By Kip Earlywine
I had a pretty exciting list of names staring me in the face when I hit play on my DVR Saturday. Everson Griffen, Bruce Campbell, Mardy Gilyard, Geno Atkins, Reshad Jones among many others. As it turns out, the only name I wanted that was drafted by Seattle was Anthony McCoy in the 6th round (and Jeff Byers in UDFA). I'm kind of used to not getting the players I have my heart set on though. During the entire Tim Ruskell era, the only player selected that I badly wanted was Brandon Mebane. It would be unfair to criticize a draft simply for not picking the players I wanted. I have to look at the value and the logic behind each move. The Seahawks did well.
I don't know if I would have passed on Atkins to take Thurmond in the 4th, although in fairness, the Seahawks had just acquired Vickerson in a trade which eased the need for a DT. Atkins was a high risk high reward pick on the defensive line, and Thurmond is a similar case in the secondary. He's had a ton of injuries, but before he had them, he was considered a 2nd round prospect.
To read the rest of Kip's detailed analsysis, click 'read more'.
I don't like the EJ Wilson pick, but it wasn't horrible and it gave the Seahawks some much needed depth at LDE. Wilson is solid and dependable, but I seriously doubt he will ever be more than depth though. You could argue that for a late 4th, depth at a key position is solid value, but in a deep draft where 2nd round prospects were coming off the board in this area, I would have rather addressed depth for LDE at a later time. I think a draft pick has to be weighed against the opportunity cost. Jason Fox, Ed Wang, Ricky Sapp, Dominique Franks, Perrish Cox, Reshad Jones and Riley Cooper were among the best players available.
Seattle badly needed a strong safety. Reshad Jones was still available, but the team went with Kam Chancellor instead. Chancellor is the exact same size as Taylor Mays, but instead of running a 4.3 forty, he's more like a 4.6-4.7 guy. I have mixed feelings about this pick. Chancellor was productive in college and he fits a need, but I think his speed will give us Kelly Herndon syndrome more than we'd like. I guess I like this pick, but I hope it doesn't prevent us from adding more SS talent next year.
Anthony McCoy was at least arguably the biggest steal of the 6th round, and he fit an area of minor need for Seattle. It was I think a month ago that Rob had McCoy going to Seattle at #60. So obviously, I'm pretty thrilled to get him this late. McCoy is a well rounded TE who, if he cleans up his act, has overall talent not far behind John Carlson's.
Dexter Davis is a long shot to make the team thanks to the insane number of stand-up ends the Seahawks have acquired. That said, he has an exceptional combination of athleticism and college production for a late 7th round pick. The only reason he lasted this long is because of his being 6'1". Nick Reed+ is not an unfair comparison, and like Reed, if Davis has a great preseason, he could make the team. I like his chances.
Jameson Konz is a pure athlete without a position. Its very likely he'll be stashed on the practice squad for a couple years, and never be heard from again.
If I had to grade the 3rd day for the picks alone, I'd probably go with a "B-." "Decent." It was two stunning trades, though, that highlighted the action and significantly raised my appraisal. Without even losing a pick, only draft position, the Seahawks acquired Lendale White, Kevin Vickerson and Leon Washington. If there was ever a draft were moving down a few spots in the late rounds was extra meaningless, its this one. Seattle upgraded the running game in a huge way and added much needed depth at tackle almost for free.
The big acquisition is Leon Washington. Washington is a smallish but thickly built RB with tons of speed and cut making ability. The catch is that he's recovering from an extremely nasty fractured leg bone injury. Broken bones heal, but lets consider this a minor injury related "red flag." Washington turns 28 just before the season starts. In a way, you might think of Washington as being a 28 year old Jahvid Best (similar size, speed, play-making ability, and has injury red flags), and I would have happily traded up in the 2nd for Best if possible. I love this move, and by the end of next season, I think the results of the Leon Washington trade will be a popular storyline in the media. Jets observers tell me that Washington was pretty much the entirety of the offense before he went down in week 7.
