As the Mariners were getting clobbered Sunday, I spent the day as I usually do after the NFL draft: Getting familiar with players whose names are new to me.
I suppose I should already know about Clemson offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, who started for the Tigers national championship team, and Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson, the 2016 Butkus Award winner. But my brain is a small, simple thing, not wired to process an abundance of information, and what was I just saying?
Oh yeah, Mitch Hyatt and Malik Jefferson. These are among the names on many mock boards projecting the Seahawks to make a late first-round pick in the draft.
The, uh, 2018 draft.
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Why would analysts devote energy to the 2018 draft while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is still recovering from hug sprains sustained in the 2017 draft? One theory: Because the pro football draft has overtaken pro football as the national pastime.
While watching athletes block and tackle and throw touchdown passes can be fun, there are only 16 games in a team’s regular-season. But a constant craving for the draft is a 12-months-a-year endeavor, and when it’s over, when there’s nobody left to pose for the world’s most tired snapshot — a former college player holding a jersey — America turns its lonely eyes to the next crop of players destined to pose for the world’s most tired snapshot.
The draft used to be held in New York City, where a few thousand Giants and Jets fans gathered in Radio City Music Hall to heckle the commissioner and boo selections of those future Giants and Jets they deemed obscure.
The first round of the 2017 draft, by contrast, was a cozy little affair that brought every able-bodied resident of the Eastern Seaboard to downtown Philadelphia.
On the third day, teams were assessed grades on a scale ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. helpfully clarified.
“In my mind, an A means exceptional, and a B is pretty good,” Kiper noted on the network’s website. “A C is average, with hits and question marks, and a D means below average with some big questions.”
Whoa Mel! Slow down! One step at a time here: You’re telling me an A is exceptional and a D is below average?
Got it, I hope.
Kiper gave the Seahawks a C-plus, which is slightly above average, if I’m translating his complex scale right. Most other insiders graded Seattle a B, acknowledging general manager John Schneider’s shrewd tactic of trading down for quantity but resisting any rave reviews because the Hawks’ 11-player haul included only two offensive linemen.
Which brings us to the eagerly awaited 2018 draft, so rich with quarterbacks it’s possible. Clemson’s Hyatt could fall to the Hawks. He’s listed at 6-feet-5 and 295 pounds, plenty enough for a last-call bar bouncer but a bit slight for an NFL offensive tackle.
Sometime this week — perhaps Tuesday, no later than Thursday — the weight of an anticipated first-round draft choice will be a discussion topic on a Seattle sports-talk radio station. Does Schneider trust Hyatt’s lateral mobility can mitigate issues about his size?
If not, will Schneider land Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead or SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton? Both are appearing on mock-draft lists as potential Seahawks.
As for the team’s 2017 rookie class, defensive tackle Malik McDowell has been described as a high-ceiling talent with a suspect motor that might require some coaxing. Ethan Pocic, a fellow second-round selection, started at center at LSU but is regarded as a versatile type capable of filling in at any of five offensive line positions.
The nine Hawks’ draftees who followed McDowell and Pocic into the fold share intriguing upsides, and I’m anxious to see which college prospects are fit for the next level.
Hoping the best for the likes of Shaquill Griffin, Delano Hill, Nazair Jones and Amara Darboh, but I’ve got to be honest: As 2017 draft selections who’ve yet to participate in a Seahawks practice, you are all so yesterday.
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath