The Seahawks Drafted Their Left Tackle Of The Future In Charles Cross

I’ll admit, I was much more excited about this last night than I am today.

“Excited” might be a strong word. I was pleased. I was vehemently against drafting a quarterback, and it didn’t seem like we were set up well to get an elite defensive end. The top two cornerbacks were off the board, and the NFL seems adamantly against drafting a run-stuffing DT in the top 10, so I wasn’t going to get Jordan Davis in here (he fell to the Eagles at 13).

So, we got Charles Cross from Mississippi State. He was a two year starter and is leaving college after his redshirt sophomore season. He’s only 21 years old, and is widely regarded as one of the best – if not THE best – pass protecting left tackles in the entire draft.

That’s great, right? Sure, it was an Air Raid offense, but that just further bolsters his pass protecting bona fides.

Now, obviously, that means his run blocking is probably a little lacking. But, people are saying it’s not horrible. In my book, I’d rather have a left tackle who’s great at pass blocking, and coach him up into being a competent run blocker.

I know what you’re thinking: these are the Seahawks we’re talking about. They value running more than most teams. He’s going to have his work cut out for him if this is going to work. I would say that even if we reach some mythical 50/50 split of run/pass, that still means he’s going to need to keep the quarterback upright half the time, especially on all-important third downs.

Here’s what’s giving me pause: for starters, this guy at Field Gulls doesn’t sound very high at all on Cross. Also, I can’t help but be at least a little skeptical when the consensus all agrees that this was the best and safest option for the Seahawks; what the hell do they know? Really, how inspired can you be when you know the consensus ALSO says that we got the third-best left tackle in the draft. What remains to be seen is whether this was a true Top 3 situation, and then there was a cliff before #4 and the rest … or if this was actually a Top 2 situation, and Cross is in a significantly lower tier.

It got me to wondering: what’s the history in the NFL look like for the third left tackle taken?

Russell Okung is the lazy comp, because he was the last left tackle the Seahawks drafted in the first round. He also represents the start of that generation of Seahawks football, so we’re all projecting this onto Cross. The Seahawks brought in Okung, and four seasons later we were in the Super Bowl! Well, when is anything ever that simple?

Russell Okung, if you’ll recall, was the second LT in the 2010 draft. Trent Williams went two picks earlier, and he was the consensus #1 (who was the better talent and had the better career). The third LT? Anthony Davis, who the 49ers took at 11. He was … okay, but not an elite tackle in this league.

2011 was a poor year for left tackles. Tyron Smith was the first one taken at 9 and he was great. Nate Solder was the next one drafted at 17; he’s been competent. After that? Anthony Castonzo for the Colts at 22. He was a competent starter who earned a second contract, but injuries derailed him at the end.

I now realize I went back too far in my sample size, so I’ll be quick with the rest.

The third left tackle in 2012 was fine; the third LT in 2013 (Lane Johnson) was arguably the best of the entire draft that year; the third LT in 2014 (Taylor Lewan) was also arguably the best of the entire draft; the third LT taken in 2015 is better left unsaid; the third LT in 2016 was Laremy Tunsil but that was a weird gas mask weed situation involving the best talent in the draft; 2017 was another bad year for tackles, the first not taken until 20; 2018 was another terrible year for tackles; and 2019 has yet to bear any fruit at the position. It’s probably too soon to look at the last couple of drafts with any certainty.

So, I dunno. We’ll wait and see, I guess.

What I will say is that the Seahawks can’t fuck this up. It’s not a matter of whether or not they made the right choice. I would argue the Seahawks HAD no other choice. Failing a trade down and drafting Jordan Davis, the Seahawks were stuck with Cross. Cross was the clear-cut best LT available, which – other than quarterback – was our biggest need.

There’s nothing wrong with the Cross pick. There’s nothing wrong with Cross the prospect. He has all the tools and all the athleticism and all the body type you need for a good left tackle in this league. Now, it’s up to the coaching staff. They need to get the best out of him. They need to build up his pass protection skills, while at the same time significantly bolstering his run blocking skills. He’s not going to be the next Walter Jones; that man doesn’t exist. But, they need to develop Cross into AT LEAST the next Russell Okung. If they don’t do that, then this rebuild is totally fucked.

Left tackle is the first and most important domino in this whole thing. Cross solidifies the offensive line. With that out of the way, we continue to tinker with the skill position players. Simultaneously, we go H.A.M. on the defense to get it back to where it can carry this team.

