A Look Back at the Impressive Draft History of the John Schneider Era

With the draft coming up in a couple days, it’s always fun to look back at all the success the Seahawks have had in their current regime, overhauling a franchise in the toilet and propping it up as world champions.  You don’t get this good, this fast, without some remarkable drafting and some remarkable coaching.  Who can say if all of these guys would have been just as good under the tutelage of lesser men?  What we know is that a lot of these guys panned out in a big way, thanks to the system we have in place.

To give the full picture, you actually have to go back to the 2009 draft, when we had Jim Mora Jr. as our head coach and Tim Ruskell calling the shots on the personnel side.

Like all of Ruskell’s drafts after his first one back in 2005 – where he nabbed Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, to solidify the middle of our defense – his 2009 class was a huge disaster.  The Seahawks had the #4 pick and wasted it on a bust of a player in Aaron Curry.  Given the downward trajectory of the franchise at that point, you had to wonder where Ruskell found his erroneous sense of job security, as he traded away Seattle’s second round pick (37th overall) to the Denver Broncos for a 2010 first round pick (to further confuse matters, the Seahawks ended up trading 3rd & 4th rounders to get back into the second round – 49th overall – to select Max Unger, the last bit of good from the Ruskell regime).

With that 2010 first round pick, however, the Seahawks would build their dynasty.  As we’re all well aware, the 2009 Seahawks ended up being a trainwreck just like the 2008 variety, leading the franchise to earn the #6 draft pick in 2010.  The 2009 Broncos did their part by going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs, which meant that their first round draft pick (which was now ours) was 14th overall.

While the 2010 draft wasn’t quite up to the elite level of the 2012 class, it seriously jumpstarted things in a big way.

  • First Round, #6 – Russell Okung (LT)
  • First Round, #14 – Earl Thomas (S)
  • Second Round, #60 – Golden Tate (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #111 – Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Fourth Round, #127 – E.J. Wilson (DE)
  • Fifth Round, #133 – Kam Chancellor (S)
  • Sixth Round, #185 – Anthony McCoy (TE)
  • Seventh Round, #236 – Dexter Davis (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #245 – Jameson Konz (WR/TE/DE/FB)

Of note is that the Seahawks were originally slated to draft much earlier in the second round, but ended up swapping picks with San Diego (along with giving them a third rounder in 2011) to trade for Charlie Whitehurst.  So, you can’t tell me there weren’t some roadblocks in the early going of the John Schneider era.

Also, it wasn’t all peaches and cream out of Tim Ruskell in the 2009 draft, as he sold off our 2010 third round pick to get Deon Butler in that 2009 class.  The Seahawks also ended up trading back in the 4th & 6th rounds with Tennessee to grab LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson.  Vickerson proved to be an adequate defensive tackle; White never made the roster.

In a much happier deal, the Seahawks acquired their extra fourth round pick (which they used on E.J. Wilson, who didn’t pan out) and managed to get Chris Clemons from the Eagles (who very much DID pan out), and all we had to give up was Darryl Tapp.

More deals to come.  The Seahawks traded away their original fifth round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington and the Jets’ 7th round pick.  But, the Seahawks got back into the fifth round (ahead of their original pick) in a deal with Detroit where we also received some defensive end, where we only gave up Rob Sims (a guard who was never all that good with the Seahawks) and a seventh round pick.  The Seahawks would use that pick to draft Kam Chancellor, locking down their two starting safeties in the same class.

As far as I can tell, the Seahawks didn’t really get much from the undrafted free agent class of 2010, though Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini were both brought in that year.  And, obviously, the Seahawks would bring in Marshawn Lynch via trade during the season.  But, when you look at that draft class, you’ve got 6 key contributors, including 4 starters (Okung, Thomas, Tate, and Chancellor) and great ones at that.

That brings us to 2011, or the mule of the John Schneider draft classes.  It gets a lot of flack for being mediocre, but upon further review was pretty underrated.

To kick things off, the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010 were stupidly allowed into the playoffs by way of winning one of the worst divisions in recorded NFL history.  Even though that team had literally no chance of winning the Super Bowl, it still made some noise with the Beastquake run and the unlikely upset of the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Saints.  Of course, the Seahawks would go on to lose the very next week in Chicago, meaning that for all the hubbub, the Seahawks would end up picking 25th overall in the 2011 draft.

If you were like me, you saw this as a sign of doom.  The 2010 Seahawks were not good.  Not by a longshot.  And, to be hampered with drafting so low in the first round (and in subsequent rounds) would only set things back that much further.  Apparently unable to find a partner with which to trade back, the Seahawks made that selection James Carpenter, who started as our right tackle before getting bumped inside to guard.  Everyone thought this was a reach, and history has proven this to be true; Carpenter was adequate at best, but not a true impact player you’d hope to get in the first round.  Nevertheless, he was a starter all four years, so he wasn’t quite the crime against humanity everyone makes him out to be (indeed, his current salary with the Jets would speak to how other teams have come to value his strong run blocking abilities).

  • First Round, #25 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • Third Round, #75 – John Moffitt (G)
  • Fourth Round, #99 – K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Fourth Round, #107 – Kris Durham (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #156 – Mark LeGree (S)
  • Sixth Round, #173 – Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Seventh Round, #205 – Lazarius Levingston (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Malcolm Smith (LB)

The Seahawks ended up trading away their second round pick to the Lions to pick up an extra third & fourth round picks (used on Moffitt and Durham).  Recall they gave away their original third round pick in 2010 to get Charlie Whitehurst.  All in all, nothing too impressive with any of these moves, as Whitehurst was a bust, Moffitt ended up getting traded to Denver after a mediocre rookie season, and Durham never panned out with Seattle.  In that same Lions trade, the Seahawks moved up in the fifth and seventh rounds, which they used to grab Richard Sherman (GREAT!) and Lazarius Levingston (WHO?).

The Seahawks gave up their original fourth round pick in the Marshawn Lynch trade (as well as a conditional 2012 pick that ended up being a fifth rounder).  However, the Seahawks got back into the fourth round by trading Deion Branch back to the Patriots.  Branch was a turd sandwich in Seattle, and we used the pick we got from the Pats to grab K.J. Wright, who has been a stalwart for our linebacking corps.

That above trade wasn’t the last time we’d deal with the Lions.  In a spectacular move, the Seahawks traded away former bust under the Ruskell regime, Lawrence Jackson, to get the Lions’ sixth round pick, which we used to grab Byron Maxwell, a huge part of our success in his final two years here (and a great special teamer and backup overall).  That made up for giving away our original sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer, who would go on to be cut prior to the 2011 season.

To wrap things up, the Seahawks traded their original seventh rounder to Philly for an offensive lineman who did nothing.  However, the Seahawks were granted a compensatory pick, which we used on Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Among the 2011 undrafted free agents, we have Doug Baldwin (WR), Ricardo Lockette (WR), Jeron Johnson (S), and Mike Morgan (LB).  This would also be the year the Seahawks took a flyer on Brandon Browner from the CFL, among many other free agent acquisitions.

When you look at the haul of just the rookies, though, you’re talking about 10 contributors, including 5 starters (Carpenter, Wright, Sherman, Maxwell (eventually), and Baldwin).

That brings us to 2012, or one of the greatest draft classes you’ll ever see.  The 2011 were again 7-9, but thankfully weren’t saddled with a futile playoff appearance.  As such, they were granted the 12th overall selection, which they promptly traded to Philly to move back to 15.  The Seahawks were granted picks in the fourth (Jaye Howard, DT) and sixth round (Jeremy Lane, CB), and away we go!

  • First Round, #15 – Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Second Round, #47 – Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Third Round, #75 – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round, #106 – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round, #114 – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round, #172 – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #181 – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round, #225 – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round, #232 – Greg Scruggs (DE)

Not to be stopped, the Seahawks traded back in the second round as well, this time with the Jets.  We would pick up extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds (Toomer & Scruggs, respectively).  That one didn’t totally pan out, though I would argue injuries to both players hampered their ability to make a significant impact early in their careers.  Nevertheless, you can sense a theme:  the Seahawks wanted as many picks in this draft as possible, as it was laden with talent.

No more trades until the seventh round, where the Seahawks got the pick they’d use to nab Sweezy from the Raiders, in addition to a conditional 2013 pick (which ended up being in the fifth round) for the privilege of jettisoning Aaron Curry (who would only last with the Raiders for a little over a year before being waived).  The Seahawks did trade away their original seventh rounder for Tyler Polumbus (from the Lions), who was a starter here, but wasn’t any good.

The Seahawks also got Jermaine Kearse (WR) and DeShawn Shead (CB) from the ranks of the undrafted free agents.  All told, this class netted the Seahawks 9 contributors, with 5 starters (Irvin, Wagner, Wilson, Sweezy, and Kearse), with Lane expected to start this year, given the big money he made this offseason to re-sign with the Seahawks.

Obviously, the 2012 squad made a huge leap, thanks to the Seahawks’ tremendous draft success.  In those three classes alone, you’re talking about 14 starters, and 25 contributors overall.  The 11-5 record, and first round victory against the Redskins, meant the Seahawks would draft 25th again in the first round in 2013 (as they did back in 2011).  In something of a stunner of a move, the Seahawks would trade away this pick, as well as its seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder, for the right to get Percy Harvin and sign him to an ill-advised huge free agent deal.

  • Second Round, #62 – Christine Michael (RB)
  • Third Round, #87 – Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Chris Harper (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #137 – Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #138 – Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #158 – Luke Willson (TE)
  • Sixth Round, #194 – Spencer Ware (RB)
  • Seventh Round, #220 – Ryan Seymour (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #231 – Ty Powell (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #241 – Jared Smith (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Michael Bowie (OL)

The 2013 draft has proven to be the real dog of the John Schneider classes.  Nevertheless, let’s run through the moves that got it to where it was.  As a volume drafter, Schneider found multiple ways to recoup draft picks after spending so much on Percy Harvin.

To start, the Seahawks moved back in the second round, from 56 to 62, and received from the Ravens a fifth and a sixth (165 & 199).  As you can see from above, the Seahawks didn’t draft at either of those positions.  That’s because the Seahawks traded both of those picks to the Lions to get pick #137 (Williams) at the top of the fifth round.  The very next selection came from the Raiders in the Aaron Curry deal, which we used on Simon (who has been good, but has never been healthy).

