OK, Seattle Seahawks fans. Now’s the time to dictate the franchise’s future.
Would you rather have the next Walter Payton? Or the next Cedric Benson?
The next Philip Rivers? Or the next Art Schlichter?
Would you rather have Ahmad Rashad or Peter Warrick? Kenny Easley or Keith McCants?
All were among high selections in NFL drafts over the years. In fact, all those names were No. 4 picks, the latest of which currently belongs to the Seahawks.
When Seattle is on the clock next Saturday morning, the immediate objective will be to add a player who can help the team get back on the winning track. But a bigger goal might be to add another name to an impressive list of Hall of Famers.
Payton, Otto Graham, Gale Sayers and “Mean” Joe Greene are among the eight Hall of Fame players who were selected fourth overall. Derrick Thomas will join that list this summer, while players like Edgerrin James and Jonathan Ogden may one day join them.
Kenny Easley was a fourth overall selection (in 1981), as were linebacker Willie McGinest (in ’94), defensive end Chris Doleman (in ’85) and Rashad (in ’72, when he was known as Bobby Moore).
But the No. 4 pick does not guarantee greatness. Names like Dewayne Robertson, Mike Croel and Bruce Clark have also gone fourth overall.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably still kick themselves over taking offensive lineman Paul Gruber fourth in 1988, rather than go with one of two quality receivers named Tim Brown and Sterling Sharpe.
Think the Green Bay Packers are happy about selecting running back Brent Fullwood over defensive back Rod Woodson in 1987? Or the Baltimore Colts didn’t quickly regret taking Schlichter instead of Jim McMahon or running back Marcus Allen in 1982?
More often than not, the fourth overall pick has turned into a pretty decent player, a trend that the Seahawks hope to continue next weekend.
The Seahawks’ most likely targets include two offensive linemen (Virginia’s Eugene Monroe and Baylor’s Jason Smith) as well as a linebacker (Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry) and, if the cards fall right, maybe even Matt Hasselbeck’s eventual replacement at quarterback (Matthew Stafford of Georgia or USC’s Mark Sanchez).
The Seahawks have held the No. 4 overall pick once, and that turned into one of the best defensive players to wear a Seattle uniform. While Easley is a long shot to make the Hall of Fame because injuries limited him to seven NFL seasons, his place in the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor was well-deserved.
The next Easley may well have been sitting at No. 4 had it not been for an 11th-hour decision from USC safety Taylor Mays, a Seattle native, to return to school. Instead, the Seahawks appear likely to pick from a list of highly regarded offensive players like Monroe, Stafford, Smith and Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree.
Some people consider Curry, a linebacker, to be the safest pick among the top candidates, and Seattle has a need there after trading veteran Julian Peterson to Detroit. But the Kansas City Chiefs, at No. 3, appeared poised to add the Wake Forest product if he isn’t already gone.
Because the No. 4 pick typically comes after a forgettable season – Seahawks fans have undoubtedly tried to purge last year’s 4-12 campaign from memory – the designation is not one that is highly coveted. But now that it’s here, Seattle can rest assured that plenty of quality players will be there for the taking.
“In some cases, those guys are being asked to be saviors,” Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell said of the players taken among the top four every year. “Of course, that isn’t the case here, but that can happen.”
So will the Seahawks are rewarded with the next Gale Sayers or the next Dewayne Robertson? That determination will come down to a matter of time, research and just plain luck.
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