FanPost

NFL Draft Grades: The Seahawks Draft Class of 2012

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-I wrote this for my own page, but I'm throwing it up here because this is the most intelligent group of Seahawks fans I've come across and I feel like it's the best place to get feedback thats productive and well thought out. I'm writing for an audience that isn't quite as up to speed as you all, I want to bring their education level up and hopefully grow myself as a writer as I do so. Give me your worst! Just try to keep it constructive. Thanks!

The last two drafts by the Seahawks' current front office have been markedly different both in intent and perception. In 2010 Pete Carroll's newly acquired roster lacked the sizzle he was used to in Southern California and he was comfortably equipped to deal with that, carrying two top 14 picks in the draft the Hawks came away with two elite talents in Earl Thomas and Russell Okung.

While injuries have slowed their prodigious left tackle, I think we can all agree they've got a couple studs in the making there. The following year, 2011, the Hawks were coming off an improbable playoff run in which they overachieved by anyone's recollection. This put the front office in an unusual position, they were drafting at the bottom of a draft while trying to work over a team with many deficiencies. Their early picks drew much scrutiny for their lack of sizzle, which I spoke of earlier.

The skill players everyone wanted to see drafted didn't make sense for the Hawks because they didn't yet have the core on the line to allow them to grow and succeed. This draft was also unique in that the Seahawks had a reasonably high draft pick while also coming off a very promising finish to the 2011 season in which they won five of their last eight and lost their last two by a combined five points. Young players drafted the previous two years were blossoming into productive starters and, in a few cases, Pro Bowlers.

The team's needs were more defined than ever: pass rusher, a young quarterback, running back, & linebacker. You could argue they needed to upgrade the receiving corps and possibly get a defensive back for nickle situations, but the most important needs were clear. I don't know how to grade an overall draft - as I never have before - and quite honestly I've never really believed it's worth your time anyways. Everyone wants to read them and find out how their team did, but to get a real idea I've found you need to dig further into each player and find out how they can actually help your team.

A guy like Morris Claiborne is an elite talent, but if your team has no need at corner are you really getting value out of that pick? You get where I'm going with this? I hope so, because I'm done explaining. No draft grade for you. I will however say that I think the Hawks came away with some guys that can end up contributing in the roles they'll have and that's a pretty big positive on a team whose coach is all about defining players roles and taking advantage of their strengths. I popped out grades for each pick based on value so most were pretty high, not that the letters mean anything. They are however a great starting point for debate so that's nice.

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- This guy is gonna "leap" into your hearts this season

Rd 1 Pick 15: Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
In the first round the Hawks' turn came with all the big name pass rushers still around. Guys like Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples and Shea McClellin were on the board and ready to help the Hawks get to the quarterback. But when the pick came in we all heard a name many of us didn't have on our minds at this pick. "And with the 15th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks select... Bruce Irvin, linebacker from West Virginia."

"Huh?"

I first heard Bruce's name at the combine when he ran a 4.5 second forty yard dash. People were talking about his explosive potential but felt that his one dimensional play would hinder his draft position. It turns out some general managers felt differently as at least seven other teams had him graded in the top 15. There are even reports the Jets were going to select him with the very next pick. Whether you hate this pick or love this pick, what's done is done and it's time to move on to what this guy can do for the defense.

A guy that Mike Mayock said might be "the most natural pass rusher in the entire draft" comes in at 245 pounds but with the frame to add 10 to 15 pounds is fast. Too fast for NFL offensive tackles. Only the elite ones will keep up with this guy off the snap. In the post draft presser, when asked about his technique in getting to the QB Bruce said, "I'm a very fast guy, I feel like an offensive tackle can't kick step faster than I can run forward. So you know, I set 'em up with a lot of speed rushes and when they start overplaying me I counter and go under." In the time since I heard Irvin's name called I've watched a bit of video on him and can verify that this guy gets off the line in explosive fashion.

Tackles simply couldn't do anything to keep up and were constantly left off balance in an attempt to keep their hands on him. Pro tackles are faster but in most cases still will not be fast enough. In Pete's LEO role there is only one true requirement and that is that you can rush the passer, and that's what this guy was born to do.

Grade: A
Clemons has needed help for some time and now he's got it. I trust reports that a trade back would have ended up costing the Seahawks their man and believe this guy has the elite pass rushing potential to make this defense truly scary.

Rd 2 Pick 15 (47 overall): Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State
The Seahawks traded back again in the second picking up more draft choices and I think it cost them their first choice here, Mychal Kendricks out of Cal. That's just speculation on my part though and even so they got a guy who is very similar. Upgrading team speed was a goal Pete outlined going into the draft and this pick helped out. Wagner ran a sub 4.5 forty at Utah States pro day, which would put him up with some of the elite skill position players in this draft. He was a tackle machine in college and had a nose for tackling runners in the backfield.

Grade: A-
Hear he's a bit small for a mike linebacker, although I don't know how much 5 pounds really matters when you're as athletic as this kid. He has a good shot to start day 1 and that's great for a second round pick.

