson is different than playing in the Pac-12. While Peters and Carter were in every top 100, Smith was far more obscure.

Schneider also mentioned in his presser that there is a star comp for Smith that he won’t make for fear of expectations. Notable in physical comparison to Smith:  Quentin Jammer, Chris McAlister, Chris Gamble, and Joe Haden. Jared Stanger noted the Haden comparison on twitter as well, and that seems as likely as any. McAlister and Jammer are a little heavier than Smith, though closer on an athletic level. If Joe Haden or anyone on that list is the comp… whew.

Seattle’s biggest competitive advantage since 2012 has been Russell Wilson’s contract, but that’s ending soon. Their ability to develop late-round corners is unparalleled and that will need to continue as a number of players sign extensions and leave their charitably low rookie cap numbers behind.

To that end, Tye Smith is one of my favorite cornerbacks in the draft, and I’m thrilled that he’s a Seahawk. He’s not perfect, because no fifth-round pick is, but the ability of Carroll, Kris Richard, and Rocky Seto to mold defensive backs has me feeling pretty confident about the future.

You can also find me on twitter at @zjwhitman and

UDFA Analysis: Austin Hill, WR, Arizona

Austin Hill was a very good player for the Arizona Wildcats in 2012, ranking 2nd in receiving yards in the prolific Pac-12 conference. He finished the year as a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best receiver in college football. Rather than declare early as a possible Day 2 selection in the 2013 draft, Hill returned to Arizona for his junior season. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in April 2013.

He missed the subsequent season and returned in 2014, struggling to make his mark and not approaching the numbers achieved as a redshirt sophomore two years prior. After placing as the 2nd-most prolific conference receiver in 2012, Hill ended his last college season 3rd on his own team.

Who is Austin Hill? He’s a big receiver with athleticism, ranking in the 64th SPARQ percentile at 6’2″, 214 and a near-Seahawk corner wingspan. Let’s look at his athletic comparisons.

The Alshon Jeffery comp should be made with several caveats, the main issue being the significant difference in 40 time. A tenth is an eon in an NFL receiver’s 40 time, and Austin Hill’s 4.58 does not look like appetizing. My belief is that he was faster than the 4.58 before the injury, but we don’t know if he’ll ever recover that. He may just be a 4.58 guy. That’s why he wasn’t drafted. The rest of the comparison is quite close, and Hill actually had a slightly faster 10-split than Alshon. I’m also not claiming that Hill will be anywhere near Alshon Jeffery. This is merely intended to point out the athletic profile that he possesses.

Like every other undrafted free agent, the odds stacked against Austin Hill are massive. But consider the following, per

Austin Hill’s stats from 2012, his best season:

13 games played, 81 receptions for 1364 yards (16.8 ypc) and 11 touchdowns

Kevin Norwood’s career stats at Alabama:

49 games played, 81 receptions for 1275 yards (15.7 ypc) and 12 touchdowns.

Those are real numbers. Austin Hill had as many catches in one season as Kevin Norwood had in his entire career at Alabama. He also gained more receiving yardage and scored only 1 fewer touchdown considering the same time frame, playing 36 fewer games.

It should be noted that Norwood played at Alabama and Hill in the Pac-12, and that distinction is significant. I’m not sure it’s significant enough to account for one player doing in 3 or 4 seasons what another did in 13. Even without Norwood’s sparse freshman statistics included out, he only accumulated 78/1200/11 in 36 games.

Austin Hill is two years younger than Kevin Norwood and both are effectively rookies heading in the 2015 season. My point isn’t that stats are some all-encompassing way to evaluate prospects heading into the NFL, but the glaring disparity here should be at least considered.

Both of these prospects are big wide receivers, but one of them is two years younger, more athletic, and possesses a far greater track record of production. The “Round 4” tag worn by Norwood is still meaningful to many, but he’s already had a long Seattle career relative to  that of 2013 pick Chris Harper.

I enjoyed watching Austin Hill for the parts of 2012 where he wasn’t torching my alma mater for a 53-yard touchdown and 52-17 final score. This was one of the best receivers in a passing conference, and his fortune only fell to the “8th” round because of injury. His pro day results indicate that he may have finally regained his athletic ability, and I wouldn’t bet against him beating out Kevin Norwood (or possibly another Seattle WR, in fairness) if Austin Hill is Austin Hill again.