Sunday, May 1, 2011
Post-draft grades: Seattle Seahawks
By Mike Sando
Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Seattle Seahawks a D-plus grade for their efforts during the 2011 NFL draft. No other team in the league received a grade so low.
The grade suffered because the team did nothing during the draft to address its quarterback situation, instead alluding to a plan that cannot spring into action during a lockout. The prohibition on player trades also handcuffed the Seahawks, who had became one of the NFL's most active teams under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
This was going to be a boring draft for Seattle, most likely. A year ago, the team had two of the first 14 picks and new leadership. There was buzz around the possibilities.
This year, the team held none of the top 24 picks, no third-rounder and it could not make the player trades -- think Leon Washington -- that spiced up the 2010 draft. There was also a realization that Seattle needed to rebuild from the ground up with building blocks such as offensive linemen.
After the draft, Carroll said he didn't care what other people thought. Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune followed up, asking whether Carroll was being defensive in light of poor reviews. Carroll said that wasn't the case at all, and then he explained what makes players valuable to Seattle. I'm going to give him a chance to elaborate in detail here given the harshness of some post-draft reviews.
"We're looking for unique qualities for players that separate them from other players, and then we try to accentuate that uniqueness and make them special," Carroll said. "There are examples of really good receivers in the draft that weren't a lot different than what [Ben Obomanu] can do, so it wasn't something that interested us as much as a guy with a different style [6-foot-5 receiver Kris Durham]."
Durham visited Kansas City last week; the Chiefs called Seattle to congratulate the Seahawks on selecting a player they also wanted to take, according to Schneider.
Carroll also identified linebacker Malcolm Smith, a seventh-round choice from USC, as a player with "special qualities that few guys have" -- a running back playing linebacker.
"Whereas we have to develop him as a first- and second-down player," Carroll said, "we know he can be a third-down player right now. We know that, so that makes him unique to us. We don't have another guy just like that."
Fourth-round linebacker K.J. Wright was someone Carroll described as having "extraordinary uniqueness" for what Seattle wants to do. Seattle will play Wright at SAM linebacker, as a stand-up defensive end in the "Leo" role and as a nickel linebacker. Schneider called Wright "rare" in that he shows good instincts in zone coverage and strong route anticipation. Starting strongside linebacker Aaron Curry isn't particularly strong in those areas. Therefore, Wright gives Seattle something it does not have.
"It is rare that you would find a linebacker with that much length (6-foot-4) and 4.6 speed," Carroll said. "We need that flexibility."
Fifth-round cornerback Richard Sherman stands taller than 6-foot-2 and will play near the line of scrimmage more than he did in college. Carroll said Sherman's length makes him "very special and very unique" (those words again). Sixth-rounder Byron Maxwell also projects as a press-corner, according to Carroll.
"For us and for what we're doing, we've dug in and done our homework and are far enough along in our scouting department that we feel great about some of the picks," Carroll said. "Now, it is our job to prove that, and we understand that."