2. Paul Richardson, WR Colorado
2. Justin Britt, OT Missouri
4. Cassius Marsh, DT UCLA
4. Kevin Norwood, WR Alabama
4. Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB Boston College
5. Jimmy Staten, DT Middle Tennessee State
6. Garrett Scott, OT Marshall
6. Eric Pinkins, S San Diego State
7. Kiero Small, FB Arkansas
It should not come as a huge surprise that the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks had the best roster in the NFL. What is becoming a more difficult feat is they are returning almost all of it to the 2014 season and they had few needs when they went into the 2014 NFL Draft. A tremendous combination of prudent planning and good fortunate have put them in a situation where they had a couple needs they addressed immediately and the rest of the draft was focused on value and opportunity. The Seahawks under John Schneider as general manager have carved their own way of doing things, so some of the picks were seemingly peculiar, but it is becoming difficult to argue with their results.
The Seahawks made it known they were willing to trade out of the 32nd pick in the draft. The pick represented a good opportunity to get some value and add assets, so it was hardly a surprise when they moved out of the pick. The Minnesota Vikings are the team that traded up to get Teddy Bridgewater and the Seahawks moved back into the second round.
The Seahawks got next to nothing out of Percy Harvin until the Super Bowl where he had a big impact. Beyond that, they have some productive role players but really no truly great players. It was a surprise that they took Paul Richardson with their pick as he seems to be another role player as opposed to a featured option.
Richardson is explosive and can be a threat to attack down the field, but he is slight. He was productive at Colorado, but there were better options available with that pick in my view. Nevertheless, for all of the talk about how the Cardinals view Jonathan Brown as a T.Y. Hilton type player, I think Richardson is more equipped to do that job.
More importantly, the Seahawks seem more equipped to be able to create opportunities for Richardson. Harvin tends to work in the middle of the field, Doug Baldwin is more of a possession, chain moving type player, so a combination of Jerome Kearse and Richardson can fill the void left by Golden Tate. Kearse has been productive and they hope he can continue growing and if Richardson can contribute, they could add more explosive plays to their passing offense.
The other major issue on the Seahawks offense was the right side of their offensive line, particularly right tackle. Breno Giaconimi was allowed to walk in free agency and no fans of the team are distressed over the loss. He was the best of a questionable situation between developmental players they had taken in previous drafts. The Seahawks opted to bring in a player that could come in and compete for a starting job by taking Justin Britt.
Initially, Britt may come in as the sixth man on their offensive line, replacing Paul McQuistan. McQuistan was the fill in for Russell Okung and was just decent enough to where they could keep winning. With Okung coming back and McQuistan in Cleveland, they opted to bring in a young player that can get better and do that job. However, he should have his shot to compete to start at right tackle.
The Seahawks took Michael Bowie was a seventh round pick with upside after starting his career at Oklahoma State and transferring to Northeastern State. Bowie and Britt are both big linemen with some strength and bulk that offer a different look than Giacomini gave and should hopefully improve the team’s ability to run to the strong side, regardless of which one wins the job. The question that will be facing the Seahawks is if the loser of that battle will figure into the possibility of playing right guard or if the team is happy with J.R. Sweezy there.
This is not a player I would have taken here, but with the right side of the offensive line, the Seahawks have thought completely outside of the box, moving defensive linemen to the offensive line, taking late round projects and finding a way to make it work. They have two first round picks and a second round pick on the left side of the line and a bunch of late rounders with the exception of Britt now to man the right side. It worked for them to win the Super Bowl, so while I am somewhat left scratching my head, it is difficult to doubt them too much.
The lack of obvious needs reflected in the fourth round where the Seahawks took specific subpackage players. First, they took Cassius Marsh. Marsh slimmed down to play more of a defensive end position in the NFL but he played sort of a joker defensive player role with UCLA. He would come in and play end or a rush tackle or even as a linebacker position and would win on the fringes.
