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.

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?

Your Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX Roster

I did this last year, albeit in a different format.  It’s nothing fancy, no real analysis or anything, but it’s just something I’d like to look at (and later, look back on and reflect).

Last year, it was more a reflection of how we crafted our Super Bowl roster (mostly via draft & undrafted free agents).  This year, I thought I’d take a gander at who’s on the team now as it compares to last year’s Super Bowl roster.  As with last year’s post, I’m not including guys who are on IR, or who were on the team earlier in the year and were released or traded.  I’m specifically looking at the guys on the 53-man roster RIGHT NOW.

I reserve the right to come back and adjust this if the Seahawks make any minor moves between now and February 1st.

Let’s start with the offense:

2014 2015
Quarterback 1 Russell Wilson Russell Wilson
Quarterback 2 Tarvaris Jackson Tarvaris Jackson
Quarterback 3 B.J. Daniels
Running Back 1 Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch
Running Back 2 Robert Turbin Robert Turbin
Running Back 3 Christine Michael * Christine Michael
Fullback 1 Michael Robinson Will Tukuafu
Fullback 2 Derrick Coleman
Wide Receiver 1 Golden Tate Doug Baldwin
Wide Receiver 2 Percy Harvin Jermaine Kearse
Wide Receiver 3 Doug Baldwin Ricardo Lockette
Wide Receiver 4 Jermaine Kearse Bryan Walters
Wide Receiver 5 Ricardo Lockette Chris Matthews
Wide Receiver 6 Bryan Walters * Kevin Norwood
Tight End 1 Zach Miller Luke Willson
Tight End 2 Luke Willson Tony Moeaki
Tight End 3 Kellen Davis * Cooper Helfet
Left Tackle Russell Okung Russell Okung
Left Guard James Carpenter James Carpenter
Center Max Unger Max Unger
Right Guard J.R. Sweezy J.R. Sweezy
Right Tackle Breno Giacomini Justin Britt
Guard/Tackle Alvin Bailey Alvin Bailey
Tackle Michael Bowie * Garry Gilliam
Center Lemuel Jeanpierre Lemuel Jeanpierre
Offensive Line Paul McQuistan Patrick Lewis
Offensive Line Caylin Hauptmann * Keavon Milton

* denotes Inactive for Super Bowl

As you can see, from a roster standpoint, we’re carrying the third quarterback for some reason (even though he was inactive for the NFC Championship Game, and will most likely be inactive again for the Super Bowl), whereas last year we carried the extra fullback.  Obviously, Robinson is retired and Coleman is injured, so that’s what happened there.

What stands out the most is the drop-off in quality in the wide receiver department.  The 2015 Seahawks are essentially chopped off at the knees at this position, with Golden Tate and Percy Harvin playing elsewhere.  Baldwin, Kearse, Lockette, and Walters each move up two spots respectively, severely weakening our passing game.  Rookie Norwood was active for the NFCCG, but I would expect him to be inactive if Helfet is healthy.

Speaking of tight ends, another big blow is the loss of Miller.  I like Willson a lot and think he’s taken a big step forward this year (in spite of some infamous drops), but it’s pretty clear we’re hurting.  Moeaki is a fine stand-in, but he’s no Zach Miller.  I’ll be looking forward to all three tight ends as being active – again – if Helfet is healthy.  I think this can be a real mismatch in our favor against the Patriots.

The offensive line is largely the same as last year.  Britt sat out against the Packers with an injury, but I have to figure he’ll be back with the two weeks off to recover.  I think Britt is more-or-less a wash compared to Giacomini (MAYBE a slight downgrade, but in the long run will be a big improvement).  Our depth is pretty solid as well, as four of our reserves have played significant minutes this year.  I’ve still never heard of this Milton guy, so expect him to be inactive.

Now, let’s go with the defense:

2014 2015
Defensive End 1 Chris Clemons Michael Bennett
Defensive End 2 Red Bryant Cliff Avril
Defensive End 3 Michael Bennett O’Brien Schofield
Defensive End 4 Cliff Avril Demarcus Dobbs
Defensive End 5 O’Brien Schofield David King
Defensive End 6 Benson Mayowa *
Defensive Tackle 1 Brandon Mebane Kevin Williams
Defensive Tackle 2 Tony McDaniel Tony McDaniel
Defensive Tackle 3 Clinton McDonald Landon Cohen
Defensive Tackle 4 Jordan Hill *
Outside Linebacker K.J. Wright K.J. Wright
Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner Bobby Wagner
Outside Linebacker Bruce Irvin Bruce Irvin
Linebacker 4 Malcolm Smith Malcolm Smith
Linebacker 5 Mike Morgan Mike Morgan
Linebacker 6 Heath Farwell Brock Coyle
Cornerback 1 Richard Sherman Richard Sherman
Cornerback 2 Byron Maxwell Byron Maxwell
Cornerback 3 Walter Thurmond Jeremy Lane
Cornerback 4 Jeremy Lane DeShawn Shead
Cornerback 5 DeShawn Shead Tharold Simon
Cornerback 6 Marcus Burley
Free Safety 1 Earl Thomas Earl Thomas
Free Safety 2 Chris Maragos Steven Terrell
Strong Safety 1 Kam Chancellor Kam Chancellor
Strong Safety 2 Jeron Johnson
Long Snapper Clint Gresham Clint Gresham
Punter Jon Ryan Jon Ryan
Kicker Steven Hauschka Steven Hauschka

* denotes Inactive for Super Bowl

As you can see, we’re carrying two fewer linemen and two more defensive backs.  Injuries have hurt us bigtime in the defensive line department, but depth has been an issue all year with our DBs, as it seems like we’re dealing with nagging injuries on a weekly basis in our secondary.

Along the line, we’re hurting bad.  Clemons and Bryant are obviously gone, so Bennett and Avril moved up into their places.  From a quality of play standpoint, this is an improvement.  But, from a depth standpoint, it’s not pretty.  Jordan Hill was a positive contributor this year until he got hurt.  Kevin Williams has been a godsend with Mebane going down.  McDaniel is as steady as they come.  And, Cohen is a widebody who played some key snaps against the Packers in our goalline package.  It’s our pass rush that I’m most concerned about, with Schofield essentially replacing Clemons from last year, which is indeed a step down.  Bruce Irvin will be key in this regard, as he’s looking a lot better when he rushes the passer.

Our linebackers are largely intact, as our top 5 are all holdovers from last year.  Coyle replaces Farwell, and from my naked eye, I haven’t seen a huge downturn in our special teams coverage.

Our secondary is still our strongest unit.  The only real change is Simon for Thurmond.  Thurmond was more versatile, but Simon is cheaper, under team control for longer, and is better on the outside.

I would argue we’re actually stronger in the secondary this year compared to last year.  Linebacking, offensive line, running backs, quarterbacks, and specialists (kicker/punter/long snapper) are all a wash.  We’re a bit worse in our tight ends and at fullback.  And, we’re A LOT worse along the defensive line and in our wide receiver group.  I may come back to this when the season is over, to compare & contrast 2013’s overall roster to 2014’s, but suffice it to say, we’re not as good of a team as we were last year.  That was to be expected, so it’s not like I’m telling you anything that’s untrue or shocking.  How much worse, I guess, depends on how the Super Bowl turns out.

Either way, as the years go on, we’re REALLY going to marvel at how good that 2013 team was.  To run out a squad with that amount of talent and depth is about as awe-inspiring as it gets.

For the Super Bowl, unless injuries are a factor, here’s my prediction for the seven inactives:

  1. B.J. Daniels – QB
  2. Christine Michael – RB
  3. Kevin Norwood – WR
  4. Keavon Milton – OL
  5. Patrick Lewis – C
  6. David King – DE
  7. Marcus Burley – CB

It was a struggle down there at the bottom.  In theory, you’d want to keep King active to give yourself another pass rusher, but really, how many can you have on the field at once?  I think Cohen gives you more value, especially if the Patriots make a concerted effort to run the ball with Blount.  I thought about keeping Burley active as well – what with Sherman and Thomas playing through injury, you may want more depth in the secondary – but he seems to be the low man on the totem pole right now.

Obviously, this changes as the injury reports start coming out.  Guys to watch out for here are obviously Britt and Helfet, as well as Terrell and Johnson in the secondary.  But, for now, my official guess at the inactives is what I’ve listed above.

Looking Ahead To YOUR 2014 Seattle Seahawks

This was me last year.  I predicted the Seahawks would go 13-3, take the #1 seed in the NFC, and beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  Last year’s NFL season was so easy to predict, I actually managed to correctly guess 2 of the Seahawks’ 3 losses (Indy & at SF, with my lone boner being the Atlanta game).  Of course, when you’re predicting the fortunes of a team this good, it’s hard to be wrong.  Just pick the Seahawks to win every game and you’re bound to be mostly right!

These Seahawks aren’t too different from the 2013 Seahawks.  Off the top of my head (so, forgive me if I forget a few), here are the players no longer on the roster, who had at least a minor impact on last year’s championship squad:

  • Golden Tate (#1 receiver)
  • Michael Robinson (fullback)
  • Paul McQuistan (guard/tackle)
  • Breno Giacomini (starting right tackle)
  • Kellen Davis (3rd tight end)
  • Sidney Rice (receiver)
  • Michael Bowie (guard/tackle depth)
  • Chris Clemons (starting LEO defensive end)
  • Red Bryant (starting 5-tech defensive end)
  • Brandon Browner (starting cornerback)
  • Walter Thurmond (nickel cornerback)
  • Clinton McDonald (backup defensive tackle)
  • Chris Maragos (backup safety)
  • Heath Farwell (IR) (backup linebacker)

On paper, that looks like a lot.  But, it’s pretty easy to spot which players were REALLY important to our success in 2013, and which players were sort of along for the ride.

Golden Tate is obviously the biggest blow.  He was our top receiver and punt returner.  He’s playing for Detroit now and should put up monster numbers while playing alongside Calvin Johnson.  His loss is mitigated somewhat by having a fully healthy Percy Harvin.  If Harvin can play all or the majority of games in 2014, it’s pretty easy to make the argument that our passing game (and offense as a whole) should actually IMPROVE.  Yes, Tate is a good player, but Harvin is on a completely different level of greatness.

Our offensive line depth took some big hits, and that’s going to be a concern.  No doubt about it.  I’d go out on a limb and say losing Paul McQuistan is addition by subtraction, though.  He’s getting up there in age and probably shouldn’t be an everyday starter going forward.  His best position is guard, but he was also our backup left tackle last year when Okung went down.  As a tackle, McQuistan is THE WORST.  So, not having him around to tempt the coaches into starting him when Okung ultimately gets hurt again is probably for the best.

Michael Bowie was always a depth guy last year, who got some serious playing time with all the injuries we suffered.  He was going to contend for the starting right tackle spot this year – and many had penciled him in as the favorite coming into Training Camp.  But, what no one expected was Bowie coming into camp overweight and/or out of shape, as well as injured.  He was ultimately released and the starting right tackle job has been given to rookie 2nd rounder Justin Britt.  In the long run, going with Britt now hopefully will prove to be the smart choice.  But, in the short term, we’re probably going to feel the sting of losing Giacomini.  I really liked him and thought he was solid when healthy.  But, again, you can’t afford to pay everyone, and you’ve got to get younger whenever possible to keep the roster fresh and vibrant (and to be able to afford expensive extensions to your stars).  I think by season’s end, Britt will have made us all forget about Giacomini’s reign of terror.  But, in the early going, it could be rough.

No one is worried about losing Sidney Rice, because he never really impacted this roster to the extent his contract would have dictated.  Jermaine Kearse is more than capable of picking up the slack.  Michael Robinson was on his last legs, plus fullback isn’t an important position.  Ditto the third tight end spot.  So, that rounds out the losses to our offense.

Defensively, our line took a big hit.  Clemons and Bryant were both starters and were both critical to stopping opposing offenses from running the ball.  McDonald was a pleasant surprise, capable of generating good pressure on the quarterback with our second unit.  Being able to interchange our linemen so frequently ultimately helped keep everyone fresh and healthy when it came time to make our playoff run.

In their place, Michael Bennett was extended; he’ll play a bigger role.  Cliff Avril will move into the starting LEO spot.  Kevin Williams was signed as a free agent.  In his prime, Williams was one of the best defensive tackles in the league.  He’s older now, but with reduced snaps – and playing alongside the elite talent we’ve got – he should prove to at least be as effective as McDonald.

Where we’re really going to be tested is in our depth.  Last year, our second-unit defensive line featured Bennett and Avril (it was truly an embarrassment of riches).  This year, they’re starting, and we’ve got to find replacements.  Cassius Marsh is a promising rookie out of the 4th round who can play on the end and on the inside.  But, he’s been dinged up quite a bit in the pre-season, so durability is in question.  Greg Scruggs is back and healthy this year, but he didn’t show a whole helluva lot in the pre-season.  It looks like he can play both outside & inside as well, but I don’t know if he’s any good at either.  O’Brien Schofield was one of the biggest surprises in camp, as he fought off Benson Mayowa for one of the final roster spots.  Schofield was on the team last year, but didn’t get a whole lot of playing time (and didn’t really deserve a whole lot of playing time, considering the talent around him).  He was signed away by the Giants in the offseason, but they ended up backing out of the deal, worried about possible injuries.  So, the Seahawks swooped in and re-signed him to a small number; he could be the steal of the off-season!  I have to imagine he’s the backup LEO behind Avril at this point, with the potential to join our NASCAR defense and play on the same line as Avril, Bennett, and either Marsh or Williams, with Irvin coming from the linebacker spot.

No, we’re not as deep as we were last year, but it could be close enough if Schofield shows up to play.

We have similar depth issues with our secondary as well.  We ultimately lost Browner and Thurmond for long stretches late in the season last year, but we found that Byron Maxwell was more than up to the task of being the starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  Maxwell is back – on the last year of his deal – so we should be okay there.  But, again, the depth has taken a hit.

With Thurmond gone, Jeremy Lane steps up.  I like Lane and think he has the potential to be as good or better than Thurmond; but, right now Lane is injured, so that’s troubling.  Tharold Simon was a rookie last year and never played thanks to injuries.  He looks to be back and healthy now (though, like Lane, he’s suffering through some nagging something or other at the moment), and he also looks capable of being another in a long line of productive outside cornerbacks.  Where we’re light is in the nickel corner spot, which is why we recently traded for Marcus Burley for a 6th round pick in next year’s draft.  I know pretty much nothing about him, but apparently he had a pretty good camp this year.  And, apparently he’s pretty fast and super athletic.

I’m less inclined to worry about the secondary than the D-Line, because our starters are intact.  And our backup safeties are top-notch, with DeShawn Shead and Jeron Johnson.  Shead, especially, can play both the safety and corner spots, so in a pinch we can totally put Shead in the nickel and be fine.

With our linebackers healthy and peaking at the right time, we should be just fine on defense.  Yes, we lost Farwell – who was our special teams captain – but we picked up Brock Coyle, an undrafted rookie, who could be Farwell 2.0.


So, those were the primary changes between 2013 and 2014.  Next, we’ll look at what’s the same.

When I was younger, I would’ve taken the position that:  if you’ve got a championship team, just keep that team together for as long as possible.  Indeed, the 95/96 Supersonics were a championship-calibre team (they just ran into the buzz-saw that was the greatest team of all time, with those Jordan/Pippen/Rodman 72-win Chicago Bulls).  If the 96/97 Sonics wouldn’t have tinkered so much (like signing Jim McIlvaine to a monster contract), they could’ve made serious runs at a title for the next 2-3 years.  Same goes for the 1995 Mariners.  Just keep that team together and make some moderate improvements to the pitching staff.  DON’T trade Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson to the fucking Yankees and hand them a million championships!

But, there’s one main difference between the NBA/MLB and the NFL:  keeping the team intact for too long will ultimately kill your franchise in football.  The shelf life for good-to-great baskeball and baseball players is WAY longer than it is in football.  In the NFL, if you’re approaching 30, you’re approaching retirement.  The ideal scenario in the NFL is to get young, coach those young players into being stars, and then constantly churn about 20% of your roster every year, where you’re shipping off the older players and infusing with young talent through the draft (or among the undrafted).

Could the Seahawks have retained Golden Tate, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Breno Giacomini?  Yeah, I think I can envision a scenario where we make it all work for at least one more year.  But, then we wouldn’t have gotten the team-friendly extensions for Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Doug Baldwin.  We wouldn’t be in a position to make Russell Wilson one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league next year.  Getting those guys done early (not counting Bennett, who was an unrestricted free agent at the time) is supremely important (as you can see by the subsequent cornerback deals for Patrick Peterson and the like, which were higher than what we ended up giving Sherman).

Yes, there were some losses to the roster.  There will always be losses to the roster.  Teams have to make important decisions each and every year.  Next year, we’re looking at the possibility of not having Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, James Carpenter, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, and Cliff Avril around.  I would anticipate at least a few of those players WILL be here, but that’s life in the NFL.  You never know.

Most importantly to the Seahawks chances in 2014 will be who is still around.  This is still a MONSTER of a lineup:

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Marshawn Lynch (RB)
  • Percy Harvin (WR)
  • Doug Baldwin (WR)
  • Jermaine Kearse (WR)
  • Zach Miller (TE)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Christine Michael (RB)

And those are just the skill position players!  Our offensive line is 4/5 intact (and looking MUCH improved at the guard positions, with Carpenter in the “best shape of his life” and with Sweezy having bulked up while still retaining his athleticism).  And, we’ve got a couple rookie receivers who may not make much of an impact this season, but who should prove to be important for many years to come.

Then, on defense, you’re looking at:

  • Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
  • Cliff Avril (DE)
  • Brandon Mebane (NT)
  • Tony McDaniel (DT/DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (MLB)
  • K.J. Wright (OLB)
  • Bruce Irvin (OLB
  • Malcolm Smith (OLB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)

I’d still put that defense up against any other defense in the NFL.  Depth will be an issue, but depth is an issue pretty much everywhere, every year.  This is still a Top 5 defense unless we just get absolutely crushed with injuries.


Now, it’s time for my favorite part of any preview post:  predicting the schedule results.

Week 1, vs. Green Bay, 5:30pm (Thursday Game)

I go back and forth on this one.  Like, 85% of me believes this will be a comfortable Seahawks victory.  14% of me believes this will be a nailbiter of a Seahawks victory.  And, that last 1% seems to think that Green Bay can come in here, withstand all the craziness, and pull off a huge upset.

Are you kidding?  A week’s worth of build-up.  The city shutting down large areas of SoDo and Pioneer Square.  A pre-game concert.  THE UNVEILING OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BANNER!  All of that alone would be enough to have the loudest 12th Man presence in the history of the world, but I expect there to be a hidden edge to this game.  The NFL cursed us with this game being the only home game played at night.  They’d have you believe that’s just the way it shook out, but I’m CONVINCED it’s because we keep crushing our opponents whenever we have a night game at home, and they’re tired of televising blowouts.  With this being our only chance to shine on a national stage (unless we somehow have one of our late-season games flexed), I think the 12th Man is going to take it to another level.  Look for this to be somewhere in the range of 38-17, Seahawks.

Week 2, at San Diego, 1:05pm

The schedule this year will be famous for the difficult first three games and the difficult final five games.  This has “Trap Game” written all over it.  Hangover from our season-opening win, combined with a rematch of the Super Bowl NEXT week back at home.  Considering the Chargers should be plenty good this year, I’m not calling this one a walk-over by any stretch.  In fact, I could see this being pretty high-scoring.  In the end, I think the Seahawks are able to do just enough to pull out a 33-30 victory.

Week 3, vs. Denver, 1:25pm

No chance.  No way, no how we lose this game.  I do think we’re looking at a closer contest, but that’s only because I think the Broncos’ defense has improved enough to warrant it.  Losing Wes Welker to suspension certainly hurts the Broncos.  Indeed, I think they’ll try to lean on their running game like they did in the pre-season.  How our defense responds will be key.  The Seahawks still win, but we’re looking at a 24-20 type game.

Week 4 – BYE

Bullshit.  Complete and utter bullshit.  I would’ve rather had the alternate NFL schedule that put the Seahawks on the road for three straight weeks over having a BYE in September.  For the record, NO team should have a BYE week in September.  They should all be clustered in late October and early November, to make it fair for everyone.  Either that, or break down and give every team two BYE weeks per year, because this shit is ridiculous.

