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Seaside Joe 1154: At Seaside Joe, you're welcome to love the Kenneth Walker pick
The Jaguars selected a defensive end with the number one overall pick but I didn’t read a bunch of tweets about how the history of number one defensive ends wouldn’t necessarily justify taking Travon Walker that early. The last five edge rushers to go number one are Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Mario Williams, Courtney Brown, and Steve Emtman.
An edge has only gone first overall five times in the last 35 years, and though Garrett is one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers today, shouldn’t the previous four have given the Browns some pause about taking an edge over a quarterback? Williams was better than Clowney, but neither produced the elite career that teams would have expected with the highest of selections, while Brown and Emtman barely had careers.
If we’re going off of how much success a team has after selecting a player with the number one pick, then taking an edge hasn’t worked out since the Bills picked Bruce Smith in 1985.
But as you know from reading Seaside Joe and others who said the same, Walker had the opportunity to go first this year because it’s such a bad draft class. Given a single really good quarterback prospect, a team would have traded up with Jacksonville to take him.
This was further emphasized by the selections of Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner with the third and fourth overall picks in the draft, as there had only been one cornerback to go number three in the last 25 years (Jeff Okudah) and only one to go number four (Denzel Ward). Were there screams about “You could have traded down and selected a cornerback!” and shouts over how “C.J. Henderson, Eli Apple, Justin Gilbert, Dee Milliner, Morris Claiborne were all recent bad top-10 picks!”?
No, I suppose there’s not enough musicality to that shout.
Are Stingley and Gardner truly generational cornerback prospects, just one year after Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain went eighth and ninth? Or did a weak draft class push them into the top-four….with no complaints about it, nobody rushing to Twitter to point out that two corners in the top four simply does not happen?
We had another interesting positional phenomenon happen in 2022, outside of the unusual (but basically predicted here at Seaside Joe) ONE quarterback selected in the first 73 picks, which is that four receivers were drafted inside the top 12 selections. It didn’t “feel” that weird, and yet it is the first time in NFL history that it has ever happened—and I do not think that Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jameson Williams are generational wide receiver prospects.
I love Williams, he’s my favorite in the group, but like London he is coming off of a serious injury. Wilson and Olave are the exact type of prospects who tend to go in the 15-25 range; this time they fell inside the top-12 because there weren’t enough great prospects at other positions to push them down the board and when the receiver run started, teams were in a hurry to get involved early.
Only one receiver went in the top-12 in 2020 (Henry Ruggs III), while zero went that early in 2018 and 2019. In 2017, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross went in the top-10. None in 2016. Then we have Amari Cooper and Kevin White in 2015, preceded by Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr in 2014, then Tavon Austin in 2013, and Justin Blackmon in 2012.
Those are the names of top-12 receivers and the elite ones among them are Evans, OBJ, and Cooper.
Is it then justifiable to take a receiver that early, riding on the back of Ja’Marr Chase’s historical (and likely unrepeatable by a 2022 rookie) first-year campaign? Or is this all merely a part of narratives that we choose to believe in and support with cherry picked “evidence” because there’s simply no move that some segment of Twitter won’t defend or criticize regardless of context?
These are all examples of what happens in THE TOP-10, obviously where draft picks are usually judged the hardest and scrutinized the most, but I didn’t hear any complaints about how teams chose to go against the norm with those selections. In fact, if there were any teams that made the most typical and “safe’ of top-10 choices, the Seattle Seahawks and left tackle Charles Cross would be right there towards the front of the line.
I felt that Cross had all the tools and positional value to be the Jaguars pick at one, but they chose to go with a defensive player and that did not surprise me. Meanwhile, the Panthers picked Ikem Ekwonu at six and the Giants took Evan Neal at seven, selections that may turn out to be for a guard and a right tackle.
Historically speaking, those would be of worse value than finding a premier left tackle like Cross. The Seahawks did exactly what someone would expect of a team at pick nine, then hit another positional home run with an edge rusher at 40.
I wrote back on April 10th that Seattle should treat their first three picks as if they’re holding the number one overall choice in the draft.
If a team is picking first overall, we automatically rule out most positions for that franchise, including cornerback and wide receiver. Imagine the hysteria on Twitter if a team drafted a cornerback or a receiver first…
The Charles Cross pick does that. The Boye Mafe pick does that. The Kenneth Walker III pick…does not.
When I wrote that exercise, I never entertained picking a running back at 40 or 41, but I did write a week earlier that if the Seahawks draft Breece Hall, fans should feel MORE THAN WELCOME TO GET EXCITED ABOUT IT.
I have not done much more on Seaside Joe than allude to the probability that the Seahawks will choose a running back in the draft, suggesting that somewhere on day two is a reasonable estimate. Suddenly, Carroll could be in the unique position of being able to actually draft the best running back in the class—whether that’s Hall, Kenneth Walker III, or somebody else.
It’s so unfortunate that so many of Seattle’s fans have robbed themselves of the chance to be happy about the Seahawks drafting a running back in the second round, if that’s what Carroll and John Schneider choose to do. I do not want you to be so robbed.
If the Seahawks pick Breece Hall this year, allow yourselves to be as excited in that moment as you would be if you could travel back in time and re-visit the Marshawn Lynch trade with hindsight. That’s not to say that Hall will meet those expectations, but all I hear from the people who are begging for Malik Willis is, “Can’t you just allow us to have some FUN?!”
For those of us unfazed by the idea that Seattle will draft a premier running back prospect, can’t you allow us to have some fun?
Like at cornerback, there was a clear drop-off in talent at running back this year after Hall and Walker. If a team wanted the opportunity to select the next Jonathan Taylor, Nick Chubb, or Derrick Henry, then they would likely have to act faster than the rest of the league and do so in the first half of the second round.
The New York Jets picked Hall with the 36th pick, then Seattle had a decision to make at 41 after selecting Mafe and solidifying the need for an edge with one of their first two picks… As I wrote on April 18th, it was all but guaranteed that left tackle and edge linebacker would be two of the first three. But I also wrote that running back would have to be in consideration for Pete Carroll at 41, because Rashaad Penny is on a one-year contract and Chris Carson is either at or near the end of his Seattle career.
The Seahawks could have doubled down on edge and taken David Ojabo, but fans should not dismiss what an Achilles injury could do to set him back and that’s why he fell to 45th. The only other edge players to go from 42 to 60 were Josh Paschal and Sam Williams.
Seattle could have gone with a cornerback, but Andrew Booth and Cam Taylor-Britt, the only corners to go in the second round after 41, have their own set of concerns and limitations; and ultimately, Pete Carroll does not have the belief that you need to draft corners early. After signing Justin Coleman and Artie Burns, the Seahawks are actually overloaded at the position when it comes to the type of prospects that you find in round two.
Those names don’t give Seattle a true number one—and you’re not likely going to find a true number one at pick 41.
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Had the Seahawks had a chance at Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley at nine, maybe those plans change. But they didn’t get that opportunity because a weak 2022 draft class meant that Gardner and Stingley would go much sooner than expected. In the last decade, the only cornerbacks to be drafted in the 35 to 50 range to make even one Pro Bowl are Xavien Howard (2016), Darius Slay (2013), and Janoris Jenkins (2012).
And this year, because it’s a weak class, a cornerback going 41 is more like a cornerback who would typically go in the late-second or early-third round. You need to grade the 2022 draft on a curve because the class lacks top-tier talent in round one, so most players got free upgrades like they’re hotel points.
However, running backs picked in the 35-50 range in the last decade has included Henry, Taylor, Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, and Le’Veon Bell.
