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Pete Carroll has acquired or drafted 35 former 1st rounders; here's what most of them have in common
A sign pointing you directly to what the Seahawks will do with their new first round draft pick
The Seahawks are going to draft an offensive lineman with their first round pick in April, but may be considering an edge rusher if the right one is available.
Anything else would go against everything I know about Pete Carroll.
Every single mock draft that I have read in the aftermath of the Russell Wilson trade has the Seattle Seahawks selecting a quarterback—mostly Malik Willis—and this morning it feels like the curtain has been ripped down and the mystery is over: mock drafts do more to lead your beliefs astray than they do prognosticate what will actually happen.
In the last 48 hours, Malik Willis has become Seattle’s “consensus pick” by a higher percentage over at the NFL Mock Draft Database than any other pick in the first round after the top-two: 32% of mocks are picking Willis for Seattle, while many many more in the remaining 68% have the Seahawks choosing a different QB like Matt Corral or Kenny Pickett
Forget about whether or not choosing a quarterback at nine would be stupid or malpractice, as I’ve written it would be. Drafting a quarterback in the top-10 would be the most shocking thing that Pete Carroll has done in his entire football career.
And it won’t happen.
In 12 seasons as the head coach and final word in personnel moves for the Seahawks, Carroll has acquired 35 players who were drafted in the first round. I know, because I counted and I am very particular about being thorough over football amounts.
Either by trade, through free agency, or the draft Seattle has acquired 35 players who achieved the high honor and moderately overrated status of being first round picks; a total of 32 prospects each year (31 if the Patriots were caught), a number not based on the number of “first round prospects” in the draft but based on the number of NFL teams.
They don’t teach you that in school.
A more realistic split of a draft class might come down to tiers like:
Top-3 (HOLY FUCK WOW!)
4-10 (I’M-A LIKE THESE GUYS)
11-24 (Y’NEVER KNOW, PRO BOWL?)
25-44 (OK, I’M STILL FAIRLY PUMPED)
45-70 (STARTER HOPEFULLY?)
And so on. Every draft class is different, with various (and often unpredictable) strengths and weaknesses. I’ve never stopped to ask why that is. Randomness?
But I still counted all 35 former first round picks—from Russell Okung to Jordyn Brooks; from Jadeveon Clowney to Greg Olsen; to the ones you definitely forgot about like Marcus Smith and Kentwan Balmer—and then I ordered them by how high they were selected in their respective drafts.
A pattern emerged—especially with regards to the players who were a) drafted the earliest and b) the Seahawks made a real investment into that player.
Once you start to eliminate the inconsequential additions like Braylon Edwards and C.J. Spiller and the like, setting aside names of late-career veterans like them or Phillip Dorsett and Robert Nkemdiche and a few others, focusing on the guys who Pete actually showed genuine interest in as key starters through trade or a starting contract or using a draft pick on him:
Seattle has tipped their hand that they believe you find the best offensive tackles and pass rushers at the top of the draft.
Clowney, Robert Gallery, Luke Joeckel, Ezekiel Ansah, Okung, Barkevious Mingo. All former top-six picks acquired by Seattle. Throw Dion Jordan in there for another former top-three pick. The only other top-six pick acquired by Pete is Jamal Adams.
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If you move a little further down the draft you get to Kevin Williams, but obviously near the end of his career. Then D.J. Fluker, who went 11th overall. Going by draft order, it then goes Marshawn Lynch, Sheldon Richardson, Earl Thomas, Bruce Irvin, and Mike Iupati.
The latest is tight end Noah Fant, partially an offensive lineman. The Seahawks added Cedric Ogbuehi a couple of year ago, but not to be a starter. Seattle drafted James Carpenter and Germain Ifedi in the first round, and traded for Duane Brown, a former pick 26. Rashaad Penny makes another running back (three if you include C.J. Spiller), L.J. Collier another defensive end, and finally Jordyn Brooks.
