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Seattle Seahawks Draftland: Where the First Round Doesn’t Matter

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

 

Marshawn Lynch

It’s been said that the Seattle Seahawks are a “draft-and-develop” team so often that we generally accept it as fact. What’s more true of recent Seahawks squads is that the blue birds excel at drafting and developing later-round prospects. The top two rounds? Not so much. 

Can you have a good team without hitting on first- and second-round draft picks? The Seahawks think so. Different question: Can you have a good draft without hitting on first- and second-round draft picks? Again, the Seahawks offer proof that you can. All you need is for the entire NFL to collectively undervalue NFL draft prospects that you end up selecting. Repeatedly. 

How They’re Built

Take a look at this list of the biggest stars of the current Seattle Seahawks, with how they were acquired in parentheses:

  • Russell Wilson (third round, 2012)
  • Marshawn Lynch (trade [2011, fourth-round pick to Buffalo])
  • Jimmy Graham (trade [2015, first-round pick to New Orleans])
  • Michael Bennett (originally a rookie free agent [2009], cut, signed later as veteran free agent [2013])
  • Richard Sherman (fifth round, 2011)
  • Earl Thomas (first round, 2010)
  • Russell Okung (first round, 2010)
  • Kam Chancellor (fifth round, 2010)
  • Bobby Wagner (second round, 2012)

 

These are the Seahawks players most likely to sell jerseys. Bonus: Since they are currently the top two starters at the wide receiver position, you could also include Doug Baldwin (2011) and Jermaine Kearse (2012) if you feel this list isn’t long enough. Both were acquired as rookie free agents. 

The Curse of Aaron Curry?

A quick look at these notable players reveals that with the exception of the impressive 2010 windfall of top talent, the Seahawks have not only not gotten much out of their top draft picks, they often don’t even bother making first-round draft picks. Going back as far as 2009, the Seahawks are more “miss” than “hit” with respect to their top picks, if they haven’t just passed entirely on making those picks. 

How long is that going to continue to work? Clearly, the Seahawks think they can do well without homegrown top-drafted talent. Looking at this from another angle, here is what the 2015 Seahawks are looking to get from their most recent top draft picks:

  • 2015 first round (no pick)
  • 2015 second round (TBD)
  • 2014 first round (no pick)
  • 2014 second round (Paul Richardson, unknown)
  • 2014 second round (Justin Britt, starter)
  • 2013 first round (no pick)
  • 2013 second round (Christine Michael, third-string)
  • 2012 first round (Bruce Irvin, part-time starter)
  • 2012 second round (Bobby Wagner, starter)
  • 2011 first round (James Carpenter, gone)
  • 2011 second round (no pick)
  • 2010 first round (Earl Thomas, starter)
  • 2010 first round (Russell Okung, starter)
  • 2010 second round (Golden Tate, gone)
  • 2009 first round (Aaron Curry, gone)
  • 2009 second round (Max Unger, gone)

 

If you want to include newly arrived pass-catching savior Graham among the draft considerations then you also have to include pass-catching savior of the recent past, Percy Harvin, among this troubling list. The Seahawks mortgaged their 2013 first-round selection, seventh-round selection and 2014 third-round selection — in addition to many, many millions of dollars — to acquire Harvin. Call it a wash, if you’re being charitable. 

With respect to some of the “impact” players still here to make impacts, Irvin (the Seahawks’ most recent first-round pick) is considered by some to be a borderline bust. He shows flashes of great production, but also misses significant chunks of time due to off-field issues and injuries. He has started 25 of a possible 48 regular season games, with 16.5 total sacks. More is expected of a 15th overall selection in the draft. 

Of the 13 top picks the Seahawks have made from 2009 to 2014 (not counting the picks they gave away), they currently are relying on four to be full-time starters again and one (Irvin) to be a part-time starter. 

First-round draft selections are the top collegiate talent. Second-round draft selections are players whose mothers and agents believe should have been first-round selections. Few teams draft first- and second-rounders with the idea that they’re taking a flier — starting production is expected. 

Better Late Than Never

Seahawks fans can be thankful that the draft lasts more than two rounds. The Seahawks are on an extremely rare streak of not drafting in the first round, having traded away their first-round selection three years running. Combined with the relative lack of impact of their 2012 first-round pick and the absence of their 2011 first-round selection (Carpenter), you have to go all the way back to 2010 to find the last time the Seahawks struck gold in the early draft. Still, they let go of their highly productive second-round selection of that year (Tate) before the 2014 season. 

The Seahawks are getting good production from players acquired in other ways. That’s good. That they’re doing it without great production from top college talent is an interesting twist in the Seahawk way. Does anyone believe the Seahawks can continue to remain at or near the top without amassing first- and second-round impact players? The Seahawks are counting on it — for one more year at least. 

No pressure, new Seahawks second-round pick-to-be. 

The 2015 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 30 with first-round selections. Barring an unexpected (prohibitively expensive) trade back into the first round, the Seahawks’ first draft selection will not take place until the second round, which occurs on Friday, May 1. Rounds three through seven take place on Saturday, May 2. 

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Most Devastating Sports Injuries

Here is GoLocalPDX's list of Oregon's most devastating injuries that have occured within the past 10 years.

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