The Titans reached the AFC Championship game in 2019 despite a glaring weakness at quarterback. The Bengals reached the Super Bowl in 2021 despite an inexperienced quarterback, which is a similar story to the 2013-2014 Seahawks with Marshawn Lynch. Bell helped run the Steelers into the AFC Championship game in 2016 by rushing for a combined 337 yards in the wild card and divisional round games. The Colts went from 7-9 and out of the playoffs in 2019 to 11-5 and into the playoffs with Taylor in 2020 despite Phil Rivers being well past his expiration date.
Oh damn it, sorry, was I supposed to cherry pick?
^^^^^Extremely Cherry Picked Graph^^^^^
Obviously, the main characters who skeptics say the Seahawks should have drafted are quarterbacks like Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis, despite the fact that those prospects also got passed up at 72 AND all but two teams in the NFL decided that there simply wasn’t first or second round value on anyone other than Kenny Pickett.
Color me befuddled that self-described analytics nerds are “the smart people”.
Since Drew Brees toed the line between first and second round (32nd overall but prior to the Texans joining the league) in 2001, there have been 25 quarterbacks selected between 26 and 64 in the NFL Draft. Out of those 25 quarterbacks, the only ones to make a Pro Bowl are Derek Carr and Andy Dalton (3x each), Lamar Jackson (2x), and Teddy Bridgewater (1x). That’s it.
You can disregard “Pro Bowl, ha!” but point me to the great franchise QB example you wish the Seahawks would have selected at 40/41 who did not make a single Pro Bowl in his career when you do so.
Of the 21/25 quarterbacks in this group to not make a Pro Bowl, the only two to even have more than two seasons as a starter are Colin Kaepernick and Chad Henne. Essentially, if we’re going off of “positional value” then how is it possibly justifiable to criticize the selection of a running back at 41 because you think the Seahawks should have drafted a QUARTERBACK?
Outside of maybe Carr and Jackson, that’s a 92% shot at a wasted draft pick. An 8% shot at making a justifiable pick at quarterback. And that’s only if we had a NORMAL year for quarterback—instead the 2022 class looks as bad or worse than the 2013 class that itself included one of these ~21 wasted picks, Geno Smith. Also in there, Drew Lock, the 42nd pick in 2019.
Somehow the self-described “nerds” are both criticizing the Seahawks for having a competition between two players picked in the exact same area of the draft that the “nerds” also want Seattle to triple-down on by over-drafting (remember, Ridder and Willis went in round THREE) players who are more likely than not to become a future Lock and a future Geno.
How a person becomes addicted to Twitter—specifically the act of tweeting, less so being a daily reader—is a question I thought about a lot during my two-year hiatus from the website. The most obvious answer is related to the dopamine hits you get when people give you attention on the website:
In an unprecedented attack of candour, Sean Parker, the 38-year-old founding president of Facebook, recently admitted that the social network was founded not to unite us, but to distract us. “The thought process was: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” he said at an event in Philadelphia in November. To achieve this goal, Facebook’s architects exploited a “vulnerability in human psychology”, explained Parker, who resigned from the company in 2005. Whenever someone likes or comments on a post or photograph, he said, “we… give you a little dopamine hit”. Facebook is an empire of empires, then, built upon a molecule.
There’s nothing mysterious about the addiction to social media because chemically speaking, it works no different than an addiction to overeating and works nearly the same as drugs, but without having to ingest, snort, or shoot anything.
The problem though is that if we speak our minds freely, there may not be any reward attached to that. Essentially, tweets that don’t get attention—don’t give you dopamine and at best have a placebo effect. What’s the solution? Instead of tweeting out what you believe, tweet what gets attention and then formulate your beliefs around what gets you the most attention.
If being yourself doesn’t work, become someone else.
The Seahawks were in a unique position a decade ago, as their success under Pete Carroll also happened to coincide with the rise of analytics in the mid-10’s. If Seattle couldn’t win four Super Bowls in a row, at least they won four DVOA championships from 2012-2015.
And when the Seahawks’ analytical dynasty began to crumble from 2016-2021, so too did your allegiance have to change…either to analytics or to Pete Carroll’s philosophies.