The biggest odd man out among all 35 former first rounders is probably Percy Harvin. Though the Seahawks added Mike Williams, Braylon Edwards, and Phillip Dorsett, Harvin is probably the only former first round receiver of note that Carroll has ever paid a high price for.
By the power of deduction then, I declare that the Seahawks believe that franchise left tackles are almost exclusively found early in the NFL Draft. By the power of reason that Seattle won’t draft a safety or a running back in the first round, it seems Carroll’s only two options are an offensive tackle or a “I’M-A LIKE THIS GUY” pass rusher.
Or if Sheldon Richardson is any indication of acceptance for a defensive lineman who doesn’t rush the quarterback, maybe Jordan Davis.
You want to pound the table for Jordan Davis or anyone else? TELL ME:
I also don’t believe that this heavy emphasis on heavy guys in the trenches is a coincidence or a phenomena that most NFL teams follow—the Rams had a ton of former first round picks of other teams, including a quarterback, a cornerback, a running back, a wide receiver, and an off-ball linebacker. As well as Von Miller and their own selection, Aaron Donald.
Seattle was aggressive the acquisition of a safety two years ago, and we know that Pete holds that position in high regard because of Earl Thomas, his commitment to Kam Chancellor, and numerous day two draft picks, so trading two firsts for Jamal Adams was not surprising—at least, positionally speaking.
Unless Kyle Hamilton falls in their laps and is by far the highest-rated player left on the board, the Seahawks aren’t going to draft a safety.
It leaves no other option then and there are enough good tackles in this draft — Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu are not the only offensive line prospects in this class who have “I’M-A LIKE THAT GUY” or “HOLY FUCK WOW” potential — that it sounds improbable for Pete and John to have to make any other choice unless Kayvon Thibodeaux or Hamilton are available at nine.
The other scenario is that the Seahawks are so fine with picking the fifth or sixth-best offensive or defensive lineman that they trade down because they believe the depth is that good, but I can’t see trading down impacting their decision to draft an offensive lineman or pass rusher. And it certainly would not increase their odds of picking a driver before they have a car.
The biggest possible position shift away from offensive tackle or defensive end would be center (Tyler Linderbaum) or defensive tackle (Davis) and there’s not much else I could see. I would think that Charles Cross or Trevor Penning could be the pick based on today’s expectations of draft order and value (My Charles Cross-led mock draft can be found here), unless Ekwonu made it that far. I think that Thibodeaux and George Karlaftis would also be possibilities, and maybe Georgia edge Travon Walker.
In my 12 years of covering the team, the only first round quarterback who was ever connected to the Seattle Seahawks at the combine was Patrick Mahomes in 2017. The Seahawks held pick 26 and Russell Wilson was not likely to go anywhere—trading a franchise quarterback in the middle of his career was still only a theory bouncing around five years ago and had never actually happened—but by smoke or by genuine adoration, Seattle was reportedly over the moon for Mahomes at the time.
It makes sense in hindsight. The Kansas City Chiefs, slotted one place behind the Seahawks in the first round that year, traded two firsts and a third to move up to #10 for Mahomes. 20/20.
If the Seahawks happen to see something in Willis or Corral or Pickett that is in that “WOW, HOLY F” category, and like Mahomes somehow he slides past a bunch of QB-desperate teams, and nobody else trades over them for said quarterback, then I suppose my arguments here will be for nothing and I’ll come out the fool. That is so incredibly unlikely that between now and April 25th, I am willing to push all of my chips in on them drafting a tackle or maybe a special edge rusher.
I’ll continue to profile the quarterbacks and what makes them so fantastically unlikely to be wearing a Seahawks uniform in September—but Seaside Joe is unaffected by these outside forces that are bending reality to fit a box that says “QB out? Oh, then QB in!”
I’ll stick to the fact that Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe aren’t going to be Seattle’s bookend tackles for Malik Willis or Matt Corral next season.
Disagree and want the Seahawks to draft a QB? Don’t be afraid, make your case in the comments and we’ll talk it out! Maybe I’m wrong, I’m open-minded!
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