The Seahawks’ aren’t necessarily finding the eventual replacements for Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
But it’s obvious they are thinking of that next era at safety.
Seattle used its fourth-round pick in the NFL draft on Saturday morning on Colorado’s Tedric Thompson. He’s six feet tall, and last season co-led major college football with 23 passes defenses. That included a Pac-12-high seven interceptions, one fewer than Thomas had in his final season at Texas before the Seahawks made him their first pick in the 2010 draft.
“I enjoy watching Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and just knowing that I’m going to a team with those guys and learn from those guys, it’s just a blessing,” Thompson said on the phone minutes after Seattle made him the 111th-overall choice, and their seventh of 11 scheduled selections in this draft through Saturday afternoon. “The ‘12s’ are an extremely great fan base, so it’s a blessing to an organization like that. Pete Carroll was a great head coach when I was growing up in Los Angeles, California; to see him and the stuff he did at USC, so it’s just a great feeling.”
(By the way, credit’s due to whoever in the organization is coaching up every draftee, from every corner of the country and globe, on the Seahawks’ “12th Man” fan base -- or kudos for all these kids knowing about it already.)
Thompson’s statistics, his style of play and the scheme in which he played at Colorado suggest he will be a free safety for the Seahawks, at least initially. Thomas is coming off his first major football injury, a broken tibia last December. He vows to be ready for the September season opener at Green Bay, and the team expects that.
Guys taken on day three of the draft aren’t expected to be smashing successes immediately -- don’t, or do, tell that to Richard Sherman, of course. But in the least Thompson can learn from Thomas how Seattle plays its safeties and be younger insurance. And he’ll get his first chance to play on special teams, which he played at CU.
Steven Terrell started for Thomas at free safety through January’s divisional playoff loss at Atlanta, then the Seahawks let his contract expire without re-signing him.
In the third round Friday night Seattle selected Michigan safety Delano Hill. He’s 6-1, 216 pounds, and known as an aggressive tackler against the run. That’s more in the mold, if not quite the size, of Chancellor.
Chancellor just turned 29, is coming off consecutive seasons limited by injuries and is entering the final year of his contract Seattle has yet to extend (though I still expect them to). Kelcie McCray replaced Chancellor last October when Chancellor was out injured, but Seattle let his contract expire, too. He’s also a free agent right now.
“I’ve been playing both (free safety and strong safety) since I was a freshman in college, and learning from guys in front of me,” Thompson said.
“I feel good wherever they put me at.”