The Seahawks’ 2015 rookie class — led by Tyler Lockett, Thomas Rawls and Frank Clark — is fast on its way to being the best for the team since the 2012 group.
RENTON — During one of their initial meetings after becoming Seahawks, Tyler Lockett and Frank Clark discussed aspirations for their first year in the NFL.
Goal No. 1, Lockett recalls, was simple.
“We talked about just not being a bust,’’ Lockett said.
The contributions of both in Sunday’s 38-7 victory at Minnesota were further evidence of how that goal has been met.
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In fact, throw in undrafted free-agent running back Thomas Rawls, and a case could be made that the Seahawks’ 2015 rookie class is fast on its way to being the best for the team since the 2012 group that included linebackers Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner and quarterback Russell Wilson in the first three rounds, and offensive lineman J.R Sweezy in the seventh.
Lockett, taken in the third round after the team traded three picks to move up, has filled a role as a kickoff and punt returner and is the Seahawks’ third-leading receiver with 35 receptions. He has 14 catches in the past three games, including a career-high seven against the Vikings.
Clark, whose selection in the second round was greeted with controversy due to his involvement in a domestic-violence incident in his senior year at Michigan, had a career-high two sacks against the Vikings.
And Rawls continued what has been one of the more surprising seasons for any NFL rookie this year, recording his fourth 100-yard game (101 on 19 carries).
“It was really exciting to see those guys able to contribute in such a good way,’’ coach Pete Carroll said.
The Seahawks selected eight players in the 2015 NFL draft.
Five remain on the 53-man active roster. With Clark and Lockett, the others are offensive linemen Mark Glowinski and Kristjan Sokoli and cornerback Tye Smith. All usually have been inactive on game day and have played sparingly.
Of the other draft picks, offensive lineman Terry Poole is on the practice squad/injured-reserve list, and defensive end Obum Gwacham and safety Ryan Murphy were released before the season.
Rawls is the only other rookie on the active roster.
The Seahawks also traded their first-round pick as part of the deal that netted tight end Jimmy Graham, now on injured reserve.
Contrast that to the classes of 2013 and ’14, which have just two starters — tight end Luke Willson (2013) and guard Justin Britt (2014).
Only two other players from those draft classes are playing regularly as position players — defensive tackle Jordan Hill (2013) and defensive end Cassius Marsh (2014).
The Seahawks also traded their first-round pick both of those years, including in 2013 for Percy Harvin, maybe the most disastrous move of the Carroll era, and in 2014 to move down to acquire more picks. This year proved disappointing for the players taken at the top of each class with running back Christine Michael — taken in the second round in 2013 — traded before the season to Dallas for a seventh-round pick and receiver Paul Richardson (second round in 2014) limited to just one half of one game due to injuries.
But the emergence of Rawls, Clark and Lockett has given this year’s Seahawks the in-season talent boost that often has proven pivotal to the team’s fast finishes during the Carroll era.
Carroll has talked often of how the team’s willingness to play rookies early and regularly has contributed to surges in the second half when those players begin to feel more comfortable and make a more consistent impact.
Though Lockett and Rawls have been key contributors almost all season, it took Clark a little longer to make his presence felt in a big way.
He had made a few plays in previous games, but Sunday became his breakout game, in part due to an injury to Hill. Clark replaced Hill as a tackle in the nickel defense working at times with Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Irvin. That package gave the Seahawks a defensive line Carroll has said could rival the fastest of any he has coached.
“The speed that he plays next to, with Bruce and Cliff and the things that Michael can do, that makes for another problem, I think,’’ Carroll said of Clark.
Hill, bothered by a toe injury, is out for Sunday’s game at Baltimore, as is Demarcus Dobbs,who is still dealing with a concussion, meaning Clark will be called on again heavily against the Ravens.
Lynch, Graham rehabbing with Seahawks
Carroll said Graham and running back Marshawn Lynch are back in Seattle and rehabbing with the Seahawks.
Lynch had abdominal surgery two weeks ago, and Graham underwent surgery last week to repair a patellar tendon injury. Graham is out for the year, but Lynch remains on the active roster with the hope he will return by the last game or two of the regular season, or at the least, any playoff games.
As for whether he has a better idea when Lynch will return to practice, Carroll said: “No, we’re still just going to wait. It’s a day-to-day thing that really will be week-to-week. Not this week for sure. We’ll see what happens next week.”