Rookie Review: Seattle Seahawks


The Seattle Seahawks are a team that has a lot of roster turnover over since Pete Carroll took the head coaching job, which makes it very difficult for people who cover all teams (like myself) to keep track of them. That’s why I reached out to Seahakwsdraftblog‘s Rob Staton (a friend of NFLMocks who’s done multiple projects with us) to enlighten us. 

The only problem I have with Rob is that he’s not writing for us!

Follow Rob on twitter @Robstaton

1) It’s not year two i Pete Carroll’s reign has their been a noticeable draft pattern emerging
There are several scheme specific patterns that have emerged, plus an overall direction on how they’re tackling this gigantic rebuild. Scheme-wise Carroll and GM John Schneider have added big, fast and physical cornerbacks and appear to be moving away from the previous regime’s penchant for smaller DB’s. They aren’t looking at orthodox defensive lineman – although they use what appears to be a 4-3 defense there are actually a lot of different wrinkles including an isolated ‘LEO’ pass rush specialist (the role taken by Chris Clemons) and they’ve looked to beef up the interior.
As for the direction – they’ve looked to build up the offensive line with high draft picks (Okung, Carpenter, Moffitt). I suspect a lot of the previous draft work on offense – and further additions during free agency – were designed in order to create a more comfortable environment for a long term investment at quarterback which may be forthcoming. Do not expect this team to draft any old quarterback, however. They’re looking for someone who won’t turn the ball over, can move around freely in the pocket to extend plays and manage the offense.

2). Based on the play of the team this year what are the Seahawks biggest needs for the 2012 N.F.L. draft?
Without doubt the biggest need is quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson has performed fairly well so far, surpassing most people’s expectations. However, it’s pretty clear that he’s a holding quarterback and that the Carroll & Schneider regime need to make a longer term investment at the position by drafting their guy for the long haul. Next April will mark the 19th anniversary since Seattle last drafted a quarterback in round one, which is astonishing. It’s impossible to look past the position at the moment and truly it is the first, second and third priority for the Seahawks.
Assuming they can fill that need quickly, there are several other areas that need improving but all are less crucial than finding that quarterback. The team lacks a truly disruptive three-technique to partner alongside Brandon Mebane who’s moved back to the one-technique this year. Further depth at defensive end and cornerback is required, while the team could use an injection of quality at running back.
3). Is the massive amount of roster turnover Pete Carroll is subjecting to the Seahawks roster positive or negative for the team? (and will you ever buy a Seahawks jersey again?)
It’s been a positive so far because Carroll and Schneider have uncovered some gems like Chris Clemons, Brandon Browner, Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor and judging by his debut performance – Richard Sherman. The roster needed a complete makeover so drastic change was inevitable. The important thing now is to make sure some of the initial success stories go on to become mainstays in the team. Eventually there needs to be some stability within the core of a team. Unfortunately, there’s no other obvious solution at the moment because Carroll inherited a team so lacking in the most important positions, he had no obvious alternative to making so many moves. 
4). They say it takes three years to evaluate a draft…three years later how does the 2009 draft look?
Terrible, a complete and utter disaster. The lasting positive from the 2009 draft was gaining an extra first round pick for 2010 stolen from the Broncos thanks to one of several huge gaffes by Josh McDaniels. Lots of people were high on Aaron Curry – I was not one of those people. It’s very easy to sit here now and wax lyrical on what a poor pick Curry was, but the warning signs were there throughout the draft process. This was a guy who didn’t rush the passer in college – he had nine sacks in four years. Often he would play 10-12 yards behind the line of scrimmage, used as a heat seeking missile to the football. A lot of the problems we’ve seen in the pro’s – biting on play action, over pursuing and not finishing plays and a general lack of field instinct – were all there on the college tape. Let’s not forget that as a junior Curry received a third round grade from the draft committee. Throughout the draft process it was laughable that some even considered Curry as a potential #1 overall pick. 
Even if you buy into Curry as a prospect – and a lot of people did – the situation for drafting him was completely wrong. The Seahawks had just endured a turgid 4-12 season having lost several key players to injury. They’d moved on from Shaun Alexander by this point, Matt Hasselbeck was approaching his mid 30’s and missed most of 2008, Walter Jones was coming close to the end and was starting to pick up injuries. Three of the integral cogs in Seattle’s offense were nearing the end. On defense, the Seahawks had just signed Lofa Tatupu to a major extension and franchised Leroy Hill. Ageing Pro-Bowler Julian Peterson was the other starting linebacker, but he was traded to Detroit before the draft. Many people considered linebacker to be one of Seattle’s strengths, so adding Curry was a luxury they could ill afford.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but this should’ve been avoided and moves like this ultimately cost Tim Ruskell his job. As for the rest of the group – second round pick Max Unger is the team’s current starting center but there are still a lot of questions about his long term place in the team. Deon Butler was taken in round three and is currently unavailable with injury – his future may be limited given the emergence of Doug Baldwin.