The flurry of seventh rounders (none of whom were worth a damn) came from the Saints (pick 220, for some linebacker we gave them), and a couple of compensatory picks (#241 & #242).

Alvin Bailey was the only notable undrafted free agent in this class; he was a quality reserve along the offensive line, but nothing more.  All told, the Seahawks only managed to get one eventual starter in this class (Luke Willson, who has only been a starter thanks to injuries to Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham), and three other contributors (Michael, Hill, and Simon), though Spencer Ware got a crack at a job with the Chiefs and seems to be pretty good.

We all know what happened with that 2013 team, built on a rock solid foundation of draft picks.  Following that year, the team started to get picked apart a little bit, with free agents going to other teams.  With the 2013 class already looking like a bummer, the pressure was on John Schneider to right the ship with a banner 2014 draft.  He started it off by trading away our first round pick to the Vikings for a second straight year.  The Vikings would select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the class; the Seahawks would get Minnesota’s second and fourth round selections (40 & 108 overall).

Before Seattle could make a pick, we traded back again, this time with the Lions.  The Lions picked at 40, and also received our fifth round pick at 146 (which we got from the Raiders for Matt Flynn) in exchange for second, fourth, and seventh rounders from Detroit (45, 111, & 227).  At 45, the Seahawks finally made their first pick, selecting Paul Richardson.

  • Second Round, #45 – Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Second Round, #64 – Justin Britt (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #108 – Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #132 – Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Fifth Round, #172 – Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Sixth Round, #199 – Garrett Scott (OL)
  • Sixth Round, #208 – Eric Pinkins (DB/LB)
  • Seventh Round, #227 – Kiero Small (FB)

To make up for the loss of our third rounder (to the Vikings, in the Harvin deal the previous year), you can see why the Seahawks wanted to trade back so many times to start the draft.  They were able to pick up two extra fourth rounders.  That pick we got from the Vikings would go to Marsh, who has been a quality reserve and special teamer.  The Seahawks would use that 111th pick to trade with the Bengals to get pick 123 (Norwood) and an extra sixth rounder (Scott, who never made the team due to health concerns).  That seventh rounder from Detroit ended up being Kiero Small, who also didn’t make the team (the Seahawks would trade away their original seventh round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, who never amounted to much of anything).

Among the undrafted free agents, we grabbed Garry Gilliam (OL), Brock Coyle (LB), and Dion Bailey (S).  At first glance, this class doesn’t look any more impressive than the 2013 class, but there are a number of under-the-radar players in there.  Right now, we’re looking at 2 starters (Britt and Gilliam), with four other contributors (Richardson, Marsh, KPL, and Coyle).  Depth guys, special teams guys, people to round out the roster.  When you figure so many of this team’s starters were already on the team ahead of this class, it’s not like you’re talking about a huge number of available openings.  Granted, a lot of this class hinges on Britt and Gilliam improving, and Richardson remaining healthy for a full season.  Should they fail, then you could make an argument that THIS is indeed the worst class of the John Schneider era.  But, until another couple years pass, it’s still TBD.

A second Super Bowl appearance for the 2014 squad meant that the 2015 Seahawks would be drafting quite low again.  With the obvious disaster of the Harvin trade looming over the franchise, the Seahawks opted to take another swing for the fences, trading away their first rounder (along with Max Unger) to the Saints for Jimmy Graham (and their fourth round pick, #112 overall).  We kick off the 2015 draft DEEP into the second round, with a controversial pick in Frank Clark (with domestic abuse allegations swirling around him, yet with an obvious cliff after him with regards to pass rushers in this draft class).

  • Second Round, #63 – Frank Clark (DE)
  • Third Round, #69 – Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #130 – Terry Poole (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #134 – Mark Glowinski (G)
  • Fifth Round, #170 – Tye Smith (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #209 – Obum Gwacham (DE)
  • Sixth Round, #214 – Kristjan Sokoli (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #248 – Ryan Murphy (DB)

The Seahawks had a ton of extra picks in this draft, which I’ll get to below.  They used a package of third (95), fourth (112), fifth (167), and sixth (181) round picks to move up to #69 from the Redskins.  That pick at 95 was our original third rounder.  That fourth rounder at 112 came from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham deal.  That fifth rounder at 167 was our original fifth rounder.  And that sixth rounder at 181 came from the Jets when we gave them Percy Harvin.  So, obviously, we sent away two picks that we got in deals, and two original picks.  We were more than happy to do so because 1) Tyler Lockett is a special player, and 2) we had extra picks throughout.

Poole was from our original fourth round pick; Glowinski was from a compensatory pick.  Tye Smith was also a compensatory pick, as were both of our sixth round guys (Gwacham and Sokoli).  That’s what you get when you don’t over-pay to keep your own players who aren’t necessarily worth big-money deals.

The only notable undrafted free agent from 2015 was Thomas Rawls, who very well may be our starting running back in 2016.  Combine him with Lockett (a Pro Bowl returner, and #3 wide receiver), Clark (valued rotation guy on the D-Line), Glowinski (projected starter at right guard in 2016), and Tye Smith (someone who will battle for minutes this pre-season) and you’ve got the makings of a very good draft class, that could be great if some of these players turn into elite starters.

With the 2016 draft class supposedly dripping with talent throughout, it wouldn’t be crazy to see the best Seahawks draft class since 2012.  Obviously, we’re drafting pretty low again, this year at #26, but with compenatory selections, the Seahawks already have 9 picks to select from, with a real opportunity to trade down in the first round to pick up some more (and gain some flexibility within the draft, in case we want to move up later).

I’m pretty excited for this year’s draft.  I’m sure I won’t know who these players are when I hear their names, but over the ensuing months, I look forward to getting to know them.

Taking A Mid-Season Look At The Seahawks, Part 2

Well, we’ve made it through the weekend, and no new complaints!  No one died, no one got arrested, no one got fired; you can’t ask much more out of a BYE weekend.

So, we continue on.  Last week, we took a look at The Good about the Seahawks’ 2015 season to date.  Today, we take a look at the rest, in a season where we’re coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, where we were once favored to make it three in a row; now sitting at 4-4, tied for second in the NFC West, two games behind the surprisingly healthy Cardinals (and, at the moment, decidedly on the outside looking in at any Wild Card spot).  God, where do I even begin?

The Bad

How about the ol’ standby, right at the top of the list with a bullet:  4 blown 4th quarter leads in all 4 defeats.  Need a refresher?  Of course not, no one does; but here it is anyway:

  • At St. Louis – up by 7 points with less than 5 minutes to go; lost in overtime
  • At Green Bay – up by 1 point at the turn of the quarter; lost in regulation
  • At Cincinnati – up by 17 points at the turn of the quarter; lost in overtime
  • Vs. Carolina – up by 9 points with 8 minutes to go; lost in regulation

It comes as no comfort that two of those teams are still undefeated at 8-0, with a third still leading its division – and it should be of no comfort to you either.  If you’re willing to settle for, Aww Shucks, At Least We Got Beat By The Best, then you’re a loser and I’ve got no time for you.  To be the best, you need to beat the best, and so far the Seahawks haven’t beaten anyone REMOTELY even competent.  Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, and Dallas are all bottom-feeders.  If we’re only barely better than some of these bottom-feeders, then what does it say about the state of the Seahawks’ football team?  We need to rise up and beat a good team, and we need to do it this week.

Going down to the player level, you can’t look anywhere else until you look squarely at the offensive line.  It just hasn’t been good enough, and that’s all there is to it.  While you can’t blame them for every single sack against Russell Wilson, you have to blame them for most, because there’s a huge spike in sacks and hits this year compared to last.  And, I’ll give you they’ve showed improvement as the season as gone along – which should give all Seahawks fans at least some hope that this will be a somewhat useful unit by season’s end – but you have to wonder if it won’t be too late by that point.

For allowing this liability to get to this drastic level, there’s no one you can point to but the front office.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider have totally and completely dropped the ball here when it comes to the offensive line.  You could argue it starts with the 2011 draft.  People believe that Pete & John have held that draft against Tom Cable – because they went Carpenter in the 1st and Moffitt in the 3rd, and neither panned out – but that’s juvenile and ridiculous.  They’re not going to actively harm their franchise just to make a point to an assistant coach.  The fact of the matter is, James Carpenter probably wasn’t worth the first round grade, and John Moffitt was a total wash-out.  The Seahawks subsequently spent the 2012 & 2013 drafts selecting offensive linemen no higher than the 7th round, then followed THAT up by putting a second round grade on Justin Britt – a wash-out at right tackle who looks no better at guard.  All the while, they let Carpenter and Giacomini walk, they traded Unger to the Saints, and they traded away multiple first round picks for offensive skill players while ignoring the meat & potatoes guys.

John Schneider has shown to be a savvy scout of college talent, but there have been some real draft busts in recent years.  The aforementioned Britt hurts the most – he’s our starting left guard now, but who knows how long that’ll last?  Kevin Norwood is a 4th rounder from last year who’s already gone.  Jimmy Staten is a 5th rounder from last year who’s already gone.  Christine Michael is a 2nd rounder from 2013 who was traded for next-to-nothing.  Chris Harper & Jesse Williams – 4th & 5th rounders respectively – from 2013 are gone.  Tharold Simon – 5th rounder from 2013 – can’t stay healthy.  Any of those picks could’ve been devoted to an offensive lineman or two – to pad out our ranks if nothing else – and for the most part they’ve been squandered.

Then, in 2015, we were back at it.  A couple guys taken in the 4th round are supposed to fix things?  They remain projects at this point, as they’re nowhere near reaching the point where they’ll see any playing time.  If the Seahawks don’t go offensive line hard and heavy in the first three rounds of the 2016 draft, then it’s going to be a long, hard few years for our beleaguered quarterback.

Moving on, we have to shout out Kam Chancellor in this section, for holding out the entirety of the pre-season, and the first two games of the regular season.  Right or wrong, I put that loss to the Rams squarely on his shoulders.

Shout out to Michael Bennett – one of my co-MVPs in last week’s Good section – for being an unstoppable Falling For The Hard Count machine.  Right or wrong, I put that loss to the Packers on him for giving Aaron Rodgers every conceivable advantage with all those free plays.

Shout out to the offensive coordinator for not using Jimmy Graham properly down near the goalline, aside from any number of baffling decisions in his career calling plays for the Seahawks.

Shout out to everyone affiliated with the offense in our four losses.  Where’s that killer instinct?  You can’t leave it on the defense to do EVERYTHING!  Sometimes, a defense is going to give up a lead; it’s your job as the offense to make those leads insurmountable.  On four attempts, you failed to either extend a drive to kill more clock, or play add-on with the score.  Those defeats are just as much in your hands.

Shout out to Chris Matthews who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to ingratiate himself with the coaching staff enough to get on the field and get some long-bomb plays called for him.  After a Super Bowl like that, being 6’5, with a crazy-insane catch radius, how is it you only have 4 receptions on 6 targets for a measly 54 yards?  Don’t blame the offense!  Don’t blame it on how conservative we are, because there are opportunities for down-field throws in this offense!  There are PLENTY of opportunities.  Instead of watching Russell Wilson try helplessly to throw to a double-covered Jermaine Kearse, I should be watching him throw to a double-covered Chris Matthews as he makes yet another sick catch for a long gain!  Instead, nothing.  Silence.  All the promise in the world and what does it mean?  You’ll almost certainly be playing elsewhere next year, and it won’t be long until you’re out of the game entirely.  Have some pride!  Step it up in practice and force your way out onto the field!

Shout out to Bobby Wagner for not really having much of an impact.  Outside of that fumble recovery in Cincinnati, when was the last time you marvelled at something Bobby Wagner did?

Shout out to Cassius Marsh and Frank Clark for doing their best impressions of Guys Who Don’t Show Up On The Stat Sheet.  We don’t need you guys to do your jobs, we need you guys to make an impact!  To step it up and let us scale back the snaps on Bennett and Avril so they can stay fresh all year.  And, not for nothing, but eventually we need you to replace those guys when they either get too old or expensive, so hop to it, huh?

Shout out to Cary Williams who is who we thought he was:  the weak link by a million miles in the Legion of Boom.  Shout out to injuries to Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon, and Marcus Burley that continue to hold this unit back.

Shout out to the Ricardo Lockette injury that drastically reduces the effectiveness of our coverage units on special teams.

Shout out to Dion Bailey for whiffing hard on that touchdown pass in St. Louis.

Shout out to the entire Seahawks defense for making Nick Foles look like a God damn world-beater when the rest of the time he has looked like a sack of dribbling shit.

Shout out to Bruce Irvin who’s on pace to be a serious Contract Year Cautionary Tale.

Shout out to whoever was at fault on those two Tyler Eifert touchdowns up the seam.

Ditto to whoever was at fault on that Greg Olsen touchdown.

The second half is here.  No more lip service.  A lot of this bad shit needs to be corrected, or else 2015 will go down as one of the great lost seasons in our generation.

A Pre-Pre-Season Prediction of the Seahawks’ Opening Week 53-Man Roster

Because now seems to be the time to do these.  “Now” being:  at any and every point before the actual 53-man roster is finally chosen by the coaching staff.  I’m not immune to the type of wild speculation in the early going of a football season!  I’m just as excited as the next rabid NFL fan who’s sick and tired of the Seattle Fucking Mariners already!

Of course, this is just my best estimate, having seen exactly zero of the practices to this point.  I’m sure things will change greatly between now and the final pre-season game against the Raiders on September 3rd.  Will I do more of these as the pre-season goes along?  Maybe one more, right before the end, if I’m in the mood.

For most of these position groups, you’ll see a dashed line (————-).  Anyone listed above that line I consider a lock to make the team.  Anyone listed below that line I still think will make the final 53-man roster, but I’m not as confident.

Quarterback

Russell Wilson
Tarvaris Jackson

Seems pretty cut & dry.  You gotta wonder how long we’re going to be able to keep bringing Tarvar back on 1-year deals, but I’m game to keep him around as long as he’s willing to keep winning championships.

Running Back

Marshawn Lynch
Robert Turbin
Christine Michael
————————
Derrick Coleman

I’m not as sold as some are on Thomas Rawls or Rod Smith.  I think either or both could be kept around on the practice squad (unless, of course, one or both absolutely breaks out in the pre-season games).  I still like Coleman over Will Tukuafu, even though Tukuafu is more versatile.  Coleman is still younger and better on special teams.  If he can stay healthy, I think he’s got it on lock.  I also highly doubt the team keeps five running backs, but if they do, it’ll likely come from one of my offensive line spots.

Wide Receiver

Doug Baldwin
Jermaine Kearse
Tyler Lockett
————————-
Ricardo Lockette
Chris Matthews
Kevin Norwood

I’m not deaf to all the hype surrounding Kasen Williams right now, but it’s one thing to look impressive in practice and it’s another to do so in game situations.  Norwood still has a year’s worth of experience on him.  Besides that, I think we can also sneak Kasen onto the practice squad.  The other five guys figure to be pretty safe, especially with Douglas McNeil converting to cornerback.  B.J. Daniels is a dark horse candidate to win a job, but to do so, there’d probably have to be a rash of injuries ahead of him.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham
Luke Willson
———————–
Cooper Helfet

This one will be interesting, though it might go down to who stays healthy.  Should the team keep Helfet, then we’re essentially talking about the team keeping three “move” tight ends.  Anthony McCoy is the obvious other choice to be the team’s third tight end, and you’d have to think he’d have an advantage given his blocking ability.  But, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy through an entire pre-season for I don’t know how long anymore.  I can’t pencil him into my predicted 53-man lineup until I actually see him play in a game again.

Offensive Line

Russell Okung
J.R. Sweezy
Justin Britt
———————
Drew Nowak
Mark Glowinski
Alvin Bailey
Garry Gilliam
Lemuel Jeanpierre
Kristjan Sokoli
Keavon Milton

I’ll be honest with you, offensive line is the biggest crapshoot on this team.  I’ve got three locks, that’s how bad it is right now.  The safe play is to say that Bailey and Jeanpierre will join the other locks in giving us the best chance to win right now.  But, I have a feeling that the team will give our rookies every opportunity to try to steal those jobs away, even if it means taking a hit on our production right now, with the hope that their ceilings will be higher by season’s end.  Terry Poole is a tough one to chop, but to be honest I wouldn’t be shocked to see him or a couple of these other guys I’ve listed make the practice squad.  I can’t imagine the rest of the NFL is all that excited about picking up some of our projects who we’ve converted from being defensive linemen.

Defensive End

Michael Bennett
Cliff Avril
Frank Clark
Cassius Marsh

All locks, all should be productive members of our pass rush this year.  Can’t wait to see how this unit meshes.

Defensive Tackle

Brandon Mebane
Jordan Hill
Ahtyba Rubin
———————–
Jimmy Staten

Really difficult to see who the fourth guy will be.  I think it comes down to Staten and D’Anthony Smith, but it very well could go to a guy who’s not even on the roster right now.  Pre-season games will go a long way in shedding light.

Linebacker

Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Bruce Irvin
Brock Coyle
Kevin Pierre-Louis
————————-
Mike Morgan

Probably the most potent unit on the entire defense.  The final spot(s) will come down to special teams.  Mike Morgan has been here forever, which is a plus and a minus in his favor.  He knows the system, he’s versatile, and he’s obviously good otherwise he wouldn’t have lasted as long as he has.  But, I think he’s in the last year of his deal, so you have to wonder if the team will opt to go younger with someone like Eric Pinkins.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I think the nod goes to Morgan when all is said and done.  (Unless, of course, KPL’s injury is worse than expected, in which case, maybe both make it?)

Cornerback

Richard Sherman
Tharold Simon
Cary Williams
————————
Will Blackmon
Mohammed Seisay
Marcus Burley

For what it’s worth, I’m REALLY banking on Simon returning to action at some point this pre-season and not landing on the PUP.  Haven’t seen him yet, so we’ll see.  Jeremy Lane will obviously start on either the PUP or IR Designated To Return.  While he’s a huge loss, it opens up some good competition this month.  I’m THIS close to making Blackmon a lock, simply because – while he’s on the older side at 30 – this team can’t fuck around at a position where it’s so thin.  We’re already committed to Williams and the young & injury-prone Simon, so it’ll be nice to have someone who’s good and knows the system, in spite of his age.  Beyond that, I like Seisay’s height and I hope like Hell that he makes a positive impact this pre-season.  The final spot goes to Burley until I see whether Tye Smith is capable of living up to the high expectations thrust upon the L.O.B.  What I’ve heard about Smith thus far has been pretty underwhelming, so I have to believe Burley has the advantage.  Smith might be a guy we can sneak onto the practice squad, so I wouldn’t consider him a total draft pick bust just yet.

Safety

Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
DeShawn Shead
———————–
Steven Terrell
Dion Bailey

MAYBE the team opts to keep only four safeties, in order to stock up on the D-Line, but I don’t think I’m buying it.  I think, at least in the early going, this team will want to have sufficent backups in the event Earl Thomas re-injures himself.  Obviously, Kam is still a concern, considering he still has yet to show up to camp.  I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but I like how the younger guys are getting a lot of run.  I’ve heard a lot of exciting things about Dion Bailey, so I really hope he sticks.  Terrell appears to be pretty safe, as he’s still young, yet has some good experience.  Shead is obviously the glue that’s going to help us hold things together, as he can play both safety spots.  If he needs to step in for Kam, I don’t think we lose all that much (as crazy as that sounds).

Special Teams

Steven Hauschka
Jon Ryan
Clint Gresham

Not a lot to say here.  The Nate Boyer story is fun, but I can’t see us keeping him unless Gresham gets injured.

Ranking All The Draft Picks of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider Era

Has this been done to death?  I have no concept of what’s been done and what hasn’t.  I feel like it has, but I also don’t care.  There’s probably a larger blog post at play here – Ranking All The Draft Picks In Seahawks History – but I’ll be damned if I’m the man to grapple with that nonsense!  Hell, I wasn’t even alive for the first 70 picks the Seahawks ever made!

Best Front Office In Football ...

Best Front Office In Football …

But, that’s neither here nor there.  I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the last five drafts this team has made, so I’m going to throw in my two cents and you’re either going to read it or not.  Of note:  I’m only talking draft picks here.  You undrafted free agents all hold a special place in my heart, but you don’t hold shit on this list.

Also of note:  the plan is to update this yearly, as long as Pete Carroll and John Schneider work together for the Seahawks.  So, look for there to be a page under the Best of Seattle heading up top.

To date, there have been 48 draft picks in the Carroll/Schneider Era, across 5 drafts, from 2010-2014.  For this exercise, I’m going to break these players up into four groups:  Great, Good, Too Soon To Tell, and Bad.  Simple, right?  I’m basing these rankings mostly on my gut, so take that for what it’s worth.  I’m going to try to weight this towards what these players have done for the Seattle Seahawks (as opposed to what they’ve done for other teams), but I’m not going to totally discount what they’ve done elsewhere (after all, it’s quite the numbers game in Seattle, and a few of these guys were cut loose after hard-fought battles).  Let’s begin:

Great Draft Picks By Carroll/Schneider

1.  Russell Wilson (2012, 3rd round)
2.  Earl Thomas (2010, 1st round)
3.  Richard Sherman (2011, 5th round)
4.  Bobby Wagner (2012, 2nd round)
5.  Kam Chancellor (2010, 5th round)
6.  Russell Okung (2010, 1st round)
7.  Golden Tate (2010, 2nd round)
8.  K.J. Wright (2011, 4th round)
9.  Byron Maxwell (2011, 6th round)
10.  J.R. Sweezy (2012, 7th round)

This is a massively tough list to rank at the top.  You could easily interchange any in the top three and you wouldn’t be wrong.  I don’t want to make this all about “value picks” but you also can’t discount the fact that the Seahawks have one of the best quarterbacks in football and they plucked him out of the third round.  I mean, every team had multiple chances at taking him!  But, we’ve got him, and I promise you, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we’ve been without him.

I’ve got Earl Thomas in the 2-hole because he’s the man.  I gotta figure he’s the best player on an elite defense, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.  Sherm, Wagz, and Kam round out the Top 5, with Kam narrowly edging out Okung for his spot.  You can’t do what we’re doing without a solid left tackle, but what keeps Okung out of the Top 5 is the fact that he’s been injured so often that we actually HAVE done what we’ve done without him a lot of the time.  Tate makes my Top 10 because he’s awesome and easily the best receiver we’ve drafted in this era.  Wright has been a mainstay on our defense since he was a rookie.  Maxwell rose through the ranks to get to a near-elite level by the time Philly graced him with a bank-breaking contract.  And, you know what?  Scoff at Sweezy all you want, but he’s a 7th round pick who has started for us at right guard since day 1 and has been getting better every year (without any significant injury, I might add).

I didn’t mean to only pick 10 players to put in the “Great” category, but that’s just sort of the way it went.  What you’ll notice is that it’s quite heavy on the first three drafts of the era.  4 from 2010, 3 from 2011, 3 from 2012.  Want to know how to go from one of the oldest and worst teams in football to a Super Bowl champion in four years?  Draft your quarterback, your entire starting secondary, 2/3 of your linebackers, 2/5 of your offensive linemen, and your #1 receiver in your first three years.  I’d say that’s a rock solid foundation if I’ve ever seen one.  7 out of 10 of these guys have made at least one Pro Bowl in their careers.  I could go on and on, but you know how great these guys are.

Good Draft Picks by Carroll/Schneider

11.  Bruce Irvin (2012, 1st round)
12.  Malcolm Smith (2011, 7th round)
13.  James Carpenter (2011, 1st round)
14.  Robert Turbin (2012, 4th round)
15.  Luke Willson (2013, 5th round)
16.  Walter Thurmond (2010, 4th round)
17.  Jeremy Lane (2012, 6th round)
18.  Anthony McCoy (2010, 6th round)
19.  Jordan Hill (2013, 3rd round)
20.  Tharold Simon (2013, 5th round)
21.  Christine Michael (2013, 2nd round)
22.  Jaye Howard (2012, 4th round)
23.  Michael Bowie (2013, 7th round)
24.  Greg Scruggs (2012, 7th round)
25.  Winston Guy (2012, 6th round)

None of these guys were really all that close to making it into the “Great” category, and the only ones I can see with a realistic shot at potentially getting there would be Irvin, Willson, Hill, Simon, and Michael if he ever gets a crack at starting somewhere.  Irvin certainly leads the pack in the “Good” column though.  He’s been a significant role player since he entered the league, and has become a steady starter at strongside linebacker after the conversion in his second year.  Malcolm Smith – even though his Seahawks career ended poorly – still played a significant role as a backup weakside linebacker who got some injury starts late in the 2013 season and on through the playoffs.  Hell, he’s our Super Bowl MVP, and that wasn’t the only game where he made big plays.

Carpenter was held out of the “Great” pile due to injuries and inconsistent pass protection.  No one can question his run blocking abilities, and once he moved over to left guard, he really helped solidify our line (again, when healthy).  Turbin gets the nod over the three guys below him simply because he’s been a solid backup running back since day 1.  He spells our superstar and we don’t see too big of a drop-off.  He might be a marginal starter for another team, but he’s one of the better backups in football.  Luke Willson has made a moderate impact as a pass-catching tight end on a team that doesn’t throw the ball too much.  Drops (and being iced out by the likes of Jimmy Graham) will prevent him from ever being truly great.  But, he’s been solid, and drops can be fixed.

Thurmond and Lane are close.  Thurmond ultimately has made the bigger impact on this team, even with all of his injuries and suspension.  Lane – if he ever recovers from his devastating Super Bowl injuries – figures to pass Thurmond eventually, who hasn’t been as good as an ex-Seahawk.  McCoy was fine when healthy.  He could’ve been so much better as a great blocking tight end with surprisingly soft hands.  Hopefully, he can pull his career together.  Hill and Simon are hard to place, as both got their first big breaks in the 2014 season.  Hill started to come on as an interior pass rusher until he was knocked out for the year.  Simon was forced to take over for Maxwell at times and was so-so, as he was continuously picked on by opposing quarterbacks.  C-Mike can’t catch a break as the team’s third string running back.  He supposedly has all the talent in the world, but then again, you’d think with all that talent, he would’ve forced his way into more playing time than he’s had in his first two years in the league.  Jaye Howard is no longer with the team, but he’s a rotational guy for the Chiefs and was playing some serious minutes as of last year.  One that got away, it might seem.  Bowie was an okay spot-starter on the line who could play both tackle and guard spots; he was released due to injury and concerns with his weight.  He was quickly picked up though, and figures to be solid depth on another team.  Scruggs hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to prove he belongs.  Both he and Guy are fringe “good” players who are oh so close to landing in the “Bad” category.  They’re still kicking around the league with better-than-decent chances at making a final 53, so I’m keeping them here for now.

Too Soon To Tell

26.  Justin Britt (2014, 2nd round)
27.  Cassius Marsh (2014, 4th round)
28.  Paul Richardson (2014, 2nd round)
29.  Kevin Pierre-Louis (2014, 4th round)
30.  Kevin Norwood (2014, 4th round)
31.  Eric Pinkins (2014, 6th round)
32.  Jimmy Staten (2014, 5th round)
33.  Kiero Small (2014, 7th round)
34.  Garrett Scott (2014, 6th round)

Obviously, this is the entire 2014 draft class.  And, obviously, this is a total cop-out, but I have a hard time saying if someone is good or not based on a single season.  If I were to eliminate the “Too Soon To Tell” category, I’d put Britt high on the Good list; I’d put Marsh, Richardson, and KPL low on the Good list; and I’d put the rest on the Bad list.  But, is it fair to call Kevin Norwood “bad” because he wasn’t all that productive as a rookie?  Who knows if he’ll make a huge leap in his second year?!  For him, it’s truly too soon to tell.  By the same measure, what if Britt takes a big step back in his second year and either gets hurt or gets beat on the reg?  That’s going to affect his ranking for sure.  So, to work around this, I gotta see what you do after two years in the league.  Even if one year is spent on the IR, at least I’ll have two different seasons to compare.  For the record, Garrett Scott – waived soon after he was drafted due to medical concerns – is a lock to be pretty low on the Bad list just as soon as the 2015 season ends.

Bad Draft Picks by Carroll/Schneider

35.  Kris Durham (2011, 4th round)
36.  John Moffitt (2011, 3rd round)
37.  Ty Powell (2013, 7th round)
38.  Ryan Seymour (2013, 7th round)
39.  Korey Toomer (2012, 5th round)
40.  Chris Harper (2013, 4th round)
41.  Dexter Davis (2010, 7th round)
42.  Mark LeGree (2011, 5th round)
43.  Spencer Ware (2013, 6th round)
44.  Jesse Williams (2013, 5th round)
45.  Jared Smith (2013, 7th round)
46.  Jameson Konz (2010, 7th round)
47.  Lazarius Levingston (2011, 7th round)
48.  E.J. Wilson (2010, 4th round)

Ahh, does the fun ever START?  Kris Durham leads the pack of the “Bad” picks as he somehow made a career for himself after the Seahawks waived him prior to his 2nd season.  Keep in mind, it’s not a GOOD career, but he’s still kicking.  John Moffitt ended up playing in 17 games for the Seahawks (mostly as a starter) after being drafted in 2011.  Alongside Carpenter, Moffitt was an injury-plagued disappointment who ended up getting traded to Denver before retiring early.  Ty Powell ended up jumpstarting his career in Buffalo last season; he’s racked up all of 19 games in his career thus far.

Those are the BEST of the worst, mind you.  It’s a steep drop-off from there.  Seymour has had 3 starts in his career – none in Seattle.  Toomer has always had talent, but has never stayed healthy.  He’s a pre-season dandy who’s still kicking around the league, but I’ll be damned if I know where he is now (the Rams still?).  Harper was cut before his rookie season could even begin.  I think he’s still kicking around, but he’s unlikely to even make a practice squad at this point.  Dexter Davis and Mark LeGree are in the CFL now, so at least they’re playing football!  Spencer Ware played in 2 games and is on a Futures Contract right now.  Jesse Williams is 2 for 2 on IR appearances.  He’s still with the Seahawks – hoping to somehow crack the roster – but his odds are beyond long.  Jared Smith has played in 0 games, but is on Atlanta’s roster for the moment.  Konz was an athletic freak who never really had a set position (he was drafted as a wide receiver, though he’s also played tight end, defensive end, and linebacker in his pre-season career); he might be on a practice squad right now, but who knows?  Levingston is OOF (out of football) having only played 7 games.  Wilson is also OOF, having played in only 2 games.