So why was Washington available so cheaply? First, the Jets and Washington's agent had been fighting over contract details for sometime, and I think the Jets had reached the point of giving up on getting a long term deal. Washington is currently on a 1 year tender and scheduled to be a 2011 FA. They knew they would lose him, so they figured they might as well get something while they could. Second, the team had just drafted Joe McKnight, and with LT, Shonn Greene, and Joe McKnight on the roster, there was a bit of a logjam that made Washington expendable. This scenario reminds me a lot of the situation that allowed the Cliff Lee deal to fall in place for the Mariners a few months ago. Cliff Lee was a soon to be FA and the Phillies were hot after Halladay and Lee didn't factor into their future. Jack Z had the good sense and good timing to make a phone call, and the rest is history. Similarly, this was a great trade for the Seahawks.
Prior to this, the Seahawks acquired former USC star RB Lendale White and "veteran" DT Kevin Vickerson for, as one disgruntled Tennessee columnist put it- "A sack of socks." The only thing Seattle gave up was 7 spots in the 4th round and 9 spots in the 6th round, and in the deepest draft in years combined with Schneider's patient approach, this probably cost the Seahawks exactly nothing.
First, lets talk about Vickerson. Vickerson is a 27 year old 3 tech DT with good length (6'5") and a decent amount of experience (only 2 starts, but played in 24 games). Vickerson was a RFA by the way- with a 2nd round tender on him. In terms of pure talent, Vickerson isn't really any worse than the DTs available in the late rounds, and is more NFL ready than any of them. For just a throw in player, Vickerson was a pretty solid get that helps Seattle's depth at 3 tech DT... and maybe, maybe, allows Seattle to think about moving Mebane back to the 1 where he belongs.
Lendale White is probably the most famous name added to Seattle in day 3. He was a star at USC and a former 2nd round pick who's had a decently productive pro career, and is still only 25. White has a poor career YPC of only 3.7, and he's not going to be a pro-bowler for us by any means, and there's also the issue of his weight, which can be all over the place. However, I love this move for a few reasons.
Firstly, White can carry the load if need be and is durable. Neither Washington or Forsett is a carry the load type back and both of them should probably have limited carries as they stand to have an above average risk for injury due to size or history. The team could not justifiably rid themselves of Julius Jones until they found a legit 300 carry alternative. Worst case scenario, White can do exactly that, which makes Jones expendable.
Secondly, while White is certainly not a productive back in terms of yards per carry, he's an excellent short yardage back. Before being benched in favor of superstar Chris Johnson, White had a very valuable 2008 season, scoring 15 TDs and racking up an impressive +144 rushing DYAR. He also had a 54% rushing success rate, good for 4th best in the NFL. Similar to the overlooked and forgotten TJ Duckett in 2008, White has a ton of hidden value and will help this team immensely even if it doesn't look like it with a quick glance. Seattle did not have a true short yardage back on the roster, so that also makes White a great fit. If Seattle is smart and uses White/Washington/Forsett as a true trio with a 40/30/30 split to the carries, this is going to be at least an NFL average running game, and could easily be above average, even with mediocre blocking.
I didn't talk about it much here at this blog, but I was a huge critic of Schneider for the Tapp and Charlie Whitehurst trades. The latter in particular really got under my skin, because it was an utter failure at negotiation, and when you are the youngest GM in the league in your first gig, that's a pretty worrisome indication of things to come.
After seeing the draft though, I think I owe John Schneider an apology or at least rethink my initial impression of him. Not only was his handling of the draft itself amazing, but the deals he made for White and Washington were simply brilliant, a case of finding a buy low player who fits and fleecing the other team due to odd or uncommon circumstances. Those deals proved to me that Schneider isn't a total moron with trades, and with trades obviously being such a crucial tool for this administration so far, that is a very welcome sign.
I'll cover the Seahawks draft choices pick by pick over the next several days, and when its all done, I'll give a final grade. I thought Seattle had at least arguably the best first two days getting Okung/Thomas/Tate, and when factoring in those two brilliant trades, I think they had at least arguably the best day 3 as well.