The Seahawks decided to overhaul their front office and coaching staff at the end of last season. Jim Mora Jr. was out after only one season as the team’s head coach. Pete Carroll was hired along with general manager John Schneider in an effort to energize the team’s fan base and take a more urgent approach to winning now. Carroll, though twice fired by NFL teams, has a decent winning percentage as a head coach (.515) and seems to be rejuvenated by a return to the NFL. Having two draft picks in the top 15 only enhanced Carroll’s enthusiasm. The team made a pre draft move to acquire Charlie Whitehurst from San Diego, giving them a potential quarterback of the future and allowing more flexibility on draft day.
With Walter Jones retiring after a Hall of Fame career, left tackle was a gaping hole on the team’s roster. With the 6th overall pick Seattle found the best pass blocking left tackle still available, much to their delight. Russell Okung gives the Seahawks the athletic blind side protector that will allow Matt Hasselback, and possibly Charlie Whitehurst, the time to run the offense properly. Okung plays with great technique and has quick hands and feet. Though he is not a mauler he does play with strength. He should solidify the left tackle position for years to come, as did Walter Jones upon his arrival in 1998.
Seattle had to be thrilled that Earl Thomas was available to them at pick fourteen after two teams linked to him, Philadelphia and San Francisco, traded up for other players. Thomas is a smallish safety prospect that has the athletic skills to play man coverage in some situations. A ball hawking defender with excellent range, Thomas adds both consistency and playmaking ability to the Seahawks defensive backfield. Thomas should start immediately and it would be a shock if he were not among the league’s most dangerous defenders in a few years.
Many people questioned why Seattle would drop over twenty spots in the second round and still give up a mid round pick for Charlie Whitehurst. As it turns out it might not have mattered as Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate, considered a late first/early second round prospect, was still available when the team picked at 60. Tate is smaller than average at receiver but he is an explosive playmaker both as a receiver and a return specialist. With a season or two to mature Tate could develop into the team’s primary weapon in the passing game. To do so he must improve his consistency, yet is a solid prospect that would have been a late first round pick in almost any other draft.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond had his season cut short by a knee injury. Because of this he wasn’t expected to be selected until the late rounds. Carroll deserves the benefit of the doubt, however, since he has probably seen every game Thurmond played collegiately at Oregon. The former Duck is feisty and aggressive but is easily outmuscled and didn’t show great downfield speed before he injured his knee. He most likely will have an opportunity to fight for the teams dime back position and the coaching staff will try to develop him to be a potential starter a few years down the road.
North Carolina defensive end EJ Wilson gives the Seahawks another player to add to their defensive line rotation. The big-bodied Wilson could potentially move inside on passing downs. Wilson was just adequate rushing the passer in college and must get stronger and play more consistently if he wants to be anything other than a rotational lineman in the NFL.
Kam Chancellor is a huge defensive back that gives the team a developmental player at strong safety. Lawyer Milloy is likely in his last year as a professional football player and grabbing a possible replacement now was a great move. Chancellor lacks ideal range for a pass covering safety but has been terribly effective as a downhill, run defending safety for Virginia Tech. If he learns to play with better anticipation he could be a solid starter for the team in a year or two.
Carroll finally took one of his former players from USC in the 6th round when he drafted Anthony McCoy. The athletic tight end is a natural receiver who quickly gets into his routes and has soft hands. As a blocker he is willing and adequate though he will need to improve his strength. McCoy will clearly be the team’s second tight end behind John Carlson and could develop into a starter in time. For now he will offer the Seahawks the opportunity to play with two tight ends more effectively in goal line and short yardage situations.
Defensive end Dexter Davis was projected by many to be an outside linebacker in the NFL. For now it looks as if the Seahawks will use their late round choice as a defensive end where he can use his quickness and explosion as a pass rushing specialist.
Kent state receiver/tight end/linebacker Jameson Konz is a tremendous athlete who turned in an amazing pro day which was enough to get him drafted by the Seahawks. He will most likely find a home on the team’s practice squad.
Grade: B+ Carroll is on record stating that the “win in three years” mentality doesn’t work for him personally nor works in the NFL at all. A healthy and upright Matt Hasselback is likely enough to get this team back near the eight win mark. Should they get some immediate impact from new players like Golden Tate, Leon Washington, and Earl Thomas, they could be in the race for the NFC West crown. Yet with incredible roster turnover, new offensive and defensive systems and the fact that Carroll is barely above .500 as an NFL head coach, Seattle needs Arizona and San Francisco to take a step backwards before they can move forwards in the division. Seattle will be improved and even in a worst case scenario they found two potential long term starters from this draft. The draft day trades for Charlie Whitehurst and Leon Washington should help yet Seattle needs more talent to compete over a 16 game season. Still their draft was terrific and establishes a strong base to build from.