And that’s it!  The draft starts tomorrow, though the Seahawks have no picks in the first round, so who really cares?

Seahawks Death Week: It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

If we win that Super Bowl, all conversation right now is focused on The New Dynasty.  For anyone who’s not a Seahawks fan, it’s pretty miserable to have to listen to, so in that sense the world is probably happier that the Patriots won.

For us, though – the tortured souls forced to relive that moment in every highlight package about last season – the only thing worse than an offseason focused on why Tom Brady Is The Greatest Quarterback Of All Time will be all the articles burying the Seahawks.

Yeah, it started with Keith Olbermann’s lunacy, but don’t think that’s going to be the end of it.  After all, the 2013 Seahawks were champions and looked stronger than every other team in the league by a million miles, and last year people STILL endlessly picked us apart, trying to degrade the quality of our roster as they made their convoluted predictions about why we wouldn’t get back to the Super Bowl.

The fact of the matter is – as I said yesterday – the Championship Window is still wide open for this team.  Even if Marshawn Lynch is 50/50 to return next year, take a look at the players we’ll have returning:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Earl Thomas
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Richard Sherman
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Michael Bennett
  • Cliff Avril
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Jeremy Lane
  • Jordan Hill

That doesn’t factor in an offensive line that gets the job done more often than not, a deep running back group, and some veterans I left off who SHOULD be back (like Zach Miller, Brandon Mebane, and Tony McDaniel).

This is still a deep roster.  And it’s a quality roster in all the right places.  Our quarterback will be entering his fourth year, and he’s already shown that he belongs in the upper third or upper quarter of franchise quarterbacks in the league.  With Russell Wilson, we’re ALWAYS going to be somewhere on the “Good” spectrum.  We’re always going to at least contend for division titles and playoff spots.

It’s the players around Russell Wilson that make us championship-calibre.  The great thing about this team is that everyone plays off of everyone else.  Russell Wilson gets help from an elite running game.  The receivers get help from other defenses focusing on our running game, and from Wilson’s scrambling ability that gives them time to get open.  Defensively, our cornerbacks are allowed to be more aggressive thanks to the great play of our safeties.  Everyone in the secondary is helped out by our pass rush and our line’s ability to stop the run.  It’s all one terrific unit that only works when everyone is playing in unison.

Now, obviously our coaching staff took a bit of a hit with Dan Quinn moving on to coach the Falcons, but I don’t think any team has ever been totally devastated by the loss of a coordinator.  Kris Richard gets a deserved promotion, which is good for coaching continuity, as well as good for the message it sends to the guys.  Just as our greatest players are rewarded with contract extensions, our greatest coaches are rewarded with promotions.  Although, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, how hard can it really be to coach this defense with all the talent we’ve got on the roster?  Are Gus Bradley & Dan Quinn really that amazing?  Or, did they just luck into a roster for the ages?

I wouldn’t expect much of a drop-off because this is still Pete Carroll’s team.  It’s still his vision.  And, in spite of certain decisions that were made at the end of certain ballgames, Pete Carroll is still one of the best head coaches in the league.  And John Schneider is still one of the best general managers in the league.  The organization is still in good hands.

The only thing that could possibly derail things would be injuries, and those are impossible to predict, so it’s not even worth trying.

It’s hard to tell when the Championship Window might close.  It obviously opened in 2012, when we made that great season-ending run.  From a roster-quality standpoint, we probably peaked in 2013.  We dipped a bit in 2014, but if you focus on where this team ended up – after all the early-season strife in coming off of our first championship – you can see a team that peaked at right around where it was in 2012 (or maybe a little better still).  How long the window remains open depends on how well our recent draft picks of the last couple years – on into this year – pan out.  We had a great run of drafts from 2010-2012 that made us into what we are today.  It’s the drafts from 2013-2015 that will determine if we stay on this championship run, or if we fade back into the status of mere playoff contenders.

Here are the players we still have from our 2013 draft group:

  • Christine Michael (RB)
  • Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • Alvin Bailey (OL) – undrafted free agent

Williams has finished his first two seasons on the IR and might not be on the roster come September.  Bailey is depth along our offensive line who can play four positions.  Michael has been a third string running back who has been inactive more often than not; it doesn’t appear he’ll ever get a chance to be a starter with this team as long as Lynch is around.  Hill came on in the second half of 2014 as a strong part of our defensive tackle rotation, so hopes are high that can continue.  Simon has made some spot-starts and looked okay – though he’s been picked on quite a bit, and hasn’t come away as well as Maxwell did when he took over the starting spot opposite Sherman.  Willson spent most of 2014 as our #1 tight end and for the most part did pretty well.  I’m not convinced yet that he can be a #1 tight end forever, but he’s a great #2 or #3 tight end.

Here’s our 2014 draft class that remains:

  • Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Justin Britt (OT)
  • Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Eric Pinkins (DB)
  • Garry Gilliam (OL) – undrafted free agent
  • Brock Coyle (LB) – undrafted free agent

While there’s not really a prize jewel of the 2013, there are enough role players in that group to make it “good enough”, with the potential for greatness if either Michael or Simon somehow pans out.  The 2014 class has a higher upside, in spite of the fact that only four guys managed to make it all the way to the end without being put on IR.

Britt is obviously the biggest “get” in the group, as he started right away at right tackle – a position of need going into the season.  He played nearly every game and was good enough to be considered a starter going forward.  He’s not perfect, but you have to like all the experience he got.  He’ll heal up from his nagging injuries, get stronger going into next year, and we should see a nice boost out of him in year two.

I’m really high on Cassius Marsh.  He tops out as a starting defensive end opposite Michael Bennett (while eventually replacing him when Bennett retires or is let go at/near the end of his deal).  His floor, though, is what makes me happy, as I think at worst he’s still a rotational guy who can play both inside (on passing downs) and outside (on any down).  Considering we still have Bennett, Avril, and Irvin going into next season, if Marsh can stay healthy, I don’t think we have to invest a whole lot in our outside pass rush (the interior rush is another story, of course).

Richardson and Norwood are the wild cards of this class.  If they both pan out, we could be talking about this group in ways we talk about the draft classes of 2010-2012.  If just one sticks, I still think we’re happy.  If they both flame out, then we wasted two draft picks in an area of great need for this team.  I thought Richardson really started to come on at the end of the year, but obviously his torn ACL makes him a question mark going forward.  If he returns (and yes, it’s an “if” in this scenario), will he be the same guy?  Will he have the speed required to make it in the league?  Will he inevitably injure it again?  Remember, he had the same injury in college, to the same knee.  As for Norwood, it might be unfair, but I think we all expected a little more out of him.  The phrase “security blanket” has been used quite a bit with him.  Hopefully, being healthy and having a year’s experience under his belt will help him grow in year two.  We’ll need it, that’s for sure.

The other guys are longshots.  KPL figures to be a depth guy and a special teams standout if he can stay healthy.  Staten probably tops out as a rotational tackle on our defensive line, and probably one who isn’t active very often.  Pinkins was drafted to be another tall cornerback, but it doesn’t look like he has the ability and will probably be moved back to safety (where, obviously, we’re pretty well stocked).  Either Pinkins sticks as a backup to Kam, or he gets cut.  Gilliam is more offensive line depth.  And Coyle is a special teams guy and an okay backup to Bobby Wagner.  It wouldn’t shock me to see any of these guys get the ax at the end of Training Camp this year, if the right people come along to replace them.

There are certainly guys you like out of the 2013 & 2014 draft classes – even guys who project to be starters – but there aren’t many (if any) superstars in the bunch.  I know it’s hard, when you’re consistently drafting near the end of the first round every year, but then again, this is the team that has managed to make 4th & 5th rounders into superstars.  Here’s to hoping we get another diamond in the rough in this year’s class to keep the good vibes rolling.

Missing On Justin Britt Would Be A Drastic Mistake For Seahawks

It’s obviously way too early to make a determination on the Seahawks’ 2014 draft class.  If you want my prediction on some guys, I think Paul Richardson will be a quality starter if he can stay healthy.  I think Kevin Norwood will be one of the all-time great Seahawks if this foot thing doesn’t linger his whole career.  I think Cassius Marsh just might be the steal of the draft and a dominant force for years to come on the defensive line.  I think everyone else is really up in the air at this point.  If some of these other back-end guys – like KPL, Pinkins, and Staten, who are all pretty much projects at this point and won’t see a lot of time (if any) on defense this year – end up panning out, that’s gravy.  When you toss in undrafted guys – like Brock Coyle, who figures to certainly make the team and replace Heath Farwell; Garry Gilliam, who has an outside shot to make the 53-man roster along the offensive line; Jackson Jeffcoat, who has elite athleticism, but is struggling to adjust to a switch from end to linebacker – this overall 2014 rookie class should be one of the good ones, as usual.

But, I think this class really hinges on second rounder Justin Britt.

There’s no doubt that the Seahawks had a need along the offensive line when they were coming into this draft.  We lost two pretty prominent guys in Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini, two guys who started A LOT of games for us the last couple seasons.  Yes, we had a few leftovers from last year who we figured could slide in at the left guard and right tackle positions if need be, but our depth would be shredded.  We NEEDED to pick up a guy or two in the draft.

I know everyone says that they only draft the best players available, but it certainly helps when the best available intersects with a position of need, doesn’t it?  The Seahawks went out and bolstered the receiver position – after Tate left – with Richardson.  And later in that same round, they bolstered their offensive line with Britt.  You could argue whether or not those two were the “best” players available, but they’re here now, so we might as well move on.

The Seahawks also picked up an offensive line project in the sixth round who was waived due to a heart defect or some damn thing.  So, really, Britt was it as far as offensive line goes in this draft (not counting the undrafted guys, of course, who are always longshots to even make the practice squad).

Now, here we are, in the second week of the pre-season.  Michael Bowie was waived due to a shoulder condition.  There was also the issue of him coming in overweight and/or out of shape.  I think we were hoping to hide him on IR and bring him back next year (waiving him was an attempt to save some money, I believe, before we put him on IR), but he was picked up by the Browns, so now he’s gone.  That’s neither here nor there, because apparently he wasn’t going to play for us this year anyway.

That leaves Britt, veterans Eric Winston and Wade Smith, and maybe Alvin Bailey (but Bailey has spent the entire pre-season in the starting left tackle spot, with Okung out).  As Okung returns, maybe Bailey enters the race for starting right tackle, but for now it’s Britt’s job to lose.

I haven’t seen much out of Britt with my own two eyes, but what I’ve heard doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.  He appears to be getting beat on the reg in pass protection.  It’s unclear whether he’s fully understanding the zone blocking scheme.  The only thing you CAN say about him is that he’s still the starter on the depth chart.  It appears that the team is going to give him every opportunity to win the job, and for the life of me, I don’t blame ’em.

The Seahawks haven’t necessarily been wildly successful in drafting offensive linemen.  Max Unger was chosen by the previous regime.  Russell Okung was an obvious pick – a high first rounder – at a time post-Walter Jones when the left tackle position was a zoo.  James Carpenter was initially selected to be a right tackle, but proved to have the body of a guard.  Three injury-riddled seasons later, and we’re wondering if this first round draft pick will be re-signed after the season.  J.R. Sweezy is a converted defensive lineman and a seventh round draft pick.  He’s entering his third season in what has been an up-and-down career to date.

The Seahawks NEED to hit and hit big on someone like Britt.  Not only that, but hit EARLY.  Carpenter is in the best shape of his life … four years into his professional career.  He hasn’t been a disaster up to this point, but he’s definitely been a disappointment.  I don’t care what your salary cap situation looks like, you’d always much rather have the young, inexpensive players have huge impacts for you.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having a home-grown player require the full life of his contract before he finally lives up to his original promise; because NOW you have to make a decision:  do we want to bring him back on a more-expensive free agent deal, or let him walk?

Because think about it, what if Carpenter goes out and blows everyone away this year?  He makes this huge jump as one of the better left guards in the game, he stays healthy for the full 16 games plus playoffs, and he starts getting recognition around the league as someone to watch out for.  Well, he MIGHT command a huge contract at season’s end!  So, either we blow through our cap space (and give an injury-risk a large amount of resources), or we let him go and another team reaps the rewards on a player WE spent four years cultivating!

And, not for nothing, but Sweezy appears to be on a similar track, though we do still have two full years of team control left before he’s up for a new deal.  Maybe instead of the big jump forward I kind of expect out of Sweezy, this year sees him only marginally improve.  Well, that means it’s another year with a struggling right guard before he MAYBE figures it out in 2015 (just in time to be another Carpenter situation).

So, no, we don’t want that out of Britt.  We can’t afford that out of Britt!  He doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate.  Obviously, there are going to be growing pains, and we all have to accept that.  But, for starters, he has to prove that he’s not completely overwhelmed at the professional level.  He can’t be getting beat on every other play.  He’s got to flash – on his own – that he can handle some of the better pass rushers in the league.  And not require a tight end babysitter on every play just to keep our quarterback upright and our running game afloat.

Now, obviously, he still has three more pre-season games to get to that level.  The level where the coaching staff (and, frankly, the fans) feel comfortable just having him out there.  We all know he’s going to need to improve, and that’s the next thing:  we need Britt’s learning curve to be swift.  Yes, I’ll suffer some growing pains, but it better be leading to a payoff down the road.  And not three years down the road, but rather the second half of this season.  There’s got to be a point this year where it starts to click for him.  Where the missteps of being a rookie are fewer and farther between.

From week 7 onward, we face A LOT of great front sevens:  the Rams twice, the 49ers twice, the Cardinals twice, the Panthers, and the Chiefs.  That’s 8 of our last 11 games where we’re going to need Britt to be on his game.  Yes, Russell Wilson scrambles with the best of ’em, but if you’re a turnstile over there at right tackle, you’re not giving him time enough to even do that!

If Britt fails, it would be a huge setback.  In the short term, it would mean relying on veterans off the scrap heap, or youngsters who haven’t done a thing in this league.  In the long term, it would mean offensive line will once again be a huge priority going into the 2015 draft.  I don’t know what that draft class will look like, as far as offensive line is concerned, but by all accounts, 2014 was one of the better offensive line classes in YEARS!

On top of right tackle – if Britt is a bust – we’ll need to address left guard, and possibly try to extend our left tackle after the 2014 season.  In two years (when you factor in the loss of McQuistan and Giacomini), that’s simply too much for one football team to address at one position.  Quite frankly, it would mean we’d have one of the worst offensive lines in the league pretty much for the majority of our dynasty window.

So, no, we can’t fail with Britt.  He NEEDS to be good and he needs to be good very soon.  If he fails to develop, and we suffer another season with an underperforming offensive line, we’ll have to ask ourselves if Tom Cable is really the O-Line wizard we’ve all come to believe.

Part 1, Defense – Which Seahawks Players Can Get Even Better?

Coming into a season, analysts look at a variety of factors to determine whether a team is going to be good or not (or improved or not).  They look at which players leave for other teams (or retirement), they look at which players are brought in (either via trade, free agency, or draft), they look at the strength of schedule and that of the teams in their division, they look at the injury situation and the potential injury situation based on player histories, and they look at which players are over the hill and due to start their slide into mediocrity.

There’s one aspect that’s often overlooked:  which players are still at the point in their careers where they’re getting better?

All too often, we look at rookies – whether good or bad – and think we’re looking at those players as they’ll be for the rest of their careers.  But, no one enters the league as a finished product.  Yes, some flame out, but even the really good ones still have room for improvement.

Take Golden Tate, for instance.  He didn’t really get a handle on all the intricacies of the wide receiver position until his third year in the league.  On the downside, that meant we only had two good years with Golden Tate before he left for richer pastures.  But, on the upside, it means there’s still hope for players who haven’t done a whole lot yet in their careers.

Secondary

How long did it take Byron Maxwell before he was able to make an impact on the Seahawks outside of special teams?  Try a little over 2.5 years.  He was one of our most important players when he was thrust into the starting cornerback spot across from Richard Sherman; now he’s entering a contract year where he could get even BETTER.  You have to think Maxwell has dollar signs in his eyes after seeing the deals Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman got this past offseason.  Granted, it probably won’t be with the Seahawks – as who can afford to pay four studs in one secondary? – but at least we’ll have this last year of greatness before he moves on.

In keeping with this section of the team, what about Jeremy Lane?  He was taken late in the 2012 draft, so we’ve got two more years of his services.  He’s always been a special teams standout, but this year he’s going to get his first real shot at the nickel cornerback spot.  He had some time in that position late last season and seemed to do all right.  If he manages to take a step forward and help us all forget about Walter Thurmond, it could be a boon for an already-outstanding secondary.

I’d also like to shine some light on Tharold Simon.  He spent the entirety of his rookie season injured last year.  In the spring camps, he apparently looked really good.  No one is expecting him to start, or take over anyone else’s job in 2014, but it’s nice knowing we’ve got some quality depth.  As mentioned before, we lost Thurmond.  We also lost Browner.  Maxwell took over that job, but he’ll be gone after this year.  If Simon can keep our momentum going in the secondary, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the best secondary in the league for many years to come.

Now, before I move on, I’ll talk briefly about the rest of the L.O.B.  Normally, when people write about the Legion, these are the first names they talk about.  But, when you’re talking about players improving, it’s hard to see a lot of room for improvement in guys like Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman.  Nevertheless, I think all three of these players have another gear in them.  This is the fun part about having such a young team – even the All Pros have room to grow!  Earl Thomas, before all is said and done, will win a Defensive MVP award.  Chancellor – already an enforcer – can still be a better all-around safety.  And, at this point, I have to imagine the only way Richard Sherman can get better is to completely eliminate the number of attempts to his side of the field.  I didn’t say there was a TON of improvement in these guys, but what if they’re able to squeeze just a little bit more?

Linebackers

I’ve heard people talking about K.J. Wright taking it up another notch, but I have my doubts.  I’ll be the first one to admit, however, that I know very little about the linebacking position outside of:  tackle the guy with the football.  I think Malcolm Smith is probably at the height of his powers.  I still like him as our weakside linebacker, and think he’s a quality playmaker on the outside, but I don’t see a lot of room for growth.  He’ll probably parlay his Super Bowl MVP (and whatever he does for us in 2014) into a nice little long-term deal with another team.  Like I’ve said many times:  you can’t keep everyone.

Bobby Wagner looks like he’s got another level in him, however.  I expect GREAT things in his third year as a starting middle linebacker.  I think 2014 is the year he finally gets his due as a Pro Bowler in a very tough conference for linebackers.  Also, keep an eye on Korey Toomer.  Along with Simon, Toomer was singled out as having an amazing spring camp.  He’s always had the athleticism and the speed, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.  This year, he could be a real terror on special teams (perhaps helping us ease the blow of inevitably waiving Heath Farwell to save some money on our cap).

Bruce Irvin is one of the biggest question marks on the team.  Yes, he certainly has ROOM to improve, but is it safe to EXPECT improvement?  If he does reach his full potential, he could be a wrecking ball on opposing quarterbacks.  Suffice it to say, I’ll be watching him closely in pre-season games, to see how he’s used, and to see how he bounces back from his hip surgery.  Obviously, if that hip is giving him problems, I won’t be watching him at all in pre-season games, so let’s hope that’s not the case.

Finally, a couple more under-the-radar fellas.  Mike Morgan will be entering his fourth season with the Seahawks.  He has primarily been a little-used depth guy and a full-time special teamer.  I never really had a lot of expectations out of him – especially when Malcolm Smith passed him on the depth chart – so it’ll be interesting if he’s even able to hold down a spot on this team in 2014.  The Seahawks just drafted Kevin Pierre-Louis, who looks like an absolute freak of nature.  The safe bets on this team are:  Wagner, Wright, Smith, and Irvin.  The bubble guys are:  Toomer, Morgan, Farwell, and KPL (among lesser-known guys).  You can forget about stashing KPL on the practice squad, as that’s just a non-starter.  Not only will he get snapped up by another team immediately, but putting him on there would actively reduce the talent level of this team’s special teams.  Morgan is in the fight of his life right now with those other bubble guys.  I’ve heard good things about his spring as well, so it’ll be interesting to see who shakes out.  Obviously, injuries would settle this thing real quick, but that’s neither here nor there.

Defensive Line

Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are veterans.  They’re as good as they’re going to be.  You could see incremental improvements (particularly with Avril, who is going into a contract season), but I wouldn’t expect huge steps forward.  Same goes for Mebane, McDaniel, and recently-acquired Kevin Williams.  You’d be safer in assuming that these three tackles are closer to getting worse than they are getting better.  You just hope they have another year in the tank.

