The Seattle Seahawks came into the 2013 NFL Draft looking to add the finishing touches on a Super Bowl team. With Russell Wilson’s incredible success as a rookie, they Seahawks have a nice little window to operate when he makes next to nothing against their cap where they can go all out to win a Super Bowl and they are going for it. Under the guidance of head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, the Seahawks have made themselves into a contender in two years. There was a little luck involved with the Wilson pick in the third round, but they have also drafted well, especially with middle and late round picks. Their first move this year was to add another playmaker to the offense by going big in a trade to acquire Percy Harvin, the offensive weapon that can line up all over the field and make plays, from the Minnesota Vikings. The move cost them their first round pick this year and a conditional pick in next year’s draft. For the most part, the Seahawks had few needs and were able to add talent to their rotation and the future, but one position they did not address was a little curious.
After waiting until the end of the second round, the Seahawks traded down six more spots in a deal with Baltimore that netted them an extra an extra fifth and sixth round pick. After the move down, the Seahawks selected Christine Michael, running back from Texas A&M. Arguably, the most gifted and talented back in the draft, Michael has had horrible luck with injuries while in College Station and has had off field issues that stemmed from a lack of maturity. If he can stay healthy and stay focused, he can be an incredibly dynamic player that could give the Seahawks an incredible stable of backs with Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin already in the mix there.
At first blush, many people dismiss Michael as simply being a power back, but the reality is he is an incredible athlete as he proved with a terrific effort in workouts. Michael has a tremendous burst and while he can lower his shoulder and punish tacklers, he can make a guy miss and take it to the house as well. Not only has Michael struggled with injuries, he has never really gotten much of a workload so not only does he need to stay healthy in the NFL, but he also needs to show how many carries he can take in an offense. The Seahawks roster is set up to ease him in, but Michael’s talent is such that if he starts dominating as he has in the past, it is tough to stop giving him the ball. He had some issues with A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Sumlin has come back and backed his running back, but it is something to monitor. However, it is also worth pointing out that Pete Carroll has had a ton of success motivating these types of players and getting the absolute most out of them, which had to be a factor when they pick was made.
In the third round, Seattle added to their defensive line rotation by picking Jordan Hill, defensive tackle from Penn State. In Hill, they continue adding talent to their defensive line rotation and someone who can come in and rush the passer from the inside in obvious passing situations. Slightly undersized, Hill uses his lack of height as an advantage when it comes to leverage and demonstrates a violent punch to penetrate into the backfield. Hill is surprisingly effective as a run defender and is a guy who works down the line well and will make more tackles than people would expect. He has some warts like not being able to play a ton of reps before wearing down as well as at times struggling to shed blocks, but Hill is a classic over achiever that seems to thrive on proving people wrong.
The Seahawks have a crowded rotation at defensive tackle and this move works to Carroll’s belief in competition to get the best player for his team. Beyond their stalwart Brendan Mebane, the rest of the defensive tackle rotation is somewhat up grabs with Tony McDaniel signed from the Miami Dolphins, Jaye Howard, who was a fourth round pick last year, and then Clinton McDonald, who was obtained in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals. No matter who does not ultimately make the final roster, it is someone they specifically went and got recently, so like in his time with USC, someone they brought in with talent is not going to make it with the team and could be cut and find work elsewhere quickly.
In the fourth round, the Seahawks picked up wide receiver, Chris Harper from Kansas State. The Seahawks have an interesting group of receivers with Harvin in the fold along with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin. Harper is an interesting changeup because he is a power receiver. Harper is bigger and stronger than the average receiver and he will not hesitate to use his shoulder or a stiff arm to beat up opponents with the ball in his hands. Harper displayed a good amount of talent in Manhattan, Kansas but he was playing in a power running offense that did not give him a ton of opportunities to show off what he can do.