Week 5, at Washington, 5:30pm (Monday Night)

If the NFL didn’t want to televise blowout Seahawks victories, they probably shouldn’t have put this game on the schedule.  Indeed, there appears to be a lot of dogs when it comes to the Monday Night slate this year; don’t know how that worked itself out, but I’d be pissed if I ran ESPN.  The Redskins don’t have a defense that can anywhere REMOTELY hang with our speed.  44-10, Seahawks victory.

Week 6, vs. Dallas, 1:25pm

This game is my wet dream.  A pass-first offense without a bona fide slot receiver and a shaky quarterback who takes too many chances?  If Richard Sherman doesn’t get his hands on at least 8 balls (interceptions, tips, etc.), I’ll be shocked.  35-17 Seahawks (and that’s only because it’s going to be 28-3 at halftime and we end up running out the clock in the second half; we could probably drop 50 on them if we tried for the full game).

Week 7, at St. Louis, 10am

The League did do us one favor with the schedule:  we’ve only got three 10am starts this year.  This is the first one.  No Sam Bradford, no win for the Rams.  Last year, we were lucky to come away from this game with a victory, needing a last-second goalline stop to preserve it.  This year, I’m expecting more of an easier go.  We’re not going to be perfect; they do still have a solid defensive line.  But, 27-13 is in order.

Week 8, at Carolina, 10am

Back to back road games starting at 10am Pacific time.  I’m already on record as saying that I think Carolina is going to struggle mightily this year.  But, this is still a road game on the East Coast, so a victory won’t come easy.  I’m looking at something like 19-9, with a LOT of field goals.  Seahawks improve to 7-0.

Week 9, vs. Oakland, 1:25pm

I like catching Oakland here.  Derek Carr will have had some bumps in the road by now, so his confidence will likely be shaken.  Their veterans on defense will be wearing down and/or injured by this point.  I’m expecting an easy victory, if maybe a sloppy one.  Still, we should take it going way, 27-6.

Week 10, vs. NY Giants, 1:25pm

Give me Eli, give me a nothing defense, and give me no weapons on offense.  Is it possible to shut out a team in back-to-back years?  I think so!  44-0, Seahawks.

Week 11, at Kansas City, 10am

Final morning game.  Kansas City is sure to come back to Earth this year, as their defense is worse and they still did nothing to improve the offense around Jamaal Charles.  Nevertheless, I got a feeling this one will be closer.  I’m looking at a 34-28 victory for the Seahawks.

Week 12, vs. Arizona, 1:05pm

There will be no repeat of last year’s fluke Cardinals victory in Seattle.  The defense is remarkably worse and Carson Palmer is remarkably a year older.  I’m sensing a 33-7 Seahawks victory.

Week 13, at San Francisco, 5:30pm (Thanksgiving)

The Seahawks will be the talk of the nation coming into this game, as their 11-0 record is the best in football.  However, their relatively tame schedule to this point (highlighted by poor seasons out of the teams they’ve played in recent weeks) will give pundits cause for concern:  is this team really as good as their record?

It will be at this point that I will give just about anything to steal a win in Santa Clara.  EVERY YEAR I keep thinking:  this will be the time.  And every year, the 49ers end up finding a way to pull it out.  I can’t remember the last time we won down there, but I’m sure it was the best day of my life.

Unfortunately, this year will be no different (prove me wrong, Seahawks!), as the underwhelming 49ers find a way to pull it out.  I’m thinking 28-24, Seahawks lose to go to 11-1.

Week 14, at Philadelphia, 1:25pm

Many pundits are eyeballing this as a defeat for the Seahawks.  The Eagles were pretty good last year; their offense is and was on point.  Could be looking at another Trap Game, as this one is sandwiched between the two games against the 49ers on our regular season schedule.

I don’t see it, though.  I think the Seahawks’ offense is the story of this game.  I’m looking at something around 44-34, Seahawks win.

Week 15, vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

And here is the game where we kill the 49ers, like we do every time they come to town.  Nothing fancy, just making Kaepernick our bitch.  31-13, Seahawks.

Week 16, at Arizona, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

By this point, I’m expecting to see the Cardinals in full give-up mode.  Carson Palmer will be either benched or injured, and their backup will be some lame-ass.  Their defense will still be terrible and the Seahawks will roll, 38-10.

Week 17, vs. St. Louis, 1:25pm

At this point, we’ll be 14-1 and we will have wrapped up home field advantage.  So, it’ll come down to a couple things:  how long will our starters play in this game, and how well will our backups hold the fort?

For the record, I DO think our starters will get at least some play.  My guess is, anywhere from 1 to 2 quarters.  Yes, Seahawks fans will lose their God damn minds (as, again, the Rams have the best defensive line in football, and the last thing we need is for Russell Wilson to take unnecessary hits).  I don’t think we’ll be necessarily all that sharp though.

In the end, the backups come in and they’ll get pushed around a little bit.  The Rams will make a late-game comeback, and the Seahawks will lose.  Something like 24-17.

The Seahawks will be 14-2, and in spite of the final-week defeat, will be on fire as a football team heading into the playoffs.  I think ultimately the schedule will prove to be easier than last year’s, as a lot of the teams we THINK will be good are ultimately not.  I think the 49ers start to decline, even though they’ve got enough talent to still be pretty okay.  In the end, I think the Seahawks are just too good.  They’re too talented, they’re strong at every position group, and they’ll have enough depth to push through and overcome any injuries in their way (except for the quarterback position, of course).

Yes, repeating as world champions is one of the most difficult things to do.  Hell, just winning ONE championship is one of the most difficult things to do!  But, we’re in a once-in-a-lifetime window here where the Seahawks are the best team in football.  Now, it’s time to go out and show the world just how great we truly are.

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 2, Offense – Which Seahawks Players Can Get Even Better?

You can catch Part 1 HERE.  It’s about the defense.  In case you couldn’t tell …

To make a long story short:  I’m taking a look at which Seahawks can stand to up their games.  Here’s a hint:  most of them can, because they’re such a young team.

Offensive Line

Look, what you see out of Okung and Unger is what you’re going to get.  I would venture to say they’re both smack dab in the middle of their primes.  In other words, they’re as good as they’re ever going to be; I wouldn’t expect either to get much better.  The only question about these two – as there is with any player on this team – is:  can they stay healthy?

A big question is James Carpenter.  He’s in the last year of his rookie deal.  As a first rounder, the Seahawks had an opportunity to lock him up for next year – at an inflated salary – but they chose to waive that right.  So, here’s another CONTRACT SEASON ALERT.  Love it when we get these!  Especially when they’ve had somewhat disappointing careers, yet have flashed the occasional brilliance.  In the case of Pancakes Carpenter, his run-blocking ability is unmatched on this roster.  He’s a mountain of a man who will flatten you ten times before he hits the ground!  But, he tends to whiff on pass blocking, and that’s kind of a problem.  Not a HUGE problem, mind you, as Russell Wilson has escapability.  But, it’s still something you’d like to see him fix.  He’s also had his fair share of injuries, which is never good.  Word on the street is, Carpenter is in the “best shape of his life”, so take that with the requisite grain of salt.  The coaches seem to like his potential; well, it’s now his fourth year, so it’s time to either see him reach that potential, or see him walk to another team at season’s end.  We do have plenty of depth behind him, so it’s not like we NEED him to produce.  It would just be nice, because he’s definitely a boost to our rushing attack.

J.R. Sweezy is another guy who the fans seem to have on the hot-seat, while the coaches seem to love his grit and whatnot.  I’ve heard plenty of positive remarks from Tom Cable about Sweezy taking a big step forward this year (his third season), so let’s hope that’s the case.  He’s another guy who tends to whiff on pass protection.  If we can keep our interior line from being a fucking sieve, maybe we can keep Russell Wilson upright for another season.

The biggest battle in Training Camp and the pre-season is at right tackle.  We’ve got one-year veteran Michael Bowie going up against rookie Justin Britt.  I would expect Bowie to improve leaps and bounds over his rookie season, now that he’s had the experience of real game play, topped with the comfort level of this being his second camp in the NFL.  If Britt wins the job, you can chalk that up to him having a higher pedigree.  Either way, I would expect the position of “Right Tackle” to have the potential for improvement over last year’s starter, Breno Giacomini (who was good, to be fair, but far from great).

There’s also a number of younger guys who are battling for those all-important backup spots.  Guards include:  Jared Smith, Greg Van Roten, and Stephen Schilling (among others).  Tackles include:  Caylin Hauptmann, Alvin Bailey, and Garry Gilliam (among others).  All of those listed I’ve seen on various mock-ups of possible 53-man rosters going into the regular season.  All of those listed will be fighting for, like, 3-4 spots, so figure it will be a tough battle.

Wide Receiver & Tight End

Percy Harvin is Percy Harvin.  When healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic players in the NFL.  No reason to expect improved play out of him; but there IS reason to expect improved performance out of our offense with him on the field.

Doug Baldwin & Jermaine Kearse are a couple of holdovers who are still young.  It’s hard for me to expect Baldwin to get any better than he already is, but it looks like he’s entering an era where his role expands beyond simply being the team’s slot receiver.  With Golden Tate’s departure, it looks like Baldwin is the next man up to be the guy on the outside.  His improvement will be dictated on how much better he gets at going after the deep ball in tight coverage.  He’s been pretty good at that thus far, but that’s certainly one aspect that could stand to get better.  Kearse, on the other hand, has a chance to really break out.  He’s steadily improved year by year:  first, as a special teams guy, and last year as sort of a third or fourth receiver option.  After Sidney Rice went down with injury, Kearse saw much more playing time, and continued to get better (culminating with his 4th & 7 TD catch against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, and his monster touchdown catch & run against the Broncos in the Super Bowl where he broke about a million tackles).  With Rice continuing to come back from his injury, Kearse figures to be the other receiver on the outside, opposite Baldwin.  If he can become a dependable receiver on that side, it would really help open things up for this passing game.

The Seahawks have a couple highly-touted rookies in Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood who figure to make the team if healthy.  Richardson’s small frame scares me, as he strikes me as a guy who is going to be in and out of the doctor’s office quite frequently.  Norwood looks to be a dependable guy as far as catching the ball and being a last-ditch outlet for the quarterback, but it’s hard to expect either of these guys to do all that much as rookies.  It’s just difficult for rookie wide receivers to grasp the NFL game right off the bat.

Ricardo Lockette returns for another chance.  He’s great on special teams, which will help his cause, but he’s been less dynamic on offense as a receiver.  It’ll be interesting to see if he has what it takes to crack the roster in this, his fourth season.  Lots of younger guys behind him who are hungry to catch on with a team.

As for the tight ends, I’d say Zach Miller is probably entering his decline phase.  With his contract set to expire after this season, I’d say that’s not the worst thing in the world.  Expect Luke Willson – last year’s most impactful rookie – to improve leaps and bounds, as he heads into 2015 as the likely #1 tight end on this roster.  Anthony McCoy is returning from a season-ending injury and is as good as he’ll ever be:  a blocking tight end with surprisingly good hands.

Running Back

Marshawn Lynch is nearing the end of his prime.  Running backs tend to fall off a cliff pretty quickly, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen this season.  Robert Turbin is entering his third season as the team’s backup, so he’s young and theoretically has room to grow.  But, I just don’t see it.  I think he’s a career backup, albeit a pretty good one.

The only running back I really expect to see a large amount of improvement in is Christine Michael.  That is, if the team gives him a chance to show what he’s got.  I get the feeling that Michael either isn’t that hard of a worker, or he isn’t really a team player.  What that comes down to, in my mind, is that he doesn’t handle the blitz pickup very well.  His natural talents should supercede all of that, but how do you get him on the field when Beastmode is still the heart & soul of the team, and when Turbin is more willing and able to do the dirty work in pass protection?  I don’t want to diminish the running back’s role in pass protection, but it seems to me Michael brings another dynamic element to this offense (a la Harvin and potentially Richardson) that you shouldn’t simply bury on the inactive list every week (like we did most of last year).  I guess we’ll see.


And it all comes down to this.  Russell Wilson, in his third year in the NFL.  In his first two years, Wilson has broken nearly every record for quarterbacks in their second year (passing yards, touchdowns, passer rating, wins, wins at home, wins in the playoffs), he’s started every game, and he’s brought us a championship.  He’s passed every test, overcome every obstacle, and seemingly gotten better with every game.  He’s the hardest worker on the team, and probably ranks pretty high on the “hardest worker in the NFL” list.

And yet, the same old arguments against him dog his career.  He’s still too short.  He gives up on plays in order to scramble too often.  He has trouble finding the open receiver.  He’s not elite.  He doesn’t rank in the top ten of quarterbacks in the NFL today.

To that, I would say:  what would his game look like if his offensive line wasn’t always injured, forcing him to run for his life more often than not?

I would also say:  what if he played in a division and a conference that didn’t have so many fucking amazing defenses?  It’s pretty easy for someone like Tom Brady to look good when he’s going up against the pigeons of the AFC and AFC East in particular.  Ditto Aaron Rodgers, as he plays the Bears, Lions, and Vikings six times a year.

Can Russell Wilson get better?  Absolutely.  It’s hard to peg a quarterback’s prime until he’s been in the league four or five years.  Considering Wilson’s numbers and all that he’s done to help turn this team into a bona fide wrecking machine, that has to be pretty scary for the rest of the NFL.

In fact, I’ll venture a prediction that Russell Wilson takes the biggest step forward of anyone on this team in 2014.  Look for him to shake off the doubters once again, as he leads this team back to a division title and, ultimately, a repeat championship.  Can this team – with all the pressure, with the talent level of their divisional opponents, with all the media attention and hype, with all the non-stop talking they’ve done – repeat as champions?  Of fucking course they can!  Because, 2014 is the year Russell Wilson vaults himself permanently into the Top 7 or 8 quarterbacks in the game today.

