SEATTLE – If this were a normal draft for the Seahawks, it would also be portrayed as a pretty critical one from a perception standpoint.
But since the Seahawks have just three picks, not only are expectations tempered for who Seattle will get, but also the pressure may be off to make sure it’s a good one – grades likely won’t be too harsh for a draft class that starts at 56 overall.
And in some ways, Seattle has already had its draft in trading its first- and third-round picks to the Jets for safety Jamal Adams, a fifth-rounder to the Raiders for guard Gabe Jackson, and a seventh-rounder to the Bengals for defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Seattle also traded a sixth-rounder during the draft last year to get receiver/tight end Stephen Sullivan in the seventh round.
Those moves left Seattle with only picks 56, 129 and 250 out of the 259 that will be made when the draft begins Thursday night, the fewest picks since the 2009 Jets.
Seattle, for instance, drafted three potential safeties of the future in 2017. But none may be on the roster four years later, which played a role in the Seahawks instead spending their next two first-round picks on Adams.
And in the run-up to this year’s draft, analysts have not been kind to Seattle’s recent draft efforts.
Lindy’s predraft magazine gave the Seahawks a D-plus for their past five drafts, better than only the Raiders and Cardinals (each D’s), writing “Seattle has built a reputation as a good late-round talent collector, but the early rounds have been less fruitful.”
Pro Football Focus was similarly critical, writing: “Seattle is in the running for the worst drafting team in the league over the past four years – the only saving graces are DK Metcalf, Chris Carson and Shaquill Griffin. The death knell is that some of their picks have been simply unplayable. They desperately need to at least hit some singles and doubles this year because there are too many holes on the roster to have legit Super Bowl hopes – even with Russell Wilson.”
Some falloff was inevitable after the drafts of the early years of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, some of which will be remembered as among the best in NFL history.
And that Seattle continues to win can’t be ignored when assessing the team’s overall roster-building efforts.
Also worth noting is that even teams that seem to know it all can fall prey quickly to the vagaries and unpredictability of the draft. The Steelers had maybe the greatest draft in NFL history in 1974, selecting four Hall of Famers, then didn’t draft another player who made an All-Pro team for 13 years.
And the Patriots haven’t drafted a player who has made the Pro Bowl since 2013 other than punter Jake Bailey.
But, as the Seahawks prepare for another draft, it’s worth revisiting the last five years to see how they got here.
2016 draft: 31, OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M; 49, DT Jarran Reed, Alabama; 90, RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame; 94, TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State; 97, OL Rees Odhiambo, Boise State; 147, DL Quinton Jefferson, Maryland; 171, RB Alex Collins, Arkansas; 215, C Joey Hunt, TCU; 243, WR Kenny Lawler, Cal; 247, RB Zac Brooks, Clemson.
Comment: The only player left from this group is Collins, though he was gone for more than three years before returning. Seattle, as has been its custom in the Schneider era, moved down from 26 to 31 on draft night, also getting the pick used to take Vannett. Of the picks taken in between, only one is a player the Seahawks might have wished they’d landed, DL Kenny Clark taken 27th by Green Bay. Two others taken in between are not on rosters (linemen Josh Garnett and Robert Nkemdiche), showing how unpredictable the draft can be. And for what it’s worth, Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value ratings rate Reed 28th and Ifedi 30th for the value they gave their drafting team.
2017 draft: 35, DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State; 58, OL Ethan Pocic, LSU; 90, CB Shaquill Griffin, Central Florida; 95, DB Lano Hill, Michigan; 102, DL Nazair Jones, North Carolina; 106, WR Amara Darboh, Michigan; 111, S Tedric Thompson, Colorado; 187, DB Mike Tyson, Cincinnati; 210, OL Justin Senior, Mississippi State; 226, WR David Moore East, Central Oklahoma; 249, RB Chris Carson, Oklahoma State.
Comment: The pick of McDowell and what happened after was obviously a huge blow for Seattle and changed a few things going forward. It’s worth remembering Seattle made four trades to move down from 26 to 35, using the picks it got along the way to draft Hill, Thompson, Tyson and Carson. Of the 11 drafted players, only Carson and Pocic may be on the roster when this season begins. And yes, if you want to play the “they should have drafted this guy instead of making the moves they did’’ game, there is one really hard-to-ignore name – edge rusher T.J. Watt, who went 30th to Pittsburgh. Seattle also could have gone a long way toward solving its safety issues by taking local product Budda Baker, who went 36th to Arizona, a pick after Seattle selected McDowell.
2018 draft: 27, RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State; 79, DE Rasheem Green, USC; 120, TE Will Dissly, Washington; 141, LB Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida; 146, DB Tre Flowers, Oklahoma State; 149, P Michael Dickson, Texas; 168, OL Jamarco Jones, Ohio State; 186, Edge/LB Jacob Martin, Temple; 220, QB Alex McGough, Florida International.
Comment: After missing the playoffs, Seattle had its highest pick of the Wilson era at 18. But true to form, Seattle traded down, moving from 18 to 27 to get the picks that turned into Green, Martin and McGough. That move might be viewed a lot more favorably had Seattle used the 27th pick to take Nick Chubb, who went to Cleveland at 35. Seattle went with Penny, whose durability was a big reason the Seahawks liked him so much but has instead been riddled with injuries. Others who went in between where Seattle could have drafted at 18 and where it did include center Frank Ragnow (20), receivers D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley (24th and 26th) and cornerback Jaire Alexander by Green Bay with the pick it got from Seattle.
2019 draft: 29, DE L.J. Collier, TCU; 47, S Marquise Blair, Utah; 64, WR DK Metcalf, Mississippi State; 88, LB Cody Barton, Utah; 120, WR Gary Jennings, West Virginia; 124, OL Phil Haynes, Wake Forest; 132, DB Ugo Amadi, Oregon; 142, LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington; 204, RB Travis Homer, Miami; 209, DT Demarcus Christmas, Florida State; 236, WR John Ursua, Hawaii.
Comment: The Seahawks entered the draft with a league-low four picks and turned it into 11. Their wheeling and dealing began with the Frank Clark trade, which got them a first-round pick that turned into Collier as well as a third-rounder used to move up to get Barton. Seattle also dealt its first-round pick to get three others, in the process acquiring the two that were then used to move up to get Metcalf, who is obviously the jewel of this class. He has the fourth-highest approximate value of any player taken other than QB Kyler Murray, WR A.J. Brown and linebacker Devin White. Seattle could have stayed at 21 and taken, say, defensive end Montez Sweat, who went at 26. But then it probably wouldn’t have Blair, Amadi or Metcalf.
2020 draft: 27, LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech; 48, DE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee; 69, OL Damien Lewis, LSU; 133, TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford; 144, RB DeeJay Dallas, Miami; 148, DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse; 214, WR Freddie Swain, Florida; 251, WR/TE Stephen Sullivan, LSU.
Comment: For the first time since 2011, the Seahawks kept their original first-round pick to draft Brooks. It’s obviously way too early to judge this draft (and worth remembering that Lewis and Robinson were acquired with a pick from the Clark trade the year before that Seattle used to trade down). The keys to the long-term perception will be if Brooks can build on last season to become a true, every-down impact linebacker and if Taylor can get healthy and become a productive edge player. With Lewis showing he can be a starter, if Brooks and Taylor fully pan out and one more of the players taken in the fourth rounds or lower become regular productive players, then the legacy of this draft could be much more positive than the early returns.
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