Because of his powerful and broad build, Harper can box out defenders on the edge and make it difficult to get in to defend passes, so he is able to make passes working underneath as well as well as coming back to the football, so he could be a good fit with the Seahawks want to do and could contribute on the outside or as a power slot. Harper will need to fight to take away some reps from guys like Tate or Baldwin to get on the field, but the Seahawks are not loaded with tight end talent and he can be a joker style tight end to a certain extent if they line him up in the slot who can be a big body to move the chains on third down or make plays in the red zone.
The Seahawks traded their sixth round pick to the Detroit Lions to let them move up to the top of the fifth round, giving them back to back picks. The first of these was used on Jesse Williams, defensive tackle from Alabama. On tape and in workouts, Williams warranted going in the first or second round, but medical concerns dropped him to the fifth and this presents the Seahawks with a potential steal. The Seahawks have the roster and depth to be able to afford to have Williams miss the entire year if they needed, but his talent is incredible and really helps them against the run.
Williams is the prototype nose guard who can use his incredible strength and power to hold up at the point of attack and rarely gets knocked backwards or off balance. He demands double teams and if he gets the opportunity to go one on one with a linemen, he can steam roll them into the backfield to disrupt plays. Williams is not useless as a pass rusher but that is not his strong suit and he can excel as a first and second down run stopper along with Red Bryant, giving them a ton of beef up front to be able to stop teams like the 49ers from running the football, which allows them to get to obvious passing situations to take advantage of having guys like Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril who can come in and get after the quarterback.
To appreciate how good Williams is, just watch the game against LSU and watch what he does when he is in the game and operating at full strength. He gets cut block in the second half of the game and is not quite as effective, which is when LSU mounts their comeback. Before that, the Alabama defense was unstoppable and Williams was dominating the football game. He has the talent to do that in the NFL and he will only get better as he gets more technique and understanding of the position to go along with his impressive strength. Whenever he gets healthy, it would be stunning if he did not work his way up the depth chart in a hurry.
With the following pick, the Seahawks picked up Tharold Simon, corner from LSU. Simon fits the type of corner the Seahawks have liked since Carroll came in and took over as the head coach with his combination of length and strength, but Simon has a lot of speed as well. Had Simon stayed in school another year and really polished up his technique, he could have been a first or second round pick next year, but he opted to declare this year to get his pro career started now. It is unclear if it had an impact, but Simon was arrested during the draft weekend over an issue with where he parked his car and an argument with police. Hopefully, this is just a blip on his overall career, but his timing was awful.
Simon has a lot of tools and potential to develop and the Seahawks are a great place to do it, but he was still raw in LSU’s defense this past year. He was inefficient with his movement and had a lot of wasted motion when he was playing in coverage which resulted in receivers able to get separation from him. Simon is an overpowering run defender who really stands out as he takes on blocks and can hit ball carriers with power. He is a fantastic fit as a developmental player in a press system because of his size, strength, and arm length. The Seahawks may have had to pick him a year early in terms of his game, but they got him on the cheap and he could really flourish there as he learns behind Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and newly signed Antone Winfield.
In the fifth round, the Seahawks added Luke Willson¸ tight end from Rice. With the buzz around his teammate Vance McDonald who went in the second round to the 49ers, Willson was a relative unknown to fans, but the Seahawks must have seen something they liked when they went to look at McDonald and saw Willson. At this point, Willson is a triangle numbers prospect with great height, weight, and speed for the position but would look to be a developmental player early in his career.
Unfortunately, with the news that Anthony McCoy suffered a partially torn Achilles tendon that will keep him out somewhere around six to nine months, the schedule for Willson could be bumped up quite a bit. McCoy was the second tight end in the Seahawks offense this past year but he had a knack for making plays for the Seahawk offense and that is a loss for them. Willson may be pressed into duty and expected to learn quickly if they have him move up into that second tight end slot, unless they put McCoy on injured reserve and bring in a veteran option who is more ready to contribute.
In the sixth round, the Seahawks added another running back to the mix in Spencer Ware from LSU. Ware is a talented prospect in terms of triangle numbers and a player that was popular amount draftniks but he never really got the chance to shine for the Tigers. The Seahawks are taking him in hopes that with a bigger opportunity, he will be able to shine. Ware is a big, powerful back who projects as a short yardage power back but he has the potential to do more than that if he can stick on the roster.
The challenge for Ware is that the Seahawks have a loaded backfield now with Lynch, Turbin, and Michael who was selected earlier. The other part of is that they are all big, powerful backs, so it will be difficult to set himself apart simply by being a power back; they all are. The Seahawks have gone to a group of backs that are power followed by power and then more power. Some of them have varying amounts of wiggle and the ability to make guys miss, but they are looking to beat up opponents and wear them down over the course of the game. If the Seahawks are not going to keep four backs after training camp, the other question is whether or not they look at a player like Ware as a potential fullback who can lead the way as a blocker but also be an up back who can receive quick hand offs. In that scenario, he would be competing with Michael Robinson for the starting job. If not, the Seahawks could have trouble sneaking a guy like Ware to the practice squad as he could be snatched up another team before he gets there. Realistically, a bulked up fullback version of Ware could contribute both at fullback and halfback in some situations if they really wanted go that route. Ware has talent and it would not take much for him to have a better pro career than he did at college where he was underutilized.
With a seventh round pick they acquired from the Saints for linebacker Barrett Ruud, the Seahawks took Ryan Seymour, guard from Vanderbilt. Seymour started the past two seasons for the Commodores who will look to try to fight for a spot as a backup on the Seattle offensive line. While he could ultimately end up going to the practice squad, his SEC experience and success blocking for running back Zac Stacy could prove to make him worth keeping on the final 53 man roster.
With their second pick in the seventh round, the Seahawks grabbed Ty Powell, the defensive end from Harding. Although listed as a defensive end, it is more likely Powell ends up playing at a linebacker spot. Powell actually played several different positions during his college career and while he is an exceptional athlete, he is a ball of clay that is waiting to be developed and molded on the right team. Powell was able to impress at the Texas vs. the Nation Game and showed his potential at the Senior Bowl in addition to being a Division-2 All-American. There was some talk that he might go earlier in the draft but he is a developmental prospect who could be a demon on special teams if he can make the final roster, which looks likely at this point. With his speed, strength, and athleticism, if they simply aim him on special teams coverages, he could have an impact as a rookie with his long term potential being molded while he plays as depth.
With their first compensatory pick and third pick of the seventh round, the Seahawks grabbed Jared Smith, defensive tackle from New Hampshire. Smith was a hard working player who played as a 5-technique end in New Hampshire’s defensive system, but the Seahawks took him to move him to offensive guard. This is not the first time the Seahawks have gone this route in trying to bring in developmental offensive line talent. They actually did this move with a seventh round pick last year in J.R. Sweezy out of N.C. State. He moved over from defensive tackle and has a similar athletic profile as Smith. It is interesting that both of these guys had some success in pass rushers in their college careers before the Seahawks grabbed them to play them at guard; perhaps because it means they might possess quick feet, good snap anticipation, and hand usage. It might be difficult for Smith to make the roster and he could be destined for time on the practice squad but this approach is a trend worth keeping an eye on to see if it continues with Carroll and Schneider in control of the front office.
With their other compensatory pick and the last pick of their draft, they grabbed right tackle Michael Bowie out of Northeast Oklahoma State. Coming out of the Lone Star Conference, Bowie is a huge tackle prospect that comes with a terrific frame and bulk to develop. He actually began his career at Oklahoma State but was dismissed for violating team rules. Bowie is a developmental prospect and a flyer for the position, which makes sense given the value and their needs.
The only surprising part of this pick is that they waited so long to take someone who could play right tackle. At this point, the Seahawks have Breno Giacomini, likely the weakest line on that offensive line. Unless they plan on having James Carpenter kicking back outside to tackle and John Moffitt taking back the left guard spot, it is a little perplexing why they did not do more to help this position considering the picks they had in this draft to address it.
My Thoughts: The Seahawks organization has always operated to the beat of their own drum and while picks can look a little confusing in the moment, they have been working out great for them. Well, not Bruce Irvin, but they are still doing well. They earn some benefit of the doubt as a result but certainly there are some questions that need to be asked with this draft and addressing the risks they took.
I am a big believer in the idea of taking a running back every year because they can have an instant impact and every year, a few late round picks and undrafted free agents have a big impact. I thought the pick of Michael was a little early, given his history but I understand the thinking. When he is healthy and focused, he is a machine and combined with Lynch, it could be a tremendous duo. Pete Carroll’s history with this type of player certainly helps the pick here as well, but it is risky considering he was the first pick of their draft. The move to add a couple more picks before taking him definitely helped.
Jordan Hill is a guy who seems to overachieve everywhere he goes and does more than expected. Adding to the defensive line rotation is never a bad idea and the Seahawks have a great rotation at the end and tackle positions, though the end has some big questions with injuries and now, suspensions as well. I do not love the value on Hill, but I understand it and the Seahawks have had success with that profile. On the other hand, I love the pick of Jesse Williams and still do not really understand how he fell so far, even with medical questions. He was simply outstanding on film and was a tremendous nose for the Tide. Had these picks been reversed and they took Williams in round three, it still felt like great value. It remains to be seen when he will be able to contribute but when he does, I expect he is a huge asset for the Seahawks.
I was a fan of Harper coming out and think he was really hurt by having Collin Klein as his quarterback. Klein was a fantastic runner and he did a great job in the Wildcat offense, but he was never a great passer. Harper’s combination of size and strength as a receiver makes him an intriguing weapon that could be better as a pro than he was in college. It will be interesting to see how their receiver rotation works out and who gets the reps in different situations.
I really liked Simon throughout the draft process as a developmental corner that could be had on the cheap this year for production in a year or two down the line. The arrest during the draft certainly gives me a little pause, but the situation Simon has been drafted into is fantastic for his development and that defensive scheme.
I will be interested to see what role they ultimately have in mind for Ware, but the competition at either spot should be worth watching during camp. He has potential as a fullback or halfback or a little of both. With Ware and the rest of their picks, they took a batch of flyers on guys with good triangle numbers and measurables that look good in the NFL but need development and coaching. If they can get one or a few of them to make a lasting impact, it was successful, but as with the nature of these picks, it would not be surprising if all of them are unable to make the final roster.
The one surprise is that the Seahawks did not do more for the right tackle spot. It has been a weak point and unless they are moving Carpenter back out there, it looks like another year with Giacomini. That might be anything that will prevent them from winning a Super Bowl, but it is curious they did not try to do more to upgrade that spot. Bowie is fine and could be a productive player, but they could have taken him as well as someone more ready to compete earlier in the draft and try to find a better solution at right tackle. If the plan is to have Carpenter kick back out there with Moffitt or one of these guards they have been adding recently, the overall plan makes far more sense.
Not everything the Seahawks does make a ton of sense when it initially happens, but their results speak for themselves. Their success rate in the first round is not as high as it is later in the draft, which is surprising, but as long as they get it done, Seattle fans are not going to care too much how the sausage is made on a championship team. It is just bizarre that they have done so well in later rounds but struggle and miss opportunities in the first round. The move to take Harvin took them out of that conversation entirely and gives their offense another dynamic they can take advantage this season. The Seahawks have taken an unorthodox to building their team, but it is also why they have been so successful and some of what they are doing is and will catch on with other teams. As long as it keeps working, it is hard to criticize what they are doing too much, especially if they are able to win the Super Bowl in the next couple years.
Tags: 2013 Nfl Draft Alabama Crimson Tide Football Chris Harper Christian Michael Harding Bisons Football Jared Smith Jesse Williams Jordan Hill Kansas State Wildcats LSU Tigers Football Luke Wilson Michael Bowie New Hampshire Northeast Oklahoma State Penn State Nittany Lions Football Percy Harvin Rice Owls Football Ryan Seymour Seattle Seahawks Spencer Ware Texas A&M Aggies Football Tharold Simon Ty Powell Vanderbilt Commodores Football