RENTON You wanted linemen.
The Seahawks drafted linemen. Galore.
General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll ended their seventh draft leading Seattle on Saturday. The rundown on the team’s 10 picks in 2016: Five linemen, plus what the Seahawks see as the only true blocking tight end in this draft and three running backs to rush into that line.
The outlier, the throwback to previous drafts, didn’t come to the seventh and final round, at 243rd overall: Cal wide receiver Kenny Lawler.
That was after Saturday’s haul of Maryland pass-rushing defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson and bullish, inside running back Alex Collins of Arkansas in the fifth round and Texas Christian center Joey Hunt is the sixth round. Their final choice, at 247th overall in the seventh round, was Zac Brooks, Clemson’s second-team running back last season.
With that, the Seahawks’ emphasis on linemen and runners was complete.
Eight of Seattle’s 10 picks were on offense. Five are on the line, which lost center Max Unger in a trade before last season then left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy after it. None of the starting linemen that won Seattle’s first Super Bowl championship in February 2014 are with the team anymore.
Three draft picks were running backs, underlining the fact the franchise has Marshawn Lynch retiring and Thomas Rawls returning from a broken ankle he got in December. But coach Pete Carroll emphasized “the message of who we are and what we've been about is Thomas.” Carroll said the running backs drafted this weekend have talents to complement Rawls’ rugged running.
SEAHAWKS’ 2016 DRAFT
Round 1: RT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
Round 2: DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Round 3: RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
Round 3: TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State
Round 3: OT Rees Odhiambo, Boise State
Round 5: DT Quinton Jefferson, Maryland
Round 5: RB Alex Collins, Arkansas
Round 6: C Joey Hunt, Texas Christian
Round 7: WR Kenny Lawler, California
Round 7: RB Zac Brooks, Clemson
“This is a draft that highlighted those (linemen and running-back) spots,” coach Pete Carroll said. “There were good, solid numbers in those spots, and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Carroll says the talent Seattle drafted onto the offensive line in particular, in addition to the free-agent signings last month of J’Marcus Webb to compete at right tackle and Bradley Sowell as a potential guard or tackle, will make this summer’s the most competitive training camp of his Seahawks regime.
Now comes the real haymaking part for the Seahawks: The signing rookie free agents after the draft with Carroll, their ace recruiter and former USC coach. As Carroll and Schneider were speaking Saturday after the draft, word was getting out they had signed as an undrafted free agent former USC Trojan Tre Madden to be the fourth running back in rookie minicamp next weekend.
Seattle had 24 undrafted free agents on their 53-man roster by the end of last regular season, in December. That included Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett.