You often hear this phrase bandied about when discussing draft picks: "we have to wait at least three years before analyzing a draft class." I'm not sure where this mantra came from, and I'm not even sure how true it is, but it still sounds like a reasonable barometer to judge drafts. Three years is ample time for players to adjust to the NFL, for the scrubs to wash out, and for the men in charge to realize their big 1st-round investment isn't working out.
With that in mind, I'd like to take this evening to look back at the Seahawks' 2008 draft, Tim Ruskell's second-to-last one. It was also around the time I first discovered Field Gulls, and the "In Ruskell We Trust" meme was alive and well. Oh, hindsight. How did that draft stack up after three years? Well, you'll never find out unless you click the jump, will you?
Round 1 - Lawrence Jackson, DE
The Seahawks traded down three spots to get LoJack. He was a Ruskell prototype--4-year starter out of of a major college (USC), a bit undersized, nice guy. This pick was more predictable than the Oscars. I don't actually remember much of his play in '08 and '09, which is kinda damning for a 1st-round pick, but he showed flashes and looked to be improving.
Enter Pete Carroll and the un-balanced LEO. LoJack wasn't a fit for the scheme, so he got shipped off to Detroit for a 6th-rounder. I haven't watched enough Lions games to see how he's progressing, but he did record six sacks, but sacks are a crappy stat, so it's hard to say. I guess he's alright. Probably a reach, but he never had a real chance here once Ruskell was booted.
Round 2 - John Carlson, TE
Did you know that JC is already 26, and will be 27 in May? The more you know. Anyway, Ruskell liked Carlson so much he traded up in the 2nd round and gave up a 3rd-rounder to get him. For the most part, he's been good. Not the breakout star we've all been hoping for, and he disappeared for parts of '10 when Michael Robinson went down and the Seahawks needed more blockers, even though he wasn't very good at that part and had some crucial drops and--WHO CARES I LOVE JOHN CARLSON NEVER GO AWAY EVER.
Round 4 - Red Bryant, DT/DE
I fear that Bryant is in real danger of becoming Marcus Tubbs 2.0. A big body, a force in run-support that the Seahawks desperately needed, if only he could stay healthy. That's the drawback of having a big body. Now, the '10 injury wasn't his fault (thanks Chris Clemons), but there are legitimate questions as to how his body will hold up over the long term. I really hope it does, because he's been decent-to-good when healthy, and the decision to move him to DE was inspired. They should just put him in a giant bubble for the whole offseason and never let him outside.
Round 5 - Owen Schmitt, FB
You know what the real problem with this team is? We don't have enough batshit crazy players, and for two years, Owen Schmitt fitted that to a tee. In '08 he was blocked by Leonard Weaver. In '09 his one memorable play was smashing a helmet against his head. The new regime released him since Jeremy Bates' package didn't require a pure fullback. I like to think that the real reason for Bates' firing was a lack of "batshit crazy" in his playbook. Schmitt is now in Philadelphia, wooing fans with his craziness.
Round 6 - Tyler Schmitt, LS
This was the pick that drew the most jeers, and for good reason. Drafting a long-snapper, in any round, is stupid. This was a pick made due to fan and media pressure from the abysmal long-snapping of 2007, but it was totally un-founded. Long-snapping? Who cares about that position? The only time you notice him is when he screws up.
Anyway, Schmitt suffered a back injury and was out of the league before ever setting foot inside an NFL stadium. He and Tim Ruskell are now kindred spirits as "that guy who was drafted as a long-snapper" and "that guy who drafted a fucking long-snapper."
Round 7 - Justin Forsett, RB
The one that was almost Ruskell's biggest mistake.
Force was that classic late-round steal we know and love, and he came close to accomplishing that status with another team. He has the classic scat-back size, yet doesn't run like a scat-back. He hits holes with authority and isn't afraid to challenge defenders. He's also not that fast for someone in the scat-back mode. Shifty and quick on moves, yes, but not track-meet fast. Enough skills to be useful in a two-back scheme which is now the norm in today's NFL.
After one game in the '08 season, Ruskell cut Force for reasons known only to him. If I knew about Ruskell's weaknesses then as I do now (recall, this was still in the "In Ruskell We Trust" phase), I would've been shouting from the rooftops demanding his head. But even in that period of blind optimism, I knew it was a stupid move. Thankfully, the Colts were even dumber. They quickly signed Force, then released him after a month of doing nothing with him. Ruskell corrected his mistake. Now Force is an important cog of the running game. He could be used more often, but that's beside the point. The Force is good. Use The Force.
This was actually one of Ruskell's better drafts. It didn't spawn any superstars (yet), but Carlson, Bryant and Forcett are all useful players. Jackson and Owen Schmitt got schemed off the team, and they seem to be doing fine in their new homes. That's not Ruskell's fault. Tyler Schmitt is the only legitimate blunder.
In 2011, the Sehawks have 50% of their 2008 draft class still on the team, still contributing in meaningful ways. That's a home run, by draft standards. Good work, Timmy. Now why did you draft a long-snapper again?