I can see some legitimate quibbles, but it's hard to be disappointed in what Seattle did last night in the first round of the Schneider/Carroll era. As many have noted, the Seahawks are pinning a great deal of hope on the outcome of this draft. Given what the front office has done thus far this off-season, including trading for Whitehurst, releasing Deon Grant, as well as trading Tapp and Sims, I expect to see a premium placed on players who can contribute--if not start--in year one. That increases the chances that the team will reach on a less talented player who can contribute immediately, something we saw throughout the first round.
In order to take a quick peek at what Seattle did versus what they might have done, let's look at the the two selections compared to the five subsequent draft picks (after the jump).
- Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State (#6 overall). The next five players selected were: Joe Haden (CB, Florida) to Cleveland, Rolondo McClain (ILB, Alabama) to Oakland, C.J. Spiller (RB, Clemson) to Buffalo, Tyson Alualu (DT, California) to Jacksonville, and Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers) to San Francisco. I should also mention that Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul were players rumored to be on Seattle's wish list in the weeks leading up to the draft. In terms of raw talent, perhaps only Spiller and Haden rival Okung in this group and few people* thought Spiller worthy of the #6 pick. It's hard to find any fault with what Seattle did here really. *Not counting Jon Gruden, who will be head of the C.J. Spiller fanclub.
- Earl Thomas, FS, Texas (#14 overall). The next five players selected were: Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, S. Florida) to New York (N), Derrick Morgan (DE, GA Tech) to Tennessee, Mike Iupati (G, Idaho), Mike Pouncey (C/G, Florida) to Pittsburgh, and Sean Weatherspoon (OLB, Missouri) to Atlanta. On the surface at least it appears Schneider was faithful to the board and simply valued best player available. Pierre-Paul and Morgan would have addressed (though not necessarily resolved) immediate concerns about the pass rush. Consider that the dropoff to the next tier of defensive ends is steep, where by contrast this is thought to be a deep safety class. I am hardly surprised the Seahawks would pass on Clausen in the first round given what they've already spent to acquire and sign Whitehurst. However, passing on Morgan suggests to me that they see Thomas as the higher upside player. If true, this gives me some faith that Schneider/Carroll are looking to stay faithful to their board and aren't trying to get cute.
Other than going for Jimmy Clausen, or perhaps rating Derrick Morgan above Earl Thomas, it would be hard even for Bill Simmons to argue with this day one haul. As we all know, getting these players signed and in camp on time, and keeping them healthy are all separate battles to be fought another day.
Other draft thoughts
What the hell...
- Jacksonville: I put J'ville here because I'm sure they'll be widely panned by the talking heads. The more I look at how the board shook out the less convinced I am that this pick was awful. My guess here is that they got scooped on Spiller by Buffalo and couldn't trade down. Although I might have preferred one of the offensive linemen here, barring injury, can we really say Alualu is a lock to be worse than any of the next 10 players picked? I don't think so. At minimum he should be a solid rotation player who won't embarrass them in public like some of their recent picks. Hell, if New England makes this same selection at #10 the pundits are raving at its sheer genius. Having said that, I wonder. Was Tyson Alualu really the next highest rated player on Jacksonville's board after Spiller?
- Denver: Has there been a more polarizing player--solely for football reasons--than
Emperor PresidentQB Tim Tebow in recent memory? Trick question. The answer is "yes, probably." I think the Vince Young saga was pretty similar, although estimates of where he'd go were not quite so disparate and it lacked the Manchurian Candidate style banter about his character. In any event, I'm glad that Tebow is going to Denver under these circumstances. Regardless of anyone's position on whether Tebow can play, what is indisputable is that Denver gave up a king's ransom for the privilege of finding out. If you're the type that roots for the story, Josh McDaniels gave you a story you cannot ignore. Frankly, I was tiring of the Tebow talk--but not now. This is fascinating. There's no way McDaniels can pussyfoot around it. Tebow is his guy, his padawan learner. I cannot imagine that McDaniels has not committed already to crafting an offense around Tebow that is some hybrid of Urban Meyer's spread and what New England does. In that sense, Tebow should have the most advantageous conditions imaginable to show what he can do. In light of Tebow, their selection of Demaryus Thomas (over Dez Bryant) makes more sense. He's a more accomplished blocker in a run-oriented system than is Dez Bryant.
- College Football Conferences: I'm not a big conference allegiance guy in college football. I went to a Big 12 school as an undergrad (Mizzou), a Pac-10 graduate school (Arizona), and work at an SEC school (S. Carolina). I think the differences between conferences, more often than not, are not especially meaningful. To me the untold story of the first round is the dominance of the FBS over FCS schools. There were no small school players picked in the first round this year. I wonder when that happened last.