As a rush tackle, Marsh could be overpowered straight up, but he would find ways to bounce off or slip blocks from opponents and chase down plays with a great motor and hustle. The Seahawks are a defensive scheme that loves players that can do just what Marsh did and operated on the fringes. Under Pete Carroll and his various defensive assistants, the Seahawks have been great at putting these types of players in positions to succeed. It is unlikely that Marsh has a chance to be a star, but he can be beneficial as a rotational player.
They took Kevin Norwood as another receiving option. Norwood is a relatively average athlete but he has a strong build, reliable hands and toughness to make plays. He has a little more size than the rest of the Seahawks receiving corp and he was never a star at Alabama, but he was a pro type guy that just made plays and kept drives alive. If he can do that for the Seahawks, he will be worth the investment.
The last pick thy made in the fourth round was Kevin Pierre-Louis. Louis was not a name that many people were too familiar until he blazed an impressive 40 time at the NFL scouting combine and draftniks went back to look at his tape. His tape reminded me at least why he was a relative unknown up to that point as he was explosive but not terribly effective.
For the Seahawks, Louis could be a suped up version of Malcolm Smith, who was the Super Bowl MVP. He could end up playing weak side linebacker in the long run, but he is really suited to play as a sub package nickel backer that can help in coverage. Louis has all of the movement skills to do the job at a high level and just needs reps and polish. If he can do it, he could be a great pick up and make that defense even better going forward.
In the fifth round, the Seahawks brought in another player to compete in their defensive tackle rotation in Jimmy Staten from Middle Tennessee State. Staten played in the NFLPA Game and looked solid at his Pro Day, throwing up 30 bench reps. He looks the part of the lean, athletic defensive tackle they just keep bringing in for competition. Staten may end up not making the roster and ending up on the practice squad, especially since they have added Kevin Williams as a free agent. Staten has the frame to continue developing and improve physically, so he could be a pleasant surprise in a year or few.
In the sixth round, the Seahawks took Garrett Scott from Marshall. It was discovered that Scott has a heart issue that will put his playing career on hold. It is unclear if he will ever be able to play in the NFL, but the Seahawks paid him his full bonus anyway. This is unfortunate for both Scott and the Seahawks, but more important than anything is the fact that the issue was discovered, so it can be treated.
They also selected Eric Pinkins in round six. Pinkins played safety at San Diego State, but the Seahawks are going to see if he can play corner for them. Pinkins had a nice showing at the Aztec Pro Day, running in the 4.4’s. The move here by the Seahawks is interesting because if he can play corner in their system, it is great. He could always move back to safety at some point as well.
For a league that has supposedly caught up to what the Seahawks are doing with some teams copying the approach, they may have found a way to stay ahead of the curve. It will be interesting to see how he does there and with the depth chart in Seattle, it could be difficult for him to make the roster. Teams may look to scoop him up if he gets waived (like Jacksonville and Gus Bradley), but he would be a nice player to get on the practice squad.
For a position that is supposed to be dying in the NFL, the Seahawks have put a lot of energy into fullback. They used the final pick of their draft on Kiero Small out of Arkansas. The move is interesting because Small is short but incredibly stout. At just 5’8”, he is a tank at 244lbs. Whatever he lacks in mass, he more than makes up for with his leverage as no one is going to be able to get lower than him in the backfield. Small is the third fullback on the roster and will be battling Derrick Coleman and Spencer Ware for a roster spot, so it could be difficult. He should be fun to watch while he competes for the job.
The Seahawks do things differently in how they evaluate players. They have a different scale when it comes to character, a different set of traits they look for in their schemes, and different is working for them. The fact of the matter is the Seahawks could get zero impact from the entire draft class this year and be good enough to play in the Super Bowl again this year. Pete Carroll’s emphasis on competition and not being afraid to put rookies in tough situations makes that unlikely, but the roster is good enough to do it. The draft class is certainly different and the Seahawks are about as difficult to predict as any team in the league when it comes to just what they are looking for, but given the results, it is incredibly difficult to have any meaningful criticism that sticks to them for the time being. At this point, it is just interesting to sit back and watch what they do and try to learn from how they are doing it.