The Morning After: Seahawks Draft Day 1 (James Carpenter)

My eyes popped open at 5 AM yesterday, and my first thought was, “this is going to be a day of days.” I tend to be dramatic like that. Not only were the Seahawks going to make a key decision for our collective futures, but the Trail Blazers were playing to stave off elimination, our driveway was getting re-paved to make way for a new dunktastic basketball hoop, a big customer was coming to town to talk strategy, the school science fair was that night after months of preparation by HawkBloggerWife and HawkBloggerOldestSon. Even Michael Pineda pitching is worth a little anticipation. That qualifies as a day of days for this blogger.

The actual results were a mixed bag. HawkBloggerYoungestSon threw up in the morning, stayed home from school and required me to leave my big customer early so that HawkBloggerWife could setup the science fair. He kindly threw up again for me, this time revealing a large piece of latex glove he had somehow swallowed. The driveway looked terrific. Pineda dazzled again, and Justin Smoak got another extra-base hit. The Blazers predictably fizzled…sigh. But the draft was a ton of fun.

Tweeting with my friends (screw the term tweeples) throughout the evening was a blast. It was surprising that a draft that had our Seahawks picking all the way back at #25 was more fun than when they had #6 and #14 a year earlier. Some that was just a lack of pressure. It’s much harder to screw up the 25th pick than two of the top 15. Life is all about expectations. It was not just that, though. In case you had not noticed, we are blessed with a witty, smart, informed fan base. There were tons of great jokes, insights and just plain hanging out. I even got to harass Eric Williams, the Tacoma Trib beat reporter who was on camera at the VMAC. Talk about interactive experiences…

By the time the Seahawks picked, it was clear there weren’t the must-have prospects that would warrant someone paying a high price to trade up for. Players like Locker, Ponder, and even Cameron Jordan were off the board. No matter how well James Carpenter ends up playing, yesterday involved some failure. The Seahawks wanted, and needed, to trade down and add a third round pick. That did not happen. They even said they had hoped to trade back and draft Carpenter later. By definition, that means they reached a bit on this one since he was drafted above his graded value.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t the player they wanted, but any honest evaluation of the front office has to ding them for failing to move back and draft the guy at his proper value slot. The other problem with this pick is the position. Right tackle is not a position that separates good from great teams. It can be really important. Take, for example, Sean Locklear during the team’s Super Bowl run and how much he solidified the team’s pass protection opposite Walter Jones. It rarely really alters a team’s overall trajectory the way a great defensive tackle, cornerback or quarterback can. Name the best right tackle in the game right now. I honestly couldn’t even tell you one great one.

The other problem with drafting OL in the first round is that there is plenty of value later in the draft at that position, and much less value at the defensive tackle spot. There are more quality free agent offensive lineman than defensive lineman as well. If the Seahawks don’t get a high quality interior lineman in the draft, the situation becomes pretty darn desperate come free agency. With only one pick in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, they will be tempted to reach for a DL. That means no QB. Tough, tough decisions they would not have to make if they had been able to trade back.

It didn’t end being the day of days I had envisioned, but it was not one that will live in infamy either. Many folks will be down on the Seahawks because they picked a lesser known player. Tom Cable is a fantastic line coach, and should give everyone some confidence that the team knows what it’s getting in Carpenter. And even if you are someone who pins their assessment on where “experts” had guys going, take heart that ESPN’s Todd McShay had Carpenter going as the first pick of the 2nd round. That’s not exactly a Kelly Jennings-level reach.

James Carpenter could end up being a great player for us, and that’s a good thing. Schneider and Carroll are going to have pull off some magic, though, to add enough quality players beyond Carpenter to qualify this draft as successful.