There comes a time when it doesn’t pay to be cute — when you have a glaring need, and the opportunity to fill it. And on Thursday, the Seahawks did just that, homing in on their offensive-line deficiencies by selecting Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi.
The Seahawks love to confound in the NFL draft.
Just when you think they’re going to pick, they trade. And when you’re sure they’re going to address one area of apparent need, they pull an end-around and go a different direction. They seem to relish the confusion and skepticism they engender year after year — almost as much as the eventual vindication when their moves turn out to sparkle.
But there comes a time when it doesn’t pay to be cute — when you have a glaring need, and the opportunity to fill it. And on Thursday, the Seahawks did just that, homing in their offensive-line deficiencies by selecting Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi.
Oh, it wasn’t exactly a straight line to Ifedi, because the Seahawks don’t abide by the mathematical theorem affirming that’s the shortest distance between two points. Instead, there was one obligatory trade with the Broncos, moving down five spots. But when the Seahawks went on the clock with the 31st, and final, pick of the first round, they wisely stayed right there.
Seahawks in 2016 draft
Round 1, Pick 31
OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M | Bio
Round 2, Pick 49
DT Jarran Reed, Alabama | Bio
Round 3, Pick 90
RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame | Bio
Round 3, Pick 94
TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State | Bio
Round 3, Pick 97
OL Rees Odhiambo, Boise State | Bio
Round 5, Pick 147
DT Quinton Jefferson, Maryland | Bio
Round 5, Pick 171
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas | Bio
Round 6, Pick 215
C Joey Hunt, TCU | Bio
Round 7, Pick 243
WR Kenny Lawler, Cal | Bio
Round 7, Pick 247
RB Zac Brooks, Clemson | Bio
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And the result was a 6-foot-5¾, 324-pound physical specimen who had Seahawks coach Pete Carroll practically drooling. After general manager John Schneider had rattled off Ifedi’s attributes — tough, competitive, smart, nasty — Carroll chimed in.
“He’s really big, too.”
The Seahawks believe they’ve found the perfect player for their system, not just massive but also versatile enough to play both tackle or guard on the left or right, though they have him earmarked for right tackle.
And Ifedi absolutely believes he has found the perfect home, having long ago come to the conclusion that Seattle would be his ideal destination. Not that he didn’t sweat it out after the Seahawks traded out of the 26th spot. When Ifedi’s phone finally rang, he was equal parts ecstatic and wary.
“When you get that call, you don’t know who’s calling you,’’ he said. “It might be a bill collector.”
But when he heard the word “John” as in Schneider, he leaped out of his seat.
“It was one of the greatest moments in my life, if not the greatest moment in my life,’’ he said.
Ifedi already had been briefed on the joys of Seattle’s football culture by former A&M teammate (and current Seahawks center) Patrick Lewis, whom he calls a mentor.
Seahawks first-round picks
Here’s a look at the Seahawks’ first-round picks under John Schneider and Pete Carroll:
• 2010: No. 6, tackle Russell Okung, Oklahoma State; No. 14, safety Earl Thomas, Texas.
• 2011: No. 25, tackle James Carpenter, Alabama.
• 2012: No. 15, defensive end Bruce Irvin, West Virginia.
• 2013: No. 25, traded to Minnesota for receiver Percy Harvin.
• 2014: No. 32, traded to Minnesota for second- and fourth-round picks.
• 2015: No. 31, traded with center Max Unger to New Orleans for tight end Jimmy Graham and 2015 fourth-round pick.
• 2016: No. 26, traded to Denver for No. 31 pick, which is used to select Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi, and No. 94 pick.
And he had fallen under the spell of Seahawks offensive-line coach Tom Cable, who virtually ran his pro-day workout and won over Ifedi with his sometimes-brutal honesty.
“He told me what he liked about my game and what I needed to improve,’’ Ifedi said. “He wasn’t there to stroke my ego; there’s enough people to do that. He was there to see what you can do under pressure and put you in adverse situations.
“He was one of the few offensive-line coaches that gave me an honest, no-BS assessment, and he instantly had my respect.”
Ifedi said he came to believe that he was a “Seahawks type of lineman.” Though he didn’t come to town for a visit — and hasn’t, in fact, been to Seattle — “I had a feeling Seattle was a good fit, a place that fit my skill set. And once it got down to the end of the first round, it was Seattle or bust.”
One thing Ifedi heard from Cable was that some of Ifedi’s plays made the coach scratch his head. It was in line with the common criticism of Ifedi that he tends to have occasional concentration lapses — an assessment he accepted.
But Cable also raved about the tendency Ifedi displayed throughout his career to work through his issues, both in the course of a game, and throughout his career.
“When you watch him, he can get out of whack,’’ Cable said. “But he was the one guy the scouts and I felt like could right himself. He could get out of whack but could get himself back in position. He was picked for a reason. He was the one guy you feel like you can clean up right away.”
Asked to describe his style, Ifedi said, “I’m a football player. It’s kind of a cliché, but that’s how I describe myself. I don’t say tackle or guard; I say I’m a football player. I think I’m physical, I’m aggressive, I’m a good athlete, but there’s always room to grow. And I’m blessed to be in an organization where I’ll be able to grow.”
It has the makings of a great fit, and if some of the early reviews from the pundits lean toward skeptical — and they do — well, the Seahawks could not care less. They got the guy they wanted and the guy they needed.
“The way he plays was really important, because he’s really big and likes to get after it and he mixes it up with you,’’ Carroll said. “That style is right at home with us, so we’re really excited to add that to our team.”
Nothing confounding about that.