By Rob Staton
The 2010 NFL Draft is in the books, so let's have a look at Seattle's moves over the last three days and I'll give my opinion on each pick. Mel Kiper gave the Seahawks top marks for their efforts, ranking them #1 and awarding the coveted 'A' grade. Kiper: "Pete Carroll and the new Seahawks regime came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later, and some trades thrown in. And they were patient!" Here's my take:
Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma) - #6 overall
Regular visitors to the blog will know my opinion on Okung wasn't as high as others. When I scouted him during the season, there was one game where you could visibly see Okung bouncing around on the sideline firing up his teammates. That same fire and passion never carried over into the actual game. Okung needs to get nasty. There are also some technical flaws that he needs to work on - he grabs rather than punches, he has footwork issues and he needs to maintain concentration levels. He needs to do a much better job in the running game. However, he has possibly the best coach in Alex Gibbs to aid his development. Okung doesn't own the same upside that we saw from the top 2009 tackles and he's a notch below Trent Williams and Anthony Davis in terms of raw potential. However, this is a position where steady and unspectacular is acceptable. If Okung can become a solid pro who perhaps never reaches the elite level, this investment might be justified.
Earl Thomas (S, Texas) - #14 overall
This pick excites me. For starters, he's the kind of prospect Tim Ruskell probably wouldn't consider as a redshirt sophomore and I never felt you could be that selective. It's good to see this franchise is moving into a more open direction. Secondly, I think Thomas is going to be a fantastic addition to this team. He's a ball hawk with great instincts and adds a playmaking dimension to Seattle's defense that is badly needed. When I watched Thomas and Eric Berry, I preferred Thomas. The reason? People say tackling is an issue for the former Longhorn because of his size. However - he is a willing tackler. Yes - he'll lose out in some cases in a physical miss-match, but he'll get his hands on a guy at least and if he gets overpowered, it's not for the want of trying. Berry missed or whiffed on far too many tackles for my liking. Kansas City will pay a kings ransom to Berry. Seattle gets a better all round prospect for me at a lesser cost.
Golden Tate (WR, Notre Dame) - #60 overall
Nobody can argue against Tate's numbers in 2009: 1496 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns. He also added two further rushing scores and this was off the back of a 1080 yard/10 TD second year performance the previous year. His most recent campaign earned him the Biletnikoff Award. When watching tape, it's clear that the numbers maybe don't tell the whole story. Tate isn't big (5'10", 195lbs) and he's built more like a scat back. In switching to receiver from running back, you can see he's not a polished route runner and he body catches a lot. A lot of his completions came in Jimmy Clausen's simplified throwing attack of screens, slants and dump offs. I can never envisage Tate being a true #1 receiver. However, that's not how Seattle intend to use him. He can be a poor-man's Percy Harvin - working screen's, slants and the occasional deep ball. He can take snaps from the backfield and return kicks. When he gets the ball in space, he's a real threat and nobody can argue against his competitive streak. He's a much needed playmaker at a good price.
Round Four - Walter Thurmond (CB, Oregon) and E.J. Wilson (DE, UNC)
I'll come onto the trades later. The Seahawks rolled the dice a little with Walter Thurmond, but felt comfortable doing so with only a fourth rounder at stake. This is a guy who's had serious injury issues and missed the vast majority of the 2009 season. Whether he'll ever be able to stay healthy and play at his best remains to be seen. However, the talent on offer warranted some to discuss Thurmond in the second round bracket. This could be a steal long term or it could been a chance that never pays off. Either way, it was worth the risk considering the price. E.J. Wilson's name was being talked about a lot leading up to the draft and it's no surprise he crept into round four. He'll back up Lawrence Jackson as a bigger body at defensive end (Wilson is listed around 280lbs). His stats aren't amazing (10 sacks in three years starting) but he has a shot to stick around and develop into a decent role player on the depth chart.
Round Five - Kam Chancellor (S, Virginia Tech)
I have quite a bit of VT tape saved (in preparation for next year because they have a QB and a RB I think could go quite high). I'm going to go back and have a good look at Chancellor. Some teams have considered converting him to linebacker due to his size (230lbs, 6'4") and certainly there are aspects of his game (lack of real speed) which would lead you to think that's a real possibility. However, the Seahawks need some size at the safety position. Chancellor brings that - and his willing physicality could pay immediate dividends on special teams. He could have a situational role to play even as a rookie if Seattle want to stack the box - they'll feel more comfortable doing so knowing Earl Thomas is keeping an eye on things. He had two interceptions in each of his last two years for the Hokies (6 overall in his career).
Round Six - Anthony McCoy (TE, USC)
This is an excellent choice. It's also another pick Tim Ruskell would never make. McCoy has had his problems in SoCal. It was reported after the combine that he'd failed a drugs test for Marijuana. He struggled to make academic eligibility and missed USC's bowl game against Boston College due to this. However, you're talking about a guy that, based purely on tape, could've been a high second round pick. He can block, he can get downfield, he has good hands. He's one of the best all-round tight ends in the 2010 class and due to off the field red flags, he was available for a bargain price. The challenge for McCoy is to get focused and try to make on-the-field production his priority. Pete Carroll and his coaching staff will have to keep a close eye on him. If they can do that - the Seahawks might come away with an absolute steal. It wouldn't surprise me if in 3-4 years time McCoy was an established NFL tight end.
Round Seven - Dexter Davis (DE, Arizona State) and Jameson Konz (WR, Kent State)
My knowledge of these two prospects is limited, but Kip did a nice piece on Davis yesterday. He'll be brought into camp to compete with recently acquired Chris Clemons and the other off-season additions to play 'elephant' for Seattle. Konz is big (6'4", 240lbs) and athletic - just what Seattle is looking for from it's receivers. He's a long shot to make the team, but considering his fit for what the Seahawks want at the position, he's well worth a seventh round flier.
The trades - Lendale White, Kevin Vickerson, and Leon Washington
The package of names listed above essentially cost Seattle a 5th round pick. The reputation and 'big name' status of the two running backs makes that an eye-brow raiser to begin with, but even if none of these deals work out it has to be said - the cost was worth the gamble. Pete Carroll knows Lendale White. This is a guy who scored 22 touchdowns in 2007-08. Even in a support role, with Seattle's running game in severe need of a boost it's worth taking a look. Leon Washington is a home run hitter who is an under rated running back and all round playmaker. Will he ever be the same after a serious injury recently? We'll soon find out. Maybe he won't be, or maybe the Seahawks just paid a late round pick for a guy who averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2008. Kevin Vickerson will add to Seattle's rotation in the interior defensive line. If only one of these trades works out, the price was a bargain.
The Seahawks never fought their board, stayed patient and maximised value throughout the draft. Any lingering concern that the Seahawks gave up too much in the Charlie Whitehurst trade was banished with the depth of talent still available at #60. Seattle filled some serious holes and added a number of starters to their day one roster for 2010. Going forward it'll take some time for the Seahawks to get to where they want to be long term. Not every question has been answered in this draft - but then that was never going to be possible even with two first round picks. This is a fine start to Seattle's new era.