This year’s draft may have been the most important in recent history for most teams. With free agency on hold, and contact with players not allowed, many teams are taking undereducated shots in the dark at what their needs will be and what free agency may bear.
The Seahawks came in as one of the teams with the most uncertainty. They have a new offensive coordinator, but their 2010 starter at quarterback is a free agent. The quarterback on their roster—the much-maligned Charlie Whitehurst—doesn’t appear to have a long future in Seattle. Their offensive line was awful last season, despite the impressive rookie season of Russell Okung (when he was healthy). Brandon Mebane is a free agent, and most of the team’s offensive line was injured last year, while there isn’t much depth behind pleasant surprise Chris Clemons. Marcus Trufant has underperformed for what seems like a half-decade, and Kelly Jennings seems bound for the unemployment line. The only real certainty on defense is that Earl Thomas figures to be a part of it for a long time.
Who’s under center?
The sexiest storyline going into the draft had to do with the quarterback position. With Matt Hasselbeck’s status in limbo, and guys like Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and perhaps others available in trade, the draft had the opportunity to fire a pretty strong salvo that indicated the Seahawks decision at quarterback.
As it turned out, they passed on Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick. They passed twice on Ryan Mallett (once via trade). They passed on Ricky Stanzi four times. They passed on Greg McElroy eight times.
With Cincinnati drafting Dalton, it is looking more and more like it will be either Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer in Seattle next year.
25. James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
The team worked really hard to trade this pick, obviously. Nobody was inspired by this pick, including Nick Saben, who could be seen sitting with fellow Alabama player Mark Ingram saying “James Carpenter!?” with a look of disgust, only to find out that he’d actually played for him at Alabama. In all seriousness, Carpenter may not be the most athletic tackle, and wasn’t a great value at No. 25, but with Tom Cable on board we can be assured that there was some evaluation point that excited the coaching staff and front office. Whether Carpenter plays guard or right tackle is probably dependent on whether or not Robert Gallery signs with the Seahawks. From the sounds of things, like Carpenter or not, it seems like he’ll be able to play a lot of snaps next year.
Jack of lack-luster trades
John Schneider had reportedly tried to trade out of his top-round pick extensively in the days and minutes that led up to the draft. He failed, and managed to make one trade in the second round that saw a net loss according to the Trade Value Chart. They traded down to the third round though, and made a net gain in terms of bodies.
They made it pretty obvious that they’d be protecting whoever ends up under center, or at least trying to.
75. John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin
Whatever combination of Max Unger, Chris Spencer, Moffitt and others that is in Seattle next year will be competing, perhaps, for two interior line positions (assuming a veteran is brought in). The way it looks right now, the team will start a very young line, with Moffitt in good shape to get a starting job. Reports have Moffitt as the actual leader of the Wisconsin offensive line, ahead of Gabe Carimi, who was drafted in the first round.
Best player available?
After two mostly uninspiring days, the Seahawks entered day three with the second pick of the day. Their past two picks hadn’t addressed what was perceived to be their top needs, nor the best player available. At least one of those changed at the beginning of day three.
99. K.J. Wright, OLB, Mississippi State
Linebacker may not have been a top need, but Wright was a good value at the top of the fourth round. The team could use some fresh blood at linebacker, where some combination of Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne, Aaron Curry, and LeRoy Hill have manned the second-layer. Wright can rush the passer, and adds a degree of nastiness to the defense that perhaps none of the other linebackers do.
107. Kris Durham, WR, Georgia
Durham was a disappointing and gigantic reach. And while he seems disappointing, as the second guy behind A.J. Green, a position as dependent as wide receiver yields some strange results. I like this pick because I think that it shows that the Seahawks talent evaluators are willing to dig deep, however, the reach gives this pick a very low grade.
Competition, competition, competition
Pete Carroll has preached competition, and it looks like it will exist in the secondary.
154. Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford
156. Mark LeGree, S, Appalachian State
173. Byron Maxwell, CB, Clemson
Perhaps the only thing truly telling about these picks is that LeGree is a free safety, the same position as Earl Thomas, meaning the team will either sign a strong safety, or (my preference) start 2010 draftee Kam Chancellor at the position. Each of these guys is well-sized for the position, and hyper-athletic for their size.
Rounding it out
Without drafting a quarterback, or a guy to play “the elephant” the Seahawks may have lost their chance by the time the final rounds came. However, they at least got insurance in the final rounds.
Levarius Levingston, DE, LSU
Malcolm Smith, LB, USC
Levingston is obviously insurance for Red Bryant. Does Smith play safety? Make the team?
What we learned?
Pete Carroll and Jon Schneider really put their talent evaluation to the test this year, making a lot of picks out of what seemed like nowhere. If they work out they will look like geniuses, but if they don’t, this draft could be their undoing.