The Seahawks had arguably the best first two days of any team in the NFL draft. It can be argued that each of the Seahawks picks filled a need, presented good value, and was the best player available.
With a new show in town, it’s always interesting to distinguish new draft strategy. While the rest of the league seemingly traded with the Patriots (as seems like is always the case) the Seahawks sat on their picks. At times I sat eager to scream for Pete Carroll to trade back into the first or second round (luckily my roommate was gone both days of the draft), and at others, while teams reached for lesser talent, I was happy knowing that the Seahawks had drafted sound football players.
As with any draft, there are names that I’d have rather seen drafted at almost every selection (though I’m excited to see Russell Okung in Seattle, and with who was left at six, I couldn’t think of any better fit in Seattle).
With that stated, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each draft pick.
No. 6: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
What to love:
Okung isn’t exactly a mauler, he’ll never be confused with Jonathan Ogden, but he’s an excellent athlete for his size. I’d argue that the athleticism he showed was on par with Ryan Clady, who played for offensive line coach Alex Gibbs in Denver. Trent Williams was drafted No. 4 overall, and wasn’t on the board when the Seahawks picked, and many have placed him higher than Okung seemingly based only on long speed. Even in Gibbs zone-blocking scheme, which values offensive linemen who can release from their blocks and make blocks at the second-level against linebackers and safeties, no offensive lineman will be making blocks 40 yards down the field.
Okung is the most scheme-versatile lineman in this draft too. So if the Pete Carroll regime in Seattle flops, Okung should have a place at left tackle with whatever coach may replace him. Trent Williams and Anthony Davis, two other athletic tackles drafted early in the first round, each have work ethic concerns. No such thing with Okung. Long arms, athleticism, and a near-perfect fit into Gibbs’ ZBS make Okung an easy player to love in Seattle. He’ll sign for a ton of money, but he’s no short-armed Robert Gallery.
What to hate:
It’s hard to find things to dislike about Okung. He wasn’t quite as athletic as Williams, though he didn’t do every combine drill. Where Williams excelled, typically, Okung didn’t work out. In terms of long-speed, Okung’s 10 and 20 yard splits were on par with, or better than Ryan Clady.
No. 14: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
What to love:
The NFL has turned into a league where teams regularly line up with three or four wide receivers. Where safeties used to be assigned to cover runningbacks and tight ends in man coverage, in order to disguise coverage schemes, they are now covering slot receivers on a regular basis. Thomas is good enough in man that he’ll be able to play nickel back if necessary, and will be placed somewhere on the cornerback depth chart. But he can also drop back into zone and play like a traditional Cover-Two safety. The Seahawks have needed safety help for a half-decade, and in Thomas they found a fast-riser, who many would argue was the second-best safety in this draft (some would argue he’s the best) and can step in from day one and cover most NFL slot receivers.
What to hate:
A year ago, I’d hate that Earl Thomas simply wasn’t Taylor Mays. Mays is a tremendous athlete, was a leader on USC’s defense, and could even play linebacker if his weight ballooned and he lost some of his speed. Now, the biggest knock on Thomas is that he’s a bit undersized and won’t create fear for opposing receivers going across the middle. The problem though, with big hitters, is that while they deliver a huge hit to a receiver, they take a pretty hefty load of punishment themselves. Thomas is a better fit for what teams look for in modern day safeties, and doesn’t come with the need to find a place in an NFL scheme like Mays. If Thomas can stay healthy against great competition and world class athletes who weigh over 200 lbs, he’ll be an asset on the Seahawks defense.
No. 60: Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
What to love:
While Michael Floyd may ultimately be a better receiver, Tate was something of the “straw that stirred the drink” at Notre Dame. With the ball in his hands in space, there may not have been a more dangerous man in college football that Tate. With the NFL seemingly stuck on experimenting with the Wildcat, Tate can take snaps in the Wildcat, and can probably even throw out of it. I’ve called him a “poor man’s Percy Harvin.” That distinction sounds somewhat insulting, but Harvin was a solid contributor for the Vikings this year, and the only negative compared to Harvin in Tate’s case is a lack of world-class athleticism.
If Tate’s speed translates to the pros, he could be a formidable gadget, something like Antawn Randle El (I hate you) and Santonio Holmes combined, but a better blocker.
What to hate:
Tate runs crappy routes. If he comes to Seattle and works hard at the technical aspects of the game of football (route running, blocking) he could be a valuable contributor to the offense. But if he tries to live off the national fanfare associated with he and Notre Dame, he’ll be quickly ushered into a league where name doesn’t matter, and everyone and their grandmother can run a 4.5 40 yard dash. Tate’s a physical receiver, and has shown willingness to fight for balls, hopefully being a second round pick will give him extra motivation to succeed.