5). How are last year’s player progressing? I really liked Earl Thomas coming out.
Thomas is developing into a fine player and one of the big positives for the Seahawks this year is the blossoming partnership with Kam Chancellor at safety. Everything people expected from Thomas has come true in the NFL – he has tremendous range and speed and he’s an instinctive player. Teams are starting to keep the ball away from him – evidenced by only one interception so far this season – but that’s a major sign of respect. By the end of next season I suspect Thomas will be regarded as one of the premier safety’s in the league.
I wasn’t particularly high on Russell Okung leading into the draft and was pleasantly surprised by his play last year when healthy. Unfortunately he’s suffered several problems with his ankles and this is a situation worth monitoring. He’s missed a lot of time and his play this season hasn’t been as good as perhaps people were hoping. 
Golden Tate was a second round pick and he’s had barely any impact for the team in the last two seasons. There’s a fairly strong chance his days are numbered in Seattle, he’s running out of time to impress.

6). This year the Seahawks best rookie arguably has been Doug Baldwin, are there any other late round picks or undrafted players who have shined?
Richard Sherman was a 5th rounder and he had a good debut covering AJ Green on Sunday. KJ Wright is a fourth round pick who beat out Aaron Curry for a starting position at linebacker. Seventh rounder Malcolm Smith (linebacker from USC) has impressed at times this season. Apart from that none of the late round picks or UDFA’s have had much of an impact aside from special teams, but keep an eye on players like Byron Maxwell (cornerback) and Jeron Johnson (strong safety) for the rest of the year.

7). How have the young offensive linemen rookies looked this year, I like many others, was not a fan of the James Carpenter pick?
It was a strange situation because I wasn’t a fan of the team drafting a right tackle in round one, but I actually graded James Carpenter incredibly highly. Every year there tends to be a handful of players who really jump off the tape and draw your attention and for me that was Carpenter at Alabama. The lockout hasn’t helped this group in general because it needs time to gel, but it hurt JC more than most. He entered camp over weight and out of shape and it showed in his first few games. Now he’s back to something like his proper playing weight and he’s bedding into that starting right tackle position. The performance continues to be hit and miss – with extreme positives and negatives. However, I have faith that in 1-2 years time that will be considered to be one of the better late first round picks in the 2011 draft.
John Moffitt is the other rookie starter and like Carpenter he’s had good and bad moments. He needs to keep working to get stronger and he’ll be a work in progress for line coach Tom Cable.

8). Assuming the Seahawks can’t get Luck, which quarterback are you  most interested in obtaining. Robert Grifin III? Landry Jones? Matt Barkley? or a player in the second round like Ryan Tannehill?
Without doubt it’s Matt Barkley. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that he’s the best quarterback after Andrew Luck. People often talk about a lack of elite physical qualities with Barkley, but I think this is overblown. He’s surprisingly mobile in the pocket and is adept at extending plays with excellent footwork and a real sense of pressure. Arm strength isn’t elite, but then neither is Luck’s. Barkley can still drive the ball downfield and keep a defense honest.
I’ve not scouted a player – including Luck – who has flashed the ability to quickly progress through multiple reads and make good decisions. From a technical and intellectual point of view, Barkley grades incredibly highly. Not only do I suspect he’ll be able to start in the NFL, I expect he could have a similar introduction to Matt Ryan. I like to think of Ryan as a fair comparison – someone without the extreme physical qualities but can manage a possession offense with clinical precision.
Nobody knows Barkley better than Pete Carroll, so if he’s as good as I’ve written here then I think it’s fair to say the Seahawks will do what it takes to get him. Carroll has cherry picked his former players at USC, so any decision on Barkley will not be based purely on Trojan connections. It’s a perfect match overall and whoever drafts Matt Barkley is going to get one heck of a quarterback.
I have very little interest in Landry Jones – a player I believe warrants little more than mid-round consideration. The wild card if Barkley isn’t available is Robert Griffin – a player who fits within Seattle’s criteria for a quarterback (mobile, leader, limits turnovers and makes generally good decisions).

9). Anything else to add?
Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis may be the most under rated player in college football and deserves a lot more attention than he’s getting

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Be sure to also swing over to Seahawksdraftblog and check it out for the same kind of insightfulness you got here.