As the Seahawks get set for the 45th draft in team history April 23-25, we’re reviewing each of the ones that have come before, ranking them from top to bottom.
The countdown continues looking at the drafts I’ve rated 33-23. (As a refresher, here is the first set of ratings, Nos. 44-34.)
Key players: WR Paul Richardson, OL Justin Britt, DE Cassius Marsh, WR Kevin Norwood.
Comment: The year after Seattle won its only Super Bowl, the Seahawks went into the draft dead set on getting a receiver or two after losing Golden Tate in free agency, and appeared to have the good fortune of doing so in a year when the receiving class was especially strong. As had begun to become its custom, Seattle traded down twice from 32 to 45 to then take Richardson. Richardson had, basically, one good year for Seattle before moving on and currently is an unsigned free agent. Among WRs Seattle passed on to take Richardson? Davante Adams (53), Allen Robinson (61) and Jarvis Landry (63). Britt has been solid. But of the other seven players taken, only Marsh and Kevin Pierre-Louis remain in the league.
Key players: DL Malik McDowell, CB Shaquill Griffin, RB Chris Carson
Comment: So, how much blame do you give the Seahawks for what happened with McDowell? Sure, no one could know McDowell would injure himself the way he did. And yes, Seattle got four extra picks in trading down out of the first round and then picking McDowell at 35. But he was regarded as a risky pick even in the moment it was made. Griffin in the third and Carson — one of the extra picks Seattle added — in the seventh, were solid selections. But less than four years later, those are the only two of 11 players picked who seem assured roster spots in 2020 with only three others still on the roster: Ethan Pocic, David Moore and Nazair Jones.
Key players: CB Josh Wilson, DL Brandon Mebane, LB Wil Herring.
Comment: The addition of Mebane and the belly roll goes a long way to save this class. What didn’t was trading the first-round pick in September the year before for Deion Branch and then signing him to a six-year, $39 million contract. Wilson was taken 55th overall. His main Seahawks legacy may be that he was traded in 2010 for the pick that would become K.J. Wright.
Key players: DB Kelly Jennings, LB Darryl Tapp, OL Rob Sims.
Comment: Seattle had the 31st overall pick the year after its first Super Bowl appearance and wanted Jennings to pair at corner with Marcus Trufant. Not the greatest pick ever, but he did start 44 games before being traded for DL Clinton McDonald. This also wasn’t the greatest draft ever, featuring Mario Williams, Reggie Bush and Vince Young as the top three picks. Sims was maybe the best pick but made 80 of his career 114 starts with the Detroit Lions.
Key players: LB Anthony Simmons, OL Todd Weiner, RB Ahman Green.
Comment: The Seahawks needed defensive help in 199, and Simmons was a decent player, starting 79 games for Seattle over the next seven years and leading Seattle in tackles three times. But this was a year when Seattle should have gone best player available and just taken Randy Moss — who went at 21, six spots after Simmons. Then-coach Dennis Erickson said later that had receiver been a need (the Seahawks had Joey Galloway and Mike Pritchard at the time), the Seahawks would have considered Moss. Weiner was likewise a solid player. But Seattle might have been better off taking an offensive lineman with local ties who went just a few picks later — former UW standout Olin Kreutz. And Green rushed for 9,205 yards — but got all but 329 of it after being traded to Green Bay the day before the Seahawks selected Shaun Alexander.
Key players: OL Germain Ifedi, DL Jarran Reed, DL Quinton Jefferson.
Comment: Four years later and just two of the 10 players in this draft remain on Seattle’s roster: Reed and Joey Hunt. Only three others are currently on rosters: Ifedi, Nick Vannett and Quinton Jefferson. Reed obviously panned out. And trading down five spots from 26 to 31 meant Seattle got an extra pick that turned into Vannett — which then turned into a fifth-round pick that turned into Quinton Dunbar. And this is another NFL draft whose longterm staying power will be interesting to watch. According to Pro Football Reference’s Career Approximate Value rating, only 19 players rank higher than Ifedi.
Key Players: CB Terry Taylor, WR Daryl Turner, LB Fredd Young
Comment: This was a weird draft year in which many of the best draft-eligible players had been signed by the USFL. After the regular draft, the NFL held a supplemental draft of USFL players who were now eligible. Three Hall of Famers came out of that draft — Steve Young, Reggie White and Gary Zimmerman, each long gone by the time the Seahawks had a pick. No one taken in the regular draft a few months earlier has yet to make it. In other words, there wasn’t as much to pick from as usual. But Seattle got some decent players anyway. Taylor was solid, Turner was a key to the 12-4 team in ’84 and Young made four straight Pro Bowls before being traded to the Colts in a deal in which Seattle got a pick back it later packaged to get the pick that turned into Cortez Kennedy.
Key players: OL Pete Kendall, CB Fred Thomas, DE Phillip Daniels.
Comment: This draft gets docked for one big reason: While Kendall was a solid player, starting for the Seahawks for five years and playing 13 overall, Seattle picked him five spots before Baltimore selected Ray Lewis, a player Erickson had recruited to the University of Miami and coached for two years there. Kendall, Thomas and Daniels combined to play 546 NFL games, but just 183 with the Seahawks.
Key players: TE Jerramy Stevens, RB Maurice Morris, DL Rocky Bernard.
Comment: Stevens was a controversial first-round pick, and his career didn’t necessarily quiet the doubters. Still, it wasn’t all bad as he was the primary starter at tight end the year the Seahawks made their first Super Bowl. And this wasn’t the greatest draft ever: Only eight players of 261 taken ever earned All-Pro honors. Morris was a solid player for roughly a decade and Bernard had 8.5 sacks to help key the 2005 defense.
Key players: DL Manu Tuiasosopo, LB Michael Jackson, LB Joe Norman.
Comment: After a 1978 season when the Seahawks had one of the best offenses in the NFL but one of the worst defenses, the Seahawks used their first five picks on defenders. Four became starters over the next few years: Tuiasosopo (whose drafting would also have long-lasting ramifications for the University of Washington athletic department decades later), Jackson, Norman and 10th-rounder Robert “Heartburn’’ Hardy.
Key Players: QB Rick Mirer, CB Carlton Gray, DE Michael McCrary.
Comment: So maybe you think this is too high for a draft that contains a player generally considered one of the bigger draft busts in team history — Mirer. But here’s the thing: Was it really a mistake to draft Mirer? The Seahawks desperately needed a QB following the 2-14 1992 season, and Mirer was by everyone’s opinion at the time the second-best option after Drew Bledsoe (what Seattle did wrong was beat New England the year before to lose out on the top pick). The next QB to go after Mirer went at 2? Former Husky Billy Joe Hobert to the Raiders at 58.
The best QB in the draft other than Bledsoe, as it turned out, was another former Husky, Mark Brunell, who went at 118 to the Packers. But Brunell was coming off a season in which he’d been limited due to a significant knee injury. It’s cherry-picking a bit too much to suggest they should have seen that coming. And the rest of this draft was pretty good. McCrary, a seventh-round pick, had 13.5 sacks for Seattle in 1996 (though sadly, like a few too many players taken in the ‘90s, the team didn’t keep him and he had some of his best years in Baltimore where he made it to two Pro Bowls). And fourth-round pick LB Dean Wells and OL Jeff Blackshear and DE Antonio Edwards (each eighth-rounders) were all longtime contributors. Getting four players with a PFR career approximate value rating of 33 or better was the most of any Seattle draft from 1993 to 2010.