I’d say Top 5, but I’m no dummy.  I know this team is still a run-first enterprise.  But, given the weapons around Wilson in the passing game (in spite of Tate now playing for the Lions), I would expect even better numbers with a similar number of pass attempts.

Get excited, Seahawks fans.  You root on the best team in the NFL and one of the youngest.  They’re already great, and most of them can only get better from here.

The Top 10 Most Important Seahawks Of 2014

Ahh lists.  Is there any more pointless way to pass the time?  If there is, I haven’t found one more enjoyable!

We’re just about to hit up what’s known as the Dog Days of Summer.  I don’t know where that phrase originates from, but when it comes to sports, the Dog Days are those days/weeks where baseball has sort of gotten stale and where we’re still a ways away from the start of football season and the MLB playoffs.  Not a lot going on.  We’re a couple weeks off from Training Camp, so I guess that’ll be something.

In the meantime, I need something to write about.  Not a lot, mind you; the Mariners are reasonably good this year, so I won’t completely abandon ship like I’ve done in the past.  What used to be a bloated, and frequently incorrect list of “most important Seahawks” has since been streamlined into a tough, gritty list of only the most crucial!  And, surely, ten players who will actually be on the ROSTER when the season starts, thereby making me look like less of a fool than I have in seasons past.

Bookmark this page, because I’m going to reveal the Top 10 over the next few weeks.  Or, you know, just keep coming back to this site every day and you’re bound to run into the next installments on the front page.

As always, my criteria for determining the “most important” Seahawks comes down to this:  how much would it hurt the team if this person was injured, or otherwise unavailable to play for an extended period of time?  It’s all subjective, so feel free to give me your top 10s in the comments.  I think we all know who number 1 is going to be, but 2-10 should be pretty interesting to debate.

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Michael Bennett
  3. Richard Sherman
  4. Percy Harvin
  5. Earl Thomas
  6. Cliff Avril
  7. Bobby Wagner
  8. Doug Baldwin
  9. Russell Okung
  10. Kam Chancellor

Down here, we’ll get into the Honorable Mentions.  Guys who didn’t make the list, but are still rather important.  Guys like:  Marshawn Lynch.  You know, the guy who doesn’t like talking to reporters, but will gladly run and frolic around butt-ass-naked for the ESPN Body Issue.  You probably think I’m insane for not having him in my top 10.  Granted, if I was doing a Top 30, he’d probably be number 11, but this isn’t that.

The fact of the matter is, we’ve got a couple backs behind him who could carry the mail in a pinch.  Granted, they’re not as elite as Lynch, but if given a chance, I think Christine Michael could eventually be BETTER.  And, if we’re dealing with a worst-case scenario, I wouldn’t be too freaked out if Turbin had to start some games.  It’s all about the system.  And, while Turbin isn’t able to break the tackles and get the extra yards that Lynch can, he should still be solid enough to get us where we need to go.

The honorable mentions roll on with Brandon Mebane.  He’s the only true nose tackle on this roster, so losing him could be a BIG hit to our run defense and our pass rush.  This guy clogs the middle like a beast, frequently taking on two men at a time.  We’ve got other wide-bodies, but the majority of them are 3-technique tackles; we have no idea how productive they’d be lining up over center.

Our outside linebackers are some pretty good players, but unless we run into a serious epidemic, I think we’d be okay if we lost one or two to injury.  K.J. Wright is obviously the most important of the group, as he’s able to play all three linebacker positions.  You want him around in the event any of the other linebackers go down.  It’s unclear at the moment where he’ll be starting (the Seahawks have Irvin as the SAM that they’ll want to get into the games during passing downs; Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith is a natural WILL whose big play ability is something you just can’t leave on the bench for too long), but I can foresee no scenario outside of injury where Wright isn’t starting SOMEWHERE.  Keeping him healthy will be crucial, because injuries always happen, and he’s the most versatile guy on the defense.

It would be ideal to squeeze another mostly-healthy year out of Zach Miller.  I can’t imagine he’s got too many more miles left on that body, considering the pounding he has taken in his Seahawks career, frequently being our sixth lineman.  Luke Willson was by far our most productive player in the 2013 rookie class, and I think he has what it takes to be a #1 tight end for this team, but letting him play another year behind Miller certainly couldn’t hurt.  Willson will still get his playing time, he’ll have another year’s experience, and by 2015 he should be ready to take over for good.  Also, considering the question marks surrounding our third tight end, depth at the position will be of utmost importance.  Not relying completely on that depth – by keeping Miller healthy for the full slate – will be to our advantage.

An under-the-radar important player for the Seahawks is Greg Scruggs.  I may be opening myself up for ridicule, as who knows if Scruggs will make the team or not, but he showed great promise as a rookie.  Scruggs could be the young, cost-efficient pass-rushing defensive tackle we’ve been waiting for.  It would be nice to not have to keep reloading on 3-tech defensive tackles among the ranks of the 10-year veterans.  I think Scruggs – upon recovery from his 2013 season-ending injury – is poised to take a big step forward a la Clinton McDonald last year.

Finally, because I couldn’t put the entire L.O.B. and the entire offensive line in the Top 10, here I will acknowledge the depth in both areas.  Byron Maxwell will be important, as he’s starting opposite Richard Sherman.  He’s proven to be quite adept at locking down that side of the field, and he’s playing for a new contract, so it’s safe to expect a pretty big season out of him in 2014.  He’ll continue to get “picked on”, as quarterbacks opt to stay away from Sherman’s side of the ball, so let’s hope Maxwell comes back in peak physical condition.  Behind him, it appears the Seahawks have no shortage of depth options in Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon, and whoever else emerges from the pile in Training Camp.  You don’t ever want to see a rash of injuries or suspensions in the secondary, but if it happens (like it did, sort of, in 2013), it’s nice to know we can overcome thanks to our outstanding depth.  Lose Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner?  So what?

As for the offensive line, I’m usually of the opinion that this is the single most important part of any football team.  You need a solid offensive line to give the quarterback enough time to throw, to keep your quarterback upright and healthy, and to provide a rushing attack that will take pressure off of your quarterback, so he doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.  Then, the 2013 Seahawks went out and won the Super Bowl while losing their three best linemen to injury for huge chunks of season, and while playing with some of the lowest-rated guards in the league (James Carpenter, J.R. Sweezy, and Paul McQuistan).  Yeah, the offensive line is important, but if it’s so important, how did the Seahawks go 16-3 with a bunch of scrubs and reserves?

Tom Cable and a whole lotta talent at the skill positions.  It always helps having Lynch turn no-gains into positive rushes.  It always helps having Russell Wilson being as mobile as he is, and as accurate throwing the ball on the run.  It always helps having receivers who are able to get open in a hurry and improvise when things break down.