Rd 3 Pick 12 (75 Overall): Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
"We got a quarterback! Wait. He's only 5'11" tall!? THROW HIM OUT!" Russell is a pretty interesting pick in that some people absolutely love the guy and others feel like his height will be a big issue for him behind the larger offensive lines he'll play behind in the NFL. What that last group of people is missing out on is that he played behind one of the largest lines in the country at Wisconsin, and when I say country I mean NCAA, NFL, Arena League, you name it.

Those boys are all professionally sized and Wilson never really had any trouble finding throwing lanes and open receivers. His passing efficiency set an NCAA record last year at 191.7 and he had only 3 (or 4, depending the source) passes batted down at the line of scrimmage last year which is not only impressive for a shorter quarterback, its an incredible number for anyone. His interception rate was also impressive at one in over 77 attempts, that beats out both top picks Andrew Luck (1 in 40) and RG3 (1 in 67).

His leadership skills are, by all accounts, fantastic and its brought up by many draft gurus that he was voted team captain at Wisconsin in his one and only year there. I watched the entirety of Jon Gruden's QB camp with Russell and notice immediately that this guy was taking notes every time Gruden covered anything football related at all. He appeared to have a real thirst for improvement and I'm sure the Seahawks coaches noticed that too in any meetings they had with the kid.

Grade: B+
If you listened to the pre-draft podcast you'll know I have a serious man crush on this guy, and I couldn't be happier that he's a Seahawk. I doubt he'll push for a starting job this year but I wouldn't be surprised if come next offseason there are people wondering when he'll get a shot. Expect this kid to impress everyone in the preseason. My only negative with the pick is that I imagine they could have moved back a bit and still snagged him. Whether or not they had any reasonable offers though, I'll never know.

**The rest of the picks are lesser known and are not guaranteed a spot on the roster. This front office has shown a willingness to cut a guy regardless of where he was drafted and these guys will be no different. There is however a shot that they'll step up and become the next KJ Wright or Richard Sherman as well. I'm not going to go into as much depth as I just don't know as much about them.**

Rd 4 Pick 11 (106 Overall): Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State I'm not going to lie to anyone and tell them I knew much about this guy going into the draft. In the last few years my knowledge level has gone way up as I've read more and watched more, but I just don't have time to get far enough into the prospects outside the first few rounds. His combine numbers compare favorably to that of Marshawn Lynch and he's lauded for having great instincts running the football.

He's patient in letting holes develope which is perfect for Tom Cable's zone blocking system and has superior upper body strength. He isn't as balanced through contact as Marshawn but who is? There were a ton of serviceable backs in the draft this year and it appears the Seahawks got the one that best fit their system for a great value. His 40 yard time was 4.50 which is once again very indicative of Pete's push for a faster squad. Expect this guy to get a hefty work load backing up Marshawn if the Beast ever goes down with an injury. Grade: A+

Rd 4 Pick 19 (114 Overall): Jaye Howard, DT, Florida Athletic defensive tackle whose got good athleticism for his size and is said to be a skilled pass rusher from inside. Expect him to provide depth at the 3 tech spot, and possibly get some decent playing time on passing downs. This was a pick they snagged in a draft day trade from the Eagles, making this an even greater value. Grade: A

Rd 5 Pick 19 (154 Overall): Korey Toomer, OLB, Idaho It was tough to find much on this guy. Most sites don't even have him listed, which would seem like a bad sign. He is extremely athletic however and may have a shot to get some playing time at the Sam linebacker spot if Leroy Hill has any other issues. He's near a physical clone of Von Miller although it's tough to imagine he'll produce like Von has in Denver. Overall a good value gotten with the pick acquired from the Jets in the day 2 trade. Getting a potential starter and definite special teams contributor for a fifth round pick is a sweet deal. Grade: B

Rd 6 Pick 2 (172 Overall): Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State (LA) If it weren't for National Football Postt I wouldn't have a single word to say about this guy. A late round steal from the looks of it though, as it seems this guy has the makings to play sooner rather than later if his skills continue improving. He's listed at 6'0" but had one of the longest wingspans among defensive backs in this years class and has press skills that will fit right in to the Seahawks defense. Grade: A

Rd 6 Pick 11 (181 Overall): Winston Guy, DB, Kentucky A likely replacement for Atari Bigby who's not longer with the team, Guy is a big physical back who's going to be big on special teams and may end up playing in the bandit package Pete likes to throw out from time to time. Snagging a back with Guy's size and athletic ability this late is a pretty sweet deal, especially if he ends up production anywhere other than special teams. Grade: A

Rd 7 Pick 18 (225 Overall): JR Sweezy, DE, NC State Sweezy played end at NC State but Carroll said the Hawks are going to play him at offensive guard. His body type seems fit for the ZBS (tall and lean) and his arms are long enough to keep defenders disengaged. The biggest caveat there is that developing the skills required to play on the offensive side of the ball at this stage in a career is tough. This is the pick acquired in the Aaron Curry trade, which means all he has to do is make the roster and the pick's worth it. Grade: B

Rd 7 Pick 25 (232 overall): Greg Scruggs, DE, Louisville Scruggs is a pretty lean guy who lacked impressive production in college. His arms are long and he'll likely get time at various spots along the line in camp. With the depth we have on the line it seems like a long shot that this guy will make the 53 man roster. It's the seventh round though, so... Grade: Meh

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