Boling: Great Seahawks draft on paper, now time to prove it
DAVE BOLING; STAFF WRITER
We may debate which is more significant after the Seahawks received nearly straight A’s with their draft performance: that they would make everybody’s dean’s list …
… Or the fact that people outside the Northwest actually paid attention to what the Seahawks are up to.
The suddenly relevant Seahawks landed nine rookies in the draft and three veterans in trade (four, if you count quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who cost them draft picks).
The first three selections could be instant starters, while the rest carry low-cost potential, and the veterans at least will make things interesting for incumbents.
But what now? Now we discover the difference between being relevant and being a contender.
Amid all the praise, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Seahawks had fallen from the national radar because the talent depletion had been so dramatic that it surely requires more than an over-the-weekend fix.
And while it’s reasonable to buy into all the high marks, and suggest that the Hawks are on the mend, nothing happens in a vacuum, and this team will go nowhere if it can’t win the division.
Although the Cardinals lost quarterback Kurt Warner, which could affect their dominance, it’s possible that San Francisco (which went 5-1 against the division last season) is ready to step up, and maybe had an even better draft than the Seahawks.
Already a team that physically overpowered the Seahawks, the Niners got even more physical, and certainly could grow into the division bullies this fall, taking two top offensive linemen and big-bopping safety Taylor Mays.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s goal in the draft was to heighten competition across the field, and finding athletes capable of making big plays.
So where’s the primary competition?
Well, running backs Julius Jones and Justin Forsett had to be interested in seeing the Hawks trade for LenDale White and Leon Washington. Washington was in the Pro Bowl as recently as 2008, and White has rushed for as many as 15 touchdowns in one season and 1,100 yards in another.
Granted, Washington is coming back from a broken leg, and White has been prone to eating himself into a fat tub of goo. If they can return to form, though ...
The wide receiver position has gotten far more interesting in recent weeks, too, with the signing of free agents Mike Williams and Reggie Williams, and the drafting of Notre Dame’s Golden Tate.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh will be safe, but where it leaves Deion Branch, Deon Butler and Ben Obomanu and the rest will have to be sorted out.
They now have a number of bodies to win the battles for a couple of defensive end positions, but it is hardly assured that any of them will be able to provide the pass rush they need. Or, will that mean they’re going to have to get more creative using linebacker Aaron Curry in passing situations?
The arrival of top pick Russell Okung is expected to be the long-term answer for Walter Jones’ spot at left tackle, but other than that, depth on the offensive line remains an issue (even if we’re willing to put aside the questions about keeping Chris Spencer at center). But bringing in free agent Ben Hamilton to play left guard could be critical to Okung’s development. Hamilton served as an on-field guide in Denver for young tackle Ryan Clady. He’ll be valuable filling the same role here.
Whenever Okung sees something new, he can lean over and say, “Ben, what do I do now?” Very important acquistion.
For the Hawks, it could come down to getting lucky with injuries after having been on the deficit side of that accounting in recent seasons. We’ll see if the new staff can coach better against injuries than the former staff.
With veterans getting cut and becoming available around the league, we shouldn’t expect the Seahawks to be finished with shoring up spots or filling remaining vacancies.
More work must be done, so be prepared to need a program once the season starts, when we’ll see if high grades on draft weekend mean anything in the win-loss columns.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440