John McGrath

John McGrath: Drafting a somber reality with background stories of Seahawks’ draft picks

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, front, speak with reporters Saturday. The Seahawks made 10 draft picks over the 7 rounds, concluding with running back Zac Brooks as the 247th pick.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, front, speak with reporters Saturday. The Seahawks made 10 draft picks over the 7 rounds, concluding with running back Zac Brooks as the 247th pick. The Seattle Times

When the NFL draft finally concluded Saturday, I was left with the kind of melancholy feeling I get while watching a movie about a family that’s not going to end well for all in the family.

The Seahawks selected 10 players, each of whom mentioned how the telephone call they had just taken was the thrill of their life. Each was happy to be identified by an organization as reputable as Seattle’s, and each was anxious to let the world see what the Hawks saw in them.

But not all 10 are going to make it onto the roster for the 2016 season opener at CenturyLink Field. It will be a surprise if more than five survive training camp, and even for those who do, the average length of their pro football career will be 3.2 years.

Which brings me down, because there was so much merriment Saturday that the NFL Network commentators were almost as giddy 30 minutes into the five-hour telethon as Kenny Lawler was after Seahawks general manager John Schneider told the former California receiver he’d been chosen in the seventh round.

“When Mr. Schneider said he was going to pick me, man, my heart just dropped and tears came down from my eyes,” said Lawler. “It was an unbelievable experience then and there.”

Lawler rented a southern California beach house Saturday for some 100 friends and relatives to participate in the celebration. On the other side of the country, from his Pittsburgh home, Maryland defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson talked to Seattle-area reporters via speakerphone. Three young children could be heard in the background.

“Everything I do is for them and my wife,” said Jefferson, the father of a 5-year old daughter and twin girls who’ll turn 2in July. “I want them to have a good life. I want to be that role model for them, tell them they can do anything they want to. They can achieve their dreams because their father has.”

It’s a beautiful sentiment, and I wish I weren’t tempted to wince when Jefferson talked about the achievement of his dreams in the past tense.

If I only had a heart.

Boise State guard Rees Odhiambo, the Hawks’ third-round choice, came to America after his father died in Kenya. His mother, who earned her chemistry degree in the United States, died 11 years later.

“Seattle has been my second home,” Odhiambo said Friday, “and now I get to come here, live here, play here and just live out my dreams.”

It’s easy to root for Odhiambo, and for running back Zac Brooks, who learned of his seventh-round selection by the Seahawks while watching the telecast with his ailing father. Malcom Brooks is awaiting a lung transplant.

“It happened when I was going into the seventh grade,” Zac Brooks said of his dad’s health problems. “I had to grow up a little bit, take care of my little brother a little bit more, and be more of a role model.

“I took more pride in life. I got a different perspective that anything can be taken away from you at any time. That’s the reason I never quit. My dad is in this situation, but he does his best to take care of the family. If he can do it, I know I can do it.”

In order for Brooks to make the team as a running back, it’s likely he’ll be required to beat out either veteran Christine Michael or fifth-round choice Alex Collins, an Arkansas product who in 2015 joined Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden as the only SEC running backs to rush for at least 1,000 yards during their first three seasons.

Seahawks’ Midlands Area scout Aaron Hineline notes that Collins, a south Florida native who had turned down offers from Miami, Florida and Florida State to play for the Razorbacks, “is a different kid, different like you wouldn’t suspect. He beats to his own drum.”

He also dances to Irish drums, using a stage name — “Mitchell Findley” — that’s a take off of Irish dance legend Michael Flatley.

“I just recently started Irish dance,” said Collins. “It originated from Michael Flatley. When I got into it, I wanted to watch the best and learn from him.

“I’m always on my toes, my lower body and my calf muscles,” continued Collins on the benefits of dancing. “It’s a lot of fun learning something new, especially since I didn’t think I could do it.”

Ten new Seahawks are worthy of my support as they begin the great leap forward. Their biographical profiles might range from unlucky to happy-go-lucky, but I hope all of them make it.

I suspect half of them won’t.

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