Grading the Seahawks' 2010 Draft: Round 5

Kam Chancellor

In the fifth round, using the pick they received in the trade of G Rob Sims to Detroit, the Hawks chose a 6'3, 232 lb Safety named Kam Chancellor out of Virginia Tech.  A former high school quarterback, he played Free Safety and Corner for Virginia Tech and was originally projected to play Free Safety in the NFL.  However, he lacks elite ballhawk skills and is more adept as a run-stopper so the Hawks have moved him over to Strong Safety. He's a strong, fairly quick athlete that shows a lot of promise and could compete for the starting SS job next fall.  His experience at Free Safety will serve him well in his pass coverage and defending play action, but his true strength will be as an in-the-box type thumper.

Because CBSSports does such a thorough job in their scouting reports, I'll quote from his pre-draft accolades:
Read & React: Improving read-and-react skills. Reads the quarterback's eyes and times collisions with receivers. Highly aggressive in run support, and as such can be beaten deep against good play-action.
Man Coverage: Chancellor struggles with his turn-and-run flexibility, especially when you consider he's a former cornerback. Can be too high in his backpedal. Good straight-line speed, but loses a step in transition due to his long legs and marginal hip flexibility. Not as effective with his back to the quarterback.
Zone Coverage: Developing instincts as a free safety. Locates the ball quickly and can drive on it. Potential to be a good zone defender due to his instincts, straight-line speed and tackling ability, but remains an unfinished product.
Closing/Recovery: Takes good angles to the ball. Accelerates smoothly. Good closing speed. Can plant his foot and drive on the ball. Times his leap well and competes for the ball. Only adequate hands for the interception.
Run Support: Good in run support and will take on blocks. Long arms and good lateral agility to disengage. Seems to enjoy the physicality of the game. Willing to throw his body around and can drag down ballcarriers with his long arms.
Tackling: Physical tone-setter in the middle and can be an intimidating presence. Typically a wrap-up tackler. Breaks down well in space to make the open-field tackle.
Intangibles: Might have to move to strong safety in the NFL. Will be trying to reverse the running trend of highly touted Virginia Tech defensive backs who have struggled to acclimate to the NFL. Rare strength for the position. Led all Tech defensive backs with a 355-pound bench press as a freshman.
NFL Comparison: Roy Williams
In reading that report their analysis seems spot on with what I've seen.  He's adequate in pass defense, but his true strength is his run stopping ability and physicality.  He's fierce on the field and hits ball carriers with a gusto.  During the 2010 season, he played a lot on special teams, but he got only limited playing time on defense, so I went back and looked at a few games where he mixed it up in nickel packages and in garbage time: vs the New York Giants and vs the Carolina Panthers.

Week 9, vs NYG
(4:25 3rd Q) A.Bradshaw left tackle to SEA 36 for 4 yards (K.Chancellor, W.Herring). (2nd and 9)
I am only watching this wretched game again because Chancellor got a lot of good PT. The score is already 38-0. Anyway. Hawks in what looks like their nickel package with Roy Lewis playing up on the weak side. Chancellor is in the backfield about 15 yards deep. The ball is snapped and Manning hands off to Bradshaw. It's funny that this is literally the first play that I watch because Bam Bam sees the run, makes his way up past the linebackers, hits the pile that is by now surging forward, and almost by himself pushes it back. He ends with a flourish by slamming Bradshaw to the ground violently and then landing on top of him. Not a bad start for this film session. Notable that Chancellor saw the run and hit the ball carrier quickly and violently.

(3:44 3rd Q) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass short middle to S.Smith to SEA 21 for 15 yards (K.Chancellor). (3rd and 5)
Chancellor and Babs are the safeties. Seahawks in the nickel package. Ball is snapped, Chancellor dropping back in coverage to the deep left side of the offense. Roy Lewis is at the line and tries to jam Steve Smith but Smith overpowers him and beats him downfield as he runs a 10 yard post route and is hit in stride on a good strike by Manning. Lewis is right there but the pass just slips past him. Kam sees the completion and comes up to make the stop, and in the process completely flat-backs Smith. So far Chancellor 2 for 2 on big hits. Beginning to see where he gets his rep.

