The Seahawks rarely do the expected in the NFL draft. It's how they have separated themselves with 36 wins in their last 48 games and reaching the last two Super Bowls, winning one.
They just did the unexpected -- and already controversial -- in drafted defensive end Frank Clark from Michigan with the next-to-last pick of the second round, at No. 63 overall tonight. It may be the riskiest, leap-of-faith pick in their franchise's 39-year history.
Sure, Clark is 6 feet 2 and 277 pounds, described as having an explosiveness in pass rushing that Seattle loves. The Seahawks' team website already lists the three-year letterman and starter for 26 college games at Michigan as their "LEO", rush end -- which is what Cliff Avril, re-signed late last season, plays.
But the 21-year-old Clark got kicked off the team with two games left in his final season at Michigan late last season, after a charges of assault and domestic violence stemming from an incident with a 20-year-old Ohio woman on a Saturday night at a hotel in Perkins Township outside Sandusky, Ohio, about an hour south of the Michigan campus. As is standard for the charge in most states, Clark was booked into Erie (Ohio) County Jail before being released on $,000 bond.
The story of that incident from Nov. 16, 2014, is here and here. It includes the police report and photos introduced as evidence. And it's not the best look in an NFL that has more than its share of domestic-violence issues in the last couple years.
The disposition of the charge came in April, as in, a few weeks ago: reduced in a plea bargain to "persistent disorderly conduct," a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
"I mean, they questioned me about the incident. They went through every single detail," Clark, who turns 22 in June, said tonight by telephone from his family home on the east side of Cleveland. "I simply kept it real with them. I don't pride myself on lying."
What insiders say Clark told Seahawks owner Paul Allen, general manager John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll and top scouts: That he did not touch the woman who accused him of domestic violence. That he is telling the complete truth. That he is sorry for and guilty of putting himself in the wrong place -- at a Lake Eric resort-area hotel at 10:30 on a Saturday night of a Michigan bye weekend with a woman he shouldn't have been with. The police came. So did the charges and the plea bargain -- then the requisite counseling and remorse/rehabilitation of his image in time for the upcoming NFL draft.
In June 2012, Clark was charged with felony, second-degree home invasion after he stole an Apple Macbook Air laptop from a U0fM dormitory room. The defensive end, then a 19-year-old sophomore, pleaded guilty under the provisions of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), which is designed to give "an opportunity for people under 21 with no prior convictions that it is their first and last contact with the law," as stated by the Michigan judge that adjudicated that case -- according to this espn.com story from June 2012.
Of the domestic-violence incident, the report from Nov. 16 states officers from the Perkins Township Police Department in Ohio were called to the Maui Sands hotel in Sandusky. There is a box "X'd" at the top of the victim's demographics section in which the reporting officer maked in the "no-injury" box. But officers took photographs as evidence that night that show what appear to be scratches and cuts inside an arm and on her upper cheek, under her left eye, and low on the middle of her neck. There are also pictures of a broken lampshade in what appears to be the hotel room in question and another, wall lamp knocked off its mount.
There is also a photo of a Clark, head bowed, with a fresh, bloody scratch on his nose.
From the Nov. 18, 2014 story in the Toledo Blade:
"Clark was staying with (the alleged victim) and her family members. According to the report, Hurt told police that she and Clark began to argue in the hotel room, which escalated into a physical altercation.
“'She stated she has been short tempered, she got mad, and she threw the [television] remote at him,' Officer Martin Curran’s report stated. 'She advised Frank tried restraining her on the bed and that is when she bit his nose. She advised he then pushed her head down into the bed and then they both got off the bed. She advised Frank then punched her in the face and she fell back breaking the lamp. She stated she then threw an alarm clock at him and he was trying to gather his belongings to leave.'
"The report stated that Stephanie Burkhart, a Maui Sands employee, received a phone call from people in a neighboring room, stating that they heard a sound “like a head was being bounced off the wall” and that small children ran to their room and stated “Frank is killing our sister.” Hurt’s younger brothers, Dontrez Frost and Catare Allen, also told police that Clark was hitting Hurt; Dontrez said his sister attempted to fight back and Clark grabbed her by the throat, picked her up, slammed her to the ground, and landed on top of her.
"The report also stated that Clark allegedly threatened Burkhart, telling her that “I will hit you like I hit her,” and made contact with her, but Burkhart did not want to pursue the matter.
"Hurt initially did not want to go to the hospital or press charges. Curran, however, wrote in the report that he told Clark's girlfriend that 'when a domestic violence victim does not want to pursue a criminal charge against the offender and there are signs of physical violence, we are guided by law to charge that offender with domestic violence.'"
Tonight, Clark said:
"I simply put myself in a position I should have been in, at a time I shouldn't have been there. I take full responsibility. I take full responsibility for (stealing) the laptop. That's all I can do. I can't go back and turn back the hands of time."
Asked if he expected Seahawks fans to not exactly embrace him upon his arrival in upcoming weeks for rookie minicamps here at team headquarters in Renton, this summer in the preseason and his rookie season as the highest 2015 draft choice of the two-time defending NFC champions, Clark said: "I mean, I do. It's just reality, though, you know what I mean? I wish they don't. I don't believe in judging a book by its cover. Like I tell everybody, you get to know me -- like everyone says: 'Frank's not an angry guy. The only time Frank is angry is on the field.' And that's what I believe the Seahawks want me to be, is angry.
"I just want all the fans, everyone, to just have faith in me. Give me a couple years to believe in me. And I promise you -- I am saying it right now -- I promise you they won't be upset."
The Seahawks have made big moves from unexpected places in the last five years to build a powerhouse. But this pick -- which may be the riskiest of a franchise history of iffy picks -- comes with the need of explanation. And not a little bit of faith.
The optics? Whoa...
Here is all what Clark said on the phone tonight to Seahawks reporters:
And here is a transcript of portions of that audio/interview:
DE Frank Clark
(On where is interviewing from…) “Cleveland, Ohio.”
(On his prior contact with the Seahawks…) “We had a lot of contact. I talked to a lot of coaches on the staff—a lot of the scouts, with a couple of the head scouts we had a lot of contact in the last couple of weeks, last couple of months. There’s always been an attraction between us—my agent had always told me, ‘I think the Seahawks have a man-crush on you.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I am the one with the man-crush on the Seahawks.’ Especially since Shaun Alexander played, it’s been one of my favorite teams, it just looked fun to play in [CenturyLink Field]—it’s a dream come true.”
(On the Seahawks questioning him on the domestic violence issue…) “They questioned me on the incident just like everyone else did, that was just for the simple fact that when you take a player as high as they took me, you want to know every single detail to the person they are now. I respect that; if I were in their position, as a GM or owner, I would want to take the guy who best suits me and who I believe—if something has happened to them—will be honest and upfront.”
(On what he told the Seahawks.) “I simply kept it real with them. One thing I don’t do—I don’t pride myself in lying. I tell the truth. Once you lie one time, that lie is followed by another lie, so I told the coaching staff, the owner, the GM, and everyone who questioned me in that department in Seattle—I gave them honest and upfront answers from the beginning.”
(On what he has learned from that situation…) “I simply put myself in a position I shouldn’t have been in. There’s no better way I can say it. I shouldn’t have been there in the first place, and I take full responsibility for everything that happened. I take full responsibility for everything that happened—I take full responsibility for my past, in my freshman year with the laptop, and it’s just something I had to learn from, get better from, and grow from individually. That’s all I can do now; I can’t go back and change it, I can only get better with my future and progress it from this point.”
(On what he has done since getting dismissed from Michigan…) “Working, working. I started working out at Barwis Methods in Plymouth, Michigan. Mike Barwis was a guy who motivated me mentally. I had always been motivated physically just playing the sport, but he motivated me mentally and challenged me to strengthen my mindset, and I thank him for that. Eventually I did a little combine training at Exo, and basically I have been out of football since the first week of November. I just want to get back on the field; I am anxious to get back onto the field and play in that nest.”
(On where he was going to get drafted…) “I had no idea, I had no idea. It has been a humbling experience, sitting there with my family, watching all of these guys go in the first round. I watched guys go before me in the second round, and I just kept praying. I told myself, ‘God is going to handle it. God’s going to make a way, and God has a plan for me whether it is the second round or the seventh round or undrafted. I am going to come in with the same mindset as a guy who came undrafted or free agent.’ I don’t have a job—it is not solidified. I am coming in there fresh, and I am coming in to compete and battle.”
(On the biggest thing he has learned…) “The biggest thing I learned was my faith—it challenged my faith a lot. I had never been a big prayer who preached every day, I was never one of those guys… But this really [made me] dive deeper in my faith with a lot of the decision-making process.”
(On who called him from the Seahawks…) “I talked to everybody. When they first called me and asked if I would like to be a Seahawk, the next thing I know Coach Carroll is on the phone, then the next thing I know one of the head scouts, Ed Dodds, is on the phone, and I am talking to everyone full of joy. I have been through a lot, and I am overwhelmed with joy and it feels so surreal. It hasn’t even sunk in yet. It’s an honor for a team of the caliber like the Seahawks to have so much faith in a kid like me. I am only 21. My birthday is coming up June 21—it’s a privilege. I owe it all to the fans, my Michigan alumni, the coaches—everyone in that department who has faith in me to take me in the 2015 NFL Draft.”
(On where he hopes to play…) “I don’t care where they play me—wherever they play me, that’s where I want to make an impact on the game. I want to come in and learn from the veterans… I have only played the position for four years, whether it is outside linebacker or defensive end, I am just prepared to come in and learn.”
(On where he grew up…) “I spent half of my life in Los Angeles, California, and the other half in Cleveland, the east-side.”
(On if he has been to Seattle before…) “One time, on my visit. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life.”
A few minutes after the stunning selection of Clark, the Seahawks traded three picks from Saturday to Washington to move up 26 spots to the top of the third round. There, they selected Tyler Lockett, the all-time receiving leader at Kansas State and special-teams standout.
Seattle traded its the picks in the third (95th overall), fourth (112th), fifth (167th) and sixth (181st pick) rounds to acquire the Redskins' third-round pick (69th overall) to take Lockett, a four-time All-American who broke his dad Kevin's receiving records at K-State.
"It was a great moment. I'm here with my family and friends, watching the draft," Lockett said over the telephone from the Midwest. "To get that phone call from the Seattle Seahawks, it was an amazing feeling. The best team in the NFL, and I have the opportunity to play with one of the best teams in the NFL. And I'm excited."
Much of Lockett's 10-minute talk tonight focused on him being a punt gunner at K-State and the potential he returns kicks for the Seahawks. He said coaches here have mentioned that as his job one in Seattle, starting with rookie minicamps this spring. He said he patterns his pass-catching game after Steelers star wide out Antonio Brown.
Seattle now has eight total picks, six in rounds four through seven that begin Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.