The Seattle Seahawks have been ridiculed in the past for their draft picks, but General Manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll clearly know what they’re doing by not listening to what the “experts” have to say, considering they’ve built a Super Bowl winning team with many mid to late round draft picks playing a prominent role.
This year they followed their model for success and drafted some players that weren’t on anyone’s radar. It seems as though the Seahawks evaluate each player differently than other teams and focus more on the players’ strengths rather than weaknesses. Some of the team’s needs consist of wide receivers, offensive lineman, defensive ends, guards, and tackles. Below are their draft picks along with the grades for each selection.
Paul Richardson- WR Colorado, 45 Overall
After trading their first pick down to the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks selected Paul Richardson as their first pick in this year’s draft. They filled a need by drafting Richardson since Golden Tate left in free agency to the Detroit Lions.
Richardson was Seattle’s highest rated receiver on the board. Seattle traded the 40th overall pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for the 45th, 111th, and 227th overall picks since they felt they could get their guy at 45 because Richardson’s name wasn’t mentioned high in the mock drafts.
At the combine, Richardson ran a 4.40 40-yard dash making him the third fastest receiver in this year’s draft. He also had a vertical jump of 38.0 inches. Complimenting Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice on the field will give defenses a run for their money. Richardson could be a starter for the Seahawks for two reasons: if he outshines Sidney Rice at training camp or if Doug Baldwin doesn’t return.
Rice only played five games last season due to tearing his ACL on October 28. Baldwin was a restricted free agent this offseason and didn’t sign with any teams due to the draft being heavy in wide receivers this year and the fact that the teams would have to match the Seahawks offer. Seattle offered him a $2.5 million contract for one year after free agency ended, but he hasn’t signed the extension with the Seahawks yet because he wants a long term contract. Russell Wilson will be able to find an open target downfield with Richardson on the field because he stretches the field quickly. It will also help out Marshawn Lynch by opening more space for the running game.
Most teams were worried with Richardson’s small size at the combine where he weighed 175 pounds. He has gained about five pounds since and intends to reach his targeted playing weight of 190 pounds by the beginning of the season. Another worry was Richardson missing the entire 2012 season with an ACL injury, but he came back stronger than ever in the 2013 season. Colorado’s offense was one of the worst in the Pac-12. The team only won 4 games the entire season, but Richardson was able to create 10 touchdowns and 1,343 yards in receptions while being the focal point of every defense they played.
Justin Britt- OT Missouri, 64 Overall
With their second pick in the draft, the Seahawks drafted a player that filled another important need. As a 6-foot-5 and 325-pound offensive tackle, Justin Britt looks like he can be a starter this coming season. With the loss of Breno Giacomini to the New York Jets and Paul McQuistan to the Cleveland Browns in free agency, the Seahawks were in need for a replacement at right offensive tackle and left guard. Britt played left tackle during his senior year, but has played at all offensive line positions in his career. Britt will face stiff competition for the starting right tackle position with Michael Bowie. James Carpenter will be eager to start as a guard, either side, this season which brings more competition for Britt.
Scouts have noticed that Britt does not always create movement during running plays and has limited body control. With both of those weaknesses in mind, drafting Britt was a great selection by the Seahawks. The fact that he is such a versatile player will allow the Seahawks to determine what position fits him and the team best. I wouldn’t be surprised if Britt was a starter this season due to his versatility and strength.
Cassius Marsh- DE UCLA, 108 Overall
With the number one defense in the league in 2013, any defensive player would be grateful to have a chance to be a Seahawk. Marsh was the top performer in the combine with a 7.08-second 3 cone drill and 4.25-second 20-yard shuffle. He’s a powerful and strong player on the field with good hands to control offensive linemen. He has also filled in as a tight end when needed during his college career.
I do not expect Marsh to be a starter this season. The defensive end position will include Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett as starters. Marsh could play on passing downs when Bennett moves inside to defensive tackle.
Overall, it was an okay decision for the Seahawks to draft Marsh even though they already have the defense locked up next season. Seattle lost Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, both going to the Jacksonville Jaguars during free agency so Marsh will be able to add depth to the roster. He does, however, have potential to become a starter within the next couple seasons once veteran players’ contracts expire. Perhaps that was their mindset and they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draft him.
Kevin Norwood- WR Alabama, 123 Overall
Kevin Norwood is a perfect fit for the Seahawks. He is a reliable receiver that turned 79% of his receptions last season into first downs. That right there helps fix one of Seattle’s main issues last season where they only converted 37.3% of third downs. If Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin gets injured again this season or if Doug Baldwin doesn’t resign with the Seahawks, Norwood will be a great player to have as a replacement.
Let’s not forget about Jermaine Kearse. The veteran had only 4 touchdowns last season, but showed that he could break tackles. I’d expect Rice and Harvin to be starters in the upcoming season. If Baldwin signs the extension, I think he will take Rice’s starting position. Kearse or Rice, depending on Baldwin’s decision, and either Richardson or Norwood will be the backups. The two rookies will have to fight for the spot.