(:06 3rd Q) E.Manning pass incomplete short middle to S.Smith (K.Chancellor). (3rd and Goal)
Hawks in the nickel goal line package, Chancellor lined up on the left side just in front and to the right of Hawthorne. Ball is snapped, it a play action pass. Chancellor recognizes this quickly and stops dead in his tracks, reading Manning's eyes. Manning makes the toss and Kam jumps and bats down the pass, nearly intercepting it. Good play by Chancellor to save the touchdown and further embarrassment, as it's still 38-0 at this point.

(12:59 4th Q) D.Ware right end to NYG 33 for 7 yards (K.Chancellor). (2nd and 4)
Hawks in what looks like a cover 3. The handoff is to Ware and he swings right into a big crowd of blockers and defenders. Looks like he's dead to rights on the play but manages to get through the crowd and into the secondary. Chancellor comes up to make the tackle and nearly dislodges the ball with a right handed punch while he's bringing Ware down. Should be noted on this play that Aaron Curry does his best Antonio Cromartie impression and basically lets Ware just run past him. That's really annoying. Had to watch it a few times to believe it but it looks like he's trying to contain the cutback but really could have just tackled him. Oh well.

(5:59 4th Q) D.Ware up the middle to SEA 22 for 5 yards (K.Chancellor). (2nd and 4)
Seahawks in their nickel package. Handoff to Ware, who busts up the middle at full speed. Chancellor does a good job finding the hole but just misses on stuffing the play. He makes the tackle, but Ware is able to lunge forward and dive for the first down. Not the best tackle ever, but at least he hit him at the point of attack and was where he was supposed to be.

Week 13, vs Carolina
(9:35 4th Q) J.Clausen pass short right to D.Rosario to CAR 35 for 4 yards (K.Chancellor). (3rd and 17)
Hawks in their prevent package here, with Jennings, Thurmond, Thomas, Milloy, Chancellor, Babineaux, and Trufant in the backfield. Ball is snapped: Clausen checks down to his TE Rosario to the short right. Babs is near enough to the play to funnel him to the middle, and Chancellor comes up and makes a big hit on a very big player.  Rosario is 6'4 250 and Chancellor just stopped him in his tracks even though the big TE had a full head of steam. Milloy and Tatupu come over and give him his propers. Good to see. Also, very impressive. Seriously, I just watched it a few times, I'm beginning to really like what I see from Kam Chancellor.

 In just a few samples taken almost at random, he's laid hat in probably 90% of them. All in all, though a small sample size, he looks good. I am excited for him to come in, fly around and lay some more hat next season a la Ken Hamlin.

Will Kam be the starting Strong Safety in 2011? It remains to be seen if Milloy will be back, and even if he is, my guess is that they will try and work Kam in there early and often. Do they have plans to draft a Strong Safety to take his spot?  Rob Staton at Seahawks Draft Blog says doubtful.  The draft this year is weak at Safety, especially past the early rounds, so it appears Chancellor will have his chance to sink or swim. In my opinion, I believe he has a bright future and looks stout in his run defense, and when playing next to Earl Thomas, should give the Hawks' defensive secondary a potent combination of ball hawking and run stopping ability.

Finally, the Seahawks gave up their 139th pick, six picks after selecting Chancellor, to New York in exchange for Leon Washington.  We all have seen how successful that has proven to be.  All in all, the 5th round was a home-run for the Hawks; a potential starting Strong Safety in year two, and a Pro-Bowl caliber kick and punt returning running back that single-handedly won 2 games for the Hawks in 2010  (who they just re-signed for 4 more years).  Not too shabby.


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