With all that in place, THEN we get the quarterback of the future. But, that only works if the O-Line is there to keep the quarterback from getting killed.

Are You Not Entertained: Seahawks Flush Season Down The Toilet

The game couldn’t have started off any worse.  First drive:  Atlanta marched right down the field for a touchdown.  The defense got caught by a couple penalties and our shaky secondary got picked on.  Jeremy Lane couldn’t have been more useless last night in proving what a collosal drop-off he is from Richard Sherman.  Of course, it wouldn’t be the Seattle Seahawks without more catastrophic injuries, hence the Shaq Griffin loss on the opening drive.  He was replaced by Byron Maxwell, who did okay, but I really would’ve liked to have seen what Griffin could’ve done in this matchup (and I REALLY would’ve liked to have seen what the defense would’ve looked like with Griffin on one side and Maxwell on the other, with Lane in the Dime package, if on the field at all).

Then, as Tyler Lockett brought back his first of many tremendous kickoff returns out past the 50 yard line, it looked like we’d be in for a barn-burner.  Instead, Russell Wilson threw a mind-boggling interception on 2nd & 1, which led to another easy Atlanta touchdown.  On the back of another quality kickoff return, the Seahawks pulled the game back to within 7 points on yet another nifty touchdown to Jimmy Graham, and after forcing the first of only 3 Atlanta punts, it looked like we’d climb back into this thing.

Not so fast:  another disastrous play by Wilson – this time a sack/fumble – led to a defensive touchdown and a 21-7 Atlanta lead.

The Seahawks and Falcons went back and forth the rest of the half, with Atlanta leading 24-17 with a little over a minute left to go.  The Seahawks got into field goal range almost immediately, and then they did what all shitty teams do:  they settled for that field goal.  EXCEPT NOT SO FAST!  They had a fake all lined up and ready to go, which was killed on Twitter all last night and will continue to be killed in Seattle the rest of this week, but I’m telling you right now:  that fake would’ve worked if it didn’t get blown up by Grady Jarrett, who flew past the long snapper and stopped Luke Willson in the backfield.  You stop that guy, and the Seahawks had that thing blocked all the way to the endzone.  Instead, it’s a missed field goal opportunity (which, when you figure you’ve got Blair Walsh, is at best a 50/50 proposition, from any distance 40 yards or closer), and a reason to point fingers at the coaching staff.

The Seahawks moved the ball all day, at will.  I know there were turnovers and whatnot, but Jon Ryan only punted once all day.  Tyler Lockett racked up 197 yards in kickoff returns alone, and the offense tacked on another 360.  Russell Wilson accounted for 258 yards passing, with another 86 yards rushing, and 3 combined touchdowns.  Of course, he gets dinged for the pick and the fumble leading directly to 14 Atlanta points (pretty important when the Seahawks only lost by 3), but yeah, let’s go ahead and put all of this on the coaches.

The way I see it, there was only one time I was disappointed in Pete Carroll, and that’s when he challenged the Doug Baldwin drop.  I know, he’s Doug Baldwin, and believing he caught the ball inspires more confidence than what your own eyes tell you, but you can’t listen to him in that situation.  You’ve got to trust in your staff who – upon seeing that replay JUST ONCE – should’ve been telling you to stay away from that red challenge flag.  And, if the staff didn’t tell you that, then someone should be fired, because they were asleep on the job.  That timeout was WAY more important than stroking some wide receiver’s ego, and I’ll argue that cost us the game more than the fake field goal attempt.

Even still, the Seahawks had a chance.  I tried to predict a Seahawks victory with 3:49 left in the game, down 11 points.  And, sure enough, we marched right down the field, scoring on an impressive throw to Baldwin with 3 minutes to go in the game.  Hell, we even hit the 2-point conversion!  (which, in hindsight, might’ve actually lost us the game, as I have to believe we would’ve been more aggressive in that final drive – as opposed to settling for the game-tying field goal try – if we were down by 5 points).

In the end, the Seahawks got the ball back, down 3, with almost 2 full minutes to go in the game (and no time outs).  And again, they got into Falcons territory super quick … and then proceeded to throw short pass after short pass, instead of going for the jugular and winning this thing in regulation.  I’ll never understand how Pete Carroll can be so aggressive one minute, and so conservative the next.  There’s really no rhyme or reason to it sometimes.

