The Seahawks landed Earl Thomas in the 2010 draft after the Eagles --- Sunday's Seattle opponent --- passed on taking him.
While John Schneider, Pete Carroll and everyone else at the VMAC deserves their share of kudos for building what has been the most consistent run of winning in Seahawks history, it hasn’t hurt that good fortune has smiled warmly on them a few times along the way, as well.
And a reminder of one of the bigger breaks the Seahawks got in building their current foundation arrives Sunday in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles.
As the Seahawks prepared for the first draft of the Schneider/Carroll era in 2010, they held picks No. 6 — which was their own; and 14 — which they had acquired from Denver in a 2009 trade.
They also had a bevy of needs to fill.
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At No. 6, the Seahawks made a pretty by-the-book move, taking Russell Okung to fill the void at left tackle created by the retirement the year before of Walter Jones. The pick, though, apparently didn’t come without some fairly heavy internal debate about whether they shouldn’t instead take a safety from Texas named Earl Thomas.
When the Seahawks sent in the card for Okung, Schneider has admitted he winced just a little in the the thought that Thomas was probably gone.
Specifically, he thought the Browns might take Thomas at seven.
Cleveland didn’t, though this wasn’t the typical Browns’ miscue, with Cleveland selecting cornerback Joe Haden, one of the few moves that franchise has made lately that turned out just fine.
Then, a few minutes later, the Eagles traded with Denver to move up to 13.
At that point, Schneider thought for sure Thomas was gone.
“When Philadelphia moved, I thought Philadelphia was moving for Earl,” Schneider said the day of the draft. “I think throughout the league there was a general feeling that he was really a guy that people were targeting, anywhere from Cleveland to 12, 13, 14, 15, right in there. Cleveland was seven. I was surprised. I thought that’s who they were trading up for. They picked a very good football player. There are always surprises going through. It’s just based on the way you spend so much time consecrating your team and evaluating the board based on your needs, so there’s always little surprises all the way through but everybody sees things a little bit different.”
Schneider, in fact, later admitted he was working on a deal to move down from 14 on the assumption that Thomas likely wouldn’t be available.
“Yes there was temptation to move back,” he said. “Earl was identified early as a player that if he made it to us, we would not move back. We wouldn’t unless somebody came with something incredibly strong. Our cut-off was really at Earl.”
The Seahawks got their wish when the Eagles instead took DE/LB Brandon Graham out of Michigan at 13, a decision that remains lamented in Philly to this day. Graham has emerged into a solid player, leading the Eagles in sacks this season with five. But he isn’t Thomas, for which the Seahawks will be eternally grateful.