A couple of years ago, during the flurry of repetitive Seahawks defeats, a debate sometimes arose in press boxes.
As a measure of relative talent, we wondered, how many of the Seahawks on these teams were good enough to start if they were playing for their opponent that day.
Depending on the opposition, it usually seemed as if the Seahawks had no more than a few players on either side of the ball who were playing better than their counterparts.
At the time, the line was usually a hodgepodge of broken pieces, the backfield was an unconvincing committee, receivers came and went, the reliable veterans were aging, and a lot of positions were manned by underachieving free agents and draft picks.
And as they passed through several seasons without anybody even threatening to be voted to the Pro Bowl, there were no outcries of the Seahawks being snubbed. They simply weren’t deserving.
But suddenly there are five Seahawks in Hawaii for the 2012 Pro Bowl, four having been added as alternates.
They’re all young (average age 25), they were all acquired during the two-year reign of Pete Carroll/John Schneider, and all but one has represented a bit of a reach in some respects.
What it says, then, is that these managers are willing to take a few chances, and they seem effective at targeting talent when they do.
There was no surprise about free safety Earl Thomas being voted in as a starter, other than the haste with which it happened. He was a first-round pick out of Texas in 2010. Still, he’s only 22.
And his abundant playmaking abilities are so widely recognized he was honored despite having only two interceptions this season. Seattle’s 330-pound defensive end Red Bryant had that many – for more return yardage, at that.
And running back Marshawn Lynch was a first-rounder who had been to the Pro Bowl, but the Sea-hawks needed only a fourth-round draft pick and a conditional pick to get him from Buffalo a month into the 2010 season.
He’d been suspended for violations of the league’s personal-conduct policy the previous season, and Buffalo gave him up for what now looks like a bargain price.
If the Bills viewed him as an off-field distraction or problem, it hasn’t been an issue in Seattle.
It may be hard to recall that fullback Mike Robinson finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2005 as a quarterback at Penn State.
But after four seasons as a little-used running back with San Francisco, Robinson was cut before the 2010 season. The Seahawks picked him up, plugged him in at fullback and made him a special teams ace.
His lead blocking was crucial to Lynch’s 1,204 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Kam Chancellor, at 6-3, 232 pounds, joined Thomas in a fearsome tandem of second-year safeties. But this is his first season of starting after being a fifth-round draft pick in 2010.
Nobody questioned his capacity for physical run support, but his four interceptions this season were a testament to his coverage and playmaking skills.
Of the five, cornerback Brandon Browner would seem to be the biggest surprise. Although Browner is 27, this was his first season in the NFL, having gone undrafted and unwanted as a free agent.
After four seasons in the CFL, though, Browner was given a chance with the Sea-hawks. The 6-4, 221-pounder may be redefining the physical parameters of the position, and although his propensity for penalties was an issue, he nonetheless led the team with six interceptions. He returned for two touchdowns and averaged 36.7 yards per return.
The additions of Chancellor and Browner to the Pro Bowl roster as injury replacements means the Sea-hawks are sending 3/4 of their secondary.
And the fourth member, Richard Sherman, made the NFL All-Rookie team as another surprising fifth-round pick.
Neither Browner nor Sherman was expected to start this season for the Sea-hawks, with opportunities arising after injuries to Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond creating openings.
Lynch and Robinson are free agents and market demands dictate that they may leave the Seahawks.
But the overall youth and promise of these five Sea-hawks going to Hawaii is an obvious indicator of the rising level of talent and league-wide respect.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org