What 2013 showed us is that the depth at our offensive line position is better than we thought.  With Giacomini and McQuistan playing elsewhere, it’s believed there is a number of holes in 2014.  But, J.R. Sweezy isn’t going anywhere, and appears to have made a lot of strides in his first couple seasons as a starter.  Max Unger, when healthy, is a top-notch leader.  And, apparently James Carpenter is in “the best shape of his life” and also going into a contract season, so you know he’s got incentive to be his best.  The only real competition is Right Tackle, and we’ve got a two-way battle (at least) between Michael Bowie and Justin Britt.  Bowie had quite a bit of playing time in his rookie season last year, so he’s got a bit of a head start; but Britt was our 2nd round draft pick, so he’s got the higher pedigree over 7th rounder Bowie.  They appear to be neck-and-neck at the moment, so that battle will be decided in Training Camp and in the pre-season games.  Regardless, whoever loses that battle will still provide this team with excellent depth options in the event of injuries or ineffectiveness throughout the season.

There are lots more guys who deserve recognition – and I’m sure they’ll get it as the weeks and months go by – but for now, let’s move on to the top 10.  Number ten will be posted in the coming day(s).

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.

  1. Get More Draft Picks
  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.

Ranking The Seahawks’ Needs In The 2014 NFL Draft

You know, at some point, people are going to realize it’s going to require more than two dudes and a pair of handcuffs to escort Jack Bauer into any prison/interrogation room.  I’d bring along about five or six trigger-happy ex-Marines and hope for the best.  GOD I’m glad 24 is back!

The better your team is, the less excitement surrounds that team once it comes time to draft.  For bad teams (like the 2008 & 2009 Seahawks, for instance), the draft means everything.  It’s a chance to dream.  The NFL is the Great Parity Hope!  One amazing draft can flip your franchise from a bottom-feeder to a champion!  Well, maybe not JUST one, but it can certainly send you down the right path.

When you’re great – and especially when you ARE a champion, which is what we’re dealing with here – the draft isn’t so special anymore.  You’re not looking for that sparkplug to jumpstart your franchise; you’re just looking to maintain your level of dominance and hope to pluck some quality, inexpensive starters for down the road when it’s time to reload.  What this draft means for 2014, however, is merely to add to our depth.

The foundation is here, and it’s spectacular.  The bulk of the starters are set, and they’re elite at the most important positions.  That might lead one to believe that the draft doesn’t matter all that much, but don’t fall into that trap.  Bad, useless drafts start to pile up and stink like a mountain of dirty diapers in the sun.  If you take enough dumps on draft day, you can go from among the youngest to among the oldest teams in the league in the blink of an eye.

So, while this draft isn’t necessarily make-or-break for our immediate future, it’s still important in the Big Picture.  And, as you well know, the Seahawks are all about the Big Picture.

There are always needs in any draft, so here I’m going to rank the Seahawks’ needs in order of importance.

#1 – Get More Draft Picks

The Seahawks, right now, have six picks.  They received no compensatory picks, traded away their third-rounder to the Vikings for Percy Harvin, and traded away their seventh-rounder for Terrelle Pryor (the Seahawks received an extra fifth-rounder from Oakland in the Matt Flynn deal).  On top of that, they draft last in rounds 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 (not counting compensatory picks, of course).  Essentially, it’s like the Seahawks have a high 2nd, a high 3rd, two high 5ths, a high 6th and a high 7th.  I’m not necessarily dismissing their chances to find diamonds in the rough – after all, they’ve made careers in their last four drafts by doing just that – but it always helps to have more chances.

You can’t predict draft-day trades (which is why all mock drafts have very little predictive value), but you have to anticipate the Seahawks at least TRYING to be big players in the trade market.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of move-downs (like those 32nd & 64th picks) to net more 4’s, 5’s, and/or 6’s.  If we can bump that number to around eight or nine total draft picks, I’d be more comfortable.

Of course, failing that, the Seahawks should be a major factor in the undrafted free agent market.

#2 – Cornerback

Did I just blow your mind or DID. I. JUST. BLOW. YOUR. MIND?

Yes, yes, yes, there are plenty of other needs on this team.  Offensive line comes immediately to mind.  So does wide receiver, so does the pass rush, so does the interior defensive line.  But, I’m here to tell you that if I had my druthers, I’d like to see the Seahawks go for a cornerback with one of their top two picks.

You like the Legion of Boom?  So do I.  They might be my favorite unit of any sports team I’ve ever rooted for ever.  The safeties are locked up, and a deal with Richard Sherman could be imminent.  So, where do I come off listing cornerback as the #2 draft need?

Well, I’ll tell you:  the talk of this draft is far and away its wide receiver class.  Everyone expects a record number of receivers going in the first round.  Beyond that, there’s the usual inane quarterback chatter, and all of the linemen who will be plucked by the more sensible teams.  With the rising importance of safety, you have to figure there’s at least one or two pretty good ones.  Ditto cornerbacks; I don’t see the Seahawks getting the cream of the crop here.

But, if there’s a prototypical “Seahawks Cornerback” still on the board late in the first or early in the second round (depending on whether or not we’re able to trade back), I could totally see this team going in that direction.  An homage to last year’s drafting of Christine Michael out of nowhere when we still had Marshawn Lynch in his prime and a hungry young runner in Robert Turbin.

Here’s the deal:  Byron Maxwell is only signed through the end of 2014.  I fully expect him to continue starting across from Richard Sherman, and I fully expect him to be as good – if not better – than he was in the last few weeks of 2013.  And, when that happens, I fully expect him to sign a lucrative contract with another team (please not the 49ers).  So, in looking long-term (and really, not THAT long, just one season after this one), the Seahawks are going to need another starter to play across from Sherman.

And, not for nothing, but the depth at nickel & dime cornerback could use a boost as well.  In that area, we’ve got Jeremy Lane and a lot of question marks in 2014.

Don’t sleep on the cornerback position.  Just because we’ll have the best corner and the best safety combo in the league, it’s still a position of need and a pretty big one at that.

#3 – Pass Rushing Defensive End

Also known as the LEO defensive end.  It’s where Chris Clemons called his home the last few years.

The pass rush isn’t in total shambles – thanks to Michael Bennett’s 4-year deal – but it could use an infusion of young talent.  A big question going into the 2015 season will be:  can the Seahawks afford to extend Cliff Avril?  If he has a repeat of his 2013 season – or improves – then I would wager that we can’t afford him.  If he regresses, or gets injured for a big chunk, then I’d have to ask if we even WANT to bring him back, but that’s neither here nor there.

Elite pass rushers are at a premium in the NFL.  Recruiting these guys in free agency requires blowing a big chunk of your salary cap.  It would be nice to have a young, cost-controlled option from the draft.

The only problem with this is:  it’s hard to find a pass rushing end who is capable of starting right away.  The best guys are usually picked high in the first round.  I’m not saying it’s impossible for the Seahawks to find a worthy guy at this position, given their crappy draft picks at the bottoms of nearly every round; but I am saying it might take more time for that guy to develop.

