This week will be the fifth NFL draft for the Seahawks under the guidance of general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
February’s 43-8 win over Denver in the Super Bowl proved that the cumulative result of the first four drafts was an unqualified success.
The numbers, though, make it even clearer.
The Seahawks have drafted 39 players under Schneider and Carroll. Of those, 21 were members of the 53-man active roster for the Super Bowl, with 12 starting, including five who have already been named to at least one Pro Bowl.
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All are successful percentages, especially if you exclude a too-early-to-really-judge 11-man 2013 class, which didn’t include a first-round pick (traded for Percy Harvin) and featured a number of choices the team knew would not make an immediate impact.
Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for the Baltimore Ravens who works for the NFL Network, said a draft class is typically a success if it yields three starters.
“If three years down the line, three of the players we picked in that draft were solid starters we weren’t looking to replace, we viewed that as a successful draft,’’ Jeremiah said. “You figure on average you’ve got seven picks, that’s not even batting .500 in terms of starters, but that’s pretty good.’’
Consider further that it is generally considered pretty good if a team selects 2½ Pro Bowl players every five years, a total the Seahawks have doubled in four drafts.
Here, then, a quick look at each draft class, what was said at the time, and how it looks now:
First round: OT Russell Okung (No. 6 overall), S Earl Thomas, Texas (No. 14).
Second round: WR Golden Tate.
Fourth found: CB Walter Thurmond, DE E.J. Wilson, North Carolina.
Fifth round: SS Kam Chancellor, TE Anthony McCoy.
Seventh round: DE Dexter Davis, TE Jameson Konz.
What they said then: This class generally got rave reviews as the Seahawks also acquired LenDale White and Leon Washington in draft-day moves. Mel Kiper Jr. rated it the best draft of any NFL team, giving it an A, writing: “Pete Carroll and the new Seahawks regime came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later, and some trades thrown in. And they were patient! … No team outside of possibly Detroit added impact players the way Seattle has.’’
What it looks like now: History has proved the early impressions correct. Seahawks needed to hit on their first-round picks in the first year of the Carroll/Schneider era, and they could hardly have done it better. Then they began their run of hitting big on late-round picks with the selection of Chancellor in the fifth round. This might turn out to be one of the best drafts in Seattle history.
First round: OL James Carpenter (No. 25 overall).
Third round: OL John Moffitt.
Fourth round: LB K.J. Wright, WR Kris Durham.
Fifth round: CB Richard Sherman, S Mark Legree.
Sixth round: CB Byron Maxwell.
Seventh round: DL Lazarius Levingston, LB Malcolm Smith.
What they said then: This draft class was almost universally panned. According to a FootballOutsiders.com compilation of grades from 11 national NFL writers, this class had the lowest average of any team in the league. Adam Caplan, now with ESPN but then with Fox, gave it a D grade, writing: “No team reached for players as badly as the Seahawks. While they selected a few good players early on, Seattle picked them before many personnel evaluators felt they should have gone off the board.’’
What it looks like now: The jury remains out on Carpenter, though he has been a regular starter, and is already in on Moffitt, maybe the biggest draft bust of the Carroll/Schneider era. But the rest of this class has been spectacular, yielding four key members of the Super Bowl-winning defense led by Sherman, generally regarded at the time as a player who might someday be a good backup.
First round: DE Bruce Irvin (No. 15 overall).
Second round: LB Bobby Wagner.
Third round: QB Russell Wilson.
Fourth round: RB Robert Turbin, DT Jaye Howard.
Fifth round: LB Korey Toomer.
Sixth round: CB Jeremy Lane, DB Winston Guy.
Seventh round: OL J.R. Sweezy, DE Greg Scruggs.
What they said then: Might be easy to forget now that this was another draft class that was criticized at the time. A consensus of grades compiled by Football Outsiders rated Seattle 30th. Jason Cole of Yahoo.com was among the most vociferous of critics, giving the Seahawks a D-minus and writing, “I don’t understand this draft. … the Seahawks spent a third-round pick on Wilson, even though the history of QBs under 6-foot is poor, to say the least. You don’t spend a third-round pick on a guy who’ll be lucky to be Seneca Wallace. You also don’t do that after signing Matt Flynn as a free agent. The Seahawks are no closer to solving the QB situation now than they were before 2011.’’
What it looks like now: A heckuva lot better than the initial reaction, that’s for sure. Wilson is perhaps the most critical pick in franchise history. Wagner a likely starter for a decade or so at a crucial position. Irvin has contributed and could still blossom. In all, four players have already been regular starters, two more are valued reserves, and Scruggs could be a key this season.
Second round: RB Christine Michael.
Third round: DT Jordan Hill.
Fourth round: WR Chris Harper.
Fifth round: DT Jesse Williams, CB Tharold Simon, TE Luke Willson.
Sixth round: FB Spencer Ware.
Seventh round: G Ryan Seymour, LB Ty Powell, G Jared Smith, OT Michael Bowie.
What they said then: Seattle appeared to be getting the benefit of the doubt in grades a year ago, most putting it in the B range and noting that the team had traded its first-round pick for WR Percy Harvin. Wrote Chris Burke of SI.com, who gave it a B-minus: “Seattle used its Round 1 pick to acquire Percy Harvin, so it had to wait until pick 62 to get working. Actually, the Seahawks’ best decisions came at 137 (DT Jesse Williams) and 138 (CB Tharold Simon). The Seahawks had a roster built to roll the dice a bit in the draft, and that’s just what they did with their first three picks.’’
What it looks like now: This was a class drafted largely to fill in holes in the future, which makes it hard to judge. How Harvin’s Seattle career develops will also go a long way toward determining the legacy of this class.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699