But with Russell Wilson now attempting to steal Colorado’s throne from Von Miller, and Carroll once again holding Seattle’s reins, allegiances may have to shift again. Following the pick of Kenneth Walker III with the 41st overall selection, those who once felt untouchable so long as they tweeted a hardline analytical stance that made them “nerds” (a subtle way to publicly proclaim that you believe you’ve got more smarts than the rest of us) are finding that dopamine isn’t quite as easy to come by as it was during the good years; for both the team and analytics.
It turns out that Seahawks fans actually like rooting for the Seahawks.
This is what it’s like to be ratioed by your own followers:
On the social media platform Twitter, a ratio, or getting ratioed, is when replies to a tweet vastly outnumber likes or retweets. This means people are objecting to the tweet and considering its content bad.
These are also examples of getting ratioed:
Even Ben Baldwin is getting ratioed on this tweet:
But it’s not as obvious because though many of Ben’s followers are Seahawks fans, the majority of his 80k+ followers are there for analytics; either because they love them or they hate them. Still, 246 replies is a lot and suggests a good number of eye rolls to this bad tweet. However, for the people above who only have Seahawks followers, if they continue to parrot Ben, they’ll find that they don’t get the same call and response and soon the ratios will pile on.
Meanwhile these tweets by Jacson Bevens (celebrating the rushing success of Rashaad Penny to end the year) and Rob Staton (pointing out that anti-Walker tweets conveniently ignore the number of Super Bowl-winning GMs and head coaches who drafted RBs in the first two rounds (incl. Pats, Bucs, Steelers, Chiefs, Eagles, Broncos…essentially all of ‘em) are examples of NOT being ratioed by Seahawks fans:
It makes me wonder, at what point will we see “analytics” and “nerds” begin to turn their attention towards “Actually, drafting a running back at 41 was good” should Kenneth Walker III become a Seattle fan favorite? The odds of which are relatively high as compared to if the Seahawks had picked virtually any other player at any other position in the draft.
If teams were solely basing their draft decisions on “Who is most likely to become a fan favorite?” based on their actual prospect grades (since no QB was getting better than a third round grade) and their probable impact on the field in the next 3-4 years, there actually was NO BETTER PICK THAN KENNETH WALKER III.
Not only do I believe that to be true, but I believe that more Seahawks fans than not agree with me and are ready to start rooting for Walker toot sweet.
Even Richard Sherman has begun to regain fans in Seattle by expressing that he “really likes” the pick and that Pete is going back to a “run first philosophy” in 2022.
How much longer will the people who keep tweeting “I’m the smart one, my followers are the dumb ones” be able to withstand the lack of positive attention for their opinions? At what point will they be ready to sell their opinions for the highest amount of likes and retweets?
It won’t happen before Walker plays in a game. It won’t happen while Penny is still the number one. But the more they push an agenda that is not popular, the less they pleasure they will get out of logging into twitter and hitting “Send tweet.” If Walker finds himself on a similar career path as Chubb, Taylor, or Henry, the addiction won’t change—the content of the tweets WILL.
As we saw with Penny, even 3.5 years of injuries and setbacks were not enough for most Seahawks fans to wish him gone once he had nearly rushed for more yards in his final five games (671) than what any Seattle back had run for in the entirety of the 2020 season (Carson, 681 yards) and that emphasizes just how ready this fanbase is for players who produce, players who entertain us, and players who justify their draft selection.
If you think that you can get a running back like Walker later in the draft, you’re cherry picking through history.
If you think that James Cook (the only other running back drafted in the second round—and the next after him was Rachaad White at 91st overall) is the same type of player, you don’t watch college football or even pay attention to scouting reports. You’re going off of information that doesn’t even apply to the people in this draft class.
If you think that you’re going to find Seahawks fans who will literally “like” your tweets hating on Seahawks, you’re going to change your mind.
Or at least, you’re going to pretend to.