In a rarity, we finished NFL draft weekend without the customary weighty overanalysis of the on-field implications of the Seattle Seahawks’ selections.
Instead, we’ve spent days discussing the scourge of domestic violence and the risk-reward calculus of inviting into your community a player with off-field character issues.
The story advanced an important debate and kept a spotlight on a serious social issue.
But now let’s see what these picks mean when the team actually suits up. And sort out whether the picks offer any subtextual messages about where the team is heading in the short term and long term.
The eight picks served as redundant testimony to the John Schneider/Pete Carroll mandate of taking guys who are “gritty,” in possession of unique physical qualities, and competitive enough to practice against a roster of incumbents who have played their way into consecutive Super Bowls.
The flash point of the draft was Michigan’s Frank Clark, a defensive end the Seahawks took at No. 63 overall despite an ugly arrest for domestic violence. The case was resolved as a disorderly conduct misdemeanor but remains open to critical commentary.
On the Brock and Salk Show on 710-AM ESPN Monday morning, Schneider strongly reiterated his belief that Clark was guilty of bad judgment but not punching or striking a woman.
Why take the risk on this guy? After his defenses of Clark’s character, Schneider made a bottom-line statement: “We knew there weren’t going to be any pass-rushers left, and we needed to grab one as soon as we could.”
The football context: When pass-rusher Cliff Avril left the Super Bowl with a concussion, the game shifted in favor of New England. Clark could change that specific shortcoming.
Schneider and Carroll cited Clark’s versatility to play every position from defensive tackle, to Leo pass-rusher, to strong-side linebacker. In essence, he might, given need, evolve into a Michael Bennett, Avril or Bruce Irvin.
Their second pick, third-rounder Tyler Lockett, came with a few questions, too; prime among them whether he was worth the three extra picks the Hawks kicked in to move up in the third round to get him.
To a team committed to running the ball and playing strong defense, field position is a critical factor. Returns of kickoffs and punts have been inconsistent recently, and Lockett is an immediate upgrade.
The bonus is his ability as an undersized (5-foot-10) but productive receiver (187 catches and 22 TDs the past two seasons at Kansas State). Last season, Bryan Walters often filled that fifth-receiver/returner role for the Seahawks. Lockett is a significant upgrade.
By drafting three offensive linemen — Terry Poole (fourth round), Mark Glowinski (fourth) and Kristjan Sokoli (seventh) — they addressed an obvious need for manpower up front.
But by addressing the need as late as they did, it is evidence they feel fairly comfortable with Patrick Lewis or Lemuel Jeanpierre at center, and some other holdovers (Alvin Bailey, Garry Gilliam) as fill-ins in case the rookies can’t ripen in time for the season.
Fifth-round cornerback Tye Smith is a project, who sold Schneider with his “defensive back swagger the guys have to have.” And seventh-rounder Ryan Murphy (safety) will get a chance at special teams, and the fact that he’s Marshawn Lynch’s cousin should be all you need to know about his toughness.
The sixth-round picks of Oregon State defensive end Obum Gwatcham and Buffalo’s Sokoli (a guard converted from defensive line) display the willingness to invest in raw prospects with unique physical gifts. Gwatcham was a 7-1 high jumper, and Sokoli, at 300 pounds, ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash and vertical-leaped 38 inches.
Like everybody else’s draft, the Seahawks picked up a couple guys who can help right away, with the rest being long-term projects and rolls of the dice.
Unlike most other teams, though, the Seahawks don’t need much out of this class to continue as top contenders.