The room for improvement is ALL dedicated to the very young and unproven.  Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams, Benson Mayowa – none of whom played all that much at all in their rookie years.  Greg Scruggs, who was okay in his rookie year, but was injured all of last year.  He has apparently been spending all of his free time bulking up and becoming more beastly, so I’ll be VERY interested to see how he looks, and if he’s ready for a tough rotation.  Then, we’ve got the rookies:  Jackson Jeffcoat, Cassius Marsh, and Jimmy Staten (among others, presumably).  Hard to expect much out of any of these three, unless we’re decimated by injuries and they’re thrust into more minutes.

Very volatile group, this defensive line.  We’ve got enough sure things (so long as they stay healthy) to be able to maintain at least a high percentage of our effectiveness of last year, and a good number of wild cards who will duke it out in Training Camp and the pre-season, to see if we can somehow BEST last year.

In any given year, THAT’S what I’m most looking forward to when it comes to this time of the football season.  Tomorrow, I’ll look at the offense.

How The Seahawks Ranked Their Needs In The 2014 Draft

Last week, I ranked the needs in order of importance for the Seattle Seahawks in this year’s NFL Draft.  It looked like this:

  1. Get More Draft Picks
  2. Cornerback
  3. Pass Rushing Defensive End
  4. Defensive Tackle
  5. Linebacker
  6. Wide Receiver
  7. Offensive Line
  8. Tight End

With an honorable mention for the safety position, but that’s neither here nor there.  Based on how the draft shaked out, here’s what appears to be the rankings of how the Seahawks saw their most pressing needs.

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  2. Wide Receiver
  3. Offensive Line
  4. Pass Rushing Defensive End
  5. Linebacker
  6. Defensive Tackle
  7. Cornerback
  8. Fullback

The top need was the most obvious.  Of course, when you’re knee-deep in the shit of the NFL Draft, maybe your more-impulsive side takes over.  Maybe you see a guy at 32 that you just HAVE TO HAVE, regardless of your intent to move down and collect more draft picks.

Tough to say without being in the room with those guys, but I thought the Seahawks did a great job trading down and picking up an extra three players, considering their starting draft position, and the fact that they didn’t have any compensatory picks to bolster their numbers.  Next year will be different, as we should get some good picks coming back our way after losing a number of guys in free agency.  But, this year was a real trial, and I think the Seahawks knocked it out of the park, considering the circumstances.

Obviously, the Seahawks considered wide receiver MUCH more of a pressing need than I did.  I still think, if you can extend Doug Baldwin, it probably wouldn’t take much to extend Jermaine Kearse either.  But, you can’t argue with what they brought in.  When you look at the combo of Harvin & Richardson, you’ve got game-breaking speed; players who can score at any time.  With Baldwin and Norwood, you’ve got a couple of reliable pass-catchers who should be awesome third down targets to move the chains.  When you lump in Kearse, you’ve got three guys who play bigger than their bodies.  In the red zone, the Seahawks shouldn’t have any trouble getting the ball in to Baldwin, Norwood, or Kearse.

I’m of the belief that the Seahawks will extend Baldwin, but beyond that, you like to have young, inexpensive talent.  Kearse, if also extended, won’t make a ton of money, but it’s still more than a rookie.  Maybe the Seahawks see an opportunity to replace Kearse once his contract runs out.

In a wide receiver-rich draft, the Seahawks picked two receivers in their first four picks.  If you consider the first four rounds to be kind of the sweet spot (and the last three to be mostly uneven as far as finding NFL-ready talent), then 40% of the Seahawks’ sweet spot picks were receiver.  Clearly, this was a huge target of theirs.

Beyond that, they obviously felt O-Line was way more important than I did.  You can see it in the numbers (drafting two guys, both who look to be tackles at the pro level) and you can see it in where they were taken.  Justin Britt was believed to be a reach when he was first taken, and nothing that has been said since has changed my mind.  Tom Cable noted that there were teams right after the Seahawks who were looking to select Britt, but the Seahawks still made the decision to draft a position of need over a “best player available, regardless of position”.

Now, in the Pete Carroll / John Schneider era, the Seahawks have been a little hit-or-miss on their offensive linemen.  They hit with Okung, but that’s an obvious, high first rounder we’re dealing with.  They’ve drafted other linemen, from Carpenter (late first round) to Moffitt (third round) to a number of late round & undrafted rookie selections.  As the line currently projects, we’ve got the aforementioned Okung, with Carpenter (middling at best in his tenure here), Unger (drafted before this current regime), Sweezy (a late draft pick, converted from D-Line), and Bowie (another late-round pick).

The Seahawks obviously felt a burning need to pick a lineman from a pool of Talent over a pool of Potential.  When you think about it, it’s probably for the best.  Obviously, you can’t have enough talented players on the offensive line.  But, also, if we’re preaching “Competition” as our credo, then that means you should bring in guys who you think are BETTER than the ones you have now.  Bowie was a 7th rounder.  Bailey was undrafted.  These two guys are going to battle it out for a couple spots on the line with a bunch of other guys.  If the Seahawks went out in this year’s draft and waited until the 7th round or later to pick up linemen (in other words, foregoing the sweet spot of the draft), then you’re not necessarily bringing in guys who would be BETTER than Bowie & Bailey.  Because those two guys – while unheralded out of college – have a year’s worth of professional experience.

No, the only way you’re going to find someone to compete with those guys is to bring in someone from a higher talent pool.  Britt fits that mold.  He might not actually be better than Bowie or Bailey; he might not even amount to a damn thing in this league.  But, the CHANCE that he is better is increased by his being worthy of an upper-round draft pick.

The Seahawks and myself both had “pass rushing defensive end” in pretty much the same spot as far as needs are concerned.  I would’ve liked to have seen one picked a little bit higher, but if they didn’t see a guy they liked before the fourth round, who am I to judge?  Cassius Marsh was picked pretty high in the fourth, and considering we didn’t have a third round pick, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

You gotta pick this kind of guy in the first four rounds if you have ANY hopes of him contributing at all in the first year of his deal.  Ideally, you’d like to see one picked in the first two rounds, but again, beggars.  Defensive end – except for the rare minority who comes out of the womb harassing quarterbacks – is all about development at the pro level.  Learning the tricks of the trade, playing under quality veterans, being placed into a scheme that will best fit their natural talents.  Your average rush end out of college might have one good move he can use to rush the passer.  He’ll need to develop at least two or three others if he has any hope of even playing in a rotation!  Just be glad the Seahawks didn’t let this draft go by completely without picking up another rusher to throw onto the pile.

I rated defensive tackle much higher than Seattle did, which is interesting.  Maybe it’s a byproduct of how the board shook out for them, or maybe it speaks to a confidence level in the players we have on the roster right now.  Those two guys – Jordan Hill & Jesse Williams – who we’ve all been hedging our bets on, considering their underwhelming rookie seasons, might just be good enough to take over prominent roles of their own.  As a bit of insurance, the Seahawks did draft a tackle in Jimmy Staten – in the fifth round, which for this team is nothing to sneeze at – but they picked a guy from a small school that nobody’s heard of.  Probably a project who gets stashed in the practice squad.  Just as likely he doesn’t make the team at all and gets cut.

It’s very telling that there were some highly rated defensive tackles the Seahawks could’ve taken in the early part of the second round if they so wished.  Maybe our desire to bolster this position was a little overzealous.  I still contend that Mebane will need an heir apparent sooner rather than later.

We both ranked linebacker as the fifth-highest need, and that’s for the best.  If there’s any position you can get in the later portion of the round (in this case, towards the very end of the fourth round), it’s linebacker.  Doesn’t mean the position isn’t important; just means that you can fill that position with quality talent at a lower cost.

I suppose you can say that I mis-read the need for cornerback in this draft, but you have to understand the frame of reference I had when I came up with my rankings.  For starters, I didn’t know how many times the Seahawks would be able to trade back.  I had no idea how many total players they’d pick, or if they’d opt to double-up at certain positions.  The simple fact that they drafted a guy who they’re projecting to be an outside cornerback would indicate that they at least felt it was SOMEWHAT important to draft for this position.

But, they didn’t feel it was important enough to select one in the top rounds.  If you look at the draft as a whole, there were TONS of secondary guys being selected in the early going.  That’s the NFL doing their copycat thing after seeing the Seahawks dismantle the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  What we have that the rest of the league doesn’t is a development system in place to turn young corners into superstars.

Yes, if you have a high draft pick and you see an Earl Thomas sitting there, it’s sort of a no-brainer to take that guy.  But, the odds are pretty slim that the Seahawks would find an Earl Thomas (or his cornerback equivalent) in the upper second round.  So, with that the case, and with our development team intact, what’s the point of reaching for a corner in the upper rounds when you can get someone who will be just as good – if not insanely better – in the later rounds?

So, the Seahawks took a tall, athletic safety in the 6th round, and are looking to convert him to corner.  You wouldn’t see this with just any team, but obviously the Seahawks aren’t just any team.  It might not be a 100% lock that the Seahawks succeed with Eric Pinkins, but that opportunity for success is WAY higher in our camp than it would be in anyone else’s.

So, it’s tough to say exactly how highly the Seahawks rated “cornerback” as a need coming into the draft.  It might have been up there with defensive end or offensive line, but they knew they could get away with taking a guy later just because they’ve done it so many times before with fantastic results.

Now, the Seahawks have Pinkins to go with last year’s fifth round pick Tharold Simon.  You’d have to think that ONE of those two will be a solid replacement for Byron Maxwell once he leaves us after the 2014 season.

Finally, the Seahawks picked up a fullback.  I would’ve been happier to see another tight end thrown onto the pile, to at least push Anthony McCoy for that third tight end spot, but it looks like they got one among their undrafted rookies.  When you think of seventh round draft picks as potential undrafted rookies who you don’t think you’ll be able to sign (because maybe you have a position – like running back/fullback – that scares the premium undrafted rookies away, because it’s so loaded), then I guess it’s easy to see the Seahawks going after Kiero Small.

Also, from what I’m hearing, he’d be the team’s only true fullback on the roster.  Coleman and Ware both have extensive running back backgrounds, but Small is all fullback all the time.  Could be a unique talent at a position you wouldn’t expect to need a unique talent.  For a seventh rounder?  Who’s going to complain about that?

