Training camp begins July 31. In our countdown, we’ll answer a key question every day until the Hawks are back on the field at the team’s facility in Renton.
Today’s question: Will the 2013 draft class begin showing some returns on the Seahawks’ investment?
It didn’t take anywhere near that long, though, for the Seahawks’ classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012 to be declared pretty big hits, if not among the best in franchise and recent NFL history.
Those three classes yielded 10 players who were primary starters on the team’s first Super Bowl winner following the 2013 season and six others who were key backups (including game MVP Malcolm Smith).
Further, six players from those three classes have earned Pro Bowl honors: Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, Russell Okung and Earl Thomas.
Point being, the legacies of each of those classes already is clear, and that was the case just a year or so after draft day.
But as the 2015 season dawns, how the Seahawks’ 2013 draft class will be judged remains murky.
What was the fourth class of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime has yet to yield a player who has earned a full-time starting job other than due to injury (notably, tight end Luke Willson, who took over last season after Zach Miller was lost for the year three games in).
Of 11 players drafted, just five remain on the roster, and just four played for the Seahawks a year ago — Willson, tailback Christine Michael, cornerback Tharold Simon and defensive lineman Jordan Hill. Defensive lineman Jesse Williams is on the roster but has yet to play due to knee injuries (and now is rehabbing from liver surgery after being diagnosed with Papillary Type 2 cancer).
Michael, in particular, might be running out of time to make his mark. Drafted as a potential heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch, he has battled injury and inconsistency his first two seasons and has played sparingly. He could need a good preseason to show the team he can fulfill the potential that compelled the team to take what was viewed as something of a reach to grab him in the second round, and with the team’s first pick.
Hill, taken in the third round, has had some good moments serving in the rotation on the line. But he has battled injury, leaving it somewhat unclear what he could do as an every-down player.
Simon missed his first season due to injury but became a key contributor the second half of last season. He suffered a shoulder injury late in the year that required off-season surgery but is expected to be ready for the season. At the moment, though, he projects to be a backup with free-agent signee Cary Williams appearing set as the cornerback opposite Sherman.
Willson has started 17 games, due in large part to injuries to the now-departed Miller. But he’s headed again to a second-string role after the trade for Jimmy Graham.
Other than Williams, the rest of the class is gone, having contributed little. Offensive lineman Michael Bowie started eight games as a rookie, but an injury helped lead to his release last summer and he’s now in Cleveland. And to be fair, a few were caught in the numbers game, such as linebacker Ty Powell, a seventh-round pick who was released and now is with Buffalo, where he could contend for a key role this season.
Among those who came and went quickly was receiver Chris Harper, taken in the fourth round and released before the 2013 season started, remembered mostly for being maybe the biggest draft bust of the Schneider/Carroll era.
At this point, it seems clear the 2013 won’t match those of 2010, 2011 and 2012. But should Michael emerge, Hill and Simon stay healthy, Willson continue to forge a role, and the hard-luck Williams get on the field, the picture would get a little brighter.
One caveat when discussing Seattle’s 2013 draft is that few teams are getting much from the players taken that year. An NFL.com analyst last month rated the 2013 draft as the second-worst of the past 25 years, stating “the 2013 draft is on the fast track toward becoming recognized as one of the worst in NFL history.’’
Just seven players taken that year have made it to at least one Pro Bowl (the 2011 class has had 23).
So if nothing else, the Seahawks aren’t alone in continuing to wait on the class of 2013.
Up next: Which undrafted free agent has the best chance to make the team?