But, there we were, a 52 yard field goal away from sending this game into overtime.  A game we’d been losing since the opening drive, would’ve finally been tied for the first time since 0-0.  It was straight enough, it looked on target, but it fell just under the crossbar for the soul-crushing defeat.  Blair Walsh needs to be off this team going into 2018, that’s all I’ve got to say.  He obviously doesn’t trust his leg – which is why he put all his focus into making sure it was on target, as opposed to putting the oomph required to get the ball to fly 52 fucking yards – he’s a mental case, and he doesn’t deserve to be on this team.  Period.

You can say this about every single loss, but there really is a lot of blame to go around.  Some people blame the fake field goal.  Some people blame the botched challenge.  How about blaming Doug Baldwin for dropping an easy 3rd down conversion late in the game?  Or, how about punting in that situation when you know your fucking defense couldn’t stop a God damn thing?  You’ll notice the Falcons got a field goal right after that sequence, to go up two scores; if we go for it on 4th down and fail, HEY, they’re in field goal range already and maybe we save a couple minutes!

You can blame the dropping-ass receivers, you can blame the refs for clearly looking for reasons to throw flags on us (while overlooking all the holding and interfering the Falcons were doing on very similar-looking plays), you can blame the secondary for not only allowing Julio Jones to do whatever he wanted, but for making the rest of their mediocre receivers look like Julio Fucking Jones.  You can even play Poor Me and blame all the injuries, because if we’re being honest, if you put both of these two teams on the same field at full strength, the Seahawks would wipe the floor with the Falcons.

But, for me, the number one culprit in why the Seahawks lost falls squarely on the defensive line.  Specifically the pass rush, as the rush defense was okay, aside from not tightening up on the goalline.  4 QB hits?  1 sack?  Matt Ryan had all FUCKING day to throw the ball!  And I don’t give a shit if he spent most of the day getting the ball out quick, do you understand how many resources we’ve piled into bolstering this D-Line?  Even without Avril, we’ve got Michael Bennett (big money contract), we’ve got Frank Clark (high draft pick, could’ve been a first rounder if not for his trouble in college), we’ve got Sheldon Richardson (All Pro talent, who we traded away a 2nd round pick for), we’ve got Dion Jordan (taking a flier on the 3rd overall draft pick in 2013), we’ve got Naz Jones (another relatively high draft pick), we’ve got Dwight Freeney (a future Hall of Famer who was non-existent in this game), and we regularly run K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner up the middle on blitzes (two Pro Bowl/All Pro type talents at linebacker).  WE HAVE ALL OF THAT, and all we could muster were 4 QB hits and 1 measly sack?

Un-fucking-acceptable.  All we heard about all off-season and all pre-season was about how the Seahawks were going all in on making the pass rush better, and it looks NO DIFFERENT than it did last year, in spite of the influx of all this new talent.  What a fucking joke; the D-Line should be fucking ashamed of the performance it’s put up this season, and in particular last night.

You’re at home for Christ’s sake!  You’ve got nearly 70,000 screaming fans at your back!  You’ve got the other team scrambling with their silent counts and getting guys lined up correctly, and that’s as good as you’ve got?  Fuck that.  Fuck that and fuck you.

As noted by countless people, this loss knocks the Seahawks out of the division lead and out of the playoffs entirely, if they started today.  But, I mean, who cares now?  It’s not like this team has a Super Bowl run in it anyway.  I mentioned this on Twitter last night and I think it’s very appropriate today:  should we even be rooting for the Seahawks to make the playoffs?  What’s a pointless Wild Card game going to prove?  Give me the Top 20 draft pick.  Get a REAL impact player in here to start ruffling some feathers.

This isn’t a good team, particularly the defense.  It’s really sad to watch.  A once-pround, dominant group has now given up over 30 points in 3 of 10 games.  And sure, the offense looks better than ever, but no one ever said “Offense Wins Championships.”  Russell Wilson is great, and if you were voting on the award objectively (and not based on which team has the most wins), he is clearly the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (because without him, we’d be even worse than the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers, which is saying a lot) – also, for the record, Tyron Smith, left tackle of the Dallas Cowboys, is probably #2 on the Objective MVP list, with how that team has fallen apart since he went down, but that’s neither here nor there.  But, Russell Wilson can’t do it all.  He can’t be quarterback AND running back AND wide receiver AND cover guys on special teams AND kick field goals AND cover guys on defense AND sack the quarterback.  I mean, he’s Russell Wilson, he’s not 53 guys.