The Seattle Seahawks are often a team of intrigue when it comes to the NFL Draft. Clearly head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider do things a bit differently in the Pacific Northwest, and this year was no exception. When it was announced that Seattle had drafted defensive tackle Jimmy Staten from Middle Tennessee State with the 32nd pick of the fifth round, draft pundits and network broadcasters league-wide simultaneously exchanged a collective look of confusion.
In fact, many fans who were watching the 2014 NFL Draft live smiled and chuckled to themselves as they watched draft guru Mike Mayock and his fellow NFL analysts scramble for info on the small-school prospect. In their defense, however, Staten’s selection wasn’t the last curveball Seattle threw at the NFL Network’s crew on day three. Several other unheralded prospects were chosen in Rounds 6 and 7, surely helping Staten feel a bit more at home.
During his time at Middle Tennessee State, Staten was a fairly productive defensive tackle. Unfortunately, his game tape does not show him dominate against lesser opponents. While Staten is pretty solid all around, he is still rough around the edges and in need of time to develop.
Luckily, time is what he’ll get in Seattle, along with some excellent mentoring. Despite his status as a fifth-round draft pick, nobody in the Seahawks organization is expecting Staten to start or even contribute immediately. He might actually be a strong candidate for the practice squad if he fails to make a dramatic leap this offseason.
Yet if given the opportunity, he could bring some value to Seattle’s roster. While he may not be a prototypical interior pass-rusher, Staten is a terrific run-defender. At 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds, he has the size and strength to anchor the middle of a defense. Additionally, he has a workout-warrior mentality, which was quite evident at his pro day where he bench-pressed 225 pounds 30 times, showing tremendous functional strength.
It seems as though his lack of production at Middle Tennessee State can be blamed mostly on technique and pad-level. It’s also fair to assume at least part of his unimpressive sack total (just two career sacks) is due to defensive scheme as well. Either way, the problem seems fixable.
With Staten possessing the size, strength and athleticism to compete at defensive tackle in the NFL, his success will all come down to coaching and effort. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn (who also has experience as a D-line coach) will have to teach Staten to play with proper leverage and pad level in order to mold him into a productive interior defender.
Possessing active hands and a quick first step, this small-school prospect could very well develop into another solid rotational player for the infamous Seahawks defense. Given the growing list of mid-to-late round draft picks having success in Seattle lately, the odds sound good for the fifth-round draft pick from Middle Tennessee State.