Seattle values Brian Russell. It shouldn't. Seattle sees Russell as a great football mind that leads the Seahawks secondary. In reality, he's a weak link with minimal talent that does his best work on practice fields and in film rooms. A young player like Michael Hamlin could save Seattle from itself.
Seattle is rebuilding its defense from the playbook up. That sounds exciting, and is even specific enough to be exciting, but will not matter unless Seattle changes its talent evaluation. Consider this quote from Ziggy Hood.
[I]n my meeting with the Seattle Seahawks, I sat in with the General Manager, Head Coach and most of the coaching staff. They really drilled me and tried to find out if I had a high football IQ...They wanted to understand my football knowledge, as far as me knowing my assignments and my teammate's assignments in a specific defense. They wanted me to point out where I'd be if a certain play was called and try to pick up different schemes of the offense and defense. It was pretty intense.
Using an interview to find out more than if a prospect is a honey or barbecue sauce man is intelligent. Overvaluing interview skills is not. Overvaluing a player's ability to articulate their knowledge is not. If Hood knows his assignment and the assignments of his teammates, it should show on the field. And though it's valuable, knowledge does not replace raw ability.
When I read that quote I thought: Brian Russell. It was a Rosetta Stone moment, when something cryptic and baffling became clear. That's why Seattle values Brian Russell. The man Mike Holmgren wanted to be the "quarterback of the defense" knows how to talk shop. He'll make a very good secondary coach should he be so inclined. But like many teachers, it is that playing free safety in the NFL is so abstract to him, so far from his own natural abilities, it is that Russell cannot do and so has had to struggle and work and attain an encyclopedic knowledge of his position to make it in the NFL, that makes him sound like an exceptional free safety when he's easily one of the worst in the league. You don't go to Jimi Hendrix for guitar lessons, you don't ask Randy Johnson how to throw a slider and you don't ask Ed Reed how to play free safety, because as hard as they work, and as talented as they are, they couldn't tell you. They were born that way.
Seattle doesn't need talent at free safety, it has it. Unfortunately, Deon Grant has been moved to strong safety to accommodate Russell. Seattle does need talent at safety. Jamar Adams could probably improve the team right now, but as an undrafted free agent, Adams lacks that all important mandate to play. Seattle's continued confidence in Russell means it won't sign a free agent. A free agent won't sign knowing Seattle has an established starter. What Seattle needs is a young kid that through sheer determination unseats Russell. Call it a youth movement, the destiny of coach Russell or simply mercy for this poor blogger, but what it should be called, replacing the weak link on a defense with aspirations of dominance, won't play. Seattle needs a recruit to win the position, as the team "looks to the future", and in a way that saves face for Russell.
Suddenly a very interesting name is in the mix: Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins flunked out at the combine. That might be his last act as a cornerback prospect and his first as a free safety prospect. For an athlete with his prima facie athleticism, the forty should be way discounted, and I, personally, don't think the separation in value between safety and corner is great. Still, Seattle does not see safety as a dire need and drafting Jenkins, a pick that would be seen as a huge reach at four, does not seem likely.
Seattle will be thinking coverage first with whatever safety they take, so ignore big boppers with questionable cover skills like William Moore. Instead, the true favorite, both because of expected draft position and the Tim Ruskell Pick Draft Rubric (See below) is Michael Hamlin. Hamlin is projected to go in the early third. As for that résumé:
Name: Michael Hamlin
Position: CAT safety (strong safety)
DOB: November 21, 1985
Four Year Starter
Stats: 283 combined tackles, 14 interceptions, 17 pass break ups, four forced fumbles
Named "permanent defensive captain" his junior season.
Graduated in May of 2008
Academic Honor Roll
Clemson ranked 10th in pass efficiency defense, 12th pass defense, 13th in scoring defense, 18th in total defense but 108th in sacks. Despite finishing 7-6, Clemson finished 21st in FEI. Their defense was especially impressive, finishing 4th.
This kid is going to be a Seahawk. He better be.