So now that the Seahawks have the ninth pick in the draft — their highest since 2010 — what can they expect to get out of it?
Before the answer arrives when the first round is held April 28 it’s worth taking a look at the history of the ninth pick as a reference point.
The good news? As you’d expect with a pick that high, you can definitely find a Hall of Famer there — four players taken with that spot have made it to the Hall, including UW legend Hugh McElhenny, drafted there in 1952 by the 49ers. And there will be at least one more, as the recently retired Luke Kuechly, taken ninth by Carolina in 2012, seems sure to make it.
But as also should be expected from the roll-of-the-dice that is the draft, there are no guarantees.
Two of the last five players taken No. 9 have already switched teams at least once after struggling with their first team — former UW standout receiver John Ross (Bengals, 2017, and currently a free agent) and cornerback C.J. Henderson (Jaguars, 2020, traded to Carolina last season).
Here’s a closer look at the history of the ninth pick.
The Seahawks have twice had the ninth pick, using it in 1978 on cornerback Keith Simpson and in 2001 on receiver Koren Robinson. Simpson had a productive eight-year career, notably starting at cornerback for the 1983-84 teams that kicked off the Chuck Knox era. Robinson’s career obviously is somewhat bittersweet, often remembered most for his unrealized potential. But there was no questioning his talent — his 1,240 receiving yards in 2002 are still the third most in team history for a single season and he’s ninth all-time in receiving yards at 3,567.
The Hall of Famers and All-Pros
While there have been four Hall of Famers, and surely a fifth coming, that’s out of 87 picks overall since 1936, according to Pro Football Reference.
And the picks right around nine show a similar percentage — there have been seven HOFers taken with the eighth pick and five at 10 (though surely another one coming someday in Patrick Mahomes).
The other HOFers taken ninth are halfback Lenny Moore (1956, Colts), linebacker Brian Urlacher (2000, Bears) and guard Bruce Matthews (1983, Oilers).
Fourteen have been named an All-Pro First Team pick, though none since Kuechly.
The last five
Maybe most instructive is looking at the last five No. 9 picks, which have been a little hit and miss.
2021 — Cornerback Patrick Surtain II, Denver. Surtain looks like a solid pick, becoming an immediate starter last year and named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team.
2020 — Cornerback C.J. Henderson, Jacksonville. Henderson was traded two games into the 2021 season by the Jags to Carolina and finished the season rated 105th out of 116 cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus.
2019 — Defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Buffalo. Oliver, who at times in the predraft process was considered as a potential top overall pick, has gotten better with each season and is now a key cog of a solid Bills defense.
2018 — Offensive tackle Mike McGlinchy, San Francisco. McGlinchy has been solid, starting all 52 games he has played in his career and having his fifth-year option picked up by the 49ers last year. Missed the second half of last season with a torn quadriceps.
2017 — WR John Ross, Cincinnati. And as noted earlier, and unfortunate for those who loved Ross as a Husky, at the moment he is one of the bigger disappointments taken at this spot with just 21 starts in five years in the NFL, just 13 catches in 13 games over the past two seasons and currently unsigned (though he can at least point to having had a career day in his one game back in Seattle, a 158-yard effort in 2019, one of only two 100-yard games in his career).
The verdict? What looks like three good picks and one that maybe still might be in Henderson, if needing a turnaround.
The Seahawks, though, need better than 60% odds of this pick working out for them.
The Husky Factor
Interestingly enough, five Huskies have been taken ninth, tied for the most at that spot with Notre Dame.
Along with McElhenny and Ross, the others are WR Reggie Williams (2011, Jacksonville), offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy (1993, Atlanta) and defensive end Doug Martin (1980, Minnesota).
Williams played just five years with the Jags and never played in a game again after he turned 25. But Kennedy (169 games) and Martin (126) each had long, productive careers.
What about quarterbacks?
As long as the Seahawks hold the ninth slot — and, yes, Seattle could well trade down to acquire more picks — speculation will persist that the Seahawks will take a quarterback.
So what is the history like of QBs taken ninth?
There actually isn’t much with just two taken there — Frank Tripucka by the Eagles in 1949 and Marty Domres by the Chargers in 1969.
Tripucka had a long stint in Canada and then finished his career as the first starting QB in the history of the Denver Broncos.
Domres is best remembered as the QB who took over for a then-39-year-old Johnny Unitas with the Colts in 1972.
But after some brief moments of promise that year his career fizzled, and he went 12-20 in 32 starts.
Domres, though, also has an interesting tie to Seattle. He was the starting QB for the Jets in what was the first shutout in Seahawks history, a 17-0 Seattle win in 1977, recording a 0.0 passer rating before being replaced and starting just one more game in his career.
Because Domres didn’t throw 10 passes — he was 2-9 for 20 yards with an interception — the game doesn’t qualify as one of the 72 times in NFL history a QB has had a 0.0 rating.
But if it did, it would be the only 0.0 rating for an opposing QB in Seahawks history.
That game is also notable for being the last in which Steve Largent did not catch a pass before he then recorded a reception in 177 straight games, setting what was then an NFL record.
Good omens for the Seahawks at No. 9 this year?
We’ll find out soon enough.