Seahawks 2014 Draft Roundup

Well, Mel Kiper gave the Seahawks one of his worst draft grades, so we should probably expect a couple of All Pros and a few more Pro Bowlers in this class.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Paul Richardson, WR (2nd)
  • Justin Britt, OT (2nd)
  • Cassius Marsh, DE (4th)
  • Kevin Norwood, WR (4th)
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB (4th)
  • Jimmy Staten, DT (5th)
  • Garrett Scott, OT (6th)
  • Eric Pinkins, CB/S (6th)
  • Kiero Small, FB (7th)

At first glance, I like the chances of Richardson, Britt, and Norwood to make an immediate impact.  Marsh is the epitome of a wild card, though I think he’ll get every chance to win a spot in the LEO rotation.  KPL and Pinkins are practically guaranteed to be standout special teamers right away, with outside chances to be impact starters in 2015 and beyond.  I’ve got Staten as the leader in the clubhouse to be the first draft pick cut in training camp.  Scott looks like total practice squad fodder.  And Small could range anywhere from a starting fullback on this team (which, in and of itself doesn’t come with all that many snaps per game) and a key special teamer, all the way down to practice squad (if we can somehow sneak him through, which shouldn’t be too hard considering how fullback is devalued in the league nowadays).

This is a huge draft for the future of the Seattle Seahawks.  We’ve got a ton of guys entering their final year or two with this team.  It sounds funny to say, considering we just won the Super Bowl and were among the youngest teams in the league, but the Seahawks are really in need of an infusion of young talent.

I think it’s safe to say that last year’s class was a little underwhelming.  Luke Willson had the biggest impact of anyone, and he was a backup tight end who didn’t get a ton of snaps.  Our two defensive tackles rode the pine (one because of injury, one because he wasn’t ready/good enough for the rotation).  Our top draft pick hardly played at all considering the logjam at running back.  And, the guys with the most promise were a couple of unheralded offensive linemen who are looking to make a bigger impact in 2014.  But, when you compare the 2013 draft class to the three that came before it, there’s a lot for those guys to live up to.

We need these classes (2013 & 2014) to be future starters in the next year or two.  After a year with the 2013 guys, it’s reasonable to have your doubts.  It’s also a reason to be excited for some of the freakish athletes we picked up over the weekend.

Paul Richardson

LOVE this pick!  He’s a little under-sized, but so is Harvin, and what are the odds that BOTH of them get injured at the same time?

Richardson is a speed freak and a big play waiting to happen.  But, while Harvin is a guy you want to throw short to, in space, giving him room to create; Richardson is the guy we’ve been waiting for to seriously stretch the field.  I want to see him on the field as much as possible right away.

What are teams going to do with both Harvin AND Richardson on the field?  One guy will stretch the field and force defenses to protect the pass over the top, the other guy is going to use that space to his advantage for big plays underneath.  Or, if defenses focus on Harvin (as they rightly should), there’s the opportunity for deep bombs.

Kevin Norwood

Might as well keep it in the WR unit.  While Richardson is the speed demon we’ve been looking for, Norwood is the big body we’ve been looking for.  Unlike other big bodies we’ve tried out (Durham, Mike Williams, Sidney Rice), Norwood doesn’t appear to be an injury waiting to happen, a drop waiting to happen, or a big lumbering slowpoke waiting to happen.

One of Norwood’s gifts is his ability to find the quarterback after a play has broken down.  In case you haven’t been watching, that’s sort of Russell Wilson’s forte.  Norwood will improvise with the best of ’em, and he’ll make those twinkle-toe catches along the sideline.

Norwood’s presence makes Sidney Rice’s chances of winning a spot drastically reduced.  I’m seeing the Seahawks keeping:  Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse, Richardson, and Norwood for sure.  Rice might be able to win a sixth receiver spot, but it’s no sure thing.  It’ll depend on how the roster crunch plays out (doesn’t help him if the Seahawks opt to keep three QBs on the roster, with Wilson, Tarvar, and Pryor).

Justin Britt

One hope of mine was, if the Seahawks drafted a tackle reasonably high (as they did with this pick), it would be a guy who could, theoretically, shift over to left tackle in the event that the Seahawks aren’t able to re-sign Okung at the end of his deal.  Gotta find savings somewhere, and if you can use a guy on his rookie deal who isn’t a huge dropoff from the incumbent, all the better.

But, after listening to Tom Cable talk about the guy, it sounds like there’s zero chance Britt ever gets the nod on the left side.

Britt’s claim to fame is absolutely shutting down Jadeveon Clowney in the latest college season.  Don’t know if that’s one of those games that Clowney “took off”, but it seems to me Clowney playing at 60% is still better than most pass rushers, so I’ll take it.

Britt will come in and compete right away for the starting right tackle spot against Michael Bowie.  Love it.  Either he wins the job and we’ve got arguably an improvement at the position over the last few years, or he pushes Bowie to be even better than we thought.  That’s what you call a win-win.  At the very least, Britt should be great line depth for injuries (and you know there are ALWAYS injuries).

Cassius Marsh

As I said above, this guy is a total wild card.  If I let my imagination run wild, I’d tell you that he has the chance to be a J.J. Watt clone, but I’m not about to go that far.  My opinion all along has been that it’s VERY difficult for pass rushers to make an immediate impact.  Bruce Irvin did pretty well as a rookie, but he’s a beast with his speed rush.  Marsh doesn’t have his speed, but reportedly has some good hands, so he should be able to shed blocks pretty well.

I say if Marsh manages to find a way into the rotation on an occasional basis, improving as the season goes along, it’s a victory.  Failing that, I could see him as a guy who sticks to the 53-man roster, but is rarely active on gameday.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his hot-headedness.  That scares me a little bit, but if there’s any team that can rein that in and teach him how to use that aggressiveness to his advantage, I feel like it’s this team.  Also, don’t ask me why, but my gut tells me this guy is a candidate for failing the NFL’s drug policy in some way, shape or form.  I have no precedent to cite for this, but it’s just a feeling I have.

Kevin Pierre-Louis

This is EXACTLY what I was talking about when I said I wanted the Seahawks to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds.  He won’t play much on defense in 2014, but given his athleticism, he’s almost a lock to be a huge player on special teams (and probably force Heath Farwell out of Seattle).

And, if he finds a way to pick up the scheme quickly and refine his technique in the pass-coverage game, he should force his way into the starting lineup in 2015 when we have to make a difficult decision between K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith.  People are saying KPL is a natural weak-side linebacker, which is Smith’s natural position, so we may be seeing the final season of Malcolm Smith in a Seahawks uniform.

Eric Pinkins

Meet my absolute favorite draft pick of the 2014 class.  6’2, 230 pounds.  He was a safety in college for San Diego State; when the Seahawks picked him, we immediately thought of Kam Chancellor.  However, in interviews after the draft, it was noted that the team is looking at him to play corner.

So, now we’re thinking:  Brandon Browner.

This guy could be HUGE.  I’m, like, one interception in the preseason away from buying a Pinkins jersey and getting in on the ground floor.  You know the Seahawks are excellent at player development, especially in the secondary.  There’s no reason to think – with Pinkins being the athletic freak of nature that he is – that this coaching staff WON’T turn him into a viable starter.

Why is that big?  Byron Maxwell is entering his final season and is almost guaranteed to be playing for another team in 2015.  If Pinkins turns into a more athletic Brandon Browner, we’ve just fortified the Legion of Boom for years to come, and at a bargain to boot!

Other teams might have taken this guy and stuck him at safety where he’s comfortable.  The Seahawks see this guy and have the talent and know-how to convert him into a starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  I’m tingling.

The Rest

I don’t know anything about Jimmy Staten.  Looks like he could be a 3-Tech tackle in the rotation with Jordan Hill.  Maybe there’s an outside chance this team bulks him up another 30 pounds or so and tries him out at nose tackle, but who knows?

Garrett Scott looks like a project along the offensive line.  I don’t see how this guy DOESN’T make the practice squad.  Considering the talent we’ve got on the O-Line, it’s going to be difficult to get him in on the rotation.  But, he sounds like he’s really athletic and a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme.  I’ve even heard that he’s going to get some play at left tackle.

Kiero Small is a fullback.  By the sound of things, he could be one to watch, but again, it’s fullback.  When you consider the fact that this team normally keeps five running back/fullback types, let’s count ’em out:

  1. Marshawn Lynch
  2. Robert Turbin
  3. Christine Michael
  4. Derrick Coleman
  5. Spencer Ware
  6. Kiero Small

It looks like it’s going to come down to Small vs. Ware, if he’s going to make the 53-man roster.  Which means it might come down to which of the two are better in special teams.  Ware might have worn out his welcome with that DUI last year, so Small probably has a pretty good shot.  We’ll have to see how he does in camp.

As for the undrafted rookies, the Seahawks have Keith Price.  Zero chance he makes the team.  Probably a pretty good chance he rocks it in the practice squad.  Then again, if you’re keeping three QBs on your 53-man roster, do you really need a QB on the practice squad?

It’s going to be tough for Price.  How often do you ever see four quarterbacks play in the preseason games?  You know how the Seahawks will play Wilson (a series or two in game 1, a quarter or two in game 2, into the third quarter in game 3, a series or two in game 4).  They’ll likely want to give Tarvar his share of reps to keep him warm and get him ready for the season.  And, you’d think they’ll want to watch Terrelle Pryor as much as possible to see if he’s worth keeping on the team.  And, don’t forget B.J. Daniels.

What does that mean?  If Price looks good in camp, MAYBE he gets a series or two in the entirety of the preseason games.  Don’t know if that’s enough to get him an opportunity with another team, but maybe just the fact that the Seahawks wanted him and brought him into camp, that might be enough for another team to pick him up and stash him.  We’ll see.

All in all, as I said before, I’m a big fan of this draft.  The best part?  Our entire coaching staff is intact.  We didn’t lose Cable, we didn’t lose Quinn, we didn’t lose Bevell, and we’ve got everyone else.  Considering how good the Seahawks are, and how coveted those guys would have been had the Seahawks not made the Super Bowl, it’s like we’re playing with house money.  Another year with this full staff intact?  That’s going to be an insane advantage for this draft class to eventually make the jump to full time starters for this team in the years to come.