Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll resisted temptation to simply select his former players in this year’s draft, passing over University of Southern California products and taking what the organization must have deemed better fits at similar positions.
The most publicized of those choices was selecting Texas safety Earl Thomas at No. 14 and passing on big-hitting Trojans safety Taylor Mays, who fell to the second round and was grabbed by San Francisco at No. 49 overall.
During a conference call with San Francisco-area reporters Mays, a former star at O’Dea High in Seattle, said he felt misled by Carroll in terms of his preparation for the NFL.
“I felt he told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was definitely – it was alarming. ... I understand it’s a business,” Mays said. “But with it being a business, he needs to be honest. And that’s all I was asking for.”
Responding to Mays’ comments, Carroll said the USC product would have been a strong consideration for Seattle had Thomas not dropped to them at No. 14.
“I don’t blame him for being the way he is,” Carroll said. “I would probably be surprised if it was anything other than that. ... I feel for him. My heart sunk with him when he didn’t get picked earlier.”
But Carroll also passed on USC wide receiver Damian Williams, taking Notre Dame’s Golden Tate instead with the team’s No. 60 pick. Williams was selected 17 picks later in the third round by Tennessee.
In selecting Tate in the second round, the Seahawks also passed on USC defensive end Everson Griffen, considered a second-round talent before the draft. Minnesota took Griffen in the fourth round with the No. 100 pick, and Seattle filled its need for another edge rusher 27 picks later with North Carolina defensive end E.J. Wilson.
The Seahawks took one USC product in the draft, tight end Anthony McCoy. Considered a third-round prospect, McCoy dropped all the way to Seattle in the sixth round partly because he tested positive for marijuana during the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
At the end of the draft on Saturday, Carroll talked about how he had to balance the information he had on his former players and others he recruited in the draft process with the team’s needs and the evaluations performed by the team’s scouting staff.
“It was somewhat of a discipaline for me to not talk too much about stuff early on to not taint the guys’ views on stuff,” Carroll said. “I really wasn’t very good at it all the time. But that’s how we tried to go about it, to draw on our own guys’ evaluation.
“We won’t have this advantage very long, so we have to take full advantage of it when we do.”
Even though Carroll only drafted one player from his former school, the Seahawks’ roster has a decidedly USC flavor, with nine former Trojans currently on the 80-man roster.
Two of those players were already on the club when Carroll took over – defensive end Lawrence Jackson and linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Carroll added through the draft and picked up six former USC products through free agency – punter Tom Malone, fullback Ryan Powdrell, wide receiver Mike Williams, cornerback Josh Pinkard, safety Will Harris and center Jeff Byers.
Now Carroll will get his first opportunity to begin to put the pieces together at the team’s post-draft minicamp, which begins on Friday. Carroll said he’s looking forward to getting back on the field now that the draft is over.
“We’re going to get to match guys together and we’ll keep them out late sometimes at practice, just to do some little things to find out and figure them out so that we can best use their abilities,” Carroll said. “The sooner that we can figure that out the farther we’ll go with them.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437