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.