SEATTLE – All 32 NFL teams are going to be scouting the new Alliance of American Football, which debuted to some solid television ratings Saturday (though it might be too early to declare the league a success just yet; recall the sterling ratings start the original XFL got off to before plummeting).
But one thing that will help its long-term viability is that it has the backing of the NFL – hence, games being telecast on the NFL Network – with many in the league hoping it can make it and serve as something of a developmental avenue for the NFL itself.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in January he was excited for the Alliance and wants to see it succeed.
“We’re going to take it in and do the evaluations where they allow us to, when we can see them and all that,” Carroll said. “We’ll do all the film work. We’ll do everything. We’ll break all those guys down. We’ll just take it as a whole aspect of a feeding system to give us information. The only way we know how to do it is totally go for it, so we’re going to really embrace the whole setup.”
However, and not to rain on the parade of what seems a fun venture – I watched much of the games myself – but most of the players in the league are far from unknown, and many have been with and cut by several NFL teams already. Meaning, there might be a diamond in the rough found here or there, and certainly some guys are going to get some needed work that might help them in their next chance, but there’s not really a ton of guys in the league whom NFL teams already don’t know about.
I counted 22 former Seahawks on the rosters of the eight Alliance teams, including former draft choices Terry Poole and Eric Pinkins (each with San Diego) and a few fairly veteran guys such as defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (who has had a couple of Seahawks stints and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots in 2014), linebacker John Lotulelei (who was one of the Seahawks’ training camp surprises of 2013 and on the initial 53-man roster for the team that would go on to win the Super Bowl that year), defensive end Damontre Moore (who had a sack for San Diego) and cornerback Trovon Reed.
I also wonder a little how rules such as allowing no more than five players to rush the passer will impact evaluations – the ability to communicate and pick up blitzes and pressures is such a big part of being an offensive lineman, and that rule negates that quite a bit, turning it much more into a lot of one-on-one battles (though maybe that’s what everyone wants). As Pro Football Talk noted, the restrictions on blitzing might make quarterbacks and offensive linemen look better than they really are.
But any development is good development, and the Seahawks will undoubtedly sign a player or two who has been in the Alliance – Alliance contracts allow for players to leave for the NFL at any time.
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt taken from Bob Condotta’s “Seahawks mailbag” on Monday.
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