Unlike offensive linemen, running backs, and linebackers – who tend to start and succeed right away – defensive ends tend to need a little more seasoning.  If we get lucky, then great, we’ve got a guy who can start at the end opposite Michael Bennett.  If we’re not so lucky, then maybe we just drafted a guy who, in a few years, will develop into Michael Bennett’s replacement.  Either way, it’s something that needs to be addressed this year.

#4 – Defensive Tackle

Because Brandon Mebane won’t be around forever.  And last year’s picks at the position – Jordan Hill & Jesse Williams – didn’t necessarily inspire a whole lot of confidence with their rookie campaigns.

Yes, it’s always possible to find this position on the cheap in free agency, but if you go that route, you’re opening yourself up for a lot of injury risk (if they’re cheap and seeing free agency, they’re either not very good, or they’ve been injured in the recent past).  Brandon Mebane is so important to this line because he’s so durable.  Finding someone like him, who’s just as durable, is a huge need for this D-Line going forward (and would obviously save us a few bucks to boot).

#5 – Linebacker

Like cornerback, linebacker appears to be a position of strength with no holes outside of some back-end depth spots.  But, take a look at where these guys are in their rookie deals:

  • Bobby Wagner is signed thru 2015
  • Malcolm Smith is signed thru 2014
  • K.J. Wright is signed thru 2014
  • Bruce Irvin is signed thru 2015 (but is converted from defensive end and will be entering his second season as a strong-side linebacker)

I feel like we might be able to re-sign Wright to a reasonable deal.  I think Wagner will be the bigger priority, but his cost might be a little prohibitive.  Malcolm Smith is the biggest wild card of the bunch.  If he continues this opportunistic roll he’s been on since the midway point of 2013, he very well could find himself on another team with a big, fat contract.

Either way, I don’t expect the Seahawks will be able to extend all of these guys to long-term deals, so a starting replacement will likely be necessary as soon as 2015.  I don’t think that replacement is currently on the Seahawks’ roster, which means they’re going to want to draft someone.  Maybe in the fifth round or thereabouts.  I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go any higher than a fourth rounder, but I’ve been surprised before.

#6 – Wide Receiver

This spot was pretty high on my list before the Seahawks re-signed Sidney Rice.  For the record, I expect Rice to make the team and be among its top four receivers.  So, anyone drafted at this position will have to be a special teams ace or ride the pine until someone above him gets injured.

Like defensive end, I don’t expect this spot to get a whole lotta play in 2014.  Nevertheless, when looking at the future, it would be nice to have someone at a reasonable salary, especially when we’ve got Harvin taking up so much cap room.

Doug Baldwin is with us through at least 2014.  If we can’t work out a long-term deal with him, then we’ll be hurting.  Jermaine Kearse is also with us thru 2014, but he may be a restricted free agent for 2015 (in a sense, getting a similar tender that Baldwin has this year).  I don’t expect Kearse’s value to skyrocket, but you never know.  If there are injuries, and he ends up picking up the slack, catching a bunch of touchdowns and whatnot, he very well could price himself out of this market.

It’s just a nice luxury to have a home-grown receiver on a small deal.  Golden Tate used to be that luxury for the last couple years of his deal before moving on.  Finding that kind of value – even if it takes a year or two for him to grow into the position – is huge in this league.

#7 – Offensive Line

You ask most Seahawks fans who they want to see with our first draft pick, and I bet a big majority says, “An offensive lineman”.  I wouldn’t be among them.

Right now, pre-draft, the Seahawks have six guys with SOME starting experience.  That’s not counting Alvin Bailey, who filled in nicely at times as a rookie last year.  If push comes to shove, I think the O-Line looks like this in week 1:

  • Russell Okung – LT
  • James Carpenter – LG
  • Max Unger – C
  • J.R. Sweezy – RG
  • Michael Bowie – RT

That still leaves this team with enough depth to fill in, as well as another rookie or two to fight for a roster spot.

Frankly, I’m more interested in this Caylin Hauptmann guy who we kept on our roster all year last year than I am in anyone we might draft on the line this weekend.  Either way, I’m not as concerned about the line as most people.  Sure, our guards were sub-par last year, but I don’t think that necessarily means you have to go and get one in the first couple of rounds.  Now, if some great guy falls and we’re looking at a high first round grade on someone who slipped for no apparent reason, then fine.  But, I feel like the best guards are going to be snapped up well before we get to pick 32.

Do what you’ve been doing.  Find that value later in the draft or among the undrafted free agents.  No sense in reaching for someone when you can mold a nobody into a legitimate starter.

For the record, I don’t think J.R. Sweezy is that bad, and I kind of expect him to make a big jump in 2014.

#8 – Tight End

I’m back-tracking like you would not believe on the prospects of ASJ.  Right after the Super Bowl, I had him in my sights as a possible target with pick #32, but not anymore.  Part of it is the foot issue, but part of it is I just don’t know if he’s going to translate into an elite professional.

He’s not particularly fast.  He’s not freakishly athletic.  He was a valued member of the Washington Huskies and, at times, a dominant force in the red zone, but here’s the thing:  he’s not much of a blocker.  If you’re not a very good blocker on the line, then you better be the type of pass-catcher that they’ve got in New Orleans with Jimmy Graham, or in New England with Gronk.  I don’t think he’s that.  I think linebackers in the NFL will be able to keep up with him no problem.  He might be able to use his size to leverage a career in the Tony Gonzalez mold (not the best line blocker, not the speediest guy), but that’s going to require a work ethic I’m not sure ASJ possesses.

Look, I hope I’m wrong about the guy.  I hope wherever he goes, he terrorizes everyone who let him fall in the draft (again, please don’t go to the 49ers).  I just know that I don’t want the Seahawks to pick him (and no small part of that is because I think he needs to get away from his hometown and away from friends & family to just focus on football).

The Seahawks might want to pick SOMEONE at the position.  If, for nothing else, than some Anthony McCoy insurance.  If they do look for this position, I’d like for them to go low in the draft (or, more likely, in the realm of the undrafted).

We’ll need a replacement for Zach Miller eventually.  Luke Willson impressed me as a rookie, but will he be able to carry the load as a blocking tight end in our run schemes?

If it were up to me, the Seahawks would find a long-term stud of a blocking tight end and pair him with Luke Willson going forward.  Willson in small doses, I’m sure, can block on the line just fine.  But, when we need to beef up, then we bring in our bulldozer.

Anyway, that’s pretty much that.  I guess the Seahawks could consider the safety position, but I’m not sure I see much of a point in that (unless Kam Chancellor’s hip injury is worse than we realize, in which case I think I need to start this post over again).  I’ll be very disappointed if they draft another running back or another quarterback.  I mean, seriously, you can only carry so many on one roster!  We’ve already got too many of both as it is!