At the combine, Norwood ran a 4.48 second 40- yard dash, had a 33.0 vertical jump, and was the top performer at the 3 cone drill at 6.68 seconds. He falls just a tad behind Richardson in the combine. Like every player, Norwood does have some weaknesses. He has short arms, measuring 32 1/8”, and does not break a lot of tackles after he catches the ball. It will be good for him to train against the number one defense in the league to hone his skills. I would expect to see Norwood make the roster and contribute this season.
Kevin Pierre-Louis- OLB Boston College, 132 Overall
Pierre-Louis showed promise with being a combine top performer in everything but the 3 cone drill. He ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, had 28 reps in bench press, reached 39.0 inches in his vertical jump, and had a broad jump of 128.0 inches. He resembles Super Bowl 48 MVP Malcom Smith in that both tend to be positioned on the weaker side of formations because they don’t always make the tackle during the play. With Smith’s contract expiring after this season, Pierre-Louis could see himself as his replacement due to Smith wanting a bigger contract after being named a Super Bowl MVP. But while Smith is still on the roster, Pierre-Louis could find a home on special teams. If there are any injuries, Pierre-Louis is sure to be able to handle the outside linebacker position. He had 6 sacks, 67 tackles, and one interception during his 2013 season at Boston College.
Pierre-Louis needs to work on is upper body strength, but with conditioning and training Pierre-Louis could see himself playing on the strong side of any formation. He also tends to lose sight of the ball and doesn’t always read the play correctly. These weaknesses can be strengthened with film and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pierre-Louis becomes a household name for the team within a couple years.
Jimmy Staten- DT Middle Tennessee State, 172 Overall
Staten may help the Seahawks by being a backup on the defensive line. He could also replace Red Bryant, who the Seahawks lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. The Seahawks’ defense is loaded with players at almost every position, so there was no real need draft Staten. Unless he can prove that jumping from Middle Tennessee State to the NFL is not as big of a change as most people see it before the roster cuts, Staten won’t make the team. There’s too much competition with the Super Bowl champs such as Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, Greg Scruggs, and Jordan Hill. One hope could be for Staten to play defensive end, but Michael Bennett will more than likely fill in for this position on passing plays as usual.
I think it would have been smarter to draft a cornerback since Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond both left the Seahawks in free agency. Browner went to the New England Patriots and Thurmond is now a New York Giant. Kendall James, from Maine, was drafted as the 184th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings. James could have become a third position cornerback for the Seahawks.
Garrett Scott- OT Marshall, 199 Overall
Garrett Scott, like Britt, is a player that the Seahawks need in order to fix the holes on the offensive line. He ran a 5.04 40-yard dash in wet conditions at his pro day. That’s impressive, especially considering that Seattle is known for its wet weather.
Scott will most likely not see a lot of playing time during the 2014 season. With four returning starters and Britt, he is on a long waiting list for a starting position. He will probably be third in line in terms of depth because veteran players like Russell Okung will start for left tackle and Michael Bowie and second round pick Justin Britt will fight for the starting position for right tackle. However, don’t count him out completely. Scott has the potential to be the Seahawks center. Last year, Max Unger didn’t perform as hoped and has a large contract- 4 years, $25.84 million and $11.5 million guaranteed- which will lead him to be an unrestricted free agent in 2017. If Scott accepts the challenge and exceeds expectations, he will have found himself a place on the roster as a starter to save the Seahawks salary cap room.
Eric Pinkins- FS San Diego State, 208 Overall
Even though Pinkins is listed as a free safety, the Seahawks may want to try to make him be a cornerback. They could also want him to play at both positions like they do with DeShawn Shead. Unfortunately for Pinkins, the secondary is loaded with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, who each signed huge contract extensions. Thomas and Sherman signed this offseason while Chancellor signed last offseason.
Pinkins tends to anticipate coverage and isn’t as clean in changing directions as he should be. Therefore, a safety position is more in his favor than cornerback. On the other hand, with the loss of now-Patriot Brandon Browner and now-Giant Walter Thurmond, Pinkins could learn from starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell.
Chris Maragos, who was Seattle’s second free safety, also left the Seahawks to the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Pinkins could replace Maragos and backup Thomas, but it wouldn’t be likely for him to see the field a lot this season there. In order for Pinkins to play next season, he will have to contribute to special teams where he can hopefully make a difference.
Kiero Small- FB Arkansas, 227 Overall
Kiero Small has a lot to work for in order to make it on the roster for the Seahawks. There’s already stiff competition between Derrick Coleman and Spencer Ware for the starting fullback position since free agent Michael Robinson hasn’t resigned with the team after their Super Bowl win. There is a chance Robinson could return by training camp, but there is no way that there is room for all these players to be listed on the roster.
Small is 16 pounds heavier than Ware, but slower than Coleman. Small ran a 4.89 second 40-yard dash at his pro day while Coleman ran his at 4.50 seconds. He also is consistent in catching the ball outside of the backfield. He had 19 receptions and 128 yards, averaging 6.7 yards, last season at Arkansas.
It’s too hard to tell now who will make the team this year, but it will be interesting to see what happens in training camp and who will make the 53-man roster on this loaded backfield.
The Seahawks did a pretty good job at their draft selections this year. They filled their needs with wide receivers and offensive linemen. They also added players who will be able to play multiple positions which give those players a chance to find their biggest strengths. They are known for also signing undrafted free agent rookies who end up being game changers for the team. It will be interesting to see who they add this offseason.