Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rapid Reactions: Seahawks 2013 Draft

Three days and 254 picks later, the 2013 NFL Draft is behind us. There will be plenty of analysis in the days and weeks to come, but here are some immediate reactions to what the Seahawks did:

- The Christine Michael pick stood out more and more as I thought about it. I am not a fan of drafting running backs before the 3rd or 4th round. I don't think John Schneider is either. He and Pete Carroll have never used more than a 4th round pick on a running back. In fact, they did not use any picks on running backs in their first two drafts, unless you count the 4th rounder they sent to Buffalo for Marshawn Lynch in 2010. Robert Turbin was a 4th round pick last year. The position is already a strength on the team. Roll that all together, and it would seem Michael was off the charts on their draft board in order to be worth a 2nd round investment. We still might find out about a suspension or injury at the running back spot that we don't know about yet, but for now, my assessment is the Seahawks believe they added a Pro Bowl running back.

- I can't quite figure out Tom Cable. The team drafted offensive lineman in the 1st and 3rd rounds his first year with the team when both were considered reaches. This year and last year, the team did not take a lineman until the 7th round, and two of them played defensive line in college. Pedigree or project, what do you want? The high level takeaway is that Cable likes the lineman he has on the team. Only their final pick was used on a tackle, which makes it far more likely Paul McQuistan is sticking around in 2013, as he and Mike Person are the only tackles on the roster outside of Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung. Some additional guards were taken, but it would be an upset if they beat out the existing guys on the roster. Keep an eye on Rishaw Johnson, who was an undrafted free agent last season that the team was high on at guard. He could wind up being a sleeper in the guard competition.

- No safeties. This was the biggest surprise for me. Maybe we will learn that Tharold Simon will be tried at safety, or that Byron Maxwell or Jeremy Lane will be cross-trained at safety. As of now, Jeron Johnson, Winston Guy and Chris Maragos have little-to-no competition. Knowing how much emphasis this defense places on safety play, it is surprising the team has not created a bigger pile of talent at the position.

- No linebackers. It sounds like some have been signed as undrafted free agents, but that says a lot about the plans at the position. If the team felt like it needed a starting caliber replacement for Leroy Hill, there is no way they would have gone through eleven picks without taking a linebacker, and most likely would have went early. Look at what the team did with K.J. Wright (first pick of the 4th round) and Bobby Wagner (early 2nd round) when they were targeting a starting linebacker. All signs point to Wright at WILL, with Malcolm Smith, Allen Bradford and Korey Toomer battling for a backup role.

- This draft will be judged by whether the team found at least 2-3 players that become starters, not including Percy Harvin. Although, he will be part of the assessment. At first blush, Jordan Hill seems like highest floor and lowest ceiling of the early picks. His energy and character appear to be impeccable. He feels like a Tim Ruskell pick, and before you freak, remember Brandon Mebane was a Ruskell pick. Michael clearly could become a star. The guy who I think Seahawks fans will be most excited about is Jesse Williams. The Seahawks have not had a defensive tackle of that size and that potential since Marcus Tubbs. If Russell Wilson was the Powerball aspect of last year's draft, Williams is certainly that for this year's draft. Everything else could fail, but if you find a Pro Bowl-caliber interior lineman, your draft was successful. Williams appears to have that kind of upside.

- Chris Harper fits the profile of the type of receiver the Seahawks are lacking. He is 230 lbs, but ran the 40 like Sidney Rice did at 200 lbs. There is reason to compare him to Mike Williams, although Williams was four inches taller and not nearly as fast. This will be the guy the front office will compare to Golden Tate, and decide whether to re-sign Tate after this season. It seems less likely the team will use Harper as a flanker to push Rice. We will learn more come training camp.

- Michael Robinson is going to face his toughest roster test to date. He is due to make $2.5M, the fullback position will likely get fewer snaps this year with read option and Harvin playing in the backfield, and the team drafted a player in Spencer Ware who could very well be converted to fullback. You have to wonder if Robinson, a Pro Bowl player, would fetch anything in a trade.

- The cornerback battle is going to be insane. Simon will be going against Maxwell, Lane, Thurmond, Winfield, Will Blackmon, and Ron Parker. Lane and Maxwell have a leg up because of their terrific special teams abilities. Maxwell has to prove he can stay healthy. There should be some trade value out of this group once it sorts itself out.

- No quarterbacks. There may end up being a player pushed off another team that is interesting to Seattle, like Dennis Dixon in Philly after the Eagles drafted Matt Barkley. I still have trouble seeing this as the back-up QB group come training camp.

- Darren Fells, Luke Willson and Sean McGrath will be a training camp battle worth watching. Willson spells his name with two "Ls," which is one strike against him, but he can spell it any way he wants if he is going to run a sub-4.5 40 at over 250 lbs.

This was not a sexy draft that will have instant impact all over the field. If any of these players start in 2013, it would be either a very good sign (they earned it) or a very bad sign (injuries forced it). These are the Freshmen coming into a team with 20 Seniors returning from a National Championship caliber season and 5 highly touted JuCo transfers. They enter the roster closer to the cut line than to the starting lineup. Have at it, young fellas! Super Bowls await.

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