Friday, April 29, 2011

Quick Reaction to the Seahawks' First Two Picks

The Seahawks' early selections of offensive linemen James Carpenter and John Moffitt illustrate a truth: that Pete Carroll is completely sincere and determined in his vision: to turn the Seahawks into a run-first team. He is defying the established patterns of NFL success and forging ahead in his own way.

You have to at least admire his gumption. The man backs words with actions. It's refreshing to see a consistent direction and forthrightness in our front office.

With a number of available prospects of great talent intersecting severe team need (Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Smith, Marvin Austin, Justin Houston), Seattle chose twice to disregard some undeniable holes in favor of investing in the offensive line, trading down at one point to do so. Carpenter and Moffitt's talent is certainly there. Carpenter may actually be the underrated gem of this class. Make no mistake on that - the picks themselves weren't bad.

It's disappointing that the Seahawks didn't pick in the second round at all. Trading down into the third round allowed them to pick up an extra mid-fourth rounder and move up slightly in the fifth and seventh rounds. We now have seven picks on Saturday (#99, #107, #154, #156, #173, #205, #242), and despite the fact that most fourth-rounders and below don't usually yield starters, John Schneider has announced a policy of trying to find just that. He might have succeeded with last year's draft. We have yet to see if they'll pan out. And surprisingly, a number of intriguing possible starters have survived the first three rounds and remain ripe for Seattle's picking with the third pick tomorrow: Edmund Gates, Jalil Brown, Christian Ballard, Taiwan Jones, Brandon Burton, Chris Carter, Sam Acho, etc.

The quarterback position is unresolved. With reports today that the NFL lockout has been reinstated - by a circuit court with a conservative (and thus, arguably anti-union) lean - the QB position could remain unresolved for a while. The mainstays of Seattle's interior lines, Chris Spencer and Brandon Mebane, are likewise in limbo. Our current #2 cornerback is the unproven Walter Thurmond. Considering the importance of some of these positions and the degree of their need, one could be forgiven for saying that Seattle's draft has placed its eggs in one nasty, smashmouth basket.

I am encouraged that this draft strategy represents not an ignorance of Seattle's needs, but an emphasis on a strategy. There is a plan, rather than a timid and scattered Ruskellian attempt at clinging to past success. Today's picks fit in with remarks from Carroll about focusing on the run and regarding the quarterback as a "point guard" rather than the engine of the offense. They fit with Carroll's pursuit of free-agent QB's and their rejection of Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick, and Andy Dalton. They fit with the firing of the run-shy, pass-happy Jeremy Bates.

The question is whether that plan will succeed. A strong running game will have its effects. It may take pressure off the QB, open up the team's time of possession, wear down a defense. It may allow a mediocre QB to succeed, or at least function. It may not necessarily preclude the drafting of a first-round QB in the future, and it will certainly help protect such an investment if and when it does happen.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and Carroll has chosen the one less traveled by. That will make a difference. The next few years will be a good test of how many ways there are to build a championship football team.

I do wonder whether Carroll's road is less traveled for good reason, but for tonight, it does feel reassuring to know that there's a plan.


  1. Our #3 CB is Roy Lewis. Tru and WTIII are #1 and #2.

  2. Fair point. I'm not sure I'm much more encouraged, though. :P

  3. I have been asking for this for over two years. OL draft, DL FA then the following year DL draft and OL FA, rinse, repeat untill it is resolved. It's at best a 2-3 year plan with a decade of results.

    Next up in this draft Pete just talked to Mayock about improving speed in the 4th and 5th rounds. A name came to mind, Taiwan Jones, worked today so I don't think he was taken but that is speed and a lot of it.

  4. Focusing exclusively on the run game is one way to interpret the first two picks. But it's not necessarily either/or (run the ball or throw it).

    In my opinion, an excellent offensive line is key to a balanced offense and helps every part of the team. It doesn't preclude getting a top QB - I suspect that such a QB was simply unattainable in this draft. Mallett fell for good reason (not sure why).

    Seattle has good (not necessarily great) RBs, WRs and TEs. A very good offensive line will improve their performance.

    A very good offensive line will take a lot of pressure off the defense, by sustaining drives and improving TOP.

    A very good offensive line is key for a young QB to thrive, and not get killed (ala David Carr).

    The QB position is not settled. CW is not the future (IMO). Carson, should he be traded to Seattle, is more of a bridge, as Hasselbeck would be.

    Seven picks tomorrow. But for now, a decent start on a sturdy foundation.

    It was never gonna all get done in this draft. As disappointed as I was to see Mallett passed up again and again, I have to trust that it was for the better.

    Seattle will get a good QB - just not any time soon.

  5. Foundation or not, Seattle will not go anywhere until it gets that QB. That I stand by.

  6. I told you the Patriots would screw us, took Mallett one pick before us, I was just off a round! Just kidding, I am only happy you have some perspective after such an underwhelming, if not poor draft. I see the logic, but I am definitely underwhelmed as well.

  7. And I agree about the QB. I just don't think Mallett was it.

  8. QB of the future comes next year, in a draft deep in excellent QBs. If we have a bridge QB (Matt, Carson, CW, Leinart?), improve through the year with lots of young players in the lineup, but don't quite make the playoffs, all will be well (Matt Barkley, Landry Jones?).

  9. Pete better put some work in on the defense, cause it ain't gonna be easy running the ball when they're behind 2 TDs.

  10. Thus far, I see this draft as laying the groundwork for a change in Seattle's identity. It's erasing the last vestiges of the "finesse" teams that Holmgren fielded year in and year out.

    Without a solid QB to run the offense, it may be ugly in 2011, but the pieces are being put in place to offer the necessary protection and improved run game the QB will need, whoever he may be. And it may provide a great situation for the franchise QB when we actually draft him.

  11. Great point by Troy. Run first teams need a lead. And do not come from behind often.

    What exactly is Mallet's flaw? Besides slow feet.

    Good article, Brandon. A fun read. I also have a hunch that Carpenter may be a gem.

    My main concern with the smash mouth experiment
    is Unger. He would,to extrapolate from his past performance, be the soft candy filling in our
    bad ass line

  12. patriots didnt screw us, we screwed ourselves. First 2 rounds should have been easy wins.

  13. How many times has it been that the Hawks need to wait until next year for a QB? I wanted them to draft Skelton 3 drafts ago, then Bradford two drafts ago and lastly Kaepernick in this draft. Still no QB has been drafted, WTF is wrong with taking a QB on at least one of their many picks over those 3 years. OL guys are great to have however they can't pass for crap.