If this sounds like I’m giving up on L.J. Collier … I kind of am.
The Seahawks, as you well know, don’t tend to pick in the first round of drafts very often under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Since 2010, they’ve made exactly seven first round picks in six NFL drafts, and after that first year, it’s a real Who’s Who of Utter Crap.
That’s not totally fair, but I’d say “underwhelming” is the general theme once you go past Russell Okung and Earl Thomas:
- 2011 – James Carpenter (OL)
- 2012 – Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
- 2016 – Germain Ifedi (OL)
- 2018 – Rashaad Penny (RB)
- 2019 – L.J. Collier (DE)
Woof. Bruce Irvin is clearly the best of THAT pitiful bunch, but even he hasn’t lived up to what you might expect from a pass rusher taken with the 15th overall pick.
There aren’t enough bad things to say about everyone else. James Carpenter was supposed to be a right tackle, but he struggled, had to move inside to guard, still struggled (though not as much), and ended up leaving after his rookie deal expired. Germain Ifedi was ALSO supposed to be a right tackle, but he too struggled, moved inside briefly before returning to tackle, and made moderate improvement (but, based on his overall body of work, it has since been determined that not only is he not worth a high-money contract, but he’s also not good enough to remain on the outside of the line) before leaving after his rookie deal expired. And, just the fact that the Seahawks took a running back AT ALL in the first round is enough for most fans to write off Rashaad Penny, though I would argue he has looked pretty good when healthy and in shape.
But, there’s no legitimate defense whatsoever for Collier. There are EXCUSES, sure. He sprained his ankle as a rookie and missed all of Training Camp last year. That set him back for the entire season, as he never fully got acclimated to the defense. Pro Football Reference has him at 152 snaps on the season; by comparison, Bobby Wagner led the entire defense with 1,054 snaps, and Jadeveon Clowney led the D-Line with 605 (and he missed three games).
I don’t care that Collier was such a low first round pick, he’s a first rounder and it’s inexcusable that he either wasn’t prepared enough or just plain wasn’t good enough to see the field more. This is on a defense, mind you, that was as bad as it gets in its pass rush. The sack leader on the 2019 Seahawks was Rasheem Green with 4.0. I mean, I don’t know what more to tell you; Collier was a first rounder and he couldn’t crack THAT rotation?! What a joke!
A lot of people want to write off his rookie campaign and believe he’ll be better in 2020. Well, he’d almost HAVE to be, right? How could you be any worse than that? Collier had three tackles and that’s it; that’s the entirety of his stat line. But, I can’t say I have any reasonable expectations of improvement. If you’re effectively healthy for the majority of the regular season – even as a rookie, even if you missed all of Training Camp – as a first round draft pick, there should be enough God-given ability for you to do LITERALLY ANYTHING.
Any hopes that Collier is going to be a future Pro Bowler or even a quality starter should probably be thrown out the window at this point. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong here, but I don’t think I am. The only reason this came to mind at all is because of what’s going on with this coronavirus ordeal. Collier’s struggles last year are largely attributed to his missing Training Camp; you know what he’s likely to also miss in 2020? Training Camp! EVERYONE is likely to miss Training Camp because we probably won’t be in any sort of condition as a country to allow for Training Camp, or any other large gatherings of people. Call it bad luck all you want – indeed, it’s quite unfortunate – but that doesn’t change the fact that Collier is likely to head into Season Two just as behind the 8-ball as he was in Season One.
So, in case you think I haven’t laid out a good-enough case for why Collier has really legitimate potential to be the worst first round draft pick of the Carroll/Schneider era, let me summarize:
- Russell Okung – Great
- Earl Thomas – Hall of Famer
- James Carpenter – Competent Guard, mostly with the Jets
- Bruce Irvin – Good
- Germain Ifedi – Semi-Competent Tackle
- Rashaad Penny – Okay
- L.J. Collier – Probably Terrible
With that out of the way, how does my vision for Collier potentially rank among the all-time Seahawks first round draft busts? I won’t go through every single guy, but let’s talk about the worst of the worst (that I have at least limited knowledge about).
Aaron Curry and Lawrence Jackson always come immediately to mind when Seahawks fans talk about first round busts, but I would argue both of those guys are at least more competent than you remember. Lo-Jack had 19.5 sacks in his career! Is there any indication whatsoever that Collier could reach that level? Curry’s main problem is that he was – for some reason – taken with the fourth overall pick, so high expectations really tarnish his reputation in this scenario.
I’ll gloss over a lot of players before those guys, until we get to Chris McIntosh and Lamar King. King was famously Mike Holmgren’s first-ever pick as General Manager of the Seahawks when he came over from Green Bay. He was killed then, and continues to be killed now for taking King, but … 12.0 sacks in 57 games. Obviously not great, or even good, but not the absolute worst either. McIntosh, on the other hand, might give Collier a run for his money. He was taken 22nd overall and only played in 24 games across two seasons on the O-line before flaming out of the league.
Dan McGwire will always be on my shit list – through no fault of his own, really – for being the guy we selected ahead of Brett Favre in 1991. First-ever Seahawks draft pick – Steve Niehaus – also deserves recognition, for only making it into 39 games in his 4-year career (thee with the Seahawks) and accumulating exactly zero sacks (hard to say if they were counting that stat back then, but clearly he didn’t make much of an impact as the second-overall selection in 1976).
And, if you want to count Supplemental Draft first rounders, you’ve gotta throw The Boz in there, as well as someone named Gordon Hudson (who was a tight end taken in 1984, who only played one season, in 1986, but at least he caught 13 balls for 131 yards and a TD).
I’m throwing Collier into the Top 3 Worst Seahawks First Round Draft Picks with Dan McGwire and Chris McIntosh. Obviously, we’re only one season in, so he can EASILY get his name off of this list with just a minimal amount of production. But, you know what? Consider the challenge thrown down! Let’s turn this career around!